One cannot be around cats long without observing that they have intelligence and personalities nearly as complex and diverse as people do. They communicate with each other and people, both verbally and with body language. They have preferences for whom they associate with, both human and feline, and those can change. I think that complexity of personality is directly related to the capacity to communicate, in both people and cats.
McClellan G. Blair
On my farm, I have two stable populations of cats, one living in a detached barn, a second living in a barn attic connected to the house. It is my observation that there exists in every litter of kittens a spectrum of personality styles running from total scaredy-cat to born friendly or at least bold. It’s my theory that this increases the chances that at least one kitten suits the local circumstance: hazardous or kindly to cats. Joann Rogers
Have stereotypes of cats as antisocial beings really interfered with scientific study, or have some of these studies been conducted by scientists who haven’t really observed cats carefully? Cats sometimes bring a fresh kill to a person as a gift. They will even proudly announce the gift with meowing. Even if they don’t always want to be cuddled when people seek to express affection, cats are quite social. Food sharing with another species? How much more social could they get? Curiously, one of the studies described in the story seems to take advantage of this particular cat behavior, yet there was no comment on this very social behavior of the domestic cat. In the same issue, another story presents evidence of food sharing among Neandertals as an indication of their advanced social behaviors (“Neandertals show ancient signs of caring,” SN: 9/15/01, p. 167: Neandertals show ancient signs of caring ). Gary W. Longsine
The article doesn’t discuss some essentials of cat populations in the United States. Foremost is the enormous number, 30 million to 60 million, of feral cats. This number is added to each year by abandoned house cats. They are fierce, wild predators that disrupt ecosystems. They carry communicable diseases fatal to many pet cats and even big cats in zoos. John Perry
Winter Haven, Fla.