Play with Your Cat for Science: New Online Study Seeking Participants Worldwide

Play with Your Cat for Science

Facebook/Dwilson Play with Your Cat for Science

One of the cutest scientific studies around is encouraging pet owners to play with their cats for science. Yes, you read this correctly. Anyone who owns a cat is asked to record themselves playing with their cat and submit the recording online. The deadline is June 30, 2019. You can take part in the study here. Here are more details.


The Study Is Open to Anyone Worldwide & It’s Entirely Online

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The study is open to any participant who is 18 or older, anywhere around the world. The study is also entirely online, so you don’t have to go anywhere with your cat to participate. Just record a short video of you and your cat playing and submit it online by June 30, 2019. It’s really that simple and it’s for science. The link to submit your recording is here.

So far, participants have played from the United States, Belgium, Canada, England, and Germany.


The Study Is Run by ‘Cats Do Science’

Twitter/CatsDoScience

The study is being run by an organization called Cats Do Science. According to their website, the investigate pet cats and their behavior and relationship with humans. Their site reads: “All you need is your cat and a video recording device. That’s it! Cats Do Science is entirely online and for cat owners who are 18 or older. This is an example of public participation in scientific research (PPSR) or citizen science.”

Their current project is simply called Project: Play with Your Cat, and that’s the perfect title. “Millions of cats live as our companions or pets, yet we have much to learn about our interactions with them. With your help, we are exploring the ways cats and their people play together.” 


Julie Hecht Is Running the Project, Supervised by Dr. Diana Reiss

Julie Becht

The project is run by Julie Hecht, a PhD candidate at the Graduate Center, CUNY. It’s supervised by Dr. Diana Reiss of Hunter College. Hecht is an animal behavior researcher, public speaker, and science writer. She has a blog called Dog Spies on Scientific American and has previously conducted research on dog behavior for the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College NYC. She also co-runs a site called Do You Believe in Dogs? and contributes to The Bark magazine.

Becht is a PhD student in Animal Behavior and Comparative Psychology at CUNY. She lectured at Hunter College’s Animal Behavior and Conservation Masters Program and taught Applied Animal Behavior at Canisius College’s Anthrozoology Master’s Program. She has a Master’s in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare from the University of Edinburgh Royal School of Veterinary Studies.

Reiss, her supervisor for this study, is a cognitive psychologist, marine mammal scientist, and professor at Hunter College, according to her bio. Reiss created an interactive underwater keyboard system for dolphins.


Here’s How to Participate

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Participating is really easy. First, read and sign the consent form. Then submit a video of yourself playing with your cat (just one cat per video.) Then complete a questionnaire about your cat and your cat’s household. Each household should only submit one entry per household.

Don’t hold the camera while you’re recording. Rather, use a recording device like a mobile phone, computer, or video camera and affix it to a tripod or some other device that will hold it steady without your needing to hold the camera. Face it in the direction of the play area and set it to record or have someone else record you playing with your cat.

There should be just one cat in the video and you (the consenting cat owner) should be the only person who appears in the video. Videos should be 30 seconds to two minutes long. You can either submit your video through the Files.fm upload box or add it to a personal Dropbox account and share the link with Cats Do Science.

Remember: you should be 18 or older, be the only person in the video, have just one cat in the video, and be playing with your cat as much as possible in the video for 30 seconds to two minutes.

To get started, visit the site’s Participate Here page.


Data Is Kept Secure & You Can Be Contacted About the Results or Future Cat Studies If You Want

DwilsonThe author’s cat Mufasa.

Videos are kept secure and information will only be disclosed with the submitter’s permission. Data will only be available to the investigator and designated personnel. IP addresses are not stored, and videos and questionnaires will be stored in password protected files, encrypted on a password-protected computer. Videos will be deleted from the secure server after they’re downloaded. Submitted videos might be used in academic presentations of the research.

You can provide your email address and be contacted about the results of the study or any future cat studies.


Participating Is Easy

As the author of this article, I had to of course test submitting a video for science. I played with my cat Mufasa (he does tricks and he loves being handled.) I then cut the video down to two minutes and submitted it. Here are some screenshots of the video we made.

Mufasa at the beginning of the video, ready to play

FacebookScreenshot of Mufasa on the video

The entire process was simple! First you sign the consent and then you submit your video.

CatsDoScience

It’s very easy to upload.

CatsDoScience

And then you take some time to answer a very short five-minute questionnaire about you and your cat and how you play together.

CatsDoScience

I recommend taking part in this study. You can take part in the study here.

You can stay updated by following Cats Do Science on Twitter or Facebook.