Monday, November 29, 2004

Cats and Mirrors

I don't have anything brilliant to say about this next series of pictures, but they do make me wonder. How do cats see themselves? Do they understand the concept of a mirror? Do they have a concept of "self?" Do they go through Lacan's mirror stage?

It's hard to say whether they think they see another cat in the mirror or an image of themselves. Whatever the case, it's amusing to watch them.





15 comments:

socidoc said...

Hi Avram,
My 15 year old part-Siamese has recently discovered the large bathroom mirror above the countertop for the first time in her life! She bounds up there every morning as I prepare for work, meows and literally 'prances' back and forth, looking at me thru the mirror the whole time. She's even developed a 'stupid pet trick' whereby she walks ALL THE WAY around the sink, while constantly keeping her eyes on me in the mirror. I of course reward her extravagantly on performing this difficult stunt, with many 'good kitties' and 'oh what a smart kitty you ares'!! Just thought you'd like to know. Also, my 10 year old cat couldn't care less about the mirror and probably has never even noticed it! :-) Aren't cats wonderful?

Anonymous said...

My cat enjoys looking at her reflection in the mirror. I stand behind her sometimes and point out that that's her and she can see it's also me.
Since Gizmo is a very bright cat, and she can't tolerate other cats, I believe she knows it's her own reflection and that she is a very pretty girl!

Anonymous said...

I always heard that cats ignore their reflections, but mine seems fascinated by the bathroom mirrors. Both of my bathrooms have large mirrors that run the width of the wall. My 2 year old cat (recently adopted) will often jump up on the counters and go back and forth along the mirror looking at himself. He also has a fascintaion with the glass doors of my fireplace, which are very mirror-like when closed. I also observed that the first time I gave him water--in a stainless steel bowl--he pawed at the water first before he drank. I assume this was a reaction to his reflection. Curious little buggers, cats are.

Anonymous said...

I was curious to see how my cat would react to mirrors. As a kitten, one of my cats would look in the mirror and then run behind the wall to find the "cat on the other side." However, if I hold my other cat up to the mirror, he will look anywhere but there. It's like he avoids it on purpose.

Anonymous said...

My cat is about 12 years old now and it seems like she's rediscovered the mirror. She used to just ignore it when she was little, but now whenever she sees herself in a mirror, glass, window!, she goes crazy. My cat hates othre cats, and she thinks her reflection is another cat. She goes insane, I'm scared for her. She's already pretty old, this can't be good for her. You can't even touch her becuase she'll scratch you. She's too caught up attacking and hissing at the mirror that she doesn't realize it's her own reflection. Now that she thinks there's another cat in the house she marks her teritory everywhere!:S..does anyone know what i can do?
-Bianca

Lhyzz said...

Bianca, it sounds like your cat might be getting a bit senile. Maybe a trip to the vet is in order? Other than that, all I can recommend is using an enzyme cleaner to get rid of all the urine smells outside the litter box, and covering mirrors that she's prone to get nuts over.

Anonymous said...

My cat too is terrified of her own reflection. It is taken to extremes though - not just mirrors but anything shiny like the vaccum cleaner, a plant pot in the garden, the cat flap,the glass door to the washing machine ... She actively goes looking for a reflection and then hisses and runs away. I have had to cover everything with a non reflective surface - what a nightmare poor animal!

Anonymous said...

My cat will walk up to the hall mirror and start scratching at it, for like 5 minuets straight! I have no idea why she dose it...Its very annoying, but she is still so darn cute!

Anonymous said...

My cat seems to think the cat in the mirror is a real cat. I often see him trying to pull the wood apart to let the cat out of the mirror. He doesn't like it at all if I pick him up and try to get him to look at our reflection in the mirror.It is amusing to watch cats. I love cats!!!!

cats facts said...

Physiologists have had an experiment, trying to understand, do animals have got self awarness.
The animals were standing infront of a mirror and a red dot was projected on their forhead.
Some apes tried to take the red dot off their body, also dolphines and elephants.
Cats and dogs didn't...

cats facts said...

By the way, I realy like your blog!
I saw you are writing it for so many years!
Respect!!!

Anonymous said...

My Cat also likes to go on my dresser ,Go by my mirrors,Stand on her back legs and just go to town scratching at the mirror.I would like to know why.No matter how many times I call her name she just ignores me and keeps it up until shes had enough!

Patricia Macdonald said...

As a fifty year owner of cats, I have always believed that cats either ignore, or have an aversion to mirrors ... until now. Our newest female Siamese sits for hours in my powder room, fascinated by the mirror, and "chattering" to it in much the same way cats do when sighting a bird. This behaviour has just recently presented itself. She is now a year old.

Peebles said...

I recently moved into a new place which has a huge mirrored fitted wardrobe in the bedroom. My cat (2 years old) seem to enjoy her new toy. In a normal mood, she totally ignores it, or sometimes stares at me or around the room through the mirror. When she's in a playful mood, she'll start playing with the cat in the mirror, running back and forth and sidling up to it. She seems to know it isn't a "real" cat, but I'm not sure yet that she realises it's herself. Maybe she'll learn that, but she's not always the sharpest spoon in the drawer.

sylinparadise said...

I will never forget this moment when...My cat had a cone around her head to prevent her from chewing at an injury she had on her tail. The vet shaved the entire tail except for the end. When my cat walked by the mirror, she looked at herself as she always did and POOF goes the tip of her tail!! I think seeing her reflection and the cone around her head freaked her out. They do see themselves. Hillarious. Now I have one cat that paws the mirror and the other paws at the t.v. I LOVE CATS!