This study shows evidence of a domestic cat (Felis catus) being able to successfully learn to reproduce human-demonstrated actions based on the Do as I Do paradigm. The subject was trained to reproduce a small set of familiar actions on command "Do it!" before the study began. To test feature–contingent behavioural similarity and control for stimulus enhancement, our test consisted of a modified version of the two-action procedure, combined with the Do as I Do paradigm. Instead of showing two different actions on an object to different subjects, we applied a within-subject design and showed the two actions to the same subject in separate trials. We show evidence that a well-socialized companion cat was able to reproduce actions demonstrated by a human model by reproducing two different actions that were demonstrated on the same object. Our experiment provides the first evidence that the Do as I Do paradigm can be applied to cats, suggesting that the ability to recognize behavioural similarity may fall within the range of the socio-cognitive skills of this species. The ability of reproducing the actions of a heterospecific human model in well-socialized cats may pave the way for future studies addressing cats' imitative skills.
Here's more footage of Ebisu doing her thing:
Image: YouTube / Science Magazine