In 2013, Rasmus Bååth uploaded a video of a young cat responding to the rotating snake optical illusion. In this illusion, developed by Akiyoshi Kitaoka, it looks like the snakes are moving, even though it’s a static image. Later, Bååth published a scientific paper about this cat and other cats seeing the illusion, together with Kitaoka and with Takeharu Seno.
They tested systematically whether cats were able to see the optical illusion by showing the rotating snake image and a non-moving control image to eleven cats in a cat cafe in Japan. They proved that cats were more interested in the rotating snake image than in the control image, but the cats didn’t hunt the picture in the way the original cat did.
I decided to try to replicate this experiment with Penny. She has good eyesight, hunts tiny insects, plays iPad games and watches YouTube videos so I thought she might respond to the image.
But Penny is a cat, and cats hate participating in scientific experiments, so she never even looked at the pictures. She acknowledged that I taped two pieces of paper to the floor, but even catnip couldn’t convince her to look at the images.