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J Comp Psychol. 2005 May;119(2):179-86.

A comparative study of the use of visual communicative signals in interactions between dogs (Canis familiaris) and humans and cats (Felis catus) and humans.

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Department of Ethology, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary.


Dogs' (Canis familiaris) and cats' (Felis catus) interspecific communicative behavior toward humans was investigated. In Experiment 1, the ability of dogs and cats to use human pointing gestures in an object-choice task was compared using 4 types of pointing cues differing in distance between the signaled object and the end of the fingertip and in visibility duration of the given signal. Using these gestures, both dogs and cats were able to find the hidden food; there was no significant difference in their performance. In Experiment 2, the hidden food was made inaccessible to the subjects to determine whether they could indicate the place of the hidden food to a naive owner. Cats lacked some components of attention-getting behavior compared with dogs. The results suggest that individual familiarization with pointing gestures ensures high-level performance in the presence of such gestures; however, species-specific differences could cause differences in signaling toward the human.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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