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We are Dr Chris and Dr Xand van Tulleken.
And we're tracking down the most awesome, incredible
and epic things in the universe!
Come with us and discover unbelievable things
that will blow your mind!
Blow Your Mind will be bringing you all the top experts
in unbelievable stuff, from icebergs to elephants,
spaceships to sharks, and this week it's all about amazing animals.
So, hold on to your brains. Here's what's coming up.
Today, we're following 50 cats in one small village.
And later, we'll catch some real-life cat burglars when we discover
who's been sneaking into other people's houses and stealing food.
-Ho-ho, what's going on? I'm having a catnap!
-Oh, Chris, that's a terrible cat joke.
-No, I'm serious.
I've been looking at the cats. They sleep about 14 hours a day.
I only get seven or eight. So I'm just catching up!
Probably why you haven't caught any mice.
But you want to be awake for this.
Cats have learned how to avoid a fight when they're out and about.
Take a look at this.
This is Phoebe. She's been living here for six years.
And this is Kato. He's been here even longer.
His owner wants to find out why the two cats have become
He's got enemies across the road.
And do you know who that is?
Scientist Sarah thinks she may have some answers
from Kato's 24-hour GPS data.
And if you look up here, you can
see what time of day it occurred.
And when you put Phoebe's trace on the screen,
you get a snapshot of her daily routine.
And this is Phoebe, in the green.
Huge amount of overlap in the space that they use.
Yes, there is, isn't there?
So they may well be fighting for the same space.
Out there, they never come across each other.
But cats like their own space. These two cats are on top of each other.
No wonder they're stressed. But they don't seem to be fighting much.
So what's going on?
At 11:50pm, Kato heads out on his night patrol.
He stays mostly around the cul-de-sac
and takes a trip into the local woods.
He comes back around dawn. An uneventful night without any fights.
And that's because Phoebe hasn't left her home all night.
Because, at 7:45 in the morning, Phoebe heads out on her patrol.
And Kato, well, he's at home watching nervously.
So it seems like Kato and Phoebe are avoiding each other
so they don't get into a fight. That's clever.
Well, it certainly seems that way, but remember,
all the cats are wearing their GPS trackers and the cat cameras.
So let's head down to Cat HQ to have a look at the results.
A closer look at the results shows that even though the two cats
are sharing the same space, it's not at the same time.
Kato's out a lot sort of late in the night here
and a few short forays in the morning.
And Phoebe's active during the day and mainly after lunch
and in that period here. Not much overlap in when they're outside.
So when one was active outside, the other wasn't.
-So we think what they are doing is...
-They are avoiding each other.
Using a shift system.
And the occasional time when it doesn't work,
-that's when they're getting in a fight. Yes.
So it's nice to know that they have got this shift system
-and they are managing themselves.
And it's not just Kato and Phoebe that are doing this.
Other cats like Billy and Molly are managing shifts as well.
Interesting. Molly's out at one or two o'clock in the morning,
with a lot of activity here in the early morning when Billy wasn't out.
One's going in, one's going out.
And Claude and Thomas seem to have a similar arrangement.
When Claude comes over into the area of Thomas,
Thomas is much further over.
They're not in the same place at the same time.
They may time-share that area.
This cat timetable seems to be happening all over the village.
And here's how they're doing it.
When they rub their cheeks, small chemical signals
and scents are given off.
And similarly, from their paws when they scratch.
Leaving these chemical signals marks out who was where, and at what time,
so that other cats know
when to stay away from these places to avoid trouble.
So that's incredible.
Cats actually put a scent at a particular location to say
-that they've been there and what time they'll be back.
It's like leaving a chemical sticky note so,
if I wanted to play the computer tomorrow at a certain time,
I'd just leave you a note like this.
And that just tells you that you shouldn't bother trying to
play the computer at five o'clock tomorrow unless you want a fight.
That's fabulous. That could be the answer to world peace.
Or it might stop us fighting over the computer.
Well, it could be, except that cats do sometimes break the rules
and venture behind enemy lines.
Just look at this.
When the researchers turned on Coco's GPS collar,
they found that she was in this house.
And it's not hers!
On Tuesday, here's Chip.
And he's entering a neighbouring house.
And a day later, here's Claude doing the same.
It's only when surveillance cameras are installed
by the cat flaps that we see exactly what's going on.
Rosie has her evening meal.
And then half an hour later, when she is out of the way, her neighbour
Claude boldly enters her home and helps himself to the leftovers!
At 3pm the next day, he's at it again! Greedy guts!
And it won't be the last time.
It's a bit of a surprise to Claude's owner.
Three minutes of scoffing in Rosie's house, non-stop.
We've watched this video several times
and he doesn't spend much time lifting his head, looking around.
Worrying about anything. He's at home.
-He's at home.
-This is normal.
I feel that he's confidently doing this.
And so, probably, he's done this more than once,
this may be routine for him.
-So, yes, midnight snacking is definitely
happening in Claude's life.
One of the things that I've been surprised by has been just
how many cats have been going into other people's houses.
I mean, I'm not sure how many of those
people are aware that those cats are coming in,
but one of the main reasons they come in will be to get food.
They'll be stealing food from other cats, essentially.
And I think you can almost balance that off against the rather
small numbers of prey that we've seen this week.
Some of that may be down to the weather
but I think a lot of it is, these cats are getting a varied diet
by raiding other people's houses.
They don't need to go out and kill things.
These days, because cat food is easily available
and provides cats with all their necessary nutrients,
this could be leading to the cats hunting other small animals less,
because they don't need to.
Maybe what we are witnessing here is cats
changing their behaviour as we change the environment they live in.
So cats don't hunt for their food,
they just break into other people's houses and steal other cats' food.
That's pretty clever.
Yeah, and it has a lot to do with the fact that cats have evolved
to live alongside us, so they don't need to hunt or fight each other.
But they've got to be careful of eating too many dinners,
or else they'll become real fat cats!
-Do you want to hear another cat-based joke?
-What happened to the cat that ate a ball of wool?
-I don't care.
It gave birth to a litter of mittens.
I'd like to officially apologise for my brother's bad sense of humour,
but the amazing stuff coming up next
is going to be a lot better than his jokes.
The undercover cat watch is coming to an end.
-Lily and Pickle are your Bengals, is that right?
The scientists are starting to see ways that the cats have
changed their behaviour to accommodate living with humans
and also next door to other cats.
The cats seem to have created tightly-packed
territories that they each defend.
Claude came up here, really close to where Thomas has been.
And they've worked out an impressive time-sharing cat timetable
to avoid fighting.
And they seem to be hunting less
and stealing each other's food behind their backs, more.
Time out. I get the sticky notes. I get the time-sharing.
I get the stealing of the food.
But I think there are going to be a lot of kids at home watching
the television, screaming at the screen and going,
"But I have more than one cat living under the same roof,
"eating the same food, at the same time!
"How does that work, Mr Smarty-pants?!"
Well, for anyone who is at home asking that question in that way,
the village has one more surprise in store for you.
This is the Edwards' house.
And they have not one, not two, not three,
four or five, but SIX unrelated cats all living together.
They seem a pretty happy lot.
And even though we know that cats like their own space,
they do seem to get on pretty well together at home.
No-one's quite sure what happens beyond the cat flap.
-Yellow's Daisy, what colour's Pumpkin?
-Pumpkin's pink. Coco's red.
So, while Patch roams the local neighbourhood,
Duffy, Daisy, Coco, Pumpkin and Ralph are all out
at the same time and sticking very close together.
Which is a genuine surprise.
Cats are actually really interesting.
Down in the village, we've got lots of reports of hostility,
And in a multi-cat household, which you have,
you are our largest number in our study, with six cats,
we would expect there to be quite a bit of tension,
or quite a bit of using different space outside.
really unusual is, we don't see that with your cats at all.
And apart from Patch, who is the blue,
and he does have a further range,
he does go much further than the others, they're very, very much
centred around your home, around your garden,
and the really interesting thing is,
they're all there at the same time, yeah.
-None of them are moving particularly quickly.
They're all just bumbling around together, really.
That, for us, is fascinating because a whole group of unrelated cats,
we just wouldn't necessarily expect that at all.
Out of all the lot we've had,
these have been the ones that have gelled the most.
Yes, especially the boys, always we see them playing together.
They lie together.
Pumpkin and Ralph lie on top of each other, not just next to each other.
So it's so cute, the way they get on so well together.
Do you ever see them rubbing their faces against each other?
Yes, and Pumpkin and Ralph spend a lot of time grooming each other.
These cat friendships suggest that the cats may be evolving.
They're becoming much more tolerant of other cats,
so they're able to survive well as part of a group
to fit in better with the way they live in human houses.
So, cats aren't just super-cute, they're super-smart as well.
And all those cameras and gadgets have shown us how cats are changing.
Yeah, they're becoming less wild and less individual
and more sociable, especially with the other cats they live with.
Isn't that nice?
Makes me want to PAWS for thought!
No, Chris, there's no time for PAWS-ing,
because the epic awesomeness doesn't end here.
Next time, we meet the Einstein of the ocean, the dolphin.
They can talk, they can find a snack,
-and they can see without using their eyes.
So join us next time to Blow Your Mind!