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Animal Intelligence

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Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are?



For as long as time, scientists have been fascinated with studying the distinction between animals and humans. Primatologist, Frans de Waal's new book, Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are, takes a further, in-depth look into the novel's title.

With 30 years of research comparing humans to animals, Waal says “instead of trying to prove humanity’s superiority, let’s use our big brains to see the world from the point of view of other species.”

As people are becoming more interested in animal intelligence, they are noticing animals acting in clever ways and doing things that cannot be explained. Videos on the Internet are appearing of animals with the capacity to use tools, learn new skills and finding intellectual ways to protect themselves from harm.

You’ve probably heard of Inky the octopus and escape artist, and know pigeons can deliver mail 1600 kilometres away, or even that elephants can sniff out the scent of 30 family members and build a map in their brains of where they are.

The internet is riddled with videos of cats secretly planning world domination and dogs who recognise their owners after long periods of time away. Let's not forget dolphins and chimpanzees - who are both equipped with communication skills. Animals are much smarter than we give them credit for!

Waal mentions animal intelligence has been underestimated. For a long time human egotism has created inaccurate assumptions about the intelligence of other creatures who walk the earth. In Waal’s new book, he has an in-depth look at the different species of animals, and what they are capable of. Some of these skills include planning abilities, tool use, co-operation and perception of time.

Waal mentions in his book, instead of trying to compare animal intelligence to human intelligence, we should be trying to understand them within the context of their species. The more we learn about animals, the more we can learn about ourselves.

For more animal news and tips, visit our website and tune into Bondi Vet, Saturday @ 6:30pm on TEN.

How do I toilet train my cat

I rescued an adult female, desexed cat six months ago. Apparently she’s always been an outside cat. I have another cat who is mostly indoors and I would only let outside during the day if I was home. Luna didn’t like being indoors and wasn’t using the litter tray properly. I had her confined in the bathroom for a few days to get use to it and she would go next to it, rarely in it. She will sometimes use a tray otherwise will urinate or poop on the floor. I am at wits end. I have two trays, I’ve changed the type of litter, put dirt in the tray, picked up the poop and put it in the tray to show her that where it goes. I’ve used spray in the tray to attract her to want to use the tray. I bought felliway diffuser which is meant to calm cats and have also used the rescue remedy drops in her food. I’ve recently moved house where there is a cat enclosure so she can go in and out when ever she pleases but still goes in the kitchen (as I now close the bathroom door when she started going to the toilet in there), but tonight I noticed she’s been going in the spare room if anything is left on the floor which is carpeted. So I’ve now cleared that whole room to prevent her from going to the toilet. She is still going in the kitchen. I’ve tried cleaning the area and eliminating her scent by using water and vinegar then once dry use bi carb soda and hydrogen peroxide and it has made no difference. She’s been tested for a bladder infection which came up negative. I love animals. I have another cat which she now gets along with and two dogs which she is still getting use to. I don’t know what else to do and I don’t want to give her up but feel like I will have no choice.