Is Banjo the Cat Cheating on Me?

photo 5In my household, we love science. Banjo the cat isn’t always happy about this love of science, especially because it has caused us to move an awful lot and because I have had to abandon her (in someone else’s care) for months because she’s not allowed at field stations (a legitimate rule).

But Banjo is particularly nonplussed about science when she is the test subject. She’s not alone: A recent Slate post explains that no scientist likes studying cats. They do what they want, which is often… not participating in the experiment at hand.


Banjo contemplating where next to do her gallivanting, and modeling the GPS tracker backpack.

Banjo contemplating where next to gallivant, while modeling the GPS tracker backpack.

In late April, Banjo was one begrudging data point for a study by the Your Wild Life team at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. She was given a harness with a GPS backpack that took data on her whereabouts every 15 minutes. She spent her first hour trying to avoid the thing that was strapped to her back, which manifested as a slunking walk punctuated by bouts of hopping backwards. You can see this demonstration of typical cat behavior when first wearing the harness in the video below.




But she was eventually coerced… with tuna…



And it’s a good thing, too, because Banjo ended up being the “most interesting” cat in the study so far. As you can see in this map showing a web of Banjo’s tracks around my neighborhood, my cat is indeed a tramp. She’s even come home smelling of cigarettes and perfume. (It was a long time ago, and I thought she’d mellowed out in her middle age. Not so.)

I am beginning to wonder how often she’s faking it when she asks for food…. She’s clearly visiting a lot of porches and front steps.

If you’re interested in entering your cat in the study, you can find out more about it at the Cat Tracker Project website.

And stay tuned: Banjo is entering another part of the study soon, and we’ll learn more about her travels and maybe her poop. We’re so excited.

excited banjocat


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