Chew on This: Analyzing 200 Dogs & Cats Playing with iPads

Posted by Conor Murphy on October 7, 2013 in Editorial -- Share:

In the age old battle of dogs vs. cats, the arena has taken many stages: Conquering the corner of the couch. Battling for food dish dominance. And settling sleeping quarters supremacy in deciding which animal ousts their human caregivers from their beds.

Now, technology has become a factor in the war between dogs and cats — or, more likely, Cat People vs. Dog People hoping to make a case for their domesticated pet of choice as the superior animal.

Over 100 dogs and 100 cats of varying breeds, sizes, and ages were observed playing with iPad games via 200 YouTube videos. In addition to being an adorable way to fritter away several hours, watching these home videos of dogs and cats interacting with iPad games yielded some interesting results.

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Proficiency of Pawed Pals In Gameplay

  • On a scale of 1-5, dogs scored an average proficiency of 2.84
  • Using the same scale, cats had a higher proficiency of 3.33

Cats were slightly ahead of canines in terms of accuracy in playing games on the iPad. Although the wide array of dog and cat breeds represented in the study demonstrated varying levels of proficiency, there were a few breeds on both sides that proved to be “Best in Show” in terms of consistency in their game-playing abilities.

Small in size, but big on brains, Yorkshire Terriers pulled to the front of the pooch pack. Of the seven Yorkies (three of which were puppies), six of the dogs had a proficiency level of 3 — above average for dogs on the whole. One of the Yorkies pulled off an impressive 5 score in proficiency. The two Pomeranians in the group and two sheepdogs were also consistent with scoring a 3. Various other breeds — from Shepherds to Jack Russells to loveable mutts all offered a mixed bag of scores.

The cat breeds with the highest levels of proficiency were ragamuffins and their kitty cousins, ragdolls. Of the 5 ragamuffins profiled, 4 of the 5 scored either a 4 (one cat) or a 5 (three cats). (The remaining ragamuffin scored a 1. No catnip for him! ) The lone ragdoll included scored a 5. As with dogs, there were no other breeds that clearly stood out as having exceptional proficiency skills and varied from cat to cat.

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A Hush Falls Over the Crowd….

  • 7% of dogs barked or made noise while playing
  • Only 2% of cats let loose with a meow while engaged in gameplay

A relatively small amount of the animals profiled made noise while playing video games. Dogs proved to be more vocal in their play than cats. However, two of the seven dogs who barked were actually viewing another dog barking on the iPad. Their barks could have very well been an effort to try to communicate with another member of their species. While some may say that the dog was barking at an inanimate object, these dogs actually were able to recognize other dogs within the game and bark back.

Paws vs. Noses

  • 34% of dogs used their nose as their “appendage” of choice to play the game with, while 45% of the dogs used their paws
  • 100% of cats used their paws to play and 90% of those cats used just one paw (Sadly, no data was collected as to how many cats were “righties” vs. “lefties.)

Whether they were playing “piano” on the iPad or a spirited game of Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, or chasing some critter around on a screen, dogs and cats each interacted with the iPad games in front of them in their own distinct ways. A little less than half of the dogs profiled used their paws to play the iPad game in front of them and over one-third of the dogs used their noses to play.

Cats, on the other hand, exclusively used their paws to play the game. In fact, the majority of the frisky felines observed used just one paw to play.

While cats have a better sense of smell compared to humans (with 19 million olfactory receptors in a cat’s schoz compared to a human’s puny 5 million), they are still no match for their canine counterparts’ sniffers. Dogs have 220 million olfactory receptors in their cold, wet little noses — giving them a super sense of smell. Although they probably aren’t able to “smell” their digital opponent’s next move on the other side of the iPad, it does beg the question that maybe Fido sniffs something his bi-ped gamer pals don’t.

Overview

While cats beat dogs in terms of proficiency and were quieter in their play, dogs seemed to be a bit more creative in their approach to gaming, using their noses, as well as their paws. Additionally, dogs attempted to interact more with the game, recognizing when another dog was on-screen and attempting to communicate with it by barking. While cat people may argue that it’s foolish of a dog to try to interact with an inanimate object, it does demonstrate sound cognition skills on the part of the pooch.

It’s hard to get inside the mind of our favorite pets to fully comprehend what is at the root of their instinctive choices and resulting actions. At the same time, it’s hard for humans to fully grasp just why they gravitate towards a favorite pet, too. At the very least, we can chalk up dogs and cats adapting to iPad gameplay as one more way in which these loveable critters have become domesticated, sharing one more thing in common with their humans than just living space.

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Conor is a Marketing Manager with Big Fish, working out of the Seattle office. In his spare time he enjoys watching science documentaries and playing old school adventure games. Get in touch with him on Twitter! or Google+

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