Caturday felid: Gaming kitteh (and bonus)

July 9, 2011 • 4:34 am

This dude is playing the old shell game, and wins two times out of three (much better than the success of humans who are playing it against a shill).

Does this kitteh have special powers?  Calculate the probability that if it guessed randomly, it would be successful at least two out of three times (winner gets a warm congratulations from yours truly).

BONUS:  Sylvester goes for a “walk”

42 thoughts on “Caturday felid: Gaming kitteh (and bonus)

    1. Kittehs go for a walk at their own pace, and in their own direction. I’m sure no one here expects them to be subservient like dogs, do you?

  1. My former business partner used to walk his (bengal) cat on a leash.

    Of course, he was also very fond of driving with top down on his Aston Martin with ABBA screaming out of the sound system.

    It was to laugh.

    1. I think Oriole got it.

      If the kitteh played 3 rounds and won at least two times, the possibilities would be (W=win, F=fail):
      FWW with probability 2/3 * 1/3 * 1/3 = 2/27
      WFW with probability 2/27
      WWF with probability 2/27
      WWW with probability 1/3 * 1/3 * 1/3 = 1/27

      Then the total probability of getting one of these three states is 2/27 + 2/27 + 2/27 + 1/27 = 7/27.

  2. One random trial succeeding has p=1/3 (win). At least 2 successful trials means P[2 win, one fail] + P[3 win]. There are 3 ways to have two wins and a fail and only one to have 3 wins, so:

    P = 3*1/3*1/3*(2/3)^2 + (1/3)^3 = 7/27 or 25.9%

    You can check this by doing (1-P[0 or 1 wins])

  3. Silly human — that’s not how to walk a a cat!

    Yes. you put the harness on. And you attach the leash to the harness.

    But this is Soviet America, so cat walks you!

    No, really.

    You let the cat wander around, sniff stuff, roll in the dust, whatever. And you follow behind, close enough to keep the leash slack.

    The only reason for the harness and leash is so that, if the cat thinks there’s some sort of emergency, the cat will decide that the safest place isn’t far, far away, but rather clamped to the inside of your thigh. And so that, when you decide the walk is over, you don’t have to go far to pick up the cat and carry him back home.



    P.S. You’ll still need to give the cat a quick rub-down with a moist warm cloth, for it is guaranteed that the cat will do a bit of rolling in the first patch of dust the two of you come across. But, for the sake of all that’s unholy, skip the full-immersion bath! b&

    1. The only reason for the harness and leash is so that, if the cat thinks there’s some sort of emergency, the cat will decide that the safest place isn’t far, far away, but rather clamped to the inside of your thigh.

      Actually, my cat is like Harry Houdini when she thinks there’s an emergency – she somehow manages to get out of any harness, no matter how tight it is, when it’s time to flip out. It seems to involve running backwards really quickly.

      I think it’s because she’s secretly a liquid.

      1. Curious. Baihu’s never slipped out, and he’s the scarediest of scaredy cats, what with having been born feral to a feral mother. (He’s also the sweetest cat you can imagine — not a working day goes by that he doesn’t take an extended nap or three curled around my arm, forcing me to move the keyboard to my lap and type one-handed.)

        One time he was sniffing at the gate to the front and the coast looked clear, so I figured we could take a little detour. One of the neighbor kids came out the front door. Baihu panicked, ran up my back and out my arm. I still have a bit of a scar on my thumb from where he tried to launch himself but was unable to because of the extra bit of leash I had reigned in. I think he managed to get one foreleg out of the harness, but he otherwise remained secure.

        After quick-march back in the front door (which is where he was straining to get to, thankfully), he quickly calmed down. I think he even wanted to go back out again a few minutes later, but I had had enough for the day….


      2. This is why you must let the cat take the lead while you follow along behind. The harness is (roughly) coned-shaped, and so is the front of the cat. So the harness stays on only as long as the leash tension is toward the rear of the cat. If you let the cat get behind you, she can back out of the harness in a trice.

  4. I tried taking a cat walkies several decades ago. It didn’t work then, either. We called it ‘draggies’.

    1. You know, I kinda think that’s some sort of instinctual kitty response – every single cat I’ve ever seen on a leash does that. Maybe it’s because you’re supposed to flop down when mommy picks you up? I don’t know.

      1. Exactly. Whenever they are on a leash, especially at first, they spend their time rolling around in the grass, or the dirt, or on the porch, but eventually they will locomote. A bit. They’re not dogs.

        Even our young Merlyn has the hang of going for walks; at this point we’ve stopped using a leash or a harness. We take Keeshu to the forest preserves regularly, and she wears a collar for forms sake, but once we’re alone, the leash is off and she can do what she wants. Which is usually to walk up a fallen tree.

        1. Enjoy letting them enjoy their freedom!

          Baihu is too prone to panic attacks for me to even pretend to think of letting him out off a leash. Something would spook him, he’d turn invisible, and he wouldn’t come out until 120% certain the coast was clear and hunger forced him to do so.

          Once my work schedule lets up, I’ll try to spend a bit more time socializing him. Not sure exactly how to go about doing that, but….


    2. But, nay! Gilly, my partner’s bengal cat, walked complacently on a leash. Not like a dog, of course, but with his tail erect, strutting.

  5. It seems to me that there are eight possibilities for three successive guesses. NOTE: F=fail, W=win.

    F F F
    F F W
    F W F
    W F F
    F W W
    W F W
    W W F
    W W W

    Four of these eight scenarios include at least two correct guesses (the last four in the above list). So, if everything is random, the probability of at least two correct guesses is 4/8 = 50%

    Likewise, the probability of at least two incorrect guesses is 50%.

    Congratulations kitteh on being able to predict a coin toss!

    1. Whoops! I forgot to include the probabilities for W vs. F. Sloppy!

      FFF 2/3*2/3*2/3 = 8/27
      FFW 2/3*2/3*1/3 = 4/27
      FWF = 4/27
      WFF = 4/27
      FWW 2/3*1/3*1/3 = 2/27
      WFW = 2/27
      WWF = 2/27
      WWW 1/3*1/3*1/3 = 1/27

      So the summed probabilities of the last four options is 7/27 = 25.9% As stated before.

      My apoligies kitteh.

  6. My cat walks with me without a leash: fixed route, fixed time. Quiet street. Previous cats did the same, some for quite a distance.
    The error is the leash. Cats will come along on their own account. They have free will, remember.
    As to free will, ‘Wildlife matters’, broadsheet by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, has a report about a feral tomcat called Bruce fitted with a GPS collar. ‘Wildlife matters’ reports: “Late in 2010. Bruce responded to an intense fire 14 km away by leaving his home range to hunt along the edge of the firescar for a forthight, before returning back home”. His journey was logged, a little map is shown. Bruce skirted a hill to follow a water course, and seems to have taken exactly the same way coming and going. The journey took two days.

      1. No joke.

        That one’s been on the ‘Net for quite some time.

        Re-watching it, it seems entirely predictable. What else was Pinky supposed to do?

        I’m also left thinking that the poor guy doesn’t have much experience dealing with panicking cats. I kept wanting him to quickly wind in Pinky’s leash, scruff him, and cover his face while the assistant brought in the box. Yes, you might lose a few drops of blood — but that’s already nearly inevitable at that point (assuming that releasing the leash isn’t an option, of course). But you’ll be left with minor scratches as opposed to deep puncture wounds. Similarly, the cat will merely be pissed as opposed to freaked out of his gourd.

        It’s not good for anybody to let a cat bounce around at the end of a leash. That situation needs to be stopped immediately.

        And, if you’re going to put a cat on a leash, you need to have a plan to deal with that kind of a freak-out. I’ve never taken Baihu anywhere that I couldn’t double-time it back inside the house in less than several seconds…but, if I ever take him to a park, I’ll first make sure he’s comfortable in a tote bag (ideally with a zipper top) and have said bag ready to stuff him in (or, more likely, for him to scramble in without any prompting from me).


  7. Just guessing here, but it seems to me that cats are probably better adapted for shell-game success than we are, since (in the wild) they routinely stalk small creatures that like to hide under leaves and such. So accurately tracking which leaf that mouse was last seen under seems like a good survival skill.

    There’s also the fact that their neural circuits are physically shorter than ours and their reflexes correspondingly faster, so the shell gamer’s sleight-of-hand may be inherently less confusing to them.

  8. I think the most amazing part of the gaming cat vid is that the cat just sits there so patiently until the mixing is done. I’d expect my present & former cats would have started “playing” much sooner.

  9. We walk Lucy quite often. When we lived in a less busy part of Victoria we would routinely take her for a long walk to Government House with its lovely gardens where we’d meet plenty of folks walking their dogs and wondering what the heck a cat was doing in their midst. Their presence never seem to bother her much, either.

    She got quite good at managing the streets too. Whenever a car went by she’d stop and wait. We still walk her once in a while now and since the recent move there is a whole new neighbourhood to discover.

    The wriggling-up-side-down-and-backwards-out-of-the-harness behaviour worked well for her when she was slimmer and the leash too long. We learned our lessons early on 😉

  10. Oh, and she walks us every time she gets out of the house. Then we walk (or run) to wherever she wants us to walk (or run) until cought. 😛

    We fall for that one time and time again.

Leave a Reply