When discussing possible project topics with my mentor, she mentioned that she still had cats available for research. I love cats, so I immediately jumped on the opportunity to work with them. During the research to find something that had not been done, we discovered that there were almost no studies on cats at all. It was amazing that the most common house pet in the United States had almost no formal information. Seeing that there was not much of a foundation for research, I decided to build upon one of the past few studies that truly piqued my interest; the cognitive functions of cats.
Not only would this help the advancement of our knowledge on the common house cat, it is also helping to show me exactly how to research, build, and conduct my very own experiment. Since I would like to go into psychological research, gaining this kind of experience is extremely crucial to me. Without it, I fear that I would have been a few steps back compared to my peers when I entered the graduate school arena. Even though I am getting invaluable research experience, I am also having an amazing time doing so.
Currently, my weekly routine has changed. A week ago, I would arrive to the farm and spend approximately 15-20 minutes in the T-maze room with each of the 6 cats. This was to help them grow accustom to myself and the T-maze itself. Now, I have started running the trials with each of the cats. This means that I spend each day with only 1 cat and have them run through the maze approximately 40 times with the treat layout changing each time. Since the start of this week, I have learned that the common cat stereotype is true, and they really do like to do whatever they please. While it is funny, the rebellious nature often causes me to spend extra time completing the trials with each cat.