Funny dieting experiment (offensive to cat lovers)

(CIM) The Netherlands: Doctor Huizenaas of the Rotterdam Animal Research Institute has successfully trained a cat not to eat food. His research followed an unsuccessful attempt by Professor Egon Spuunrais to achieve this same goal.

Prof Spuunrais failed experiment was based on the use of positive reinforcement. The cat was shown food, and if it refused to eat it, the animal was rewarded by a tasty tidbit. His conclusions were widely ridiculed, predominantly for the absence of a control.

Dr Huizenaas formulated a more rigorous test based on negative reinforcement, and including a control animal which did not receive the punishment.

In the Huizenaas experiment, whenever the test animal accepted food it was struck on the head by a small steel mallet. At first, the cats behaviour was unaffected by this, but after some adjustments to the force of the blow, it was observed that the cat became progressively less interested in the food and indeed was often seen to shake its head vigorously on being struck.

By this stage the association between eating the food and being hit on the head had obviously been made: the cat was refusing the food, but only briefly. After lurching in circles for a few mintues, the cat would return to the bowl.

However, after several more trials, the cat was conditioned to the point where it has subsequently shown no interest whatsoever in food, or anything else for that matter.

The experiment was concluded four weeks ago, and in the time since, the cat has not eaten once. Or moved. The appetite of the control cat, on the other hand, has increased to the point where it is eating the food put out for both animals.

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