The Science of Cute

Why do kitten faces and cartoon cuties hold such power over us? Why does the sight of a puppy tug our heart strings? Find out in this Stuff to Blow Your Mind journey into the science of cute.

Did cats pee on ancient Egyptian rugs?

Robert blogs and fictionalizes about cat domestication. Read on.

This is excellent. "Catnip: Egress to Oblivion" captures all the fun of dosing our beloved pets with mind-altering substances with the hyperbolic style of 1970s anti-drug films. And further proving the power of cat videos, it also won the Audience Award for YouTube shorts at the Sundance Film Festival. Let's watch...

Robots Will Cook You Dinner

Earlier this month, Tokyo's International Food Machinery and Technology Expo became a regular Robo Kitchen Stadium. Who will win? Okonomiyaki Robot or Chef Robot?

Cat Parasites Wrecked My Automobile

No seriously, I'm fine -- as is my car and (presumably) my cat. But this is just the sort of claim you might hear a lot of in the future if researchers at Charles University in Prague are really onto something.

China Has a Cat with Wings

A quick scan of the news is often enough to confirm that we're living in the end times: melting ice caps, failing economies, nuclear weapons tests and celebrity gossip covering all four top spots on the Yahoo front page. But hey, if you're like me, you distract yourself with something else and get on with your life. Today, however, the news out of China is that they have a cat with wings.

If you've ever sat through a viewing of Stephen King's "Cat's Eye," you know that cats don't actually climb into the beds of child actresses and suck their breath out -- you're thinking of tiny wall trolls. Still, a great deal of concern persists among cat owners whenever there's a new baby in the household. Will the cat and the baby become fast friends, or will one try to eat the other? How's a person to be both a responsible parent and a decent pet owner? According to an article from the Associated Press this week, the key is understanding how a cat reacts to the arrival of a newborn. Just think about the noises associated with a new baby. Think about all the curious new smells -- the utter chaos that a baby brings into a household.

Do you ever feel like animals are spying on you? Is that bird in the window listening to your conversations? Does the cat snoop through your e-mail while you're at work? Perhaps, in your calmer moments, you chalk it all up to paranoia and move on with your day, but I've got news for you: That squirrel may be wearing a wire. Don't believe me? Well, you need look no further than Iran. According to the Associated Foreign Press, authorities "arrested" two suspected spy pigeons near a uranium enrichment facility in October of 2008. And no, that's not intelligence slang -- they arrested actual birds, each with suspicious "metal rings and invisible strings." What's more, this was hardly an isolated incident. In 2007, Iranian authorities reportedly captured 14 squirrels armed with state-of-the-art espionage equipment along their borders.

In yesterday's blog, I looked into allegations that efforts to toilet train cats were decimating the California sea otter population. A parasite called Toxoplasma gondii frequently shows up in cat feces (this is also the reason you shouldn't mess with litter boxes if you're pregnant) and, if flushed, can infect sea snails that the otters depend on -- with fatal results. Yet, according to a 2007 post on The Daily Green, flushing your cat's litter down the toilet can also save the planet. They argue that more than 4 billion pounds (almost 2 billion kilograms) of litter winds up in landfills every year and that the clay that it's made from originates in environmentally destructive strip mines -- all this on top of the potential stink.

Toilet-Trained Cats Threaten Environment

Sure, the idea of cats using the toilet may sound efficient, but California sea otters and other marine animals could be paying the price for your scoop-free lifestyle. The parasite Toxoplasma gondii shows up in cat feces and, sadly enough, an alarming number of sea otter corpses as well.