We use mirrors to fix our hair and make sure we don’t change lanes into another car on the highway. Some people use them to measure cats’ intelligence.
As exhibited in an article on the Pussington Post (yes, it’s a real site. Excited, cat lovers?), domestic cats have a range of responses to seeing themselves in the mirror. Some see it as a toy, others briefly assume it’s another cat until their noses and ears tell them otherwise. If some cats have no response, it’s not necessarily because they don’t recognize the mirror; it could be just that they don’t have the same need of mirrors that we do. After all, why would a cat stare at itself when there’s a lovely warm sun patch to lay in on the rug? In any case, cats who seem to recognize that the other cat in the mirror is their reflection are deemed more intelligent.
Photographers Xavier Hubert-Brierre and Michel Guiss Djomo wanted to take the interaction to the wild. They set up a mirror in the jungles near Nyonié in Gabon and recorded how the area’s leopards reacted. Hubert-Brierre and Djomo don’t have a behavioral science stake in their new project, but we can definitely see some remarkable similarities between Patches over on the rug and Gabon’s big cats.