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Cognition and perception, Social and behavioural

Episode 31: How to better understand your cat

Research into cat cognition and sociability can give us guidance on how to make our cats’ lives happier – and even how to train them.

06 September 2022

By PsychCrunch

This is Episode 31 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society's Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology.

Download the episode here.

We've lived side-by-side with domestic cats for thousands of years, yet they maintain an aura of mystery and a reputation for aloofness and even outright disdain for humans. But are cats really so enigmatic – or are we only just beginning to understand them?

In this episode, Ella Rhodes, journalist for The Psychologist, speaks to two experts who are working to help us to understand cats. They discuss research on cat cognition and intelligence, chat about what we can do how to make our cats' lives happier, and even share some tips on how to train them. Our guests are Dr Kristyn Vitale, assistant professor of animal health and behaviour at Unity College, and Dr Zazie Todd, author of the Companion Animal Psychology blog and recent book Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy.

Episode credits:

Presented and produced by Ella Rhodes.

cript edits by Matthew Warren.

Mixing and editing by Jeff Knowler.

PsychCrunch theme music by Catherine Loveday and Jeff Knowler.

Artwork by Tim Grimshaw.

Relevant research and writing from our guests includes:
Several articles by Kristyn Vitale and colleagues:
Research Digest and The Psychologist also have plenty of past coverage on cats, including:

PsychCrunch is sponsored by Routledge Psychology

Routledge Psychology are giving PsychCrunch listeners the chance to discover even more ground-breaking research: free access to 5 articles of your choosing from over 4.5 million at, plus a 20% discount on books at