離家兩百哩,貓咪一步一步爬回家,科學家大呼不可思議







圖片說明:今年四歲住在美國的母貓Holly,去年十一月與主人意外走散之後音訊全無。過去三個月嘗盡千辛萬苦,最後終於回家與主人團聚。這個新聞曝光後,科學家與動物行為學家無不嘖嘖稱奇,小貓到底是怎麼辦到的?至今依舊是個謎。

Intro

昨天在網路上讀到這個感人的小故事。一隻住在美國佛羅里達州、名叫Holly的小母貓,去年跟主人一塊去露營,結果露營途中意外走失。事後主人焦急四處找尋卻一無所獲,最後只好傷心回家。沒想到這隻小貓卻能在三個月後,從離家將近兩百英哩(三百多公里)的露營區,一路走回家。這三個月來餐風露宿,體重掉了一半不說,後爪因為長途跋涉幾乎已經磨平。肉趾也流血潰爛,最後被發現的時候,連喵叫的力氣也沒有。可憐Holly後來在離家一英里處,被好心人發現,幾天後才突破心防。最後帶去獸醫那邊檢查,發現這小傢伙除了嚴重脫水與體重過輕之外,竟然沒什麼大問題。更重要的是,獸醫發現了牠的身體裡面有被植入過晶片,就這樣,獸醫通知主人,Holly與主人團員。最後是個Happy ending.






貓咪跟狗兒最大的不同是,貓咪獨來獨往,心思難懂。狗兒則多半忠心耿耿,非常黏主人。如果選擇養狗,可以享受狗兒每天討好的滋味,但是養貓呢?相信養過貓的人都知道,養貓就得寵,這種動物天生我行我素,很難交心。

這個新聞引發討論的最大原因在於,貓的方向感不如狗好。貓咪只能在熟悉的領域裡面活動,一但離開熟悉的環境,會迷失方向。再者,貓咪不如狗兒忠心,所以就算跟主人走失了,好像也沒有硬要回來的相認的衝動。這隻小貓是玳瑁色的。之前我去領養貓咪的時候,臨時收容所的人跟我說,白貓最好找到主人,因為賣相好。通常即便是健康的貓咪,黑貓玳瑁貓比較不容易找到主人,因為大家都以貌取貓。






這隻玳瑁貓,臉上的花色很特別,像是一個小丑,可是牠這麼忠心,冒著生命危險,千里迢迢回來與主人團聚,真是令人感動。其實大家養動物不要隨便棄養,因為動物是來跟我們結眷屬緣的,所以要好好愛他們。我之前養的老貓,活到二十一歲才往生,可謂貓瑞。他已經過世三年多了,現在我雖然又領養了兩隻貓咪,但是我沒有一天不想念他。

這篇報導頗長,我只能節錄部份與大家欣賞。有興趣的同學可以自行點連結閱讀。希望你會喜歡。

A Cat’s 200-Mile Trek Home Leaves Scientists Guessing

By PAM BELLUCK



Nobody knows how it happened: an indoor house cat who got lost on a family excursion家庭旅行 managing, after two months and about 200 miles, to return to her hometown.

Even scientists are baffled by困惑 how Holly, a 4-year-old tortoiseshell玳瑁花色(就是橘黑色毛色) who in early November became separated from Jacob and Bonnie Richter at an R.V. rally(Recreational Vehicle就是中文的露營車)美國有很多露營區可供家庭停放露營車 in Daytona Beach, Fla., appeared on New Year’s Eve — staggering搖搖欲墜的, weak and emaciated衰弱的 — in a backyard about a mile from the Richters’ house in West Palm Beach.

“Are you sure it’s the same cat?” wondered John Bradshaw, director of the University of Bristol’s Anthrozoology Institute. In other cases, he has suspected, “the cats are just strays, and the people have got kind of a mental justification腦袋中的想像(通常與現實不符) for expecting it to be the same cat.”
這一段之所會這麼寫是因為,有時候有些主人在寵物走失後,會因為很思念寵物,而將別的動物(貓狗鳥之類的)認成是自己先前走失的那一隻。我個人認為,這種狀況比較容易出現在狗兒或鳥身上,因為貓咪花色不一樣,其實很難自欺欺人啦。另外,每隻貓的習氣與個性也不同,這是每個飼主都同意的吧。

But Holly not only had distinctive black-and-brown harlequin patterns身上的毛色有著獨特的小丑圖案 on her fur, but also an implanted microchip身體內有植入晶片 to identify her.

“I really believe these stories, but they’re just hard to explain,” said Marc Bekoff, a behavioral ecologist 行為生態學者at the University of Colorado. “Maybe being street-smart熟悉城市且機警懂得生存之道的, maybe reading animal cues從動物身上獲得提示, maybe being able to read cars, maybe being a good hunter. I have no data for this.”
There is, in fact, little scientific dogma on cat navigation科學信條對於貓咪如何認路這件事情之道的不多. Migratory animals遷徙動物 like birds, turtles and insects have been studied more closely, and use magnetic fields磁場, olfactory cues氣味的提示, or orientation by the sun太陽的方位.

Scientists say it is more common, although still rare, to hear of dogs returning home, perhaps suggesting, Dr. Bradshaw said, that they have inherited wolves’ ability to navigate using magnetic clues. But it’s also possible that dogs get taken on more family trips, and that lost dogs are more easily noticed or helped by people along the way.
Cats navigate well around familiar landscapes熟悉的地形環境, memorizing locations by sight and smell, and easily figuring out shortcuts, Dr. Bradshaw said.

Strange, faraway遙遠的 locations would seem problematic, although he and Patrick Bateson, a behavioral biologist at Cambridge University, say that cats can sense smells across long distances. “Let’s say they associate the smell of pine with wind coming from the north, so they move in a southerly direction,” Dr. Bateson said.


下面這一段很有趣,之前國家地理頻道美國喬治亞大學有進行過一個計畫,叫做the Kitty Cams Project。這邊的Cams指的是攝影機。研究人員讓貓咪脖子上掛著攝影機,記錄每隻貓咪每天的行為。包括牠們到底去了哪裡?又做了什麼。因而有了一些有趣的發現。我記得這項研究有揭露家貓的殘暴,因為牠們平均一周殺生四次,對象從鳥到老鼠什麼都有,家貓殺生不是為了填飽肚子,多半只是好玩(天生的狩獵性格所致) 另外,貓咪也不忠誠,有些貓會劈腿主人,就是同時認兩個主人,這邊吃吃,那邊討好。(看到這邊,很慶幸我家的貓很怕生,應該不會劈腿我...)

New research by the National Geographic and University of Georgia’s Kitty Cams Project, using video footage from 55 pet cats wearing video cameras on their collars, suggests cat behavior is exceedingly complex貓咪的行為非常複雜.

For example, the Kitty Cams study found that four of the cats were two-timing their owners有四隻受測的貓咪會劈腿(就是同時認兩個主人), visiting other homes for food and affection. Not every cat, it seems, shares Holly’s loyalty.

KittyCams also showed most of the cats engaging in risky behavior, including crossing roads and “eating and drinking substances away from home,” risks Holly undoubtedly experienced and seems lucky to have survived.

In the Florida case, one glimpse through the factual fog comes on the little cat’s feet. While Dr. Bradshaw speculated Holly might have gotten a lift可能搭陌生人的便車, perhaps sneaking under the hood of a truck偷偷摸摸溜進卡車蓋裡面 heading down I-95, her paws suggest she was not driven all the way, nor did Holly go lightly.

科學家無法解釋貓咪Holly到底是如何獨自走完將僅兩百英里的路回家。貓咪因為不會主動接近人,所以不像流浪狗,有時候可能透過陌生人的善心,搭便車回家。再者,獸醫後來檢查Holly的爪子與肉趾受傷與磨損的狀況,斷言牠可能真的是一步一步走回來的。過程不可能作弊。而且牠的體重從走失前的六點三公斤,掉到三公斤,還真不是鬧著玩的。這顯示出過去三個月,應該沒有人在飲食或是住宿方面接濟牠,Holly真的是靠著老天爺保佑(一路上亂吃又挨餓)才爬回來主人身邊。三百多公里花了三個月,真是令人難以置信。

“Her pads肉趾 on her feet were bleeding,” Ms. Richter said. “Her claws are worn weird爪子的磨損狀況非常詭異. The front ones are really sharp前爪還非常尖利, the back ones worn down to nothing後爪卻幾乎磨平了.”

Scientists say that is consistent with a long walk, since back feet provide propulsion推進, while front claws engage in activities like tearing. The Richters also said Holly had gone from 13.5 to 7 pounds.
Holly hardly seemed an adventurous wanderer, though her background might have given her a genetic advantage基因的優勢. Her mother was a feral cat roaming the Richters’ mobile home park露營車營區, and Holly was born inside somebody’s air-conditioner, Ms. Richter said. When, at about six weeks old, Holly padded into their carport 有頂無牆的車棚and jumped into the lap of Mr. Richter’s mother, there were “scars on her belly from when the air conditioner was turned on,” Ms. Richter said.

The Richters — Bonnie, 63, a retired nurse, and Jacob, 70, a retired airline mechanics’ supervisor and accomplished bowler 保齡球高手— began traveling with Holly only last year, and she easily tolerated a hotel, a cabin or the R.V這隻貓很好搞定,無論是順什麼旅館,小木屋或是睡在露營車子裡面都好.

But during the Good Sam R.V. Rally in Daytona, when they were camping near the speedway with 3,000 other motor homes, Holly bolted衝出 when Ms. Richter’s mother opened the door one night. Fireworks the next day may have further spooked her進一步嚇到牠, and, after searching for days, alerting animal agencies告知動物相關單位 and posting fliers發散傳單, the Richters returned home catless.

Then, on New Year’s Eve, Barb Mazzola, a 52-year-old university executive assistant, noticed a cat “barely standing幾乎站不起來 in her backyard in West Palm Beach, struggling even to meow連要叫出聲音都沒力氣. Over six days, Ms. Mazzola and her children cared for the cat, putting out food, including special milk for cats, and eventually the cat came inside.

檢到Holly的好人人將牠暫時取名為Cosette,就是孤雛淚那部電影裡面的可憐孤兒的名字。

They named her Cosette after the orphan in Les Misérables, and took her to a veterinarian獸醫, Dr. Sara Beg at Paws2Help. Dr. Beg said the cat was underweight體重過輕 and dehydrated脫水,” but was “bright and alert 明且機警” and had no parasites寄生蟲, heartworm心絲蟲 or viruses病毒. “She was hesitant and scared around people she didn’t know, so I don’t think she went up to people and got a lift我不覺得牠有向人求助,然後搭便車回家,” Dr. Beg said. “I think she made the journey on her own.”

At Paws2Help, Ms. Mazzola said, “I almost didn’t want to ask, because I wanted to keep her, but I said, ‘Just check and make sure she doesn’t have a microchip.’” When told the cat did, “I just cried.”
The Richters cried, too upon seeing Holly, who instantly relaxed when placed on Mr. Richter’s shoulder. Re-entry is proceeding well, but the mystery persists. Holly 重回主人懷抱後適應良好,但牠到底是怎麼辦到的?至今仍舊是一個謎。

“We haven’t the slightest idea how they do this,” Mr. Galaxy said. “Anybody who says they do is lying, and, if you find it, please God, tell me what it is.”





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