Copy cat nap

October 13, 2016

The moggy who fell asleep at Malaysia’s International Islamic University because “it appeared to be mimicking behaviour displayed by students” is an unlikely case of reverse causality (“The week in higher education”, News, 6 October). From Fenimore Cooper’s (1823) observation that “I just closed my eyes in order to think better with myself...It was only some such matter as a cat’s nap” to neurophysiological studies in the 1950s by William C. Dement at Stanford and Michel Jouvet at Lyon, cats are known to enjoy a short sleep during the day. Thus, in all likelihood, the students could not resist copying the cat’s behaviour and succumbed to the oppressive weight of a tedious lecture.

R. E. Rawles 
Honorary research fellow in psychology
University College London

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