Worldwide School » How Cats Tamed Us
18/08/04

Why are cats so fascinating? If you or someone you know has a cat, watch to find out! We take a look at how felines took over the Internet, our homes, and our lives.

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 Watch

Link to the original New Yorker video with full English transcript and subtitles: https://video.newyorker.com/watch/obsessions-how-cats-tamed-us/

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Glossary

  • to cohabitateto live or exist together or in company
  • to domesticate – tame (an animal) and keep it as a pet or on a farm
  • scavenger – an animal that feeds on carrion, dead plant material, or refuse
  • settlement – a place, typically one which has previously been uninhabited, where people establish a community
  • malleable – easily influenced; pliable
  • susceptible – likely or liable to be influenced or harmed by a particular thing
  • to tally – calculate the total number of
  • to make a dent in sth to reduce an amount of something
  • to alter – to change
  • ambush – make a surprise attack on (someone) from a concealed position
  • pedigree – the record of descent of an animal, showing it to be pure-bred
  • to do one’s bidding to submit to someone’s orders; perform services for someone
  • carnivore – an animal that feeds on other animals
  • to beat the oddsto succeed despite not having a good chance of succeeding

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Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • What is different about cats in how they became domesticated animals? (00:37)
  • Why are humans attracted to cats? (01:40)
  • What’s the connection between cats and Vikings? (02:35)
  • Why are cats so popular online? (04:20)
  • What are some potential future implications of the growing global cat population? (05:13 )

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Practice Makes Perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

Humans never really decided hey, we’re gonna ___________ cats, cats domesticated themselves. It started ___ just that cats were scavengers in our first settlements. The most fearless survived and had more babies and ate more meat. They became what we consider domesticated animals today. Humans have ______ tame dogs and pigs, say, by ________ the friendliest animals with each other and getting more and more malleable animals. The interesting thing about cats though is that they undertook these changes __ their own. The way some scientists think about it is that they went through the process of artificial selection but they did it naturally.

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Of course they’ve taken ____ our modern homes, apartment buildings, and ____ of all, taken over the Internet. People, for a long time, have tried very hard to capture images of cats. I think that there are __________ features of felines that play really well online, that sudden jump, pounce, ambush behavior is just good for that 10 second clip of something crazy happening. It’s like okay, my cat _______ out and jumped on a vacuum or away from a cucumber.

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I think our obsession ___ cats shows how much we can connect still with animals and how much we want to give and can give. At the same time, I think that the way we see them as little ___ dolls basically or these Internet stars speaks to our nature of humans to _______ that these animals are doing our bidding when actually they have ______ their way into every _____ on the planet practically and run roughshod over us in a lot of ways.

Answers:

domesticate, off, gotten, breeding, on, over, last, particular, freaked, with, fur, pretend, wormed, niche

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