Khajiit—possibly The Elder Scrolls franchise’s most recognizable fantasy race alongside the Argonians. Who doesn’t love a cool bipedal cat? As it turns out, actual cats.
Tyler and Rachel, a married gaming duo whose shared Twitter can be found at @PrimaryPlaythru, posted a video of one of their cats reacting to a Khajiit character on their TV screen. Their poor pet, Lucky, was not pleased to see some other weird cat in his house. In the video, Lucky approaches and sniffs the TV screen with a curling tail and an arched back—cat language for “I’m really not liking what I’m seeing”.
What follows suit isn’t quite caterwauling or an aggressive cat vs. flatscreen cage fight. Lucky is completely intimidated by Tyler and Rachel’s Khajiit character: ears back, tail between the legs, back arched. Rachel warns Tyler to zoom out before Lucky attacks the screen but considering his slink of shame to his owner’s side, trying to defend his territory from the Khajiit intruder is the furthest thing from Lucky’s mind.
Given that Lucky approaches to sniff the screen and slinks away without hissing or launching himself at the Khajiit, he was probably more scared than aggressive. Seeing the Khajiit’s face—catlike enough for Lucky to recognize but with just enough human in it to throw the poor thing off—was probably very disconcerting. As it turns out, cats can experience uncanny valley too!
In fact, cats are a lot smarter than most people think. A few viral videos have captured cats in the middle of watching something on a screen or reacting to their owners using filters to change their faces. In the case of the latter, cats are captured looking at the screen and their owners’ distorted image, then turning around to look at their owners’ actual face. This is the mirror self-recognition test in action. Cats can recognize themselves and others in a mirror and understand that the reflection as distinct from themselves.
For reference, human infants reliably begin to pass the mirror test at around 18-20 months old. Cats are pretty smart; smart enough to recognize that Khajiit look pretty busted for a furry fantasy race.
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