I have never been the self-motivated type. My study habits consist of making a mockery of my lecture notes with friends and attempting to explain course content to anyone who will listen. As a result, when I am home, my motivation tanks. With finals crawling closer and closer, the realization that I am study-buddy-less has left me scrambling to find an alternate solution.

For the past week, I have been studying with my cat. Below is a table documenting the course I studied, my cat’s attentiveness to the content, and how it affected my comfort with the material. If you want to use this as a reference for studying with your own pets, go ahead, but keep in mind that depending on the pet, your experience may be very different from mine.

Course Cat Reaction Impact on Understanding
BCS 110: Foundations of Neural Behavior Attentive during my review of the processes concerning reward and addiction in the brain. While reviewing the drugs, I hypothesized about how catnip would alter a cat’s brain, which got us both off track. Incredibly helpful for review, especially when it came to reviewing sites in the brain and I used her paw to point to the various centers of activity. For denser topics, especially in the natural sciences, being able to explain the material yourself is crucial to applying that knowledge on an exam. Paw-sitive results overall. 9/10.
MUSC 111: Theory I Nonplussed as I explained the function of modulating to different keys and various forms of phrase structure, but once the music turned on, she watched the television and (wishful thinking on my part, perhaps) followed along in the score. Attempting to meow out music in the name of mutual comprehension makes you feel incredibly silly, especially when your father comes home from tennis and hears you meowing Beethoven’s Sonata No. 8. One could even say it makes you feel pathétique. Though all that meowing does help familiarize you with the chord structure of the piece. 6/10.
SPAN 152: Intermediate Spanish II I tried to get her to meow back as I spoke in Spanish to her, but to no avail. She mainly just sat there and stared at the television. Instead of arguing with her I turned it to a Spanish channel for a sense of solidarity. Overall the same as studying on my own, but with the added distraction of just wanting to watch TV and pet my cat. Ended up giving in to said distraction after finishing my paper and watching “The Great British Bake Off” for the rest of the night instead of getting more work done. If you time it right, this could be a good break for halfway through your studies. 5/10.
ASLA 106: Intermediate ASL II Mistook my first signs for me having thrown a pom-pom (her favorite toy) and hurtled into the hallway. After the five minutes it took to find her snuggled up in the laundry bin, I attempted to explain to her how to interpret fables into ASL, but she kept attacking my hands while I provided examples. Surprisingly frustrating. Working with a cat with a shorter attention span than your own could be the main factor here, so trying this with a more relaxed pet could work. (My cat often falls off of chairs and then runs around for tens of minutes searching for a guilty party to attack.) Also, remember to clip your pet’s nails before you start. Your hands will thank you. 2/10.
LING 110: Intro to Linguistic Analysis Actually engaged in the course content by meowing at me as I reviewed all the sounds in IPA, but quickly lost interest as I went on a deep dive on “The World Atlas of Language Structures” and ended up needlessly researching Catalan for an hour after making a bad pun. Definitely more my fault for losing track of time, but linguistics is easier to comprehend when listening to people who speak a language that does not consist solely of meows. However, the initial meows were surprisingly encouraging. 7/10 as a supplement to talking with a human being, 5/10 by itself.


Tagged: Cats finals

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