But that doesn't mean the cat fully understands what's happening. "The cat is hearing the music concurrently with touching the peas," says Adelman. "So that's kind of freaky and probably very confusing for the cat." Adelman cites the cat's ambivalent body language: tail down, but not between legs; a cautious approach, low to the ground (or table, in this case); and, surprisingly, the method of attack. Everything about this cat's behavior says, I don't know what's happening, but I'd like to find out. And nothing about its behavior suggests aggression.
The quick pokes from the cat's paw are not actually not an attack. "When cats touch [foreign] objects, they don't know whether they're alive or dead, or whether they'll bite them, or whatever, they often just tap them to see what happens," says Adelman. "It's like an experiment." It's the same strategy we ourselves use to test, for example, an object's temperature. If you take a pan out of the oven and aren't sure if it's too hot to handle, you might give it as quick a touch as possible. "If you just touch it for a nanosecond, if it burns, if it's hot, if it's prickly, you've barely touched it," says Adelman. "You haven't exposed yourself to much."