Isaac Newton’s Invention? Cat Flaps for his Cats
Isaac Newton – an English physicist, mathematician, and natural philosopher in the 17th century, who has widely known for his formulation the laws of motion and universal gravitation. But his hunger for knowledge took him further into
religion as well. Also, there’s some debate that he is the one who invented a
cat flap! Let’s see how he made a deal with his cats.
Newton is accredited to invent a
cat flap but is it true? Long before Newton, there were holes for cats in human’s houses, so that we put aside the debate of
who invented it?
Anyway, he had a cat called Spithead. She had a habit of nudging open the door of her master’s darkened attic laboratory. This caused Newton undesired concern. He didn’t want her to disturb his focus and experiments as well.
So he summoned the Cambridge carpenter and had him saw two holes in his door and hang over it a black velvet cloth to keep out the light for his experiment.
He sure was benefited from making holes for his cats, so he was able to concentrate on his works. After Spithead had her kittens, Newton made another smaller hole for kittens respectfully. A large one intended for Spithead, and a small one for her kittens.
It’s said he tilted his head when he sees kittens not using a small hole, but followed their mom and use a large one. It is interesting to imagine there would not be his great inventions if there was no cat flap in his door!
Cat Flap History
In rural areas, cat flaps (often simple holes) in the walls, doors or even roofs of grain and flour storage spaces have long been used to welcome feral cats to hunt rodent pests that feed on these stores. Human semi-domestication of wildcats dates back to at least 9,500 BC in Cyprus, and the domestic cat was a part of everyday life in grain-dependent ancient Egypt (ca. 3,000 BC onward).
Nowadays, this function is mostly lost. But in some rural areas, such as Valencia, Spain, and Vaunage, France, farm cat doors and holes (Spanish: gateras, French: chatières) are still common.
Modern Moggy Doors
Let’s step a little further and take a look at what today’s
cat flap is like. Compare to the age-old simple hole on the door, modern-day cat-flap is a high-tech device. It doesn’t allow any other cats, but only yours to enter the door. How can it happen?
A microchip in cat’s collar or implanted under its skin can ensure that only the registered cat can pass through the door. It has the selective entry, but any cats can leave. It stores up multiple cat identities. Neighborhood or feral cats can’t
operate the door.
There were umpteen times Newton was seen as a stone when he wakes up and put his feet down on the floor. Something might have struck him, he’d been sitting there for hours without moving a finger.
All of his energy must have gone to his dead calculating and solving mathematical problems without a pen or paper. Apparently, he didn’t care how he was taken by others.
When he totally focused on his project, he forgot to eat. He gave cold food for two cats that settled at his lab. This is one of the reasons why people see him as eccentric.
It stands to reason that back in his time, cats are not seen as pets, but merely some feral animal living on the street. Giving human’s food was never normal. But did he care? Absolutely not.
What we can be sure about is Newton was one of cat lovers and had to take care of his cat’s behavior which annoyed his experiments. Overall, he had obsessive, problem-solving nature, which led him to explore the mysteries of everything he encountered.
Perhaps, only that kind of
obsession can lead invention of the century.
Well, Newton and cats have something in common. While Newton had an extraordinary power of concentration, cats attain full alertness faster than any other creatures. A healthy mature cat spends about 15% of its life in deep sleep, 50% in light sleep, and 30% in awake time.
Plenty sleep assures they can be alert when it’s needed. Cats attention can’t last for hours like Newton, yet they keep inspiring human to invent something for them!
Isaac Newton (Wikipedia)
Amazing Cat Facts (Cats International)
Microchip Cat Flap (SURE FLAP)
世界は作り物であるⅢ～奇人変人天才ニュートン～ (BeneDict 地球歴史館)
Pet door (Wikipedia)
Oldest Known Pet Cat? 9,500-Year-Old Burial Found on Cyprus (National Geographic)
Also published on Medium.