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Cats are lithe, fluid, shape-shifting creatures that love tight spaces. But are they liquid or solid?

This is a topic that has been probed by BoredPanda. BuzzFeed considered it, twice. So did a site called Pleated Jeans. All went with liquid.

Oh, and in 2014, the question was examined in detail by an actual scientist. A physicist at Paris Diderot University used rheology, or the study of the flow of matter, to determine whether a feline’s ability to fill up a fish bowl makes it something more fluid-like than it might appear.

His answer? Cats can be both solid and liquid. (You can read his paper here; I will admit that I don’t understand it enough to explain it.) His prize? A 2017 Ig Nobel. The prize is a parody of the Nobel prize, and it’s awarded each year to researchers who, the organizers say, “first make people LAUGH, then make people THINK.”

“A cat in a small box will behave like a fluid, filling up all the space,” wrote Science Magazine, whose reporter was at the Ig Nobel ceremony at Harvard University on Thursday. “But a cat in a bathtub full of water will try to minimize its contact with it and behave very much like a solid.

Now you know.

In other animal news this week:

  • California lawmakers passed a bill that would make it the first U.S. state to ban pet stores from selling animals from commercial breeders; the bill now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown (D).
  • Vice President Pence’s rabbit, Marlon Bundo, inked a deal for a book about his life hopping alongside the WP. Pence’s daughter, Charlotte, is the ghost writer, and second lady Karen Pence is providing watercolor illustrations. As the New York Post put it: “Mike Pence’s bunny is more successful than you.”
  • Federal wildlife officials released trail camera photos of a jaguar in Arizona, 60 miles north of the Mexico border. This is very rare: Just two other jaguars have been spotted in the United States since 2011. Those were male, and there’s hope this one might be a female — the better to make jaguar kittens with. The three are believed to have migrated from Mexico, and their presence, conservationists argue, is evidence that the border wall proposed by President Trump would be bad for wildlife.

Thanks, as always, for reading!

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