It's a well known catfact

One has to be careful about what's considered a "fact". In some corners of the Internet, you may find people making statements like:

When a cat brings you a bird, they think you're too weak to do your own hunting.

I saw this, and scoffed because it's an example of what's "just accepted as true". Someone else asked for a source, and was met with:

This is the first site on google It's a fairly well known catfact. Trust me.

It's somewhat condescending, but hopefully that's earned by citing a useful, science-filled article. Is it? The first thing I hunted for was some kind of citation for a scientific study, and came up empty. 

There's really nothing scientific here in this article. I'll break it down.

  • Some cats (so low sample size) don't kill/eat their prey.
  • Spayed cats are more likely to do this (no citation provided)
  • In the wild, cats bring prey to their offspring to teach them to hunt (no citation provided)
  • So therefore, cats must be doing the same thing with humans, because they're being motherly to us.

It's just a sequence of supposition. That'd be fine if the article acknowledged it. Maybe the cat is showing off. Maybe the cat wants to play a game with you ("Battle over the Mouse Corpse"). Maybe it's incidental, and why it's a low instance rate.

Where's the hypothesis-testing to suss out the motivations of the cat? How are these experiments conducted, what assumptions do they make, and how do they mitigate error, whether it's human-induced (the cat reading the body language of the human scientist, etc) or in the process itself?

This kind of inductive reasoning is fine for establishing the next experiments... but are hardly sufficient, standing on their own, to establish a "fact".

The next time you're asked to support this notion that cats think you're too weak/unable to hunt for food, maybe perhaps skip the first search result in Google?