For “Climbing the Cat Family Tree” (pages 6-10)
1. Before beginning this article, read together “How DNA Revealed the Cat Family Tree” on page 9. Note Warren Johnson’s occupation.
2. Discuss the following idea (which appears on page 7):”The more alike the DNA of two species, the more recently their branches of the family tree split. The greater the number of differences, the more distant the relationship and the longer ago the lineages diverged.”
3.Using the chart on page 8, the box above it, and the information about migration from the article, ask students to explain what we now know about how the differences in lineage between a lion and a black-footed cat occurred.
For “Wild Thing, I Think I Love You” (pages 12-15)
1. Start by tossing out the term “wild animal.” What do students think this term means? What animals, in their opinions, can and cannot be domesticated and/or trained? Then read aloud the beginning of the article and discuss Montecore’s attack.
2. After reading the entire article, ask students if their viewpoints on the term “wild animals” have changed.
In Depth: After reading the section titled “The Purr-Fect Predator” ask students to design a robot which could exactly mimic a cat’s hunting skills. In words or a series of labeled drawings, ask students to show each how each step the robot takes would need to be designed so that the its skill would match that of a cat capturing and killing its prey.
For “The Cat’s Meow” (pages 16-17)
1. Begin with the final paragraph on page 17 (with its explanation that certain cat sounds cannot be replaced with specific words).
2. After reading the article, review the study done at Cornell University. Then ask students to design a video study for the same purpose. Create a chart to be used in the recording of data that includes the following items (all mentioned in the article): posture, head position, eye contact, tale movement.
For “Feline Groovy” (pages 19-23)
1. Ask students to create a survey based on the seven tips suggested in the article. The survey sheet should be designed to indicate the names and ages of the cats surveyed-as well as their owners’ names. Begin the survey by asking owners how they would rate their relationship with their cats on a scale of 1-10. Then owners would be asked tip-by-tip if they provide each of those opportunities for their cats-and whether or not they would be willing to try any of the tips in the future.
2. Ask each student to conduct the survey with 3-5 cat owners.
3. A classroom chart could be used to compile all the results and to draw conclusions.
For “Right-Side Down” (pages 24-26)
1. If at all possible, begin with students viewing the videos at the websites mentioned in the article.
2. Again, if possible, give students the chance to experiment with a gyroscope.
3. Ask students to explain, in writing, the following:
a.) what “conversion of angular momentum” means
b.) why the extreme skateboarders’ execution of a Frontside 180 is mentioned in this article
c.) what explains why 90% cats who suffered multistory falls survived
d.) why falling farther in some cases was actually safer for cats than falling shorter distances
e.) why studying cat motion may help with the space-related problem of steering in spacecraft
For “A Purr-fect Way to Build up Bones” (pages 27-29)
Assignment: You are a doctor who is opening up a brand new clinic to help older people actually reverse their bone loss. In a series of five posters to be hung in the clinic waiting room–at least one of which features a cat–you will explain why the only equipment in your clinic is a machine that produces vibrations. NOTE: This assignment would work well with students working in teams.
For “Curious Cat Catchwords” (pages 36-50)
1. Challenge students working in pairs to write a skit in which all nine of the “cat sayings” are used; the dialogue-although humorous–should make sense.
2. Additionally, give each pair the responsibility for explaining the origins of one of the sayings (one you assign).
3. Have each pair present its skit and an explanation for the assigned saying.
For “A Cat May Look at a King” (pages 38-39)
Ask students to scan the article for five pieces of “evidence” that cats were important in past societies and five technological methods used today for investigating information about cats who lived in times long past.
After students have read the article, discuss how and why cats (except for domestic ones) “are being eliminated by humans.”