Monthly Archives: December 2013

I thought for my last blog post in 2013, I’d keep things fun! Some people like to make New Year’s Resolutions (I’m not really one of them!), so I thought I’d give those of you who share your home with a cat a few easy suggestions to help increase your cat’s happiness, and enhance your relationship with your feline friend.

1.    Play with your cat with interactive toys DAILY

Interactive play (and I don’t mean throwing a mouse across the room) provides exercise and mental stimulation for your cat, and is a great way to bond (especially if your cat isn’t particularly cuddly).

"I got this."
"I got this."
"I really got this."
"I really got this."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The dangers of laughter

I enjoyed this NYT piece on a recent review paper on the possible dangers of laughter, including hernias, dislocated jaws and peeing your pants.

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Should Santa bring kittens and puppies down the chimney?

It's always interesting how we respond to science that goes against our intuition. My instinct is always to tear it apart, but also try to consider the evidence. A recent ASPCA survey found that pets received as gifts were at no greater risk of relinquishment than pets acquired in other ways (they also found that over 20% of all randomly phone people had received a pet as a gift - which just seems high to me!) - what do you think? Dog Spies is on the case, as always bringing us animal-based thoughtfulness.

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Our complicated past and present with elephants 

This is more of a book review than anything, but it made me go to the library and check out Behemoth, by Ronald B. Tobias, which details the history of the elephant in the United States. Unfortunately, for most elephants, the story does not end well. Perhaps what is most fascinating is that elephants were often held responsible for "moral transgressions" which sadly led to abuse, corporal punishment and even being sentenced to death. I'm looking forward to reading this book!

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It's Friday again already? Here's what I liked this week!

5000 years of love: Cats became domesticated earlier than we thought

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We know humans and cats hung out together at least 9500 years ago. And we have evidence of domesticated cats dating 4000 years ago. We didn't know much about what happened between these two time periods until now. Scientists have found evidence for co-existence (cats living on human food) and possible domestication in China 5000 years ago.  Read more here or here

Social learning in chimps

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A study in Zambia found differences between chimp colonies in how they open hard-shelled fruits, demonstrating support for both social learning and culture. If you can, read the source article, or try this article (Some articles had absurd statements, like, "further strengthens the fact that chimps are our closest relatives!" - uh, no that's proven by genetics...).

Dogs recognize familiar faces from images

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This study looked at both research dogs and pet dogs in Helsinki, presenting them with images (both upright and inverted) of humans and dogs (familiar and strangers), then used eye-tracking technology to measure where they looked and for how long. Dogs like to look at pictures of other dogs, and they look longer of images of both familiar dogs and humans, and they particularly spend more time looking in the eye area. Original article here, news write up here.

 

 

 

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I hate to report on research before it’s been written up and peer reviewed, but since “the cat has been let out of the bag” on this one via Reddit and several media outlets, I feel I have to comment on what I’m seeing and reading in the headlines (already: "Study: Your cat hates you and "Sorry, your cat hates you").

Veterinarian Daniel Mills (the same person who brought us the “cats hate petting” study) is currently leading a study to examine the relationship between cats and their owners, or as he states at (:30) “Whether cats are making an emotional commitment” to their owners. You can watch the news clip here:

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Every Friday, some of my favorite news stories of the previous week!

Making dog farts less stinky

It felt like waiting an eternity, but Julie Hecht of Dog Spies has returned with Dog Farts Part 2! This time around, hard evidence on reducing stinkiness of dog farts. You know they say you study your own pathology...

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I just read the amazing article on the history of the urbanization of the Eastern Gray Squirrel by Dr. Etienne Benson! I highly recommend that you read it yourself if you can, but as soon as this one hit the social media circuit, I knew a blog post was in order.

"...and so it shall be...humans will provide me food and shelter..."
"...and so it shall be...humans will provide me food and shelter..."

While the phrase “in a nutshell” may be overused when summarizing research and stories about squirrels, I’ll give you a brief overview. Once upon a time, there were no urban squirrels! Until the mid-1800’s, squirrels were nowhere to be found in urban parks, and the only squirrels you would see in the cities were pets.

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Because it's almost winter and the Ross Dress for Less ads are on all the time...

That's a lot of squirrels.
That's a lot of squirrels.

A former research assistant recently sent me this photo, mentioning that she had deliberated in the store for 10 minutes (!) about whether or not she should get this amazing squirrel-covered sweater for me. When I saw the photo, I have to admit a longing to own and wear this sweater... and I considered rushing to the store to try to find it.

This led me to thinking about my life as an animal-obsessed person. As a researcher and consultant, I have worked with pigeons, squirrels, and cats. And in my lifetime, I have received numerous gifts and tchotchkes with the aforementioned animals emblazoned on them, and they are always much appreciated.

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Every Friday (more or less), sharing some of my favorite news stories of the week!

What are dog farts made of?
Wherein scientists put fart suits on dogs in order to determine the chemical composition and stinkiness of dog farts. What I'd like to know is: what makes some dogs more "fart-prone" in the first place? How did they choose subjects for the study? ("Wanted: Highly Flatulent Dogs")? Read all about it here:

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