Who would have guessed that the big research questions of 2014 would be all about cats (okay, I’m biased)? Do cats really love us? Do they recognize our voices? Do they hate petting? Why do they love boxes? Does anyone understand them (even our vets?)? Why are cats so mysterious???
Connecting technology, movement and emotion to study animals
Scientists are using accelerometers on various animals - from cockroaches to elephants - and correlating their movements with positive or negative experiences. So far they have found significant differences in how animals move their bodies during positive or negative states. This potentially gives us new, non-invasive tools for studying animal emotions! So cool! Now tell me, what does my Fitbit say about my mental state?
Leave it to two of my science-blogging faves, DogSpies and BuzzHootRoar to bring us the top reasons that dogs hump, complete with animated GIFs. We can all just go home now, science journalism is done.
I think most of us who adopt a kitty from a shelter (especially if they are an adult) wonder about their past life, before we brought them home. Who fed them? Were they born under a bed or under a bridge? But how important is it to adopters to know that their cat previously lived in a home, with people? A new study, "Is There a Bias Against Stray Cats in Shelters?" suggests that there might be a bias against stray cats with an unknown history.
The authors of the paper, Kathryn Dybdall and Rosemary Strasser, did three studies. In the first, they examined shelter records of adult adoptable cats (12 months or older) who had been listed as either owner-surrender or stray. Owner-surrender cats tended to be adopted on average in 26 days, compared to 32 days for stray cats.
What's the science behind your relationship with your cat?
Are cat people just a little different? Do we relate to our pets a little differently too? Yes. I wrote on this subject for the Dodo many months ago, and was interviewed for this excellent piece by Gwynn Guilford that was released this week on Quartz (qz.com).
All the squirrel news that's "fit to print" - squirrels got busy in November!
Squirrels love the holiday season!
Every year, the Cincinatti Zoo has a “Festival of Lights” – with millions of beautiful lights for their holiday festival. The squirrels historically chewed the wires and removed light bulbs – burying them as if they were nuts – leaving the zoo to switch to LED and not hang the lights until the very last minute. The video is pretty awesome.