Monthly Archives: April 2015

Not a bad way to wake up each morning.
Not a bad way to wake up each morning.

Another CO3 (Comparative Cognition Conference) has come and gone. Every year, a small (250-ish) group of scientists who study animals (from bees to humans) gathers on the beach in Melbourne, Florida to share snippets of research and make friends with others who share the same fascination with how animals think, solve problems, and perceive the world.

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A bee brain is nothing to laugh at

Bees have a pretty complicated problem to solve: figure out which flowers have nectar, and when. Felicity Muth explores the latest research on bee cognition, and as you will see, it's pretty amazing.

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You know you think your dog looks guilty, but...

Does your dog really feel guilty?

Anyone who works with pets and their owners hears this statement MANY times: "He KNOWS he's done something wrong." It turns out that these doggy (and even feline) behavioral cues that many humans interpret as guilt have more to do with the owner's behavior than the pets. "Dog guilty look expert" DogSpies delves deep into this issue! A must read!

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Cats and Squirrels here, reporting from sunny Melbourne, Florida at the Comparative Cognition Conference (CO3). But that is a story for another day! I spent last weekend in Atlanta doing so many cat-related things that I almost started purring on several occasions.

The IAABC Feline Behavior Conference (okay, it was just domestic cats) happened Saturday and Sunday (that's April 11/12) at some hotel in Atlanta. It was possibly the largest gathering ever of people who work professionally with cats (outside of veterinary conferences), including many cat behavior consultants, shelter workers, veterinarians, and pet sitters.

Things kicked off with a pep talk from Steve Dale on the current status of the cat in our homes, including some things (such as the Catalyst Council and the promotion of Cat Friendly veterinary practices) being done to improve the welfare of the cat.

IMG_4372 Then we heard from Dr. Sharon Crowell-Davis on the social organization of the domestic cat. Contrary to popular belief, cats are not "asocial" - although their social structure is complex and not completely understood. Dr. Crowell-Davis shared a lot of information about matriarchal structures in cat societies and how cats form preferred associations. She encourages people to adopt related kittens together (why not a whole litter?) and basically put it out there - we are depriving cats of learning to be socially competent adults by raising kittens in isolation!! This talk was followed by an excellent overview of feline aggression and ways to work with it. YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!

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No Friday Faves today: I'll be interrupting my usual programming as I get ready to head to the IAABC Feline Behavior Conference in Atlanta! I plan to give a full report in a blog post after the conference, and I will likely be live-tweeting from some of the talks - you follow along at @mikel_maria. And I will be giving a talk on Sunday about what makes cats and their owners unique...and sometimes difficult!

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Getting ready for all these conferences has made it hard to keep up with all the latest in animal behavior research! But there’s been plenty to talk about.

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Could kissing your dog solve your digestive problems?

Researchers at the University of Arizona are launching a study to examine whether dogs may transfer healthy gut bacteria to the humans they live with. Read more about the study here, and see the university website here.

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Dogs use different nostrils for different things

(Pretty sure we do too!) My fave in dog-blogs, @DogSpies covers research looking at how dogs use each nostril differently – among other things, dogs seem to use the right nostril for novelty, and the left to check out familiar things. Super cool, read all about it!

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