Monthly Archives: June 2015

Power Outages

Squirrels are busier than ever, with recent power outages reported in Hingham, MALouisville, KYRoanoke, VALubbock, TXDayton, OHEverett, WAKingston, NHMeriden, CTCollege Station, TX (officials said the squirrel was “electrocuted”), and Piedmont, AL, where the mayor held up the fried squirrel for display.

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A new study looks at pica and chewing behavior in cats.

Does your cat like to chew on things that aren’t food? If so, you are not alone. I personally have had cats who liked to chew paper (one cat shredded my rent check once), cardboard, corners of the carpeted cat tree, and the ever-popular plastic bag. Have you ever wondered WHY your cat does this?

When an animal ingests non-food items, that behavior is called pica. Humans do it too, with the most common targets being dirt or paint (yum!). The cause is not well-understood, with nutritional deficiencies, parasites, need for fiber, and obsessive-compulsive disorders all being tossed into the ring of possible reasons.

A new study, “Characterization of pica and chewing behaviors in privately-owned cats: A case-control study,” tried to get a handle on some of the factors that characterize pica in housecats. Previous research has suggested an influence of breed on the ingestion of fabric, with oriental cat breeds showing a predilection toward fabric-chewing and ingestion. Others have suggested that being housed indoors only is a factor, pointing to boredom and stress as a possible cause.

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All weekend long! #SPARCS2015

Once a year or so, there's a canine science conference, and it's happening again this weekend. You can live stream the whole thing FOR FREE!!! DO IT!! Or at least drop in for a few talks. This year's speakers include Katheryn Lord, Hal Herzog, James Ha, and my friend @DogSpies will be there too!

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Human Vs. Squirrel: It’s a Never Ending Battle

Squirrels can get into enough trouble on their own, but somehow, involve a human, and someone is going to get hurt (usually the human)

Someone made the mistake of offering his hand to a squirrel in the Grand Canyon. The squirrel bites him. Then a bunch of other tourists try to pet the same squirrel. Just sayin.’

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This man went to claim his bicycle, only to find a squirrel with the same idea in mind. The squirrel made a go for his GoPro, too.

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And for the second time in a few weeks, a squirrel has “gone wild” in the NY subway system. They must know I'm headed there.

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Urinary tract problems are relative common in cats - approximately 1.5% of cats who go to the vet are treated for them. But the majority of those problems don’t appear to have a specific cause, so cats are often diagnosed with “feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC)” – the term idiopathic meaning that disease process is of unknown origin. I’ve previously reported on the link between stress and litterbox issues in cats; and the relationship between cystitis and stress in humans and cats appears to be a strong one. But what might cause stresses in cats that would lead to urinary tract disease?

A new study from Norway, “Risk factors for idiopathic cystitis in Norwegian cats: a matched case-control study” sought to find out what type of environmental or personality characteristics might put cats at risk for FIC. The authors surveyed 70 folks whose cats had been diagnosed with FIC and as a control, surveyed 95 cat owners whose cats were patients at the same veterinary hospital, but had never shown signs of urinary tract problems. Owners were asked several questions about the cat’s environment, personality, how the litterbox and food/water stations were maintained, and the cat’s opportunities to express species-specific behaviors (such as scratching, play, and perching up high). Seventy-one percent of the FIC cats were males, and most were domestic short-haired cats.

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