Apparently there is nothing more offensive to the pet-loving masses than suggesting that pets might not love everything we do. Stanley Coren, a psychologist who has been very active in studying the human-animal bond, recently presented his observations that when analyzing randomly selected photos of humans hugging their dogs, over 80% of the dogs appeared to be exhibiting behavioral signs of stress (to be clear, some dogs seemed perfectly happy with the hugs, just not too many of them). Now, this was not a peer-reviewed study, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet. ...continue reading →
I don't know if there's anyway to tastefully combine Martin Luther King Jr., Day - a day of activism and to contemplate the state of racism, privilege, justice, and equality in our country - with cats and squirrels, but I'm going to try. Kudos to the activists who shut down the Bay Bridge on Monday in a non-violent protest.
Today (January 22) is Answer Your Cat's Questions Day. What do you think cats want to know about humans? It may sound silly (and in fact it is). But in my work as a cat behavior consultant, I spend a lot of trying helping folks understand their cats' needs better, and its easy to see that humans do things that might perplex cats - like not providing them with adequate scratching, climbing or toileting options, and then getting angry when cats scratch, climb, or go to the bathroom on other things. We expect cats to love new cats, we expect them to sleep when they are bored, and to let us pet them and hold them even when they don't want to be petted or held. WHAT IS WRONG WITH US HUMANS? No wonder cats need their questions answered.
Last week I was fortunate enough to attend and present my research at the 2015 ISAZ (International Society for Anthrozoology) conference in Saratoga Springs, NY. It was an amazing conference, with research presentations and talks on everything from anthropomorphism, animal-assisted therapy, welfare issues, our relationships with our pets, animal shelter issues, and so much more!
I STORIFIED most of the tweets from the conference, in case you want to read more about what happened. There were many highlights, including John Bradshaw's keynote talk, meeting other folks who are actively promoting science and behavior via social media, and of course talking about almost nothing but animals and research for many days.
And stay tuned at the ISAZ2015 website, they promised an updated PDF of the program soon, and of course, check out the organization and become a member if you are interested in issues related to human-animal interactions!
This year's conference features a keynote from one of my fave cat scientists, John Bradshaw; sessions on the history of human-animal interactions, shelters & animal welfare, animal behavior, attitudes toward animals, and animal assisted therapy. My research collaborator and I will be presenting our work developing a scale to measures pet owner's care for their cats.
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.
Gosh, sorry to use such a tired old meme! But your friend at Cats and Squirrels has been a busy bee in 2015! It's all about the conferences!!
First of all, I've been Co-Director of a team putting together a conference called Beyond Academia, which will be happening here at UC Berkeley on March 16 & 17. I had no idea how much work (and money) is required to put on a conference! From wrangling a venue and catering AND 100 speakers, plus marketing, selling tickets, updating webpages, putting together programs, fundraising, and begging for free booze - it's been a major undertaking! But we are very excited about what we have put together, and it has been one of the most social things I have done as a graduate student.