Friday Faves February 7, 2014

Scientists to sequence the feline genome

Not only are scientists going to sequence the entire genomes of 99 domestic felines, they are going to make the data (all 168 terabytes of it) available on the cloud! My dream: in the future, this information will help us with understanding more about the genetic causes of different feline behavioral traits…read more here.

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When cats bite, they aren't messing around

A new study reports that one in three people who go to the doctor with a cat bite end up hospitalized; and two-thirds of those who are hospitalized need surgery. Why? Cats have sharp teeth (and I'd also guess that many of these bites were hard bites).

My critique of this study is that of course, people who get bitten and don't need to go to the doctor aren't included in studies like this AND they didn't collect any data on the circumstances that led to the bite. Here I go on my soapbox, but then of course, the media reports that "middle-aged women should be particularly wary when stroking cats as they're the most likely people to be bitten." They don't actually know that these bites took place during petting. Many serious cat bites happen when handling a frightened or agitated cat, so it's ridiculous to say that the study suggests being wary when petting cats.

Getting off soapbox now. That said, the best way to stay safe is prevent yourself from getting bitten in the first place - for example by learning about cat behavior, training cats to get into carriers on their own or get used to other husbandry techniques that may cause stress, and using safety equipment when handling feral cats.

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Bees taste with their feet

What if we could taste with our hands and feet? Would that make eating a whole different experience? Scientists just discovered that bees' feet are sort of their “sweet tooth” – they can find nectar using their feet, but interestingly, the bee foot is particularly sensitive to salty tastes. They need salt to survive, and their feet help them find it.

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