Letting your pet cats outdoors is a controversial topic (and apparently a cultural issue - here in the States, we lean more towards keeping them inside, and the Brits think we're nuts!). Does it prevent behavior problems? Maybe -- but I have to say I have PLENTY of behavior clients with indoor/outdoor cats who fight with other cats, urinate or spray inside the house, or have aggression or attention seeking issues. So letting cats go outdoors is not the panacea for all feline behavioral ills as some might have you believe (I've previously written about some reasons to keep your cats indoors).
A new book "Cat Wars" might have you thinking that cats are the only source of avian woes (I've also written on this topic before for The Dodo - so don't forget about humans, squirrels, raccoons and other animals that make life rough on songbirds).
Why do animals have white patches? Does your dog or cat have "mittens" or a white tail tip? It appears that domesticating animals somehow has selected for this pattern of coat colors...and @DogSpies is going to tell us more!
Roosters are infamous for their early-morning cock-a-doodle-do, but a new study looked closer at this behavior. Turns out that the first to crow is the dominant rooster in the bunch. If you take him away, the next in line in the pecking order takes over those wake-up alarm duties. But the subordinate roosters always waited for the boss to crow first, even if he did so later than usual.
We've all heard that cats are mysterious and don't communicate, but those of us who work with cats are trying to bust those myths. This article interviews a few cat experts (including Sharon Crowell-Davis, John Bradshaw, and moi! How'd I end up in that mix???) about how cats communicate and how to better understand what they are trying to tell us.
What your cat is trying to tell you: Stop playing with the tin foil!
A fascinating new study was just published that suggests that certain high-pitched sounds (including crumpling tin foil) can trigger seizures in older cats. I have a lot of thoughts about this that will likely merit a blog post next week. In the meantime: read away!
What's up in canine science?
A lot as usual! @DogSpies talks with Dr. Monique Udell, about the state of dog science, and points the way to some current open access dog studies (meaning: you can read them even if you aren't affiliated with a university!!!) in her latest blog.
That big, bumbling sunfish isn't so lazy after all
I love seeing the sunfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (which is apparently the only place to have captive sunfish on display). They look so ancient and blobby, but turns out their quite good at hunting. Scientists attached accelerometers and cameras to some sunfish to see what they get up to. Turns out: eating lots of jellyfish!
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.
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!
Rats exploring a new environment do better with a buddy. Scientists measured rats second exploration of a novel space either alone or with another rat. Rats who had a buddy on that second trial were more exploratory, and the effect lasted through a third solo trial. Read more!
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.
"Babbling" is the first stage of language development in humans in which infants make sounds that are considered pre-linguistic and practice for future chatting. Babbling has been found in several other animal species (including bats, monkeys and parrots), and now maybe in fish? Turns out that baby snapper (larvae) make "knocking" sounds that adults also use, which function to keep fish together in their schools. Read more here.