Category Archives: bonding

Cats Deserve Praise, Too!

cats praise onesharpBy Julia Williams

A few weeks ago, Laurie wrote a very touching post, “In Praise of Dogs.” In it, she discussed various reasons why dogs deserve our admiration. It was a lovely tribute to dogs, and as I read it, I agreed with all of it. Dogs are definitely praiseworthy, no argument there. Then, being the cat lover I am, I said to myself “But cats are praiseworthy, too!” I knew that cats deserved admiration just as much as dogs, so this post is my way of making things even, if you will.

You see, I have noticed that all too often cats get the short end of the stick. Cats – and the people who love them – are frequently discriminated against, as though there is some kind of “pet hierarchy” that places dogs at the top, with cats being inferior; a second-class pet.

I’ll give you just a few examples. Of the three independent pet stores in my area, two make it clear they are “dog stores.” In addition to dog-related store names, 85% of their shelf space is dedicated to dog products. There’s a teeny tiny corner with cat stuff, and it feels like an afterthought.

I’m on the email lists for these pet stores, and they rarely market to cat owners. I’ve lost count of the number of “great sale for your dog” emails I’ve received from them (nope, don’t have a dog.) I do, however, distinctly remember that one lone “cat” email, simply because it was as rare as a two-headed albino alligator. One store recently had a grand re-opening, and there wasn’t a single sentence in their email notice to indicate they even carried cat products.
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Do Cats Really Ignore Their People?

cat study amyBy Linda Cole

Our feline friends are very good at disguising their true feelings. Sometimes it’s hard to know if your cat stares at you for attention or because she’s plotting her next move. Two of my cats will come when called, but the others usually don’t, unless I’m dishing out their CANIDAE cat food. Even though most felines don’t obey commands like our canine friends do, a 2013 study found that cats generally do care about their people and really don’t ignore us.

When cats made the decision to move in and interact with humans around 9,000 years ago, it wasn’t necessary for them to obey commands from people. They went about their business catching the rodents that were attracted to crops, and humans like having them around because of their hunting skills. The more docile kitties were most likely allowed into homes. The wildcat ancestors of modern day house cats essentially domesticated themselves, but there wasn’t really a reason for cats to develop a responsive behavior towards us.
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6 Things Kids Need to Know About Living with Cats

kids and cats TinaBy Julia Williams

Children can form a loving relationship with the family cat that will enrich their lives in so many ways. A close bond between cat and child won’t happen by accident though. As the parent and responsible pet owner, you need to do your part to make sure your children know what to expect when living with a cat. You also need to be sure that the home environment is both kid-safe and cat-safe. Here are six important things children need to know about living with cats.

Cats are Not Toys

In a child’s eyes, a cute, fluffy cat may resemble that stuffed animal she plays with and takes to bed at night. They need to be taught that cats are not inanimate toys but living beings with daily needs that need to be met, including food, water, grooming and cleaning up after them. Children also need to understand that animals experience pain, fear, love and many other emotions, and need to be treated kindly at all times. Your kids might think it’s fun to put doll clothes on the cat and lug her around like a baby, but not all cats will like this. Forcing a cat to do things it finds frightening or objectionable will hinder bonding and may even lead to your cat avoiding the child at all costs.

Learn to Read the Cat’s Body Language

Understanding what the cat is trying to convey through body language is such an important thing for children to learn. As individual beings, cats have different likes and dislikes, and varying degrees of tolerance. What all cats have in common, however, is that they will give off warning signals before resorting to biting or scratching to get away when they’ve had enough petting or don’t want further interaction with you. Kids – and parents – just need to know what that tail, eyes, ears, whiskers and legs are “saying.” My article, How to Read the Body Language of Cats, will give you detailed information.
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Does Gazing Into Your Dog’s Eyes Facilitate Bonding?

dog gaze tonyBy Linda Cole

The close bond dog owners share with their pet is unique, and research has shown that both humans and canines benefit from positive interactions. Now a new study has provided scientists with some surprising findings about the power of a dog’s gaze, which also helps explain why the bond between humans and dogs is so tight.

The human/canine bond is a symbiotic relationship that benefits both species. In many households, dogs are considered treasured members of the family. Playing with, training, petting and grooming your pet helps create an unshakable bond. Researchers know we experience beneficial physiological and psychological changes in the body when interacting with dogs, and a recent study found that both humans and canines have a spike in oxytocin levels when looking into each other’s eyes.

Oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone” or “cuddle hormone” and is linked to the emotional bond between mother and baby. It’s also what bonds other mammals that mate for life, such as wolves, swans, beavers and bald eagles. The hormone helps create a powerful social attachment of affection, and in the case of humans and dogs, it’s fueled by a gaze.

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The Unlikely Animal Friends in the New Android Commercial

By Linda Cole

Every now and then, a commercial comes along that actually gets your attention. A new Android commercial, “Friends Furever,” not only got my attention, it also made me smile. It features 18 different unlikely animal friends, set to the toe tapping tune “Oo-de-lally” from the 1973 Disney animated movie “Robin Hood,” sung by Roger Miller.

The interspecies friendships in this heartwarming commercial show us how simple it is to get along – if we just try. Most of the animals featured were rescued by humans, but found comfort and healing through a special bond with an unlikely animal friend. Here are some of their stories:

Orangutan and Bluetick Hound

After losing his parents, Suryia the orangutan was rescued and sent to an animal sanctuary in Myrtle Beach, SC. He was withdrawn and refused to eat. To cheer him up, caretakers took him on elephant rides to a nearby pond to play. One day, a skinny hound followed them home. He refused to leave and kept finding ways into the sanctuary to be near Suryia. The sanctuary adopted him when an owner couldn’t be found. Normally dogs are afraid of primates, but these two developed an inseparable bond.

Rhino and Sheep

In 2014, staffers from the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center in South Africa found a baby rhino next to his mother. Poachers had killed the adult rhino for her horn. Knowing the traumatized baby would die if left alone, he was sedated and taken back to the center. The little rhino, named Gertjie by the staff, was scared and apprehensive. To comfort him, a sheep was brought in and became his surrogate mother.

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Can We Unintentionally Hurt Our Dog’s Spirit?

By Linda Cole

Most dog owners view their pets as important and valued members of their family, and we’d never do something intentionally that would hurt our dog’s spirit. We may not always understand why dogs behave in certain ways, but dogs don’t understand some of the things we do either. How we interact with a dog matters, and sometimes our actions can unintentionally hurt his spirit.

Taking away food or toys to establish leadership

Food aggression and guarding toys can be a problem that may result in an aggressive reaction towards you, another person or pet. Addressing bad behavior by taking away his CANIDAE food or toys while your dog is still eating or playing won’t change his behavior, and can actually make it worse. He doesn’t have any idea why you “stole” his supper or toy. If it’s repeated on a regular basis, from your dog’s point of view he has a good reason why he needs to be on guard. It doesn’t establish you as the leader, and you risk losing your dog’s trust. To him you’re being disrespectful.

There’s no reason why he should object to you being near his food or toys if he sees you as his leader. You have to earn his respect through training, commitment, patience and positive reinforcement. Teaching your dog what you will and won’t allow gives him boundaries. You can unintentionally cause frustration and stress if you constantly remove his food or toys just to show him you can. If your dog shows unwanted behavior you don’t know how to correct, talk to your vet or a certified animal behaviorist. Resource guarding can be corrected without stressing out your pet.

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