Recently, a Facebook friend posted a link to an article about cats that really got my goat. It claimed a scientific study had determined that cats hate it when you touch them and only pretend to love humans for the fringe benefits we provide. “While cats may look all fuzzy and adorable on the outside, research shows that they really are the cold, unfeeling monsters the world thinks they are,” the article stated.
It’s not the first time an obviously anti-cat person went on a diatribe about what awful, unloving creatures cats are, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. What I found particularly egregious about this one was the use of “science” to back up the author’s negative feelings about cats.
I told my friend that this was the most ridiculous article I have ever read. It was ridiculous because anyone who loves cats knows that every statement the cat hater made was untrue. We don’t need science to tell us that if we take the time to understand our cats as individuals and find ways to bond with them, that they will – and most certainly do – love us back. My cats Mickey, Rocky and Annabelle are positive proof of that.
One challenge many dog owners have is trying to keep their inquisitive canine out of the trash can. Cats will also poke around in a wastebasket searching for something fun to play with or eat – and then blame it on the dog. Finding trash scattered all over the floor is not something you want to see as soon as you get home. However, there’s a right and wrong way to deal with the issue and prevent your pet from digging through the trash.
Perfecting the art of dumpster diving is most likely how both dogs and cats became domesticated. Of course, back then the dumpster was nothing more than piles of trash outside a village where canines and felines had no problem scavenging for food. The aroma of trash isn’t pleasant to us, but all of the intriguing smells can certainly capture the attention of animals searching for a meal.
Trash cans contain a wide variety of smells our pets find enticing. Chicken bones, meat scraps, meat wrappers and soiled paper towels provide a mixture of scents few pets can resist. If you have a separate bin for recyclables, it too has smells that draw pets to it. However, when a dog or cat digs through the trash to find something fun to play with or eat, it can put them at risk of developing serious health issues. Pets that find tin cans or lids to lick can end up with a cut tongue or gums and worse if they manage to ingest part of the can or eat plastic they found in recyclables. Garbage cans may also contain bits of string, dental floss, people food that’s toxic to pets and old or unused medications.
Early detection is always best for any illness. Catching a disease before it becomes advanced increases the chance that it can be treated successfully. What makes this problematic for cat owners is that felines are hard-wired to hide signs of illness. Their wild ancestors did this as a means to survival, and it’s instinctual for a feline to conceal the appearance of sickness, even if they lead the life of a very spoiled housecat.
Your best course of action is threefold: 1) take your cat to the vet for wellness checkups at least once a year; 2) know your cat well enough that you can immediately recognize any changes in their normal behavior; 3) know the subtle signs of a sick kitty. Here are some things to watch out for:
Both an increase and a decrease in a cat’s food intake can signify illness. If a cat begins to eat ravenously and always seems to want more, diabetes or hyperthyroidism could be the culprit. Eating less could mean dental problems or something more serious such as kidney disease or cancer. It’s important to be aware that cats who stop eating can quickly develop a potentially fatal liver disease called hepatic lipidosis. If your cat won’t eat anything for more than a day, get to the vet ASAP.
As with food, both an increase and a decrease in water intake can indicate health issues. Excessive thirst can be a sign of kidney disease, diabetes or hyperthyroidism.
“Cat food breath” is one thing – all felines have that to some degree. However, if your cat opens his mouth and the smell just about knocks you over, that’s definitely cause for concern. Stinky breath can indicate dental disease, infection, digestive issues or kidney problems; a sweet, fruit-like smell can be a sign of diabetes.
Cat vision isn’t as clear as ours. Because they are true predators, their vision is designed to pick up quick movements of prey, especially in dim light. Cats and dogs have more rod cells that can quickly refresh to pick up the slightest movement of prey walking through the grass at dusk. They have fewer cones which are responsible for our detailed and sharp color vision.
Feline vision is blurry, but their peripheral vision is much better and has more range than ours, enabling them to see a mouse out of the corner of their eye. The smallest movements capture a cat’s attention, and if it shines that’s a reason to investigate.
Cats focus on shiny objects for the same reason we do – curiosity. If you spot something shiny on the ground, your impulse is to investigate. It gets your attention because it might be something special, like a lost ring or coin. Perhaps it’s nothing more than a piece of glass or tin reflecting sunlight. It doesn’t matter what it is, we check it out because it’s shiny. Curiosity may grab a cat’s attention too, but the main reason they steal our shiny things is for attention and wanting to play. Read More »
Tosha was my first cat as an adult. I was 21 and newly married, and we’d just moved into a cozy cottage in Northern California. Of course, in my eyes no house is a home without a cat, so it wasn’t long before an 8-week old brown tabby came to live with us. I thought she was just the cutest little thing, and she was a delightful addition to my new family. Like any kitten, she was playful and inquisitive. She was also very affectionate, and would curl up on my lap anytime I sat down.
When Tosha was about a year old, we went away on a weekend camping trip. At the time, I thought it was perfectly fine to leave my cat home alone with a bowl of dry cat food and some water. Worse, she could come and go through the cat door anytime she liked. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about her; I loved her dearly, but I just didn’t know better. Older and wiser now, I would never do that. As it turned out, Tosha paid for my mistake.
When we returned from camping, I called and called her. She didn’t come, so I went looking for her and found her lying in the bushes with a badly mangled back leg. I rushed her to the vet, who said he wasn’t sure what had happened but guessed she was either attacked by a dog or hit by a car.
When my Siberian Husky Jake wanted to express his irritation, he’d turn his head away from me as if saying, “I can’t hear a word you’re saying.” Then he’d follow up with some Woo Woo Woo’s to make it clear he was unhappy. My cat Meryl was quick to bond with me when he was a kitten. As far as he was concerned, I belonged to him, and if I hurt his feelings, he made it clear he was irritated. He sat with his back to me and ignored me for an hour or so. That was apparently how long it took for him to forgive me. Dogs and cats aren’t vindictive, but they do have ways of showing us when they are irritated.
The Cold Shoulder – This is a sure sign you have a dog or cat with hurt feelings, and it’s not hard to picture your pet sitting like an irritated human with his front legs crossed while tapping one of his back paws in disgust waiting for an apology. You can almost hear the “Don’t talk to me.” It’s a good thing dogs and cats don’t have opposable thumbs. You might get the cold shoulder, but you won’t get a door slammed in your face.
The Stiff Paw and Head Turn Rejection – I take this action as the ultimate “I am so irritated and do not want to cuddle, hand out kisses, or even look at you right now” sign. This is when an upset dog or cat holds out a stiffened leg and blocks you with a paw to keep you from getting too close when you try to be affectionate. In addition to the stiff paw, he turns his head away from you and the message is loud and clear: you have an irritated furry friend. One of my dogs, Keikei, will also give me a kick with her back leg just in case I missed the other two signs. Read More »
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