What is Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome?

By Langley Cornwell

Feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS) is an unusual medical condition that affects the brain and causes some very strange symptoms in cats. It can affect felines of all ages, but it is most common in adult cats and the cause is still somewhat of a mystery. Some of the experts suspect that this condition could be caused by seizures, a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder or a type of brain disorder.

Veterinarians describe the condition as a rippling motion that starts at the shoulders of the cat and runs all the way down to its tail, which explains why it’s sometimes called “rippling skin syndrome” or “twitchy cat syndrome.” Hyperesthesia is the word used to describe a heightened sensitivity that affects the senses and in this case, it’s the skin. You can actually see the skin moving in some cats but it can be hard to see in others, depending on the thickness and length of the cat’s fur.

Symptoms of the condition may occur in any breed or sex of cat. Even so, Abyssinians, Siamese, Burmese and Himalayan purebred cats seem to be predisposed to develop hyperesthesia.

FHS symptoms are occasional, so cats may act normally for long periods of time, eating their nutritious CANIDAE cat food and drinking plenty of water, but then an owner will notice some of the following symptoms.

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Black Russian Terrier: The Black Pearl of Russia

By Linda Cole

The Black Russian Terrier is one of the world’s youngest breeds, created in the 1940s. Nicknamed the Blackie, BRT and the Black Pearl of Russia, this breed was developed to fulfill a specific need for Russia and her people at a time of rebirth and reinvention. Because the history of the breed is relatively new, how it was created is well documented.

World War I and II had a direct impact on European countries that sustained major damage to the people, environment, wildlife and domesticated animals. Many purebred dog breeds were reduced to very low numbers and were only able to recover when breeders searched out quality dogs to use in rebuilding programs after WW II.

Periods of distemper outbreaks took its toll on dog breeds. Russia also had to deal with the Revolution in 1917-1918 and economic issues. All of these events caused many purebred dogs in Russia to suffer immense losses, and many breeds in this country were on the verge of becoming extinct. But there was a need for working dogs, so a breeding program was developed to create a breed from the few purebred dogs left in the country, and from imports of other breeds.

The program was established at the Red Star Kennel in the 1930s. Colonel G. Medvedev of the Central Military School of Working Dogs was given the task of developing a working dog that would meet the needs of the military. His team included breeders and geneticists. Their goal was to create a working dog that was powerful, intelligent and adaptable to the harsh Russian winters.

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Judging a Cat By the Color of Its Coat

By Julia Williams

You’ve probably heard these stereotypes about our feline friends: black cats are bad luck; tortoiseshell cats have a feisty attitude (“tortitude”); tuxedo cats are very loving; calico cats are always crazy; ginger cats are super friendly; while white cats are aloof or shy.

People (and even some veterinarians) pre-judge cats by the color of their coat all the time, but is there any truth to the stereotypes? Can a cat’s coat color predict behavior and personality?

Plenty of people who share their home with a tortoiseshell will tell you their cat does indeed have that aforementioned tortitude, but I have to wonder how much of that is perception rather than reality. In other words, perhaps they heard about tortitude somewhere along the way, and projected that stereotype onto their cat. If someone has a preconceived notion that all tortoiseshell cats act a certain way, they may subconsciously look for things that substantiate this. Then too, it seems to me that every housecat could be perceived as having a spunky attitude, at least some of the time. That is the nature of a cat, more or less.

“Black cat syndrome” is a somewhat different story. Shelter workers say that black cats typically have a much harder time getting adopted than their more colorful counterparts. Some believe it’s because of the “bad luck” myth and purported association with witches, while others think it has more to do with the fact that darker colored cats are harder to see and observe in the shelter cages.

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5 Good Reasons to Take a Dog for a Walk

By Laurie Darroch

Although taking a dog for a walk is a good way for both of you to get some exercise, there are additional reasons to get out of the house for a stroll.

Stress Reduction

Humans and dogs both react to stressful events in their lives, and also to stressful people. A dog does not always know how to release that stress and anxiety. They also react to your stress and may show it in destructive or odd behavioral ways. No matter how big or small the stress is, it is important to utilize ways to reduce or even eliminate it in healthy ways.

A walk gives both you and the dog a physical and mental outlet for some of the stress. Going out to see and focus on other things besides what is causing stress or anxiety is a healthy way to get your minds and senses on other things for awhile.

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How Elvis the Beagle is Helping to Save Polar Bears

By Linda Cole

I love reading stories highlighting the exceptional abilities of dogs, especially when it comes to using their extraordinary sense of smell in wildlife conservation. When a dog’s nose is used to aid endangered or threatened apex predators, that helps preserve the natural balance in an ecosystem. Researchers have discovered that the super nose of a two year old Beagle named Elvis can help scientists better understand the polar bear reproductive cycle.

The idea of training a dog to detect if a polar bear is pregnant began with one of the scientists at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), after he read about studies using dogs to sniff out cancer. No one knew if using a canine to detect polar bear pregnancies was possible, but it was worth trying because of the difficulty zoo keepers had confirming it on their own.

Polar bears are listed on the Endangered Species list as threatened because of loss of habitat and climate change. If a bear is suspected of being pregnant, zoo officials begin to prepare for the birthing process whether she’s pregnant or not. They want to do everything they can towards the survival and care of cubs born at their facilities. Males need to be separated from the female, dens need to be prepared with proper bedding, video cameras are set up to monitor what’s going on, and staff and volunteers are needed around the clock. Few cubs are born to polar bears living in zoos, and many cubs born in the wild don’t survive.

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How to Train Your Dog to be Gentle with Toys

By Langley Cornwell

Our dog Frosty acts like every stuffed toy that comes into our home is on a dark mission from the underworld, and only she has the knowledge and the skills to protect us from its evil plan. Since we know how she acts towards plush dog toys, we don’t buy them anymore. But if a well-meaning friend brings her one as a gift, she gets a serious, determined look on her face and takes the stuffed toy to a quiet corner where she commences tearing it into tiny shreds.

It doesn’t matter if the toy has a squeaker or not, whether it’s big or small, whether it’s filled with pellets or foam; that thing is coming apart instantly. Imagine picking out a toy for a friend’s dog, as a holiday or birthday gift perhaps, and taking it over to their house. You proudly present the toy to their dog and it’s turned into a pile of rubble within seconds. How would you feel? Yeah, not good.

We wanted to teach her how to be gentle with toys. I’d like for both Frosty and our other dog Al to have a few stuffed items they could snuggle with if we’re not home. Furthermore, I don’t like the thought of her being so destructive. Even though she’s usually a gentle, sweet pup, I don’t like seeing that side of her. So we set out to train our dogs to be gentle with toys. Here is an outline of our basic game plan:

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