How you doin’?
After thousands of years living in our homes, cats and dogs have gotten pretty good at tuning into human social cues—as good as human babies anyways.
Dogs, with their adorable puppy faces, are easily swayed by the actions of humans. A new study in PLoS ONE shows that dogs will prefer a plate of food preferred by a person, even if that plate has less food on it. Cats, on the other hand, have an especially annoying “solicitation” purr that they deploy when they want something from their owners, much like (though quieter than) a hungry baby that will not stop screaming. Pet owners who fancy themselves parents may actually be onto something.
One pied tamaran turns to another: Do you hear that infant monkey call?
That’s one weird-sounding baby, the other responds. Shrugging their shoulders, the pair goes to investigate. Surprise! It’s not a baby monkey at all, but a margay cat doing impersonations. Then it’s up to the monkeys to escape becoming a snack.
In the domain of jungle tricks, monkeys usually take center-stage. They may give false alarms to steal bananas or (shamelessly) carry an infant to strike up a conversation. But the above fake-out scene, documented in 2005 by Wildlife Conservation Society researchers, hinted that at least one feline is giving monkeys a dose of their own medicine.
It’s a happy ending for Oscar. While lazing in the sun, the British cat lost his two hind paws in a tragic combine harvester accident. But after receiving two bionic paws from Noel Fitzpatrick, a veterinary surgeon based in Surrey, the lucky black cat can now continue crossing many paths.
One musky Calvin Klein fragrance isn’t just making humans go Rawr. When sprayed on rocks by zookeepers and field researchers, the cologne Obsession for Men draws big cats like cheetahs and jaguars. They cuddle against it; they take long sniffs, savoring it longer than they do their meals; they may even track it down from half a mile away.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, spraying perfume on zoo exhibits is something of a trade secret among zookeepers–sniffing out the foreign scents keeps the cats curious and active in captivity. In 2003, Pat Thomas, general curator at the Bronx Zoo in New York, conducted a smell test with his jaguars. The cats certainly didn’t turn up their noses at Estée Lauder, Revlon, or Nina Ricci, but Calvin Klein’s Obsession kept them sniffing the longest, keeping them engaged for about eleven minutes.
Many cat owners worry/wonder about what their buddies are up to while the humans are away at work. Are they eating the houseplants? Sleeping on the kitchen counter? Prowling next door to bother the neighbors’ pet bird?
Now, researchers in Japan hope to bridge the gap between humans and their pets by rigging cats with sensing devices that help owners track their felines’ activities.
Cat@Log, one such sensing device, allows you to snoop on your cat as he goes about his daily schedule.
You can track his movements, map his territory, and even see what he sees thanks to a bulky device that can be strapped on your kitty’s collar. The tech site Recombu says that Cat@Log comes loaded with a camera, microphone, microSD card, an accelerometer, Bluetooth, and GPS.
You may think of your furry feline friend simply as a companion, but look closely and you will find that your whiskered pal also the ability to be a crime-fighting supercat.
An team of scientists has found that fur shed by cats can serve as forensic evidence, thanks to the DNA it contains. In fact, a man was recently convicted of second-degree murder in Canada after fur found on his discarded jacket matched that of Snowball–the victim’s cat. The telltale fur led to a 15-year prison sentence. Scientists say that it may soon become commonplace to use the genetic material in fur shed by cats to link perpetrators, accomplices, witnesses, and victims.
As the researchers wrote in the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics:
“Cats are fastidious groomers, and shed fur can have sufficient genetic material for trace forensic studies, allowing potential analysis of both standard short tandem repeat (STR) and mitochondrial DNA regions.”
You might decorate your ears, eyebrows, nose, or other body parts with piercings to make an external statement about your personality, but would you do the same to your dog or cat or hamster?
Dog groomer Holly Crawford didn’t think there was anything wrong with piercing her kittens and then marketing them on e-Bay as “Goth Kitties” for hundreds of dollars. She had no qualms about piercing the kittens’ necks, ears, and tails with a 14-gauge needle, typically used to pierce the skin of cattle.
In a not-surprising development, Crawford was charged with animal cruelty after her Pennsylvania premises were raided last month. Crawford’s trial began earlier this week in a Pennsylvania court.
For the last five years, Oscar the cat has been sniffing out death. Literally.
The cat lives at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation in Providence, Rhode Island, a facility that cares for people with severe dementia.
Back in 2007, geriatrician and Brown University professor David Dosa wrote a perspective in The New England Journal of Medicine claiming that Oscar is the cuddlier, feline equivalent of the Grim Reaper. According to Dosa, his mere presence at the bedside of severely ill patients is viewed by doctors and nurses alike as an almost absolute indicator of impending death.
Now Oscar is back in the news, as Dosa has just published a book expanding on the story.
The Telegraph reports:
Some speculate the strange growths are the result of a mutation caused by chemicals the cat’s mother was exposed to before giving birth. It’s certainly possible, since the heavily industrialized city of Chongqing is packed with chemical, metal, and automobile factories pumping out acid rain and air pollution. In fact, as of 2004 the city was the second most polluted worldwide. And it’s taking its toll: Environmental authorities suspect chemical contaminations were behind the deaths of thousands of fish in the Fujiang River in Chongqing a few months ago.
Others say the so-called wings are actually growths from an embryo that never completely separated from the cat before birth – in other words, the cat’s, er, Siamese twin.
• According to British health chiefs, white is the new black…at least when it comes to keeping your house cool. They’re suggesting that all U.K. homes be painted white to combat global warming—a technique long used in hot Mediterranean countries like Greece.
• Don’t let the economy get you, er, down: Some jobless Americans are now eligible for a free year’s supply of Viagra and other drugs.
• Scientists are using human bile acids to make a replacement for mercury and plastic dental fillings. As if going to the dentist didn’t already leave a bad taste in your mouth.
• And lastly, check out what might be the world’s smallest cat. Itty bitty kitty committee, anyone?