Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Petting-Induced Aggression in Cats

When petting a cat, do not activate the kill cycle,

Does your cat get overstimulated when you pet her? Mine do.

P is for petting a cat on the A to Z blogging challenge!

They look so innocent, don't they? Yet today, I'm sporting an enormous claw-gash-bruise on my leg thanks to Pierre's hind foot digging into my thigh when he got pissed off at me.

Cats never let you forget that they're still partially wild. It is said that a dog, even if raised without human companionship, can become tame, but a cat will always remain feral. I'm not sure that is true, but I do know that too much petting can turn even the friendliest cat into a shredding maniac if you're not careful.

There's actually a name for this condition: petting-induced aggression.  According to the Animal Humane Society, cats have different thresholds for permitting human touch. Some will let you pet them forever. Others lash out almost immediately.

I guess it's the same with people. Some of us don't mind hugs from others, while some people back off like you've got the plague if you want to hug or touch them.

As for our cats, we need to learn to read their body language. Cats do give you a warning sign before the attack. I didn't heed Pierre's warning signs - pinned ears, constricted pupils, even a few growls. Learn how to read your cat's body language to prevent those petting-induced aggression attacks.

Lastly, the furry belly. Ah, the furry belly. I love it when cats roll over and show you their furry belly. Some people say that this is a sign of trust. Cats are predators, and the belly is the area where an attack can be deadly. Exposing the furry belly is a sign of trust.

Others say that it is a sign of impending aggression because it frees all four claws for an attack. With Pierre, that's very true. He loves to shred you when you reach over to touch his belly. He was raised by a man, and he loves my husband John who enjoys rough-housing with him. I don't appreciate it, but I do know that to touch the belly is sudden death for your hands.

Petting-induced aggression includes biting, clawing, and growling when the cat has had enough of being petted. The real key to avoiding injuries is to learning your cat's unique vocabulary and respecting it.

Now if only we can get cats to respect humans.....

P is for petting-induced aggression. A to Z blogging challenge, of which I've been quite lax but I keep plugging away at it...

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Japan's Cat Island

My cats in the garden. We have six cats. On Japan's Cat Island, cats outnumber people six to one!

Japan has an island dedicated to cats. Yes, you read that correctly. Japan's cat island, Aoshima, is one mile long and home to hundreds of cats. Cats out number people on the island 6 to 1. The cats arrived on ships many years ago, and decided to stay. Today, the people of Aoshima feed and care for the cats who seem to thrive on the island.

J is for Japan's Cat Island on today's A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Check out this video of Cat Island. I think I want to move there.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Best Information Websites for Cat Owners

If you're a cat owner, these websites are great to have handy. I is for information on the A to Z blog challenge and today I am sharing with you my favorite cat information sites!

Pierre would like you to note these websites.

Best Cat Information Websites

  • The Cat Site: A huge website dedicate just to cats! The Cat Site contains fun stuff like forums and funny pictures but also informative articles on health, grooming, behavior and more.
  • Web MD Pets: Web MD is my go-to source for health information. Well, there's a pet companion site with a sub-category just for cats. It's written and reviewed by veterinarians and presents all things health-related for our pets.
  • Cornell Veterinary: Cornell's website was the first place I turned when I needed information on feline leukemia when our cat, Raz, was diagnosed. It is written by one of the top veterinarian schools in the nation. It includes very up to date information on many issues pertaining to the health and well-being of cats.
  • Cats at About.com:  So I'm a little biased; Franny Syufy, site writer and moderator, featured Monsieur Pierre as her cat of the week in March. But putting that side, it's a terrific website for cat owners lovingly curated by a cat fancier just like myself. She has a friendly, informative writing style that's easy to read yet always interested. Recommended!

So what's your favorite website for cat info? Is it on the list? What should I add? 

I is for INFORMATION on the A to Z blog challenge.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Common Health Problems in Cats

Cats suffer from many different health problems, and it would be impossible to try to write one comprehensive blog post about all of the potential health problems cats can suffer. But knowing which health problems are the most common for cats can help a concerned pet owner understand what's going on with her pet. Please talk to your cat's veterinarian for specific diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Three Common Health Problems in Cats

  1. Feline lower urinary tract disease: (FLUTD): I wish I understood why cats are prone to urinary problems. I thought it was merely a problem with boy cats, but other research I've done seems to indicate that both male and female cats can get urinary problems. Males tend to be prone to FLUTD, especially neutered cats. One of the veterinarians who treats our cats recommended leaving the males intact as long as possible before neutering; he speculated that a smaller, less developed urinary system might make passage of crystals more difficult. He did say it was pure speculation and anecdotal evidence, but we tried to wait until our boys were at least 8 months old before neutering. Anyway, what is FLUTD? It's a constellation of urinary diseases among cats that can cause them to have difficult urinary, form blood in the urine, or at worst case, make them unable to urinate at all. Anytime your cat has blood in the urine or can't urinate, call your vet immediately. It's an emergency. A burst bladder can be fatal, and cats can be in agony before they show signs of problems. Most problems are caused by crystals forming in the urine. These mineral crystals irritate the lining of the bladder and the ureter and can cause bloody urine. Bladder and kidney stones can also form, causing difficult urinating for cats. 
  2. Vomiting: Cats vomit. A lot. At least my cats do. Most of the time it is harmless. Cats have a short digestive tract from the mouth to the stomach, and because it is horizontal while they eat, the food can regurgitate if they eat too quickly or drink rapidly after eating. (This is what happens to our Pierre, so we have to give him smaller portions than the other kitties to keep him from being a glutton and throwing it all back up.) Cats will also vomit up hairballs, grass, and foreign substances they eat, not to mention bones, feathers and indigestible parts of prey they've caught if you have an outdoor cat. So when should you call the vet? Because vomiting can also be a sign of diabetes, urinary infections, or ingesting something poisonous, it's a good idea to call the vet when your cat vomits a lot or you see other symptoms. Whenever you aren't sure, bring your cat to the vet. Drooling, lethargy, hiding and other symptoms mean something is wrong beyond the usual hairballs and calls for a vet visit.
  3. Parasites: Cats who spend time outdoors often contract parasites. It's nasty, and no one wants to think about parasites, but tapeworms and hook worms are two of the most common parasites in cats. Tapeworms are transmitted from fleas, so if you treat your cats for fleas you can prevent tapeworms. To tell if your cat has a tapeworm, look for signs such as weight loss and vomiting. Small grains of what looks like rice may be in the feces or near the anus; these are segments from active tapeworms. Your best recourse if you suspect a tapeworm is to take a fecal sample to your vet for a reading, and have your vet treat any parasites you find. Your vet will also know more about local parasite problems and will help plan a proactive treatment for your pets. For example, in our part of Virginia, ticks and fleas are an awful menace, especially ticks. Tapeworms and hook worms are also prevalent. He checks for these parasites and proactively worms our cats at each visit. We also use a topical treatment to kill fleas and ticks, which greatly reduces their chance of getting these parasites and tapeworms. It's all part of good cat ownership and keeping your cats healthy.
Pierre and Whitey outside

Remember, to keep your cat healthy, make your pet's veterinarian your partner. Talk to your cat's vet if you have any problems, questions or concerns about your cat's health.

H is for Health and Common Health Problems in Cats on the A to Z blog challenge!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Routine Grooming Tasks for Cats

Do you groom your cats? Cats are self-grooming. They do groom themselves constantly, bathing themselves after eating, sleeping or even sometimes just moving around! But there are certain grooming steps you should take as a responsible cat owner.
Bath time for Groucho and Genghis? No. They were just hungry and waiting for me in the bathroom!

Grooming Your Cat: Basics

Domestic short hair cats and similar breeds require very little grooming. The basics of good cat grooming include daily brushing and monthly nail trims.

Brushing a Cat
I like to use a special cat brush for my guys. The brush has long bristles with a knobbed, rounded end to keep them from pulling or pinching kitty's skin, and a very soft bristle brush on the opposite site.

I start brushing with the more open, knobbed bristle side first, especially on some of my cats with plush coats. Shy Boy sheds a lot, as does Pierre and Rocky, and they love the knobby brush! They come running to me when they see the brush because they love the attention.

Begin with long, soft strokes down the cat's back. Use only the soft sided brush on the face and belly, and go very gently on ticklish spots. If your cat starts biting the brush or otherwise squirming, time to stop. It's better to stop sooner rather than later when grooming your cat.

Nail Clipping
I've written about clipping claws this month. I give my kitties a pedicure once a month. We use a two-person method. I hold the cat using the scuff (clipnosis) method, while my husband uses human-type nail clippers on the extended claws. We have all of our cats used to the clippers now, but sometimes it takes a few tries to catch Pierre and get him to hold still for his toenail trims. He really hates it :(

Bathing a Cat
I do not bathe my cats. Some people believe in regular baths. My cats take dust baths. They often roll around in the rocks or gravel on the driveway. Most of the time it's because they're itchy from shedding. We treat our cats monthly with flea and tick medicine prescribed by their veterinarian, so they do not get flea baths.

Teeth Brushing
Most of the websites I looked at when researching how to groom a cat recommend brushing their teeth. Frankly, I value my life, so no, I'm not going to try to brush those chompers. If their vet ever says I have to brush their teeth, I will, but in the meantime I rely on dry food and annual vet visits to keep their dental health in order.

Professional Grooming
Long-haired cat breeds benefit from a trip to the professional pet grooming salon. A special comb, used to comb long, fluffy hair, can be used on Persians and other long-haired breeds to keep the coat tangle-free.

Do you groom your cat yourself, or do you use a professional groomer? Cats are really quite clean animals. Minimal grooming is required, but they do benefit from those brushing sessions.

G is for Grooming on the A to Z blog challenge today!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

What Should You Feed Your Cats?

Feeding cats is a hot topic among cat fanciers...mostly because the cats themselves demand that we humans pay special attention to their dietary needs.

On today's A to Z blog challenge, "F" is for "feeding" or "food for felines." Let's dispels some myths and facts about feeding cats and discuss proper feline nutrition.
Even as a kitten, we fed Pierre a blend of wet and dry food, giving him a choice to eat what he liked.

Feeding Cats: What Should You Feed Cats?

Cats, according to the Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine website, are obligate carnivores. An obligate carnivore means that their bodies are adapted to a strictly carnivorous or meat-based diet.

So you know all those ads you see for vegan cat food? Throw them out and ignore them. Your cat cannot be a vegan or vegetarian, so please don't impose your own value set on your pet. Cats are born to kill. Humans and even dogs are omnivorous, and humans can exist fine without meat, but cats cannot. Cats need meat. Period.

In their natural habitat, cats eat a variety of rodents, birds, reptiles and insects. Their diet consists primarily of high amounts of protein, some fat, and minimal carbohydrates. The best diet for cats mimics their natural diet as much as possible. Keep this in mind when shopping for cat food.

Cats also need water in their diet. Their natural diet provides them with water from fresh kills. Many cats are finicky about their water sources and do not drink enough. Those who are prone to bladder and urinary track problems, like my kitty Shy Boy, must actually drink even more water, so giving cats food that contains added water such as canned cat food is often a good idea.
Shy Boy suffers from urinary crystals, so he gets a medicated food recommended by his vet.

Wet Food or Dry Food?

There's a lot of debate about whether you should feed your cat wet food or dry food. Both are nutritious, and there are pros and cons to each.

  • Dry food is made from meat, poultry and fish meal and by products, with added fiber, some grains and fats, food coloring and flavor enhancers. It's mashed together and extruded into dried, bite sized pieces, often coated with flavorings to mimic tuna, beef or whatever your cat likes.  Some people feel that dried cat food keeps a cat's teeth clean. I've found research disputing this, so it's up to you whether or not you feed your cats dried food. It's easy to feed, keeps for a long time, and is nutritionally balanced. It is also less expensive. 

  • Canned cat food or wet cat food contains about 75 percent water and meat, fish or poultry plus byproducts. Some types include bits of greens like spinach, egg or cheese added. Some brands of cat food include liver and organ meats that cats would eat in the wild. While many canned cat food varieties are nutritionally complete, not all are, so read the labels to make sure that if you are feeding your cats primarily canned food it contains all of their vitamins, minerals and protein needs.

My own cats are all fed a blend of both dry and wet cat food. Five of the six love wet cat food the best, but Pierre is the holdout. If he had his way, it would be Friskies Griller's Blend dried cat food night, day and in between.

All of our cats receive either Friskies dried food (the indoor crew) or Nine Lives Plus Care for urinary health (the outdoor crew). The outdoor boys are brothers from the same litter, and two of them have had urinary issues. Shy Boy has ended up at the veterinarian's office several times with difficult urinating and blood in his urine, so she has him on a permanent medicated diet. The medication in the cat food keeps his urine pH at a level that prevents the formation of crystals, which he tends to get easily.  So far, knock wood, it's worked.

We also give the outdoor cats filtered water to remove as many of the minerals from our well water as we can. The vet said that this would also help Shy Boy, so it is what we do. The outdoor cats actually prefer to drink the most disgusting water they can find. Water from the bird bath, fountains, or the small lotus pond in the garden are all preferable to their sparkling filtered water. Go figure.

We feed a blend of dried and wet food, about 75 percent dry and 25 percent wet. For treats, Genghis Khan kitty gets to lick tuna fish cans. He's our only cat who loves tuna. Whitey loves milk and toast, so he gets a few crumbs and a lick of milk when he can grab it. As for Pierre, well my spoiled kitty loves ice cream. He only takes a few licks, really tiny laps, but he always has to share my cone or dish with me. Vanilla all the way for my boy!

Do Cat Food Brands Really Matter?

Does the brand of cat food really matter? Yes, and no. Cats do seem to have a fondness or a preference for one brand or another. We've tried our boys on other flavors and brands of dried food, and they do have preferences, so we stick with them.

Many of the special, medical brands like Hill's Science Diet and Purina's medicated foods are very high in nutrients as well as specially blended for medical conditions. If your cat's veterinarian recommends a specific diet, as ours did with Shy Boy, take her advice. A good diet is so important for feline health!

A healthy diet keeps your cats active and strong! Shy Boy and his brother, Groucho.

F Is for Feeding Felines in the A to Z Blog Challenge

This post is part of the A to Z blog challenge....F is for Feline Feeding! I hope you enjoyed your visit to Six Cats and Counting. The cats hope you come back again someday!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Easy Cat Toy Pattern

I managed to miss the letter D yesterday in the A to Z blogging challenge, but nothing could stop me from the letter E...for this easy cat toy pattern! I have made this cat toy and I can say for certain that it is cat-tested and approved. If you'd like to make this easy cat toy, please feel free to download the pattern.

Catnip mouse made from a scrap of calico, felt, and dried catnip I grew on our farm.

Easy Cat Toy Pattern

This pattern is basically a heart-shaped piece of fabric.

Good fabrics to use are denim (I cut up old pairs of jeans to make cat toys) or cotton fabric. If using cotton fabric and making a catnip mouse, your cat may chew on the toy. Genghis Khan kitty loves to chew on the calico mouse I made for him to get to the nip.

To sew a cat toy mouse:

  1. Print the attached cat toy mouse pattern.
  2. Cut a swatch of fabric about 6 inches x 6 inches or however large you want to make your mouse.
  3. Fold the fabric in half.
  4. Fold the pattern in half along the dotted line.
  5. Pin the dotted line to the fold in the fabric.
  6. Cut out the half-heart.
  7. Remove pins and pattern.
  8. Open up the full heart-shaped piece of fabric.
  9. The pointy end will be the mouse's nose, the round end its bottom.
  10. Fold fabric inside-out. Pin it back into the half-heart shape.
  11. Sew from the pointed edge to halfway on the round end.
  12. Turn it inside out so that the right side of the fabric is on the outside.
  13. Use a chopstick or a knitting needle to push the fabric into shape.
  14. Stuff with catnip or cotton batting.
  15. Cut a small section of yarn for the mouse's tail.
  16. Pin the tail into place.
  17. Sew the end of the mouse shut by hand, sewing the tail into place.

To make the mouse's ears:

  1. Use a nickel or quarter coin as a pattern.
  2. Cut two circles of felt.
  3. Fold in half.
  4. Sew into place on the mouse's head with the open side facing forward or out.

To make the nose, whiskers and eyes:

  1. Draw them on with a black Sharpie marker.

How I made the mouse shown here:

I fold the fabric in half and use the fold line as the bottom of the toy. The toy is then sewn inside out, with a small hole left to stuff the mouse with either cotton batting or cat nip. I turn the toy inside out, using a stick to push the fabric into place, stuff the toy, sew it shut, and sow on two half-moon circles of felt for the ears. The tail is a piece of yarn with a knot in the end that is sown into the base of the mouse's bottom. Lastly, I use a black magic marker to draw on eyes, nose and whiskers.

Cats can sometimes open up the toys, but if you stuff them with catnip, there's no harm done except for a bit of a mess.


Here is Genghis playing with his mouse!

Download the cat toy pattern here: Easy Cat Toy Pattern.

A to Z Blog Challenge: E is for EASY Cat Toy Pattern

Monday, April 4, 2016

Clipping a Cat's Claws

Clipping a cat's claws should be part of your cat's regular care. Do you clip your kitty's claws? It's not easy, but it can be done.

Clipping a Cat's Claws

I shared pictures, above, of Monsieur Pierre. He is our oldest cat and the second cat that I have ever owned.

He's also an absolute couch potato...most of the time. When he hears the drawer open where we keep the kitty toenail clippers (people-sized clippers we reserve just for the cats) he turns into a demonic, crazy, fire breathing, bucking bronco cat.

All of this stems from when he was a mere 8 weeks old. His tiny little claws were so sharp that we were all getting scratched. We asked our veterinarian if we could clip Pierre's claws, and Dr. Gates said, "Sure, absolutely!"  So I held Pierre and Hubby snipped the nails. Hubby had years of practice clipping cat claws from our old, dearly departed cat, Baloo. Baloo was a black cat and clipping her jet black nails was difficult but Hubby always did a fine job.

That is, until Pierre.

Then the unthinkable happened. Tiny kitten Pierre squirmed...and we clipped one tiny back toenail too short. One. Tiny. Toe. It bled. It bled a little, but we stopped the bleeding.

You would have thought we tried to amputate his entire leg.

Since then, Pierre has never, ever forgotten the moment. Eight years have passed. No matter. It could have been yesterday.

In his mind, toenails are never to be clipped. End of story.

Or...not quite.

Clipnosis and Nail Clipping

I shared the video I found of a technique called clipnosis. Clipnosis is actually using a cat's natural instinct to go limp when the mother cat grabs them in her mouth by the scruff of the kitten's neck. You simply scruff the cat, or hold them firmly by the scruff. In 9 out of 10 cats, the cat goes limp.

Pierre, by the way, is that 1 out of 10 who doesn't.

With all six of our cats, I am in charge of scruffing. We bring the cat to the bed and lay him on his side. I firmly but gently scruff him. Some of the cats, I also use my hand to hold the front shoulder forward. This immobilizes kitty and lets Hubby get to work with the nail clippers. 

We extend the claws by pressing the foot pad gently under each nail. The claw is extended, and we can snip the sharp points off.

We only trim the indoor boys' nails. The outdoor cats need all the sharp little claws they can get, and even though they have plenty of time inside, they do not shred anything when they come in. Our furniture has suffered from the occasional scratch from a back claw, but it's to be expected with six cats and counting.

It's important to clip a cat's nails to keep them from growing too long. Too-long claws not only scratch you and your furniture, but can actually catch on carpet or upholstery. A ripped off toenail isn't pretty and can lead to infection.

How to Clip a Cat's Claws: Video

This blog post is part of the A to Z blogging challenge for April. C is for Clipping Claws!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Birds and Cats

What is it with birds and cats? From the cartoons to real life, we see that our feathered friends are sooo very attractive to cats. Why?

B is for Birds: Birds and Cats

As part of the A to Z blogging challenge, today's letter is: B. My topic today is Birds and Cats.

Cat's Fascination with Birds

It's a little after eight in the morning, and already I've chased Groucho off of the bluebird house in our backyard. The man who built our home (and who we consider a friend now) gave us a lovely handmade bluebird house as a gift after we moved in. Another friend gave me a bluebird house, and my husband built me several. We placed them around the yard and lovingly watched our new tenants.

Until this happened:

At first, we thought it was funny. Then one morning I looked out of my kitchen window and saw to my horror that Groucho, our tiniest cat, was on top of the bird house like his brother Whitey above. Except that Grouch leaned over and very casually fished into the birdhouse, snagging a baby bluebird which he was drawing very carefully from the nest.

I raced outside and managed to unhook the terrified bird from his claws and shove it back into the nest. Scruffed, cuffed and I hope chastened, Groucho was marched into the house, where he eagerly watched the birdhouse from the windows for another hour.

He's still a menace to the birds. He tried it again this morning, except that the nest was empty.

The scene of the crime....

Birds and Cats

According to the Perfect Paws website, all cats are born with a hunting instinct. Whether that instinct is strong or weak depends on the individual cat. It doesn't matter how well-fed or domesticated the cat. Motion, such as the fluttering of wings or the scampering of rodent feet, attracts the attention of cats.

Once their attention is caught, cats go into the stalk-pounce-grab mode. The stalking mode is familiar to pet parents everywhere. The cat's pupils dilate, and it goes into the hunter's crouch. The hindquarters may wiggle as the cat's muscles twitch in anticipation of the pounce. (Known to us in this house as: wiggle butt.)

Then, when the moment is right, the cat springs into action. The pouncing, grab, kill motion completes the cycle whether a cat is stalking a bird, a mouse, or his favorite toy.

Preventing Bird Deaths from Cats

The only way that I know of to prevent cats from killing songbirds in the garden is to put a collar with a bell on the cat. If you do put a collar on your cat, make sure it is the 'breakaway' kind that if caught on a branch or fence, stretches or opens so as not to harm your cat. The bell tinkles as the cat moves, warning birds of impending doom.

Now this is all well and good, but I find I can't take my own advice. The last time I tried to put collars on the outdoor cats, Shy Boy, Groucho's brother, thought it was great fun to grab the end of the collar tab and pull. I caught him just in time as he was choking his brother with Groucho's own collar. So much for collars. Whitey is like Houdini, wriggling out of his collar seconds after it's on and Shy Shy wants to kill his brother in play. So I'm safer without them.

I am home most of the time. I work from home, and so when I spy Groucho stalking his prey, or climbing on top of the bluebird house the way Whitey did above, I can catch him and bring him indoors. Usually after an hour or so he settles down for a nap on my bed and forgets all about the bluebirds.

Until next time.

Cats and birds...what's your experience? Leave a comment below!

Groucho, adorable but a confirmed bird hunter.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Attitude: Why People Think Cats are Aloof

Why do cats have the reputation for being aloof? Today marks the start of the infamous "A to Z" blogging challenge. I've entered Six Cats and Counting into the challenge. Each day, excluding Sundays, I have to post an article starting with the letter "A" and ending with "Z" on April 30th.

Today...attitude and aloof, two words that even cat lovers acknowledge are often appended to their favorite felines.

But why do people perceive cats as aloof? Are they really so aloof, or are they just harder to understand than dogs?

Whitey's expression may seem aloof...

...until you get to know his crazy personality!

Are Cats Really Aloof?

Leave it to the Japanese, known worldwide for their special love of cats, to do some research to actually prove that cats aren't as aloof as people make them out to be.

  • Atsuko Saito, co-researcher at the University of Tokyo, explained that while cats were never trained to follow commands the way that dogs were, they do indeed recognize and acknowledge their owners' voices.

  • Saito studied cats' response to recordings of their owners' voices and strangers' voices. The results indicate that cats do indeed recognize us.

    But do they love us? A dog's face is easy to read. When Shadow, my German shepherd, sees me after I've been gone for a few hours, the joy practically radiates from her dark eyes. She trembles from nose to tail, her whole body wagging.

    Yet standing behind her on line to greet me at the back door is usually Pierre and Rocky, my two indoor house cats. They don't shake with joy, but their ears are pricked forward, and they look interested in what I'm doing. It's as if they are more curious than happy to see me.

    Cats express themselves through the position of their ears. This is called orienting. They do not move their facial or body muscles in the same way that a dog can. Dogs can "smile" and express happiness through the mobile of their faces. Cats, on the other hand, lack similar flexibility, so we must look for other more subtle clues to determine whether or not they are interested and engaged in interactions with us.

    Another clue as to whether or not cats like and respond to us is pupil dilation. According to Discovery, pupil dilation reflects extreme excitement in cats. It may be a reaction to a hunting instinct or it may be happiness at seeing their humans come home from work.

    Cats Evolved to Hide Emotions

    Another fascinating insight from Dr. Saito's research is the reminder that cats and dogs evolved differently. Dogs, like wolves and coyotes, are pack animals. They hunt in packs, and wolves have been known to protect pack members and care for them.

    Cats, on the other hand,  evolved as solitary hunters. Solitary hunters evolved characteristics that hide their emotions. While a wolf or a dog might whimper to get the attention of pack members, cats have no one to come to their aid in the wild. Therefore they evolved to be quiet, and hide their emotions. This is why when cats are sick, they often hide under furniture or mask their symptoms, making it hard for owners to understand what's wrong. Because they are predators, they know instinctively that any sign of weakness can make they themselves the prey.

    Does My Cat Love Me?

    Cats are social animals. Their social structure differs from other animals, but they do like company. Given Dr. Saito's research and other observations by cat behaviorists, I'd venture to say that they do form strong bonds with their human caregivers.

    I don't know if your cat loves you, but I'm convinced that my cats do love me and care about me. In their own way, of course. But something has to explain why, in this house, when it's just me home alone with the two indoor cats and the dog, all three animals will sit practically on top of me. They could go anywhere in the house. They have many soft beds and couches to choose from, but they choose to sleep on top of the hard surface of my work desk just to be close to me.

    If that's not love, then what is?