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BEHAVIOR

Purring Has More Than One Meaning

Many cat lovers assume felines purr only when theyre content. And while its certainly true that a cat basking in the sun, half on her back, might purr as an expression of contentment, she might also purr when shes afraid or in pain, say, during labor or when she has experienced physical trauma. The low frequency of the vibrations inside her body can ease breathing and is even thought by some to help to heal injuries.
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Is the Pica a Medical or a Behavioral Issue?

Does your cat lick or devour non-food items while displaying passionate interest in those objects? Is he eating nylon stockings or chomping down on paper towels?

Biting and Scratching? Recognize the Trigger Signs

Do you have a cat who will bite or scratch, seemingly out of nowhere? Rest assured its not out of nowhere. Our enchanting pets have their reasons. We just have to learn what those reasons are so that we can be prepared to avoid triggering an aroused or anxious cat into a harmful response. Cat bites and scratches can have serious consequences for loving owners. (See box.)

Anxious Cat? Try Music

Were all looking for that special bond that allows a cat to fall asleep in our lap, or initiate play. If that bond seems to be missing between you and your pet, she might be suffering from anxiety. And music might be just the thing to take the edge off and soothe her anxious mind, says the Head of the Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic, Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM.

Dear Doctor: Stoner Cats

Q. Just what is it about catnip that gets cats high? And why do they go from being so intrigued by catnip to bored by it so quickly? Joe Easterbrook Eau Claire, Wisconsin Dear Mr. Easterbrook, A. Not just pets but also lions and tigers and other big cats are very susceptible to a volatile oil in catnip called nepetalactone. When the odor hits the nose and the nose alerts the brain, they exhibit behaviors common to females in…

Walk This Way

A cat, a giraffe, and a camel walk into a bar…in exactly the same way. These are the only three species who move the front and back legs on one side, then the front and back legs on the other.

Play Therapy for Our Pets

Aprevalent myth about house cats is that felines are low-maintenance pets (or an even worse assumption: no-maintenance pets!). Perhaps their reputation as easy keepers is based on the idea that cats require far less attention than canines; but this misconception is actually far from the truth.

Teaching Your Cat to Sign

Dr. Doolittle would be intrigued. Can we actually use American Sign Language to talk to the animals, and they to us? Videos that have gone viral would suggest yes. Whether its cats seated attentively in a row, responding to American Sign Language taught by their human mom, or a polite cat gently touching her owners arm as hes eating and then placing her paw to his mouth to indicate that she wants some of the food, the possibilities such images suggest leave us filled with wonder.

Non-Recognition Aggression in Cats

Like many cats in a multi-cat household, Ivan and Natasha live together bound by a mutually agreed-upon peace treaty. Indeed, theres an occasional breach when one crosses the others claim to a toy or cherished napping spot - but that doesnt terminate treaty relations. However, there is one major treaty violation that makes it clear that this isnt a non-aggression pact: the veterinary visit. It doesnt matter if they go to the vet together or separately. Once back home, there are no consoling purrs. Natasha lights into Ivan with a barrage of aggressive behaviors as if she doesnt recognize her peace partner.

Communication Styles

When I was a little girl, my dad brought me to a local animal shelter to adopt a kitten. The shelter worker reached into a cage full of kittens - how delightful! - and pulled out an especially tiny white kitten, who was literally lost in the crowd of furry playfulness.

Dear Doctor: Never See my Cat Drink!

I am writing in hopes that you may have a suggestion regarding my three-year-old Persian cat. I adopted her through an agency when she was about two years old, but nothing was ever mentioned about her eating issues.

Domestic Abuse and Pet Safety

The statistics speak for themselves. Over seventy percent of pet-owning women who find safety in a womens shelter report that their abuser had also injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to gain psychological control. Furthermore, 32 percent of the children who end up in shelters to escape domestic abuse had themselves harmed or even killed pet animals; the lessons modeled by the offending adult seep in insidiously.