Why Do Cats Groom So Often?

Why Do Cats Groom So Often?

By PetPav and comments by Diane Weinmann

Cat lovers know how our cats are such clean pets because they groom themselves all the time.  Not that we’re complaining.  As it turns out, cats spend as much as half of their waking time grooming themselves or other cats! We absolutely enjoy the benefits, but why do cats groom so often?

Cats learn grooming from birth

The mother cat’s first job after giving birth is to remove the amniotic sac, then lick the kitten with her rough tongue to help stimulate its breathing.  Kittens, emulating their mothers, start self-grooming by the time they’re a few weeks old. If they are part of a litter, they are likely to lick and groom one another as well.  Or even when simply sitting next to each other…in harmony!

Here are some of the reasons your cat will groom (which is why it can happen all day!):

Cleanliness

Cats usually groom themselves to stay clean. Their tongue is used like a comb and removes old fur, loose fur, and dirt. Cats are naturally clean animals and this helps maintain a healthy coat and is a sign of good health.

To clean injuries

Cats wash their injuries to cleanse the wounds, and possibly to prevent infection. Licking with a rough tongue can also remove dead skin cell.

To hide their scent from predators

Cats’ sense of smell is fourteen times more powerful than that of humans. Most predators, including cats, track prey through scent. A mother cat in the wild will try to hide her young kittens by removing evidence of their feeding. She will wash herself and them thoroughly after nursing. This is the same instinct as when a cat scratches the floor around the food dish after eating.

To lubricate their fur

When cats groom, their barb-like tongues stimulate the sebaceous glands at the base of their hairs and spread the resultant sebum throughout the hairs.  Their self-grooming also helps rid the coat of dirt and parasites such as fleas.

Emotional grooming

This type of grooming helps a cat feel better emotionally. If your cat was just frightened or feels tense, grooming is a calming mechanism. Emotional or displacement grooming helps them deal with stress.

Temperature control

Cats don’t sweat so grooming themselves is a way to cool themselves down in warm weather and keeps the fur closer to their skin to retain heat in cold weather. When a cat licks and tugs at its fur, it stimulates the follicles to release oils that can also help waterproof your cat.

Mutual grooming

If you have two or more cats, they may groom each other from time to time. It’s a way to express friendship and more of a social activity than a hygienic one. Mutually grooming usually expresses comfort, companionship, and even love among cats. Your cat may even groom you (sign of love).

If your cat stops grooming, this could be a sign of a health issue and it might be time to take your cat to the vet.  On the other hand, if your cat is excessively grooming and pulling out his or her fur, you should speak with your vet to find out the cause.

In my 20 year’s experience with pets, and of course by life with my two cats who have passed into spirit, you will witness a marked decrease in the ability to clean and groom themselves in their later years.  Many reasons cause this decline but the most obvious is their lack of flexibility to contort their bodies to be able to do the job!  Much like people in our later years—we have a hard time touching our toes.

 

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Equine Intelligence: Nine Insights Into the Way Horses Think

By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

 

The fact that horses have no visible “weapon,” like the horn on a rhino or the claws on a tiger, gives a major clue as to how their minds work. Their primary form of defense is “flight,” (verses the “fight” some animals may engage in) and as prey animals they are experts at knowing when to flee and executing this action with lightning quick reflexes.

But it’s a mistake to assume that horses are simply a product of their instincts, relying on reflex alone. The fact is, horses are often compared to dogs and cats in terms of intelligence, but it’s much like comparing apples to oranges.

Dogs and cats are predators, and as such have developed very different skills and behaviors compared to horses. Understanding the latter, therefore, won’t come from expecting a horse to behave or think like a dog, or attempting to draw such comparisons, but from striving to understand why a horse’s mind works the way it does.

Equine intelligence researcher Evelyn Hanggi, Ph.D., co-founder of the nonprofit Equine Research Foundation, explained to Horse Talk that horses are more intelligent than many people believe:1

“Common beliefs maintain that horses have a brain the size of a walnut; horses do not think; horses are merely conditioned-response animals; horses cannot generalize; horses have no sense of concept; horses are color blind, have poor acuity and depth perception, and cannot transfer information from one eye to another.

In reality, horses manage not only ordinary daily cognitive tasks but mental challenges as well. In the wild, they must cope with food and water of inconsistent quality or unpredictable distribution, predators that change locations and habits, and a social system in which identities and roles of individuals must be discovered and remembered.”

How Do Horses Think? Nine Key Insights

Dr. Robert M. Miller is an equine veterinarian and behaviorist who has summed up the way horses think in nine concise points. All of them relate back to the fact that horses are flight animals, and this is key to understanding why they do what they do. As summed up by DVM 360, once you understand Miller’s nine points, you’ll begin to understand the complex underpinnings behind horse intelligence.2

Flightiness Does Not Equal Lack of Intelligence

While many equate horses’ (and many prey species’) flightiness as a sign that they’re not very bright, it’s important to understand that flight equals life for horses, who must outrun their natural predators of cougars, wolves and bears in order to survive. Miller told the news outlet:3

“I now realize that the horse in its natural environment, the grassy plains, is a highly intelligent animal. As we go through this list, you will see that the horse rates extremely high on some scales, and in several places, it rates higher than any other domestic animal. I am still learning to respect the intelligence of the horse.”

Horses’ Senses Are Incredible

Because quick response time is a life-or-death matter for horses, they have developed incredibly sensitive senses, from their vision to their nose and tactile awareness. In fact, Miller says they’re the most perceptive of all domestic animals, with an ability to sense slight changes in position in a rider on its back (even a slight turn of the head) and see with virtually 360-degree vision.

Because a horse’s eyes are set on the sides of its head, it’s able to see what’s on both sides, but their depth perception suffers as a result. This is why horses hesitate before crossing a stream — until they’ve learned the route or come to trust their rider.

Horses Learn and Are Desensitized Quickly

Miller believes that horses are faster learners than dogs, cattle, swine and sheep. This is because being able to decode what’s a threat and what’s not is essential for a prey animal like a horse. They also become desensitized to potential threats quickly once they realize they’re not harmful.

Why? Miller told DVM 360, “Because if you’re a flight animal and an unfamiliar stimulus — a thing you’ve never seen before or sound you’ve never heard before — precipitates flight, if that stimulus was harmless and you didn’t quickly desensitize to it, you’d never stop running. There’d be no time to eat, drink, rest or reproduce.”4

Horses Have the Fastest Response Times of All Domestic Animals

This again helps them to survive in the wild, but is an important point to remember if you spend any time around these majestic animals. “[I]f the horse wants to kick you and you’re in an exposed position, you’re going to get hurt. We just can’t move that fast,” Miller says.5

This is especially important if you’re standing in one of horses’ two “blind spots” — directly in front of or in back of them.6 You should always talk to a horse when approaching these areas so the horse knows you’re there and doesn’t become frightened.

Horses Have Excellent Memories

Miller says horses never forget, and this includes both good and bad experiences. Their memory skills were likely helpful in one experiment, in which horses were taught to use a touch-screen computer to discriminate between different shapes and sizes.

The 42-inch touch-screen monitors showed horses different sizes or shapes. If the horse chose correctly by touching the appropriate choice with his nose, he was rewarded with a carrot, which was automatically distributed beneath the screen.7

The horses learned to use the screen quickly, and were presented with different letter combinations (in which X was always the wrong choice) and shapes of varying sizes. The horses were able to identify shape differences similar to chimpanzees and humans, although the horses had more difficulty with closed shapes like squares, triangles and the letters O and D.

We recently visited a horse, Cimba, my daughter had a close relationship with over seven years ago. We didn’t know if he would remember her when we entered the barn, but his response was unmistakable and heartwarming; he was as glad to see her as she was to see him.

Horses Are Easily Dominated

Horses are herd animals and there are leaders and followers within the group. Horses are the most easily dominated among domestic animals, readily accepting leadership from other horses or humans, provided the leader uses the appropriate behaviors. Because horses are herd animals, they shouldn’t be pastured alone.

Interestingly, in the wild, the leader of the herd is typically an older mare (female horse), which some believe gains its alpha role not by strength or power, per se, but rather by experience and attitude, according to Carey A. Williams, Ph.D., extension specialist in equine management at Rutgers University. Williams reported:8

“The older mare has had more experiences, more close encounters, and survived more threats than any other horse in the herd. The requirement of the lead horse is not strength or size; if this were so, then humans could never dominate a horse. Dominance is established not only through aggression but also through attitudes that let the other horses know she expects to be obeyed.”

Horses Have Their Own Body Language

Miller believes it’s important to learn horses’ bodily signals. A horse with its head down, as it is during grazing, signals submission and trust whereas a horse with its head up suggests it’s alert and considering flight. He also advises using non-predatory body positions when approaching a horse, such as avoiding staring at the horse and keeping a relaxed posture.

Controlling a Horse’s Feet Leads to Control of Their Mind

If you control a horse’s movement, you’re in essence controlling the horse, because a horse depends on its feet and ability to flee to survive. Miller explained to DVM 360, “When you are on a call and they bring the horse out, while talking to the owner, first move the horse around in a quiet little circle … The horse will be thinking, ‘This person is controlling where my feet are positioned.’ And submission is the response to that.”9

Horses Hit the Ground Running

As a precocial species, horses are able to stand and run very soon after birth and have full use of their senses. It’s during this time, in the first few days after birth, that imprinting is greatest and foals quickly learn to identify what are threats and what aren’t.

Understanding Horse Intelligence Can Further the Human-Equine Bond

Compared to intelligence research in other animals, relatively little work has been done on the potentially advanced intelligence of horses and much remains to be discovered. It’s recently been revealed, for instance, that horses use subtle signals to ask humans for help when faced with a difficult problem.10 They’re also capable of reading your, and other horses’, facial expressions.11

According to Hanggi, deciphering equine intelligence is a crucial area of study, as only by fully understanding how horses’ minds work can we be sure we’re treating these creatures with the humanity they deserve. As she told Horse Talk:12

“If the cognitive abilities of horses are misunderstood, underrated, or overrated, their treatment may also be inappropriate. Equine welfare is dependent on not only physical comfort but mental comfort as well.

Confining a thinking animal in a dark, dusty stable with little or no social interaction and no mental stimulation is as harmful as providing inadequate nutrition or using abusive training methods. Therefore, it is in the interest of both horses and humans to understand more fully the scope of equine thinking.”

 

Pets and Your Love Life: What the Experts Say

By Helen Anne Travis and comments by Diane Weinmann

 

Want to be a better spouse or partner? Take a few lessons from your pet. Pet’s always get it right and are pure love!

 

That’s the advice of Dr. Tiffany Margolin, DVM and author of “Relationship Reset: Get Her To Love You As Much As Your Dog Does.”

 

Pets can teach us everything from how to greet our partners when they come home after a long day, the importance of turning off the television and spending quality time with our partners, and even how to end a fight gracefully, she says.

 

Then there’s the art of the agenda-less soft touch. You know how a cat pushes against your hand when you rub her cheek? We humans have the same response to a soft touch, explains Margolin. “There are a lot of relationship subtleties you can learn from having a pet.”  Diane’s dog will just lean onto her leg for an hour just craving comforting contact.

 

Learning To Care For Others

 

For many people, having a pet is how we learn to take care of something other than ourselves, says Dr. Laurie Hess, a board certified avian veterinarian and owner of the Veterinary Center for Birds and Exotics in Bedford Hills, New York.

 

Pets teach us how to bond and how to love; from them we learn the art of reading body language and moods, she says. All of these are very important traits to pay attention to in a romantic partner.

 

“Animals teach you intuition,” says Margolin. They also teach us patience.

 

“You have to be patient,” she adds. “That puppy will [sometimes] pee on the carpet 50 times before it learns.”

 

Pets may make us better people, but does that come across loud and clear to our potential partners?

 

Experts say the answer is yes. And to understand why, you have to go back in time to the early 19th century.

 

Keeping Up With The 1800s Joneses

 

People first started having pets, in the modern sense of the word, in the early 1800s, says Dr. Diana Ahmad, University of Missouri curators’ distinguished teaching professor and author of the book “Success Depends on the Animals: Emigrants, Livestock, and Wild Animals on the Overland Trails, 1840-1869.”

 

A few interesting things led to this pet phenomenon, she explains. Middle and upper class people finally had the means to take care of animals they didn’t plan to eat. The large number of people traveling west at that period were keen to bring along a dog for protection, or a cat that reminded them of the family they’d never see again (remember, there was no Skype or email back then). Finally, a series of books by authors like Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna and Lydia Maria Child suggested that how we treat animals reflected on our family’s social status. “It was a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ thing,” Ahmad.

 

In today’s world, our pets still tell other people a lot about our personalities and potential to be good partners.

 

Having a well cared for pet tells romantic interests we’re likely a nurturing person capable of making a commitment, says Margolin. It shows people we can take responsibility for someone other than ourselves.  You must be a giving individual to care for a pet—in essence you are able to put your pet before yourself.  This aspect of your personality tells someone a lot about the person you are!

 

So go ahead, put that funny photo of you and your pet in your dating profile, the experts say.

 

“If your pet is a big part of your life, you need to share that with people,” says Hess. “You don’t want something like that to be a surprise.”

 

Think about it this way, says Margolin, if your pets are important to you, and you’re looking for a big-hearted person who accepts that, you can use that photo of you and your pet as a filter of sorts.

 

If a potential partner isn’t willing to accept you for the pet-lover you are, “Maybe they’re not someone you want to be with,” she says.

 

What About Platonic Partners?

 

Even if we’re not looking for love, pets can help us meet new friends and bond over a shared interest, says Hess. Just think of all the dog-walking groups, bird clubs, and rabbit societies out there.

 

“Having a pet fosters a sense of community,” she says. And a common interest in pets can be a great social lubricant.

 

We can also learn a thing or two about making new human friends from the way we interact with animals.

 

Remember the last time you saw someone walking a friendly-looking dog on the street, says Margolin. Didn’t you just want to run over and pet it?

 

Imagine if you applied that same enthusiasm to greeting a stranger, she says, minus the petting, perhaps.

 

Go at it with no preconceived notions or prejudices. Why not wag your tail and see how the conversation unfolds?

 

4 Popular Home Remedies For Itchy Skin In Dogs

4 Popular Home Remedies For Itchy Skin In Dogs

Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on January 18, 2018
Posted in Dog Skin Allergies

 

Yellow Labrador scratching

Itchy skin is one of the most common health problems for dogs, largely because it can be triggered by so many things. If fleas or ticks are not the culprit, your dog’s skin might have become inflamed, infected or excessively dry thanks to allergies, yeast, or dust mites. Some dogs have allergies to seemingly harmless foods like chicken, corn or wheat, while others have naturally dry skin that causes them to scratch or lick themselves to the point where bumps and scabs arise.

Making itchy skin even more troublesome is the fact that traditional medications aren’t always as effective as they should be. Apoquel and medicated shampoos, for example, might achieve temporary relief at best. This has prompted resourceful pet parents to turn to simple home remedies that have proven to treat dryness and eliminate several other triggers of itchy skin. The number of these remedies continues to grow, as does the amount of pet parents reporting their effectiveness.

  1. Apple Cider And Vinegar

A 50/50 mix of raw, unfiltered apple cider and vinegar is a highly recommended home remedy because each ingredient has multiple functions. Apple cider balances the pH levels of the skin while eradicating fleas and mites. Vinegar has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. While it is generally recommended that you mix the remedy with water, some pet parents have found success after adding brewed green tea as well.

The solution can reportedly be applied via a spray bottle or sponge as much as twice a day until the itching has subsided. It might sting, however, if it comes into contact with wounds or raw skin. Results can usually be seen after two weeks, which is the same amount of time the solution can be refrigerated before turning moldy.

  1. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has been known to stop itching when applied topically and/or orally. The first function stems from coconut oil’s fatty acids that moisturize and repair damaged skin, while the latter boosts your dog’s immune system and fights internal infections. Coconut oil can be mixed into your dog’s food, though it might have to be heated beforehand during winter months.

Dosage typically determines on age and size, though numerous pet parents have said that just about any reputable human brand of extra-virgin, pure coconut oil will work for your dog. It seems that the quickest relief (as little as one week) was experienced by pet parents who performed both applications at least once a day.

  1. Yogurt

Yogurt fights skin and yeast infections with natural probiotics that keep healthy bacteria in your dog’s gastrointestinal system. It’s extremely important to note that unless your vet says otherwise, the only type of yogurt your dog should be eating is low-fat, plain and free of sugar or additives.

Small or young dogs are usually recommended one teaspoon a day compared to two teaspoons for larger or older dogs. Some pet parents have seen results in a little over a week, and these results aren’t just limited to skin. Your vet will likely see no issue in continuing to add yogurt to your dog’s meals to ward off all sorts of infections and prevent diarrhea.

  1. Baking Soda

A 50/50 mix of baking soda and water is said to eliminate skin-irritating pathogens while exfoliating itchy skin. The usual recommendation is to use two tablespoons of baking soda and then apply the thickened paste to the affected areas once or twice a day. The paste should then be left on for fifteen to twenty minutes before it is washed off. If your dog is itching all over his or her body instead of a few affected areas, you might want to try adding one cup of baking soda to your dog’s bath water.

Don’t Hesitate To Act

These are just a small portion of the dozens of solutions touted by pet parents whose dogs had itchy skin in every physical area you can think of. In addition to natural home remedies, it would be wise to ask your vet about anything else you can do to prevent itchy skin from emerging ever again, like simply brushing your dog’s coat every day. And whatever the cause may be, itchy skin is not a problem that should be taken lightly since they can indicate serious internal problems, like cancer.

 

Here’s the Scoop on Cat Poop

Here’s the Scoop on Cat Poop

 By Cheryl Lock

While most cat owners are on the lookout for litter box problems, they may not be paying close enough attention to what’s going on inside the box. As unappealing as it may sound, keeping an eye on your cat’s poop can provide an important window into his health.

By knowing what a healthy bowel movement is supposed to look like, you can notice when something isn’t quite right with your kitty, and figure out what to do about it.

What Cat Poop Reveals About Overall Health

Just like for humans, your cat’s feces can be a predictor of important things going on inside his body. For example, a cat with abnormal feces may be suffering from a digestive disorder or liver or kidney disease, says Dr. Alan Schwartz of Compassion Veterinary Health Center in Poughkeepsie, New York. “In a relatively normal cat, [problems with bowel movements] can also be a sign of a sensitivity to the diet offered, as well as parasites,” he adds.

Many times, when cats start to show signs of kidney disease, they become dehydrated, which causes them to have hard stools, says Dr. M. Duffy Jones of Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. “This can lead to constipation, but also should tip you off to get some blood work run to see if there is early kidney disease.” Of course, constipation can have other causes as well, including anything else that leads to dehydration, intestinal blockages, dirty litter boxes, inactivity, neurologic disorders, painful defecation, and the use of some types of drugs.

Diarrhea can also indicate intestinal upset and inflammation, Jones adds, so it’s important to get it checked out. “It can be caused by anything from worms to things stuck in the intestines,” and many other potential problems, he says.

abrupt change in your cat’s diet will almost always cause a change in stool, Schwartz says. Diet changes can temporarily affect the smell, color, and quality of your cat’s poop, notes Dr. Mark Waldrop of the Nashville Cat Clinic. If your cat is otherwise healthy, however, these symptoms should resolve within three to five days. “While your cat’s feces will never smell like roses, a notable worsening in smell should be evaluated, as it can be a symptom of intestinal disease,” Waldrop stresses.

Frequency of Your Cat’s Bowel Movements

 

“Cats are all different as far as regularity, but most will have once daily bowel movements,” Schwartz says.

As cats age, however, they may have less frequent bowel movements, Waldrop says. “You may even see times when they skip a day.”

But if your cat goes more than two days without stool production, it’s best to call your vet. When cats are constipated, “they will strain or take an inordinately long time in the box, or frequent the box with no stool produced,” Schwartz says.

On the other hand, too much stool can also indicate something is wrong. If your cat consistently has more than two bowel movements a day, you should consult with your vet, Waldrop says.

Color of Your Cat’s Poop

Under normal circumstances, a cat’s stool is dark brown, Waldrop says. “Black is consistent with digested blood in the stool, especially if it’s shiny and looks like road tar,” he describes. Tan or light brown can be an indication of liver or pancreatic issues, he says, but diets high in fiber will also produce a lighter-colored stool.

If you notice blood in your pet’s stool, make an appointment to see your veterinarian, Schwartz advises, as that can be a sign of a potentially serious problem and provide a route for bacteria to enter your cat’s bloodstream.

Pet parents should also call their vet if they notice mucus in the stool. Your cat’s poop should not have any coating, Waldrop adds. “If you find coating on the stool, it could be an indication of colitis.”

Consistency of Your Cat’s Poop

To know what loose or hard stool looks like, you’ll first need to know what regular, healthy stool looks like. The ideal stool should be firm (but not rock hard) and shaped like a log, a nugget, or a combination of the two, Waldrop says.

 

Keep in mind that the ancestors of domestic cats were desert dwelling creatures. As such, their colons are very effective at removing moisture from the stool, which means it’s normal for their stool to be firm, Waldrop says. “I have a lot of clients bring in normal stool for analysis thinking their cat is constipated,” he says.

Anything that is not formed (i.e., soupy or soft stool) is considered diarrhea, Waldrop says. “Whether it’s liquid or pasty, it’s abnormal and should be evaluated.”

Schwartz notes that it’s important to keep an eye on the consistency of your cat’s stools, especially since cats are prone to inflammatory bowel disease, which is a relatively common cause of diarrhea.

Content of Your Cat’s Poop

“Hair is the most common item noticed in stool, and if it’s not excessive, then this is totally normal,” Waldrop says. If you find large amounts of hair in your cat’s poop, it can be an indication that the cat is over-grooming, he explains, which can be associated with anxiety, itchy skin, or diseases causing excessive shedding.

Tapeworms may also be seen in your cat’s poop, Waldrop says. “They are shiny, white, and about the size of rice,” he describes. “They may also be moving.” Most other intestinal parasites are not visible in the feces.

Other things to watch out for include pieces of cat toys or other household items, such as thread or dental floss. “Some cats are chewers, and if you see these kinds of things in your cat’s stool, you will really need to keep those items out of your cat’s reach, as they can potentially lead to an obstruction,” Waldrop says.

If you notice any of these objects in your cat’s stool, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

What to Do About Cat Poop Issues

As a rule of thumb, never try a home remedy for your cat’s poop issues—or for any malady—without first checking in with your veterinarian, Schwartz says. “Cats are very particular with their sensitivity and tolerance to over-the-counter medicines,” he says.

In addition, it’s always important to make sure your cat has access to fresh water and is drinking enough of it, he says. “Elderly cats are commonly dehydrated because they tend to drink less,” and are prone to diseases that increase their water intake needs.

Jones reminds pet parents to relate their cat’s stools with how the cat is acting. “If your cat is lethargic and the stools change, that is cause for concern,” he says. “If the cat is normal and the stools change, normally I will give them a little time and look for other clinical signs of disease.”

9 Signs Your Pet Is Jealous (and How to Stop It)

9 Signs Your Pet Is Jealous (and How to Stop It)

 

By Nicole Pajer and comments by Diane Weinmann

 

Sometimes our pets behave in a way that suggests they are jealous. When we bend down to pet another dog, our pup may shove his way in front of us, knocking our hand away from his canine companion. A cat may excessively meow when you’re not paying attention to him, or a dog may annoyingly whine when another pet in the house gets a treat and he doesn’t. But are these actually jealous behaviors? Experts disagree.

“Pets don’t experience jealousy in the true sense of the word,” says Katenna Jones, associate applied animal behaviorist and owner of Jones Animal Behavior in Warwick, Rhode Island. “What you are most likely seeing your pet exhibit is assertive, pushy, or rude behavior—e.g., the pet that bulldozes other pets out of the way—or social hierarchy, where a higher-ranking pet displaces another pet.”

On the other hand, a recent study found that dogs “exhibited significantly more jealous behaviors (e.g., snapping, getting between the owner and object, pushing/touching the object/owner) when their owners displayed affectionate behaviors towards what appeared to be another dog [an animatronic toy that moved and vocalized] as compared to nonsocial objects [a children’s book and a plastic jack-o’-lantern].”

Suzanne Hetts, applied animal behaviorist and co-owner of Animal Behavior Associates in Littleton, Colorado, concludes the jury is out on whether a pet feels the same type of jealous feelings that humans do. When a pet is determined to get your attention or his favorite toy back, “We have no idea whether a pet’s emotional state is equivalent to what people label as jealousy,” she explains. “In most cases, this is better described as a competitive situation where the pet is competing with another individual—human, dog, cat, or otherwise—for something it wants.”

Jealous-Like Behaviors in Pets

Regardless of what you call it, this type of behavior is often unwanted or unhealthy. Here are some jealous-like behaviors that pet parents should be on the lookout for:

  1. Aggression. “This can often be in the form of biting or nibbling of the animal or person getting attention over them,” says Dr. Scarlett Magda, founding president of New York City-based Veterinarians International.
  2. Going to the bathroom indoors. “Our pets can’t express their thoughts and feelings in words, so instead, they sometimes express their feelings in actions,” says Dr. Geoffrey Broderick, a veterinarian in Huntington, New York. “If you see them peeing or pooping in places where they shouldn’t, they may be trying to tell you something.”
  3. Paying extra attention to their owner. According to Broderick, this can come across as a pet cuddling up extra close to you and suddenly licking your hand or face. “This is a sign of affection and they are trying to get your attention,” he says.
  4. Pushy behavior. Magda notes that this often comes in the form of a pet “inhibiting another person or animal from moving freely on a regular basis or pushing their way into a situation demanding the attention of their owner.”
  5. Growling, hissing, or getting into a fight with another pet. This may especially be an issue in a multi-pet household where pets are competing for their owner’s attention and resources, Broderick points out.
  6. Trying to scare off strangers. “Pets may aggressively bark, hiss, or growl when owners are greeted or visitors arrive,” Magda says.
  7. Doing a trick. According to Broderick, this is a surefire sign that your pet is trying to get your attention.
  8. Crowding your space. “Cats sometimes will lie down on your work table or sit on your computer keyboard to get attention or even start knocking things off the table,” Broderick says. “A dog may sit up and beg to try and get your attention or sit up on their hind legs.”
  9. Leaving the room. Sometimes when our pets get mad, they may have a tendency to withdraw, Broderick says.

What Causes Jealous-Like Behaviors in Pets?

According to experts, jealous-like behaviors in pets typically suggest boredom or a ploy for attention from their owners. “Sometimes, just like people, they can feel insecure,” Broderick explains. “They need individual attention, lots of cuddling, and activities to keep them busy and to keep them from being bored. Sometimes, our pets just want us and they don’t want to share us with another pet or person.”

In circumstances like this, here’s what could be going through your pet’s head: “I see you doing something. You look happy. I want that,” Jones says. A lack of resources (only one toy for multiple pets), social conflict, too small of a space, stress, lack of exercise, and genetic disposition can cause jealous-like behavior, she adds.

Magda advises pet owners to pay close attention if one pet or family member is receiving more attention than another, a new pet or family member has arrived in the household, or there is inequality in the amount of food or treats between pets.

Diane Weinmann recommends talking to an animal communicator to find out from the source, your pet, what is causing unwanted behaviors.  It’s a much better to know exactly what or who is causing the problem than to guess.

How to Stop Jealous Behavior in Pets

Here are some of Magda’s tips for nipping this type of behavior in the bud, before it gets out of control:

  • Keep a diary to record circumstances that cause signs of jealousy/aggression to occur, so you know what to look for. This can also be helpful for behaviors that you cannot manage on your own, as you can share the list with your vet or a professional animal behaviorist.
  • Avoid giving too much attention to one pet versus another.
  • Train dogs to feel safe in their crate so they can feel relaxed during their “time out” period. Give cats a space to call their own as well.
  • Feed pets separately to avoid conflict during mealtimes.
  • Ignore your pets when you arrive home so they don’t feel like one is getting more attention than the other. The level of emotional excitement will diminish, preventing signs of aggression from occurring.
  • Put leashes on both dogs when walking two at a time and consider a gentle leader for better control.
  • Don’t pet one animal at the expense of the other.
  • Have at least two of all toys and beds but remove food-based toys unless supervised.
  • Catch your pets being good. Give them attention and praise when they are acting the way you want them too.

Diane Weinmann recommends a custom treatment bottle of Bach Flower Essences that helps with emotional issues.  Bach Flower essences are a holistic way to reframe your pet’s way of thinking to bring about changes in behaviors.  These essences do not contra-interact with any medicines that your pet would be taking and you cannot harm or overdose your pet.  See Diane’s website for more information at www.theloveofanimals.com

Managing unwanted behaviors and keeping our pets mentally healthy are keys to avoiding unpleasant situations down the line, Broderick says. “As pet parents, we need to attend to their physical and emotional needs, just like we do for our human children,” he says. “Our pets just want to feel loved.”

 

 

Cat Talk- what the meow means

When Your Cat’s Meowing May Be a Red Flag in Disguise

 

By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

A very common question many pet parents have is, “Why does my cat meow constantly? Is he sick, or is he just trying to drive me nuts?” Even if the crying isn’t constant, it can be frequent enough to be of concern, and sometimes it’s just plain annoying. Just as some dogs bark more than others, some kitties tend to meow a lot (just ask anyone with a Siamese at home). If Mr. Whiskers is otherwise healthy and is meowing right at you, he probably wants something. And that something is usually food or attention.

Cats whose owners answer their meows tend to grow more meow-y over time, until the cat and his human are actually having lengthy conversations. And kitties who learn they get food if they meow will ramp up the behavior — especially around mealtime. Senior and geriatric cats also tend to vocalize more, especially at night.

8 Types of Cat Vocalizations

Cats meow to communicate with other cats as well as with humans, and they actually have a rather extensive range of vocalizations. You may know the difference between your cat’s dinnertime meow, for example, and the way she sounds if she’s frightened or annoyed. But many kitty sounds and intonations are more subtle and don’t fit a particular pattern, which can make them harder to interpret. Here’s a cheat sheet for decoding some common kitty chatter:1

Vocalization How It Sounds What It Means Translation
Meow The classic mee-yoww Usually just a shout-out to whoever is around “Hey there!”
Purr Similar to a low idling motor; made by contracting the muscles of the larynx A sign of contentment in most cats; rarely, a sign of anxiety or illness “Backrub feels great… don’t stop!”
Murmur, trill Soft rhythmic “thump” made on exhalation A request or greeting “Pet me?”
Growl, hiss, spit Low-pitched, severe, “I mean business” sound Kitty is feeling fearful, stressed, defensive or aggressive “Back off!”
Shriek or screech High-pitched, loud, harsh scream Kitty is either in pain or about to cause some “Ouch!”
“Don’t touch me!” “Get away from me!”
Chatter Teeth chattering; jaw vibrating Feline hunting sound; frustration from being unable to hunt visible prey “Let me at it… let me at it… let me at it!”
Howl or yowl Loud, drawn out calls Cognitive dysfunction in older cats; aggression; distress “Where are you?”
“Where am I?”
“Why am I yelling?”
Moan Long, low, throaty cry Prelude to vomiting, bringing up a hairball “Get here quick I’m about to make a mess!”

When to Worry About Your Cat’s Meowing

Since you know your pet better than anyone else, it’s up to you to learn his “normal” when it comes to vocalizations so you can immediately pick up on any change in the way he communicates.

Changes in your cat’s meow can signal an underlying medical condition, such as laryngeal disease, high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. It can also mean he’s dealing with a painful and potentially life-threatening problem such as a urinary tract blockage, especially if he cries out while in his litterbox.

In older cats, increased meowing can be the result of cognitive dysfunction, which is essentially a form of dementia. If your senior or geriatric kitty also seems disoriented, he could be vocalizing due to stress or confusion.

When to Call the Vet

Generally speaking, almost any feline medical condition that results in physical or mental discomfort can cause your cat to vocalize more often or abnormally. If kitty is typically fairly quiet but suddenly gets talkative, or cries when she jumps onto or off of high surfaces, or when you’re holding or petting her, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian.

This is especially true if you’ve noticed other changes, such as a decrease or increase in appetite or sleep patterns, eliminating outside the litterbox, a change in the way she walks or sits or rests, a lack of interest in grooming or a desire to hide away from the rest of the family. Also keep in mind that a normally talkative cat who suddenly grows quiet can also be cause for concern.