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Mews and Nips: The Secret Life of Cats: What Do They Do When We’re Not Watching?

cat-camera

Now that WiFi cameras are readily available, it’s no longer quite as big a secret what our house cats do when we’re not around, but what about cats who have access to the outdoors? Maren Huck, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Derby in the UK placed small cameras on 16 cats and followed them for up to 4 years as they prowled their neighborhoods. Though the study—co-authored by Samantha Watson, an animal behaviorist at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom—was mostly done to gauge the accuracy of the technology, the duo has already made some surprising findings. Read more about the study on the Science Magazine website.

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Mews and Nips: Why Do Cats Wiggle Their Butts Before Pouncing

cat-ready-to-pounce

We’ve all seen it: our cats get ready to pounce on a toy, and just before they take off, they crouch and wiggle their butt a little. While there hasn’t been any formal research into the origins of this common behavior, a professor of evolutionary biomechanics at the Royal Veterinary College in London has some theories. One is that it might provide an aerobic warm up of sorts for the cat. For more about what might cause this behavior, visit LiveScience.

If you missed any of the stories featured on the Conscious Cat this week, here’s a recap: on Monday, we celebrated Memorial Day, on Tuesday, we featured Bootsie’s Bunk Bed and Play Station, on Wednesday, Dr. Marci Koski answered behavior questions, and on Friday, we featured a colony of feral cats outside a famous music venue. And don’t forget to enter our giveaway to win a Cat Pocket Tote Bag from Triple T Studios!Continue Reading

Is There a Genetic Basis for the Unique Behaviors of Siamese Cats?

siamese-cats

Guest post by Ingrid R. Niesman, MS PhD

The dark horse wins the race”. “Our hero strides forth on a shiny white steed”. Humans have long been mystified over animal behaviors and coloration. Albinos have been alternatively feared or revered. Black cats summon up dark arts imagery. But is there really a connection between a cat’s fur and their behavior or is this just superstition? My research is aimed at unraveling at least a small part of this enduring mystery.Continue Reading

Mews and Nips: The Cat in Pet Sematary is Played by Five Shelter Cats

I will most definitely not be going to see the remake of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. I’m not a fan of horror movies, and this one looks particularly scary (even Stephen King once mentioned that of all the books he wrote, the only one that really scared him was this one!)  However, I loved hearing that Church the cat was played by five different shelter cats, and that the cats were trained using a holistic approach with positive reinforcement. “I don’t want them in cages,” animal trainer Melissa Millett told Inverse. “I want them to live like cats that happen to have a job.” Read the full story and see some great photos, on Inverse.com.

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Mews and Nips: Is Your Cat Right or Left-Pawed?

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A recent study at the University of Belfast found that female cats are much more likely to use their right paw than males. The 44 cats in the study were observed by their guardians, who kept track of which paw their cats favored for every day tasks like walking up and down the stairs and batting at toys. The majority of cats showed a paw preference when reaching for food (73%), stepping down (70%) and stepping over (66%,) and their preference for right and left was consistent for the majority of the tasks. For more about the study and the results, visit the Queens University of Belfast website.

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Mews and Nips: Walter Chandoha Took 90,000 Photos of Cats Over the Course of His Long Life

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Walter Chandoha, a photographer who specialized in cats, died at the age of 98 earlier this month. Inspired by an abandoned kitten he found shivering in the snow in 1949, Chandoha took some 90,000 photos over the course of his career, the majority of them of cats, something that is even more remarkable since nearly all of his photos were taken before cats became internet stars. Visit the New York Times for a wonderful feature about this talented cat lover. His photos are featured in one of his many books, Walter Chandoha: The Cat Photographer (affiliate link*.) A retrospective of his cat photography will be published later this year.

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Mews and Nips: Your Cat’s Tongue is a Pink Engineering Marvel

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The cat’s tongue is one of nature’s perfect designs: it allows cats to groom and to consume their prey. In a new study, researchers sought to untangle the mysteries of cat tongues. A previous study reported that domestic cat tongues are covered in cone-shaped bumps that were used as brush bristles, whereas this study’s team found that the protrusions are actually claw-shaped hooks with hollow U-shaped tips. For more about the fascinating findings of this study, and how they might be applied to create a better brush, visit the Smithsonian Magazine website.

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Mews and Nips: Shelter Cat Gives Everyone Hugs

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When Zorro was first brought to the Pennsylvania SPCA shelter, he could barely tolerate being touched. It turned out he had bladder stones. During recovery from his surgery to remove the stones, he started cuddling with the veterinary nurses caring for him. “When they would clean his cage, he would give them a hug and stay there, soon he would start nudging their heads and purring, sometimes he even kissed their faces,” said Gillian Kocher, Director of Public Relations of the PSPCA. For more about this beautiful boy, and wonderful photos, please visit LoveMeow.com.

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