scientific study

Behavior Study Wants to Learn More About Cats, and You Can Help

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When I was at the American Association of Feline Practitioners annual conference last month, I heard Theresa DePorter, BS, DVM, DECAWBM, DACVB, a veterinarian at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services in Bloomfield Hills, MI, speak on longterm behavior modification strategies for cats (more on this topic to come soon.) Dr. Porter was one of the veterinarians involved in helping create the new Feliway Multicat pheromone product, which is designed to reduce conflict and tension between cats in the same household.

Dr. DePorter is conducting a new study that is designed to help researchers understand more about cats.Continue Reading

99 Lives Whole Cat Genome Sequencing Initiative Could Bring Advances to Feline Health

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A team at the University of Missouri, led by renowned feline researcher and associate professor Leslie Lyons, will map the genes of 99 cats. The project will map 20,000 genes to develop a complete portrait of feline genetic make up.

The 99 Lives Whole Cat Genome Sequencing Initiative could help identify the cause of cats’ fur and eye color, and, more importantly, the source of feline health problems. It could even support research on diseases that affect both cats and humans. “When a sick cat comes along, you could genetically sequence it and say, ‘Hey, look, this has a variation we’ve never seen before,’ ” Lyons told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It might give us clues very quickly as to what genes to focus on for this cat’s health care.”Continue Reading

Women who love cats, and the cats who love them

woman with kitten

Those of us of the female persuasion who love cats probably didn’t need a scientific study to tell us that the bond between cats and humans can be very similar to the bond between humans and children.

Nor did we need researchers to tell us that cats hold some control over when and what they are fed. But if we wanted some rational ammunition to reassure our non-cat loving friends that we’re not crazy cat ladies, a new study from the Konrad Lorenz Research Station at the University of Vienna provides it.

DiscoveryNews reports that this study is the first to show in detail that the dynamics underlying cat-human relationships are nearly identical to human-only bonds, with cats sometimes even becoming a furry “child” in nurturing homes:

For the study, led by Kurt Kotrschal of the Konrad Lorenz Research Station and the University of Vienna, the researchers videotaped and later analyzed interactions between 41 cats and their owners over lengthy four-part periods. Each and every behavior of both the cat and owner was noted. Owner and cat personalities were also assessed in a separate test. For the cat assessment, the authors placed a stuffed owl toy with large glass eyes on a floor so the feline would encounter it by surprise.

The researchers determined that cats and their owners strongly influenced each other, such that they were each often controlling the other’s behaviors. Extroverted women with young, active cats enjoyed the greatest synchronicity, with cats in these relationships only having to use subtle cues, such as a single upright tail move, to signal desire for friendly contact.

While cats have plenty of male admirers, and vice versa, this study and others reveal that women tend to interact with their cats — be they male or female felines — more than men do. “In response, the cats approach female owners more frequently, and initiate contact more frequently (such as jumping on laps) than they do with male owners,” co-author Manuela Wedl of the University of Vienna told Discovery News, adding that “female owners have more intense relationships with their cats than do male owners.”

So in essence, the study shows that cats adore and manipulate women. For most of us, that’s really just another day in the lives of women who love cats, and the cats who love them.

Photo:  dreamstime.com

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