Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Anxiety May Give Your Dog This....

My curiosity was piqued recently when I came across a study stating that anxiety may prematurely give dogs grey hair. Interested to know why some of our canine friends tended to go grey around the muzzle area earlier than others I was keen to know more.

The study was carried out among 400 dog owners in Colorado USA who were each given a 42 item questionnaire that required them to fill in details about their dog's age, health and behavior.

The researchers took 2 photographs of each dog and used the criteria that the dogs had to be below 4 years of age as older dogs would should show greyness due to simply natural ageing. Dogs with light colored fur were also excluded as greyness in lighter colored dogs may be more difficult to ascertain.

To help ascertain the dog's anxiety levels the researchers then went on to ask questions regarding the dog's behaviour (destroying things when left alone, nervous around people etc) and impulsivity (jumping up at people, hyperactivity, ability to stay calm/focus etc).

After the photo's of the dogs were independently analysed and the behavioral information was studied the findings proved interesting and included:
  • Dogs that showed nervousness around loud noises, unfamiliar animals and people tended to show increased levels of greyness.
  • Female dogs tended to have higher levels of greyness than their male counterparts.
  • The size, medical condition and whether the dog had been spayed/neutered had no significance in affecting premature greyness in the dogs studied.
It was noted that the study may well prove to have practical implications for dog welfare. People working with young dogs that notice premature greyness could alert owners to potential anxiety issues in their pets.

The full study was published in the December 2016 issue of the Journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Why Male Cats Are Called 'Toms'....

Ever wondered why we call male cats 'Tomcats'? It hasn't always been so and I thought I would share with you how the name Tom evolved when referring to our male feline friends.

Although the term Tom is believed to have been attributed to young male kittens as far back as 1300, the commonly used term Tomcat became more widely recognised in 1760 after the publication of an anonymous book 'The Life And Adventures Of A Cat'. Prior to the book's publication male cats were actually commonly referred to as 'Rams' and 'Boars'!

The main character of the aforementioned book is a male cat called Tom and the popularity of the book ensured the term Tom became synonymous with male cats.

The popular cartoon 'Tom and Jerry' created in 1940 and starring the animated cat 'villain', Tom, served to popularise even further the name and term in male cats by both name and attribution.

The paperback version of the book 'The Life And Adventures Of A Cat' was reprinted in 2010 and is available online.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Things About Cat Litter That You May Not Know...

I decided to write down a few lesser-known things about cat litter that the average owner may not know which I hope you will find both interesting and educational.

Clumping/Non - Clumping Clay Litter 

Many owners favour the commonly available clay litters and may be interested to know the difference between clumping and non-clumping.

Clumping clay litter is generally made from a substance known as bentonite a highly absorbent clay that literally clumps together as your cat urinates into it. Clumping litter was introduced in the 1980's.

Non clumping litter is made from other clays and as the name suggests, it doesn't clump together.

Non clumping is often cheaper than the clumping variety and many owners that use it will find that litter box cleaning is a little harder as it tends to be more difficult to scoop up quickly. Litter trays/boxes tend to smell a little more quickly and require changing a little more often than if using the clumping variety of litter.

Silica Gel Litter

Silica gel is highly absorbent and very commonly used across various industries to keep many products dry. More expensive than it's clay counterparts, many owners prefer silica gel as it has the benefits of lasting a little longer before changes, being pretty much dust-free and tends to control odours really well.
Introduced in the 1990's, it has been documented that some cats don't get along with silica gel litter as they don't like getting the crystals on their paws.

Cat Scents

It has consistently been found that cats have an aversion to both citrus and floral based scented litters and a study here actually showed that cats enjoyed increased litter box interaction with an activated carbon additive. As activated carbon is known to be a pretty good odour absorbent, it may be fair to say that cats prefer a clean smelling litter tray!

Who 'Invented' Cat Litter?

The 'invention' of  modern day cat litter has been credited to a man called Edward Lowe. The discovery was an accidental one, Lowe's business sold sand, sawdust and granulated clay to factories to absorb grease and oil and one day a lady named Kaye Draper was given a bag of granulated clay to 'try' as an alternative to her cat tracking ashes from it's litter box all over the house.

The granulated clay proved to be a success for Kaye Draper and when she asked Edward Lowe for another bag a couple of weeks later Mr Lowe decided to market the clay as Kitty Litter!

Offering cat owners the opportunity of a cleaner and more odour-free home Edward Lowe's Kitty Litter went from strength to strength and the company was sold 5 years prior to Mr Lowe's death in 1995 for the sum of $200 million plus stock! It is now part of the Ralston Purina company.