New Study Proves Cats are Strongly Attached to their Human Caregivers

A new research study published in the journal Current Biology has come to a conclusion that cat owners have known all along—cats form strong emotional bonds with their humans!

The authors point out that although studies on canine behavior and cognition far outnumber those on feline behavior and cognition, the research that does exist shows that cats form social bonds with humans and other animals–and the bonds they form with their human caregivers are especially strong.

The researchers in this study observed how kittens in the 3-8 month age range behaved with their owners, then during a brief separation, and finally when they were reunited with their owners.

The kittens were first evaluated and divided into two attachment styles:  securely attached and insecurely attached.  Then a portion were enrolled in socialization training with their owners.  The researchers found that their attachment styles were already strongly developed and did not change much after training.

During the separation/reunion component of the study, the kittens showed roughly the same rates of attachment to their people as both dogs and children.  Around 66% were securely attached and 34% were insecurely attached.  (Dogs are 58%–42% and children are 65%–35%)

How do cats show secure vs. insecure attachment? All the cats showed distress during the separation phase of the experiment (lots of meowing!) but the securely attached cats showed reduced stress when the caregivers returned.  The insecurely attached cats remained at higher levels of stress when their humans returned.

Click HERE to watch a video of some of the cats and owners observed by the researchers.  You can see how the cats’ reunion behaviors differ based on their attachment styles.

 

New UK Animal Welfare Report Shows Sharp Decline in Pet Vaccinations

The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) is a UK charity that runs hospitals which provide free and low-cost veterinary care.  Each year they produce a report on animal well-being known as the PAW Report.

The latest PAW Report (click HERE for the full text) has been getting a lot of attention because it has found that the rate of pet vaccinations in the UK is on a sharp decline.

The PDSA estimates that over 7 million UK pets are at risk for disease because of lack of vaccination, including very young pets that are the most vulnerable.

The number of primary vaccinations received by young pets has dropped from 84% in 2016 to 66% in 2019, an 18% decrease.  32% of pets in the UK are not receiving their booster shots.

Reasons for not vaccinating cited by pet owners include:

  • Too expensive
  • Pets don’t encounter other animals
  • It’s unnecessary
  • Going to the vet is stressful for pets

The report’s authors note that the decline in pet vaccinations mirrors the decline in child vaccinations.  Many people who are reluctant to vaccinate kids and pets show skepticism about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

According to PDSA veterinarians, “Vaccinations have helped to protect millions of pets from serious diseases. If people don’t vaccinate, we risk seeing a rise in extremely unpleasant, preventable, diseases that can cause considerable animal suffering and death.”

If you have questions or concerns about vaccinations for your dogs, cats, and other animals, be sure to talk to your veterinarian.  You can also check out the Vaccinations page of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website for lots of helpful information.

 

America’s Most Cat-Friendly Cities

We’ve heard a lot about what makes a city dog-friendly, such as amenities like parks and restaurants that welcome dogs.  But what makes a city cat-friendly?

Since we don’t normally take our cats out and about with us, are there other factors that make a place cat-friendly?  Turns out, the answer is yes!

Trupanion and Redfin recently teamed up to create a list of the top 25 cat-friendly cities in the U.S.  The criteria used include good access to feline-specific services such as veterinary clinics, hospitals, and shelters/rescues.

They also looked at homes for sale that had cat-friendly features like enclosed outdoor patios, room to climb, and extra bathrooms for litter boxes.

Another element considered was a lack of environmental hazards for cats with access to the outdoors (fewer parasites and poisonous plants, etc.)

Factoring in all these cat-friendly elements, the top cites for felines are:

1) Corvallis, Ore.

2) Spokane, Wash.

3) Orlando, Fla.

4) Bellingham, Wash.

5) Tulsa, Okla.

6) Raleigh, N.C.

7) New York, N.Y.

8) Dayton, Ohio

9) Clarksville, Tenn.

10) San Antonio, Tex.

11) Albuquerque, N. Mex.

12) Eugene, Ore.

13) Boston, Mass.

14) Allentown, Penn.

15) Dover, Del.

16) Columbus, Ohio

17) Boise, Idaho

18) Louisville, Ky.

19) Tacoma, Wash.

20) Lincoln, Neb.

21) Portland, Ore.

22) Minneapolis, Minn.

23) Knoxville, Tenn.

24) Santa Rosa, Calif.

25) Oakland, Calif.

The folks at Trupanion and Redfin remind pet owners that when searching for a new home in a new city, be sure to look at both the features of the house and the nearby facilities to maintain your pet’s health.

 

The Genetics of White “Socks” in Our Pets

White paws, often called socks, are an endearing color marking in our pets.  Socks are often seen in cats, but can also be found in dogs and other animals like horses and guinea pigs.

Where do socks come from?  According to a recent article in Popular Science, which outlines some new scientific research on the genetics of coat color, white socks are a form of piebaldism (a genetic mutation that causes white patches of skin and hair).

Before birth, the cells that give color to a kitten’s eyes, skin, and hair (called melanocytes) are concentrated along the back.  During development, these pigment cells move to other areas of the body.

Sometimes the distribution is even, giving the cat a solid color.  But sometimes the color is spread unevenly, leaving white socks on the feet.  Many cats with white feet also have other white areas, such as the chest, belly, and part of the face.  Tuxedo cats are a good example of this.

Interested in learning more about the genetics of coat color in dogs and cats?  Check out this guide to coat colors and patterns in cats…and this one for dogs!

 

Video: Construction Workers Rescue Stowaway Kittens from Steel Column

Five tiny kittens made big news here in San Diego recently!  Workers on a construction site were surprised to hear meows coming from a 60 foot steel column that had traveled hundreds of miles from Hayward to San Diego on a truck.

After failing to coax the kittens out with food, the workers had to tip the long tube over and slide them out.  Inside were a litter of 3 males and 2 females, just one week old!

Rescuers from the San Diego Humane Society came to the construction site and brought the kittens to SDHS’s 24 hour kitten nursery.

The kittens—named Crowbar, Rebar, Chisel, Jackhammer, and Piper—are now 4 weeks old and in foster care, where they will remain until they are ready for adoption at 8 weeks.

Check out the heartwarming video from San Diego Humane here: