“Cute Aggression” — Why We Want to Squeeze Adorable Baby Animals

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by a cute baby animal that you wanted to squeeze it or take a pretend bite out of it?  Don’t worry you’re not weird…turns out there’s a scientific explanation for this feeling.  It’s called cute aggression!

A study published in the journal Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience sheds some new light on how our brains are triggered by the sight of cute animals.

A group of people were shown images of animals, ranging from adults to babies, and the researchers measured their brain activity and verbal responses.

The results?  No surprise…the cuter the animal (big eyes, round face, etc.) the stronger the cute aggression response!  Subjects showed more brain activity and expressed a desire to squish or eat the baby animal in the picture.

According to an article on the study written for the website Gizmodo, not everyone has the cute aggression response when they see baby animals.  The lead researcher estimates that between 25 to 30% of people don’t have it, but most of us do.

Why do so many people experience cute aggression?  Scientists theorize that it’s our way of processing overwhelming positive emotions.  The sight of a baby animal triggers our caregiving response.  Cuter or more infantile looking animals evoke stronger caretaking feelings than older looking animals.

 

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How to Encourage Good Scratching Habits in Cats

As more and more cat owners are realizing the risks and hazards of declawing and letting their cats roam outdoors, they are faced with the issue of unwanted cat scratching behavior in the house.

Why do cats scratch and how can you encourage appropriate scratching?  Here’s some great information from the American Association of Feline Practitioners!

Why do cats scratch?

Cats have claws to help them hunt, defend themselves, and mark their territory.  Scratching is a natural feline behavior that serves a variety of purposes:  keeping their nails healthy, marking objects in their territory, and good old-fashioned stretching!

Some cats may also scratch when they are anxious and stressed.

How to help your cat with scratching issues

The AAFP advises cat owners to trim their cats’ claws regularly.  You can also provide multiple appropriate scratching surfaces and interactive play toys for each cat in the home.

Cats that exhibit stress related scratching (often in multi-cat households) can especially benefit from their own space and scratching materials.

What’s the best scratching product?

Most cats like to stretch upwards and scratch on a vertical surface.  Make sure you get a post that is tall enough for your cat to stretch on.  Horizontal scratchers are also available if your cat uses the carpet.

Cats prefer rough surfaces to scratch on, like tree bark in the wild.  This is why your cat may be drawn to textured furniture upholstery and carpet.

Choose a scratching post made of a rough material like sisal, corrugated cardboard, or wood.

How to encourage your cat to scratch appropriately

Place scratching posts near your cat’s favorite sleeping areas, and also near furniture that your cat likes to scratch.

Encourage your cat to use scratching posts by gently placing her near the post when she scratches furniture or carpet.  Reward good scratching behavior with your cat’s favorite things (treats, play, brushing, etc.)

 

Alternatives to Pilling a Cat

Many pets require daily medication—often in the form of pills—for chronic health problems.  While it’s easy for most pet owners to sneak a pill into a dog’s food and treats, pilling a cat can be more of a challenge.

There are some interesting alternatives to pills if you need to medicate your cat on a daily basis.  Of course, you should always talk to your veterinarian about the pros and cons of pill alternatives before deciding.

Many compounding pharmacies make veterinary medications for pets in a variety of forms.  The two most common are in the form of flavored treats and transdermal medicine that gets absorbed through the skin.

Treat meds are usually soft and chewy and come in a variety of flavors such as fish, chicken, beef, and even butter.  Most pharmacies will recommend that you store them in their original sealed packaging in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.

Transdermal meds are compounded into a gel form that you can rub into the inner part of a cat’s ear where there is little hair.  Vets call this area the pinna.

Be careful to use rubber gloves or finger cots if you apply the medication by hand.  You can also get it in the form of a pen that twists to dispense the drug onto a sponge tip that you apply to the ear.  Most vets will recommend that you alternate ears if you medicate your cat every day.

Here’s a YouTube video that shows how to apply transdermal medication to a cat’s ear:

 

Saturday August 18th is Clear the Shelters Day

Thinking about adding a new dog, cat, rabbit, or other companion animal to your family?  Mark your calendar for the annual Clear the Shelters Day on Saturday August 18, 2018.

Many local shelters will be waiving adoption fees on this day. Be sure to check with the shelters in your area to see if they are participating in this nationwide pet adoption drive.

Check out this promotional video for the event:

 

Image:  “Dog in a Shelter” by Liana Aghajanian on Flickr.

 

Dental Problems in Flat-Faced Cat Breeds

There’s a lot of information out there about the health problems associated with flat muzzles (called brachycephaly) in certain dog breeds such as the Bulldog, Pug, and Shih Tzu.  But did you know that flat-faced cats, especially the Persian and the Exotic Shorthair, also suffer from health problems tied to brachycephaly?

Brachycephalic animals can suffer from a wide range of problems, including obstructed airways and reduced oxygen to the lungs, protruding eyes that are vulnerable to injury, heat stroke, gastrointestinal problems, and exercise induced collapse.

Another common health problem associated with brachycephaly in dogs and cats is dental disease caused by the physical structure of head and face.

A new study of dental problems in brachycephalic cat breeds found that they are prone to a wide range of issues.  Here’s a quick rundown of the findings:

Two of the most common problems are malocclusion (misalignment) of the canine teeth (found in 72% of cats in the study) and overcrowding of the incisor teeth (50% of the cats).

Other problems include crowding of the molars and premolars and having at least one tooth with some sort of positional change, such as orientation, rotation, or impaction.  Anther anomaly seen in these cats is hypodontia (absent teeth).

What about gum disease in brachycephalic cats?  The researchers found that 88% of the cats in the study had some degree of periodontal disease.  Many also had inflammatory tooth resorption.

Do you have a Persian or Exotic Shorthair cat?  Make sure regular tooth brushings and dental checkups at the veterinarian’s office are part of your cat care routine.