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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fun Feline Facts

October 29 is National Cat Day. For all the cat lovers out there,  here are some fun feline facts that many cat fanatics may not be aware of:
1.       Cats can make approximately 100 different sounds.

2.       A group of cats is called a clowder.

3.       In keeping with the spirit of Halloween, black cats are considered to be lucky in Britain and Australia.

4.       Cats spend approximately 1/3 of their time awake grooming.  They spend on average 15-17 hours per day sleeping.

5.       Cats do not have the ability to taste “sweet” flavors.

6.       The average domestic cat can run at a speed of approximately 30 mph.

7.       Cats are crepuscular pets, meaning they are most active late at night and early in the morning.

8.       The Maine Coon breed and American Shorthair breed arrived on the Mayflower.

9.       Purebred cats mature slower than domestic shorthair cats.

10.   Not all cats will respond to catnip.  The ability to respond is actually a trait that is inherited in cats.  The reaction that cats have to catnip is speculated to be “hallucinogenic.”

11.   The “color points” located at the face, tail, and feet of the colourpoint breeds (such as the Siamese or Himalayan) is due to a temperature recessive gene expressed in hair located in cool parts of the body.  Therefore, it is important to remember that any hair shaved on these cats may grow back darker for some time due to the decrease in temperature in that region of hair growth!

12.   The longest whiskers on a cats face are called the mystacial tufts.  These are used for sensing location close to the face, especially prey, as cats have poor vision up close.

13.   The reason that only females are typically calico is that the gene coding for red or black color can only be expressed on the “x” chromosome, which makes female cats more likely to have multiple colors (XX vs XY of males).

14.   There are 4 distinct tabby patterns: mackerel (striped), spotted, classic, and ticked (agouti).  The tabby coloration is actually dominant to solid colors in gene expression.

15.   The “tabby” color pattern is thought to be the original color of domesticated cats.

16.   All tabby cats have a “M” marking on the forehead.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Halloween Safety tips, provided by the ASPCA

Happy Halloween

The ASPCA recommends taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet safe from:

Trick or Treats

1.      No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms- especially dark or baking chocolate- can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888)426-4435. 

2.      Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.

3.      Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4.      A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle.  Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire.  Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames. 

5.      Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets.  Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!).  For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6.      If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe.  It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow.  Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night.  If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au natural or donning a festive bandana. 

7.      Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on.  Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8.      All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours.  Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets. 

9.      When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.

10.  IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification.  If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you.

Animal Poison Control Center
Information gathered from ASPCA
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals