Cat Talk and Cats Talking

If you're in the area, I hope to see you on Thursday night at the Wisconsin Humane  Society for a fund raiser and talk, "Dogs Have Owners, but Cats Have Staff." I don't get asked to talk about feline behavior as much as I'd like to, so this is a special treat for me. I find it interesting that although cat lovers love their cats dearly, in general, as a group, they tend to be less likely to read books about their behavior or go to talks about cat behavior. However, I hear that almost 150 people are signed up, so join me and others to celebrate all things feline. Willie and I were reminded of the importance of reading feline postures and expressions just a few days ago. We were visiting my yoga teacher Scott Anderson, to get some exercises for Willie (more on that later!), and Scott's 2 Read More

Lapping up water

jack frost

So how would you get water in your mouth if you didn't have hands and a glass? Carefully watching how dogs and cat lap up liquid may seem trivial, but it's actually a great exercise in being a good observer. As you can see in the video below, cats get water in their mouths not by curling their tongue forward, but by doing the opposite. They curl their tongues backward, and bring water up in that way, rather than making a "cup" with the top of their tongue. When I was taping Petline for Animal Planet, the producer went crazy when I mentioned that fact. I had him slow-mo one of the videos sent in of a cat lapping up water, and showed how the tongue went the opposite direction of what we'd predict. He thought that was the most fascinating observation imaginable, and kept asking me for more Read More

Cats and Shelters

sushi hay 9-10

I did a fund raiser for my  local shelter last night, the Dane County Humane Society. They are about to open a state of the art facility for cats, designed to treat cats with ring worm (a fungus, not a worm) so that they don't have to be put down (as they often are at shelters, even some 'no-kill' ones.) They have developed a nationally recognized treatment program, and a new facility just for cats is part of the program. They call it the FIT Center (Feline Infectious Treatment? I'm making that up.) and it will be opening up next week. Yeah DCHS! I am bushed today, but am so gratified to be able to help. Over 200 people attended, we raised lots of money thanks to a generous community and I auctioned off Willie's slightly used Polly the Pig stuffed toy and discovered it's really really Read More

Imitation # 2

scorp & will

Thanks for your comments with examples of what looks like imitation in dogs and cats. I was especially intrigued by the cat stories, having had a cat myself who did a perfect imitation of a herding Border Collie after watching me work Luke every day. Luke and I would drive the sheep up the hill to the pasture, and Ayla, my tiny, gray cat, would follow behind. She often sit on a log and watch as I worked Luke on gathering and driving. The sheep, although never abused, did not enjoy this exercise as much and Luke and I, and were always ready to bolt to the barn if given half the chance. When that happened, Luke would have to streak around them at lightening speed and stop them. When we were done working I'd say "That'll Do" to Luke and let the sheep run back down the hill. Once they Read More

Willie & Sushi (and Hope) Update

W play pool 6-10

A reader asked for an update about Will and Sushi, so I thought it was time to fill you in on how it is going. I'm happy to report that things are going extremely well. (Whew!) The entire story would be a chapter in a book (and probably will be!), but here's the summary: Problem: Willie stalking Sushi the cat. As I said in earlier posts, this is very different from "chasing the cat." Cat chasing can be a serious problem, don't get me wrong, especially if it is predatory and not initially motivated by play, but "strong-eyed" herding dogs who automatically go into a stalking posture around a cat are a real challenge. Using positive reinforcement for, say, looking at the cat and then turning to look at me for a treat or a toy wasn't working. The primary problem is that once a Read More