Category: cat behavior

Ever Wondered How Many Surfaces Your Cat’s Butt Touches? A Kid Has The Answer

I remember the first time I saw my brother’s dog drag his posterior across the living room carpet.

The friendly little good boy, a terrier-Chihuahua mix, had just returned from a walk with my brother. He hopped up onto the couch, then down, leaning back into an odd-for-a-dog sitting position.

Then, with his little back legs spread, he used his front paws to drag his butt across the carpet with a heavy exhale, the canine equivalent of an “Oh yeah!” sigh of relief.

I know there are many feline behaviors that gross out dog loyalists, but thank God we don’t have to watch our kitties use carpets and area rugs as butt-scratchers.

Cats have more dignity than that. Cats are legendarily fastidious animals.

Or are they?

Kaeden, an enterprising sixth-grader from Florida, set out to “tackle the challenging task of answering the internet’s most burning question, drum roll please,” his mother, Kerry Griffin, wrote on Facebook. “Does your cat’s butthole really touch all the surfaces in your home?”

He would go on to present his findings and methodology at his school’s science fair.

Kerry has a doctorate in animal behavior with a concentration in feline behavior that she says she “never used.” She put it to good use for the project, helping her son come up with a plan: They’d use non-toxic lipstick and apply it to the cats’ “bum-bums.” Then they’d place each cat on a sheet of paper and run through commands.

“Both cats have been trained since kittenhood with a variety of commands. They also know how to high-five, spin around, and speak,” Kerry wrote. “They were compensated with lots of praise, pets and their favorite treats, and the lipstick was removed with a baby wipe once we collected our data in just under 10 minutes.”

They tested each cat on soft surfaces, like carpet and bedding, and on hard surfaces like tiled floors. If the cat left lipstick residue on the sheet of paper, it was counted as positive contact.

The results?

“Long and medium haired cat’s buttholes made NO contact with soft or hard surfaces at all,” Kerry wrote. “Short haired cats made NO contact on hard surfaces. But we did see evidence of a slight smear on the soft bedding surface.”

So there you have it. If your cats are long- or medium-hair, congratulations. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to have a little chat with the short-haired Buddy…catbuttproject

Are Cat Fountains Worth It?

Cats need to stay hydrated to avoid serious health problems, but they don’t make it easy.

Our furry friends have low thirst drives given their long evolutionary history of obtaining much of their fluids from meat. They just don’t feel the need to slurp down water the way other animals do.

When cats live in human homes, keeping them hydrated can be even more difficult because they’re mischievous little stinkers.

Buddy’s no exception. The little dude loved to knock his water bowl over and paw at the water, so I replaced his bowl with a wide-bottom stainless-steel one that is virtually impossible for him to upend.

Then I noticed his water was sometimes dirty, or I’d find things in his bowl: hair ties, toys, the little plastic rings from drink bottles, twist ties and other things he likes to play with.

Bud was taking random things from around the house and depositing them in his water bowl, which is probably just another fun game for him. (Some theories suggest this behavior is instinctual as well, that cats are “washing the scent off” toys representing prey or simply hiding it as they would a kill.)

“Cats often put their toys away in a ‘safe’ place after playing with them, and cats look upon their food area as a secure part of their territory,” says a Q&A from Chewy. “This behavior is similar to cats in the wild who often take their prey back to their nest area to hide it from potential predators. Your cat simply might be storing his toy in a secure area to be played with later.”

As far as Buddy’s concerned, the entire apartment is his territory, but he’s especially protective of his little dining nook.

I can imagine the dialogue in Buddy’s head: “Hmmm, bottle cap. Where did I put my favorite bottle cap? Oh, right. My water bowl!”

Little dude gets two fresh wet meals per day, and at night I put out about half a bowl of good dry food as a late-night snack and something to tide him over till morning if he gets peckish overnight. (It usually prevents him from waking me up strictly for food, but he still finds his reasons to interrupt my sleep.)

I put fresh water out for him twice a day at set times, and sometimes randomly if I notice the water’s low, dirty or there’s a toy in it.

Between the wet food and the bowl he probably gets just about enough fluids, but I think we can do better, for his health first and foremost — since so many serious cat ailments, especially in males, are linked to dehydration — and to avoid costly and traumatic veterinary procedures.

Can anyone recommend some good fountains?

I’d like something non-electric, but a cat fountain that uses gravity to release stagnant water kind of seems like it defeats the purpose. I’ve also read that plastics are bad, as dirt and dust can get embedded in the surface. Finally, articles about pet fountains often suggest flat drinking surfaces are best to encourage cats to drink, as their whiskers don’t get caught or wet. I’m not sure how much difference that makes, and it’s probably different for each cat.

Do you have a fountain for your cats? What are your thoughts on how effective it is at getting them to drink more?

Mom Cat Brings Her Sick Babies To Health Clinic

Even those of us who love cats often joke about how aloof they are, and then they go and do something that shows such a profound understanding of human behavior that we’re left thunderstruck.

That was the case in Turkey’s Izmir province, where a ginger tabby dragged her two babies into a health clinic this week one at a time, according to a report in the English-language Turkish news site Daily Sabah:

The official said that they noticed the animal while they were attending to patients as she started “constantly meowing.” When they saw something was wrong with kittens, they took a closer look and discovered the kittens’ eyes were closed tightly. “We gave them some drugs and they started opening their eyes and later, we transferred them to the veterinary department. It was the first time that an animal walked into our clinic, and it was a very emotional moment for us,” the official said.

Both kittens had eye infections and fully recovered.

This isn’t the first time cats have asked humans for help, nor is it the first time a mom cat brought her kittens into a hospital or clinic.

On April 27, 2020, a female cat walked into the emergency room of Kucukcekmece Hospital in Istanbul while carrying her kitten in her mouth, then deposited the “mischievous” little one right in front of a group of hospital employees who were chatting.

Hospital staff gave the mom food and water while they examined her baby.

A mom cat takes her baby to the hospital

istanbul_hospital5

And in May of 2020, a cat in Mexico shocked a woman with his understanding of how the human world works. After she saw him in front of a store and bent down to pet him, he led her into the store, guided her to the pet food aisle and pointed to the exact type of food he wanted.

Not only did this cat understand that he had to be accompanied by a human to get into the store, and precisely where to direct her, but he also knew the packaging of his favorite food and understood that she had to buy it for him. He may not understand the concept of currency, but he does know a human has to get him the food and he can’t just tear into it.

The woman was so moved that she adopted the smart little guy and named him Rabbit.

Rabbit the Cat
Rabbit points to the food he wanted a kind woman to buy for him.

These examples not only show how astonishingly intelligent and observant cats are — or can be, when they’re motivated — they also make it difficult for anyone to cling to old beliefs that cats and other mammals are unthinking, unfeeling automatons. Or the dreaded, all too common “it’s just a cat.”

If cats understand hospitals and health clinics are places where the sick and injured are treated, and they understand abstract social concepts like “a human must obtain this for me,” it makes you wonder what else they observe and fully understand in those furry little heads.

Are Laser Pointers Bad For Cats?

Bud is obsessed with his new laser pointer.

I bought one for the first time more than a week ago. For years I’d occasionally break out a level that shoots a narrow band of laser light that appears like a small stripe, and while Buddy enjoyed chasing after it, I’m thinking the laser probably wasn’t as powerful or didn’t register as well in the spectrum of light most visible to felines.

Whatever the reason, while he liked chasing the level’s laser light, he loves this $5 pet laser.

lasercat

In fact, he loves it a little too much. Every day, if I haven’t taken it out for play time, he climbs up onto the coffee table and begins pawing at the tray that contains the laser pointer and TV remotes. He finds the pointer, bats at it with his little paws, and makes mewing sounds that undoubtedly translate to: “Play time! I want! I want! Play with me now!”

I can see now why some people warn against using these things. I thought the upside was worth the potential downside, because the laser pointer gets the little dude moving like few other toys do. (And even then only when they’re new and novel.)

Bud’s single-mindedness with the laser pointer reminds me of his one-track mind when it came to Temptations, before I stopped buying those infernal things. (Blue Buffalo makes very similar-looking treats that he happily gobbles up, but instead of the corn and filler of Temptations, they’re made of chicken, turkey, salmon and so on.)

Crucially he doesn’t act like a crack addict the way he did with the Temps, when he’d park himself by the treat cabinet and meow mournfully for his next fix.

The Red Dot!
I’ve caught the red dot! I’m eating it!

So I’m wondering: What kind of experiences have you guys had with laser pointers? Have you used them? Have your cats become obsessed?

One final thought: Bud is fully aware the laser comes from the pointer, and he knows I have to press the button for the beam to work. That’s a clear example of abstract thinking. So far he hasn’t figured out a way to activate it himself, but you never know…

Cat Figures Out How To Open Sliding Glass Door

Folks, this has terrifying implications for the Budster. Whatever you do, don’t show him this video!

The short clip shows Olive, a tuxedo kitty belonging to Beth Belnap of Oregon, prying open a sliding glass door that leads to a porch outside. Olive was able to get the door open by jumping, grabbing onto the door handle and pressing her little feet against the door frame to give herself enough leverage to slide the door open a crack.

The setup here is similar, and Bud is already well-versed in the “feet against the frame” trick because he’s used it to open my bedroom door from inside. Thankfully I believe the sliding glass door is too heavy for Buddy to push, but we’re talking about the same cat who pulled a 20-pound mirror off a wall when he was a kitten weighing no more than three or four pounds. You never know.

Here’s Olive doing her thing:

Bonus: Check out this little guy’s technique:

Whoah
The judges awarded him style points in addition to praising his door-opening technique.