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Our animals are getting fatter, too

posted October 14th, 2013 by
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Did you know there is a National Pet Obesity Awareness Day? I didn’t either. I probably should since I am the proud owner of a pretty plump cat.

It’s no secret that Americans and their pets have been getting bigger in recent years, but  a recent report by Pro Publica reveals that it’s not just domesticated animals with expanding waistlines.

An international team of scientists has found that two dozen animal populations cared for by or living near humans have also been getting fatter over the years.

The study leads you to wonder if diet and lifestyle are really the biggest factors in obesity or whether the increasing number of chemicals found in our air, soil and water play a role as well.

My own cat Floyd is a great example of this problem. A once obese cat, he became diabetic and required insulin shots twice a day. After much research on the dietary needs of cats, I made some switches to how I fed him. He has since been in remission from his diabetes.

But even with quality food that is portioned out each day, he continues to be an overweight cat. I always blamed it on his laziness, but maybe all of the chemicals we put in our water have contributed to his problem as well.

Whatever the cause of obesity in pets, it is serious business that can cause many health problems down the road, as I have learned firsthand.

To learn more about pet obesity prevention or to participate in the 2013 survey, visit

- Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

Are you stressing out your cat?

posted October 10th, 2013 by
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A new study published in Journal Physiology and Behavior says cats who reluctantly allow their owners to pet them may be more stressed out than those who avoid it.

The study, which sought to better understand how cats handle living with people and other cats in one household, also found that cats can easily live in groups and the number of cats is not necessarily a problem.

My own little family of felines fall right in line with the findings. My four cats have shared a home for eight years now.

Some get along better than others. Some are more sociable with people than others. And they make it work to their advantage.

Professor Daniel Mills, Professor of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine at the University of Lincoln, said:

“Many people keep groups of cats in their home and although they might seem happy together, some people have argued that because this is an unnatural set up, it is not good for their welfare. Our research shows this is not necessarily the case. It seems even if they are not best friends, cats may be able to organise themselves to avoid each other without getting stressed. Also, and I think very intriguingly, our data suggests that cats who tolerate, rather than enjoy or dislike being petted, seem to be the most stressed.”

Read more about the study and its findings here.

- Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

Researchers confirm what most pet owners know

posted May 2nd, 2012 by
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Discover Magazine’s Discoblog recently reported on a study that confirms what I’m sure most pet owners have already figured out: Cats are manipulative, dogs are easy to manipulate and they both act like babies.

I learned long ago that my dogs can be easily played. Yoda and Spock will do just about anything I ask as long as I use my excited voice.

It is easy to convince them to go outside, get in their crates at night or just about anything else when I say it as though it is the greatest thing in the world. And apparently, I was on to something.

According to the study in PLoS ONE, “dogs will prefer a plate of food preferred by a person, even if that plate has less food on it.”

Not so with cats. In fact they are the ones who will do the manipulating. Cats will use what is described as a “solicitation” purr when they want something from their owners.

I can definitely back that up. The purring is most obnoxious around meal times at my house.

Read more and get links to the two studies at Discoblog.

- Lauren Cavagnolo