Friday, October 31, 2008

How dogs think

Last week I witnessed a dog being smacked for coming when called; his mum was upset because the dog had been running out in the street and it has no traffic sense. Anyway, this prompted me to consider the differences between our thinking and dog thinking.

I've been reading up on some animal behaviour research and have come across some wonderful stuff from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. One piece in particular, Making Inferences About the Location of Hidden Food: Social Dog, Causal Ape was very interesting.

Check out Dog Talk tomorrow in the print section of the Malaysian national daily The Star, Weekend section. And check out the original paper at in PDF format or in Google's HTML version.

For more excelent dog research check out Juliane Bräuer's site and Juliane Kaminski's site.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Magical Cats

Black death
Check out what the Black Death was and how it spread througout the world.

Cat Quotes
A list of cat superstitions from around the world, with links to cat quotes, proverbs and other things catly in the sidebar. Great for kids who need a little extra something to spruce up a holiday project.

Halloween Scary Cat check out Spooky's scary look!

Your Black Cat
A mix of black cat press stories from around the world, discussions about black cat superstitions, and black cat rescue stories. Lots of interesting trivia that makes this blog worth regular trips.

Cat Familiars
Find out more about black cats as witch familiars and follow the links to books and other resources with more information. It’s a bit Western but there’s lots of interesting information here.

Black Cat Woman
Check out the reformed cat burglar from Spiderman comics. Black cat woman started off as a normal ultra-sexy human but managed to get her claws into superhuman powers: retractable claws, infrared vision, superb balance and other catly skills.

Black Cat Media
A library of black cat pictures and artwork from Wiki Commons. Most images here may be used freely on not-for-profit web sites - and on homework projects!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Target's Gotcha Day!

It's official: Target will have been with us 1 year tomorrow!

Target is now Au's best friend. They play wild games, go hunting together and have long purring sessions on the living room rug. Target is also an excellent office supervisor. At this moment he's fast asleep on my desk! We love having Target here and from the way he purrs up a storm every day I guess he's happy to be here too.

Here are some pics from his first year with us.

Target's early career as office supervisor involved learnign NOT to kick the keyboard off the desk.Lying upside down in his favourite place.

And in his second favourite place!

Playing rough tough kitty games with his pet human...

Target as a stealth kitty commando...

And with his best pal: Au.

Happy COT! For more kitties visit Gattina.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dog Talk: Of Friends and Fences

Most dogs guard their territory fiercely but Doji, the little spitz mix who lives next door to us is a real sweetheart. He stands at his gate every morning, waiting for his friends to come round and say hello.

Read more about Doji in Dog Talk in Weekender, in the print section of the Malaysian national daily, The Star.

For more about dog thinking, check out these pages:

Wolf.Org for kids colouring pages, pics etc. Click here for ideas about wolf pack etiquette.

The Fox Site has loads of info on this member of the doggy family. Check this page for information about fox family behaviour.

Wikipedia's Dog Society page and Dog Pack page are also good kicking off places. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

COT: Complete Fool

I was taking out the rubbish a week or so ago when I spotted Au preparing to leap onto the neighbour's car. Our neighbour loves his car and I am sure he doesn't want little dusty paw prints all over it. So I stopped Au mid bounce, stroked him and had a quick look at his paws.

Au suffered the intrusion with his usual impatient disdain. He never makes a fuss but he gives me that look, you know, the one that cats have for their human slaves that says, "Quit messing around with the royal personage that is my catliness, OK?"

I always talk to Au and Target so I explained what was on my mind. "Just make sure your feet are clean when you visit, OK? I don't want you to put dusty prints all over the place. Especially all over that nice clean car."

"Sure," said my neighbour. He'd been polishing his fender and had been out of my sight until he stood up. A real gentleman, he was obviously agreeing with me just to keep me happy, but I could see he thought the conversation was odd. Possibly because our neighbour never puts dusty prints over cars parked in the neighbourhood.

"I was talking to Au," I said apologetically.

My neighbour nodded politely but I could tell he thought I was nuts.

I talk to Au and Target when I'm doing the washing up, getting dinner ready, fiddling about with laundry and all the usual horrible stuff that goes into keeping the house from turning into a complete slum. They talk to me when they come in from their walk, when inviting me to a game, when they want a cuddle/fresh water/biscuits.

When Au calls up the stairs, I can tell if he's just announcing he's home, if he wants me to come down and see something (like a dead rat he's brought me) or if he's looking for a chat and he can't figure out where I am. Target's vocab is still quite small, but he's learning rapidly.

Most of the people I meet don't talk to animals. Our present neighbours include some animal lovers so I'm generally in excellent company. But when we lived in Kajang and Malacca our neighbours there were taken aback to hear Au and Scoop chatting to us, and coming when I called them. One used to give me such a wide berth that I think she thought I was a witch.

Never mind. Au is now snoozing on my car instead of the gleaming vehicle next door, and hopefully he'll remember not to stray with dirty paws. If not, I'm going to have to present peace offerings. Cake or car polish :-)

Happy Cats On Tuesday! For more, visit Gattina or check the link box in the menu bar.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pets Offer Medical Benefits

I've always said that living with cats helps you keep sane. What's even nicer is that scientists studying how our relationship with pets affects our daily lives have come up with proof!

Australia’s University of New England found people living with cats experience fewer psychiatric disturbances than those living without cats. Scientists think cats offer unconditional that allows their humans to enjoy life more. Check it out here.

Cats and dogs are also life rafts in times of family crisis. Cancer researchers in the US found that people who are nursing sick relatives are able to stand the stress better if there is a pet in the house. Family researchers in the UK found that kids tolerate divorce better if they have a pet to talk to.

The elderly also benefit from living with cats and dogs. The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reported senior citizen pet owners are less likely to be depressed, better able to tolerate social isolation, and more active than those who do not own pets. Check it out here.

Medical staff have long known that patients who have regular chats with pets are more receptive to treatment. In 1792 mental patients at the York Retreat, England were given pets to help them recover. Today traumatology centres, children’s hospitals and elderly care centres regularly bring in pets to speed recovery and promote wellbeing. Check it out here.

Evidence that pets help you reduce the effects of stress has been so convincing that insurance companies in the US, UK, Australia and other countries offer lower life insurance rates for pet owners.

An American Heart Association study discovered that cats and dogs are better at reducing stress-related increases in blood pressure than standard medical drugs. In the study 48 stockbrokers taking an anti-hypertension medicine were given a pet. It was found that that those with animal companionship reduced the increase in blood pressure that came with stress by half. Check it out here.

Also check out this general article on Health Benefits of pets the US National Institute of Health and the Delta Society

For more, check out the print version of tomorrow's Star, the Malaysian national daily, Weekend section.

Adopt Us!
Bring a little sunshine in your life by adopting brothers Jerry and Jazz. (Don't they look cute?) Jerry is a chatty cat who loves to talk. Jazz is quieter of the two. They are both the best of pals and love to cuddle and play. They were born in February this year and were brought to the Penang SPCA Shelter on 21st May 08. They are now hoping to find a loving home. For more information, please call 604-2816559 or email spca4060 AT

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

COT: water cat

Au's fascination with water continues. Here he is checking out the washing machine, and making sure the mop bucket is full. When I run a tap, Au shoots over to take a look. He's even making me get up in the middle of the night to flush the loo for him so he can see the water swirl.

I think he needs to see a cat mental health professional!

For more Cats on Tuesday, visit Gattina....

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mournful Mutts

The basset hound with its big jowls, long floppy ears, and big mournful eyes is one of most recognised breeds in the world. Think Droopy Dog, Fred Basset, and the Hush Puppy! Yet surprisingly the basset doesn’t make the top 20 in the British, Australian or American Kennel Club listings most popular breeds. And that’s odd because bassets have so much going for them.

Tomorrow's Dog Talk in the Weekend section of national Malaysian Daily, The Star will be all about bassets.

It also has a cameo appearance by Bessie (pic left). Bessie is only 8 months old but this pedigree basset has already had a litter. She’s only just arrived at the SPCA Selangor shelter and needs a good home. She likes people and also gets along with the other dogs in the shelter. For more information, call 03-4256 5312 or 4253 5179.

And as promised, here are some basset links:

Fred Basset Cartoons

Lists of most popular dog breeds

Caring for Bassets