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History of Pet Cats

History of Pet Cats

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In true feline form, cats took their time deciding whether to jump into humans’ laps.

In a new comprehensive study of the spread of domesticated cats, DNA analysis suggests that cats lived for thousands of years alongside humans before they were domesticated. During that time, their genes have changed little from those of wildcats, apart from picking up one recent tweak: the distinctive stripes and dots of the tabby cat.

Researchers surveyed the DNA of more than 200 cats spanning the last 9,000 years, including ancient Romanian cat remains, Egyptian cat mummies, and modern African wildcat specimens. Two major cat lineages contributed to the domestic feline we know today, they report in a study published Monday in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The earlier ancestors of today’s domestic cats spread from southwest Asia and into Europe as early as 4400 B.C. The cats likely started hanging around farming communities in the Fertile Crescent about 8,000 years ago, where they settled into a mutually beneficial relationship as humans’ rodent patrol.

Mice and rats were attracted to crops and other agricultural byproducts being produced by human civilizations. Cats likely followed the rodent populations and, in turn, frequently approached the human settlements.

“This is probably how the first encounter between humans and cats occurred,” says study coauthor Claudio Ottoni of the University of Leuven. “It’s not that humans took some cats and put them inside cages,” he says. Instead, people more or less allowed cats to domesticate themselves.

A second lineage, consisting of African cats that dominated Egypt, spread into the Mediterranean and most of the Old World beginning around 1500 B.C. This Egyptian cat probably had behaviors that made it attractive to humans, such as sociability and tameness.

The results suggest that prehistoric human populations probably began carrying their cats along ancient land and sea trade routes to control rodents.

Tabby Takeover

By comparing the DNA of cats throughout history, the study captures a glimpse of how the animals were changing even before humans started to cart them across the globe, Ottoni says.

Surprisingly, wild and domestic cats showed no major differences in their genetic makeup, and one of the few traits available for telling them apart was the tabby coat marking.

The study sheds light on the late emergence of the blotched or striped coat markings, which began to appear in domesticated tabby cats in the Middle Ages. The gene for a tabby coat dates back to the Ottoman Empire in Southwest Asia and later became common in Europe and Africa.

It was only in the 18th century, however, that the markings became common enough to be associated with domestic cats, and in the 19th century, cat fanciers began selecting cats with particular traits to create fancy breeds.

Purr-fect Pets

Overall, cats became a domesticated companion of humans without changing much, says evolutionary geneticist and article coauthor Eva-Maria Geigl. Domestic cats look similar to wildcats, but they aren’t solitary, tolerating both humans and other cats.

This is in contrast to dogs, the first animals to be domesticated, Geigl adds. Dogs were selected to perform specific tasks—which never was the case for cats—and this selection for particular traits is what led to dogs’ diversification to the many breeds we see today.

“I think that there was no need to subject cats to such a selection process since it was not necessary to change them,” Geigl says. “They were perfect as they were.”

Though everyone might not agree on cats’ perfection, felines are among the most popular pets in the world today, with as many as 74 million cats living in U.S. homes.

“We’re discovering incredible things about where they’ve come from, how far they’ve gone, and what kind of impact they’ve had on humans,” Ottoni says.

“I think studying more about this species is going to open up even more about the domestication process.”

Cool Off Pets In Summer

Cool Off Pets In Summer

If you think you're hot in the summertime, imagine what it must feel like for your pets. We often forget that our dogs and cats are wearing fur coats 24/7 - which serves them well in the winter; but no so much this season. While we can easily dress down, our pet cannot. Here are some things you can do to help your pet cool off this summer.

1) Give pets ice cubes

My dog loves playing 'hockey' with ice cubes (unfortunately, she usually plays on the slippery tile floor). This simple idea can help them stay hydrated.

2) Give them plenty of fresh water

Keep checking their water dish. If it's low, re-fill it. You may consider buying a small dog food dish for when you go out to the dog park, as well. Dogs are prone to heat stroke just as much as humans in the summer. If your dogs is experiencing any of the following, they may be suffering from heat stroke:

  • Dry gums;
  • Lethargy;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Drooping eyes.

Although panting helps dogs cool down, it could be a sign of heat exhaustion. Be on the look out.

3) Purchase a Kiddie Pool

Your dog will appreciate splashing around in the water. If you don't have the room for a  kiddie pool in the backyard, then consider spraying them down with a water hose [and let them drink from the water].

4) Be mindful of your breed

Pets are prone to different animal illnesses. Do research on your domestic breed and consult a veterinarian for advice about pet safety tips.

5) Brush Fur - But don't shave your pet

Grooming pets regularly not only keeps fur from tangling, but it helps pets from overheating. Pet owners often think shaving a pet is the best way to keep cool; but the truth is that pet fur acts to block heat and sun burn. There are dog sunscreens on the market that can pet owners should consider, if your animal will be outside for extended periods of time. In short, trim hair, but don't shave it completely.

6) Seek Shade

Allow dogs and cats the opportunity to explore the outside world; but find shade for them. Even if they are predominately an outside animal, allow the chance in the summer time to come inside for air conditioning and shelter.

R.I.P. Oreo the Cat

R.I.P. Oreo the Cat

(CNN) After a news-filled week in Washington, Vice President Mike Pence privately handled a loss at home: the death of their family cat, Oreo.

Second lady Karen Pence tweeted photos of the family pet, adding, "Rest in peace Oreo. You touched a lot of hearts in your little life." The photos included shots of the Vice President in a tuxedo holding the black-and-white feline, who moved with the family to the vice president's residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory after the election.
An aide to the vice president said Oreo was 13 years old and was especially endeared to the Pence's youngest daughter, Audrey, who is 23.
    In a White House absent of pets and animals, the second family has filled the void with several family pets, including a bunny, Marlon Bundo, which is also black and white and has garnered a national following and even appeared at official White House events.
    Oreo and Pickles, the other family cat, lived in the governor's mansion in Indianapolis while Pence was governor of the state. The whole family moved to the Naval Observatory in January.
    Whisker Fatigue in Cats

    Whisker Fatigue in Cats

    Cat owners may be scratching their heads thinking "What in the world is whisker fatigue?" While it may sound like a medical term for excessive cat kissing, or even an April Fool's Day prank, it's actually a medical condition in cats that causes them to have great stress. Although some vets do not see this as much of an issue; pet owners should be aware of whisker fatigue.

    Cat whiskers act as a sensory antennae that pulls signals to the brain and nervous system. Whiskers provide cats with information on the outside world and can help them navigate their surroundings, such as around furniture in a dark room. (Amazing huh?) Because cats rely on their whiskers predominately for sensory information, whisker fatigue is essentially a headache for a cat, giving them sensory overload. 

    “Cat whiskers are extraordinary sensing hairs that give them almost extrasensory powers,” says Dr. Neil Marrinan of the Old Lyme Veterinary Hospital in Connecticut.

    The main cause of this cat stress is usually from eating - something cats cannot avoid. When bending down to eat or drink, the cat's bowl may touch the whiskers and cause them discomfort. This can be quite painful for the cat; so, cat owners should consider using a different style of feeding dish, if they see signs of pain or discomfort.

    Signs of whisker fatigue can include:

    • Using the paws to reach for food rather than the head;
    • Pacing around the food dish and being hesitant to eat;
    • Acting aggressive around meal time.

    Whisker Fatigue is not a disease and will not cause your cat long-term health complications.The effects of whisker fatigue include hairs to be sensitive, a loss of appetite and depression.

    Prevent Dog Heat Stroke

    Prevent Dog Heat Stroke

    Dogs wear a fur coat 24/7; and with the rising temperature, your pet may be sweating on the inside and suffering from the heat. Prevent heat stroke in dogs by doing the following:

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    TAMPA, Fla. - Beware the dog days of summer - literally. If you think it is too darn hot, your pooch is burning up even worse.

    This is the time of year when Tampa Bay area veterinarians start seeing an increase in cases of dog heat stroke.

    Not just in cars. Never leave any dog alone in a car, not even for a second. But I am talk about heat stroke suffered when they play or run outside.

    A dog has fur which acts as a microwave oven. When your pet reaches a temperature of 106 degrees, they became at-risk of heat stroke.

    Warning signs of dog heat stroke include bright red tongue and gums, lethargy and disorientation, vomiting and diarrhea. Heat stroke causes the cells in their bodies to break down.

    To prevent dog heat stroke, especially in furnace-like Florida in the summer, try to keep vigorous walks with your pets to the morning and late evening when they would be out of the glare of the sun.

    If you are going to play in the middle of the day, make sure water is plentiful for swimming and drinking. Memorial Dog Park in Davis Islands is a fantastic place for this if you can't make it to the beach.

    Keep a portable fan handy. No muzzling -- wagging that tongue is the main way dogs cool down.

    And this may sound like a major buzzkill, but extended jogging with your dogs in the heat of the summer is brutal on them. If you must jog, do short bursts in the morning or after the sun goes down.

    Story re-posted from ABC Action News, by Sean Daly.

    Your Cat Is Stressed Out

    Your Cat Is Stressed Out

    You might not realize it, but some of your behaviors may be stressing out your cat. While most cat owners aren’t intending to make their cat feel anxious, some may be unaware of the effects their actions can have on their cat’s behavior and relationships.

    Pet expert Mikkel Becker has identified five common ways you may be unknowingly stressing out your cat. So if you catch yourself or anyone in your home doing these things, your cat will thank you for stopping immediately.

    1. Only bringing out the crate when it’s time to visit the vet

    When cats are only crated in stressful situations, like visits to the vet or groomer, it can teach them to dislike the crate. Many will hide or put up a fight to avoid going inside. Teaching your cat to go willingly into the crate by making it a comfortable place to spend time in every day can make requiring her to go in the carrier a lot less stressful.

    2. Using punishment to try and change behavior

    Punishment isn’t the solution to stopping unwanted behavior. Your cat doesn’t understand that what she’s doing is wrong, and she doesn’t know what to do instead. Because of this, punishment may feel inconsistent and random to her, causing her to become anxious and wary.

    3. Thinking that scaring your cat is harmless or funny

    We’ve all seen the videos of cats terrified by cucumbers. Hilarious? Not to cats. A cat who is repeatedly startled can become neurotic and wary, and may become afraid of places she previously found safe.  Scaring a cat where she eats or drinks is especially mean, as she may start to avoid these areas as well, leading to health problems.

    4. Letting the dog chase the cat

    Flat out scary. Your cat does not like this. Some pet owners often believe the cat is taunting the dog or that cats and dogs just act this way and there’s nothing that can be done, but the result will often be an anxious, stressed-out cat.

    5. Assuming your cat is happy to sleep all day

    Many cats lack the opportunity to exercise their hunting drive and owners assume that they have lost this drive. If left without a way to focus her hunting instincts, a cat may scratch furniture, stalk other household cats, or she may just sleep all day and not get enough exercise. One way to help solve this problem is to serve portions of her meal in food puzzles or place kibble in areas she frequents, like perches, to make your cat “hunt” for her food.

    With any behavioral problem or major change in your pet’s behavior, it’s always important to check for any underlying medical conditions that could potentially be causing or worsening the problem. If you have any concerns about your cat’s behavior, talk with your vet right away.

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    To give your cat the exercise it needs, EasyPetFence.com suggests that pet owners install a cat fence in the yard for cats to 1) Socialize with other animals; 2) Remain active; 3) Get fresh air. See Kitty Corral Cat Fence Kits for more information.

    Article re-posted from Life With Cats, Posted by

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