Showing posts with label human interaction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label human interaction. Show all posts

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Domestic cats understand the phonetics of their name


In a study it was conclusively found that domestic cats can tell the difference between the phonetics of their name when spoken by people from the phonetics of general sounds and the phonetics of the name of other cats.
We conclude that cats can discriminate the content of human utterances based on phonemic differences.

They also found that domestic cats living in a cat cafe could do something similar but not quite as good as they could not distinguish the sound of their name from the sound of the name of cohabiting cats at the cafe.

My guess is that domestic cats living in a home have a close connection with their owner and their name is said regularly. They are trained to understand the sound of their name. In contrast cats at cafes don't have this advantage. Different people - one-off visitors - say their name in different ways and perhaps they get their name wrong. The 'training' is less intense and clear cut. It is more confusing.

When people say that cats understand their name, it's true to a large extent. However, they don't understand their name as humans understand their own names. Cats understand the sound of their name. It is only the sound, the phonetics which they detect and respond to.

Study: Domestic cats (Felis catus) discriminate their names from other words. Link: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-40616-4

Friday 2 June 2023

Try feather-light petting to see if it pleases your cat more

I'll try and explain what I mean in the title. My belief is that many cat owners apply too much downforce with their hands and fingers when petting/stroking their cat. I'd like to see more try a different method in which a feather-light touch is applied. The petting is very delicately applied. Much more delicately than one imagines. And it should be carried out very slowly too.

Try feather-light petting to see if it pleases your cat more

Slow and delicate is an alternative style of petting which particularly applies to men I would suggest. I think an experiment using this technique is worth trying to see your cat's reaction.

I sense that many cat caregivers have never really given much thought to the amount of downforce that their petting should deliver. We pet our cats in an instinctive way which suits us. It is as we are doing it to a fury little human and therefore the downforce is correct for humans.

But is it correct for domestic cats? I sense not. I think cats can sometimes find their human caregiver a little too heavy-handed. And if that is correct it slightly undermines the relationship.

The feather-light handling should be accompanied by a quiet melodious and friendly voice too. The sound should project friendliness and gentleness.

I am simply questioning the status quo. Is the default pressure applied when petting your cat companion entirely pleasant from your cat's perspective? 

The primary objective of petting is to please the cat. Is that forgotten sometimes? Do some people only think about pleasing themselves?

Wednesday 12 April 2023

Do domestic cats prefer women? Yes, in general, and I'll tell you why.

If you search on Google, "Do cats prefer women?" The answer comes back yes and some of the websites refer to a study. The DVM 360 website summarises the study. And when I read the summary my assessment of the reason why domestic cats tend (but not always) prefer women is because women prefer domestic cats!

Francisca Franken with Bean her adopted rescue cat who happens to be an Exotic Shorthair who nobody wanted because she was described as being feisty, a diva and ugly. I don't see ugliness in this face. Do you? Francisca certainly didn't.
Francisca Franken with Bean her adopted rescue cat who happens to be an Exotic Shorthair who nobody wanted because she was described as being feisty, a diva and ugly. I don't see ugliness in this face. Do you? Francisca certainly didn't. Image: Instagram.

Because women prefer domestic cats over dogs, they interact with cats more often and being female, they do so in a more gentle and respectful way generally (not always) than men. This doesn't apply across the board quite obviously. And this is not a black-and-white picture of domestic cats loving women and dogs loving men. It isn't as straightforward as that.

There is a big gray area. But the fact of the matter is that in a home where there is a man and woman, a married couple, and a cat and a dog, the woman will more likely approach the cat to interact with them. They do so nicely. The cat enjoys it. The cat wants to do it again. The cat therefore approaches the woman.

Because a cat-loving woman is bonded to her cat and intuitively begins to understand their body language signals and vocalisations, she responds to approaches by her cat in a sensitive and prompt way. She has developed an understanding about what her cat wants which would be a friendly interaction and some love and tenderness.

Or it might be a request for food or any other request if the cat meowed; and we know that the meow is basically a demand for attention and a request.

Reason

My assessment is that the reason why cats prefer women in general is because they are more likely to get what they want from women and the signs are that women instigate the interactions. In a study the researchers will see more interactions between women and cats than men with cats which gives the impression that cats prefer women. But the beginning of this preference is women being more likely to approach their cat. 

Favours

The study apparently found that cats seem to remember favours done for them and return those favours. For example, if owners comply with their cat's wishes to interact their cat will repay the compliment by complying with their owner's desires to interact. That isn't, in my view, a rational decision. It is simply that domestic cats enjoy interacting with a human being who cares for them and provides for them in a gentle and loving way.

And cats will do things that they enjoy just like people. Let's remind ourselves that domestic cats live in the human world. How they react to that depends on the world that humans create and whether it is cat friendly or hostile even slightly so. Domestic cats are reactive often. They are instinctively reactive.

Men

Now let's refer to men! What got me thinking about this was a video of a couple who adopted a cat, I think primarily to benefit the woman but the cat ended up referring the man. There is a very strong bond between man and cat in this video below. The cat's name is Milo and he is crazy about his human male companion. It's a love. It's as simple as that.


And this tells me really that cats don't really prefer women per se. They prefer people who interact with them in a very respectful kind and gentle, loving way. The cat then associates that person through their behaviour and body odour with pleasant experiences and go to them for more. Perfectly normal.

In the video it will be a bundle of nuanced behaviours by the man which provide signals to Milo that Milo will have a good experience when interacting. For example, he allows Milo to knead his chest through his vest. He tells the camera that it hurts like hell but he allows it to happen because he wants to do it for Milo. He understands that Milo is doing it because he relates to him as his mother.

The man is very tender towards Milo. His respectful and does all he can to please him. This is appreciated. It draws Milo back. It isn't about the gender of the human being. It is about their behaviour and an understanding of feline behaviour.

Friday 27 January 2023

Human cute aggression provoked by a kitten or puppy can damage teeth!

This is a bit of a stretch of the imagination but it is a recognised condition. You might have experienced it. You see a cute puppy or kitten. You have an urge to smother her with kisses and squeeze her tightly. At the same time, you might clench your teeth. If you do the latter in a slightly careless way, you might damage them. That is the order of events.

Human cute aggression provoked by a kitten or puppy can damage teeth!
Human cute aggression provoked by a kitten or puppy can damage teeth! Image: MikeB.

The experts say that these feelings result in a dimorphous physical action. The word "dimorphous" means existing in two forms. And in this instance, it means you have a feeling of euphoria in seeing something very cute which your verbalise and the other simultaneous form is doing something aggressive like squeezing the cute animal too hard or grinding your teeth.

That's the urge but of course self-control takes over and you don't actually squeeze the animal to the point where the action is aggressive and harmful.

In recognition of this known condition which I had not heard of before, a British dentist, Dr. Rizwan Mahmood, has claimed that idly scrolling through pictures of cute dogs and cats could damage your teeth.

I think that that he is successfully achieving a little bit of publicity and that may be the goal. If it was the goal then well done because it's worked.

If you grind your teeth at the sight of something cute, it would have to be persistent grinding to do any real damage. Like I said, it's a bit of a stretch of the imagination to see real damage occurring.

Social media celebrity, Molly Mae, who featured in the Love Island television series admitted that she has a habit of grinding her teeth to the point where one of them fell out! She blames cute aggression.

She said:

"I'm my own worst enemy because whenever I look at the cat or I look at Ellie Bellie (her stuffed toy elephant) I just talk to Tommy in a stupid baby voice, I do this thing where I grind my teeth. I bit down and my tooth literally came off last night."

The good dentist said:

"It's an instant physical response when humans see something cute like a fluffy kitten, puppy or rabbit which makes them react physically rather than verbally. It doesn't necessarily take too much pressure to do the damage either. So, if you are scrolling through footage on Instagram or TikTok, be mindful of your mouth. If you see something cute, verbalise it instead of physically reacting to it. It could save you a lot of money, and toothache!" 

Monday 26 December 2022

One key factor in reducing stress in dogs and cats in shelters is human interaction

Stress has long been recognized as a significant factor in the well-being of animals, including dogs, and has been the subject of numerous studies in both laboratory and shelter settings. These studies have shown that stress can have both physiological and behavioral consequences, including the production of the hormone cortisol (also known as the glucocorticoid hormone). 

Volunteers sit with rescue animals to reduce stress during a storm. Image in public domain.

Elevated levels of cortisol can have negative effects on an animal's health and behavior, and it is therefore important to identify ways to reduce stress in animals, particularly those in shelters.

One key factor in reducing stress in dogs in shelters is human interaction. Research has consistently shown that social support, including interaction with humans, can help to buffer the stress response in animals, including dogs. This may be due to the fact that social interaction can stimulate the production of oxytocin, a hormone that has been shown to reduce cortisol levels and improve well-being.

Enrichment activities centered on human interaction, such as training and play, have been found to be particularly effective in reducing stress in shelter dogs. These activities can also help to improve the behavioral suitability of dogs for adoption, as they may reduce aggressive responses in temperament tests.

It is important to note that the effects of stress on dogs can extend beyond the initial exposure to a stressful event. There is evidence that long-term consequences of stress, including changes in behavior and brain function, can occur even after the initial stressor has been removed. This highlights the importance of addressing stress in shelter dogs not just in the short-term, but also in the long-term.

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