August 2015

Biking with Your Dog

Have you ever seen someone biking with their dog and thought, “Wow, that looks like fun … but where did they learn how to do that?” If so, this month’s episode of Pet Talk was made just for you!

In this short video, Dr. Sarah will help you to gain a basic understanding of how to safely enjoy this outdoor activity with your dog. Our Staff Veterinarian explains exactly what gear you’ll need (a minimal investment), plus all the necessary steps to train a dog to become comfortable near a moving bicycle. Trust us when we say that wheeling around with your dog really is loads of fun!

Be sure to share this video with friends and family, especially if they love pursuing new and exciting leisure pastimes. And, please leave your comments if this Pet Talk episode is helpful to you.

The Special Bond Between Cats and Women

Girl playing with cat on rug

Have you ever wondered why women and cats have such strong relationships? Specifically, why some women (a very few, mind you) tend to collect large numbers of cats? While you’ve heard the term “crazy cat lady”, you never hear of “crazy gerbil ladies” or “crazy ferret ladies”!

In fact, some behavioral researchers wondered the same thing. A recently published study in the journal Behavioral Processes indicates the answer lies in a special bond that exists only between cats and women. Scientists from the Konrad Lorenz Research Station and the University of Vienna took a hard look at the behavioral interactions between 41 cats and their human companions, using individual personality assessments of both their human and feline subjects. Their findings might very well cause a paradigm shift in our understanding of these relationships. 

Rather than being standoffish and selfish (as cats are often portrayed), the study showed that there was real attachment between cats and their pet parents. Of course, any cat parent will tell you these findings are not surprising in the least. As expected, the cats demonstrated food-seeking behavior, but the researchers also noted that cats and their people signaled each other when they wanted to receive or even give affection. Cats also demonstrated that they were able to keep track of how their physical and emotional needs were being met. Further, felines were more likely to remember kind gestures and respond to their human companion’s emotional needs if the human had previously responded to their own.

While these interactions were noted with both women and men living with cats, cats clearly approached women and initiated contact (i.e. jump in laps) more often than with men. In fact, a cat’s relationship with a woman mirrored that of a human-human bond more than a human-animal bond, in that cats could tell their humans when to feed and interact with them and the humans would do it! Like a human infant, cats were seen to control when they were being fed. It is interesting to note that a cat’s mewl for food sounds eerily like that of a human infant.

The results of the study showed that cats and their pet parents, particularly women, influence each other strongly. In some ways, they can actually control one another’s behaviors. "A relationship between a cat and a human can involve mutual attraction, personality compatibility, ease of interaction, play, affection and social support," said co-author Dorothy Gracey of the University of Vienna. "A human and a cat mutually develop complex ritualized interactions that show substantial mutual understanding of each other's inclinations and preferences." While I wouldn’t go so far as to say cats can manipulate women, the results of this study certainly provide food for thought.

Knowing that cats have a much shorter evolutionary history of living with humans than dogs makes these findings even more astounding! Is it possible that women who provide homes for many cats simply cannot help themselves? There are so many new questions! Obviously, this study only scratches the surface of the complexity found in human-cat relationships. So, the next time you interact with your cat, I challenge you to ask yourself who is really running the show.

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.

Dr Jane Bicks  Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM

References

Wedl M1, Bauer B, Gracey D, Grabmayer C, Spielauer E, Day J, Kotrschal K. Factors influencing the temporal patterns of dyadic behaviours and interactions between domestic cats and their owners. Behav Processes. 2011 Jan;86(1):58-67. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2010.09.001. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

Our Foundation Awards Funds To Rescue Group

Dog laying in the grass

It is our great pleasure to tell our readers about one of the latest recipients of financial aid from The Dr. Jane Foundation. This month’s featured beneficiary is a committed group of rescuers dedicated to improving the lives of abandoned, abused and neglected animals in Wisconsin.

The Green Lake Area Animal Shelter is run by a small, paid staff lead by Janine Rubeck, Shelter Manager, with more than a dozen dedicated volunteers regularly lending helping hands. In continuous operation since 1993, this committed non-profit group has sought to enhance the lives of both companion animals and people through education, adoption and compassion. Without governmental financial assistance, they rely on fundraisers, adoption fees, as well as donations to cover the costs of day-to-day operations.

This rescue has made a tremendous difference in the lives of more than 12,000 animals! Their “Open Door Policy” means that no animal will be turned away due to age, health, behavior or lack of space. The group treats every dog and cat with care and respect, and aims to find each pet kid the perfect forever home.

Green Lake Area Animal Shelter sought financial assistance to further the vital work of its low-cost spay-and-neuter program. This program has been integral to its operations, offering these services to local Wisconsin residents. While the scale of the efforts depends largely on funding, their dedication to this cause is unwavering. They have seen firsthand the positive impact that these surgeries have in controlling overpopulation and reducing the number of euthanized pets. It was our non-profit’s great pleasure to fund their grant proposal. For their meticulous work on behalf of their community, all of us here at Life’s Abundance salute the hard work of this amazing group.

Green Lake Animal Rescue

If you or someone you know would be interested in adopting a dog or cat in Wisconsin, we encourage you to stop by Green Lake Area Animal Shelter (glaas.org). You never know … you could end up finding your new best friend!

As the charitable arm of Life’s Abundance, The Dr. Jane Foundation provides financial support to small and medium-size rescue groups who work to prevent animal homelessness, abuse and chronic neglect. Every time someone purchases a Life's Abundance product, a portion of the profits are contributed to the Foundation’s operating fund.

To learn more about the organizations who’ve received funding from us in the past, visit our web page today. There, you’ll find summaries of our previous grant recipients.

And there’s more good news … we are still accepting applications for funding. If you know of an animal rescue organization that deserves special recognition and financial support, please encourage them to
fill out an application.

Check back next month for more good news from The Dr. Jane Foundation. Together, we’re making a difference!