What We Understand about Cats and What They Understand about Us

New Media Mention: Felicity Muth, Scientific American March 30, 2016
Link to full story 

A big part of cats’ lives are spent around their human owners, yet scientists are just starting to understand what they think of us

 

stoshpetIn my last post I introduced the topic of cat cognition and what we broadly know about how these animals think. In this post I’m going to talk more specifically about what we understand about cats’ interactions with the animal they spend most time with: us….

To read the rest of the article click here! 

What’s Going On in Your Cat’s Head?

New Media Mention: Felicity Muth, Scientific American March 29, 2016
Link to full story 

Cats are often depicted as being less friendly, cooperative and caring than dogs, but what’s really going on in your cat’s head?

Spirit meet cameraUnsurprisingly, scientists use dogs in behavioural experiments a lot more often than cats. There are whole ‘canine cognition’ lab groups and conferences, which has led to a much greater understanding of our canine friends (see for example the blog ‘Dog Spies’). Cats are generally less cooperative and more nervous in social situations, meaning it’s difficult to use them in experiments. However, a recent paper in Animal Cognition by Shreve & Udell at Oregon State University reviewed what we do know about our (sometimes unfriendly) friends regarding how they think. I’m going to divide what we know about cat cognition into two main areas over two posts: firstly, what we know about cat cognition per se and secondly cat cognition that relates to their relationship with humans…..

To read the rest of the article click here! 

Socializing cats to aid adoptability

New Media Mention: Susan C. Kahler, JAVMA news April 15, 2016
Link to full news bulletin 

5b8c2-10747749_837752042921925_1954829831_nKristyn Vitale Shreve, a doctoral student and National Science Foundation graduate fellow in the Human-Animal Interaction Laboratory at Oregon State University, said that behavioral issues or cat-owner incompatibility account for at least 27 percent of the cats surrendered to shelters by owners.

Once in a shelter, dogs and cats spend more time in close proximity to an inattentive human than pets do, Vitale Shreve noted. She conducted a sociability test of 23 cats in a shelter, comprising an inattentive phase and an attentive phase of human interaction. The cats were aware of the attention or lack of attention. Meowing vocalization sometimes served as a cue that a cat was seeking human attention.

 “Cats are facultatively social and display various levels of social behavior, depending on their environment and upbringing,” she said.

She said that human interaction through touch and vocalization can increase a cat’s affiliative behaviors and activity levels, cause it to seek close proximity with humans, and potentially decrease stereotypic behaviors, cortisol levels, and stress behavior.

“Cats in shelters that were given up were more stressed than strays,” she said. “You might want to focus (your efforts) first in the shelter on them.”

Vitale Shreve suggested implementing a shelter interaction protocol and enrichment activities such as providing food balls filled with treats to increase adoption rates, reduce return rates, and reduce stress-related behaviors.

Training Videos

Cat Training Demo

Kristyn shows you how to start training your cat!

Basic Behaviors

Showing off- Sit, Give Paw, Stand Up, Come, Go to Mat, & a trick!

 

Beginning Clicker Training

How to “load the clicker” to associate the click sound with a reward. You can then use the click to mark a behavior you want to train. The animal then associates the click signals a reward.

 

Training Sit

 

Target Training

Train cat to touch their nose to the end of a stick. Allows you to lead their behavior!

 

Go to Mat & Stay

Trained using Shaping, or marking small steps to build a more complex behavior

 

Trick behavior: Write on chalkboard!

Trained using Shaping, or marking small steps to build a more complex behavior

Communicate with your cat through training!

Here Cecilia and I show off her basic behaviors & tricks!  Interested in learning how to train your cat? Check out this link for more information!

Free kitten training classes are available in Oregon!