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"Of all possessions, a friend is the most precious."

- Heradotus

Cats’ eyes are incredible. With 200-degree peripheral sight and ultra-sensitive night vision, our kitties experience the world in ways that we cannot. If you notice that your cat’s eyes are unusually teary, irritated, or producing discharge, several issues could be to blame. 

Find out more about possible causes of watery eyes and the steps you can take to protect your feline friend’s amazing vision.

Eye discharge in cats

Persian Cat Eye Discharge

Like us, cats produce occasional tears. Though they are not of the emotional variety, tears keep kitties’ eyes moist and flush out dust and debris that may irritate the eyes. Certain breeds of cats, particularly those with flat faces like Persians, can have a slightly higher rate of normal tear production. 

When eye-watering is unusually excessive and doesn’t resolve quickly on its own, it’s time to investigate possible causes of your cat’s runny eyes.

Are your cat’s eyes red and inflamed?

Feline conjunctivitis is a general term for inflammation of the conjunctiva, or the thin mucosal membrane that covers the surface of your cat’s eye. While conjunctivitis can be a result of environmental irritants or debris in the eye, it can also be viral.

Feline ocular herpes is a common viral trigger of conjunctivitis. While it cannot be transmitted to humans, feline herpes is typically passed from infected mothers to kittens at birth or from an infected adult cat to others in the same household. Like human herpes simplex viruses, feline herpes is dormant for long periods and flares periodically – often in response to stress. 

Feline herpes outbreaks can lead to upper respiratory infections. Look for pink or red eyes accompanied by: 

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal drip
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Lethargy and loss of
    appetite 

If you suspect viral conjunctivitis, your veterinarian can prescribe antiviral medications and make recommendations about how to support your cat’s immune system and reduce the risk of spreading the virus to other cats in your home. 

Does your cat have a sticky yellow or green eye discharge?

Thick, mucus-like discharge forming in your cat’s eyes is often a sign of a bacterial infection. Feline chlamydophilosis, an infection caused by a bacterial strain in the chlamydia family, is responsible for up to 30% of chronic conjunctivitis in cats. It is often accompanied by other symptoms like fever, nasal discharge, and sneezing.

The illness is contagious but typically only transmitted through direct contact between cats. Fortunately, feline chlamydophilosis is treatable with antibiotics. Your vet may also recommend that you vaccinate your kitty against chlamydophilosis to stop the infection before it starts.

Does your cat have allergies?

Irritated, watery eyes can be a response to indoor or outdoor allergies. Like their human counterparts, cats can react to common allergens like: 

  • Mold and mildew
  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Household cleaners and chemicals

If you can determine the cause of your cat’s allergies, keeping the offending substance out of your home should give your kitty some relief. However, if symptoms persist, head to your vet’s office to rule out eye damage from debris or foreign objects. 

Cat with red eyes from allergies

Are your cat’s eyes cloudy?

Like us, cats are vulnerable to cataracts. Feline cataracts are more common in senior pets and develop slowly over time. If you notice sudden, unexplained clouding in your kitty’s eyes, a corneal ulcer may be to blame. These ulcers are often caused by trauma, such as a head injury or a fight between cats, and are extremely painful. 

Cats with corneal ulcers will often blink excessively, squint, and paw at the affected eye. If you have reason to suspect an eye injury, seek help immediately. Superficial injuries can be treated with eye drops or ointments, but deeper ulcers may require surgery. 

Pet parents who notice unusual discharge, irritation, or watering can protect their cat’s eyes by scheduling an exam with their veterinarian. Fortunately, most feline eye conditions have good outcomes with early intervention. 

Heartworms are a source of anxiety for pet parents. Due in part to climate and environmental changes, the past decade has seen an increase in the overall prevalence of heartworm infection. While the parasite can be found throughout the US, the Southeast has the highest rate of reported heartworm cases, leaving dogs in this region at particularly great risk.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your furbaby from the potentially devastating effects of heartworm infection before it starts.

What are heartworms?

Dirofilaria immitis, or heartworms, are parasitic worms that invade the hearts, lungs, and vascular systems of infected pets. These worms mature over 6-7 months and reproduce within organ systems. Adult heartworms resemble cooked spaghetti, with male worms measuring around 4-6 inches in length and larger females growing to be about a foot long. If left untreated, they will eventually cause heart, lungs, kidneys, or liver failure.

How are heartworms transmitted?

Like many parasites, heartworms are spread by mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites an infected animal with mature worms, it becomes a temporary host for pre-larval offspring, called microfilariae. When a carrier mosquito bites your pet, microfilariae are passed into their bloodstream through the bite wound.

Diagram of heart worm transmission

Non-domestic animals, like coyotes and foxes, can also carry the parasite, so regions that have dense populations of mosquitoes and carrier animals tend to see the highest rates of infection.

Fortunately, heartworms cannot be transmitted by normally occurring contact between pets.

What are the signs and symptoms of heartworms?

Heartworms take at least 6 months to reach maturity, and the early stages of infection may have few if any visible symptoms. As the disease progresses, dog parents may notice:

  • Persistent cough
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty breathing

Heartworms in cats

Worms are less common in cats, and they are less likely to survive beyond larval stages in feline hosts than in dogs. However, immature heartworms can still be devastating to your cat’s heart, lungs, and liver. For cats who do become infected, symptoms tend to be subtle until the later stages. 

Common symptoms of heartworm infection in cats can include: 

  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Coughing
  • Labored breathing
  • Loss of appetite

Unfortunately, the medications that successfully treat heartworms in dogs are fatal to cats. Because feline infections are untreatable, year-round preventive medication is the best way to keep your kitty safe.

How are heartworms treated in dogs?

Dogs with a mild or moderate case of the parasite have a generally good prognosis. Once a veterinarian confirms the presence of heartworms, they can be treated with injections of anti-parasitic medications over several months. Depending on your dog’s condition, additional treatments may be required to ensure that they can tolerate the death of the worms integrated into their organ systems. 

More advanced infections can be addressed with surgery, but the prognosis is less optimistic. 

For pet parents, the best course of action by far is getting their pet on an effective heartworm preventative. While many heartworm prevention medications have to be given monthly, 6 month heartworm prevention needs to be administered just twice a year.

Dog smelling treat or heart worm medication

How are heartworms treated in cats?

The medications that successfully treat heartworms in dogs are fatal to cats. As a result, there is no current treatment for feline heartworms.

Pet parents are usually aware that dogs are vulnerable to the parasite but are less likely to be concerned about cats, especially when they aren’t allowed outside. Surprisingly, a North Carolina-based study revealed that 28% of heartworm-positive cats are indoor-only

Currently, prevention is the best and only option for keeping kitties safe. Heartworm preventatives that are formulated especially for cats that can protect our feline friends from an untreatable infection. 

Prevention is the best treatment

There are a variety of FDA-approved chewable, injectable, and topical treatments that can offer dogs and cats year-round protection from heartworms. 

Your vet will need to confirm that your pet is heartworm-free before recommending a course of preventative treatment. Because early intervention is associated with a better prognosis, the American Heartworm Society recommends annual testing for all pets. 

Read up on some common myths about heartworm infection, and talk to your veterinarian about the best heartworm preventative and testing schedule for your furry friend. 

With their expressive faces, sympathetic whines, and knowing looks, pet parents and their pups communicate in a language all their own. You may know your dog’s unique quirks and habits inside and out, but what is the real meaning behind the behaviors that our furry friends tend to have in common? 

Here are some classic dog mannerisms decoded. 

 

1. Why do dogs wag their tails?

Why do dogs wag their tails? Though we typically associate wagging with joy, dogs’ tails are actually a pretty nuanced barometer of their mood. A low, tucked tail is usually a sign of fear, while a high, whipping tail is an indicator of alertness. 

In the broadest sense, wagging means that something has captured your dog’s attention, whether it’s a familiar car in the driveway, a squirrel, or even something that your pup finds threatening. When greeting an unfamiliar dog, it’s important to keep in mind that wags alone are not necessarily an invitation for pets. 

Context is key to interpreting wags – when the tail starts swishing, make note of your dog’s body language holistically. While different breeds tend to carry their tails differently, the position of your pup’s ears, their posture, and their muscle tension are useful clues for decoding a wagging tail. 

beagle wagging tail

 

2. Why do dogs pant?

Because dogs don’t sweat, panting helps them regulate their body temperature. But what about excessive or heavy panting, or panting when it isn’t warm outside? 

Rapid breathing can be a sign that your dog is stimulated, either due to excitement (think enthusiasm for a treat or toy) or because of anxiety. Stress panting will likely be accompanied by other signs, like whining and yawning, and should subside once your dog is out of the upsetting situation. 

On hot days, watch out for heavy panting as it could be a sign of heatstroke. If your dog’s breathing becomes rapid or labored, contact your vet right away

 

3. Why do dogs roll?

Most pet parents have been there – your dog has just had a bath, but rather than enjoying their fresh, clean coat; they take the first opportunity to roll in dirt and grass. 

Dogs may roll to scratch hard-to-reach itches, but it’s more likely that this behavior is tied into their incredible senses of smell. Writhing around on the earth is a great way for pups to mark their territory by leaving their scent behind for others to find.  

Rolling is also a preferred method of scent masking. It’s easy to forget that our pups were once hunters – modern dogs retain the instinct to disguise their natural smell, making it easier to sneak up on hypothetical prey. Unfortunately, this motivates some dogs to throw their bodies down on the most foul-smelling thing they can find, including garbage, dead animals, and even poop!

While this drive is natural, you can mitigate rolling behavior by keeping your yard free of waste and avoiding washing your pup in scented shampoos. Your dogs may be especially motivated to disguise any synthetic smells, making bathtime counterproductive. 

 

4. Why do dogs bark? Older dog howling

Without taking tone or context into account, there are many reasons that dogs bark, including: 

  • Excitement
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Attention-seeking
  • Boredom 
  • Communication with other dogs

To human ears, Lassie recruiting help to get Timmy out of the well and your dog reminding you that they are overdue for a walk may sound basically the same. To understand what your pup is trying to communicate, take a close look at their body language and the surrounding circumstances. 

Some dogs are naturally more vocal than others, depending on breed as well as individual personality. Dogs who are bred to hunt, like beagles and terriers, have an instinct to raise alerts through barks. Regular exercise and play can help dissipate casual barking.

If your canine companion gets bored or anxious when home alone, they may resort to howling or barking. Leaving behind interactive toys and puzzles can help keep restless pups calm, entertained, and quiet while you are out. 

Work with your dog to address the root cause of unwanted or excessive vocalizations instead of scolding. Being punished for barking will be confusing for your pup and can harm the bond you share.

 

5. Why do dogs lick?

Is your dog obsessed with licking your face? When our furry friends are puppies, they learn to lick mom’s face as a way of asking her to regurgitate food for them to eat. Adult dogs retain face-licking as a way to greet other pups, and will often duplicate the behavior with the humans in their pack. 

Dogs who can’t access your face may lick any area of your skin that is within their reach. While there are no real health risks involved, pet parents who don’t enjoy receiving affection in this way can discourage it most effectively by ignoring it. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that our pups have highly sensitive noses, and can detect traces of food in places we can’t. A dog who is licking the floor or furniture could be in pursuit of a food spill that we didn’t clean up as well as we thought. 

While it’s unusual, relentless licking can be a manifestation of obsessive-compulsive disorder in dogs. If you suspect that non-stop, unexplained licking is a symptom of an imbalance, don’t lose time in addressing it with your veterinarian. Unchecked psychiatric problems can lead to more stubborn behavioral issues over time. 

Dog licking human owner's face

You can relate to your cat’s love of treats and naps, but did you know that acne may be one more
thing you have in common? Despite their fastidious grooming, our feline friends may still experience skin problems, including the occasional pimple.

Unlike humans, feline acne isn’t the result of teenage hormones or clogged pores, and it may require different treatment. Kitties with severe, prolonged, or recurring breakouts need your help to get their skin under control. 

What causes feline acne?

For our feline friends, pimples and zits aren’t a rite of passage or an inevitable part of adolescence. Acne in cats is a disorder of follicular keratinization – it comes about when a protein called keratin gets trapped in your kitty’s hair follicles, forming blackheads. If bacteria is introduced, pimples and pustules (similar to human zits) may appear.

Feline acne on chin

The bacteria responsible for acne looks for inflammation or breaks in your cat’s skin as a route to invade clogged follicles. For this reason, breakouts in cats are most often triggered by allergies. Common culprits include:

  • Fleas
  • Dust mites
  • Pollen
  • Mold spores
  • Food sensitivities
  • Contact dermatitis 

Sensitivities to certain plastics are fairly common in cats. If your feline friend eats or drinks from a plastic dish, switching to a stainless steel, glass, or ceramic one may help their skin clear up over time. 

While acne in kitties isn’t commonly associated with excessively oily skin or poor hygiene, it is sometimes seen in cats who aren’t grooming themselves properly. Stress, injuries, or chronic pain can prevent cats from cleaning their skin, leading to breakouts. Seek veterinary help for a cat who has stopped grooming – it’s a clear signal of distress. 

What does cat acne look like?

Cat chin acne close up

As with humans, acne in cats can be mild or severe. It may look red and cystic, or show up in the form of pimples, blackheads, or whiteheads. 

Breakouts can occur anywhere on your cat’s body, but are most common on the chin, neck, and face, especially for kitties who are reacting to their food dish or toys. Kitties with long, dense fur and breeds with facial folds like Persians and British Shorthairs tend to be most frequently affected by acne. It’s a good idea to use snuggle sessions as an opportunity to check your cat’s skin for any abnormalities. 

How should I treat my cat’s acne?

In the short term, a warm washcloth on the affected area can offer your kitty some relief and help bring pimples to the surface. Because breakouts aren’t a typical part of a cat’s life cycle, it is important to note that acne is a symptom of an allergic reaction, underlying skin condition, or an emotional or physical problem that is getting in the way of your cat’s grooming. 

Feline acne is prone to bacterial infections that can become life-threatening, so it shouldn’t be ignored. Your vet can help you pinpoint the cause of your cat’s acne, may prescribe antibacterial treatments, medicated wipes, or special shampoos to calm inflamed skin and prevent future breakouts. 

Can I treat feline acne at home? 

Be cautious of home remedies and keep your cat safe. The list of household items toxic to cats is long, so it is important to clear DIY treatments with your veterinarian before applying anything to your kitty’s skin.

Treating feline acne begins with addressing the underlying cause, so the best home remedies often include vet-recommended changes to your cat’s diet, environment, or flea prevention regimen.

You’ve probably heard of a “trick knee” in humans, but did you know that our canine companions can also suffer from chronically dislocating joints? Here is what you need to know about luxating patella, identifying its warning signs, and getting the right treatment for your dog.

What is a luxating patella?

In short, patella means “kneecap,” and to luxate is “to dislocate.”

Dogs have discrete, almond-shaped kneecaps buried in the tendon that attaches to the thigh muscle. Their kneecaps normally slide along a groove in the femur (thigh bone) when they flex and extend their legs. In dogs with patellar luxation, the kneecap is prone to slipping out of its groove when flexed, resulting in a dislocated knee.

Luxating patella diagram

Though luxating patella may seem like the result of an acute injury, it’s more likely to be caused by genetics. This comes down to conformation passed on through breeding. If you bought your dog from a breeder, let them know about this diagnosis. It is one of the most common orthopedic conditions in dogs, affecting 7% of puppies.

What are the signs of luxating patella?

The most obvious sign is an odd gait. Your dog will avoid putting weight on the affected leg, and hop or skip while the kneecap remains dislocated.

Early-stage patellar luxation is usually short-term, and the knee will quickly go back into place on its own. Some dogs even learn how to pop their own kneecaps back into place by extending the leg to the side.

Is it painful for dogs?

Early-onset luxating patella isn’t usually painful. If left untreated, however, the dislocation can increase in frequency and severity, leading to arthritis and joint problems elsewhere in your dog’s body.

Patellar luxation is more common in some breeds.

Luxating patella is usually due to your dog’s genetics and is most often associated with miniature and toy breeds. Some small dog breeds disproportionately affected are:

  • Boston Terrier
  • Chihuahua
  • Miniature and Toy Poodle
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Bichon
  • Papillon
  • Yorkie
  • Pomeranian
  • Maltese

Large breeds who are prone to hip dysplasia can also suffer from lateral luxating patella when pressure on their tendons causes the kneecaps to dislocate to the outer side of the femur. Some of the most affected large dog breeds are:

  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Great Dane
  • Malamute
  • Huskie
  • St. Bernard
  • Akita
  • Labrador
  • Boxer

What are the stages of luxating patella?

There are four stages, or grades, of luxating patella.

Stage 1. This is the least severe grade. The kneecap is mostly in its correct position, and when it does dislocate, it goes back into place on its own.

Stage 2. The kneecap dislocates more frequently and may need to be manipulated back into place.

Stage 3. The kneecap spends more time out of joint than in its correct position. It can be manually relocated but is prone to popping back out. This grade is likely to be painful for your dog.

Stage 4. This is the grade most likely to cause your pet chronic pain. The kneecap is always out of joint, and can’t be maneuvered back into place without medical intervention.

How is luxating patella treated?

The course of treatment your vet recommends will depend on the severity of your pup’s condition. In the early stages, it can often be managed with non-surgical interventions, but it is more likely that surgery will be necessary to correct joint problems that have progressed to stages three and four.

The prognosis for dogs who undergo surgery is quite good, and early intervention can help keep your dog active, happy, and comfortable as the years go by.

Yorkie puppy walking to prevent luxating patella

How can I manage a luxating patella at home?

Whether or not a dislocated knee appears to be causing your dog discomfort, it is prudent to get your dog examined when you first notice any signs. If caught in its early stages, your vet can make recommendations for slowing or stopping its progress. 

One of the best early interventions for luxating patella is helping your dog maintain a healthy weight. Regular walks can strengthen the musculature that supports your pup’s joints while they work off any excess pounds. Your vet may also recommend dietary changes or supplements that support joint health and healthy, low calorie treats.

Luxating patella is common in dogs, but there are steps pet parents can take to correct orthopedic problems and prevent chronic pain. Contact your vet at the first sign of a limp or an odd gait, and protect the health of your dog’s joints. 

Whether you are a first-time pet parent or adding a new member to your pack, it’s important to prepare for your furbaby’s arrival. You’ve got the best food, toys, and bedding, but when it comes to getting your home pet-ready, you may feel less sure about where to begin.

Here are five simple tips for welcoming a new pet into your home.

1. Eliminate access to trash.

Invest in a pet-proof lid for your kitchen or bathroom trash before bringing home a new dog or cat. 

An overturned trash can is more than a mess. Chicken bones and discarded food packaging are an attractive choking hazard, and the list of foods that can be toxic to pets is longer than you may realize. Keeping trash out of reach will help pets stay safe while they adjust to their new space.

2. Redirect destructive behaviors.

To a playful kitten or puppy, everything has the potential to be a toy. A new pet’s curiosity is adorable until it is directed at your shoes, blinds, and electrical cords.

Don’t try to suppress your furbaby’s natural instincts to scratch, chew, and roughhouse — it will only cause you both stress. Instead, encourage your pet’s sense of play without sacrificing your furniture by providing them with safe outlets for potentially destructive behaviors. There is an incredible variety of scratching posts, chew toys, and other enrichments to choose from, so it’s always best to offer your pet some options while you get to know their preferences.

3. Hide hazards.

First, think like them! A great strategy for pet-proofing your home involves trying to take the perspective of your new furbaby. Things that don’t seem like a toy or snack to you can be very attractive to pets. Puppies and kittens grow quickly, so items that were out of their reach when they first came home won’t be forever. 

Reduce your anxiety by using cabinet locks and temporary gates to keep pets out of areas of your home where chemicals, cleaning products, and medications are stored. Few things are more worrisome than a rambunctious puppy or kitten that is suddenly too quiet. Pet parents should also watch out for unexpected hazards – some indoor plants, like lilies, are highly toxic to pets. If you suspect your pet has ingested something harmful, contact your vet right away.

4. Clear clutter. 

Welcoming a new cat or dog may require you to make some changes to the way that you organize your home. Pet parents who like to keep fragile items out on display may want to consider how a high-energy puppy or kitten is likely to interact with their decor.

Cats are notorious for swatting small items off of tables and dressers, which can be disastrous for any earrings left on the bathroom sink. Worse yet, small trinkets that get knocked to the floor can be a choking hazard for curious pets.

5. Give pets their own space.

A pet who feels constantly redirected away from your belongings will get frustrated. Your new furbaby is a member of your family, and they deserve a place in your home to call their own. 

Help your pet establish themselves in their new environment by giving them a safe space that looks and smells familiar over time. Crate training doesn’t just keep puppies out of trouble when they can’t be supervised; it gives them a place to rest, relax, and learn to self-soothe. Similarly, cat trees, or other elevated perches, will satisfy your cat’s innate need to climb and observe from on high. 

Keep in mind that isolation should never be used as a form of punishment. If you crate your dog or put your cat in a separate room, the experience should always be positive. Use treats, toys, or a favorite blanket to help your pet learn to enjoy their space. 

Welcoming a new dog or cat into your home can be challenging, but it’s also one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. Taking time to prepare your home for your pet’s arrival can help keep them safe, happy, and thriving.

 

Occasional licking is typical dog behavior. Normal grooming is no cause for concern, but when pet parents notice their pup obsessively lapping and chewing at his paws, it’s time to investigate the underlying cause. Several conditions can contribute to your dog becoming fixated on his feet. Here are a few of the most common:

Behavioral issues

In much the same way that cats purr to self-soothe, adult dogs associate licking with maternal bonding during puppyhood. In times of stress, separation anxiety, or even boredom, your pup may take his worry out on his paws.

Fortunately, excessive licking or chewing linked to behavioral issues can often be relieved by addressing the cause of your dog’s stress or restlessness. Daily exercise and interactive toys can help your pup stay occupied and at ease while home alone.

Allergies

Allergies can cause all-over itchiness in dogs, but their feet may be particularly vulnerable to reactions to grass, pollen, mold, or dust mites. Dermatitis that flares up during a particular time of year or when your dog rolls on a freshly cut lawn is likely due to an environmental allergy.

Common Environmental Allergies in Dogs

Here are a few indoor and outdoor allergens that can make your furry friend itchy:

  • Pollen
  • Grass
  • Mold
  • Dust and dust mites
  • Weeds
  • Animal dander

Common Food Allergies in Dogs

It is also possible that your pup is chewing or licking to relieve itchiness caused by a food allergy. Some of the more common food allergies found in dogs include:

  • Wheat
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Beef
  • Chicken

If food sensitivities are suspected, your vet may suggest an elimination diet to pinpoint the cause.

Parasites

Dogs struggling with fleas, ticks, or mites will often chew, scratch, and lick until they lose hair or injure their skin. If your pup has attended playdates or been kenneled with dogs who are infested, you may notice that they groom until their paws are red and irritated. The mites that cause mange and scabies can lead to full-body itching and hair loss, so parasitic infections should be addressed quickly. 

Finally, bacterial, fungal, and yeast infections that thrive between your pup’s toes can cause burning, itching, and irritation that may encourage obsessive licking. Your veterinarian can recommend treatments and medicated shampoos to banish any unwanted guests.

Pain

If you notice your pup gnawing at just one of his paws, an injury may be to blame. A dog who has stepped on something sharp or been stung by an insect will often lick and chew in response to pain. Examine your dog’s paws for cuts, swelling, or foreign objects that may have gotten trapped between their toes. 

If your furbaby is a senior, excessive grooming could be a sign of arthritis. Keep an eye out for other signs of discomfort with movement. 

Watch out for hot sidewalks

During the hot summer months, asphalt and cement can get hot enough to burn the pads of your pup’s feet. If your dog is licking his paws after a walk on a sweltering day, they may be injured. Check surface temperatures to keep your pet safe by placing your bare hand on the sidewalk and leaving it there for a few moments. If it is too hot to touch comfortably, it can burn your furbaby’s feet. 

Excessive or obsessive licking and chewing isn’t normal dog behavior, and pet parents who notice it should seek help to determine its cause and the best course of treatment. Contact your vet to schedule an exam.

Our feline friends never cease to amaze us. Although the human fascination with cats dates back to Ancient Egypt, we are still learning new information about their habits, biology, and unique behaviors today. Our kitties are famous for their keen senses and agility, but they also have many lesser-known skills and idiosyncrasies. Here are five surprising cat facts that will deepen your appreciation of the feline in your life.

cat-handedness

1. Cats can be left-pawed or right-pawed.

Watch your cat play and groom herself, and you’re likely to notice that your furbaby favors one of her paws over the other. Researchers have observed that 75% of cats demonstrate some level of handedness. Unlike humans, who are 90% right-handed, a meta-analysis determined that 39% of kitties are right-pawed and 36% are left-pawed. While cats are much more likely than us to be ambidextrous, left-handedness is markedly more common in both male cats and male humans.

2. Cats can’t taste sweetness.

Though kitties have taste buds that help them ensure that their food is fresh and safe to eat, don’t expect them to be tempted by sweet treats. Because cats are obligate carnivores who don’t need carbohydrates to survive, they have no use for receptors that respond to sugars. Many pet parents are surprised to learn that a kitty who begs for a bite of their ice cream is actually attracted to the fat content.

Cats have a structure called the Jacobson’s organ that connects their nasal passages and mouth, allowing them to sense food aromas as well as environmental pheromones. Our feline friends may be notoriously picky eaters, but it’s hard to blame them – they experience food in ways we can’t understand.

3. Cats may be able to detect pregnancy before you can.

Your kitty’s finely tuned barometer for animal pheromones also extends to human hormones. While the hormones associated with pregnancy don’t have a scent themselves, they may alter your smell in ways that are perceptible to your cat, even very early in your pregnancy. Our furbabies are also highly sensitive to heat and vibration, so they may be drawn to expectant mothers’ elevated basal body temperature and the murmur of the fetal heartbeat.

If your kitty does have early insight into your pregnancy, it is difficult to predict how she will react. Some cats become very protective or affectionate, while others get defensive about territory.

petting-cat

4. Purring doesn’t always mean a cat is happy.

Those relaxing sounds can communicate much more than contentment. Cats purr to form bonds with their human companions, communicate needs, and self-soothe in times of stress. Experts believe that the vibrational frequency of cats’ purrs may also play an important role in healing injuries, repairing tissue damage, and recovering from illness. At a low 26 Hertz, feline purring matches the exact frequency utilized in vibration-based physical therapies for humans.

5. The ridges on a cat’s nose are as unique as a fingerprint.

Cat parents are well aware that no two kitties are alike, but if you look very closely at your furbaby’s nose, you’ll notice an intricate pattern of bumps and ridges. Like a human fingerprint, these features are completely unique to your cat and will remain unchanged throughout her life. 

While it’s possible to identify cats by their noseprints, there is no such database currently in widespread use. The best way to locate a missing pet is microchipping. Reach out to your veterinarian to learn more about this service and other ways to help keep your cat healthy and safe.

cat-nose