Dirk and I would like to wish everyone a Happy Christmas!
If you regularly read my blog then you’ll know I sometimes review cat toys for Katzenworld. I’ve met them at cat shows as well and I know they sell the best cat toys. I wanted to give Dirk a new toy and preferably not a catnip one this time! He has plenty of those 🙂
I came across a Japanese brand, Nyagomidokoro. Their toys look great and they contain matatabi, or silvervine. Dirk has never tried that so I was curious and got him a fish kicker. Any toy that involved vigorous kicking is a hit with Dirk so I was hopeful about this one too.
As pictures are always better than words I’ll just show you how much Dirk likes his new toy. The one thing you can’t see in the pictures is that he was even drooling all over them and the floor!
And in case you are worried about the smell, I find it quite pleasant and not too strong (I like catnip too, but it makes my nose feel a bit itchy when it’s fresh).
You may think Dirk likes all cat toys, but I only write reviews about the ones he likes. I give feedback about the ones he does not like to the manufacturer so they can improve their product. Sometimes it’s simply a case of toys being more suited for kittens than older cats in which case I recommend they add that to their marketing details.
* Originally written by me for katzenworld.co.uk
Regular readers of our Katzenworld blog will know about Gus & Bella’s Boxes, but for those who haven’t heard of them yet let me tell you a little bit about them.
Gus & Bella’s gift boxes contain gifts for cats and people, so they are perfect for cat owners! They contain a mix of toys, food and treats for your cat and trendy gifts for yourself. You can subscribe to get a box every month or choose to buy a single box, ideal as a gift. This year’s Christmas box makes an ideal gift for any cat owner, whether they have a kitten or adult cat. And rest assured if you have a fussy cat or if your cat has any food intolerances: these are catered for as well!
Dirk and I received our very own Christmas box, the Santa Paws box. I don’t know who was more excited about it!
Obviously, unpacking it together is part of the fun. If you order the box for yourself then you’ll see on the website what is inside so it’s less of a surprise. I had no idea though, so it was very much like the anticipation of unwrapping a Christmas present.
Dirk could hardly wait. In fact, he decided to get inside the box first at the opportunity he got to check out his gifts.
So let’s check out the cat presents first. The box contains a lot of food and treats. Now that makes Dirk a very happy boy!
However, the first thing he went for was, of course, a catnip toy. He loves both catnip toys in this box and we had a great time playing with the teaser wand together (although Dirk would not have minded having the toy all to himself…)
As for my presents, well, Dirk was not overly impressed (can’t eat them, no catnip, he’s not allowed to play with them) but I am very happy with them indeed. I’ll be spreading some Christmas cheer and helping to keep others safe with the Christmas cats face mask! I also absolutely love the felt Christmas bauble. No problem if Dirk tries to knock this one from the Christmas tree and it looks so cute! I’ll need to get more, even if just for the lower branches of the tree 😉
Last, but not least if you ask Dirk, the box itself is a gift for the cat as well – even if he does not quite fit inside….
The Santa Paws box is available for pre-order here and ships 8 December
Amost every cat owner or cat lover I know will tell you that their cat knows how they are feeling. They know if you are happy or sad or angry. They are extra cuddly or sweet when you are feeling sad as if trying to comfort you.
It is difficult to say for certain that cats know how we feel and adjust their behaviour accordingly. However, research by Quaranta et al (2020) suggests that cats do indeed recognise happy and angry emotions in other cats as well as people. The also link audio recordings of angy or happy sounds to the correct visual representation of the emotion. When they heard angry sounds they looked longer and more intently at the face with an angry expression, of a cat or human. When they heard purring they looked at the picture of a cat with a content facial expression and when they heard a happy human voice they looked at the picture of the smiling human.
It also seems that the cats in this study showed more signs of feeling stressed when confronted with an angry human; however, this needs further research. If cats do indeed feel stressed when a person is angry then this indicates a functional understanding of anger in humans. It would mean that cats have learned that this emotion in humans may well have negative consequences for themselves and therefore they adjust their behaviour accordingly to avoid this.
What this study definitely shows is that cats have developed social skills that allow them to understand human emotional signals. This skill is important for domesticated cats as it helps strengthen the bond with their owners.
I started teaching Dirk to give paw a few months ago and we have now progressed to one knock = right paw and two knocks = left paw. Of course he makes mistakes occasionally, but overall he is pretty good at giving me the paw I’m asking for.
When I first started training Dirk I noticed he has a slight preference to use his left paw. He would always use that oe first and also uses it most frequently. He also uses his left paw most when playing with his puzzle feeders (though he does switch to right paw as well).
Intrigued by his paw preference I started looking into research about domestic cats and left- or right-pawedness and found a very interesting research paper on this topic. Obviously, food was involved in testing the cats as participation needs to be rewarding for them too 😉 However, even that could not convince all cats to participate as 3 out of 41 cats tested did not move a paw at all. Of the other 38 cats, 10 were right-pawed, 12 left-pawed and 16 were ambilateral: they showed no preference for either left or right paw.
The study showed that cats with a clear paw preference, either left or right, were better at solving the food puzzles than those cats that did not have a paw preference. The cats with a paw preference found their way to the food a lot quicker with fewer paw movements.
The researchers discovered that domecats actually preferred opening the food puzzles with their head rather than paw. Those that had a head preference opened fewer sections of the puzzle feeder than those with a paw preference. This means that cats that perfer to use their paws possibly have better motor skills and problem-solving skills than those that prefer using their heads. One possible explanation that some cats have a head preference may be related to domestication: we tend to feed our cats from bowls which does not require any motor skills from the cat.
Does it matter whether a cat is left-pawed or right-pawed, ambilateral or prefers to use their head? In a domestic cat probably not, but perhaps this research gets us one step closer to proving just how intelligent cats are 😉