Flat faces negatively impact cats’ ability to communicate

Most of us know that flat-faced cat and dog breeds have breathing difficulties, but research by Finka et al (2020) found that “exaggerated” features may make it more difficult for pets to communicate with us.

Facial expressions help owners understand whether or not their pet is in pain. However, the researchers found that the “neutral faces of several of the brachycephalic breeds (e.g. Exotic short hairs, Persians and particularly Scottish folds)” showed more pain associated features “compared to the neutral expressions of most other breeds”. In fact,”[i]n the case of Scottish folds, their neutral facial landmarks indicated greater pain-like features even compared to the DSH cats that were actually in pain.”

These findings are potentially relevant when facial expressions are used to identify pain, especially in flat-faced breeds. This research suggests that facial expressions of domestic shorthair cats cannot be confidently applied to flat-faced breeds.

“The ability of companion animals to readily solicit care from humans is obviously advantageous. However, it is possible that permanently vulnerable looking individuals might have a diminished capacity to clearly indicate when care is or is not required, as well as to display other information relevant to their actual state or intentions. Thus, if certain cat breeds are being selected to display “pain-like” features on their faces, these features may serve to solicit unwanted or inadequate attention from their caregivers.”

“More generally, such types of anthropocentric selection might lead to increased anthropomorphic tendencies. If, for example, the animal has the appearance of an expression which humans find relatable on some level, even if it is not necessarily reflective of that animals’ affective state, it may be used to attribute emotions or characteristics to them. For example, “grumpy cat” a cat made famous by her coverage on social media achieved her moniker due to her perceived “frowning” facial appearance. However, this was likely a result of a combination of her feline dwarfism and paedomorphic features, rather than an expression of her irritability.”

Keeping your cat entertained while working from home…

It is January again and we are all back to working from home after the Holidays.

Dirk does not really understand the difference between me being home & having time for him and me working from home (& not really having time for him whenever he likes).

Luckily, we can keep our cats entertained. If you have a garden then you probably won’t have an issue: birds will visit and your cat can keep an eye on them. Dirk loves watching birds fly past, but I have to admit we don’t have an abundance of birds flying around our flat.

Time for the telly! Put on a TV programme (or let your cat binge-watch the entire series) with birds, insects, or other animals and this should keep your cat entertained! Watching birds is of course very tiring, but they can take a nap while hearing the birds on the telly. I wonder what they will be dreaming about…

Dirk discovers Nyagomidokoro’s fish kicker

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).

If you want to get your cat something new this Christmas, check out the series of Nyagomidokoro toys or any of the other toys in the Katzenworld shop.

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.

Christmas came early for Dirk: Gus & Bella’s Santa Paws box

* 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