Short Takes

Pumpkin—A Food For All Reasons

Pumpkin is an excellent source of potassium—a mineral that is important for a variety of physiologic functions.

Feline-Friendly Dogs

A study published in the January 2017 Journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science may help you determine if a dog you want to adopt will get along with your cat.

Special Note of Remembrance for CatWatch Editor Betty Liddick

We are saddened to report that our friend and colleague Betty Liddick died June 21 following a brief illness. Betty began her long career in journalism as staff writer for numerous notable newspapers, including the St. Petersburg Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press and the Orange County Register, before turning full-time to her first love—writing about dogs and cats. A former editor of Dog Fancy (now Dogster) magazine, she devoted the past…


The Morris Animal Foundation recently wrote that a cat’s best defense against cancer may be snuggling with her owner.

An Excavation Reveals Cats’ 500-lb. Ancestor

A full-time 10-member team working at an archaeological dig in Northwest Germany has found a nearly complete skull of a saber-toothed cat that suggests that the animal existed 300,000 years ago.

A Push to Screen for Earlier Diagnosis of Hypertension

  A Push to Screen for EarlierDiagnosis of HypertensionCatWatch has previously reported that hypertension in humans can damage the heart and arteries, and cause stroke, kidney damage and vision loss. The Lancet journal predicted that the risk of becoming hypertensive during a lifetime exceeds 90 percent for people in developed countries. Even more alarming, it cautioned that “Screening is not done systematically, and the diagnosis is often made at a late stage when target organ damage…

Study Finds Higher Risk of Diabetes in Dry Food

The debate over whether dry cat food’s high carbohydate count causes diabetes continues. In the latest development, a study at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences found an increased risk of diabetes mellitus (Type 2) — which resembles the same type found in people — in normal-weight cats on dry food.

From Barn to Bedroom; Sleeping With Pets

An article in the February issue on alternatives to relinquishing pets to shelters featured a dashing photo of Rascal, a feral cat who was neutered, vaccinated and adopted to work as a Rodent Ranger. A small study by the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine in Scottsdale, Ariz., suggests that owners’ sleeping with their pets can experience positive effects. Replies to a questionnaire from 150 consecutive patients found that nearly half had pets; 41 percent had several.

Prehistoric Cats and A Cat Treat Recall

A team of scientists analyzing more than 2,000 fossils has made a surprising discovery, one they describe as “contrary to current expectation.” More than the effect of physical size and climate change, they found evidence indicating that early members of the cat family, arriving in North America from Asia, contributed to the extinction of 40 ancient dog species.

Free Reign of the House and Stem Cell Research

A survey of more than 10,000 pet owners in 11 countries — 3,100 of them in the U.S. — has found that U.S. owners are the most passionate about their cats. In addition to the U.S., the renovation and design firm Houzz asked owners about pets in the home in Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Germany, Australia and Japan. Veterinarians frequently prescribe therapeutic diets and daily medication for cats with chronic enteropathy, a condition characterized by excessive loss of plasma proteins into the gastrointestinal tract. However, the regimen can have side effects, and some owners have difficulty complying with it.

Cats ARE More Independent Than Dogs

We followed a small study that assessed the bond between children or pet dogs and their caregivers when they’re in potentially threatening or unfamiliar environments. The researchers observed the relationship between 20 cats and their owners with the cats in a new environment with their owner, with a stranger and on their own. They assessed the amount of contact the cats sought, their level of passive behavior and signs of distress when the owner was absent.

Stray Cats Outnumber People in Niagara

Niagara County SPCA in upstate New York calls itself the “‘little shelter that could.” It has a small staff of 19, a surgical trailer for sterilizations and a big population problem. Despite working with rescue groups and community cat caretakers, Executive Director Amy Lewis told WGRZ-TV in Buffalo that the city has 60,000 stray and feral cats compared to 50,000 people. As long as they’re not spayed or neutered, the number of homeless cats will keep increasing, she says. “A lot of people don’t spay and neuter — there’s not low-cost, accessible spay-neuter programs for them. We do have one at the shelter, but we don’t have the resources to accommodate large numbers of animals.” The no-kill shelter sterilizes 40 to 50 cats a week but needs an in-house surgical suite to do more. Its board hopes to expand the facility or build a new one.

Short Takes: November 2015

Cats have long endured the reputation for being fussy eaters. We’ve known for a decade that, with some exceptions, most cats lack the taste receptor gene for sweets. Now a study suggests that they may have a legitimate reason for avoiding another flavor.

Short Takes: October 2015

Students and volunteer “citizen scientists,” using motion-sensitive cameras at more than 2,100 sites in six Eastern states and the city of Raleigh, N.C., collected millions of images of domestic cats roaming outdoors at night. The result of North Carolina State’s exhaustive analysis of the images showed that the cats avoided parks and protected areas frequented by coyotes. Instead, they remained in residential areas, small urban forests and city trails.

Short Takes: September 2015

Cute cat videos are all over the Internet and morning TV news shows, but to judge by a national survey of 1,023 people by PetSmart Charities, opinions about cats and their owners remain divided. A majority of respondents believe cats are intelligent, loving, cuddly and attractive but also invoked stereotypical adjectives such as moody, stubborn, aloof and grouchy. (You can bet “grouchy” cats have legitimate reasons for their mood, such as illness, pain or stress.)