New York Just Became The First State To Ban Cat Declawing

It’s a major victory for pet enthusiasts in New York State — no longer will their furry friends be subjected to the inhumane act of cat declawing. Not legally, anyway. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill that banned the procedure. It takes effect immediately. Those who opposed the bill likely thought it overreaching, ridiculous, or a danger to the well-being of their living room furniture set.

But what they might not know is that cat declawing can only be done by partially amputating toe bones in a cat’s feet. There are lifelong consequences to this: chronic pain results because declawed cats will end up straining joints or even their spine. Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris likened cat declawing to “removing a human finger at the knuckle.”

Not all cat declawing is banned. When the cat’s well-being is at stake and the health of the animal demands the procedure be done, it’s allowed.

The bill states: “Cats’ claws play an important role in various aspects of their lives. When a person has its animal declawed, usually in an attempt to protect furniture, they do fundamental damage to that animal both physically and in behavioral ways.”

Not all veterinarians agree with the bill or its findings. While the American Association of Feline Practitioners says scratching is a “normal feline behavior” and declawing should not be legal, the New York State Veterinary Medical Society (NYSVMS) said it “believes a veterinarian…should be permitted to make medical decisions after direct consultation with a client and a thorough examination of the patient and its home circumstances.”

There are alternatives available for pet owners who are tired of their cats’ scratching habits. They can leave scratching posts throughout the habitat. They can trim nails frequently to reduce the potential damage. They can put nail caps on the cat’s claws. Many of these actions may make it more difficult for a cat to climb — one of their favorite activities — but they’re still better than full declawing. 

Other states may soon follow suit now that the debate is live. Massachusetts lawmakers recently proposed a similar bill. The procedure is also banned in the UK, Switzerland, and Israel.

Claws are used to help the cat survive. While we don’t condone allowing cats to roam outdoors (because they’re little psychopathic serial killers), they are used for hunting. If your cat escapes outside, it needs the defense mechanism to help it survive. Claws are also used for climbing and defending, both of which are just as important.

The Most Illegal Pets People Actually Have

Not everyone is fluent in the English language. For example, do you know what the word “domesticate” actually means? Since so many people apparently have a hard time determining the difference between tame and wild, we thought we’d give you a short crash course. Domesticated animals can be kept as pets or brought up in a farm-like environment. Most often humans have taken these once-wild animals and bred away their most aggressive instincts over time.

For example, wolves are essentially just wild dogs! Millennia ago, some of these wolves developed a genetic predisposition that allowed them to notice how sticking by humans meant more food. Over time, we obtained man’s best friend. All modern day dog breeds came from the wolves of old.

Would you want a wolf for a pet? Hopefully not. Here are a few more completely illegal — and insane — pets that people actually keep at home.

  1. Bats. Although they might seem cute (upon a closer look) they can still do some damage or spread disease. Wild bats are a protected species, which means not only can you not own one in your own home, but you also can’t kill them. Same deal with rattlesnakes.

  2. Lions and tigers. Believe it or not, they’re only illegal in most states. Lions can be tamed, but accidents will always occur because at heart they are still wild animals. They aren’t man’s best friend for a reason.

  3. Skunks. If you’re not too afraid of the potential for stink, then you may have also noticed how adorable these little critters actually are. That’s obviously the reason some people try to obtain them. It’s possible to remove their stink glands surgically. Even if you find a veterinarian who will do it, you still probably can’t legally own a skunk in most U.S. municipalities.

  4. Alligators. Yes, that’s right: some people have gone off the deep end and actually want to own an alligator. While these creatures are perfect pets when they’re small, they all grow up eventually. That said, news stories about some idiot keeping one in his bathtub pop up all the time. Darwin usually takes care of that problem sooner or later.

  5. Hedgehogs. All right, we’ll admit hedgehogs are darned cute. But they’re still dangerous, especially to other household animals who love to harass them — like dogs who never seem to learn how to avoid spiky things. Ownership is forbidden in many places, but you can still get your hands on them in certain parts of the country. On top of that, there’s a lot of debate about whether or not they make good pets. We’ll leave it up to you to make that decision — but we recommend keeping wild animals where they belong (in the wild).

Why Will A Predator Sometimes Befriend Its Prey?

You’ve probably seen the adorable videos that are so pervasive on the internet these days: a cat and a bird fall in love, a snake and a rat become best friends, a horse and a goat cannot be separated, and on and on the wheel spins. Animals can build strong bonds with one another even when nature seems to insist they cannot. But why?

In one example of this phenomenon, a man named Marc Bekoff brought a fox into his home temporarily. This could have turned into a huge problem because Marc already owned a dog who was certainly unfamiliar with the new species of animal. But guess what? The fox and the dog became inseparable (literally). When Marc used a baby fence to separate the two at night, the fox gnawed through it. When Marc caged the fox during the day, the dog would hunker down in front of it and start to whine.

Human animal lovers, and especially pet owners, immediately become infatuated with this kind of story. How could we not? Animals are supposed to be aggressive and uncomfortable with species they do not know, and predators are supposed to eat their prey, not fall in love with it. Animal lovers are not the only ones who find these relationships fascinating. Scientists do too.

A psychologist at the University of Tennessee, Gordon Burghardt, does not believe these relationships are imagined. Current research seems to suggest he’s right. Studies have conclusively shown that a number of animals choose companions for specific reasons: chimpanzees for personality, elephants for emotional support, and bats to find a place within a larger colony.

Interspecies pairings are a bit more difficult.

Zookeepers in Siberia left a goat meal for a tiger named Amur, but he decided he would rather make friends with what may have been a tasty morsel. This surprised everyone, as Amur was already accustomed to eating all the other goats that had been provided. But it’s more than that: Amur is actively aggressive towards anyone who approaches his goat companion. Zookeepers get hissed at when they try.

Burghardt believes a case of loneliness may have inspired the awkward pair-bonding. When predators no longer have to hunt for prey (or a mate), they can become quite bored. Amur probably wanted to play more than he wanted to eat. The goat must have been quite the talker. Even so, another zookeeper from a different park estimated that the goat would almost certainly be eaten sooner or later. For now, Amur is on a diet of rabbits.

It’s important to note that the lion’s share of these weird relationships have occurred in captivity. Whether or not they are common in the wild is another question entirely, and probably equally as difficult to answer as all the other questions raised. Why do these animals fall in love with one another? We don’t really know.

How Some People Are Ruining The Service Dog Industry

Recently, the need for “psychiatric” service dogs (as opposed to service dogs that help people with a physical ailment) has skyrocketed. Service dogs are being recommended to everyone from PTSD to anxiety to Autism. The problem is that the service dog industry is not regulated. There is no certification program in any state. The Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act does not require that a service dog does not need to be professionally trained or certified. This has led to many “fake” service dogs being sold to families with loved ones that have disabilities – which is fraud.

There have been several lawsuits between companies as recipients of dogs who often found that their service dogs to be nothing more than every expensive pets and are not capable of helping in a life-threatening situation.

According to the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, in order for a service animal to be properly trained, it must undergo at least 120 hours of training and obey basic commands such as sit, stay, come, down, and heel. All of this in conjunction with not being aggressive towards other people or animals.

In one extreme case, after a service dog was taken away from a child with PTSD and anxiety for not being properly trained, the child ended up committing suicide.

These businesses that sell “trained” service dogs are misrepresenting their business and there should be consumer protection laws in place. Pets and dogs bring so much joy into people’s lives, it’s a shame that people are being scammed out of money.

Do Pets Really Have Different Personalities?

Any pet owner will tell you it’s a not a question worth asking. We already know our cats and dogs have personalities all their own. Different animals behave and react differently when placed in different situations. The way they grow up matters. Their human make a big difference. Whether or not they’re around other pets makes a big difference. Big changes in environment make a big difference. Okay, so they have different personalities, but what does the science say?

Probably more than you’d expect. Personality traits aren’t unique to our pets. Character traits have been observed throughout the animal kingdom. Fish. Monkeys. Birds. Even hermit crabs. All of these animals can have unique personalities. It’s easy enough to observe, but harder to measure and categorize. Humans can take quizzes and surveys online (even though we would argue that these are always skewed one way or another by the person’s bias). Animals can’t.

Researchers use animal behaviors to determine what kind of personality is being observed. For example, a basic interaction between a member of an animal species is observed. It might interact with another member of the same species, or it might interact with a rock. Based on the collective behaviors of other members of the same species an animal might be categorized as bold or timid or docile, or any number of other easily understood traits.

Like humans, however, these traits can be dependent on mood or experience. Scientists have noticed that fish who are involved with a violent struggle with other fish might learn to avoid similar situations in the future. When once they were bold, they have learned discretion is the better part of valor and evolved to become timid or shy, avoiding future interactions with the same type of fish.

These traits also guide how animals interact with the environment around them. This means that an aggressive animal might experience the risks and rewards of its environment very differently than a gentle animal. Although it’s difficult to measure the extent to which genes factor into personality expression, we know they do.

Of course, these categorizations don’t do the animals any justice. Each human is unique. We act differently and we think differently. We each have our unique quirks. So do the animals we love so much!

Why Do Cats Love High Places?

If you own a cat, then you’ve probably noticed that they tend to explore every nook and cranny of your home. They do this as part of their territorial nature in order to feel more secure where they live. If you have a new kitten or puppy, then you’ll probably notice that the old cat will try to maintain the advantage of the high ground–and might even use it as a perch from which to mount his preemptive strike against this dangerous new threat to his alpha dominance.

Cats love high places. It’s no secret. This love of higher altitude can pose quite a problem if you’re the type of pet owner who maintains a strict no-cat on furniture policy. Trying to keep a cat from jumping on the couch, dinner table, counter, or bed is a difficult feat to achieve and maintain. They’re not trying to be rebellious. They just need to be as high as possible to scout for potential predators. It’s a hunting instinct, and they feel safer when they can watch from above.

Their bodies are even built to give them this predatory advantage. Cats are normally graceful because they have powerful leg and back muscles that help them better coordinate their movements. They use their claws to maintain balance when they land, which is why declawing a cat can affect more than just their ability to hunt or scratch.

That doesn’t mean that cats don’t fall. In the spring months, veterinarians often see an increase in the number of “high-rise syndrome” cases. Cats will accidentally fall from high-rise windows and balconies, often killing themselves in the process. Even if a cat survives the fall, it can be a dangerous new environment when he hasn’t explored the great outdoors before. Get your cat immediate medical attention after a fall, and he has a 90 percent chance to survive.

How can you make your rooms more amenable to cats? Well, start by placing staggered bookshelves in every room where you can. Put a comfy blanket or kitty bed with toys on that top shelf, and you’ll probably notice that your cat will love the spot. Many pet owners like to purchase cat towers, but there’s no reason to do that if you can implement this additional functionality into your own interior design!

Is The Summer Heat Bad For Your Pets?

Summer is associated with having fun and enjoying the heat after the long cold winter months. When you have pets, you need to consider if the summer heat as bad for them. The heat can be bad for your pets if you do not take the right precautions. There are a number of ways that the heat can negatively affect your pets and you need to know about this.

Pets Get Heatstroke

Heatstroke is not something that only humans have to worry about and your pets can be affected as well. This is one of the reasons why you should never leave your pet in a hot room or car during the summer months. It can take minutes for your pet to suffer heatstroke if you are not careful and this can be fatal.

The reason why this happens so quickly is the fact that your pet cannot sweat. Humans sweat to keep themselves cool, but cats and dogs do not have sweat glands making it harder for them to cool down. To ensure that your pet does not overheat, you should not leave your pet in the car and ensure that they always have enough water.

Burnt Paws

There is nothing worse than burning the bottom of your feet on a hot surface during summer. The heated surface will not only affect your feet, but the paws of your pet as well. The soft pads on their paws are vulnerable to the heat which is why you should provide them with shade during the summer months.

The heat that travels through their paws will also increase their body temperature. This will lead to overheating which is not good. Keeping your pet off hot surfaces is the best solution during the summer months.

The Risks Of Humidity

Summer heat is not just about the high temperatures as summer also comes with humidity. This is something that you need to be aware of and look out for as it can negatively affect your pet. When there is a high humidity level, there is more moisture in the air and this will make it harder for your pet to cool down.

Animals pant in the heat to evaporate the moisture in their lungs and this will help them cool down. When faced with humidity, they will be unable to evaporate the moisture which leads to them having a high body temperature. If your pet’s temperature is too high, it can lead to heatstroke.

Is Animal Torture A Sign Of A Serial Killer?

In today’s world, mass shootings have become all too common. The situation is sickeningly familiar — a troubled individual gets ahold of a weapon, finds a crowded area, and wreaks havoc. Often, it is hard to diagnose the motivation behind such heinous crimes. Why would anyone have such little disregard for human life? Although questions like these are far from answered, looking at past criminal defense cases has given researchers some insight into warning signs of such shootings.

One common theme seen repeatedly in serial killers appears to be animal abuse. As a child, one might pull a dog’s tail or step on an ant farm out of curiosity or mere mischief. However, for most children and their parents, these are teachable moments. You tell your child that such actions are unacceptable, as we need to have empathy for all living things. Typically, in most cases this is the end of any further violence. Yet, unfortunately in some children such behavior is repeated, often getting worse and worse each time. Such deliberate and recurring cruelty is a major red flag. Although difficult questions to face, parents must ask themselves: “Why is my child behaving like this? Is this behavior normal amongst kids their age? What can I do to resolve this?”

Most psychologists feel that such animal abuse stems from serious emotional turmoil. Often, this escalates into much more extreme cases of violence, and ultimately — tragic mass shootings. Research has shown that troubled children are much more likely to treat animals cruelly, as if their lives’ have no worth. On average, only 5% of children in the United States have intentionally hurt an animal, whereas in mental health clinics this number jumps to an astonishing 10-25%. This behavior likely stems from trouble in the home, as children who have been either physically abused, exposed to domestic violence, or both, are at a significantly higher risk. Research found that amongst abused children aged 6 to 12, 60% of them had abused animals. These statistics are incredibly worrying, and must be remedied to the best of our abilities in the future.

Fortunately, as a result of these studies linking animal abuse to serial killers, change is happening. This has primarily taken the form of cross reporting between child protective services and animal welfare groups. These organizations are training with one another, teaching employees how to recognize and properly report any incidents of human and animal cruelty. Further, individuals convicted of animal abuse are being mandated to receive counseling by many states. Hopefully, these preventative measures will serve to dramatically reduce the number of serial killers in our society.

The 5 Coolest Dog Toys On The Market

How much time do you spend playing with your dog? If you and your dog aren’t doing much playing, you might want to invest in some new toys. Consider purchasing one of these five toys for your dog. Any of these toys should be a big hit.

1. Amazing Chew Toys

Chew toys are a lot of fun for dogs. They can also improve a dog’s dental health. If your dog is an aggressive chewer, you should look into purchasing some sort of chew toy for them. There are many highly-rated chew toys on the market.

2. Plush Toys

Dogs enjoy plush toys just like children do. Because there are so many plush dog toys on the market, you should be able to find a toy that fits your dog’s personality. From toys that look like animals to toys that feature sports team logos, you’ll find tons of options.

3. Rope Toys

Dogs have a lot of fun with games like tug of war. There are a lot of fantastic rope toys that are perfect for dogs. When you shop for a rope toy, you should try to find something that’s the right size for your dog. Once you have the right you, you and your dog will be able to get plenty of playtime in!

4. Food Toys

If you want to give your dog a treat, you may want to look at edible toys. There are a number of consumable dog toys on the market. Some of these toys are a lot of fun to play with. Check out flavored toys to see if you can find something that would appeal to your dog.

5. Balls

Dogs love chasing after balls. A nice game of catch can be invigorating for a dog. While you can throw a tennis ball to your dog, a ball that is designed for dogs is a better choice. Start looking at some of the different balls on the market. You may want to purchase more than one ball. That way, if a ball is lost, you’ll still have another ball that your dog can use and enjoy.

There are all kinds of great dog toys on the market, and new toys are being introduced all of the time. Now that you know what your options are, you can start looking at toys that your dog will enjoy. Purchase a few new toys so that you and your dog can get some play sessions in!

Why Do Cats Enjoy Playing With Catnip?

Catnip is one of the most well-known cat toy additives. Cats playing with catnip often start acting very funny, rolling around with the toy and pressing their face into it. But why do cats exhibit this behavior? Read on to learn all about catnip.

Catnip is actually a kind of mint, native to the Africa, Europe, and Asia tri-continental area. From there, catnip has spread, and it can be found all over the world. Today, there are over 250 different species of catnip which are adapted to different climates and have slightly different characteristics.

A catnip plant grows to about two and a half feet tall, and has heart shaped leaves protruding from a tough stem. When it flowers, the blossoms are pink, purple, blue, or white, depending on the species. While catnip in the wild can be slightly effective on cats, a catnip plant does not usually have as strong an effect.

Instead, to get the full effect, catnip toys are filled with catnip leaves that have been dried out and then crushed into a powder. Because all of the water has been removed, this powder contains a concentrated version of a naturally occurring oil in catnip called nepetalactone.

Nepetalactone has little effect on humans, but cats can easily sense and enjoy it. This is because this chemical stimulates a special type of smell sensors in cats that detect pheromones. Pheromones are a big part of how cats communicate with each other and learn by sniffing the environment. If you have ever seen a cat sniffing around the carpet, chances are they were following a pheromone trail.

Nepetalactone interacts with a cat’s pheromone receptors in a way that causes a change in their brain chemistry. Cats exposed to catnip experience euphoric responses that are chemically similar to the way human brains react to hallucinogenic drugs. Unlike many human drug reactions, however, the catnip high is short lived. Usually within a few minutes, a cat will calm down from catnip exposure and lose interest for at least an hour.

Not all cats are sensitive to catnip; only about 65-70% of cats appear to show an interest in it. Typically, cats that are very young or old are less likely to be affected.

Catnip toys are great fun to watch cats play with. Cats enjoy catnip toys because of the natural oils in the plant reacting with their pheromone receptors. This high is similar to drugs in humans, but is relatively short lived and harmless.