Showing posts from June, 2023

Is Your Dog's Food Bowl Half Full or Half Empty?

How to tell if your dog is a pessimist or optimist. Artwork: Sarah Alsmiller By Sky Sobol We all know people who are optimists. The glass is always half-full, and they see the bright side of everything. We also all know some pessimists — people that see  the glass half-empty and read doom and gloom into the most neutral events. In humans, it is easy to tell how optimistic someone is, but what about your dog? Does your dog see the food bowl half-empty or half-full? Fortunately, science can help answer this question.  In human psychology a person’s tendency towards optimism or pessimism is called judgment bias (Roelofs and van de Staay 2017).  Optimistic people have positive judgment bias and pessimistic people have negative judgment bias.  Optimism and pessimism are not fixed traits, and in humans, these traits shift based on positive and negative life experiences and reflect emotion (Schwaba et al 2019). The ability to measure someone’s judgment bias can give us a window into a person

What are Reward-Based Training Methods for Dogs (and Cats)?

It's best for your pet if you only use reward-based methods to train them. Here’s what that means. Photo: OlgaOvcharenko/Shutterstock By Zazie Todd PhD This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you. Dog training methods can basically be divided into those that use fear and pain and those that don’t. Or aversive methods and reward-based ones. What do we mean when we talk about reward-based training methods? It's an important definition because there’s an ever-increasing body of research that tells us that we should use reward-based methods because aversive methods have risks to dogs’ welfare. Those risks include fear, anxiety, stress, aggression, stress-related illnesses, pessimism, and a worse relationship with the owner.  There are also some studies that suggest similar risks for cats. Many animal behaviour and welfare organizations recommend the use of reward-based training methods. The AVSAB position statemen

Happy Cats and The Best Cat Stories about Gremlin

Learn about how to make cats happy and hear about Anna Webb’s amazing cat Gremlin in the Purrcast. By Zazie Todd PhD Sometimes cats come into your life and choose you. That was the case for Anna Webb’s cat Gremlin, who turned out to be a very special cat. Last year, I chatted with Anna about how to make cats happy, and learned all about Gremlin and the things he got up to, as well as how he taught the dog in his chosen household to learn to live with a cat. Plus his ability to bring home gifts that sometimes caused an issue...  Very sadly, Gremlin recently passed, and Anna has re-issued the interview in his memory. You can listen to this very special Purrcast below or wherever you get your podcasts. It’s the only episode of A Dog’s Life dedicated solely to cats. Many condolences to Anna on the loss of her beloved pet. Thank you for sharing all of these stories about him with me—he was the best cat. Here’s to Gremlin!

The Feline Grimace Scale Helps You Know if Your Cat is in Pain

Cat caregivers can successfully use this tool to spot acute pain in cats, study shows. Photo: Heidi Bollich/Shutterstock By Zazie Todd PhD This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you. Cats have a reputation for being inscrutable and It’s well known that it’s hard to spot when a cat is in pain, so the Feline Grimace Scale is an important breakthrough to help veterinarians recognize the signs in their feline patients. New research shows that cat guardians can use the scale too.   This is great news for cats because it means people can more easily assess when their cat needs to go to the vet due to acute pain. Dr. Beatriz Monteiro of the City University of Hong Kong, the first author of the paper, told me, “This is the first study showing that cat caregivers are able to assess acute pain (e.g. pain after surgery, abdominal pain) in cats. It is a great advance for feline welfare as cat caregivers become empowered to det

Fellow Creatures: Simple Life Hacks for a Happier Cat

A new post on my Psych Today blog has some easy tweaks for cat guardians. Westfale/Pixabay By Zazie Todd PhD Sometimes small changes can make a big difference. That applies to your cat too.  Often we want to take the easy options, so it's always good news when there are simple life hacks that can help. The tips in this article are catcentric, meaning they're based on feline science and a good understanding of cat behaviour and what cats need.  Check it out here: 25 simple life hacks for a happier cat . And if you want to learn more, you might also like the following posts: The five pillars of a healthy environment for cats Cats' im-purr-fect homes are stressing them out, study says Five things to do for your cat today

Purr: Countering Stereotypes About Cats

A new video takes a look at some of the common stereotypes about cats--and shows what cats are really like instead. Photo: Anna Luopa/Shutterstock. Text: Zazie Todd By Zazie Todd PhD This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you. In case you haven't heard, my book Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy is out now in paperback. We have so many stereotypes about cats, but Purr shows us what our relationship can be like if we recognize cats as they really are. I made a short video (complete with many cute cat photos) to look at this. Watch it here or  on Youtube .  Let me know what you think! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

PURR is Out in Paperback Today

Today is the publication date for the paperback of Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy By Zazie Todd, PhD This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you   Today is the publication day for the paperback edition of Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy . Purr has a foreword by Pam Johnson-Bennett and is published by Greystone Books. I'm thrilled that Purr is now available in paperback. I also feel incredibly lucky that Purr in hardback is a BC bestseller and has been so well-received. My aim, in writing Purr , is to help you have a happier cat--and therefore a better relationship with your cat. Purr covers the science of how to care for your cat throughout their whole life, with tips on how to apply the science at home at the end of every chapter. You'll also find a checklist for a happy cat, and training plans to teach your cat to like their carrier and do a cute trick. Here's what people are sa

More Cat Chat with Radio New Zealand's Sunday Morning

How cats were domesticated, whether to keep your cat indoors at night, and other cat questions answered. Photo: Anna Pasichnyk/Shutterstock By Zazie Todd PhD On Sunday Morning, I chatted about cats with RNZ's Susan Lei'ataua. We talked about how cats were domesticated, differences between dogs and cats, whether you should keep your cat in at night, their subtle communication signals that we often miss, and more. Listen here: More cat chat with Zazie Todd

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