animal behavior

HOW TO BOND WITH “UNFRIENDLY” CATS

Since more cat positivity is clearly needed, I’m putting up some easy steps to bond with grumpy, timid or half-feral cats. I have tons of experience with cats, including ones that have had no previous contact with humans, and the way I approach them has never failed me. If you think a cat is simply unloving, try these and you’ll see an instant difference.

1. Don’t walk towards the cat or sound excited, but sit/kneel down someplace near it and speak softly. 

2. Try to make eye-contact. The instant eye-contact is made, close your eyes for a couple seconds. The most simple way to translate the signal you’re sending by doing this is “I’m not your prey or your enemy.” If the cat understands and accepts this you’ll see them do the same thing back to you. If the cat is nervous it also helps to look away after the slow-blink.

3. if this cat is semi feral, extremely timid or has experienced abuse, you should put down some treats or food and move further away until it dares to get the treats. Repeat daily until the cat doesn’t hesitate to get the treats.

4. Hold your hand out and call softly for the cat. If this is a very timid cat it might take a while, but usually they’ll approach pretty quickly and sniff or rub their face against your hand. A kitten, or cat that’s not familiar with humans, might raise its paw and bat at your hand out of curiosity. If this happens, don’t pull your hand back as this might cause you to hurt yourself if the cat’s claws are out. Just keep still and it shouldn’t hurt you. 

5. If the cat is rubbing its face on your hand, or walks past it to approach you directly, give it a gentle little scratch behind the ears. If the cat accepts this, you can start petting it, but focus the petting on its head and shoulders. If you see the tip of the cat’s tail wagging it’s overstimulated and it’s time to stop.

6. Congratulations. You’ve gained the cat’s trust!

BONUS: 
Signs that an unfamiliar cat is not safe to pet: HUGE pupils that make their eyes look like black voids (this cat is either scared or very excited. Either way it’s unpredictable and more likely to act like a wild animal), raised back, ears flat, claws visibly out, growling and other deep noises, tail wagging frantically or just the tip of the tail wagging.

Signs that an unfamiliar cat is safe to pet: Normal/narrow pupils, eyes somewhat narrowed (cats who feel comfortable sometimes look like they’re giving you a mean look), tail swaying slowly or resting by their side, tail raised and pointing towards you, ears up or pointing towards you.

PSA

I follow a lot of awesome vegans and a lot of vegan posts pop up on my dash. I’M NOT GETTING INTO AN ARGUMENT ABOUT VEGANISM WITH ANYONE. THAT’S NOT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT. I just feel like I need to address a trend I see pretty frequently:

Anthropomorphism of farm animals.

This is DANGEROUS, for both the animals and the people who believe what’s being said about these animals. 

For example, cows. 

For obvious reasons the images of cows in posts talking about how cows aren’t dumb, unfeeling hamburgers in waiting are generally like this:

And usually they’re accompanied by talk of how they can be trained, how they have best friends (which is actually true!) and how sweet they can be. 

On the other side, there are posts like this going around 

Thing is, cows do not cry tears like humans do. In fact, there are a lot of posts claiming to present animals weeping like humans do (and not always by vegans).  In fact watery discharge can be a sign of early eye infections in cattle. Claiming they’re tears of sadness normalizes signs of ill health as normal animal emotions. This is also I why I get so worked up over people saying a stressed out dog with its lips pulled back is ‘smiling and happy’. 

All of these posts combine to make the popular perception of cows something they’re absolutely not and is very dangerous for people with their hearts in the right place looking to help the world out. 

Cows are dangerous. I feel like I shouldn’t have to tell people that a thousand pound animal is dangerous, but I do. Not the people I see on my dash, but actual people looking to interact with actual cows (I work with them). Yes, they can be lovely and docile when socialized and handled correctly and consistently but if you have no way of knowing the cows background you have no way of knowing their temperament. If you decide to volunteer at cattle rescues, this will very likely be the case. Moreover, well socialized and docile cattle ARE STILL DANGEROUS AS FUCK. Even the most tame animals can lash out if in pain, under stress or “out of nowhere” (read: lashing out because from their judgement of a situation in makes sense to them, but you misread their judgement). So you get things like this:

With the huge emphasis on docile cows who are good, loving, devoted mothers it’s understandable someone would want to give her a calming and congratulatory stroke after giving birth. 

That cow could have killed her. 

This is obviously dangerous for humans but it’s also dangerous for cows. Aggressive animals are often euthanized, no matter what provoked the aggression and it also inflates statistics that could be used as a counter argument to veganism. 

The same sort of thing happens to pigs. 

The vegan info posts about pigs tend to use images like this:

Cute, eh? The posts also talk about how intelligent these animals are and how they can be kept as pets. Who wouldn’t want one? Usually people who look into pigs as pets look into ‘mini’ pigs or ‘micro’ pigs. Pigs that will stay small forever. Except even ‘mini’ pigs can grow to a hundred pounds in size and they’re STRONG. I say ‘mini’ because sometimes people are duped into buying regular piglets that are claimed to be fully grown. 

Which brings me back to warning anyone who wants to volunteer at a pig rescue that pigs. are. huge. People mislead into thinking they’re not will likely not keep and care for their little pig once it’s not so little and I don’t know anyone who would/could keep a 500 lb hog in their home and/or backyard. 

And, like with cows, they are DANGEROUS. 

And, unlike cows, they are not herbivores. 

PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED AND EATEN BY PIGS. Yes, eaten. One could argue that this happens when pigs aren’t well socialized and habituated with humans, but if you’re working with a pig you don’t know you have no guarantee that they’re tame. 

I could go on, but cows and pigs are the animals I see most represented in these posts (chickens too, but they pose less of a threat, unless you count avian flu) and another thing I see very frequently are cute pictures and videos and cows, pigs, and chickens interacting with dogs. If you’re under the impression that these animals are sweet and docile and your dog is also sweet, what could go wrong?

A lot. 

Odds are your animals will not be used to interacting with an animal of that species and these animals ‘languages’ don’t always translate! Animals get things mixed up all the time! The most common one I’ve seen is a dog misreading a cat’s irritated swishy tail as a wagging ‘I want to play!’ tail. Claws to the face aren’t fun, but attacked by a large animal? Possibly deadly. Dogs do not comprehend size and strength and potential for an aggressive strike in the same way that we do. That’s why you end up with things like this:

Again, that dog could’ve easily died OR MIGHT HAVE DIED LATER. 

This little trooper was kicked by a cow

Projecting your feelings and ideas onto an animal can potentially kill them. Again, if you have the opportunity to work with these animals KEEP YOUR OWN ANIMALS AWAY. 

All of these things remind me very much of the people who claim wolves are nothing but big puppies, or who cohabitant snakes so they don’t get ‘lonely’. 

You can’t love and advocate for the protection of an animal when you only love and advocate for the protection of your fantasy of that animal because when real animals fall short of that, real animals get hurt. 

Horses, cows, and pigs are big. Respect their size. Horses, cows, and pigs ALL have the potential to become aggressive. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Respect their potential to become aggressive. 

Thank you, 

Signed, a person who is sick to fucking death of watching adults assume every farm animal I work with has the personality of a bowl of whipped cream and the patience of a saint and encourage their children to interact with them as such. That’s how animal “attacks” happen, that’s how lifetime fears and hatreds are born. 

I feel like the reason certain dog-lovers insist cats are evil is because they read their body language as if they were dogs. So here’s a very basic guide to common “mean” things cats do that actually aren’t mean at all if you know what they’re thinking.

Rolling and exposing belly- attacks you when touched
Does not mean: Give belly rubs! - haha I tricked you! 
Actually means: I’m playful! If you reach for my belly I’ll grab your arm and bite it because I think we’re playfighting! 

Lazily exposing belly - still attacks when touched
Does not mean: tricked you again!
Actually means: I’m showing you my belly because I trust you. Please don’t break that trust by invading my personal space. I might accept a belly rub if I’m not ticklish and I know you well.

Snapping at you while being pet
Does not mean: I suddenly decided I dislike you!
Actually means: You’re petting me in a way that gives me too much restless energy. Please focus on petting my head and shoulders instead of stroking the full length of my back next time.

Is in the same room but makes no attempt to interact
Does not mean:  I’m ignoring you
Actually means: We’re hanging out! I’m being respectful by giving you space while still enjoying your company.

Slapping/scratching your hand when you try to pet them
Does not mean: I hate you!
Actually means: You’ve failed to establish that we’re not playing, or the way you’re approaching me scares me. Be calmer, speak more gently, make eye-contact and blink slowly at me before you try again.

Can anyone that knows anything about cat behavior explain this to me? The boyfriend’s mom has fostered 5 kittens since they were about 3 weeks old and all of them will sit there and lick you for hours if you let them. They purr the whole time while doing it. Is it a nursing thing? Is it stress? Are they just weird cats? I’ve never had a cat that’ll lick you like a dog before.

@pangur-and-grim (I know you’re not a behaviorist but you seem to know your stuff when it comes to cats), @why-animals-do-the-thing

I pick grass seeds for the Nuggets all the time but the other day I decided to bundle them together and hang them up to give them something new to play with.

Chickens are incredibly smart and it’s important to provide them with enrichment. This can be done by making sure they have plenty of space to explore with things like grass, logs, and lots of dirt in that space for them to pick through and hop up on, food provided in new and interesting forms, and even toys! Bells, balls, mirrors, swings, and even laser pointers all make for hours of fun for our feathered friends!

mere-peripheral  asked:

Why do people approach stress-barking dogs? My dog is people-nervous, and has some kind of PTSD going on, and we've much figured out how to manage situations to keep her the least stressed and therefore less likely to lash out at people as they leave the room or (in the case of one cousin) try to hit her. But this lady arrived without warning and even though my dog was barking and I said "Don't come close, she's anxious" she tried to approach the dog until I literally screamed "Please, don't."

Society, at least the society I live and work in, has this habit of viewing dogs as public property, even though they are not.

Dogs firstly are their own animals, and they have their own comfort zone, which if you cross is likely to end up with you being bitten, but they are also private property which means nobody should approach or touch any dog without permission.

Tumblr is a funny place to see these posts, because while I see lots of posts about humans and mental health and the importance of consent, but I also see lots of posts about ‘Doggos! Luv all teh doggos! I pat all da doggos!’ without considering that, like humans, perhaps there are some doggos which do not want pats.

Some people perceive dogs as objects, and will automatically assume a dog will react how they want them to react, and also believe that they have a right to interact with the dog. I believe some service dog handlers would have quite a lot to add on this topic. This sort of person will often take great offense when they are asked not to touch your dog, and will often ignore requests to do so. They may also bark back at or antagonize an already stressed dog to ‘talk to it’ or ‘show it who’s the bigger dog’. This is not recommended and makes no sense.

Lots of non-dog people don’t understand dog body language or read their cues well. To be fair, lots of dog owners don’t either, which is why so many dogs are said to be ‘dominant’ when they’re really just scared.

It’s also why I’m frustratingly frequently told on the street, when I stop to let a stranger’s dog sniff me, that I ‘shouldn’t be afraid, they wont bite’ when I am not at all afraid of dogs, but I am being polite and allowing the dog to approach on its own terms. It’s no wonder so many people get bitten.

This is why continuing, accessible, accurate education about animal behavior, especially pets, is so important. Both for human safety and animal welfare.

So the short answer is: Entitlement, ignorance or mis-information.

What a Wagging Tail Really Means

“Oh look how happy that dog is! I’m going to pet this dog because it is obviously happy to see me!” *Immediately gets bit*


A wagging tail does NOT automatically mean “happy and friendly dog who wants to see me!” It could! But it sometimes doesn’t. 

A wagging tail simply means an intent or willingness to interact. It is an emotional response or arousal. It does not say whether that intent is playful, friendly, or aggressive. Therefore, the other body language signals the dog is expressing should be carefully read and interpreted as well, instead of automatically assuming that a wagging tail is a happy one.  

Why I am a huge Samantha Bee fan! 

A Wolf Would Never Fucking Do This – Full Fronta

 By A North American Gray Wolf, Guest Columnist

I am a North American Gray Wolf and I’m mad as hell. Yes, I am a bit of a loner but let me be clear, I would never do something like this. You humans never care about me unless it’s to describe a psychopath mass murderer. Just because I’ve chosen not to reproduce or run with a pack doesn’t mean you can use my name to describe white mass shooters. Stop appropriating wolf culture and come up with your own term for it. I have a suggestion: Terrorist.

Do you even know what actual lone wolves like to do? We like running, howling, eating small mammals, smelling, and more running. You know what we don’t like to do? Shoot up concerts with weapons your founding fathers never could have imagined.

How many wolves have you seen with a gun? Zero. Wolves don’t even have thumbs. Also, wolves know commonsense gun laws do not violate the second amendment. Speaking of laws, you passed one making it ok for your biggest lunatics to shoot at us from helicopters, so the very least you can do is call your homegrown terrorists what they actually are and leave us out of it.

And before you get any big ideas, I’ve checked in with the other animals in the woods and they’d like you to leave them out if it, too. Please refrain from calling any future mass shooters (and you know there will be future ones) any of the following:

Solitary Bear

Sole Mole

Secluded Otter

Lonesome Duck

Forsaken Wild Mustang

Isolated Mountain Lion

Stag Stag

In conclusion, a murderer with a lawfully purchased personal arsenal is nothing like a lone wolf. A lone wolf is a majestic grey animal who just wants to do his own thing and maybe get married when he’s ready, ok?

youtube

canine behavior people tell me what I’m looking at here

wolf looks like it’s play-bow-bouncing but also snarl-facing at the beginning? is this play behavior? does the glass barrier impact behavior/body language here?

according to the video desc the wolves are really used to dogs

Wolf Ethology Weeks. Week 1: Play Behavior

Concerning “Play”

Play behaviors are usually the most controversial and most difficult behaviors to categorise. At Wolf Park, we define play as having the following characteristics:

- Behaviors may be performed out of sequence and/or at different intensities than when the behavior is performed with serious intent eg. in a mock hunt the “prey” may be mock killed first and then chased.

- “Play” partners may switch roles with a dominant animal acting as a subordinate and visa versa.

- “Play” may incorporate certain exaggerated motions and expressions eg. the characteristic “play face” (lips horizontally retracted, jaws slightly open, ears pulled straight up and back or folded flat)

Wotan (left) displaying a “play face”

There are 3 defined categories of play behavior: Agonistic, Social and Solitary.

I’ve got one of the authors of the ethogram looking over my entries and hopefully will have the first one up tomorrow!

instagram

That’s a lot of trust.

By crawling towards them on hands and knees, I was able to get close to these two wild stallions as they were rearing up and testing each other’s strength. I had to trust that they would dance around me. The Oostvaardersplassen Nature Reserve in the Netherlands has become a remarkable habitat for these and other large grazing mammals that once roamed wild across Western Europe.

Do dogs instinctually know to comfort a person who’s having a bad day? The other day was pretty rough for me, so I decided to go out to calm down and breath at the local park. A woman’s dog kept showing interest in me. Idk if its because he just wanted to say hi, or because he could sense that I was crying/not very happy at the time. Then I went to my friend’s house where I continued to cry for a bit, and his dog came to me and layed on me in a pressure therapy type of way. I felt a whole lot better after that (getting me thinking about getting an ESA sometime in the future but we’ll see).

So because two dogs wanted to give me attention on the same day, both times while I was crying, it got me wondering if its their instinct to do so.

@why-animals-do-the-thing???