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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

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Some of my cats have been real characters, and some of their cute-yet-quirky behaviors have left me kind of confused. Over the years, I’ve worked with several animal behaviorists, and have learned some interesting things. Here are a few of the elusive kitty behaviors I’ve come to adore and appreciate:

1. Head-Butting. This is often called “bunting,” and not every cat displays it. For those who do, it’s just their way of saying “Howdy my human, you help me feel safe.” It’s also one of the ways cats “mark” you as part of their gang by sharing facial pheromones with you.

2. Chewing on Weird Things. Socks, carpeting, plastic, buckles – much like we humans nibble our nails when we feel nervous, cats often chew on non-food items as a way to deal with anxiety. The problem is, these objects can really irritate your kitty’s gums. Feline stress can be the result of boredom or unchallenged curiosity. Try getting your furry friend some fun interactive toys, such as the Nina Ottosson Cat Maze or Cat Pyramid. These colorful options encourage crafty pawing and batting so that kitty can earn the tiny treats you hide inside (Cloud Star grain-free Buddy Biscuits are a tasty choice). Note that if your cat chews or eats dirt, it might be caused by a condition called pica. Pica can stem from a gastrointestinal disorder or simple nervousness, but it’s always best to check with your vet.

CatFiles

Yeowww! Catnip, center; and the Nina Ottosson Cat Maze, right.

3. Seeking Out Small Spaces. Small spaces help cats feel safe. In the wild, feline survival depends upon stealth – hiding in a small den keeps a cat safer from predators. In addition to a standard kitty carrier, did you know that just the right pet blanket or bed can often work wonders? One of our very favorites is the fluffy, 3-in-1 Favorite Pet Products Trundle Bed, because it comes in great colors and can be arranged in a super-secure “cup” shape, as a snuggly sleeping bag, OR as a regular cloud-soft blanket. Let kitty decide depending on the day!

4. Staring. This is not a mind-control maneuver; your cat is often just trying to get your attention or coax a tasty treat from you. Looking for a yummy, healthy, 100% natural option? Try freeze-dried Purebites, which are easy to take along anywhere.

5. Yowling at Night. Cats are naturally nocturnal, which can be kind of a bummer when all you want is a good night’s sleep. You can help curb excess nighttime energy and the urge to hunt with intelligence-stimulating games like the feather-riffic Kong Glide ‘n Seek. Another great go-to option (though you’ll probably want to stay awake and watch the amusing spectacle) is extra-potent Yeowww! Catnip.

Stop by any Two Bostons today, and ask our Team for more fun, feline-friendly suggestions!

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Awhile back, I asked my niece – who owns a calico kitten named Hazel – what she likes best about cats. She said, very matter-of-factly, “I like cats because they’re so cute. But I like dogs too, because they’re smart.”

I thought that was a pretty fair statement, even for a 5-year-old.  After all, dogs perform an awful lot of important roles in our society. I mean when was the last time you ever heard of a drug detector cat, a police cat, a seeing-eye cat, or a military bomb-sniffing cat ? But then again, is that because dogs are actually smarter, or um,  just a little bit more … cooperative?

I started checking around with pet behaviorists, and even an animal psychologist. Here are a couple of interesting facts I learned, which are all confirmed by Psychology Today:

  • Unlike the brains of dogs, the brains of cats have a surface area and structure that is about 90 percent similar to humans.
  • In an average cat, the cerebral cortex – i.e., the part of the brain responsible for cognitive information processing, decision-making, language interpretation, sensory input, and problem-solving — is larger and more complex than that of the average dog. In fact, a cat’s cerebral cortex contains about twice as many neurons as that of a dog.
  • Cats have more nerve cells in the visual areas of their cerebral cortex than humans and most other mammals.
  • Cats have longer-lasting memories than dogs, especially when they learn by doing rather than just seeing.

So long story short, cats are a great deal more intelligent than many people might suspect. Their independent streak can work against them, though, because many pet parents might presume their cats just want to be left alone. In truth, a cat can benefit tremendously from regular mental stimulation — especially when all the windows are  covered with frost, or that cat’s humans are away at work eight hours a day.

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Most pet parents realize that their cats are MUCH smarter than many people might suspect. Stimulate this proven natural intelligence with fun, activity-based toys from Bergan, SmartCat, and Nina Ottosson.

 

So maybe one of your resolutions in 2014 involves some beneficial “brain training” for your best feline friend. What are some of your best options? When it comes to independent or group kitty play, consider activity-based toys that involve sensory stimulation and invite your pet’s direct engagement.

 

Cat Texts

Cats are extremely smart and curious, so they can get into mischief when left to their own devices. We realize they can’t actually send texts like Mittens here. Well all right, we wouldn’t put it past them.

 

At Two Bostons, there are a couple of options we especially like. SmartCat makes several sensory-stimulating products that leverage your cat’s natural sense of curiosity.  Bootsie’s Bunk Bed & Playroom, for example, is an ideal choice for multiple cats. It’s a sturdy wooden block that features numerous round openings for paws and toys to poke out.  It also has two bouncy spring-action toys on the outside, plus a comfy quilted pad up-top for rest breaks or gazing outside at those pesky sparrows. A great companion piece is the Peek-and-Play Pet Toy Box, which has a durable wood construction with a “Swiss cheese” design that provokes your cat’s natural predatory behavior and works with a variety of toys – Yeowww! Brand Catnip Toys are one great option.

For many cats (including my own), another all-time favorite is the Turbo Track made by Bergan. This is actually five toys in one, because you can snap the modular pieces together to create a range of different track designs. You can even add accessory pieces to increase complexity and elongate the track even further. I think of this piece as a sort of “Hotwheels/Habitrail” system for cats. They just love to paw and pounce at a round object as it scoots around the track, which can keep them actively occupied for hours … which, in turn, can mean they’re much less likely to claw at your drapes or become frantically entangled in Grandma Polly’s hand-crocheted afghan.

If you have a super-smart feline friend, give that natural intelligence a workout with any of our great activity-based cat toys by SmartCat, Bergan, Nina Ottosson and others. Any Two Bostons team member can provide suggestions that are custom-tailored to your kitty’s tastes. Don’t forget that we carry an extensive selection of interactive puzzle toys for your smart pooch, too!