When it comes down to it, how much do we really know about our beloved furry pets? We may know what kinds of treats they prefer, where they want us to scratch them, but many things about dogs and cats are still a mystery to us. Read below to learn why they’re full of interesting surprises!
1. Cats are lactose intolerant. Like most mammals, cats lose the ability to digest dairy after infancy. Feeding milk to a cat can encourage stomach upset and diarrhea.
2. Dogs with “squashed” faces have more health problems. The structure of the faces of pugs, boxers, and bulldogs makes them more prone to respiratory problems, dental problems, and other health issues.
3. Cats are capable of about one hundred distinct vocalizations; dogs are capable of about ten.
4. All Dalmatians are born white. Their spots develop within the first few weeks of life.
5. Hunting is not an instinctive cat behavior. If a kitten doesn’t learn to hunt from its mother or other cats, it’s unlikely that it ever will.
6. A dog’s sense of smell is up to one hundred thousand times more sensitive than a human’s. While humans have about five million scent receptors in their noses, a bloodhound has up to three hundred million.
7. Domestic cats sleep an average of sixteen hours per day. In the wild, big cats that expend lots of energy hunting sleep even longer. Only sloths spend more of their lives asleep.
8. Dogs’ only sweat glands are between the pads of their feet. They dissipate the majority of their heat by panting, a method far more effective than allowing moisture to evaporate from the skin.
9. Cats are either lefties or righties. Psychologists at Queen’s University in Belfast discovered that female cats were more likely to favor their right paws, while male cats were more likely to favor their left. As with humans, some cats are ambidextrous, too.
10. Dogs are one of only two mammal species that have prostate glands. The other species is humans.
11. Calico cats are almost always female. The gene for coat color is sex-linked, so to express both orange and black coloring, the cat must have two copies of the X chromosome. Rarely, an abnormality produces a male cat with XXY chromosomes and calico coloring; these cats are always sterile.
12. Dogs aren’t really color-blind. They do see colors, just not as well as humans.
13. All kittens are born with blue eyes. They begin to change color about two weeks after their eyes open.
14. Dogs’ wet noses help them smell better. The mucus attracts and “catches” more chemical scent particles in the air.
15. Most blue-eyed white cats are born deaf—about 65 to 85 percent, says the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine.
16. The only dog breed that doesn’t bark is the Basenji. However, Basenjis do make other noises, such as growls, whines, and even yodels.
17. Cats don’t meow at other cats. They reserve this sound for getting attention (not to mention food) from humans.
18. Dogs have no clavicles. Their disconnected shoulder blades allow them a greater range of motion for running and jumping.
19. When cats walk, their left front leg moves in tandem with their left back leg, and their right legs do the same. The only other animals that walk this way are giraffes and camels.
20. Domestic dogs can breed with wolves. The two animals are still related closely enough that they can mate, producing feral offspring.
21. The proper name for a group of cats is a clowder. A group of kittens is called a kindle.
22. It takes eighteen muscles to move a dog’s ear. This specificity of motion helps the dog pinpoint the origins of sounds much faster than a human can.
23. Both cats’ and dogs’ noses are unique, like human fingerprints. It’s becoming more and more common to take nose prints of dogs in case they’re ever lost or stolen.
When you make it home to your furry friends take a minute to marvel at their quirks. Cats and dogs may seem uncomplicated when they’re chasing after a shoelace or stalking their own tail, but these animals are anything but simple.
Throughout their lives, pets will likely be exposed to several infectious diseases that can cause severe illness or even death, which is why vaccines are very important in managing the health of your pet. That said, not every pet needs to be vaccinated against every disease. It is very important to discuss with your veterinarian a vaccination protocol that’s right for your pet. Factors that should be examined include age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle. Any companion animals or livestock animals that are in frequent contact with humans should all be vaccinated. Even if your pet is mostly indoors they are still at risk because many contagions are airborne and can come through your open windows. Also, there is always the risk of your pet slipping out the door. Keep in mind before you take your pet to boarding kennels, dog parks or grooming salons that these are all areas where your pet is likely to be exposed to contagious diseases!
Essential Vaccinations for Your Dog
- Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus (DHPP)- Commonly called the “distemper shot,” this combination vaccine actually protects against the four diseases in its full name.
- Rabies- Rabies virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Rabies is preventable and still kills 55,000 people worldwide every year. Rabies vaccinations for dogs are required by law in most states.
Other Vaccines for Dogs
Your veterinarian may also recommend other vaccines for your dog depending on where you live and your dog’s lifestyle:
- Leptospirosis- Often included as part of the distemper combination vaccine, this bacterial infection is widespread in moist climates where there are areas of standing or slow-moving water. This disease can also be spread from animals to humans.
- Bordetella (commonly called “kennel cough”)- The bordetella virus causes an extremely contagious upper respiratory infection. Your veterinarian may recommend this vaccine before your dog goes to a dog park, groomer, boarding kennel, or dog show.
- Lyme Disease- A bacterial infection carried by ticks, this disease is extremely prevalent in certain parts of the country: in particular, the east and west coasts and the areas around the Great Lakes.
- Canine Influenza- This viral upper respiratory disease originated at a Florida racetrack in 2004 and has quickly spread across the country. Outbreaks are prevalent in animal shelters and boarding kennels.
- Corona Virus- This virus infects the intestinal tract and is more prevalent in the southern United States.
Essential Vaccines for Your Cat
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP)- Commonly called the “distemper” shot , this combination vaccine protects against three diseases: feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia (sometimes called “feline distemper”).
- Rabies- Rabies virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Rabies is preventable and still kills 55,000 people worldwide every year. Rabies vaccinations for cats are required by law in most states.
Other Vaccines for Cats
Your veterinarian may also recommend other vaccines for your cat depending on where you live and your cat’s lifestyle:
- Chlamydia- Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis, and the vaccination for it is often included in the distemper combination vaccine.
- Feline Leukemia (Felv)- Felv is a viral infection that is only transmitted through close contact (saliva, scratches, or blood).
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)- FIV is a viral infection that is only transmitted through close contact (saliva, scratches, or blood).
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). A viral infection most common in catteries and feral colonies, FIP is almost always fatal. Most house cats do not have a significant risk of contracting this disease.
Fact: Dogs and cats are prone to debilitating ailments as they age, such as kidney failure, heart disease, arthritis, dental disease, cancer, and cognitive dysfunction.This is why regular visits are so important! Some warning signs of disease to look for in your senior pets include: Gaining/losing weight, disorientation, excessive whining, and lumps. If you see these signs in your pet, it’s time to bring her in!