Did you hear that? Explaining your cat’s sense of hearing

GA_ Cat Senses InfographicDogs are famous for their keen sense of hearing. But do you know who can hear at a higher frequency than them? Cats. Our ears are so powerful they even move in different directions like a satellite to locate the prey (or the can opener depending on your hunting grounds). When you see us staring into nothing, we are really trying to pinpoint the exact location of whatever it is we are searching for – a bug crawling on the wall, a fellow feline meowing in the distance, the leftover bag being thrown in the trash…

Ears pointed upright: cat on alert. Pic: Glorimar Anibarro

Ears pointed upright: cat on alert. Pic: Glorimar Anibarro

The ears give you a lot of information too – we are all about sharing – about our present mood. If you pay attention to the shape they take you will know how we are feeling at the moment, like:

  • Standing upright: cat is relaxed and alert
  • One pointing to the front, the other one to the back: we are thinking about our next move but haven’t decided yet
  • Squashed and way low: ready to pounce, you should remove yourself from the premises
  • Moving both side to side: we are looking for a way out

Of course they also carry a superpower; the vestibular apparatus inside our inner ear helps felines achieve balance at great speed. In the event of a fall, our bodies can quickly twist back to the upright position so we land on our legs instead of the back. How fast you ask? 2 seconds. This doesn’t mean that we land safely and unhurt… but that’s a story for another day.

Our biggest threats come in the shape of pesky ear mites. These minuscule insects (think of them like fleas for the ears) crawl right into our ear canal making them very difficult to capture and destroy. The itching gets so intense that we scratch our ears to the point of drawing blood… blood! Horrible.

Keep kitty safe now blog bannerHow to tell if your feline is suffering from such pest? You will notice her constantly shaking her head from side to side. When the situation gets impossible to handle, the scratching will start. They are also kind of smelly, so that will substitute our beautiful scent too. Any of these sound familiar? Please take your kitty to the vet, drops are necessary.

So what happens when we go deaf? Well, Vision and Smell get a bigger part in the story. They now carry a bigger responsibility, helping us adapt and continue our lives without ever losing our cool. Sounds awesome right? Right? Hello?

EN ESPAÑOL

Foto: Anja Thiedemann

Foto: Anja Thiedemann

El perro es famoso por su agudo sentido de audición. ¿Pero sabes quién puede escuchar sonidos a frequencias más altas que él? El gato. Nuestros oídos son tan poderosos que hasta se mueven en direcciones opuestas como los satélites para localizar nuestra presa (o el abridor de latas dependiendo de cuál sea tu territorio para cazar). Cuando nos ves embelezados mirando a la nada estamos tratando de descifrar el lugar exacto de lo que sea que estamos siguiendo – el insecto que sube por la pared, otro felino maullando en la distancia, la bolsa de comida que tiraron a la basura…

 Nuestras orejas son fuentes de información para ti – sabes cómo nos encanta compartir – acerca de nuestro estado de ánimo. Si prestas atención a la forma que toman puedes saber cómo nos sentimos en el momento, como por ejemplo

  • De frente y derechas: gato está relajado y alerta
  • Una apuntando al frente y la otra hacia atrás: estamos decidiendo nuestro próximo movimiento pero todavía no hay conclusión
  • Aplastadas y muy bajas: listos para atacar, debes moverte del área
  • Se mueven de lado a lado: buscamos una salida a la situación

 Por supuesto también tienen superpoderes: el “ vestibular apparatus” dentro del oído medio nos ayuda a balancearnos rápidamente, excelente para cuando la caída es inevitable. Mientras vamos cayendo nuestro cuerpo gira hasta llegar a la posición correcta – patas hacia abajo – para que la caída no sea tan desastrosa. ¿Cuán rápido preguntas? En 2 segundos. Que no quiere decir que caemos sin problemas ni heridas… pero esa es otra historia

 Nuestra amenaza más molestosa son los terribles ácaros. Estos minúsculos insectos se arrastran dentro del canal auditivo haciéndolos bien difícil de capturar y destruir. El picor que causan es tan intenso que nos rascamos las orejas hasta sacarnos sangre… ¡sangre! Es horrible

 Cómo saber si tu gatito tiene ácaros? Si lo notas agitando la cabeza de lado a lado constantemente. Cuando la condición ha llegado al límite lo verás rascándose. Las orejas también dejan salir un olor asqueroso que sustituye nuestro perfume natural. Si cualquiera de éstos suena familiar, lleva a tu gato al veterinario, necesita medicamento en forma de gotas.

 ¿Qué sucede cuándo nos quedamos sordos? Pues la Visión y el Olfato juegan una parte más importante. Sus responsabilidades se doblan para ayudar en el proceso de adaptación para poder continuar nuestra vida sin perder el cache. Suena fantastic ¿verdad? ¿Verdad? ¿Hola?

Got a question for Dr. Avocado? Send him an email, add your name to our newsletter list or find me on Twitter or Facebook

¿Tienes una pregunta para el Dr. Avocado? Inscríbete a mi newsletter o escríbeme un email: iamgatoavocado@gmail.com

*ATTENTION: I am not a veterinarian. I am a proud member of the Felis Silvestris Catus family, (translates to “domestic cat” –  an inside joke in the cat community) that kindly shares his knowledge of our species to you. I can’t provide specific treatments for your feline friend. Please refer to your veterinarian. Meow!   /   *ATENCION: No soy veterinario. Soy un orgulloso miembro de la familia Felis Silvestris Catus (que se traduce en “gato domesticado” – chiste interno entre la comunidad gatuna), que con amor comparte su conocimiento de la especie con ustedes. No puedo proveer detalles específicos para tratar a tu amigo felino. Por favor, llévalo al veterinario. ¡Miau!

Cat eyes: superior vision

GA_ Cat Senses Infographic

Continuing our study of all the feline’s senses, we now explore the most stylish and elegant of them all: cat eyes. Positioned deep in the face and looking straight to the front to help us calculate the distance between us and prey, while not being so obvious to predator’s searches. But of course the eyes’ most famous trait is the size.

Size does matter... to cat eyes. Pic: RoxyRoxLA

Size does matter… to cat eyes. Pic: RoxyRoxLA

Yes, they are a tad too big (in fact if humans’ eyes were that size, they will measure 8″ in diameter, covering half their faces!) but they act as an example of “size does matters”: a bigger cornea lets in more light for better vision. Our peripheral vision is beyond awesome, our close ups? not as good. That is why kitty can easily find the bird up in the tree… but can’t seem to recognize the kibble right in front of her. Continue reading

Smelling the air: adventures of a cat’s nose

GA_ Cat Senses InfographicDr. Avocado, what does it mean when my cat starts “smiling” to the air? Is it catnip induced?

Oh no that is not catnip fun time, your feline is making use of her vomeronasal organ, better knows as the Jacobson’s organ, a powerful tool that allows us to figure out our surroundings and who’s in it by “smelling” the air. It sits comfortably up on the roof of our mouth, holding a direct line to our brain, sending valuable information whenever is needed. To activate the device your cat opens her mouth a bit, looking like she’s smiling. Not every animal has this feature (take that dog!); it is an awesome gift.

tigger nose

My Jacobson’s organ tells me you’ve been petting other cats…

Because our noses are not big but they pack a punch: those cute triangles are 14 times more powerful than yours! We use our sense of smell to find our marked territories while finding out if another feline wants to move in. It is also our version of OkCupid, helping male cats find that special female when she really needs a mate 😉 While this specific feature is turned off once the cat is neutered, it still works for taking kitty straight to the freshest food in town. Nothing rotten will be eaten by your cat folks. Wanna know if that chicken is still good? Ask the cat. Now this power sometimes runs out of juice. Biggest sign of this: your cat stops eating, not even the smelliest of tuna entices her. This is more common on senior felines but if yours is still young, she could be sick. Time to visit that vet person.

A variety of colors: Our noses are so cool they complement our colors. You can find them in pink, orange, black, even black and white! Tone intensity reflects our mood – paler when we’re a little scared, very bright after an intense workout – and its wetness quality communicates our health status (NOTE: very dry or very wet is never good).

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Olfateando el ambiente: aventuras de la nariz del gato Continue reading

It’s too hot. Time to shed some hair!

GA_Excellent Summer picI still can’t understand the problem. Humans seem to go to extremes when the weather gets warmer in order to get “beach ready” but when cats naturally shed some hair to find relief then it’s all: “Enough with the hairy tumbleweeds! I just vacuumed!”

Well, I am here to tell you that living with a feline means dealing with hair. Our relationship with it is very volatile. During the fall and winter months we loooove it, allowing it to grow and stay put so we can feel all warm and fuzzy. But as soon as it starts to heat up, out with it! A lighter coat is required to enjoy the breeze blowing thru our bodies while we nap in the sun. You change wardrobe and so do we.

These pants are begging for some cat hair...

These pants are begging for some cat hair…

Is there a way to coexist harmoniously? Of course! 2 words: cleaning and grooming. The first one means using that vacuum cleaner a few times a week to keep the dusty hair off your carpet (not a feline favorite). The second one involves a pampering spa routine where you brush your kitty daily so the unwanted particles never reach the ground (definitely a better choice). You can also try to give the cat a bath… but be aware that beach style does not include scratched arms. You’ve been warned.

Extreme Shedding: This happens when the cat sheds so much hair that skin patches become exposed. Or kitty keeps licking one area with such intensity that loses all hair on it. None of these are normal behaviors; they are signs that your feline needs medical attention. Continue reading

Flea you fools!

GA_Excellent Summer picIt happens as soon as the weather warms up: flea invasion. The animal kingdom scratches in desperation as these creatures take over their bodies. Being made of paper I don’t suffer any of the symptoms and actually have made friends with a few of the parasites, so much so that I decided to allow one of them to explain the phenomenon: I give you Pete “P” the Flea.

*Pete is a little over dramatic and has low self-esteem issues. He requested that no pictures of him would be posted.

A Flea Plea
Why was I born a flea? I could’ve been a beautiful butterfly or a protected bee but no, the universe conspired to bring me into this world as a hated creature, one with a very short existence and the need to feed from someone else to survive. Of course it is a common theme throughout nature but when it comes to fleas we get the rotten end of the deal.

Why wasn’t I born an exquisite shark? Nobody gives him grief for devouring fish or catching that elusive seal…

What about your beloved vampires? You think of them as beautiful, complicated and sensual beings… yet they also need precious blood from others to continue their existence (Note to self: make friends with the vampires).

I am no fool. I understand the hatred. We invade your cute pets, your plushy carpets, the new couch, even that lovely bed with our blood-sucking regime. Just thinking about us makes you scratch! As much as you love the warm summer months, you know we have been dormant since winter, waiting for the sunshine to wake us up so we can hitch that uninvited ride on your cat while she enjoys her morning walk (in her harness no less – humanizing cats, preposterous idea), taking us to our never-ending buffet.

Desperate scratching: our fault - Pete the Flea

Desperate scratching: our fault – Pete the Flea

You can try to get rid of us. It is almost funny seeing you try. Poor feline getting bathed every week and treated with “miracle” drops to banish the pest away while you frantically wash all your sheets and vacuum like there is no tomorrow; it’s a good workout and probably gives you some success. No doubt. But my human friend, more of us are already brewing in your garden starting the cycle all over again. Because no matter what the world thinks about fleas, we are part of the circle of life.

As for me, it is just too hideous. Can’t do it anymore. That is why I am giving up the fight. I will go out into the garden to hopefully be eaten by an ant while she’s investigating the watermelon from the picnic (sweet death!); but knowing me the end will happen inside the mouth of a lizard as he’s doing one of those crazy push-up moves (at least tell me why you do that?).

PS: One last piece of advice: we don’t mean harm, but it is our nature. Those worms and ants in your yard? They keep us out of your property. Be kind to them. Keep your pets safe.

Pete

CTA English 2Got a question for Dr. Avocado? Send him an email, add your name to our newsletter list or find me on Twitter or Facebook
¿Tienes una pregunta para el Dr. Avocado? Inscríbete a mi newsletter o escríbeme un email: iamgatoavocado@gmail.com

*ATTENTION: I am not a veterinarian. I am a proud member of the Felis Silvestris Catus family, (translates to “domestic cat” –  an inside joke in the cat community) that kindly shares his knowledge of our species to you. I can’t provide specific treatments for your feline friend. Please refer to your veterinarian. Meow!   /   *ATENCION: No soy veterinario. Soy un orgulloso miembro de la familia Felis Silvestris Catus (que se traduce en “gato domesticado” – chiste interno entre la comunidad gatuna), que con amor comparte su conocimiento de la especie con ustedes. No puedo proveer detalles específicos para tratar a tu amigo felino. Por favor, llévalo al veterinario. ¡Miau!

 

Don’t believe the hype: your cat is happy indoors

GA_Excellent Summer picSure we look oh so cool hanging out outside, climbing trees and jumping from rooftops with enviable confidence but know this: that outdoor loving feline runs a lot of risks and has a very short life span. And while some of them prefer it that way, trust me when I say that most of them would love to live in a pampered environment where they can stretch those 9 lives in style – provided of course that it comes equipped with all the necessary gadgets.

This means thinking cat and bringing our outdoor experiences inside. Every cat is different and so are his fun activities. Knowing what your feline likes will make the transition way easier.

The King of the House: Does he like to jump up the kitchen cabinets and watch you cook? He will enjoy having a few boards installed around the house so he can keep an eye on his kingdom from above. This idea also applies to what you call “Cat TV”: a window perch where kitty can sit and watch the outdoor world go by.

Obsessed about her nails: Kitty won’t stop scratching your furniture? Don’t deny her the action. It is an essential part of every cat’s routine. When we scratch a surface we are leaving our scent on it making the area our own. Territorial acquiring is very important to us. Start by adding scratching pads and towers strategically placed in those areas that she prefers to use.

The Hunter: Always on the prowl. No boundaries in his hunting grounds: grabbing your feet when you walk past him, going for your favorite vintage lamp, killing that wind chime you’ve had for 20 years… it all becomes his. To prevent you from losing more valuable items (and saving your feet), you need to provide the hunter with prey. NOT talking about live mice or bugs – although if they’re inside it’s fair game- but by getting toys designed for the action. Hide them around the home to make it more fun.

Oh yes, he is suffering. Indoor life with outdoor views. Pic: Glorimar Anibarro

Oh yes, he is suffering. Indoor life with outdoor views. Pic: Glorimar Anibarro

Wanna go outside: You’ve done your research. Got kitty the perfect toys. Redesigned your home to make it appealing for him. Yet his favorite place is still hanging by the door waiting to bolt out the minute it opens. It’s not your fault. He just wants to feel the grass under his paws. The solution depends on finding out the exact reason for the problem: Continue reading

Stay hydrated my friends. Water will keep you alive.

GA_Excellent Summer pic

We start our Excellent Summer Series with a very important lesson: Hydration. Our relationship with water is a funky one. While it is totally true that the act of bathing using H2O along with some smelly shampoo can bring out the tiger hidden way inside, when we talk about drinking the liquid the reaction is the complete opposite: we can’t get enough. And that is a good thing. Because we can survive a couple of days without food, but without water it is only a matter of hours (ominous music in the background).

We need as much water as the amount of food we eat. Some felines make the most of their water consumption: drinking from the faucet, testing every glass of water left around the house, even checking the one from that round litter box you guys use so much… anything for a drink. Still, how do you know we are drinking our fill? The answer is in our body language.

Dr. Avocado logoSigns of a dehydrated cat:

  • Kitty is suffering from nausea, vomiting and excessive urination. It is impossible to recuperate the amount of water she is losing.
  • Your spunky cat is now a very lethargic one
  • Loss of appetite: Not even tuna will convince her.
  • The skin test: if you lift the skin from the back of her neck or shoulder blades and the skin doesn’t go back to its natural position.

What to do? TAKE YOUR CAT TO THE VET NOW! Trying to give her water now is not going to help. She has lost a lot of nutrients and needs intravenous fluids STAT!

Now that she is back home, how can you prevent this so it never happens again?

  • Make sure your cat has fresh, clean water available at all times.
  • The water bowl should be clean. Nobody likes to drink from a dirty glass.
  • Your diva won’t drink from a normal bowl: one of those fabulous cat fountains can solve the problem. Only the best for your kitty 😉
  • Sharing is caring: Open the faucet and allow her to drink a little before washing dishes or your face.
  • Diet plays a big part: the amount of water on dry food is only 7%, compared to canned food that goes up to 80%. If changing the kind of food is not an option, you have to step up and add more water to the routine. Try adding tuna or chicken juice to the dry food… and suddenly I am hungry…
Picky cats like fresh flowing water. Pic: Ev Carlin

Picky cats like fresh flowing water. Pic: Ev Carlin

CTA English 2EN ESPAÑOL
Toma agua mi amigo. Te va a mantener vivo.
Nuestra relación con el agua es complicada. Es cierto que cuando se combina con un champú oloroso despierta al tigre que vive dentro de nosotros; pero cuando la usamos para beber la reacción es totalmente la opuesta: no podemos alejarnos de ella. Y es la reacción correcta porque podemos sobrevivir par de días sin comida; pero sin agua el final puede llegar en cuestión de horas (música dramática en el fondo).

Necesitamos consumir la misma cantidad de agua que de comida. Algunos mininos van más allá para disfrutar su agüita fresca: tomando del grifo, probando cada vaso con agua dejado en la casa, hasta chequeando ese arenero redondo que tanto usan ustedes… todo por un trago de agua. Pero la pregunta sigue en pie, ¿cómo sabemos si están tomando suficiente? La respuesta te la da nuestro lenguaje felino.

Señales de un gato deshidratado:

  • La gatita está sufriendo de náuseas, vómitos y orinando en exceso. Es imposible que recupere la cantidad de líquido que ha perdido.
  • Tu gato atrevido es ahora uno demasiado pacífico.
  • Pérdida de apetito: Ni siquiera el atún la convence.
  • Falta de elasticidad en la piel: si levantas la piel entre sus hombros y al soltarla no regresa a su estado natural, está bien deshidratado.

¿Qué hacer? ¡LLEVARLO AL VETERINARIO DE EMERGENCIA! Tratar de darle agua en ese momento no va a ayudar. Ha perdido demasiados nutrientes y necesita tratamiento intravenoso.

CTA Español 2Una vez regresa a casa, ¿cómo prevenir esto para que no vuelva a suceder?

  • El gato debe tener agua limpia disponible en todo momento.
  • El plato de agua debe estar limpio. A nadie le gusta tomar de un vaso sucio.
  • Si tu diva se rehúsa a tomar de un plato normal, considera invertir en una de esas fabulosas fuentes de agua para gatos. Lo mejor para tu gatita 😉
  • Compartir es amar: Abre el grifo un poco para que pueda tomar antes de lavarte la cara o los platos.
  • La dieta tiene mucho que ver: la cantidad de agua en la comida seca es de tan sólo 7%, mientras la mojada tiene un 80%. Si no puedes cambiar la clase de comida, trata de añadir más agua en su rutina. Un truco es mezclar la comida seca con el caldo del atún enlatado o del pollo que cocinas (sin especias por favor)… ¡y de repente se me ha colado un hambre!..

Got a question for Dr. Avocado? Send him an email, add your name to our newsletter list or find me on Twitter or Facebook

¿Tienes una pregunta para el Dr. Avocado? Inscríbete a mi newsletter o escríbeme un email: iamgatoavocado@gmail.com

*ATTENTION: I am not a veterinarian. I am a proud member of the Felis Silvestris Catus family, (translates to “domestic cat” –  an inside joke in the cat community) that kindly shares his knowledge of our species to you. I can’t provide specific treatments for your feline friend. Please refer to your veterinarian. Meow!   /   *ATENCION: No soy veterinario. Soy un orgulloso miembro de la familia Felis Silvestris Catus (que se traduce en “gato domesticado” – chiste interno entre la comunidad gatuna), que con amor comparte su conocimiento de la especie con ustedes. No puedo proveer detalles específicos para tratar a tu amigo felino. Por favor, llévalo al veterinario. ¡Miau!