Written by: Mary Shull
Are you a cat owner? If so, you will probably say yes, cats love their owners. If not, you may say, “What! A cat is an animal. They don’t experience love!” But ask any pet owner and you can bet the answer will be “Yes, my pet loves me!”
Momma cat and her baby
Studies have shown that animals know pain and fear. All have the “fight or flight” instinct that is hardwired in the body, similar to humans. But cats also have learned to manipulate their owners through sound or “cries.” Certain cries draw certain responses from the owner. It’s just a matter of the cat learning which one benefits them for their particular need or want. Once learned, that cry is used over and over. Cats not only communicate verbally but also with their body. Ever notice your cat rubbing up against your legs, wagging their tail, or kneading with their paws/claws? How about a cat’s ears? We’ve learned that when they’re flattened back against the head, the cat feels threatened. All of these are bodily signs that owners eventually learn to interpret.
So, does a cat know how to love? Scientific studies cannot prove this, so basically it’s up to humans to determine the answer individually. Maybe we should ask ourselves, “What is love?” Wikipedia defines love as “an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. Love is a virtue representing all of ‘human’ kindness, compassion, and affection; and the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.” So for instance, when a cat has kittens; does the concern and care she shows for her babies constitute love? When a cat jumps in our lap and curls up for a nap, does the cat just want a comfortable place to lie down? When a cat rubs against our legs or purrs when we pet them, does that mean we’ve been manipulated?
Being a cat owner for many years, I can only answer these questions with what I believe and that is “YES,” cats know love and cats show love. I believe it is definitely different than human love, but it is a form of love as we know it. Cats show affection and cats bond with their owners which is a form of personal attachment. As pet owners, we should be grateful that cats have this capacity and that we are able to share this and enjoy the happiness it brings.
The long, hot days of summer are fast approaching, and in some parts of the country they have already arrived. Every year, people are reminded of the dangers of how heat affects our pets, and every year, pets die from heat exposure in situations that could have been prevented. The bottom line is if people are uncomfortable in the heat, we can bet that our furry friends are even more so. Would you want to sit in a sweltering car dressed in a parka? Neither does your pet.
Never leave your dog in a hot car
Heat stroke symptoms include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, red gums, and staggering as if drunk. A seizure, coma, or death can follow. Here are some common sense tips to prevent this from ever happening. Pass it along.
- It should go without saying — always have a tip-proof bowl available full of fresh, cool water. Supplement with ice cubes to keep it cooler. If you take your pet on a road trip, bring along a large thermos of cold water.
- Never leave a pet in a parked car. Cracked windows won’t protect your pet from overheating or suffering from heat stroke on a hot summer day. Dogs and cats can’t perspire, and only dispel heat by panting and through the pads of their feet.
- For outside dogs, be certain they can reach lots of fresh water and have access to shade. Avoid chaining your dog as chains can become tangled.
- Hot asphalt and concrete can burn the pads on animals’ feet. Take shorter mid-day walks when heat is at its peak, and longer morning and late afternoon walks when it is cooler. Have your dog walk on grass when possible. Many communities have dog parks with cool grass and shady areas.
- Flat-faced animals, such as Pugs and Persian cats, are especially vulnerable to overheating.
- Keep your pet well-groomed and mat-free, but resist shaving off all of his hair as pet fur protects the skin from sunburn.
- Beware of lawn and gardening products, such as cocoa mulch, pesticides, and fertilizers in the summertime as they can cause severe intestinal upset in dogs and cats when ingested.
- Don’t let your dog ride in the back of a pick-up truck. He could slide around or possibly jump out, and the floor of the truck bed can get extremely hot for foot pads.
- Don’t leave pets unsupervised around a pool as not all dogs are good swimmers. Keep your dog from drinking pool water which contains chlorine and other chemicals. On boats, provide your dog with a well-fitted floatation jacket.
- Prevent injury to your cat from falling out of windows by installing and securing window screens.
- Never use fireworks around your pet. Mishaps could result in severe burns, and many of the loud sounds and squeals hurt their sensitive ears.
If you notice a dog trapped inside a vehicle on a hot day, here are some steps you can take:
- If you know who the owner is, a friendly “hey, your pet is hot” or some other means of striking up conversation will alert the owner to the dangers of leaving their pet in the car. You can also place a note or “Don’t Leave Me in Here — It’s Hot!” flyer on the windshield. (Note: be civil)
- Speak with a store manager. They can be very helpful in locating the owner or calling animal control. They do not want a tragedy happening in their parking lot.
- Call your local animal control or the police for assistance.
Pets depend on our common sense. Spread the love.