If you are a cat owner, you will certainly know and notice that our cats sleep almost all day long! Sometimes we cat owners feel as if our kitties sleep their life away. As it turns out, cats sleep an average of sixteen hours a day; that is more than any other mammal except for maybe bats.
Cats need to expend their energy
Cats are inherently predators and since most indoor cats have no real prey, they sleep longer since they aren’t in attack mode. Our cats need for sleep is proportional to the amount of energy required. As cats are inherently predators, they need the extra energy for hunting and use this energy to stalk and wrestle that toy or other cat. Think of it as wind sprints in humans.
Cat naps and their different patterns
When a cat is asleep, his or her brain produces long, irregular waves called slow-wave sleep which usually lasts fifteen to thirty minutes total. As your cat dozes, he or she generally lies with his head raised and paws tucked beneath him. Sometimes he actually sleeps sitting up, in which case his muscles stiffen to hold him upright.
I can sleep anywhere!
When our cats move from light into deep sleep, their bodies relax. The kitty will stretch out and roll to one side. Their brain patterns change and become smaller and closer together, and are very similar to his waking patterns. Cats are fully relaxed and hard to awaken during deep sleep. This phase usually lasts only for five to ten minutes and the cat then returns to slow-wave sleep-and thereafter alternates between the two until he finally wakes up. I know that Sammy, my cat, will wake up with a loud ‘meow’ when he is in a deep sleep.
Cats do have dreams
Cats usually dream during the rapid sleep stage or what we call a deep sleep. Yes, cats do actually have dreams, but who knows what they dream about…another meal? Dragging in a rat to their owners??
Even when our kitties sleep, they can usually awaken quickly at the sound of a door opening or calling their name or a familiar scent. Slower wakeup times are usually demonstrated by our cats’ predictable pattern of blinking, yawning and stretching. First the front paws and then the back legs are turned in and flexed. And when they wake up, they usually start their daily bathing or grooming.
Cats are the most active in the morning and sundown
Cats are most active at the beginning of the day and at sundown. That's why our cats seem to love playing at these times and usually will wake us up in the early morning with a kiss on the face or a loud meow! But, in time, our cats usually adapt to their owners as they try to sleep and adjust to their parent’s schedule. That way, they sleep when you are gone and spend more awake time when you are home, which works out the best for everyone.
We cat owners love the way our cats communicate with us verbally and with their fun gestures.
And while we love to hear our feline friends ‘talk’ to us, sometimes they’re meowing can take on a life of its own. When our cats meow frequently, it can become overwhelming and a little annoying. However, there are reasons why your cat might be meowing and ways to combat it.
Your cat is getting older
As our cats get older, they tend to meow more often. I know that my cat, Sammy, meows all the time. Sometimes it is due his wanting attention or just a way to release energy. Feline senility is another reason our cats meow all the time. There have been studies done that have proven that older cats generally develop some older-age behavioral issues and excessive meowing is a common one.
Some breeds are more vocal than others.
Some cat breeds are more vocal than others and seem to ‘meow’ at everything. Siamese tend to be the most vocal of the breeds with Burmese and Tokinese coming in a close second.
Our cats meow to tell us that they want something
More often than not, our cats meow if they are trying to communicate something. Maybe they want some food or water and you aren’t paying attention. The meowing will usually get us to cooperate. But, that can lead to why our vocal cats meow so much as we react to them. I know that I am definitely guilty of relenting to Sammy’s meows.
How you can stop your cat from meowing excessively.
If you have ruled out medical or age-related causes for your cat’s excessive meowing, below are some tips that might help.
Don’t respond every time they meow
As hard as it is, try not to respond every time your cat meows to get his or her way. Every time you respond to your cat’s meow, he or she will know that his meowing will illicit a response from you and will keep up with this behavior. I am guilty of this to a ridiculous degree!
If your cat is a nocturnal meower and wakes you up at midnight to get you to feed him or her, try to ignore it. Again, they are smart and if we reward this behavior, our cats will continue to meow through the night.
Make sure your cats are on a consistent feeding schedule
Sometimes our cats meow to get us to feed them or simply because they are hungry. If you keep your felines on a regular feeding schedule, they will know when to expect food and not always beg or meow to get it.
Don’t ever punish your cat for meowing
As with most behaviors, don’t ever punish or yell at your cat for meowing. Even if the meowing is annoying, your cat will only change the behavior if you praise and reward him for being quiet. It takes time and patience, but you can train your cat to quiet down (unless of course it is age-related).
As a cat owner, I love all the different cat breeds, their funny ways, and their adorable features. Most cat owners, including myself, love the look of their cat’s whiskers but have never really thought about why cats actually have whiskers. The below explains some fun and important facts about why cats have whiskers.
The function of whiskers
Cats use their whiskers for a wide variety of functions. Whiskers provide some of the most important way for cats to gather information about their environment. Cats also use whiskers to communicate their emotions. Further, cats use their whiskers as a sort of navigational tool which is why it is critical to never trim or cut them off.
My whiskers help me navigate!
Whiskers help a cat feel his way around. Whiskers are so sensitive that they can detect the slightest change in an air current or breeze. The air currents in the room change according to where things are located. As a cat walks through a room and approaches a couch, chair or table,, he'll know which direction to turn based on the change in air current around the furniture.
Whiskers also help our cats measure an opening. Our kitties love to climb through things and in and out of closets, doorways and narrow areas. The whiskers give our cats the information they need to make sure that they can fit through the opening. Most cats’ whiskers are approximately the diameter of his or her body width.
Used for Communication and Mood Expression
Cats communicate with their whiskers and are also a great mood indicator. Understanding or being able to monitor your cat's whiskers will give you some good information about your cat's mood and if they are open to playing or want to be left alone.
When a cat is angry or feels defensive, his or her whiskers will be pulled back. Frightened cats hold their whiskers back against their cheeks to appear less threatening, while angry cats also pull back their whiskers. Otherwise, when the cat is happy, curious or content, the whiskers will be more relaxed and pushed forward. This is a good time to play, cuddle and hang out with your feline friend.
Cats can not function without whiskers
Without whiskers, cats can become confused and often get lost. Whiskers help guide them in the dark to avoid running into objects. Whiskers are a vital part of a cat’s mobility and sense of security. Without whiskers, cats would not be able jump around and/or protect themselves from dangerous situations.
Never cut their whiskers
It is important to leave your cat's whiskers alone and never cut them. Cats are at a great disadvantage without their whiskers as they depend on them for so many things. Your cat may lose whiskers from time to time, but not to worry. Whiskers normally shed like other hairs in your cat's coat.
I know that many cat owners, including me, will sometimes feed their cats’ human food. Some cats are more finicky than others and don’t like any of our food. I know that Sammy, my cat, is not finicky at all and likes to eat some meat, eggs and even vegetables. I wanted to make sure that it was OK for Sammy and my friend’s cats to eat human food.
Apparently, there are five different kinds of food that are deemed safe and even good for your cats. As always, moderation is the key and none of the below items should make up more than ten percent of your cat’s diet.
As we know, cats are carnivores and therefore animal meat is one of the best and safest human foods for them. Cooked chicken is usually the best choice as it is easier for their digestion and you don’t have to worry about salmonella. Some people and vets do think it is OK to feed their cats’ raw meat. Just as in any food, start with a small amount and see how your cat tolerates it.
It is bad for our kitties to eat plants or grass (unless they have a hairball and you want them to throw it up) but there are some vegetables that are actually good and safe for your cat. I know that Sammy loves cooked broccoli. Some other vegetables that are OK are steamed asparagus or broccoli, green beans, winter squash, or baked carrots. I would stay away from raw vegetables as they are harder for your cats to digest.
Most cats love fish and it generally provides some much needed nutrients for them. After all, you'll find it in a lot of commercial cat foods. So, if you're making a tuna salad, it is OK to give your feline friend a few bites. As with humans, you don’t want to give them too much tuna because they have higher levels of mercury than other fish. This is also true of cod, halibut and flounder. Again, anything in moderation should not hurt your kitty and can provide a nice alternative for your cat.
Many cats love cheese and it's a good alternate source of protein for them. And although some cats are able to eat it without any problem, as some cats become adults, they become lactose intolerant. For these adult cats, any cheese, milk or other dairy will cause an upset stomach and diarrhea.
If you want to try some dairy, give your kitty a very small amount to see how he or she digests it. Your cat should be able to safely handle small portions of cottage cheese, or even yogurt and sour cream. You can even go as far as giving your cat lactose free dairy or cheese if you want to go that route or you are lactose intolerant and have that handy.
5. Cooked eggs
Eggs are great for humans and cats because they're rich in protein. I know that Sammy loves hard boiled egg yolks and they digest easily for him. Make sure that the eggs are cooked as they can provide an excellent and nutritious treat for a cat. Raw eggs should be avoided as they are harder to digest.
As in humans, some can tolerate dairy and different types of protein better than others. Just sample small amounts of the above to your kitty to see if he or she likes it and how it digests. These human foods can provide a nice alternative if your kitty is bored of the same food.
While this blog was written for Valentine’s Day, the real question is timeless. As for me, I have not doubt that our dogs do love us, especially when we show them our love and caring.
For Dog Lovers on Valentine's Day: A review by Barbara Lampert of "Do Dogs Love?" by Nikki Moustaki
Dog Fancy, February 2013
With all the love in the air this time of year, I thought it might be fun to think about Dog Love on Valentine's Day. I ran across a very good article by Nikki Moustaki in the February 2013 issue of Dog Fancy which attempts to answer the question: Do Dogs Love?
While I'm a firm believer that dogs do love, it appears to be a bit more complicated, according to four "experts" Moustaki mentions.
The first of these, Sonia Charry, a large-dog expert at PawPosse.com in Scottsdale, Arizona, has this to say: "A dogs' sense of love is not as nuanced or complex as that of a human adult's, but neither is a 2-year-old child's. That doesn't mean the love a 2-year-old child feels isn't actual love. It's just that they haven't had the experience or knowledge to understand love as a complex emotion. The same goes for dogs."
While Charry seems to contend that dog love may not be as sophisticated as human love, Terri Jay, a pet psychic from Reno, Nevada, contends that dog love may be superior to human love, because unlike human love, which is most often conditional, dogs love unconditionally. Jay states: "They (dogs) don't care how we treat them, how we look or smell, or how rich or poor we are. I think THAT love is love."
Bonnie Beaver, a veterinarian in College Station, Texas, and executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, has a very interesting twist in her answer to the question. She thinks that what we may be looking at as love may have more to do with respect for the leader and the pack order - both necessary for the survival of the pack. Beaver states: "There is nothing wrong in believing that your dog loves you as you love her, but the behaviors of 'love' within a pack of dogs or wolves is more behavior that we would call 'respect.' Respect for each other, especially by social rank, would help in the survival of the pack as a whole."
And yet another very interesting take on dog love is from Pia Salk, a spokeswoman for Adopt-a-pet.com in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Salk states: "Nonhuman animals behave in ways that show compassion and concern, and yes, love for members of other species ... Dogs seem to naturally possess the propensity to be present in the moment and are intrinsically honest in their displays of emotion. How we interpret these displays is often clouded by our own needs and experiences, but dogs are unencumbered by concerns about self-image, previous notions of failure, or any attachment to perceived shortcomings. In this way, they demonstrate a much healthier notion of love and acceptance than do most humans." Moustaki sums up that reasoning this way: "So, dogs may in fact love better than we do by virtue of being free of a clunky value system. They are open to love whom they want, when they want - even if the object of their love is an elephant."
Still, the question remains: Are the behaviors that look and feel like love really love? Or do those behaviors mean something else to the dog? Are they done for the sole purpose of survival, out of respect for the pack and the pack order, as Beaver suggests? We may never know. All I do know is that I LOVE being around dogs. Their energy is pure, they engage in loving behaviors, they want to please, they want to connect, they're loyal, they live in the moment, and they are joyful. Who wouldn't want to be around that kind of being?
Moustaki's concludes, "Whether they (dogs) can love us or not isn't the point - it's that we get to love them, and that's the real privilege." I couldn't agree more!
Happy Valentine's Day to you and your Best Friend!