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By Gina Spadafori
Pet Columnist

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10 Questions to Test your Feline Expertise

Cats seem so mysterious, but sometimes their mysteries aren't so hard to figure out. How well do you know cats? Check out these 10 fast questions, with the answers at the end. No fair letting your cat help!

 1. When used to describe a cat's behavior, "bunting" is when a cat:
 a) Uses urine to mark a doorway
 b) Chatters at the sight of a bird
 c) Bumps and rubs his head to leave a scent mark
 d) Bats around his prey

 2. Which of these is not a reason why cats claw things?
 a) To keep claws sharp and help remove worn claw sheathes
 b) To leave scent on an object
 c) To provide muscles with a good stretch
 d) To be spiteful

 3. A cat who's getting agitated to the point of lashing out while being petted will often have a tail that's:
 a) Twitching and flipping at the tip
 b) Wagging gently from the base
 c) Perfectly still
 d) Carried straight up

 4. Cats purr when they're:
 a) Content
 b) Frightened
 c) Injured
 d) All of the above

 5. Most cats have how many whiskers?
 a) 18
 b) 24
 c) 32
 d) 56

 6. Which of the following places are not good for petting, in the opinion of most cats?
 a) Tummy
 b) Underside of chin
 c) Base of tail
 d) Side of face

 7. The average cat weighs:
 a) Between 12 and 15 pounds
 b) Between 8 and 10 pounds
 c) More than 15 pounds
 d) Between 6 and 8 pounds

 8. Cats start their grooming routine by:
 a) Licking their tail tips
 b) Licking their flanks
 c) Licking their lips
 d) Licking their paws

 9. "High-rise" syndrome refers to:
 a) A cat's preference for perching on tall objects
 b) The ability of cats to live happily in upper-floor apartments
 c) The survival rate of cats who fall from high places
 d) A cat's enjoyment of a good view

 10. The normal body temperature of a cat is:
 a) 97 degrees
 b) Between 100 and 102.5 degrees
 c) 99 degrees
 d) 104 degrees

 1. c -- Every cat lover is familiar with "bunting," which is what a cat does when he bumps and rubs on something, such as your leg or hand.

 2. d -- Contrary to common belief, cats don't destroy your sofa for spite, but because clawing is natural feline behavior.

 3. a -- You may avoid a nasty bite by watching your cat's tail. When the tip starts to flip, end the petting session.

 4. d -- Although most purring is a sign of contentment, cats have also been known to purr in stressful or painful situations.

 5. b -- In most cats, the 24 whiskers are neatly divided into four rows on each side of the face. Each whisker -- technically called a "vibrissa" -- is imbedded deeper than normal hairs to enhance its sensory input.

 6. a -- Many cats become agitated if petted on the tummy, and they may claw or bite. Save tummy rubs for your dog!

 7. b -- While most average-weight cats will come in between 8 pounds and 10 pounds, some cat breeds will normally be much heavier. A healthy cat should have a little padding over the ribs -- but not too much.

 8. c -- A cat will generally groom himself in the same sequence, starting by licking his lips, then his paws, then rubbing the paws over his head. The tail is generally last to get cleaned.

 9. c -- Cats can right themselves in midair and brace for impact if they have time, which is why cats have a better chance of surviving a fall from a few floors up than from a balcony closer to the ground. Above a certain height, however, no cat can survive the fall.

10. b -- Temperatures below 99 degrees or above 103 degrees are reason to worry -- and to call your veterinarian.
How'd you do? If you got them all right, you really know your cats. - By Gina Spadafori
Training, not punishing, key to well-mannered dog
Q: My dog takes off every time he gets a chance. He knows better than to run, because when I finally catch him, I shake him by the collar and tell him what a bad dog he is. I can tell he knows better because he looks so guilty. But, things aren't getting better. If anything, they're getting worse. He's always looking for a chance to take off. What can I do? I am afraid he'll get hit by a car. -- via Facebook
A: Reprimanding a dog for running from you is one surefire way to make sure he's even harder to catch the next time. Wouldn't you keep running if you knew you'd get punished when caught?
If your dog takes off on you, kneel down and open your arms when calling to make yourself more inviting. If that doesn't work, try to use a command he knows well, like "sit" instead of "come." Many dogs know "sit" so well that they'll plant their rumps, and once they're sitting, you might be able to walk up and take their collars. Another possibility is to catch your dog's attention and run in the other direction, enticing his instinct to chase you.
When you have your dog safely back on leash, praise him, be grateful and make a vow that you'll take the time to teach him this most important of commands.
You should also teach him to wait at the door for your verbal release to stop the bolting. Put a leash on your dog with the door closed and ask him to sit. Practice this for a few days, until he reliably sits quickly for his treat and praise. Then reward him for a longer sit, adding the word "wait" and a release word, such as "OK" or "Let's go," to let him know he can move from his sit. Finally, start with the door cracked, gradually working toward the door opening and you walking through ahead of him before you release him. Be patient and praise for waiting, instead of punishing for running ahead.
If you find yourself getting frustrated, a home visit from a good trainer can get you both on track. Your veterinarian should be able to refer you to a good trainer or behaviorist in your area.
By the way: Your dog really doesn't "know better." That "guilty" look he gets when you catch him is not remorse at all but rather his anticipation of being punished. He doesn't really know why, though, because you haven't taught him anything, except possibly that you're unfair and highly likely to become angry with him. -- Gina Spadafori

Kitten-raising program saves lives in shelters

  • Shelter programs geared to raise the youngest, most fragile kittens to adoption age are catching on, generating enthusiastic support from volunteers and donors alike. Last year the Jacksonville (Fla.) Humane Society, First Coast No More Homeless Pets, and the City of Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services worked together to raise and place more than 500 kittens brought in too young to survive on their own. The program was such a success that this year the coalition has secured the financial and volunteer support to expand the program to save more than a thousand motherless kittens. 

  • The market for pet care and pet products in North America hit an all-time high of $53 billion in 2012, according the figures released last month by the American Pet Products Association at its annual trade show, Global Pet Expo. That was a 5 percent increase in spending over 2011, and the APPA is predicting a 4 percent increase in 2013. While most spending is on veterinary care, food and other basic necessities, a 10 percent increase in spending on services such as boarding, pet-sitting and grooming was noted from the previous year. 

  • The recall of pet treats manufactured by Colorado-based Kasel Associated Industries and sold through retailers including Target, Petco, Sam's Club and Costco was a result of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's use of new recall authority given to it by Congress as part of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act. ABC News reported that the agency had warned the company to cease production and launch a voluntary recall amid concerns that the products were contaminated with Salmonella.  In December, the FDA had advised consumers to avoid the treats, which include fish jerky and pig ears. The company says no illnesses have been reported, but the FDA warns that Salmonella contamination carries a risk to the caretakers of pets as well as to the pets themselves. -- Gina Spadafori

Date Published: 3/11/2013 9:56:00 AM
Date Reviewed/Revised: 03/11/2013


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Gina Spadafori is the award-winning author of Dogs for Dummies, Cats for Dummies and Birds for Dummies. She is also affiliated with the Veterinary Information Network Inc., an international online service for veterinary professionals. Write to her at

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