Cat

New Study Finds No Link Between Childhood Cat Ownership and Psychosis

Cats can be manipulative. There’s no doubt about that. But are they controlling our minds with their poop? Probably not. Contrary to prior reports, a new study published in the journal Psychological Medicine found that living with a cat in early life did not increase subjects’ risk of psychotic episodes in adolescence.

The premise behind the original idea is less improbable than it sounds. Cats are the host of choice for Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that has been shown to cause dramatic behavior changes in rodents. (Mice infected with T. gondii lose their fear of cats and become downright friendly, which leads to them getting eaten, which buys the parasite a ticket into its favorite feline hangout.) A few controversial studies have linked cat ownership with schizophrenia and psychotic episodes, but many researchers remain skeptical.

Psychiatrist Francesca Solmi and her co-authors are among those skeptics. They decided to put the…

Meet Pooh, a Cat Thriving on Two Prosthetic Legs

When a Good Samaritan brought an injured little black-and-white cat to the vet after some kind of traumatic accident, she probably didn’t think the kitty would live. Bulgarian veterinarian Vladislav Zlatinov had his own doubts, knowing that if he took a chance and amputated the cat’s back legs so high on the limbs, they may have ended up needing to put him down.

Photo Credit: Central Veterinary Clinic

Photo Credit: Central Veterinary Clinic

There wasn’t much to lose, though, so Zlatinov went ahead with the procedure…and followed it up by giving Pooh new prosthetic legs.

Photo Credit: Central Veterinary…

10 Roaring Facts About Jaguars

A few different jaguars have found fame on YouTube over the last few years: In 2013, a National Geographic video of one of the cats taking down an unsuspecting crocodile went viral. And a year later, 4.5 million viewers watched some spectacular footage of one swimming like a champion. But these cats deserve more than just 15 seconds of fame. Here are 10 incredible facts about jaguars that might help you properly appreciate the next hit video.

1. ONLY ONE OR TWO WILD JAGUARS NOW LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES (AS FAR AS WE KNOW).

Wikimedia Commons

These big cats used to have an enormous geographic range, stretching from Argentina to the southwestern United States. In centuries gone by, jaguars were among the top predators in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and southern California. Overhunting, habitat loss, and armed livestock owners completely wiped out the local population in at least three of those states. In 2011, a male was photographed in the Santa Rita Mountains near Tucson, Arizona. Nicknamed El Jefe (Spanish for “the boss”), this cat quickly became a minor celebrity because at the time, no other wild jaguar specimens were known to reside anywhere in the U.S. Then, in 2016, a trail camera in Fort Huachua, Arizona took some snapshots of what looks like a different male. “We are examining photographic evidence to determine if we’re seeing a new cat here, or if this is an animal that has been seen in Arizona before,” Jim deVos, a member of the state’s Game and Fish department, told the press. While there’s not yet an official verdict on whether it’s El Jefe or there’s a new cat in town, you can compare these photos and draw your own conclusions.

2. JAGUARS HAVE DISPROPORTIONATELY STRONG BITES.

“Pound for pound, jaguars pack a stronger punch” than a lion or tiger, says biologist Adam Hardstone-Rose. Back in 2012, Hardstone-Rose co-authored a study that compared the standard bite forces of nine cat species. The data showed that, in terms of sheer power, jaguars can’t compete with tigers, who exert 25 percent more force when chomping down. But proportionately speaking, the smaller felines wield the most powerful bite of any big cat. “The strength of [its] jaw muscles, relative to weight, are slightly stronger than those of other cats. In addition—also relative to weight—its jaws are slightly shorter, which increases the leverage for biting,” Hardstone-Rose explains.

3. THIS MAKES THEM BRUTALLY EFFECTIVE KILLING MACHINES.

Jaguars aren’t finicky. They’ll eat just about any animal they can overpower. Fish, birds, deer, armadillos, peccaries, porcupines, tapirs, capybaras, anacondas, caimans, and nesting sea turtles are just a few of the jaguar’s dinner options. Armadillos, caimans, and sea turtles are all heavily armored creatures whose hides are tough enough to repel most would-be predators, but jaguars aren’t daunted: They know where to bite down. Some big cats, like lions, tend to kill by suffocation, biting the windpipe area of the victim’s neck until it asphyxiates. Jaguars take a different approach. When one of these spotted felines goes in for the kill, it generally delivers a swift, powerful bite to the back of target’s head right where the skull meets the spinal cord. With crushing force, the jaguar’s teeth are driven into the neck vertebrae. If all goes well, the bite will efficiently incapacitate the prey animal.

4. JAGUARS WILL TAKE ON BEARS.

To quote Sir David Attenborough, the jaguar is “a killer of killers,” hunting some pretty dangerous game. Consider El Jefe, who has eaten at least one bear. Last year, wildlife biologist Chris Bugbee was leading Mayke,…

What Is the Demon Cat of Capitol Hill?

Wherever there are people telling stories about historical buildings or occurrences to large groups of curious, slightly clueless tourists, there will be hand-me-down tales of ghosts involved. I’ve traveled to many a historic city in both the United States and around the world, and that seems to be a universal truth.

What is also true is that there is often no way to prove that the colloquial tales are true…or that they’re not.

Which is kind of why we’re left to decipher the facts on our own when it comes to the stories told on Capitol Hill about the all-black house cat that pads around buildings as…

Why Fluorescent Lights Buzz and More

In this week’s “best of” our YouTube channel, we cover the truly fascinating reason why fluorescent lights buzz, why cats like catnip and why stepping on legos is unbelievably painful. We also collaborate with List 25 to share some amazing facts, as well as look at why orange juice tastes so awful after brushing your teeth, why a dollar is sometimes called a buck and whether it’s possible to legally…