News Bites for 12 November 2021

The surprising socio-spatial superpowers of cats

 

A new study by Kyoto University has found that cats can mentally map their owner’s location indoors using the sound of the person’s voice.

 

Researchers used speakers placed around a home setting to observe how cats reacted to the voice of their owner without visual cues. The cats in the study were found to register surprise when their owner’s voice suddenly appeared to teleport from one location to another, suggesting they have a capability for socio-spatial cognition – the ability to mentally picture where others are through cues like sound.

 

“It is generally believed that cats are not as interested in their owners as dogs are, but it turns out that they were mentally representing the invisible presence of their owners,” researcher Saho Takagi said. Read more

 

Common household noises can cause dog stress

 

Common household noises made by vacuum cleaners or microwaves can contribute to stress and anxiety in dogs, a new study by the University of California, Davis has found. Researchers looked at online videos and conducted interviews with 386 dogs owners to better understand the impact of household noises on pets. The study found that not only did owners underestimate their dogs’ fearfulness of such noises, but some also responded with amusement rather than concern over their animal’s welfare.

 

“There is a mismatch between owners’ perceptions of the fearfulness and the amount of fearful behaviour actually present. We hope this study gets people to think about the sources of sound that might be causing their dog stress, so they can take steps to minimise their dog’s exposure to it,” researcher Emma Grigg said. Read more

 

Apiam vet group has cattle vaccine approved for use

 

Regional animal health provider, Apiam Animal Health, has secured regulatory approval for a new vaccine that will assist in preventing disease in cattle caused by the Histophilus somni bacteria. The vaccine has been developed through Apiam’s vaccine research and manufacturing business, ACE Laboratories, and will provide an effective method for farmers to prevent disease outbreaks and potential antibiotic resistance issues on farms.

 

In August 2021, the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, an inter-agency group comprising experts from around the globe, called for a significant reduction in the use of antimicrobial drugs in global food systems. To address the high use of antimicrobial drugs in livestock, industry operators have begun to develop alternatives such as custom vaccines like this. Read more

 

New wildlife ambulance for Zoos Victoria

 

Injured wildlife across Victoria will benefit from a new ambulance and Zoos Victoria hospital upgrades thanks to $3.3 million in donations to the RSPCA Bushfire Appeal. The wildlife ambulance, named the Wildlife Response Unit, is already operational and transporting injured wildlife to Healesville Sanctuary’s animal hospital, where the funding will also see the expansion of facilities. A new animal hospital at Melbourne Zoo is expected to be constructed and operational by early 2022.

 

“This investment in Victoria’s wildlife welfare emergency approach will transform the way we respond to surges in demand. It will allow more animals in need to receive immediate care, particularly during emergency events, like we saw in the Black Summer bushfires. We are grateful to join forces with RSPCA Victoria to bring these critical projects to life,” said Dr Jenny Gray, Chief Executive of Zoos Victoria. Read more

 

Human-dog relationship continues to evolve

 

The connection between canine and human can be traced back as far as 33,000 years ago and has resulted in a unique interspecies alliance. In recent decades, researchers in the fields of psychology, archaeology, genetics and biology have been able to better understand the complex history of this unprecedented coevolution, but even today our relationship with man’s best friend continues to develop.

 

Ownership of dogs as pets is growing exponentially, even in areas where dogs historically were not considered companion animals. As fewer people decide to have children, dogs could very well be co-opting our caretaking impulses. Read more