Exploring our Cat’s Comprehension

Ever wake up in the middle of the night to your cat performing a version of Cirque de Soleil, usually directly above your head? Or maybe the opposite, you awake to your cat sitting on your chest, staring intently into your snoozing face, deep in kitty thoughts (of revenge). What in the H E double hockey sticks are these cats thinking? Let’s delve into cat comprehension.

Did curiosity actually kill the cat?

According to Webster, intelligence is the ability to acquire information, retain it, and utilize it to solve problems. Like humans, cats research their surroundings. Put a cat in a new place and every nook, cranny, and water glass will be studied. Science has shown that not only does a cat investigate new territory, cats have the ability to retain this knowledge. They retain information and often life-saving environmental details so curiosity didn’t kill the cat, it gave them the notoriety of having nine lives.

The Midnight Marauder

Best day – you bring a cat home. Second-best day – you’ve gotten an uninterrupted night’s sleep with the cat in the house. Cats are nocturnal by nature and these lions of our living room still have those instincts deeply engrained in their primal brains. The spurt of wild energy that many cats get in the middle of the night, dubbed “midnight crazies,” or as we call it at my house “the kitty rave,” is their primal brains telling them that IT’S GO TIME. They often hunt their toys, or other objects, and rubber hair bands are often high on the list of household prey. Thankfully there are ways to curb this behavior. Tired dog = happy, well-rested, human, and the same concept can hold true getting your cat to chill out at night. Interactive toys, feather wands, hide and seek with treats are all great ways to get your cat’s brain and body tired. If you answer their meows and zooms by giving them food to get them to leave you alone, their hunting game is working, with rewards! To repeat this behavior night after night… who’s a smart kitty?

I snooze, the cat stares

Cats think three dimensionally, but they think in different dimensions than we do! When cats hear a noise, they can precisely locate it, while we can locate the direction the noise is coming from. Cat brains are wired to pick up on wavelengths and patterns that prey or humans generate. When you wake up with your cat sitting on your chest staring, the cat is “mapping” its territory. Its intent stare while listening to your sounds and breathing patterns, give the cat a heightened sense of other changes in its environment (your bedroom). They’re not actually plotting revenge against you for not allowing them to lick your ice cream bowl. They’re keeping watch over you and themselves in case of a drastic and scary change in your environment.

The Nip Head
We’ve all seen it… drooling, rolling around meowing to the beat of reggae music (wait what music?), widened pupils as if the colors your cat is seeing are just. so. colorful. That tell-all tail twitch and erratic zoomie behavior. Your cat SMELLED catnip! When catnip enters a cat’s body through its nostrils, cats exude behaviors common to females in heat. These effects last for about 10 minutes and the guilty Nip Head is temporarily immune to catnip’s effects for the next 30 minutes. Pulled from The Cat Guide’s 2017 online article, “Cats and Catnip,” by Sean Green, “When a cat smells catnip, Nepetalactone, one of catnip’s volatile oils, enters the cat’s nasal tissue, where it is believed to bind to protein receptors that stimulate sensory neurons. Then, these cells will provoke a reaction in neurons in the cat’s olfactory bulb, which project to the amygdala and other regions of the brain. These cells also stimulate response from the brain’s hypothalamus, which helps in regulating feelings such as emotions and hunger. The amygdala then combines the flow of information from the olfactory bulb cells and sends it to the brain regions governing the cat’s behavior responses. On the other hand, the hypothalamus regulates neuroendocrine responses of the cat’s brain and body via the pituitary gland – thus creating what it seems to be a “sexual response” in cats.” In laymen’s term’s or as your cat thinks the “lame human’s terms,” your cat is blissfully turned on! If your cat decides to nibble on the nip instead of smelling it, you’ll get more of a Bob Marley effect. Eating catnip puts your cat in a more mellow irie state (mon).

Thanks for traveling the cat’s brain with us. We’re all safe for now, knowing that they’re not plotting against us every night… Or are they?!

 

Inside the Canine Cranium

Here at the PAWS office, we have dogs on the brain. In order for humans to excel at being dog parents we need to understand how our dog’s brains operate. Let’s explore the canine cranium!

First question, do dogs think? Dr. Jill Sackman, a clinician in behavioral medicine and senior medical director of BluePearl Veterinary Partners’ Michigan hospitals says, “Absolutely.” Dog cognition is similar to a three-year-old human, so there is some accuracy to the infamous bumper sticker, my dog is smarter than your honor student, as long as that honor student is in preschool.

Got a pup that likes to give you the cold shoulder? Do you ever wonder, does my dog even like me? Animal Cognition scientists at Emory University trained dogs to be still in an MRI machine and they measured a dog’s neural responses to different types of smells. Dogs navigate through their noses and the way they process smell offers insight into behavior. First of all, who’s a good boy!? Many of our dogs won’t stay still for more than a minute. Secondly, what did they find out? The scientists discovered that a dog owner’s scent actually sparked the most activation in the “reward center” of dog brains. Of all the smells to take in, dogs prioritized the smell of their humans over anything or anyone else. Fido prefers L’eau de YOU the most!

A Mutt’s Memory Lane
Fact, dogs do remember. Dogs who have gone through obedience training know and remember commands and hand signals. Dogs remember friend’s houses and routines. Do you always give your dog a treat after a walk? You’ll see that when you return home they’ll sit and wait for what comes next. But do dogs store memories in their brain like humans do? The short answer is no. Dogs have an associative memory which means dogs remember people, places, and experiences based on associations they have with them. They remember that you putting on shoes means WALK! But they won’t remember what the weather was like last time they walked. Have a pup that gets uneasy and scared in the waiting room at the vet? If they’ve had a negative experience, they won’t be able to remember what scared them, but they will associate the waiting room with fear.
Ever notice that your dog’s reaction to seeing you after being gone for an hour is similar to when you’ve been gone for a week? Dogs do remember people. But research shows that they don’t remember the last time they saw a particular person – they forget events within two minutes.

The Emotional Hound
Dogs are sensitive creatures, some more than others, just like people. A 2017 article in Psychology Today, says there is solid evidence from brain imaging studies that shows areas of dogs’ brains light up when they feel emotions that parallel those of humans. This means your pup feels similarly to how you feel when experiencing different emotions. While dogs have the same hormones and undergo the same chemical changes as humans when experiencing emotions, their range of emotions is different than ours. Because researchers have decided that a dog’s mind is roughly equivalent to that of a 3-year-old human, this decision holds true for mental abilities, including emotion. Like a toddler, dogs will have fewer kinds of emotions than an adult human. This chart shows a dog’s emotional range based on the human age emotions appear:

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/canine-corner/201303/which-emotions-do-dogs-actually-experience

You may think that your dog is exhibiting shame when you put him in a silly costume, but actually its disgust. Sorry Pooch!

 

We hope you learned a little something about our tail wagger’s inner workings! We’ll be back in touch with a breakdown of the feline intellect soon.

Does your Valentine make your tail wag?

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and you better believe that we think pets make the best Valentines! Did you know that nearly 9 million Americans buy Valentine’s Day gifts for their dogs?

Skip Cupid’s lovey dovey corny mumbo kibble this Valentine’s Day and join PAWS at the Snake River Brew Pub for Trivia Night! This year, American’s are estimated to spend 751 million dollars on Valentine’s gifts for their pets! How about treating yourself to some Valentine’s hoppy happiness in lieu of, or along with (who are we kidding) a gift to your pet. For every pint you drink, SRB donates a buck back to your fur-clad Valentine’s favorite local nonprofit.

Be sure to try their main-stay dog inspired beer, Pako’s IPA. Pako was a beloved canine of an SRB’s long time mug clubber. Brewers brewed an IPA because Pako had two different colored eyes, and officially called the beer Pako’s EYE-P-A.

We hope to see you there!

Hello Spay and Neuter Awareness Month!

While most folks think of Cupid and chocolates during the month of February, we in the animal welfare biz like to highlight that February is NATIONAL SPAY/NEUTER MONTH! Did you know that cats are 45 times as prolific, and dogs 15 times as prolific, as humans?

Why is the month of February given this honor? Typically, spring and summer are dubbed “kitten/puppy season,” with rampant overproduction of puppies and kittens during this time. February is the perfect month to remind people to spay/neuter their pets before an unplanned pregnancy occurs. While the number of accidental canine pregnancies has dropped in our little bubble of Jackson, they often occur in our neighboring communities. Unwanted pregnancies bring free puppy giveaways, which sometimes leads to puppies that wind up with humans who have bad intentions or who will not care for them. As for cats, leaving a cat unaltered produces many, many kittens. An unspayed female cat can have 3 litters of 4-6 kittens each within one year, and can get pregnant as early as 4 months in age. An apocalypse could happen and cats would still find a way to reproduce!There are many other positive reasons to spay/neuter your pets beyond preventing reproduction. Our pets, although domesticated and usually spoiled, are still animals at their core and their natural instincts send them looking for a mate, when left intact. 80% of dogs that are hit by cars are wandering, intact males and 90% of the millions of cats that are killed on our roads each year are unaltered. Unaltered dogs also face a list of serious health problems that altered dogs do not face, such as mammary tumors, uterine cancer, testicular cancer, and prostate disease.

The development of low-cost and free spay/neuter programs (like we have at PAWS!) has significantly reduced the number of pets entering shelters or being euthanized in shelters each year. Television, advertising, and social media has increased our awareness of the importance and impact of spay/neuter. Who remembers Bob Barker at the end of the Price is Right? “Bob Barker here reminding you, help control the pet population, have your pet spayed or neutered.” While a number of states have proposed mandatory spay/neuter laws, there are currently no state laws requiring all pet owners to sterilize their animals. Some cities, such as Los Angeles, Dallas, and Las Vegas, have implemented spay/neuter ordinances within their localities with some exceptions. To learn more about spay/neuter laws: https://www.avma.org/Advocacy/StateAndLocal/Pages/sr-spay-neuter-laws.aspx

In 2018 PAWS of Jackson Hole issued over 1,300 spay/neuter surgery vouchers in Jackson, Star Valley, and Teton Valley. In the future, we hope to see a decline in our voucher numbers, which will mean that people are adopting shelter animals that are already spayed/neutered and that people aren’t breeding their own pets. Pets do not need our help to expand their numbers; they need our help to reduce their numbers until there are good homes for them all. Happy February you PAWesome people, and remember its hip to snip!

Want to meet a few of our recent spay/neuter voucher recipients?

A Trap, Neuter, Return feral colony in Swan Valley, Idaho.
A few fluff muppets who were rescued from the dump in Riverton. Luckily for them a Jackson/Teton Valley hero human opened up her home to them to adopt out, after getting them spayed and neutered.
Tank, Aspen, and Clover of Star Valley, WY

Upcoming Events

We’ve got options for whatever you’re in the mood for THIS upcoming Saturday, February 2nd.

If you’re feeling active and want to hit the trails with your canine sidekick(s), we will be participating in this year’s Jackson Hole Winter Trails Day. Look for the PAWS tent at the Cache Creek Trailhead from 12 – 3pm. Eva of Star Dog Training will be hanging with us to offer up some free dog training tips! Check out the full line up of this Saturday’s Winter Trails Day activities:

If you’re feeling spicy (and hungry) our partners across the hill are hosting their 8th annual Winter Chili Cookoff. The event is being held at the Wildwood Room in Victor, Idaho from 5 to 8pm, all proceeds benefit the Teton Valley Community Animal Shelter’s adoptable pets. If you’re feeling extra creative and a little competitive you can enter your trademark chili to the cookoff to be sampled and voted on by all of the attendees.
Contact Heather if you’d like to submit your chili: [email protected] More info on the event via the Teton Valley Community Animal Shelter’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/334123557192261/

2018 Year in Review

Did you know that you can become a member of PAWS of Jackson Hole by donating just $10 monthly? Save your liver from one martini a month and put that money to work helping local pets and their people. Check out a few highlighted ways your membership gift would impact our local pets:

In 2018, PAWS provided over 1,100 spay/neuter surgery vouchers in Jackson, Teton Valley, and Star Valley. On top of that number PAWS has increased their efforts with Trap Neuter Return in the Teton Valley area and has successfully TNR’ed over 100 cats in 2018 with the help of our TNR volunteer team and some stellar feral cat advocates. Check out some of our 2018 Spay/Neuter and TNR recipients who, thanks to your support, will not be contributing to the pet overpopulation problem in our communities.


Meet Humphrey! This little guy is around 4 months and was originally abandoned along the side of a busy highway. Luckily he was found by someone who could give him the love he deserved. Humphrey was the 404th voucher we issued in Star Valley in 2018.

Twinkie, an 8 1/2 year old Min Pin, was used for breeding most of her life. Luckily for Twinkie her new mom, Bridgette, has put a stop to all of that nonsense and is giving Twinkie a new (spayed) life. Since her rescue 6 weeks ago Twinkie has lost a very needed 3lbs and is pleased with the fact that she is no longer a puppy making machine.
A TNR’ed kitten that ended up being tame enough to be adopted out through the Teton Valley Community Animal Shelter. All TNR’ed cats are accessed by a vet and some end up turning in their wild ways of life to become loving pets.




Did you attend our Tuxes and Tails Gala this past June? If so then you are well versed on our friend Bullet’s story and how badly he needed a chance at life. PAWS Medfund has helped over 70 people get their pets the medical treatment and care they desperately needed in 2018. Your membership gift directly impacts future animals just like Bullet.

To view Bullet’s story: https://vimeo.com/284404980

Bullet enjoying an afternoon snooze on a backpacking trip this summer with his rescuers, Will and Aska.

The ever so popular Mutt Mitts are still incredibly poop-ular! PAWS replaced the trashcans this year and added a couple to the managed stations roster. Our Mutt Mitt Maintenance Team services 23 stations weekly, 52 weeks a year! With the help of your membership gift PAWS distributes 150,000 FREE mutt mitts a year and pulls over 51,000 pounds of poop off our local trails!

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PAWS’ Education and Outreach program has expanded in 2018. PAWS has introduced their own team of PAWS Trail Ambassadors. The Trail Ambassadors’ mission is to spread the “paws-itivity” and promote harmonious trail usage between bikers, hikers, skiers, and dog walkers. While out walking and surveying the trails, Ambassadors are ready to reward responsible pet owner behavior… and tend to reward the dogs too of course! Look for them out on the trails this summer and winter, easily spotted by their bright orange PAWS fanny packs, chock full of goodies thanks to Persephone Bakery, Snake River Brew Pub, Mars INC, Pet Place Plus, and Teton Tails!



This past fall PAWS partnered up with Rendezvous Elementary School in Driggs to introduce Humane Education to their students. PAWS and the School’s Counselor developed and presented a 4-week course of Pet and People Compassion Education for three hundred students. Pet topics such as how to meet an animal, spay and neuter, pet overpopulation and animal shelters, pet needs and safety, and breed discrimination were covered. All of these topics accompanied human compassion lessons and together they promote empathy, kindness, and responsibility for both humans and pets. PAWS plans to extend the Pet and People Compassion Education model throughout our communities in 2019.

And finally, thanks to DART (Disaster Animal Response Team) training, PAWS now has more than 40 certified volunteers ready to help if disaster strikes in both Teton County, WY and Teton County, Idaho. The DART team and countless other PAWS volunteers make all NINE PAWS programs possible. So farewell 2018, and thank you, supporters and volunteers. You are all an integral piece of the organization.

2018 Teton Valley DART Training
This group of feline enthusiasts got together to make outdoor cat houses for TNR recipients.

Do you like Pina Coladas?

If you like Piña Coladas
and going running in the rain
If you’re not into yoga
If you’ve got dog on the brain
If you like making snacks at midnight
In your slippers in the dark
I’m the dog love that you looked for
To you I will dedicate my bark. 

Meet the most eligible tail wagging bachelorette in town, SADIE MAE. Sadie enjoys listening to Jimmy Buffet even in the winter.. any cheeseburger shared with her is a cheeseburger in paradise. 

She’s the perfect mix of adventurous, goofy, and is a hopeless romantic at heart, this girl lives for Rom Coms (Must Love Dogs, tops her chart!). 

ARE YOU THE HUMAN LOVE THAT SHE’S LOOKED FOR? 

Sadie Mae is available for adoption from the Jackson/Teton County Animal Shelter. Please call 307-733-2139 for more info on Sadie.

Local Pet Guardian Angel and PAWS TNR cat trapper gets some much deserved press!

Bullet and mom Aska on a backpacking trip.

If you are an active friend to local pets in need then you’ve met Aska, or at least you’ve heard her name. Did you attend this past year’s Tuxes and Tails? Yep, you know Aska.

Aska Langman is nothing short of remarkable. She and her husband Will, who often is the kitten’s keepers when Aska must take on other responsibilities that life hands her, live in Victor, Idaho and have quite the menagerie of animals.

Check out today’s News and Guide article about Aska and her life long mission: https://www.jhnewsandguide.com/valley/people/closeup/article_4715f228-a875-5257-8033-914ca3718a63.html

Why adopt and not shop

Did you catch our recent article on Buckrail? October is National Adopt a Shelter Pet Month and this article will give you the details on national animal shelter stats and tips on how to find the right pet for you.

Check it out: https://buckrail.com/why-adopt-and-not-shop/

You’re in the know if you follow us on Facebook and Instagram of what local shelter animals have stricken our fancy this month. But in case you aren’t a social media buff, here are a select few we thought you should meet.

Harley and Muffy, the feline love birds of Meow Manner, at the Jackson/Teton County Animal Shelter.

Sadie Mae, longest running-she loves to run- canine resident of the Jackson/Teton County Animal Shelter.

Sundance, the First Lady of the Animal Adoption Center’s Kitty City. She doesn’t believe in politics, she only believes in Catnip.

Dottie of the Animal Adoption Center has all of the supermodel dogs of the world beat in selecting functional fall frocks this year.

You need TVCAS’s Copper John. Why? Because ice cream tastes better when you’re sharing it with this guy.

TVCAS’s Blanche will keep you on your toes and full of youthful spirit like your favorite Golden Girl.

 

Interested in any of the above? Call their shelters listed in the descriptions.

Jackson/Teton County Animal Shelter: 307-733-2139

Animal Adoption Center: 307-739-1881

Teton Valley Community Animal Shelter: 208-354-3499

 

Keep their PAWS away this holiday

Halloween is upon us, bring on the candy! With the holidays come an influx of enticing edibles that could be dangerous to dogs and cats. Here’s a quick recap of what to avoid:

Fatty Foods

One of our staff member’s fondest childhood Thanksgiving memories is walking into the dining room to find her Brittany Spaniel on top of the table gulping down a stick of butter. He survived but it was a long night of in and out. Fatty Foods like butter are not toxic but consumption can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and gas, and can result in pancreatitis and gastrointestinal issues.

Happy puppy now! But you’ll both be paying for it later!

Chocolate

The most commonly known food to keep away from your pet, why would we want to share anyway?

*If your pet is sneaky and gets into a holiday box of chocolate covered cherries take them to the vet immediately as cherries are very toxic to pets.

Turkey 

The same Spaniel that devoured the stick of butter also got fed way too much roasted turkey one year. He had his human father wrapped around his paw and he begged and got fed, which resulted in an after Thanksgiving emergency vet visit. A little plain turkey is ok, but not more than a couple of bites a day. Overdoing it and your dog will show symptoms common with any type of poisoning: lethargy, shortness of breath, and vomiting

Macadamia Nuts

All nuts aren’t the best thing for your pet to snack on with a high salt content, but Macadamia Nuts especially as they’re very toxic to pets.

 

Grapes and Raisins

Keep an extra eye on the charcuterie plate, grapes and raisins can cause kidney issues in dogs and cats. Even small amounts can result in lethargy, shivers and a decreased appetite. More extreme cases of grape poisoning can cause kidney failure. There isn’t an exact amount of these foods that must be ate in order to cause them to get sick, some react to just a few and others have a high tolerance. If they end up consuming grapes or raisins a trip to the vet is needed immediately.

We wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season! Now seriously, bring on the candy!