Feline maternal instincts

Cats often have a reputation for being independent and aloof, but when it comes to caring for infants they can show maternal instincts just as strong as many other species.

It’s common for owners to get female cats spayed to remove the reproductive organs and prevent pregnancy. This procedure doesn’t, however, remove all feline maternal instincts and these can still continue to be exhibited through their physical behaviour. In fact, research suggests that spaying has no impact at all on cats’ parenting instincts.

For current cat owners thinking of adding to their furry family, these instincts can often be highly beneficial in the acceptance of a new young kitten into the home. We know well that cats are very territorial creatures and can be fiercely protective, which can lead to difficulty getting along well with other adult cats. Therefore, many rely on these maternal urges when introducing a new kitten in the hope that they will view the infant as their own and care for them accordingly. There isn’t really any way to anticipate whether this will be the case, so the first stages upon meeting are vital, and will give you a clear idea of whether a maternal streak is likely to come through.

Just like humans, some cats have stronger maternal feelings than others and we often see cases reported of cats adopting other kittens and even other infant animal species as their own. Maternal behaviours exhibited by cats are both very caring and protective, and they are lovely to witness as a reminder of how sensitive felines really are. There can be many different displays, which include regularly checking on their ‘offspring’, petting and grooming, anxiously greeting and checking over them after any periods of separation, and defending them from other cats or animals.

Do you have any stories of your cat showing their maternal side? Perhaps they accepted a new addition to the home as their own, or even another younger animal species – if so, we’d love to hear them so please share with us below.

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What ways do dogs use for showing affection?

Dogs can’t use words to say just how much they love us, so instead make their feelings known through their behaviour and show their affection physically. It’s good to learn and note what these physical signs are so you can be sure to acknowledge them as positive behaviours and show your own in return. After all, everyone likes to feel loved!

Just like cats, dogs use their tails as a way to express their different emotions. These may not always be positive; at times, certain types of wagging can be used to indicate fear or anxiety, or when threatened their tail may take up a defensive position. But they also show happiness and affection – generally if your dog wags their tail very enthusiastically in wide, side-to-side, sweeping motions this is most likely a sign of their love for you. It’s also a show of respect that acknowledges your position as their leader and so their loyalty to you.

It might not be your favourite habit of theirs, but if your dog has a tendency to shower you with slobbery canine ‘kisses’ and bouts of licking then you can be sure this is another demonstration of their affection. Puppies can have a tendency to do this more than adult dogs, but you may find yours still shows you this token of love on a regular basis. Some people can be quick to dismiss this slightly more unpleasant behaviour, but be careful not to do this too harshly as it’s important to not disregard the positive intentions of such an action. Dogs also use licking as part of grooming and do this to other dogs as a sign of intimacy and bonding, the same sentiment that applies if they do it to you.

Ever thought you’ve caught your dog showing you his pearly whites before? Well you could well be right, as research suggests that dogs use facial expressions to show how they’re feeling in the same way that humans do, which leads many to believe that they really can smile!

We’ve all heard the scamper of paws eagerly running to greet us as we get home, or follow us around the house especially after being separated for a while. Close physical proximity is a sure sign of your dog’s love and devotion. Unlike us, who at times have a desire or tendency to seek solitude, dogs are very sociable creatures that would choose to be with their owner almost all of the time. This need to be close to you is a way of showing their loyalty and can also manifest into leaning. It might be a slight irritation as you try not to trip over them, but leaning themselves against your legs is usually a gesture of affection in your dog’s eyes, so if this does happen then bend down and show them some attention, even if it’s just for a minute. If it is an unfamiliar dog that’s leaning into you be a little more careful – rarely this can be a prelude to aggressive behaviour.

A dog rolling over is perhaps one of the most common signs of their affection and trust. Quite often, it’s also a hint for a belly rub too! Take the time to indulge your furry friend and show them some love in return. Dogs are highly affectionate animals and they’re not thought of as man’s best friend for no reason, so watch out for these regular displays of love, be sure to reciprocate and you’ll find you’ve got a guaranteed furry friend for life.

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Introducing a new pet to the home – can cats and dogs really get along?

 

Some of you may already have multi-pet households and are familiar with the challenges this can bring, while others may just know the joy of one pet and are hesitant about introducing another for fear of fighting. While it’s true that cats and dogs are very different animals with opposing traits, there are many instances of them getting along perfectly well and there’s no reason this can’t be the case for you. It’s very exciting getting a new pet, but it’s important to remember and think about your existing pet too, and the impact this will have on an animal used to an unchallenged claim of their territory.

The initial stages are vital for a peaceful transition all round. Now, we don’t usually like to point fingers, but it’s fair to say if there are going to be any problems during the introductions then it’s likely to be caused by the dog. For one, dogs love to chase, and with cats’ instinct to run if frightened this can mean them not getting off to the best start with one another. A way to avoid this is to keep your dog on a lead as a precaution when they’re first in the same room together, until your cat feels more comfortable. Keep the lead loose but make sure to hold it firmly in case your dog does begin to chase; it’s often a good idea to do this as a safety measure until you’re certain that the situation is safe for all parties. It’s also important for cats to have access to a, preferably elevated, place to escape to for when they want to retreat for solitude. Be sure to let them have easy access to this as forcing them to stay close and interact will only cause anxiety and inhibit any relationship building. Treats can be helpful to use, just as you would for reward-based training; giving your cat a treat for good behaviour will eventually mean they associate the dog and its close proximity with treats, and likewise praising and rewarding playful but non-threatening actions from your dog will encourage more of this in the future.

Remember that, like people, new pets can take a while to get to know each other and develop a certain level of trust and comfort. Cats in particular can take some time to build a trusting relationship, so in the beginning stages they may keep themselves out of the way and appear cautious; sometimes, it’s a case of letting them take their time to assess the situation and gradually they will become more comfortable with your dog. The age of either pet can also be a factor of how well they respond to one another, and so may be something to consider before you extend your furry family. Younger cats will likely be more inquisitive with dogs, and their playful nature often means that they don’t scare so easily and this can lead to a strong bond. Likewise, puppies are renowned for being energetic and boisterous at times so this can be overwhelming or frightening for felines, in particular if they’re not quick to pick up on any warning signs from your cat too. If your dog is of a gentle and caring breed or temperament, this is better suited for cats to tolerate, and we all know that in most homes it’s often the cat that makes the rules. When choosing your new pet, take time to thoroughly research different breeds and try to match your pets’ personalities as much as possible, that way you’ll give them the best chance to really be the best of friends and not just fight like cats and dogs!

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