Pets As Ambassadors?

Affection for animals may be expressed in many, possibly interlocking, ways. New research suggests that pet-keeping is linked to positive attitudes towards the natural world, indicating that conservationists may need to rethink their antipathy towards cat owners.

"Killer" Cats?

Conservationists have been scapegoating cat owners for decades, but hard evidence that pet cats (as distinct from feral cats) actually have any long-term effect on the populations of their prey has proved hard to come by. New approaches will be needed if there is to be any meaningful dialogue between the two camps.

Cats Get Bad Press (Again)

British columnist Caitlin Moran confesses to hating one of her cats—but it’s all down to a misunderstanding (or two).

Lucky Thirteen (For Cats, Anyhow)

The sequencing of the feline genome continues to shed light on the domestication of the cat, which may now be attributed to changes in as few as 13 genes.

The Cat's Journey from the Wild

The domestication of the cat probably began when wildcats started preying on rodent pests of stored grain. The first archaeological evidence for this process has come from an unexpected location, China, thousands of miles from the domestic cat’s wild origins.

Two Shakes Of A Dog’s Tail

Research into the way dogs communicate with one another, recently neglected in favour of dog-human interaction, is receiving attention once again, spurred on by a desire to understand the lateralisation of mammalian brain function.

LOL Cats Fight Back

Contrary to a recent flurry of press reports, few pet cats become stressed when they’re stroked by their owners—but an already-stressed cat may resent being stroked for too long.

The Bond Between Pet And Owner

We may refer to cats, dogs and other companion animals as “pets”, but each species has a very different concept of what constitutes an “owner”.

Hierarchy—What’s in a Name?

Ethologists routinely measure dominance relationships and social hierarchies in groups of animals, but does this tell us anything about what motivates the animals themselves?

Scent-matching – how the nose knows

Dogs are notorious for their fixation with each other’s rear ends, but this is probably an evolved trait that has stood them well in the past.

Wolves, Dingoes and (Other) Feral Dogs Cooperate, But Do They Coordinate?

Wolf packs are both breeding units and hunting co-ops. Has domestication removed the tendency that young wolves have to defer breeding until they form their own packs, or would feral dogs form breeding units if they had the opportunity or need to hunt in groups? Research on the oldest feral dog of them all, the dingo, supports the former.

Did dogs inspire domestication?

The domestication of animals was self-evidently a crucial part of the human race's transition from hunter-gatherer through pastoralist, but despite its importance, many unanswered questions remain. Why, for example, have so few species of animals been domesticated? Animal scientists are divided as to whether the primary cause of this is biological or cultural.

Greetings!

Cats the world over perform the “tail-up” signal, in which they raise their tails to the vertical when approaching other animals, and especially humans. For years this has been called a “greeting” signal – because it usually happens at the beginning of an interaction. But is this label any more than a convenient anthropomorphism?