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Hot Weather Tips for a Comfortable Summer for Pets

Everyone was shocked at the national media story about the older man and his dog who died in his car from the intense heat. The battery was dead on his cell phone, and he couldn't unlock the car doors. And no one in the parking area of the shopping center noticed the man's need of help! It only takes two small things to go wrong, and tragedy lurks nearby.

Hot weather is a huge risk to pets and people who are inside vehicles. Please, do not leave your pet, a child, or an older person in your vehicle during hot weather. Even an outdoor temperature in the mid 70's can be a dangerous situation because a car or truck is like a greenhouse. The heat can build to extremely high temperatures in a short time. Veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward did an experiment on a warm summer day in which he sat in a parked car with the windows cracked. He wanted to see just how hot it would get. Within 30 minutes, it was 117 degrees inside the car. “Never, ever leave your dog in a parked car on a warm day,” he pleads at the end of the video he made to document his experience. That goes for any pet, by the way! Take a look at the video on Utube and it will be an eye-opener. It is illegal in some states to leave an unattended child or pet in a vehicle.

Tips and ideas for summer from the Ocooch Mountain Humane Society:

Watch your pets for heatstroke, a potenitally fatal condition. Cats and dogs can have heatstroke. Pets are unable to sweat like people can. They rely upon panting (to get rid of hot air and inhale cool air) to cool themselves. Some sweating occurs through their foot pads and nose, but this is insufficient to effectively cool them. These differences in pets make them especially prone to heatstroke during hot, humid weather. There is no critical temperature to avoid since heatstroke can occur at even lower environmental temperatures if the humidity is very high. Symptoms of heatstroke include: Excessive or exaggerated panting, lethargy, weakness, drooling, high fever, dark red gums, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, collapse, warm/dry skin.

It is imperative to get the pet to a veterinarian immediately as permanent organ damage, i.e., heart, liver, kidneys and brain, can occur.

Window screens can be made safe by using a pet resistant screen. Have your window where your cat likes to lounge re-covered with this very durable screen material. It will prevent the screens becoming scratched and unsightly and will save your cat from tumbling out the window!

Older pets need special care in hot weather. Cats and dogs need a home that has cool interior to help them breathe in the hot humid condtions. Change the AC temp in your house only a few degrees less cool for the pets while you are gone for an extended time. Pets cannot sweat to relieve the heat they feel. The only way they can expel heat is by panting… dogs and cats can pant… and they lose some heat through their paws.

Try to walk your dog in the early morning or in the evening. Hot asphalt can be burn on your dog's paws. And it is much more comfortable for you, too, to choose a cooler time to walk.

Consider giving your pets short and comfortable summer haircuts. Give them some relief from the heat and humidity. The fur grows back quickly!

Dogs especially at risk for heatstroke are short-nosed breeds, such as Pugs, Shi Tzus, Pekingese, Bulldogs, and Boxers because they cannot pant and breathe properly to expel heat.

Cats at more risk for heatstroke are short-nosed breeds such as Persians and other exotics, young and old cats, overweight cats, and cats with airway disease.

Dehydration can occur in pets very quickly. Keep clean fresh water where they can readily reach it and take a long cool drink!

Always provide plenty of shade and clean, cool water for your pets during summer.

Sunscreen for Dogs? Yes, some dogs could use sunscreen to protect them from sun dammage just like humans. White dogs, in particular, could use protective sunscreen around their eyes and noses. The sunscreen must be a product that is made for caninesdo not use a human sunscreen! Dogs can get sunburned, and we human companions all know that the sun can cause difficult medical problems. Try to limit the hours your dog is in direct sunlight.

Doggles can be a good protection for dogs' eyes.  You may have to work a bit for your pet to be comfortable wearing doggles, but it can be good protection against sun damage.  If your dog rides on a motorcycle with you, Doggles are a very good idea for eye protection.

Not all dogs are good swimmers; therefore, be very careful with your dog around water and on a boat. We all think of dogs just naturally able to do the “dog paddle.” But this is not the case with several breeds. Use a flotation device designed for your dog, especially when boating.

The Ocooch Mountain Humane Society encourages spending good quality time with your pets during the long summer hours we have here in Wisconsin. We know that summer is a precious commodity. Keep your own hot weather health and that of your pets uppermost in mind regarding safety, comfort, and precautions.

Posted in Pet Health and Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Does Your Pet Watch Television?

In a survey conducted by the American Kennel Club, almost half of those surveyed said that their dog had shown interest in what it saw on TV. Does your dog or cat appear to “watch” TV? Does it react to some of the sights or sounds that it sees or hears on TV? While some pets appear to actually “watch” TV intently, others only react to a few sounds emanating from the TV (such as the sounds of another animal or the ringing of a doorbell), and still others don’t react at all to TV programs, appearing completely oblivious to them. So, what’s up? Can dogs and cats actually see what’s on a TV screen, and, if so, is it the same thing that we humans see? And why are some of them interested in what they see, while others are not?

Some of what your dog or cat sees on television depends on how new and advanced your TV is. Fusing a rapid set of images into what our eyes can register as a moving picture is called “flicker fusion frequency.” Newer TVs do this much better and faster than old TVs, which could only produce up to 50 new frames a second (with older models producing even fewer frames per second). We humans need about 16 to 20 images per second to perceive what we see as continuous film, whereas dogs need about 70 to 80 images per second, and cats and birds need about 100. Thus, with older TVs, dogs and cats are unable to perceive clear, fluid images on TV; however, with the additional resolution in current television technology and imaging, most pets, but especially dogs, can probably see the images that are on TV screens as well as they see the world in general and have, thus become potential television viewers.

Myra and Sesame Street

This new TV “audience” has not gone unnoticed, and TV executives are already starting up special TV channels and programming for pets. For example in 2012, in Great Britain, Baker's Dog Food made a one-minute commercial that had images of their dog food on the screen that were enhanced by high-frequency sounds that could be heard only by dogs! And, here in the United States (as well as in Israel and some Asian and European countries), DogTV, a network that produces programming especially for canines, is now available via streaming and from certain cable and satellite companies.

Cat Myra watches Sesame Street.
Here is a link to a cat sports enthusiast! Sorry for the long link… our program would not allow us to upload the video itself.  Just click on it here:  https://plus.google.com/photos/107484704748596947781/albums/6112780351451945409?authkey=CLLCyY_n2PidQA

Still, the question remains: Are dogs and cats really interested in what they see on TV? And, if some are and some aren’t, why is that? Experts say that both dogs and cats are more likely to be interested in “real-life” drama (including what they see out a window) than anything that they are likely to see on a TV screen. However, a study of shelter cats exposed to TV found that cats without access to windows and without a lot of “real-life” drama around them were more interested in TV viewing, especially programs with birds, rodents, and fish images. (In other words, TV was, for these cats, an anecdote for boredom—just as it sometimes is for humans.) Of course, birds, rodents, and fish are natural prey for cats, and, since dogs and cats are predatory animals, any movement or sound that they perceive on TV as coming from possible prey can (and often does) attract the attention of even the most pampered house pet.

Another factor that determines what pets see when viewing TV is color. Seeing colors is dependent on the cones in one’s eyes. Not only do humans have more cones in our eyes than dogs and cats, but we also have more different types of cones. Humans have three kinds of cones, allowing us to see not only blues and greens, but also reds. Dogs, on the other hand, have only two types of cones, which allows them to see colors in the blue and green spectrum quite well, but not reds. Cats can see a larger range of color in the blue, green, and yellow spectrums than dogs do, but, like dogs, they see very few or no reds. Likewise, cones also affect perception of details, so, although dogs and cats can see detail, they cannot do so as clearly as humans.

Finally, the physical attributes and the personality traits and interests of various pets help to determine not only what they can see on TV, but also how they react to what they see. For example, some breeds of dogs, such as blood hounds, rely more on their sense of smell, so they might not be as interested as other breeds of dogs in the visual images that they see on TV. In addition, some pets are very territorial and, thus, are more likely to react to an image on TV that they perceive as “invading” their territory. Similarly, a dog that loves fetching tennis balls may be more prone to love watching the back-and-forth movement of the tennis ball in a tennis match—while, as was shown in the shelter-cat study mentioned earlier, a bored indoor-only cat may be more interested in watching images of birds or fish, especially if they’re green or blue!

Do you have a pet that “watches” TV? Does it react to or seem to enjoy certain images or programs more than others? If so, OMHS would love to hear from you. E-mail your comments, observations, and/or photos of your pets watching their favorite TV programs (in jpg format as an attachment) to us at info@ocoochmountainhumanesociety.org .

                           Article by M S B, with research by M L H                 

                                                  Sources: Science Nordic; Four Legs Good; VMLCI






Posted in Educational programs, OMHS News - Current/Recent, Pet Health and Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Joel and Joshua, Siblings, have Great New Homes!

Joel and Joshua are two of the most beautiful young tabby kittens you can imagine!  They not only look great but they are the most sweet and fun-loving "kits" you can find anywhere! 

In the late summer 2013, these two kittens were found lying in a yard in a small town across the Wisconsin River from Richland County. The kittens were in very bad condition and at first the young boy who found them thought they were dead. He took the kittens home to his mom who called OMHS to help save these babies. The kittens were a mess… they were covered with lice, for starters… malnourished, missing some fur, weak, and very needy. 

The OMHS Cat Adoption volunteers gave the kittens the nickname "Monkeys" because they were so skinny, and thier little faces looked like very tiny monkeys when they climbed up the side of the large pen they were in to peek into the window into the next room!  The volunteers would look up from their work cleaning litterboxes and other chores and there would be those two tiny faces… Monkey faces… peering through the window! It was like a game!  The kittens gained weight and learned how to play and enjoy life once they were not starving and had energy to spare.  Joshua and Joel are truly two very special young cats!

OMHS gave them great care and they have developed into the personable and handsome pair you see here.  They have been socialized with other cats… senior cats and youngsters.  Joshua and Joel are neutered and up-to-date on vaccinations. 

All they need now is a new and loving home where they can continue to enjoy life and bring joy and even more happiness to a household.

Come interview Joshua and Joel at the Adoption Center, 1400 West Seminary Street, Richland Center.  The Adoption Center is located directly behind the main building at Schmitt Woodland Hills Retirement Community.  Hours: Wednesdays, 4:30 to 6 pm. and Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon.  See you there!

Low Adoption Rates are now in place! 

Posted in OMHS News - Current/Recent, Success Stories: Cats | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For the Sake of Your Pet’s Health Do NOT Smoke Indoors!

    Do you have companion animals and a smoker in your household?  If your answer to both parts of this question is YES, please, for the sake of your pets and your family, take immediate steps to eliminate smoking indoors.  Of course, the best solution to the problem is to eliminate smoking entirely.  However, in lieu of that solution, in order to more quickly (and easily) protect dogs, cats, birds, and other pets, both OMHS and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals strongly encourage smokers to go outdoors for that pipe, cigar, or cigarette. In other words, “Take It (Your Smoking Habit) Outside!”

    Most of us have heard the statistics: that second-hand smoke takes the lives of over 50,000 Americans per year and that an additional 4 million youth are exposed annually to the dangers of second-hand smoke.  It stands to reason, then, that there is now a growing body of scientific research, including studies at leading universities across the USA, indicating that, when exposed to the toxins in second-hand smoke, our companion-animal family members also suffer irreparable health dangers (including respiratory problems, allergies, nasal and lung cancer, lymphoma, and death)

    It comes as no surprise that second-hand tobacco smoke is toxic to pets. Dogs and cats share some common physiology with us humans, so many things that are toxic to people are also toxic to animals. The ASPCA, one of the largest animal-rights groups in the U.S., lists tobacco smoke as a dangerous toxin to pets. Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, medical director of the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center, says: "Nicotine from second-hand smoke can have effects to the nervous systems of cats and dogs. Environmental tobacco smoke has been shown to contain numerous cancer-causing compounds, making it hazardous for animals as well as humans.”

    And now there is proof that “third-hand smoke,” not even considered a danger in the past, is very much in the picture, particularly for cats. A Harvard Medical School study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found health risks associated with “third-hand smoke,” which is the invisible and toxic combination of gases and particles clinging to smokers’ hair and clothing, cars, and carpeting that lingers long after the second-hand smoke has cleared a room. For example, third-hand smoke is what you smell when a smoker gets into an elevator with you after having been outside for a cigarette; it is also the source of the odor in a hotel room where people have been smoking, caused by the “smoke” left on all the surfaces in the room.

    Not only does a pet in a smoking household breathe smoke-filled air, but he also lies directly on the carpet and furniture and on your lap, thereby picking up toxins clinging to the clothes or other objects in the room and the entire house or apartment. Then, the pet grooms himself, ingesting whatever toxic particles are present on its fur and paws. Granted, dogs are allowed outdoors periodically, but indoor cats and other indoor pets are “trapped” inside and continually exposed to dangerous toxins, and even animals that are let outside periodically are trapped indoors for hours or days at a time and are, therefore, victims of their owners’ habits. And, no, opening a window is not enough to get rid of third-hand smoke because third-hand toxic dangers are still there on all the surfaces.  Even very small amounts of inhaled smoke and third-hand smoke toxins can have damaging effects on pets. A  Tufts University study links second-hand smoke to cancer in cats. The study found that cats living with smokers were twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma, the most common feline cancer, as those in non-smoking households. (Lymphoma occurs in the lymph nodes and kills three out of four afflicted cats within 12 months.)  One reason that cats are so vulnerable to the carcinogens in tobacco smoke and the toxins in third-hand smoke residue is that they are meticulous groomers. Over a long period of time, daily grooming can expose their delicate oral tissues to hazardous amounts of carcinogens. Oral cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) is even more prevalent in cats that live with more than one smoker. A University of Minnesota study shows that cats living in a household with a smoker have nicotine and other smoke toxins in their urine so the smoke related toxins go systemic. Respiratory problems for cats are very prevalent if the cat lives in a smoking household. Recurring bouts with respiratory issues and the likelihood of pneumonia is a definite concern.

    A Colorado St. University study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found a higher incidence of nasal tumors and cancer of the sinus in dogs living in a home with smokers, compared to those living in a smoke-free environment. The nasal/sinus tumor were specifically found among the long-nosed breeds such as retrievers and German shepherds. And dogs with nasal cancer do not usually survive more than one year. The same study showed higher lung cancer rates in short- to medium-nosed dogs, such as boxers and bulldogs, who live with smokers. Their shorter nasal passages made it easier for cancer-causing particles to reach the lungs.  Another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that dogs in smoking households have a 60 percent greater risk of lung cancer than those in non-smoking households.

       If you have pet birds in your home, they are  hypersensitive to the dangers of smoking.  You have probably heard of coal miners taking a caged canary into the mine with them. If the air in the mine suddenly began to fill with carbon monoxide or methane, the canary would die very quickly, and the miners would scramble to escape. This is because canaries are much more sensitive to the toxins than humans.  A bird circulates each breath of air through its lungs twice. The exchange mechanism in the blood vessels is ultra-effective; thus, birds are able to draw more oxygen out of the air (essential for their high metabolic rate) than mammals. However, this efficiency is not confined to oxygen; other material in the air is equally effectively absorbed. Thus, birds are not only adversely affected by the environmental smoke of a lighted cigarette, but also by second-hand smoke and the toxins of third-hand smoke on caretakers’ hands and clothes.  So, if you love your parrot, parakeet, lovebird, or cockatiel, again, please “Take It (Your Smoking Habit) Outside."
        Second- and third-hand smoke are not the only dangers faced by pets that live in smoke-filled environments.  Poisoning is another risk they face. If cigarettes and other tobacco products aren’t properly secured, curious pets can eat them, and, if eaten by a pet, the often-fatal result is nicotine poisoning.  For this reason, smoking paraphernalia and cigarette butts should not be left out where a pet can reach them, including in ash trays.  Signs and symptoms of nicotine poisoning in a dog or cat include tremors, twitching, or seizures; drooling; constricted pupils; auditory and/or visual hallucinations; a racing heart (combined with a slow heart rate with small doses); vomiting; and diarrhea.  If you suspect that your pet has ingested nicotine, call your vet or the Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 immediately!

What You Can Do to Protect Your Pets — Until You Quit Smoking?
To minimize the risks to your animal companions while you’re trying to quitting smoking, you can do the following:

  •   Promise yourself and your pets that you will “Take It  (Your Smoking Habit) Outside,” thereby preventing a large share of smoke particles from settling in your  home or car and reducing your pet's toxic load.
  •   Use a high quality air purifier in your home to help remove excess toxins.
  •  Change your clothes after smoking, and wash your clothing right away… or, at the very least, air them out outdoors.
  •   After smoking (and before you touch your pets), wash your hands!
  • Ideally, wash your hair after you smoke, especially if you have a pet (or a child) that will be in close         proximity to you. Keep those toxic particles away  from those you love.
  • Keep your ashtrays clean and away from your pets.
  • Dispose of cigars, cigarettes, nicotine gum and patches, snuff, smokeless tobacco, etc. in             receptacles that can't be accessed by pets.  This is material poisonous to your pets!
  •  Have your carpet and upholstered pieces in your home cleaned to remove third-hand smoke toxins.
  • Wash pet beds often to eliminate the third-hand smoke toxins.

The Ocooch Mountain Humane Society encourages pet owners to begin not tomorrow, but TODAY, to reduce the risk of serious disease in both humans and pets by not smoking, nor allowing visitors to smoke, in your household.  You owe yourself and ALL of the members of your family, including your pets, the right to breathe clean air and to live in a smoke-toxin-free environment.  If for no other reason, “Take It  Outside” for your pets, and they will reward you with mountains of unconditional love for years to come!  Help save your pet's life beginning today.

                                                                       Article compiled and created for OMHS by MLH and edited by MSB

Posted in Humane Education, OMHS News - Current/Recent, Pet Health and Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Zoey is Living the Life of a Pampered Cat!

Greetings from my castle!  My name was June, but my new adoptive friend renamed me Zoey.  He had a contest to name me on his Facebook Page, and, when he called out the names suggested by Fb followers to me, I responded very positively to Zoey!  That is my name and I pleased with it. 

I was born with an extra digit, so I can open many things that other cats can’t, which means that I can explore many areas of my new big home. I am a polydactyl… how cool is that!  Extra toes are very special.   Lucky for me, my new friend keeps me safe from harm by putting all of the bad things away.

I want to be with my buddy all the time, so I follow him to the laundry room each time that he goes there, and, when clothes come out of the dryer, he lets me ride back up in the basket!  My friend is an engineer (and an on-line graduate student in the evenings), so I like to help as much as I can by holding down his pages and pointing to random items, random because it’s not like I understand it.

I also love to watch the birds outside, so my friend, put a large comfy pillow in the big window, and I sit there and watch. My friend even got me a harness, and we take short walks on a leash. We don’t go far, but I like to escape once in a while.

They say that I was shy at the shelter, but since I am the only cat in my home, I can finally talk and be heard, so I chatter all the time, and, of course, my friend talks back.  We have conversations all the time, so, now, when his parents come to visit, I am not shy at all, and I talk to them too!  Yes, I was a shy four-year old cat at the shelter, but, now, I am queen of my castle!

Thank you, OMHS, for giving me the chance I needed to find a wonderful home… it is my castle and I rule!

                                                xoxoxox     Zoey

Posted in OMHS News - Current/Recent, Success Stories: Cats | Tagged , ,

Hot Weather Dangers for Pets (Urgent, edited Re-Post from 5/26/11)

(This entry was edited and re-posted by the administrators at RCWebsiteDesigns.com due to the current weather conditions and temporary unavailability of staff to post from OMHS. Any comments and/or concerns regarding this particular post should be directed to admin@rcwebsitedesigns.com. Thank you.)

With the current hot temperatures, pet owners must focus on pet safety:

Shade and water are a must. Anytime your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun (a doghouse does not provide relief from heat) and plenty of fresh, cool water. Cool water is absorbed more quickly than warmed water in a bowl left exposed to sunlight.  Refresh the water bowl with cool water for the safety of the dog.  Heat stroke can be fatal for pets as well as people.

Limit exercise on hot days. Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. (Dog breeds with the “smushed” in nose cannot breathe well at all in hot weather. Be extremely careful with exercise or walking these dogs in hot weather.) On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet's paws. If the pavement is too hot for you to stand on in your bare feet then it is too hot for your dog's paws. Do not take your dog for a “run” on a leash with you riding your bicycle!

Recognize the signs of heatstroke. In case of an emergency, it's important to be able to identify the symptoms of heat stress caused by exposure to extreme temperatures. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian immediately. Some signs of heatstroke are: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, restlessness, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, and unconsciousness. If the animal shows symptoms of heatstroke, take steps immediately to gradually lower her body temperature and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Heat build up inside a car or truck is dangerous! Have you noticed how hot it can get inside a car on a summer day — far hotter than it is outside? That's because a car acts like a greenhouse, trapping the sun's heat. A study by the Animal Protection Institute showed that even moderately warm temperatures outside can quickly lead to deadly temperatures inside a closed car. On an 82 degree day the temperature inside a truck or car, with the windows “cracked” open, can rise to 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes the temperature can be up to 120 deadly degrees. Having the windows “cracked” open seems to have basically no impact on the heat rising to unbearable temperatures. The Animal Protection Institute study compared an outside temperature of a shaded area with the inside of an automobile in three states: fully closed, with four windows cracked, and with two windows cracked. Inside temperatures were measured with an indoor/outdoor thermometer and an oven thermometer (both readings are given). The “Inside vehicle” readings are with a regular indoor/outdoor thermometer. The “Oven” readings are with an oven thermometer. All temperatures on the next page use the Fahrenheit scale. 4 windows closed on vehicle…


Time                                 Outside temp                         Inside vehicle

9 a.m.

82 degrees

109 degrees


9:30 a.m.




10 a.m.




10:30 a.m.




11 a.m.




11:30 a.m.




12 noon




  4 windows “cracked” open …

Time                                                  Outside                             Inside vehicle

9:15 a.m.

84 degrees

98 degrees

98 degrees

10 a.m.




10:30 a.m.




11 a.m.




12 noon




1 p.m.




  Two windows “cracked” open…

Time                                               Outside                                       Inside vehicle

8:30 a.m.

72 degrees

72 degrees

72 degrees

9:30 a.m.

80 degrees

95 degrees

95 degrees

12 noon

88 degrees

105 degrees

105 degrees

1:50 p.m.

99 degrees

109 degrees

109 degrees

2:30 p.m.

104 degrees

120 degrees

120 degrees


For more information about protecting your pets ( indoor and outdoor pets) contact your veterinarian. Check out these websites for information: newscientist.com mydogiscool.com hsus.org (Humane Society of the United States) aspca.org (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) phoenix.about.com/od/animvet/a/dogsheat.

Don't take your dog shopping when the temperature is above 70 degrees!!! Leave the dog at home when you go to the store or for a shopping trip. When you are at a shopping area parking lot please be alert for dogs, children, or elderly persons left in vehicles on days with temperatures of 75 degrees or more. Even with windows “cracked open” temperatures rise to very dangerous levels within as little as 10 minutes. If a citizen sees this situation where a child, person, or dog is left in a vehicle unattended and widows are closed a phone call to the Sheriff's Department or the City Police is strongly advised. Use your cell phone or go into a store to phone for help or to have a public announcement made… some stores have the equipment to do this. Have the model of the vehicle and the license number ready for getting help.

Please share this hot weather information with your family, friends, and neighbors!

Posted in Archives - All Archives, OMHS News - Current/Recent, Pet Health & Safety - Archive, Pet Health and Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

What is the Story on Tabby Cats?

Do you share life with a tabby cat?  If you have a wonderful cat companion there is a very strong possibility that you do, in fact, enjoy the love and entertainment of a tabby cat.  Generally the average domestic cat is called a Tabby, if you would have the audacity to call any cat "average!"  However, tabby is not actually a cat breed, but instead refers to the pattern of the cat's fur coat.  Tabby is the most common of all the feline coat patterns.

The word tabby comes from the textile weaving term that describes plain weave, the most common ad simplest of weaving patterns.  It is the standard over-under of the weft over the warp threads.

Technically speaking, All felines possess the tabby gene: the felines include bobcats, lynx, African lions, tigers, cougars or mountain lions, leopards, and any other felines we have missed in this listing.  No matter what color or markings you see on the cat sharing your household, your pet still carries the tabby gene. Other colors or patterns may hide the tabby markings in the fur coat, but the identifiers are always present.  Sometimes you can see faint hints of the tabby markings when your cat is sitting in bright sunlight pouring in on a favorite window sill.

All tabbies have thin pencil lines on their faces that are expressive markings around the eyes and sometimes taper off the sides of the face. One of the most interesting markings is the distinct letter "M" on the forehead. There are a number of interpretative reasons people have come up with through the years to explain the M but there is nothing conclusive.  And the cats are definitely not talking or revealing what they know!

There are five types of tabby coat patterns, each with its own unique markings.  Have some fun checking out the list and see if you can figure out which tabby patterns describes your cat.  There may be overlapping of the patterns on an individual cat but the basics are there.  You will certainly impress your friends and family with pointing out that your cat is a classic tabby or a torbie. 

  • The Classic Tabby has bold, swirling patterns along its sides, much like a marble cake.  In some regions this pattern is called "blotched tabby."  The pattern of circular smudges on the classic tabby's body might look like a bulls-eye..  The Classic Tabby may have stripes on its legs and tail, and it will certainly have the "M" on its forehead.   This is where the overlapping of the patterns comes into play.
  • The Mackerel Tabby has narrow stripes that run in parallel lines down its sides in a vertical pattern… this is what some folks call a "tiger cat" because the big cat tigers have these vertical stripes. The stripes may be unbroken lines, evenly spaced.  The stripes branch out from one wider strips that runs along the top of the cat's back down the spine and  resembling a fish skeleton.  Thus the term "mackerel" is used to describe the pattern and this tabby cat.
  • The Spotted Tabby?  Surprise… has spots all over its sides. The spots can be large or small, and sometimes appear to be broken mackerel stripes.  The spots may be round, oval or even rosettes.  Often a mackerel tabby with a broken stripe pattern resembles a spotted tabby.  It is not known if these spots developed from a mackerel tabby or actually come from a separate gene.
  • The Ticked Tabby (sometimes called an Abyssinian Tabby or Agouti Tabby) does not have the traditional stripes or spots on her body, and may appear to be anything but a tabby at first look.  However, like all tabbies, this coat pattern has tabby markings on the face and the agouti hairs on the body. What are agouti hairs?  If you look closely at the lighter parts of a tabby's coat, you will see that the individual hairs are striped with alternating light and dark bands, known as the agouti hairs. You will need some magnification in order to see the markings on an individual cat hair.  The ticked pattern is displayed prominently in Abyssinians and also in mixed breed cats.  There is that tabby gene again!
  • The Patched Tabby is the term used to describe a tortoiseshell (also called tortie) tabby.  In the typical tortie, there are separate patches of brown tabby and red/apricot on the same animal.  A torbie is a tortie who exhibits the tabby markings especially on the legs and heard.  Patched Tabbies can show any one of the above four distinct tabby patterns in our listing. The Patched Tabbies do make things just a little bit difficult in finding that tabby pattern.  As only tortie cats can, they enjoy being more difficult to categorize.

So which kind of tabby is your cat?  We will have some photos of tabbies up on our site as soon as the cats will sit still long enough for a picture to show off their beauty. 

You may also want to check out the Catster website at www.catster.com/cats-101/tabby-cat

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