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Cats are 'misunderstood' not aloof

RVC study suggests owners misread signals

According to behaviourists, the results of a new study suggest that feline body language is largely misunderstood by their owners, earning them a reputation for being "aloof".

As part of the UK's first CatWatch Day, 600 people observed their cats' behaviour on May 6 and completed a survey.

Having analysed the results, Jon Bowen, animal behaviour consultant at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), says cats try to interact with their owners as they would a fellow feline.

"This communication is much more subtle than we are used to and is often missed by owners," he explains.

For example, owners often expect greetings to involve physical contact, yet a common cat greeting is to blink and then sit close but not touching.

Further, the findings suggest that cats adapt their behaviour to accommodate their owners' lifestyle. Cats involved in the study engaged in 40 per cent more activities when their owners were at home.

However, Jon says: "Owners did not rate their cats as more active at any time of day so there is a discrepancy between what owners think of as ‘activity’, and what cats actually do."

These findings have wider implications when it comes to feline health, as behavioural changes indicative of ill health may not be spotted.

"The results from CatWatch Day show that even devoted cat owners may miss the signs that their pet is under stress and so are not taking measures to prevent it," Jon says.

"If owners are tuned into their cat’s routine it will be easier to spot a change in frequency of feeding, greetings, play and amount of time spent outside."

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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Professor Abdul Rahman announced as keynote speaker for BVA Members’ Day 2019

Celebrated Indian vet and parasitologist Professor Abdul Rahman is set to deliver the keynote speech at BVA Members’ Day 2019.

Professor Rahman will present his insights into the human behaviour challenges of controlling zoonotic disease in his talk: ‘A One Health approach to rabies elimination in Asia’. The talk will outline efforts to gain political support for dog vaccination programmes in China, as well as the need for a collaborative approach between vets, public health, livestock and animal welfare agencies.

The event takes place on Thursday, 19 September at Brangwyn Hall, Swansea. Tickets are free but must be reserved through the BVA website as places are limited.