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Healthy Paws: Did You Know… ?

Healthy Paws
Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

This week we thought we’d present a few fun facts about the amazing furry creatures many of us share our lives with: cats and dogs.

Dogs are omnivores and have nutritional needs more akin to humans than their ancestral relatives. This has a lot to do with the fact that humans domesticated them about 15,000 years ago and lived in very close association with humans, giving them a LOT of time to acclimate to our diet. As such, their metabolism and digestive function is genetically different than it was prior to domestication.

Cats, on the other hand are obligate carnivores…and while they are “domesticated” and that process started somewhere between 9,000-12,000 years ago, they have no genetic difference with their dietary needs or metabolism than their wild counterparts.

Historically speaking, cats, unlike dogs, have not been domesticated to obey humans’ orders; in true feline fashion, they choose to take part in the human-cat interaction.

This is in contrast to the history of dogs and humans, where they have bred over thousands of years to respond to orders, perform specific task and have specific physical traits. Cats, it seems, never needed to learn anything — which explains a LOT about many of their behaviors and “cattitude.”

Cats and dogs have 3rd eyelids! On the lower, inside corner of the eye you may have noticed your cat or dog has a membrane/structure there — this is the 3rd eyelid and it is also called the nicitans. The gland that sits under this eyelid produces about 2/3 of all the tears that cats and dogs make and a “Cherry Eye” is when this gland prolapses, or “falls out of place”.

Female AND male cats and dogs have mammary glands and nipples… however, not all dogs and cats have the same number of glands or nipples.

Most dogs have 5 sets of mammary glands (and 10 nipples) — however that can range from 4-6 gland sets (and 8-12 nipples); and most cats have 4 sets of mammary glands (and 8 nipples) — but that too can range from 3-4 gland sets (and 6-8 nipples).

Sometimes they also have “supernumerary” nipples — or an extra nipple on a single gland, which is of no clinical significance.

Cats sleep for about 2/3 of their lives. When your cat is 12 years old, it will have been awake for only 4 years of its life! Cats also spend about half their waking time grooming… so that 12 year old cat will have spent about 2 of those awake years grooming (and likely the other 2 years intentionally ignoring you, judging you and insisting you feed/pet/devote all your attention to them).

Cats purr at a frequency that promotes tissue healing! Domestic cats purr at a frequency of about 26 Hertz, in a range that promotes tissue regeneration. Purring is most often are associated with positive social situations: nursing, grooming, relaxing, being friendly.

That said purring is also soothing, or self-soothing, as cats also purr in stressful or painful situations (perhaps to help with the healing).

About 1/3 of a dog’s brain mass is devoted to smell, compared with just 5% of a human’s brain! But — they only have about 1700 taste buds, compared to about 9000 in humans… no wonder they don’t mind eating gross things!

Have a topic you’d like us to write about? Email us ([email protected]). We want to tailor these posts to the topics that interest you the most.

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