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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Barking Cat

So yeah, cats don’t go for daily walks like dogs. At times we do wish they can pick up the newspaper, jump and cuddle when we want them to, do various tricks, guard the house, jog with us and more. But well, we gotta live with the fact that cats will be cats. That’s what makes them unique. They have their own traits. So don’t you go expecting a dog in a cat. That’s like going into Starbucks Coffee and hoping to buy sirap bandung... Helloooo?

But but....apparently cats can do something else you may have thought they can’t.  Cats can actually bark like dogs. Yes you heard it right there. CATS CAN BARK if they want to!

Earlier in PETSTER magazine’s January edition, we covered a piece about this cat which could bark.
Here it is..Listen listen listen…

This video went viral over a year ago. ( You probably watched it before). Here’s what an expert has got to say.

----> "While it isn't super normal, it's not unheard of for cats to bark," said Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist and professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. "The arrangement of the cat's larynx, trachea and diaphragm is similar enough to a dog's that if they operate the machinery in the right way, it will produce a noise that's like a bark."

Dodman explained, barks, result from a sudden rush of air through the air passage, and can be produced by an overly excited cat. "It's kind of a forced meow."

The cat may have learned to make the barking noise from a dog co-pet, or a doggy neighbor,  perhaps the very animal at which the cat is barking in the video. "It could be that it's imitating or 'copy-catting' a sound that it hears often. It seems to see something out the window; whether it is barking in response to a dog, we don't know," Dodman told Life's Little Mysteries.

Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman
That was Dodman’s take regarding the barking behavior. We published this in the magazine earlier.
If you missed our copy, read it online here. Page 112 & 113. ( CLICK)

But soon after, I stumbled upon another “hypothesis” from a well known cat specialist.

Feline Expert Dr Jane Brunt, Founder of the Cat Hospital at Towson, Baltimore ( catdoc.com ) says:

----> So what’s up with this guy’s woof-woof? This poor kitty is actually coughing-and that’s not normal! Some might say he’s having a bad hairball day, and that’s what’s causing the bark/hack. Hairballs are NOT normal, and while urban legend and suppliers of hairball remedies and foods might suggest that, any good feline veterinarian will explain differently. He’s hacking, and probably because of either a lung or intestinal problem. Perhaps he has feline asthma or feline heartworm disease (which is really lung disease). Regardless, this coughing cat needs to visit its veterinarian NOW. Before he goes into a crisis. His doctor will perform a thorough examination including looking in his mouth and throat, listening closely to his lung and heart sounds, feeling his intestines and other abdominal organs; even some x-rays may be in order. Once the reason for this awful, agonizing cough is identified and a treatment plan which both the cat and its owner can accomplish, then everyone will feel better- most importantly the coughing cat!

So one expert is saying cats can bark and another saying it is a medical complication that’s causing the bark. So what does the Not-So-Expert L’Shawn Tanis has got to say?

First of all, if you’ve been keeping cats for a long time, you’ll know one thing. Cat’s are capable of producing a very deep sound like a bark when they’re on heat (mating season). They can also do a dog-like growl. I’ve heard this myself numerous times. Sometimes I’ve even mistaken this for a dog.

Next, cat-people, I’m sure you guys can tell how do cat coughs sound like. You’ve probably seen cats hacking, gagging, vomiting, and struggling to breathe. Tell you what, it doesn’t sound anything close to the cat in the video. Hence this is definitely NOT coughing in my opinion.

Looking at the cat’s body language and the rhythm which comes with the noise it makes, you can clearly see the cat is focused on something outside the window and is in control of what it's doing. Since when did coughing cats became so composed and focused? The part when the cat realizes the owner was behind, it quickly started meowing. So when a cat with serious medical condition coughs, it will stop once it sees the owner eh? Such smooth transition?  Such an easy cure? Has it ever happened to you where the cat coughs and upon seeing you it gets embarrassed and changes the cough into meows?  Dr Jane Brunt, are you kidding me?

And last but not least, cats are accomplished imitators of their preys. They do this to lure them. They squawk, chirp, growl, and etc when they see butterflies, monkeys, dogs, birds or squirrels. This is also well documented by researchers in various studies. (Will do another post for this one day). Some cats living with dogs also imitate their dog buddies. I’ve seen it when I was young. Too bad back then I didn’t have a camera phone to record that. (...China, why you no make cheap phones last time???.. ) Never mind, here's video of a cat trying to imitate its prey.

Quite funny actually. More like: 
  i iii iii iii iiii waaaa waaaa waa want tha tha tha that  ttt ttt ttttt thingggg 

So in a nutshell, cats barking is not a myth. The question is whether they want to do it or not. ( If you see any kisah dongeng book about the legend of a barking cat, please kindly relocate it to the non-fiction shelf). I’m still unsure how a feline expert who’s renowned and running a hospital didn’t address all these aforementioned typical cat behaviour. The best part is she made the analysis in the Discovery News. In her interview, Dr Brunt went to the extent of making a firm "diagnosis by just viewing a video" saying that there is a serious pulmonary problem with the cat. Dr Brunt could be right. Maybe.... But after talking to few local vets and cat experts who had been keeping cats for over 40 years, it is clear that my initial judgement was correct. This is where I put my note. Just because it's some angmoh/matsalleh expert saying something, don't buy it 100% . Use it only as a guide and evaluate again with other sources. ( Our people's complexity: Angmoh is always right ). Not quite.

Dr Jane Brunt

There’s nothing wrong in suggesting to bring any pet to the vet when they behave abnormally. Just to make sure everything is alright. In that respect Dr Brunt said the right thing. But it would be a great help for pet owners if they’re well-read about the behaviour, attributes and characteristics of their pets. This will eliminate presumptions from the facts, and balance out the truth. It will also spare you a whole lot of headaches and spending.

Back to barking cats.... So what happens next? 

I'm not sure.., but you better hold tight your sleep, cause you may soon lose them. As I was told that some dogs are reading my blog too, they can now embark on a new challenge and open another chapter in their diaries...

now it begins................