How to Teach Your Cat to Play Fetch

You can train your cat to play fetch—really.
You can train your cat to play fetch—really.
iStock.com/jade71301

Unlike the (sometimes) obedient canine, cats are independent creatures that do what they want, when they want. Case in point: Even though most cats probably know their names (according to new research out of Japan), there’s a good chance little Fluffy or Felix will ignore you when you call them.

So it may come as a surprise to learn that cats can be trained to play fetch, according to Mashable. “If you do it right, they'll probably even enjoy it,” claims culture writer Chloe Bryan, whose childhood cat, Salem, enjoyed retrieving crumpled up napkins.

Before you roll out the cat training classes, you’ll need to get your hands on a bag of treats and a training clicker (which can be ordered on Amazon for under $5). Each time your cat gets near the object you want them to retrieve, click the clicker and give your fur baby a treat.

Once they’ve learned the rules of the game, start limiting the clicking (and subsequent treats) to the times when they actually pick up the object. The final stage is to only dish out treats when they bring the object back to you. It’s a classic positive reinforcement method that will shape their behavior over time, according to Dr. Andrea Tu, a medical director and resident in animal behavior at Behavior Vets in New York City, who spoke with Mashable. Tu also recommends limiting training sessions to five minutes, and breaking them up with playtime.

It might even be easier than you think. "Biologically, cats are inclined to pick things up by their mouths and bring them to you," Tu says.

Now if only you could train your cat to use the toilet

[h/t Mashable]

Treat Your Very Good Dog to An Adorable Hawaiian Shirt This Summer

twygg, iStock/Getty Images Plus
twygg, iStock/Getty Images Plus

This summer, treat your very good doggo to a very stylish Hawaiian polo shirt—because dogs are people, too.

The shirt, made by Expawlorer and available through Amazon, features a vibrant Hawaiian island scene that will surely highlight the sparkle of adventure in your dog’s eyes and remind you that they deserve an extra belly rub for staying on top of seasonal trends.

It’s made from a natural cotton that will help keep your dog cool beneath the heat of the blistering summer sun, and the Velcro fastener on the front of the shirt will ensure a stress-free dressing experience (for both of you).

Dog wearing a Hawaiian shirt on the beach
Expawlorer, Amazon

Does your dog have an unparalleled penchant for making messes? Fret not: The shirt is machine washable and can be thrown in the dryer, too.

Prices start at $12, and you can purchase it in sizes small, medium, large, and extra large. According to the product description, it fits small and medium-sized dogs best; one reviewer notes that the extra large is snug on their 60-pound dog. If the petite sizing prompts you to wonder, “Would this fit my cat?,” the answer is yes. The small size is designed for pets with a 10-inch neck circumference, which would work for the average cat, though it may be a bit loose on smaller kitties. (“Would my cat let me put this on them?” is an entirely different question that only your cat can answer.)

The Hawaiian shirt is much more than a bold and festive fashion statement—its rich history dates back to the 1920s, and the look has been embraced by a variety of human celebrities, including Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.

However, if the “life of the party” connotation of the Hawaiian shirt doesn’t quite fit the personality of your pet, here are some other options.

[h/t Her]

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Female Lab Rats Are the Victims of Gender Bias, Too

Alexthq // Getty Images
Alexthq // Getty Images

Sexism in the workplace isn’t limited to humans. Because neuroscientists presumed that hormonal fluctuations in female lab rats would affect their test results, they have mainly stuck to studying male lab rats. But they may not be getting the whole story, reports Bethany Brookshire at Science News.

Female lab rats do indeed have hormonal surges that affect their behavior—but so do males. Previous research has shown that females consume more cocaine when in heat (in other words, with higher estrogen levels) than at other times. But males with low or high testosterone performed poorly on memory tests.

It’s not just the hormones and their effects that differ between the sexes—it’s also the timeframe for hormonal surges. Behavioral neuroendocrinologist Irving Zucker, who detailed these differences in a 2017 study [PDF] in Biology of Sex Differences, tells Science News that females’ hormones vary more over a few days, while males’ vary more over the course of a single day.

There are also differences between the sexes that have nothing to do with hormones at all. In a 2015 study in eLife, Rebecca Shansky, a neuroscientist at Northeastern University, showed female and male rats a tone or light followed by a (harmless) shock to the feet. While all of the rats first learned to freeze after the signal, fearing the shock, some of the females responded to subsequent signals by racing around the cage—for no obvious hormonal reason. Shansky concluded that female rats may learn to process fear differently than males, suggesting that equality of the sexes among lab rats (at least in terms of studying them) can lead to more insightful results.

Plus, if male and female rats behave differently in a given situation, it’s possible that male and female humans would, too. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, human females have also frequently been excluded from clinical trials, including several important long-running studies on aging and other issues.)

And if you’re starting to feel like rats deserve more credit than you’ve previously given them, check out these other impressive rat facts.

[h/t Science News]

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