DEAR DR. FOX: I am writing in response to your recent column in which someone indicated that their Himalayan cat "goes crazy" when her owner sings.
I, too, had a female cat who responded in a strange manner to my whistling. When I whistled "The Yellow Rose Of Texas," Tobey would meow and paw my arms. I only saw this behavior in Tobey when I whistled that particular song; she would not react when I would sing it or whistle another tune.
Thank you for your time; I enjoy your columns. -- C.B., Alexandria, Virgnia
DEAR DR. FOX: I am responding to your request for personal experiences about cats and music.
I am a cat lover and have lived with cats for decades. Every time I played melodious music, one of my cats would join in. She did not sing for the entire length of the song (that would be too long and difficult for her), but she would make some sounds. The amazing thing is that she would try to match the sound on my CD by being tuneful. Cats and other animals love music and respond.
So, in my opinion, the cat who comes running and jumps up on her guardian and paws her face and arms is not only showing appreciation, she is very emotional about the whole experience, similar to some people who cry during an opera. -- Y.H., Arlington, Virginia
DEAR C.B and Y.H.: Thanks for contributing to our understanding of what makes cats sing. Yes, indeed, many animal species enjoy hearing us sing, whistle, play musical instruments and listen to various kinds of musical recordings. They also have ways of making their own rhythmic sounds and even melodies that surely inspired early humans to emulate.
DEAR DR. FOX: I would like to share with you an unusual behavior of my 4-year-old Labrador-rottweiler mix.
On walks, he sees and smells other dogs' feces, and if it is in soft soil or sand, he will take his nose and attempt to cover it up. He is very deliberate about it and will circle around until it is covered, gently pushing with his nose. We have had similar mixes before, and they have never done that action before.
He is highly intelligent, but we have never trained him to do this and were very surprised by his actions.
What is your comment on this behavior? -- J.C., Berlin, Maryland
DEAR J.C.: Your hygiene-conscious dog is not the only one to engage in this particular behavior. Some dogs are more fastidious in this regard than others. It is also a lesson for people with dogs to bag their droppings after they have evacuated.
I have heard of instances where dogs, on seeing their owners cleaning up their poop in the yard, begin to do so themselves by consuming the droppings. This is normal behavior for mother dogs, who will eat their pups' poop when they are very young in order to keep the nursing and play areas clean.
FACTORS AFFECTING DOGS' PERSONALITIES
An interesting study conducted via a questionnaire to more than 12,000 owners of Labrador dogs in the United Kingdom by a team of animal behaviorists led by S.E. Lofgren compared some of the behavior of Labradors of different coat colors.
All dogs who were only given less than one hour daily exercise became more agitated when ignored, barked more, showed more separation anxiety, had a fear of strangers or novel objects, were more excitable and likely to show unusual behavior compared to those given longer time outdoors. Chocolate-colored dogs were more agitated than black-coated dogs when ignored and were more excitable, less scared of noises, less amenable to training and had a higher incidence of unusual behavior than black or yellow dogs.
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