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Dogs, cats, and rabbits : 

Dogs, cats, and rabbits

Why Companion Animals?: 

Why Companion Animals? Anthropomorphism and zoomorphism Child development - companion and teacher Unconditional affection and comfort Child substitute Pet facilitated therapy Mental health Penal Institutions Nursing homes

Why dogs and cats?: 

Why dogs and cats? Prolonged primary socialization period helped Compatible social structure Communications Playful Intelligence Activity cycle Elimination behavior Cute


Dogs Oldest domesticated species (10-20,000 bp) From wolf and related canids Staggering diversity in size shape and behavior Companionship Guard dogs, police dogs Odor detecting dogs Service dogs Food Gigantic industry

Dog Industry: 

Dog Industry Dog Food Veterinary expenses Supplies Kenneling Show industry Breeding


Cats More recent origin 4-9,000 years in North Africa Felix domesticus is little changed in skeletal structure from Felix libyca Rodent-eating commensal organism Coincided with the rise of agriculture and stored grain Goddess Bast of the Nile Delta worshiped by Egyptians

Why do we have cats?: 

Why do we have cats? Better suited to urban, fast-paced life Smaller Better-tolerated by and hidden from landlords and neighbors Can be left to own devices for long and irregular periods Eliminative behavior and volume can be managed Rodent control Companionship – petting, purring and pretty?

Comparative nutrition of dogs and cats: 

Comparative nutrition of dogs and cats Dog = omnivore or faculative carnivore Cat = obligate carnivore

Dog Food: 

Dog Food Can eat a wide variety of foods; requirements not too dissimilar to humans Cost not the primary consideration in formulating Palatability, appealing appearance to owner, feces consistency, odor, and flatulence more important 18-25% protein, 5% fat, cooked carbohydrates, fiber Dry, canned, semimoist Match physiological state Table scraps? Game?

Cats – Aliens among us: 

Cats – Aliens among us Obligate carnivores with special needs met by meat Arachidonic acid Vitamin A not just carotene 30% protein Arginine Taurine And a calcium requirement met by bone

Commercial cat food: 

Commercial cat food Often made of vegetable material to save money Must add vitamin A Must add taurine Balance for arginine and other amino acids Plants are higher in magnesium and other metal ions that render the urine alkaline, so must add acidifying agents Acidifying agents deplete potassium, so much add that, too And they still kill every day if they can

Down side of companions?: 

Down side of companions? Zoonotic diseases Rabies Cat scratch fever Salmonella Camplyobacter jejuni Leptospirosis Toxoplasma gondii Tapeworms Roundworms and hookworms (Ancyclostoma, Uncinaria) Ringworm (Microsporum, Trichophyton) Fleas Poison oak, poison ivy

Down side to companions?: 

Down side to companions? Minor bites, scratches Major, possibly lethal attacks “Fouling the footpath” – The poop question Allergies Annoying others Property destruction, liability Population problem, strays Wildlife decimation Inside the house or not? Breeding bans?

Rabbit culture (Oryctolagus cuniculus): 

Rabbit culture (Oryctolagus cuniculus) 1.6 million metric tons per year worldwide (Italy #1!) 35,000 metric tons in the US! Shows Pets Research Best reference: McNitt, Patton, Lukefahr and Cheeke. 2000. Rabbit Production 8th Edition Interstate Publishers.

Domestic and Wild: 

Domestic and Wild Oryctolagus Lepus Silvilagus Lagomorphs not rodents Additional incisors Extraordinary lower GI tract Oryctolagus cuniculus domesticated 500 – 1000 years ago from European populations that had originated in Spain

Many uses: 

Many uses Pets Shows Research Antibody production Meat production Fur production

Beneficial characteristics: 

Beneficial characteristics Prolific Can breed frequently up to 9X/year Have large litters 4-10 Small size, easy to handle Rapid growth – 2kg meat at 10 weeks Mature in 6 months Short gestation (28-32d) rebreed immediately 4 does can produce 1450kg/year Can eat a wide variety of vegetation Special fur (Angora, Rex, Regular)

Deleterious characteristics: 

Deleterious characteristics Prolific Can breed frequently up to 9X/year Have large litters 4-10 Small size Mature in 6 months Short gestation (28-32d) rebreed immediately 4 does can produce 1450kg/year Can eat a wide variety of vegetation Subject to serious diseases, 20%+ mortality

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