Could your pet be a hero?
I was recently having breakfast with a family member who told a story about a cat he had when he was a child. According to him, “Fiddle” was the most intelligent cat in the world and proved to him without a doubt that cats are smarter than any other pet. When Uncle Fred was young, his family had two houses: one in the mountains and one on the beach. My uncle Fred recounted that one day Fiddle traveled the twenty plus miles from the mountain home to the beach home in order to get help for Aunt Jenny after a fall rendered her unable to move. He claimed that the cat showed up at the beach house and started meowing with an urgency that alerted the family that something was wrong. When he tried to call Aunt Jenny and got no answer he drove there to find her on the floor.
As I listened with more than a little skepticism, I started questioning whether it was possible for a cat to behave in that manner. I have heard similar stories of cats and dogs saving people or acting in a heroic manner but have always been suspicious of the accuracy of the details or the interpretation of the events. How smart are cats and dogs? It was time for me to do a little digging around to find out if there actually is any research that either validates or discredits these stories that I’ve heard over the years.
The more I read and the more people I spoke with, the more complicated the matter became and the more elusive it became to come up with an actual conclusion. Some researchers claim that dogs are extremely smart because their brains are physically quite large and they can perform tasks that require them to follow specific instructions while others claim that most of this behavior is based on thousands of years of domestication. Researchers who have attempted to study the intelligence of cats, on the other hand, found their subjects to also be extremely intelligent but the felines generally chose not to participate in any human study. This apparent defiance may either be due to a lack of domestication or a sign of advanced intelligence, or both. What I do know from the decades of owning both dogs and cats and speaking with other pet owners is that there is a common theme that seems to come through clearly: both dogs and cats are capable of behaving in ways their owners consider heroic. Many people even went further to claim that at certain times, their pets have done certain things for them or for other members of their families that can simply be described as miraculous.
Whatever your own thoughts on the matter, the important thing to remember is that for our pets to perform their best, they must be fed properly and kept healthy. As an example, foods such as Taste of the Wild Canine Formula contains real lean cuts of meat and fish (certified hormone free and antibiotic free) and provide highly digestible sources of protein. This food also contains sweet potato and peas to provide high levels of energy. Whole fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and antioxidants to boost your pet’s immune system. On the other hand, cats are obligate carnivores and need a meat-based diet. You can provide a home-made diet as long as it is properly balanced, and home cooked meals can provide great nutrition at every level. Purchased prepared foods such as Petcurean Go! Natural Grain Free canned cat food provides the cat with maximum nutrition and concentrated forms of energy by using real meat (chicken, turkey and duck, or trout), garden vegetables, farm fresh fruits and human grade oils (rich in Omega 6 and 3 essential fatty acids).
Other products that may be helpful to keep our pets performing at their best include an Omega 3 fatty acid supplement. A fish oil supplement promotes optimal health not only for the joints, heart, and eyes but also helps keep your pet’s brain functioning properly. Maintaining a healthy liver and immune system is also very important for keeping our pets energetic and focused. Denamarin is a nutritional supplement containing the antioxidant Silybin which improves the pet’s liver function by increasing liver glutathione levels. Silybin supports the flow of bile through the liver which helps with the digestion and absorption of nutrients from your pet’s diet. Silybin also helps to regenerate liver cells and may enhance levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that helps to protect cells from toxins such as free radicals.
While high-quality nutrition and healthy supplements can contribute to your pet’s overall health and wellbeing, remember that a pet condition that seemingly develops out of nowhere may be a sign that something could be seriously wrong and should signal a need to make an appointment with the veterinarian. The veterinarian has most likely seen many times the exact symptoms that your pet is suffering from and has an arsenal of treatment options. Sometimes changes in behavior are the first things we notice as pet owners, and these should never be ignored. It’s always better to be cautious and take the pet to the veterinarian rather than wait too long until the situation becomes much more difficult to control. Also don’t forget that if you have a medication or supplement related question, you can call a 1800Petmeds Pharmacist who will be happy to answer those for you.
Measuring a pet’s intelligence in a laboratory may tell one story, but years of compiled anecdotes from pet owners often tell quite a different one. Pet intelligence and potential (similar to human intelligence and potential) cannot be exactly measured by giving standardized tests developed in a school or by a doctor. Each pet has a special story to tell and if given the chance, can truly perform miracles and surprise even the most skeptical of pet owners.