Rest Assured: Your Cat Really Does Like You

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iStock

Cat owners are an insecure bunch. We are always looking to scientists to prove whether or not our feline friends truly love us, since they are not as endlessly affectionate as dogs. The data doesn’t always bear out—studies have found that your cat might not be purring out of love but rather manipulating you for food, and that cats who allow themselves to be petted show higher stress hormone levels after.

A new study in Behavioural Processes, though, is one that cat owners should find reassuring. Sometimes, our cats like us even more than food. In tests with both shelter animals and pets, cats expressed a preference for human interaction over preferences for food or toys, as Motherboard reports.

Like many pet studies, this one is small: the Oregon State University–led study used 19 pet cats and 20 shelter cats. (The researchers intended to study 25 of each, but some cats were too nervous or uninterested to complete the tests.) Each of the cats was placed in a room either in its home or at the shelter, where it was given opportunities to play alone with different toys, eat different meats, smell different natural scents (like gerbil or catnip) on a cloth, or hang out with a human for short periods of time.

During the human interaction test, the people alternately played with the cat, pet it, or talked to it for several minutes at a time. The stimuli (including, in the human condition, the person interacting with the cat) moved around the room to make sure the cat was actually drawn to it, and the cats were tested in each category with 12 different stimuli total.

At the end, the researchers figured out what the cats had spent the most time doing—playing with a certain toy, eating, smelling the cloth, or interacting with the person—and set up a trial where the cat could pick from all of them.

Overall, the study found that cats preferred hanging out with humans (either their owners or people at a shelter) more than even food (though food came in second). Half of the cats chose to interact with the person in the room instead of the food or toys it had shown a preference for.

This suggests that cats do occasionally see us as more than just a meal ticket … though they also want that out of you, too.

[h/t People]

This Wall Chart Shows Almost 130 Species of Shark—All Drawn to Scale

Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

Shark Week may be over, but who says you can’t celebrate sharp-toothed predators year-round? Pop Chart Lab has released a new wall print featuring nearly 130 species of selachimorpha, a taxonomic superorder of fish that includes all sharks.

The shark chart
Pop Chart Lab

Called “The Spectacular Survey of Sharks,” the chart lists each shark by its family classification, order, and superorder. An evolutionary timeline is also included in the top corner to provide some context for how many millions of years old some of these creatures are. The sharks are drawn to scale, from the large but friendly whale shark down to the little ninja lanternsharka species that lives in the deep ocean, glows in the dark, and wasn’t discovered until 2015.

You’ll find the popular great white, of course, as well as rare and elusive species like the megamouth, which has been spotted fewer than 100 times. This is just a sampling, though. According to World Atlas, there are more than 440 known species of shark—plus some that probably haven't been discovered yet.

The wall chart, priced at $29 for an 18” x 24” print, can be pre-ordered on Pop Chart Lab’s website. Shipping begins on August 27.

Can You Really Suck the Poison Out of a Snakebite?

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iStock

Should you find yourself in a snake-infested area and unlucky enough to get bitten, what’s the best course of action? You might have been taught the old cowboy trick of applying a tourniquet and using a blade to cut the bite wound in order to suck out the poison. It certainly looks dramatic, but does it really work? According to the World Health Organization, approximately 5.4 million people are bitten by snakes each year worldwide, about 81,000 to 138,000 of which are fatal. That’s a lot of deaths that could have been prevented if the remedy were really that simple.

Unfortunately the "cut and suck" method was discredited a few decades ago, when research proved it to be counterproductive. Venom spreads through the victim’s system so quickly, there’s no hope of sucking out a sufficient volume to make any difference. Cutting and sucking the wound only serves to increase the risk of infection and can cause further tissue damage. A tourniquet is also dangerous, as it cuts off the blood flow and leaves the venom concentrated in one area of the body. In worst-case scenarios, it could cost someone a limb.

Nowadays, it's recommended not to touch the wound and seek immediate medical assistance, while trying to remain calm (easier said than done). The Mayo Clinic suggests that the victim remove any tight clothing in the event they start to swell, and to avoid any caffeine or alcohol, which can increase your heart rate, and don't take any drugs or pain relievers. It's also smart to remember what the snake looks like so you can describe it once you receive the proper medical attention.

Venomous species tend to have cat-like elliptical pupils, while non-venomous snakes have round pupils. Another clue is the shape of the bite wound. Venomous snakes generally leave two deep puncture wounds, whereas non-venomous varieties tend to leave a horseshoe-shaped ring of shallow puncture marks. To be on the safe side, do a little research before you go out into the wilderness to see if there are any snake species you should be particularly cautious of in the area.

It’s also worth noting that up to 25 percent of bites from venomous snakes are actually "dry" bites, meaning they contain no venom at all. This is because snakes can control how much venom they release with each bite, so if you look too big to eat, they may well decide not to waste their precious load on you and save it for their next meal instead.

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