Pet Scoop: Cat Study Stuns Researchers, Therapy Dog Helps Woman in Labor

Jan. 30, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Kitten playing in the grass
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Cats Kill Billions of Birds Annually

They look innocent enough. But your sweet outdoor cat might be much more of a predator than you realize. A study conducted by experts at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that indoor cats who are allowed to roam outdoors and feral cats kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds in the continental U.S. each year — and they’re responsible for the deaths of 6.9 billion to 20.7 billion small mammals annually, too. The majority of those mammals are mice, shrews, rabbits and moles. Those estimates are far higher than what previous studies have shown. "I was stunned," said ornithologist Peter Marra of the Smithsonian, who worked on the study. The results are likely to spur more debate over how to handle feral cat populations. The study was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. — Read it at USA Today

Popular Dog Treat High in Calories — and Bacteria

Dog treats known as “bully sticks” or “pizzle sticks” may be adding more calories to dog’s diets than their owners realize, finds a study by researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and the University of Guelph in Canada. Made from the dried penis of a bull or steer, the average 6-inch stick was found to have 88 calories, which can be a large portion of a dog’s daily calorie requirements, depending on the dog’s size. Many of the sample treats used in the study also contained some form of bacteria, so the researchers recommended that pet owners wash their hands after handling them. The study was published this month in the Canadian Veterinary Journal. — Read it at Science Daily

Woman Wants Dog in Delivery Room

A pregnant woman’s request to have her dog in the delivery room in a hospital in England when her baby was born has set off controversy. The woman’s dog, Barney, a Labrador Retriever, is a certified therapy dog who’s used to visiting patients in the hospital, so she requested that the St. Michael’s Hospital in Bristol, England, allow him to be in the delivery room. The request was approved, but anonymous sources told the British tabloid The Sun that “nurses and doctors were appalled that someone at the hospital had given the woman permission,” saying they feared the hygiene in the room was compromised. — Read it at Today

Budweiser is asking the public to name a Clydesdale foal who'll appear in a Super Bowl spot.
Budweiser is asking the public to name a Clydesdale foal who'll appear in a Super Bowl spot.

Budweiser Asks Public to Name Newest Clydesdale Foal

On Sunday, Budweiser beer made its first Tweet, asking followers for ideas to name the newest of its famed Clydesdales. The foal was born on Jan. 16 at Anheuser-Busch’s Warm Springs Ranch in Boonville, Mo., and will appear with several other Clydesdales in a 60-second Super Bowl commercial that focuses on the bond between horse and trainer. Some of the ideas for names so far include Buddakup, King and Hops. — Read it at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and watch video at DigTriad

Video Shows Bobcat Hanging Out in Man’s Backyard

Amateur photographer John DeMauro has seen moose and a bear in the backyard of his western Massachusetts home — but never a bobcat. “I saw what I thought was a neighbor’s cat … but it turned and looked at me and I said … that looks a bit unusual,” he said. DeMauro says he took “way too many pictures” and enjoyed the snowy scene — from a safe distance. — Watch it at NBC News

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