Pet Scoop: Stray Cat Helps Boy With Asperger’s, Dog Hops Into Weather Forecast

Dec. 1, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

The Angel Fund covered the cost of lifesaving surgery for Andy, a stray cat credited with helping Josh, who has Asperger's, open up.
The Angel Fund covered the cost of lifesaving surgery for Andy, a stray cat credited with helping Josh, who has Asperger's, open up.

Boy Opens Up to Rescued Cat

Kim Neff and her grandson Josh found a black cat in a friend’s neighborhood in Florida. After checking to see if he belonged to anyone, Neff found out he was a stray and took him home. Within a few days, Neff started to see a change in her grandson, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. "Josh opened up, he became very attached to Andy and named him himself," said Neff. "He would pet Andy and say he loved him and Andy was his friend." But then Andy became very sick, and his new owners quickly brought him to First Coast No More Homeless Pets for help. Veterinarians there discovered that Andy had a urinary blockage. Thankfully, the shelter’s Angel Fund paid for his surgery and treatment, which cost thousands of dollars, and Andy is back by Josh’s side. "He looks great, he looks very healthy now so I think he will make a full recovery, so we’re just so happy about that," said Jennifer Barker, director of the shelter’s veterinary practice. — Watch it at Florida’s First Coast News

Birds May Choose Mates Using Odor

Scientists from Austria and France compared the preen gland chemicals of black-legged kittiwakes with genes that play a role in immunity. Kittiwakes that have a similar smell have similar immunity genes, and because birds prefer unrelated mates, researchers believe they use smell to recognize that they’re related. While studies have shown many mammals use odors to find mates who are more genetically distant, it’s long been thought that birds were lacking in olfactory abilities. “The more research that is performed on smell, the more it appears that anything mammals can do, birds can do too,” said research team leader Richard Wagner. The study was published in Nature's Scientific Reports. — Read it at Science Daily

Study: Dogs Pay Attention to Emotion in Speech

U.K. researchers say that while they might not understand the emotion in human speech, dogs are at least paying attention to it. They brought 250 dogs of all breeds into their lab and put them in a room with speakers on either side of their heads. They said that the sound a dog hears in its right ear is processed mainly in the left hemisphere of the brain, and vice versa. When it turns its head to the right when hearing a sound, they conclude the left hemisphere had a strong role in interpreting the sound. They played several recordings of owners saying “Come on, then!” with the emotion stripped from their voice and then with the sound changed so the voice wasn’t identifiable. They found the dogs turned their heads to the right when they heard the words without the emotion and to the left when the heard them with emotion. "We can say at least that they seem to be getting both the verbal and the emotional, because they have biases for both," said study co-author Victoria Ratcliffe of the University of Sussex in England. The study was published in the journal Current Biology. — Read it at Live Science

One-year-old King hopped right into Ryan Phillips' weather forecast on South Florida's NBC 6.
One-year-old King hopped right into Ryan Phillips' weather forecast on South Florida's NBC 6.

Excited Dog Joins Weather Forecast

King, a 1-year-old American Bulldog, couldn’t wait to appear in the Pet of the Week segment on NBC 6 of South Florida on Saturday. The enthusiastic dog, who’s up for adoption through the local group Pooches in Pines, interrupted meteorologist Ryan Phillips’ report. Phillips was happy to play along when King surprised him by hopping up on the weather desk and joining him on screen. “How are ya, buddy? It’s not your turn yet! You have to wait one more segment, OK?” Phillips told King. “Just let me do the weather. I know you’re stoked — so are we.” Maybe King took a cue from Ripple, the Shepherd mix who made a boisterous appearance in a weather report on the Canadian broadcast Global Edmonton’s Morning News that went viral in October. — Watch it at NBC Washington

Adorable Chimp Born in Tulsa

At Oklahoma’s Tulsa Zoo, the entire chimpanzee troop is welcoming a baby boy who was born on Nov. 23. He’ll spend his first few months clinging to mom Jodi, but then other troop members including Morris, Hope, Susie, Bernsen and Vindi will pitch in to help with his care. Chimpanzees are threatened by poaching and habitat loss, and are listed as endangered in the wild. — See photos at Zooborns


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