Last Friday I offered you a tongue-in-cheek approach to the question of … well … oddball questions in veterinary medicine. Trouble was, all of the questions were doggedly canine in terms of their subject matter. The cat people? They got kicked to the curb on that one.
It's not like I didn't know that was the case. After all, my hackles are always up for any kind of feline discrimination. But this may prove dishearteningly common; even — at times — on my own blog.
So it was that when oddball questions were asked of canine veterinary clients, cat people were wont to demand their due, too. "Why do dog people always get the upper hand?" they asked. "We have needs too!"
Indeed, they do. And they proved it by asking up a storm of questions which I am (graciously) offering some answers to below:
1. Why do cats sleep so much?
It's probably much the same answer for the questions, "Why are cats so lazy?" and "Why do cats yawn so much?" indeed, this one's pretty simple. Cats' metabolism is such that they spend most of their waking lives hunting and eating. And hunting and eating takes up a disproportionate amount of energy for the average carnivore.
2. Why do cats like to play with lasers and other fast-moving objects?
Cats are ideal role models for the kind of carpe diem, love-what-you-do sensibility we all should aspire to. In other words, cats love what they do. Whether it's dietarily fruitful or not, it's fun. After all, chasing a laser is every bit as entertaining as chasing a rodent, bird, reptile, whatever. Loving that which keeps you alive is a great evolutionary adaptation, right?
Could it be that's why so many humans are addictively stuck on "hobbies" like hunting, fishing, gardening, cooking and raising animals? I'd like to think so … but that's just me.
3. What's up with cat eyes? What's that vertical pupil thing all about?
I know it's freaky looking, but I'd wager it's nowhere near as off-putting as the rectangular pupils my goats (and other ungulates) sport. Ether way, it's weird. I mean, why be so eccentric when you can have perfectly circular humanoid apertures?
The issue here, however, is easiest differentiated as a predator vs. prey kind of thing.
Predators (like cats) need excellent stereoscopic (3-D) sort of vision. This helps them achieve the kind of depth perception we expect to see in predators like eagles, alligators, sharks and the like. The vertically slit pupil helps them achieve this especially well-defined sort of stereoscopic vision, allowing them to track the minuscule movements of small prey amid a camouflaged background.
My goats, however, are not so lucky. Good thing no one expects them to hunt for their dinner. Their eyes are, by contrast, designed to detect predators. Lots of peripheral vision, as you might expect, from a creature that doesn't need to focus sharply on much beyond an evil patch of recalcitrant weeds, but is well advised to keep both eyes peeled on all 360 degrees 'round — hence — saving their own skin as they graze.
I know you'll have more questions than that. And I promise to do my best to answer them as they come…
Dr. Patty Khuly