Helping Abandoned, Stray Cats and Kittens

The following is an excerpt from the Petfinder Blog • by Susan Greene, Petfinder outreach team

Almost every summer, Carol goes out on the porch of her remote rural home and discovers an unfamiliar feline face. Another cat or kitten has been thoughtlessly abandoned during the night.

Carol is a senior citizen, and all of her own cats are fixed. Her income is fixed as well, and she has no money for vet visits for new cats.

Yet the abandonment continues.

I volunteer with a feral-cat trap/neuter/return group in addition to my job with Petfinder. We helped neuter Carol’s outdoor cats in 2002 (all of them were offspring of cats abandoned on her property), so luckily we are there to help when new cats appear in her life. When my phone rang this Sunday, the news was particularly bad: Two female cats and three tiny kittens (pictured) had been left at Carol’s door.

Abandonment of domestic animals is illegal. In New York State it is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine or a year in prison. However, it’s hard to catch someone who merely slows down and tosses a cat alongside a country road or leaves a box of kittens at a campground.

If you wander outside one day with your morning coffee and are greeted by the forlorn mews of an abandoned cat or kittens, you might be tempted to hope they will just “go away.” However, ignoring them will only make the situation worse. A dumped pregnant cat may shortly have kittens beneath your porch. Healthy kittens, abandoned without their mother, will soon starve or become ill or injured.

While you absolutely did not cause the problem, it has become yours, much like a storm that drops a tree in your yard. It’s unexpected and even may cost money to resolve, but nonetheless, there it is, and it’s not going to go away!

Make sure the cat or kitten has food, water, and shelter.
If you can bring her into your home, keep her away from your own pets until you are certain she is healthy.

Call your local animal shelter or humane agency for guidance
To find shelters and adoption groups in your area, use Petfinder’ s animal welfare group search tool. They may be able to take your foundling and find her a new home. Be sure to give a donation if they do. However, if they are unable to accept the cat, or if you prefer to care for her yourself, ask the shelter or rescue group these questions:

  • Do they have advice on caring for very young kittens?
  • Do they have a bulletin board where you can post a flyer for your foundling to help find her a home?
  • Are they aware of other organizations that might be able to help you?
  • Are there low-cost spay/neuter services available locally if you need them?

List the cat in your local “found” lists
If the cat stays in your care, be sure your local shelter places her on their “found” list. Perhaps she was not abandoned. She may be someone’s beloved pet who wandered away or accidentally hitched a ride in the back of a truck. Speak with your neighbors and post flyers. In searching for a possible owner, you may even find someone interested in adopting the cat.

You can also post her to the “found pets” section — and, if no one steps forward to claim her, to the “pets for adoption” section, of the Petfinder classifieds.

Report abandoned pets to your local law enforcement agency.
Make sure to make a statement in writing. Even if police are unable to locate the abandoner, the incident may find its way into the local news police blotter.

Try to find the abandoned cat a home
The Petfinder library has an excellent article on finding a home for a pet. Please be certain, before you let a cat or kitten leave your care, that the pet is either spay/neutered or is going to a home committed to spay/neuter.

One summer I was walking by our local grocery and noted a woman on the sidewalk with a box of “free kittens.” I went to speak to her, planning to explain why this was not the best way to find a home for cats. However, she admitted she previously had dumped kittens at local farms — thinking they wanted them — until she read in the newspaper that it was illegal!

While handing kittens out to strangers on the street isn’t the safest way to adopt them out, it was definitely an improvement over abandonment, and it did get her into the public eye. We could offer her resources to get her own cat fixed and take the kittens to get them into foster homes, thus ending the cycle of kittens and more kittens at her home.

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You Can Make a Difference for Farm Animals by Choosing Certified Humane/Welfare Certified Meat Brands

The ASPCA has provided a list of food brands that have welfare certification, which represents more humane and transparent farming practices. Please consider helping to create a more humane world for farm animals by choosing certified humane or animal welfare certified products.

be kind!

Here are a few of the brands that are Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Certified, or Animal Welfare Approved:

CHICKEN: Aldi – Simply Nature Free Range Organic Chicken • Amazon/Whole Foods – 365 Everyday Value Chicken • Thrive Market – Free Range Chicken, Pasture Raised Chicken •

EGGS: Aldefer’s Eggs• Costco Kirkland Signature Organic Eggs • Nellie’s Free Range Eggs • Pete and Gerry’s Eggs

BEEF: Applegate – Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dog • Country Natural Beef – all products • Crane Dance Farm – app products • Eel River Organic Beef – all products • Niman Ranch – all products • Redger Farms – all products • Wellshire – sliced beef bacon • TruBeef – all products • White Oak Pastures – grass fed beef

PORK: North Country Smokehouse- various products certified • Newman Farms – all products • Joia Food Farm – all products • Goodnight Brothers – all natural product certified • DuBreton – various products certified

LAMB: Anderson Ranches – all products • White Oak Pastures – all products • Joia Food Farm – all products • Central Grazing Company

TURKEY: ButcherBox – ground turkey • Diestel Turkey – pasture raised whole turkey line • Great American Turkey Company – strips, sausages, cutlets • Koch’s Turkey – all products • White Oak Pastures – all products

For ASPCA’s full list:

What You Can To Combat Pet Overpopulation

Only 1 out of every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home. 25% of dogs that enter shelters are purebred. Estimates for homeless cats in the US range up to 70 million.

Every year, millions of cats and dogs are euthanized because shelters are too full and there are more pets than there are responsible homes for them. Until this issue is resolved, American Humane believes that all cats and dogs adopted from public or private animal care and control facilities should be spayed or neutered.

  1. If you are adding a pet to your family, please make sure the pet comes from a legitimate shelter, nonprofit rescue group or a responsible, humane breeder.
  2. Always spay and neuter your pets.
  3. Consider all the responsibilities and consequences of pet ownership before deciding to get a pet and always make a lifetime commitment to your pet.
  4. Educate your children, friends, family members and co-workers about pet overpopulation, adoption and the importance of spaying and neutering.

You can help stop generations of suffering. Have your female pet spayed and your male pet neutered. Don’t allow them to breed and add to the pet overpopulation problem. Many strays are lost pets that were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.

Sources: American Humane, DoSomething.org

What Kind of Emotions Do Animals Feel?

A book by primatologist Frans de Waal suggests that animal and human emotions are more similar than we think

from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_kind_of_emotions_do_animals_feel

By Karin Evans

In a Netherlands zoo, an elderly chimpanzee named Mama is weak and dying. Elderly biology professor Jan van Hooff, who has known the primate for four decades, enters Mama’s enclosure—something usually too dangerous to attempt, given the strength of chimpanzees and their capacity for violent attacks. In their final, poignant encounter, she grins and reaches for him, embraces him, and rhythmically pats the back of his head and neck in a comforting gesture that chimpanzees use to quiet a whimpering infant.

“She was letting him know not to worry,” writes Frans de Waal in his new book, Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves.

As one of the world’s most prominent primatologists, de Waal has been observing animals for four decades now, debunking myths around the differences between animals and humans. His latest book focuses on the emotional lives of animals—showing that humans and other animals may be more alike than we think.

Like de Waal’s other books, Mama’s Last Hug is full of stories, making it highly readable, informative, and emotionally resonant. In another story he recounts, a younger female in Mama’s colony, Kuif, couldn’t produce enough milk to keep her babies alive; so de Waal taught her how to feed an adopted infant with a bottle. Kuif turned out to be a caring and protective mother, learning on her own how to remove the bottle when the baby needed to burp. Afterward, each time de Waal approached Kuif, she showered him with affection and expressions that truly seemed like gratitude.

After Mama’s death, de Waal witnessed the other chimpanzees touching, washing, anointing, and grooming her body—gestures very similar to what humans do after a death. Given such observations of chimpanzees, de Waal asserts, “Their socio-emotional lives resemble ours to such a degree that it is unclear where to draw the line.”

Non-primate animals show emotions, too

While de Waal begins his observations with chimpanzees, he also presents fascinating glimpses of the emotional lives of other animals. For example, Asian elephants wrap their trunks around each other as an expression of consolation. Even rodents, once thought to be unaffected by emotions and devoid of facial expressions, have been found to “express anguish through narrowed eyes, flattened ears, and swollen cheeks.” They also have facial expressions for pleasure, and they recognize these states in other rats. As for horses, De Waal notes that their faces are “about as expressive as those of the primates.”

In dogs, a key facial expression—the “inner-brow pull”—makes their eyes appear larger. This gives them that sad, puppy-like look that pulls at the heartstrings of humans, sometimes leading to canine adoptions. De Waal also digs at an oft-asked question: Do dogs feel shame when they do something wrong? It reminded me of online videos where you see garbage overturned and a dog slouched down, staring at the floor in a way that viewers interpret as “guilt.”

“No one doubts that dogs know when they are in trouble,” writes de Waal, “but whether they actually feel guilty is a point of debate.” According to a study by Alexandra Horowitz, the canine guilty look—“lowered gaze, ears pressed back, slumped body, averted head, tail rapidly beating between the legs—is . . . not about what they have done but about how their owner reacts. If the owner scolds them, they act extremely guilty. If the owner doesn’t, everything is fine and dandy.”

De Waal draws a clear distinction between animal behaviors that connote emotions readable to outside observers and what animals actually feel.

“Anyone who claims to know what animals feel doesn’t have science on their side,” he writes. “Emotions and feelings, while often conflated, are not the same.” Emotions drive behavior and come with physical cues that allow them to be observed and described; feelings are internal subjective states known only to those who possess them.

So, though de Waal views elephants as highly empathic, emotional beings—given how they will rush to comfort a fellow elephant in distress, and how they can recognize themselves in a mirror—he acknowledges that some scientists remain skeptical because we can’t ask elephants (or any animal) about their feelings. “The possibility that animals experience emotions the way we do makes many hard-nosed scientists feel queasy,” de Waal points out, “partly because animals never report any feelings, and partly because the existence of feelings presupposes a level of consciousness that these scientists are unwilling to grant to animals.” 

What animals can teach us about ourselves

As de Waal explores human and non-human emotional territory, he finds considerable common ground. Bonobo babies who are orphaned and raised without maternal love suffer just as human babies do when similarly deprived. Orphaned bonobos have trouble regulating their emotions, whereas bonobos who grow up with maternal affection learn how to weather upheaval. And, just like humans, bonobos who haven’t been nurtured also have trouble comforting others who are in distress.<img alt="Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves (W. W. Norton & Company, 2019, 336 pages)” src=”https://ggsc.s3.amazonaws.com/images/made/images/uploads/Mamas_Last_Hug_200_301_int_c1-1x.jpg&#8221; srcset=”https://ggsc.s3.amazonaws.com/images/made/images/uploads/Mamas_Last_Hug_200_301_int_c1-1x.jpg 1x, https://ggsc.s3.amazonaws.com/images/made/images/uploads/Mamas_Last_Hug_332_499_int_c1-2x.jpg 2x”>Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves (W. W. Norton & Company, 2019, 336 pages)

“For me,” de Waal writes, “the question has never been whether animals have emotions, but how science could have overlooked them for so long.”

Just as de Waal’s book makes readers more attuned to the emotional life of animals, it gives us more than enough to ponder about our own human emotions.

As de Waal compares human behavior to our closest relatives’, he finds much to observe and report. The human smile, for instance, may be linked to the nervous grin found in other primates. “I seriously doubt that the smile is our species’s ‘happy’ face, as is often stated in books about human emotions,” he writes. “Its background is much richer, with meanings other than cheeriness.” Instead, a smile could mean nervousness, a desire to please, amusement, or attraction. 

Additionally, we humans “often wear plastic smiles with no deep meaning whatsoever.” How do you tell which is which? Studies by 19th-century French neurologist Duchenne de Boulogne identified two kinds of human smiles: The genuine version, an expression of positive feelings and joy, is known as the “Duchenne smile” and involves not only lifting the mouth corners and pulling back the lips, but pulling back the muscles around the eyes, resulting in narrowed eyes and wrinkled surrounding skin. A “fake” smile involves the mouth area but not the eyes—a useful distinction to know!

In considering current events, the author identifies two driving forces behind human politics: leaders’ lust for power and followers’ longing for leadership. De Waal observes that hierarchical battles occur in groups of humans as well as in groups of apes, with bullying tactics used by “alpha males” in both. “Like most primates, we are a hierarchical species,” he concludes.

Yet humans shrink from admitting that about themselves, he points out, preferring to describe themselves in gentler, more rarified terms. De Waal writes, “This is why it is so refreshing to work with chimpanzees: They are the honest politicians we all long for.”

Instead of considering ourselves so refined and rational, he suggests, it’s time for us to squarely face the degree to which we—like other animals—are driven by emotions.

You See a Dog or Cat on the Side of the Road-Sensible ways to help without getting in over your head

(From Humane Society of the United States) You’re driving your car when you see a dog or cat on the side of the road. With a sinking feeling, you realize they are alone. What should you do?

This is a wrenching scenario for all who care about animals. After all, what if your own pet were standing there? Use our guidelines for providing safe and effective help.

Don’t cause an accident

You can’t help an animal if you become injured in the process. Look in your rear-view mirror before braking, turn on your signal, pull your car completely off the road, turn off the ignition, set the parking brake, and put on the hazard lights. If you have emergency flares, prepare to use them.

Catch them safely

Safety first

A strange, frightened, and possibly sick or injured animal can behave unpredictably. A sudden move on your part, even opening your car door, can spook them and cause them to bolt—possibly right onto the highway. If the animal looks or acts threatening, or if you feel uneasy about the situation, stay in your car.

If possible, restrain the animal. Create a barrier or use a carrier, leash, piece of cloth, or length of rope to keep the animal in the area. Signal approaching vehicles to slow down if you cannot confine the animal, or divert traffic around them if they appear to be injured and is still on the roadway.

Use caution

Use caution when approaching the animal. Should you succeed in getting close enough to capture them, you stand a good chance of being scratched or bitten.

When moving toward the animal, speak calmly to reassure them. Make sure they can see you at all times as you approach, and perhaps entice them to come to you by offering a strong-smelling food such as canned tuna or dried liver.

Lure them into your car

If you are certain you can get help from animal control very soon, try to lure the animal into your car with food, close the door and wait for help. In most cases it isn’t a good idea to attempt to drive somewhere with a strange dog unrestrained in your car; they may become frantic or aggressive. Cats may do the same, as well as lodge themselves under the car seat, and it can be dangerous trying to extract them.

Call for backup

If you’re not able to safely restrain the animal, call the local animal control agency (in rural areas, call the police). Do so whether or not the animal is injured, and whether or not they are wearing an identification tag. Leave your phone number with the dispatcher, and try to get an estimate of how long it may take someone to respond. If possible, stay on the scene to keep an eye on the dog or cat until help arrives. Make sure you report to authorities precisely where the animal is by using road names, mile markers or landmarks.

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/how-help-stray-pet

Understand how you can help outdoor cats

From the Humane Society of the United States

If you’ve encountered a cat outdoors, you’ve probably wondered whom the cat belonged to or if they even had an owner. Outdoor cats are sometimes owned cats whose owner lets them out. Often, however, they are community cats—ferals or strays. You can help these cats in different ways. 

Heated Cat Shelters on Amazon.com

Stray cats

Stray cats may be friendly and approach you for food or attention or they may be too scared to let you get close. But they will usually eat immediately if you put food down for them. Use caution, since you don’t know how these cats will react.

There are many ways you can help these cats:

  • If the cat has identification, try to contact the owner.
  • If you can get the cat into a carrier, take them to a veterinarian or animal shelter to be scanned for a microchip.
  • Contact animal shelters, veterinary offices and rescue groups to let them know about the cat you’ve found. Someone may have filed a lost cat report that is a match.
  • Ask neighbors and mail carriers if they’re familiar with the cat.
  • Post signs and place free ads in local newspapers.
  • Create a “found pet” profile at The Center for Lost Pets.

It’s helpful if you can provide shelter for the cat while you search for their owner. If no owner is found, you can try to find a good home for them or adopt the cat yourself. If you take the cat home with you, have them examined by a veterinarian before introducing them to your other cats.

Feral cats

The cat you’re helping may be feral if they approach you when extremely hungry, but will only eat the food you’ve provided once you’ve walked away. A cat is probably feral if they’re still unapproachable and cannot be touched after several days of feeding. Don’t try to handle a feral cat. Most feral cats can’t be adopted because they’re too afraid of people.

One sign that a cat is a spayed or neutered feral is a tipped or notched ear (if the tip or section of an ear has been surgically removed). A stray cat who is spayed or neutered may also have a tipped or notched ear.

Stop overpopulation with TNR

Food and water are important parts of caring for community cats. But some people who are new to looking after these cats often don’t realize that if they don’t find a way to have the cats spayed or neutered, the number of hungry cats may soon become unmanageable as more and more kittens are born. Doing Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) will keep this from happening to you and the cats. 

How to do TNR

If you’re already feeding community cats, you may soon find yourself overwhelmed by kittens, kittens and more kittens—unless you take quick action to get them spayed and neutered. Use our community cat resources to get these cats spayed and neutered while their numbers are still manageable.

Find community cat resources

Resolve conflicts with neighbors

Outdoor cats can often be the cause of complaints; from a cat who stalks birds at a neighbor’s bird feeder to a group of community cats (known as a colony) on a neighbor’s property. If you are helping people keep cats off their property or resolve nuisance complaints, we suggest the following resources:

Work with local groups

Get help

If you’re really lucky, there is an organization or agency in your area that can help you TNR the feral cats you’re feeding. They may also be able to help find homes for friendly strays and kittens. If this help isn’t available in your community, you may still be able to find veterinarians who are willing to provide low-cost services for community cats.

Provide help

Organizations and agencies that care for community cats need all the assistance they can get. Even if you’ve never seen a feral or stray cat, it’s likely that they are in your community. You can make a big difference by doing the following:

  • Spay or neuter your own cats before they can reproduce at four to five months of age.
  • Get involved with or help to support organizations or agencies that help community cats.
  • Become a community cat caretaker.
  • Volunteer to socialize feral kittens.
  • Volunteer to help at a spay/neuter event for community cats.
  • Fundraise or write grant applications for an organization or agency helping cats.
  • Educate your neighbors and community about outdoor cats.
  • Donate to our Community Cat Program Fund.

Start your own group

If there’s no local group helping community cats, you may decide to start one. Talk with others in your community and find some like-minded individuals to help share the workload. 

The “Garbage Dogs” of Greece

https://www.facebook.com/ethelontesxwmaterisLoutrakiou (Volunteers for the animals of Loutraki Landfill)

Rescued and en route to receiving help

Afrodith, a Greek rescue volunteer, moved to the coastal town of Loutraki in 2018. Passing by the large Loutraki landfill almost daily was a life-changing experience for her. She witnessed firsthand the horrendous conditions of the 130 or so dogs and puppies who live in the landfill. They had been abandoned by pet owners, generally unspayed/unneutered, and their numbers have increased. She found packs of dogs and puppies in terrible condition, with sores on their bodies, diseased, starving, thirsty, with broken bones, and, sadly, some dead. She felt compelled to try to take care of the dogs. Afrodith’s appeals to local authorities and the government yielded nothing, so she proceeded alone and has dedicated herself to helping these animals and finding a long-term solution to what is essentially an endless cemetery of animals at the landfill.

Afrodith has captured, vaccinated, spayed/neutered and treated as many dogs as could be moved to the small plot of land she rents as a sanctuary for the animal’s care. At this point, she has no more space on her rented land for the dogs that remain at the landfill site. If a sick dog needs treatment today, she captures, crates, and arranges vet care for the dog, but because there is not alternative, the dog is released back to the landfill.

Her dream is to take all the dogs out of the landfill and give them the life they deserve. To do so will require a larger plot of land with shelter so she can give as many dogs as possible a chance of a happy and healthy life with treatment, love, and care, and opportunities for fostering/adoption. Afrodith now has the help of a few volunteers, but what she and they are providing is insufficient to meet the needs of all the dogs. The dogs must be captured and spayed/neutered, treated for diseases and skin conditions, and provided food, shelter and, it is hoped, homes. They are having difficulty making the larger-scale impact they dream of.

Afrodith created her Facebook page so that people can see her and the other volunteers’ efforts to help alleviate the suffering of the dogs. 100% of the donations go to animal care.  Here is that page: https://www.facebook.com/ethelontesxwmaterisLoutrakiou (Volunteers for the Animals of Loutraki Landfill). Please click on the Facebook page and check out her work. Let’s help her if we can: with donations for food, medicine, and shelter. Please share her page on social media, which will help promote her work and support new foster/adoption opportunities.  

If you would care to make a donation (any size of donation would be greatly appreciated) there are two options:

PayPal account: loutrakilandfilldogs@gmail.com

Pet shop bank account details: PIRAEUS BANK: IBAN: GR39 0172 523000 5523 035 564552 • SWIFT/BIC:PIRBGRAAXXX Beneficiary: Deferanos Nikos • Reference: Loutraki landfill dogs

Her admirable and selfless work with the dogs has been recognized by a German charity https://www.facebook.com/NeverWalkAloneTierschutzverein They send pallets of dry food to help. They are a lifeline for the garbage dogs, but significantly more help is needed.

Greece attracts many tourists each year due to its natural beauty and archaeological sites. What many people do not know is that behind this beautiful facade, there is an estimated population of 3.5 million strays wandering in the streets, sick, starving, and thirsty. Many Greeks do not spay and neuter their animals. Local Greek volunteers try to their best to alleviate this suffering. Many people look the other way. If you can, please lend a hand. Thank you.

One area of the Loutraki landfill
Rescued dogs on Afrodith’s rented land

If Each of Us Did Something about Animal Overpopulation, Our Impact Could Be Vast – World Spay Day – February 23

by Carolyn Cott

The spaying/neutering of dogs and cats is widely regarded as the single most effective means of controlling their population growth. The estimates of dogs and cats worldwide range from 950 million to 1.5 billion, the majority of which are un-owned, un-fixed, and struggle to survive. Spaying and neutering can contribute to reducing animal suffering.

For those who belief it’s not fair to deprive animals of their sexuality, consider this: animals have different consciousness from humans, and it is fairly safe to assume that they do not miss the ability to procreate. The suffering caused by overpopulation is a surety, however, and you can help to make a difference. Please consider spaying and neutering your animals and supporting organizations that do so. There are many organizations that offer low-cost or no-cost spaying and neutering. Check online with local, national, and international humane societies, animal welfare organizations, and local government.

If each of us did something about animal overpopulation, our impact could be vast.

Looking the Other Way

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way” – Author Unknown 

25 Amazing Ways Animals Communicate That You Never Knew About

And you thought we were the only creatures capable of language…

by Alex Daniel, BestLifeOnline

chimpanzees gazing wistfully at each other

Everyone knows that cats meow, dogs bark, and cows moo. But you don’t need Old MacDonald to tell you that animal communication is infinitely more complex than that. In fact, if you do a dive deep on how, exactly, some creatures talk to each other, you’ll find secret languages that make the disparate languages of humanity—of which there are 6,900, according to the Linguistic Society of America—seem rudimentary by comparison.

1 White Rhinos Speak via Dung

White rhino {best of 2018}
Shutterstock/Ondrej Prosicky

White rhinos, who have terrible eyesight, use communal dung heaps (called “middens”) as a something of a community bulletin board where they can leave messages—that one rhino is sick or another is ready to mate, if a dominant male has recently wandered through—to the rest of the group.

2 Mantis Shrimp Flash Lights

Mantis shrimp - Image
Shutterstock/WorldClass Photo

This creature has some of the most impressively complex eyesight in the animal kingdom, with 16 color receptors (compared to our measly three), which come in very handy when trying to communicate with one another. They use their own bodies to communicate using polarized light that other animals cannot spot. Researchers have found that they bounce light off bleu spots on their appendages called maxillipeds, scattering and arranging light across the surface in ways that can covey information to other mantis shrimp—rather than merely reflecting it.

3 Sperm Whales Click

Family of spermwhales underwater near water surface, shot from below - Image
Shutterstock/Willyam Bradberry

This species of whale uses clicking sounds known as “codas” to convey information to one another. Those in different areas of the ocean use different clicking patterns, sort of like regional dialects—so Caribbean sperm whales sound slightly different than those in another part of the ocean. Researchers have been particularly interested in a group near the Caribbean island of Dominica, which they’ve found may even have variations between different clans or individual whales.

4 Caterpillars Send Out Decoy Distress Calls to Ants

Alcon blue butterfly (Phengaris alcon) resting in grassy vegetation. It can be seen flying in mid to late summer. Like some other species of Lycaenidae, its larva (caterpillar) stage depends on ants. - Image
Shutterstock/Rudmer Zwerver

The caterpillar of the alcon blue butterfly scrapes its abdomen to create a kind of song. But unlike many other such critters, who use their communication techniques to contact others of their species, this is a message meant for a very different creature: red ants. The song imitates that of the red ant queen, so those soldier ants that hear it will guard the caterpillar, even killing their own kind in order to protect it.

5 African Elephants Vibrate to Each Other

Elephant and elephant. Kenya. Safari in Africa. African elephant. Animals of Africa. Travel to Kenya. Family of elephants. - Image
Shutterstock

Technically, elephants make very low sounds to one another. Thing is, they’re so low that it does not strike the human ear as a sound—or anything more than a rumbling vibration. Known as “infrasound” (sounds below 20 hertz, too low for humans to detect), this way of communicating may seem quiet to humans, but researchers estimate that one African elephant making an infrasound can be heard by another more than 175 miles away!

6 Tarsiers Screech

Philippine Tarsier Smallest Animals
Shutterstock/Jixin YU

These tiny, big-eyed primates living in Southeast Asia communicate at the opposite range of elephants—ultrasound frequencies over 20,000 Hertz that are far too high-pitched for the human ear to detect. Scientists recorded them using similar devices as those used to record bats, capturing their vocalizations at 70,000 Hertz, which is believed to help them communicate over the jungle noise (and out of range of predators), making it ideal for avoiding or alerting one another of danger. By the way, tarsiers are one of the smallest animals in the world.

7 Ravens Have Sign Language

Bird - flying Black Common raven (Corvus corax). Winter. Halloween - Image
Shutterstock/Marcin Perkowski

Just as humans use their hands to emphasize a point, ravens do their own kind of gesticulating, using their beaks and wings to show or offer items such as moss, stones or twigs (usually aimed at members of the opposite sex). They also interact by clasping their bills together or moving an item together, as a show of potential bonding.

8 Egyptian Fruit Bats Argue

Close-up Egyptian fruit bat or rousette, Rousettus aegyptiacus. on isolated black background - Image
Shutterstock

You’re probably aware that bats use high-pitched squeals to connect and communicate with each other. But you probably didn’t know how specific such communications could get. Researchers at Tel Aviv University used a machine-learning algorithm to recognize bats’ intonations and the messages they may be trying to convey, “translating” 15,000 calls into several specific messages—more than 60 percent were arguments about four specific things: food, sleep positions, invasion of personal space, or unwanted advances.

9 Chimpanzees Scratch Each Other

Wild chimpanzees
Shutterstock/GarySandyWales

Chimps love to groom and to be groomed. But just like your spouse or partner loves a backrub…but even more if you focus on that one spot right there, chimps can be particular about where they want to get scratched, using “referential gesturing” to draw the attention of another chimp to the specific area they’d like to have groomed.

10 Geckos “Seamless” Their Food

Gold dust day gecko licking the juicy red fruit of a green cactus at Moir Gardens, Kauai, Hawaii - Image
Shutterstock/The World Traveller

Day geckos, native to Madagascar, pioneered the idea of instant-order takeout long before Seamless (or even humans) came along. But rather than an app on their phones, they simply nod their heads at treehoppers—insects that digest sap an excrete it in a sugary liquid known as honeydew. When the gecko communicates to the treehoppers that it would like some of that honeydew, the insects oblige, excreting it right into the amphibian’s mouth.

11 Electric Fish Discharge Electricity

Gnathonemus petersii - Elephant nosed fish - Image
Shutterstock/Boban_NZ

You’re probably familiar with electrically charged sea creatures such as the electric eel, but there is a particular species of electric fish that is able to use its voltage as a means of communicating. Known as “weakly electric fish,” these creatures, which, as their name implies, produce a mild electric discharge, use it to “chirp” out information, such as a male stating it’s attracted a female. When two of these fish meet, they are known to tweak their wavelengths in order to allow each other to produce similar levels of voltage.

12 African Demon Mole Rats Head-Bang

Close up of a big-headed African mole-rat, Bale Mountains, Ethiopia. - Image
Shutterstock/Giedriius

“African Demon Mole Rat” sounds like a pretty good name for a metal band. As it turns out, these critters communicate through a kind of head-banging. Spending their lives underground, they can communicate with one another by thumping their heads against the tops of their tunnels, in that way sending vibrations through the earth that travel much farther attempting to make a loud noise would be able to. The pace and intensity of the thumps indicate different meanings. Rock on.

13 Black-Footed Titis Squeak

Masked titi monkey (Callicebus personatus), photographed in Santa Teresa, Espí­rito Santo - Brazil. Atlantic forest Biome. Wild animal. - Image
Shutterstock/Leonardo Mercon

When black-footed titis (a brown, rainforest-dwelling monkey), use high-pitched squeaks to let each other known not only what types of predator may be near but their general location. Researchers have found that the monkeys vary their calls in a number of ways, creating their own syntax and complex communication system.

14 Gorillas Hum

Gorilla
Shutterstock/Onyx9

Sometimes, singing to oneself is a way to tell the world you are away in your own world and don’t really want to be bothered by all the craziness happening elsewhere (hence, singing in the shower). That’s true of silverback gorillas too, which researchers have found will hum or sing while chomping down on their favorite vegetation. It’s not just a way to indicate that they are enjoying their meal, but a way to convey that they would prefer not to be bothered while eating. When they go quiet, that’s a sign that they are willing to chat.

15 Dholes Whistle

Alpha Male - Image Dhole whistling dog
Shutterstock/Nimi Virdi

Dholes, otherwise known as Asiatic wild dogs, are also sometimes called “whistling dogs“—and with good reason. These fox-like animals alert each other about the location of prey through whistle sounds. This allows them to make coordinated attacks on other animals much larger than them, communicating in packs to take down prey that’s more than 10 times their own body weight.

16 Prairie Dogs Call to Each Other

Shutterstock/Dr. Alan Lipkin

These creatures are known for their complex underground tunnel systems, but they also have complex ways of calling to one another, using slightly different intonations (reportedly of a “chee”-like sound) depending on the type of predator—coyote, hawk, human—nearby. In one study, they were found to seemingly identify the difference between a person wearing a blue shirt and one wearing a yellow shirt.

17 Tap-Dancing Blue-Capped Cordon Bleu

Blue Capped Cordon Blue (Uraeginthus cyanocephalus) spotted outdoors - Image
Shutterstock/Fireglo

As if its name isn’t cool enough, the blue-capped cordon bleu also has some killer dance moves, using a kind of winged tap dance to attract a mate. Both male and female birds of this species court by holding a piece of nesting material in their beak, and then bob up and down while they sing, and make super-fast dance steps with their feet. Researchers believe the dance is meant to not only catch the attention of a mate, but to demonstrate health and fitness.

18 Bison Choose Leaders With Their Feet

European bison - Bison bonasus in the Knyszyn Forest (Poland) - Image
Shutterstock/Szczepan Klejbuk

European bison are large creatures, but they speak softly, letting their feet do the talking. When the herds of these impressive creatures seek to move on, they decide which way to go not through the guidance of a single leader, but a complex process in which one of the members of the herd (it can be anyone, male or female, young or old) would walk 20 or more steps in a particular direction without stopping to graze. If the others trust the decision, they take the cue and follow along—and that leading animal becomes the herd’s de facto leader (until the process restarts). Perhaps we could take a cue from the bison…

19 Apes Stomp, Clap, and Shake Heads

Western Lowland Silverback Gorilla Clapping Hands - Image

There are many, many other cool ways that great apes communicate with each other; researchers have isolated some 80 gestures at least. But what may be most interesting is that these significantly overlap with human toddlers; as Smithsonian puts it, “researchers found the human toddlers used 52 discrete gestures to communicate, including clapping, hugging, stomping, raising their arms and shaking their heads, often stringing the moves together to convey complex ideas. It turns out that the chimps also used 46 of the same gestures, meaning there’s a 90 percent overlap.”

20 Caribbean Reef Squid Changes Color

Caribbean Reef Squid (Sepioteuthis sepioidea), hovering over a tropical coral reef off the island of Roatan, Honduras. - Image
Shutterstock

Using specialized cells containing pigments and light-reflecting molecules known as chromataphores, the Caribbean reef squid can change the color of their skin to convey a variety of messages: to court a potential mate, to warn others of a predator or a number of other messages—even conveying one message to a squid on their left side and a different one to a squid on their right.

21 Dancing Bees, Well, Dance

Close up of flying bees. Wooden beehive and bees, blured background. - Image
Shutterstock

Research going back centuries has noted that bees use dance moves to alert fellow hive-dwellers of a honey source. A famous study found that, when a bee discovered a honey source, it would head to the hive, performing a dance while other bees touched its abdomen, allowing the others to then find the honey source without needing to be shown. The direction and speed of the dance indicated specific geolocation details that the others could follow.

22 Jackdaws Glare

close up portrait of a jackdaw with head filling the frame looking at the camera with blue eyes on a light background - Image
Shutterstock/Philip Openshaw

Just as humans can stare people down with their eyes in order to express their anger or frustration, so too can jackdaws, a bird that’s part of the same family as crows, ravens, and jays. Researchers have found that one of these birds will use his conspicuous eyes to glare at a would-be competitor, deterring it from trying to take over his nest.

23 Coral Groupers Team Up For Hunts

 Coral hind grouper (Cephalopholis miniata) in the coral reef - Image
Shutterstock/AquaPix

When these predatory fish are outsmarted by prey that dives deep into the cracks of the coral reefs, it get some help from other predatory species: usually either the napoleon wrasse or moray eel. The grouper will point with its nose to the location of the fish, shaking its body, and the wrasse will smash against the coral to open it up or the eel will creep into the cracks itself. Thanks to this team work, at least one of the predators, if not both, usually end up with dinner.

24 Chimpanzee Footsie

Monkey relaxing on rock in zoo - Image
Shutterstock/Tom Van Dyck

You could spend a lifetime analyzing chimps’ gestures. There are so many, in fact, that you can review an entire Great Ape Dictionary. Chimps have striking similarities with humans, and one of the other ways that researchers have found they signal to one another is through extending their feet to alert another (usually young) chimp to climb on them to travel.

25 Warbling Antbirds Sing Off-Time

White-bibbed Antbird photographed in Domingos Martins, Espí­rito Santo - Southeast of Brazil. Atlantic Forest Biome. Picture made in 2013. - Image
Shutterstock/Leonardo Mercon

Female Peruvian warbling antbirds will not tolerate other females making moves on their male mate and convey that message clearly to any would-be competitor who invades their territory. The mates generally sing together in a kind of charming harmony, but at the sight of an interloper, the female will shift to an arrhythmic singing that messes up the sound and creates an unpleasant cacophony, ensuring the other woman is not allured by the usual pleasant singing that might otherwise attract her. And for more on all things animal, check out these 50 Amazing Animal Facts