Newton’s Purrspective – Information Overload!
I enjoy clicking a mouse as much as any other cat. However, when I am looking for answers the vast amount of information available on the internet is overwhelming. How can one possibly sort it all out? Internet content is rarely regulated or reviewed for accuracy and credibility. For example, a search for solutions to elimination outside the litter box could lead you to everything from scientific studies by well-known cat behaviorists to a blog by someone who may never have shared a home with a cat.
Of course, most of us are not qualified to read and interpret the results of studies published in specialized scientific journals. We must trust others to do that for us. Let’s look at the litterbox question. You may come across a blog that claims to know all the answers. Perhaps they say “if you notice that Kitty has peed outside the box rub her nose in it while repeating ‘bad! bad!’” Another blog may discuss cat litter or appropriate cat box size and location. The first answer seems cruel and demeaning to Kitty, while the second suggests some environmental factors under the person’s control. Please don’t stop with one blog. Read on and read critically. Just because it is on the internet does not mean it is true.
Behaviorists have long known that litterbox issues can be complex, particularly in multi cat households. Punishment will not solve the problem and will almost certainly result in other undesirable behaviors. If there is no medical problem, such as a bladder infection, then other causes must be investigated. Products such as Anti Icky Poo, Convivial House Cat, Cat Faeries Flower Essences, and Feliway could be part of the solution.
So, as you continue your search, how can you tell if a website should be trusted? Credentials are important. The Cornell University Feline Health Center is a recognized authority. However, it is not the only source of reliable information. Veterinarians may write blogs in the interest of public education. Organizations dedicated to cat welfare also offer advice based on sound veterinary practices.
In addition to credentials I always want to know:
- Why certain advice is offered (motive)
- The source of information (e.g. references to persons or studies)
- Comments from customers (if it is a retail site)
Motive could be something as simple as the desire to educate the public about cat health. On the other hand, a site’s purpose may be difficult to determine. If it is not immediately obvious I quickly move on. I don’t want to waste my nine lives trying to figure out what they want and why.
A reputable site does not proclaim “THIS is the answer!” without telling you why they believe so. This backup may be their own research, studies done by others, or extensive client feedback.
The internet has been called the information super highway. Drive carefully.