Blog Posts by Mother Nature Network (mnn.com)

  • Together Forever: Law Would Allow Pets, Owners to Be Buried Together

    Pet lovers celebrate their animals' birthdays, take them on family vacations and even include them in their wills. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that people would want to spend the afterlife with their furry friends.

    However, in most cemeteries, pet remains aren't welcome. But a bill on its way to Virginia's House of Delegates could change that, at least in one state.

    Republican lawmaker Israel D. O'Quinn has submitted a bill to Virginia's General Assembly that would allow pets and their owners to be buried together.

    Currently, the state's code defines a cemetery as "any land or structure used or intended to be used for the interment of human remains."

    Recognizing that some people wouldn't want to be buried alongside an animal, O'Quinn's bill specifies that human-pet burials would be segregated from traditional gravesites.

    "Some people have an extreme aversion to animals, and others have a strong affection for them," he told The Washington Post. "There are some

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  • What Can You Do with 99 Cats?

    Dr. Leslie Lyons has 20,000 genes to sequence, and she needs 99 cats to do it.

    Lyons - who made headlines in 2001 when she analyzed the DNA of a cat named Cc and proved that the kitty was the first true cloned cat - is leading the 99 Lives Cat Whole Genome Sequencing Initiative at the University of Missouri.

    Scientist are mapping the genomes of everything from people to wheat, but the cat genome remains mostly un-deciphered.

    Lyons says a mapping of the 20,000 genes in various cat breeds could help identify the cause of cats' fur and eye color, as well as the source of certain feline health problems.

    It could even aid research on diseases that affect both cats and humans like polycystic kidney disease and spinal muscular atrophy.

    "When a sick cat comes along, you could genetically sequence it and say, 'Hey, look, this has a variation we've never seen before,'" she told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It might give us clues very quickly as to what genes to focus on for

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  • 10 Foods Most People Eat the Wrong Way

    Eating should be a simple thing - open mouth, insert food, chew, swallow - but somehow this basic necessity of life comes with its own set of subtle complexities. Many manufactured foods are designed for maximum ease of eating; these are the products of food scientists who are tasked with translating hard-to-eat or messy foods into tidy, quickly consumable, everlasting ones (sticky pastries become Pop-Tarts, sloppy sandwiches become Hot Pockets), but there's a world of food out there that remains hard to eat.


    Is there actually a right or wrong way to eat these foods? Not really; it's all subjective, of course; but the following suggestions may be neater, result in less waste, and/or simply work more smoothly when it comes to the mechanics of biting and chewing the things we eat.


    1. Apples
    Every one knows how to eat an apple. You wash it, hold it by the core using your fingers, and commence chomping. But as it turns out, there's a better way - one that eliminates all waste,

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  • Ridiculously Clever Tips for Getting Your Kids to Sleep

    by Chanie Kirschner, Mother Nature Network


    Parents of young children, I'm sure you've had a long, bumpy road. I imagine you start the bedtime routine at 7, at which time you begin coaxing your young child to undress and get in the bath. The process ends sometime after 9 p.m., at which point you wake up next to your child bleary-eyed, wondering how long you've been lying there next to him because he insists you lie down with him every night when he goes to bed. Am I right?


    If this scenario sounds familiar, you are not alone. Know that countless other parents are going through what you're going through. Also know that developing good sleep habits is like developing good tooth-brushing habits - it takes time for your child to get there, but once he does, it's second nature.


    A great book to read is "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. In it, he discusses all sorts of sleeping problems, from apnea to night terrors. Though much of the book focuses on

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  • Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads when We Speak?

    You may have noticed that when your dog hears a strange sound or when you ask him if he'd like to go for a walk, he cocks his head to the side.

    The adorable move seems to say, "I'm listening," but what's really going on when dogs' heads tilt in response to a sound?

    Here are a few possible explanations.

    They're trying to hear better
    Dogs have movable earflaps that help them locate the source of a sound, but they also have brains that can compute time differences between the sound reaching each ear. A slight change in a dog's head position supplies additional information that the canine can use to judge a sound's distance.

    Essentially, tilting the head can help the animal more accurately locate the location and distance of a sound.

    They're trying to understand us
    According to Steven R. Lindsay's "Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training," when a dog listens to your voice, he's trying to identify familiar words or tones that he associates with a reward, such as

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  • Want to Become the Jedi Master of Shopping Healthy at the Grocery Store? Read This

    From the paleo diet to raw foods, the world is not short of diet plans and nutrition philosophies. As I explained in an earlier post about mindful eating, however, I often counsel my clients to focus more on achieving moderation and balance first, rather than pursuing a radical dietary regime change that they may find hard to sustain later on.

    Dietary needs vary from person to person, but there are some general principles that most of us should follow, including:

    • Eat more fruits and vegetables
    • Include whole grains
    • Consume fewer processed foods
    • Reduce your intake of salt, sugar, and trans fats
    •Enjoy saturated fats, meat, and animal protein only in moderation

    Understanding these principles in theory is an important first step toward healthier eating. But principles mean little unless they shape how you actually shop and eat.

    Given that the grocery store is where good intentions so often go amiss, here are some practical tips for healthier, stress-free

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  • How to Keep Cats Off Counters

    It's in a cat's nature to seek out high vantage points like kitchen countertops.


    Counters, tables and the tops of cabinets are an ideal place to survey territory, and they provide protection from enemies like roughhousing dogs and the vacuum cleaner.


    Felines might also be drawn to kitchen counters because they've learned that they're good places to find tasty crumbs.


    If you want your kitty to keep her paws off the counter, here's what to do.


    Provide another place to lounge
    Because jumping and climbing are part of cats' normal behavior, you'll have to offer a suitable alternative or your feline friend will likely continue to leap onto countertops.


    Carpeted cat tree furniture or kitty shelves attached to windowsills are two options that can replace a favorite counter.


    Also see: What your cat's tail can tell you


    Make the counter unappealing
    If your cat prowls the kitchen counter looking for a snack, be sure to clean counters thoroughly and don't leave

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  • 5 Easy Ways for Moms to Relax in Only 15 Minutes

    I've got a lot to say here, partly because I'm a mom, and partly because I like to relax. Since I've had kids though, finding time to unwind is like putting on makeup and blow-drying my hair for a night on the town - it ain't gonna happen. Heck, I barely find time to brush my teeth and take a shower. So I asked the experts - other friends who are moms - what they do to relax. Herein some very good suggestions that I just might try myself:


    1. Get up 15 minutes early
    I know the last thing you want to do at 6 a.m. is jump out of bed and make yourself a cup of coffee, but that's exactly what I'm telling you to do. If you're lucky enough to live in a house with kids who wake up at 6:30 or later, this is a realistic option. Before the kids wake up, go brush your teeth, get yourself dressed, and drink a cup of coffee while you're checking your Facebook feed. I don't know about you but I always feel like I'm dead last in a race when I wake up in the morning - possibly because my kids have

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  • What Your Cat's Tail is Trying to Tell You

    Cats communicate in a variety of ways.

    Their purrs and meows can have different meanings, but cats also communicate with body language.

    For example, ear position is a good indicator of how a feline is feeling. Upward ears mean a cat is alert or happy, while backward or flat ears mean to steer clear because he's irritated or frightened.

    But one of the best ways to get insight into your feline friend's mood is to look at her tail. Take a look below to learn all about the tales your cat's tail can tell.

    Straight in the air
    When a cat holds its tail high in the air, he's expressing confidence, excitement or contentment. Cats will often greet their owners with their tails straight in the air, which is a cat's way of saying he's happy to see you.

    Curved like a question mark
    An erect tail with a curve at the end that resembles a shepherd's crook or a question mark indicates friendliness or playfulness. Your cat is telling your it's a good time for some head scratches or

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  • Energy-efficient Lights May Cause Sleep Problems for Kids

    SleepSleep

    Need another reason to limit your kids' screen time? New research shows that exposure to the artificial lights from computers and electronics may make it more difficult to get to sleep - particularly for kids.

    The study, led by Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, found that when kids are exposed to artificial light from computers and other electronic gadgets in the late afternoon and evening, it can disrupt sleep cycles as much as six to eight hours - causing a feeling similar to "jet lag."

    "Technology has disconnected us from the natural 24-hour day," Dr. Czeisler said in a keynote lecture at a recent meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

    Also see: Is your child addicted to screens?

    Basically, the blue light from all of these gadgets mimics bright daylight that makes our brains think that it is still daytime. Research shows that exposure to artificial light stimulates the production of cortisol which makes you more alert.

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