No kidding . . . goats can be friendlier pets than cats



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Category: Pets

They are maligned for their washing line-masticating proclivities and mythologised for their troll head-butting talents but rarely have they been thought of as charming companions. Until now.

Scientists have shown that goats can form relationships with humans in the same way as dogs and are considerably better at doing so than cats.

Researchers investigated how the animals performed in a “gaze behaviour” task. When domesticated animals are given a problem to solve, but are unable to do so, sometimes they will look to the face of a human for clues.

The extent to which they do this is considered a measure of their bond with humans. Dogs will often look at human faces for guidance, horses will do so a little less and cats almost never lower themselves to do so.

The question was whether goats would be able to form such bonds. There was some evidence that they might do. The actress Reese Witherspoon has three as pets.

The RSPCA offers advice for people considering having goats, describing them as “good companion animals”, though conceding that they do not always get along with fences or neighbours.

The scientists wanted to see whether owners were deluding themselves in believing that they had a bond.

They recruited goats from Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats in Kent and gave them some food in a clear plastic box, which they could retrieve only if they tipped it over.

After eliminating the goats who could not work out what to do with the box, they then repeated the task but this time with the box glued down.

All of them quickly realised something was up. “They would nudge it a little with their mouths, or their hoofs, and then they would approach the handler,” Alan McElligott, from Queen Mary, University of London, said.

There was a twist. The handler was facing the goat only half the time.

The scientists, writing in the Royal Society’s Biology Letters, found that when the goats realised that they could not tip the box they were much more likely to gaze entreatingly at their handler if they could see his or her face.

Dr McElligott warned people to think carefully before choosing them as pets, however. “They are sociable but they do need a field,” he said. “I wouldn’t keep them in a town. Don’t chuck out the cat or dog just yet.”

Having a goat as a ‘pet’ is certainly not for everyone as you can see. You can’t exactly keep a goat in a flat like you could a cat, or within a small garden like you could with a dog, so it is wise to always think about how they will cope, not just about your preferences.

Even if you can’t get a goat, having any pet is great for people, they can promote physical and mental health, as long as you take care of them by getting them to see a Veterinarian for health checks and updates, then they will take care of you.

People can take their pets for granted sometimes, they just always expect them to be there no matter what, which is why regular health check ups and giving them quality foods such as Raw K9 in Australia, and others that are relevant to their diet, is essential. They can be a lot easier to feed than a goat, who needs specific hay and supplements to keep them going.

The allure of a goat companion can be strong, but the novelty can wear off for people after a while, especially if they find it hard to ‘train’ them, for instance. This is why it is wise to go for the safer option if it looks best for your situation.

There are plenty of cats, dogs, gerbils, and many other domesticated animals out there that need homes and a lot of love and care, so go for them first if you can.