Maremma Sheepdog

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AKC Group: Non-Specific

The Maremma hails from Italy and has been traced back 2000 years. Both the Maremma and Abruzzo areas of Italy take credit for the breed and at one time the dogs were thought to be separate breeds. Bred to guard, they continue in this role. The breed is rare outside of Italy. (Though they are gaining favor in Australia. A population of penguins were dwindling due to foxes and other dogs. The people have tried various methods of protecting the birds to no avail. A farmer suggested using a Maremma puppy to protect the penguins. Successful, more Maremmas have been invited to Australia to help the effort.)

Size: 23 to 30 inches tall; 65 to 100 pounds

Color: White; some may have ivory, yellow or orange markings around the head and ears.

Life span: 12 to 15 years

Health problems: Only hip dysplasia or eye diseases have been noted infrequently.

The majestic-looking Maremma have large, sturdy frames covered by rough, thick and slightly wavy coats. The broad, triangular head has a slightly tapered muzzle, almond shaped eyes and hanging V-shaped ears. Their all weather coat needs regular, thorough combing and brushing to remove dead and loose hairs.

Used for guarding, the Maremma is a defender of their people and property. (Thankfully they are slow to anger, so they shouldn’t appear aggressive.) One trait that you may never like — unless you’re going to put him to work — is he always questions commands and usually ends up doing what he thinks is best. (When you put him to work, his natural instincts take over and he just seems to know what to do.) Not demonstrative, he does bond very deeply with his family. Think of a Maremma as a giant cat and then you’ll be able to understand his personality a lot better! Due to the difficulty of keeping him happy inside the home as a pet, a Maremma is not recommended at all as a pet.

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Catnip

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Catnip is a plant with heart-shaped leaves on a thick stem. It has a chemical ingredient that drive cats crazy!

How does catnip work?

When cats breathe in the chemicals, it triggers a behavioral response. Not every cat has the same reaction, but it is usually a pleasurable one; they rub, purr and roll around to their hearts content. If you have an aggressive cat, be very careful regarding catnip, it may make him more aggressive.

Why doesn’t a cat respond to catnip?

About 25% of cats will not respond to catnip. Why not? Genetics; if neither of his parents react to catnip, their offspring won’t either. Meanwhile, if only one parent cat responds, you cat should still respond to it. If a cat is younger than 8 weeks old, he will not respond either. Very young kittens are unable to respond to the glorious chemical catnip emits.

Is catnip harmful?

So far there hasn’t been any research to suggest that it’s unsafe or that catnip is addictive. It’s been suggested that an overdose of catnip can lead to seizures, a decrease in mental abilities or personality change. However, nothing one way or the other has been proven 100%, so it’s probably best the use the “in moderation” method.

Some Catnip Facts:

  • Australian cats are not susceptible to catnip. Domestic Australian cats have been bred from a very small population that did not produce a reaction to catnip.
  • The actual effect of catnip (despite the response) only lasts a few seconds.
  • Afterwards to experience another high, a cat has to wait two hours before their body can reset to its normal state.

 

If your cat is in the 75% majority that reacts to catnip (the pleasurable reaction of course), any time you let him indulge, you are in for some crazy hijinks.