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Cats and Dogs Research Review

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!

(Image credit: Flickr user dixie wells)

Research in, on, or about cats and dogs
by Nan Swift, Improbable Research staff

Dogs and Cats as Fall Hazards (2006)
Nonfatal Fall-Related Injuries Associated with Dogs and Cats --- United States, 2001-2006,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 58, no. 11, March 27, 2009, pp. 277-281. The report states:

The findings indicate that, in 2006, cats and dogs were associated with approximately 1% of the estimated 8 million fall injuries treated in Emergency Departments and affected persons of all ages. Walking dogs and chasing pets were associated with the greatest number of injuries.

Dogs and Cats as Fall Hazards (2010)
Dogs and Cats as Environmental Fall Hazards,” Judy A. Stevens, S.L. Teh, and Tadesse Haileyesus, Journal of Safety Research, vol. 41, no. 1, February 2010, pp. 69-73. The authors, at the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Atlanta, Georgia, report:

Based on 7,456 cases, an estimated 86,629 fall injuries each year were associated with cats and dogs, for an injury rate of 29.7. There were 7.5 times as many injuries involving dogs as cats and females were 2.1 times more likely to be injured than males. Injury rates were highest among people aged ≥ 75, but pets were a fall hazard for all ages.... About 66.4% of falls associated with cats and 31.3% of falls associated with dogs were caused by falling or tripping over the pet. An additional 21.2% of falls related to dogs were caused by being pushed or pulled.

Making Computers Better at Seeing Cats And Dogs
Computer scientists at the University of Oxford in England and the International Institute of Information Technology, in Hyderabad, India, are working on making computers better at distinguishing a cat from a dog from anything that is neither. They are also working to reliably, automatically recognize what species of dog the dog is, and what kind of cat the cat. The biggest problem is that cats and dogs come in many shapes. This shape-shiftiness intrigues computer scientists. The Oxford/Hyderabad team explains that researchers “have often focused on cats and dogs as examples of highly deformable objects for which recognition and detection is particularly challenging.”

The Truth About Cats And Dogs,” Omkar M. Parkhi, Andrea Vedaldi, C. V. Jawahar, and Andrew Zisserman, in 2011 IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), pp. 1427-1434.

Beyond the technical interest of fine grained categorization, extracting information from images of pets has a practical side too. People devote a lot of attention to their domestic animals, as suggested by the large number of social networks dedicated to the sharing of images of cats and dogs: Pet Finder, Catster, Dogster, My Cat Space, My Dog Space, The International Cat Association and several others. In fact, the bulk of the data used in this paper has been extracted from annotated images that users of these social sites post daily. It is not unusual for owners to believe (and post) the incorrect breed for their pet, so having a method of automated classification could provide a gentle way of alerting them to such errors.

Cats and Dogs,” Omkar M. Parkhi, Andrea Vedaldi, Andrew
Zisserman, and C. V. Jawahar, in 2011 IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), pp. 3498-3505. IEEE, 2012.


The article above is from the July-August 2015 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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I'm a dog sitter, and I've had quite a few falls. Of course, I'm naturally inclined to run into things and trip over a grain of sand (what my dad used to say), but my worst fall out with a dog was strictly my fault, wearing flip flops on uneven pavement and not paying attention.
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Reminds me of a fall MrsO had. We just arrived at our daughter's place in Buffalo. MrsO volunteered to take her dogs for a walk. She tripped over an uneven piece of sidewalk. Just a few bumps and bruises, but could have been a vacation ender. Not really the dog's fault though.
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