Thursday 31 January 2008

Anatomy of a cat

I have good hearing. The world sounds noisy to me. I like some quiet. Think how noisy the world is to a cat.

The anatomy of a cat is specialized for hunting. Her senses are special. Her hearing is remarkable. Often we don't seem to appreciate this and I put myself in the category of people who sometimes forget how sensitive to sound cats are.

Cat senses are attuned to efficient hunting. We have a similar hearing ability to cats at the lower end of the scale. However cats hear higher pitched sounds that we can't. They can hear sounds 1.6 octaves above the highest pitch that we can hear. One octave higher as I understand it is a frequency twice as high as the octave lower in the scale (if I'm wrong please tell me).

Cats can also distinguish the pitch of a sound better than us. They are also able to locate the source of sound far better than us. This is probably because of the directional nature of the ear flap (the bit of the ear we can see called "Pinnae"). Apparently cats can judge the source of a sound with an accuracy of 3 inches from one yard away.

32 individual muscles in each ear allows your cat to alter the shape of her Pinnae. Each ear can be moved independently. Often we see cats, for example, eating with their ears pointed backwards listening for danger.

The ear flaps, in fact, play a role in confrontation. You can see this in the Serval. There is a white blob on the ear flap which is noticeable to other animals when the ear is turned forwards.

I have noticed that my cat becomes a little anxious when for example I have had an argument with my partner (!). I think we should be aware of the fact that cats have extremely sensitive hearing and modify our behavior accordingly. We should take note of the anatomy of a cat.

Some ear flaps are very large. The Serval comes to mind. This cat, which is a wild cat but also a tamed wild cat (to become a domestic cat) has enormous ears allowing her to hear prey underground and to jump up and stun the prey when it surfaces. The anatomy of a cat is exaggerated for the Serval in respect of her ability to locate prey making very faint sounds.

Other domestic cats have been bred with very large ears for aesthetic reasons. Think of the Sphynx for example. Another is the Modern Siamese. I don't think breeders consider the effect that this has on sound reception for the cat. The consideration is only on the level of appearance.

A cat with a minor hearing problem and which is bred nonetheless for her interesting looks is the Scottish Fold. Her ears are like a dogs, flopped over the ear canal. This is due to a genetic mutation. Another is the American Curl, with ears that curl back. I wonder if we should breed cats with a defect albeit minor just because she looks interesting?


From Anatomy of a Cat to Serval Cat


Photo
copyright and by qmnonic

Tuesday 29 January 2008

Cat Licking Behavior


Is your cat licking behavior normal?
We know a cat licks herself to keep clean. Licking fur also helps to smooth it, making it a better insulating layer. Licking fur also helps to keep your cat cool. The saliva evaporates cooling her down in the same way perspiration cools humans down (physics: latent heat of evaporation).

Your cat will lick her fur after you have handled her. This is to put her scent back on the spot where your scent has been left. She needs this to feel OK. A cat's world is a world of smells, ours is more visually orientated. She also licks off some of your scent to taste it (a form of communication). If she licks your hand she is tasting you, getting signals from you and grooming you as an act of friendship (as cats groom each other).

If a cat licks too much (abnormal cat licking behavior) it may be due to stress or ill health. Obviously a vet is required. One reason could be the food creating an allergic reaction. Dry cat food contains grain (frankly an unnatural ingredient for a cat), to which she may be allergic. Try wet cat food and different sorts or make your own cat food with supplements.

Perhaps the most likely reason for abnormal cat licking behavior is as displacement grooming. She is grooming to displace the feeling of stress she feels. We scratch our heads for the same reason. I happen to think that humans try too hard to make cats do what humans want or make her live like a human lives to the cat's detriment. More time should be spent ensuring that we create an environment for our cat that as near as possible meets her natural needs.

One cause of stress could be due to being confined, say, in an apartment. Cats normally like to roam a bit. I'll bet we'd be scratching our heads a hell of a lot if we were confined to an apartment 24/7. When we live with a human partner we consult the partner when we make decisions about living arrangements. A feline partner is no different. We can't consult with her. We can, though, understand her and give her what pleases her.

Drawing copyright and by Laurie treasures

Monday 28 January 2008

Talking To Your Cat

talk to your catYou don't need to research talking to your cat. If you have lived harmoniously with a cat or cats for a long time and you think about how you have communicated with them the answers are there.

It seems to me that the communication from my cat to me is different from me to my cat. There is a difference too between human/cat communication and cat/cat communication.

Human to Cat

The obvious way is through one's voice. When I call my cat by her informal name, "Binnie" she recognizes it. She looks up. She looks at me intently. She doesn't always look up and pay attention though, but neither does my partner .

Sometimes her response will be her ear twisting towards me (quite a subtle movement). Sometimes the tip of her tail will twitch but nothing else moves. She recognises her name though.

One reason and perhaps the main (maybe the only reason) that she responds to the call of her name is that it is usual to call her when I feed her. Also she recognises the sound of her name as spoken by me rather than the name itself. This is really a sound thing rather than a language thing (I guess that is obvious).

She also recognizes the phrase, "come on", said briskly and in the same way each time. I use this "sound" to call her to the kitchen to feed her. She understands this. These are just a couple of examples.



Cat to human

She will meow when asking for food. If I don't respond she will wait and eventually get irritated and this irritation shows in the tone of her voice when she next asks. There is a clear sign of irritation in just the same way a human voice changes. In addition to meowing to ask for food she'll come round to where I am sitting and look up at me with a clear message but no words said. When Timmy (new boy cat, a stray) demands food that he wants (meaning he wants more of the food he likes) he'll head butt me hard. This is a form of insistence in a nice way.

When she wants to check that I am around she'll meow but in another tone of voice. I respond with a reassuring sound.

She communicates too by her actions. She will sit by the cat flap when she want me to open the door (lazy devil). She will lie on the floor having looked at me first if she wants me to stroke her and whisper in her ear (she likes that). She'll sometimes look up and the plonk dwoon on the carpet and wait for the loving attention.

Other background forms of communication are her tail twitching (when receiving what I say) and a purr when she is contented.

We are able to communicate very well as above and through learned routine. We both know at a certain time certain things should happen and I deliver on those requirements (note: this is one way traffic :) These are examples. The bottom line is that taking to your cat is very possible and visa versa because there are a bundle of communication tools, which includes the voice, these include as referred to above:
  • the sound of our voice - its tone
  • our body language
  • out actions that accompany our voice
  • the cat's tails movements
  • the cat's meow has many different tones
  • our cat's actions
  • routines provide signals
  • our cat's facial expression - this is subtle but distinct and says a lot about what she expects and her feelings


Photo is copyright and by Sappymoosetree

From Talking To Your Cat to Home page

Cat Eating Dog Food

Why is a cat eating dog food a bad thing for a cat? At a fundamental level they are different animals when it comes to diet.

Although both are carnivores and classified under the Order "Carnivora", there is an argument that dogs could be classified as omnivores (an animal that eats plants and animals as its main source of food). Whereas a dog is not dependent on a meat diet a cat is an "obligate" carnivore (must eat animals to thrive).


A dog can eat a large amount vegetables and grain and can it seems live on a carefully controlled vegetarian diet. That said a lot of cat food is even advertised as containing vegetables. I've got some in the kitchen and it says things like "Chicken and carrots"! In my opinion, this is because cats in the wild eat the contents of the prey's gut and that might contain digested vegetation. Cat food should mirror the diet of the wildcat because they have the same physiology.

I have discussed cat food quite a lot on this website - see for example: Best Cat Food. The more I study it the more inadequate cheap cat food (and dry cat food) looks to meet the requirements of a healthy cat. If cats eat dog food they will not eat enough protein. They also need the amino acid taurine in their diet whereas dogs apparently make their own. Cat food should have taurine supplements and if you prepare your own cat food you'll need to add taurine supplements amongst other supplements.

Other areas where dog food is unsuitable is in providing sufficient Vitamin A. Another element missing in the dog food diet is the fatty acid, arachidonic acid, an essential part of a cat's diet. This is not essential to a dog.

Allowing your cat to eat dog food for long periods will be detrimental to his her health.

Photograph copyright and by Brit.

Sources:
  • Wikipedia on Dogs
  • Peteducation.com
From Cat Eating Dog Food to Cat Facts

Sunday 27 January 2008

Low Magnesium Cat Food

I refer in this short article to two sources, Elizabeth Hodgkin's book "Your Cat" and an About.com article.

Elizabeth says that the increase in urinary tract disease and the increase in use of dry cat food are linked (she calls dry cat food "dry kibble" as it is based on starch to make the manufacturing process work). I have written on this already. The manufacturers came to realize that there was a problem and took steps. I think we are talking about the late 1990s here but could be wrong. The steps they took according to Elizabeth were incorrect.

Anyway, they concluded from their research that the levels in magnesium in commercial cat foods was a contributing cause of UTI (urinary tract infection). They figured this out on the basis that the crystals (urine crystals forming in the urinary tract) were made up of a magnesium salt. The argument was that high levels of magnesium resulted in the magnesium crystallizing in the tract.

The answer then was to manufacture low magnesium cat food. Hills manufacture Prescription Diet s/d for example. Drs Carlson and Giffin (Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook) say that cats fed on this food exclusively will cease to show signs of FUS within 5-7 days. They say that to completely dissolve struvite stones (urinary tract crystalline stones caused by an infection setting of a chemical reaction in the urea) takes about 1-2 months on the diet. However this is not meant to be a permanent or long term diet.

Urine in cats who eat dry cat food has an alkaline pH and magnesium crystals form in alkaline urine. So they also made the food more acid. This worked to an extent but Elizabeth argues it caused some new problems. The answer should have been to take steps to make food that more accurately replicated the natural diet of a cat that feeds on high protein food.

One problem with dry foods is that they are dry and cats do not make up this deficiency in intake of water by drinking more water. This makes the urine more concentrated leading to crystal formation.

So, where does that leave us? First I don't know how you tell what "low in magnesium" means. All you can do is compare the levels on the cat food packets and pick the lowest level (but it still may be too high for a cat). But better still it seems to me is to create a diet for your cat that as near as possible mimics her wild cat diet. The nearest we can get to that with commercial cat food (as opposed to home made cat food) is wet cat food, plus say some fish (I microwave frozen Coley and add water) and to choose the wet cat food with the lowest magnesium levels.

The About.com author Franny Syufy had a problem with one of her cats that was magnesium related. She says and I fully agree, that the ingredients on cat food packaging is confusing. When you read the ingredients it basically shocks. Most of the contents are water ("moisture") then there's vegetable matter....

Update: does a low magnesium cat food affect the incidence of heart disease?

The manufacturers proudly put on the boxes phases like "Rabbit and Carrots". When did you last see a cat eat carrots?

Photo copyright and by dusdin



Saturday 26 January 2008

Ragdoll Google Slide Show



I am building a page on the main website with this slide show and I wondered what it would look like here. The photographers are both the best. Dani Rozeboom runs a cattery in the Netherlands and is a web site designer and photographer as well.

She has a fabulous family of gorgeous long haired cats. They are all right out of the top draw in terms of appearance. And she photographs them so beautifully.

Helmi is famous as probably the best professional cat photographer in the world. This then is a special slide show.

There is also a photo or two by other photographer one being Tom Poes who lives with Ragdoll cats and takes fine photographs of them. Enjoy this Ragdoll Google Slide Show, which updates as new photographs are added.

Ragdoll Google Slide Show to Ragdoll cats

Friday 25 January 2008

Urinary Tract Cat Food

Urinary tract cat food is cat food which helps to keep the urinary tract healthy. I have personal experience in resourcing this sort of food as my cat has suffered from urinary tract infections.

Bladder disease is apparently the most common problem that is caused by nutrition in adult cats after obesity. Bladder disease is called urinary tract inflammation (UTI) or cystitis by the veterinarian profession.

In my cat, cystitis caused her to urinate a lot more than usual and in very small amounts; always with either blood or very concentrated. She would urinate outside the cat litter due to the speed of onset of the urge to go to the toilet. She often got as far as the shower or bath but sometimes in the corner of rooms. She is an excellent litter user so I knew she was ill and I also knew that it was cystitis.

For my cat the cause, I discovered was stress and food. She is a very nervous girl. I am not sure why she was stressed at that time, but I was away all day so that may have been a factor or the sole reason for the stress. Cystitis can also be caused by bacterial infection that is more likely to take hold if the urine is concentrated due to the cat not going to the toilet enough. If the urinary tract is flushed regularly the infection is less likely to develop.

Logically, my cats condition was exacerbated by the food that she was eating at the time. At that time she was on dry food, Hills LD and fish given separately. She is now on much less dry food and a combination of wet canned or sachet food and fish (with added water where necessary) and prawns. I am with her most of the day. She has been free of cystitis for a long time.

According to a vet very experienced in cat food, Elizabeth M. Hodgkins DVM ESQ there has been an increase in UTI in the 1970s and 80s. I refer to her excellent book "Your Cat". I would recommend this book for further reading.

She argues that the major cause for the increase in UTI is the rapid growth in the very convenient dry cat food market. Dry cat food is of course unnaturally dry for a cat and high in carbohydrates. Cats in the wild eat raw meat that is high in protein and water content. Cats are it seems unable to make up the deficit of water intake in eating dry food by simply drinking more water as they are programmed to obtain their water intake from the food itself.

Cat Food manufactures are anxious to produce dry cat food, unnatural though it is because (and this is my opinion) it sells well as it is highly convenient and it is easy to manage in terms of storage and supply chain. In other words dry cat food is good for humans but no so good (or plain bad) for cats.

The manufacturers obviously try to make the dry food as healthy as possible but it can never be as healthy as a natural high protein diet.

Some prescription dry cat food is more acid and contains less magnesium to reduce the levels of UTI. Sometimes this food can cause other urinary tract problems (calcium crystals as opposed to magnesium crystals in the urinary tract).

In conclusion, one answer to improving the health of your cats urinary tract is to provide a "urinary tract cat food diet" meaning a diet as near as possible to a cat's natural high protein wild diet. This is more accurately found in wet cat food but is ideally found in home made raw meat cat food with added supplements (inc. Taurine) and natural fiber (crushed bone - this mimics the bone and fur ingested by wild cats that provides the roughage to improve the digestion of food).

I discuss more on these subjects on the main website, where I discuss a raw meat diet and dry food diet.

Photograph: this is a stray cat taken in Singapore by Aki Jinn under creative commons, copyright Aki Jinn. The picture is just to "decorate" the text. The cat photographed has no connection as far as I know to dry cat food.

From Urinary Tract Cat Food to Cat Facts

Thursday 24 January 2008

Cat and Dog Parasite Pictures

Something gross - Cat and Dog Parasite Pictures. You can't have pictures of cats without pictures of the parasites that feed on them. There is a peculiar natural balance to life when you have an extremely ugly parasite that is almost invisible (if it's the flea) feeding on the back of a beautiful cat. That said there is a serious side to looking at cat parasite pictures. As a concerned cat companion one needs to know a bit about cat parasites as they are not uncommon. The most common parasite is the common (oh so common and a pain in the .....) cat flea. A lot of cats get fleas at some stage particularly if they go outside. They are about 2-4mm in length. The photo above is larger than life size. They are an ectoparasite (parasite that on the outside surfaces of their host). I kill them by crushing them with my thumb nail and they go "pop" as the body is shattered.  Be extremely cautious with flea treatments. Read the instructions. Read the label word for word. Flea treatments can kill the kitten or cat. It happens quite a lot.

The pain in the arse cat flea. Image in public domain.

Some cats have a lot of them but put up with them and have no ill health because of them. Whereas white or light colored cats can have severe itching even with one flea. Fleas obtain their food by biting the skin which naturally can irritate the cat, but it is an allergic reaction to the saliva that can be worse than the bite. The adult flea jumps on and off the cat - and can they jump! They are very athletic and for their size jump massive distances. When you comb through fur to flush 'em out they sometimes jump back onto the cat and this happens so fast it is as if they are disappearing. They jump back on to feed. They live in carpet and such places when they are off the cat (see Cat Flea Life Cycle) . The flea larva matures off the cat. 

When adult (after several months) they jump on the passing cat. I recommend combing as the least dangerous and unsettling method to de-flea. If there are too many I recommend the dropper treatment (e.g. Frontline) that you place between the shoulder blades and on the spine which gets absorbed by the skin and then ingested by the flea when they feed. This is efficient and lasts about a month but it makes my cat sleepy and I am little worried about this drug in relation to its negative side effects. Cat and Dog Parasite Pictures -2 - The Ear Mite The medical name is Otodectes cynotis. This is the most common cat mite and is found in the external auditory canal (the bit of the ear you can see). It transfers from cat to cat with ease. Being a very small creature its presence can give the impression of dirty ears. They attach to the mucous membrane and cause damage to it which can lead to secondary infection. Cat and Dog Parasite Pictures -3- The Tick These are common and quite gross to look at. I have discussed these in some depth on the main website. Click here to see the page. In outline they clamp on to the cat's skin and feed on the blood of the cat becoming massively swollen in the process. 

They are therefore quite large (5mm or more in length). They look slightly blue due to the blood you can see under the surface. As you might know the important thing is to remove them carefully ensuring that the mouth parts are not left in the cat's skin where they will irritate and cause infection. You shouldn't just pull them off. You might like to get professional help to do this. These are the most common parasites in my experience. The others are: Maggots, Ringworm, Roundworm, Lungworm, Tapeworm and Coccidia. Photo credits: Top copyright honeybeararmy Middle 1st copyright aisack Middle 2nd copyright akeg Bottom copyright Thejaswi Source: Veterinary Notes for Cat Owners From Cat and Dog Parasite Pictures to Home page Can cat fleas bite humans Tapeworm in Felines (fleas are part of the lifecycle)

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Picture of Sleeping Cat

Here is a picture of a sleeping cat (actually there's 2) and two more great cat pictures. Some of the Flickr photographers are just plain talented and some have cats so when these two factors come together you get some great cat photographs. One such person has the Flickr name fofurasfelinas Here are just 4 of his/her photos that I have selected. They are reproduced under Creative Commons licence and are the copyright of forfurasfelinas:

picture of sleeping cat - black kitten

kitten sleeping

cat pulling face, Estelar

kittens sleeping

The cats from top: Ravena, Estelar, Celeste, the Babies. There are many more. I simply selected, almost, at random as all the photographs from this fine photographer are of a high standard.



A picture of a sleeping cat is not hard to find, because there are many sleeping cats and many digital cameras. But there aren't that many high quality pictures. I'll be publishing lots more. Cats sleep for long periods whether they are wildcats or domestic cats because they are very efficient hunters. This allows for long periods in between catching and eating prey. Obviously domestic cats normally get fed by us but the process is hard wired from the ancestral wildcat.

Cats dream profoundly just as we do. See these posts as well perhaps:


From Picture of Sleeping Cat to Home page

Purina Pet Cat Food

Purina Pet Cat Food is manufactured by NestlĂ© Purina®/Friskies a company that, according to the website Uncaged.co.uk is involved in animal testing. I know this is an unfashionable subject but I am resolved to do my bit in changing people's habits.

Uncaged.co.uk is a fine website with real information in an area where it is hard to find clean information. But the site has an Alexa ranking of 1,178,000. Alexa is a website business that tells you how much traffic you are getting to your website. It does this by collecting data from people who have installed the Alexa toolbar on their computers. The data is reasonably accurate for sites that have high levels of traffic. The number 1,178,000 means that Uncaged is ranked 1.1m amongst all the websites of which there are countless millions (not sure how many but there were about 57m websites until the explosion in Blogs of which there are now about 100m, total 157m perhaps).

Anyway at 1.1m, Uncaged, in my experience, get about 25 visitors a day (wrong? - tell me please). That means that animal testing is not very interesting to people. People just aren't that bothered, in seems to me. Out of sight and baffled by the big companies cover ups.

This article therefore might be unpopular but it needs to be said. It is a struggle to find pet food made by manufacturers that we can definitely say do not animal test. We're too busy to find out. Fortunately, I have the time.

NestlĂ© Purina/Friskies® make make more than Purina Pet Cat Food; they make these companion animal foods: Alpo®, Bonio®, Felix®, Go Cat®, Gourmet®, Omega Complete®, Proplan®, Spillers®, Vital Balance®, Winalot®. (list courtesy Uncaged.co.uk). We shouldn't buy them. These are my reasons.

So if you are into the idea of doing your bit to stop animal testing (and I am after years of buying whatever was on the supermarket shelf including Purina Pet Cat Food) lets find some animal testing free cat food. It is hard to be sure that a company is not animal testing but an organisation called BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) has a system which rigorously checks that this is the case.

Uncaged recommend the following as foods produced without animal testing (based upon BUAV lists) - :

Arden Grange, Burns, Europa Pet Foods Ltd., Fromm Family Foods, Naturediet (dog food), Pero Foods (small business -no info on their website on cat food), Top Number and HappyiDog, Trophy Pet Food, Vegecat/Vegekit. You can get details from the Uncaged website (I can't copy the list as it would be what they call, "copy vio" (copy violation).

So, where do you get this pet food and which is the cat food and which is the best? Lots of questions.

Arden Grange can be bought online. They do dog and cat food. Here's the link They're based near Brighton, England.

Burns can also be bought online - click here for cats They're based in Kidwelly Carmarthenshire (Wales).

Europa Pet Foods Ltd do dog food only it seems

Fromm Family Foods are an international company based in Wisconsin, USA and have retail outlets and online sales.

Trophy Pet Food is UK based and they have franchisees who deliver to your door. Here is a link to the cat food page of their website.

Vegecat/Vegekit makes a vegetable based supplement to add to your own cat food.

Writing this article has forced me to research cat food suppliers who don't animal test and I am going to buy my next lot of cat food from one of the above, probably Burns or Arden Grange. It's not going to be Purina Pet Cat Food unless Nestle can convince me otherwise.

Top photo copyright Sage
Middle photo copyright Creative Nickie
Bottom photo copyright and By fofurasfelinas

From Purina Pet Cat Food to Home page

Tuesday 22 January 2008

Ashera GD


Ashera GD copyright Life Style Pets

The Ashera GD
is in the Dutch News. On 22nd Jan they reported that a "giant cat" was being held at Schipol airport while customs carried out checks. They may have mistaken the cat for a wild cat as the Ashera GD is a very large domestic cat resembling an F1 or F2 Savannah. The Savannah is a cross between the Serval (a wild cat) and a domestic cat (including the Bengal cat).

The Ashera GD is a very impressive cat and said to be hypoallergenic. Life Style Pets are the business who breed the cat. She may be a cross between the Serval as above, the Asian Leopard Cat and a domestic cat. Otherwise she is a cross between the Serval and a domestic cat such as the Bengal (in other words a Savannah with another name). If that was the case she'd be a first generation cat from that mating. This sounds vague but the truth is LifeStyle Pets don't fully disclose their breeding programme unlike normal catteries that breed registered cats in which case you have the full pedigree. This is something against the Ashera.

The Asian Leopard Cat is the foundation wild cat of the Bengal cat.

There is a page on the main website where I discuss the Life Style Pets cats of which there are essentially three "breeds", the Allerca GD (domestic shorthair), the Chakan GD (Siamese type) and the Ashera GD (exotic/wild/domestic type). The Ashera comes in non GD (Genetic Divergences) as well. "GD" signifies that the cat is hypoallergenic.

The cat that they held is called Shin Chan and had been bought by a couple from Eindhoven.

They had better have plenty of space and plenty of time as this cat is very active. They obviously have plenty of money as the Ashera GD costs over $20,000 but there are plenty of extras including a guarantee, as I remember, in respect of the hypoallergenic qualities of this highly impressive cat.

Photo of Ashera GD © LIFESTYLE PETS Inc. and reproduced with their express permission.

From Ashera GD to Savannah Cats

Inactive Cat Food

lazy catThere is no such thing as inactive cat food. In the same way that there is no such thing as "senior cat" formula food. Even though the cat food manufacturers think that there is. How can I be so sure about this not while not being a vet?

The answer must lie in the behavior of wild cats. We have all seen wild cats on television. They are carnivores and they don't change their diet according to their age or whether they are active or inactive.

The cat food manufacturers produce a range of food types to extend their range of products. In other words it's simply a matter or profit for the cat food manufacturer. An irritating point is that the cat food manufacturers state on the packet that a cat is a "Senior" cat when she is beyond the age of 7 or 8. This seems remarkably young to me. This may be to get more cats on the senior diet as it may be cheaper to produce (I'm probably being too cynical).

I am used to cats living to late teens. Some of the modern cat breeds, though, do have on average shorter lives, being less robust.
cat eating cat food
The difference between kitten and senior cat food is sometimes simply a matter of adding more carbohydrates and fiber in the senior food. I presume this is to aid digestion (the fiber - but this has no nutritional value) and provide more calories to boost activity. There is already too much carbohydrate content in cat food particularly dry cat food. Cats need an intake of high levels of protein, moderate levels of fat and low levels of carbohydrates. Fats should provide the calories not carbohydrates.

In short the inactive, old cat should ideally eat high protein cat food (wet food - dry food contains too much carbs) and take as much exercise as possible. A raw cat food diet, home prepared is acceptable, provided care is taken and supplements and roughage given.

Source:
  • Me
  • "Your Cat" by Elizabeth Hodgkins DVM
  • top picture copyright and By Mel1st
  • bottom picture copyright and By fofurasfelinas
From Inactive Cat Food to Home page

Cat Behavior and Separation Anxiety

Cat behavior and separation anxiety is almost certainly a growing issue. I have first hand experience of it. I don't know if I am being over sensitive or over protective but I think that if we agreed to live with our cat (and she agreed to live with us) we have created a situation where our cat adapts to us being around. We provide the food and warmth, that's agreed. And she provides her presence and companionship.

It is our presence that becomes a part of our cat's life. I can see this in my cat. When I was working I was away all day and she would wait in the house at the front door for hours on end. She was delighted to see me on my return, that was obvious. Was she delighted to see me because I was going to give her some prawns? Or was is because she likes me to be around? Of course the two are linked.

Recently I have been at home a lot more and she sleeps next to me while I am at the computer. So she likes to be near me. When I go into a different room and watch TV she follows me there (albeit about 10 mins later). This tells me she likes me around and I know she likes prawns so it's a bit of both.

Some cats are more patient and able to deal with separation than others. But cat behavior resulting from separation anxiety is noticeable. My former partner worked hard and liked to play hard. She wasn't at her flat a lot. She had a large boy cat. He had to stay in the flat all the time while she is out. What do you expect? Apparently he urinated on her bed. A sure sign of cat behavior resulting from separation anxiety.

When a cat does this he is transferring his scent to you in the same way that he brushes against you when her greets you and when he wants food. He is mixing his scent in his urine to your scent on your bed clothes. He is scent sharing or doing a scent exchange to make himself feel more comfortable and less anxious.

Separation anxiety is not the only reason for peeing on your bed or outside the litter box. Some reasons are:
  • Cystitis - my girl cat get this. It can be brought on by stress and not drinking enough liquid. Drinking more liquid helps to flush the kidneys reducing the possibility of infection.
  • Stress caused by some other reason. Apparently cat's urine contains pheromones (a stress reducing hormone), which when released the cat can benefit from.
  • Dirty litter tray.
  • If you have 2 cats and one is urinating outside the litter the other may mark the area with urine compounding the problem

Pictures: Top copyright imen, bottom copyright .snow
Source:
mine knowledge and http://en.allexperts.com

Monday 21 January 2008

Cosmetics Animal Testing

Cosmetics Animal Testing is on the way out and about time. It is obviously completely immoral to hurt our fellow creatures in the name of making people look more attractive. This behavior is indicative of the morality of some businesses, where profit is the only guide to behavior.

About 38,000 animals (at 2005 - update 23-1-08: I think this figure is wrong and too low as 2.8 million animals in the UK alone suffer from animal testing) are used in Europe every year to test cosmetics. The gradual change in attitude by some companies is due at least in part to all the peaceful activists who have actually done something. There are a lot of people who don't like animal testing to improve cosmetics and that includes a massive majority of women who use cosmetics but only a tiny handful of people actually do something. I am ashamed to say that up until now I have done very little. We can't talk about beautiful cats without doing our bit to help the "ordinary" cats who are suffering. These ordinary cats as as good as the beautiful ones.

Although I disapprove of the violent protests it may well be that it is these protests that have moved companies the most in banning cosmetics animal testing. If this is the case, it wouldn't surprise me as that is the way the world works (i.e. sometimes you've got to push extremely hard to drive some people to do the right thing).

Apparently a number of major companies have changed their practices and found different ways to test their products proving that there are alternatives.

In Europe the European Parliament is debating legislation to ban cosmetics animal testing by 2009.

There is absolutely no justification for animal testing to improve cosmetics. The use of cosmetics itself could be questioned never mind killing animals to test the stuff.

At a more problematic level, it is highly questionable that animal testing to save human life is justified as it presumes that humans are worth more than other animals and that we have the right to decide if other animals die or not for potential human health benefits.

The great man Mahatma Gandhi said it well, "To my mind the life of the lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of the lamb for the sake of the human body. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man."

In any event there are alternatives that are becoming more efficient such as tissue cultures and computer models, which are cheaper as well.

As it is impossible to justify animal testing in the cosmetics business the only thing to do is to discover which cosmetics companies are and which aren't animal testing and to stop buying from the ones who are animal testing.

One extremely large company comes to mind: Procter and Gamble ® who use animal testing. They manufacture a massive range of products and have a cosmetics branch - Procter and Gamble (Cosmetics and Fragrances) Ltd. They also make cat food under the Iams ® brand. As far as I am aware P&G admit the commissioning of animal testing or do it themselves. I am not sure if they carry out cosmetics animal testing. I understand that they are in discussion with the Human Society of the United States in an effect to improve practices. Or is this a cynical attempt at improving image?

They make products such as Max Factor® and Wells® hair products. They are the world largest consumer products company apparently.

I provide links to lists of companies in another post on this site. Click here to get to this posting (from cosmetics animal testing to animal free testing of baby products).

Sources:
  • http://www.clearleadinc.com/site/cosmetic-animal.html
  • photo top of page courtesy Animal Port
  • 2nd picture down. This cat was not tested in cosmetics experiments but to see the effect on him mentally when his legs were made deformed. Copyright Brian Gunn
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Animal Free Testing of Baby Products

99% of the time I don't think about animal free testing of baby products or any products for that matter and I am ashamed of it. I care deeply about the welfare of cats and animals but don't do enough (although I am building this website :).

The root cause of the problem is, "Out of Sight out of Mind", apathy, and I'm too busy. All bad reasons if I am honest. Amongst other animals, cats are used in animal testing. I find it difficult to allow myself to talk about cats and present the most wonderful pictures of the wonderful looking cats without addressing what is hidden behind that pretty veneer.

The issue of animal testing is very problematic and there are very strongly held polarized viewpoints on the subject. Even I sometimes think that animal testing is a necessary evil if it genuinely improves the lives of people. This though would not and can never include using animal testing to improve cosmetics and baby products. Animal free testing of baby products has got to be something we aspire to, surely?

Even if the rewards (excluding for a minute, profit) are huge, such as finding a cure for a disease through animal testing, I still have real doubts about it. This is because, even at the most morally acceptable level, animal testing presupposes that humans (as an animal) are more important than other animals. Why should we be more important? We aren't doing such a great job of running the world are we? Were does this right to harm other creatures come from?

I feel an overriding an naturally correct assessment of the situation is that we are all fundamentally equal. Being more intelligent in some areas (there are various types of intelligence) does not qualify us to behave as Gods in respect of other animals.

If we want to find a cure for disease or make better baby products we should test on ourselves. Of course we wouldn't do the kind of tests that are carried out on animals. Progress would slow down as a result (probably). For my part a little slowing in so called progress wouldn't be a bad thing since I am not sure that we are making progress anyway and slowing down a bit would be good for us all.

There is evidence it seems that cat food companies such as Iams are using animal testing to improve their products. Iams® is owned by Procter and Gamble®, who I understand are working with Humane Society of the United States® to improve their practices in respect of product safety research. It also seems that Hills®, another big cat food manufacturer, animal test. This is very cynical behavior. It also puts me in a difficult position personally as I buy Hills LD® dry food which I occasionally give my cats.

{there are issues too with the amount of carbohydrates in dry cat food - there is too much starch in dry cat food, which may effect your cat's health. You can read about law carbohydrate cat food here.

I'll have to stop buying it. But I would have stopped anyway as I agree the arguments about too much carbohydrate in dry cat food.

There are programs to which companies can subscribe if they can provide evidence that they do not animal test. I have found 2 lists of companies, one relates to North America (USA and Canada) and the other to Europe (I think). Click on these links to see the lists:

The first 2 lists are courtesy http://www.caringconsumer.com/resources_companies.asp and relate to North America:


Companies that don't test on animals

Companies that do test on animals





This list comes from The Go Cruelty Free initiative organised by BUAV and lists companies that are approved under the Humane Cosmetics Standard (HCS) and/or the Humane Household Products Standard (HHPS). This means that they don't do animal testing indirectly or directly. These relate to UK and Europe as I understand it.

For the time being I will leave it to visitors to find the companies making baby products. But I'll be back for more about this. It needs to brought out into the open so it is no longer out of sight out of mind.

All the photos are copyright Brian Gunn IAAPEA. They are reproduced with his permission. The objective is to put the issue in front of us to remind us. Gandhi said words to the effect that everything we do is insignificant but we must do it.

Sunday 20 January 2008

Cat Peeing Behavior

Cats demonstrate different cat peeing behavior. Some cats, particularly Bengal cats may pee in the water bowl or some other place where there is water.

Bengal cats are essentially a wild cat/domestic cat hybrid (although breeding is now Bengal to Bengal). The wild ancestor is the Asian Leopard Cat. This wild cat likes to live near water and can fish like other wild cats. Water provides a greater chance of finding wildlife, small animals, to hunt and feed on.

It seems possible that the Asian Leopard Cat also, on occasions, pees in the water. I have not read this anywhere, but it seems possible and indeed likely as it would be a natural way of covering the odor, which is something that cats do when they are being subservient. Of course wild cats need not necessarily be subservient. Some feral cats don't cover their urine as they want it to be a marker of their superiority. If they do pee in the water it could also be simply a matter of convenience or that the running water creates the urge :)

The Bengal's wild ancestor's habits can be seen in this cat peeing behavior when she pees in the water bowl or sink. Although it is not only Bengal cats that pee in their water bowl. In fact some Bengals train themselves to pee in a human toilet. This is testament to their intelligence and their love of water.

Of course their is no real behavioral problem here as it beats urinating on the floor :) This may be abnormal behavior to us but is normal to a domestic cat in the circumstances under which she finds herself.

Some ideas to alter or re-direct this behavior is to use water bottles for Bengal cats. Apparently Bengals like to drink from water bottles. They also drink from taps but be careful as it has been known for a Bengal to drown drinking from a tap as his lungs filled up with water.

Another answer, if you want to modify this cat peeing behavior is to raise the water bowl from the ground whereby it becomes inconvenient to pee in it but OK to drink out of it.



Photos - top picture copyright and by JeSuisMars
middle picture copyright and By Simon Davison
bottom picture copyright and by bhermans

From Cat Peeing Behavior to Cat Facts

Friday 18 January 2008

Cat Chit Chat - informal discussions about cats

Cat Chit Chat is new. It is an integrated Google Blogger website. Its purpose is to chat about things in the cat world that concerns us all. It is meant to be less formal, more on the edge to allow me and others to express themselves.

Freddie
Admin
(Freddie is a username)

Photo copyright and by fofurasfelinas

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