Saturday 29 November 2008

Egyptian cat breed

Egyptian Mau cat
Egyptian Mau - photograph copyright Helmi Flick

People who search for Egyptian cat breed are probably referring to the Egyptian Mau. The Egyptian Mau is a popular purebred cat in the cat fancy. According to the Pictures of website's long standing poll, the Egyptian Mau is ranked 9th in popularity. There are about 70 well known cat breeds so 9th is good. See poll results.

This cat breed has a dual existence, however. While in the West, particularly, the United States, this cat is a valuable and glamorous show cat, pampered and preened, in Egypt, the country of the breeds origin, this cat is an ostracized feral cat.

The difference between the two is that the show cat is naturally more refined through careful breeding while the feral cat is, as expected, a rougher version but noticeably still an Egyptian Mau. You can see an interesting comparison on this page: Egyptian Mau Pictures.

Abyssinian Cat
Abyssinian Cat - photograph copyright Helmi Flick

Another cat that is associated with Egypt or Egyptian cat breed, at least the geographical area of Egypt is the Abyssinian cat. The Aby, as the cat is fondly known in the cat fancy, has a statuesque appearance that resembles the ancient Egyptian bronze statues at the time the cat was worshipped (see Egyptian Cat Art). We don't know what kind of cat the sculptures used as models. They are probably an idealized representation of a cat but the Aby's appearance fits very well.

The origins of the Abyssinian cat are a little vague. It is thought that the Abyssinian originates from an area around the Indian Ocean. I speculate on the origins of the Abyssinian cat on this page: Origins of the Abyssinian Cat. In my view, this cat breed came to the West (specifically the UK) from the west coast of India via Ethiopia (Abyssinia) in the mid/late 1800s.

Then there are wild cats in Egypt. Of the six possible wildcats that inhabit the Egytian landscape there is the Sand cat, the Cheetah and the Caracal. The Cheetah is probably extinct in Egypt. The Sand cat and Caracal are elusive. Finally how about a bit of Egyptian Cat Art?

Egyptian cat breed to Home page

Friday 28 November 2008

Donations to Texas Maine Coon Rescue

I am proud to say that Pictures of has been able, over a number of months, to make donations to Texas Maine Coon Rescue. This is one of my favorite cat rescue organizations to which I am pleased to make donations. This is in part because it is based in the Dallas area and the president of the organization, Christie, is a friend of Helmi and Ken Flick, with whom, I am at this moment, staying. As a result I am lucky to have had the opportunity to meet up with Christie who joined the Flicks and me at thanksgiving.

Michael, the creator of the charitable website presenting a check to Christie Montgomery of Texas Maine Coon Rescue.

This is a picture taken by Helmi of the presentation of a cheque (check) to Christie for $412, representing the donation made in November 2008 from earnings from the website pictures of over the month of October. The site was also able to donate to other cat charities in November. A list of the donees can be seen on this page: Pictures of Cats org Donations.

Donations to Texas Maine Coon Rescue will be a priority of mine. Christie told me that the money was used to part pay a large veterinarian bill.

I also had a chance to meet with Christie and some of the rescued cats at her work place (more to come on this later). Thanks Christie for doing great work and my regards and love to all the team at Texas Maine Coon Rescue.

Donations to Texas Maine Coon Rescue to Maine Coon Cats

Thursday 27 November 2008

Cats as a disposable item

Is it right that during this time of financial difficulty for some people, that they should treat cats as a disposable item?

It seems that the abandonment of domestic cats is on the increase in the United States. The Shelby County Humane Society has taken in a significantly larger number of abandoned and stray animals this year compared to 2007. This is despite the fact the county has a high proportion of educated people.

Cats that are handed in to the The Shelby County Humane Society facility are most likely to be euthanized as there is no chance of the owners turning up to recover a lost cat. The rescue center must be turning into a kind of processing plant as a large number of cats must be euthanized as they are full.

The situation seems hopeless. It seems that some (perhaps a significant number judging by the increase in abandoned cats) people do treat cats as a disposable item in the same way that they would throw away a old washing machine. It is understandable but we cannot it seems to me treat a living creature like an inert machine. We have to find a better way surely.

If the people can find somewhere to live isn't it possible to keep there cats? If a house is repossessed don't the local authorities help with rehousing in some way? And if the rehoming precludes a cat why should this be the case?

It seems to me that we have a responsibility to our domestic cats that we cannot walk away from and a little more effort and commitment may save many cat's lives. Am I being too harsh?

Cats as a disposable item to Home page

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Cats Pilgrims and Thanksgiving

One the eve of Thanksgiving, for a cat lover it is apt to ask, "What have Cats, Pilgrims and Thanksgiving got in common?" Well, in 1620, the Pilgrims or English Separatists sailed from Southampton, England in the now famous ship, the Mayflower, on their journey to Plymouth, North America and it is pretty well common knowledge that cats were stowed on board as mousers. And, traditionally, the first thanksgiving is meant to have occurred at the site of Plymouth Plantation in 1621.

cats mayflower pilgrims
A modern replica of the Mayflower - photo by Lady-bug under creative commons license.

In the 16th century cats were useful on ships in helping to protect limited food supplies from rodents. The culture of having a "ships cat" was and still is widespread. There is a sad news story, in fact, of a young person who threw the ships cat on HMS Belfast into the Thames this year. HMS Belfast (a tourist attraction now) is moored on the Thames, London, England. It is thought the cat drowned.

OK, we almost know for sure that cats came over on the Mayflower in 1620. The Mayflower was a privately commissioned ship and returned to England 6 months after arriving at Cape Cod. The journey took 66 days. It was a hard journey and the spread of disease was a constant threat.

At the time of this epic and famous journey there was no cat fancy (an organized group of people interested in cats). Nearly all cats in England at that time would have been the classic moggie or domestic shorthair cat. These cats are still the kind of cat that most people in England keep as pets. Only a small percentage of people keep purebred cats and the percentage is probably smaller in England than in the United States.

First Thanksgiving "The First Thanksgiving", painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930). Published under a Wikimedia Commons license. User: Themadchopper .

Although I am speculating it is probably reasonable to say that the British Shorthair domestic cat brought over from England may have contributed to the development of the American Shorthair cat about 300 years later. The British Shorthair cat (as a purebred cat) is similar to the American Shorthair (purebred pedigree cat).

This, to me, begs the question whether there were any domestic cats in North America at the time the Pilgrims arrived. It would seem reasonable to expect that moggies did exist in North America in the 1600s but there is no record as far as I know of this. Apparently the first written record of the presence of cats in north America date from 1634 (src: Carolyn Travers, research manager at in Plymouth, Mass), 14 years after the arrival of the Pilgrims.

In which case the ancestors of the British domestic cats brought over by the Pilgrims could now be the ones that can be seen at, for example, a Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) cat show as "Household Pets". These are non purebred domestic cats that most people keep, which can be shown at cat shows.

Cats classified as "Household Pets". They are Cathy Aronstein's Household Pets, Bentley and Merlin that were at the TICA Waxahachie, Texas, cat show, 2008. The photograph is by Helmi Flick, copyright Helmi Flick and was taken at the 2007 South Central Regional.

Cats, pilgrims and Thanksgiving have lots in common and we can perhaps thank the Pilgrims for the cat fancy in the United States.

Cats Pilgrims and Thanksgiving to Home page

Ken and Helmi Flick's Cats

Ken and Helmi Flick's cats are great and they all very definitely have their own characters. They have 4 cats and one stray cat (Buttermilk) who does not live with Ken and Helmi but who they feed.

Here are the cats. The pictures are mine (I guess you can tell!) except, of course the one of me with Buttermilk. The photos by me were taken spontaneously, mainly in my room in Ken and Helm's home. First we have Quin. He is a large Maine Coon. Well, he might not be that large by Maine Coon standards but he is large, long limbed and quite rangy in conformation compared to the average moggie. His hair flows over his slender body. His face is strong, broad and somehow tender looking. Like his brother, Zak, he can look you straight in the eye and hold that look. That is unusual in a cat but usual for a Maine Coon.

Maine Coon cat Quin
Maine Coon cat- Quin a Black Smoke MC - He has this wonderfully piercing gaze. He is sitting at the window. He has a swirling, glamorous, black smoke coat.

Maine Coons are fairly quiet cats. Judging by Quin and Zak they rarely actually open their mouth to meow but prefer to trill with the mouth closed. The trill is very distinctive and definitely a Maine Coon voice.

Here is a picture of his brother Zak:

Maine Coon cat Zak
Maine Coon cat - Zak is a Blue and White Bicolor MC. Helmi says that he is the alpha cat in the group. He is a sweet boy. As can been seen he has long hair and he is lean; there is no fat on him. I love the long slightly disheveled coat and whiskers. In this picture he is about to jump up. When he stands on his back legs he is tall, much taller than the average cat. The picture is copyright Michael Broad and it links to a jumbo sized version on another page plus some more about ZAK.

Ken and Helmi Flick's cats include 2 British Shorthair cats, one is black and the other blue (grey/blue). They are very lovable. Sky, the blue British Shorthair cat is a past champion cat having been shown by Helmi and Ken Flick. Here is a picture of her:

British Shorthair cat Sky
British Shorthair cat - Sky a Blue BS - great open face and a very cute cat. She has just come into my room as I write this......She is now sitting by the window sill and now she is curled up on my trousers....

One defining difference between the British Shorthair and the Maine Coon is the voice. Sky has a very quiet, almost silent voice. It is very sweet indeed. She does her own thing like all cats but is very loving. Helmi chose the name "Sky" very wisely. The sound of the name is apparently easily recognized by a cat and the word sky, evoking the color blue, makes it a very apt name.

And last but not least, we have Nox. He has the most plush, silky black coat and a quiet voice like Sky. British Shorthair cats are known for the plush coats. Here he is:

British Shorthair cat
British Shorthair cat - Nox - the boy with the super plush coat - it's great to touch. You could stroke him all day and he'd let you, I think.

If you'd like to read and see more about these 2 cat breeds, you might like to try these pages. They contain Helmi Flick's photographs of the best cats:
I love Ken and Helmi Flick's cats. I have never lived with a purebred cat so this is a pleasure. All Ken and Helmi Flick's cats are purebred.

And I almost forgot, here is the outdoor stray cat, Buttermilk, that Helmi and Ken feed and give some love to.

Michael and Buttermilk a stray cat
Here's Buttermilk. Oh, the person on the left is me. He's saying OK, OK, that's enough. He has that jowly look of an unneutered boy cat and he is all muscle.

From Ken and Helmi Flick's cats to Home Page

Monday 24 November 2008

Cat photography with Ken and Helmi Flick

This is a post about cat photography with Ken and Helmi Flick at a cat show in Waxahachie, Texas on November 22-23rd 2008. Throughout these days I acted as an assistant to Ken and Helmi, helping to set up the studio and at the end of the day to dismantle it. If you would like to see more, you can see posts about preparation day and day one of the Waxahachie cat show.

Cat photography with Ken and Helmi Flick is exacting. There is a considerable amount of planning, organization and work that needs to take place in order to capture the kind of high-quality images created by Helmi and Ken Flick.

Ken's role is a vital ingredient in the process. Ken has built a studio table that can be dismantled, on which the cats are photographed. There are 4 flashlights. The main light is at the front (see below) suspended by a horizontal beam which is supported by two tripods at either side of the room. This allows Helmi free movement in front of the table, when photographing. This light is diffused and soft. There is a diffused light to the right-hand side as well. There is also a directional light behind and to the left, which provides a modeling edge to the cat and which picks out the body from the background. Finally, there is a small flashlight behind and below the cat which illuminates the background forming a pool of light to provide a central focus; the light falling away at the edges.

Cats are placed on a raised walkway about 12 inches or so wide. This helps to keep the cat in a confined area and positions the cat in terms of distance from the camera allowing for more precise focus and also allowing the small light referred to above, to illuminate the background. The picture below illustrates this:

Helmi Flick studio table

The picture below shows the table in use. Helmi is photographing while Ken teases the pose out of this Bengal cat. This picture also shows the modeling light to the left and behind

Cat photography with Ken and Helmi Flick
Cat photography with Ken and Helmi Flick - Helmi Flick photographing a Bengal show cat at the Waxahachie cat show. The soft frontal light can be seen above Helmi's head.

On day two of the show there were some great show cats to photograph. Each cat dealt with the photographic session is their own way and some were better than others. In general, adult cats who are at their first show are understandably prone to be less sure of themselves and they can present challenges to Ken to get them in an attractive position for the photograph. Ken also says that the Burmese and the contemporary or modern Siamese, for example, can be more difficult to wrangle. While in general, Maine Coon cats, amongst others, are more amenable to being photographed.

Although some of the more experienced cats can strike a momentary pose for the camera, most of the photography is concerned with capturing fleeting moments amongst fairly dynamic movement. This has been teased out of the cat by Ken. It requires split second timing from Helmi to capture the moment, which is frozen with the flashlights. The Helmi and Ken team is a well oiled machine so there is a sort of predictability about the outcome, which makes timing easier but still very critical.

However, understandably, sometimes cats will be uncooperative in the studio. This is their right, of course. On occasion, progress can be made and a good image captured if the cat is left to her/his own devices. Rarely it is not practical to capture the desired photograph because the cat cannot be wrangled into a good position. Naturally, the cat's rights are always respected under these circumstances.

Here are two examples of how cat photography with Ken and Helmi Flick produces the desired result.

Cat photography with Ken and Helmi Flick Bombay cat being photographed
Cat photography with Ken and Helmi Flick - Ken wrangling a Bombay cat and Helmi capturing the image. Immediately after this moment the following photograph was captured:

Bombay cat
Bombay cat - VINDOURO KALIENTE OF KATSNKLAMMS. The owner is Wendy Klamm. The photograph is copyright Helmi Flick.

The picture below show Ken actively teasing a Bengal cat into position. This was just before another great picture was captured by Helmi.

Cat photography with Ken and Helmi Flick Bengal cat being photographed

Photo above: Cat photography with Ken and Helmi Flick - Ken wrangling a Bengal cat and Helmi capturing the image. The picture below is the photograph that came out of this little session:

Bengal cat

Photo above: Bengal cat - DGC KOSIKATZ THOTZI INDUNA INGWE - Breeder: Sherry Ellis, Owner: Jan Harrell. Photograph copyright Helmi Flick

It was fascinating and a privilege to see Helmi and Ken working. To those concerned with the technical aspects of photography, I hope you like this post and find it interesting.

From Cat photography with Ken and Helmi Flick to Helmi Flick cat photography

Sunday 23 November 2008

Helmi and Ken Flick at a cat show

Well, I'm here with Helmi and Ken Flick at a cat show in Waxahachie, Texas, which is about 50 minutes drive from Ken and Helmi's home in Bedford, Texas.

Having spent about 4 hours yesterday setting up the equipment this picture shows it in use:

Helmi Flick photographing at a cat show
Ken Flick is teasing the desired activity from a gorgeous cat, while Maranda Hull, the agent to the cat breeder, looks on and assists (when Ken needs it). The lighting for this picture is from the modeling lights on the flash lights. So this is not the lighting used for the actual photograph. The light looks brighter than it actually is. There has to be sufficient light for Helmi to see clearly to compose and time the shot but not so much that it has an impact on the photograph.

Here is the finished photograph:

Pixie Bob Assam
Pixie-bob cat - Ansonroad Assam T - photograph copyright Helmi Flick. The agent to the breeder is Maranda Hull of Red River Bobis. The breeder/owner is Gertrud Keazor of Anson Road Cats a UK breeder based in London. Assam was 6 months old at the time this photograph was taken and is a brown spotted tabby.

Helmi and Ken use flashlight which is synchronized by light sensors. There are 4 lights in all. In the photograph 2 can be seen, one above and one to the left. There is one behind the cat to create a soft pool of light on the background and one to the right.

See a lot more detail about how the Flicks do the photography, which was added after day 2.

We had a steady stream of clients at this show. Watching Helmi and Ken Flick at a cat show in instructional. The level of professionalism is high. Sometimes almost every cat wrangling move by Ken produces the desired result and the cat completes his or her movement with the perfect pose and positioning, which Helmi captures. The last cat photographed was probably the best, a young and very pretty Ragdoll. The camera loved her just like, for example, the camera loved Audrey Hepburn. She was a starlet. Mind you all of them were great looking cats.

Sometimes, of course, cats are not so cooperative but always the desired result is achieved. The less cooperative cats are usually adults that are new to the cat show scene. Kittens are nearly always highly cooperative, however. Once the session is finished the photos are uploaded into a laptop computer for the client to view them in large format and then burnt onto a disc to take away. At the beginning of the session the client can see the first photographs from the camera screen.

Today we are back to Waxahachie, TX for the second day of the show. More pics and diary to come of Helmi and Ken Flick at a cat show. Update: See the diary and pictures from day 2 of the cat show.....more cat photography with Ken and Helmi Flick, which shows the photography taking place and the finished article.

British Shorthair cat called Sky
British Shorthair cat - Sky - Blue grey coat and a lovely Brit SH face. She lives with Ken and Helmi and she is sitting next to me at this moment.

This morning, when I woke up, Helmi brought in a cup of tea for me. She also brought Sky, her champion purebred British Shorthair cat who looks fantastic and who has a lovely temperament. Sky is sitting on my clothes close by as I type this. It can't get better than that..................Wait Nox just walked in. He's a black Brit SH; a lovable cat and to stroke his dense and plush coat is a special experience.

Helmi and Ken Flick at cat show to home page

Saturday 22 November 2008

Cat show with Helmi and Ken Flick

Ken Flick setting up the lighting making sure that it is at the correct angle.

I'm doing a cat show with Ken and Helmi Flick today. It's being held in a town about 44 miles from Bedford near Dallas. We spent part of the day yesterday setting up. The set up is very elaborate because the tables etc. have to be transportable and then assembled. Ken manufactured part of the table and set up equipment upon which the cats are photographed. He did a great job.

The lighting is sophisticated and everything about the process is well thought out and designed to produce the highest quality photographs that please the cat breeder and also show off the cats to best advantage.

Here are some more photographs of setting up for cat show with Helmi and Ken Flick:

Helmi and Ken setting up for the show tomorrow.

Ken Flick setting up the lighting having set up the table that can be seen behind him. Different backgrounds cover the table to suite each individual cat.

I'm in a rush because I am about to go with Ken and Helmi to the show today to get those photographs.....(see link below). Doing a cat show with Helmi and Ken Flick has been very enlightening. The standard is very high.

Update, the next day: Click on this link to see the making of a picture of Pixie-bob cat and some more on the Waxahachie show: Day 2 of a Cat Show with Helmi and Ken Flick.

Cat show with Helmi and Ken Flick to home page

Friday 21 November 2008

Irish Shortear cat

The Irish Shortear cat is a cross between the Burmilla and Scottish Fold only the ears are short and not flat or folded.

Hey, wait a minute this is more fiction, part of the fiction of the Painted cats series that caused quite a stir about a year or more ago.

There is no such cat and there is nobody painting cats either, thankfully. The Irish Shortear, if it existed, would have short ears, a relaxed nature and large eyes. The guys who made this up also created a fictional piece of genetics, referring to the "macro-retinal" gene. Nice one guys. I guess they were teasing the cat breeders and the fact their lives revolve around genetics.

From Irish Shortear to Home page

Thursday 20 November 2008

Savannah cat banned from Alaska

In a twist to the story about Australian government's ban on the importation of the Savannah cat into Australia a story has emerged from Alaska in which the Alaskan authorities have confirmed their ban on the Savannah cat there and ordered that a Savannah cat that escaped from the owner's home and roamed freed for 6 months be shipped out of the State of Alaska.

The cat concerned, Simon, lived with Sharon Gratrix who is not a cat breeder. Simon was found by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game who on returning the cat demanded that Simon was deported (to use a term for humans).

Sharon had no idea that Simon was an illegal immigrant. The spokesperson for the
Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Rick Sinnott was not sure initially (on incorrect advice it seems) if a Savannah cat was illegal. Was this why Sharon was allowed to bring Simon into the country? Not sure how that happened. Anyway, the initial confusion was on the interpretation of the terms of the legislation in respect of game animals "found or introduced". Bringing a Savannah cat into Alaska is within the ambit of the legislation under the term "introduced".

As hybrids of game animals kept as pets and introduced into Alaska are prohibited and banned, Simon had to pack his bags. Game animals are defined as non domestic mammals. This was understandably very distressing for Simon and Sharon. He has gone to live with Sharon's daughter.

This story probably pleases the Australian authorities. But I don't think it sets a precedent. The circumstances are different. The Australian person with plans to breed Savannah cats in Australia is a cat breeder who had made careful security arrangements to keep the cats. This is an important difference. People living in houses with pets will rarely have any carefully thought through arrangements to keep the cat in at all costs.

Savannah cat banned from Alaska to Home page

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Visiting Ken and Helmi Flick

Today I am travelling from London, England and visiting Ken and Helmi Flick in Dallas, USA. I have been to Dallas before in the summer and it was hot. I hadn't realized how hot Texas can be.

I am going over to thank Helmi for her contribution to the Pictures of website. Her agreement early on to allow me to publish her photographs has made all the difference to the website which this morning has an Alexa ranking of about 109,000. This means that there are 108,000 sites in the world with more traffic but considering that there are about 200m or more sites that is good.

I also hope to meet some people and generally cement the United States connection. I would like to see if some rescue centers in America would like to use the Pictures of website to promote their organizations by using a sub-domain of my website. There are other ideas that I have and we'll see where it all goes.

And, yes, I'll have some fun too. I am looking forward to meeting Nox and Sky, Ken and Helmi's British Shorthair cats (see photo above). Sky is blue/grey and Nox is black. Helmi is going to photograph me with them, which will be great. Visiting Ken and Helmi Flick is going to be a big thing for me.

Visiting Ken and Helmi Flick to Home page

Photo: of Nox and Sky copyright Helmi Flick

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Cat or dog fur

We are used to seeing fur lined gloves. If we buy gloves as a Christmas present please remember that the fur lining is probably cat or dog fur from China.

China kills millions of animals a year for the fur. There is no regulation on how they are killed and 2 million or more are cats and dogs. I suspect that the numbers are much larger in fact. And I wonder what happens to the fur of the 2 plus million cats euthanized in the USA each year or the hundreds of thousands euthanized in the UK or Europe.

One reason, maybe the biggest single reason why China will not create and implement cat and animal welfare laws of any sort is because of business. China is obsessed with business and making money and moral behavior doesn't get in the way. See China and animal welfare law.

China is the world's largest exporter of fur (src: Animal Friends Croatia). It seems (and this makes me feel ill) that some of the cats are still alive after being skinned and die 5-10 minutes later.

I don't know if the EU has banned the importation of cat and dog fur and if it has it won't do any good. It is simply impossible to enforce and the Chinese know this and don't give a damn. People simply don't care enough to stop this. The same applies to many areas of animal welfare all over the world. The trade in fur generally should be banned and China's cat or dog fur business should be outlawed.

Cat and dog fur to Cats and the Law

Cat or dog fur - Photo: cat fur by 3dchris89

Cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy

I say that cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy, but why? Because it is only through the pressure that can be exerted on a government by the enlightened, caring and educated people of a democratic country that a government will create and implement, animal welfare laws. And an enlightened people only comes from prosperity over time.

cats talking
"Hey Charlie, it's great here isn't it? But I'm worried about our brothers and sisters all over the world. It ain't that good for some is it? Na, you're right there mate........" Cats talking - photo by fofurasfelinas probably the most famous Flickr cat photographer.

{note: I use the word "cat" in the title and text as this is my area of main concern}

On a simplistic level look at the undemocratic countries and see the kind of animal welfare law that they have, if they have any at all. China is the classic example. There are no animal welfare laws and fairly widespread abuse towards cats and animals both domestic and wild including endangered animals. Perhaps the other end of the spectrum is England, which possibly has some of the best animal welfare legislation. Although there are still too many cases of unpunished animal cruelty particularly against cats in England and the United Kingdom.

There is no gain for the dictator in creating and implementing cat and animal welfare laws. Dictatorships are all about personal gain by the people running the country. They are more likely to exploit wild animals and be in breach of CITES if they are contracting parties. The classic example here is Myanmar better known as Burma (see Burma and animal welfare). This is an uncaring dictatorship. Yes, cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy.

Prosperity is important for cat and animal welfare to flourish. A poor democratic country is probably in fact semi-democratic due to corruption at government level. Corruption at the political level will thrive in a poor country because politics becomes a way out of poverty or simply to become rich. It may look like a democracy but internally it isn't. Corruption ruins democracy. And a corrupt but ostensibly democratic government will not be concerned about low priority issues such as animal welfare.

Cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy as wealth is needed to implement legislation. There are cases of a country having good cat and animal welfare legislation but poor animal welfare because of a lack of funding to implement it. A case in point is India. The British Raj started them on the road to animal welfare law which they updated but the funding is not there backed up by a failure of the people to put pressure on the government to implement the law, which, incidentally, is excellent (see cat and animal welfare in India). The people don't put pressure on the government because the heart of India is poor notwithstanding that India has a number of billionaires and has a strongly developing economy. India is ranked 137th (out of 192 countries) in terms of gross national income (GNI) per capita (src: World Bank Group). Poor people are liable to harbor outdated beliefs about animals due to a lack of education. Educating Indians is a vital ingredient in improving animal welfare in India and importantly the protection of endangered wildlife. I would expect India to be one of the best in terms of animal welfare in the future but will time run out for the endangered wildcats, my area of personal concern? The tiger is the classic and humbling case in point. We have failed. See Bengal tiger facts.

Pakistan is an interesting case. The enacting of animal welfare laws took place during the British Raj (rule over India). This ended in 1947. Nothing it seems has happened since. We know that Pakistan has been and is neither a democracy nor prosperous. This supports my argument that cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy. See Pakistan and animal welfare law.

When people become more enlightened about animals as feeling creatures this leads to animal welfare taking place on the ground without state intervention. Governments should do more to educate the people to change their views about animals. This will provide governments with a ready made workforce to implement animal welfare initiatives. In the UK there are a large number of charitable organizations that contribute hugely to animal welfare in the country.

Mexico is one of those countries that best demonstrates that cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy. It is a democracy but only just it seems. There is voting but political corruption. The government don't serve the people completely. Mexico is a middle income country as judged by the World Bank with a gross national income (GNI) per capita of 12,580 USD. This puts the country at 61st place out if 192. It is a country that demonstrates that Animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy.

Since the late 1980s Mexico has developed a full range of animal welfare laws both in relation to domestic animals (companion and farm) and wild species. Mexico also has regulations known as Official Mexican Norms. These set standards of good practice. This spate of animal welfare legislation was in part encouraged by other countries as Mexico entered into a number of international treaties.

The difficulties in implementing the legislation is due to a number of factors. Emma R. Norman and Norma Contreras Hernández in their article on Animal Protection policy cite these influences:

--low school attendance rates
--organized crime in wild species trafficing
--political deficiencies
--civil society support
--the scale of the problem

One stark problem was the fact that the Mexican government didn't have the resources to implement the first class legislation. The legislation is comprehensive so requires a well trained staff to implement it. The will, commitment and resources were not forthcoming, for example, to fight organized crime.

In Mexico, the legislation was overambitious and the scale of the animal welfare problems too large. It is relatively easy to enact laws in comparison to implementing them. Ineffectively implemented cat and animal welfare legislation is commonplace throughout the world in the less well developed countries (and the better developed countries).

If the politicians choose to ignore the electorate (because they are essential in politics for themselves) the electorate will loose faith in the government and stop voting and stop voicing its concerns. In terms of animal welfare this is the opposite of what is required. As mentioned an educated and motivated society can be utilized to raise standards of animal welfare.

Cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy but even when this criteria is in place problems occur. The problem of implementing animal welfare law can also be present in so called rich western countries. In the England the ban on fox hunting with dogs has largely failed. Firstly it was watered down through pressure by the hunting lobby. Secondly, it is almost impossible to enforce it as hunting foxes takes place in relatively remote places and the police quite frankly are no longer any good in England. They are running out of finance because of a profligate attitude towards very generous police pensions and other financial waste. The police are almost fire proof in England but are failing society. This is an indication as to how prosperity and careful fiscal management is required to implement animal welfare law.

The argument that cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy is supported by the fact that the best legislation is to be found in the founding members of the EU and in North America. These are countries in the top rank of prosperity and all are democratic.

Cat and animal welfare needs a prosperous democracy to cats and the law

Monday 17 November 2008

Indian National Board for Wild Life (NBWL)

I am not sure but is the Indian National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) in breach of statutory duty? I believe that this body or organization was set up under the Wild Life Protection Act 1972 and the Wild Life Protection (Amendment) Act 2002.

Under these Acts the central government of India was obliged to constitute the National Board for Wild Life within 6 months of the Wild Life Protection (Amendment) Act 2002 coming into force (pursuant to section 6 of the Wild Life Protection Act 1972). Under section 7 of the Wild Life Protection Act 1972, the Board shall meet twice per year.

The first meeting of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) was in January 2002. The second meeting as on 18th March 2004. That appears to a breach of statutory duty. If I am correct there was another. In 2007 there was only one meeting on the 10th September 2008.

Does this indicate a lack of will and commitment to protect wild life in India and is it why endangered wild species are gradually becoming extinct in the wild in India?

See Cat and Animal Law in India
See Bengal tiger facts

Am I completely wrong? - tell me - leave a comment please.


Update: the first meeting may have been 24th Dec. 2003. That would mean only one breach during the year of 2007. There have been years when there has been three meeting as well. Perhaps I am being too harsh?


Is the Indian National Board for Wild Life (NBWL) in breach of statutory duty? - Source:
  • (for dates of meetings)
  • Animal Laws of India by By India, Maneka Gandhi, Ozair Husain, Raj Panjwani
  • Me

Killing a tiger in self-defense in India

Killing a tiger in self-defense in India is a legal defense to a crime under The Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which is designed to protect Indian wildlife (see section 9 of The Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and the defense at section 11(2)).

Sumatran tiger
Sumatran tiger - photo by Captain Chickenpants

This sounds perfectly reasonable but actually, is it? Most tigers avoid people. If they do attack, it is probably due to a number of factors beyond the control of the tiger.

---the most obvious is habitat loss. This forces human and tiger together. This happens most frequently in the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in India and Bangladesh. Here, apparently, about 5% of the tigers are thought to be man-eaters. This is mainly because this area is shrinking forcing people and tiger together. Global warming is thought to be partially responsible in flooding the delta. Then there is the human population growth in Asia. This is also in the hands of people to correct but out of the control of the tiger.

---reduction in prey. This is due to habitat loss and human intervention.

---the tiger may be desperate for food as it is old or injured. If there was more prey and/or less people in close proximity the tiger wouldn't attack a person.

---if the tiger is protecting young. It could be argued that people should keep clear and if not getting attacked is the person's fault. Also this is a consequence of habitat loss.

There are methods to minimize tiger attacks:

---wearing a mask with a face on the back of the head as tigers don't like to attack from behind.

--- making clay dummies of people that when attacked discharge an electric shock.

--- carrying a club over the right shoulder as tigers usually attack the right nape.

Are these steps being taken? I would doubt it.

What I am saying is this. If people are largely responsible for tiger attacks on themselves, which could be argued is the case, killing a tiger in self-defense in India should not be a legal defense to a crime (of killing specified vulnerable wildlife).

If tigers were wantonly on the rampage killing willy nilly without reason then, yes, killing a tiger in self-defense in India would be perfectly acceptable but this is not the case, no where near the case. Another problem is that it is very easy to claim self-defense. This promotes killing a tiger without due cause.

What then is the answer if we are to be fair on the tiger? There is only one long term proper answer that will work; give the tiger back the habitat and prey needed to survive. That won't happen. In lieu of that set up educational programs to instruct on how to avoid a tiger attack. Make it mandatory to put in place tiger attack prevention schemes. Introduce suitable prey into the remaining tiger habitat. These are some of the things that could be done.

In a court case of 1979 Tilak Bahandur Rai -v- State of Arunachal Pradesh (1979 Cri LJ 1404) the judge heard an appeal of the conviction of Tilak Bahandur Rai for killing a tiger. It was decided that he acted in self defence. Interestingly, the judge said this:

--the nature and ferocity of the animal is relevant in deciding if the person acted in self defense. Comment: this is obviously correct. A tiger has a reputation making people fearful and more likely to attack the tiger. All the more reason to educate and train people as mentioned above.

--"it cannot be said that the accused was committing any offence prior to shooting the tiger that charged at him". What was he doing? It would seem that it is important to be seen to have done all one can to avoid a confrontation with a tiger and I am sure that judges in India will take into account peoples' actions before acting in self-defense to kill or injure a tiger. As I said there are a number of steps that could be taken to avoid an attack. Were they taken? And if not was the act of self defense bona fide? Killing a tiger in self-defense in India must take into account actions before the actual killing, I argue. I am sure that this is the case. But it must also include the long term actions of people generally in narrowing the tiger's habitat. Does not this undermine the defense of killing a tiger in self-defense in India?

Killing a tiger in self-defense in India - Source: (for information about tiger attacks on humans)

Photo: The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is a subspecies of tiger found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra (src: Wikipedia® published under license, see below)

Click on this link to see the Wikipedia® License src: Wikipedia® published under GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version, November 2002 Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc. 51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA - - no other conditions to the license are added.

Sunday 16 November 2008

Foldex cat

No, the Foldex cat is not a type of attaché case or filofax but a cat with folded ears and a flattish or rounded face. This cat is rare and is a hybrid cross from the mating of the well known Scottish Fold and the Exotic Shorthair cats.

Foldex cat
Foldex cat (see base of post)

Both the Scottish Fold and Exotic Shorthair are rounded, cobby cats. The Exotic SH has a flat face like the contemporary or Ultra Persian cat. In fact the Exotic SH is an Ultra Persian without the long hair. The Scottish Fold's ears are caused by an incomplete dominant gene or a gene producing an autosomal dominant trait. The person responsible for the early development of the Scottish Fold, William Ross, a shepherd, called his cats "lop eared" after the rabbits with, yes, lop ears. The Scottish Fold's face is, dare I say it, more normal (less flat) than the face of the Exotic SH but rounded nonetheless. Breeders like to produce rounded faces for Scottish Fold as they look better with the flattened ear flaps creating an unusually round head shape.

Scottish Fold cat
Scottish Fold cat - photo by zono1

The mating of these two cats results in a cat with folded or flat ear flaps (pinnae) and a face that is less flat that Exotic SH. There are a lot of flat surfaces! The body should be, what breed standards call, "massive" meaning large. The neck should be short and the eyes, you guessed, round and open.

The Foldex cat is not recognized by the major cat associations. It is currently recognized by the Canadian Cat Association (CCA), as I understand it. This may change of course, please note. This would imply that this cat breed is only or mainly breed in Canada.

Exotic Shorthair cat
Exotic Shorthair cat - photo by Charlyn W

The Foldex cat made his/her first appearance at a cat show in 1993 being presented to the world by Betty-Ann Yaxley. The CCA describe the cat as a compromise between the Scottish Fold (with a snout) and the Exotic (with a very short nose). The Foldex is therefore an Exotic SH with a slightly longer nose and floppy ears or a Scottish Fold with a slightly shorter nose.

The genetics ensure that some cats are born with normal ear flaps. This cat is also known as the Exotic Fold.

As regards health the health issues that affect the Scottish Fold affect this cat too. I have covered this topic in some detail here: Scottish Fold Genetics - Health - Breeding. Most people think the health aspects of cat breeds are important.

The Foldex cat to Home page

Photo of Foldex cat: believed to be copyright free as copyright owner has waived copyright expressly or by implication. If I am wrong please leave a comment.

Other photos:

Friday 14 November 2008

Cat pee on the bed

In my opinion cat pee on the bed is probably going to be due to stress if your cat is healthy and the litter is in good shape and well positioned.

A bed smells strongly of the human companion of the cat. A cat's urine is an odor marker of that cat. I think the cat is exchanging scent as if he/she is rubbing against you to greet you or when a cat head butts. These are all putting scent onto you so the cat feels more comfortable.

I have first hand experience of this but not personally. My ex-wife worked very hard and she kept one of our two cats when we separated. He was a great black boy, gorgeous character and very attached.

She would go out in the evening after a hard and long days work. She was never at her flat. He peed once (perhaps more often) on her bed, when she was out. He was lonely and stressed. She had to keep in in too as this was central London.

I guess the cat (he was called Boo Boo by me and Freddie by my ex.) was anxious and stressed and to make himself feel more comfortable urinated on something that smelled of her.

OK, if we have a cat we are responsible for him or her and that means a life style that allows us to discharge that responsibility. It requires some sacrifice and the cat has a say in this process. it can't be all about what we want. Cat pee on the bed can be down to other things but in my view is likely to be stress but we need to check out health as well. Cats react to our behavior and cat pee on the bed is one such reaction.

Cat pee on the bed to home page

Thursday 13 November 2008

Psychological Benefits of Human-Animal Interactions

There are a number of benefits to humans (and of course cats or other animals) when considering the Psychological Benefits of Human-Animal Interactions.

I am going to focus on cats but this applies to all companion animals. There are people, sometimes legislators (i.e. government) who disseminate the negative aspects of the domestic cat. They are, though, usually talking about feral cats. But even then they forget that feral cats or their ancestors were once domestic cats and a companion. One negative apsect that I think is rather exaggerated is the spread of disease from cat to human. There are very few cases and very few diseases that do this. One is Toxoplasmosis. This disease is usually talked about in respect of pregnancy. See cat feces and pregnancy. The danger, I say, is exaggerated.

There are some great benefits to owning or living with a cat. Here is a list of some of the Psychological Benefits:

I am not talking about mental illness but promoting mental well being; feeling better. Caring for and interacting with a cat is a great stress reducer. It takes you away from a silly problem that is causing stress. It produces calm and relieves anxiety.

It could be argued that pet (including cat) owners are more independent, and have better self esteem.

Children can greatly benefit from pets. There is a dog sanctuary in China (a rare place) where both the dogs and children are healed by interacting together. Abused children can receive the healing nature of contact with another animal. This is a brilliant idea. Children react positively to animals. Why then do too many adult people behave aggressively towards them? Children feel that their pets love them. This is beneficial to the child. Dogs, cats and other animals have been used in hospitals to improve the morale of the patients.

Then there are guide dogs. Guide dogs are not available in many countries but they dramatically improve the life of a blind person by leading them down the pavement and across roads and more. They are companions and a source of interaction with passers by. This helps with socialization. In fact pets can be trained to do a wide range of tasks to assist the disabled. This normally applies to dogs and in some countries monkeys. Cats are more difficult to train and not as strong as dogs. Cats though can assist in providing comfort and can indicate when for example the door bell goes off (if the owner is deaf).

For the elderly the companionship of a pet cat or dog is invaluable and can provide a substitute for a lost partner. Pets can help to keep the elderly more alert and responsive. In retirement homes pets can help with patient interaction and help create a more pleasant environment.

There are reports that mentally disturbed prison inmates (and there are many) can benefit by the presence of animals in communal areas. The animal helps to reduce stress, fighting and suicidal thoughts.

I myself have found thousands of hours of pleasure interacting with my cat, stroking her, checking for fleas, brushing her, talking to her, letting her in and out, feeding her, listening to her demands and responding and getting to know her likes and dislikes. I see her as a person, a part of the family no less. She has enhanced my life.

Psychological Benefits of Human-Animal Interactions to cat health problems

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Cat Cruelty in the UK

cat cruelty in the UKI have bumped into a good website (link at the base of this post) in which cases of animal cruelty are listed. It is also a very sad website.

Cat cruelty in the UK in still very much alive despite excellent legislation and enforcement. But is it that good? What I mean is, is detection of crime good enough?

The last 50 cases of animal cruelty in the UK listed on the website all concerned cats. The most frequent form of cat cruelty is shooting at a cat with an air rifle.

Of the last 50 cases only 22% resulted in convictions. These cases go back to April 2006. One of the last ones was a case of a cat being thrown out of a car, a silver Renault Clio on the A508, killing it. The crime was witessed. It falls within section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The penalty on conviction would be a maximum of 51 weeks imprisonment and/or a fine of £20,000.

It is believed that the car was occupied by three young men. Young men are the usual suspects it would seem. I wonder how many incidences of cat and animal cruelty go unreported or unnoticed? Lets take a guess. I'd say about 90% of the total are unreported. If I am correct, that makes 2.2% of all cases of cat and animal cruelty lead to a conviction and punishment.

Cat Cruelty in the UK goes largely unpunished in my estimation.

Photo: by drinksmachine and published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License

Cat Cruelty in the UK to Cats and the Law

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Cats pets in the workplace

Cats, pets in the workplace is something that is slowly catching on it as bosses realize that there are benefits to the company's bottom line as a result of a more contented workforce.

cat in the office
I'm in charge of the photocopying and odd jobs. "Lay off my's for laying on......." Photo by vtengr4047

I guess it goes without saying that dogs are more likely to be successful in the workplace. They are more corporate minded. If a dog was a man he'd be a thoroughly dedicated and loyal corporate man and therefore successful. He would be the archetypal "yes man". Bosses love that.

This is because dogs are pack animals, looking up to the top dog for directions and a lead. In the peculiar corporate world you have to play the corporate game. Be one of the lads. Muck in and support the team. Be a team player. Dogs can do that. They are liable to fit in nicely in an office environment no matter how corporate the business is. But I suspect that most examples of cats or dogs in the workplace will be in small businesses and small offices.

Small businesses are more likely to adopt culture and particular mentality of the top man as his/her decision is likely to be direct and personally as opposed to being made by the board of directors. Anything a little "odd" or different might get squashed as a result.

Now as to cats. Cats are not pack animals and independent minded. They generally do as they please and don't play the corporate male bonding stuff game. If a cat was a human employee in a large corporation he/she would be lucky to survive unless the business was very open minded and enlightened.

That makes a cat less likely to be seen in the workplace unless the workplace is probably small and independent minded. Apparently by far the majority of pets in the workplace are dogs.

Working from a different perspective cat people are more likely to be self employed or working in small firms with like minded people. The big talking bullsh*t**ging corporate men who thrive in the big companies usually have dogs if they have a pet at all.

Of course this sounds all black and white. The world is grey. There will be exceptions. We want more cats and pets in the workplace.

Cats pets in the workplace to Home page

Photo: published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License

Monday 10 November 2008

Victoria Australia Cat Cruelty

Of course Victoria Australia cat cruelty that sometimes goes undetected takes place despite the fact that state of Victoria, Australia has good animal welfare law and enforcement. Good legislation can gradually alter people's behavior. In this instance it did not. It is a crime of cruelty against a cat called Bullet on December 7th 2007.

The veterinarian who treated Bullet (and who I presume was forced to put him down) said his injuries were the worst she had seen in 14 years.

Bullet's injuries included a dislocated tail, burnt hair and internal injuries due to sexual abuse. It would seem that is was the internal injuries that were life threatening.

There are some mad and bad people about. They haven't found this one. This is one of the great problems with animal welfare law. Cat can't talk and give evidence. If the cruelty takes place behind closed doors who is to know who did it unless there are other indicators or repeated odd and cruel behavior by a careless perpetrator?

So no matter how well structured and enforced the law is, I wonder how many cases of animal cruelty lead to charges and convictions?

Under the state of Victoria's PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS ACT 1986 the perpetrator if caught and convicted under section 9 of the Act could receive a punishment of up to 12 months imprisonment or a maximum of 120 penalty units (see punishment under this Act under section 9 and the meaning of penalty units).

Victoria Australia Cat Cruelty to Cats and the Law

Victoria Australia Cat Cruelty - Source of this case: a great but very sad and disturbing website.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Mucopolysaccharidosis and Siamese cats

Mucopolysaccharidosis and Siamese cats.

I'll keep this short as Mucopolysaccharidosis is a complex disease, which also affects humans. In Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred cats (Edited by Ross D. Clark, DVM) it is stated as affecting the Siamese cat sometimes.

Mucopolysaccharidosis VI is a disorder affecting metabolism caused by a defective autosomal recessive gene. It causes a deficiency in an enzyme called N-acetylgalactosamine 4-sulfatase (src: Wikipedia); the above book calls the enzyme arylsulfatase B. This results in the storage of long chains of sugar carbohydrates in the cat's cells.

The symptoms are:
  • skeletal abnormalities including:
  1. wides spaced eyes
  2. small ears
  3. flattened face
  4. frontal bossing (prominent forehead)
  5. kittens at 1o weeks are smaller than normal and have corneal clouding and prolapsed third eyelids. There front are larger than normal. At 5 months they have an abnormal gait.
Mucopolysaccharidosis and Siamese cats to Cat Health Problems

Feline Sneezing


When we sneeze it is because of an irritated nose, we can feel it. The irritation can be from various sources, some benign and transient and some disease based. Feline sneezing is the same.

Feline sneezing is a sign of nasal irritation. The lining of the nose is stimulated which sets up the reflex action of sneezing, the purpose of which is to get rid of the irritation by ejecting the thing that is causing it.

cat sneezing

This boy, Goku, lives with fofurasfelinas (the well known cat photographer on Flickr, real name Giane Portal) and he apparently may have an allergy causing sneezing. The photograph is by fofurasfelinas. See base of post for rights to publish.

If I go into London for a few hours, a day or two later I sneeze because of a build of dirt in the nose (the London atmosphere is grimy). Likewise, if our cat looks healthy but has a bout of sneezing it may well be a benign irritant that can be resolved by the sneezing.

The big question with feline sneezing is when is it caused by a disease that requires a veterinarian's attention. I understand the reasons for delaying going to the vets (money!) but delay can make things worse, obviously.

Some detail

I guess careful observation and awareness plus a knowledge of our cat will inform us when to go to the vet. A short bout of sneezing by an otherwise healthy cat is fine and normal. The authors of "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook" (Drs Carlson and Giffin - a great book by the way, recommended), say that if the sneezing lasts a day it could be a sign of feline viral respiratory disease. Personally if my cat sneezed for more than about one hour I'd be watching carefully and after three hours I'd be thinking of going to the veterinarian.

If the sneezing is vigorous ("violent" the doctors say) with head shaking (to help release the irritant) and pawing at the nose, the cause is probably a foreign object in the nose (see below).

A runny nose caused by a cold causes feline sneezing. If the discharge from the nose lasts for several hours it may mean an infection. The type of "discharge" that accompanies the sneezing is significant:
  • watery - local irritation or allergic rhinitis
  • mucoid - feline viral respiratory disease complex (see below)
  • yellow - bacterial infection
Feline viral respiratory disease (URI - Upper Respiratory Infection) can be accompanied by a fever, loss of appetite, eye discharge, drooling and a cough. If both nostrils are blocked breathing might be through the mouth.

If there is blood in the nasal discharge this indicates a chronic bacterial infection, fungal infection or a tumor.

A simple cat cold caused by a virus that results in relatively mild symptoms can also result in feline sneezing. All the above will mean a visit to the vet asap.

Reverse sneezing

Infrequently encountered and harmless the cat produces a loud snorting sound. It is caused by mucus building up at the back of the throat, which results in a spasm of the larynx muscles. This apparently is nothing to be alarmed about. I have never seen it happen.

Foreign bodies in nose

Small objects can become lodged in the nose. This may be because cats use their nose (sense of smell) a lot to identify objects. An object stuck in the nose causes violent sneezing. Our cat will use all means to expel it. She may do one or more of the following:
  • the head may be tilted to the affected side
  • the eye on the side of the blockage may squint
  • the nose may be dropped to the floor, the neck extended and the cat breathes deeply
Objects stuck in the nose can cause secondary (bacterial) infections requiring antibiotics. Although a visit to the vet is strongly indicated it may be possible to see the object if, for example, it is near the end of nose. It may be possible to remove it (with great care and if in doubt the vet will do it). It may be possible to see it at the back of the throat (the nasal passages join the throat).

Nasal Allergies

These are caused by allergens (airborne allergens). There are bouts of feline sneezing and a watery discharge. See feline allergies for a general discussion on allergies affecting cats.


As a result of common viral infections secondary bacterial infections of the frontal sinuses can occur. I get secondary bacterial infections in my sinuses so I can fully understand this one. The symptoms are a yellow purulent (like pus) nasal discharge and frequent sneezing. Blocked sinuses cause headaches (I should know). A cat with a headache may sit quietly with eyes partially closed and her head hanging. There could be a loss of appetite and weight loss. Fungal infections can cause sinusitis. I believe that a fungal infection of the skin can migrate to the sinuses and ear canal as well. This may result in an increased production of ear wax.

Polyps and tumors in nasal cavity and sinuses

Tumors cause feline sneezing, obstructed breathing and possibly bleeding. Advanced tumors may be noticed by forcing the face out of shape or causing an eye to bulge. Polyps are rare. They block the Eustachian tube and cause a middle ear infection. The Eustachian tube goes from the middle ear to the back of the mouth (pharynx) and equalizes pressure in the ear.

Feline Sneezing to Cat Health Problems

Photo: published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License

Saturday 8 November 2008

Cat and dog cruelty in the Philippines

Sadly there seems to be a lot of cat and dog cruelty in the Philippines; and cruelty to horses and I suppose wild life too.

Having researched animal welfare law in the Philippines I was sickened to bump into a great but shocking website called "It's Their Destiny". This is a phrase used by a trader in dog meat when being asked if he felt bad about the treatment he was dishing out to the dogs. He must have meant that it is a dog's destiny to be brutally and cruelly treated before being savagely killed and then eaten. I wonder where he got that idea from? The same treatment must be handed out to feral cats too.

Here is one example only of the practice of rounding up stray (and perhaps non-stray) dogs or cats (or anything with four legs that moves) as if they were farm livestock. It is not current but all the more shocking for that. It happened in 2002 and comes from the It's Their Destiny website. Why am I repeating it? The more people who speak out the better and this site might be seen more that the other.

It concerns the dog (and cat?) meat business in Baguio City, which is shown on the map below. We should remember this hellish place for its pain and suffering to which the Filipinos who work there are indifferent.

View Larger Map

Dogs are rounded up and transported in appalling conditions to Baguio City where cat and dog cruelty in the Philippines takes place. They are crammed into trucks. Many dogs die on the way. When this particular truck was stopped in 2002 the drivers were interviewed by the police and released - that's it.

What is shocking is that at that time (since 1998) there was animal welfare legislation in force in the Philippines. The Act is called the THE ANIMAL WELFARE ACT 1998. The purpose of the Act is set out at section 1, which as can be guessed is to promote the welfare of animals. Section 2 purports to control the "animal business" as I have called it. And the penalties are found at section 8. The penalties can be as high as 2 years in prison and a 5,000 pesos fine. The police let these drivers go free and the cruel trade in dog (and cat) meat goes on unabated and undisturbed by the police and the authorities.

Obviously the legislation is little more than a PR exercise to present to the world the idea that the Philippines is behaving in a civilized manner in relation to animal welfare. It is not. And, you know, one can learn a lot about a country by the way they treat their pets and wildlife.

Companion animals, cats and dogs are vulnerable creatures. An abuse of vulnerable creatures indicates a callous approach to life. I would expect vulnerable people to be treated badly too.

Feral cat Philippines by .bullish who also published the quote below underneath this sad photograph. Lets remind ourselves that we create the feral cat problem and the suffering.

I could show a dog but (a) this is a cat site and (b) the pictures of the dogs shipped for dog meat are too painful. Don't misunderstand me I am not saying there isn't cruelty in the UK or America etc. there is but not like the dog meat market in the Philippines.


“If you would know a man, observe how he treats a cat.” -- ROBERT HEINLEIN


Perhaps things have improved since 2002 you might say. I think not. The indications are that things continue as before. Corruption and indifference in authority supported by arrogance and ignorance by the perpetrators are the barriers to treating animals properly in the Philippines. There is still plenty of cat and dog cruelty in the Philippines and plenty of work to do to eradicate it. It will take generations I suspect to get things on track.

If you'd like to make a comment please do below. If you'd like to read more please go here: Cats and the Law (this looks at a number of countries and their animal welfare law) or here for more comment and the Philippines Animal Welfare Act 1998 plus some local legislation and more. There are also links to the website mentioned and to some charities.

The Philippines are quite near Vietnam and China two other place where it is considered OK to eat companion animals and kill them brutally before cooking them. (see Cat Meat Philosophy).

One last point cruelty to animals in the Philippines makes people like me depressed. It affects the world generally, making it a worse place for all those that care. And it brutalizes the people who practice animal cruelty making them worse people.

Cat and dog cruelty in the Philippines - Source: It's Their Destiny website.

Friday 7 November 2008

Origins of the Abyssinian Cat

Charles Darwin 187
Charles Darwin 1879
The Origins of the Abyssinian Cat are shrouded in mystery or at least uncertainty. Here is a theory on the history of this popular cat breed.

In Darwin's "The Variation Of Animals And Plants Under Domestication" he writes:

"In India the domestic cat, according to Mr. Blyth, has crossed with four Indian species. With respect to one of these species, F. chaus, an excellent observer, Sir W. Elliot, informs me that he once killed, near Madras, a wild brood, which were evidently hybrids from the domestic cat; these young animals had a thick lynx-like tail and the broad brown bar on the inside of the forearm characteristic of F. chaus. Sir W. Elliot adds that he has often observed this same mark on the forearms of domestic cats in India. Mr. Blyth states that domestic cats coloured nearly like F. chaus, but not resembling that species in shape, abound in Bengal; he adds, "such a colouration is utterly unknown in European cats, and the proper tabby markings (pale streaks on a black ground, peculiarly and symmetrically disposed), so common in English cats, are never seen in those of India." (note: this can be reproduced verbatim as it is copyright free due to the passage of time - wrong? please leave a comment).

Felis chaus is called the Jungle cat. This medium/small wildcat is listed as "least concern" under the IUCN Red List (see IUCN Red List for cats). The generous listing is probably a result of the fact that this wildcat is able to integrate with human activity quite well despite being persecuted (as usual) by the human. It seems they almost mimic, in the 21st century, the gradual domestication of the wildcat some 9,000 years ago when the wildcat become domesticated. The Jungle cat is found in many Asian countries including India (Felis chaus prateri, whose habitat is in the West of India - src: Wikipedia)

Because of this, as Darwin reports, there has been a natural occurrence of hybridization of the Jungle cat with Indian domestic cats. The Jungle cat looks like this:

Jungle cat Felis chaus
Jungle cat photographed in India

The photo above was taken at Mysore - south west India by S.Das - this would seem to be a non-captive cat and if so well done to the photographer. Published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License. The origins of the Abyssinian Cat is probably in the wildcat Felis Chaus.

Here is another picture that shows a little better the jungle cat's likeness to the Abyssinian cat:

felis chaus or jungle cat
Jungle cat - Photo by bv_madhukar (Flickr)

The Abyssinian is well known and looks like this:

Abyssinian cat
Abyssinian cat - Photograph copyright Helmi Flick

I think we can see the origins of the Abyssinian cat in a comparison of these two pictures. At least it is strongly indicated.

There is of course a distinct similarity even after all the years of "refinement" through selective breeding by cat breeders. Lets remember the Abyssinian as a cat breed has been around since the late 1800s. The obvious similarity is the well known ticked coat of the Abyssinian and Jungle cat. It is thought (though not clear) that the Abyssinian cat originates from the west coast of India (see Abyssinian cat time line). See a great picture and an explanation of the formation of the agouti ticked cat coat. Ticking is a form of tabby cat coat. See cat coats tabby.

The differences between the two are size and what cat breeders call rufus coloration of the Abyssinian. The Aby has a warm rich color whereas the Jungle cat is a more natural color. The warm rufus coloration is due to selective breeding incorporating polygenes that affect the intensity of yellow. The jungle cat generally is larger than the Abyssinian, perhaps a bit less than twice the size on average but some will be of a similar size (jungle cat weighs from 7 - 22 lbs or 3 - 10 kgs). See largest domestic cat breed for a look at cat sizes and wildcat/domestic cat comparison.

Origins of the Abyssinian Cat - Conclusion - theory:

Is it not possible that the jungle cat mated with the domestic cats or feral cats of the west coast of India (as described by Darwin) producing an interesting Abyssinian like cat that was then noticed, adopted and ultimately transported to Abyssinia by a British Army officer?

This was the time of the British Raj-rule, in India, which commenced in 1858 and concluded in 1947. I speculate that the officer was then ordered to attend the Abyssinian Civil War (the British forces where there in 1867-68) and thereafter he then traveled on to England thereby importing into England the first Abyssinian cat in around 1870, which exhibited at the Crystal Palace (London) cat show of 1871.

One last point. The first Abyssinian cat Zula Zula (early 1870s) was quite a stocky looking cat as where all the early cats of this breed. Selective breeding changed that over time to a more slender body shape.

Origins of the Abyssinian Cat - sources: Wikepedia for details on the country Abyssinia.

From Origins of the Abyssinian Cat to Home page

Thursday 6 November 2008

Pictures of a Savannah cat

Here are some great pictures of a Savannah cat, a fantastic boy. He is a one year old cat and he comes from the A1 Supremes cattery. This cattery is a branch of the A1 Savannahs cattery.

All Savannahs are fantastic lookers. A1 Supremes are the best of the best. They are very intelligent, alert, large, muscular and athletic. Above all they are well socialized and great pets.

I love the look on this boy's face. His eyes are alight, burning bright, extremely alert and he has that oh so desirable wild look on his strong face.

Here are the pictures taken by Kathrin Stucki of A1 Savannahs and A1 Supremes of this young good looking Savannah cat. All these pictures of a Savannah cat are copyright Kathrin Stucki. Please respect copyright.

Male Savannah cat

Male Savannah cat

Male Savannah cat

Kathrin calls these cats the ultimate hybrid domestic felines. You can see these pictures in large format by clicking on the photographs above or here:

Fantastic male Savannah cat 0
Fantastic male Savannah cat 1
Fantastic male Savannah cat 2

If you'd like to you can see a lot more photographs of the Savannah cat and plenty of information on this web page: Savannah cat.

The Serval is one of the ancestral parents of the Savannah. See and read about this cat here: Serval and here Serval cats.

From Pictures of a Savannah cat to Moggies

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