Thursday 26 February 2009

Human and Wild Cat are Forced Together

The ever present expansion of the human population means that human and wild cat are forced together unnaturally. Neither party want it this way. The wild cat tries to avoid humans because we are dangerous to a wild cat. Wild cats, even the large ones, do not naturally attack people as prey. They have their prey but unfortunately their prey and habitat is being depleted by human activity which grows and grows in line with human population growth. we try and avoid the big cats because we are fearful of them. We think they might attack us but if we leave them alone they won't.

This problem is typically encountered in places like India. This clash of two entirely different species, big cat and human (two top predators, the human being the number one predator so he always comes out on top) takes place countless times every year in India and Bangladesh for example. Bangladesh is the most highly populated country in the world so it is not surprising that human and wild cat are forced together in that country (see Bengal tiger facts). But who is at fault? Which population, the big cats or the human's is expanding rapidly and which is shrinking rapidly? Human population growth threatens the world in terms of environment (global warming being classic example) and wild life. We just occupy too much space and big cats in particular need large ranges in which to roam.

What prompted this post was a story from last year of the slaughter of a leopard (the cat was set alight apparently -that caught my eye and made me feel very sad). This leopard had been forced to approach villagers and apparently attacked and killed several. It took place in May of last year in Bilahar village in Lakhimpur Kheri District in Uttar Pradesh:

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Hundreds of villagers surrounded the cat that was hiding (and trapped I guess) in an orchard. The cat tried to make a break for it and was overpowered by the combined force of the large crowd. I find this very sad indeed for both species (human and cat).

This forcing together of two species that should, in a more harmonious world love together peacefully, has resulted in the killing of 228 leopards since January 2006 and 68 leopards have been killed in 2007, in India. There were 7,300 leopards in the wild up until 1997 but these statistics are frankly unreliable. The wild cats are very shy of humans, which tells us how desperate this leopard was to attack people. We cannot get a handle on the matter at all and India is one of the centers for the supply of wild cat parts to neighboring China according to Maneka Gandhi, a most reliable source. Human and wild cat are forced together - it must stop before it is too late for the wild cat.

Human and Wild Cat are Forced Together to Home Page

Photo of leopard by by ucumari (a fine wild life photographer) published under creative commons license:

Cat Show in India

I have just noticed that they do have a kind of cat show in India. Actually it is a pet show that included cats, domestic cats, that is. Maybe it was more of a dog show. Dogs are more usually kept as pets in India probably because dogs can "do something" tangible such as be guard dogs. Cats don't seem to do anything but that is incorrect. Their presence is very beneficial to us, it has been proved in scientific research.

Tamil Nadu
A nice picture of Namil Nadu by puss_in_boots.

The "pet carnival" took place in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. The show always takes place in Tamil Nadu, it seems. That is an extraordinary place, on the face of it, to have a carnival where companion animals are celebrated. This is because, in this state it is reported, and I have reported on this, as has this website:, where some farmers (a small number, I hope) eat the humble domestic cat (they are in fact, Irulas and Boers of Tamil Nadus Krishnagiri District). I dislike that immensely and I am not talking down to people or anything like that. I am just reporting what I read. These farmers think the domestic cat's blood has medicinal properties and all that kind of stuff. It is a bit like the beliefs of the Hindu swamis who wear rare animal parts, quite disgusting to me. I made a post on Some Indians Eat Cat Meat.

So, we have both the celebration of the companion animal, the domestic cat, and the brutal slaughtering of that animal (the cat's throat is cut) taking place in the same region of India. In fact the two events take place about 180 miles apart on my reckoning. Actually now I think about it, it seems like normal human behavior.

This is where Coimbatore is:

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Cat Show in India to Cats and the Law in India

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Cats Are Not Truthful

There is an animal whisperer in America (Bill Northern) who says he can talk animals, all animals. He says that cats are not truthful and he prefers to talk to dogs who are, if anything too polite and try and say things we want to hear. There may just be a tiny bit of truth in this but I have never heard my cat lie and believe me I know how to talk to a cat. How do we talk to a cat?

Simple: by being very close, emotionally, to our cats we can sense when our cat asks or needs something and we should know what by previous routines etc. Even the tone of voice will say a lot. That and the direction she is moving in etc. It is more about habits, routines and history that give us the information that our cat is trying to give us. Above all an emotional closeness is essential.

But what about a cat lying? Do cats have the guile to lie? I doubt it. They are too straight forward and innocent. Dogs are pack animals and might be too willing to do as we please, which might give the impression of being too polite. Cats being more independent with their passive expression might give the impression of being untrustworthy. But cats are as trustworthy as dogs. Some people who hate cats think that cats sneer but that face she pulls is her breathing in odors onto a special gland inside her mouth - Jacobson's Organ. (see cat anatomy).

After living closely with a cat for the life of a cat one can communicate effortlessly with her. It is as efficient and as complete a communication as speaking with a fellow human. You don't even think about it, it just happens. And as I said I disagree that cats are not truthful. In any case we cannot generalize. If it could be argued that cats are fibbers it could not apply to all cats, that would be rascist!

Photo published under creative commons license:

Inbreeding the Curse of Big Cats

Inbreeding is the curse of big cats in captivity. And it is in captivity, that increasingly they are to be found. We kill them in the wild and kill them indirectly in captivity. The poor big cat is in the wrong hands. He should steer clear of humans. He tries to but there are too many of us.


I am talking here, specifically, of a report from India but other big cat reserves will have similar problems, I am sure. How can we breed with diversity when there are so few big cats around? Inbreeding is a perenial problem with all cat breeders, wildcats big and small and domestic cats too. In respect of domestic cats the problem of inbreeding arises because of the desire to improve "type", the appearance of the cat. 

There is competition to produce the most desirable cats for purebred domestic cat breeders. The same goes for dogs and it is worse in the dog world. The famous Kennel Club in the UK being a good example of what can go wrong over time when overbreeding or breeding for an exteme appearance is allowed to continue unchecked (see Purebred Pedigree cat breeding, for example).

  Renuka Lake, India 

Renuka Lake, the site of the Renuka Safari park for lions. Photo published under Wikimedia® creative commons license license = Attribution-ShareAlike License But for the Asiatic lions of the Renuka Lion Safari park the inbreeding leading to premature death though illness has come about, it seems to me, because the whole enterprise started with a pair of Asiatic lions, a very rare cat indeed in the wild, and the breeding program probably allowed breeding back to parents (offspring to parents) or offspring to offspring and so on. 

This is classic inbreeding as far as I am concerned and we are on dangerous ground when we do this in terms of health. The immune system historically becomes weakened and we can even produce deformed lions. And believe me there is nothing more sad and bad than a deformed lion, one of the most handsome animals in the world, usually. The location of the lion reserve can be seen on this map:


At the Renuka Lion Safari, 59 Asiatic lions has been lost to diseases and abnormalities due to inbreeding, which in turn was brought about by a defective breeding program, it has been decided. The dead lions include 33 cubs who died between 1981 and 2001. The causes of the more recent deaths were put down to heart failure, lung-congestion and asphyxia. 

Breeding has stopped at the sanctuary. I guess that is the end of the Asiatic lion at the sanctuary. What now breeding of big cats? Why did it happen over such a long time? Inbreeding the Curse of Big Cats. See also India's Project Tiger and Genetic Diseases in Purebred Cats. One last point, the cheetah is inbreed (see endangered cheetah) but it is believed this happened thousands of years ago and finally the Florida Cougar, due to it's isolated habit is also inbreed, jeopardising its survival. Source:

The Price of Keeping a Cat

Astonishing, the cost of keeping cats in India. What, though, is the price of keeping a cat? It depends where you are and what your expectations are (and the cat's expectations too!). In the UK you can buy a box of 12 sachets of decent cat food at a local supermarket for about £4-50p. It would be cheaper at a big supermarket. It is estimated that with all bills taken into account, it costs about £10,000 over the lifetime of the cat on average in western countries (see Pet Care Costs). But here is the astonishing thing; in India there is a fine upstanding lady who has a husband, 2 children (who might work though), and 15, yes 15 cats, all rescue cats who she adores and she looks after them all including the people (!) on 80 rupees per day, which converts to 1.106275 British pounds or 1.60432 U.S. dollars.

Now lets look at that a bit. Lets say that of that approximate £1 she has, say, 30p left over after providing for the people in her family. 30p to feed 15 cats. 30p might buy one sachet of cheap cat food in the UK or a cheap can of cat food. My Timmy a stray boy cat consumes about 4-5 sachets a day (I need a mortgage to feed him) alone. You can see the enormous difference.

In short this tells of the huge divide in India and the UK, for example. But what is also stark is that there are still people in the United States and other countries (but I cite the US as a relatively rich society) who abandon their cats on the pretext that they cannot afford them because of financial constraints brought about because of the credit crunch (see cats as a disposable item). Surely it is a question of priorities. Budgets can manage to include the cat if people want them to. But when people think of cutting costs in the household budget the cat comes into the equation when it positively should not. Cats are taken on for their lifetime. These people are not committed to their cats and commitment is required. Caveat: there will, of course, be genuine cases so I must not generalize but I make my point nonetheless.

The price of keeping a cat is, most often, not the reason for giving up a cat. It is more about the psychology of keeping a cat. Incidentally, the woman concerned, mentioned above lives in Gujarat’s Porbandar city, which is here:

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The Price of Keeping a Cat to They Wanted Their Cat Back

Cat Agility

Cat agility is legendary. Of all the domestic cats the standout breed (purebred cat) for agility is the Bengal cat. There are many others and most of the best will be the wild cat hybrids. But that said I can think of a Sphynx cat, behaving like a monkey at a major cat show in London. Sphynx cats are very intelligent and like to behave like monkeys!. They have monkey like toes as well.

Back to the Bengal. A fantastically quick runner (max speed 30 mph in short bursts) and athletic climber. Here is an example:

But the good old moggie (mixed breed or more accurately not a purebred cat) can be pretty darn agile to. And cats can be trained to go around an agility course just like a dog. There is the case of a white cat called Fly, an Australian rescue cat, who has been trained go around a cat agility couse, albeit slowly. But they aren't all slow. I am sure that a lot of cat keepers who train their cats to complete a cat agility course are keepers of Bengal cats. And here is one in action:

Cat Speed and Dog Endurance

This is a post about cat speed and dog endurance. These companion animals run differently. The cat is built for speed. The chase to catch and kill prey in the wild is designed to be fierce, rapid and over quickly. This means that the cat has to be close to prey before attempting to chase it down. This is turn means stalking low to the ground. Stalking is an inefficient use of the body's energy (src: Duke University study) . But as the prey is successfully caught a sufficient number of times to survive things are in balance.

The classic sprinter as opposed to long distance runner is the cheetah. The classic long distance runner is the humble Mongolian ass. Here is a chart comparing speed, which comes from a web page on the cheetah's speed :

Animal Speed mph Distance (yds)
Human (male) - 2008 Usain Bolt 30 (max) 220
Human (male) - 2007 Haile Gebrselassie 12.6 (average) 46,147 (26.22 miles)
Horse 43 (average) 440
Cheetah 70 - 75 (max) 440 (max 600)
Mongolian Wild Ass 30 (average) 28,000 (16 miles)
Domestic cat 30 400 estimate

Of all these records perhaps the most remarkable is that of the humble Ass. Like the ass or horse the dog is built to run more efficiently. The body movement during running uses less energy allowing the dog to sustain speed over a longer distance, a much longer distance, in fact. For example, the African dog is a cursorial hunter. This means that this animal of great stamina pursues its prey in a long and open chase (and in coordination with other dogs of the pack in contrast with most cats who are solitary). They can run at about 37 miles per hour (60 kph) for up to 3 miles (4.8 kms). The cheetah can sustain speed (60+ mph) for about 400 yards. It cat speed versus dog endurance

Cheetah Speed - diagram showing horse and cheetah
The amount of flexion and extension of the spine of the Horse and Cheetah
Reproduced under the terms of a license granted by

One immediately noticeable difference even to the naked eye in the running styles of dogs and cats is the flexibility of the spine. The dog (and horse) has a more static spine, the legs move efficiently. The cat and particularly the cheetah has a very flexible spine, allowing for a longer stride, more swing of the legs and a higher leg speed on impact with the ground. But with a greater expenditure of energy. Domestic cats with noticeably flexible spines are the Sokoke and Savannah - there are others.

Dogs can reduce the amount of muscular work needed in running by up to 70% through "exchanging potential and kinetic energy with each step" Cats, though reduce muscular work by about 37% only (src: Duke University (2008, December 4). Dogs Chase Efficiently, But Cats Skulk). It is a case of cat speed and dog endurance. And both are different ways of catching prey.

Here are the dog's, shorter stride, more static back and spine:

And here is a cat, the cheetah with a stride of about 25 feet, the same stride as a horse, a much bigger animal :

From Cat Speed and Dog Endurance to cheetah habitat

Cats, Mosques and Temples

Cats, mosques and temples (and religion) go together in some unexpected and conflicting ways. There are temple cats in Thailand. This website funds an entire colony of cats at one such temple, for example. Then there are the famous temple cats of Burma and the legend of the Birman cat.

And in the video above we can see the Sandali mosque cats being treated in a way that is not seen throughout India. Quite the contrary, in fact. What is astonishing (actually it's normal human behavior) is that we can see Hindu mendicants, swamis in India who flout animal welfare by decorating themselves with animal parts including domestic cat skulls etc. Then there is the gradual destruction of he tiger in India. The complete range of peoples' treatment of animals from abuse to worship is seen in relation to cats. Not forgetting the worship of cats in ancient Egypt (see Egyptian cat art). But in worshiping the cat goddess Bastet, pilgrims would come from afar and purchase recently killed feral cats that had been mummified as an offering to the goddess. People were and still are cruel and kind at the same time; typically bizarre human behavior.

The cats of the Sandali mosque are treated well, fed etc. as a kind of appeasement, an offering as in ancient Egypt to help make the prayers of worshipers come true. In one way it is nice and in another it is terribly sad. It shows a confused state of mind and a desperation. In the end, the bottom line, it is all about survival. People will do what they need to do to survive and the cat even in this instance is being used for that purpose. Cats, Mosques and Temples are a fairly common combination.

Cats, Mosques and Temples to Home Page

Maneka Gandhi India's Greatest Woman

For me Maneka Ganghi is India's greatest woman. She is totally awesome. She is fighting the greatest of battles for the animals of India including, of course, cats both wild and domestic. Here she is being interviewed about wildlife conservation including the conservation of the tiger in India.

And, you know, it is shocking to hear and see this video and Maneka Ganghi is so wise, enlightened, intelligent and above all right in what she says. India should be at the forefront of animal welfare, teaming as it is (or was) with wildlife. It is a country made for wildlife species. Unfortunately humans also inhabit the country and most of them want to use and abuse animals for financial gain in a short term way. Better long term planning on how to live with our fellow creatures would bring far greater reward in the long term. And what good is CITES and the IUCN Red List for Indian wildlife? When you listen to Maneka Gandhi in the video it seems that there is open trade in animal parts. CITES is meant to stop that. The Indian government is just not doing the right things. It is far to passive in conservation and probably worse, active in doing the opposite in the name of short term, short sighted financial gain.

Britain extirpated all large wild life in the Britain hundred of years ago so I am aware that people in the west, Europe and USA, have no right to criticize other countries and I am not criticizing, just commenting,

Update: Maneka makes a very good point in the video. As wild animals become rarer due to humankind's activities, people kill them even faster. This is due to a short term mentality, which plagues mankind. We only think of getting it now and fail to see the long term consequences. A long term approach brings greater rewards but we as a world are highly disorganised and not coordinated enough to manage a long term approach. The world is changing. The Brits killed off most of its large animal wildlife hundreds of years ago. Maneka is at the leading edge in India of animal conservation and welfare but will the world change enough and quickly enough for the wildlife species of India to be preserved in the wild?

Being highly concerned as I am about the wild cats and domestic cats, particularly, for me, Maneka Gandhi India's Greatest Woman.

Maneka Gandhi India's Greatest Woman to Home page

Cat Shelter in India

Apparently the first cat shelter in India is being built or has been built (probably the former). The website says that a Bollywood actress, Hema Malini and a MP have "allotted funds" for the shelter. I am not sure what that means. I don't know how it is being funded. Shelters are normally funded privately through donations from the public. It is unusual to, I would have thought, to actually build a cat shelter rather than simply convert an existing building, but that many in fact be the case. The shelter is to be constructed in the West Bengal capital. That on my reckoning is Kolkata, which is here:

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Hema Malini says that the numbers of stray cats is increasing daily and I guess she is behind this shelter, which is fantastic. For any Indians that might bump into this posting, I have been to India and I like India. And I didn't go to there as a tourist. I went there in a bus (I drove the bus) and stayed for several weeks, driving through the middle of India to Hyderabad. India is a great country but I would like to see more done for the domestic cat in the way of animal welfare protection (See Cats and the Law). There seems to be a large divide between those people in India who, for example, abuse animals and trade in animal parts (and thereby reduce wild animal species in India to 20 % of what they were) or, for example, Hindu mendicants, swamis who flout animal welfare by decorating themselves with animal parts including domestic cat skulls and an endless array of other parts from rare wild animals, and those people who are more enlightened. (src:

From an outsiders standpoint, India seems like a country that is developing fast, becoming a force in the world economy but there does seem to be a vast body of people in India who live in the past. The same can be said of China. The first cat shelter is a welcome development in the right direction. But there is a very long way to go. Personally, I have little hope that wildlife in India will ever be left alone to live in the wild in parallel with people. The history of places like the UK bear that out. The British destroyed almost all large native wildlife many hundreds of years ago. What is left are rare species such as the Scottish wild cat, which has only just survived in very small numbers only because western Scotland is remote.

There are a number of dog rescue shelters in India (see video below for one of them). Dogs seem to have been given preference over cats perhaps because dogs are seen as more useful (working and protection roles). Cats though are also useful in more subtle ways such as psychological benefits and Cats Calm Me.

Cat Shelter in India to Home Page

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Vidya Balan is scared of Cats

Bollywood - photo by trayser

What a shame that Vidya Balan is scared of cats. Vidya is a an award winning actress and star of Bollywood films and films are very big business in India. She made her debut in the film Bengali film, Bhalo Theko (2003). Yes, we like her and her acting but she doesn't like cats and it doesn't matter if they are big, small or inbetween.

This must be due to some sort of experience she had when she was young, perhaps very young - I don't know. There is no reason to be frightened of cats, except they do have strong jaws, sharp teeth and claws but then people can cause lots more damage. Apparently she has to have a cat chased out when she is working as she becomes petrified. I find this hard to believe but understandable.

Cats and companion animals have been proven to provide great psychological benefit so perhaps one day she will overcome her fear and enjoy all those benefits.

Vidya Balan is scared of Cats to Home page

Cats Can Protect Children Against Asthma

Well, we know cats have psychological benefits as companion animals. In addition cats can protect children against asthma. Research carried out at Columbia Centre for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) at Columbia University suggests that children who are around cats at an early age can develop antibodies to allergies. I can remember reading somewhere a long time ago that children today were too protected and lived in an environment that was too sterile. I think this latest research is saying the same thing from a different perspective.

What is happening, it seems to me, is the child develops an immunity to the well known allergen produced by the cat Fel d1 (Felis domesticus allergen 1). This is a protein in cat's saliva, which dries on the cat after she/he washes herself. It then flies off as what is commonly called cat dander (saliva, skin and hair). Forcing a young body to deal with this promotes a strong immune system, it seems.

About 10% of the population are immune to cats. Cat dander can be in places where one would have thought unlikely. Timmy, a stray cat only has to be in a room with me and I can start to itch and I am not allergic to cats. It must be his brand of Fel d1. This research indicates that trying to avoid allergens at an early age is unwise as it is a time to build immunity. I child has to build his or her brain and physique; the same goes for the immune system.

Cats Can Protect Children Against Asthma to Allergy Free Cats?

Photo of a child getting a good dose of cat allergen is by Etolane and published under a creative commons license:

They Said They Wanted Their Cat Back

A couple gave up their cat to a local rescue center and changed their minds. They said they wanted their cat back. Should the cat be given back without question? The matter concerns a couple in Orkney. Orkney is north east of the Scottish mainland:-

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The couple had decided on re-homing their cat after the wife was unable to get out due to illness. The wife might be confined to a bed for some time, the husband said. This was the reason given for giving up their cat. The rescue center, Cats Protection, refused and asked for the couple to apply with others. Are they right?

Absolutely yes. The couple said that they hoped commonsense would prevail and the cat returned. Yet, I see more commonsense in the Cats Protection for not just returning the cat. Although I don't have all the facts, on the face of it, the reason given (if it is as stated) is not really inadequate. The man's wife "might be confined to bed". What does he do? Can he care adequately for the cat on his own until the wife recovers, if at all? Do they show signs of adequate commitment? Is there someone else in the area who is better qualified to care for the cat.

These are all decent questions and the rescue center presumably asked something similar and decided to receive all applications before releasing the cat. They were, in short, thinking exclusively about the cat in their decision making. Good on them. The couple said that they wanted their cat back but that indicates a slightly careless attitude, to me, in relation to cat keeping.

Clouded Leopards

Photo by fuzuoko (creative commons, see below)

Clouded leopards are so named because of their cloud-like pattern (see picture below right). This is a truly beautiful animal. It is why it is assessed as threatened by the IUCN Red List (population is estimated at 10,000 adults) as people want a piece of it. This wild cat is banned under the ConvenClouded leopard coat showing spotstion on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This is intended to stop trade in body parts of this cat. I am not sure that CITES is that effective though.

This is a relatively small wild cat. We might get the impression that this cat is similar in size to the well known tiger, for example, as it looks similar. Yet it is a fraction of the size weighing 25-50 lbs. The tiger is the largest wild cat species weighing 397 - 569 pounds for the male. A well known large domestic cat the Savannah or, in fact, the Maine Coon can both weigh in the order of 20+ lbs. That gives us a clue as to size.

This video shows the size very well and the tame nature of this cat when in captivity and socialized:

Clouded leopards are tree cats, great climbers. They might be the best of all climbers amongst the cats. They have large and long tails to act as a balance and their large paws help with grip. A necessity when 50 feet above the ground. Another special thing about the clouded leopard is that is has the longest canine teeth of all the cats. They are 2 inches in length. The range of this cat can be seen in the map below:

Clouded leopard range
Map published under Wikimedia® creative commons license license = Attribution-ShareAlike License. The area shows parts of Asia. On the left (gray) is India and to the right Cambodia, Vietnam and South China is painted green.

On occasions clouded leopards have been domesticated. They modest size makes this practical, at least, in theory. But there are numerous issues is domesticating wild cats not least of which is the legalities (see Serval cats for some legalities) and moralities. Next would be a correct environment and that means trees as this cat is, as stated, a climber and needs trees to feel comfortable.

Vietnam, a country where this cat is found - photo by `◄ccdoh1►

Apparently clouded leopards are difficult to breed in captivity as the male tends to attack the female. This cat's habitat is:-
  • Southern China
  • Cambodia, Taiwan (extinct?), Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma)
  • Vietnam, Laos,
  • Northeast India and Bangladesh
  • Eastern Himalayas (Nepal, Bhutan)
  • Borneo and Sumatra, Indonesia
In Borneo the clouded leopard is considered a separate species. In Borneo they have been photographed by camera traps in the Sebangua National Park, which can seen in this map:

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Clouded leopard prey includes, unsurprisingly, tree dwelling animals such as Gibbons (see picture) and Macaques. They also hunt chickens, squirrels, cattle, birds, fish and small deer.

Gibbon - prey of the clouded leopard - photo by digitalART2 -an accomplished Flickr wildlife photographer.

The overriding feeling that I have regarding this cat is awe and sadness. Awe at its beauty. The markings are perhaps the most striking of all wild or domestic cats, in part because of the heavy contrast between pattern and ground color (background). Sadness, because it is its beauty that has almost destroyed it. People like to "own" beauty or get something from it in some kind of way, which includes killing the animal for the pelt, for example. We truly do find it difficult to live side by side with our wild cats and to respect them.

Clouded leopards to Bengal tiger facts

Photos are all published under creative commons license: -- Photo of clouded leopard coat (back) by fuzuoko.

Wikipedia® 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.

Desert Cheetah

The rare desert cheetah has been photographed by a camera trap in the Algerian Sahara. The desert cheetah is (as I understand it) a sub-species of the cheetah and it was thought that there were no more than 250 adult Sahara or Northwest Africa cheetahs in the wild. They are considered therefore to be critically endangered. Yet, it has to be said that little is known about population size so I am not sure how the authorities (presumed IUCN Red List - see IUCN Red List for cats) came to that conclusion. Probably by common sense. The camera traps (cameras set up to be fired off by the movement of animals in front of the camera) were set up to provide information about population size, interaction with the environment and movements.

Apparently 1,750 square miles of the Sahara is being surveyed. The research is being carried out by ZSL, Office du Parc National de l'Ahaggar and the Universite de Bejaia, supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society and Panthera.

My mind wanders to a story I recently read about concerning the generation of electricity through solar power in the Sahara to supply European homes. The intention is to meet targets in reducing carbon dioxide emmissions in Europe. Will this massive project further impact on the cheetah habitat, which is gradually being eroded to next to nothing in comparison to years ago? Is the desert cheetah going to become even more endangered?

Desert Cheetah to Cat Facts

My Cat Bites My Ankles Advice Please

I'd like some advice as my cat attacks my ankles and it is getting to be a problem. This is the plea from a cat keeper and the answer is pretty clear. This cat might be young, probably is. What the cat is doing is playing, chasing and, yes, practicing hunting skills. Nothing wrong with that, totally normal for the cat. What we as humans forget is that what we perceive as "cat behavior problems" are, in fact, human expectation problems.

We expect and/or hope our cat will behave as we want him or her to. We want the cat to fit into our life style. This attitude is manifest in many ways, the most cruel of which is declawing cats. We should accept that the domestic cat is a whisker away from the wild cat. After all the domestic cat was a wild cat some 9,000 years ago. They are still very close in character. A domestic cat can leave our home and survive with nothing. We couldn't do that.

So, if our cat is chasing and biting our ankles, we should rejoice in the play and play back. Playing with our cats is an important part of our relationship with them, particularly indoor cats, when it becomes essential to alleviate the boredom of an unnatural habitat. As to the bite, cat bites can be nasty because as an "expert" said, cat's mouths contain lots of bacteria. So do ours. But this can lead to an infection. My stray cat, Timmy, has an infected cat bite (but he is on the mend with antibiotics etc.). See cat fights can cause an abscess.

An expert said to reprimand the cat by saying "no" firmly if the cat is playing with our ankles. I disagree whole-heartedly with that. This is bad advice as the cat is behaving normally. How does the cat feel being told off for being normal. How would we feel under those circumstances? The cat might become confused. No, I'd spend time playing and build a stimulating environment for the cat. That will probably resolve the problem but in a much more constructive manner.

My Cat Bites My Ankles Advice Please -- Play back and enjoy it.........! This is how it can be done!


The Maine Coon is Rare in England

A story about a stolen cat in Berkhamsted, England tells us that the Maine Coon is rare in England. When writing about the cat fancy and purebred cats one can get a bit blaisé about the wonderful cat breeds. And, of them all, the Maine Coon, the all American cat, is perhaps the most popular and attractive.

In this instance a large cat wondered into the home of a retired (aged 75) and rather sick gentleman. This cat was either a "time share" cat (sharing homes) or abandoned or he had just gone walkabout. I favor the first. Cats tend to migrate to the better places and this person clearly appreciated this straying cat. He named him Jezz. Jezz took care of the old man through 5 heart attacks and a stroke. Cats can be of great comfort to people. They are known to have beneficial effects on the health of people. Jezz, apparently is a Maine Coon cat. I have no idea if he is purebred or not.

Well, Jezz was stolen allegedly by a woman in a white van. Has Jezz been stolen? Is she just recovering her straying and wandering cat? And can we own cats, anyway? A pile of questions. Legally we own cats as objects (see Cats and the Law). Morally the law is stupid as it doesn't take into account the emotional ties. We don't "own" cats. We keep and care for cats; they are companion animals as humans are companion animals to the cat.

The relationship between Jezz and this ill man was how the relationship between human and domestic cat should be - supportive on both sides. The domestication of the cat can work and it can also fail as there are too many anbandoned, feral and euthanised cats (14 million cats destroyed). Yes, the Maine Coon is rare in England and such a relationship is quite rare too.

Anger and Cat Cruelty

Anger and cat cruelty go hand in hand and drink and drugs as well, maybe. Cats are vulnerable. Cat cruelty is a form of cowardly bullying and more. It is akin to child cruelty. We see a far bit of child cruelty. Children are as vulnerable as the domestic cat, even more so, in fact.

People, often men, who are not able to manage themselves or their lives well enough (and I am not being critical of that as we all have our moments) can become angry. They might drink to alleviate the distress and the anger resurfaces and wants to strike out at something, almost anything within range. On this instance a young man in Victoria, BC, Canada, punched his girlfriend's cat repeatedly in the head causing fractures. The reason he did this? Because the cat wouldn't listen. I guess people don't listen to him. Not surprising, I suppose. This is where Victoria is:

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The person concerned has been charged with animal cruelty. In Canada in the state of British Columbia (BC) if convicted for animal cruelty he can expect to receive a sentence of $10,000, a maximum jail term of up to five years plus a ban on keeping animals. See Cat Animal Cruelty Laws Canada. The cat survived as is recuperating it seems. What about the psychological damage too? Maltreated cats become fearful.

Cat Collars Can Kill

Yes, cat collars can kill sometimes. It might be quite rare but once is enough. People put collars on their cats for decoration (the cat looks better to a person - not to the cat of course), to control fleas and/or for identification. My neighbor puts a collar on her cat (I call her Pippa) for decoration only. She doesn't even use the collar for identification. So all this person is achieving by putting on a cat collar is making the cat look better in the eyes of the owner while putting Pippa under a risk, albeit slight, of injury. That cannot be right, surely? My neighbor is stupid like that (sorry but it is true as she also lets her cat regularly roam over a very busy road).

Anyway back to the subject of cat collars can kill. A charming and sad story got me on to this subject. It is the story of Millie. An abandoned cat in Beverly, Mass, USA.

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Here is a picture of Millie on the right, as I am sure the people who took the picture won't mind me using it as I've given a link to their cat charity (see below). Well Millie an all blue cat as far as I can see, was abandoned in Beverly. Nothing unusual about that as it happens thousands of times over the country every day.

Millie was seriously injured, though, as he has got her leg caught in a flea collar. This had caused the flea collar to become embedded in her neck and front leg. She was emaciated and in a bad way, when found.

Well, she got rescued (not sure who the actual people are or person is) and taken to a vet who put her right, although she has allergies and needs a special diet. Good comes out of bad sometimes. In this instance, as there was no cat rescue center to take Millie to, the rescuers formed one and it is called: Friends of Beverly Animals.

Millie appears to be a blue cat. Blue in the cat fancy means grey or gray. Here is a list of grey cat breeds. Millie is not a purebred cat though (as far as I know but she looks a bit like a Russian Blue). But she is sweet, forgiving and smart and she looks adorable too. Personally, I would not use a cat flea collar and the best way to get rid of or manage fleas is by regular combing with a flea comb and/or treatment such as Frontline drops (if the fleas are bad) and hoovering the carpet and other furnishings regularly. Sprays and collars are not as good and can be dangerous. See cat flea treatment and flea life cycle. Cat collars can kill rarely, yes, but it can happen.

Monday 23 February 2009

How Fast are Eurasian Lynx?

How fast are Eurasian lynx? The domestic cat can run at a top speed of about 30 mph. The lion can run at 40 mph over a short distance. The cheetah is the fastest as we know at about a top speed of 64 mph over a short distance - see Cheetah Speed to see why this figure is not the usual 70 mph.

Picture in the public domain.

The Eurasian lynx is a great jumper with powerful legs. Her size is more than 5 times (at about 60 lbs - male) that of the domestic cat (about 7-11 lbs). I can't find an actual figure (at the time of posting which is 2009) but my guess is that this cat can run at about 35-40 mph top speed for a relatively short distance. Wikipedia say this cat is not very fast but that is relative. 

One site says 'up to 50 mph'. Note the 'up to'. I think they support my assessment.

Michael Avatar

Lynx is Hunted in Romania

The lynx is hunted in Romania with the consent of the government. The figures present the lynx population as healthy at over 2000 in 2001 (the last date figures are available -this seems strange?). The figure is an "official estimation" and to me is seems dangerously low not healthy. According to the website,, the data is inconsistent. I presume that this is data from the Romanian government. It says that there is a clear need to improve the consistency and transparency of data. Note: the lynx in Romania is the Eurasian Lynx.

I have to ask then, how can an assessment be made as to whether it is viable to hunt this wild cat. For myself, I would ban hunting whatever the figures. There is no need to hunt today. It is cruel and outdated. But when the government has its latest figures up to 2001 and even these old figures are unreliable then the most pro-hunting person would be hard pressed to argue that hunting of the lynx should take place until a proper analysis and assessment has been made.

What I find odd is that the government allows 250 lynx to be shot. Yet the actual figures of shot lynx are extraordinarily low at, for example, 13 in 2000. Can these figures be accurate? I personally doubt it. There is no doubt that a far bit of money tied up in the sport of lynx hunting and I am pretty sure some of it finds its way to someone in the government, who like to keep the figures looking very healthy and in favor of hunting until of course it can no longer go on due to the extinction in the wild of this animal.

What is depressing for me is that it is probably these unreliable figures that are used in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ when they assess this cat as LC (Least Concern) (see IUCN Red List for Cats). The IUCN Red List is a great tool in conservation but I am beginning to doubt its accuracy and its achievements. We see the gradual extermination of the wild cat it seems to me.

The Eurasian lynx inhabits the Carpathian Mountains. Wikipedia says that "about 2,800 lynxes live in this mountain range". That is a more recent estimate and it covers an area beyond the Romanian borders into the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Serbia. This estimate would indicate small numbers in Czech, Poland, Slovakia and Serbia. It is plainly guesswork and it is time to reconsider. Yes, the lynx is hunted in Romania and probably Serbia too and the IUCN Red List and the governments of these countries should seriously reconsider this.

Another extraordinary point is this. The Eurasian lynx was extinct in central and western Europe by the 19th century. And yet we are still hunting this animal. Isn't it time to grow up and stop?

Photo of Eurasian lynx by pahles and published under creative commons license:

Domestic Cat Kills 16 Animals a Year

The domestic cat kills 16 animals a year, so say research scientists at University of Reading, UK. As there are an estimated 626 domestic cats per square kilometer that makes 626 times 16 animals killed by cats every square kilometer per year. The figure is 10,016. This translates to 92 million animals a year, of which 27 million are birds so the researchers say. How accurate is it?

There are some estimates and uncertainties (to me) in this:
  • the figure of 16 per cat is estimated
  • the figure of 626 cats per square kilometer seems to be estimated
  • these estimates are based on the area around Reading, how typical is the area?
  • Does the research differentiate between domestic cat and feral cat?
  • the researchers say there are 9 million domestic cats in Britain. I don't know how accurate this figure is or how it was arrived at.
There has been a constant argument about the impact of the cat on native wild life none more so than in Australia, where the feral cat is persecuted for killing native wildlife (once again on the basis of disputable analysis). See Savannah cat ban and feral cats of Australia, for example.

The next job for the researchers is to track the cats over their territory using GPS devices to see how far they roam. This research, as I understand it, relates to "family pets" or a better description would be companion cats. If that is the case the figures would be very different in the United States as the majority of domestic cats in that country are full-time indoor cats.

Er, um, what did you guys say the domestic cat was doing to wildlife?

It was felt after the research that the domestic cat was responsible, at least in part, for the 60% decline in the sparrow in Britain since the 1980s. I am not sure that this research will finally clear up the argument of the domestic cat's impact on native species. The biggest factor for declines in wild life will certainly be from our activities. This was taken into account by the researchers in making estimates but I wonder how accurate they are when they say that the domestic cat kills 16 animals a year?


Austalian Feral Cat Laws

The Australian feral cat laws are gradually being developed (happily). I have talked about feral cats in Australia a lot, mostly in a critical manner because in Australia they do some pretty horrendous things in relation to the feral cat including shooting it on sight: see Ground Shooting of Feral Cats.

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In Port Augusta, SA (see map above) the local authority has introduced compulsory microchipping and neutering for cats over 6 months old. This, at least, tackles the root of the problem as it is law that is focused on the people who keep companion cats rather than the cat her/himself. This is sensible. The big problem is how to enforce the law? This is a really tricky point.

Perhaps the local authority has felt the difficulty of enforcement as the despite the legislation the feral cat population has doubled over the past few months. And Australians really do think they have a feral cat problem, hence the desperate measures of allowing shooting them in some states (which does not work in my opinion - see vacuum effect). Perhaps the rise in feral cat populations is because of the new laws? Has anyone thought of that? Or perhaps it is because of financial difficulties brought about by the world recession.

In order to try and make the law more effective the local authority has called an amnesty on penalties for breach of the law ($100 per cat per offense) by asking companion cat owners to come forward and surrender their cats if they have difficulty in keeping the cat. What does surrendering their cats mean? To me, a very cynical person (due to experience), surrendering a cat to the local authority will probably mean the death of the cat. Which cat keeper is going to allow that? That said, I like the fact that Australian feral cat laws are being enacted that attempt to tackle the root of the problem. The trouble is the "problem" has been left unaddressed for far too long and it is now almost impossible to resolve.

Picture: Port Augusta, Australia. It's a go go kinda place. Photo by pixelhut published under creative commons licence:

Fourteen million cats are destroyed each year

Yes, fourteen million cats are destroyed each year (in the United States) according to the author of an article on feral cats on the I had thought that about 2.2 million feral cats were euthanized each year in the United States. Maybe the figure has gone up. Can someone confirm the true figure. The author also says that there are 60 million feral cats in the USA (src: HSUS - a good source). Apparently, as far as I can remember, there are about 80 million domestic cats, in homes, in America. So that means the feral cat population is similar to the homed domestic cat population.

feral cat crossing road
Feral cat - photo by Sister72 - this photo was taken Aug 19th 2007. I wonder if this cat is still alive?

On that basis, is it fair to make out an argument that the domestication of the cat is now beginning to fail, where once it was a success? The idea behind domestication is that human and cat gain out of it. It is meant to be mutually beneficial. But if one party to the arrangement, i.e. people, are killing 14 million of the other party to the arrangement each year, it cannot be said that the arrangement is mutually beneficial, can it?

Tell me, please, what you think.

Big Cat Sightings UK

"The head was similar to a domestic cat, but slightly bigger", says Mr Vine working up a tree 50 feet away. Here is another one of those mysterious big cat sightings UK. But look, guys, if a cat has a head a little bigger than a domestic cat it cannot be a big cat. The head of big cats is 5-10 times larger (estimated) than a domestic cat's head. It can, though, be a domestic cat that is larger than the type of domestic cat that Mr Vine is used to seeing. But big deal!

This latest UK sighting happened in Churchdown, Gloucestershire:

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This large domestic cat (I claim it is that) was jet black with a tail that "floated". The black domestic cat is very common. This one was jet black as stated. The purebred domestic cat with the most beautiful of jet black coats is the Bombay cat. See Bombay Cat PASSION. The Bombay, cat, though, is not the size of a Labrador (the size of the "big cat" sighted) but a medium sized cat. Also a Labrador dog is not the size of a big cat. These big cats in the UK are as rare as the Lochness monster. I would have thought that we would have had something more tangible by now. It's just the media, you know, creating stories out of thin air.

Ashera Cat Constroversy

The Ashera cat controversy rumbles on. A lot of people say that the very expensive Ashera GD (the claimed hypoallergenic version of the Ashera) is simply a high fillial (F1 or F2) Savannah cat. The F1 is a cat one removed from the wild cat ancestor, Serval cat. No one has yet, it seems to me conclusively pinned down the claim that the Ashera GD is a misdescribed Savannah.

And no one has yet conclusively pinned down the claim by skeptics that the Ashera is not hypoallergenic. Are they allergy free cats? Lets not forget that Life Style Pets Inc. claim that the Ashera GD is hypoallergenic, which would make it the only cat of its kind, other than the other claimed hypoallergenic Life Style Pets cats.

The Ashera GD costs about $22,000. But please note that he very special Savannah cat from A1 Supremes - the ultimate hybrid domestic felines, cost a similar figure. These are difficult cats to breed and rare and special and the market it there at that price.

The cost shouldn't be the discussion point. I just want to see if the Ashera GD, Allerca GD and Chakan GD are really allergen free cats. Lets see some science on this. Surely someone can produce a scientific paper that tells us that the cat dander allergen, Fel d1 that causes the allergy to cats is missing or not in these cats? -see Allergen free cat.

Here is a video on the Ashera and it is claimed that these cats come from a Savannah cat breeder, perhaps Cutting Edge Cats. I have no idea. Can someone tell me?

From Ashera Cat Controversy to Ashera cat

Tribal Lion Tattoo

Lion Head - from

This is an article on the tribal lion tattoo. I know and like lions. This site is about cats and I have made a post about tattoos (picture of cat tattoo). Tribal tattoos interest me. I am not an anthropologist but I do know that a society based on a tribal structure predates the concept of states and larger groups of people. We only have to look at Africa to see some countries going backwards (or perhaps, it could be argued, forwards) into a tribal structure. When the typical government breaks down it seems that people form or revert to tribes, in which they feel safer and more comfortable. Is this the reason for the upsurge in teenage gangs and tribal tattoos?

tribal lion tattoo
Tribal Lion Tattoo - unfinished - photo by gregm51

In London, UK teenage gang culture on the poorer estates is common. These teenagers, it could be argued, form gangs (or if you like tribes to use an older term) as a means of finding "belonging". This is perhaps because they cannot find that in their family unit or in the nation as a whole. The concept of family is on the wane. In the UK, for the first time since the creation of the unit of marriage, there are more single people than married people. It could be argued that the growth in the single parent is in line with the growth in the number of teenage gangs. And when people are part of a gang or tribe they like to mark that in some way, to tell the world that they belong. This is also a sign of strength through unity.

Gang culture extends to criminals and prison. For example, A.C.A.B. stands for "All Coppers Are Bastards" and is a prison tattoo in the United Kingdom. "Copper" means police in the UK.

The tribal tattoo is the perfect way to demonstrate to the world that the person is a tribal member. And the tribal lion tattoo is one of the most popular, I am guessing, because the lion is revered by people as one of the finest if not the finest hunter on the planet. People like to be associated with that and gain strength from that association. Also, the Celtic style tattoo is popular today. The one opposite is a Celtic flower/circle tattoo design. The Celtic tattoo look is distinctive. There were many Celtic tribes during Roman times.


The unit of a tribe is smaller than that of a country or state. It is more manageable and supportive. The structure of a tribe is simpler than that of a nation (a much larger and more complex group). Tribalism has been referred to as "primitive communism" as, within a tribe, there is less of a notion of personal property and there is a greater sense of equality amongst the members. Tribalism is the first social system for humans. Tribes existed before countries and states and larger divisions of people. The social structure of tribes has a longer history than any other in the history of humankind. It has endured because it satisfies the human's need to socialize. Humans are social animals and find it difficult to live alone.

Some people argue that since the dissolution of the tribal structure, civilization is not working. They argue that a return to tribalism, a proven social structure, would solve or improve society.

lions teeth and headThe Lion

The lion is the supreme hunter. It is the lioness who does the hunting. They hunt in coordinated groups. The lioness is fast but cannot sustain pace over distance. The maximum speed is about 40 mph. The chase for prey will, therefore be over a distance of about 30 meters.

Working together, the lionesses encircle a herd. The attack is quick and powerful. Prey is usually killed by strangulation. The lion clamps her jaws around the neck of the prey or over the mouth and nose so that the animal cannot breath.

Perhaps (a) the mixture of a coordinated approach in which the lionesses support each other and become more effective as a group (a tribe dare I say it - actually it's a pride, a similar term interestingly), (b) the speed and strength of the lion and (c) the fact that the lion is a top predator (after the human) makes the tribal lion tattoo particularly popular.

Tribal Lion Tattoo
tribal tattoo
Tribal tattoos are going through a revival. The tribal tattoo is very particular in appearance. It is made up of a very strong design, thick usually black lines and swirls with sharp edges and points (see below right).

Although some tattoos are simply body decoration, most people have tattoos for reasons of religion, spiritual belief, personal convictions or to mark out that person as part of a group (or lets say, tribe). The desire to "belong" runs deep in all of us. Tribal tattoos can reinforce a positive feeling about ourselves and can give us a feeling of a connection with the ancient past.

lion tribal tattooTattooing was widespread among Polynesian peoples. It was also popular among some tribal groups in the Mentawai Islands, Philippines, Borneo, North America, South America, Mesoamerica, Europe, Africa, Japan, Cambodia, New Zealand and Micronesia. It is still popular in many parts of the world.

The word tattoo comes from the Samoan word tatau, which means "open wound". The word tatau became the word tattoo probably because it was spelled as it sounded to English people.

Some good websites (but you'll have to pay) for designs including tribal lion tattoo designs are:
tribal lion tattoo
Tribal Lion Tattoo? Feline head - from Tribal

Photos published under creative commons license -

Friday 20 February 2009

Cat Wounds

Cat wounds are best taken care of by first (a) stopping the bleeding (if the wound is bleeding) and (b) preventing infection. Care should be exercised in treating a wounded cat for obvious reasons. Careful and proper restraint may be needed.

Note: once immediate care has taken place a trip to the vet is recommended as wounds if treated correctly and promptly may not become infected.

cat wound
Cat wound - cat fight - photo by natmeister


There are two types. When an artery bleeds the blood is red and if a major artery it might spurt. When a vein bleeds the blood is dark red and the bleeding oozes. There are two methods to control (stop) bleeding (a) tourniquet (b) pressure dressing.


This is used for heavy bleeding from an artery, for example. It can be applied to the legs or tail above the wound. It should be released every 30 minutes for 3 minutes to let blood into the limb.

Pressure Dressing

If a gauze is to hand this should be placed over the wound and bandaged firmly but not such that circulation is restricted. If there is no gauze a suitable alternative is the only way forward and it should be held against the wound.

Treating the Wound

Cat wounds are contaminated with dirt and bacteria. Our hands should be clean when treating the wound. The hair should be trimmed back to expose the wound. The wound should be "irrigated" (flushed) with water and the area cleaned. Antibiotic ointment should be applied and a bandage fixed over the wound. Bandaging cats is problematic for the cat keeper as cats don't like bandages. They tend to try, and sometimes succeed, in getting them off. Personally, I would leave bandaging to a vet. Wounds around the head that are infected are best left open in any event, after treatment. Timmy our stray cat scratched his wound (see cat abscess below). He stopped after I applied antibiotics (by pill). A helpful tip is to clip the cat's nails (carefully) to help prevent scratching causing damage to the treated wound.

Older cat wounds that are covered with a scab and perhaps where there is some oozing of puss should be cleaned with hydrogen peroxide diluted 5 parts water to one of the peroxide (use once only). Then apply Betadine solution (one part Betadine to ten parts water). Dry the area and apply an antibiotic ointment. The wound should be left open or bandaged.

Old wounds could will probably be infected requiring veterinary treatment. All cat wounds require a trip to the vet, in fact unless the damage is slight, for safety's sake. Bites from other cats will be heavily contaminated and likely to become infected - see cat abscess.

It would seem sensible to keep a cat first aid kit available, which would no doubt include, bandage, gauze, plaster, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment such as Triple Antibiotic Oitment or Neomycin and Betadine (these particular drugs are USA based, as I understand it).

  1. Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook
  2. Personal Experience
Photo published under creative commons license:

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