Tuesday 17 February 2009

Cat Facts

There are over 2,000 pages of cat facts on this website. They are not simply regurgitated facts but opinionated and carefully prepared facts; please use Google custom search on the home page! Yes, this site is about a lot more than pictures of cats. It is about the best facts about cats, too. And I cannot tell you about them all on one page because there are so many facts. The best thing to do by far is to simply type in what you are searching for and, bingo, Google will oblige.

My favorite cat facts are these sorts of facts:

Cat Facts: Animal Rights - the competition and antagonism between, for example, cat breeders, sport hunters, even pet "owners" and the animal rights activists such as PETA and HSUS is astonishing. I, for one, cannot understand why these polarized groups cannot work together in the interests of the cat (except of course the horrible, callous and unthinking sport hunters). These are people from both ends of the spectrum who claim to love animals so lets see it in action, working together. President Obama has realized that the best way forward is one of dialogue, a unified approach and the lesson should be learned by these disparate groups. I have made a number of posts on this subject here's three (a) Cat Breeders and Animal Rights (b) Bone to Pick With PETA (c) Cats and the Law.

We must also think very hard about the wild cats. We don't see them enough to think about them and we don't see them enough because they are either hiding from us (wisely - I am thinking about, for example, the elusive Canadian Lynx) or there aren't that many left due to the ever present human population expansion resulting in habitat loss for the wild cat, poaching, which takes place mainly in third world countries due to economic pressures and the unjustifiable, horrible sport hunting. Poaching is driven by commercial enterprises as Chinese Medicine. The current economic downturn will make things worse for the wildcat.

I am one of those people who disagree with animal experimentation. I do realize though that there are arguments for it, I just don't agree with them. Daily we read about discoveries that inform us about the hidden intelligence of many wild species. We are still learning. We must not presume that wild animals used in animal testing are not feeling great distress and pain notwithstanding the rules and regulations surrounding animal testing (in some countries - China has no animal welfare laws in relation to testing or general domestic animal welfare). These rules don't protect the animals. And it is intelligent scientists who perform the experiments. Animal testing is even done by cosmetics companies and by cat food manufacturers (Purina). The first is obviously completely ridiculous and the second is extremely hypocritical and ridiculous.

Then there are the feral cats, the vulnerable cats that have returned to the wild. These are the forgotten cats. We created them through our irresponsibility and now we kill them as pests and as a nuisance. These cats have few rights except those given by devoted rescue center people.

Cat Facts: The Breeds - We can't discuss cat facts without having a comprehensive look at the domestic cat breeds and this site covers all the main cat breeds and more, that is also what I would call the fringe breeds. There are well over 100 in all. The most popular of these breeds are the Siamese, Maine Coon, Bengal, Persian and Abyssinian. All the breeds can be accessed through the navigation bar links. And unlike nearly all other cat sites you'll get probably the best cat photography anywhere and plenty of it. That is why the site is called Pictures of Cats.

Cat Facts: Cat Appearance - Of course I discuss cat breed appearance extensively but there are some aspects of appearance that cut across cat breeds such as cat coats, head types and body shapes. All these interesting cat facts can be accessed from the home page of the main site here: Home Page.

Cat Facts: Cat Behavior - We see a lot on the internet about cat behavior, one of the most commonly seen cat facts. We see cat facts about aggressive cat behavior, example. And, you know, I have never had a problem with cat aggression. Yes, I have seen cat aggression but not as a problem. And there lies the problem with us. It is about the expectation of how a cat should behave. We sometimes expect and hope that our cat behaves in a way wholly suitable to us, like a very well trained husband or wife. We seek that perfect harmony brought about by one companion animal fitting in perfectly with our tastes but this will not happen. We need to remind ourselves that cats are near wild in character despite thousands of years of domestication. Their behavior will reflect that and if it doesn't it may well be because of something that we are doing to cause what we might see as inappropriate behavior. In short we need to accept our cats as they are and create an environment for them in which they can behave naturally (see Five Freedoms for Indoor Cats). Under these circumstances there will almost certainly be no cat behavioral problems.

Some cat breeds behave slightly differently to others. These are normally wild cat hybrids. The difference in behavior results from the close proximity of the wild genes of the ancestral cat. Take, for example, the ever present Bengal cat. Even the STD (stud book tradition - 4th generation) Bengal will have 12.5% wild cat genes and that translates to a slightly more intelligent, bold or inquisitive character, which in turn means more activity and more input from us (see King Tut the Bengal cat Goes for a Ride). This type of behavior is common for all the wild cat hybrids and the nearer the cat to the ancestral wild cat the more it is apparent. See these posts for example:
  1. Bengal cat behavior
  2. Helmi Flick on a Chausie
  3. Wild cat hybrids (for the number of hybrids)
The typical domestic cat behavior for both purebred and mixed breed cats (if well socialized) should be loving, gentle, inquisitive and relaxed around people and other pets. Some domestic cats have evolved more than others away from the wild cat energized character. One example is the Persian or the Ragdoll, both very laid back cats and, as far as is possible, they are made for the artificial living of indoors, the ultimate form of domestication.

Cat Facts: Cat Health- This subject will always play a major role in respect of cat facts. But can and should people who are not vets get involved? Well, yes to a degree. These are the reasons why:
  • Vets write books that instruct people to administer medical care, which is an admission that cat keepers can and should provide some kinds of primary care to a limit.
  • Cat breeders commonly provide almost full veterinarian standard care to their cats despite being unqualified (formally).
  • The experiences of laypeople, just ordinary cat keepers, can shed light on cat health problems where veterinarian's can fail sometimes
  • Veterinarians are in business, they are not doctors (for people) and are not beholden to the same ethics. This can rarely result in bias and the ordinary person can counteract this sometimes.
Some diseases are far more common than others and there is a catalog of diseases that are routinely encountered. These can be seen here: Cat Health Problems. Do purebred cats have more cat health problems? Probably, yes. See Genetic Diseases in Purebred Cats. For example, I think that the Modern Siamese cat (lots more breeding development than the Traditional Siamese) is less healthy than the traditional cat of this breed. See Siamese Cat Health. The most common cat illness is Urinary Tract Infections followed by Gastritis. Diarrhea is ranked 5th most common. See the full top ten list: Most Common Cat Illnesses.

Cat Facts: Cat Size - There is an understandable fascination with cat size and this covers domestic cat, wild cat, individual cats and breed or species of cat. This makes it a bit tricky as some domestic cat breeds are wild cat hybrids and the first generation offspring of these hybrid cats are going to be the biggest domestic cat breed, if it is fair to include them. This is because generally (not all) small to medium sized wildcats are bigger than domestic cats and because of hybrid vigor. That said I have made two posts, one on the largest domestic cat breed and the other on the Worlds Biggest Cat. The largest domestic cat breed is the wild cat Serval when tamed but the largest "genuine" domestic cat breed is the F2 Savannah followed by the even more genuine Maine Coon. The largest individual cat is a Liger (Tiger/Lion hybrid) and the largest wild cat species is the Bengal tiger.

Cat Facts: Rare Cat Breeds - I guess it goes without saying that some breeds are rarer than others and I am talking about domestic cat breeds. Some cat breeds have been around and developed since the beginning of the cat fancy in the late 19th century and just beyond. These are well established and popular by and large. The classic examples are the Maine Coon, Siamese and Persian. These are not rare breeds. Other breeds have been "discovered" fairly recently and not really taken off, such as the rare Sokoke. Others have been around quite some considerable time and still not taken off such as the American Wirehair, still one of the rare cat breeds.

I have used a practical and novel way of establishing which breeds are rare and the analysis can be seen on this page: Rare Cat Breeds.

Cat Facts: the Wild Cats - My heart bleeds for the wild cats as it does for the feral cats, which are also wild. Despite the best efforts of many (CITES, IUCN Red List etc.) the wild cats from my perspective are declining in numbers year on year. There may be some isolated success stories but it will be against the trend as human population continues to rise rapidly. This can only mean one thing ultimately. A greater encroachment on the wild cat's range and habitat to the cat's detriment indeed ultimate demise. That is why all the wild cat posts and articles are focused on that most important of issues, conservation and preservation, without which there is little point in talking about appearance or behavior. See Wild Cats and Wild Cat Hybrids.

Cat Facts: The Rest -There is a veritable pile of cat facts in addition to the topics mentioned above from cartoon cats, to choosing a cat breed, the general development of the cat breeds, best videos, stupid videos, cats and the law, flickr groups on cat photography, and more. The best way to find it is to use the custom search facility on the home page of this blogger site or the main site - enjoy. Oh, one last and very important point. This site would not be possible without the contribution of Helmi Flick's fantastic cat photographs.

Cat Facts to Home Page

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