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Showing posts from March, 2009

Cat in Hell's Chance

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This post explains the origin of the phrase, " Cat in hell's chance ". It is used like this, "He didn't have a cat in hell's chance the poor devil.....", meaning he had no hope. It normally refers to a life threatening situation in which the person is killed or injured although it might be used in the context of, for example, a sporting occasion when a sportsman is trying to achieve the seemingly impossible. This phrase is an abbreviation of the phrase,"No more chance than a cat in hell without claws". This referred to the hopeless situation of being without weapons (claws) when needed. This turns my mind to the hideous (for me) practice of declawing. About 20 million cats are declawed in the United States and each one is wrong. It is big bucks though for the vets. Sorry but true. Some cats haven't got a cat in hell's chance of keeping the top of their toe. Declawing is a misdescription to assuage the guilt of those involved in it.

Let the Cat Out of the Bag

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This post explains the origin of the phrase, " let the cat out of the bag ". It dates back to the 18th century and refers to a market day trick. Piglets were taken to market in a small bag. The con man or trickster would put a cat in the bag instead of a pig. When and if the buyer insisted on seeing the pig the seller would say that the pig might escape if he opened the bag. If the cat did escape (I hope many did) the con man's game was up, he was exposed and he had let the cat out of the bag (meaning in modern parlance, disclosing a secret). Another old phrase is linked to this one, "Never buy a pig in a poke". Both are rarely used today, the former is more current than the latter, however. The word "poke" refers to the bag in which the cat (or pig was placed). The phrase is saying that a buyer should not trust a seller of a pig when the pig is kept in the bag (or poke). Let the Cat Out of the Bag to Home Page

Morris the Famous Rescue Cat

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Morris the famous rescue cat was a cat destined to be just a statistic, one of many millions of homeless, unloved and unnamed or claimed rescue cats until someone playing God at the Hinsdale Humane Society at 22 N. Elm Street, Hinsdale, Illinois, USA plucked him off the conveyor belt to heaven and he began the road to stardom. To how many of us does that happen? It happened to Morris in 1968, so he is now in heaven, over the rainbow bridge, but his successors have all been rescue cats of the same appearance. Morris was handed to an animal handler who adopted him and Morris eventually found himself representing 9Lives brand cat food as the advertising mascot. The current Morris is a very male looking orange tabby cat. He actually looks intact (not neutered but I am probably mistaken). I cannot at the moment find a photo that is copyright free or licensed for use. But I can say that his current successor is a chunky (cat fancy language is cobby) boy or some presence. His handler cu

Cat Midnight Crazies

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I never was a victim of cat midnight crazies until now. For some reason my darling girl cat is waking me up every night like an alarm clock at about 15 minutes past 1 in the morning. It is always the same time. It is clear to me that she wants me to get involved, to wake up. "Come on you've had enough sleep, now get up you lazy sod!" That is what she is saying if you would like a translation. Her voice becomes ever more insistent. In the end she looks p*ssed off and is almost screaming at me while I mumble back, "I'm coming, I'm coming...". But is the right thing to respond? Well, the experts say that we shouldn't as that only encourages more of the same. Or they say keep a spray gun by your bed to give her a squirt when she wakes you. Or, lock your cat in a spare room during the night. In the old days people used to put their cats out (outside) and lock the door to keep 'em out. Another technique is to try and calm her down before you go to b

Lamb and Carrot Cat Food

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Um....Lamb and Carrot Cat Food looks like a kind off casserole. It actually looks like human food. Meat and two veg type food. Am I correct is guessing that cat food manufacturers are preparing food that sounds, looks and smells attractive to us as we are the first judge as to what to buy? OK the food has to be edible for a cat. And it has to smell good to a cat.......But... Lamb and Carrot cat food. Nice tasty carrots But the whole packaging thing "Lamb and Carrots" and the look of it gives me the impression that they decided that as we buy the stuff we need to be impressed. They also probably decided that cats are often a member of the family and that people who live with cats look upon cats as people. All true but this is not a good reason to dress up the food to look like human food. When did a cat eat carrots in the wild? Maybe the manufacturers also decided that a wildcat would eat carrots sometimes because they might be in the gut of a rodent. I am not sure. But ca

Chartreux on a Stamp

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Chartreux on a Stamp - a stamp from Azerbaijan. Well, I am surprised and pleased to see this. OK, it was 1995 but it is very rare to have purebred cats on the stamps of a country. The cat depicted, the Chartreux , is one of the grey cat breeds . It is also a breed that is meant to look as it did some 400 years ago. The breeders are sworn to maintain the naturalness of the cat. Azerbaijan is a neighbor of Georgia and is close to Russia. It is a sort of a satellite of Russia. Well, that is the way I see it. It is a small country. Russia does have quite a well developed cat fancy (cat breeders and cat shows etc.) and it may be that this is a spin off from the USSR years when Azerbaijan was a part of the Soviet Union. Here is where it is: The Chartreux is a rare cat . As at 2005, 150m (manat) (the value) stamps were worth 1/30th of a dollar. So postage was incredibly cheap but of course earning would have been very low by USA standards. Chartreux on a Stamp to Home Page Chart

Boy with Cats by Francisco de Goya

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Boy with Cats by Francisco de Goya - This is my title. The subject was the son of the Count and Countess of Altimara. His name was Don Manuel Osorio de Zuniga. The boy was about the same age as Goya's son Xavier. The painting was commissioned by the Bank of Spain. We can see that he has a pet magpie on a string, which was no doubt considered acceptable in Spain at that time. In Asia it is still very common (not a magpie on a string but birds caged etc.!). There are also some caged birds. And, yes, of course cats, what else. This is another post in the series on cats in paintings . How many cats can you see and what type? And my heavens they are well behaved. Maybe they (the magpie and cats) grew up together and were somewhat socialized? This painting of a boy with cats was painted in 1784 . Here is a video on Francisco de Goya showing some of his work. Cats were not a central part of his life! Boy with Cats by Francisco de Goya to Home Page

Cat by Francisco Domingo Marqués

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Cat by Francisco Domingo Marqués. I do not know when it was painted and the answer is not available to me despite a decent search. The artist was Spanish and he lived 1842-1920. Once again this is the era of the beginning of the cat fancy in England in the mid late 1800s. The cat is a tabby and white , a very commonly seen type of cat (not a breed of cat) on the continent in Europe and in warmer climates. This is a young cat and to me she is female. The artist did not specialise in animals but painted them occasionally. I have a feeling that he lived with one or two and painted them. Here is a video showing the kind of subject matter that he painted: This is another post in the series of Cats in Paintings , which contains a list of all the posts so far. Cat by Francisco Domingo Marqués to Home Page

The Cat's Paw

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The Cat's Paw by Edwin Landseer is a fascinating painting. What the devil is going on and why? Edwin Landseer was a very well know (in his lifetime) English artist of great talent who specialised in paintings and sculptures of animals, particularly stags, horses and dogs. Maybe he didn't like cats! Judging by the painting above it is possible. In the painting there are 6 cats (are there more? - not sure). Four are looking at the monkey who is holding a tabby and white cat . One, a black and white cat (see the white left hind leg) is on the monkey's back. This cat is barely seen in this image. The monkey is deliberately holding the paw of the cat on a hot stove while protecting his own foot by turning it at an angle. The monkey looks like he is enjoying it. The cat is in agony, of course. I cannot find information about Landseer's motivation for painting this work of art, The Cat's Paw. It was painted in 1824 and it is an oil on panel. Landseer died in 1873 and

Children Playing with a Cat

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Mary Cassatt's painting entitled, " Children Playing with a Cat " 1908. This is a post in the series of Cats in Paintings . There are lots of cats in paintings as can be imaged (see Cats in Paintings ). Cats are very popular subjects. I am very impressed by Mary Cassatt having just read her biography. She was an American lady born into a well-to-do family but was determined to follow her chosen career of an artist and make a living out of it. Her father objected but helped a bit financially (only a little bit mind you). She more or less made it on her own and against the odds as women at the time she was alive (1845- 1926) were frankly treated as second class citizens. They were "in the shadow of the man". Women still struggle get out of that shadow today. Mary Cassat was born in Allegheny City (Pittsburg now), Pennsylvania but spent much of her working (painting) life in France. It was the time when Paris, France was the center of the Impressionist movement

Angora Kitten

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Angora kitten by Arthur Heyer. See copyright below. The kitten in the painting is described by the artist as a "Junge Angorakatze" (Young Angora cat). This is a Persian cat, I am sure. The artist is well known. He was a German-Hungarian painter who lived from 1872 to 1931. This nicely covers the beginning of the cat fancy in England. Arthur Heyer specialized in feline and canine subjects. He seemed to like Persian cats and I would not be surprised to hear if he lived with a companion Persian cat, possibly a white one! He often painted scenes of cats and dogs together. His cats and kittens paintings are his most popular. It is interesting that he called this cat an Angora cat. At that time this was the terminology for a long haired cat. Both the Turkish Angora and Persian ( traditional appearance by modern standards) were around at the time of Arthur Heyer. The use of the term "Angora cat" is confusing and I am still not completely clear on how the term was use

Embossed Bengal Pattern

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The embossed Bengal pattern is a little startling to people outside the cat fancy. The marble pattern on a Bengal cat can be "raised" up from the background fur. Breeders call it an embossed pattern. So not only is the fur that produces the pattern darker and of a high contrast (to the background color) it is also of a different length. I have never felt this pattern but I suspect that the pattern part of the fur also feels different. Here is a picture: Embossed coat Bengal cat - From Roman Bengals . I have given a link to their website in exchange for use of the picture. Roman Bengals is owned by Steven J. Garrett. They have a really nice website. The embossing on this kitten is amazing. It is very pronounced and the hair looks finer in the raised areas and longer in the center of the embossed area. It is like a mountain range! The spots are raised too. The dark area of the spots is also raised more in the middle of the spot. There would seem to be two types of fur in pla

Gentleman Jim Corbett

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The hunter-naturalist and cat killer Gentleman Jim Corbett was a fraud. He was a fraud to himself, too. He deceived himself into believing that he was a conservationist. How can you be a conservationist and a devout wildcat hunter and killer? Sure he hunted "man-eaters". Big cats, which were forced to attack people. But the underlying reason why these animals attacked people, usually women and children, is because of the activities of humankind. Take, for example, the famous man eating leopard the " Panar Leopard ", shot by hero Corbett after a long battle of wits. This cat (not much bigger than a big dog with an average weight of about 135 lbs or under 10 stones) was hurt by a poacher and was thereafter forced to prey on children and women. We (people) caused the problem and we resolved the problem by eliminating it. The leopard lost out twice, once when shot by the poacher and then when killed by Corbett. He was no doubt hailed as a hero but I don't see it t

There are no Wildcats

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I say that there are no wildcats left because there are no wild places left. We differentiate between cats in the wild and cats in captivity but in the modern world, the here and now, these two extremes seem to me to be part of a continuous spectrum. A wildcat in captivity is obvious. There will be a fence somewhere. It might be a cage or a fence could enclose a relatively large area for us but a small area for the wildcat. Take a cheetah, its home range depends on availability of prey but varies between 34 km 2 (13 sq mi), to 1,500 km 2 (580 sq mi) in Namibia. How many enclosures enclose 13 square miles? The tiger and lion are similar. What is the the size of a major game reserve? The Kaziranga National Park in India is a major reserve and covers 430 square kilometers. But a road runs through it. Tourists are welcome. And tea estates are in the reserve. This is a large area, almost large enough but it is not a truly wild place. The wild animals live with human animals. In Namib

Man Eating Leopard

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What makes a man eating leopard ? It is the activities of people, the human animal. We create the situations in which leopards are forced to attack people, usually, perhaps always, children and women. So what do we do? "Panar Leopard" -- Famous man eating leopard shot dead 1910. This cat was forced to attack easy small human prey because it was injured by a poacher. We: expand human population without any thought for the wider implications for sustainability of resources on the planet. This leads to leopard habitat loss. This then leads to a lack of prey for the leopard and the leopard is forced to live in close proximity to people. provoke hostility towards the leopard being fearful of the fact that leopards are "man eaters". The classic clichéd fear response. It is said that no one knows why leopards become man eaters. Well there is one thing we know. If there was sufficient prey for a tired and old leopard it wouldn't need to go near people and I am sure l

Leopard Terrorizes an Indian Village

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The news announcement is, " Leopard terrorizes an Indian Village ". But who is being terrorized the most and who is doing the terrorizing? Here we have a wild leopard running through a suburban park and over roof tops and walls surrounded by many people at close range. The cat does not attack these people but runs on by. This leopard is frightened. Out of its environment. Eventually in a park area, surrounded once again by perhaps a hundred excited people, mostly men wishing to show to the world their macho skills the leopard is jumped on by a large Indian man. I also read of man eating leopards. If a man can catch a leopard using his bare hands as is the case here how can they be man eating? The truth is that man eating leopards are attacking children and women but not men because they have too. We created the situation under which the leopard does this. I would have thought some sensible precautions and scare tactics would suffice. We owe the leopard that. The cougar in Am

Lion and a Ferret

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This is a well watched video of a lion and a ferret playing or perhaps a better description is that the ferret wants to play and the lion cub kinda puts up with it. The key factor is that it shows once again the power of socialization. If animals that normally fight are put together when young (for domestic cats it usually means the first 6 months of life) then there is absolutely no problems. See Cats are Less Flexible than Dogs . In this case the lion was raised by a person who appears to work at a zoo in Turkey. The person took on the task of raising the lion after the mother lion refused to do so. That is why she is in a living room with a ferret. The lion was raised by this person until 5 and half years of age and then transported to a sanctuary. Any animal can get on with any animal including a lion and a ferret. See also Cats and Dogs Living Together (in India). Lion and a Ferret to Home Page

Leopard Rescued from a Well

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I like India and the Indian people but I have been critical of the authorities in India in respect of preserving their wildcats. I am not the only one as Maneka Gandhi does too! But I have just seen the 6 o'clock news on television and there is a nice story about a leopard rescued from a well in India. Good on the authorities. I am pleased to see this. Here is the video: What is quite interesting is that this is a fresh news story today in the UK but the video above was uploaded on 28th February about one month ago and the actual event must have happened some time before that (yes, see below). Also it is not uncommon for stories coming out of Asia of the leopard being killed in significant numbers and these just rate as a small story and as a part of everyday life (see, for example, Leopard Deaths are Uninteresting ). I can understand that. In the UK (London) we are used to reading about teenagers being stabbed to death. It happens so often it is boring. The rescue took plac

Cats Have Different Characters

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Many people don't realize that cats have different characters . And these character differences are often very noticeable to us, human animals. In some parts of the world people think of the cat as something that is unfeeling and robotic. These people think that humans own the world and animals were created to support humans and for humans to do as they please with. If they were in my position they might think differently. I live with one companion cat, Binnie, an old girl of about 16+ years. She is overweight in mainly because she is frightened and defensive, making her static. I found her on the streets of London when she was young. So she is defensive, gentle and sweet natured. She likes to be handled gently and she likes a good brush and combing. Binnie will get grumpy sometimes when I don't respond to her requests. For example, she gets bored at night and wants me to interact with her so she calls out sometimes in a voice which pulls at my heart strings, wakes me up and I

Communicating with Cats

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What is the best way of communicating with cats ? Love (but it must be unconditional love) is the underlying sentiment that facilitates the connection between animal and human animal, there is no doubt about that. People who are very close to each other can sense the other's feelings and this answers the question before it has been asked. For example, a person is anxious. This is picked up by the partner. The partner is able to work out what causes the anxiety by what has happened recently. The partner figures out a solution and delivers it! We use out intuition to aid communication. Intuition is described as "the immediate apprehension of an object by the mind without the intervention of any reasoning process" (Oxford English Dictionary). I believe that intuition works like this. We collect over time and through experience information that is stored in the brain. When we observe generally and in an open way, our database grows faster. Intuition clicks in when we apply

Dream About Cats

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Last night I had a dream about cats . First, I dreamed about exams. This is reliving the agonies of all the exams I took (60 hours worth and more). The cat dream went like this: I was on a bed on top of a car at night. The car was pointing out over suburban parkland that is typical in London. The car's headlights were on and they picked up a cat moving in the distance, about 70 yards away. The cat was moving just as a domestic cat would at night, stealthily, on the hunt. The cat came nearer. I immediately saw that it was larger than a normal domestic cat, with a spotted tabby coat and a short tail. This was an American Bobcat. I was excited and a kept a close eye, watching the cat intently, which was now about 10 yards away and next to an old building. We were on the borders of parkland and homes. The building looked derelict and the Bobcat squeezed underneath the outer wall of the building that was broken and dropped down into the basement. It was all quite eerie and a bit scary

Do British Shorthair Cats Like to be Hugged?

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The British Shorthair cat is a fine cat but the characteristics of a cat are generally personal to the cat. So we can't really say a British Shorthair is a cat that likes to be hugged or not. It really depends on the individual. Perhaps some cat breeds are more placid and therefore accepting of being hugged etc but the individual traits, I think, outweigh cat breed characteristics. Placid cats are, for example, the Ragdoll and Persian. There are others. The Chartreux is meant to be affectionate. And the Chartreux is a classic looking cat with a long history. It is what might be called, a traditional cat. Further the Chartreux has only one color, blue (blue/grey) and the most well known color for the Brit SH is, yes, blue. So the answer to the question, "Do British Shorthair Cats Like to be Hugged?" is yes if she or he likes to be hugged. We, as humans are the same. Photo is free to use. She is Sky one of Helmi and Ken Flick's cats .

Cat Neutering Increases Body Weight

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In research carried out on feral cats it was found that cat neutering increases body weight significantly with increased body fat, in line with confined and socialized companion cats (see: http://www.psyeta.org/jaaws/abv5n3.shtml ). What is the science behind this? The Purina site says that the reason is a change in metabolism and " activity levels normally decline with maturity". I don't understand the connection in the second reason. As to the first reason, "metabolism" is defined as " the set of chemical reactions that occur in living organisms in order to maintain life" ( Wikipedia ). Another website endorses this reason saying that the cat's metabolic rate deceases by about 20%. Obviously food intake needs to be reduced accordingly. A vet's site in the UK says that there is also an increase in appetite so reducing intake of food is going to be hard. Another site says that neutering causes a hormonal change. So the change is metabolic a

Link Between Cat Abuse and Child Abuse

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The link between cat abuse and child abuse is illustrated in this fictional story based on a true story: Chrissie, Laura's 8 year old daughter, came running in from the porch. Tears were streaming down her face. She was making those heaving sobs that come from the heart. It took her mother all of 5 minutes to calm her down before she was able to speak. Her mother was shocked. She had never seen her daughter so upset. "Daddy said that if he saw the cat on the porch again he'll kill it. It just happened, Mummy". He took my cat from me and killed it in his hands. He just snapped little kitty's neck and threw her in the trash bin..." Little Chrissie calmed down that day. But the pain remained for a long time. "Cat abuse" can, naturally be substituted by animal abuse but it seems that cats are more vulnerable than dogs and therefore more likely to be abused by an abusive person in a household. Cats and dogs are the most common companion animal in

Percentage of Cats in Households

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In my opinion the percentage of cats in households measures a country's development. We all know that the world has developed at different rates. It could be argued that some countries are literally hundreds of years behind others engaging in tribal warfare and living in anarchy (Somalia, as at the date of this post, is an example). There are many others. I am not critical of these countries. It is just a sad fact of the world and unsettling because it makes unified action impossible. We all pull in different directions. What I mean when I say that the percentage of cats in households measures a country's development is this. Cats are considered non-utilitarian. They cannot perform a duty for the "owner". Well that is what people in certain countries think. In fact cats perform a major "work function" namely to make us happier and to slow us down ( and healthier ). But people from some countries perceive "utility" in a more tangible way. If a pet

Green Cat Toy

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What is a green cat toy ? They are good for the environment. But they are also good for the cat, equally importantly. Without intending to be critical or hostile to other countries and cultures I would check where there toy came from. Certain countries have a bit of a history of supplying products that are less than healthy or just plain dangerous and that applies to human toys for babies or children. I can remember a health scare with respect to childrens' toys about a year ago from an Asian country. The same country recently supplied a poisonous ingredient for cat and pet food. See Melamine in Cat Food . So, I would focus on cat toys made in the West. Other negative factors to think about might be: Toys made from plastic and painted plastic. The chemicals in plastic might present a hazard when chewed and paint can also contain chemicals (like lead). Paint from the less developed countries can contain lead. Lead used to be in paints in the UK at one time (exterior paints) to make

Stopping the Inappropriate Elimination of Cats

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The are an endless number of articles about stopping the inappropriate elimination of cats as it is most common reason for people to give up their cats to rescue centers. Firstly, I should like to differentiate between inappropriate elimination and territorial marking (spraying for hormonal reasons which can largely be stopped through neutering). The latter is not the subject of this post although it can be highly inappropriate for people. Also, inappropriate elimination can be due to medical reasons (e.g. urinary tract infections such as cystitis), anxiety marking and/or not liking the litter box. If a neutered cat is spraying it is probably due to anxiety and the cause of that is probably something that we are involved in (e.g. letting stray cats wander in). If the cause of the anxiety cannot be identified vets sometimes prescribe Prozac incidentally, which has a high success rate (but which I find rather sad to be honest). This post is about stopping the inappropriate eliminat