Sunday 30 January 2011

Boyfriends And Cats

Check out your boyfriend to see how he relates to your cat. If he gets on well, all is well. If your cat snarls and hisses at him - dump him!

Well not quite. But it is going to cause problems if you, as a cat loving girl or woman, love your cat companion but your cat companion simply does not get along with your boyfriend. And if that is the case, your boyfriend may make things worse by reacting to a less than friendly cat in the wrong way. He (the boyfriend) may be intimidated and be slightly aggressive towards your cat. The cat will sense this making things worse and there is only one winner in the long run - the cat!

If he likes cats, keep him! Photo dr burtoni (Flickr)

As the male human tends to prefer dogs, being a pack animal that he is, and as the female human tends to prefer cats, being an independent type creature that she is, you may get a bit of conflict between boyfriend and cat. What to do?

Well as I said earlier you could just dump him and start again. If he hates cats, do it! But if he is a decent sort and is unsure around cats, it may be more constructive to teach him to get on with your cat. Of course the whole thing depends on whether you want to keep him.

This need not, though, be a question of whether you get rid of your cat or your boyfriend. If your boyfriend does things that your cat likes and at a simplistic level this can be something as easy as feeding your cat, or playing with your cat, gradually your cat will come around to being more friendly with your man and vice versa.

So to recap. Your boyfriend should:
  • not look at your cat directly in the eyes. This can be construed as a threat to your cat.
  • feed your cat with his or her favorite food.
  • play with your cat using his or her favorite toy.
  • be relaxed around your cat. Be passive and easy going and move quietly and talk softly. Its about gently does it. The male human can be intimidating to a cat that is living with a women who is gentle and relatively quiet (that is not always the case of course!).
It's important that the man in a partnership gets on with an existing cat companion and the above common sense thoughts should help. Go easy and don't force anything with a cat. If a cat doesn't want to do something that you want done, he or she won't do it. Forcing makes it worse.

Michael Avatar

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Saturday 29 January 2011

Cat Losing Voice

The medical terms for a cat losing its voice is laryngitis, which is the inflammation of the mucous membrane of the voice box.

Healthy cat! I couldn't find a picture of a cat that had lost its voice. Photo by Mindaugas Lickus (Flickr).

The symptoms are loss of voice as mentioned and hoarseness. The common causes of a cat losing its voice are a chronic cough and excessive meowing. These strain the vocal cords.

Laryngitis can also be associated with:
  • tonsillitis
  • throat infections
  • tracheobronchitis
  • pneumonia
  • inhalant allergies
  • tumors in the throat although this is rare
  • See Feline URIs
If excessive meowing is the cause, the reason for this needs to be assessed and removed. It will usually be due to stress and anxiety or the cat may be distressed about something.

Clearly if the cat is coughing a lot the cause needs to be assessed and treated. The page on cat coughing deals with when we can and can't treat a cat cough ourselves. Most often we cannot if it is chronic. In which case a veterinarian is required.

Some cats are very quiet and have silent voices. This is simply a cat characteristic. British Shorthairs are like this.

Michael Avatar

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Friday 28 January 2011

Laziness and Cat Caretaking

A lazy approach to cat caretaking is one reason why cats are declawed in the United States. Obviously there are others such as ignorance over the true nature of the declawing operation or the client (the cat's owner) being mislead by the veterinarian.

Cats can be lazy, we can't - photo Mark Bult (Flickr)

But where the cat's owner has the facts, it is plainly convenient for her (or him) to have her cat declawed because it makes life easier. She doesn't have to worry about training her cat to use a cat scratching post or protecting the furniture. There are no worries about being scratched either. Although, I have no idea why anyone can be frightened by the very odd scratch which is invariably caused by poor handling of the cat by the owner.

In short, the cat owner who has her cat declawed can have a lazier life in respect of the cat. It is about pure convenience dressed up with some feeble excuse that does not hold water.

To be honest, in the modern world where people are busier than ever, they want to minimize their work load in relation to the cat. The cat should be there to improve the household at minimum workload to the people of the house. This is not, therefore, purely about laziness. But to be honest we should make our minds up at the outset to set a proper standard in the care of our cat. If we can't we shouldn't keep a cat.

That is not being unrealistic. Over time excellence in cat caretaking will resolve all the problems with stray and feral cats and declawing would be a thing of the past.

Recently a person who made a comment on my YouTube channel said that as humans are at the top of the food chain they have the right to declaw their cat. He said that this is a realistic approach.

To me it is shocking that someone could link the food chain to declawing! We are the world's top predator but we are also the world's most intelligent species (or are we!). We should be able to make a rational and humane decision on the subject of cat declawing that is obviously completely removed from the fact that we are at the top of the food chain! The truth is he was a lazy cat caretaker and justified it in a most peculiar way.

That said a lot of people do see the world of animals as creatures that God put on earth for the benefit of homo sapiens and for us to use in any way we see fit. This really is a common notion, particularly in the United States where more people have religious tendencies. Europe is becoming more and more secular. This is beneficial to the cat!

Religion fosters the notion the people are superior to all animals - that people are not animals. This distances us from nature and promotes an abuse of nature and the planet's resources. We are destroying the planet.

Arguably, another form of lazy cat ownership is expressed in a desire to keep a cat indoors all the time. Yes, the cat is safer but a cat would live a fuller life if the cat was taken out on a leash or a cat enclosure was built etc. A declawed cat living full-time inside the home is the easiest form of cat ownership.

Good cat caretaking takes effort. It takes input both in time and money. If people are not prepared to do the work and spend the money stay out of it. The cat world would be a better place without you.

P.S. I can be a lazy cat caretaker so I know all the problems! I am not criticising; just making a comment.

Michael Avatar

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Wednesday 26 January 2011

Ragdoll Cat Lover Gifts

Ragdoll cat lover gifts are popular because the Ragdoll is popular. According to my very long standing poll (over three years) the Ragdoll is the 5th most popular cat out of about 70 cat breeds polled.

The popularity probably comes from this cat breed's fluffy, large body and laid back character - two major attributes desired by cat keepers. The Maine Coon is the world's most popular domestic cat breed on my reckoning and that breed has similar characteristics although it is longer and skinnier in the body. It is also larger overall; the largest pure domestic cat in the world (excluding the wildcat hybrids).

OK lets see some Ragdoll cat lover gifts. I have chosen two sources but there are many more I am sure. These are all for the North American market place as most of the visitors to PoC (Pictures of are from that region.

Ragdoll Cat UmbrellaRagdoll Cat Umbrella

Nothing beats the exceptional look and quality of our Ragdoll Cat Umbrella. Among the finest made, you will be provided with great satisfaction and long lasting enjoyment. Why not pamper yourself or give a loved one a Ragdoll Cat gift to show them how much you care. The Ragdoll Cat Umbrella will make the perfect gift for any Ragdoll Cat lover. Shop with confidence, because all products come with a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. Click over now to see the big selection of Ragdoll Cat gifts we offer.

Next is a Ragdoll license plate frame. Americans like these. You never see them in Europe, certainly not the UK as they are probably illegal! Just click on the pic to go to the online shop for purchase:

Ragdoll Cat License Plate Frame

Next up is a Ragdoll cookie jar - "biscuits" in England! "Cookies" are something to do with computer code...Just click on the image below to read about it and/or buy it:

Ragdoll Cat Cookie Jar

Next a calendar. The picture of the Ragdoll on the calendar cover is the classic look. But there is a wide variety pointing for the Ragdoll - read more here: Ragdoll Cats.

Click in the image below to go to the online shop:

2011 Ragdoll Cats Calendar

Finally from this shop some earrings for female Ragoll cat lovers:

Ragdoll Cat Earrings

Below you will see a Ferris wheel of Ragdoll cat lovers gifts from good old These are for the USA and Canadian market I believe:

That is a fair selection of Ragdoll cat lovers gifts, I think. I hope this helps a bit.

Michael Avatar

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Sunday 23 January 2011

Laser Cat Claw Removal

I know people search for "laser cat claw removal" because I use software that tells me what people search for on the internet. In fact the software tells me the exact words used.

In this case the words tell us clearly that people are still unclear as to the exact nature of the declaw operation. Vets misleading the public is one reason. Another is a simple lack of knowledge.

a poster portraying vets declawing for money not the health of the cat
Poster by Ruth

"Claw removal" indicates that the public think that the claw is removed. In one video a vet used the word "nail". Hear him speak by clicking on the following link:

Revealing: Declawing Vet Talks About Declawing - (the soundtrack from this video is on this page. It is revealing on the mentality of the US veterinarian).

The linked page is an example of how vets downplay the operation, making it sound much less onerous and painful than it really is.

I think that this behavior from the veterinarians is deliberate. After all declawing cats is a very profitable part of a vet's work. Twenty million cats have been declawed we are told. If it is not vets deliberately misleading their clients it is vets deceiving themselves.

The operation is neither the removal of the claw nor the nail but the last phalange of the toe that supports the claw. This is equivalent to the removal of the last joint of our hands.

I hope that the people searching for "laser cat claw removal" read this post. They should also realise that laser declawing is no better than any other form of declawing. The vet I refer to above who called the cat's claw a "nail" admits that laser declawing is not his preferred method because the burnt skin fails to heal as fast as it would with a surgical cut. That said, let's make note of the fact that the cut is across the tendons and structures that hold the last phalange of the cat's toe to the other.

So, all in all, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that declawing cats is a brutally unnecessary operation on usually ten toes - that makes ten amputations. Do you think the cats feels pain after that? And for what? To save some furniture from a bit of scratching, if that.

Please see over 140 pages on this subject here:

Declawing Cats

Michael Avatar

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Maine Coon Cat Gifts

As the Maine Coon is probably the world's most popular purebred cat it is not surprising that there are a good number of Maine Coon cat gifts. I would like to show a few on this page. This is purely a small selection. The first batch comes from a cat gift website called Animal Den.

Maine Coon Cat Bottle Stopper (Silver) Maine Coon Cat Bottle Stopper (Silver)
Beautifully hand painted, this delightful Silver Maine Coon Cat Bottle stopper will be the talk of the party at your next get together. At approximately 1 ½" to 2" tall, our intricate Silver Maine Coon Cat Bottle stopper looks just right sitting atop just about any bottle. Weather a gift for a dear friend or family member or simply a new decoration for your home, all Maine Coon Cat lovers will surely enjoy this gorgeous stopper.

Maine Coon Cat Cookie Jar

Maine Coon Cat Cookie Jar

Nothing beats the exceptional look and quality of our Maine Coon Cat Cookie Jar. Among the finest made, you will be provided with great satisfaction and long lasting enjoyment. Why not pamper yourself or give a loved one a Maine Coon Cat gift to show them how much you care. The Maine Coon Cat Cookie Jar will make the perfect gift for any Maine Coon Cat lover. Shop with confidence, because all products come with a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. Click over now to see the big selection of Maine Coon Cat gifts we offer.

Below are some Maine Coon cat gifts from Amazon for the North American market

You just click and hold down on the arrows at the base of Ferris wheel to turn it.

Why is the Maine Coon (MC) so popular? It has everything. It is the largest pure (non-wildcat hybrid) domestic purebred cat. The MC is long haired and has a strong face. They have very definite breed personalities. What I mean is that the MC as a breed has a certain personality that people find attractive. You can read all you want to about this cat on this page: Maine Coon Cats.

Michael Avatar

From to Home Page

Friday 21 January 2011

Cat handled during the first 8 weeks of life builds a confident cat

I think the title to this short post is actually common sense but it was one of the findings of a research study: Ontogeny of individuality in the domestic cat in the home environment by Sarah E. Lowe and John W. S. Bradshaw , Anthrozoology Institute, University of Southampton, UK.

Domestic cats have varying personalities and the factors that mold these personalities is the same sort of things that create our characters.

Ideally, domestic cats need to have rounded and confident characters if they are to be the best kind of cat companion. The more extrovert sociable cat interacts better with his or her human companion and mixes better with other cats and people. The frightened and/or shy cat is more likely to be defensive in nature and that can translate to aggression through fear.

What creates this boldness is correct handling during the first 8 weeks of life - in short excellent socialisation. These are the formative moments that are equivalent to the first 6 years of life of a person. Excellent socialization includes handling by people, interaction with other animals and other people.

The best cat breeders ensure that their cats are not only good looking but well socialised so that they do their job: be a fine companion to their human caretaker.

Incidentally, in feral cats boldness or a proactive character is beneficial as it improves the chances of having offspring (reproductive success) but a negative is that the bold feral cat is more likely to fall foul of the serious illness of feline aids. Overall natural selection seems to say that there is a benefit, however.

Michael Avatar

From to Home Page

Thursday 20 January 2011

Amino acid sequence of cat allergen Fel d1

This is an addendum to a page on the main website on cat allergen Fel D1. The amino acid sequence of Fel D1 has been ascertained.

Maltese kitten rescued by Martha Kane in Malta
Maltese rescue cat - photo by Michael at PoC
Yes you have the Fel D1 too.

The allergen is composed "of two polypeptide chains"1.

Polypeptide means: short polymers of amino acids linked by peptide bonds.

Polymers are large molecules (macromolecule) composed of repeating structural units.

Amino acids are molecules containing an amine group, a carboxylic acid group and a side chain that varies between different amino acids.

Peptide bond is a covalent chemical bond formed between two molecules when the carboxyl group of one molecule reacts with the amino group of the other molecule, thereby releasing a molecule of water (H2O)

The two chains referred to above are encoded by different genes. Chain 1 of Fel dI shares amino acid homology with rabbit uteroglobin, while chain 2 is a glycoprotein with N-linked oligosaccharides.

Definitions for the above:

"Homology" refers to an homologous trait. Homologous means any characteristic of organisms that is derived from a common ancestor.

Uteroglobin also known as secretoglobin family 1A member 1 (SCGB1A1) is a protein that in humans is encoded by the SCGB1A1 gene.

Glycoproteins are proteins that contain oligosaccharide chains (glycans) covalently attached to polypeptide side-chains.

Oligosaccharides: a saccharide polymer containing a small number (typically three to ten) of component sugars, also known as simple sugars (monosaccharides)


Amino acid sequence of Fel dI, the major allergen of the domestic cat: protein sequence analysis and cDNA cloning published by PNAS and authored by

1. J P Morgenstern,
2. I J Griffith,
3. A W Brauer,
4. B L Rogers,
5. J F Bond,
6. M D Chapman, and
7. M C Kuo


Wikipedia authors

Michael Avatar

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Wednesday 19 January 2011

Cat Safety Collar With Bell

Is the cat safety collar with bell a product that is fair to the cat? Now, to those people who will go ballistic reading that simple and I think reasonable question, please calm down and read on.

cat collar with a bell
Photo by Frana Blaylock (Flickr)

The reason I ask is because the argument for putting a cat safety collar with a bell on a cat is to prevent the cat preying on what might be described by some people as native wildlife that needs to be preserved and protected. I think that that argument needs to be tested and challenged.

The first point to make is that in a study it was found that putting a collar with a bell on an outdoor or indoor/outdoor cat is effective in slowing the rate of predation.

I am referring to a study entitled: Bells reduce predation of wildlife by domestic cats (Felis catus) by Graeme D. Ruxton, Sarah Thomas and Jessica W. Wright - Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Division of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, Graham Kerr Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, U.K. It is published by Cambridge Journals Online. I have only read the abstract as you have to buy the full document and I don't think it will add much to what I want to say.

The study found that over a four week period without a bell cats brought back to the home an average of 5.5 dead prey items. When the collar with the bell was worn the same cats over the same period brought back 2.9 items. The number of prey brought home had nearly halved (53%). An undoubtedly successful experiment if you want to stop cats behaving normally!

Update three hours later!: A study in Australia: Predation by house cats, Felis catus (L.), in Canberra, Australia. II. Factors affecting the amount of prey caught and estimates of the impact on wildlife concluded that "Nor did belling...have a significant influence on the amount of prey caught..." Well there you have it. This highlights the difficulty in achieving really solid so called "facts" through scientific studies.

On the basis that bells do curtail successful preying, should we stop our cat companion behaving normally and enjoying what comes naturally to them, if no harm is done? I am sure you would agree with that.

The only question that remains therefore is whether a domestic cat preying hurts the populations of wildlife such as birds and mammals, usually mice and rodents.

This is where things become murky and statistics from studies are used to support almost any argument so I'll simply report on a study in Bristol, England and a report by the RSPCA in the UK. Please remember that "estimates" and "projections" are essentially guesses and to be ignored.

Both support the view that wildlife populations are not harmed and in respect of birds, for example, domestic cats tend to catch the ill and dying, birds who would die anyway. Cats will always prey on the easiest animals to catch whether they are big cats such as the lion and tiger or the humble domestic cat. And mice, ground living animals are much easier to catch than fit and healthy birds.

There are the studies:
Also please see: How Feral Cats Affect Wildlife

Conclusion: lets not be too hasty in deciding to curtail our cat companion's natural behavior. We have a duty to allow our cats to behave as naturally as possible consistent with modern life and the cat's safety. Natural behavior promotes contentment. Cat contentment is our ultimate objective.

Michael Avatar

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Tuesday 18 January 2011

Young male cats more likely to be in road accident

As expected, young, random bred (moggie), male cats are more likely to be involved in road accidents than other cats. Moral: keep 'em in or confined to a nice cat enclosure or high fenced garden or walled garden - anything - until they grow up! Or get an old, female, purebred Persian cat instead because Persian cats are probably the most static of all the purebreds and old cats are smarter and females take less risks and are less adventurous etc. etc...Phew. That was not meant in anyway to be sexist. I am just coming to the conclusions that can only be formulated from the research study: "Study of factors that may predispose domestic cats to road traffic accidents: part 1" by I. Rochlitz, BVSc, MSc, PhD, MRCVS1.

Charlie a three legged black cat in profile
Charlie a 10 yr old male three legged cat who is in some danger from a road accident  - photo Michael Broad at PoC.

To put a bit of fat on that, male cats whether they are neutered or not are almost twice as likely to be in a road traffic accident than the average cat. And for every increase of one year in the age of a cat, the chances of being involved in a road traffic accident decrease by 16 percent.

Interestingly, the odds of a purebred cat being involved in a road accident is less than one third that of a random bred cat (a moggie or mixed breed cat).

I think the last statistic or conclusion is probably due to the fact that purebred cats are more likely to be cosseted, perhaps kept in despite the fact that the study was conducted in the UK where most cats are indoor/outdoor cats  - outdoor cat problems. This is because of the expense of adopting them and people who adopt purebreds are probably, in general, more aware and concerned about the dangers. That said there are many individual and wonderful cat caretakers of moggies who are better than purebred cat "owners".

The finding that older cats are much less likely to be involved in car accidents is because they are more static and less adventurous. There is probably an element of learned behaviour too - experience. My old lady cat, Binnie (18+ years of age), goes out daily but never travels further than about 20 yards from the cat flap. That confines her to a safe area. I feel confident, very confident in fact, that she will be alright when she goes out.

My three legged boy cat who is about aged 10 (a guess as he is a rescue cat) travels further and is at a much greater risk. He worries me slightly but I have watched and monitored him and I feel reasonably confident that he will be alright.

The underlying tenor of this finding is probably stating the obvious and it is very much inline with wildcat behavior. Young male wildcats when they leave the natal area, their home as adolescents with their mother, go much further to find their home range than the females who often stay close to their mother's range. A male wildcat's range is also much larger than those of a female and in fact it encompass female ranges. Male ranges rarely overlap, however. Male wildcats are also programmed to take more risks to capture a home range and hold on to it.

As I said, if you adopt a young boy cat, please watch and supervise him carefully. He should not be allowed to roam in areas where roads are nearby or even in the vacinity. It is far too dangerous.

See much more: Cat Behavior

Michael Avatar

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Monday 17 January 2011

Cat Preying A Priority Over Eating

People who are involved in wild bird conservation are eager to quote unsupported statistics that suggest that the domestic cat is responsible for a mass slaughter of birds (misleading see this) and that cats breed like flies and as a consequence the domestic cat as a feral cat should more or less exterminated. An example of the antagonism between bird conservationists and cat lovers is seen in a Los Angeles court ruling regarding the city's funding of trap-neuter-return programs: Feral Cats of Los Angeles.

F1 Savannah kitten FOCUS preying on birds
Photo by Michael Broad of PoC - licensed to be used as is and with a credit please!

The bird conservationists are also incensed by what they see as the wanton and murderous behavior of feral cats in killing prey for what seems like the pleasure of it. Cats catching and playing with prey but not eating it are cited as another reason why cats should be dealt with more strictly.

I write this to try and put a bit of balance back into the discussion. Firstly, there are an endless number of articles on the internet about the breeding capability of cats - they are nearly all wrong. Please read this article: How Fast Do Cats Breed?

However in this short post I want to see if I can explain why cats do seem to catch prey for the hell of it.

A study presented on Science Direct seems to help: The interaction of hunger and preying in the domestic cat (Felis catus): An adaptive hierarchy? - author: Robert E. Adamec Psychology Department, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3H 4J1

In this study - and I read from the abstract only - the commercial food preferences of six domestic cats (Felis catus) was assessed. Their preferences in ascending order of preference was given to them as well as a live rat! The cats where allowed 45 seconds eating time of the commercial food before the rat was presented to them nearby.

In each case the cat stopped eating, chased and attacked the rat, killed it, brought the dead rat back to the commercial food area and recommenced eating the commercial food! And neither did the cats change their preying behavior when commercial food was not presented to them.

What does this tell us? The scientist who conducted the research says this: "These data suggest that eating is not a terminal “consummatory” component of preying as a food-getting response"

I interpret that as follows. A cat does not prey on animals to necessarily eat. The ultimate goal of preying on animals is not to consume the animal but to get the food in the store and maintain an adequate food supply. A cat is motivated by hunger to prey.

Isn't the cat's behavior then wholly acceptable and normal. Wouldn't you as a person do the same thing if you were trying to survive under extremely difficult circumstances? Cats can't pop down to the supermarket or buy online. And in any case we buy food for storage.

Lets try and equate our behavior to the domestic cat - i.e. place outselves under similar cirmcumtances.

Recently when there were floods looming in certain areas of England people began to panic shop. The supermarkets were cleared out of essential foods. People had foreseen a shortage and planned to create a store.

Isn't this exactly what the cat does or is programmed to do. Yes, domestic cats don't have to kill prey because we feed them but they are hard wired to follow wildcat behavior and have wild cat instincts. They kill to store food against a rainy day.

We should not punish cats for that. If we do we must punish ourselves too.

See also: Domestic Cat Hunting and Cat Behavior

Michael Avatar

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Barbary Serval

It seems that the Barbary serval may still exist, but only just. Today in 2011, the serval largely inhabits that area of the African continent that is below the Sahara desert - sub-Sahara Africa.

The Barbary coast is that area of Africa that is on the Mediterranean Sea. A part of Morocco's coastline is on the Mediterranean Sea. It is believed that the serval inhabits Morocco in low numbers. In short it is rare in that country and described by the IUCN Red List as endangered under their classification system. The Barbary lion was made extinct by human activity many years ago.

View Larger Map

On that basis there is a wildcat called the Barbary Serval. This state of play will inevitably change for the worse for the cat and it will in due course be extirpated from the Barbary coast as the human population grows in Morocco, as it surely will. This, though, is my personal opinion, a rather negative and pessimistic assessment you might think. It is based on the general trends in population of all the wildcats.

See a map of the serval's distribution in Africa: Serval range.

There are no figures available as to the likely numbers of servals there are on the Barbary coast - see Serval Population Graph.

The Barbary serval is not a subspecies of the serval according to the IUCN Red List. There is only one species of serval: Leptailurus serval (Schreber, 1776). However, the Wikipedia authors quote the book, Mammal Species of the World in stating that there are 18 subspecies one of which is the serval inhabiting Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. They name this species of serval: Leptailurus serval constantinus. This is almost certainly incorrect.

The science of the classification of the species (taxonomy) is evolving and in the past (19th and early 20th century) there was a tendency to over classify meaning sub-divide the species based on appearance of the animal. Modern DNA testing has rationalised the subspecies and reduced their numbers in finding no real differences. I would not rely on this piece of Wikipedia text.

See more: Serval.

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Sunday 16 January 2011

Honeysuckle Cat Toys


Photo by samatt (Flickr)

Honeysuckle cat toys have similar properties to catnip toys and other play objects. If your cat does not like or is not turned on by catnip you might like to try honeysuckle. You can see them in some pet stores, in the USA at least.

Some people might be tempted to see if their cat likes honeysuckle but there are dangers because some varieties of honeysuckle are toxic to cats. Unless you are absolutely certain then don't go down that route. Ask what type of honeysuckle is used in products or sold and check that the vendor is aware of the hazards. Check the labeling etc.. And note that Japanese honeysuckle vine is toxic to cats.

Also if you produce a chunk of raw wood honeysuckle for your cat to play with it can be dangerous to a cat - think jagged edges and your cat might like to try and chew it. This has a very good chance of causing injury requiring a vet. If buying raw honeysuckle the advice is to place it in a thick cloth material to protect the cat.

An additional concern is that in order to bring out the smell of honeysuckle it is advised to moisten it. This can cause mold to grow on the honeysuckle and some mold is toxic to cats (e.g. bread mold called Aspergillus niger). See what I mean about the hidden dangers! The wood should be "lightly misted" using a water spray bottle.

In general it is said that cats respond less to honeysuckle than to catnip but as cats are individuals it is a nice potential alternative provided precautions are taken.

With the warnings etc. out of the way here are a couple honeysuckle cat toys from Amazon:

You can also buy Honeysuckle Spray for Cats (2 oz.) which can be used on, for example, a cat scratch post to encourage your cat to use it.

Enjoy honeysuckle cat toys but take care.

Michael Avatar

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Saturday 15 January 2011

Cat In Pain

Perhaps the most significant thing about a cat in pain is that they hide or mask it. It is said that they do this is as an act of survival. It is also said that the domestic cat is small and therefore vulnerable to larger predators and so hides pain that would give a signal to a predator that the cat might be easy prey being weakened by an illness that causes the pain.

That makes sense in one way but not in another. Do lions and tigers mask pain? They are top predators and they are cats! They probably do mask pain or at least it won't be obvious that the lion or tiger is in pain.

There is no doubt that it can be difficult to tell if a domestic cat is in pain. But it is not all that difficult. A domestic cat in pain will become quiet and more passive. He or she will find a quiet corner or place that is well protected, curl up and keep out of the way. If a cat is fatally injured he or she will find a quiet spot to die.

I am not sure that this is a survival strategy. It is more to do with a simple and logical reaction to feeling ill and pain. Humans go to bed and are passive when in pain and feeling ill. We don't want to do anything. We feel depressed and demotivated. I am sure that cats feel the same way.

A cat in pain will feel poorly and become inactive. If we notice a change in the routine of a cat towards being more passive and quiet,  or demonstrating a "do-not-disburb-me" behavior we might assess that our cat is in pain and go to the vet.

Other possible signs of a cat in pain might include:
  • inappropriate elimination - although the cause is more likely to be stress or other causes
  • eating habit changes
  • eating litter
  • weight loss
  • sleep habit changes
  • more vocal
These, though can also include general symptoms of feeling ill.

Many years ago, when my lady cat got a grain of wheat stuck in her eye - a sharp and painful object - she went to the bottom of the garden and kept quiet. She had not gone to that spot before. There were two changes in routine - quiet and a remote, new place to rest.

I noticed this, checked her out and spotted the object in her eye. I stopped her, held her still and between the nails of my thumb and finger grabbed the end of the grain and yanked it out. I was lucky to get it. She yelped and immediately looked more comfortable. A lot of gunge had built up around the grain to protect the eye but it must have been painful.

At the time, I was about to take her to the vet. Look for changes in routine and quietness if assessing whether a cat is in pain or not and when there is no obvious reason why your cat should behave differently. However, when pain is acute the cat will probably be vocal and try and relieve it. In short the cat might move.

But please don't administer pain relief without a veterinarians supervision. Pain killers can kill cats - feline pain relief.

See the story behind the picture heading this post.

Michael Avatar

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Friday 14 January 2011

Coughing In Feral Cats

 The reason for the white cat coughing is strangulation! Photo by aylaujp (Flickr)

The reasons for coughing in feral cats is going to be the same as for domestic cats only the feral is obviously more exposed to viral and bacterial infections and serious ill health so you are more likely to see a feral cat coughing than a well cared for domestic cat.

As it happens, I have a page on the website about the cat cough, which may help concerned people to diagnose a possible cause...Cat Cough.

That said the only way to deal with a feral cat that has a cough that looks like something serious (and not all coughs are serious) is to trap the cat and take him or her to a vet and there are very few people who are prepared or who have the equipment and know how to do that.

Most coughs that require no action are due to foreign objects in the throat and which can be removed by coughing.

All the other causes will require veterinary treatment. If a cough lasts more than 5 days it requires veterinary treatment1.


1. Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook - Drs Carlson and Giffin

Michael Avatar

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Thursday 13 January 2011

Serval Population Graph

There is no such thing as a serval population graph because we don't know the world population of the serval. We don't know a lot about the wildcats generally, in fact.

That might surprise people looking for information about serval population but I can assure you that it is true - sorry.

If you are a student looking for a serval population graph for your course work tell your teacher that it doesn't exist.

The best authorities come up blank when discussing serval population:
  1. Wild Cats Of The World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist, unquestionably the best book on wildcats in the world does not quote any figures. They say that "servals have declined in numbers". This is pretty much the story for all wildcats. 
  2. The IUCN Red List, another excellent resource that should be able to tell us about wild cat populations because that is their main business  - monitoring populations - cannot come up with a serval population. They simply say that the serval "occurs widely" on the African continent below the Sahara desert except for rainforest. That is pretty much it.
  3. Then good old Wikipedia simply does not even refer to serval numbers but recites what the Red List says more or less.
Well that is it. The serval is not the only wildcat for which we have no accurate data on population. We don't even know for sure what the population of the tiger is! We have a decent idea (about 3,000+) but estimates in the past have been overly optimistic - unsurprisingly because politicians in India don't want to admit to failure in protecting the tiger from poachers.

See Serval for lots more.

Michael Avatar

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Wednesday 12 January 2011

Feline Euthanasia

 Bob on the day he was euthanised. Photo Maggie Osterberg (Flickr). This page in his memory.

There are two things about feline euthanasia that are worth knowing (a) how it is done today and (b) when to do it. The latter is the most difficult subject.

It is interesting to note that in probably the best book on cat health, Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, a truly excellent book that I heartily recommend, there are only 10 lines on the subject of feline euthanasia (note: the latest edition has more!). The book has 419 pages.

This is because there is not much to say about it, if we are honest. There comes a time when your cat will either die naturally and hopefully painlessly at home, or a decision will have to be made to put him or her to sleep. At this point it is worth reminding ourselves what the word "euthanasia" means. It is said that cats are euthanised at cat shelters but this is frequently untrue. They are killed, plain and simple. See also Euthanasia of Feral Cats.

Euthanasia means, "..the practice of ending a life in a manner which relieves pain and suffering..". In other words the tough decision is made between veterinarian and cat caretaker to end a cat's life because it is the humane and kind thing to do. The classic situation will be when the cat suffers from a painful and progressive terminal illness and there is no chance of improvement and where the cat is suffering.

Clearly the veterinarian will be called upon to give best advice. He or she takes the responsibility whether to euthanise or not. It must be a difficult assessment as cats hide pain and you can't ask a cat how they feel etc.

These days, at veterinarians, euthanasia is carried out "by an intravenous injection of an anesthetic agent in sufficient amount to cause immediate loss of consciousness and cardiac arrest". I have quoted the above book for absolute accuracy.

In some shelters other forms of so called euthanasia is sometimes employed probably for financial reasons. It is not cheap to kill a cat. Carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide has been used but this causes distress. This post talks about this unsettling subject in more detail, describing the various methods old and modern: Euthanise a cat.

Feline Euthanasia -- Associated pages:

The Argument for Euthanizing Feral Cats

Humanely Euthanize A Cat

Killing Cats

Michael Avatar

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Tuesday 4 January 2011

Mountain lion killed in Ray County

Why was a mountain lion killed in Ray County? Why oh why? For the bloody pleasure of it that is why. In this case the idiot farmer was out getting his kicks shooting raccoons. He simply had to shoot something.

Then low and behold he came across a glorious male mountain lion perching in a tree minding its own business and he shot it. Why not, nothing else to do I guess.

The cougar is almost as rare as hen's teeth in Ray County, Missouri as this state is central and most cougars have sought to escape humankind by migrating west.

There have been 3 confirmed sightings in eight years in the area so it cannot be said that this wild cat poses a threat.

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It is well known that they can be dealt with without shooting them although idiot people who love to fire off their ridiculous guns will always find a well worn excuse to shoot a magnificent creature such as a large male mountain lion. Think of the kudos. The ignorant farmer can go back to his mates and proudly proclaim that he shot a fierce mountain lion - how brave. The poor cat was doing nothing!

Not matter how many clich├ęd excuses he makes, there is no need to shoot this increasing rare animal. There are a million different ways to deal with them and the first requirement is to leave the bloody animal alone and for God's sake grow up. See: Mountain Lion Attack.

On my reading of the law of the state of Missouri, this farmer has acted illegally. It is only legal to shoot a cougar if a person is threatened or cattle attacked. There is nothing in this report to suggest either occurred.

Of course the farmer can lie and say he was threatened which shows how idiotic the conservation laws are concerning this rare cat. The law is an open invitation to kill the cat and places no restriction upon the person whatsoever unless there are third party witnesses who are brave enough and decent enough to come forward and tell the truth - what chance of that happening?

It is no wonder the cougar and other rare wildlife is being extirpated (totally eradicated) from the United States. The US has an incredibly poor record of environmental and wildlife conservation. The story of the mountain lion killed in Ray County confirms why.

The people of Britain killed off nearly all large wild animals in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland over 100 years ago so we have a far worse record. That is just to show that although I live in the UK I do not support or criticise any one country. I try and support the truth.

Michael Avatar
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Why Don't Cats Like Water?

Although people might ask this question, the truth is that it doesn't need asking because, in general, it is not true. Sure, some individual cats (and cats are individuals) don't like water. This may be for any number of reasons.

If they don't like water this might be due to a personal preference of the cat owner who routinely sprays water over the cat as a form of punishment. I say, don't punish your cat as it does not work. And in any case the opposite, positive reinforcement is far better as a training process.

John Swain (Northeastern University physicist) makes a very good point. Cats are a bit like humans when it comes to liking or disliking water but we have to take into account the obvious fact that cats wash themselves with saliva and therefore don't need water. In respect of sustenance, they also get a lot of their water from their prey in the wild. The sand cat gets all the water it needs from prey - astonishing.

If a cat has been routinely bathed as a kitten he or she will be perfectly happy to be in water. I can clearly remember Kathrin Stucki of A1 Savannahs in Oklahoma placing a gorgeous Savannah kitten under the tap to wash him and the cat was perfectly at peace with the whole process. That said, Savannah cats tend to like water as is the case with Bengal cats. This is a throwback to their wild cat parents, the Serval and Asian leopard cat. Both like to hunt near water courses. You will find that wild cat hybrids generally like water, the complete opposite to the generally held opinion - see water cats for a full list.

A well known non-wildcat hybrid that actually likes water is the Turkish Van. The town of Van is near Lake Van in Turkey. Perhaps the combination of the hot weather, the proximity of the lake and this cat's long history has resulted in this domestic cat being the most adept at swimming! Interestingly, the Turkish Angora, a close relative (the same cat?) is not known to like water. Not sure about that.

That said there are a number of wild cats that like to swim and rest in water. Often these are cats in hot climates. The tiger is the best known of these. This cat, the largest of all the world's cats, has been observed swimming in the sea for 2 miles (lion vs tiger) and routinely stays in water during hot weather. However, it is fair to say that this applied to a Sumatran tiger, the smallest of all the tiger subspecies. The Siberian tiger whose habitat is in the far east of Russia, almost exclusively, will be less likely to like water - it is much colder and there is little need to wade into it.

The Jaguarundi, a small wildcat (see wild cat by size) is a good swimmer and the fishing cat definitely is! The Asian leopard cat, Jaguar and many other wildcats like water as it is a great source of food. Much small prey live in or around water in hot climates for obvious reasons.

John Swain also makes the valid point that show cats are routinely washed in a bath or showered before a show. These cats will have become habituated to this since being kittens. It cannot be said of them, "Why don't cats like water?"

In addition to the above, many cats like to play with drinking water. Some like to scoop up water in their paws and lick the water from their paw. Maine Coons do this fairly often and I saw my moggie lady cat do it the other day, using both left and right paw equally.

The conclusion is that, subject to individual cat's preferences, domestic cats that have not become accustomed to being bathed and which are not wild cat hybrids will probably balk at being washed. For all the other cats it will a matter of character (genetics) and/or experiences as a kitten, perhaps because they are wild cat hybrids or were washed all over in preparation for sale to a customer (as a purebred cat) or for whatever reason.

Michael Avatar

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