Monday 28 February 2011


Ivanhoe - Somali cat who died of FIP - Photo Finn Frode

FIP stands for Feline Infectious Peritonitis. There are two forms, wet and dry FIP. Both are "invariably fatal"1. A Victim of FIP.

I have already written about feline infectious peritonitis on this page: Feline FIP, where you can read about the disease generally including its cause, which is believed to be a mutation of the benign coronavirus.

Click on the following link to read about how certain breeds of cats are more susceptible than others: Prevalence of feline infectious peritonitis in specific cat breeds.

Dry FIP is also called, "disseminated form". Signs of the illness are not specific. They include:
  • loss of weight and appetite
  • listlessness
  • depression
  • cat obviously very ill
This illness is difficult to diagnose.  The disease affects the eyes, brain, liver, kidney and pancreas. Sixty percent of cases involve the eye or brain or both.

The diagnosis may require surgical exploration. During this procedure the vet may see "sticky mucous or strands of fibrous protein" on the surface of the liver spleen or intestines. About five percent of cats with dry FIP are also infected with the feline leukemia virus. Organ biopsy is the only certain diagnostic test.

Other tests for diagnosis include
  • blood count
  • liver function tests
  • "abnormal serum protein pattern"
  • analysis of chest fluid
  • tests to detect the coronavirus antibodies
Once a cat has signs of secondary disease (the stage from benign to virulent) the cat will die after up to one year of a decent quality of life.

Medication may improve the quality of life and it may be prolonged with chemotherapy. Vitamin C can be helpful1. Aspirin cat reduce inflammation - only administer with vets supervision - Feline Pain Relief.

Prevention is clearly better than cure. This is a deadly disease at the secondary stage. Multicat households, breeders, boarding catteries and shelters are more at risk. See for example: FIP In Breeding Cattery Cats.

Excellent facility and cat management is required including:
  • parasite control
  • prompt treatment of health problems
  • regular grooming
  • excellent nutrition
  • use of effective disinfectant (diluted bleach 1:32)
  • spacious quarters for cats
  • exercise for cats
  • new cats can be isolated for 2 weeks and tested for FIP

Dry FIP -- Note:

1. Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook updated current edition page 87.

Michael Avatar

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Sunday 27 February 2011

Reading and responding to the cat nose lick

As good cat caretakers we should be able to read cat body language. We usually do at a basic without realising it.

There is one little bit of cat body language that happens a lot and which almost goes unnoticed; the nose lick.

What does it mean and why is it useful to us?

The domestic cat will lick his or her nose as a displacement activity. It is the same as us biting our nails or scratching our head. We do this when we are unsure about what to do next. Visualise yourself biting your nails or fiddling with something. We all have our little ways of easing the moment when we are unsure and thinking. Worry beads are the Arab equivalent.

If we are interacting with our domestic cat and he licks his nose, we can read that as meaning our cat is unsure about what it happening. Our action has made him a little bit unsettled.

We can ignore this and press on or proceed more gently and back off. We have the opportunity to react to this. We should react to this as it is our duty as good cat caretakers to make life as secure and relaxing as possible for our cat. Our cat will reward us with his best behavior.

An anxious cat is more likely to become defensive and be twitchy. This can lead to defensive aggressive behavior and problems such as litter box issues etc.

Look for that nose lick and you'll be able to understand your cat's feelings and emotions a little better.

Feline Matricalm for Cat Aggression

Michael Avatar

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Saturday 26 February 2011

Cat Acid Reflux Cure

A visitor to the main site had a problem with her Siamese cat that may have been caused by acid reflux. The cat was vomiting routinely when waking up. The problem may not have been acid reflux but it looked that way. Acid reflux is technically called: gastroesophageal reflux. Click on this link to see the post. In this post I referred to the failure of the sphincter muscle at the top of the stomach as a possible cause of the gastroesophageal reflux. There are other causes.

Some other causes are frequent vomiting (there will, of course, be an underlying cause for that), hiatal hernia, cancer of the esophagus, foreign body in the esophagus.

I am going to refer to for a cat acid reflex cure. The "cure" is to treat the underlying cause of the acid reflux. Other than that the treatment is to treat the symptoms, which includes:
  • drugs to inhibit the production of stomach acid. This is the classic treatment for people with this condition. There can be side effects such as diarrhea.
  • "gastric coating agents". Liquids that protect the lining of the esophagus. These are also commonly used by people with acid reflux. This page on the site discusses anti-acids (note: links can sometimes become broken).
  • changes in diet. This may help but cats prefer acid based diet.
  • if there is a foreign body in the esophagus it is removed.
  • surgery if needed.
  • antibiotics may be required where there is "secondary pneumonia".
Clearly a good veterinarian is required to diagnose the underlying problem. Treating that and "curing" that, if it is possible, is preferable to continually treating symptoms.

Michael Avatar

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Thursday 24 February 2011

Burmilla Collage

From PoC Pics

Here's a little montage or collage, call it what you like of a Burmilla cat. I think his or her name is Lilith.

Clipper Cats

The name of this cat breed is based on the fast sailing ships of the 19th Century.  The word "clipper" derives from the word "clip" meaning fast. It is believed that these ships arrived in New Zealand bringing on board ships cats that were polydactyl cats. I say, New Zealand because this cat breed is registered exclusively in a New Zealand cat registry or association. I am yet to find out which one. It is not the New Zealand Cat Fancy Inc.

Polydactyl cats, as you might know, are cats with a greater number of toes than normal due to a genetic mutation. The mutation does not affect the health of the cat (some mutations do, incidentally).

Polydactyl Paw - Wikipedia Commons file (modified). Author: Averette

It is also believed that sailors chose polydactyl cats on the basis that the extra toes and broad paws made them better on deck! In other words the extra toes stabilised them when walking along decks looking for mice and rats. That, however was only part of their attraction to sailors.

It was also thought that they were lucky and were good climbers and hunters. I think every one of these ideas is false bar one! The extra toes do seem to give the cat greater dexterity and this leads to the cat using its toes and claws in a polydactyl cat-like way meaning almost like the finger of a hand. This picture of Tootsie a polydactyl Maine Coon bears that out.

Tootsie, polydactyl Maine Coon. Photo: by valleygirl_tka

This theory that polydactyl cats were often chosen as ships cats is supported in practice by the fact (is it fact?) that there are or were a higher percentage of polydactyl cats at ports. I am thinking of the east coast of America and places such as Nova Scotia and Halifax in Canada.

I am not sure that any of this is true but it sounds plausible. I don't know of studies that bear this out, however.

Some of the descendants of these original clipper cats are registered cats but are they purebred cats? It appears that anyone with a polydactyl cat can apply for registration, "on the open register as a Clippercat, if it fulfills very specific guidelines" (src: This implies that random bred cats can be registered. This seems to be the same as the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) classification of "Household Pets" or moggies. There are some fabulous moggie show cats.

The number of toes on a Clipper cat varies and this is recorded on registration. It also appears that there is a limit on the number of toes allowed under the breed standard (src: I don't understand that because it it not relevant to health and it only affects appearance in a minor way. The "structure of the feet" is also restricted to the breed standard guidelines. I can understand that as some polydacytl feet look misshapen. Personally though I like these huge, lumpy polydactyl feet.

As to breeding, this cat is only bred to New Zealand long and shorthaired cats of a type laid down in the breed standard and not to other breeds accepted for championship status in the NZ cat fancy, as I understand it (as at Feb 20011 - things change sometimes).

I have not shown any photographs of Clipper cats because I don't have permission but they look like your random bred cat or mixed breed cat with paws that are larger than normal and with those extra toes! All colors and patterns are acceptable it seems.
Cattery breeding Polydactyl Clipper Cats: MISTLETOES CATTERY

Michael Avatar

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Wednesday 23 February 2011

Lucky Chinese Cat

The lucky Chinese cat or Chinese Lucky cat is, I think it is fair to say, a misdescription of the The Maneki Neko (meaning "Beckoning Cat") and which is also known as the Welcoming Cat, Lucky Cat, Money cat, or Fortune Cat.

Chinese Lucky Cat? No...the Japanese Beckoning Cat. Photo by Naked Eyes (Flickr)

This is a Japanese model of a cat that essentially brings good luck. It is used primarily to create good luck for business and is therefore seen outside shops etc. (see photo above of the Beckoning Cat).  It is a representation of the Japanese Bobtail cat. A purebred cat that you could say is the national cat of Japan.

I guess people get confused between Japan and China. They are very different countries and there is some friction between these countries.

As it happens I have a nice article on Maneki Neko Cats and an article on the Japanese Bobtail cat.

I won't, therefore, repeat the information here.

Michael Avatar

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Monday 21 February 2011

Cat Flushing Toilet

People search for a cat flushing toilet. They mean a toilet that is made for a cat rather than a cat trained to use a human toilet. That is what I have assessed that it means and on that basis. Here is one!

Uhmmm... it flushes cat litter and self cleans - a big ask but does it do it? It gets 3.5 stars from 163 customer reviews. This is a large number of reviews but an average score. This means that a good number of people have bought it or want to buy one (unsurprisingly) but that the machine does not work that well.

This does not surprise me. Personally, I wouldn't buy one because this sort of convenience machinery that is designed to carry out quite a complex task and made of plastic or a material that at least looks like it, will never be as reliable and as convenient as it is made out to be. That assessment is born out of general experience.

The CatGenie 120 is claimed to be the world's only self-flushing, self-washing cat box. It sounds awfully attractive.

Am I being too critical though? The manufacturer has improved the product significantly over the earlier 60 model. And a decent number of customers rate it five stars.

I get the impression that it is clever and works but it is not as reliable and durable as it might be and there might be some cat training involved plus a change to our methods. This up front change presents a resistance to using it.

It is the best on the market currently so if you positively hate doing cat litter and/or are away and want it done while you are away and can accept some downside this might be the product for you.

Michael Avatar

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Sunday 20 February 2011

Taste Cat Facts

The cat's sense of taste is far less refined than that of a person. Usually the cat's senses are more refined, however - see for example: Interesting Cat Facts (Senses). Interestingly the cat only has 473 taste buds compared to our 9,000.

Photo by Lalie (Flickr)

The taste buds (mushroom shaped papillae - "nipple-like structures"1) are located on the tip and sides of the tongue, while a set of "cup-shaped papillae" are situated at the back of the tongue.

Cats pick up these tastes:
  • sour
  • bitter
  • salty
But cannot taste sweet flavours. This is a throwback to the wildcat that feeds on meat almost exclusively. Dry cat food by the way contains carbohydrates because the manufacturing process demands it!

So a cat's sense of taste is relatively poor. This failing is made up by the presence of an acute sense of smell. My cats are definitely more motivated to eat cat food by its smell than taste. Cats check out food by smelling it. The signals from taste buds and nose are processed in the same part of the brain, apparently, showing their close association2. See also Smells That Cats Hate and The Cats Nose.


1. Wikipedia Authors

2. Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook current edition page 491.

Michael Avatar

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Thursday 17 February 2011

Cat Toilet Brush Holder

Well, there is nothing provocative about this post! I had never given a thought to the cat toilet brush holder. In fact, I wasn't quite sure what it was. It must be a toilet brush holder but is the holder meant to be in the shape of a cat or is their meant to be a picture of a cat on the holder or either or both..phew.

To play safe I'm presenting a range (no, not quite) of cat toilet brush holders. I have to say that I like them. As I am moving soon (and need one), I'll definitely consider a toilet brush holder with a cat on it.

I think the one on the top left here is the best. It is desribed on Amazon as "Detailed resin toilet brush holder (with brush) featuring gaggle of relaxed cats.." Nice. And you can combine and coordinate this with other bathroom items. Here are the two usually chosen:

Here is a selection. In fact the entire range on Amazon for the north American market at the date of the post - things change:

Uhmmmm....there are no toilet brush holders featuring the humble domestic cat, purebred or not on UK Amazon..damn. I won't be able to get one.

Michael Avatar

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Sunday 13 February 2011

Ragdoll Cat Jewelry

Ragdoll cat jewelry is quite popular, which is unsurprising as the cat itself is one of the most popular purebred cats in the world.

This is because it is a large, long haired cat with real presence and a great personality. You can't really ask for much more.

The Ragdoll cat jewelry that I will present first is from for the North American marketplace.

I have thrown in two items that are not jewelry! Sorry but this widget requires a minmum number of items and has four items that relate to Ragdoll jewelry.

Precious Pets has some nice gold jewelry featuring this cat breed. You can see it here: Ragdoll gold jewelry.

This Ebay store has a nice pair of Ragdoll earrings for sale at about $13. These show the Ragdoll more accurately. I don't know how permanent this link will be. It may disappear.

Next up is a Mahogany Jewelry Box - Ragdoll Cat. Once again I cannot guarantee that this link will remain good. This item is made to order, by the way.

If you'd like a Ragdoll cat necklace you might try this one from Animal Den. Just click on the photograph:

Ragdoll Cat Necklace

Michael Avatar

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Saturday 5 February 2011

Cat Vomiting Blood

This can be kept short because a cat vomiting blood is caused by a specific condition. Fresh blood in vomit is a sign of a damage to the intestinal lining between the mouth and upper small bowel usually caused by a foreign body. Tumors and cancer can also be a cause.

"PJ" - he vomited blood - photo Bellah (Flickr)

The cat in the picture was thought to have feline pancreatitis. He was placed on a special diet and given Pepcid. Pepcid is an "acid controller", meaning stomach acid so I presume he had a stomach ulcer. This might have been exacerbated by the pancreatitis but I have not looked that up.

Blood that has be partly digested and which resembles, "coffee grounds", indicates that the actual internal bleeding has taken place in the stomach or the outlets from the stomach.

The above serious conditions that require an immediate trip to the veterinarian should be distinguished from a cat swallowing blood and vomiting it.


I highly recommend this readable book on cat health problems. There is only one thing I dislike about it. Drs Carlson and Giffin the authors (with others?) do not decry the declawing of cats. They support it under strict conditions even though those conditions are for non-therapuetic purposes. Wrong, sorry.

See also:

Cat Vomiting and

Cat Vomiting (main site)

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Friday 4 February 2011

Kitten Games

This is a website about cats so "kitten games" should be relevant and may be interesting. But what, in fact, are they? Well they have almost nothing to do with real kittens or cats. The sites that are listed when a search is made do present very basic online games but there are almost no kittens in sight! So, any visitor looking to play these games is going to be disappointed when bumping into this page. Sorry.

Kitten Games - basic stuff I am afraid

These sites are highly commercial in that advertising is in your face. They list a lot of colourful but, to be honest, feeble games for what must be young teenage girls.

These are games where, for example, you dress up a woman and her child or decorate a room. You do this by selecting say a pair of shoes and the selected shoes are instantly placed on the person. All the images are drawings, cartoon style.

Some of the games are in Japanese, so you will need to understand that language to get the most out of the game.

And a lot of the games are for any child. I think actually that the games are designed for children younger than teenagers.

Some sites do have crude games with kittens but they barely work and one simply said that, "this game has no description nor controls". How can a game have no controls?

There is little more to say about kitten games except that they are popular. I sigh when I recognise that because it shows that young people are wasting their free time. A bit of entertainment is good but these are horrible, mindless. Is it an example of dumbing down that we hear lots about in relation to education?

When I first bumped into the idea of "kitten games" I immediately thought that it meant cat games for kittens, a sort of miniaturised or more gentle version of well known cat toys. But no.

The game illustrated in the picture near the top of this page, is one where the player drags the cat on the right hand side of the game to the matching silhouette on left hand side. When the cat slots in, the cat sticks its tongue out. That is it. It is a Japanese game and is one of the very few games that actually involves kittens!

Michael Avatar

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Thursday 3 February 2011

Ideal Cat Caretaking

What is the benchmark for cat caretaking? The absolute ideal against which we can measure our performance. The ideal will not or need not be realistic as it is a near perfect goal and reality and practicalities dictate that we will not meet that. However, a model example of cat caretaking should assist us as it should guide us. Also, the advantage of working out an ideal scenario for the domestic cat is that we are forced to think about the domestic cat's needs. If we meet those needs perfectly we have got the ideal, it seems to me.

Walled Garden - Ideal cat environment - Photo Kevin Smith (Flikr)

Let's begin then. But please note that this is a bit of free thinking. It is not conventional pet website regurgitated stuff! We need to go back to the moments when the wild cat became a domestic cat and the early days of the domestic cat. The domestic cat (Felis catus) is still largely a wild cat (Felis silvestris). There was a moment when it was a wildcat - the first days of domestication. It is said that the domestic cat is not domestic1. Well, I am not completely sure that is correct. The domestic cat is very domesticated having lived with people for 9,000 years. Lets say it has adapted to living with the human but behaviorally and psychologically it has a wildcat mentality and we need to recognise that to discover its needs.

In the early days of domestication - lets not go too far back but back to the time of the pilgrims when they came to America with their long haired cats which turned into the much loved Maine Coon purebred cats - the domestic cat was a more or less full-time outdoor cat, mousing for a living with some titbits from their human companions. They were more of a working cat. They had a function beyond keeping us company. They had more space, space commensurate with their natural desire for territory, but less security and they were more exposed to infections. Their lives were more natural but less safe. Their lives were shorter as is the case for feral cats today.

Over the intervening almost 400 years you would have thought that the deficiencies of that cat caretaking scenario, laissez faire and loose that is was, would have been improved. The only improvement needed was to make the domestic cat physically safer and less exposed to illness. The diet, after all was pretty damn good. It was the natural prey of the domestic cat and small wildcat.

But what happened was the modern world got more hostile for the cat. There was a massive expansion in automobile traffic, a deadly killer for the outdoor cat. People became busier and busier. Because people were busier they moved their preferences to the cat and away from the more demanding dog as a companion animal. In America, the largest domestic cat population in the world, people kept their cats in full-time to keep them safe and to a ease the anxiety that they feel when their cats go out. Keeping cats in full-time is for the benefit of us and the cat let's be honest.

So we ended up, by dint of circumstance and an uncontrolled world with a situation that is not a massive improvement for the cat over its lifestyle some 400 years earlier. Full-time indoor living is good and bad. It can generate laziness and inactivity in the cat. Yes, they are good sleepers but they need to exercise; normally achieved through hunting prey.

Dog food was changed into cat food and that transition was not a very clever one although it was an efficient one for the pet food manufacturers. The trouble is the dog is an omnivore and the cat a strict carnivore. Modern cat food contained and still often contains too much starch, carbohydrates and not enough protein. It contains cereal and grain. Dry cat food is for our convenience but it can cause health problems if it is the sole source of food despite the fact that it has been refined with additives etc. It is inherently incorrect.

The benefits of safety from being indoors all the time is undermined by the deficiencies in the modern way of life and diet of the current cat. These produce illnesses such urinary tract infections and feline diabetes. These illnesses have become far more prevalent in the modern cat world. There is also the possibility of stress caused by both the slight dehydration as a result of eating dry cat food and an unnatural living environment - indoor our homes.

Not that I am decrying full-time indoor living. There are massive advantages to both us and cats. But there is the issue of space and cohabiting domestic cats. Cats are essentially solitary and the albeit small domestic cat has a naturally decent sized home range, its territory. It needs that space to feel natural. It needs it own space. And it has to adapt to live in groups in a person's home. And two cats is a small group.

This can set up stresss as can such conditions as cat separation anxiety. We seem to have gone from the raw more natural environment of 400 years ago to a very refined perhaps over refined environment for the domestic cat today that is shoe horned into our distorted world.

The ideal cat caretaking situation for me is one where we can replicate as near as possible the naturalness of yesteryear but add to that situation modern veterinary practice and greater security.

That leaves us with this ideal and very specific scenario. A large house with a large, say 2 acre garden totally (secure) enclosed by a 10 foot high brick wall. The cat is allowed into the garden only in respect of outdoor activity and the cat is fed with perfectly produced cat raw food diet adhering to all the necessary health requirements. The cat sees a good vet twice a year for check ups and this cat is not declawed! No never. That is the benchmark...of course it includes play, love, cuddles and conversation as standard!


1. Your Cat by Elizabeth M Hodgkins DVM.

Michael Avatar

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Wednesday 2 February 2011

Cat cafes are needed in the United States

Cat cafes are needed in the United States! I know, that might make some people wince but it will make many others smile and some of those smiling will be cats.

There are about 100 cat cafés in Japan with about 70 in the Tokyo area, apparently. They are a Japanese invention. They create a homely, warm atmosphere. Some people visit them just to be with, look at and photograph the cats. Apparently there is an hourly charge to be in the café - ¥1,000 an hour, or about $12.

Neka Jalala cat café - photo: Nuno Cardosa (Flickr)

These cafés are obviously designed to be exceptionally homey in character. There are magazines and sofas and...well you get the idea. The humble domestic cat adds a vital live element to this cosy atmosphere - catmosphere.

So why do I proclaim that this new phenomenon should be imported into the United States? I guess, when you think about, the answer is obvious. To save the lives of cats that would otherwise be killed at so called shelters.

There are hundreds of thousands of wonderfully socialised and friendly domestic cats who would be perfect as an employee of a cat café but which are routinely euthanised (actually plain killed) at shelters. In fact come to think about it why can't a shelter open a cat café? That is a poor idea if the shelter is miles from passing traffic - meaning people walking by - but if the shelter is in an urbanised area why can't they show a bit of imagination and open a little cat café? Not only would it put cats to good use that would otherwise be deliberately killed, it would attract attention, pull in some revenue and allow visitors to the café to select a cat for re-homing. Neat, maybe too neat to be viable but it sounds OK on paper.

However, I was thinking more commercially than that. I was thinking about an entrepreneur opening a trial cat café and then a chain if the trail worked. They could link up with shelters to allow for a nice supply of finely balanced cats suitable for the role.

There is no reason why even a fully commercialized cat café cannot allow the re-homing of some of its cats to customers. A café is a perfect meeting place for people. Why can't it be a meeting place between cats and people with a view to re-homing?

It would be one small, and I know it is a small step, towards stopping the horrible mass slaughter of millions, yes millions of domestic can feral cats in the United States every year.

Shelters need to be more imaginative in how to save lives. I am sure that there are numerous examples of lateral and imaginative thinking that would lead to solutions to stop the mass slaughter. It is just putting two of God's creatures together, human and cat. The people are out there.

Michael Avatar

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Tuesday 1 February 2011

Donor Cat Adoptions

I had never heard of donor cats never mind donor cat adoptions until reading a book on cat behavior I recently acquired. Donor cats are cats that have served as a blood donor at a veterinary hospital.

"Leo" a blood donor cat - Photo by dr.r.lam (Flickr)

Because they are selected to give blood (shame that the cat has no say in the matter) they are healthy cats with an even temperament. They need to have a nice sociable character to make the job of giving blood easier, more manageable.

They are then damn good cats that have usually spent their early years as strays or they have been relinquished for whatever reason. They range in age from one to ten years and have a weight that is over 10 pounds. This seems to be a requirement in the selection process.

When I say that they are healthy, I mean that they have been carefully screened and they have had echocardiograms to ensure that they have healthy hearts.

They would seem to be ideal candidates for adoption. They have served other cats, the cat community! They are healthy and of sound character. What more could a person want in a cat companion?

However, unfortunately, I don't know much about how to go about adopting these cats. There is nothing on the internet that comes to hand.  I would have thought that contacting a veterinary hospital within a reasonable distance of where you live and asking questions would be a useful first step. You can go from there.

Michael Avatar

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