Wednesday 30 November 2011

American Shorthair Personality Traits

Easy-going, quiet and good with children; just three of the personality traits of the American Shorthair cat. Provided they are well socialized, they are very accepting of other animals. The American Shorthair ("American SH") tends to be independent minded2. This cat breed stems from British moggies let's remember, so there will probably be a legacy from that heritage and some similarities to the British Shorthair. Indeed Linda Case lists both breeds under the same heading as well as the European Shorthair1. In general, what is right for the British Shorthair is right for the American. See British Shorthair personality.

Gloria Stephens, incidentally, bundles the America SH with the American Wirehair. Both stem from random bred cats. The American SH is low maintenance. That is not a comment on personality but useful information nonetheless. They are undemanding and therefore suitable for full-time (apartment) living. However,  try not to comply with that suggestion as all cats like to smell the grass!

This is a quiet and sweet-natured cat and therefore suitable for older adults too4.

The easy-going description at the beginning of this article comes from Dr. Fogle's book3.

Here is a classy little American SH being photographed by Helmi. He has the classic blotched tabby coat and silver background.


(1) The Cat, Its Behavior, Nutrition & Health ISBN 978-0-8138-0331-9

(2) Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats ISBN 0-9634124-0-X

(3) The Encyclopedia of the Cat ISBN 978-1-4053-2149-5

(4) Legacy of the Cat 2nd Ed. ISBN 0-8118-2910-3

British Shorthair Personality

Independent, relaxed and affectionate, these are some of the personality characteristics of the British Shorthair cat. They are also curious and without wishing to be sexist in anyway, it is said that male is particularly friendly towards their human companion. Can anyone confirm that? The British Shorthair is quiet (I can confirm that!). They have silent voices. They are also "unflappable" and have no-nonsense personalities. These characteristics make this breed suitable for life in a flat (apartment)4.

Classic Blue Brit SH - beautiful cat - Photo by jans canon
This breed has wide range of colors and types

Dr. Clark says that this cat breed is like "its British heritage". He says that the British Shorthair is reserved and quiescent. They sleep a lot and don't require a lot of attention. They are probably ideal for senior people who wish to care for a cat. They are considered to have good temperaments2.

They are also considered to be independent yet affectionate1. In practice this means that they can be left alone to do their own thing but will need some attention.

Dr. Fogle implies that they are happy, nice and friendly. They have a relaxed nature3.

These are all attractive characteristics which is why the British Shorthair is very popular cat. It is as popular as the American Shorthair its counterpart.

One last point of note is that this cat breed has a plush, dense coat. It is a delight to stroke but the ambient temperature at home should take that into account. Sometimes cats look for a bit of cool air. They don't all like to lie in the sun or over a radiator.


(1) The Cat, Its Behavior, Nutrition & Health ISBN 978-0-8138-0331-9

(2) Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats ISBN 0-9634124-0-X

(3) The Encyclopedia of the Cat ISBN 978-1-4053-2149-5

(4) Legacy of the Cat 2nd Ed. ISBN 0-8118-2910-3

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Cat Ringworm

Horror picture of ringworm on a person's neck! Chris very kindly agreed to let me publish his photograph here. Chis (or Ian) adopted a "pound kitten". For people not in the United States this means a unwanted kitten picked up by animal control and placed in a pound where he or she might be euthanized or adopted. Do I have that correct, Chris? He had to quarantine his kitten (in a spare room) and administer oral anti-fungal medication and anti-fungal shampoo and he did the same to himself! Anyway, it was a bit of a heavy scene. Chris recommends that you assume that a pound (or shelter?) kitten has cat ringworm and that you shampoo him or her with anti-fungal shampoo as a precaution. He must have been cuddling his kitten against his neck.

Note: Cat Ringworm transmission to people is unusual as far as I am aware. Please don't let this put you off rescuing.

Ringworm - you wanted to know how it looks!
Photo copright ianfinnesey (please ask him if you wish to use it)

Go to the Flickr page to see the photo on Flickr if you wish. It looks horrible but in my experience all you get is a bit of itching.

As is clear, cat ringworm can be transferred from cat to people (zoonotic) and from cat to cat and from people to cats. It is in fur and in the soil and on carpets and furniture etc. As you probably have guessed or know it is not caused by a worm but by a fungus.

You have probably also guessed that you cannot always tell if your cat has ringworm. Well I can't and I have got it from a stray cat who I called Timmy. There was no sign of it on him but he used to rub my legs when he came to see me and transferred it to my left leg. Apparently, if you do see it on cats it is in form of patches on the face and ears (ear flap). Cats can be carriers and have no symptoms. Cat ringworm can "invade the claws" causing deformities of the claws.

Cat ringworm on nose (I believe). Photo by Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue

Ringworm "invades the hair and hair follicles"(1).  Most cases are caused by a fungus called Microsporum canis. The name ringworm comes from the shape of the red scaly shape the infection causes on the skin.

Cat Ringworm Treatments and Medication

This section refers to treating cats! Medications are American. Clip away infected hair around the ringworm (if visible). Clean the skin with Betadine solution. Antifungal creams can be applied. These should contain: miconazole, chlorhexidine, clotrimazole or thiabendazole. Examples are: Conofite and Nolvasan (USA). Apply once per day. Continue for 6 weeks.

If the cat has generalised ringworm: this requires the hair to be clipped and the cat dipped in an anti-fungal solution such as LymDyp (USA product) twice per week until cured + 2 more weeks. Plus an oral anti-fungal medicine should be administered. Caution: these drugs can cause side effects - SEEK VETERINARY ADVICE. Apparently itraconazole causes fewer side effects.

A vaccine is available. Ask your vet.


Ringworm spores can survive for a year. The premises needs to be treated. Cat bedding should be discarded. Grooming equipment should be sterilised (bleach + water). House should be cleaned carefully. Carpets should be vacuumed regularly. Hard surfaces should be sterilised. Handle infected cats with rubber gloves.

Note: (1) Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook page 157.

Kill feral cats to control population

Kill feral cats to control the population. This is advocated by many people. An equal number of people advocate the opposite. They advocate trap, neuter and return (TNR). The first group say that TNR does not work. The second group says that killing doesn't work. We have a feral cat problem that is a human problem because we don't have a clear method of humanely dealing with feral cats in the USA. I mention the USA because there would seem to be more in the USA than in the UK and mainland Europe. As for the Mediterranean countries such as Greece, they don't discuss the matter; they just kill them out of season.

TNR is the only way forward. Killing cats is cruel and it indirectly promotes irresponsible cat caretaking.

For me, TNR does not work if it is not done in a coordinated manner. If it is done in isolation people just dump cats in the TNR area in the knowledge that the TNR people will deal with them. That is one example of how it can't work effectively in the long term. If TNR was done on a large scale in coordination with better and more responsible cat caretaking it would work.

Killing feral cats by trapping them and gassing them is inhumane and cannot work because the area from which the cats are removed will be replenished by more feral cats.

Killing feral cats is instant success and pleasure for some people. It looks like something is being done and quickly. Politically, it is a good policy, for a while. That is probably why it happens.

The more sensible, non-politically minded and experienced people who carry out TNR know better but probably don't have the resources to make it work on a large scale.

Cat Anatomy Quiz

A challenging cat anatomy quiz! Well actually some questions are challenging and some are just baffling! But, that said, some are easy. They are all about a cat's anatomy. The cat has an amazing anatomy which, in fact, is quite similar in many ways to ours. The most amazing bits of cat anatomy are concerned with the cat's senses. This is an animal with acute senses and a flexible skeleton supported by quick acting muscles (there's a clue there to one of the questions...). A cat's anatomy is designed for predation. Is this the world's best predator? Answers?...See mine here.

See the results from visitors including yours if you did the quiz.

Monday 28 November 2011

Picture Of Cat Hanging

This is a picture of a cat hanging. It is from Croatia and I am in two minds as to whether I should show it here. People, though, search for "picture of cat hanging". I not sure if they want to see what the search indicates but this picture came to my mind. I built a page on cat welfare laws in Croatia a long time ago.

There appears to be two conflicting situations in Croatia. There is animal welfare/protection legislation while at the same time there appears to be cat cruelty. Clearly the law is window dressing.

Cat hanging in Croatia
Photographer unknown

There are a lot of questions surrounding this picture. Why hang a cat by the side of the road in full view of drivers? It must be a message. But what message? The area looks deserted.

Croatia is on track to join the European Union. And it should not be allowed to because it is not ready and there are too many Eastern European countries that have joined that should not have. The problem is that the eurocrats want to extend the union (and their power base) and they overextend the system in accepting unacceptable candidates. Greece is a classic example. They cooked their financial books to get in and look at the mess that that has caused to the eurozone.

Associated page: Cat Hanging in Rhode Island.

Pixie-bob Pictures

Two fine Pixie-bob pictures by the great, the famous Helmi Flick. Helmi has been a specialist cat photographer for many years and her photographs have a special Helmi character: beautiful positioning of the cat due to excellent cat wrangling, great lighting and not forgetting beautiful high quality show cats.

ColoradoPixies G Jonson.
A 7 month old male brown spotted tabby Pixie-bob
Photograph: copyright Helmi Flick

The above cat was bred by Marilyn Trenk of ColoradoPixies Cattery. He looks a bit like a bobcat, which is good because that is the objective! He has a nice stocky, wild appearance. Pixie-bobs are all domestic by the way. There is no wild blood in this cat breed. Marilyn says they are low shedding so if you don't like hair that much, the Pixie-bob might be the cat breed for you. I fancy adopting one myself to be honest.

The photos on this page are protected by copyright ©. Violations of copyright are reported to (DMCA). Sorry but Helmi makes her living from photography. Please ask Helmi for permission.

ColoradoPixies G Jonson
Photo copyright Helmi Flick

Here he is again. Gloria Stephens who wrote the excellent, Legacy of the Cat (ISBN 0-8118-2910-3) says the Pixie-bob (also spelt "Pixiebob") has a muted spotted tabby coat.  Helmi says that there is ticking between the spots. Ticking is where each hair is tipped with darker colour (Robinson's Genetics). The classic ticked coat is on the Abyssinian cat.

You can read more about this cat: Pixie-bob cat.

Sunday 27 November 2011

World's Tallest Domestic Cat Nov 2011

The world's tallest domestic cat at Nov 2011 is "Trouble" who is 48.3 cm (19 in) tall. He is owned by Debby Maraspini (USA) and was measured at the Silver Cats Cat Show, Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada, USA, on 30 October 2011.

I am told that the title of the world's tallest domestic cat has moved from Magic, the famous F1 Savannah cat born and raised at A1 Savannahs to Trouble. Magic is 17.1 inches to the shoulder. Magic is still the world's biggest domestic cat as far as I am aware. If I am wrong please correct me by leaving a comment.

The record is confirmed on the Guinness World Records™ website on this page.

"Trouble" was born and raised at Savannah Island Cattery and was awarded the title by Guinness World Records™ on November 17th 2011. You can see the certificate and the story behind the measuring on this page. He is a Savannah cat. I don't know what filial he is (i.e. first generation from the wild - F1 - or second generation).

Photographs are copyright Jeff from Aadnesen Savannahs Cattery

Note: I have taken the liberty of publishing the photographs here in a montage to spread the word about "Trouble". I hope Jeff finds that acceptable. I have provided a link to his cattery.

Saturday 26 November 2011

Pictures of Cats Giving Birth

Here is a video of a serval giving birth. That is better than pictures of cats giving birth, isn't it? It is moving pictures. Below the video are two pictures of a cat having just given birth.

See it on my YouTube channel.

Below are two pictures of cat that seems to have just given birth:

Cat giving birth - photo by wiccked

Cat just after giving birth - photo by wiccked

Hopefully I have a great picture to come...just waiting for permission from the photographer...

Picture of cat giving birth
Picture of cat giving birth. This is a screenshot from a Daily Motion video.

Picture of Cat Scratch Fever

Here are two pictures of cat scratch fever showing inflammation of the arm. Cat scratch fever is caused by an organism called Bartonella henselae. A point of note: cat scratch fever affects both the cat and the person, who has been scratched or bitten. A picture of cat scratch fever should, really, show a picture of a cat with the condition. However, I believe that people want to see pictures of people.

Picture of cat scratch fever. Author unknown, please advise.

Important note: It is rare, and this condition should not be used against cats by people who advocate declawing and the killing of cats etc.

Picture of cat scratch fever on a person's arm.
photo ©Daniel-Gasienica

If the person is to develop the disease the following happens: three to ten days after the scratch a sore area develops at the site. This is shown in the top picture. There may be a "red streak up the arm or leg".  This would appear to be the case in the second picture. In a small percentage of cases the person develops other symptoms such as fever, headache and fatigue. Rarely symptoms are more serious.

Picture of Cat Skeleton

Here is a good picture of a cat skeleton. I made it up myself (except for the drawing!). The cat's skeleton is flexible and light as it is designed for speed and agility. It has more bones than our skeleton. The cat has 244 bones and ours has 206. The difference is partly due to the cat's tail that contains 19-28 bones. The diagram says that there are 18-20 bones in the tail, incidentally. Different sources provide different information.

Picture made by Michael at PoC. If you use it, please link back to this page. Thank you.

You can see a larger version of this picture of a cat's skeleton on this page together with tons of information.

Friday 25 November 2011

Should I shave my cat to get rid of fleas?

ANSWER: No. I can see the frustration and why there is a desire to shave a cat to get rid of fleas as they lurk in that dense fur and cause mayhem particularly if the cat is allergic to the flea bite. But fleas will go on cats without fur and fur grows back. Are you going to keep your cat naked for the rest of his life?

Also dealing with the flea problem on the cat in isolation will obviously not work. There has to be a global household attack on the bloody things. This needs to be done is a consistent manner and permanently.

Cats that are allowed to go out will always acquire fleas because they are on wild animals and on the ground. You can't rid the back yard or garden of fleas!

There is also the fact that a cat will feel uncomfortable without fur. How I do know? I don't know for sure but it is highly likely that a cat will feel uncomfortable and it may make him anxious. It is removing a part of a cat's anatomy.

The standard answer is to treat the house and perhaps surrounding area (Diatomaceous earth can be used outside or even inside). Apply Frontline to your cat - but follow instructions, please - cats are killed by insecticides and never use flea treatments for dogs on cats. The packaging can look similar. Sprays (on the cat) are hopeless and dangerous) in my opinion. Flea comb your cat, twice daily! This will work.

Associated Pages:

Russian Cat Breeds

Kurilian Bobtail. Photo: Helmi Flick.
These are the Russian cat breeds: Kurelian Bobtail, Karelian Bobtail, Russian Blue, Don Sphynx, Peterbald,  Mekong Bobtail, Ukranian Levkoy, Toy Bob and Siberian. Do Russian breeders breed these cats better than Americans or Europeans? They might and in case someone are rare and only bred in Russia. In Europe and the USA we don't get involved with Russian cat breeders that much but there is a pretty lively cat fancy in Russia. The Russians like their cats, you know. How much do we know about Russian cat breeders? I mention the big three in more detail below.

You might want to read about the Russian Blue first. In the first half of the 1800s, was the Russian Blue a moggie in Archangel, a port on the north coast of Russian near to Finland? I expect this cat was until it was decided that a cat breed would be created. Archangel is said to be the place where the Russian Blue comes from.

Was the Russian Blue always blue? Or to be more accurate: blue/gray. The Russian Blue today must be blue and green eyed. But before the Russian Blue was a purebred cat I doubt that it was always blue. The first Russian Blues were exported from Russia to England in the mid 1800s. That is where they started there life as a purebred cat. I think that someone thought that an exclusively blue coloured cat from the cold north of Russian would be a nice match. It worked out well. The Russian Blue is in the top ten most popular cat breeds.

What about the incredibly rare Kurelian Bobtail? Have you heard of this cat breed? This is a cat that has an origin in terms of natural development that is similar to the Manx in that there was a genetic mutation for a short tail on an island. In this case the island is off the coast of Siberia. There was probably inbreeding in a confined environment for the mutation to occur. This cat breed comes from the Kuril Islands, a disputed territory between Russia and Japan. Is this cat half Russian and half Japanese as a consequence? It is said that the famous Japanese Bobtail originates in the Kurelian Bobtail. The Japanese Bobtail goes back a thousand years so we are talking about long history here. The Russians breed this cat to a high standard.

Finally, we have the Siberian cat. Siberia is in the east of Russia. We all know how cold that part of the world is. That is why this cat is triple coated and stocky. What is unusual is that breeders (one breeder?) claims that the Siberian is hypoallergenic. Believe it? Not me. Research says otherwise. This cat breed looks like the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Maine Coon and there may be a connection. All three may originate in Scandinavia. The Siberian is another popular cat.

Of the three, the Russian Blue is the most popular with the buying public.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

How do cats get worms?

I'll tell you how cats get tapeworms. It is a cycle as shown in the image below. Tapeworms are the most common internal parasite in adult cats. They live in the cat's intestine and body segments are passed in feces. You might see them around your cat's bottom.

Both types of tapeworm are transmitted by an intermediate host. One intermediate host is the flea. It has the immature tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum in its intestines. They are ingested by the flea when eating tapeworm eggs. The cat bites or swallows the flea and becomes infested that way.

The other type of tapeworm Taenia taeniaformis is ingested when eating rodents, uncooked meat, raw freshwater fish, and sometimes discarded animal parts.

Life cycle of Dipylidium caninim - diagram copyright Michael at PoC

Selected associated pages:
Photo of flea: by Armed Forces Pest Management Board

Wild Cats of South America

A list of the wildcats of South America in a spreadheet plus range map details and links to more. The wildcats are, in descending order of size: jaguar, puma, ocelot, jaguarundi, Geoffroy's cat, Andean mountain cat, margay, pampas cat and oncilla. Please go to the wild cat species page to see the wildcats of the world.

Selected associated pages:

Jaguar Photograph

This is a great jaguar photograph. It was taken by an automatic camera that is sensitive to movement: a motion activated camera trap. Correct placement is important obviously. In this instance it seems that it was placed on a well used trail in a forest in Peru. The jaguar lives in a variety of tropical and subtropical habitats.

I have worked on the image quite a lot. It has been sharpened a bit and the color made more saturated. It has also been cropped to a squarish format and text added to give the image a poster feel. I also retouched out two cables that were straddling across the undergrowth behind the jaguar. These adjustments are allowed under the creative commons license, for which I thank Smithsonian Wild.

This a really nice jaguar picture now. I think it works well. I hope you do too. I love the intensity in the eyes and the purposeful walk. Note: I have donated $35 to the Smithsonian Institute for the use of this photo.

The jaguar (Panthera onca) lives in Central and South America. It is the largest in all of the Americas. It is the third largest wildcat on the planet. The jaguar is a very burly cat. It is closely related to and similar in appearance to the leopard but it is heavier than the leopard.

The jaguar has a large head and short powerful limbs. The jaguar spots are rosettes; sometimes with a black spot in the center. These rosettes become solid spots on the limbs and undersides.

The jaguar varies in size over its range. Some are twice the size of others. This is due to prey availability. The average weight of this cat in Central America is 56 kilograms (123 lbs - pounds).  Male jaguars in the Pantanal region of Brazil average 102 kilograms however (224 lbs).

Read more about the beautiful and impressive jaguar.

Monday 21 November 2011

Margay Photograph

This is an-in-your-face Margay photograph. It is a camera trap photograph, as you can see.  It is not a pretty picture of a margay in captivity. The cat is too close to the camera to be sharp. It had to be sharpened. I also added the text which is allowed under the license and I modified the tones as well. The photo is by Smithsonian Wild. Thank you for the license to publish it. The license to publish this photograph allows you to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and to make derivative work.

Margay in Peru - photo by Smithsonian Wild under creative commons.

What about the appearance of the margay, which, by the way, is probably the best climber of all the world's cats, wild or domestic?

Showing long tail - Photo by siwild
This is a small, slender, lightweight cat with a long tail for balance. These attributes are all designed for living in trees (arboreal habits). The donut (doughnut in the UK) shaped spots interest me. They are very clear in this photograph. These are called "open spots". They are dark brown or black in color while the centers are pale.

The eyes are massive in comparison to the size of the head. Usually a cat's eyes are 8 times bigger than ours in relation to head size but the margay looks like an exception. They are even larger. This wild cat must be nocturnal. The flash of the camera trap photograph supports that. This individual cat was active at night. Research indicates that it is, in general, most active between 1am and 5 am.

The margay is similar in appearance to the oncilla and ocelot. However, it is smaller than the ocelot and has a longer tail despite very similar coat markings. See ocelot picture for comparison.

The fur of the margay is soft and thick. The margay expends energy at an unusually low rate when at rest.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Ocelot Picture

This is a camera trap photograph of an ocelot in Peru. The cat seems to be on a trail. Camera traps are set up at points that are regularly used by the animal being photographed. The ocelot is a medium sized wild cat that is about the size of the average dog.

Ocelot in Peru - camera trap photo by Smithsonian Wild - I added the words and improved quality.

The ocelot lives in Central and South America. At 2002 it was said to occupy Texas, USA (no longer).

It has one the most outstanding coats of all the wild cats. This resulted in it being widely persecuted for its pelt. The major threat now is habitat loss. Both are of course due to human activity. However it is assessed as Least Concern by the authorities (Red List™). This indicates that this species is not threatened with extinction at 2011.

The ocelot lives in a variety of habitats including tropical forest and its prey is usually small mammals such as rodents and possums. It also catches birds and lizards.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Jaguarundi Photograph

This jaguarundi photograph made by a camera trap has an ethereal quality about it while at the time showing us this cat in some detail. It is both informative and slightly "other world" in its feel. The image quality turned out like this because the original photograph had a peculiar color cast, which I eliminated and I produced this filtered black and white image that glows slightly in its place.

Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) - photographed by camera trap in Peru - photo by Smithsonian Wild

As you can see, this small wild cat has a weasel-like appearance. It resembles an animal called a "tayra" (see photo adjacent), which belongs to the Mustelidae family not the Felidae family.

Tayra - Wikimedia commons
There are no markings that can be seen in the photograph but the coat is heavily "ticked" to use a word commonly heard by domestic cat breeders at cat shows. It means the coat has a fine broken appearance caused by the agouti gene.

This unusual wild cat species has been called "an enigma" by the authors of Wild Cats of the World.  The jaguarundi behaves somewhat like a Puma (cougar) hence its classification, which was (perhaps still is) in a state of flux. It has 38 chromosomes, while all other small wildcats in South America have 36 chromosomes.

The body of the jaguarundi is slender and the tail long. The head is noticeable small relative to body size and elongated. Read some more about this unusual wild cat. Are there any in Florida?

As the creative commons license does not allow commercial use and as I have advertising on this page, I have donated $35 to the Smithsonian Institute in the hope that this is acceptable.

Beautiful Leopard Photograph

This is the best camera trap photograph of a wildcat that I have seen. It is of a leopard in its habitat. The leopard is looking down a track he probably uses all the time. That is why the camera was set up at this point. I have improved the image quality a bit. This is allowed under the license. I hope the authors of the image, the Smithsonian Institute, approve of my treatment. It is quite subtle. It makes it a truly beautiful image, I feel. The picture was taken in China.

Leopard (Panthera pardus) in China - Photo by Smithsonian Wild - original image.

The creative commons license does not permit commercial use. As I have advertising on this page, I have donated $50 to the Smithsonian Institute (online donations), in the hope that this gets over this obstacle.

Leopard Camera Trap Photo

I am having a bit of fun with this interesting leopard, camera trap, photo. These are cameras that are fired off when the animal passes in front of it. The shutter works on a motion sensing device in the camera.

It means you get uncomposed images. I guess that is obvious. Hence this one:

The picture is by the Smithsonian Institution. You can see their photostream on Flickr. I actually prefer poorly composed and slightly blurred camera trap photos of wildcats to the captive cat pictures that are beautiful. They are more real for me.

Associated page: leopard description - a beautiful leopard cub.

Abyssinian Cat Personality

The Abyssinian cat personality is said by people in the know to be loving and loyal. This cat breed is apparently talkative and lets you know when they want something; sounds a bit like the Siamese. They have gentle dispositions. The Aby is inquisitive and a skilled and agile climber  - a naturally athletic cat¹.

Dr. Bruce Fogle describes the Abyssinian as "attention-demanding" (Encyclopedia of the Cat - ISBN 978-1-4053-2149-5). Their popularity - in the top 5 of all cat breeds - indicates that they have very pleasant personalities.

Chilli - Abyssinian cat - all played out - Photo by Maggie Sharp.

Maggie in Tasmania, Australia, has an Abyssinian, Chilli, as a cat companion. He seems like an active boy cat.

Remember, though, that individual cats have their own personalities that are superimposed on cat breed characteristics.

Note: (1) Legacy of the Cat - Gloria Stephens - ISBN 0-8118-2910-3

Leopard Description

Leopards can be confused for jaguars. However, they live in entirely different places. The jaguar is the largest cat in Central and South America and the leopard is the largest spotted cat cat in Africa and Asia.

They are both powerful looking, large wildcats that have relatively short legs. However on a strict comparison of size and weight, the jaguar wins. Leopards are excellent climbers and jumpers. You often see them in trees.

They leopard has a spotted - rosetted - coat. The maximum overall length including tail is around 2.4 meters. They vary considerably in size throughout their wide distribution as does the nature of their fur. Males can be 50% heavier than females.  Weights range between 21 and 65 kilograms. They are the 5th largest wildcat species.

Leopard cub - Photo copyright Tony Yeomans

The photograph above was taken by Tony Yeomans in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka (map below). He says the leopard was 9 months old. See Tony's photostream on Flickr.

The rosettes merge into spots on the lower limbs and undersides of the leopard, where the coat is white. Leopard markings are used to identify an individual cat. The same applies to tigers. The leopard coat is very effective camouflage. The coat background color varies between golden to a buff gray. Leopards inhabiting forests are darker than those in open landscape. Black (melanistic) leopards are seen in southern India, Java, Malaysia and the Aberdere Mountains of Kenya (where also you will see black servals). A black leopard is called a black panther. Rarely there are albino leopards.

Yala NP location:

View Larger Map

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Leopard Kills Warthog Photo

This leopard was injured killing a warthog. You can see the wound on his shoulder. This is a fine photograph of a leopard resting during feeding on a warthog. The photographer is Stephen Mawby and you can see his photographs on Flickr by clicking on the following link: Photostream.

Injured leopard with part devoured warthog. Photo copyright Stephen Mawby

The photo was taken at the Sabie Sands Game Reserve. The map marks the spot. You'll have to zoom back, though, to put it in context! This link takes you to a Flickr map that is better as it shows more of Stephen's photographs and locations.

View Sabie Sand Game Reserve in a larger map

The leopard's prey is what is available in the area. What I mean is the leopard is an opportunist hunter. In the Kruger National Park, a study indicated that leopards killed one large prey per week. They stayed with the prey for average of 2.4 days. The typical prey in the Kruger NP was an impala.

Can cat fleas bite humans?

Yes, cat fleas can and do bite humans. My cats are indoor/outdoor cats. I flea comb them regularly. Sometimes a flea will jump off the flea comb before I can crush it. And sometimes I will lose track of where the flea is.

As a result, on rare occasions, I have discovered that I have been bitten by a flea. In fact I have felt a flea bite. It is quite noticeable. It leaves a sore spot that itches slightly. It passes in about a week or something like that.

Cat fleas are very difficult to kill by crushing. They have hard exoskeletons. They jump explosively and travel large distances relative to their size.

Incidentally, in my opinion cat fleas do not jump on us and live in our hair after we have removed them from our cat. Our hair is not the correct kind of habitat for a cat flea! The hair needs to be dense. Also we shower or bath daily (most of us!). This makes it impossible for a cat flea to survive in our hair.

Hairball Remedies

List of hairball remedies:
Cat Hairball
  • Preventative action: groom your cat. The Furminator comes to mind as a great grooming tool that removes hair.
  • Dietary supplements that (1) helps the hairball slide along the digestive tract or (2) helps the digestive tract push the hairball out. The former is a lubricant and the latter is dietary fiber.
  • A commercial lubricant in the USA is "Laxatone". This contains extra vitamins to counteract the fact that petroleum based laxatives interfere with the absorption of some vitamins.
  • A commercial fiber additive product in the USA is Lax-eze. Dry cat food such as Science Diet Hairball Control Diet and Purina Pro Plan Hairball Management Formula are based on the high fiber method for dealing with hairballs.
  • A home hairball remedy is white petroleum jelly. One half teaspoon is used but I have no idea how it is administered! You probably add it to cat food - once weekly.
  • You can also add mineral oil to cat food. For the average sized cat of about 10 lbs, add 2 teaspoons to cat food once or twice weekly but if persistent I would seek veterinary advice. 
Source: Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook - ISBN 978-0-470-09530-0

Why are cats' tails so long?

Are cats tails so long? It is all relative and subjective. But some cat's tails are longer than others. If the cat is a domestic cat there is no pressing reason why his or her tail should be longer than that of another cat other than the physical characteristics of the cat as dictated by his genetic makeup (genotype). There will be no demanding functional need for a long tail.

The situation is different for the wild cats. You will see long, thick, heavy and well insulated tails on cats that do a lot of high risk climbing and maneuvering. Wild cat species that come immediately to mind are the snow leopard, margay and clouded leopard.

I believe what needs to be stated is that the length of a cat's tail has been dictated by evolution over millions of years. The tail is a perfect length for the function that it needs to perform which as mentioned below is to help a cat balance when performing manoeuvres which are tricky at high elevations. For example, walking along a branch of a tree for a domestic cat or a tree-dwelling wild cat species (margay). Because evolution has a sort of perfection about it you cannot state that the tail is so long or too long or too short. It is a perfect length for its desired primary function.

A secondary function is as a signal to another cat that the approaching cat is friendly. This is when the tail is placed in an erect position called "tail-up". Another secondary, inadvertent function, is that it signals an indecisive mind. When the mind flicks between two possible decisions the tail follows as if metaphorically speaking it is keeping the cat's mind in balance.

Snow leopard tail - cropped image to highlight tail
You won't see a better tail. Photo: by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

The snow leopard has perhaps the most impressive of tails. It is far longer and thicker than anything seen on a domestic cat relative to the size of the cat. This is because the snow leopard spends a lot of its time on 40 degree rocky slopes. And the tail is needed to assist in balance. The other two are tree dwelling cats.

This requirement applies to all cats. The cheetah, a ground dwelling cat uses its tail for balance in maneuvering on the ground when chasing prey.The serval has a relatively short tail. The serval is very much a terrestrial cat.

Domestic cats use the tail for balance too, but also for body language communication. See for example: Tail up.

Monday 14 November 2011

Signs of thiamine deficiency in cats

Problems with balance: falling and rolling over, looking for support on vertical surfaces, crouching low when walking and including seizures are signs of thiamin (thiamine) deficiency in cats. These symptoms also apply to inner ear problems such as labyrinthitis, which fall under the heading of vestibular disorders.

Thiamin deficiency can be caused by feeding your cat a lot of raw fish which contains an enzyme that destroys vitamin B1. Vitamin B1 is thiamin. Another reason is an unbalanced diet.

The cure is to immediately start a balanced diet and injections of thiamin if deemed necessary by your vet.

Cats steal the baby's breath

The idea that cats steal the baby's breath originates in a play of 1609 written by Benjamin Jonson. That is my theory. No one has made that claim before (14th Nov. 2011). In fact, it was not a play in the strict sense but a "masque", which was a form of entertainment at the "court" (extended family gathering) of a monarch.

Witch's familiar -  image in public domain

Ben Johnson was a playwright during the time of Shakespeare. He wrote a number of masques, one of which was The Masque of Queens. In this masque there is a poem called The Witches' Song.

At paragraph 5 it says the following:

The letter "s" was written as "f" in those days and people believed in witches. Witches were associated with witches' familiars. The black cat was the classic witch's familiar.

Witches may take on the form their familiar. The words are:

Under a cradle I did creepe
By day, and, when the childe was a-sleepe
At night, I suck'd the breath; and rose,
And pluck'd the nodding nurse by the nose.

So the witch crept under the child's cot during the day as a cat and came out at night to suck the breath of the child.

In modern times, this has been taken up as a warning against letting cats sleep with children. I am sure some people still believe that cats steal a child's breath in some supernatural way.  In practice, and putting aside the supernatural, the danger to infants must be slight but common sense dictates that a cat might sleep on a child that is on his or back fast asleep. This might present a danger to the child.

Cats Afraid of Men

Are cats afraid of men? No, not because they are male homo sapiens. It is about typical behavior. It may be that cats are more often afraid of men than women because they are noisier and in general tend to be less delicate in handling cats. They are also bigger. Their voices tend to be louder and are deeper. Arguably, men prefer dogs to cats. All these factors might tend to intimidate a cat. Cats are very small compared to a person. We should not forget that cats live in a land of giants. Note: some women are bigger, noisy and less delicate than men.

Dogs can be fearful of men too - Dreyfuss in the picture is.
He likes cats, though. Photo by Elisa Black-Taylor.

Cats can be fearful of people in general, men and women. You could argue that it is a "default position", meaning it is normal for a cat (especially a kitten) to be fearful of the human simply because we are so much larger and rather frightening to be honest. Even people are frightened of other people!

Individual cats might be afraid of women for whatever reason - a certain event might have happened with a women at some stage in the cat's development. Men should be particularly careful, quiet and gentle when in the vicinity of a domestic cat. Approaching a cat slowly and quietly while giving warning with a melodious voice can be important too. Handling cats properly is also important.

Signs of Cat UTI (urinary tract infection)

The signs of urinary tract infection or disease are as follows:
  1. The normal voiding of urine is disturbed.
  2. Excessive urination. This is called "polyuria". Increased urination leads to increased drinking. You will notice both. Make sure fresh water is always available as it goes down faster. A complication is that the signs of diabetes mellitus and hyperthyroidism are similar.
  3. No urination. This is called "anuria". Caused by blockage or kidney failure. Toxins obviously build up in the body.
  4. Pain accompanies urination. This is called "dysuria". You will notice straining when urinating and no urine sometimes or bloody urine. Possible distended bladder results. Cats might urinate in bath, passing spot of bloody urine.
  5. Bloody urine. Called "hematuria". Bloody urine without pain indicates kidney failure.
  6. Incontinence (urinating without control). There are a number of causes for this. A vet must diagnose.

Cats with Extra Toes

Cats with extra toes are called "polydactyl cats". "Poly" means more than one or many. The origin of this prefix is the Ancient Greek word "polus" meaning many. While "daktulos" is the origin of "dactyl", which means a finger or a toe. I guess that is obvious but I think it is worth spelling out. For veterinarians, polydactyl cats are considered as cats with an inherited orthopedic disease. The extra toes are a congenital deformity. This sounds bad but we see polydactylism as something interesting as there are no associated health problems and it is quite common in domestic cats. People occasionally have the same condition.

Polydactyl cat - Photo by panic switch 13

The normal number of toes for a cat is: 5 on the forepaws and 4 on the hind paws. Extra toes normally occur on the front paws but the defect can affect both rear and front paws.

Although a benign condition the extra toes might not get the usual amount of usage and wear leading to the claws growing into the pads. The claws should be checked and trimmed if necessary. Cat breeders consider polydactylism a defect and don't breed from a polydactyl cat unless they are breeding polydactyl cats. Is this sensible?

Associated pages: Tootsie a polydactyl Maine Coon and American Polydactyl Cat (Hemingway cats).

Sunday 13 November 2011

Margay Photos

Here are two fine margay photos by Arjan Haverkamp. He is a photographer who publishes his photographs on Flickr.  He kindly agreed to allow me to publish these photos here. Please ask him if you want to use them.

The margay is a small, tree dwelling wildcat with an enormous climbing ability. They spend a lot of the time in trees. One radio collared margay rested during the day in a palm tree 7 meters off the ground. 

Margay - Photo copyright Arjan Haverkamp

They are extremely agile and acrobatic climbers. They demonstrate a monkey-like ability when traveling through trees.  They can jump 8 feet straight up and 12 feet horizontally. They descend trees head first. The margay can hang from branches from their hind feet and grab with their front paws at the same time. 

Their hind feet are adapted to climbing in a special way. They can rotate inwards 180 degrees. Their eyesight is excellent. They can spot a fly at 30 feet¹. You can see the size of their eyes in these photos. They are like large, glossy, dark marbles. Their long tails provide stability and balance. You can see the tail wrapped around the paws in the photo above. Their slender frame provides a high power to weight ratio.

Margay - Photo copyright Arjan Haverkamp

Note: (1) Wild Cats of the World - ISBN-13: 978-0-226-77999-7

Meat By-products in Cat Food

In the USA the buyer should be aware of "meat by-products in cat food". What does this euphemistic phrase mean?  Meat by-products are actually obtained from 4-D animals. These are animals, mainly horses and cattle that are either: dead, dying, diseased or disabled at slaughter. They may have drugs in them that were used to keep them alive. These drugs and the pathogens that killed the animal remain in the carcasses after slaughter. This means that meat by-products include, diseased tissue, pus, carcasses in varying stages of decomposition that have been sterilized using heat, pressure and chemicals.

  2. Low Cost Natural Cures for your Dog and Cat Your Vet Doesn't Want You to Know

Saturday 12 November 2011

Deer Befriends Orange Tabby Cat

Dorothy showed me photos of a deer that has befriended a cat and I love them. They are a lesson to us. Here are a couple of pictures. The first one shows the orange tabby cat climbing over the deer. This is an act of friendship. The deer visits daily apparently to see his or her friend.

Deer and cat together as best friends. Photo author unknown.

Here is another picture of the deer "kissing" the cat:

Deer visiting and kissing orange tabby cat in back yard.

There are many other examples of cats being friends with other species of animal. I have seen cat and rat, fox and cat, monkey and cat, and horse and cat. I love them all.

Turkish Angora Personality

Gentle, easygoing and affectionate, so says one of the best sources about the Turkish Angora personality. Gloria Stephens in Legacy of the Cat says that the Turkish Angora is "quick-witted" (intelligent) and quick moving. She even says that this breed of cat can be quick tempered. I am not sure about that last comment.

Dr. Fogle who wrote, The Encyclopedia Of The Cat says that this cat breed is "energetic and exhibitionist".

Turkish Angora Ankara Zoo, Turkey

I would treat both these commentaries on the Turkish Angora personality with a bit of caution. There may be an underlying character trait for this breed of cat but we need to factor in the personalities of individual cats. This depends on breed characteristics to a certain extent and also how the individual cat was raised by the breeder.

For me, in any case, it is somewhat questionable whether we can say a breed of cat has a personality trait. All breeds are one species of cat. And all individual cats have their own personalities.

Roaring Sound of Tigers

Technically tigers don't roar despite the roaring sound of tigers being so well known. The tiger roar differs with respect to certain "critical features"¹ to the roar of the jaguar, leopard and lion. The tiger is therefore not one of the roaring cats. However, the tiger does roar and these four wildcat species are the only ones that do.

Air is expelled through the open mouth while the mouth is progressively closed. People can hear the roaring sound of tigers 3 kilometers away. It is therefore a long range sound telling other tigers of the caller's presence, but also used in other contexts.

A tiger might roar:
  • after killing large prey
  • before mating
  • during mating
  • when a female is calling her cubs
The lion, leopard and jaguar employ a roaring sequence. The tiger rarely employs a "regular species-specific structure"¹. Videos of tigers roaring are often not misleading as the tiger is not technically roaring. The video below would seem to be a genuine roar.

Note: (1) Wild Cats of the World ISBN-13: 978-0-226-77999-7

Prusten Sound

The prusten is a sound made by certain wildcats when in close proximity with other cats that is of low intensity and short. It is a snorting call. The wildcats that make this sound are: clouded leopard, tigers, snow leopards and jaguars. The clouded leopard makes similar sounds to the tiger.

The prusten sound lasts less than one second. It is a soft sound a bit like a horse snorting. Air is expelled through the nostrils. The larynx plays a part too. It is used in friendly encounters. It serves a similar function to gurgling and puffing. In the early part of the video below the tiger does a prusten. Note: videos are sometimes removed by YouTube without notice.

Side Effects of Prozac in Cats

Side effects of Prozac® include: shaking, hyperactivity, restlessness and vocalising more than usual, loss of appetite and aggression, gastrointestinal upsets. Overdosing can lead to feline seizure¹.

Prozac® is Fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It is prescribed to people for depression. In cats it is prescribed for what we consider to be behavior disorders such as not using the litter box appropriately². I would be very cautious about going to a vet to ask him or her to prescribe this drug. Other more practical and common sense reasons for "behavioral problems" should be explored first. It may be a simple case of misplaced human expectations.

Note: (1) Dr. Jon on (2) Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook ISBN 978-0-470-09530-0.

How common is feline diabetes?

In the USA feline diabetes is very common. It is ranked in the top five most common feline disorders probably. It mirrors the situation with humans, incidentally. Is there a connection?

Dr. John Heinerman in his book Low Cost Natural Cures for your Dog and Cat Your Vet Doesn't Want You to Know refers to a conversation he had with the owner of a veterinary hospital in Las Vegas (Animal Kingdom Veterinary Hospital), Dr. JoAnne Stephanos. She says that birds get diabetes too, to an increasing level. She puts it down to the food they eat. Commercial bird seed is sugary and contains preservatives.

Modern cat food is convenient for us and the manufacturers but inconvenient for the cat. I am talking about dry cat food, called "kibble" in the USA. It too has a high sugar content as the manufacturing process demands it. Cats can't taste sugar. Dr. JoAnne Stephanos says that the cat's body reacts against the unnaturally high sugar content setting up an autoimmune disorder that destroys pancreatic insulin producing cells. Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins (Your Cat), argues along the similar lines (feline diabetes). People also give cats sugary treats for reward. This is inadvisable as the cat becomes dependent on a sugar fix.

Cats that are predisposed to getting feline diabetes might suffer the condition if consistently fed sugary food. It is unnatural for a cat to eat sugar in these concentrations. The high level of preservatives are an unknown danger too. The answer is to feed wet cat food and or carefully prepared and stored raw cat food.

Feline IBD might also be linked to modern unsuitable cat food. Some dry cat food is regarded as better than others.

Friday 11 November 2011

What does 11 11 11 mean?

It means nothing as far as I am concerned if the last 11 signifies a year. Today is the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year of the 21st century. It is just numbers. This sequence happens every 100 years apparently. That does not make it special. People like to place significance on numbers. We are essentially superstitious and fearful. We seek comfort in the meaning that we give to numbers. It is all rather sad for me. Although I totally respect other people's thoughts about this sequence of numbers.

I remember when the second millennium came around, the year 2000. Before that date people were predicting melt down and Armageddon. They were saying that computers couldn't count beyond 1999 and there would be chaos. Many bought a year's supply of backed beans and Heinz tomato soup and headed for the hills of Montana whereupon after 2000 arrived and become history without so much as a ripple of distruption, they returned home with their tails between their legs.

It's just the human condition. 11 11 11 means precisely nothing if as I mentioned the last 11 signifies a year. However, the 11th day of the 11th month does mean something in the UK. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marks the signing of the Armistice, on 11th November 1918, to signal the end of World War One. Evert year we have a 2 minute silence at that time to remember those who gave their lives.

Bobcat Description

Two fine bobcat photographs accompanying this bobcat description. I really like these photographs. The smaller one is a bit different. The photographer has the Flickr username of mikewiz. The original photo on Flickr is a lot darker than my adjusted version. The larger photo is very good for supporting a description of the bobcat.

The bobcat has some other names: bay lynx, lynx cat and pallid bobcat to name three. This medium sized to small wild cat is the size of a cocker spaniel. The largest male was recorded as weighing 26.8 kilograms and the largest female weighed 15.9 kilograms. Bobcats in the north are larger than those in the south of their range. The size of the bobcat's skull is similar in size to that of the domestic cat.

The legs are long and head relatively small. The tail as we know is short. In fact it is about 14 inches long, with white fur underneath and banding on the upper surface. The ears have classic lynx tipping - tufts of black fur growing out of the end of the ear flap. The back of the ears are black with a white eye spot, which can be seen in the photograph.

Male Bobcat - Photo copyright Tory - see in large format on Flickr

These photographs are published here with the photographers' express permission. Please ask the photographer if you wish to use either.

Bobcat - protected by copyright
Please ask photographer for permission
to use.

The bobcat has a ruff growing from the cheeks and neck. The quality of its fur is the reason why it is hunted and trapped. It is thick and soft. The cat's eyes are ringed with white fur ("spectacles" in cat fancy language). The chin is white as is the belly and the insides of the limbs. Dark spots and bars overlay these areas. The coat varies in color: buff to light grey and yellow/reddish brown.

Melanistic bobcats have been recorded. These cats are black with ghost markings. There have also been albino bobcats. The Canada lynx is similar in appearance to the bobcat. The bobcat has smaller and less hairy feet than the Canada lynx indicating that the Canada lynx is better adapted for traveling in snow.

Associated pages: Mexican bobcat, Florida bobcat.

Bobcat Picture

This is a camera trap bobcat picture from siwild on Flickr. This sort of wildcat picture is not pretty in the conventional sense. This is because the camera trap camera is less sophisticated in terms of its ability to create high image quality. However, being motion activated it captures the kind of image that you don't get with human operated cameras. They are wilder, more real. You get a real sense of what it is like in the wild for the wild cats.

Bobcat Picture - in the wild - camera trap image - by siwild - see it on Smithsonian Wild

I have improved the image quality slightly although there has been no adjustment to the content.

You can see the moon above the bobcat. This bobcat picture was taken in the state of Virginia, USA. The words on the lower RHS of the photograph is the name of the manufacturer of the camera.

The bobcat is the most common wildcat in the USA. It occupies areas in the east of the US from where the puma (cougar) has been removed or extirpated. The bobcat is part of the lynx genus. In Canada the Canada lynx is that country's version of the bobcat. The Eurasian lynx is the biggest of the lynx cats.

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