Monday 30 April 2012

Cat Snake Bites

Poisonous and non-poisonous snakes are found throughout the United States. In Britain there is just the adder and that is very scarce. Motzie, a very famous F2 Savannah cat once caught a snake and his human companion wrote about it: Savannah cat Motzie Caught a Snake.

That is a flimsy excuse for showing this radiograph (X-ray) of a snake that I post-edited a bit.
Snake radiograph (colored by me) - Photo Nottingham Vet School.

I don't know...I just liked it. The original was in B&W but I added a bit of color and the words. That's it.

Poisonous snakes can be a hazard to domestic cats in the USA. See this visitor's post for an example: My Cat was Bitten by a Snake.

Apparently 90% of snakes bites on cats are on the head or legs. Poisonous snake bites to the cat's body are most often lethal. Poisonous snakes in the USA are:
  1. Cottonmouths - pit viper
  2. Rattlesnakes - pit viper
  3. Copperheads - pit viper
  4. Coral snakes
All four snakes are large (4-8 feet in length), have triangular heads, pits below the eyes and between the eyes, elliptical pupils, rough scales and retractable fangs on the upper jaw.

Two puncture wounds will be seen on the skin. They may be difficult to find for obvious reasons. Sudden swelling, redness and bleeding may be present at the site of the bite. The cat will be in severe pain. It may take several hours for the symptoms of a snake bite to appear.

On being bitten by a pit viper, the cat will:
  • be extremely restless
  • pant
  • drool
  • show weakness..then..
  • have diarrhoea
  • have depressed breathing
  • collapse
  • have seizures sometimes
  • be in shock
  • die, perhaps.
Coral snakes produce the following signs in a cat:
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • urinary incontinence
  • paralysis
  • convulsions
  • coma.
 Some cats survive coral snake bites.


Get your cat to a veterinarian asap if you can get their in 30 minutes. If not do these things first:
  • keep cat quiet
  • apply a constricting bandage to a leg bite (loose enough to get finger beneath bandage). Place it between the bite and cat's heart. Loosen it every 5 minutes. 
  • don't wash the wound or apply ice or make cuts over the wound or try and suck out the venom.
Source: Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook ISBN 978-0-470-09530-0

Sunday 29 April 2012

Does dry cat food clean cats' teeth?

No, not really. The idea behind the belief that dry cat food can clean a cat's teeth is that being dry it has an abrasive quality that cleans the teeth like a toothbrush. The mechanical abrasion theory is based on the shape, texture and fiber alignment of the dry kibble.

Apparently dry cat food does reduce the build up of plaque and calculus but in a limited way.

The action is limited because the kibble is normally broken by the tip of the tooth and so does not have any abrasive action at the place where periodontal disease takes place: the line where the gums surround the teeth (gingival margin). Periodontal disease (gum disease in layperson's terms) in cats and dogs is one the most common health problems for these companion animals.

Also dry cat food is high in carbohydrates. That surely is not good for teeth health.

Plaque: soft and colorless. A mixture of food particles, organic and inorganic material and bacteria.
Calculus: also called tartar. Hardened plaque. Mixture of calcium phosphate and carbonate with organic material1.

Note: 1. Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook

Associated: Picture of cat with gingivitis.

Pedigree Cats are Better Companions?

Are there any differences in the way people interact with the domestic cat when the cat is a pedigree cat or a non-pedigree cat. This is an interesting thought. Most cats are non-pedigree. There are a higher percentage of pedigree cats in the United States than elsewhere, as I understand it. All purebred cats have a pedigree. These are the cat breeds that you read about on the internet.

A study by Turner in 2000, albeit somewhat limited, was carried out into this subject. The objective of the study was to look at the differences in cat to human interactions when the cat was: Persian, Siamese and non-pedigree. Persians and Siamese are considered to be somewhat at the opposite end of the spectrum in behavior and character and both are what might be termed original cat breeds that started at the instigation of the cat fancy - well established cat breeds.

The human companions of Persian and Siamese cats where asked to rank their cat's "behavior traits" against a scale. The assessment being based on the cat's behavior versus what the person would have ideally wanted (not sure about that as a criterion). Also, the people and cats were observed interacting.

The interesting overall conclusion appears to have been that the pedigree cats were more "socially interactive" and predictable than non-pedigree cats. They were also more interested in their human, better behaved and fussier eaters.

Siamese cats began "conversations" and interactions generally more often than random bred cats. Siamese cats are known to be vocal and social. This study confirmed that. As people like this trait in a companion, it is one major reason, I suggest, why the Siamese is in the top 3 most popular purebred cats despite a greater than average set of genetically inherited health problems.

Siamese cats were rated as more curious, playful and friendly towards strangers as well. The Siamese was observed as being more often near their human companion, more likely to vocalise, friendlier to strangers, more affectionate and less lazy than non-pedigree cats. High praise indeed.

As for Persian cats they too were more:
  • affectionate
  • friendly towards strangers
  • communicative
  • predictable and
  • clean
Persian's were found to be fussy eaters, however.

Perhaps, one reason for the greater interaction between people and purebred cats is that the cat is more likely to be a full-time indoor cat and therefore more often in close physical proximity to the person. The other reason for the success of the pedigree cat in this study is the greater attention to socialisation received by purebred cats in the breeding programs as that is an important part of cat breeding and selective breeding for good character. The only downside to this is health. Purebreds it is said live shorter lives than moggies.

Saturday 28 April 2012

Ramirez vs Gonzalez

Ramirez had a cat. He let the cat go outside. Gonzalez had a dog. She let the dog out in the yard and he escaped. The dog, a pit bull, grabbed the cat in its mouth and shook it until it died.

Ramirez heard his cat scream. He grabbed his 9mm hand gun and shot the dog between the shoulder blades behind the head - dead.

The police took no action.

Ramirez and Gonzalez were left to sort it out amongst themselves.

A slice of cat, dog and human life.

What does it tell us if anything? I'll leave you to sort that one out. One thing for sure: it is about human behavior that has cost the lives of two companion animals.

Thursday 26 April 2012

Cult of the Funny Internet Cat

The cult of the funny internet cat is fading. You know what humans are like. I use the word "human" rather than "people" because I write about cats so much I have got used to differentiating between the two that way. Humans follow fads and trends or in this case a kind of cult. The cult of the funny cat on the internet.

The internet is still relatively young. Google is only 14 years as I recall. A lot of websites are less than 5 years old. The internet is a very transient and fluid place in which to set up business. I sometimes think that Google considers 4-5 year old sites as in their dottage; time to euthanise them in the words of cat shelters.

The internet to date has worked both for and against the domestic cat. The great cult of funny cat pictures put the domestic cat on the map. But the endless funny videos are really quite tiresome now. On the upside the domestic cat got a lot of publicity. On the downside, was it the right kind of publicity?

The cult of the funny cat pic was fun stuff, but a fad, a fashion. It has to be temporary because it is entertainment genre. Entertainment evolves all the time. You only have to look at cinema to see that. In cinema people are tired of the super hyped-up, over CGI'd, thin-plotted, blockbuster. The old stuff looks far better. I think cinema ran out of ideas so decided to over stimulate our senses instead. You get tired of that quite quickly.

Maybe we are running out of ideas in art. The only thing that constantly renews itself naturally is news. The cult of the cat on the internet is dying. People want to go back to real, sensible stuff. Good, clean information well presented.

I don't think the cult of the funny internet cat improved cat welfare. It was too frivolous for that. Funny cat pictures don't really respect the cat. Under this cult of funny cat pics and vids the cat is not really respected but used to entertain us. There are too many very serious and upsetting aspects to the life of the domestic cat to allow ourselves to be amused by funny cat pics. Let's get the welfare of cats right first before we have a laugh at the expense of the cat.

If I am correct, I am pleased. PoC is a serious website. The cat pictures are the best. They are not about being funny but about respecting the cat. In the long term, I hope that means that PoC transcends the slow decline of the funny cat internet cult.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Mutual Benefit of Cat Human Relationship

The domestic cat to human relationship is of mutual benefit. That is why the relationship exists. There was a moment thousands of years ago when the cat went from being a utilitarian animal (in killing rodents to protect grain), to becoming a companion animal and then a member of the family who sometimes takes precedence over other humans.

Human Benefits
  • Physiological - control over blood pressure, relaxation, decrease in anxiety, improved survival, longer lifespan after heart attacks.
  • Psychological - decreased depression, improvement in mood.
  • Practical - animal-assisted therapy, alerts to oncoming medical problems (anecdotal), focal point for conversation and action.
  • Communal cooperation, common goal - e.g. assisting in trap-neuter-return programmes, assisting in reducing cat abuse including eliminating declawing, devocalisation operations,  or being part of a team of foster carers for cats that need rehoming.
Cat Benefits
  • Reliable food source/supply.
  • Medical care.
  • Protection from predators and disease.
  • Pleasant environment (dependent on the quality of the cat caretaker).
  • Decreased stress (also dependent on skills and commitment of human).
Note: it could be argued that the relationship is unbalanced as millions of unwanted cats are deliberately killed each year at shelters. Accordingly as a result, it could also be argued that the domestication of the cat has been a failure for the cat due to humankind's inability to respect the cat sufficiently.

Associated: Human - cat relationship

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Animal Care Depends On Money

It nearly always comes down money in the end. This is being dramatically highlighted in Great Britain. Apparently, the country is not so great in respect of animal care when things get a tougher, financially.

The RSPCA say they are at breaking point. I suppose this means in terms of funding and facility space (shelters) to house abused and abandoned animals.

There was a step rise last year (2011) in the number of prosecutions as a result of animal cruelty cases dealt with through the courts by the RSPCA - almost 25% - up a quarter.

The spokesman says that it is due to the financial recession which encourages people to abandon animals, particularly those that are expensive to keep, such as horses.

I don't believe that it is the recession that is causing increased animal cruelty and abandonments. It is a bl**dy poor attitude by some people who decided to adopt an animal but who failed to commit to the process and make proper provision for it, through thick and thin. It is part of the fickle, feckless, short term modern way of life. Britain is changing for the worse.  There are also a lot failed homes and families in Britain these days. It is part of what David Cameron, the prime minister, called, our "broken society". There are some genuine cases of hardship but there are too many people using the "recession" as a smokescreen to abandon their animals. Fortunately, most people really care about their companion animals. And when you care it is impossible to abuse or abandon them.

The RSPCA is appealing for funding.  It is going broke unless it makes changes and that entails 130 redundancies. Prosecutions cost the RSPCA £4.7m last year and they recovered less than half of that in court costs. Does that imply that some of the prosecutions failed? If so, perhaps the legal department needs to reflect on what they are doing.

This is depressing because animal welfare legislation has been tightened up. You have to be able to enforce legislation to make it stick and that costs money, which is running out.

Associated: How to tell cat abuse.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Stressed Rescued Cats

Studies indicate that cats are stressed when moved to rescue centers. This confirms what we know through the application of common sense. Cat caretakers know that when you move to a new place it may take you and your cat up to 6 months or more to settle in. Initially, your cat will be quite anxious and hide. We have all seen that. It took Charlie, my cat, about 2 weeks to simply calm down a bit! He hid under a desk or anywhere he could find for the first couple of days.

Shelter cats show signs of acute stress over the initial period of being at a new shelter. The time taken to adapt depends on the individual cat. That is common sense too.

However, the time taken to adapt will be several days to several weeks. Stress is caused by being in a strange place, strange routine, strange smells, people they don't know, close proximity to other cats, strange smells and importantly for shelter cats there is no where to hide.

I ask therefore how can shelter employees assess a cat's character under these circumstances (and therefore suitability for adoption)? I presume that they at least wait for a few before making an assessment.  But that might be impractical.

It would seem that cats who have nice characters, who are ideal as cat companions but who are slow to adapt to the new environment will be assessed as unsuitable. Or am I missing something?

This chimes with stories you hear of animal control grabbing cats and trying to put them into cages and getting scratched, then declaring that the cat is aggressive and putting the cat down. Totally idiotic, really. But it happens.

Lorraine St John who runs the Kent Wildlife Rescue centre in Kent, England says that the "biggest killer you get at animal shelters is not the illness...but stress". She was talking about the nursing back to health of a fox that had been hit by a car. He was blinded and comatose. He was put in a cage with abandoned kittens. The kittens nursed the fox back to health playing their part with the staff at the centre. The fox and kittens formed a great friendship which made the foxes recovery highly successful. Sadly they were separated when the fox was released back to the wild and the kittens rehomed. See the story.

Associated: Multi-treatments from a vet can cause stress too.

Reference: The Welfare of Cats ISBN 978-1-4020-6143-1

Saturday 21 April 2012

Earthquakes and Microchips

Here are two bits of interesting news (21st April 2012) about cats, even though the first story concerns dogs:

Eminent scientist says his cats predict earthquakes

Japan, as most of know, is a country that is more than many others subject to earthquakes as it is situated near a fault line in the earth's crust.  There is a great need in that country to predict the onset of earthquakes.

There is a widely held view that animals are sensitive to seismic activity. Cats are cited in this regard. Associate professor Naoki Yada at the Kanagawa Institute of Technology has decided to run a study with the aid of schools to test the animal sensitivity theories. He says that his cats predict earthquakes by showing increased levels of activity about 70% of the time. An American lady, Kathy, would confirm that.

Rather than use cats he is using catfish! Catfish are prominent is respect of earthquakes in Japan because there is a myth that earthquakes in Japan are caused by a giant sleeping catfish under Japan that swishes its tail. The professor thinks animals is general are able to sense an oncoming earthquake. I'd be pleased to see the outcome of this study. It is interesting that the animal is being relied to predict earthquakes rather than machines. It may help animals to become better respected generally.

Obligatory microchipping of newborn puppies

This is a firm proposal of the British government (April 21st 2012).  The objective is to curb the numbers of irresponsible owners of dangerous dogs in the UK. There has been an increase in the seizure of dangerous dogs, lately. In other words it is about taking proactive steps to prevent attacks by dangerous dogs. There will be a fee of £35 for the microchipping. The details on the microchip will be stored on a central database.

This interests me because it tells us that a western government can create law that imposes an obligation to microchip all domestic animals in the country of a certain species.

On that basis it could argued that domestic cats could and should be micrcohipped under a similar law in other countries or states of other countries as a proactive measure to curb irresponsible cat abandonment that results in an increase in the number of stray and eventually feral cats - "the feral cat problem".

Australia leads the way in this area as they are the country that is most sensitive to the feral cat preying on native wildlife. This attitude resulted in banning of the importation of Savannah cats into the country.

Friday 20 April 2012

Social Situation - Domestic vs Feral Cats

The feral cat environment is a more natural environment for the cat than the domestic environment. OK, the feral cat environment is harsher and the life shorter but in a strict sense it is more natural.

Feral cats are essentially domestic cats turned wild. Domestic cats have developed the ability to live in groups.

The difference between the more natural outdoor environment and the artificial household environment plays a part in the creation of stress in multi-cat households.

Feral Cat Environment

In the feral cat, farm environment, groups of cats are usually made up of related cats that get on as a group. The group has evolved naturally. The food source dictates the size of the group. Individual cats in the group do their own hunting. These factors result in no or less competition for resources, which in turn restricts the need for a hierarchical system (dominant and submissive cats) and leads to reduced stress.

Domestic Cat Environment

In the domestic environment where there is a multi-cat household the cats in the group are less likely to be related. Normally, the cats' caretaker would have brought them into the group. The introduced cats are sometimes adults too. The existing cats would not regard these new cats are part of the same social group. The cats are living close together and there may be competition for litter resources and food. This is a recipe for stress born out of threats to territory and competition. Hierarchical systems have to develop to help avoid conflict. There is the potential for stress.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Cats Are Not Territorial Animals

The title of this post is a verbatim transcript from an excellent book on The Welfare of Cats edited by Irene Rochlitz. The author who makes this statement in the section of the book on olfactory communication, S.L.Crowell-Davis, does not differentiate between wild, feral or domestic cats although the book is mainly about the domestic cat. I think you will find the statement controversial especially amongst the wild cat experts.

Crowell-Davies goes on to say that urine spraying as a form of olfactory communication is not to mark territory - i.e. to make the statement that the cat 'owns' this plot of land and to stay out. The author says that spraying urine horizontally onto objects in small quantities has multiple meanings that depend on the circumstances at the time and on what is in the urine. The implication is that a cat can control what scent the urine has at any given time.

The purpose of spraying urine is to leave a message ("identifying information") about:
  • reproductive status
  • which cat was where at any given time. I presume this is designed to ensure that cats don't bump into each other which might result in a fight.
  • the emotional state of the cat - e.g. aroused.
The author says that cats sometimes leave feces unburied on the "periphery of the home range" and in "core areas". To me this signifies a form or territorial marking, but apparently not.

We hear of inappropriate elimination of domestic cats. One aspect of reducing the occurrence of inappropriate elimination is to move the litter box to a different area, one that the cat might find more acceptable (a quieter place for example). Research by Sung in 2001 indicated that there was no connection between the location of the litter box and elimination behaviour problems. This is another interesting piece of information that appears to contradict mainstream advice.

Cat Health Problems Not Eating

Cat health problems, cat not eating? In other words loss of appetite. You can't simply list out the reasons for a loss of appetite because it is such a general cat illness symptom. When you feel ill you lose your appetite. So the cause of not eating is being ill! Great, not very helpful.

However, I have written several pages on the subject of cats not eating, partly because visitors to the site ask about this and I respond as best I can.

Also, I have written about it without being prompted by visitors' submissions.

Here are some pages on cat health problems not eating:
If you would like to see lots more pages you can use the search box at the top of the home page.

Monday 16 April 2012

Google Change Policy Because They Are Scared

Facebook founder, Sergey Brin says, "I am more worried than I have been in the past. It's scary". Google are spooked by the erosion of the early principles of the internet, the most important of which was openness. Rules stifle innovation.  He says that Google would not have been a success if he had started the business today.

Google likes the laissez-faire attitude of the internet. It is like a parallel universe because anything goes, or at least it did. On the ground, in the tangible world, behavior is regulated. It is regulated because on-the-ground-society is more advanced. The internet is still young, undeveloped and it is bound to become more regulated because you can't go on in a semi-anarchic manner and get away with it for ever.

I understand the attraction of openness but people will and do abuse it. Think gross violations of copyright as one example. For many years Google ignored this and in doing so supported it as they found, through their search engine, works that were violations of copyright. Only recently have they started to delist from their search results webpages that violate copyright - see application form.

Mr Brin says that there are powerful forces against an open internet. He refers to the battle against music piracy and Apple's rules on the software people can use.

I  think Mr Brin is just concerned about Google profits. And in trying to maintain an advantage Google is doing things in a panic, which undermines the raison d'être of Google; to find the best on the internet.

Mr Brin, you are living dangerously and I think you need to take stock. The introduction of Google Plus One is a failure and was a response to being scared. Go back to basics and do it well and accept change.

The internet must evolve and it must be regulated to a certain extent because humankind needs to be regulated within a general framework of freedom and self determination. It is just the nature of things.

Friday 13 April 2012

Ancient Egyptians Abused Cats

The internet is full of articles about how the ancient Egyptians loved nay..worshiped cats. The great cat god Bastet is always referred to. It was the golden era for the domestic cat, we are told. I've always been skeptical about this myth. It is just not true. There has been a lot of glossing up and repetition on the internet. Isn't there always?

Mummified 4-5 month old kitten.
X-ray image credit: Giacomo Gnudi et al

A recent research paper into a mummified kitten has reinforced my views. The document states that from about 300 years before Christ to 30 years BC in Egypt, cats were bred for the specific purpose to kill them (euphemistically referred to as "euthanase" meaning euthanize) when they were young kittens of 3-5 months of age so that they could be mummified and sold to a customer who wanted to offer it up to Bastet. I presume as a means to try and improve the person's life. This happened in "huge numbers" according to the authors of the research paper. We know the numbers were large because at one time (late 19th century) the cat mummies were dug up and shipped to Liverpool, England where they were rendered down to make fertiliser!

It was mass slaughter. Plus ça change. We are still mass slaughtering the cat - unwanted cats this time.

The mummified kitten (4–5 months of age) studied by Giacomo Gnudi, a professor at the University of Parma, indicated that some of its bones had been broken so that it occupied a smaller space in a tight wrappings. The mummy had a hole in its head. Was this how the kitten was killed? We don't know. Death may have come in a cruel manner.

There is nothing that is cat loving or cat caring about this process. It is all about the human and his insecurities and superstitions. It is simply cat use and abuse.

We have to conclude that the Ancient Egyptians were like anyone else in their relationship with the domestic cat. Some of them were kind to the cat. I suspect some disagreed strongly with the idea of worshiping a cat-god and offering up mummified kittens. These were the enlightened ones. But a lot cared little for the cat and used the cat in this abusive manner.

Note: the research paper is from the April 2012 issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. The authors kindly made the entire document public with free access. Radiological investigation of an over 2000-year-old Egyptian mummy of a cat. Well done.

More Kittens Due to Global Warming?

Already, we have enough unwanted kittens being born outside of a loving human home. But we are to get more if there is global warming, which seems likely to be the case. Global warming brings warmer winters and longer summers. We are seeing a change in weather patterns in the UK. I am not sure about the USA but when I was there it was damn hot!

Pets Across America, a large and well established pet adoption organisation in the United States said that there was a 30 percent increase in their intake of cats and kittens over the 2005-6 period, which they put down to the longer and earlier spring season - the breeding season for cats - due in turn to the warmer weather and reduced winters.

There is no doubt that weather plays a major role in the number of unwanted cats. In colder climates such as in the UK you don't have a "feral cat problem" to the extent that appears to be the case in mid-America. And from the warmer Mediterranean countries such as Greece you hear of similar feral cat discussions about their numbers and impact on tourism etc.

If it is true that global warming is leading to more unwanted and feral cats, it is all the more reason for people to be better cat caretakers and ask whether they really do wish to keep a cat and if so will it be for the life of the cat and will they spay or neuter their cat? It's about responsible cat caretaking that is properly funded. Keeping cats carries a financial price. People need to be able to afford to keep a cat or cats and have proper facilities.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Millionaire Employees of Apple

Apple employees, under the Apple Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP) would be millionaires today (April 2012) if they had contributed to a maximum of $25,000 per year over a preceding seven year period. In fact they would have an investment worth $1,628,481 on share price of $589.58, which is already outdated and too low! The current share price is $628 (April 11th 2012). It is like printing money for the Apple employees. They are making tens of thousands of US dollars every week - on paper...that is the key. When do you convert that to cash? And what are the rules on selling shares as an employee, at Apple. There will be rules, otherwise employees could depress the share value on a mass sell off.

An Apple document in relation to the Employee Stock Purchase Plan states:

The Company has a shareholder approved employee stock purchase plan (the “Purchase Plan”), under which substantially all employees may purchase common stock through payroll deductions at a price equal to 85% of the lower of the fair market values as of the beginning and end of six-month offering periods. Stock purchases under the Purchase Plan are limited to 10% of an employee’s compensation, up to a maximum of $25,000 in any calendar year. The number of shares authorized to be purchased in any calendar year is limited to a total of 3 million shares. As of September 26, 2009, approximately 4.7 million shares were reserved for future issuance under the Purchase Plan. 

As an employee, even if you invested about £10k per year (relative small sum) the way the Apple share price is soaring you will still be a millionaire soon. The "experts" predict that the Apple share value will continue to climb creating a market valuation for Apple of one trillion USD. It is already the most valuable company in the world. That value would double the number 2 company Exxon.

It has to end. Oh, by the way Apple don't pay proper corporate taxes in Britain and this is causing consternation. They paid about $10m on about $6 bn of revenue as far as I remember. They avoid tax through clever tax dodges and there are question marks over their manufacturing ethics.

Devocalising Dogs is Cruel

Here is a video about the cruel surgery of devocalising dogs. I know this is not about cats but let's not worry about that because it is an important subject and people should be forbidden from doing it. It should be banned, and it is close to being banned in certain parts of the USA as I understand it. How it can be allowed to happen is beyond my comprehension.

Image in public domain as assessed.
Debarking operation illustrated or softening of the bark! Image in public domain as assessed.

It is similar to declawing in its cruelty and the unethical nature of the operation. The same mentality is behind it: "I want a pet but not exactly what is on offer, so I'll just modify it...." Stop it...

It is a failure of the human that he thinks he can modify his companion animals to suit his preferences. Dogs are not products to be bought over the counter. You don't modify dogs like you customise a car or a computer. They are living creatures the way God created them. Let's enjoy that and stop being silly and ignorant.

And a further point: cats are also devocalised. Can you imagine it! It's madness. Quite insane. Cat hoarders, breeders and a Siamese cat breed and fancier have had their cats devocalized.  Then they gave them up anyway. The kind of mentality that allows people to abandon their cats is the same kind of mentality that drives people to devocalise and "voice stifle" their cats and dogs. These people are quite simply unsuited to be anywhere near companion animals.

Vets who agree to devocalise are equally unsuited. They should be struck of the register. Of course, the AVMA is powerless. Apparently, the Massachusetts, ASPCA are in league with the vets to promote devocalisation. This is horrible. Can it be true?

Can someone please tell me why two groups of people who profess to care for the welfare of dogs and cats, wantonly and for-profit assault them in this cruel way. I am at a loss to understand it.

Please visit this website: New York Against Devocalisation.

Associated: Declawing Cats.

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Responsible Cat Breeding

The European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals (signed:1987) - "the Convention" - has a bit so say about the breeding of animals. I am sure very few people know about this convention let alone cat breeders. Yet all breeders anywhere in the world, particularly those countries where they like to breed to extremes, would do well to read it. I'll just summarize certain aspects of it on this page.

An international "convention" is no more than an agreement. There is no real enforcement as I understand it. There would be embarrassment if there were flagrant breaches of it. If North American countries were signatories to the Convention there would be embarrassment in some quarters.

If you want to sum up the Convention in respect of cat breeding it states that breeders should not breed to extreme where the cat's health and welfare is put at risk.

Article 5 refers to breeding:

Article 5 – Breeding
Any person who selects a pet animal for breeding shall be responsible for having regard to the anatomical, physiological and behavioural characteristics which are likely to put at risk the health and welfare of either the offspring or the female parent. 

Under Article 15 parties to the Convention agreed to meet routinely to refine the Convention.  It was agreed that cat and dog breeding associations should be encouraged to alter their breeding policies. Clearly they recognized that the cat and dog associations were not doing enough to ensure that their members breed for health and not just appearance.

They even set out some guidelines for change and provided examples of cats and dogs the breeding of which were unacceptable under the Convention.

They asked the cat associations to "set limits to the shortness of skull, particularly the nose, so that breathing difficulties and blockage of lachrymal ducts are avoided..." they are referring to the notorious contemporary, flat-faced Persian that is championed by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA). They also refer to the "abnormal positions of the teeth" of the Persian. Persian cat health problems.

The recommendations under the "Guidelines for the revision of breeding policies.." include (where the defect cannot be eliminated) discontinuing the breeding of dwarf cats, Scottish Fold, hairless cats (e.g. Sphynx) and the Manx. Dominant white cats (cats carrying the dominant white gene) should not breed as it results in a relatively high level of deafness.

These are examples. The underlying philosophy is common sense and well known and discussed. Breeders of any kind should not breed cats if the cats are anything other than as healthy as the healthiest random bred cats; nor when breeds are vulnerable to environmental conditions - hairless cats are just that.

It is interesting to note that the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe have issued a resolution on "Breeding and Animal Welfare" that includes the belief that one function of veterinarians is to promote and safeguard animal health and welfare. That concept is completely alien to United States veterinarians who declaw cats and nearly all do. Sorry but it's true. There is a chasm of difference between Europe and the United States.

I'll finish there to avoid getting bogged down in detail. See also:
  1. Selective cat breeding
  2. Persian cats
  3. Persian cat breeding

My cat sounds like Frog Cat

My cat sounds quite a lot like the frog cat. The frog cat is a large frog that screams like some cats might scream (but not many!). He is on YouTube. You can see the frog cat at the beginning of this video. I "borrowed" that bit of the video - sorry.

The sort of cat that screams like this frog is a Siamese. They have loud voices and very particular sounding voices. They like to demand attention using their voices. Well, my three-legged cat has some Siamese in him even though he is all black! Perhaps Siamese are black cats except for the middle bit! He has a long face in between the Modern Siamese and Traditional Siamese. You could say he has an oriental appearance (in cat fancy language) except he is a bit fat!

It is a pretty basic video and Charlie is quite dark in this video. There is a simple explanation. He was hungry at about 5:30 in the morning. When he is hungry he tends to scream at me. It was dark outside or there was a dawn light. I was lucky to get this bit of video. His bit of the video was boosted in light level and contrast using Sony Vegas video making software.

The sound he is making is a meow in my opinion except it is a bit of screaming meow because he wants me to know that he wants his breakfast.

See cat sounds.

Saturday 7 April 2012

Prevalence of FeLV and FIV

Here is some data on the prevalence of two well known diseases in cats that were domestic and feral: FeLV (Feline leukemia virus) and FIV (Feline immunodeficiency virus).  There is a comparison in some rows between domestic and feral cats in the table.




Animal shelter, Birmingham, England - 1997

2% feral cats and 3.6% tame cats

20.4% feral cats and 9.4% tame cats

Vets - Istanbul, Turkey

6% outdoor cats and 5% for indoor cats

22% for both indoor cats and outdoor/feral cats

Texas University, USA

5% of cats trapped

6% of cats trapped

Florida University, USA

7% of cats

7% of cats

North Carolina Uni

4% of cats

4% of cats

Prince Edward Island, Canada

5% of trapped cats

6% of trapped cats

Some added information:
  • In Istanbul, FIV was more common in male cats probably because they were not neutered. 
  • In the Florida and Carolina and Prince Edward Island studies FIV was more prevalent in male cats.
  • An interesting conclusion was that in colonies where TNR is practised the prevalence of FeLV and FIV was found to be low. Conclusion: TNR managed sites are a limited or low threat to the health of other cats.
  • The university programs in the USA relate to trapped cats. These were therefore feral or stray cats.
    Source: The Welfare of Cats edited by Irene Rochlitz:

    This is a very good book. Scientific, yes but sound.

    Educated Middle-aged Women Care for Feral Cats

    The title is perhaps not a surprise to people who know the world of cats. In two studies that have come to my notice the conclusions as to the type of person who is more likely to care for feral cats are:
    1. Female, middle-aged, married and well-educated. They kept companion animals themselves and were employed full-time (Zasloff & Hart 1998 as referred to in The Welfare of Cats ISBN 978-1-4020-6143-1 - 'the book'). This was a study of 75 cat colonies in Hawaii, USA. These ladies spent a good deal of time and money caring for feral cats, which must have placed time pressures on them as they worked full-time as well and were married. Helping feral cats enhanced their self-esteem. That is an interesting discovery, I feel.
    2. Female with an average age of 45 (84% were women). Almost 90% cared for their own companion animals as well, of which 66% kept a cat or cats. More than 50% of the ladies were married. The ladies did it because of (a) ethical concerns (b) sympathy for the cats (c) a love of animals and/or cats (Centonze & Levy 2002 as referred to in the book).
    As I said, the results are expected. All of them have my admiration. The visitor profile at PoC ( tends to be similar.

    Wednesday 4 April 2012

    Is CFA doing enough to regulate its breeders?

    The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) is said to the world's biggest.  It is probably the best known. They do have some peculiar and distorted views on cat welfare, however, that I find disturbing. I refer to the breed standards of several cat breeds.

    I question whether the CFA needs to spend more time and effort on cat welfare. It seems to be a low priority to the senior people at the CFA. I feel that the CFA have a bunker mentality. What I mean is that they close their mind to wrong doing and possibly lack the moral fiber to make important changes in the interests of the cats that their members breed and breed from.

    It seems that the CFA assumes that their cat breeder members will conduct themselves in a responsible manner. Do the CFA inspect the catteries of their members? I don't think they do. How can they when many of them appear to end up in jail for animal cruelty! I know it sounds astonishing but it is true. Maybe it does not sound astonishing!

    CFA booth at cat show.
    My recommendation to the CFA (which carries zero weight with the CFA and any other breeder) is that when they make referrals to cat breeders as they do on this page, they employ unannounced spot checks on their members to ensure that the breeder employs sound practises that prioritise the welfare of the cats.

    Also all CFA breeders should be committed to high standards of animal welfare. The CFA should ensure this before the person becomes a member and throughout membership.

    This cannot be taking place and is an oversight by the CFA, which confirms to me that they are either almost ignoring animal welfare issues or not giving it sufficient attention.

    The Effect of Cats on Wildlife

    The domestic cat is considered an "introduced species" or "invasive species". It is a carnivorous predator. If left to roam or become feral, it can have a negative effect on local species through (a) competition - competing and succeeding in preying on wildlife that is a common prey (b) predation - preying on other species (c) interbreeding - cross breeding with wild cats diluting the wild cat purebred stock - example: Scottish Wildcat (d) disease  - transmitting disease to other wild species of animal. The cat has been accused of the extinction of native species.

    Australia is the place where the feral and domestic cat is most commonly attacked in the media for the above reasons. Australians prefer pets other than cats. However despite the continued debate and publicity "the role of feral cats in the decline and extinction of Australian mammalian species remains unclear".(Burbridge & Manly 2002 as referred to in The Welfare of Cats ISBN 978-1-4020-6143-1).

    Human activity causing habitat destruction through "over-exploitation of resources, pollution and introduction of exotic species" is the biggest cause of species extinction. The human is the world's most prolific and destructive invasive species. The destruction of rainforest in places such as Borneo and Indonesia are well documented and have an enormously destructive effect on wildlife including rare wild cats such as the clouded leopard and bay cat. This is one of a multitude of examples. "Cats have not been shown to be the primary cause of the loss of native species on mainland continents" (Mead 1982, Mitchell & Beck 1992 and as referred to in The Welfare of Cats).

    In the UK the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) says "there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide" (see RSPB webpage and my comment: Domestic Cats Do Not Decimate Bird Populations and How Feral Cats Affect Wildlife).

    Cats are attacked because they are considered an invasive species. They are "targeted for control measures even when there is little evidence to support this" (The Welfare of Cats page 162). An example is blaming cats for the loss of three species of petrel in New Zealand (Little Barrier Island). There was no evidence that the petrels were ever on the island! (ref: Veitch 2001 and Girardet et al 2001). More recently the impact of other species such as ferrets and stoats have been considered in a more balanced appraisal.

    There is no doubt in my mind that studies on the impact of cats on wildlife have not been conclusive but have been hijacked by interested parties to promote vested interests. A more balanced approach needs to be taken and more respect afforded to the feral cat.

    Why We Overfeed Our Cats

    Not all of us overfeed our cat but a lot of people do. The PDSA, the UK's leading veterinary charity, tells us that in April of 2012, 3 million UK cats are obese! That is shocking information. The PDSA say that this represents about 25% of the cat population in the UK, which makes the population at 12 million cats. If this figure is true it means that there has been an increase in the cat population in the UK since 2006 of almost 2 million (see Ownership of Cats in the UK). This, in my opinion, might be incorrect. I really think the PDSA have the figures wrong here as there are not 12 million cats in the UK to the best of my knowledge. The figure is probably nearer 10 million. The truth is we don't know.

    But, it seems that there are too many overweight cats. We know that obesity can cause health problems and shorten life.

    There are two reasons why cats become overweight. The input of energy in the form of food is too high and the output of energy in the form of exercise is too low. The former is probably by far the biggest reason why cats are overweight.

    As we dictate what our cat eats, we are to blame. So why are we overfeeding our cats? These are my reasons:
    1. We feed on demand. Cats generally ask for food. When they ask we supply it. We like to give our cats food that pleases them. If we give them food they like when they like they might get fat but that presupposes that cats are unable to regulate their own weight. You might have thought that cats would be able to maintain a decent weight. 
    2. It is probably the case, therefore, that the cat food we feed with them with is designed to be moorish. Dry food might do this as it creates artificial glucose highs and then lows because of the high sugar content. Also a lot of people leave dry food down permanently. Dry food can it seems cause overgrazing. It is the nature of the food, which is very artificial.
    3. Cats don't get enough exercise. It is hard for us to ensure that our cat gets exercise. You know, you can't force a cat to exercise and therefore you have to play with your cat and that can get boring after about 5 minutes. Some cats like to go on a treadmill but I am sure that this is rare.
    The key I think to maintaining a healthy cat weight is tough love. Don't get me wrong. I don't mean be hard on your cat. What I mean is to not automatically respond to your cat's demand for food every time. And if he decides that he does not like the food that you have put down don't put down some more of a different type. Let him wait a bit until he is more hungry and he will then eat the food that he rejected. In doing this he will eat less because the gap between meals will have been extended. You can then give the occasional treat to please him.

    Tuesday 3 April 2012

    Monitoring The Internet And Avoiding It

    There is a lot of discussion in the UK on the matter of governmental monitoring of the internet. By monitoring it is meant that the government impose legal obligations on website owners to store certain information about the activity of its visitors and members which can subsequently be accessed by government agencies, without a court order,  to better manage and suppress terrorists and any other undesirable activity in the national interest.

    Because of long term and continued Islamic terrorism the world has changed. Major western nations are prioritizing national security over individual human rights. The balance has swung away from individual human rights. Islamic terrorism is religious terrorism committed by fundamentalist Muslims for the purpose of achieving political/religious ends. It is an abuse of their religion. Their activities have changed the world for the worst.

    The big hurdle is, therefore, human rights. Privacy is being compromised. It really does alter the dynamics between state and individual. However, a much bigger hurdle to this proposal is that the United States has already killed the idea.

    The Tor Network is available for free download. It is a "technological tool" that the US Department of State has helped to develop. It is backed by the US Government. The Tor Project is software run by a not-for-profit organization in Massachusetts.

    The software maintains the privacy of internet users. It was designed to assist people in countries where there is a dictatorship to allow them to communicate to organise to bring down the dictatorship. The United States wanted that and so assisted in its development. In assisting people seeking human rights it may have assisted people who want to suppress human rights. It just depends how you use it.

    It is the kind of software that could be used to bypass attempts by the UK government to monitor terrorist communications. The Tor Project is already used by people involved in activities such as drug, gun an illegal passport trading.

    Controlling the Source of Feral Cats

    Responsible pet ownership should be encouraged and fostered so that it happens voluntarily. Irresponsible pet ownership should be frowned up by the community and arguably punished in the courts. An irresponsible attitude towards keeping a domestic cat results in (a) health and welfare issues regarding the cat and (b) quality of life issues (and rarely health issues) regarding the community.

    Controlling the source of feral cats comes down to responsible pet ownership.  I prefer the phrases, "responsible cat caretaking" or "responsible cat guardianship" as they foster a better attitude towards the cat companion and therefore a more responsible approach towards their welfare.

    Responsible cat caretaking is reflected in a cat's needs as summarised in a piece of excellent legislation from Great Britain: Para 2 of section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. To this section of legislation I think we can add that cat caretakers today (2012) should be required to microchip their cats. Or if not microchip, there should be an alternative (perhaps safer from a health standpoint) to identify the cat as belonging to a certain individual. This would facilitate the return of stray cats to their "owners", if the owners accepted them!

    As at 2002, in the United States, only 2% to 3% of all shelter cats are returned to their owners. Microchipping has been recorded as greatly improving this low figure. (See also Microchipping Pets including Cats and Important Micro-chipping Information).

    Also responsible cat caretaking should include the requirement that cat caretaking is for the life of the cat. Only in the most exceptional cases should this requirement be withheld. Such a requirement would prevent casual adoptions leading to early relinquishment - see also understanding cat behavior.

    The domestic cat that is allowed to go outside should always be neutered or spayed. Or allowed outside into a cat enclosure. I realise that this is asking a lot but whether it happens or not depends on the commitment of the government and local authorities. It could happen. It just means upping the level of priority given to the "feral cat problem". Widespread, subsidised neutering should be available, ideally, for people who need financial assistance.

    The last important piece in the jigsaw of creating a high standard of cat caretaking across a large area (nationally or statewide in the USA or other countries) is to initiate some sort of education program for cat caretakers. There is a lot of ignorance about keeping domestic cats. Incorrect expectations based on a lack of knowledge about domestic cat behavior will result in a person abandoning their cat. This may happen soon or after years of mismanagement. People who struggle with caring for cats should have a means to seek advice and training to ameliorate the situation and a service of some sort should be in place to facilitate rehoming in bypassing the cat shelters that so commonly euthanise cats.

    The difficulty in instigating change is that it probably needs legislation - the creation of new law. People don't like that and it needs to be enforced. That costs money and money is in short supply (at 2012) and the feral cat is a low priority problem. See People Should be Fined for Abandoning a Cat

    World Popularity of Trap Neuter Return

    The map below shows the attitudes of different countries towards using trap-neuter-return (TNR) to control feral cat populations. It is based on my feelings acquired from reading a good amount on the subject.

    Blue=poor/not considered TNR, Red=Good TNR,
    Orange=Average/Poor TNR, Pastel Blue=Poor TNR

    This is not a map based on hard science. It can't be because there is not enough hard science on TNR yet. Also it is very generalised. It is probably slightly controversial.

    TNR is still a developing method of controlling feral cat populations. In some countries there is a blurring of the demarcation between domestic, stray and feral cats. The feral cat is accepted in some countries. TNR is therefore not considered because the need to control feral cat populations is not considered. These countries have not developed to the point where TNR is referred to.

    Also in cooler European countries the feral cat is hardly visible (England, Germany). Therefore there is not a pressing need to control the feral cat population. However, it would seem that the old, developed countries have developed TNR more. This is to be expected. I refer to European countries. Holland has an excellent approach for example. And some of the earliest TNR program studies come from England.

    There is a tug of war on the efficacy of TNR in some younger developed countries. The argument swings between killing and more humane techniques. North America falls into that bracket I believe but tends to decide upon TNR as the preferred method. Conversely Australia tends to favour killing in this battle between humane and cruel controls. I would expect the USA and Australia to come around to the TNR way of thinking in due course. Israel falls into the middle ground as well.

    Japan and Hong Kong have barely got of the ground on developing TNR. However Japan has good animal welfare laws.

    Monday 2 April 2012

    The Lucky Feral Cats of Holland

    Holland has an advanced, humane and sensible approach to animal welfare. It must be one of the best countries in respect of animal welfare. They have a very long standing animal welfare organisation, The Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals (DSPA) that was founded in 1864. It has 200,000 volunteers!

    The DSPA has had some landmark successes in influencing the creation of national animal welfare legislation and their influence in this regard goes back to the late 1800s.

    The society influenced the basic methodology of the drafting of the Animal and Welfare Act in 1992. On the society's recommendation, the Act is based on the "no-unless" principle. The fundamental premise of this principle is that there should be no practices that hurt animals unless it is provided for in legislation. It puts the onus on those who might hurt animals for the sake of commerce to argue that it is justified. It is the animal that takes priority over the person. Excellent concept.

    There are 110 shelters in Holland and all are affiliated to the DSPA. There appears to have been a stray cat problem in 1996 as the population of cats at shelters had increased dramatically since 1992 to 31,100. The solution? In 1997 all shelter cats plus 15, 000 owned cats plus 3,000 feral cats where spayed and neutered (48,800 cats in all). That is the kind of positive, no nonsense action that should happen elsewhere.

    A national sterilization program was implemented in the late 1900s. Perhaps there has to be a long history of animal welfare in a country before it has an impact. But in Holland great things were happening over 100 years ago. Wouldn't it be nice if the animal welfare societies in the United States could put pressure to bear on the US government to ban declawing nationwide and deal with the feral cat problem in a similar manner?

    Google Should Open A Shop

    Perhaps Google should open a shop to provide them with another outlet for their energies and ambitions. On the ground, high street shops, would also provide an interface for true, in the flesh, meetings with website entrepreneurs and internet users, Joe Public. In addition to a shop being a meeting place it could also serve as a training establishment on such diverse matters as maximizing revenue from Adsense and the use of Adwords. They could also promote website building in seminars. And utilize the seminars as brainstorming sessions. Google needs feedback from users.

    One to one, or one to several, group meetings might have the benefit of broadening what might have become slightly introverted, stagnated thinking by Google. Google is also becoming a bit bloated. They have a lot of clever employees fine tuning great products and making them worse (potentially) in doing so. New products are created but not presented to the word as efficiently as they might be.

    Come and join us, the public, on the high street. Get plenty of feedback and new ideas and at the same train us in your expertise. This sort of approach may also go some way to seeing off criticism that Google is too big and dominant. Google like to give back. This might be better carried out on the high street.

    Shops would also be good for branding. The look and feel of the Google Shops should be as per their offices: open, colorful and funky. There should be a coffee shop inside the shop!

    And if you have a shop you need some products to sell. There is no reason why Google cannot manufacture and sell products. The already provide components for products in the form of software, I am using Google Blogger this minute.

    Google need to stop tinkering with the good and expand in a different direction. Classic Google is still the best search engine if you turn off Google Plus One. Most of the "improvements" have not improved it, in my opinion.

    A bustling, busy and productive Google Shop would be a great advert for giant Google that needs to freshen up their image.

    Feral Cats Of Israel

    The feral cats of Israel are very visible. When I was there about 12 years ago I immediately noticed them scuttling around the alleyways. It was sad to see. You don't see feral cats in the UK. They are there but you don't see them. There must be more of them in Israel because of the warmer weather.

    There are four major players in the feral cat story of Israel. They are pulling in different directions. Although things are changing.

    The Public: The cat as a companion animal is not highly valued we are told. The cat is not kept as a companion animal to the same levels that you find in the UK and USA or Europe. On the basis that that is correct it informs us about the underlying, general attitude of the Israelis towards the domestic and feral cat.

    For decades feral cats were simply rounded up and killed because they were considered to be a health hazard (rabies) and a nuisance. This did not resolve the feral cat problem. The feral cat population remained stable (moral: killing feral cats does not work - take note people in the United States who want to kill feral cats).

    Obviously there are responsible cat lovers in Israel. But there are also careless ones; one reason why the feral population remains stable after years of slaughter.

    Ministry of Environment: these are the humane government employees. For some people they would be considered the more sensible and enlightened too. They support TNR and animal rights. This ministry has also issued guidelines on feeding feral and stray cats and how to deal with cat colonies. I wonder if these guidelines conflict with those of the Ministry of Agriculture?

    Ministry of Agriculture: this part of government tends to prefer killing as a means of feral cat control. It appears to be a discredited method although they would argue that in keeping the population stable they have prevented it rising. Apparently the ministry's vets don't understand TNR or want to get involved in it or in publicly funded sterilisation programs. They have issued a procedure that instructs people how to deal with feral cats in relation to trapping, feeding and euthanasia. I have not seen the document but it appears to favour killing. Poisoning feral cats, however, is a crime under existing Israeli legislation (para 4 of the Animal Welfare Law, 1999). People still trap and kill feral cats.

    The Court: the Supreme Court has stepped in. They appear to have decided that the Ministry of Agriculture procedures are unacceptably harsh and cruel in promoting the large scale killing of feral and stray cats. They may even have been in breach of the animal welfare laws of the country - I don't know. The court declared that non-lethal solutions are preferable. This must include TNR, the best known non-lethal method. The court also wished to refine rules governing the control of rabies.

    As a result of the court's declaration a committee has been set up bringing together parties from "Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Environment and Interior, local authorities, veterinarians and representatives of animal welfare organizations" to find common ground and a better and more humane way to deal with the feral cats of Israel.

    Note: Israel has an increasingly enlightened attitude to animal welfare demonstrated by making declawing illegal.

    Sources: The Welfare of Cats edited by Irene Rochlitz and The Ministry of Environmental Protection, State of Israel - Cat Welfare.

    Sunday 1 April 2012

    Bright Eyed Melanistic Savannah Cat

    Melanistic Savannah Cat by broadsurf
    Melanistic Savannah Cat, a photo by broadsurf on Flickr.
    This is a high hitting Flickr photograph of a melanistic Savannah cat that I created a couple of years ago now. I think she was female. She is a breeding cat and her mate was a conventional coated cat (spotted tabby as I recall).

    She was living in an inside/outside enclosure. She would not have had much interaction with people and it showed. She wanted interaction with people because when I entered the enclosure quietly and sat down and did nothing to allow her time to adjust she looked quite startled.

    She soon got accustomed to my presence. I had put my glasses high up on the cage and she immediately climbed up to check them out.

    She then gradually approached and then began to lick me. She licked me so much I became wet with her saliva. She was very cute.

    Her appearance had a wild quality. I felt that she was semi-wild. Her eyes are startlingly beautiful set against the rich melanistic coat. When the sunlight shone through her coat you could see the rusty coloured melanin pigmentation. Black is brown in the cat world.

    What is surprising is that this photograph has received by far the highest number of views by visitors who come to my Flickr pages (channel). I am not sure why.

    It is licensed by me for reuse "as is" meaning anyone can republish it provided they don't adjust it. You also have to provide a credit and a link back to the Flickr page.

    I hope you like the photo. She was a great lady cat. I remember my time with her with great clarity. She must have made an impression on me. I think she was fourth generation from the wild (F4).

    Need To Measure The Success Of Trap Neuter Return

    It is time to accurately measure the success of trap-neuter-return programs on a large scale. The studies should be long term and scientific in manner.

    In order to shut out counter arguments, there should be no weaknesses in the studies in respect of methodology.

    The need arises because it is time to demonstrate to people who can fund TNR programs (e.g governmental agencies) that it works in the long term. Well documented success stories would also counter the arguments of the bird lobbyists and others who want to see the feral cat exterminated. They say that TNR fails and feral cats are a hazard to native wildlife.

    Apparently, TNR as a means to manage feral cat numbers was devised in South Africa and Denmark fairly recently in the 1970s. The method was exported to England and thence to the United States, Canada and many other countries.

    There are a great number of feral cat TNR programs in the United States, Canada and Europe. There have been a good number of studies as well on the outcome of TNR. Alley Cat Allies says that "Multiple long-term studies of Trap-Neuter-Return have shown that the size of managed colonies decreases over time" (see Alley Cats Allies page).

    But my reading of the situation is that we don't have enough solid data on the efficacy of TNR as a humane means of managing and reducing feral cat colonies. A highly reliable source, The Welfare of Cats, edited by Irene Rochlitz, says that, "it is impossible to quantify the extent and success of TNR in most locations". The book quotes a substantial number of TNR programs in various countries including Israel (where declawing has recently been banned) in coming to this conclusion.

    The book refers to success stories such as a TNR program that commenced in Florida in 1995. Six years of information indicated that despite a 33% increase in human population, euthanasia rates at shelters and complaints dropped off over the study period. Yet, as far as I can tell we don't have hard figures for this or hardly any other TNR program.

    Alley Cat Allies, themselves, could take the responsibility of ensuring that TNR programs with which they are connected collect and collate accurate data on success and failure rates. More rigour needs to be injected into TNR. I would expect positive data, which can be used to accelerate activity levels of TNR across America.

    Google Search Slowing Down?

    1st April 2012: Slow start up? Not an April Fools' prank! Are you getting stalling problems at the beginning of a search when you try and type in what you are searching for? I am and it seems to be do with the Google page syncing up to something on Google Plus or some other add on nuisance. In other words what was once a very simple super fast loading Google search page (Google Classic) is now slow and this slows down my search while I wait for (iGoogle) to load.

    iGoogle is the Google home page that contains lots of extras. It syncs up to things. And it appears to be syncing up to too many addons. Whereas at one time iGoogle was slower than Classic Google it is now almost unusable for me.

    It may be the fact that I have recently opened a Google +1 home page "thing" (no idea what it does, already bored with it). I was encouraged to do it by Google. Google desperately wants us to use Google +1 and constantly searches for ways to get us to use it. I guess people prefer the Facebook like button despite all Google's efforts.

    For me Google are pushing people away from using Google search. I prefer Bing now sometimes as it is simpler and more direct.

    Google changed Picasa Web Albums not long ago and that change stopped me using it. It became to complicated in that I didn't know what was public or private. I could not trust it anymore. When you are not sure what Google is doing in addition to what you can see, you start to distrust them.

    I'll try returning to classic Google home page for a while.

    Criticising The Cat Fanciers' Association

    The Cat Fanciers' Association needs to be criticised. I don't want to do it. In the interests of Persian cats in the USA and elsewhere I will do it on this page. I am speaking on behalf of the contemporary Persian purebred cat with the brachycephalic short head.

    Other cat breeds that follow the CFA breed standard that requires a cat that suffers from flat head syndrome, brachycephaly, are the shorthaired Persian known as the Exotic Shorthair and the pointed Persian, called the Himalayan. The Burmese in American also has head shape problems that can affect health in a serious manner.

    The breed characteristics or phenotype of the contemporary Persian, Exotic SH and Himalayan demand a brachycephalia short head that is big and round with a short, broad nose. The elements of the face should be in vertical alignment. I'll quote the CFA breed standard just so you know exactly what I mean:

    "HEAD: round and massive, with great breadth of skull. Round face with round underlying bone structure.....When viewed in profile, the prominence of the eyes is apparent and the forehead, nose, and chin appear to be in vertical alignment."

    In the most extreme cases the "upper part of the nasal plate is higher than the level of the lower eye-lids" (The Welfare of Cats, edited by Irene Rochlitz ISBN  978-1-4020-6143-1).

    I discuss the health and subsequent welfare problems associated with this breed standard on this page: Persian Cat Health Problems.

    The CFA breed standard for these cats is almost an act of criminal conspiracy to cause animal cruelty. I am a bit surprised that no none has considered prosecuting the esteemed Cat Fanciers' Association under animal welfare laws.

    Also, as I understand it, the overall, underlying CFA breed standard insists that breeding should not produce unhealthy cats. This is in conflict with the breed standards of these three cats. In defence the CFA say that "it is possible to breed a beautiful Persian with a very short nose that breathes and tears normally".

    I like the phrase, "it is possible". It is possible to fly to the moon but very few people have achieved it. The same applies to the creation of a totally healthy ultra type Persian cat.

    Recommendations: (a) change the breed standard but do it over time so that there is a gradual shift back to normal characteristics without the CFA losing face (b) show cats that are over bred should be excluded from cat shows (c) cat show judges should be advised to make subtle changes to their judging criteria to start a shift away from the success of extreme bred cats (d) unhealthy cats should be penalized or excluded from cat shows (e) medical examinations should take place at cat shows and breeders given due notice. The notice period should be generous to allow change.

    See: 19 Years of Persian Cat Experience - this neither supports of goes against what I have said.

    Four ways to reduce the high feral cat population

    If we agree that the high feral cat population is a problem then here are four pointers to reducing it. They are actually common sense, well know ideas but I think it helps to restate them.

    Firstly, it is worth making the point that cats are good rodent catchers. It is the reason why wild cat domestication took place about 9,500 years ago. I think we forget that. Might it be that feral cats provide a useful service in keeping the rodent population down and that we don't realise it? We might discover that this is happening if we got rid of the feral cat.

    Four points to reduce the feral cat:
    1. Increase trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs. Make them more widespread. This will need government funding. When conducted in a coordinated and widespread way it can be successful but the TNR process is open to criticism if conducted piecemeal. I have a lot of admiration for the volunteers involved in TNR programs.
    2. All domestic cats should be identifiable so that if they become strays they can be returned to their owner. Owners who recklessly allow their cats to become strays and ferals should be punished and forbidden from keeping cats. Only highly responsible cat caretakers should be allowed to keep cats. Strong stuff, but do we really want to reduce the feral cat population? If, yes, something tougher needs to be introduced.
    3. All domestic cats should be sterilised. This should be obligatory in law. It is regrettable that we need to neuter the domestic cat. Personally I like the whole cat. It is more natural and fair. But practicalities need to take over and idealism placed on the back burner.
    4. Education, education, education...obligatory cat caretaking classes should be in place for people who keep cats. People have to pass a driving test for the safety of other drivers. Perhaps there should be a cat caretaker's test and license. Enforcement and management of such a program is its biggest obstacle. But car owning is managed nicely by government bodies so why can't cat ownership be managed in a similar way?
    There is a distinct lack of will to deal with the high feral cat population. Lots of people moan about it, mostly the bird lobbyists. Yet there is no commitment to resolve the problem. If it is a problem.

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