Saturday 16 June 2012

The Big Cat Scratching Post

The more I think about it, the more I realise that a cat scratching post needs to be large and well sited. There are a lot on them on the market which are not large enough. They don't work because a cat won't use it or is reluctant to use it. This has ramifications.

Kitten climbing a 'tree' - a large scratching post.

One consequence that comes to mind is that people who have thought about declawing their cat but resisted and bought a cat scratching post instead might then decide to have their cat declawed thinking that it is impossible to get their cat to scratch in the right place.

I hope people who have decided against declawing try again and purchase a large scratching post and put it where cats might mark territory as if they were wild cats. These places are normally in prominent locations within the cat's home range. An example might be near the back door if the cat is allowed to go out. When my cat goes outside he scratches trees. These are solid objects that don't move. Of course cats also scratch horizontally but in this post I am referring to the classic scratching post.

My opinion is that:
  • a large scratching post that replicates to a certain extent a tree (see picture), placed
  • in a prominent location that would be the cat's boundary of his or her home range or on a "trail" and
  • to start the process of encouraging to scratch a scratching post while the cat is a kitten...
will result in success. Or at least there will be a good chance of success if these three guidelines are put into place. Patience, gentle encouragement and the judicious use of catnip will also help.

I am grateful for Dorothy for showing me the picture. I don't know who took the picture. If you see this and want a credit please leave a comment.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Manx and Sphynx Cat Breeds Becoming More Popular?

The Manx and Sphynx have entered the top ten of most popular cat breeds. This is interesting to people like me who get involved with the popularity of cat breeds. Perhaps they were always there but not on my reckoning. They are not one of the core mainstream cat breeds. But a survey by Vetstreet.com tells us that the Manx and Sphynx are the 8th and 10th most popular cat breeds for 2011.


There are various ways to measure cat breed popularity. Each is likely to produce a different result. I cover that in more detail on this page which is a similar but extended article to this one.

Vetstreet used the number of births on their database for 2011 to come to the conclusion that the Siamese was streets ahead for popularity. I can believe them but - there is always a but, isn't there - who are Vetstreet? They seem to be a general content website about pets. They have disclaimers about their advice. I don't know why they have a database of purebred cats especially one that contains '623,000 cats born in 2011'.

The number of births is a pretty good guideline as to popularity but were these all purebred cats? The number quoted is large and it should include random bred cats. In fact I would say it must include moggies because it would seem unlikely to me that they have 623,000 purebred cats on their database.

This is what they came up with:

Vetstreet.com Most Popular Cat Breeds in America (based on 2011 data)
  1. Siamese
  2. Persian
  3. Maine Coon
  4. Ragdoll
  5. Bengal
  6. Himalayan
  7. American Shorthair
  8. Manx
  9. Russian Blue
  10. Sphynx
Comment on the result: One thing you can say for sure is that all ten are popular. Eight of them nearly always feature in the top ten. The odd two are the Manx and the Sphynx.  That is the reason for the header. It is not that the Manx and Sphynx are 'odd', they are not but they usually fall in the mid-range of popularity amongst about 70 cat breeds. The CFA register about 40 and TICA about 70 so the Manx and Sphynx usually rank around the 20 mark and not in the top 10. Both are quite specialist. The Sphynx requires some specialist care being nude and the Manx has at least some potential health problems associated with the shortened or missing tail.

As to the Siamese cat. There are 3 or 4 versions of this breed. Which one are Vetstreet talking about?

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Ohio Restrictions on Private Captive Wildlife Programs

Ohian legislators have responded to the horrifying carnage of wild animals, including large wild cats, at Zanesville, Ohio. It is referred to as the Zanesville massacre. It occurred on October 19, 2011. It was the classic, private zoo disaster waiting to happen and it could happen again. Neither do I believe it was a freak event.

The silver lining to come out of this very sad story is that legislation backed by HSUS was introduced into Ohio's state legislature and has been passed and become law. It was a speedy bit of law making prompted by the shock of the event.

Of course, keepers of exotic cats etc. were against it. It is one more piece of legislation that erodes the freedoms of Americans to indulge their passion for interacting with exotic animals. The trouble is that ultimately it is an indulgent hobby (it does not pay). And to be brutally honest I don't think it does anything or hardly anything for conservation although the benefits to conservation is the argument used by keepers of exotic animals for doing it. Personally, I don't go with that argument which is why I support more legislation that restricts people's freedoms. This is unfortunate but sadly people do need to be managed to a certain extent because not everyone acts responsibly.

Since the 1980s there has been an explosion in wildlife breeding. That is one reason why it became a risk to both public and the animals. Ohio had some of the weakest laws on the keeping of exotic 'pets'. This is how some so called 'conservationists' relate to their dangerous wild animals.

What sort of restrictions will soon be in place? And how will this impact privately owned captive wildlife programs?

Legislation

I will summarize because people involved in keeping captive wildlife will read the legislation carefully, while those outside it don't want boring legal details.

The new restrictions appear to be concerned with 'dangerous exotic animals'. People who already keep them can still do so. But they will have to apply for a permit by January 1st 2014 and their application is not going to be a walkover. The cost of permits range from $250-$1,000. Insurance cover might have to be in the region of a quarter of a million dollars to one million with the premiums that that brings to the owner.

On September 3rd 2012, when the law comes into effect, the trade in exotic animals will be banned with a few exceptions. Approximately 640 species are wild animal fall under the new law.

Wild animals classified as dangerous include: lions, tigers, jaguars and cheetahs. There are exemptions for genuine sanctuaries, zoos and research institutions for instance.

Impact

I'll have to refer to what Lynn Culver the Executive Director of the Feline Conservation Federation (FCF) says, which is that privately owned captive wildlife in Ohio will be extremely rare in the future. People who want to get into wildlife ownership and breeding will now be critically scrutinised, or should be, by the USDA. They will need proven skills and knowledge. The FCF run courses that will help. There is no doubt that the laissez-faire days of letting people buy lions for peanuts are over. People should consider applying for ZAA (Zoological Association of America)  accreditation as they register breeders and apparently they have an exemption.

People's energies and love of wild cats etc. should be channeled into true wildlife conservation in the wild as practiced by people like Jim Sanderson PhD (Andean Mountain Cat and other species) and the Snow Leopard Trust. They both run fantastic conservation programmes.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Pets Are Not Animals

I have stolen the title from Craig McFarlane's site. I think he makes an interesting but very refined point. He also refers to an article from one of those Homes and Gardens type magazines. This one is called, 'Fresh Home Magazine".

They had a page which was on the subject of "Decorating Mantras to Live By". That is a big statement for one of these magazines. The author lists five points to live by. One of them is: Every room needs something living, flowers, goldfish, a pet. Fair point. A good point. But, it is the way the point is made that indicates that pets are not animals.

You can see what Craig is getting at. It is something I have mentioned before myself. It is unfashionable mind you; very unfashionable with a large section of society but it is true and therefore worth mentioning again.

When you write about decorating your home and refer to 'a pet' - any pet ('a' pet), as part of the decorating process you are on dangerous ground. This is because you are treating the 'pet' as a item of decoration and not as a living, breathing animal with all that that imparts. It is this mentality that can lead to incorrect expectations regarding caring for a cat and that unfortunately is part of the mentality that can lead to deciding to declaw one's cat because claws tend to spoil the decor.

Sorry to keep going on about declawing but it seems I have to because it still goes on when it should have stopped.

Craig emphasizes the point that pets are not treated as animals because goldfish and 'pets' are separated by the author. It is like separating curtains from sofa coverings.

The reference to 'a pet' is worrying too. Any pet (and 'pet' is a bad word) will do. Just add it into the mix and make your home better. No; this is not the way to adopt a cat.

Adopting a domestic cat is far more profound because a cat is a living animal with feelings. And animals are like us. Jean Cocteau got it right when he said:

"I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul."

In this cat quote Cocteau is referring to cats as part of making the home better, more pleasant and it goes much deeper than decoration. A cat's presence goes to the soul of the home. A domestic cat does add a dimension to the home that inanimate objects cannot.

That is why the cat should not be treated as an inanimate object. Finally, the other points 1,2, 4 and 5 are good points. He or she just has the wrong mentality on pets or (s)he did not express herself as well as she might have.

Sunday 10 June 2012

Doctors are no more that specialist veterinarians

To those of us who love cats and are aware of our cat's needs and behavior I think we knew this all along . What do I mean? I mean that animals suffer from the same or similar psychological and physical health problems that we do. They are more like us than billions of people realize. This is gradually dawning on the human race, rather late in the day, and it may put some resistance into worldwide animal abuse and misuse.

The title is a reference to the fact that doctors (General Practitioners let's say) treat the human animal, one species of animal amongst all animals on the planet and are, therefore, specialist vets because vets treat all animals.

Vets should be funded better through a state subsidy perhaps. They are paid less than doctors. Although in America they call themselves doctors. Being paid less can create distortions and anomalies such as declawing cats, a highly profitable process for vets. Some never declaw.

I would like, as well, to refer to the book, Zoobuity, that is out on the 14th June 2012. You can pre-book on Amazon. It is the book that gave me the idea for this post.

Here is an example of how close we are to animals. God, that statement will upset some people, sorry. Take people who self-harm. This could be a distortion of preening in birds. When birds are upset because they have been left alone they peck themselves. A similar form of self-harm. When horses are left alone they gnaw themselves.

In general doctors keep a distance from veterinarians and vice versa. There is a call for these two professions to collaborate much more to the benefit of both, particularly the human animal. Of course, we are far more important than animals aren't we?

The First Siamese Cats of the Cat Fancy

Cat history is often annoyingly vague unless the cat breed was created through selective breeding on the back of hybridization. The Siamese cat, though is a naturally occurring type of cat with dark fur at the extremities of its body and which was found in Siam (Thailand) for centuries. Of course it may have occurred elsewhere in the Orient. But we know that someone from the West saw the cat and wanted to import it to Europe, specifically England. We are talking about the 1880s.

1889 Siamese cat - Illustration by Harrison Weir.

The first person or one of the first people to import the Siamese cat to the West was Mrs Vyvyan. She lived in Dover, Kent, on the south coast of England. We can say this with some certainty because she is quoted directly by the founder of the world cat fancy, Harrison Weir, in his book Our Cats and all about them (that is how the title looks by the way. I have shortened it a bit). You won't get a better authority than that because the book's author was the number one authority about cat breeds at the time and the date the book was published was 1889. He wrote about something that had just happened. It was fresh news and the section on the Siamese cat in his book features the Siamese and its history to a greater extent than the other breeds he refers to. The Siamese was a novelty at the time and was considered rather exotic.

Mrs Vyvyan says that she believes that the Siamese cats that she acquired came from the King's Palace (the King of Siam - hence the "Royal Siamese cat"). The fact that the King kept Siamese cats indicates that these cats were looked upon as special in Siam. They may have been quite a rare mutation to the ordinary domestic cat in that country.

There are a number of Siamese cat history stories one of which I mention on my Siamese cat history page about the British Consular General who was departing to England and who was given Siamese cats by the King. I don't know how this squares up with Mrs Vyvyan's account of the matter as referred to in Harrison Weir's book. Perhaps someone can leave a comment and clarify the matter.

Let's say that Mrs Vyvyan was one of the first importers if not the first. Her words therefore about the breed carry weight and provide an insight into the health, character and appearance of the original Siamese cats in Siam.

In summary - you can read more on this page - she says that they were loyal and dog-like of character. This reflects the modern assessment of this breeds character. As to health she confirms what Lady Neville says (is Mrs Vyvyan, lady Neville?) that the early Siamese cats had a bad attack of intestinal parasites  - worms. This was a particular and concerning problem. A number of cats died of worms and at the time there was no cure but John Jennings in his book, Domestic Cats and Fancy Cats mentions that there were several treatments one of which was something called "santonine". "One to three grains should be given in milk after fasting for six hours". Mrs Vyvyan feed her cas chicken heads with feathers as a panacea.

So health was a concern for the Siamese cat owner (caretaker) of that era. In fact Mrs Vyvyan says they were delicate in respect of health. As to the all important appearance, Mr Weir, who was a very accomplished artist, illustrates his book with a drawing of the head of a Siamese cat, probably one of Mrs Vyvyan's Siamese cats. It heads this page -  a classic applehead Siamese cat. The pointing is rather odd however as it appears to have a clear demarcation over the eyes in an arch. This may just be a quirky way of drawing the face.

Whatever; as I have mentioned before, the original Siamese was the what is today called the traditional or applehead Siamese. The pointing was almost black in colour (seal point in modern parlance). Ironically, the modern, over-bred Siamese cat with the oriental body shape is one of the least healthy cats, if not the most unhealthy cat of the cat fancy. I wonder if this is an inheritance from the founding cats or due to inbreeding to create to the modern idea of what the Siamese cat should look like, which is incorrect!

Saturday 9 June 2012

@ChoupettesDiary Tweets

I had to look up Choupette Lagerfeld's tweets on Twitter. In case you have not noticed the story of Choupette in the press, Choupette is a Siamese kitten. I think it is interesting from the standpoint that the person doing the tweets might be Karl Lagerfeld. It is probably a mixture of people who make the tweets including the two maids who look after Choupette. Of course it could be Choupette because she can use an iPad which brings me nicely to the first tweet from Choupette (they are in blue):

Gucci may have gotten a horse but can the horse use an iPad? I THINK NOT!

I am kitty no.1 who wears #Chanel no.5 (cc. @UYS_Blog) . (does she really wear perfume!?)

Daddy may not dress me up but little does he know how good I look when he leaves & I try on in his black blazer. ME-OWWW! (comment: Mr Lagerfeld thankfully does not agree with dressing up cats. There might be a temptation in Karl's case because he is one of the world's most famous designers. He likes black for himself and probably has tons of black blazers).

Victoria Beckham’s dog knows nothing about how to model clothing. Leave it to the real catwalkers: the felines. (a nice pun on 'catwalkers').

Maid, I request a swarovski crystal encrusted laser pointer to chase. Fetch me one MEOW! Karl is going to buy his Siamese a laser pointer toy. Seems that way.

Please consider allowing cats front row during the next fashion week. I promise to wear my best collar. Seems that Choupette might be attending the next fashion show.

Don't be confused, Daddy gushes more over me than he does Kate Middleton. There's only room for ONE princess in the Lagerfeld chateau. Sensible. Mr Lagerfeld prefers his cat to Kate Middleton (Duchess of Cambridge - William's wife).

I have chosen 2 test wat humans call "ombré". Not sure what this means but the text is below a picture of Choupette wearing claw caps (soft paws):

Choupette's claws capped.

Well, for someone like Mr Lagerfeld who is very particular it seems that capping the claws is a nice solution. I guess he does not want any of his clothes snicked or some of his creations snagged if they are lying around the home. Good one to end on. Choupette has 4,800 followers on Twitter. She has been a member for about 3 days!

Choupette has the appearance of a traditional Siamese cat incidentally.

Desdemona Cartoon Cat

Desdemona was a cartoon cat in a comic strip called Mutt & Jeff. Desdemona belonged to Cicero, who was the son of Mutt. Incidentally, this is not the cartoon "Mutt & Jeff", the videos of which you see on YouTube. However the Mutt & Jeff detectives starring in this movie cartoon were created by Bud Fisher and the creator of Desdemona was created by Al Smith who took over (after ghosting?) from Bud Fisher. Therefore, there is clearly a link and continuity. Nor, by the way, is she the cat that was seen with Cicero on November 18th 1907. It is a bit complicated as you can see.
Cicero's Cat

Desdemona made her debut on December 3rd 1933 in Cicero's Cat. It was "tacked onto" the Mutt & Jeff Sunday comic strip. The strip varied from one row to a half page of panels. It was mainly a two panel comic strip. In was (is?) a long lasting comic strip because it was still around in 1991, when it was a single panel.

Desdemona is a white cat with fine black stripes (the stripes are so close together she looks almost black!). A weird kind of tabby cat, then.  More so because she likes to wear and a hat and coat. She likes milk and likes to hang out in Kat Alley to avoid dogs.

She believes in animal rights (perhaps so does Al Smith, therefore!) and can read but not speak to people. She wants to help chickens being sent to slaughter. She can speak to animals though.  Typical of the domestic cat she likes to sleep. She studies military strategy to catch mice but fails to execute the plan properly because she falls asleep.

Al Smith

Desdemona likes to play but it can lead to the destruction of the toys such as Christmas tree ornaments which she swats.

In one cartoon strip each panel carries a one word description:
  1. Picture: Cheese is set out and a fan used to send the smell down a mouse hole. Caption: Breeze.
  2. One mouse comes out of the hole and Desdemona sniffs it. Caption: Tease.
  3. Mouse runs and Desdemona chases. Caption: Flees.
  4. She peers into the mouse hole. Caption: Sees.
  5. She falls asleep. Caption: Z's.
  6. Her tail is pulled through the mouse hole and knotted. Caption: Seize.
  7. She begs in a wheeze for the mice to let her go. Caption: Please!
Desdemona also featured in the Mutt & Jeff comic book from 1939-45. These were one page adventures.

Al Smith and Cicero's cat cartoon strip courtesy of http://schulzlibrary.wordpress.com/tag/bud-fisher/

Associated: Cartoon Cats.

Jordan the Foundling

by Jeri (NY, USA)

I was given Jordan, the sweetest and most mischievous cat I have ever known. When he was a kitten too small to be away from his mother--he'd been treed, and was rescued by friends who could not find his mother.

Jordan stares me down!
 
His fluffy tail was about twice as large as his little body, and he spent most of his time grooming it--that is, when he wasn't galloping around, ambushing my unprotected feet, knocking things off shelves to get attention, and literally climbing the walls, jumping onto the tops of 7 foot bookshelves, ricocheting off the kitchen and hallway walls... !

He had a stare of concentration that made him look a little angry sometimes, even as a kitten: but he has always had a serious side, and he doesn't take any guff!

He still hangs out on top of bookshelves, occasionally making heroic leaps from one to another across the room.

He was named after the courageous and mischievous June Jordan.

Jeri

Friday 8 June 2012

Killing Boxes For Cats

I am writing about gas chambers for cats and dogs. They are still used in the United States you know. It must be convenient. It is a form industrialized killing. Injections aren't fast enough. Of course there is little (or no) concern for the suffering of the cats and dogs of which many will be former family members. It takes the breath away, when you think about it. But don't think about it because it just makes you unhappy.

IMPORTANT PETITION: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/12/stop-gassing-shelter-animals/

As the person who uploaded the video said, gas chambers were deemed inhumane for the killing of criminals on death row some of whom are the worst kind of serial killer. Yet it is perfectly acceptable and normal to kill our companion animals this way. They shouldn't even be killed never mind this way. They say sometimes the cat or dog drowns in his own vomit. They are all terrified.

I have not watched the video and I won't watch the video. This is because when you become older you have less tolerance for this sort of thing.

Don't watch it if it will upset you.


The following text is from Olga's email to me. A lot of people will have read it already but some have not. That is why I have published it here. To spread the word. To knock on the door of sanity.

To hope and pray that one day someone in authority will give the order to stop doing this.

Gas chambers are still being used to kill animals that are noted as "sick" or its usually because they do not have enough room. 31 States are still using gas chambers but because of voices like yours 19 states have decided to ban gas chambers lets shoot for all states!

The gas chamber usually can take up to 45 minutes for the animals to pass sometimes it takes even longer. A few have miraculously survived the recent reporting of survivors are Andrea (cat) and Daniel (beagle) both from different states. Its obvious these gas chambers aren't being used properly.

Graphic text just to forewarn

During this process the animals are put into a small box with many other animals (sometimes up to 30. The gas is turned on they are scared and cramped as this gas fills their lungs it starts burning their insides and eyes. They then begin to panic and cry for help as they bleed from their cavities, vomit and defecate all over (literally) and finally after enduring this for several minutes they take their last breath... As all of this is going on they are usually fully conscious.

I am not religious. But let us pray for them and our souls because in doing this we damage ourselves.

Associated Posts:

Karl Lagerfeld's Siamese Cat

Karl LagerfeldKarl Lagerfeld has that robotic looking face and style. Apparently he is a man of deeply entrenched habits. Perfectly understandable. He is the designer for Chanel. He is very rich. He has a rich man's habits. He was asked to look after a Siamese kitten for the model Baptiste Giabiconi - his 'muse'. What is a muse? A person close to you who inspires your creative process. I think that is right.

Mr Lagerfeld liked the Siamese kitten too much to give her back. She was too cute, he says. His muse accepted his wishes. The cat is called 'Choupette'. You can see a picture on Twitter here.

Naturally, Choupette has everything a cat desires and more. She has two maids to look after her and who write a diary about her every move. It is already 600 pages long and will be made into a book (possibly).

Choupette likes to use an iPad along the lines of what we see on YouTube. She eats with her human companion on the table. Mr Lagerfeld makes sure she eats cat food and not his food. I sense that he is a very good cat caretaker. He's a cat person! Great. This has to be good for cats.

Choupette likes to use an iPad

Of all the cat breeds the Siamese is the breed most attractive to celebrities and the rich. There is a long history of this. Why? Well they were called the 'Royal Cat of Siam' as they originally came from the royal palaces of the King of Siam (now Thailand) - history. That may be a factor. They are still a glamorous looking cat and still in the top three of the most popular cat breeds. However, the Siamese is no longer considered exotic. That accolade belongs to wildcat hybrids today (2012).

Associated:

Where can I get pictures that are not copyrighted?

I will tell you where you can get pictures that are not copyrighted. There are only so many options. The bottom line is there are three basic types of picture when it comes to copyright:
  1. Pictures protected by copyright;
  2. Pictures that are copyright protected but which you can use under license (permission) from the creator of the picture;
  3. Pictures that were copyright protected but are no longer because the protection has expired under copyright law. The picture is in the "public domain".

Note: Copyright law is complicated. It varies across the world. Therefore assume all pictures are protected by copyright unless there is some obvious reason why it is not. For example, next to the picture the creator says you can use it.

Note 2: Obtaining permission to use a picture does not mean the picture is not copyrighted. It just means that for you it can be used.

Here is how you get pictures that are not copyrighted:

1. License to use. Assume the picture is copyright protected. Find out who took the picture. This is often not too hard to do. Find out their contact details (email usually) and ask the person whether you can use the picture on your website. Example email asking for permission:

"Hi, I love your picture of the xxxx. I have a website about xxxx. The URL is xxx. I wonder if you would be kind enough to let me use your picture on my site. I would be pleased to provide a link to a website of your choice and promote your work. I look forward to hearing from you. Best Regards John Doe"

You will be surprised how many say, yes. This is because the market place for photography is very competitive and photographers or artists are pleased to get a bit of publicity.

However, you must always do as they ask and do it well. Never scam someone who has been nice to you. Be generous to them and you will get your reward.

Technically the photographer will grant you a license to use the picture under certain conditions. He or she can withdraw the license if the conditions say he can, but he rarely if ever will. The terms of the license are negotiable but they will be very simple and uncomplicated and normally unspecified other than a link.

Note: this can be a slow process and you might not get an answer. It can be frustrating but you'll get some successes and it is worth doing.

2. Creative Commons. You have probably heard about this or seen it. You might be unsure what it means. Forget the name 'creative commons'. It is confusing. Creative commons means that the creator of the picture has given permission up front, in advance, for people to use his or her work under certain conditions. This is very efficient as it avoids the need to ask, which takes time. There are various types of creative commons. It depends on what type of permission the creator, usually a photographer, grants. At on end of the spectrum is permission to use in any way you like with one condition: that you credit the photographer. At the other end of the spectrum permission is granted provided you use the photograph "as is" and provide a credit and not use the picture commercially. Flickr has the full spread of creative commons licenses on this page. They also provide a nice explanation of use. All the big photo repositories will allow use under creative commons.

On catch under this method is that on Flickr a person can protect their work under copyright but Flickr allows you to embed the photo on your website using code provided by Flickr. That is incorrect but it is up to the photographer to organise their settings properly.

3. Wikimedia Commons. this is like creative commons. Go to this page to see lots of freely available pictures but comply with the conditions. This is usually means crediting the author of the work. I would also quote at the base of your page the authority under which you can publish the picture on your web page. This is the page.

4. Public Domain. The time is takes for copyright to expire various in different countries or regions. Basically is is 50 years plus the lifetime of the author of the work - a long time. You can see pictures that are in the public domain in old books because the books are in the public domain. You can see old books and the contents on Google Books.

5. Purchase. Of course you can purchase the use of a picture. This does not mean the picture is not copyrighted. It just means that you have a license to use it which is the same as a creative commons license really except you are paying.  iStockphoto is the biggest.

Note: I have not discussed 'fair use' here because it is not part of the subject matter of this page.

Associated: Internet Copyright Issues.

Thursday 7 June 2012

A Very Important Cat Event

Two Amur leopards have been born in captivity at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation (WHF) in Smarden, Kent, UK. Why is this an important world cat event? There are thought to be about 35-40 Amur leopards in the wild in the far east of Russia, in a region called Primorskii Krai through which the River Amur flows. It is also the region where the Amur tiger lives (Siberian tiger).

I think this figure of 35-40 is actually incorrect. It comes from newspapers and is the conventional view but a more scientific and modern assessment is 12 Amur leopards in the wild. Yes, exactly 12. Strange isn't it? 

Add to that the 100-140 Amur leopards in captivity in Europe as part of a European breeding program and you have about 150 Amur leopards in the world excluding those in America and other continents. It seems there are about 200-300 in captivity in total worldwide. They are the rarest big cats in the world.

It would seem doubtful that the wild Amur leopard can survive because of genetic diversity - it is too low and inbreeding sets in causing sterility. Habitat loss is a major threat. The leopard has the widest range of all the wild cats. The Amur leopard is one of 9 subspecies of the leopard.


It is sad to think that these cute little cubs will never live in the wild. See a page on the leopard.

Interested? Why do leopards have spots?

Is Wildlife Services Doing Its Job Properly?

I am writing about the USA in this post. I say that because "wildlife services" is a generic term. There is a petition on the causes.com website that tells us that Wildlife Services are killing too many animals unnecessarily in discharging their duties.  It has almost reached its goal of 10,000 signatures. The petition's author says that 50,000 non-threatening animals of various species have been killed over 10 years. She questions the need to kill so many animals, some of them protected species, and believes that Wildlife Services have gone beyond their remit in favoring killing as a means of wildlife management over non-lethal methods.

Also mistakes have been made and covered up, she says. The petition's author does not imply that there is something underhand going on. Remember, though, that government agencies are vulnerable to lobbying from big business. Wildlife gets in the way of business. The recent massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was partly a result of backhanders going to regulatory authorities who relaxed regulations. Most people don't realize the scale of lobbying and bribing by big business. It is all behind closed doors and largely unreported in the press. I make the suggestion that the demise of the Florida Panther is due to a conspiracy.

The petition is worrying to people who care about wildlife and who are sensitive to the abuse of wildlife. This is because Wildlife Services are meant to provide "Federal leadership and skill to resolve wildlife interactions that threaten public health". If the leadership is suspect or making poor judgements it could affect the general public and other government bodies in a negative way with respect to wildlife conservation.

It may be that its history holds it back. Until 1997, Wildlife Services was called Animal Damage Control (ADC). "Animal control" implies just that: killing of wild animals in effect. Also this government body was formed in 1895 as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Back in the 19th century attitudes towards wildlife were entirely different. It was much more brutal and hunting was unregulated. Does that legacy colour the attitudes of the management at Wildlife Services (WS) today?

What do they say is their mission? Here it is:

WS' vision is to improve the coexistence of people and wildlife.

This implies finding a balance between wildlife and human life.  They are there to resolve conflict issues between people and wild animals. The trouble with this aim is this: when push to comes to shove and you have no good ideas left to resolve the conflict you can always eliminate the more vulnerable party: the wildlife. That will obviously resolve conflict issues, won't it? My guess is that this is at the root of the problem. I believe the petition's author that there is unnecessary killing. And I also believe that there is an attitude problem at WS.

WS acts under two primary statutory authorities: The Act of March 2, 1931 as amended, and The Act of December 22, 1987.

Under The Act of March 2, 1931, The Secretary of Agriculture dictates how WS carry out their duties. The current incumbent is Thomas James "Tom" Vilsack. He is a democrat. He was raised under the influence of the Roman Catholic faith. For me that does not bode well in respect of a balanced attitude towards wildlife.

Does Your Cat Sleep In Your Bed?

By Elisa Black-Taylor (USA)

Does your cat sleep in your bed? I've done a little research on the subject and found that female cat owners are much more likely to allow their cat to cozy up in bed with them at night. According to a survey taken by webMD, 62% of cats sleep with their owners and another 13% sleep with children.
Care to join us?

Is it a good idea to allow your cat to sleep with you? That's a whole different story. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports that more than half of all pet owners allow their pets to share their bed. Personally, I'm a sucker for a cat meowing at my bedroom door wanting to join me for a little snuggle time. Whether my cats want to share the bed or hide under it for a long nap, I'm not one to deny it.

Unfortunately, the CDC also has a lot of information trying to scare us about out four legged bed buddies. Cats can carry fleas and ticks. They may also carry diseases classified as Zoonoses, which are infections transmitted from animals to humans. This includes MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and meningitis.

Disease isn't the only concern. Those with allergies shouldn't even have a pet in the same room where they sleep. But people who are allergic to their cat and really love their cat are more likely to seek medical help through allergy shots to build up their immunity to their cat rather than to kick the cat out of the bedroom at night (see: Fel D1).

The Mayo Clinic even did a study several years ago showing 53% of those who sleep with their dog or cat have some form of insomnia. Dogs are just as likely to snore as a human, and cats tend to jump all over us as we try to sleep.

Veterinarian technician and feline consultant Ingrid Johnson believes the bed (and bedroom itself) should be all or nothing for a cat. Either the cat is welcome or it's not. Don't allow your cat bedroom access one day and then block it the next. Cat's don't react well when you take away "territory" and may begin displaying destructive behavior.

There's also the relationship status to consider. If you're part of a "couple" then both of you must agree to the cat sleeping arrangements or there's bound to be trouble in the relationship.

Many cat owners claim they can't sleep unless their cat is in the bed beside them. They not only nurture the cat, but also see the cat as a nurturer.

How do the readers here feel about cats and bedroom rights? Does your cat sleep in your bed? Personally, I have to have a cat or two in my bedroom at night. I can't stand the thought of one of my cats outside of my bedroom wanting in and my ignoring it's pitiful cries to join me. A few of my cats like to sleep on top of me. I've had to teach them that's not allowed, as I can't sleep that way.

The CDC and everyone else can keep their advice as far as I'm concerned. My cats are treated for fleas and ticks and hopefully I won't come down with a case of jungle fever or anything else. Anyone else feel the same?

For those of you who don't allow your cat to share the bed (if there's anyone who falls into this category), is your reason related more to insomnia or disease?



Related article at www.pictures-of-cats.org/cat-on-the-bed

Dead Cats and Politicians

In the distant past in England, UK, "Dead cats which not infrequently were cast into the streets, or accidentally killed there, were sometimes used as objects of sport by the silly, low-minded, and vulgar...."

Lambeth Hustings 1865

In the 18th century and perhaps less so in the 19th century the "time of times" to use a dead cat was to throw it at an unpopular politician as he attempted to deliver his political views during an election. If it was not a dead cat it would have been a rotten egg.

In 1784 a certain Mr Fox was a candidate for the borough of Westminster, the area where the Houses of Parliament (The Palace of Westminster) are situated.

"During the poll, a dead cat being thrown on the hustings (the platform from which the politician pronounced his views - called a "stump" in America), one of Sir Cecil Wray's party observed that it stunk worse than a fox; to which Mr Fox replied there was nothing extraordinary in that, considering it was a 'poll cat'.

Apparently Mr Fox was witty man. "Poll cat" is a pun based on the "polecat" which is a reference to a weasel and not a cat at all as it happens!

In the 18th century dead cats were sometimes thrown into carriages or through open windows as a prank or given a "presents".

References and quotes: Our Cats and all about them - Harrison Weir



Copyright: Assessed as lapsed due to passage of time.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Are Cat Adoption Applications Too Strict?

Are cat adoption applications too strict? Have any of the readers here even looked at a cat adoption application lately? Gone are the days when you went to your local shelter, picked out a cat, paid a fee and took him or her home.

Pippa - one of my rescued cats. Photo by Elisa Black-Taylor

Thanks to the internet, both good and bad have come out of what used to be the pleasure of adopting a cat. We've all heard the horror stories of how animal abusers will search the freebie advertisements for animals to abuse. Some will even go so far as to pay the price a shelter asks for a cat just to have a new cat to torture. It's these abusers who have paved the way to turning a simple adoption into a nightmare.

That and a lot of other questionable information most shelters and rescues have the right to investigate before adopting out a cat. Some of the information that may get you turned down for a cat adoption include the following:
  • Age. Some shelters and rescues require an adopter to be over the age of 21 but under the age of 60.
  • Who will care for your cat should you become unable to?
  • Whether you have children, plan to have children, how many children and how old they are.
  • How will you handle any health problems that may come up concerning your cat?
  • Vet reference. This can be a tricky one if this is your first cat.
  • Have you ever euthanized a pet?
  • Have you ever turned a pet into a shelter?
  • What happened to any previous pets you've had?
  • Do you have a full time job? This is a tricky one. Some shelters and rescues believe one person should always be home with the cat.
Are ALL of these questions really necessary? They're standard on many rescue adoption websites as well as many shelters. Most rescues will tell you these questions are necessary to prevent the cat from going to a "bad" home.

How is it a person can be called to war at 18, yet be unable to adopt a cat until the age of 21? I feel sure cat lovers over the age of 60 will have some objections to being denied because of their age.

I can understand questions on whether or not you plan to declaw a cat and whether the cat will be kept indoors at all times.  Some potential adopters have compared certain questions to an inquisition. Questions that have nothing to do with declawing or where the cat will spend its time.

Some shelters are extremely strict and cats die because of this on a daily basis. Not because a home couldn't be found. Because a "perfect" home couldn't be found and the cat is euthanized when the end holding date is reached.

I never would have thought having a full time job could make a person ineligible for cat adoption. With some shelters and rescue groups it can.

This is one reason so many people turn to the freebies. It's created a dangerous situation for many cats and also contributed to the overpopulation of cats. The person placing the ad for free kittens really has little to go on as to who gets a kitten. And the adopter is as likely as not to allow the cat to remain intact because spay/neutering can be expensive in areas without a low cost clinic. These free cats eventually end up in the shelter system. Usually shortly before or after that first unwanted litter comes along.

Rescues are also scaring away prospective cat owners by continuing to claim ownership in the contract the adopter must sign before taking the cat home. This basically states the adopter is responsible for food, shelter and medical care. It also gives the rescue the right to drop in at the adopter's home unannounced for the rest of the cats life to be sure a good home is being provided. Most rescue centers also take away the option of the adopter finding the cat a new home should the arrangement not work out. Again, a measure meant to protect the cat is causing some to shy away from rescue adoption.

I'm not saying these precautions aren't necessary. Only that some are a little excessive.

Have any of you ran into these questionnaires that border on the extreme? Were you turned down because of your answers? How far should a rescue or shelter be allowed to go in placing a cat with it's forever home. I welcome your comments on what you consider good adoption questions and questions that are more of an invasion of privacy.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Not A Tribute But An Abuse

This Dutch artist has turned his dead cat into a helicopter in the name of art and, he says, as a tribute to his cat that was killed in a road accident.

I say he has simply decided to try and produce something that he thinks will get played on YouTube and thereby get some publicity for his "art", which is an abuse of his former cat companion. I don't think it is art either.



He probably knows that there is a massive cat cult thing on YouTube.  He just wants to jump on the bandwagon. Whatever way you look at it, it is disrespectful of his cat and cats in general. To be honest a lot YouTube cat videos have the same problem for me.

What do you think?

Cat Coat Composition

The cat has three types of hair:
  1. Guard hairs - part of the top coat. This is a protective coat to the undercoat and the hair strands have a sensory function. They are straight and taper to a fine point. They are the longest of the three types.
  2. Bristle or awn hairs - part of the top coat. They form a protective coat to the undercoat and have a sensory function. They are thinner than guard hairs but variable in thickness. They thicken near the tip before tapering to a point. They are intermediate in length between guard and down hairs.
  3. Down or wool hair - undercoat. They serve as an insulating barrier against heat loss. These are the thinnest and finest and of similar diameter throughout their length.
To which can be added:
  1. Whiskers (vibrissae)- these are very sensitive and play an important sensory role when travelling in dark conditions and are used to feel prey when killing prey.
The above is the classic coat structure for long haired cats but some cats have single coats. You will see coats lying flat to the body with no undercoat. This is easy to see using a comb and it is easy to comb even with a flea comb. Double coats can be hard to comb if left unmaintained. The Siamese and Siamese related cats have single coats as has the Devon and Cornish Rex which have fine curly hair. The rex cats shed less than normal coated cats but the Devon Rex can be semi-bald on occasions.

Double coat - thick and "sticky". Photo by rlihm

The American Wirehair has a "tightly crimped coat" that is coarse to the touch.

When a cat's hair grows for a longer time it becomes long hair. When the rate of growth is slower the hair become very short as for the Cornish Rex. In the case of the Cornish Rex the rate of growth is normal.

The three types of hair strand narrow where they enter the skin and then thicken under the skin (subcutaneously) forming a club, which anchors the hair strand.

New hairs are created throughout the year replacing old but seasonally this process reaches a peak in late summer says Robinson's Genetics. An alternative view1 is that cats who spend all the time outdoors shed most in late spring while cats who go out for part of the day shed at the beginning of summer. Indoor cats may shed more lightly and year round.

Mid-winter is the time when molting is at its slowest. The molting process is dictated by the amount of ambient light and not temperature. More ambient light results in more shedding. 

A male cat's seasonal molt is about two months in advance of a female's. Neutering has no effect on molting. Winter hairs are slightly longer than summer hairs.

When double coated cats begin to shed, the down hair sheds patchily. Brushing a cat during shedding helps remove the dead hair.

We know that the pointed cats are temperature sensitive which creates the pointing. The darker extremities are cooler than central parts of the body. It is possible to create localised darker areas in a Siamese cat.

Note: 1. Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook.

Monday 4 June 2012

Kibble Kats

There have been three recent cases of famously obese cats: Meow, SpongeBob and now Garfield. Meow was 39lbs. SpongeBob started off at 33lbs and Garfield is just 40lbs in weight. He's the latest in this line of large cats. He is a big boned cat anyway so that extra size puts him above the other two. Both Garfield and SpongeBob are New York state cats.

Garfield weighing in at 39.75 lbs.

The interesting bit for me is what the shelter people say. They believe that Garfield was fed a diet of kibble constantly. I suppose that means there was always a large bowl of dry cat food on the ground for him to graze from. It must have been very tasty kibble. As you know it is the high level of carbs in kibble that causes weight gain - and potentially other health problems such as urinary tract problems and diabetes. Garfield, though has been checked out and is in good health, except for his weight which could cause bad health.

Another interesting thing to come out of this is that some cats simply can't regulate their intake of food. They eat like humans, for pleasure. That is not a wild cat trait. It is a domestic cat development. And it does point to the fact that dry cat food is designed to be very tasty. Although cats can't taste sugar (sweetness) they perhaps can be addicted (is that too strong a word?) to a taste - the pleasure of eating. Boredom may also play a role in cats becoming obese. The experts say 30% (or is it a third - 33%?) of American domestic cats are obese.

The shelter people who cared for SpongeBob also mentioned the health risks of dry cat food. There seems to be a consensus. Are vets coming around to the idea that kibble does carry health risks if not managed properly? What are vets doing to manage this? They have a role to play too, I believe.

Garfield's caretaker sadly died. That is how he was discovered. Perhaps the elderly "owner" had difficulties engaging Garfield and exercising him etc. Dry cat food is incredibly convenient. That's what makes it so marketable. From the standpoint of profitability it is the perfect product. It stores for a long time without any particular requirements and stays edible in the bowl for a long time too. The ultimate convenience food: cat fast food.

Kibble Kats are modern cats. I don't want to over do this. But these famous Kibble Kats are a nice bit of promotion for wet food manufacturers and raw diet makers. Both products are better than dry cat food. Kibble has a place in cat's diet as part of an overall varied diet of mainly wet food that mimics a cat's prey better but let Garfield and the Kibble Kats be a warning. Full-time kibble is not suitable as a cat diet.

The Sick Kitten (1903) is Not Sick

The title comes from video. The video is piece of 1903 film about a sick kitten. The kitten doesn't look sick to me but you can't really tell. It is just that the kitten drinks up vigorously and frankly looks perfectly healthy.


The interesting bit for me is what are the children feeding the kitten  - a tabby cat incidentally?

The boy brings a container of "medicine". On the bottle is the word "FISIK" as far as I can tell. The boy makes sure the bottle is facing the camera so that the name of the product is visible.

My guess, therefore, is that this is a promotion film for a product called FISIK! As I said, pure guesswork, of course. If I am right it would explain why the kitten does not look ill.

What do you think?

Sunday 3 June 2012

The FDA and Chinese Dog Treats

This is a bit smelly. It is a bit bizarre. If you are an old geezer like me you tend to become a bit cynical when you think what might be behind stories such as the FDA and Chinese dog treats.

Elisa wrote about Purina Pet Treats Made In China Killing Dogs. This is a short follow up after I read a bit of material about it. There is a lot of information (too much) on the internet about this.

The major interest in this story is that the FDA today, 3rd June 2012, some 5 years after this problem first appeared, are still doing tests on the product to try and discover the contaminant that is causing dogs to fall ill and some to die after eating these treats.

Despite lots of reports of dogs dying shortly after eating the product, the FDA decided that the product can remain on the shelves. They have a bland notice on their website which cannot satisfy a concerned dog caretaker. In fact it makes me positively suspicious and dog owners angry. There are similar stories coming out of Australia about the same product.

They have taken the view that there is no hard evidence that chicken jerky products made in China kills dogs. Maybe something else is causing these deaths? I understand their caution but judging by the ton of anecdotal evidence the product should be withdrawn.

The cause of death would appear to be kidney failure. Kidney failure in dogs can be caused by high levels of vitamin D in a diet. Or by heavy metals or rodent killer. Any of these might apply in this case.

Like many others I feel that if after about 5 years the FDA can't discover the cause of the toxicity in Chinese made dog treats they are unlikely to ever find it. This can only mean that the food is not toxic which flies in the face of all the stories and complaints from dog owners. Or it is toxic but the FDA have a vested interest in not declaring it toxic.

Vested interests are usually of a monetary kind. We know that the Chinese government has openly admitted that there is far to much corruption in China. It permeates all aspects of business and regulation of business.

Is there something smelly going on the corridors and laboratories of the FDA? And why is NestlĂ© Purina®/Friskies sourcing pet food China with the horrible history that country has with respect to pet food quality and toxicity. See for example the classic: Melamin in Cat Food. And this article by VG. They are too concerned with profit and not enough with animal welfare.

Also, Purina are involved with animal testing. Or they were and I see no reason to believe that they have stopped. I don't see any redeeming feature with Purina.

Overweight Cats Should Cut Out Dry Food

The good thing about the current heaviest domestic cat in America (probably) is that we can find out what the experts are doing about getting some weight off him. It is a crash course in weight loss for cats. Obesity is a big problem in America and the root cause of it is an unregulated supply of dry kibble packed with carbohydrates. Or that seems to be the case. SpongeBob (Bob) weighed 33 lbs when he entered Animal Haven. He is healthy apparently so his obesity was not due to health problems. The world's most recent heaviest domestic cat was the late Meow at 39lbs.


All you have to do is listen to the nice lady in the video. She says that they cut out dry cat food and are feeding Bob with a "special protein diet". It contains lean chicken some fish and pumpkin and other vegetables. But no carbohydrates. We know that dry kibble contains a high level of carbohydrates. Is dry cat food a major contributor to cat obesity? It could. It probably is. The pet food manufacturers won't admit it will they? It is a very profitable product. They could easily manufacture healthier alternatives.

Bob also needs more exercise. The staff at Animal Haven use catnip to get him moving! I suppose it gets him rolling around excitedly until he falls asleep. They also feed him treats that he has to run for. That is the exercise bit. It has worked so far as Bob has lost 3 lbs to currently weigh 30lbs. The next hurdle is to make sure his new family carries on the good work.

Cat Cruelty Person Gets Off

This is very disappointing news. In November of 2011 there was a news story about a case of cat cruelty in which some CCTV footage was shown on television of a young man swinging a black cat around by his tail while walking down the street. The place was Ramsgate in the UK. Ramsgate is known as a bit of a dump by the sea (I am being a bit cruel myself).  The cat is Mowgli and the cat's companion is Michelle Buchanan. I videoed the television for a few seconds (sorry about the copyright issues):



That tells you all you need to know. Unfortunately the person who was charged with the crime has got off after a court appearance. The reason? The CCTV footage was too poor and other means of connecting him with the crime failed.

I am surprised. What is the purpose of CCTV cameras if the image is not of sufficient quality to identify the perpetrator of a crime? And what is more surprising is that a woman, Miss Jarvis, 62, protested with the perpetrator and forced him to drop the cat. Wasn't she able to identify him? Shame. And why bring the prosecution to court if you can't positively identify the accused, who incidentally was Riain Richards aged 20?

Apparently he was egged on by his friends who had a great time watching. He actually swung the cat around 17 times for 30 seconds. Makes you think. Mowgli was left traumatised and doesn't like going out anymore. His behavior has changed.

Four Other Companies Recall Pet Food

We have heard about the Diamond Pet Food recall and its subsequent expansion. The company's name is Diamond Pet Food Processors of SC, LLC. The place where the contamination took place was at their facility in Atlanta: Gaston, SC 29053. The facility was inspected by the FDA on 12th April 2012 and several health problems were reported in three observations such as, "failure to maintain equipment, containers and utensils used to convey, hold and store food in a manner that protects against contamination".

This is the company's page on their recall.

Salmonella was found in bags of pet food. In one case the open bag of pet food at the home of a person who had salmonella poisoning. There were other cases where testing on the pet food revealed salmonella bacteria.

At least four other pet food manufacturing businesses manufacture their products at the same facility or at least some of their products at this facility. Diamond Pet Food Processors manufacture it for them. That surprises me a little. Is this pet food different or the same as Diamond Pet Food but just repackaged to look different? No idea.

"Several other companies with products manufactured at the Gaston, S.C. facility have issued voluntary recalls" (FDA). These are:
The links go to the relevant FDA pages. These businesses are clearly just taking precautions. For instance with respect to Van Patten's Natural Balance there appear to have been no reported cases of illness but that was in May and a check is advisable as we are now into June and things might have changed.

I think, however, people need to know that Diamond manufacture for other companies in the same facility and this begs the question: how different is their pet food? Dry pet food is kibble which can shaped and coloured at will.

This website says that we should avoid Diamond Pet Foods because of long standing quality control issues.

Saturday 2 June 2012

British Royalty Keeping Cats

With it being the Queens's 60th wedding anniversary and with the massive jubilee celebrations taking place in the UK I thought I would find out if I could add the domestic cat into the mix and see whether there are any royals who keep cats and if so what type of cat.

By the way, I'm going down to the Thames tomorrow to have a look at the flotilla of boats accompanying the "Royal Barge" that cost a million quid - we can't afford it, I say.

I came to a rapid conclusion that the royals of Britain are dog people. That probably would not surprise most visitors who read this (very few!). The royals are sort of upper class (actually very upper class), hunting, shooting, fishing sorts and with that kind of background you are much more likely to prefer dogs. You know...the outdoor life, country sports lifestyle with hunting dogs etc.

The Queen is famous for her Corgis and that is about all I know about the Queens's animal preferences other than her love of horse racing. She kept or still keeps some racing horses.

One person who is part of the royal family but not at the heart of it is HRH Princess Michael of Kent. She has various talents including writing and interior design. She's a cat person.

People say that she is pushy and unpleasant. I don't know her but anyone who likes cats can't be unpleasant!

She keeps cats (plural). I have seen a picture on her website with two cats. One appears to be a rich dark brown/black cat  (a moggie it seems) with a studded collar and the other is a Siamese as far as I can tell from the picture. You can see a photo on this page.

Blue Persian cat of 1901 the kind Queen Victoria cared for.
The cat is Lady Marcus Beresford's blue Persian "Gentian Landor".

Even royals from the past usually kept dogs it seems. For example, Wallis Simpson who married King Edward VIII liked dogs. Although she owned a diamond bracelet of a panther worth £4.5 million ($7 million) in modern money.

If we go back a bit further we discover that Queen Victoria cared for two blue Persian cats. Victoria was the Queen from 1837 until her death in 1901. This was the era of the beginning of the cat fancy. Persian cats were one of the relatively few cat breeds of that time and very popular they were.

There is a picture of Princess Victoria ("Toria"), daughter of Edward VII & Queen Alexandra (1868-1935) holding a cat on the royal yacht (see picture). I don't how significant this is. It does indicate that a royal personage kept a Siamese cat. The picture was taken in about 1914.

I can find nothing else that indicates that British royalty liked and kept cats. It's a doggy family.

However Siamese royalty was different. Siam is now Thailand and the Siamese cat as you probably know originates in Thailand. At one time, it seems (cat history can be a bit vague) that the Siamese cat was confined to the Royal Palace and the King of Siam. This was clearly a special cat in Thailand in the 19th century and the King of Siam, at the time of the cat's export to the West, was a cat person.

Siamese Cat History
King of Siam 1853-1910

The King of Siam allowed a foreigner to export the Siamese out of Siam to start the breed in the West. The story of the Siamese cat's kinked tail is bound up with the creation of this breed in the West. See also Siamese cat history.

Creepy Cat Cartoon

Creepy cat was a bungling cartoon cat who appeared in two issues of Film Funnies from 1949-1950). This was the golden era of Marvel Comics.

Creepy cat has a similar role to Tom in the famous Tom and Jerry series. Creepy had to catch a smart mouse in the home where he lived.

Unfortunately for Creepy, the mouse was smarter than him so his task ended in failure. Creepy studies the art and science of catching a mouse. He reads How to Catch Mice. The mouse looks over his shoulder!

In another episode, the smart aleck mouse puts a lobster in Creepy's bath. Creepy is scared and tries to run out of the house. Mr Mouse tells him to jump out of the window which Creepy fails to do because it is shut. He would have been hurt less if he had jumped into the bath with the lobster.

I think you can get the drift of this cartoon character's exploits. Creepy cat was a large orange cat with visibly sharp teeth. It is rare for cartoon cats to show sharp teeth.

Note 1: in real life orange cats tend to be smart and alpha types. I guess orange is a good color for a cartoon cat.

Note 2: I couldn't find pictures or videos of this forgotten cartoon cat. However, you will find a cat called 'Creepy Cat' on the internet but I don't think it is the original cat that I am writing about. Creepy cat is a generic type term so it can be used somewhere else.


Top Cat: The Movie 3D Review

2nd June 2012: This is a quick review of Top Cat: The Movie 3D. I have included a video trailer below. I have a page on the cartoon character Top Cat, based on the savvy television character Sergeant Bilko who was popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

The movie was released on 1st June 2012 in the UK. I believe the movie was released earlier in other countries - in 2011.


It was directed by Alberto Mar. He is either Argentinian or Mexican! I have failed to find out which (I think Mr Mar is Argentinian). What I think has happened is that the film was made in Spanish and distributed in Argentina and has then made its way to England having been dubbed in English and the titles changed to English. If I am incorrect please tell me! That transformation would account for the time difference between making it and its release in the UK.

Apparently, this is a poor film. The video trailer on YouTube gets more dislikes than likes (129 to 101), which is unusual and Kate Muir in the Times newspaper of June 2nd says that the 3D element of this movie is of poor quality, "the worst....I have seen".

The film is partly about criticizing the modern surveillance culture (disliked by many people) but the screenplay fails in this respect. Police Chief Strickland replaces Officer Dibble from the original television cartoon series. Strickland is a tech savvy cop presenting new challenges to Top Cat and team.

Kate Muir awards the film a single star out of five and says it is not fit "to be used as kitty litter"! Strong stuff.

Santa Ana Has Typhus Outbreak

by Elisa Black-Taylor (USA)

Santa Ana, located in Orange County, California, is experiencing a typhus outbreak and the feral cats in the area are getting caught in the middle of a bad situation that's not their fault.


Officials set six traps at Frances E. Willard Intermediate School on the 1300 block of North Ross Street. They've also set traps at El Sol Science and Arts Academy. This is being done in an effort to catch feral cats after a child in the area contracted typhus last month and had to be hospitalized. The victim has since recovered. Due to privacy laws, all that's known about the victim is the disease was contracted in the Broadway-Washington Avenue area of Santa Ana.

Now Vector Control officials have set traps for feral cats, possums and other small animals that may carry the disease via fleas. They have said any animals trapped will be tested and euthanized. Officials have already handed out information to the public on the illness and how to administer flea products to prevent a flea infestation.

Endemic and murine typhus are both caused by a bacteria found in infected fleas and their feces.

The problem is this isn't going to solve the problem. For one thing, it's doubtful these feral cats are coming close enough to the population to allow the fleas to jump from the cat onto a human or for the flea feces containing Rickettsia typhi, and Rickettsia felis to be in contact with the human. I can already tell this is going to be a really bad year for flea infestations. And what are they going to do about all the dogs who wander loose, as well as the wildlife?

This isn't a realistic way to handle the problem. For one thing, if these feral cats are removed, more will come to take their place. The fleas would just jump on the new "host." There are probably stray dogs running loose in Santa Ana. There seem to be as many stray dogs these days as there are stray cats. My guess is more fleas can live on a large dog than a small cat. Yet nothing is being said about trapping and euthanizing the dogs.

The best preventative would be to treat the property in Santa Ana with products recommended to kill fleas that won't be harmful to pets. Treat the property and treat the pets.

Symptoms of typhus include high fever, headache, chills, body aches and a rash. These begin between a week and two weeks after exposure to an infected flea.

Alley Cat Allies, the only national organization dedicated solely to the protection of feral cats, has called out the Vector control officials in an effort to stop the trapping (the "vector" is the flea or lice) .

Several of the traps have been sabotaged by people throwing objects into them to make them spring shut. One trap did catch a possum.

Information on contacting Orange County Vector Control, as well as information on typhus can be found at www.ocvcd.org/typhus.php

Note: Flea-borne typhus is referred to as endemic typhus or murine typhus. It is transmitted by fleas. It is caused by the bacteria, Rickettsia typhi, and Rickettsia felis, which is in infected fleas and their feces.

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