Saturday 31 May 2014

Rare Cat Breeds

Rare Cat Breeds

If you click on the link immediately above you will be taken to a comprehensive page about rare cat breeds.  The assessment of what is and what isn't a rare cat breed is based upon common sense principles.  I have focused on all the mainstream cat breeds and more besides.  However, it is impossible to include every single cat breed on the page in question because over the years you find out more about cat breeds and that means updating the original page which you don't do and so on and so forth.

There are, on my assessment about 104 breeds of cat.  You often see people quoting a much lower figure but actually the figure is probably higher than my estimation.  There are, though, only about 40 or so mainstream cat breeds and these are recognised by the Cat Fanciers' Association.

Many cat breeds are never developed to full fruition.  They simply stayed at the early developmental stage and then fizzled out.  It could be said that these are the rarest cat breeds of all but where do you stop?  I don't think you can include a breed of cat that has half a dozen cats in it and which has now fizzled out.

The greatest difficulty I had an preparing the page on rare cat breeds was in deciding what a cat breed is.  We know that in America cats have to be registered with a cat Association in order to be accepted as a breed but in truth there are cats in countries where there are neither cat associations nor pedigree cats where you will find true purebred cats unmodified by any cat fancy breeder. These are the purest of the purebred cats but they are totally a recognised in the West.

An example would be the real Turkish Van and Turkish Angora in Turkey.  It is that kind of problem which presents about to a page about rare cat breeds.

So which are the rarest cat breeds?  Like I said, if you click the link at the top of this page you will see the full story but just below is a short list of the cats that I consider to be rare:

  • Tiffany
  • Burmilla 
  • Skookum
  • California Spangled (any left?)
  • German Rex  
  • Kurilian Bobtail 
  • Elf Cat 
  • Lambkin 
  • Napoleon 
  • Ojos Azules 
  • Serengeti  
  • Sokoke 
  • Kinkalow
  • Minskin 

You can see pictures of these rare cat breeds together with a full narrative on the main website.  You could start on this page.  If you can't find the cat in the list simply search for it using Google custom search on the website.

The Elusive Caucasian Leopard

Other names for this subspecies of leopard are: Central Asian leopard, North Persian leopard, Persian leopard and West Asian leopard.  Quite an array of names and talking about names, the scientific name of this species of wild cat is in a confused state apparently but this is what it is currently listed as: Panthera pardus ssp. saxicolor. This subspecies is the largest of all the leopards.

The IUCN Red List states that the total population across all countries where it exists is an estimated 871-1290.  Let's remind ourselves that these are estimates and I'm surprised that the figures have not been rounded up or down.

Caucasian Leopard in Armenia. Camera trap video screenshot

I was reading an article in The Times newspaper today about the Caucasian leopard.  It is written by Simon Barnes. He went to Armenia to investigate the state of play of this elusive large wild cat subspecies in Armenia, which is one of the countries within its distribution.  The other countries and areas, as I understand it are: Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Iran and the Middle East.

Of those countries, this subspecies of leopard is most populous in Iran (550-850).

In Armenia the numbers are much lower.  John Barnes states that Armenia is in Europe although it is not a member of the European Union.  On that basis, we can state that we have a leopard living in Europe which sounds a bit odd.

Armenia is a tough, hard place. Apparently it is quite a barren, rugged yet very beautiful place (the video supports that). Quite unlike the rainforests or the Serengeti.  But the leopard is well known to be highly adaptable and has an enormous distribution from Africa in the east all the way to the Far East of Russia; quite extraordinary.  As I remember, it has the largest distribution of any wild cat species. A testament to its adaptability despite being the fourth-largest wild cat.

Armenia is a hard place for the leopard to make a living.  In summer, in daytime the temperature is between 30 and 40°C but it drops to minus 30 in the winter.

The Caucasian leopard is described by John Barnes as the Euro-leopard and the flagship wildlife species in Europe.  I agree.

The population size of the Caucasian leopard in Armenia is so low that it is difficult to tell whether it exists or not in that country.  You almost have to take it on trust.  The Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC) in Armenia manage the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge in which the Caucasian leopard lives as part of its range in that country, as I understand it.

They set up camera traps (motion activated cameras usually strapped to trees or rocks along important trails where the leopard is likely to pass). You can see the results of that effort in the video above.

John Barnes reports that one of this organisation's camera trap videos shows a 3 legged leopard.  He presumably means a leopard that has 4 legs but has lost the use of one of his legs.  The video above does not show a 3 legged leopard.

John Barnes states that there aren't much more than a dozen leopards in all Armenia. They ramble over massive areas. Armenia appears to be a good place for the leopard because they need a lot of space and to be left alone. They travel widely and visit most parts of their ranges regularly.  In north-eastern Namibia male leopards' home ranges covered areas of 210-1164 km².  Awesome.  You can see how living in a cage can cause difficulties for this fabulous wild cat species.

Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter: Reports It Is Dangerous

There are reports that Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter is dangerous to cats.  It just needs to be flagged up at this stage. There are countless other alternatives so if there is even a small chance that it is dangerous, I believe that people should stop using it until we have conclusive evidence one way or the other.

On Facebook, there is a page about this cat litter.  Kelly Sanford, says she tried this litter recently. She says it is extremely dusty and is so light it clings to her cat's fur because of static electricity on the fur attracting the tiny particles of cat litter.  Then of course it can be licked off and ingested. She says that at the moment there has been no response to these allegations about the litter from the manufacturers.

Nina Minster states quite categorically that people should not use this cat litter. She says people should stop using it immediately and throw it away. Nina belongs to a group of cat lovers with 450 members and she has learned through her connections that two cats have died within a couple of days from using the same litter brand.  That's what she says.  Your need to check it out yourselves (An Amazon commentator states "7 deaths among cats").

She goes on to say that both cats that passed away developed lung issues after only one sack of the litter had been used. In other words it happened very quickly. One of the cats was 14 years of age and the other one year of age.  They lived in different households.  Nina states that a veterinarian, in both cases, blamed the litter.  Nina has contacted the manufacturers who said that they are trying to get in touch with the owners of these 2 cats. She stresses that it is only this specific formula that is under review at this time.

Apparently, this litter is claimed to be 99% dust free!  I'm not sure about that but clearly it is not.

Erin Christy states that it is the worst cat litter she has used because it does not mask smell and it is so dusty that she has to scrub down her entire basement and it gets tracked everywhere.  She likens the use of this cat litter to "a complete dust storm".

Lynn Colson states that the problem with this litter is the dust.  She is very disappointed because her home is now covered with white dust.  I'll quote her: “both containers were a shower of dust when poured. It spread through my home and is leaving me with a lot of extra work."

In addition to the health problems alleged, the price has gone up and now it appears to be overly expensive.

Cindy Shepard on this site states that “I tried it for about 10 days and quit using it because of the dust."

Yasmine Lambrecht states on FB that one of her FB cat friends and a dear lady has recently lost her cat to severe breathing difficulties. She is not sure whether it is due to Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter, but she does state that it is probably due to it.

Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter Contains Crystalline Silica

It seems that the manufacturers wanted to make cat litter lighter because in large bags it can be heavy, and it is often the lady of the house who has to deal with it.  So, it was a clever marketing method to make it lighter.  In order to make it lighter they made the particles smaller. The science behind it is probably that smaller particles result in more air being between the particles so in the tray there is more air. This may be why it is less effective.  I don't know and I am just making a supposition.

I don't think I need to go on. This as you may have gathered is a USA product and all the comments come from Americans living in America.

In defence of the product, you will see quite a number of websites stating that this cat litter is good and highly functional so I must make clear that on this page I have quoted criticisms of the product in the interest of cat welfare but at this stage they are what we call anecdotal evidence, and more work needs to be done on this.  That said, where there are reports and where there are alternatives it makes sense to not use the product until the situation has been clarified. Source: FB Page.

Note 1: As this page has become more noticed I am a little concerned that some comments might have been "planted" by paid reviewers to counteract the negative ones. I don't know but these things do happen. Please read comments with caution and decide for yourself where the truth lies. However, many thanks for the comments. They help provide information to visitors and are useful, therefore.

Note 2: One of the comments is by a person who worked at a factory where they made this litter - see link above to a post by him. It is very interesting and provides insider information. The comment is towards the bottom of the page. Load all the comments to see it. If the comments fail to load you can read this article based on his comment.

Note 3: Please read this page about Tonkinese kittens being allegedly killed by this litter.

P.S. Cat caretakers should not assume all is well because they can't see any health problems. Dust ingestion can cause a gradual build up. The health problem may become apparent later when it is too late to do anything about it. Just a word of warning. Cats sniff litter and they are much closer to it than humans. Plus, they kick it up. Just because you can't see it does not mean it is not there. P.P.S. 02-04-2021: I am of the firm opinion that this cat litter substrate is dangerous. I would advise cat owners to avoid it. You may harm your kitten and cats. There is nothing worse than causing injury or death to a family member who you love because of carelessness.

Update 12 June 2022: just a quick update to say that Purina deny that there is anything wrong with their product. They blame social media for spreading lies and that the people who complain about it are always anonymous. I'm afraid it seems to me that they are the ones who are lying because on this page there are named people who have first-hand experience of this product harming their cats. There is also talk online about Purina compensating people for harm caused to their cats by their product. Although apparently there is no firm evidence to support this perhaps because if anybody has been compensated, they do so under a gagging clause. I am speculating because I don't know.

Further update: Going back as far as September 2012, Scientific American recommended not using cat litters made of silica because of the dust which has been linked to upper respiratory issues and the chemical fragrances in some litters can be toxic to cats. Buy fragrance-free.

And sodium bentonite clay as you know is in non-clumping litters and if a cat ingests it can cause serious harm for obvious reasons.

Therefore, they tend to recommend wood-based litter and paper-based litter as both are safer in their view. Paper-based litter is made from recycled newspaper and is reportedly 3 times more absorbent than clay. It is non-toxic and contains no scented fragrances. It is claimed to be 99.7% dust free but I will leave people to make up their own mind.

Plain old sawdust if you can get your hands on it is a good litter substrate. I would certainly do your research and avoid silica and avoid lightweight dusty litters. Personally, I always favoured wood-based litter and I also believe that it is more environmentally friendly although all cat litter has an environmental impact which is regrettable. And as more people are keeping their cats indoors full-time nowadays more cat litter is being used and therefore there is a greater environmental impact.

Friday 30 May 2014

Buildings Second To Free Ranging Cats For Bird Mortality

The experts have spoken.  They say that buildings, particularly glass in buildings, are ranked second to free ranging pet cats as the cause of bird mortality in the USA.

It's all based on estimates, however.  There is no solid scientific study about the mortality rate of birds hitting buildings particularly windows.  But the estimates for the number of birds killed in America by buildings is from 100,000,000 to 1,000,000,000.  Let me repeat there is no solid scientific basis on which to base these figures and therefore they are estimates. Estimates should not be converted to "facts". They are often wildly out.
"there currently exist no U.S. estimates of building-collision mortality that are based on systematic analysis of multiple data sources."
As for cats the experts say that the free ranging pet cat kill about 4 times that number, which is quite a shocking figure but we really have to remind ourselves that, as yet, there is no nationwide, conclusive study on the numbers of birds killed by free ranging domestic cats in the USA.  I think actually you could add stray cats and feral cats to that but the expert uses the phrase “free ranging pet cats".  That implies domestic cat so you can see how confused the experts are because it is very important to distinguish between the various kinds of cat.

All studies about the predation on birds by cats are extrapolated from quite small studies and experts will agree that you can't do this with any degree of certainty.

There is a definite need, and there has been some time, for conclusive studies as to how birds are killed in the USA. There is a lot of concern by American ornithologists about the killing of native bird species and I can understand that but it is no good simply bandying around extravagant figures which less well-informed people latch onto and use to criticise the domestic cat and even on occasions abuse the cat.

The current state of affairs with regard to statistics is poor and I hope people realise that they should not go a website and simply recite what the author has quoted which no doubt comes from another website and so on and so forth  - and all of it is based upon estimated figures from “experts".


Domestic Cats Eat 15% Less During Summer

I don't think that this is startling news but nonetheless it is interesting that a formal study confirms what is perhaps common sense knowledge.
Cat in Winter. Eats more. Photo Charlotte Claeson.

A study reported on the PLOS ONE website assesses differences in food intake in 38 adult colony cats of various ages and genders.  Food intake was recorded on a daily basis and the mean daily intake for each calendar month was worked out.  The study took place in the South of France.

There were in fact 3 periods of different levels of food intake.  Food intake was at its lowest for the cats during the summer months e.g. June to August and food intake was the greatest during the months of late autumn and winter e.g. October to February.

An intermediate level of intake took place in the spring e.g. March to May and early autumn, September.

Peaks and troughs in both the temperature and daylight length coincided with food intake peaks and troughs.

The study concluded that food intake was 15% down in the summer compared to the winter.  I suppose the reason is that cats need to keep warm and therefore need more calories to achieve that. Also cats are lazier and less active during summer months and therefore eat less.

I'm sure that this study has little relevance to full-time indoor cats.  It would seem to be primarily relevant to cats living outside but I may have that wrong.  Cats living inside full-time are immune to variations in temperature but they may be affected by daylight length.  Therefore there may be some impact upon full-time indoor cats.


Thursday 29 May 2014

Serval, Lynx, Bobcat And Asian Leopard Cat As Pets

Here are some quick notes from a very good book called “Legacy of the Cat" edited by Gloria Stephens about wild cats as pets

Servals may be kept as pets she says but only if they have been raised as cubs.  I disagree with her but that isn't the point.  I would like to add that you have to expect a high energy cat and a serval might get into situations which harms himself.  They will almost certainly spray around your home causing mayhem.  The household should be made cat proof and any toxic chemicals removed.  This includes pesticides of course which are inherently toxic.  Gloria advocates declawing of servals.  I confess I despise that advice.  Sorry Gloria you are wrong but people always declaw their serval pets.  Gloria says:
If they have not been declawed, the claws can destroy your furniture or, worse yet, hurt a human while the cat is “at play"
Yes, I agree with the damage because this is quite a big cat but I disagree with the declawing and in which case it is not viable to keep a serval as a pet - simple....unless you have a very large outside enclosure in which the cat can express natural behavior and there is no declawing! ;)
Serval Serena
Serena a serval living in an outside enclosure in OK, USA
having been relinquished by her owner.

As to the lynx she says that most lynx are not suitable as house cats especially if they have not been altered (neutered) or hand raised with care.  If they've not been altered they will spray or mark your house and furniture.  This is what I said about the serval.  This species of wild cat can be temperamental.  This is a medium-sized wild cat species.

As to the Bobcat it is of the same species as the lynx. She says that as with any wildcat, bobcats may not make good pets when they are adults.  The bobcat is between 2 to 3 and a half feet in length.

As to the Asian leopard cat, don't try and turn this cat into a pet because it won't work properly. This cat is solitary, nocturnal and they do not make good pets, so says Gloria.  They are known to be independent and I remember reading an article about this species of small wild cat in the Feline Conservation Federation (FCF) magazine in which the author made it quite clear that he was unable to connect with this cat.  The author had kept his leopard cats in an enclosure.  I remember quite clearly and noted this interesting fact.

I'll leave it there because if you want to read about these species of wild cats you can click on this link and go from there.

Accept and Accommodate Normal Feline Behaviour for Successful Cat Ownership

Normal Feline Behaviour – Our Response

As regards cat ownership - which is better described as cat guardianship or cat caretaking - perhaps the most important thing a person can do is to understand what normal feline behaviour is and then accept it and furthermore accommodate it, by which I mean ensure that the cat can express normal feline behaviour within the environment provided by the owner. It is pretty much as simple and as straightforward as that.

It all starts with understanding the fundamentals of cat behaviour and respecting the domestic cat.  A person respects the domestic cat by letting the cat behave normally.  It's common sense because if any sentient being including human beings are prevented from expressing their natural desires, motivations and behaviours this will inevitably lead to stresses and abnormal behaviour together with possible health problems.

If you click on the link above you will see that I have referred to two central aspects of normal cat behaviour which can irritate cat owners, namely scratching and predatory behaviour.

Cats need to scratch because it is part of natural behaviour.  Scratching is quite a complex behaviour because not only does it slough off a layer of the claw it also marks territory by leaving a scratch which is a visual signal and it also marks territory by leaving a olfactory signal because there are scent glands in the paws of a cat.  Pretty well everyone knows that by now because of the Internet.

The answer to scratching is not a quick fix namely chopping off part of the cat's toe (declaw) but to accommodate this behaviour: to respect it.

The reason why cats exhibit predatory behaviour even when they're not hungry is because they are built to respond to signals (cues) from prey items such as mice.  These signals include rapid movement and sound.  A domestic cat is programmed like a wild cat.  This means that a cat cannot wait till he or she is hungry before she hunts prey because the success rate is quite low at around 17% and if a hunting session started off when the cat was hungry and the cat has to try and try again it is quite likely that the cat will be unable to succeed because of fatigue due to a lack of nourishment.  It is simply about survival and it is a practical solution.

If people know that then they might be less critical of the domestic cat when he brings in prey even though the owner has put down first-class food in a bowl in the kitchen!

Obviously when accommodating a cat's natural behaviour which includes hunting outside a cat owner needs to not only respect their cat but also their neighbours and native wildlife species.  This entails finding a balance between these competing objectives.  That is not beyond the bounds of possibility. Like almost everything in life it comes down to compromise.  One way to do this if a cat is allowed out side is to limit outside activity to times other than dusk and dawn because those are the times when a domestic cat is liable to be most active for hunting.  The cat owner could exercise a curfew on their cat at those times.  This is just one example.

Cat Hair: White Is the Absence Of Pigment

For a cat and perhaps for other creatures white is the absence of pigmentation in the hair strands. The hair is not white because there is white pigmentation in the hair.  There is no pigmentation in the hair strands.  In short, white is the absence of colour in this instance whereas in an absolute sense white is the merging of all the colours of the visible spectrum. I think that's quite a nice contrast.
Natalie - a non-pedigree show cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick.

You would have thought that if there is no pigmentation in each hair strand, each strand of hair would be transparent but clearly not.  Therefore, the un-pigmented hair strand must be white or opaque to a certain extent and very light in colour.

The reason why there is no pigment in the hair of white cats is because cells which are created very early on during the develop of the foetus inside the womb called melanoblasts - which turn into melanocytes (which are pigment producing cells) - do not migrate from their point of origin to the hair shaft.  The point of origin of melanoblasts is the trunk neural crest cells.

The reason why this migration does not take place is because of the white cat carries the white spotting gene or the dominant white gene.  In these cats the migration is partly or completely halted.

Because the cell in the skin in which the hair strand is embedded is unable to produce pigment (eumelanin and phaeomelanin) there is no pigment inside the hair strand; it looks white.

The white spotting gene is also called the piebald gene and it creates the bicolour cat (white and another color). These genes can cause deafness and odd-eye color.

Cat Associations Have a Household Pet Class

So-called ordinary cats, random bred cats, moggies, the sort of cat that you and I look after can be shown at cat shows.  With respect to The International Cat Association, the Household Pet Class is for cats that are not registered in the Championship Class.
Calico cat (Tortie and white) random bred show cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

See CURTIS a champion Household Pet  - a tabby cat.

This class is open to any cat that is registered as a Household Pet and which is altered meaning spayed or neutered.

It seems to me that this class of show cats are treated slightly differently because the rules are probably a little bit more relaxed.  It is almost as if they are amateurs while pedigree purebred cats are the professionals.  I may be wrong in making that analogy but that is the way it seems to me.

These cats may be of any colour and pattern and there is no particular appearance.  It is wide open which makes it interesting.

It should be said, however, that there are some stunning random bred cats in the Household Pet Class.  They are every bit as beautiful as the pedigree cats.  The exhibitors take great pride in exhibiting their cats in this class.

At The International Cat Association (TICA) there are 10 divisions in this class as follows:

  1. Solid
  2. Tabby
  3. Tortie
  4. Pointed
  5. Shaded
  6. Solid and White
  7. Tabby and White
  8. Tortie and White
  9. Pointed and White
  10. Shaded and White

The basic rule is that if a cat looks like a tabby cat it will be placed in the tabby division and so on. You can see that, as mentioned, it is quite a relaxed set up for household pets.

Household Pets are judged on beauty and condition. I don't like the title of the class, however. I don't like "pets".  What about the "Free Cat Class" reflecting the fact that the cats are not bounded by breeding rules.

Source: Me and Legacy of the Cat - Difference between "purebred" and "pedigree".

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Fat Cat Art

Fat Cat Art is the creation of Russian artist Svetlana Petrova who inherited her mother's spoilt, overweight, ginger, tabby cat when she died in 2008. The cat's name is Zarathustra.

Svetlana was grief stricken on her mother's death but after 2 years she decided to be creative again and in doing so decided to use digital photography and Photoshop to embed photographs of her fat, ginger cat within well-known paintings by the masters such as Marc Chagall, Titian and Leonardo da Vinci:

I'm not sure I can make much in the way of comment about this.  It is what it is. It may be popular but it is the first time I have seen it as far as I can recall and I've been surfing the Internet searching from cat information and cat images for about 7 years, so I don't think it is that well publicised or known.

I don't think it is that good either to be perfectly honest.  It doesn't do anything to me.  It doesn't get my juices flowing or rock my boat.

The only interest I have in this artwork, which can be seen on the Fat Cat Art website is the state of the health of this enormous ginger, tabby cat.  This cat is liable to have health issues including diabetes and arthritis in older age.

I know I am a bit grumpy but I don't see anything funny in a very obese orange tabby cat shoehorned in to the Mona Lisa.  But there again, a lot of people will love it, I'm sure.  Most orange tabby cats are males.

BBC News: “steep rise in the UK dog population over the past two years”

BBC News: “canines now exceeding cats for the first time in 21 years”

The BBC tells us that there has been a steep rise in the number of dogs in the UK over the past 2 years. The Dog Trust informs us that this may be due to the number of celebrities who keep fancy dogs and which are, presumably, publicised on television etc. or in newspapers.  In order to meet demand there appears to be an increase in the number of imported dogs into the UK perhaps from Europe, mainly.
Oscar on a walk. Photo by Mark Cartwright

The area in the UK where there are the greatest number of households which have a dog is the north-east of England.  Second, based on this criteria, is Wales.  In Wales 35% of households have a dog. In the UK, generally, 25% of households have a dog and for the cats the figure is 19%.  There is an even number of cats and dogs in the UK overall at 8,500,000 each.

So the BBC tells us that there is, at the moment, a rise in the number of dogs in the UK.  What might that tell us?  Well, my initial thought is that it is due to a rise in competitiveness within society in the UK which in turn is due to the recession and trying to survive within it and then getting out of it.

Hard financial times cranks up the rat race meaning more competitiveness.  Within competition the alpha male wins and the alpha male likes dogs.  That is a very vague and rather wild conclusion which may be totally incorrect.  The rise in the number of dogs could simply be a passing trend.

In fact, the statistics which come from the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association may simply be inaccurate because they are no more than a study or survey; probably direct questioning on the phone.

Final thought: the BBC are misleading us. There has been no step rise. The figures regarding cat and dog populations are rather imprecise.

Are You Unable To Prevent Your Cat Becoming Overweight?

You might find it extremely difficult to prevent your cat becoming overweight. It can be difficult because we try and please our cat.  It makes us happy.  We don't want to upset our cat and cats can be very demanding about food.  You get into a cycle of overfeeding because it's easier and more convenient and it keeps your cat quiet!
Chunky -- Photo by Cats Protection

A lot of people overfeed their cat. I could do it myself but I consistently remind myself to not allow it to happen. However, the owners of a cat called Chunky admitted that they were unable to help their cat lose weight.  In effect, they admitted that they were unable to control their cat's weight and keep it down.  That is quite an admission because it is an admission of serious failure in cat caretaking from a health point of view.

Chunky is of a suitable name for this ginger tabby cat.  He weighs 22 pounds (10 kg).  He is about twice the weight that he should be.

Chunky is currently being cared for by Cats Protection.  Cats Protection surveyed over 1000 cat owners and 23% admitted that their cat was overweight. The figure does not surprise me because there is an epidemic of obesity in domestic cats in the UK and the USA.

Cats that are as overweight as Chunky have a significantly increased risk of arthritis and diabetes.

The only way to manage a cat's weight is to ensure that he or she exercises to a certain extent and eats less.  As it is more difficult to make a cat exercise than it is to feed a cat less than the answer is to feed a cat less.

The best way to do this is to select the finest quality wet food that a person can afford and make sure that it is provided at the recommended dosage which will quite possibly mean refusing food on occasions even if your cat is persistently making demands which are difficult to refuse.  A cat will not hold a grudge if you don't give him food on demand.  He will just get used to it. But change the diet sensibly in a controlled way.

Tackling The Top 3 Domestic Cat Problems

Tackling The Top 3 Domestic Cat Problems

In this instance, I have taken the 3 top domestic cat problems as those problems which caused the most relinquishments of domestic cats from homes in the USA.  In other words the following three domestic cat problems caused the greatest number of cats to be given up to shelters.  The shortlist will surprise you because these are not problems at all really.
  1. Too many cats at home
  2. owner allergies 
  3. moving
Every one of them can be resolved fairly easily.  Certainly the most common cat problem causing abandonment - too many cats at home - can be resolved by simply not allowing cats to reproduce or not adopting too many cats.  It is a simple and straightforward as that.

Up to about 10% of the population is allergic to cats to varying degrees and many of these people love cats or would love to look after cats so there is a terrible dilemma for many people.  There are things that a person can do to minimise the impact of an allergy to the domestic cat but at present there is no easy solution. The ultimate answer is to not adopt a cat.  That sounds cruel almost but regrettably it is the ultimate answer.  If the person who is allergic to cats adopts a cat and then relinquishes the cat it is arguably worse than adopting the cat in the first place.

As to abandoning a cat because a person is moving home, I am suspicious of this.  I realise that sometimes due to financial reasons some cat owners are forced to downsize and rent an apartment. Many landlords forbid the keeping of domestic cats in their properties.  This is common knowledge. However, there are properties that a person can rent in which it is possible to keep a domestic cat because the landlord allows it.  It is harder to find an apartment that is suitable for both cat and person but they do exist.  Perhaps this is really a question of commitment to keeping one's cat at all costs and prioritising that rather than using moving home is a convenient reason for getting rid of one's cat. The Humane Society provide a resources page.

I might be being too harsh and too cynical but I have a strong feeling that some people, not many, use moving home as a convenient reason to abandon their cat.  In fact some people will go further than abandoning their cat to a shelter when they move home.  They simply leave the cat in the home they have left, which is locked up with very little food and water in it.  That of course is a form of gross cat cruelty.  It does happen.

These are not cat problems.  In truth, if we are really honest with ourselves, these are people problems which can be resolved with commitment and a bit of perseverance.

Andean Mountain Cat: Radio Telemetry

The Andean Cat Alliance are involved in trapping expeditions in north-west Argentina.  These expeditions started in 2011 (September).  The trapping campaigns have allowed this organisation, who are concerned with the conservation of this rare cat, to radio tag four Andean Mountain Cats and four Pampas cats. These cats live in the same area.

Despite the fact that there were technical difficulties, information from the radio collars is being collected providing details of the cats' movements and habitat use.

Initial information indicates that both these species of wild cat spend a lot of time in rocky outcrops but also much more time than was expected in open scrublands.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Man Flies From Taiwan To S. Korea With His Black Cat Locked In His Main Luggage

Yes, this guy locked his living black cat into his main luggage which goes into the hold of the aircraft and then flew from Taiwan to Seoul, S. Korea.

He got the cat to South Korea and then airport staff (customs?) discovered the cat in the luggage via x-ray whereupon the cat was sent back to Taiwan and placed into quarantine for 180 days. The man was fined.

The cat was probably lucky to survive because there must have been a lack of oxygen problem. The cat could well have suffocated.  Cats are good survivors. We know that.

It makes me wonder why this person put this cat through the ordeal.  We don't know whether the cat belonged to him or not.  Once again we could make a fair presumption that the cat does belong to him.  In which case he must be the stupidest cat owner in the history of cat ownership.  Perhaps not.

A lot of people do very odd things but you would have thought that he would have considered the dangers of locking his cat into a suitcase on a 2+ hour flight.and then rejected the idea.  He could well have ended up in a hotel in South Korea, opened up his suitcase to discover his cat stone dead.

Original story

Are You Considered By Some to Be a Crazy Cat Lover or Animal Hugger?

Jackson Galaxy Considered by Some to be a Crazy Animal Hugger

If you are a young man and you love cats and perhaps you love all animals then you might be considered to be a crazy cat lover or crazy animal hugger by some people.  Jackson Galaxy says that he is considered to be a crazy animal hugger by some people in the USA (click on the link above to read more about that).  He is not your archetypal cat lover based on appearance which is why he breaks down barriers. He breaks down the stereotypical image of a person who likes animals and cats. This is his great asset I think.
Cat lovers are creative people. Poster by Ruth aka Kattaddorra

What I mean is his appearance is his great asset because when you combine his appearance with the fact that he is a well-known cat behaviourist and “animal hugger" then you have a potent mix which is highly effective and which draws people in who would otherwise not necessary be that interested in animal welfare.

The stereotype is that older women, particularly independent and intelligent women, are cat lovers. The other stereotype is that the younger man or the family man is a dog lover.

If you like animals a lot then people who don't understand can unjustifiably criticise you.  However, I don't think that a person who loves animals would criticise a person who does not love animals.  I think that people who care about animal welfare are generally better people and they tend to be more polite and therefore will not be aggressive towards people who are different.  Conversely, the people who are aggressive towards people concerned about animal welfare can tend to be more aggressive anyway.  Am I stereotyping people myself?  I'm not sure but that is how it looks to me sometimes.

It is surprising that such a well-known cat behaviourist with his own television channel in the USA is criticised and insulted by people who call him a crazy animal hugger.  This is what Jackson himself says happens sometimes.

On a more optimistic note, however, he does say that there is an ongoing general shift in attitude towards animal welfare among Americans in America.  He believes - and he is well placed to assess this - that Americans are becoming more sensitive towards animal welfare, which means of course that Jackson will become more mainstream and criticised less!  What a good thing that would be. Perhaps this trend will translate into less declawing of cats and less wild cat species as pets.  There are too many pet wild cats in America.  They are unsuited.

Monday 26 May 2014

Cat's Cradle - why "cat" is in it!

Cat's Cradle is a game played by two people with string.  In the UK in the mid-1800s it was played by children. It was called cat's, catch or scratch cradle.

Figures are created through the way the string shapes up in the hands of the players.  I have never played the game.  I don't see the shapes of figures in the pictures that I've seen but perhaps I'm not using my imagination enough!

It seems peculiar that the word "cat" is in the title to this game. The word "cat" may be a corruption of the word "cratch" from the phrase"cratch cradle", which is also called "manger cradle", in which the infant Saviour was laid.  If this is correct is a clear case of a word being corrupted during use but I see no connection between the word "cat" and this game based on this corruption neither do I see a connection with manger cradle except in the general shape formed.

Some of the figures formed by the string may resemble a cat! Not sure. Do you know more than me?

Cratch is the French creche (a rack or manger).

If you search for cat's cradle on the Internet you come up with various uses of this phrase. There is a book entitled Cat's Cradle, a shelter for cats and a boarding catteries cats for example.

Shakespeare Writes About Cats

Is this the only time Shakespeare mentions the cat in his works? Quite possibly, but I don't believe so...more to follow perhaps.

The Rape of Lucrece (1594) is a poem by William Shakespeare about Lucretia.

This is a quote from two lines in this narrative poem:
Yet, foul night-working cat, he doth but dally,
While in his hold-fast foot the weak mouse panteth:
He portrays the domestic and stray cat as a tormentor. He seems to dislike the domestic cat because he uses the word "foul". He portrays the cat as a night stalking, sinister creature although I presume the lines are referring to a person. That is my impression.

We read a lot about the possibility that Shakespeare is not the true author of works attributed to him. So perhaps Shakespeare liked cats! On this account he did not.

In the days of the late 1500s the domestic cat was less domestic and more a community cat. There were probably many sick stray cats on the streets looking mangy. Sad days for the cat. This may have made it harder to warm to the cat of Shakespearian times.

There were still many cat lovers of that time. 200 year later Dr Johnson loved his cat Hodge.

Update: some more Shakespeare on cats:

My thoughts on the above quote from Lucrece is supported by this line from Cymbeline:
In killing creatures vile, as cats and dogs.
Merchant of Venice:
Slow in profit, and he sleeps by day
More than the wild cat
This is interesting as he knew that wild cats slept a lot and he seems to be describing a lazy person but I am told he is comparing wild and domestic cats (it does not seem like that to me though). The wild cat is not lazy but efficient and therefore does not need to work all day. The time spent hunting prey is relatively short.

King Henry The Fourth
I am as vigilant as a cat to steal cream (Falstaff)
Cats don't steal! But cats like cream because it contains fat and fat is a good source of energy.

Internet Writers Waffle For SEO Reasons

It can be difficult to write a concise compact article for a website because it might be too short for search engine optimisation (SEO) reasons.  Sometimes a writer might simply wish to answer a question in an article.  The answer to the question may take one line of text.  That would not be enough for search engine optimisation reasons.

Sometimes the nub of a news story can be stated in a couple of lines or in a paragraph of text.  But a paragraph of text amounts to about 50 or so words and that is not enough for search engine optimisation reasons.

Classically, the average Internet article may be something between 300 to 1,500 words averaging about 500 to 700 words, perhaps. Writers feel compelled, or are told by their editors, to write articles of around 500+ words.

If the topic that they're writing about really demands far less words then a lot of what they write will be padding --- what I refer to as waffle.

A lot of Internet readers want to find the answer to a question that they have and they want to find an answer quickly in the first paragraph of text but often Internet writers waffle their way through about three initial paragraphs before even beginning to answer the question or provide relevant information.

I would hope that the search engines become more refined so that a person can write even one word as an article and that that article is found successfully by search engines and ranked highly provided the single word completely addresses the topic at hand.

What percentage of orange tabby cats are female?

What percentage of orange tabby cats are female?

Is seems that the answer is 25% although the sources of this information, two websites - Yahoo and the other Catster - are not the greatest sources for what I would call scientific information.  We really need hard science on this subject.
Sasha - flame pointed Birman? See tabby M mark on forehead
Photo by Alan

However, there is very little information about the prevalence of any type of domestic cat coat.   You will see searches on the Internet for percentages of black cats and white cats for example but no real answers from scientists.  I guess the scientists aren't interested in the same sort of things that people are interested in!

If you click on the link above you will be able to read a bit more about this subject.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Egyptian Mau Outcrossed To Feral Middle Eastern Cats

We are told by the secretary to a Cat Fanciers' Association sanctioned show (Golden Triangle Cat Fanciers all breed cat show) in Canada that the Egyptian Mau cat was so rare 20 years ago that problems developed in the breed because the gene pool was too narrow.

What the person is referring to, I believe, is that if the foundation cats are few and all future cats of the same breed are bred from these few foundation cats you can get inbreeding and with inbreeding you can get health problems because recessive genes that have health consequences come to the fore. The Bengal cat has few foundation cats causing health problems in the breed such as HCM and Bengal Nose (I would argue that but many will disagree with me).
Egyptian Mau at a cat show  - not the cat show referred to in this post.

When inbreeding becomes a problem breeders have to outcross to a totally fresh cat or cats that are not part of the breeding lines to introduce fresh genes into the breeding programmes. These cats are carefully selected. I suppose it must make the concept of "pedigree" somewhat redundant even though the offspring are no doubt referred to as pedigree cats.

In this case, the lady in question, show secretary Nancy Grandison, tells us that the solution to the narrow gene pool with respect to this popular cat breed, was to find a healthy population of feral cats in the Middle East - I hope she means in Egypt where there are many feral Egyptian Mau cats - and to import some of these cats back into the country and use them as breeding cats.

Photo by April Spreeman.

Russia: Woman took a nine-month lioness on a train as a domestic cat.

Young lioness
Imagine a train trundling through the Ural Mountains in the middle of Russia and on this train is a woman who had brought along with her her pet lioness. She had treated her 9-month-old lioness as a domestic cat and brought her along into a train compartment believing that she could cope with everything as normal.  She couldn't manage - but it surprises me that she actually got this far in the first place.  Why didn't someone stop her and ask a few questions?

Anyway she couldn't cope because the lioness became too playful!  I wonder what the other passengers thought?

The lioness weighs 50 kg and the transport police say that the cat was not muzzled.  It is the first time that I have heard of a lioness being muzzled and treated as a domestic cat on a train.

The Transport Department of the Interior Ministry sedated the lion and the lion was handed over to an experienced person to look after her.

I'm not sure how the whole bizarre episode panned out.  No doubt some railway employees will be hauled up in front of the boss to explain themselves and I hope very much that this lady gets her lioness back.

We all know that some Americans like exotic animals and particularly exotic cats including big cats which they sometimes keep as pets.  This is the first time I've heard a Russian lady doing the same thing and taking it to an extreme by travelling on a train with her pet domestic cat!  Her lioness was registered as a domestic cat.

The story comes from Pravda online.  The photograph comes from the online article as well.  I don't have the name of the photographer unfortunately.

Ringworm At Animal Shelter

Ringworm in cats is a bit of a nightmare to be honest. I know a bit about it myself because I got it from my cat. He keeps giving it to me when he rubs my legs before I feed him in the morning. He appears not to have ringworm himself but he must have it somewhere. His veterinarian did not diagnose ringworm in my cat but I think he's got it although you can't see it. Perhaps he has not got it and I got it from somewhere else but it is very transmittable from domestic cat to cat owner.
Photo by Christine Myaskovsky

What got me thinking about the difficulty of dealing with ringworm (and it can be hard to get rid of) is a recent story in the Essex Chronicle in which they report a ringworm outbreak in an RSPCA animal shelter. The shelter is near Braintree. This had to close the shelter down and treat every animal in the shelter causing massive disruption.

As mentioned, perhaps the greatest difficulty in dealing with ringworm is that it is highly contagious. You may well know that it is caused by a fungus and not a worm! The reason why it is called ringworm is because it often causes circular ring-like red blisters on the skin. The skin peels off around the edges of the inflamed skin. The inflamed skin is not always circular like a doughnut. It could be a semicircle or a straight line. When a person's immune system is a bit suppressed it can take hold more easily. Conversely, if a person's immune system is in good shape then it will deal with the infection by itself.

Apparently veterinarians test hair samples of the infected cats and dogs. Ringworm was confirmed in this shelter. We are told in the Essex Chronicle that in general the treatment is a 6 week course of a twice-daily lime sulphur dip. It smells awful apparently and it turns cats and dogs yellow.

Did I mention that ringworm can be hard to get rid of in dogs and cats! I think it is one reason why it's hardly worth dealing with because the course of treatment is almost worse than having ringworm in the first place.

You can't be careful enough when you are trying to get rid of ringworm. Even when a hair sample proves negative you have to bathe everything all over again and then wait a week to retest and to make sure that all the symptoms have gone. It is obviously a struggle and as I said in my opening sentence, a bit of a nightmare.

Ringworm outbreaks are quite rare but not that rare to be honest. I recall a similar outbreak in America in the cat shelter there.

If my cat has ringworm he probably got it from a stray cat when he was living with my mother because I do recall her taking-on a stray cat who used to sleep quite close to my cat (I adopted my cat from my mother's estate after she died about 2 and a half years ago.

Merge All Your Credit Cards Into One

This is a mobile phone (cell phone) App which merges all your credit cards into one card and when you pay you can select the card you want to pay with.  And if you lose your card you can track it using your iPhone as long as you are within Bluetooth wireless range (as I understand it).

I think it's going to make a big difference to the way people use their debit and credit cards.  It will probably lead to other things and the gradual disappearance of debit and credit cards altogether so you pay with your iPhone.

You can see a gradual shift away from cash, cards (plastic) and any other tangible money object that you can hold, towards totally electronic transactions using a mobile phone.

That is the way I see things going and it may happen in the not too distant future.  The Bitcoin is based on a similar concept where there is no actual tangible money.

The problem with all this new technology based upon iPhones is all-important security.  How secure are these transactions?  Criminals are always able to hack into computer systems if they are determined and sophisticated enough so the developers of the sort of software are going to have to focus on security and convince people that it is secure.

Saturday 24 May 2014

Cat's Canine Teeth

As the cat has a shortened face there is also a shortened jaw with less space for teeth and as a consequence cats have fewer teeth than other carnivores; usually 28 or 30 compared with 42 for dogs and bears.

A cat's teeth are specialised for different tasks.  There are the incisors which are the small teeth at the front of the mouth, used for holding and nibbling (you will see a cat nibbling his fur when grooming).
Cat's canine teeth. See note at base of page
There are the rear molars which move against each other like the blades of scissors for slicing and cutting.  Then there are the large strong and somewhat flattened canines (the fangs you see on either side of the front of the upper jaw) which are used for stabbing and delivering the killing bite usually to the nape of the neck of small prey if we are talking about the domestic cat.

It is said that the cat's canine teeth fit between the neck vertebrae of prey like a "key in a lock" (Paul Leyhausen).

It has also been suggested that the canine teeth of the cat can feel like the fingers of a hand due to the conglomeration of nerves at the base of the teeth.  This allows cats to feel for the gap between the prey's vertebrae before biting and severing the spinal column thereby killing the prey.

The canine teeth of the cat forces the vertebrae in the neck of prey apart a bit like a wedge being hammered into a gap.  This breaks the spinal-cord.

Note: Regrettably I have lost the photographer's name. If you claim this image please tell me in a comment so I can add a credit and a link of your choice.

Burmilla (notes on the breed)

The Burmilla  was created by crossing the Chinchilla Persian and the foreign Burmese.  Apparently, it is not recognised in North America (this may have changed).  Various international cat registries use the name for the shaded Asians. The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) consider the breed as part of the Asian cat family.
Angelina. This type of tabby M mark is typical of the Burmilla. I don't
have the photographer's name - sorry. Please come forward.

The Burmilla has the medium-foreign body type of the Burmese and the colour of the chinchilla silver Persian.  The cat comes in either the shaded or chinchilla pattern, in 4 colours: black, blue, chocolate and lilac.

The Burmilla is a shorthaired cat with a short, dense coat that feels like “raw silk at the tips".  There are markings around the lips, the green eyes, and the brick-red nose.  There is a distinct tabby “M" mark on the forehead.  Although this mark does take various forms in tabby cats.

There are also delicate tabby markings on the head, legs and tail.

The breed was first seen in England in 1981 as a result of an accidental breeding of a chinchilla Persian with a Burmese.

The accidental mating resulted in 4 black-shaded female kittens.  They were extremely attractive which prompted a breeder to create the Burmilla as a breed by arranging further matings.

This cat is friendly and outgoing but less noisy and less demanding than the Burmese.  Cats of this breed are said to be laid-back like it's chinchilla silver Persian ancestor.

How Healthy Is That Kitten or Puppy On the Website?

How Healthy Is That Kitten or Puppy On the Website?

I'm referring to individual people who want to relinquish their cat.  I'm referring to people who have a cat or who have let their cat breed and therefore have kittens as well and they want to offload the kittens.  These people sometimes advertise their cats and kittens on websites which carry adverts for all sorts of things.  They advertise "free to a good home". That sort of ad is to be avoided.

We have to be careful if we wish to adopt a kitten using an advert on one of these websites because we have no idea what sort of cat owner we are dealing with.  If they are a good cat owner then the cat that they wish to get rid of is going to be quite possibly in good health and vaccinated etc but if not you may be adopting a cat which is unhealthy and which will give you a lot of upset and possibly high expense with vet bills.

Sometimes shelters advertise their cats and dogs online from their own website.  That is a different kettle of fish because you know you're dealing with a professional (hopefully) organisation and you know therefore that they will have done all the necessary checks and provided necessary medication.

However, even with well-known animal shelters sometimes people can adopt cats from them which have serious illnesses and these cats can spread the disease to other cats in the adopter's household.

The key to all cat adoptions is to actually visit the place and interact with the cat yourself and if possible get a contract that protects all parties and even have the cat vet checked. This is a serious business.  The best place to adopt from is of course a shelter because these are unwanted cats and therefore they need homes.

Personally, I would never adopt from an individual person (an unknown person and not an organisation) who is advertising their cat or kitten online on one of these general advertising websites.

Sarah Hartwell, who is a well known cat expert here in the UK says that cats always turn up for her. She has never had a problem adopting. Neither have I. You haven't even got to go to a shelter. They are just there.

Lastly the people advertising cats in this way are being irresponsible because some takers will not be genuine but dealers and the cats/kittens can end up in bad places such as laboratories.

Tara, Heroine Cat Who Saved Boy Opens Baseball Game

Tara, Heroine Cat Who Saved Boy Opens Baseball Game

I am not the only person who thinks it is not right to turn Tara into another celebrity cat, which is what appears to be happening here as she is brought out onto a baseball field to throw the first pitch.

Tara is the cat who pushed a viscous biting dog of her human companion (a four-year-old boy) by charging at the dog and chasing him off.

Without wanting to be a kill-joy I think the best way to care for Tara now is to let her behave normally and not to carry her out to the middle of a noisy stadium which will probably scare her and then pretend that she throws the first pitch.

Most domestic cats don't like this sort of thing. Anything different from the normal routine, especially something noisy with lots of people, is normally not good for a domestic cat.

What kind of reward is this for her great behaviour? I suppose money was involved. Celebrity cats don't do anything until the owner receives a payment in commission.

Friday 23 May 2014

Horizontal Transmission of Feline Diseases

Horizontal transmission means that a disease is transferred from one individual cat to another or others as opposed to vertical transmission when the disease is transferred from a mother to her offspring.

Infection can be transmitted both when a cat is going through the acute phase of a disease and is ill or during the incubation period before the cat becomes ill.  In addition, recovered cats can be carriers.  They are healthy but spread infection.

Horizontal transmission can be by direct cat-to-cat contact or via an inanimate objects or through the air.

In direct contact a part of an animal makes contact with the part of another animal such as when one cat grooms another with his tongue.  Fighting is another example.  Disease can be transmitted through sexual intercourse in cats. This is not a "significant route of infection in the UK"1.
Contact via a cat fight. Photo by ilovebutter

In indirect contact two or more animals come into contact with the same intermediary object.  It might be bedding material or a feeding bowl.

While some infectious agents (pathogens) can remain viable in the environment from long-time, particularly in favourable conditions such as dark and damp conditions, they are frequently fragile organisms which are easily killed by disinfectants, drying out, heat and light.

Feline parvovirus can survive for very long periods in the environment.  In general, infectious agents that are transmitted indirectly are hardy and more difficult to kill using the usual methods.

We are all aware of the airborne method of spreading disease.  The infection is spread in droplets produced when the cat coughs or sneezes.  This method of transmission is particularly important with respect to respiratory diseases.

Finally, some infectious agents don't pass directly from one individual to another but they spend part of their life cycle on or in another host with a vector for transmission.  The example is the tapeworm affecting cats.  Small rodents are used as an intermediate host and fleas as the vector.  I have a page on that.

1. The Welfare of Cats K. Sturgess.

Definition of Feral Cat

Definition of Feral Cat

This is a definition by a lady, Dee, who lives in America and who knows a lot about feral cats because for many years she has cared for them. Here definition is practical and pragmatic.
What I would call semi-feral cats.
A TRUE FERAL is completely unapproachable. Except for the dominant male of the colony, the remainder will retreat until a caretaker steps “out of bounds”.

A FERAL is unapproachable also, but will remain in the open unless threatened.

A SEMI-FERAL will allow a certain amount of close distance but can be easily spooked. These are very workable and the ones that I most bring home and work hardest with.

The STRAYS IN THE WILD are those that were domesticated at one time but have been out long enough that they have become skittish. They’re a piece of cake to turn back around.

The DOMESTICATED speaks for itself.

Below is a definition by a scientist, Mr Slater who writes in a superb book about the domestic and feral cat which is entitled: The Welfare of Cats.

“A feral cat is one that cannot be handled and is not suitable for placement in a typical pet home, that is, the cat that is un-socialised.”

I think these two together, one from a scientist and the other from an experienced cat lover provide a nice combination to define the term “feral cat".

Quite naturally, there are varying degrees of wildness amongst the feral cats of any country.  This means that people must be careful when defining what a feral cat is, which is why the definition in italics is a good one because it is based upon an individual cat's personality and characteristics.  One should not generalise when it comes to selecting out feral cats. Each cat should be assessed individually.

Young Deer Forms Instant Friendship with Kitten

Injured Recovering Deer Meets Kitten and Washes Her

If, like me, you are one of those people who likes to see interspecies companionship, then you will like this video. There are actually many videos like this one so in that way it is not special but for me this sort of instant, interspecies friendship is special because it highlights the difficulties that people have in their relationship with people of different cultures and people from different countries.

It appears that the deer is recovering from injury and is being cared for by the person who owns the house where the deer is.  You can see that there is an injury to the deer's leg. It also appears that the kitten wandered up to the bath and in no time at all the deer's mothering instincts took over and she started to wash the little kitten.  Initially the kitten is unsure but quickly begins to like it, presenting her head to be washed. A friendship has been created.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Cats Are Aliens

You can see an alien cat entering a flying saucer floating around the hallway of a home on earth. It's really exciting. It's dramatic. It's really weird but it all makes sense because cats are aliens.  We don't understand them.

To a lot of people cats are indeed aliens.  To a lot of other people they are best friends.  Some people fully understand the mind of a domestic cat while others, well....they just don't have a clue and often people who don't understand the domestic cat also dislike the domestic cat.

In general, what people don't understand they can be frightened of, and what people are frightened of they want to kill - to get rid of it so that they are no longer frightened.

You could argue that a lot of people who like to shoot at cats are frightened of cats.  Perhaps the cure for these cat shooters to get them to understand cats.

It is actually quite easy to learn to understand the domestic cat.  You just have to respect the cat, provide a suitable environment for the cat, feed her well and play with her, be with her as much as possible and then be observant all the time, read some books about cat behaviour or just read pages on this website; it's all here.  Then a domestic cat will no longer be an alien to you but a best friend and an enduring companion that you will miss when she passes on.

Cats Taken to a Veterinarian Less Often Than Dogs

This is quite a well-known statistic and a rather worrying one, actually.  In America cat owners take their cats to the veterinarian much less than dog owners take their dogs to the veterinarian which on a crude interpretation means that dog owners care for their dogs more than cat owners care for their cats!

I don't think it is as simple as that however.  It may be about the fact that dogs are more in your face and more needy and possibly more immediately connected to their “masters", while cats are more independent and possibly hide discomfort more than dogs.

As at 2001 more domestic cats were kept as pets than domestic dogs but despite that statistic dog owners made over 117,000,000 visits to the veterinarian, while cat owners made 70,000,000 visits to a veterinarian.  Quite a disparity.

However, the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association in 2004 reported that cat owners increased the number of visits to the vet from 1.6 in 2000 to 2.3 visits in 2002.  This made them more comparable with dog owners who averaged 2.6 visits in 2000 and 2.7 visits in 2002.

The American Veterinary Medical Association Survey (2002) found that both cats and dogs were most frequently brought in for physical examinations (67% and 69% of visits respectively).

Dog visits were more likely to involve drugs and medications (31% of visits versus 18% for cats). Visits involving vaccinations were slightly more frequent at 71% of cats, against 64% of dogs.

Cat visits were much more likely to involve sterilisation at 14% of visits compared to 6% of dogs. A very low percentage of dogs and cats at 0.6% and 0.3% of visits, respectively, involved micro-chipping identification or tattoo identification.

As for expenditure, in the USA cat owners, in 2001, spent over $6.6 billion while dog owners spend over $11.6 billion on veterinary visits.

Source: Welfare of Cats Published by Springer

Swedish Insure Their Pets While Americans Don't

This is a very short post just to mention that in Sweden 57% of pet owners ensure their pets while in England 15% do it but in America about 1% of cat owners and 2% of dog owners, or 3% in total, had health insurance for their pets. The source is the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association 2004.

What do you make of that?  Insurance is about risk.  People who are more cautious take out more insurance.  People who are prepared to take more risks don't take out insurance unless it is obligatory.  Some people figure out that paying for pet insurance works are more expensive than simply paying as you go when you visit a veterinarian.  Of course, it depends on your cat and how healthy he or she is and there is the risk element.

As Americans are a nation where there are more purebred pedigree cats than anywhere else and as pedigreed cats are possibly more likely to need to see a vet than random bred cats, you would have thought that Americans would ensure their cats more often but apparently not.

This has to be to do with risk and freedom of choice etc. and Americans like their freedoms and to make their own choices.  You probably have to conclude too that Americans don't like to support steady and regular outgoings without something coming back from it.  They also may dislike insurance companies!  I certainly do.

Do Cats Sulk?

Do Cats Sulk?

No, cats don't sulk.  I don't believe they do.  I don't believe that cats have these sorts of emotions. Sulking requires resentment and a simmering protest at being wronged or scolded, or punished.  Cats don't harbour resentment or go on protest marches or become surly and difficult as a way of protesting against the treatment meted out to them by their human caretaker.  You never see that sort of behaviour from a cat.
Photo by Nick Hewson

What you will see in response to scolding or punishment is possibly some confusion, some nervousness and anxiety. A cat may go off to a quiet corner after being scalded but that is not an indication that the cat is sulking but more an indication that the cat is getting out of the way and possibly hiding.

Increased or heightened forms of punishment will end up with the cat becoming defensively aggressive. Once again the domestic cat is not responding with sulking but in an entirely different manner, the manner of a domestic cat.

It is very easy to treat the domestic cat, which is after all a member of the family, as a small human infant. This of course is anthropomorphising the domestic cat and it can lead to some misinterpretations of cat behaviour.

The only way to care for a cat probably is to fully understand his nature and then to comply with it.  It's no good fighting against the behaviour of a domestic cat.  You will always lose and if you don't lose the argument you will lose the cat.

Rock Climbing Cat. Good or Bad?

Rock Climbing Cat. Good or Bad?

A man in America likes rock climbing and trekking.  He's a good guy.  He adopted a rescue cat: a little black kitten that was about to be euthanised at a rescue centre.  The little black kitten came over to him and picked out Craig.  Craig adopted her and called her Millie.  Now they appear to be inseparable because Millie follows her rock climbing guardian onto the rock face; she climbs rock faces with him.
Millie rock climbing - I have taken the liberty of publishing this photo here.
If there is a problem with that please leave a comment and I’ll respond promptly.

This is charming and it is interesting but it also looks dangerous to me.  I don't know how dangerous it is.  Craig says that Millie has sometimes fallen but he has caught her.  He also says that Millie sometimes wanders off and does silly things.  Perhaps Craig is doing silly things in taking her up the rock face with him.

But perhaps Craig is not taking Millie up the rock face with him;  perhaps she's simply following him because she likes it.  She likes the outdoor life.  It is full of fun even if it might be a bit dangerous but she does not know it is dangerous.  Craig, however, does and Craig has the responsibilities of a cat guardian which includes making sure that his cat is safe at all times and provided for.

So is Craig discharging his duty as a cat owner properly and wisely?  That is the $64,000 question. Some people will say he is because he is providing his cat with a wonderfully energetic outdoor life. Other people will say that his cat is simply following him and what he is putting his cat through is too dangerous.

I tend to lean towards the fact that it is too dangerous and Craig should find some other ways to be with his cat.

At the moment all is well but perhaps one day Millie will fall (Craig says that she has fallen on occasions but he has caught her).  One day he might not be able to catch her and she might die and then perhaps we can conclude that what is happening is wrong or bad but at the moment we're not sure.

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