Saturday 30 July 2016

Why Are Cats...?

 If you search in Google for “why are cats" every result on page one completes the sentence like this:

"Why are cats frightened of cucumbers...!?

I find that surprising in many ways, but unsurprising in one way.  This is because there are a lot of videos on the Internet of cats being terrified at the sight of a cucumber.  There's been a lot of debate about why cats are terrified of cucumbers.

The answer must be the logical one and the straightforward one which is that the cucumber is a foreign and strange looking object to the domestic cat and when it is placed on the floor behind a domestic cat without the cat's knowledge then the cat will be frightened when he suddenly sees it.

This is because in that instant the cat does not know whether the object is alive or dead, inanimate or living, and therefore the cat's immediate reaction is defensive and to get out of the way as quickly as possible.

That is it and it's rather bizarre in some ways that a very general part-question such as “why are cats..."  is completed with a question about cucumbers!  There are so many other ways to complete this sentence and all the other ways will be far more profound and important than the ones provided by Google in their search results.  It's a reflection on how people use the Internet and what interests people about cats.

Sunday 24 July 2016

How do margays get their food?

The question in the title asks how do margays hunt prey and then catch prey. This is my interpretation of the question in the title. It needs to be said right away that the margay is an incredibly agile small wild cat species which has physical adaptations allowing the cat to climb trees with great agility. You can read more about that on this page.

There's not been much research and very few observations of the hunting behaviour of wild margays. The limited research and information indicates that this cat species does much of its hunting above the ground.

In Guyana it was reported that the margay feeds on large arboreal mammals such as porcupines and capuchin monkeys. Although this report is unreliable. Recent analysis of the stomach contents and faeces of the margay indicates that they feed mainly on small rodents, insects, fruit and birds.

Most of the margay's prey are arboreal (living in trees) and nocturnal (active by night). However, this cat species also hunts on the ground.

One scientist radio collared a margay travelling from one hunting area to another on the ground. They probably kill whatever suitable terrestrial prey they encounter while moving between hunting areas.

In Brazil another scientists watched the margay spent 20 minutes trying to catch a bird. The bird was 6 meters up in a bamboo club. The cat was in the bamboo clump himself and when the bird flew off the cat came to the ground. The same scientists recorded a margay eating an amphibian beneath the tree.

In Venezuelan, the stomach contents of 2 margays contained the remains of three spiny pocket mice, a cane rat and a squirrel. Of these three items of prey, the squirrel was the only one which is arboreal.

In Chiapas, Mexico it has been reported that the margay preyed on field mice, rabbits and young pacas and agoutis. These are all ground dwelling animals.

In Panama, a margay's stomach contents contained the remains of a common opossum.

In Brazil the stomach contents of another margay contained the remains of a guinea pig, the fur and bones of a water rat and the feathers of a tinamou.

In Belize it was found that the climbing rat was the most common element of the margay's diet. It occurred in almost half of the 27 faeces collected.

Fruit occurred in 14% of the samples of faeces taken from margays in Belize. Insects were found in the third of the faeces (scats).

As to the actual method of hunting and killing prey this would be very similar to the domestic cat's methods which means stalking, pouncing and then killing often by a bite to the nape of the neck to sever the spinal cord.

I hope that answers the question in the title.

Source: Myself and Wild Cats Of The World by the Sunquists.

What wild cats live in Georgia?

In my honest opinion, only one wild cat species lives in Georgia, officially, and that is the American bobcat. You may see the odd Puma but they are not meant to be there. That is what the experts say. Perhaps a Florida panther might wander into Georgia but I would doubt it. If someone knows better they can leave a comment, please. If you want to know what wild cats live in America, please click on this link, which tells you which wildcat species live in which country across the planet.

What wild cats live in England?

The short answer is that no wild cats live in England. Just north of the border in Scotland there are some Scottish wild cats. They are part of the wildcat species. At one time it was thought there were about 400 of them. Now people believe there may not even be any genuine, purebred Scottish wildcats in Scotland. This is because they have crossbred with domestic cats to become hybrids.

This cat used to live in England but was extirpated and became extinct in England, as I recall, in 1835. This was because it was sport hunted to extinction. That's it. There is nothing more to say to answer the question in the title. It's a sad answer.

Thursday 21 July 2016

Can you break the window of a car if there's a pet inside in very hot weather?

In hot weather sometimes a person will see a dog or even a cat inside a car with the windows fully up and it may occur to that person whether they are entitled to break a window of the car to allow air into it thereby quite possibly saving the life of the dog inside.

And it can be a matter of life and death. Even under moderately warm weather it can become unbearably hot for a dog inside a car as the heat builds up.

Whether a person can break the window of a car firstly must depend upon the law in the country where that person lives. I would suspect that the law is similar across many countries in the West and even in other parts of the world.

Technically, breaking the window of a car is criminal damage. It is a crime. The person doing it could be prosecuted and the sentence would be a fine.

However, the person has a defence. He could say that he believed that he would have the consent of the dog's owner under the particular circumstances under which he broke the window. This would be a reasonable assessment provided the dog was in great distress.

If the dog was not in great distress it might be considered unreasonable to break the window. In addition it would be safer and more sensible if the person telephoned the police first as an emergency and then the RSPCA or any other animal welfare organisation which is appropriate in the country concerned.

If the person believes that in calling the police they would take too long to get to the car to release the dog then it could be successfully argued that he had to break the window based on the defense, as mentioned above, that the dog's owner would have given consent.

As you can see is not black and white. There has to be some sensible considerations before breaking the window. If police were involved they would no doubt gain access to the car as would a burglar by releasing the locking mechanism using certain tools. Although on occasions police may well break the window.

Many people would readily break the window of the car and take the risk of prosecution. They would do this because of great concern for the pet's welfare inside the car.

In addition, even if the person breaking the window did so without taking the precautions referred to above, it would be unusual for the car's owner to seek a prosecution in my opinion. Perhaps the worst case scenario might be that you would have to pay for repair of the car although that would be unlikely considering the dog's life might well have been saved.

You can't bring back a dog killed through heat exhaustion in the back of red-hot car but you can replace a car window.

Monday 11 July 2016

How much are cat vaccinations UK and USA?

Cat vaccinations are cheap when you think about the health benefits they bring provided you consider the risk factors in respect of boosters. There is a lot of chatter about how necessary booster vaccinations are. In the past vets have tended to overdo them for commercial reasons.

The prices are naturally date sensitive. In ten years these prices will seem very cheap! The cost for a first vaccination in the UK is around £30-£41 and in the USA the cost is around $45-$85 depending on the vaccination. The higher figure may relate to rabies. Boosters are cheaper. You'll probably find that you may be able to get them done cheaper under certain circumstances. Rescue cats adopted from shelters are pre-vaccinated. You'll need to get a booster once you adopt the cat. In the USA, Vetco charge $55 for a double vaccination and a deworm (see above). This was chosen by me at random but it is not that easy to find prices listed on the internet, surprisingly.

Sunday 10 July 2016

How many cat colors are there?

Cat colors nearly always relate to cat breeds as opposed to species. If the question means "How many cat colors and pattern combinations are there for the cat breeds" (which is what I think the question means) the answer, per Gloria Stephens in her excellent book: legacy of the cat (lower case title) is....144...Hope this helps :)

If the question is purely about cat breed coat colors I don't know the answer because the question might be too tricky to answer bearing in mind that color types are dictated by the cat associations of which there are several. They can have different ideas. Comments welcomed ;)

Sorry for the weak answer. I am watching the men's final at Wimbledon 2016 while writing this... :)

How many cat species are there?

Depending on whose version of taxonomy that you rely on there are between 36-41 species of cat. The variation is because some scientists treat subspecies as species and vice versa. If you treat a species as a subspecies it reduces the number of species. If you treat a subspecies as a species then the number rises. This latter scenario is more common and why Wikipedia list 41 or 40 species of cat.

Personally I rely on the famous book: Wild Cats Of The World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist who list 36 species. On my website (PoC) I list 37. The reason given is stated on this page which is the first of two pages on all the wild cat species.

Note: "species" is not "breed". Species is a scientific term within the science of taxonomy while "breed" is a cat breeder's term. All breeds are one species felis silvestris catus.

You can see a full page written in straightforward English on the wild cat species by clicking this link. Hope this helps.

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