Tuesday 4 September 2018

You Never See Bad People Helping Feral Cats

Stray cat and kittens. Photo in public domain.

It is a point that needs to be made and I'll make it briefly. You'll never see bad people involved in caring for feral cats in TNR programs or simply feeding them.

They are all good people with good hearts. However, you will see bad people trying to kill feral cats or harassing volunteers involved in TNR programs.

There is a notable divide in human personality traits. I am not saying that all people who dislike feral cats and TNR are bad people; far from it. However, there is quite a lot of bad human behaviour surrounding feral and stray cats such as throwing them against walls or into lakes, or kicking them, or shooting them, or poisoning them or making the lives of cat lovers intolerable. These are all crimes. They are bad ignorant people who commit them.

This is significant. It confirms to me that treating feral cats humanely is the only way going forward and that means TNR. It would be wrong to dismiss the actions of good people involved in caring for stray and feral cats as misplaced and the people delusional.

They realise that there is an ethical mandate to look after feral cats and to reduce their numbers slowly in an humane manner. The bad guys, the cat shooters and abusers, lack the education and sensitivity to understand the moral obligation to treat these cats humanely.

They are simply ignorant oafs. Stray and feral cats divide communities. They are argued over at council meetings. City councillors should be decent and wise people. They generally are which is why when they thrash out a strategy on how to deal with feral cats in the community they almost inevitably come up with a decision which leads to treating these cats humanely.

The wise know that TNR and decent behaviour towards these cats is the only way. Don't think culling cats is a sensible alternative. It's immoral and ineffective in the long term.

Monday 3 September 2018

Illinois state law allows law enforcement to take custody of cat exposed to life-threatening cold or heat

Frostbitten cat.

This is an interesting law. The Senate Committee Amendment No. 1 states that the Humane Care for Animals Act has been amended to make provision for a law enforcement officer to take temporary custody of a cat or dog exposed to heat or cold which places the animal's life at risk or which can cause injury through hyperthermia, frostbite or hypothermia. I can think of one situation where heat could kill a cat: in the back of a car with the windows closed on a warm or hot day. This would allow an officer to break the window and rescue the cat it seems.

If a cat or dog is in the custody of law enforcement under these circumstances the officer has an obligation to attempt to contact the owner and seek emergency veterinary care.

Comment: This is the first time I have seen such an animal welfare law. Stories of cats suffering in extreme weather are not infrequently encountered on the internet so this law is useful I'd say. Frostbite in cats is not that rare. It's the ear flaps that get it. You'll see cats with no ears as they have been amputated - see partial amputation of the cat's ears above.

Should cat rescue centre staff wear plastic gloves, aprons, foot covers and arm protectors?

Should cat rescue centre staff wear plastic gloves, aprons, foot covers and arm protectors and throw them away each time they leave one of the cat's pens?

The intention must be to reduce the transmission of contagious diseases from cat to cat via humans but the downside is (a) expense and (b) more plastic to be thrown away and is it recycled?

Evesham Cats Protection
Cats Protection in Wickhamford near Evesham have introduced this new anti-contagion regime and the staff are up in arms against it. They say the cat charity has 'lost sight of its main purpose' and is wasting donated money.

I'd imagine that is is very expensive to throw away these plastic items every time a staff member moves from one pen to another and it must slow down the work at hand too.

Cats Protection defend the method by saying that they adhere to strict disease control measures. They say that the prevention of disease is a way of reducing environmental hazards. They said this because they realise that producing piles of plastic waste achieves the opposite.

Source: Worcester News.

Hitting a cat on the road is upsetting to the car driver

There are three aspects to a cat being hit by a car on the road, (a) the owner has arguably been irresponsible in letting their cat wander onto roads and (b) the cat is badly injured or killed and suffering great pain and (c) the driver of the vehicle is or should be upset and there is a moral burden on the driver to stop and help. This moral burden might become a legal one in the UK.

Cat on side of road.

The last item is rarely discussed. Hitting a cat on the road is very upsetting to a large section of society. Not everyone will care but millions will and through no fault of their own they find themselves in a very difficult position.

The driver is morally obliged to stop the car, check the cat, take the cat to the nearest veterinarian as a matter of urgency, make sure the cat is scanned for a microchip and make sure the vet contacts the cat's owner if she has one. If not there is the added complication of what to do next. Who pays the vet's bills? Do you authorise euthanasia and so on.

And in Britain 99% of cat owners allow this possibility to come about. They don't seem to recognise the dangers and the burden that it might place on a car driver.

I am not saying that letting a cat wander outside is automatically a bad decision because sometimes the outside is safe for a cat but oftentimes it is not because of heavy road traffic nearby.

Cat owners need to think of others, especially drivers of vehicles, as well as the safety of their cat when they let their cat wander freely outside.

Novel way around having a cat while being allergic to them

Belle likes the outdoors and lives in an outbuilding in the grounds of the cat owner.

This is an audio recording in which I discuss a solution to an allergy to cats. In this example the mother is allergic to cats while her son is not. He wanted a cat. She could not comply with the request. Cats Protection advised a novel way of dealing with this. Please listen to the file. Thanks. It's a bit raw but I hope the message is conveyed. Reload the page if the player does not start. Thanks.

Sunday 2 September 2018

Audio record of a British couple's thoughts on domestic cat ownership

This is a very informal interview by me of a British couple on the subject of cat ownership. They own a tortoiseshell cat. The objective is to see if visitors can obtain some insights into cat ownership and to give a feel for how the Brits look after their cats. It is a bit different to Americans. The citizens of each country have their own ways on cat ownership.

Kammy and Barry

The audio player is loading......

The couple are Barry and Kammy (who is a Thai). Their cat is Piedie and she is about 7 years old. They live in the suburbs of Kingston Upon Thames in Surrey, England. Their house is situated in a cul de sac (a dead end road) and they have a large garden by British standards. I won't write anymore as it is all on the audio file except to say that part of the discussion is on indoor/outdoor cats.

Ninety-nine percent of Brits allow their cat to roam freely outside. It's the culture. Nearly all UK citizens don't think about keeping cats inside but I do and so does my neighbour. Also declawing cats is unheard of in the UK. Most cat owners have never heard of it.

Cat Shaking Back Legs When Walking

"Cat shaking back legs when walking" is a cat behaviour trait which I have seen in one of my cats (now deceased). However, before I say why my cat did it you'll have to think of health issues because 'cat shaking back legs' can mean a lot of things. The description does not say for how long the cat shakes her back legs or how vigorously.

I don't want to be facetious but I think this topic concerns a behavioural trait signifying mild irritation and not a health issue

It could be a nervous system health problem for instance. I am not qualified to provide advice of feline health matters so it's up to your veterinarian to clear up any possible health issues but I mention a couple of possibilities below.

Having got that out of the way my experience tells me that when a cat shakes her back legs, or more accurately shakes one of her back legs while walking, she'll do it very briefly and it is a deliberate act. Moreover, the action of shaking a back leg is one of short sharp flicking movements as if she is throwing something off her paw such as water. This is the kind of action that I am referring to.

It's similar to back twitching which signified irritation. Hind leg shaking indicates irritation too in my opinion. It means something wider than that actually. It's a body language which means, 'I have had enough of that' and she walks away from what is irritating her.

I wonder whether back twitching and leg shaking have similar mental origins. I don't know but it is entirely possible. My former female cat did it when she had had enough of the food that I had given her. She'd walk away and shake one of her back legs. So, I am describing a feline behaviour trait.

On a medical note, insecticides in flea treatments can cause paw flicking apparently. I have not seen it in my cats. Maybe a cat reacts badly to one of the spot-on flea treatments and as it affects her nervous system, she involuntary shakes one of her hind legs. Flea treatments are essentially poisonous to cats as they contain insecticides.

Leg tremors can be caused by an injury. However, I don't want to go down the medical route and, in any case, I think that cat owners are referring to a non-medical cause which for me points to mild irritation being the cause.

Wednesday 20 June 2018

Young cat has Van type markings and 'dirty' coat

This sweet looking cat caught my eye because his white fur looks dirty but it is not white fur it seems to me or is it?

The fur is grey but not in a conventional way. It looks like a dirty white and perhaps it is. However, it would be usual if he let his coat become so dirty.  It does happen sometimes to street cats. It is almost as if they give up. It must be hard because cats are fastidiously clean. He is probably a street cat living in Turkey perhaps. He'll be a community cat. They are very common in Turkey.

The  black marking are what I call "van-type" meaning after the Turkish Van. This is an upside down V shape marking on the forehead. And the tail is black too.

Photo: Pinterest.
His eyes are a stunning glistening gold. What a beauty.

Picture of Bengal Cat Opening Door Using Handle

We have all seen it but never any better than this. This Bengal cat has been caught red handed so to speak.

Photo: Pinterest.

We also know that cats learn by observation. It makes sense that they watch humans open the door and the enterprising individuals with sufficient nous decide to give it a try and voila, you have a Bengal cat looking a bit sheepish caught in the act of doing what his owner does.

Bengals are wild cat hybrids as you know. This boy is possibly an high filial cat judging by his size and if so he has more wild genes in him which in turn should make him more intelligent. I don't think high filial Bengals should be full-time indoor cats. They need more than the normal stimulation but also security. You can't let then roam around the neighbourhood. He'd get stolen.

The obvious way to be a responsible owner of a Bengal cat is to build a nice garden enclosure. So when opens the door and 'escapes' he escapes into a cat containment area.

Saturday 5 May 2018

What Does Margays Mean?

People ask the rather strange question "what does margays mean?" The word margays is the plural of the name of a small wild cat species called a margay. It lives in central and South America. The 18th-century naturalist George Buffon was the first person to use this name. Mel and Fiona Sunquist in their book Wild Cats of the World say that the name probably originates from the Guarani mbaracaya, meaning "wild cat".

Photo: Felidae Conservation Fund

Guarani is the language of the Guarani . There are over 3 million speakers of this language. My online research indicates that the language is one of the main divisions of the Tupi-Guarani language family. It is also the national language of Paraguay. They you are. I've answered the question "what does margays mean?" I hope this helps.

280 Cats Rescued from Cat Rescue Organisation

This might be a record for the number of cats to be rescued from, yes, a cat rescue organization. As it happens the organization concerned, Fur'N Feather Farm, rescues cats and birds judging by the title. It is located in Plant City, Florida, USA.

Lori Letzring, manager for pet resources and community services.
The 280 cats were seized because of health concerns. Florida Fish and Wildlife are helping out with respect to the birds. They were unsure how many cats there were inside the house as people were unable to enter it. I believe they have now entered it wearing protective gear.

Six cats have been euthanized. They were too sick. They had multiple health problems such as parasites, dehydration and respiratory infections. There are no reports at the time whether the owner of the organization is going to be charged with a criminal offense.

The organization's Facebook page has been taken down, which is a shame because it would have been useful with respect to photographs and more information.

Fox13 say that 247 cats have been rescued. However, they also say the number could be higher as the place is searched. A woman runs the shelter. I should say ran the shelter. We don't have her name. That is all I have for the time being.

Comment: it is not that uncommon for cats to be rescued from so-called rescue organizations or cat shelters. This is because the owner and manager and often the only worker becomes out of her depth and can't cope. They can't admit that it's gone wrong. They may even be hoarders in which case there would be borderline personality disorders causing the problem.

Friday 4 May 2018

Heavy Metals in Pet Food

I'm not going to go over this in detail because I have recently written about heavy metals in pet food on the main website. You can read that article by clicking on this link.

I am simply spreading the word. But because the required standards are much lower for pet food it allows pet food manufacturers to produce food which is arguably unhealthy under the cover of the regulations which protects them. I'm talking about the USA by the way but I am not saying the UK is better. I will check that out later.

All that the pet manufacturers have to say is that they are complying with regulations and that the FDA says that their food is safe and they are home and dry. But a study recently discussed online concludes that heavy metals in pet food is between 8 and 670 times higher than in human food. The food would be considered unsafe for humans but under the regulations it is considered to be safe for cats and dogs.

I don't see how that argument stacks up. Anything which is poisonous or detrimental to the health of a human will also be poisonous to a cat or dog. Their anatomy is very similar.

A respected veterinarian, Karen Becker, says that almost all pet food is unacceptable. She cannot recommend almost all the pet food on the market because the standard is too low. She says that one in two dogs die of cancer and one in three cats die of cancer because she believes of the food that they eat.

The heavy metals that I am referring to are such as arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury. These metals are linked to cancer, respiratory disorders and neurological disorders.

Please read the main article where there's more detail. The point is this: there needs to be a tightening up of standards and regulations and to maintain those standards in respect of pet food in America. The pet is a second-class citizen to put it bluntly. It is acceptable to feed them unacceptable food in terms of human standards. Surely this is incorrect.

If you were a conspiracy theorist you would argue that the food is deliberately of unsatisfactory quality and potentially poisonous to cats and dogs because it helps to supply a continual stream of health complaints to veterinarians. Therefore, you could argue that veterinarians are in league with pet food manufacturers. This is not a crazy thought because Hills prescription diet foods are heavily sold by veterinarians and they work in conjunction with veterinarians. As I recall, they get at veterinarians early in their careers and supply funding with respect to training et cetera. This pet food manufacturer is heavily embedded into the veterinary system in America. It's a two-way trade. The veterinarians get more business and the pet food manufacturers are able to make cheaper pet food and therefore increase their profit margins.

The FDA is silent about this as far as I know. It dismays a lot of people. Regrettably, however, the vast majority of cat and dog owners in America are unaware of these sorts of problems. I'm not criticizing anybody. There is a general apathy about the quality of cat and dog food. If it on the shelves is good enough to buy. They think that it is controlled adequately and the standards are high enough. They don't ask questions. Some people do ask questions and when they do they come up with these sorts of answers. Susan Thixon has a great website about pet food quality. Some of the articles that she writes are frankly shocking. The high levels of heavy metals in pet food is also shocking.

Very few people make their own pet food. Making raw cat food is quite difficult or people are put off doing it because they're uncertain about it. If they did it would certainly get around these health problems. People who make their own pet food swear by it. They say that their cats are healthier, their coats shinier and their poo less smelly!

Monday 5 March 2018

Should 'lion' be capitalized?

No, the word 'lion' should not be capitalized. It's a standard noun describing a large wild cat species. However, if you wrote about the African lion, you will note that the word "African" is capitalized because it is common practice to capitalize the names of countries and places and words derived from those names.

It is interesting, by the way, that when I dictate articles as I am doing today using DragonDictate the software always capitalizes both lion and tiger. How about that? Very strange but it seems to be the default interpretation for this software which is, as mentioned, incorrect.

Sunday 4 March 2018

Evil Argentinian zoo drugs animals so tourists can pet them

Network for Animals tells us the story of an evil zoo in Argentina, Lujan Zoo, where they drug animals so that tourists can pet them and pose for photographs with them. It is cruel and heartless but no one cares. It is good business. The tigers are drugged. They are unable to stand. A lion was so drugged that he was unable to fed when provided with food. He had glazed eyes and a drooling mouth. He was in a deep stupor.

We know that zoos are bad enough but to do this is unconscionable and utterly unacceptable. The lions and tigers are drugged daily. The tourists are ignorant of what is going on. Or perhaps they realise but don't care. They grin into their cell phones posing while taking selfies.

As mentioned, it is illegal in the jurisdiction concerned, the city of Lujan, but the authorities don't enforce the law. A failure to enforce laws is as good as having no laws. Wikipedia says that Luján is a city in the Buenos Aires province of Argentina, located 68 kilometres north west of the city of Buenos Aires.


Saturday 3 March 2018

Making Tattoo Ink from Cat Hair is a Misleading Concept

You may have heard of this. A tattoo artist is using the fur of your cat as a base for the ink that he uses. Once the ink is applied to the skin the concept is that you have a piece of your cat under your skin and therefore very close to you in perpetuity.

It's a way of having your cat with you after he or she has passed on. A female model, Kathrin Toelle, has had a large tattoo applied to her right thigh by a Swiss tattoo service known as Skin46 who claim that they extract medically clean organic carbon from the cat's hair and then transform that product into tattoo ink.

Tattoo Artist Roman Abrego/Model Kathrin Toelle

Skin46 say that they incinerate the hair through extremely high temperatures removing all impurities and carcinogenic compounds to create a pure carbon which is mixed with tattoo ink.

Of course it has to be purified because you cannot, as a tattoo artist, inject tainted material under a person's skin for obvious health reasons.

My argument is this: if you are reducing the hair of a cat to pure carbon you are destroying all DNA. If you are destroying all DNA then nothing remains of your cat. Therefore you are not injecting a piece of your cat under your skin.

My research indicates that the only time that DNA can survive a cremation is when bits of bone or teeth remain afterwards which are then crushed down. These fragments of teeth and bone will contain DNA. Of course, this cannot happen in the process described by the tattoo artist. The material has to be very fine, purified carbon and therefore this reinforces my opinion that it contains no DNA.

Therefore I would argue, politely, that Skin46 is misrepresenting their service. The client thinks that they have a piece of their cat under their skin but I would argue that they don't.

The concept is similar to making jewelry from the cremated remains of your pet. That process too would seem to be flawed.

Tourism Operators Should Not Include Abuse to Captive Bred Lions in Their Packages

Today I have been told by Kitty Block, the president of the Humane Society International, that tour operators are sending tourists to South Africa in package deals which include visiting captive bred lions. Sounds normal? No, not for the lions.

These lions are bred to entertain people. They are suffering for the enjoyment of people. They live in small enclosures. They are cared for improperly. They are fed poorly. They cannot express their natural behaviors. They are used for the pleasure of tourists. And when this abuse is done they are sent to hunting ranches where they are killed by pseudo-hunters who think that they can be macho men by shooting a captive lion with nowhere to go. These poor lions suffer a miserable life and all for the entertainment of people. Lions should be majestically roaming the Serengeti. Not this.

Captive lion bred to entertain tourists in South Africa. Photo: Humane Society International.

Their entire life cycle in a cycle of cruelty, Kitty Block informs us. The cubs are taken from their mothers when days old to...guess what, entertain people. People love to handle lion cubs. They want to pet them and stroke them like domestic cats. They want to be photographed with them. They want to take a selfie of themselves with a sweet, cute lion cub. For these lion cubs it will be the beginning of a journey of misery and ending in a cruel death at the hands of a stupid hunter in canned lion hunts.

Juvenile lions are forced to "walk with lion" activities while adults are killed for their body parts and/or trophy hunting. The mother of these cubs face great suffering in a life of constant breeding to repeat the vicious cycle initiated by businessmen in South Africa.

I urge all tourism operators to take heed of what is going on with lions in South Africa and to ensure that their tour packages do not include activities regarding captive lions for the sake of their welfare for the sake of morality. It is time for people to live in harmony with wildlife. It is time to stop abusing animals for commercial profit. And tourists should ask the tour operator what's included and refuse any package that includes the above-mentioned cruelty.

Friday 2 March 2018

Conditions and Diseases Linked to Indoor and Outdoor Cats

The reason why cats are kept indoors is because people believe that they will be healthier and live longer as they are protected from hazards outside. There are however hazards inside the home as well. Below is a list of conditions and diseases which may be linked to both cats who live indoors and those that are allowed access to the outdoors.

Cats confined indoors

  • Feline urologic syndrome - disease associated with the lower urinary tract of the cat
  • Odontoclastic resorptive lesions - the loss of part of the tooth
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Obesity
  • Household hazards
  • Behavioral problems such as inappropriate elimination
  • Boredom
  • Inactivity

Cats allowed access to the outside

  • Infectious diseases such as parasitic and viral diseases
  • Road traffic accidents
  • Other accidents such as falling from a tree
  • Fights with other cats
  • Attacks by humans, dogs and other animals
  • Poisoning
  • Theft
  • Going astray

Thursday 1 March 2018

Prenuptial Agreements Concerning Pets

Couples with marriage on their mind are increasingly insisting on a prenuptial agreement which sets out who gets custody of the pets if and when they separate. It's a bit scientific, cold and calculating but it is sensible. Prenuptial agreements help to avoid drawn out litigation at the end of a marriage often with devastating effects upon both parties and children....and pets. It would be nice if there was specific legislation regarding companion cats and dogs based on the animal's welfare and relationship with either party.

Photo of cat copyright Helmi Flick

A survey of 2,000 pet owners by Co-operative Legal Services found that one in 14 couples now has a prenuptial agreement in place regarding their pet. In the past such an agreement was really the domain of the rich and celebrities. Often it was the rich man protecting his wealth against a gold digging woman. Although that may be heavily stereotyping the situation and if so I apologize.

A third of respondents to the survey feared that they would face a tug-of-war over their pets if they split from their spouse. There is an interesting comparison between the age of the typical dog and cat and the average length of the relationship between couples. The average age of the typical dog is from 10 to 15 years and for a cat at about 15 years while the average UK relationship is now only 2 years and 9 months in length!

Tracey Maloney from Co-Operative Legal Services said:

“Pets are increasingly being seen as part of the family and when relationships break down, couples begin to think about who will gain custody of their pet."

Blue Cross, the animal charity, decided to introduce a “pet-nup" scheme in 2014 after they had received 1,000 animals in the past 5 years from owners who had separated from their partner. The scheme has proved to be successful. One reason for the success of the scheme has been attributed to their prominence in divorce settlements between celebrity couples. One such settlement concerned a high-profile tug-of-war between celebrity model Kate Moss and a husband Jamie Hince. The third-party in this tug-of-war was Archie, the family dog.

In 2010 when Cheryl Cole split from her husband footballer Ashley, she retained custody of their two chihuahuas. Apparently, the survey discovered that women were twice as likely as men to say that they would keep their cat or dog if the relationship broke down; 44% said that the animal would live with them compare to 23% of men. I wonder what this tells us about the difference between the sexes? Does it say that women have a greater connection with the family pet or does it say that women demand more of the family “assets" than men on divorce?

Unsurprisingly, not all couples are concerned about managing the situation on their potential split up because it was found that about 40% of owners were unsure of what would happen to their pet if they split up with her partner.

People Begin to Distrust Facebook

A YouGov poll discovered that Facebook is losing its credibility or more precisely local newspapers are three times more trusted for news than social media platforms such as Facebook.

Local newspapers are considered the most credible in terms of providing the news. Obviously it is regional news but local newspapers lead local television and radio and search engines in terms of trustworthiness.

Seventy-four percent (74%) of people trust the information that they read in their local newspaper both online and in print whereas 22% trust local news presented on social media platforms such as Facebook.

It appears that the stories about fake news has made Britons skeptical about the news that they read on Facebook. Fewer than a quarter of people trust social media in contrast to 61% who trust traditional media such as newspapers and television.

This is ironic because both Facebook and Google have taken a large slice of classified revenues relied upon by local and national newspapers. The press is becoming increasingly unsustainable and the UK government is reviewing the situation because closing 200 local papers over the past decade is a threat to democracy.

I hope that this poll helps drive people away from Facebook and back to a more trusted source, the local newspaper. How does this impact the world of cats? Well, there is a lot of cat news on Facebook. A lot of cat welfare happens on Facebook. I get some of my stories from Facebook. We need to be able to trust this dominant social media platform and it appears that currently we are unable to do so.

As an aside, I should say that when I'm writing articles about the domestic cat or wild cat species I ensure that my primary sources are books written by the best authors. In this way I'm able to go to the root source of information rather than relying upon second or third hand information which is often presented on the Internet. We always need to go back to basics.

Wednesday 28 February 2018

Caracal Kitten Makes Strange Sound

This super cute, handsome caracal kitten is making a very interesting sound in this video. The kitten is captive. You can tell that by the carrier on which he or she stands. This must be a caracal version of a meow. Apparently she was hungry and is demanding food. She is very insistent; typical of the domestic cat. It got me thinking about caracal vocalizations.

The experts say that this medium-sized wild cat species has the 'basic felid vocal repertoire' by which it is meant that the sounds made are typical of cats and include meowing, gurgling, hissing, growling, spitting and purring. These are all sounds barring gurgling that the domestic cat makes. They also make a sound called the wah-wah call. Other wild cats have this call namely, lynxes, pumas, jaguarundi, servals and the Asiatic and African golden cats (you can read about all these cats on PoC).

One expert, has reported hearing caracals making a harsh, hissing bark when a strange animal was introduced into an enclosure.

You'll also notice the beautiful ear tufts. The caracal has the longest ear tufts on any cat, domestic or wild, on the planet and it is thought that they assist in communication but the function remains unknown. They may accentuate facial expressions. They may facilitate the location of sounds. One expert, Kingdon, believes that they are a 'decorative signalling structure'. I have a post on this: click here to read it.

Sources: Wild Cats of the World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist and my thanks to the video maker.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Spike in Black Cat Adoptions Because of Black Panther Film Is Worrying

We are told that the latest CGI, all action, fantasy film for young people called Black Panther has resulted in a sharp spike in adoptions of black cats at shelters in America. On the face of it is excellent news. Of course it is. Black cats are unpopular. Anything to improve their adoption rate must be welcomed.

Photos copyright Helmi Flick
However, being cynical as I am, my mind turned to the apparent fecklessness of this phenomenon. Whereas normally people are reluctant to adopt black cats, when a popular film which is a transient form of entertainment alters opinions overnight such that black cat adoptions rise steeply then it seems to me that the people who are suddenly adopting these cats may change their minds in the not too distant future once they have hit reality and realized that they are not adopting a miniature black panther but a real cat with all the incumbent responsibilities.

Perhaps I'm being too cynical. Of course I welcome the news. Apparently these adopters are keen to adopt black panthers but they can't do that because black panthers are either melanistic leopards, jaguars or cougars. They are large wild cats which are black or near black and pretty well impossible to have as pets. Although it must be said that some people do have mountain lions as pets.

Driven by the desire to have a black panther as a pet they turn to black domestic cats instead and these people name their cats after the names of the characters in the film. It almost seems like they want to play act the film in their living rooms. It doesn't feel good to me.

Incidentally, there is a black cat which is purebred. It is the Bombay Cat. This is a standard shaped domestic cat in all respects save that the coat has been selectively bred to be shiny, jet black like patent leather shoes. They might like to adopt one of these cats. A picture of this cat is featured on this page.

It would be nice to do a follow-up page on this story to see whether the sharp increase in adoptions of black cats persists. One blogger mentioned that her local pet shelters have been cleared out of black cats whereas normally there are between 50 and 60 left languishing in cages because nobody wants them. A pleasant phenomenon indeed but is it enduring?

72% of veterinary patients are dogs and 28% are cats - Discuss

Did you realize that American people take their cat to the vet far less often than people take their dog to the vet despite the fact that there are more companion cats than dogs in the United States? So says the results of a 2012 survey of over 8m patients of over 2 thousand veterinarians across the United States.

The survey, conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association, indicates that if we look at the percentage of patients from the companion dog and cat sector, 72% of veterinary patients are dogs and 28% are cats.

What do you think about that? Why is there this huge disparity? Are dogs less healthy than cats? Or are people more aware of a dog's ill health than with the domestic cat who hides it so well?

Image (modified) in public domain

I'll try and speculate. There are far more purebred dogs than purebred cat breeds. There are far more companion dogs that are purebred. Purebred cats are relatively rare. This is probably because dogs have been domesticated for much longer than cats. Purebred animals are deliberately bred. They are bred primarily for appearance. Inbreeding firms up - fixes - a desired appearance. But the trade off can be less healthy animals due to inherited diseases carried by what should have been dormant recessive genes, which are brought to the fore. I feel pretty sure that this is one reason why there are almost three times the number of dogs as patients as there are cats.

But I doubt that that is the only reason. I sense that a major reason is that the domestic cat is self contained. They amuse themselves and sleep and generally are there but not imposing themselves on their human caretaker to the same extent as a dog. This allows people to become less intimate as to the cat's health and behavior, which in turn means that there are cats that should be at the vet but who are not.

In the same vein, cats hide illness well. Perhaps people take their cat to the vet late in the day at which point less follow up visits take place. An early visit to the vet will probably lead to a request by the vet for a follow up visit. That would add to the statistics.

Or perhaps the reason is much more mundane and simple. People just don't care as much for their cat as people do for their dog. This may be a symptom of the nature of the relationship. Dogs are pack animals and the man (usually) is the leader. There is a close leader/follower bond. This may be a factor.

Alternatively another factor might be that cats are usually preferred by women. A single woman might keep a cat. It is still a man's world - let's be honest, although I don't condone that. In a man's world women will have less earning potential. Their wages are consistently lower. Budgets are tighter. This may lead to fewer visits to the veterinarian. Women, too, may be more able to treat and care for a sick cat than a man is able to treat a sick dog.

From the vet's point of view. He or she wants more cat patients. They see that as an untapped market. Maybe if they stopped declawing cats it would present a more friendly face to the public? Perhaps the vet has blotted his copybook with regards to the cat caretaker. The vet could be seen as far more friendly and empathetic towards cats if he or she stopped mutilating them for profit. There are specialist cat friendly veterinary clinics.

What do you think? Ruth below believes the obstacle of getting cats to vets is a factor......

I think a main reason cats aren't taken to the vet is that most cats really hate to leave home. Pull out the carrier and the cat vanishes-- and then just try to put him into it. It's stressful for both cat and caretaker.

My sister's cat Kobe hasn't been to the vet since the time he had a UTI several years ago. He's an elderly cat now and though we talk about taking him in for a check up we also know that the experience traumatizes him. He seems healthy enough, so why put him through that? Perhaps others with a cat like him feel the same way.

When I was a child we seldom took our cats to the vet. They were all barn cats, so maybe there was that attitude of "it's just a cat." But barn cats are pretty hardy, so perhaps there weren't health problems requiring a vet's care. The idea of a cat getting a check up would have seemed silly to me as a child.

Although in my immediate family people went to the doctor, my paternal grandmother never did. My father was born in a house, not a hospital. When Grandma fell and broke her thumb she just wrapped it in a hankie and had a crooked thumb for the rest of her life. Whatever came up in life, she just handled it on her own. She wasn't one to ask for help. Do more independent spirits like her have cats than have dogs? They would be more likely to try to treat pet health problems with home remedies.

Monday 26 February 2018

Is the African Wild Cat Endangered?

According to the 'experts', the African wildcat is not endangered. The conservation status of this small wild cat species is "Least Concern" with a declining population. As the population is decreasing then no doubt in the future the status will become more precarious, heading gradually towards endangerment in the long term.

African wildcat - photo in public domain
 One complication about writing this post is that the group of experts charged with assessing the conservation status of species of animals and plants, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, ball together several subspecies of wild cat (Felis Sylvestris) and do not distinguish between the African wildcat which itself could be divided between the North African and South African wild cat or the Scottish wild cat as far as I can tell (they do refer to the Chinese mountain cat separately). And therefore when I mention above that the classification is "Least Concern" I'm referring to a group of subspecies of wild cat. Note: there is an ongoing discussion about the classification of the wildcat.

And don't forget that I'm discussing a particular species are wild cat. Another complication is the name of this cat. It is the same name given to all wild cats including the tiger and lion. But the "wild cat" or "wildcat" is a definitive species and in the same bracket or family of cats as the domestic cat.

To conclude, the African wildcat is not endangered but in due course no doubt it will be. Incidentally, the full range of classifications regarding conservation of species is: extinct (fully extinct both in the wild and otherwise), extinct in the wild, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, near threatened, least concern.

You can see therefore that the African wildcat is at the very end of the range of conservation statuses: the best and where the assessment is that the cat is not under pressure or under a conservation threat. An interesting aspect about this species of wild cat is that there has been a lot of hybridization due to breeding with domestic cats and therefore it may be the case that there are very few purebred African wildcats in Africa or Asia.

Kuniyoshi Utagawa, Four Cats In Different Poses

Kuniyoshi Utagawa, Four Cats In Different Poses is a painting that is, for me, all about the famous Japanese bobtail cat. Kuniyoshi Utagawa (歌川国芳) lived between 1798 and 1861. He was one of the masters of the Japanese ukiyo-e style of woodblock prints and painting and belonged to the Utagawa school.

Ukiyo-e-woodblock-paintingThis is a good era to discuss any cat breed because it is before the recognized cat fancy and it taps in to the long history of this cat breed before photographs of cats were seen. What interests me is the appearance of the cat in these paintings compared to the appearance currently. At the time of this painting the Japanese bobtail had been in known existence for some 800 years. I have discussed the history on the Japanese bobtail page.

I am sure that the cats in the painting below are both bicolor and tricolor. I have marked the tricolor cats with red connecting lines to show what I think is the same area of color. The cats in the top right hand corner and bottom left hand corner of the picture are bicolor Japanese bobtail cats. The bicolor and tricolor were and remain the favorite types of coat for this breed in Japan.

japanese bobtail old and new comparison-2
Kuniyoshi Utagawa, Four Cats In Different Poses (above)


I think the pictures make a nice comparison and the only real difference between the old and modern Japanese bobtail is that the old one is much more cobby (stocky) if the depiction is reasonably accurate. The modern breed standard states in my words that..:
If the body conformation is "cobby" (like a Persian or a Manx cat for example) then the cat will be penalized in competition.
I would suggest that the cats depicted by Kuniyoshi Utagawa in this painting Four Cats In Different Poses, would all be penalized in competition and not win a thing in the show ring today.

It seems as if the modern breeding program has gone for a more “foreign” (slender) appearance (see Cat Body Types) and drifted away from the original appearance. The modern Japanese bobtail should be long, lean and elegant with no cobbiness according to the CFA breed standard. If I am correct and I am speculating, the cat fancy in the USA has refined this cat breed to make it more delicate looking (refined looking if you like) and attractive by modern standards. This is in line with what has happened to the Siamese cat and indeed other breeds (see Siamese cat history).

The Persian went in the other direction becoming excessively rounded including a very flat face (see Persian cats).

beckoning cat
One last thing. The cat that is bottom right of the painting is waving the classic welcome with the palm of the paw outwards. This is the welcoming cat beckoning - the Maneki Neko ("Beckoning Cat"). The beckoning cat is placed outside shops etc. to bring good luck.

Kuniyoshi Utagawa, Four Cats In Different Poses -- The pictures of the painting is in the public domain due to lapse of time (uploaded by user: Petrusbarbygere) and the picture of the woodblock is reproduced under a Wikimedia Commons license. Picture of beckoning cats Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic creative commons license.

From Kuniyoshi Utagawa, Four Cats In Different Poses to Cats in Paintings

Sunday 25 February 2018

Split Foot Cat

A stray cat who has been named " Clawdia" has a very rare congenital condition called split foot. The medical terminology is ectrodactyly. She is an ectrodactyl cat (a cat with less than the normal number toes), the opposite to a polydactyl cat (a cat with more than the usual number of toes).

Photos: PH

She is in the care of Cats Protection, UK. As you can imagine she is very popular because she is so unusual (and her character is great). At the date of writing this article (25/02/2018), I believe that she is still available for adoption and if you are interested you can visit the following website: http://warrington.cats.org.uk/

I'm told that she has four weeks of prepaid pet insurance and she is spayed, vaccinated and micro-chipped. She is also wormed. She is a great looking cat in good health and ready for adoption.

Apparently, every effort was made to find her owner but the search has now been exhausted. She is believed to be about 11 years old. She was found as a stray in the Great Sankey area of Warrington.

The usual number of toes on each front paw is five (the fifth is the dewclaw). Therefore she is missing three on each front paw.

She was born with some of her toes fused together. You can see that the central digits are missing giving a claw-like appearance. It is a rare form of congenital disorder. This disorder is seen in humans as well. In humans it is seen with other congenital anomalies. As far as I'm aware Clawdia does not suffer from any associated congenital anomalies.

This is the first time that I've seen a cat with this condition.

Who Said Cats Don't Have Emotions?

Here's a video of two cats who I would say are closely related. They have similar coloration and they are clearly very close emotionally. The larger and perhaps senior cat is, on the face of it, comforting the other cat.

They are both in a stressful situation. It is a time when at an emotional level they need some comforting and it is being provided. It is impossible not to believe that these cats are feeling emotions, particularly the emotion that goes with being caged in a cat shelter with noises and strange things happening; anxiety.

The reaction is an emotional one, a desire to comfort and a desire to receive comfort. It is a charming video which I believe supports the view that domestic cats have emotions.

Little by little there is a gradual awakening to the fact that domestic animals feel emotions and indeed a very substantial proportion, well over 50%, of concerned cat owners believe that their cat can feel compassion and a similar percentage although slightly lower believe that they can feel jealousy. These people have a closer bond than usual with their cat.

I'm not sure that this depth of emotion is true or whether the cat owners are projecting their emotions upon their cat but anecdotally it could be argued that domestic cats have the ability to feel what are described as secondary emotions.

The other day I was out for a walk with my neighbor. She has a cat. We discussed cat emotions. She was adamant that cats do not feel emotions. She said that domestic cats behave instinctively. Yes, domestic cats do behave instinctively but that does not preclude the possibility that they feel emotions.

The point that I'm making is that a lot of cat owners are unaware that it is likely that domestic cats feel emotions. The real debate is how deep and how complex they are. It is obvious that domestic cats feel contentment and can feel depressed (often through chronic illness) although pretty well all of us now realize that domestic cats instinctively hide their vulnerabilities in the interests of survival.

There is another argument concerning how over the 10,000 years of the domestication of the cat that they have evolved into possessing a strong ability to learn from their human companions. They observe and learn. This, for example is where we see some domestic cats opening doors by turning the door handle. The point I'm making here is that it may be the case that the domestic cat has developed his or her emotions during domestication. Their behavior is less instinctive than that of their wildcat ancestor. It is more learned in a highly domesticated humanized environment. This should encourage the development and refinement of emotions.

You Can't Pretend to Your Cat That You Are Dead

This is an amusing video on YouTube in which the tabby cat's owner fakes his death on the floor of his home to discover how his cat would respond. Would his cat respond in a way consistent with believing that he had died? We have seen, on the Internet, cats grieving for the loss of a fellow cat companion. I remember clearly a very well-known video of a street cat pawing at the lifeless body of another cat who must've been his best friend. He was trying to revive his buddy. It was a heartbreaking video. Most enlightened cat owners and non-cat owners believe that cats grieve and feel the loss of a companion. But what happened in this case?

Well you can see readily from the video that this man's cat is 100% certain that her human companion has not died but has simply decided to have a snooze in an unusual place. As a consequence, she sniffs him and rubs her cheek against his hand as it is at a convenient height and then plonks herself down next to him, in a way almost copying his behavior and then rolling over on her back in the most relaxed of manners in the complete certainty that her human companion is alive and well.

Don't take this video as an example that cats don't grieve or care if their owner dies. It is a difficult subject, there is no doubt about it because we can't read the minds of cats. However, where there is a close bond between cat and human companion and the human dies there is no question in my mind that the cat will feel that loss. He or she may initially feel confused and uncertain and then settle in to her change in fortunes and lifestyle. Associated with that will be a feeling of loss (and grieving) to a lesser or greater extent. We can't be specific.

But you can't fool your cat by faking your death. It makes me think of a cat called Oscar who "worked" in a hospice. He could tell whether one of the patients was dying or not. If the patient was dying he'd jump on his bed and stay with him. Can domestic cats sense when a human is dying? We can't be sure is the answer but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that cats are very sensitive to illnesses in their owners. I'm convinced that your cat will know if you genuinely are dead and lying on the hall floor. In which case her behavior will be different to that which you see in the video!

I can also recall the story of a cat who lay on her owner's grave for a long time after his death. And indeed in another story I recall a cat hanging around the grave of her deceased human companion who had died sometime before. She kept coming back to the graveyard. We are only learning now about some of the specialist skills that domestic cats possess based upon their extreme sensitivity.

One of these, on a different subject, is their ability to track their way home if they have been displaced sometimes by many miles. It is believed that cats can sense the Earth's magnetic field which guides them home but also, in my opinion, they are able to map the geography of the area using landmarks such as major roads to find their way home through those landmarks. This indicates that domestic cats have good memories.

It has been found conclusively using GPS radio transmitters that pigeons find their way home using a variety of tools one of which is the position of the sun, the other is the Earth's magnetic field and the third is the ability to map the geography of the landscape between where they were taken and their home roost. People should not decry and criticize the humble homing pigeon because they are incredibly skilled animals. And they can fly at 60 miles per hour.

Sunday 18 February 2018

Student Emma Gonzalez is Brilliant

Nothing to do with cats except that I'd bet some cats are missing their human companions today because they have been needlessly shot at school by a mentally disturbed former fellow student who should not have been allowed to own firearms.

Student Emma Gonzalez is brilliant. They are going to march on Washington. The students are going to teach the mealy-mouthed politicians (the adults) a damn lesson in integrity. As for Trump, the NRA bought him and his morality if he had any in the first place.

Featured Post

i hate cats

i hate cats, no i hate f**k**g cats is what some people say when they dislike cats. But they nearly always don't explain why. It appe...

Popular posts