Friday 25 December 2020

Are tigons fertile?

Tigons are a hybrid cross between a male tiger and a female lion. These are man created - correction person created (I don't want to be sexist although it is always a man who does it) - wild cat hybrids. A lot of private zoo owners in America like to mess around with ad hoc big cat breeding to entertain themselves and any customers who wish to pay money to see their miserable establishments. 

There are a lot of private zoos in America but they've been tarnished and discredited by Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue (BCR) who has exposed them for what they are: seedy, exploitative businesses where young big cats are exploited and where their parents are disposed of when they are no longer financially profitable. Enough of my distaste about private zoos in America.

Picture in the public domain.

Read another post on the same topic with more detail if you wish

The answer to the question in the title as to whether tigons are fertile or not is that the female is often fertile but the male is invariably not fertile. There comes from Sarah Hartwell who is an expert and I trust her implicitly. Other websites and other experts say different things. The Smithsonian Magazine say that they are fertile and that second-generation hybrids are created from first-generation hybrids such as the tigon and the liger. And yet another website said that they are infertile. Clearly there is some disagreement but it seems that it's a grey area as Sarah Hartwell hints namely that some are fertile and some aren't. This probably has led to the disagreements.

Sometimes wild cat hybrids can have what is called hybrid vigour. When you crossbreed different species the resultant offspring can be larger than either of the parents. The tigon can be a large animal as shown in the photograph above. This sort of hybridisation would never occur in the wild because lions and tigers live in entirely different places and therefore never bump into each other. It is only when they are forced together in deliberate breeding in cages that they mate with each other.

It is unnatural and only done for financial profit and only viewed as a form of voyeurism from paying customers. It should be banned and probably will be banned in America because Carole Baskin is introducing new legislation which restricts ownership of big cats by Americans unless under certain specified conditions. The legislation would do away with the sort of exploitative place that I refer to and run by people such as Joe Exotic who you may remember is in prison serving a very long sentence (22 years) because he conspired to murder Carole Baskin. Joe asked Pres. Trump for a pardon! He did not get it.

They are archenemies but Carole Baskin is the good one. They are not the same sort of person which is why Baskin is annoyed at Netflix with their documentary called Tiger King which paints Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin as the same ilk. They certainly are not. Baskin saves the lives of tigers and other wild cat species from abusive private owners. She deserves a lot of recognition for what she does but she has enemies. Probably the enemies are people who like to exploit animals and don't see any reason to be decent and sensitive towards their welfare. There are a lot of people like that regrettably. 

There is one last point to make which is this. Through Darwin's theory of natural selection i.e. the survival of the fittest, animals become more specialised which enhances their prospects of survival in the places where they live. They are adapted to those environments. If you dilute their genes through hybridisation the resultant offspring is less specialised and therefore less likely to survive. Therefore this form of casual hybridisation goes against nature and natural selection as described by Darwin.

Cat thrown away in Russia saved from a waste processing plant

This video, in a tweet on the website, shows us a Russian waste processing plant worker removing a tuxedo cat from a sack inside a box next to a fast moving conveyor belt on which there is a ton of waste products being conveyed to a device which probably crushes it. 

If the worker in the video had decided to throw the sack onto the conveyor belt the cat would have been killed in minutes. So this man has been praised for rescuing this cat. The cat was apparently healthy and has been checked out by a veterinarian. The cat has also been taken to the ministry in charge of waste in Russia where he will be looked after by the employees and I would hope live out the rest of his life safely. 

The minister in charge has praised the employee who saved the cat and in a commonsense way advised that if people don't want to keep their cat they can take the animal to a shelter rather than putting them into a bag and throwing a bag on the rubbish dump. Common sense indeed but it takes a particularly callous person to do it.

This sort of human behaviour is not confined, obviously, to Russia. It happens everywhere on the planet and is a wanton example of animal abuse. To treat a sentient being as an item of rubbish is psychopathic behaviour. But you might be surprised how often it happens. There are countless examples on the Internet of domestic cats being abandoned deep in the countryside in cat carriers which are locked, incidentally, where they die of starvation. Or kittens are thrown out of car windows when crossing a busy junction. The chances of the kitten surviving under those circumstances are remote but some remarkably do. And there are some equally remarkable rescues from busy roads by decent people and sometimes police officers. They rescue the cats at a genuine danager to themselves.

Translation of the tweet: "A cat in a tied sack was found at a waste sorting complex for MSW processing in Ulyanovsk. He could have got into the separator, if not for the vigilance of one of the workers."

The best thing about this Russian cat rescue is that we have it on video, I suppose because the facility has inbuilt security cameras which record everything. The bloke who took the cat out of the sack was obliged to do it under the terms of his employment so it was not a deliberate act of cat rescue. He was just looking for certain objects which cannot be placed on the conveyor belt. He, therefore, had to open the sack to see what was inside. Tuxedo cats are black cats with a small white areas on the front, on their chest. They may have white paws but by and large they are wholly black cats with small areas of white caused by the piebald gene.

Cat micro-chipping to be compulsory in UK but who will enforce it?

The UK government has been discussing the mandatory microchipping of domestic cats for a long time. It makes sense and surveys indicate that the citizens of the UK want compulsory micro-chipping. The current government minister who can introduce a bill for compulsory micro-chipping is Lord Goldsmith who failed to get a seat in the Commons but who was appointed a peer by Boris Johnson. He wanted to keep him in the government. One reason is probably because Boris Johnson's fiancé is Carrie Symonds and as you probably know by now she is very much an environmentalist and an animal welfare advocate. She is a member of a campaign group called Oceana. She speaks a lot about cleaning up the oceans and her presence at the centre of government, in effect, is very welcome for animal advocates. I'm sure that she together with Lord Goldsmith with whom she is friends decided to attempt again to get through Parliament a bill which would make cat microchip in compulsory. It is long overdue but the practicalities are a constant headache.

Having announced that the UK government would be introducing a bill next year, the veterinarians of the UK came out vociferously against it. This is despite the fact that the animal welfare charities and the animal rescue centre such as Cats Protection and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home were very much for such a bill because they would hope that it would reduce the number of unwanted cats in their shelters. When obligatory microchipping came out for dogs in 2016 there was a massive surge in micro-chipping. Nobody appears to have complained about that project but the veterinarians are fearful that if they become obliged to police compulsory micro-chipping cats it will take them away from their core work which is more profitable or should be.

I think their big worry is that the government wants veterinarians to be the front line of this project to both deliver the microchips to cats and then participate in a nationwide registration process and indeed an enforcement process which may be quite time laborious and labour-intensive. They also believe, through the president of their association, that micro-shipping does not necessarily enhance animal welfare. The spokesperson said that there would be more disputes about ownership of cats because of microchipping and that this could lead to the euthanasia of cats at shelters.

What they are alluding to is the situation whereby a cat is brought to a shelter and a microchip has not been updated for instance so the shelter cannot ascertain the owner's name and address or contact details. The cat is then adopted by a thirds party at which point the original owner comes forward having discovered that their cat is at the shelter only to find that they've lost their animal to a new adopter. A dispute commences in which the shelter is the referee. Nobody is happy about that and the outcome is uncertain. In the past when shelters have been in this invidious position they have felt obliged not to disclose to the original owner the new owner's contact details on privacy grounds. This ends up with a deadlock and the genuine owner being unable to reclaim their cat.

In that instance the animal welfare issues are limited except that the cat becomes the centre of a tug-of-war. It is hard, however, to equate poorer animal welfare with micro-chipping. I disagree with the veterinarians. Microchipping is known to help with the reunification of last animals with their owners. This clearly helps improve animal welfare. The bottom line is that the veterinarians are fearful about their income which is constantly under stress.

I suspect that they feel they deserve more than they are paid because they are as qualified as human doctors. Indeed they can call themselves doctors but they cannot get parity with human doctors in terms of salary. This means they constantly try to improve their profit margins as independent veterinary practices or sometimes they sell-out to big veterinary chains in order to improve their income. The fact of the matter is that human doctors are paid by the NHS (tax payers' money) whereas all veterinarians are paid privately which invariably means that money is tighter. That's the root cause of their objection to compulsory micro-chipping in my opinion.

There are some more points to make about micro-chipping. Although it is highly useful it is not entirely safe because you inject quite a large object under the skin of a cat. This can cause injury on the injection and the microchip can move sometimes. And there is always the ongoing issue of microchip data not being updated which nullifies their efficiency. Finally, the registration of microchips is a private affair. It is not a government run operation and therefore these businesses are constantly changing name or going bust or being reformed et cetera. This scrambles, in my opinion, the registration process. 

Or at least it muddies the water and makes things more complicated. These are the downsides, the biggest of which is how to enforce compulsory micro-chipping. Let's think about it. A cat owner does not microchip her cat. The cat is never ill so for years she would be in breach of the law. If she was caught she would be subject to a fine of perhaps £500 but she's never caught because no one knows whether a cat living in a home is microchipped or not. A lot of people don't take their cat to a veterinarian for many years so even if a veterinarian was charged with enforcing the law they wouldn't know about the cat. That's the kind of problem the government is up against in practical terms.

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Coronavirus pandemic has facilitated the sale of kittens online

Because of social distancing and an increased fear of contracting the Covid-19 virus, doors have been opened to unscrupulous kitten and cat sellers who exclusively ply their trade online. It is very dangerous to purchase a kitten online without visiting the breeder at their home and watching the interactions between kitten and mother and asking questions of the breeder. There is no shortcut to this and if you simply select online you really do not know what you are buying for sure.

This is a 5 week old kitten but not Lola mentioned below. Photo: Martin.

As the head of advocacy and government relations at Cats Protection, Jacqui Cuff said, "The Covid-19 pandemic has created the ideal conditions for unscrupulous sellers to thrive, as they appear to have a credible reason for not allowing buyers to view the kitten with their mother first".

It is very difficult for buyers of kittens online to be sure of the kitten's background and health. You simply cannot buy a kitten sight unseen and judging their health and welfare from a photograph online which is often of poor quality. I know people are very keen to adopt pets at the moment for companionship but it is easy to be scammed and the UK is full of scammers believe me. There has been a surge in puppy adoptions for instance and a lot of scammers are in the dog marketplace too.

It can lead to real problems both for the adopter and the kitten or cat. A story highlights this. It concerns a kitten sold online whose name is Lola. She was advertised in October for £200 and it was said that she was 10 weeks of age. She was purchased but the new owner who gave her up to Cats Protection. That early abandonment of itself is instructional. It's points to what I would call impulse buying of a sentient being. This is always very unwise because it's a lifelong commitment. We know that.

It was discovered by Cats Protection staff that Lola was five weeks old when she was sold which is far too young and which may result in behavioural problems due to early weaning. She's been rehomed at nine weeks old but it's just another example of an unscrupulous seller lying.

All the people in the know say that if you want to adopt a cat you must visit the person who is transferring the cat to you either free of charge or for sale. And you have to be sure what you're doing. You have to ask yourself whether you are adopting for the lifetime of the cat and if you can't answer that question in the affirmative then you should stop. Cats are quite expensive to keep. You must have some money in the bank and an income otherwise it is not going to work out very well if at all.

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Do owners of full-time indoor cats do enough to satisfy their cat's feeding requirements?

Cats confined to the indoors are dependent upon their owners entirely when it comes to feeding. The way a domestic cat feeds should reflect how their wild ancestor feeds. It is also said that cats naturally eat several small meals per day. The feeding of domestic cats, confined to the indoors, should try and introduce some sort of hunting behaviour which is perhaps attempted with food puzzles. I don't believe in food puzzles because they don't work as far as my cats are concerned but they do attempt to replicate hunting prey. In other words it's an attempt for a full-time indoor cat to feed naturally.

Are some dry cat food pellets toos small promoting swallowing without chewing? Image: PoC.

The feeding of a domestic cat should promote their physical and mental/behavioural health and they should be given a choice to allow them to find what they like best. Choice is a massive factor in the feeding of domestic cats in my view. I strongly believe in having a selection of foods with which I can provide my cat. I know that he likes variety and change.

Note: the link in the tweet above no long works as free access which is disappointing but the feeder is interesting.

Free feeding from a permanently available dry cat food bowl is perhaps the most common way that we feed cats. It's okay provided the cat doing the free feeding is not putting on weight or has gained weight and is classified as obese and is provided with alternatives which must be wet foods to compensate for the lack of moisture in dry cat food. Domestic cats do drink more water when they eat dry foods but it is strongly argued that they do not compensate adequately and therefore they can maintain a state of mild dehydration about which the owner is unaware and which has a slightly damaging effect on the cat's health.

The point of this short post is to say that it is fine to keep your cat indoors all the time in the interest of safety but you can't, I believe, do it casually. It places an added burden upon the cat's human caretaker in terms of feeding arrangements and entertainment. It is much harder to create a natural environment for a cat indoors and if you don't there might be health consequences for the cat. They can become bored, obese and mildly depressed at best. They become stifled but they accept it and adapt to it. But it is not a full life.

The alternative, to allow a cat outside is perhaps equally bad because of the dangers outside. This is a great dilemma for cat owners because neither option is entirely satisfactory. Does this not point to the elephant in the room? The inbuilt partial failure of cat domestication. 

Domestic cats need vertical spaces and places

Domestic cats need vertical spaces and places. This is a good example. The cat's owner describes it as an act of wanton destruction and in some ways it is but it is not wanton. It is simply an example of a domestic cat trying to find something to climb because it comes entirely instinctively to them. We all know it by now or should do that domestic cats like to live in vertical spaces as well as horizontal spaces. It appears, and I have to make a presumption which may be unfair, that in this home the owner has not provided sufficient vertical spaces for their cat to enjoy. And of course I'm talking about those cat trees that are so common and popular and which can buy on Amazon. Or you can make your own if you are handy with carpentry. Jackson Galaxy has talked a lot about making your home more cat friendly. He calls it "catification" as you may know. He likes to make up his own language to describe the world of domestic cats.
I put myself in that bracket of people who don't do enough to accommodate domestic cat behaviour fully. Of course I've got many things which help him to enjoy himself but what I should do is to build some climbing frames all around the walls with little caves near the ceiling where he would no doubt spend many happy hours. Not many people want to disfigure the interior of their homes in this way in the interests of domestic cat welfare but they should if their aesthetic sensibilities allow it. It all goes back to the domestic cat's wildcat ancestor who is a good climber. The North African wildcat lives on the ground and in trees to a certain extent. They are primarily ground dwelling creatures but are excellent climbers when needs must. Perhaps the best species of cat in respect of climbing is the small margay which lives primarily in South America in dense forest where they spend most of their time in trees. These are arboreal cats - cats that live in trees. Of the big cats, the magnificent leopard is perhaps the best climber. Their enormous ability and strength allows them to climb into trees with the entirety of a prey item. It is completely awesome. I have a cat tree at home but perhaps the home of the cat we see in the video needs something tall and strong which this domestic cat can climb up and enjoy.

Thursday 3 December 2020

Extreme cat television

Cat television is when domestic cats spend a lot of time looking out the window. It's a great way for a domestic cat to entertain themselves because a lot happens outside the window in terms of animals that they might chase and hunt. This cat has taken cat television to an extreme level as he rests against a Venetian blind looking very comfortable despite being precariously balanced. It's a testament to the athletic ability of the domestic cat as well as his fascination with the outside. He is probably an indoor cat.

Well, I'm sorry but the video which was published on Twitter no longer works because the person who published it on Twitter has been removed from the website. Therefore the video which was charming does not work on this site. It depicted a ginger tabby cat, the one you see in the picture below, wedging himself in between a Venetian blind and a sash window so that he could look out of it. It was athletic and a committed attempt to do a bit of feline television. That's my description and is the best I can deliver to you in lieu of the video. Once again I'm sorry.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Cat in mountains on leash. Bad or good cat caretaking?

This tweet shows a beautiful grey cat on a leash high up in the mountains on a rocky ledge overlooking a beautiful lake. It's a great picture and for me it is the best sort of cat caretaking you can do. Do you think it is good or bad cat caretaking? If it's done properly with care and responsibility and with a healthy dose of common sense that it must be good for a domestic cat to do this. 

Video screenshot

It gives the domestic cat, who is perhaps confined to a home, the chance to smell the mountain air, feel the dirt and grass under their paws, and pretend for a while that they are just like their wild cat ancestor. If you can give a domestic cat the chance to behave safely as their wild cat ancestor did you have done them a good service. 

You've injected some mojo back into their lives. They really do need this and if you think I'm wrong I'm sorry because there is no doubt that I'm correct. I'm not saying people should take their cat to the mountains like this guy. I'm saying that somehow cat owners have to let their cats tap in to their raw wild cat personalities and satisfy that personality in order for them to be whole.

American Veterinary Medical Association 'condemns' declawing of wild cats but 'discourages' it for domestic cats

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) take different positions with respect to the declawing of wild cats and domestic cats. This point has been highlighted by The Paw Project in a tweet on Twitter. You can see it below. They ask why there's a difference in policy. They don't explain therefore I will provide my reasons.

Declawing of domestic cats

The AVMA wants their member veterinarians to be allowed to declaw domestic cats because it provides a very good income for them. In order to not rub their members up the wrong way they argue that their veterinarians should have the option to declaw based upon their discretion in conjunction with a consultation with the client. 

The problem is that often American veterinarians quietly or overtly promote the declawing of domestic cats. And we don't know what goes on in these conversations between themselves and their client. There's no doubt in my mind that they do not discourage the declawing of domestic cats as advised by their association. Often they do the opposite. I repeat: the vast majority of American veterinarians do not discourage declawing and they do it for monetary reasons. This is obvious because millions of these operations are carried out annually. It is impossible for there to be a reason for it other than the cat owner wants it.

It is a very cruel procedure and completely against the veterinarian's oath in which they state they will only do surgery in the interest of an animal's welfare. Declawing is done at the convenience of the animal's owner not in the interests of the animal's welfare.

Recently declawed cat. Horor and a vet did this legally. Shame.

Declaw exotic and wild cat species

The AVMA condemn the declawing of wild cats because they say there's no reason to do it. They allow it for true medical reasons, of course, which is extremely rare but they argue that there "appears to be no justification for performing the procedure in this population of cats". Of course, I completely agree but exactly the same assessment applies to domestic cats!

They argue that sometimes domestic cat owners need to be protected from the claws of their cat companions. But this is exceedingly rare and in any case those people who are perhaps vulnerable to being scratched can take measures to avoid it. That's part of being a good cat owner. If they can't do that then they should not have a cat in the home. That's the ultimate solution and the best solution because it avoids animal cruelty. To try and find a feeble and brutal compromise by modifying the anatomy of a cat to fit in with the mentality of humans who do not have the attitude necessary to be a cat owner is completely immoral.

Sunday 22 November 2020

Domestic cats follow our energy levels

This is a short note, no more, about something which occurred to me the other day. Domestic cats do follow our energy levels. It is not a direct formula but in general if a cat owner is moderately active their cat will also be more active than they would otherwise be if their owner is very passive.

Photo in public domain.

It can be more precise than that. If, as I do, you do some exercises at home on the floor (due to coronavirus lockdowns), this in my experience stimulates a cat companion to participate. Conversely, if a person spends a lot of time in bed or sitting down it encourages their cat to either sit on their lap to join them or curl up somewhere else and be passive. If they are allowed outside they may go outside at that time to find their own activities.

So what's the point of the article? It is healthier for a cat to be active at least a part of the day. My argument is that if a cat owner is highly inactive perhaps because they are elderly and infirm it is far from an optimal situation. By and large elderly, retired people are good cat companions because they are with their companion all day every day, normally. But the downside is that due to infirmity they may become too passive with a consequential decrease in animal welfare.

A side effect is that it can encourage feline obesity especially if the cat is allowed to free-graze on dry foods which is likely as it is highly convient.

Thursday 19 November 2020

Covid-19: potential human-cat-human transmission chain

Research needs to be carried out to look at in detail the potential for a human-cat-human transmission chain with respect to Covid-19. This is because recent research studies published from Kansas State University has confirmed that domestic cats can be asymptomatic carriers of the virus. We actually know this already but as I understand that this is more recent research.

Cats and people wear facemasks in 1918 during Spanish Flu pandemic. Picture: Dan Eskenazi.


The researchers say that Covid-19 is being transmitted, and can be transmitted, from human patients to cats both domestic and captive large cats such as lions and tigers. Because of the obvious close association between humans and companion cats there is a question to be answered about whether cats can transmit the disease to people. Logic dictates that it does happen. This is been a question, actually, for quite a long time and until now and even today nobody can answer that question with any conviction or in any detail.

Jürgen A. Richt, the Regents distinguished professor at Kansas State University in the College of Veterinary Medicine, said that, "This efficient transmission between domestic cats indicates a significant animal and public health need to investigate a potential human-cat-human transmission chain".

He is referring to the fact that their research indicates that cats transmit the disease between themselves through the nasal, oral and rectal cavities and this transmission can take place within two days.

Why cat hiccups dilates the eye's pupil

This is an embedded video and sometimes they stop working overtime. If that has happened I apologise but I have no control over it.
This is an interesting little video which repeats itself. I am sure that it has been all over the Internet. However, I have just spotted it. The cat hiccups and immediately afterwards the pupil of the cat's eye opens slightly because the muscles of the iris relax. That is my theory. The pupil of the cat's eye is made smaller when the muscles of the iris are contracted. It requires muscular effort for the pupil to be in a contracted state. When the cat hiccups the purposefulness of that process of contracting the muscles of the iris is temporarily stopped as the hiccups distract the brain. Therefore the pupil enlarges and the eye becomes more dilated. That of course is a personal theory which I simply worked out because you cannot find the answer on the Internet. It makes for an interesting little video on a different level namely that you can see how the iris works and the pupil forms a slit. This slit pupil is very important to the domestic cat because it allows the animal to see in bright light and in extremely dark conditions as well. The slit aperture of the cat's pupil work sin harmony with the cat's eyelid which goes over the slit like a blind at the window of a person's home. The slight pupil also enhances a cat's depth perception.

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Weird Scottish Fold Pic

 If you'd like to read some articles about the Scottish Fold please click this link.

Photo: Twitter. This is a gray Scottish Fold.

Mouse eye view of being chased by a cat

TikTok video screenshot.

This is what it looks like from mouse to be chased by a cat down your burrow 😏

Tuesday 17 November 2020

More domestic cats jumping into vans and being lost during Covid lockdowns

NEWS and VIEWS: The Edinburgh Evening News reports that, in Scotland, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of domestic cats being carried away from their home by delivery vans or removal lorries. This is because during lockdown many more people have taken to ordering products online which of course necessitates the arrival of a delivery van. The driver darts up to the front door leaving the van doors open. At that particular moment the family cat is wandering around the front of the house and being as inquisitive as ever jumps into the van and is driven away.

Photo by Dids from Pexels

Fortunately it appears that the majority of cats lost this way are microchipped but there are calls for delivery van drivers to check their vans before driving off which won't happen because they are so pressed for time. They barely have time to wait for the owner of the house to come to the front door. In fact nowadays they simply bang on the front door, leave the package by the door and scarper.

One worrying aspect of this is that at the next stop the van driver opens the doors again at which point the cat jumps out but this could be several miles away and therefore the cat is lost. Perhaps they can make their way home because cats are fantastic navigators but it's a worry.

Nicola Zellent, a senior warden at the Lothian Cat Rescue, suggested that drivers should not leave the doors open when delivering or someone should guard the van but neither of these suggestions will be taken up. I know that because, as mentioned, the job is too demanding to be distracted by these added activities.

Perhaps the best prevention is for cat owners to become enlightened to the problem and when the delivery van turns up they go out to the van to collect the item. Of course, this is only viable if they are at home and often they are not. Microchipping nearly always saves the cat but it's troublesome.

13.5% of domestic cats suffer from separation anxiety problems

The figure seems a little low to me but I'm going to rely upon a questionnaire survey sent to 130 owners of adult cats living in the city of Juiz de Fora in Minas Gerais, Brazil. There were 223 questions for each cat. The research is published in the journal PLOS ONE and it was published on April 15, 2020.
Photo: Pixabay

Information collected showed that 13.5% of the sampled cats i.e. 30 out of 223, had at least one symptom of separation anxiety or a separation problem such as destructive behaviour (which was the most frequently reported behavioural symptoms), excessive vocalisation, inappropriate urination, depression-apathy, aggression, agitation-anxiety and inappropriate defecation. Inappropriate defecation was the least encountered behavioural problem at seven of the cats while inappropriate urination occurred with 18 of the cats surveyed. 

The cats lived in households whose owners varied in age between 18-35 years and in homes where there are no female residents or two female residents. 

 Comment: having read lots of literature of on cat behaviour and cat ownership, I sense that there is a real problem with cats being labelled as independent and being left alone all day while their owners have to go to work. You can't really criticise the people but I don't think that they are fully aware of the mental difficulties that their cats experience when left alone. 

Also, not infrequently, these cats are left alone as full-time indoor cats and therefore they can't entertain themselves outside. I'm not saying that they should be outside because it is more dangerous outside. I'm just saying that it's an issue about cat ownership and whether people are in the right place in terms of their lives to be high quality cat caretakers. 

Friday 13 November 2020

Domestic cats like to touch their friends which includes humans

You must have experienced this as well: your cat likes to touch you. Your cat might stretch out their foreleg to touch your hand. Or, alternatively, your cat might simply touch your hand with their paw. In this instance the man has offered the palm of his hand and his contented and relaxed cat placed his 'hand' into the hand of his owner. I described the cat's paw as a hand which is not strictly correct (!) but for the sake of argument I have chosen that description. The point to make though is that it is very typical of domestic cats to do this sort of thing. They really like contact. My cat will make direct contact paw-to-hand all the time. He takes pleasure in it and I'm sure that it reassures him. Reassuring our cat is something we should always try and achieve because anxiety is not far from the surface for the domestic cat. They are very sensitive to things that happen around them. And they live in the human home where the other sentient beings are much larger than them and occasionally there are visitors who might, simply by their presence, unnerve the resident domestic cat. These are all well-known situations. I won't go over them. Let's just say that when a cat touches your hand with his/her paw enjoy it because it is a reassurance to your cat and a way to strengthen the bond between cat and human companion.

Declawing cats is not a last resort for almost all US vets

According to the AVMA, declawing of cats in the USA is meant to be a last resort after a thorough consultation between veterinarian and the cat's owner. This can't be the case because a lot of the animals declawed are young kittens. How can they be a problem to anybody? It's a good argument but you don't need that argument because everybody knows that the declawing of cats is not a last resort for the vast majority if not all veterinarians who carry it out. It's a first port of call. It's an option which they grab with both hands. They convince the client, the cat's owner, to have it done because she might moan about being fearful of her cat's claws. Or they might say that they have a young child who might get scratched and are nervous about it. Or they might say that they live with their elderly mum and she is vulnerable, blah blah blah. It's all the same guff and veterinarians jump on it because it gives them the right to take that option immediately. It is never a last resort. It is a first resort. They do it for money and in my view veterinarians who do this are evil. Yes, strong words but they have totally lost their moral compass. It's a complete disgrace to the American veterinary profession and yet it goes on over and over again by the millions. It is legalised animal cruelty under the guise of bona fide veterinary work. It is not. It is plainly cruel to anybody with eyes to see. Unfortunately the veterinarians eyes are firmly closed.

Indoor cat loves the smells of the outdoors

I've taken the liberty of deciding that this cat, who is so enjoying a car ride, lives inside their owner's home all the time. When they're taken outside in a car ride and the window is wound down all the smells of the exterior come to her. You can see she's taking it all in. She loves the breeze and the gentle smells of the countryside. Her dog companion is enjoying the journey as much. I could be wrong about the cat being full-time indoors. But you can see the owner has brought her cat on a lead which is sensible as the cat is allowed to perch at an open car window while the car is travelling but this looks like a trip that the owners have taken for both their pets to give them a bit of fun and stimulation and also make a neat little 10 second video.

Toothbrush makes newborn kitten purr

This tiny kitten thinks the toothbrush is her mother's tongue so she enjoys being "licked" by her mother. She starts to purr and offers up her chin for a wash. I think it is the first time that I've heard such a young kitten purring and you can see her left arm juddering slightly in pleasure. That is my reading of her behaviour. It is a form of feline allogrooming only the human is using a toothbrush very gently to simulate an adult cat's tongue.

Thursday 5 November 2020

It looks likely that lynx will be re-introduced to England

The Eurasian lynx was exterminated from the UK in the Middle Ages about 1300 years ago. It was over-hunted to extinction. We have a moral duty to right that wrong although farmers do not want to see the lynx reintroduced into England or Scotland, for that matter, because they think this handsome wild cat will attack and eat their sheep. Despite the resistance from farmers, there is talk, again, of wolves and lynx being reintroduced into the UK because the project is being backed by the new head of Natural England, Tony Juniper. 

He became chairman of the organisation last year and is much more of a supporter of rewilding than his predecessor. Between wolves and lynx, he said that it is more likely that the lynx will be reintroduced into England at Thetford Forest which straddles the Norfolk-Suffolk border.

Mr Juniper said that he wanted to build on the success of the reintroduction of beavers in Devon and white-tailed Eagles on the Isle of Wight. In November 2018 Michael Gove the then environment secretary rejected an application for the reintroduction of lynx because at that time Natural England objected to it. But things have changed and Mr Juniper wants to study the feasibility of the project partly because it would help to control deer numbers. One of the prey animals of the Eurasian lynx is the deer although it is at the top end of the scale for size.

I've described this cat as the "Eurasian lynx" because I have to, I believe. I'm being more specific because often people refer to it as the "lynx" without specifying the subspecies. The Eurasian lynx is the largest of the three linked species: Canada lynx, Iberian lynx and Eurasian lynx. The bobcat is also within this family of cats. They are medium-sized cats. They aren't that large.

Another reason why there's more optimism about the project is the success in the Netherlands where wolves have crossed the border from Germany, taking up residence in Holland with minimal impact on people and farmers. The Netherlands is also a highly populated country like the UK and therefore there are bound to be concerns about medium-sized predators roaming around the wild freely but it works.

Another place where either or both wolves and lynx might be reduced is the Kielder Forest in Scotland. It would be a wonderful addition to the UK to have a genuine wild species of a decent size in the countryside. I can see tourism in Thetford Forest to see the lynx. Something like tourists visiting tiger reserves in India.

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Tasmanian farmers believe that cat excrement makes their ewes lose their lambs

I have to be brutally frank and state that Tasmanian farmers are behaving in a pretty crude way. I'm told that some of them believe that the excrement from feral cats makes their ewes lose their lambs. This must come from the belief that toxoplasma gondii oocysts in the faeces of cats are ingested by the sheep which causes them to abort. Science proves that this happens but surely there is a less cruel way of dealing with the matter? It looks like ignorant behaviour to me. What I mean is ignorance of decency. I have learned that there is an effective vaccine against toxo. Why can't they use it?

They have a problem with toxoplasmosis although they probably don't realise that cats only shed toxoplasma gondii oocysts for a very short period of time and not all cats carry the disease (but apparently more than half do) but they kill them brutally nonetheless. The problem is that the oocysts are hardy and present a health problem.

I can't show a picture of feral cats strung up on fences as it is too crude and unpleasant so I'll show some sheep in Tasmania instead:

Tasmanian sheep. Picture in public domain.

This stringing up of cats on fences occurs apparently in remote areas of Tasmania and has done so for years. A conservationist has warned that the practice could "polarise" people's attitudes about feral cats. I think what he means is that cat advocates will hate it and therefore hate the people who do it and that will antagonise the ignorant farmers who do it. That's called polarisation.

Dennis Turner, a resident of Tasmania's Midlands said that hanging dead cat from fences is a statement to the government that not enough is being done about feral cats i.e. to get rid of them.

He believes that feral cats are the most destructive pest that you can come across. The uncle of Cindy Brook who lives in Longford, Tasmania, says that her uncle at Blackwood Creek near Cressy often hung dead cats from fences. It obviously isn't against the law to do this. I presume therefore that the Tasmanian law allows farmers to kill feral cats as they wish. In Britain it would be a clear violation of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. And the person who did it would be subject to a maximum prison sentence of two years together with a possible fine. In Tasmania? It's all part of day-to-day life. No bother, no worry just go on killing cats because you think they are pests.

The chief executive of Landcare Tasmania, Rod Knight,indicated that he didn't like the practice of stringing up dead cats because the debate about feral cats becomes too emotive and he hinted that it is cruel and unpleasant. Which it is by the way. He thinks it will divert the discussion away from the real issues which it does. It should stop and you don't need to find a justification for stopping it. It's just cruel, plain and simple. That is why it should be stopped.

The Australian Government's National Environmental Science Programme has quantified the cost of cat diseases in Australia at 6 billion Australian dollars annually and said that it caused 550 deaths and 8500 hospitalisations in Australia annually. We don't know how those figures were arrived at. No doubt there was a pile of extrapolations and guesswork. Apparently the report says that one in five cases of schizophrenia are caused by toxoplasmosis. They also say that 1 in 10 cases of suicide are caused by this protozoan. Once again we don't know where those numbers come from.

I think I'll leave it there because it's boring. The point to be made is that Tasmania is almost waging a war against the feral cat. The government hates the feral cat it seems to me and ignorant farmers killing them willy-nilly. It looks pretty barbaric and Wild West to me but I'm a cat advocates so what do I know?

Don't do anything bad which your cat will remember

In my experience, domestic cats have a very good memory for bad experiences. Something you may have done which frightened him or her will stick in their minds for a very long time. In fact they may never forget it. You might, for example, accidentally walk on your cat's paw because he's right behind you. Or you might lose your temper one day and shout at your cat. It is likely that your cat will remember these events. It may alter his behaviour. It may create a bit of doubt in his mind. It certainly won't help the relationship. 

Zen cat. Photo: nosenekoshiro (Instagram).

The worst thing you can do is to aggressively slap your cat or shout at him because he's annoyed you. I can understand the desire to do this if you're stressed for whatever reason, and at the moment there are good reasons to be stressed with the coronavirus crisis. It's a particular moment when cats might be the victim of domestic violence. It only takes a moment when tempers are lost and the domestic cat is shouted at or abused even in a very minor way for that cat to remember it. 

It's not a deliberate or conscious memory. Your cat isn't saying I'm gonna remember that and make him pay for it. It's just a mental scar which sits there in the back of the cat's brain and alters his behaviour at least potentially. 

Of course the impact depends upon the individual cat. Each cat reacts differently but it is my belief that there is a level of anxiety in domestic cats which is higher than people believe. Or let's put it this way: millions of cats are very relaxed and content but it doesn't take much to introduce anxiety into their lives. 

This is because they live in a human environment to which they adapt but it is often not the best of environments for a domestic cat who is wild at heart by which I mean in terms of character and behaviour they are a short step from their wild cat ancestors. Always seek to create a calm and friendly environment for your cat. It is an ongoing mission of the concerned cat caretaker/guardian.

Saturday 31 October 2020

Cat heads follow the action through 'cat television'

This is a particularly good example of cats following action with their heads. You will see a lot of videos on the Internet like this but they won't be as good as this one. I really like this example especially the middle cat. Watch his or her head. He's really intrigued about what is going on. They seem to be full-time indoor cats and they are watching cat television as the experts call it. This means looking out through a window at the activities taking place outside. Cat TV is a great way for a full-time indoor cat to be entertained and stimulated. Make the area by the window comfortable so a cat can spend long hours there if they want to. And notice how the sun passes through windows to find the best spots to place cat beds to give them as much time as possible in the warmth of the sun.

Friday 30 October 2020

My cat catches a rat but doesn't want to eat it

In the video I ask whether my cat has caught a large mouse or a rat. I am now convinced that it was a rat because not soon afterwards my neighbour started to poison rats because they were chewing at the roots of her roses. In doing so she threatened the lives of a number of cats who walk along a right of way behind her house including mine. She also threatened the lives of two foxes and two badgers. Why were they threatened? Because it takes about three days for a rat poisoned by the poison used to die and in that time they can be caught and eaten and thereby poison the predator which eats it.

So my cat caught a rat and he didn't want to eat it. This happened later on as well. In contrast, he eats mice very quickly once he has caught them. So is there something about a rat which is unappetising to cats in general or my cat in particular? There may well be. It may be something to do with the way the carcass smells. Perhaps this rat was poisoned and my cat could smell the poison. Who knows? 

The important point, though, to make is that domestic cats and stray cats can be a deterrent to the presence of rats. A lot of people say that domestic and stray cats don't have the stomach to fight and compete with a big rat. There is some truth in this but it depends upon the individual cat by the way. 

This said, rats tend to stay away when a domestic cat is occupying a particular place or space. A brewery in New York City keeps a couple of feral cats which had been socialised. The cats have transformed their business because their grain is no longer being gnawed at by rats. Once a bag of grain has been attacked by a rat they have to throw that bag away which is expensive. Apparently each bag of grain produces about 120 pints of beer. That's real money. In addition the presence of a cat in a workplace such as a brewery makes the place more pleasant to work in. There you go. Sometimes domestic cats are not very good with rats but they deter them and in my case my cat caught one but wouldn't eat it.

Thursday 15 October 2020

More than one tonne of plastic produced per person since 1950

The amount of plastic sloshing around the planet is equivalent to one tonne of plastic being produced by every person alive on the planet since 1950 (8.3 billion tonnes produced over the past 70 years). And clearly not enough is being done to rectify the problem. It's getting worse and worse annually. The problem is exponential. Dame Ellen MacArthur's foundation has called for an international treaty. Such a treaty would obtain the agreement of signatories to commit to doing something substantive about plastic production. Others say that it is too late to mess around with treaties. It can take years to get countries to agree to treaties and when they are signed they don't stick to the agreement. This happens all the time.

Of the 8.3 billion tons of plastic produced in the past 70 years, three quarters has become waste and a third of that has been mismanaged which includes being dumped or dropped as litter. There is 150 million tonnes of it in the oceans already and every year another 11 million tonnes ends up in the oceans. You'll find plastic in all parts of all the oceans.

Plastic pollution of the oceans
Plastic pollution of the oceans. Picture in the public domain.

Urgent action is needed. It is believed that the amount of plastic in the oceans will treble over the next 20 years. The foundation's report refers to the 1987 Montréal protocol which has helped to protect the ozone layer. There is, therefore, some history in the success of treaties such as this. Germany, the Philippines and Vietnam are three countries who have called for a treaty but other countries such as Britain, the US, Japan, Australia and Canada don't support it, including the WWF.

A treaty (to be clear this is an international agreement) would place limitations on certain single-use plastic products such as straws and set targets on recycling and how to stop the products getting into the oceans.

The problem, as reported, is that although 115 countries have set up regulations regarding single-use plastic and how to limit its damage on the environment it's having little impact. Most of the restrictions concern plastic bag usage and disposal. It's a small part of the overall problem. Beach clean ups report that only 7% of items found are plastic bags.

Some major companies support the initiative such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Mars, Tesco, Unilever and Nestlé. It is not enough. There needs to be a high level of commitment by governments. A campaign group, Changing Markets Foundation, said that calls for a global treaty were "just another delaying tactic by the plastic industry". They argue that the world needs "proven legislative solutions, like deposit systems and reuse targets".

Comment: I shop at Sainsbury's in the UK. I see little, very little commitment by this large company to limiting plastic usage. They still sell bottled water when it could be dispensed in a machine and the customer brings a non-plastic container to the shop and buys it by the litre. That's just my idea but the point I'm making is that I see almost no change in the attitude of Sainsbury's with respect to limiting plastic usage over the many years that this has been discussed. 

Other supermarkets have a similar attitude in my view. The big problem with humankind is that unless individuals are personally impacted by pollution of this kind and only if it affects their health and welfare do they lobby for change. If people can't see it they don't react to it even if it is killing them or harming them in some way or other.

Plastics are certainly killing wildlife but then again people don't see wildlife so in general people don't care about it. It's like trying to turn a juggernaut around. It just doesn't happen or it takes tens of years and which point it is too late.

What has this got to do with cats? A hell of a lot because micro-plastic particles find their way into all areas of our lives. They are in the food chain. They are in marine wildlife which humans and cats eat. Cat food I'm sure contains micro-plastic particles. It affects the health of us all both the human-animal, the domestic animal and the wild species particularly marine wildlife. It is all pervasive and you cannot dissociate the domestic cat from the problem.

Scotland's first Minister, Nicola Sturgeon says that the coronavirus is no one's fault

How can it be that the coronavirus pandemic is no one's fault? This is what Nicola Sturgeon believes or it is what she stated before the cameras at one of her coronavirus updates to the nation. There is no rhyme nor reason why she should say this. Does she believe that the coronavirus pandemic is no one's fault? Surely it must be someone's fault? It would not have happened if the relationship between people and wild animals had been better regulated in China. This catastrophic disease would not have jumped from animals to people.

Go to 13:23 on the video:

The experts state that the cause of it is abuses of nature and that abuse or mishandling to put it more kindly of nature took place in the more than 20,000 wet markets of China. These are places where wild animals are slaughtered in unhygienic places and under circumstances where the killing of animals was and probably is not properly regulated.

All the evidence points to fault being placed at the feet of the authorities who regulate how the wet food markets operate, in this case in the city of Wuhan. Clearly more evidence is needed and we may never get it because the Chinese will hide the evidence but what we have points to Covid-19, as it is now called, because transmitting from a wild animal possibly a pangolin in one of these wet markets to the human who was killing it. This released the virus to the person and other people in the wet market where it was then transmitted to other people rapidly. The disease is a zoonotic disease which is one which can be transmitted from animal to person and person to animal.

I put the blame at the feet of the Chinese government. I don't want to sound xenophobic or racist but that is where it happened and I think the world would agree with me. I will allege, and this is strictly an allegation, that Nicola Sturgeon was asked to make this very strange statement in her speech to the nation by the Chinese ambassador because he promised her investments and a possible deal if and when Scotland becomes independent or even before that. Scotland's economy is in a bad way. It was in a bad way before the pandemic and it will be worse afterward. They need help. They spend more money than they make which is what Nicola Sturgeon describes as progressive government. I'm afraid that she cannot face reality. I read somewhere that more than half the nation in Scotland do not contribute to the wealth of the nation. In other words they are takers rather than givers to the nation in terms of tax contributions. Scotland is running a big deficit year-on-year, the worst in the EU. Although they blame the UK as a whole. They are given billions under the Barnett formula which was meant to be temporary.

What has this got to do with cats? Well a lot. Cats get coronavirus. Wildcats get coronavirus. The trillions of dollars poured into trying to protect people because of the coronavirus would have been better used in conservation of the wild cat species and it would have been better used in combating climate change and many other issues regarding the natural world. Now that money will never be available. It is devastating for conservation never mind the effect that it is having on human lives.

Wednesday 14 October 2020

Sainsbury's expansion versus hedgehog conservation

Sainsbury's, in Guildford, Surrey, UK, want to expand their facilities because they need to expand their online presence having discovered that Britain is moving towards an online purchasing world. Online purchasing has been spurred on by the coronavirus pandemic as we probably all realise by now. 

Sainsbury's Guildford surrounded by hedgehogs where there are hedgehogs. Map: Google Maps.

In order to accommodate a vastly increased online delivery service, Sainsbury's have placed an application with the local authority to demolish 67 trees in a designated green space next to its superstore. The place where these trees live is important for hedgehog conservation. And as the UK hedgehog population has fallen from 1.5 million in 1995 to 500,000 in 2018 there is added pressure on conservationist to protect this much love species of wild animal.

One of those people is Brian May, the Queen guitarist. He has accused Sainsbury's of chasing profits at the expense of wildlife conservation. Their plan includes tripling their capacity for online orders and groceries. Brian May said that the site was home to threatened hedgehogs, bats, bird species and insects. He argues that Sainsbury's have made enough profits during the pandemic and to approve such a planning application would have a devastating impact upon wildlife in the area. The supermarket chain is prosperous, surely they can find an alternative place to expand in to? That is part of Brian May's submission. Also, when Sainsbury's built the superstore at Guildford their planning application contained a mitigating argument that they would leave the woodland secure. Presumably they knocked down some of the woodland in order to build the superstore. This historical aspect of the application must go against them in their fresh application.

Andy Clapham, chairman of the local Burpham Community Association said that the area was one of the few locally where hedgehogs are often seen. And the land helps to shield houses from the superstore and its car park. Sainsbury's promised to replace the 67 trees with 300 plants and install stacked timber for wildlife to hibernate and supply bird-nesting and roosting boxes. They have commissioned a comprehensive ecological appraisal and taken steps to mitigate the wildlife damage that would be incurred if their application were approved. They argue that the application benefits the local community.

Comment: I have to comment. If you take this planning application in context of a world issue with respect to deforestation and the destruction of wildlife habitat by businesses across the planet, you have to be against Sainsbury's' application. As Brian May asks, why can't they find somewhere else? Okay, it will be less convenient but businesses will have to start accepting inconvenience in the interests of wildlife conservation and creating a better world for people to live in. There's going to be mass inconvenience by businesses going forward for the next hundred years if we are to curb global warming and take genuine steps and show genuine commitment towards the conservation of wild species. It is time that businesses took a far more ethical and sustainable approach when focusing on profits. Profits should not be at the expense of the natural world. Businesses should work with the natural world because there is money to be made from that attitude.

Watching television nature programmes improves mental health

In an extension of the well-known benefits of walking in the natural environment as a means to improve mental health, researchers also believe that simply watching television nature programmes can lift your mood and spirits, reduce negative emotions and help alleviate boredom during isolation, which is particularly prevalent at the moment during this nasty coronavirus pandemic.

Watching nature TV programs benefits mental health. Picture in public domain.

If you want to go further you can buy into virtual reality and buy a headset which apparently may bring even greater benefits so say the scientists from the University of Exeter. They studied 96 participants who were subjected to short videos. They first subjected to the participants to a very boring video to try and get them bored. They were then shown video footage supplied by the BBC Natural History Unit film for Blue Planet II. It showed colourful underwater scenes of fish and corals. Some of the participants used VR headsets with 360-degree video. Others wore VR headsets using interactive graphics. All the participants reported reduced negative feelings and levels of boredom.

Those using interactive VR headsets reported increased positive feelings i.e. happiness. They also felt better connected to nature. The researchers felt that the results might benefit people who are forced to spend extended periods at home. This of course must include the elderly, infirm and those who are considered vulnerable during the pandemic in particular. It is probably true to say that there are many more people who are confined to their homes than people realise.

The lead researcher, Nicky Yeo, said that the results show that "watching nature on TV can help to lift people's mood and combat boredom".

A co-author of the study, Matthew White, which was published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology said: "We Are particularly excited by the additional benefits immersive experiences of nature might provide. Virtual reality could help us to boost the well-being of people who can't readily access the natural world, such as those in hospital or in long-term care. But it might also help to encourage a deeper connection to nature in healthy populations, a mechanism which can foster more pro--environmental behaviours and prompt people to protect and preserve nature in the real world".

The reason? Perhaps the obvious reason is that humans come from nature and therefore we are innately connected to it. If we immerse ourselves in nature we make a connection to our ancient roots which is healing to us. Perhaps it reassures us and grounds us. That is my personal theory. Another possible reason is that the unthreatening natural world triggers the parasympathetic nervous system which helps to restore the body to a calm state. And the third theory suggests that modern life over-stimulates the human which depletes attentional resources causing cognitive fatigue and a negative mood. Watching nature programmes help to restore a balance in the human being.

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