Sunday 28 February 2021

How domestic cats came to be in a nutshell

Evolution of the species. How domestic cats came to be in a nutshell.
Evolution of the species. How domestic cats came to be in a nutshell. Screebshot.

Some people want to know how domestic cats evolved to where they are today. To answer the question you have to believe in Darwin's theory of evolution as set out in his book On the Origin of Species published on Thursday, 24 November 1859. If you believe in his theory as opposed to creation by a God (creationism) then you have to study the theory of evolution to fully understand it. 

Remember that life emerged on Earth 3.5 billion years ago so evolution is a slow process. That's way we have the species we have. It took millions of tiny changes. Also the first early human ancestors orginate from 3.5 million years ago.

Darwin's On the Origin of Species
Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

This will allow you understand how domestic cats came to be - the first part of the story. The video below explains it quite nicely I think. It is quite complicated. 

Image: MikeB.

You can click here too if you want to read about the evolution of the family of cats.

The theory of evolution explains how natural selection produced the family of cats. There are about thirty-six species of cat, one of which is the domestic cat. All the others are wild cat species. The domestic cat is essentially a domesticated North African wild cat.

Over the ten thousand years of domestication of the North African wild cat, the species evolved from being striped tabby cats to a wide range of coat types. This happened naturally and then people intervened through formal selective breeding or artificial selection since about 1850. Although there would have been some selective breeding by people on an ad hoc basis in the early development of the domestic cat as they preferred coat types.

Through artificial selection, as carried out under the auspices of cat fancy (cat breeders who create purebred cats of a certain breed for cat shows and for sale) about 104 cat breeds were created, as an absolute maximum. To these purebred cats you have to add the vast majority of domestics cats namely random bred cats. Also we must not forget the cats who should be domesticated but are feral (wild), the feral cats.

Random bred cats are still evolving through natural selection. That, in a nutshell is how domestic cats came to be...!

Can Turkish Angoras be black?

Yes, Turkish Angoras can be black as they come in all colors, all divisions of the traditional category. The white cats are favoured both in the West and certainly in Turkey.  The traditional colours are: black, chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lilac, fawn, red, cream and white.

Believed to be a black Turkish Angora
Believed to be a black Turkish Angora. Photo: Reddit.

The black Turkish Angora bred in America looks like a fairly standard semi-longhaired domestic cat but more refined due to selective breeding. They are an elegant cat with flowing long hair. Their body is described as foreign-type meaning slender. The cat fancy see foreign cats as slender! 

The true Turkish Angoras at Ankara Zoo (yes, they are in a zoo as they are very special) look like all-white, doll-faced Persian cats i.e. traditional Persian cats. There may be a connection in history. Perhaps the original Persian cats originated in Turkey. They certainly did not originate in Persia now Iran to the best of my knowledge. Wrong? Tell me in a comment, please.

A real Turkish Angora in Turkey:

A real Turkish Angora cat
A real Turkish Angora cat. Photo: copyright Angora Cat Association.

Male jaguar kills female jaguar when put together at a Florida zoo. Why?

Harry and Zenta were two jaguars at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Harry is still alive and he is twelve years old. He killed the female jaguar, Zenta, who was twenty-one years old. A mistake was made. They were both put into a holding complex. 

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens poster featuring a jaguar. Is this Harry? Photo: Jacksonville
and Gardens.

Harry was put there for examination. The mistake was putting them together. Keepers tried to separate them unsuccessfully. As Harry attacked Zenta, they tried to immobilise him. I presume this means tranquilizing. They were unsuccessful and he killed the female who had arrived at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in 2006 they rescued animal from a private zoo. Harry was born at the zoo in 2009.

Comment: the question that I have is ,why did the male jaguar kill the female? In the wild male and female jaguar's meet to mate and reproduce. Roaring may function to bring them together for mating purposes. Females can end up being accompanied by several males. But I can't find any reports of male jaguar's killing female jaguars.

I will have to come to my own conclusion as the zookeepers at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens don't tell us why Harry wanted to kill Zenta. There were probably two overlapping factors. Both were captive, living in confined spaces much smaller than the amount of space they naturally require in the wild which would be something in the order of up to 152 km² for a male jaguar. Females require less space but still vastly larger than is available at a zoo. This probably constantly stressed both the male and female. 

In the wild, female home ranges can be within the home ranges of male jaguars which sometimes overlap. I would suspect that stresses built up because the natural social organisation of these big cats was completely disturbed by their captivity. 

The male wanted to get rid of the female because she was on his territory and competing for that territory. This is my assessment. I may be completely wrong but it is the only possible assessment, I believe. This was about territory and ownership of it. It didn't matter whether they were male and female or male and male.

Teenage woman allegedly tried to poison housemates because they mistreated her kittens she claimed

COMMENT AND NEWS: This is a story from Brisbane Australia. Te Raukura Anahera Alexander, 19, clearly loves cats. She adopted two kittens. She lived in what appears to be a house which he shared with housemates. There appears also to have been some sort of dispute between her and the housemates which was simmering in the background and which came to a head when her kittens or a kitten wandered into one of the housemaid's rooms and scratched the person in the room.

Te Raukura Anahera Alexander, 19,
Te Raukura Anahera Alexander, 19, outside the magistrates court. She refused to
talk to the media. Photo: Daily Mail.

It is claimed that a kitten or kittens were thrown across the room as a consequence. This is an allegation of animal abuse. Alexander became enraged and allegedly tried to take the law into their own hands by poisoning her housemates. She reportedly admitted to placing a teaspoonful of mosquito repellent into milk and yoghurt. The repellent is called Mortein Peaceful Nights.

My research indicates that if ingested this insecticide can cause serious harm in people. It may be fatal in a large enough dosage. Skin can become sensitised to it and it is very dangerous to aquatic animals. It should be handled with caution and with rubber gloves.

Nobody ate the yoghurt or drank the milk and therefore nobody was poisoned. The police came to the property when allegedly Alexander slashed all four tyres of a vehicle outside the house. It appears that she admitted the alleged crime at that time to the police. She's appeared before the magistrates court and is on bail pending the next hearing and ordered to live with her father and not to return to the home where she lived or approach the housemates. She will reappear before court on March 29.

She was provoked. She did something very stupid. She will no doubt be imprisoned if convicted. If that happens she will be without her kittens. She made a terrible mistake. Any number of alternative solutions would have been better including removing herself from the house with her kittens.

She could have reported the alleged abuse of the kitten(s) by her housemates or housemate to the police because on the face of it this might constitute animal abuse under Australian animal welfare law. That would have given her the high moral ground.

The story highlights the dangers of living in a home of multiple occupation if you own a cat, cats or a kitten. The animals are thrust into a home where their safety cannot be ensured. The cat owner does not know whether her housemates will treat her cat with care. She doesn't know whether they like or dislike cats. She doesn't know whether they are scrupulous about animal welfare.

But if a dispute arises, as appears to be the case in the story, one person may take out their anger on the cats. Cats are always vulnerable to animal abuse because of their immediate presence. They are an outlet for angry people.

I hope that the judge is lenient if she is convicted and that her sentence is light. Although she is on a charge which sound serious namely attempting to injure by noxious substances, assault and wilful damage (reference to the slashing of the car tyres).

Bangkok: three hundred cats rescued and then abandoned

This is perhaps an understandable story but strange nonetheless. It appears that a person living in Bangkok, Thailand rescued many cats. Three hundred stray cats were left in cages in two houses in Bangkok. It is believed that the person rescued the cats but could no longer afford to look after them because of a change in her circumstances.

Over 300 cats rescued from a cat rescuer who abandoned them in cages in filthy conditions. Photo: Reuters.
Over 300 cats rescued from a cat rescuer who abandoned them in cages in filthy conditions.
Photo: Reuters.

The change in circumstances was due to the pandemic it is said. The person concerned abandoned the cats. She did not come back to them to look after them. This happened for many months. A neighbour sometimes fed the cats and a volunteer was involved.

The more than three hundred cats have now been rescued; those that survived. They had been kept in filthy conditions in cages for a very long time. They become stressed and are being rehabilitated and will be rehomed when suitable. A veterinarian in the area, said that he was confident that the cats will be able to recover.

The story comes from The Star. Comment: the story is interesting despite being incredibly sad because the person who rescued the cats (and that person remains anonymous) turned from being a rescuer, somebody who cares for the cats and who wanted to help, to a person who abandoned cats which is a cruel act and a criminal act in some countries.

What happened to this person? Perhaps they were never committed properly to the task of cat rescue. Of course, it takes money to feed over three hundred cats so perhaps this is a case of a person who wanted to help in cat rescue but became a cat hoarder inadvertently. 

She got in over her head and had to abandon the project. But she should have asked for help. That's the moral deficit. She was the wrong person for the job of cat rescue. No genuine cat rescuer would abandon cats like this so cruelly.

Cat rescue can sometimes develop into cat hoarding which is sad because whole purpose of cat rescue is undermined. Rather than helping cats they are harmed and injured by the cat rescuer. This appears to have happened in this instance.

Are American Shorthair cats rare?

The American Shorthair cat is not rare in an absolute sense. It's a regular purebred cat born out of a standard American moggy. This cat breed is a refined American moggy which is great and it is a very good purebred cat suited to indoor living and good with kids. But it's impossible to consider the cat as being rare. 

American Shorthair
American Shorthair - classic tabby. Photo copyright Helmi Flick.

That said, the meaning of the word "rare" is elastic. In terms of the overall number of domestic cats in America you might argue that the American Shorthair is quite rare. However, in an absolute sense it is not rare. You will see them in households around America.

You will not see cats of this breed probably in Europe that much whereas you will see the more popular and perhaps better known American cat breed, the Maine Coon, more frequently in Europe. So perhaps you might argue that the American Shorthair cat is relatively rare in Europe but much less so in America, the home of their origin.

As it happens, I have a very comprehensive page on how rare the cat breeds are. I wrote it many years ago but I made a big effort to be accurate and used various criteria to decide on the rarity of the breeds. If you click on this link you'll be taken to the conclusions of that page where there is a list of what I consider to be the rare cat breeds. 

Apparently the number one cat association in Britain, the GCCF, believe that the Sokoke is the rarest cat breed. It is within my list as well but there are others. Some of the breeds I've listed have been discontinued and therefore there may be no cats of these breeds left in the world. That happens sometimes: cat breeds die out and therefore the cats of the breed disappear eventually.

Saturday 27 February 2021

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian has 2 cats

The Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian, has 2 cats, Ding Ding and Yuan Yuan. They are both grey. One of them, who I believe is Ding Ding has partially folded ears which indicates to me that this cat carries the Scottish Fold gene or a variant of it. The ambassador adopted both cats in the Philippines during the pandemic. 

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian has 2 cats
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian has 2 cats.
This is one of them possibly Ding Ding.

He adopted them as kittens. He took them to a veterinarian to have them checked thoroughly. He says there now strong and healthy. They love each other but sometimes they fight and are a bit naughty. He likes their company during his work and he finds them comforting. He said the work hard during the pandemic.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian has 2 cats
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian has 2 cats. This is 
possibly Yuan Yuan.

He wants cat lovers to guess which cat is called Ding Ding in which cat is called Yuan Yuan. I haven't got an idea about that! The Chinese word "Yuan" is the currency in China. I checked out what Ding means in Chinese. It's a family name humans and there are just two strokes to it when writing it in Chinese. Someone Facebook said it means (round) in English. I read that it means strong. I'm no nearer to figuring out which name fits which cat. I have guessed.

Huang Xilian should be screaming from the rooftops for the cat cruelty that takes place in China's cat meat markets to stop immediately. It is horrible behavior and it is time it stopped. How can he love cats and be silent about this damnable market where tens of thousands of cats and dogs are brutally killed annually for meat because they belive that the flesh has some medicinal qualities. It is pure bullshit.

Domestic cats don't evaluate people who interact with their owner unlike dogs

A study carried out by Japanese scientists at the Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto University, Japan, in 2015 found that domestic dogs evaluated people who interact with their owner. If these third parties were not helpful towards their owner they treated them in a way which indicated that they felt the person was hostile or less than friendly. This indication came from the fact that the dogs were less willing to accept food from the person who had failed to help their owner when help was requested.

Dogs evaluate third parties and cats don't
Dogs evaluate third parties and cats don't. Pic in public domain. Words added
by MikeB on PoC.


In 2021, the same or similar team of scientists headed by the same scientist, Hitomi Chijiiwa, carried out the same test on domestic cats. In summary, they found that "cats might not possess the same social evaluation abilities as dogs". The cats did not react as dogs had to people who did not help their owner by refusing to take food from them.

I will explain the study again and further comment on it below. They say that humans evaluate other humans based upon their interactions between third parties. I interpret this as meaning that people can look at two other people interacting with each other and by those interactions they can assess the character and behavioural traits of those people.

Dogs were also able to assess in a less sophisticated way (in my view) the character traits and behaviour of third parties. For both the cat and dog experiments they used the same procedure. They had the cats watch their owner try and unsuccessfully open a transparent container to take out an object inside and request help from the person sitting nearby. This person was told to either help when requested or not help when requested.

There was a third person sitting nearby who they describe as "passive (neutral) person". This person sat on the other side of the owner under both circumstances i.e. when the other person helped and when they did not help.

After both interactions by the actor who helped and didn't help with the owner, the actor and the passive person offered a piece of food to the cat. The scientist wanted to record from which person the cat took the food. They carried out four trials and noticed that the cats "showed neither a preference for the helper nor avoidance of the non-helper".

On this basis, they considered that cats "might not possess the same social evaluation abilities as dogs" as mentioned above. They do suggest that 'further work on cats' social evaluation capacities needs to consider ecological validity, notably with regard to the species' sociality'.

My comments and thoughts

My comments: I'm not going to read the entire study but simply pass my comments on these findings as stated in the study abstract. You might like to comment yourself. I would really like that actually.

The argument is that dogs have been bred to work with and associate with people. This has occurred for perhaps up to 30,000 years. This is when dogs were first domesticated, it is believed. And dogs have often been working dogs. And in the dog-human relationship they work with people so there is this naturally close, working connection which has allowed the dog to read people and evaluate them.

Conversely, the domestic cat has been domesticated for about ten thousand years, it is believed. It may be longer, as much as fourteen thousand years but this is still work in progress. The cat's role is as a companion although initially at the point of domestication they were working cats rooting out rodents and keeping the population down on farms. However, for many thousands of years their role is to entertain and provide companionship.

Further, the domestic dog is essentially a pack animal because their wild origins are the grey wolf. Pack animals look after each other and communicate with each other. The domestic cat, in contrast is essentially a solitary creature, living and surviving alone. Although their evolution during domestication has resulted in them becoming more sociable. Notwithstanding that advance in sociability, they still lack the skills to read behaviour patterns and traits of humans when watching them interact with their owner.

Ultimately, it comes down to the length of domestication of cats and dogs and their role in the lives of humans. This background has created the differences in results from this study in my opinion. What do you think?

Details of the study:

Cats (Felis catus) Show no Avoidance of People who Behave Negatively to their Owner Hitomi Chijiiwa1, Saho Takagi1, Minori Arahori, James R. Anderson, Kazuo Fujita, & Hika Kuroshima. Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto University 2 Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Corresponding author (Email:

Published online: Animal Behavior and Cognition journal.

Are cats narcissists?

I think that it is ridiculous that anybody can find the time to ask if cats are narcissists. It's an absurd question but I'm going to try and answer it other than simply decry it as ridiculous. In order to answer the question as  to whether domestic cats are narcissists you have to first define the word "narcissist". It means, "a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves".

Incidentally, I realise that I am being unnecessarily serious because the question is meant to be a bit of a joke but there may be a slightly serious element to this which is why I'm discussing it a bit more than simply knocking it on the head.

You can see the obvious, which is that the definition starts off with "a person". This immediately cuts out of the equation all cats at a stroke! The concept of narcissism is exclusively dedicated to humankind. It is a condition created by people for people and defined by more people. It has nothing to do with animals and everything to do with the human-animal.

Narcissistic domestic cat? No. Flashy? Yes!
Narcissistic domestic cat? No. Flashy? Yes! Photo
in the public domain.

I suppose the question as to whether cats are narcissists might come from the fact that they are inherently solitary creatures and somewhat independent-minded (but becoming more sociable over years of domestication). Some people see them as aloof and difficult. They see them as demanding attention and pushing their human owner around. So if a domestic cat is demanding attention all the time or their human owner believes that they are demanding attention they might also believe that they are narcissistic.

Some cats like Siamese cats have a very positive and some would say demanding meow. It's quite a hard sounding meow. The Siamese is also a loyal cat and they like to be next to you. If you combine those two traits you might say that they are narcissistic, if you think being demanding is narcissistic. I am waffling really badly because in truth there is nothing more to say other than domestic cats are not narcissists.

People do tend to forget that domestic cats are cats and not little people. We do tend to anthropomorphise our feline friends. We project our emotions onto them and they are reflected back. So if we feel a bit down we will argue that our cat also feels a bit down because he looks a bit sad. The thing is they are not sad. We're just looking at their face and changing its appearance to suit our emotions and thoughts at that time.

An awful lot has been said about the mental state of domestic cats including their mental health and their emotions. We don't know much, and I'm referring to the best experts in the world, about cat emotions and cat mental health. We know a bit in that they have emotions, at least the basic emotions, and we know that they can be content and discontent. We know they feel pain and can suffer from stress and feel the opposite: relaxed. But the finer details of their emotions, we don't know much in truth. If we do it is guesswork.

And the profound mental health disorders such as narcissism and psychopathic states of mind are not for felines but humans.

Friday 26 February 2021

Are hairless cats really hairless?

No, so-called "hairless cats" are not truly hairless because various parts of their bodies maybe nude but the remainder e.g. the muzzle and the feet (often) are covered by fine down, fuzzy hair. Sometimes hairlessness progresses with age. There is a fine covering in the young adult cat which gradually disappears leaving a bare, wrinkled skin over much of the body of the full-grown adults.

Bicolor Sphynx
Bicolor Sphynx. The fine down hair strands in the hind legs are
pigmented I believe, which is why there is a dark patch and the tail
 is dark too. This is melanin in the down hair strands.

There is a bit of discussion about whether hairless cats can have a pattern on their skin. You do see 'bicolour' Sphynx cats with the two colours being the skin colour and the other colour being an inky darker colour. 

I had thought that the darker coloration was due to the pigment producing cells, the melanocytes, colouring the skin but I now believe that this is due to fine down hairs having the coloration that the cat's genetics gives it. The melanin in the hair strands being produced by the melanocytes.

To be clear, if you see a bicolour Sphynx or any other hairless cat what you are seeing is hair strand coloration. The point is that you can barely see the hairs because they are very fine and short, being the down or undercoat.

Ragdoll cats aren't always laid back: 2 examples.

Not all Ragdoll cats are sweet-natured, laid-back, blissfully content, and beautiful cats! They are, after all, pretty normal domestic cats although they do indeed look beautiful nearly always. But there will be times when they have a right to be angry, irritated and annoyed. They have a right on occasions to hiss at somebody or another cat. If they didn't they wouldn't be felines. It's their nature. The photo below is of a classy, cat show Ragdoll cat.

Ragdoll cat Blossom Baby Sage
Ragdoll cat Blossom Baby Sage. Photo copyright Helmi Flick.

Selective breeding can achieve so much. It can achieve a character which is predisposed towards being relaxed and confident but it cannot eliminate from the inherent and innate character of the domestic cat the desire to hiss or growl and attack when needed. If you could do that through selective breeding you would be in the Frankenstein world. And I'm not sure we even want that.

The first photograph below is of Merlin. I believe that that is his name. He looks pretty grumpy. I think he is a lynx-point Ragdoll. The second photograph is of hissy Crissy. I might have made up in her name. It doesn't matter because the point I'm making is that here we have a Ragdoll cat who is not laid-back and letting everything go over her head. She is reacting to something which requires a hiss or a shout or a slap and a growl.

It's quite unusual in the world of cats are cat breeders to focus a bit more on character than appearance. You'll find that most breeders selectively breed for appearance and let the character of the cat take care itself in terms of inherited character. In terms of environmental character it is a breeder's duty to ensure that the cats are socialised. This means that their behaviour around people and dogs for instance is good and acceptable.

There is no point having a beautiful, purebred cat in the home if they are terrified of the people they share the home with including the dog in the next room. They've got to get along which is the whole point of a domestic cat's existence.

For a brief period, the founding breeder of this breed, Ann Baker, disseminated the idea that Ragdoll cats don't feel pain. I think it was part of the overall intention to pretend that this breed was super laid-back and nothing bothered the cat not even pain. It didn't make sense then it doesn't make sense now.

Breeders do tend to want to generate interest in their new breed which is quite understandable. So they can also tend to generate a mystery around the breed as to their origins. They are, after all, engaged in a commercial activity which is to sell the kittens and make some pocket money. Most cat breeders do it as a hobby thankfully.

Angry, grumpy Merlin a Ragdoll cat
Angry, grumpy Merlin a Ragdoll cat. Pic in public domain

Hissy Ragdoll cat
Hissy Ragdoll cat. Pic in public domain.

Now, in case you thought that all Ragdoll cats were strangly laid back, you can see that ain't true and it never was.

Picture of a Toyger cat is actually a photo-edited photograph

This interesting photograph could, to the uninitiated, be of a Toyger purebred cat but it is not. It is far too much like a tiger to be a Toyger. You may have heard about this rare cat breed called a Toyger. If you haven't you might like to click here to read about it. Essentially, it is a breed of cat which is meant to look like a miniature tiger in your home. The idea is to bring the tiger into your home. However, it's proved very difficult to replicate the anatomy of a tiger in a domestic cats through selective breeding as you can imagine.

Toyger purebred cat? No, photo-editing of tiger cub + domestic cat
Toyger purebred cat? No, photo-editing of tiger cub + domestic cat. Photo in public domain.

You can only go so far with selective breeding but, that said, some cat breeders go too far and breed cats to extreme. Perhaps the Toyger breeders could have done a better job. Perhaps they gave up because the breed cannot, in honesty, be described as a success.

There was a discussion on the Internet about whether this photograph is of a Toyger. It is a very nice piece of photo-editing which has merged the face of a domestic cat with the face and body of what appears to me to be a young tiger or tiger cub. Photo-editing can do wonders in the right hands.

The photograph was first used to illustrate a cat food, Newman's Own Organic. I think it is part of Paul Newman's business of making salad dressings and cookies et cetera. With the picture went the slogan "They Once Ate Organic". This must be a reference to the fact that tigers eat natural foods and this company is hinting that most pet food is unnatural and they are correct. It is a shame then that the picture is unnatural!

However, the picture may have been added to Newman's Own Organic logo by somebody else other than the company. We don't know the history.

Toyger cat breeders would give their right arm to produce a cat like this. The picture first emerged on a social media network used by artists to showcase their work called Behance. It was posted to Silev's page.

This little story is interesting in terms of cat breeding. The Toyger was started in the 1980s, a time when there were a lot more new breeds. It was a time, too, when there was a big interest in creating cats that hinted at being wild cats. I'm referring to the wildcat hybrids mainly. But there are some domestic cats without any wild cat blood in them which were selectively bred to look like wild cats too. The intention was to encourage cat owners to think about wild cat conservation. To transport those beautiful wild cats in far-flung countries into their urban houses.

This may be a week justification rather than an idealised high moral ground attempt at conservation. The mid-1950s was a time when the most cat breeds were developed in the cat fancy.

Toyger cat
Toyger cat. Photo: copyright Helmi Flick

Above is a photograph of a genuine Toyger. You can see the far more angelic and delicate appearance of this breed. There's one thing you can't replicate of the Tiger in a domestic cat and that is the way the tiger walks. It is an arrogant gait, imbued with confidence and cockiness. The domestic cat gait is far more fragile and delicate.

Thursday 25 February 2021

Before and after pictures of a cat who lost a lot of weight

Here is a nice montage of a couple of side-by-side, before and after photographs of a cat who lost a lot of weight. His owner praised his cat. I praised his owner! It takes persistence to get this effect and it should be a slow process to avoid the possibility of feline hepatitic lipidosis (fatty liver disease). Slow cat dieting is the order of the day if it has to be done.

Before and after pictures of a cat who lost a lot of weight
Before and after pictures of a cat who lost a lot of weight. Photo: Reddit.

Senior cats should be on a reduced calorie diet. Before dieting a cat it may be wise to consult your veterinarian in case there are no medical reasons for the obesity. An estimated 40% of cats are obese. As many cats turn carbohydrates into fat, a low carb, high protein and high fat diet will help her lose weight. This sort of diet may be more effective than a low calorie, high fibre diet. A high protein diet takes a domestic cat back to her natural diet.

Food should be provided in a measured way 2 or 3 times per day and no more. No gourmet foods, human scraps and treats. Perhaps a limited amount of treats! Make sure she is not scrumping food elsewhere such as from a neighbour. Chart the weight loss. She should lose one percent of body weight per week and no quicker to avoid hepatic lipidosis.

Provide some exercise daily. Try and make the food harder to access by moving it around. Lean body mass may be enhanced with a supplement called L-carnitine. Seek your vet's advice on feeding it at 250-500 mg per day.

The diet should be complete after about eight weeks. Then maintain the correct weight using the tools and methods that you have learned in getting her weight down.

Wednesday 24 February 2021

Timid cat edges forward cautiously wishing to attack

This short video has been described as showing a cat who wants attention but is too shy to ask. I disagree. It is a female cat who is inherently timid and her owner - out of frame and doing the filming - is enticing her cat towards her with a cat tease. The cat sees a prey animal and wants to attack but this desire is resisted by her innate timidity. She therefore edges cautiously forward by placing one paw ahead of the another while placing them gently. It is cute.

Timid cat edges forward cautiously wishing to attack
Timid cat edges forward cautiously wishing to attack. Screenshot.

I prefer to see confident cats as they can live fuller lives and interact more freely with their owner and other visiting people. This is both good for the cat and the humans.

Note: sometimes videos like the one above stop working for reasons beyond my control. If that has occurred I am sorry.

Scared cat seeks comfort in close contact with human mother

Scared cat seeks solace in human companion
Scared cat seeks solace in human companion. Screenshot.

The video shows a ginger tabby cat on a sofa, clearly very frightened about something. We don't know what it is. Her ears are back in a protective position. The sort of body language that you see before a cat is about to fight only the general bod language indicates that this cat feels oppressed and she/he is submissive. She wants to crawl away and hide somethere, anywhere and seeks reassurance and comfort on the shoulder of her human companion. 

Why was she filming it though? She is making a video selfie. She has the face of Mona Lisa.

I can't get the video to work. I uploaded it to Google Blogger and at first it worked but now...nada. It might work again but in the meantime here is another video which I know will work at least for the time being. It is similar. A cat who needs the comfort that comes from human contact and reassurance:

It is a nice yet sad video. The person looks oddly serene as if it has happened before. The video comes from Reddit. Someone on that site suggested that it was fireworks. It could be but we have no idea. It is the sort of reaction that fireworks generate in many domestic cats as they are strange external sounds. They sound like something hostile is 'out there'. This readies the cat for a defensive fight hence the pinned back ears which protects them. The cat's facial expression is very noticeable. It is not often that you see a clear facial expression in a cat.

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Welsh government to formally investigate big cat sightings in Wales

Wales seems to be a country where there is a preponderance of big cat sightings and as such there is an open secret that there are big cats roaming North Wales attacking sheep and leaving broken and bloody caracasses in fields. There have been reports from: Buckley, Corwen, Denbigh, Llangollen, Mold, Mostyn, Pentre Halkyn, Pontybodkin, Pentre Halkyn, Rhuallt, and Talacre in 2020 and 2021 according to Leader Live. And also Chester and Ellesmere Port.

Big cat sighting in Italy
Big cat sighting in Italy is probably genuine. An escaped pet melanistic leopard but 99% of sightings are fake. See this story by clicking here.

It seems to be agreed that a formal, government managed process needs to be in place to investigate these big cat sightings. Once it is suspected that a big cat is present a formal investigation will take place. It sounds as if they will be detailed and thorough including a post mortem examination and a visit to the site of the attack.

The Welsh Environment Minister Lesley Griffiths said: "The Welsh Government’s policy is to investigate any reports received by the Department for Economy, Skills and Natural Resources of alleged sightings and attacks by big cats on livestock in Wales."

People should report sightings to the police when there is a threat to human life. No real evidence has been unearthed thus far. There is a group called Puma Watch North Wales which investigates sightings of I presume pumas (aka mountain lions).

Pumas are mostly spotted in Snowdonia and the Clwydian Hills. But there have also been sightings in urban areas miles away from the aforesaid locations. It is thought that the Covid-19 lockdowns may have encouraged the big cats to be more bold and frequent places where there are people but self-isolating inside their homes.

Comment: It is nice to see the Welsh government taking big cat sightings in their country seriously. I can't take it seriously myself. Over many years, even decades, there have been no decent quality photos of these mysterious cats. It is impossible to believe they exist. There'd be some clean evidence by now if they did.

Can domestic cats live outside in the winter?

Not sure why the question is being asked by someone because domestic cats are not meant to live outside in the winter! They are not designed to do that. They live with people inside their homes. That said the domestic cat is rugged and enduring but they will be hurt by some winters. It depends on what kind of winter it is which depends on where they are.

Siberian cat lost limbs through frostbite
Siberian cat lost limbs through frostbite (see link above). Image: PoC.

There are stories of domestic cats getting frostbite and losing their toes and part of their feet as a result. Horrible - see picture above for instance. I have read stories of domestic cats being frozen to the ground by ice. They have been injured by the cold. And sometimes ear flaps can suffer frostbite leading to amputations. You might have seen domestic cats with prosthetic legs. These are cats who've lost the ends of their legs to frostbite.

Domestic cats are very stoic and enduring. They will put up with very cold weather as the stories testify. But they'll be hurt sometimes and sometimes they will quietly die. We don't see stories about that. How many domestic, stray and feral cats died or were injured by the recent devastating Texas big freeze which claimed the lives of many people because of heating supply problems?

There are no hard and fast rules on whether domestic cats can live outside in the winter. No one's counting and no one has done a study on it. If a domestic cat is forced by unfortunate circumstance to live outside all winter and they live in Canada where it is bloody cold, it is distinctly possible that they will die of hypothermia particularly if their food supply is scarse and they become underfed.

Cats are good survivors but a relentless series of days when the temperature is below freezing will harm and kill domestic cats but it does, as mentioned, depend on the circumstances. In the urban environment there are opportunities to find some warmth and some sustenance.

Kind people feed stray cats. Some make individual shelters for ferals and strays out of cooler boxes for example. Some take the cats in and adopt them. There are food scaps around the place and many unwanted stray domestic cats make their way through cat flaps to 'steal' cat food inside homes. This is common actually. So, yes, when the circumstances are right a domestic cat can live outside in the winter. They'll gradually become feral.

They will lose their health and coiffed appearance. They'll become ragged and sometimes dirty. Their lifespan will be shortened but they might survive.

Monday 22 February 2021

Bomb squad called out to deal with bag full of newborn kittens abandoned in freezing snow

There are two key aspects to this story from Ohio, USA about cat abandonment and subsequent rescue. Last Thursday a bag full of six newborn kittens and their mom were left outside the main entrance of a church in New Miami, Butler County, Ohion, USA. They had been abandoned in freezing weather. It genuinely was freezing as there are icicles hanging from the church's guttering.

Six newborn kittens and their mom abandoned outside church in freezing conditions in Ohio
Six newborn kittens and their mom abandoned outside church in freezing conditions in Ohio. Photo: Butler County police.

That's the first point to make. Who in their right mind would do this? Newborn kittens must be kept very warm, almost hot by human standards to avoid them becoming chilled and dying. There was a real risk that the person who did this was passing a death sentence on these kittens. She or he got lucky.

The second point is that the bag looked suspicious. The bomb squad were called out. They must have been surprised when then discovered the kittens. But there was danger there too wasn't there? The bomb squad sometimes defuse suspicious bags by destroying the bag. That would have killed the kittens and their mom. Fortunately it worked out okay.

Six kittens recovering after being abandoned in a bag outside a church in Ohio in freezing conditions
Six kittens recovering after being abandoned in a bag outside a church in Ohio in freezing conditions. Photo: Animal Friends Humane Society.

The person who abandoned them left a note saying that the mother cat who's named Sprinkles went into labour on 17 Feb at 2pm. That is a strange note if that is all it said. It implies that the person abandoned the cats while the mother was in labour and that the mother gave birth in the bag! 

Anyway they are safe and being looked after by Animal Friends Humane Society. They confirmed that all was well at the shelter. Sprinkles was vaccinated and blood tested and her kittens have been gently bathed. The mother is nursing her kittens well. End of bulletin! 

A strange cat rescue story though. Sad too. If people want help with unwanted kittens they should contact a shelter and talk through it. In non-Covid times you could walk into the local shelter and explain things. No shame. No guilt. It is okay.

Picture of a calico cat with an unusual blaze

This is an interesting looking cat to say the least. The word 'blaze' in the title refers to the sharp line down the nose demarking the boundary between the dark fur and lighter fur. I never know how to spell this strange word. I sometimes spell it 'blaise' but that's wrong apparently. I have no idea where the word comes from.

Picture of a calico cat with a memorable blaze
Picture of a calico cat with a memorable blaze. Photo: Imgur

Tortoiseshells and tortoiseshell-and-white cats can have it to varying degrees of impact. Sometimes it is broken and sometimes it is stark and high contrast. The reason for its existence must be genetic and the migration of melanin (dark pigment) within the hair strands as the unborn kitten develops in the womb. 'Calico' is an Americanism for tortoiseshell-and-white.

This cat has a particularly impressive face. Full of impact, not solely because of the blaze but the gold-dusted eyes and the rest of the pattern and colours which are outstanding.

Almost all calicos are female because the cat's gender is linked to the coat type. This cat is clearly female judging by her face.


Have they found that narcissistic Asian woman who killed her cat in a washing machine?

In Oct 2017 I wrote about a pretty, young, narcissistic Asian woman who killed her pretty but not narcissistic white cat in her washing machine (click here to read it). I figured that she lives in the south of China where they have a dubious relationship with cats as they like to eat them en masse for superstitious reasons. Horrible. Mad.

Narcissistic Asian woman who killed her cat on social media for fame
Narcissistic Asian woman who killed her cat on social media for fame. Her social media page.

But have they caught this mad, pretty woman? Probably not. She committed a crime by normal standards. She should be arrested and punished. The trouble is that in China they don't have any meaningful animal welfare laws so she has not committed a crime in her country. Even if she had she'd get away with it because of police apathy.

She had the temerity to post her film of her killing her cat online, on social media. That is why I say she is narcissistic. It is that self-indulgent desire for 15 minutes of fame. Some youth of today can't bear to be anonymous. They want to be someone and they'll do anything even animal cruelty of the most henous kind to achieve those ends.

You know that one in fourteen (more than 7% actually) of British children have tried to kill themselves! Astonishing. It shows a deep malaise in the minds of British kids. They are suffering but why? Where does this mental health issue come from? 

It has been made worse by Covid-19. They don't see a future. The future is harder for kids today than it was in my day. I agree that. But it is not that bad. I think it is linked to expectation. Unrealistic expectations which are generated through using social media.

Back to the Asian woman. It is the same problem. She wants fame even if it is a negative version of fame: notoriety. Infamy. It is all the same to her. As long as she is not anonymous. This is part of the reason why British kids sometimes want to end their lives. They can't become famous. There is nothing worse for them than being ugly and invisible. An empty, meaningless future.

Are felines stronger than canines?

Felines are cats and canines are dogs. Who's the strongest? Neither. It depends on the species. Size dictates mass and muscle mass dictates strength. The largest cat, the Siberian tiger (about 210 kg), is much larger than the largest dog, the Great Dane (90 kg). No contest on that basis. But the humble and ubiquitous coyote in the US, which is a species of dog kills many domestic cats who are unable to get away. No contest there either.

Lynx squares up to wolf
Lynx squares up to wolf. Image: Vadim Sidorovich

Cats have more fast twitch muscles than dogs I would say. Cats are sprinters. Dogs are endurance runners. Cats stalk and pounce (sprint) to catch prey. Dogs wear down prey animals over many miles. Does this affect strength comparions? No I don't think so.

But the concept of strength is flexible. There is strength of mind leading to persistence which is a factor in overpowering another animal. However, the question is probably asking if the mucles of cats are stronger than the muscles of dogs. The answer depends on their mass which in turn depends on the size of the cat and dog as mentioned. 

If they are the same size the contest is equal. There is an interesting contest between the Canada lynx and the wolf. These are similar sized felines and canines. Who won? The lynx did as the wolf backed off apparently. There is no hard data on this sort of one-to-one encounter in general but the wolf wins because they are always in numbers while the lynx is solitary. Strength in numbrs they say. This is an example. Another aspect of strength which muddies the water when answering the question in the title.

Sunday 21 February 2021

Domestic cat likes to sit on his haunches. Why?

Why is this young tabby cat sitting on his haunches as we see humans do in Asia. They do it because it is a comfortable way to be in a restful position but you have to be flexible and therefore slender. It is impossible if you are overweight.

Domestic cat likes to sit on his haunches. Why?
Domestic cat likes to sit on his haunches. Why? Video screenshot.

It is the first time I have seen a cat sit on his haunches like this and the cat's owner said that it makes her uncomfortable. She does no explain why. It's probably because she's worried that there is a health reason behind it.  But he looks relaxed, comfortable and healthy.


On the basis that I am correct in that assessment there is only one reason why he is squatting like this: it is comfortable for him (but see possible health issue below). This is very unusual but cats are individuals and this image on Twitter proves the point. Domestic cats vary tremendously in their likes and dislikes, their vocalisations and general behavior. There is a common thread of course because they are all felines but there is a lot of variation.

Men sitting on their haunches in Asia
Men sitting on their haunches in Asia. They do it a lot in Asia but hardly ever in the West. Photo in the public domain.

Sore bum

There is one particular reason that I can think of which is health related. His bottom is touching a cool tiled floor. It looks like the kitchen or bathroom. 

It is conceivable that he likes the cooling sensation because his bum is in contact with the floor. If that is true it may be because he has discomfort in the area of his anus. This may be because his anal glands are inflammed because they are infected or his anus may be inflammed. As the latter would be noticeable it is more likely to be the former. It would be impossible to notice which is why the owner is uncomfortable. She is in the dark as to why her cat is behaving strangely as she sees it.

The video below may stop working over time because it is embedded here and the original which is on Twitter may be deleted. It that has happend I apologise.

All cat behavior is normal and correct. It is never deviant. There is always a good and logical reason behind it because cat behavior is  largely instinctively. They react to stimuli and conditions.

The sore bum theory is my currect favorite. As this is a Twitter feed I'll leave a comment and a link to this article. When cats have sore or messy bums they sometimes scoot. The scooting behaviour is a bit like this only the moves with their bum resting on the carpet or grass.

Vet pulls bug from kitten's nose with tweezers

There has to be a warning about this video which you can also see on Twitter. It's a short video of a warble (the lava of a botfly) being extracted from the nose of a young kitten. It looks gruesome and it is pretty gruesome. You don't want to watch it if you've not got a strong stomach. 

Botfly larva being removed from a young kitten's nose
Botfly larva being removed from a young kitten's nose. Screenshot.

It is a curiosity because it's quite rare but in the US and Canada (also in Mexico and the neo-tropical regions) there is a species of fly, Cuterebra, which lays eggs near or in the opening of rodent and rabbit burrows. These eggs develop into larvae and the larvae can burrow into the skin of cats, kittens and dogs. They might enter the cat through the nose, mouth or a skin wound.

The lava develops in the skin as part of their life-cycle. It's at this stage that a lava has been pulled out of this kitten's nose in the most gruesome video on this page. If the lava is left to develop inside the cat the botfly larvae migrate to the tissues beneath the skin where they encyst to continue their development.

Some species of botfly larva migrate to different parts of the body. Once they have developed inside the cyst, which may take from 19 to 38 days inside small rodents and from 55 to 60 days in Jackrabbits, they leave the host and the lava develops into a pupa in soil or plant litter on the forest floor according to VCA hospitals. The cyst left behind can cause an infection and be more of a health problem than the parastic larva.

If a botfly is developing inside a kitten's nose as we see in the video then it is a misfortune that the kitten has become a host for a fly. Botfly larvae are called warbles. They look, as mentioned, horrible and the thought of them is horrible but they are a fact of life.

Allergy to your cat versus viral infection (common cold)

These days I get itchy eyes sometimes. I have a sniffle. The symptoms are like a very low level cold. But it happens almost all the time, on and off. It is not confined to the winter or the summer or any other season for that matter. How do I know if my sniffles are due to an allergy to my cat or because I have a mild cold that my immune system is managing to deal with?

Allergy to cats versus common cold
Allergy to cats versus common cold. Image: PoC.

I think it is very difficult to tell the difference between "the sniffles" (a low level viral infection which your body deals with and eliminates) and a low level allergy to your cat. The only way to find out is to remove your cat from your life for a while and see what happens. I'm not prepared to do that so I'm not going to find out!

Different cats produce different allergic responses. It depends upon the concentration of the allergen in their saliva which is called Fel d1 as you might know. Male cats who have not been neutered tend to produce more of the allergen and therefore are more likely to generate an allergic response in people predisposed to the feline allergen.

My cat is, of course, neutered but he is a male and it is conceivable that I might be is just slightly allergic to him. It's unlikely because I've not had problems with an allergy to cats, except I did once have a minor reaction to a stray cat who used to come into my home many years ago. I noticed the difference. He was not neutered.

I was also slightly allergic to a cat I adopted from my mother who had, at that time, just recently passed away. So I can be allergic to cats albeit to a very low level. I'm just wondering aloud. I am chewing the cud on this one because it is irritating to have these low level sniffles which I have to deal with using paracetamol.

I also have some antihistamine pills which I will take today.

Allergy to your cat VS cold symptoms

Apparently, there is a slight difference in the symptoms between those caused by an allergy to your cat and those caused by the presence of viral infection i.e. a cold. An allergic reaction causes itching, sneezing and a runny nose with clear drainage. A cold produces a runny nose, sore throat, body aches and sometimes a mild fever. The difference would seem to be that you can have a sore throat with a cold but you don't have a sore throat with an allergic reaction to your cat. On that basis I'm allergic to my cat!

The is also be a difference in the onset of the symptoms and their duration. Cat allergies start immediately, as soon as you are exposed to the allergen whereas colds require an incubation period. That doesn't really help me. An important difference is that common colds normally last to a maximum of about fourteen days whereas allergy symptoms can persist for months as you are constantly exposed to the allergen. That's a telling difference.

Two things that you can do now and/or in the future

Purina make a cat food which reduces the strength of the feline allergen. It is called Pro Plan LiveClear Allergen Reducing Cat Food. You might consider trying it if you are allergic to your cat. Another possible for the future (2 years?) is a single injection given to a cat which makes them hypoallergenic.

Facebook rules on not selling animals are being ignored

Facebook knows that they need to do more to stop the sale of animals on their website. This is a perpetually difficult topic for Facebook administrators it seems to me. They have similar problems in trying to stop pictures of animal abuse.

FB policy on selling animals. It is banned but abused.
FB policy on selling animals. It is banned but abused. Screenshot. It took me a while to find this FB page.


The first point I want to make is that it is very difficult to find Facebook's policy on listing animal sales on their website. If you search for the policy on Facebook you can't find it. If you search for their rules or policy using Google search you are more likely to find it. That tells a tale in my opinion.

Several people have asked for information about the rules but the responses are often very thin and weak and unhelpful. I eventually found an answer and I have provided both the rules and a Google search result in screenshots to tell you the kind of problem that Facebook faces.

Yes, Google search throws up many Facebook pages on which they sell animals. In fact is much easier to find Facebook pages where they sell animals than it is to find Facebook's policy on not selling animals! Something is wrong.

Animals for sale of Facebook listed by Google search
Animals for sale of Facebook listed by Google search. Screenshot.

For the sake of clarity, it is irresponsible to sell animals on Facebook and it is irresponsible to buy animals on Facebook. I know it is tempting as it is highly convenient and there are some beautiful animals for sale but you are taking a big risk financially and in terms of the quality animal you are buying. Also the animals themselves at risk of abuse and exploitation. You don't know who is selling them and how they were bred.

You don't know the standard of their welfare. Are the kittens diseased? Are they sick? Do they have any sort of health issue which may leave the buyer with heavy financial expenditure in terms of veterinary bills and emotional distress because once they adopt a kitten they almost immediately become attached to that animal. To see the animal in distress because of illness is distressing to the new owner.

This is an example of the risk you take if you buy online without ticking the normal boxes and applying due diligence to the process. I don't believe you can buy a kitten or cat on impulse at any time. It has to be carried out with great care because this is a lifetime experience that the person is buying into.

The trouble is that people do not consider it a lifetime experience. Some people do but the ones who buy on Facebook often don't. And also in buying on Facebook you are encouraging people to sell on Facebook. You are completing the circle.

I know Facebook don't want this to happen and their rules are clear once you find them but they struggle with enforcing the rules for the simple reason that there are so many users and postings on their website. The numbers are too big to control.

PETA's horrific outside cat stories should shock but no pictures please

PETA has to force change to improve animal welfare. They set out to shock people to achieve this goal. They want to force reality down the throat of the complacent public. There is apathy and ignorance about a lack of animal welfare in society. People live blinkered lives and PETA wants to open their eyes.

I agree with their philosophy but personally I cannot look at the photographs which accompany their 'horrific outside cat stories' on their website. These are photographs of cats that are truly suffering with terrible injuries and illnesses. They are normally feral or stray cats.

PETA is against the existence of feral cats. I get that too. They don't want to see feral cats suffering and in the past it seems to me that they have recommended that all feral cats be trapped and euthanized. There was uproar in some quarters about that and this philosophy does not seem to be universally accepted among all senior PETA staff.

I digress...because this your post is about forcing people to accept failure in animal welfare while at the same time not putting people off reading PETA articles. Personally I will not click on a link which describes 'horrific outside cat stories' on the PETA website and which are thrown up in Google search results. This is because I know there are likely to be photographs of badly injured cats

I cannot look at these photographs any more. They damage me. I cannot get them out of my head. I would ask PETA to use words as effectively as possible to describe the plight of these cats but to restrict the use of gory photographs because if I am being put off by them them I expect other people are too.

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