Saturday 31 July 2021

Cat frantically sucks his paw for comfort

Cat sucks paw for comfort
Cat sucks paw for comfort. Screenshot.

Like a child sucking their thumb for comfort, this domestic cat does the same thing except that it appears to be their paw pad. Sometimes when cats suck objects it will be their thumb just like babies. It is akin to wool sucking and human ear lobe sucking. These are behavioral issues brought about by being weaned too early. It is a shame. It is not great to see. Cats do it to calm themselves. It makes them feel better. It is probably a sign of underlying anxiety.

I fostered a tabby cat who was obsessed with sucking my hand or arm. He was a cute and nice cat but this was an unwanted behavioral problem which I think went against him as the adopter relinquished him after quite a short time.

Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

California earmarks another $45,000,000 to reduce killing in animal shelters

This comes on the heels of a prior commitment of $10,000,000. Unfortunately, its allocation is a missed opportunity to maximize lifesaving according to Nathan Winograd who gave me the heads up in an email.

What no-kill means
What no-kill means. Image: MikeB

In a Facebook post, Nathan Winograd reports on the signing by the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, of legislation that provides $45 million to help animal shelters reduce killing. You can read legislation if you wish by clicking the following link:

You got to be a bit of a nerd to read it but it is educational. Having read Winograd's Facebook post I was interested to read that initiatives like this one to save the lives of animals at shelters and to drive them to a no-kill status benefit the economy of the state, city or county concerned. 

They are 'revenue positive' as he calls it. He refers to a University of Denver study as an example which found that one city's no-kill initiative yielded over $157 million in a positive economic impact to the community over the first six years, which represented a more than 400% return on investment by the city.

He says that other studies have come to similar conclusions. There are direct cost savings apparently in not killing animals at shelters. In California a provision of the Animal Shelter Law 1998 saved 85,000 animals annually which corresponded with cost savings of over $3 million. These costs relate to the killing process and the destruction of the remains of the animals. Saving such as this have been backed up in the states of Florida, Michigan, Oklahoma and Minnesota.

Attaining statewide no-kill status in all shelters would appear to benefit the economy of that state as well as save countless thousands of lives of unwanted animals who become wanted and loved. That seems to be a win-win situation to me.

Rensselaer County, NY State, plans to create an animal cruelty registry

RENSSELAER COUNTY, USA - NEWS AND COMMENT: Rensselaer County is in the US state of New York with a population as at 2010 of 159,429. They are the latest jurisdiction to want to establish an animal cruelty registry and the county executive should have signed the ordinance into law last Thursday according to online news media.

Animal abuser marched to jail
Animal abuser marched to jail. Photo from video.

The database will store information on anyone who has been convicted of a crime related to animal cruelty and who is over the age of 16. Animal welfare organisations and rescues will have access to the database from a central website. This will help them to adopt out animals to suitable people and avoid adopting out animals to those who have a criminal record of animal cruelty.

Albany County has had an animal abuse registry for 10 years. Further, Greene County has also joined that the list of jurisdictions who have an animal cruelty registry. It provides the opportunity for these counties to create a network so that they can cross-reference their databases.

As more and more counties join this group of enlightened counties a central database could be created which incorporates all the information.

Comment: this is clearly an excellent idea. It could be argued that it should have happened many years ago. The more information that jurisdictions have on animal abusers the more likelihood there is of animal abuse decreasing. It will also help to control violence against people. The former is linked to the latter. There is always a need to improve animal welfare in all settings. Animal abuse is an unacceptable stain are humankind's activities.

Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

Prominent feline geneticist wants more animal testing on cats

NEWS AND COMMENT: I think that this is a troubling story. We are told by the New York Post that a prominent feline geneticist, Leslie Lyons of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery at the University of Missouri, wants more animal testing on cats because they have shared characteristics to humans in their DNA's "dark matter".

Prominent feline geneticist wants more animal testing on cats
Prominent feline geneticist wants more animal testing on cats. Photo: in public domain.

DNA dark matter refers to an estimated 95% of our DNA which is nearly identical to all other animals. The experts had thought that it wasn't important to study it because it contains superfluous genetic information but recent studies have indicated that it holds important factors in our development.

And Leslie Lyons says that cats are predisposed to certain genetic diseases which is related to dysfunctional genetic dark matter. As humans also inherit diseases it may help to do animal tests on cats to help understand how medicine can remove this predisposition to genetic diseases.

One reason she suggests that cats should be used more in animal testing is that monkeys can be expensive whereas cats are cheaper. She says that cats' "affordability and docile nature" make them an ideal lab animal.

I think I'll stop there and say that I disagree very strongly with her, not because she's selecting out domestic cats as lab animals to be messed around with causing suffering and distress, but because she obviously supports animal testing. She appears to be saying that cats are more expendable than monkeys because they are cheaper.

She is valuing animals not by their intrinsic value but by the monetary value. This almost hints at the possibility that she has forgotten that cats are sentient beings.

A veterinarian and someone associated with veterinary surgery, I believe, should not be promoting animal testing. Perhaps I'm being too idealistic but all veterinarians should be criticising animal testing. This is because they should all be supporting animal welfare of the highest quality. Animal testing undermines animal welfare. It supports human welfare at the expense of animals.

There is a strong case nowadays to do away with animal testing entirely because we have pretty well reached the stage where scientists can replicate animal testing without using animals. No matter how strongly you feel about supporting animal testing you can never remove from that thought process the hard fact that it is immoral. It is unethical and arguably it goes against the veterinarian's oath.

Man banned from keeping animals for 10 years for a second time

John McKie, 68, has been banned from keeping animals for a further 10 years. He was exposed by a concerned person who reported to the RSPCA that he was keeping cats at his property. In December 2013 he was handed a 10-year ban on keeping animals after he had been cruelly neglected his German Shephard dog, Prince. The dog was found collapsed and infested with maggots. The dog was taken to a veterinarian who euthanised him.

John McKie has been banned from keeping animals for the second time
John McKie has been banned from keeping animals for the second time. Photo: Newcastle Chronicle.

On receiving the report, the RSPCA visited McKie's home at Thropton Terrace, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7, UK, to investigate. Inspector Kirsty Keogh-Laws found three cats inside his home. She advised him that as he was subject to a ban on keeping animals, the cats would have to be removed.

A couple of days later McKie admitted to a fourth cat at his property which was also taken into care. Three of the cats have been checked over and rehomed. A fourth, an elderly cat, had health problems and regrettably she was euthanised.

McKie appeared at Newcastle magistrates' Court on July 16 and pleaded guilty to breaching his animal disqualification order of 2013.

Comment: I wonder if the RSPCA veterinarian has been a little bit too eager to euthanise the elderly cat. I don't know. I'm guessing. But in these sorts of cases, I suspect that it is not uncommon to euthanise a companion animal when it is borderline whether they treat the animal and rehomed them or euthanise them. It would be a matter of cost to the RSPCA. I wonder how often the question of cost dictates whether they kill an animal or treat and rehome?

And the story highlights the difficulty in enforcing animal disqualification orders. How are they policed? It seems that the person who found out that he had animals knew that he was subject to a ban. But you'd have to know that somehow and it is unlikely that you would. I wonder for how long McKie had these cats? Years probably. They could have suffered. They were at risk.

Friday 30 July 2021

Home alone cat turns on music and turns up the volume to the annoyance of the neighbours

LUGO, N.W. SPAIN - NEWS AND COMMENT: A home alone cat somehow turned on the music in a flat where they were living and turned up the volume. The neighbours were disturbed as it was that bad and they called the police. They arrived expecting to deal with a raucous party and difficult partygoers but there was no one home except a domestic cat. We don't know the name of the cat and we don't know anything about their owner but the news media has dubbed the cat "Feline DJ". News media reports that the volume was turn to the maximum.

Home alone cat turns on music and turns up the volume to the annoyance of the neighbours
Home alone cat turns on music and turns up the volume to the annoyance of the neighbours. Credit as per the image.

Comment: I suppose we have to guess how it happened. The cat jumps up onto a sideboard where the music stereo device is situated. They climb onto the device and push the on button. The hind leg is dragged across the volume dial turning it up. That's a wild guess but it's a possibility. It is worth mentioning that the cat must've been badly disturbed as well because they wouldn't have a clue why the noise existed or what the noise was all about. Loud, unfamiliar noise is concerning to cats or downright frightening. So, it wasn't just the neighbours who were fed up with the noise but the culprit who created it as well.

Six diseases that can be avoided if a cat is vaccinated

I'm taking this direct from Dr. Yuki Hattori's excellent book titled What Cats Want. Dr. Yuki Hattori is Japan's leading cat doctor. The book is recommended for beginners and those with a fair knowledge of domestic cat caretaking. It is written and illustrated very cleanly; easy to read.

Tabby cat having a stretch. Photo in the public domain.

The diseases that can be avoided if a cat is vaccinated are as follows:

  1. Bronchitis/pneumonia: this disease develops from a cold but becomes more serious and requires urgent veterinary attention. The symptoms are breathing problems, fever and cough.
  2. Feline lymphoma: this is a type of cancer affecting lymphocytes. The symptoms are weight loss and lack of appetite. This disease is often detected late.
  3. Feline viral rhinotracheitis: this is a feline form of the common cold as I understand it. It is passed on through nasal secretions or saliva. When a cat contracts the disease, they become a carrier for their life. The symptoms may only present later on. The symptoms are, conjunctivitis (a secondary bacterial infection after the initial viral infection), fever, runny nose and sneezing.
  4. Feline panleukopenia: a very contagious disease which proves fatal, often. There is a reduced white blood cell count and intestinal inflammation. The symptoms are variously: bloody stools, vomiting and fever. Kittens can vomit violently and have diarrhoea.
  5. Feline calicivirus: another sort of cat cold described as a 'respiratory disease' transmitted through contact with an infected cat. The symptoms are sneezing, salivation, weepy eyes. There may be stomatitis or ulceration of the tongue. Younger and older cats are most at risk.
  6. Feline chlamydiosis: a disease which is transmitted through contact with a cat who carries the bacterium. The symptoms are: cough, sneezing, weepy eyes and conjunctivitis.

Feline vaccinations are recommended. See your vet please! :) Although the protocols of cat vaccinations have been pared back over the years as vets were overdoing it in the past because of a desire to bring clients into the clinic where they could be sold services and products. Boosters have been reduced in frequency.

P.S. The Russians have developed a vaccine against Covid-19. Some zoos are vaccinating their animals. I'd expect a Covid-19 vaccine to be developed in Europe and North America in due course as there is a fear of a reservoir of the disease being created among domestic animals.

Five cat breeds that suffer from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

I can quickly think of five cat breeds that are predisposed to suffering from HCM. They are: Maine Coon, Bengal, Ragdoll, Scottish Fold, and American Shorthair. The list is not comprehensive. It doesn't need to be comprehensive for me to question whether purebred cats are more predisposed towards HCM than random read cats. And if they are, why? HCM does affect random read cats and is the most common heart disease and is one of the most common diseases amongst domestic cats.

Ragdolls can inherit HCM
Ragdolls can inherit HCM. Photo: copyright Helmi Flick

You probably know that HCM describes a thickening of the muscles of the heart. The disease is listed as genetically inherited in my books but I also read that the causes are unclear. A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Cardiology titled "The genetic basis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats and humans", states in the summary that "mutations in genes that encode for muscle sarcomeric proteins have been identified in humans and in breeds of domestic cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

In people, HCM is a genetic disease. It is a disease of the sarcomere. Sarcomeres are the basic contractile units of muscle and sarcomeric proteins are responsible for the strength, speed and extent of muscle contraction. So, this study is saying that a genetic mutation affects heart muscles, specifically sarcomeres, which causes HCM in both domestic cats and humans.

If it is a genetically inherited disease, I would have thought that no purebred cat would suffer from it because cat breeders could remove carriers of the disease from their breeding lines. That may be an oversimplification. Perhaps the disease is embedded so fundamentally within some cat breeds, going back to foundation cats, that it is impossible to remove this gene from the breeding lines. I just don't know but if that is the case it is surely a failure in the breeding programmes of the purebred cats mentioned in the first paragraph.

Perhaps HCM in these cat breeds and others is the product of selective breeding which is essential to the creation of purebred cats. Cat breeders have to select individual breeding cats that have the correct characteristics in terms of appearance as per the breed standards. Therefore, the breeding stock is reduced in number, which means the cats are inbred. Selective breeding encourages the inheritance of defective genes.

It seems that inherited illnesses such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are part of the package when you adopt some purebred cats. They go with the territory. However, I just wonder whether it is possible to change this perception and remove HCM from these popular breeds. I have quite a big page on HCM and Bengal cats which might interest you.

Bengal cats blighted with inherited HCM
Bengal cats blighted with inherited HCM. Photo: copyright Helmi Flick

The Bengal Cat Club (UK club) so that breeders do their best to eliminate HCM from breeding lines. They say that there is very little information about the prevalence of the disease in the various breeds. In other words, how do breeds compare with each other in terms of a predisposition to getting HCM? Perhaps there needs to be more data on that available through a study? 

They say that there are a number of causes but breeders are obviously more concerned with hereditary HCM. As mentioned above, it is caused by a defect in a gene coding for a particular protein in the cardiac muscle cells that make up the heart wall. When the gene is defective the muscle cells are abnormal and they do not contract properly. The heart produces more muscle cells to compensate for this deficiency which results in a thickening of the heart wall.

The upshot is that the ventricles of the heart cannot relax and fill properly, the mitral valve becomes distorted which results in progressive congestive heart failure, the symptoms of which are lethargy and reduced exercise tolerance and an increased respiratory rate.

They say that there is no DNA test at the time that they wrote their article for HCM and Bengal cats. The article is undated. They say that breeders should buy breeding cats from "echo tested lines". This means cats which have been tested with echocardiograms. 

When mating a female cat with a stud cat they say that breeders should use a stud cat who is ideally four years old plus and who has been scanned negative for the disease. It appears that HCM can develop later in life and therefore if you wait you can then detect whether HCM has developed or not. Also, do not sell cats for breeding from young parents as they may develop HCM later. That is another feature of their advice.

All Bengal cats should be screened with echocardiography annually, ideally. It is a very complicated subject from my reading of it. It is difficult to remove the genetic inheritance of HCM from Bengal cats. This probably applies to other cat breeds; the ones mentioned above for example.

It is a great shame that such a wonderful cat as the Bengal is blighted with such a profoundly serious genetically inherited disease. The same sentiment would apply to the other cats mentioned.

America needs an animal sentience law

I recently wrote about the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, which is a proposed animal welfare law going through UK's Parliament at the moment. It will enshrine in law the principle that animals are sentient. What this means is that the fact that animals have feelings and feel pain will be recognised in law and it will ensure that people, their policies and activities must not clash with the basic principle that animals are sentient creatures.

American needs animal sentience legislation
American needs animal sentience legislation. Image: Pixabay.

It is like a bedrock, a common standard, a thread that should run through all laws and activities in a country. When any new law or existing law clashes with this basic principle of animal sentience then it should be reviewed by a committee set up under the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act, as it will become when it is enacted.

It is a beautiful piece of animal welfare legislation (provided it is well drafted) because it automatically protects animals at a fundamental level. Of course, many people will object to it. However, the people who object should not be listened to because they are the ones who are abusing animals or who are indifferent to animal abuse. It is already far too late to stop animal abuse and exploitation. Humankind can do much better.

It is time that humankind stopped exploiting animals for their own benefit. I don't feel that we have the right to do it. And the world is moving in that direction. The world is catching up with my thoughts on this. Of course, the world is developing at different speeds which is a great barrier to harmony on the planet but the UK and America can lead on animal welfare.

This piece of UK legislation authorises a body of people, a committee, to investigate activities and policies which rub up against this sentience legislation. But the committee will not be able to make any orders or legal demands. They can simply advise and suggest. That is a weakness but it is probably a compromise. There will be many objectors, as mentioned, particularly the conservative elite or the rich Republicans in America (their equivalent).

They are the people who like to go sport hunting or trophy hunting. They are the ones who take enjoyment in killing animals. Fishing is a problem too. People think fish are inanimate objects but they feel pain. This has been proved in a study. One day fishing will be banned I suspect but it will be a long way off. This sentience law would impact angling for pleasure in my opinion

It would also dramatically and fatally impact the declawing of cats in America, which is perhaps the major reason why I love this proposed act of Parliament. If America had something similar going through their federal legislation it would spell the end of declawing, there is no doubt about it. Declawing is unsustainable in a moral society which genuinely regards cats as sentient beings.

This legislation will change attitudes to animals. Laws can do that. They infiltrate the minds of the citizens of the country to the point where they gradually absorb the law as a societal norm and accept it. This is one of the great benefits of well written legislation. At that point, when the principles of the sort of law are fully integrated into society, enforcement will be far less important and the standards of animal welfare would have been raised substantially.

In the UK, the sort of people who are objecting to it are those who are engaged in countryside pursuits such as shooting birds and foxhunters, even though foxhunting is banned but it still takes place under the radar. The farmers might object but provided a law is well written farmers shouldn't because it should not impact them unless they are abusing livestock.

The only people who would complain are those who are unjustifiably harming animals. There is never a justification for abusing animals and thereby if a farmer did abuse them, they should feel the full force of the law against them. An aspect of farming which may be impacted is the provision of halal meat. This is arguably a cruel process because the throats of animals are slit without being stunned. UK veterinarians wanted this to be banned or they wanted some restrictions placed on it. An animal sentience act such as the one mentioned would impact the production of halal meat in my view.

This law has the power to infiltrate all aspects of humankind's relationship with animals. It would take time for people to adjust because there is plenty of animal abuse even in the UK. But adjust they will and the animals will at least have an umbrella law protection.

Post-pandemic surge in cat adoptions in UK

NEWS AND COMMENT: There was a surge in dog adoptions, mainly purchases of purebred, small dogs, during the coronavirus pandemic. In the UK, the pandemic, as we know it, is nearing its end, we hope. That is the general consensus and it is due to the great success of the vaccination programme which combined with a high level of infections without bad symptoms in unvaccinated, young people has resulted in near herd immunity. Once we get to herd immunity you could probably argue that the pandemic in the UK is over.

Couple of shelter cats ready for adoption
Couple of shelter cats ready for adoption as a pair.

Click for factors affecting the success rate of shelter adoptions.

And at this time the Pets4Homes last quarterly report tells us that almost as many cats were rehomed in the first half of 2021 compared with all of 2020. The number rehomed this year so far is 156,193 whereas for all of last year the number is 179,298.

In contrast, dog adoptions have faded from their peak when there was this manic desire to adopt a dog during lockdown. The report states that the previous trends are in reverse with an increased number of available cats and dogs for rehoming. They say that the number of companion animals available for rehoming has risen dramatically. 

Comment: this appears to be a result of impulsive purchases of dogs resulting in a relinquishment of those dogs once the adopters returned to normal in terms of their employment. In short, it appears that some people adopted a companion animal simply for the duration of the pandemic lockdowns.

The report states that the slowdown in demand for dog has come about at the same time that there has been an increase in demand for cats. I don't know what we can make of that. I know we can understand why dogs were adopted during the pandemic. And we understand why they've been abandoned after the pandemic. But why are more cats being adopted at this time?

Perhaps things have got back to normal, more or less. Throughout 2020, which was the year of the pandemic, with social distancing and lockdowns, there was a surge in dog adoptions. That probably weakened demand for cats because the focus was on dogs. When those pressures to adopt a dog had passed people reverted back to adopting shelter cats hence the statistics mentioned above in the second paragraph. 

A key aspect of choosing cats over dogs is that they are perceived as being more suitable for working owners who are away from the home for long periods. This is actually not necessarily true but the belief that it is true has fueled the increase in cat adoptions now that employees are returning to the office to work rather than working from home.

Thursday 29 July 2021

Minghao with a kitten

Minghao with a kitten. I have chosen this picture because I think it's very nice although I'm not completely convinced about the way the kitten is being held by Minghao. Better not to treat cats and kittens as babies. 

I'm also not completely convinced that this is Minghao! :) The Twitter caption is not clear but I think it is. And if it is, Minghao is a Chinese singer, songwriter and dancer living in South Korea and a member of the South Korean boy group Seventeen. I have seen another photograph of Minghao with another cat so this guy likes cats. 

His alternative name is interestingly "The8". It is a very novel name. It is a stage name. The number 8 is liked by many people in China. When it is "laid down" (whatever that means - rotated?), the infinite sign appears. That may be partly why it is considered a nice number.

Minghao with a kitten
Minghao with a kitten. Instagram.

It's interesting that if you search for "cats" on Twitter you invariably get a huge number of tweets from South Korean boy bands. These are all very attractive, girly, or androgynous looking boys. I think this is a good thing. It is nice to see the boundary between female and male broken down. It is very much a modern concept.

It would appear that South Korean girls (who are the biggest audience for K-pop) like this kind of neutral, in-between the genders, beauty. And that is fine. Perhaps when they grow up, they may be more attracted to the more masculine (in the classic sense) male appearance.

They are groups that have been created artificially, I would say, by producers who want to make a lot of money out of them. I don't want to misrepresent the situation, and I am guessing, but it is likely that these boys are exploited. I wonder how much money they get out of their songs? No doubt the producer who created the band gets by far the biggest slice of the profit.

On an associated issue, there are a lot of celebrities who like to have companion animals. And they almost invariably create an Instagram account to tell the world about this. Sometimes the photographs are excellent and they genuinely are entertaining to their fans.

Of course, when a celebrity associates themselves with an attractive companion animal it helps to promote that celebrity. It also helps, incidentally, to promote the animal which is often nowadays a purebred cat, sometimes the Scottish Fold because this particular breed has been promoted by Taylor Swift. I have some doubts about the ethics of that because the breed has potential health issues. But that is another matter which I won't go into here.

Here's a bit more about Minghao. He was born on November 7, 1997 and attended Beijing Contemporary Music Academy. The boy band Seventeen debuted in 2015. Minghao was awarded the "Prime Minister's Commendation" from the Prime Minister of South Korea for his contribution to the development of the country's contemporary pop culture and arts.

Jeongyeon’s cat 'Bomb' copies her when she taps her leg

This is cool. Jeongyeon is a 'celebrity' as I like to call them. A created celebrity as a producer created the band of which she is a member. She is a 24-year-old South Korean singer and member of the South Korean girl group Twice. She obviously lives with a cat. Here we have her cat copying her as she taps her leg. It is a clear example of domestic cats learning by observation which they are very good at as they learn to hunt and become independent when living in the wild as a feral cat. Kittens learn fastest when observing their mother or a close relative. I guess that, instinctively, they trust them the most.

Jeongyeon on Instagram.

Note: this is an embedded tweet. It may disappear over time as it may be deleted at source on Twitter. If that has happened, I am sorry but I can't control it.

Jeongyeon also has two dogs: Nanan the poodle and Bbosong the white Pomeranian (source: The same source says "she also has a cat named Bami, a Scottish Fold cat, [who] technically belongs more to Jeongyeon’s sister, Gong Seung Yeon". 

Jeongyeon’s cat 'Bomb' copies her when she taps her leg
Jeongyeon’s cat 'Bomb' copies her when she taps her leg. Screenshot.

"The actress brought Bami into the family when he was 8 months old". This appears to be the cat in the video. She seems to have two names from her Scottish Fold: Bami and Bomb. The cat is a grey solid colour. There is a problem with celebrities adopting Scottish Folds probably because Taylor Swift adopted one. This breed should not exist arguably because the mutated gene that creates the folded ears can cause serious harm to the cat if the breeding is not accurate and ethical. How many Scot. Folds are 'culled' at birth? No idea. Perhaps none, perhaps some.

Wednesday 28 July 2021

You can't keep a cougar or a tiger as a pet in Marysville, Michigan, USA

I think it's great that a city (I think we can call it a city) with about 9,600 residents can make a law (an ordinance in the USA) which bans cougars and tigers as pets. They've also banned chickens and coyotes as pets but it is the cougars and tigers which interest me more. 

Marysville. Photo in public domain.

It's hard to imagine a cougar or a tiger being a good pet but some Americans do like to live with very exotic pets. They are not that uncommon. Perhaps the best-known celebrity to have a big cat pet is Tippi Hedren, the mother of Melanie Griffith (Hedren is still alive at the date of this post - she is 91). They kept a lion called Neil in the home. He looks truly domesticated in the photographs. But I believe that wild cats never make the same sort of pet as a domestic cat.

Back to Marysville. This town is about 65 miles north-east of Detroit. The new ordinance comes into effect in mid-August. It comes after some residents complained about neighbours owning chickens and roosters who crowed. I guess they went a bit further than banning roosters and chickens. The current ordinance bans "animals or domestic fowl within the city except dogs, cats, birds, fowl, or animals commonly classified as pets".

So, they've tightened up what is and what isn't allowed to be kept as a pet. And they have decided that chickens should be regarded as livestock and they do not belong in the city but on farms in the countryside.

Comment: I'm not sure about banning chickens as pets because I've seen some very nice relationships between kids and chickens. However, I'm certain that banning tigers and mountain lions as pets is an excellent idea. Although I would doubt that there were many tigers in their community! In fact, there must be none but it's nice to take proactive steps to prevent any possibility of that happening in the future.

Your phone will tell you when your cat is content or in pain

It's in development but a cell phone app which has been created using artificial intelligence can read your domestic cat companion's facial expression to tell you whether she is happy or sad, content or in distress and in pain. The technology is based on studies, recently conducted, which concluded that the various elements of a cat's face change position relative to each other when they are in pain just like the human's; although for domestic cats the changes are quite subtle as we well know. Cats tend to hide their pain and they tend to hide themselves when in pain.

Your phone will tell you whether your cat is happy or sad
 Your phone will tell you whether your cat is happy or sad. Image: The Times. Sorry for stealing it.

But the beauty of this application for cell phones is that cat guardians who are uncertain about how their cat is feeling can photograph their cat full-face (a bit like a passport photo) and then ask the software to analyse the image.

The software has been programmed with thousands of images of cats and AI used those images to work out their feelings. Software can then produce a readout for the owner.

The image on this page shows you some of the facial expression differences between a happy and a sad domestic cat. I think perhaps the better description of the difference is between a contented cat and a cat in distress or in pain. 

You'll find that a cat's face tightens up when they are in pain and their eyes become more squinty. In short, their face becomes more tense which actually is what happens to people as well. Although the domestic cat's ears become flattened and rotated outwards compared to in the alert position facing forwards and direct.

You can download a beta version of it using a desktop computer as I understand it by going to the website: Sylvester.AI 

You might like to click on that link to see where it takes you. It is said that the accuracy is as high as 97% provided you give the software a decent quality front-on image of the cat's full face. I think there will be some failures because some cats are camera shy and, in any case, it can be difficult to provide a high-quality image of a cat.

I think what I might do is write another post about how to achieve that. It does take some skill. The app has been developed by an animal health company in Canada. It is a collaboration between an AI company and a cluster of other companies involved in sectors ranging from animal health to sleep gadgets.

Do this for five minutes daily and make your cat happy

This is one thing that all cat owners should do daily to make their cat happy. It's uncomplicated, it doesn't cost any money and it makes the person happy as well. It's a form of mutual grooming. It is called allogrooming. 

But the point is that you are flea combing as well. It's a combination event. From the cat's perspective it is like being licked by another cat. The teeth of the flea comb are like the spines of a cat's tongue. It is delightful. But the added benefit is that you are checking for fleas and if you find one you kill them immediately. And every cat should be checked for fleas because they can be picked up very easily.

Even full-time indoor cats living in a clean home can pick up a flea because they can be brought into the home by their owner. Flea combing should be a way of life. Every morning at the same time the owner should flea comb their cat around the head, on the cheeks, down the back of the neck and on the shoulders. These are the basic areas where fleas congregate. 

The product of flea combing but no fleas
The product of flea combing but no fleas. Photo: MikeB.

You can check for flea dirt at the base of the tail. But I comb my cat all over with a flea comb. This also helps to make the cat glossier because it stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce more oil.

Like I said, it is so simple and perhaps can owners do this a lot but I suspect not. Many cats develop an allergy to flea bites which is devastating. It causes self-mutilation due to intense itching. Fleas are probably in the top 10 all-time cat health problems. 

And this something that anybody can do something about. And it brings pleasure to your cat. It is guaranteed. I would state with some confidence that every single cat on the planet will enjoy it provided it is done gently, precisely and with respect. It takes little investment but there is a big reward.

Ferry operator had no idea that there was a tiger on board with passengers

NEWS AND VIEWS: A Croatian ferry operator, operating between the Croatian island of Hvar in the coastal city of Split had no idea that a customer was transporting an adult Bengal tiger in the hold where there were cars and passengers. 

Tiger on ferry in Croatia
Tiger on ferry in Croatia. Screenshot.

It called into question the animal welfare laws of Croatia and/or enforcement or non-enforcement. The Animal Friends Association criticised the ferry operator and said that the incident symbolised "the terrible reality of wildlife protection in Croatia". They intended to complain to anybody and everybody.

The back story supports their outrage. The association had told the authorities 24 months ago that there was a Bengal tiger on Hvar Island at a private zoo which apparently was unregistered. The zoo housed a large number of wild animals and domestic animals including this tiger.

The zoo is owned by Ivan Gospodnetic. He allows visits and there is no entrance fee according to the report by the Balkan Insight online news media website.

Veterinary inspectors visited the private zoo in 2019 and noted some irregularities. They said that misdemeanour proceeding would be instigated against the owner. They disagreed that the zoo was unregistered. When are they going to start proceedings?

Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

Gospodnetic talked to the media about the incident with the tiger on the ferryboat. He said that the big cat was not part of his collection and was called Simba. He apparently was looking after the tiger temporarily and was relocating it to another private zoo on the mainland where they breed tigers. It's believed the tiger is now in central Croatia at this tiger breeding establishment.

The photograph which was posted on Twitter shows travellers on the ferry photographing the tiger which is in a large cage covered by a tarpaulin.

Comment: looks like it isn't only Americans who have a fascination with possessing exotic cats such as tigers. Private zoos are often dangerous and the animals are often badly treated. The bottom line is that tigers are exploited at private zoos. They have to be because private zoos exist to exploit animals. That's their raison d'être. 

I have a page on Croatia's animal welfare laws - click the link to read it.  My limited knowledge of Croatian animal welfare law tells me that they have reasonable laws but that they are unsatisfactorily enforced. This means that they have poor animal welfare in the country. Poorly enforced animal welfare laws are probably worse than having no laws at all because they present to the world the image that they have decent animal welfare in the country when they don't.

In general, animal welfare laws and their enforcement are poorer in the Mediterranean countries and Eastern European countries compared to countries in northern Europe and the UK. It is an attitude problem. They are more backward and less well developed. Less sophisticated.

Tuesday 27 July 2021

Unemployed couple on welfare face eviction with three cats, 40 fish and a tortoise

NEWS AND VIEWS: Simon and Joanne Graham live in Gloucester, UK and they are both on 'welfare' to use an American term or 'benefits' to use a British term. Their entire income is from welfare payments from the local authority. They appear to live in private rented accommodation but the landlord has successfully applied to evict them because he is changing the flat to other uses which is one of the grounds for eviction in the UK.

Simon and Joanne Graham with two of their 3 cats one of which appears to be a Ragdoll
Simon and Joanne Graham with two of their 3 cats one of which appears to be a Ragdoll. Photo: Samuel Port.

The local authority will not rehouse them until they are homeless. In this instance that means Simon and Joanne and their menagerie including three cats have to be on the street with all their furniture and other possessions before the council will consider rehoming them.

In the meantime, they have been offered temporary housing but they say they need assistance with respect to their animals. The report in The Mirror states that the council has offered "nothing for their animals". They going to have to put their cats in a boarding cattery while they are homeless and until they are rehomed which they say will cost £150 a week. They cannot afford those outgoings. They have found someone to take fish temporarily.

They will be evicted on July 31. The council understand that they are in receipt of universal credit, personal independence payment (PIP) and I'm going to presume that they also receive housing benefit to pay the rent on their privately rented flat.

Comment: it seems that the rules for payment of benefits and the rules for homing people in council properties do not meet this couple's requirements. Simon Graham had a brain injury in a car accident. We are not told whether Joanne can work. It is difficult to comment because their predicament does beg the question as to whether they could do more for themselves such as find some work. But I don't know whether that's viable or not. They might contact Cats Protection which is a very large cat rescue organisation manned by volunteers who foster cats. They may be able to foster their cats temporarily while they waited for the council to provide them with suitable housing.

You could argue if you were being a bit tough that Simon and Joanna are not really in a position to have this many animals as they are living entirely on benefits. To have three cats living in a flat while you are both unemployed surviving on welfare is a bit of a stretch. It is placing demands on yourself which could be avoided. You could argue, without wishing to be mean, that one cat would suffice. And it seems that one of the cats is a purebred Ragdoll (held by Graham).

I, for one, have always limited myself to one cat because I don't want the responsibility of looking after more than one cat at this time in my life. It is a matter of self-discipline at the end of the day. And I could afford to support hundreds of cats if I wanted to.

Let your cat train you to pet her the way she likes it and when she likes it

Let your cat guide you as to when and how you can pet her. This is all about that phrase that I constantly use "respect the cat". Part of the process of respecting the cat is to understand when she would like to be petted and how she would like it done. Each cat is an individual and their owner should be in tune with their cat's rhythms, routines, likes and dislikes. This is learned through intelligent observation. There are some basic rules in any case about petting a cat which I'm sure you know about.

Let your cat guide you as to when and how you can pet her
Let your cat guide you as to when and how you can pet her. Pic: Pixabay.

Domestic cats like to be petted on the head, on the side of the face i.e. the cheeks, over the shoulders and down the back of the head and also down the spine. They also like to be stroked underneath the chin because all these places are either inaccessible or hard to get to. This makes grooming of these areas by their human companion more enjoyable to the cat and more functional. Beware of overstimulation which can lead to a bite as the cat reads this as play-fighting.

It is quite easy to let your cat train you on what they like in terms of petting. The owner should use common sense and then fine tune the petting of their cat through observing the response to arrive at the style or method which suits the cat. Although, of course, most domestic cats are very similar in this respect. But some might be more sensitive than others. You can detect irritation in a cat's body language if there is too much petting.

The question as to when you to pet your cat will normally become clear to an owner because there are moments within the daily rhythms and routines of a cat which obviously become a time when petting should be carried out. So, for example, if I'm watching television in winter and I'm wearing a thick dressing gown my cat likes to jump onto my lap to keep warm. That's a natural moment for me to pet my cat. Indeed, my cat will request it, not overtly or through a meow but in a subtle but obvious way to an owner who is fully in tune with their cat's behaviour and character.

The bottom line is that the cat calls the tunes in the best interactions between cat and person. The interaction will last longer if the cat initiates it. A person should not foist their desire to pet their cat on their cat. Before you start you should know that your cat will like it because they liked it under similar circumstances before. You can't presume, though, that domestic cats always like to be petted because they don't. It's up to the owner to know when they are receptive to it and how it can be done.

I referred to being 'trained' by your cat in the title. This is effectively what it is. Cats train their human owners in a very subtle way because the person concerned wants to please their cat so they do what their cat wants. The cat gets what they want which is, in effect, 'training' the human. So, for example, my cat has learned that when I come back from the shops in the morning to buy a newspaper, I sometimes bring back food and within that food there might be some prawns for my cat as a treat.

He expects this treat when I return from the shops and I am aware of this. My cat goes to the fridge after I have returned expecting me to dish out three or four of large prawns. I know what he wants and he vocally asks for it. I want to deliver to him what he wants; he has trained me.

Emaciated bobcat with burnt paws rescued from Dixie Fire, California

AUBURN, Calif. (KTXL) – An emaciated adult male bobcat with burns to the bottoms of all four paws is now in the care of Gold Country Wildlife Rescue in Auburn, the organization reported Sunday. The bobcat arrived from Plumas County, where the Dixie Fire has burned. Caregivers are “cautiously optimistic” about the bobcat’s prognosis....

Emaciated bobcat with burnt feet rescued from Dixie Fire, California
Emaciated bobcat with burnt feet rescued from Dixie Fire, California. Photo: Fox40 FB page.

I don't have more because it is still the case that some American news media websites do not allow Europeans to read their articles. They could easily resolve this problem by complying with European Union regulations but they would rather bar Europeans from their website than do a bit of work.

And what is surprising to me is that this is the only story about cat rescue that I have found on the Internet coming out of the huge California wildfires this year. They happened last year too and they seem to be a perennial occurrence and they also appear to be getting worse. Global warming?

However, the news media appears to be disinterested in reporting on animal welfare. I would like to see some heroic stories of domestic cats being rescued or saved from the fire by their owners. But nothing is available to me on the Internet. This story about the bobcat is unsurprising and I would expect many other wild animals to have suffered in the same way. Obviously, the cat was without food because their prey animals had been killed by the fire. And equally obviously this cat must've been walking through hot undergrowth and burnt ground which is why their paws were burnt.

There are no videos about this rescue either. I am very good at searching for stuff on the Internet and if something was there, I would find it, I feel. Perhaps the biggest problem for the wild cats of California affected by these wildfires is the loss of prey animals. They will feed on a lot of relatively small animals living in the undergrowth and they have probably perished. The bobcat feeds on small prey animals such as snakes, lizards, birds, rodents, rats, the white-footed mouse, the pocket mouse and so on. I foresee a lot of death in these species of small animals due to the devastating wildfires.

Using padded-jaw traps to capture feral cats and then shoot them

One way that Australia's conservationists are controlling feral cats is to trap them in padded-jaw traps. They call this 'live trapping' followed by euthanasia but the euthanasia is a bullet to the brain. If the shot is accurate. Obviously, a padded trap is going to cause much less injury than the standard jaw traps which are excruciating. 

But they admit that these leghold traps cause pain and distress. They can cause injuries and of course padded-jaw traps will trap animals other than feral cats. And therefore, the experts have advice on how to use them to minimise distress and pain (

Feral cat caught in a padded jaw trap ready to be shot
Feral cat caught in a padded jaw trap ready to be shot. Photo: Chris Rumpf.

It's quite instructive. For example, once they are trapped feral cats should be killed as quickly as possible. This means inspecting the trapped daily. This prevents the animal dying from exposure or thirst and starvation. The traps can be set in places where there is some shade. Trapping should be carried out in reasonable weather conditions to avoid feral cats being trapped under harsh conditions. 

Trapping should be carried out when females are lactating, I guess to avoid trapping females with dependent kittens. If a female with kittens is trapped, the conservationist should find the dependent kittens and kill them quickly and humanely. That's interesting because there is no attempt in that advise to find homes for the kittens. Feral kittens can be socialised quite easily.

Padded-jaw traps can capture a whole range of non-target animals such as wombats, possums, bilbies, rabbits, kangaroos, ravens and magpies et cetera. Wallabies apparently experience serious injuries while trapped birds and rabbits can be preyed upon by foxes and feral cat. Ironic.

If a non-target animal is trapped and severely injured or suffering from thermal stress they should receive "appropriate attention". They recommend taking the animal to a veterinarian or registered wildlife carer for treatment. If they can't be treated, they should be euthanised. I bet the last option is favoured.

If a domestic cat is caught in a trap, they should be taken to the nearest animal shelter, pound or veterinarian to be examined for their injuries, scanned for a microchip and the owner contacted. Comment: I wonder how they compensate the owner if the cat is injured? Or killed? Do they compensate cat owners under these circumstances? They should do. Technically it would be a crime. It would be the crime of criminal damage but no doubt there are exemptions to the usual criminal law when conservationists kill domestic cats in the furtherance of conservation of native species in Australia.

Padded jaw traps should have no teeth. They recommend no smaller than a .17 calibre rimfire with hollow/soft point ammunition for euthanasia. They are advised also that they can use 12-gauge shotguns with shot size of BB or AAA. The bloody world of conservation in Australia. The feral cat is their arch-enemy.

Australians use thermal imaging cameras and rifles to conserve bilby and kowari populations

It is reported that bilby and kowari populations in Queensland's outback are increasing to the delight of conservationists thanks to a more efficient feral cat control programme which includes using thermal imaging cameras and, I presume, rifles to kill them. Both these animals are marsupials and they've spotted them in greater numbers this year. The bilby is endangered. The Department of Environment and Science recorded 471 bilbies at Astrebla Downs National Park.

A bilby in Currawinya National Park makes its way to its burrow
A bilby in Currawinya National Park makes its way to its burrow. Photo: Cassandra Arkinstall

They also spotted a record 14 kowaris. This is a small carnivorous desert marsupial regarded as vulnerable in terms of conservation in Queensland.

They put the increasing population numbers down to better control of feral cats. The Department said that they have removed more than 3,000 feral cats from the park since 2013. As mentioned in the title, they use thermal imaging cameras rather than spotlights to pick out the cats. 

This has made killing them far more efficient. The news report does not tell us how they kill the cats but it has to be by shooting. If they're using thermal imaging cameras to spot them then the next step is to shoot them. Of course, it doesn't matter how they kill them and one of the most common ways is poisoning. The next most efficient method of shooting. It is raw slaughter. The issue of causing pain and suffering is irrelevant.

Apparently, the cats got used to spotlights. They learned to avoid them as they were associated with death, but thermal imaging has outfoxed them. A senior ranger, Barry Nolan, said: "Once the earth loses its heat that it got from the sun during the day, anything that provides body heat glows quite well under thermal technology, even if it's behind vegetation and stuff."

The video shows the bilby:

Monday 26 July 2021

Cats get Covid-19 more often than dogs

There have been more studies on cats and dogs in respect of the coronavirus (Covid-19) recently, and they clearly point to the fact that domestic cats are more susceptible to getting the disease than domestic dogs.

Cats contract Covid-19 more often than dogs
Cats contract Covid-19 more often than dogs. Montage: MikeB

In one study published on the Science website titled: Susceptibility of ferrets, cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals to SARS-coronavirus 2, they ranked pets in order of their susceptibility to contracting the coronavirus (SARS-Cov-2). 

In the summary they say that the virus infects the upper respiratory tracts of ferrets. In cats the virus "replicated in the nose and throat and caused inflammatory pathology deep in the respiratory tract". But they say that "airborne transmission did not occur between pairs of cats". 

In dogs, viral replication was not as prevalent as in cats and they had a low susceptibility to the virus. Pigs, chickens and ducks were not susceptible to SARS-Cov-2.

In a second study from the University of Minnesota they looked at how common the virus is in domestic cats and dogs i.e. the prevalence of the disease in these pets.

They found that antibodies were present in 8% of domestic cats for the virus while less than 1% of dogs had these antibodies. This study backs up the earlier one namely that dogs are less susceptible to contracting the disease in cats. When an animal has antibodies to a virus it means that they've had the disease and their immune system has produced antibodies to combat the disease. This is how vaccines work.

The conclusion from these two studies is clear namely that cats contract the disease far more easily than dogs. Once again, it is strongly suggested that cats do not transmit the disease to others including other cats. Or there appears to be a low likelihood of this happening. I don't have the name of the second study but the lead co-author was Hinh Ly which may help people to search for it.

Parasites that can infest full-time indoor cats

It may surprise people to know that full-time indoor cats can be infested by a range of parasites. On this page I will briefly list them and how they come to infect full-time indoor cats. I'm not going to go over any other aspect of this discussion in this article but by all means click on the links below to read more about parasites.


Fleas are the obvious parasite which can infest indoor cats because they can be brought by their owner into the home. Or visitors to the home can bring one in or if there are other pets in the home which go outside, they may bring a flea inside the home. They will then jump onto the cat. The cat can ingest them when grooming. They can bite the cat causing a flea bite allergy which is most distressing. They transmit tapeworms to domestic cats.

Cat flea the most common cat parasite which can infest a full-time indoor cat
Cat flea the most common cat parasite which can infest a full-time indoor cat. Photo: Shutterstock.

This brings me nicely to the next parasite which is tapeworms. This is a gastrointestinal parasite and the most common internal parasites in adult cats. They live in the small intestines and can be several feet in length. You sometimes see body segments containing the eggs passed in faeces and sometimes attached to the fur on the cat's backside. They are transmitted to cats by an intermediate host. One species of tapeworm is acquired from fleas or lice. Another species of tapeworm is acquired by eating rodents, uncooked meat and raw freshwater fish.

Roundworms are acquired by cats by ingesting the eggs. They can do this inside the home by eating a host animal such as a beetle or rodent which has acquired encysted larvae in its tissues.

Hookworms can be acquired by full-time indoor cat when the cat eats a mouse which is a host to hookworm larvae.

There are some rare worm parasites such as trichinosis which is acquired by ingesting uncooked pork which contains cysts. People acquire this parasite. It would be rare for a cat to acquire this parasite because they would have to eat uncooked pork but it is possible because sometimes people give cats treats such as uncooked meat. They may do so in order to attempt to provide their cat with a raw diet which some people consider to be beneficial.

Stomach worms most likely infect cats living in the south-western United States. Cats acquire them by eating beetles, cockroaches, crickets or lizards. Insects are on the domestic cat's menu.

Protozoan parasites can infect full-time indoor cats. These are single-celled creatures invisible to the naked eye. The first is giardiasis which is acquired by drinking water from streams and other sources that are contaminated with infected cysts. This may affect a full-time indoor cat if the cat it has access to an enclosure outside the home.

Toxoplasmosis is a very well-known protozoan parasite which has been endlessly discussed on the Internet. Although normally cats acquire this disease from consuming infected birds or rodents, they can also get it from eating raw or undercooked pork, beef, mutton or veal and/or unpasteurised dairy products.

Coccodiosis as a gastrointestinal parasite which usually targets young kittens. There are several species. One of the species, Cystoisospora is acquired by kittens from their mother who are the carriers. The mother would have acquired it when they eat a host animal such as a bird. This would be unlikely to happen if the owner keeps all their cats indoors full-time but it is conceivable.

Heartworms are delivered to a cat through a mosquito bite as larvae are in the mouthparts. The larvae burrow beneath the skin.

This list is probably quite comprehensive but I may have inadvertently have missed out one of the parasite species. As you can see a full-time indoor cat can acquire parasites and a veterinarian would recommend that you treat your cat for parasites. 

There are various ways of doing this. The most common parasite is fleas and provided you keep your home clean and tidy my advice is to flea comb your cat daily or twice daily to check for fleas. In this way you can keep fleas down without any harmful insecticides being deposited on your cat. 

My cat hunts mice and he regularly brings them into the home. He also kills birds occasionally but rarely. In the six years of his life he's only had two fleas. I combed them out and killed them immediately. 

It is possible to manage and eradicate fleas without harmful insecticides but you make your own choice on that. If the infestation is bad you will have to treat the entire home and treat your cat with an insecticide. You might like to consider using diatomaceous earth which destroys the exoskeleton of fleas and kills them that way. Click on the link to see what it is all about.

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