Thursday 31 March 2022

Cat does 'vacuum activity' jaw chattering while attacking a fly!

This is unusual in some respects because normally we see what is described as "vacuum activity" when a full-time indoor cat is looking out the window at a bird and they are instinctively compelled to practice the bite on the nape of the neck of the bird to kill it. Because they can't get at the real thing the domestic cat instinctively chatters their jaw and Dr. Desmond Morris calls this "vacuum activity". 

It's called that because it occurs in a vacuum namely there is no actual prey item in the cat's jaws. Some people call this a "tooth-rattling stutter". I prefer jaw chattering but you can name it what you like.

Note: This is an embedded tweet. 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.

The cat that you see in the video who is stalking a little fly is performing a highly specialised killing bite as if the fly is within its jaws. Actually, the cat is behaving as if he or she is stalking a larger prey animal, normally a bird. If this was a genuine kill by a cat on a bird, his jaws would perform a "rapid juddering movement as he inserts his canines into the neck, slipping them down between vertebrae to sever the spinal cord.

Cat does 'vacuum activity' jaw chattering while attacking a fly!
Cat does 'vacuum activity' jaw chattering while attacking a fly! Screenshot.

Clearly, this can't happen with a fly as a prey animal because they haven't got a spinal cord! They have an exoskeleton instead 😉. This fly is the only prey animal available to this poor cat who is stuck indoors I suspect. 

I am all in favour of full-time indoor cats but one of the problems as is very apparent in this video is that cats don't get a chance to express their natural desires which more or less comes down to hunting.

So, when the best thing they've got to hunt is a fly the cat goes after it. Employing all the usual tricks to hunt a prey animal including stalking the fly along the carpet and then chattering his teeth in that version of vacuum activity and finally pouncing on the fly but failing to capture it.

Wednesday 30 March 2022

Respect Your Cat Day 2022 originates in King Richard II's edict of 1384?

This is rather strange but some authors online are connecting this year's Respect Your Cat Day with Richard II and an edict that he made in 1384 in which he condemned eating cats. It was an early form of respecting the cat. You can see from the short clip from a book listed by Google that the peasants of the time harboured a lot of resentment towards King Richard and they took it out on cats. They killed and ate them by the thousands according to this extract. At the time there were food shortages. They called the King "the royal cat".

I do not know if this is true. However, it is a fact of history that in 1381 there was the Peasants' Revolt which was the first crisis of Richard's reign. He rode out to meet the rebels who were led by Wat Tyler. Tyler was killed and the revolt was crushed. Afterwards Richard began to take control of the government himself, building a group of unpopular favourites.

Richard II of England
Richard II of England. Image: Wikipedia.

The extract that I mention begs the question whether peasants of the time i.e. the workers of the day, ate domestic cats. Actually, at that time the domestic cat would have been an outdoor cat and probably better described as a community cat, a bit like the cats you see in developing countries today. It also begs the question as to whether Richard II liked cats and owned a cat. I can't find a record of this but it seems possible bearing in mind his informal title (if it is true).

If the peasants were starving, it is reasonable to suggest that they killed cats and ate them. It would be an early example of cat meat.

RELATED: 10 countries where they eat cat and dog meat (2020).

Today, more than 600 years later, cat meat is still consumed in more than 10 countries in the world. And I am referring to domestic, stray and feral cats. Yes, someone's pet is being killed and eaten somewhere on the planet as you read this, probably.

Exotic SH
Exotic SH - bicolor. The flat-face distorts the bone structure causing issues such as teat duct overflow. This is not respecting the cat. Image: video screenshot.

This, of course, goes very much against respecting the cat. Respecting the cat means allowing the domestic cat to behave as naturally as possible. This will lead to contentment. Respecting the cat means relating to your domestic cat is a cat and not a baby. Respecting the cat means not breeding unhealthy cats. And it means caring for feral cats and not just killing them as they do in Australia in the many thousands Humankind should care for feral cats because we put them there through our carelessness.

Monday 28 March 2022

Trigger warning! Read what SUNNYSIDE VETERINARY CLINIC says about cat declawing

The phrase "trigger warning" is very current. It actually applies to the Declaration of Independence. This is one of America's most famous documents and the National Archives has erected a trigger warning next to this founding 18th-century document of the United States according to the historian Andrew Roberts. He said that a framed explanatory text next to the document at the archives in London, UK now warns readers that the statements within the declaration are "outdated, biased and offensive".

And this is what we can expect from things said and done in the past. They become outdated, outmoded and objectionable. Essentially people become more civilised. Humankind is on a long journey towards being civilised. We are perhaps in the middle of that journey but nowhere near the end of it.

Declawing was invented in the 1950s in the US. It is now outdated and highly objectionable. There should be a trigger warning outside all American vets who perform the operation.

Within about two minutes I found an American veterinarian's website where they proudly declaw. It is the website for Sunnyside Veterinary Clinic in Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA. And they state the following:

"In America, most (but not all) veterinarians agree that when done properly, declawing can be a benefit to both the cat and the people involved.  Without a doubt is is a painful procedure, and absolutely must be done in conjunction with excellent pain control."

So, most vets in America believe that declawing benefits the cat. This is despite the fact that two thirds of declawing operations leave bone fragments in their paws. It is despite the fact that there is an epidemic of botched declawing operations because they are carried out too casually and quickly.

Dr Bruce Fogle, the UK's best-known vet says that declawing is barbaric. Agreed.

It is despite the fact that 99.9% of declawing operations are carried out at the convenience of the cat's owner and not for the cat's benefit. Yes, the reason why cats are declawed is to stop them scratching furniture.

How, on earth, can that be of benefit to the cat? This veterinarian is lying through his teeth. This veterinarian has no right to be a veterinarian. This veterinarian is in complete and abject breach of his oath which he swore when he became a vet. He might as well tear that up and stick it in the nearest bin. It is completely pointless.

In their oath vets swear that they will only do things for the benefit of their patients. This is obviously completely incorrect in the vast majority of veterinary clinics in America if you believe what this veterinarian states namely that most veterinarians agree that declawing can be a benefit to both cat and people.

Yes, it can be benefit to people who are highly sensitive to a domestic cat's needs. It can benefit people who are highly insensitive to the need to improve their cat's life and not cause them unnecessary pain, sometimes lifelong pain because of the declawing operation.

It benefits people who fail to understand how they can avoid being scratched and how they can avoid their furniture being scratched by alternative means. They dive straight in and declaw young kit a kitten instead.

I messaged this veterinarian to tell him what I think about him. Just for the record. And I sent him a link to a page I wrote a little while ago about the high number of botched declawing operations leaving fragments of bone in cats' claws. Perhaps he needs educating. I think it does.

Thursday 24 March 2022

Cats shot with darts - Kentucky, the worst state for animal protection

NEWS AND COMMENT - Jessamine County, Kentucky, USA: The video explains this sad story. It seems that some maniac has devised a new way to kill cats. Great, well-done. There's a guy on YouTube who commented on the video below. He said the cat killing was justified if the cat scratched a car! A mean: pathetic or what?

RELATED: Best and worst US states for animals.

He's suggesting that it is okay to commit a crime and animal cruelty if a cat scratches a car. This is bad thinking. And in any case, it is not the cat's fault as cats behave naturally and instinctively. If a cat scratches a car and the car owner wants to blame someone, they must blame the cat's owner for letting their cat roam freely in an area where there are maniacs; not the cat. Obvious really.

The police officer in the video says that the animal welfare laws of Kentucky are too soft. He believes that killing a cat with a dart should be a felony. It is nice to hear that from a police officer.

He also said that the dart was made from a golf tee peg. Looking at the video, I am not sure that he is correct unless this is a novel new kind of golf tee peg.  I stopped playing golf years ago so I may be wrong myself.

According to the annual U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report published by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, Kentucky ranks the worst state of all for animal protection laws. This indicates that the legislature of Kentucky has the least concern for animal welfare of all 50 state legislatures. Not a great endorsement of their competence.

You know what they say (the wise among us): the quality of a human society is reflected in their animal welfare laws. The poorer the laws the poorer the society. This is because in the best societies the vulnerable are protected the most effectively. A sign of a sophisticated society.

This is the male cat who behaved a bit like a puppy:


Monday 21 March 2022

Geography of domestic cat breeds

Most cat breeds originate in America. Here is a list of 80 breeds of pedigree domestic cat and the countries where they originated. The top country is by far America, as expected, and the second most prolific country in this respect is Britain. America is without question the greatest country for cat aficionados. It has the biggest marketplace, if you wish to call it that, for domestic cats.

California Spangled
The famous and doomed California Spangled. This was the world's most expensive cat at the time.

It should be noted, however, that the cat breeds represent quite a small percentage of the total number of domestic cats in America. I don't know the exact percentage but it'll be around 15% of all domestic cats in America will be purebred pedigree cats. The figure is around 10% in the UK.

The following breeds originate in America: Maine Coon, Mexican Hairless, Himalayan, Karakul (no idea about this breed), modern Persian (flat-face), Balinese, Ohio Rex, Kashmir (another breeder that I have not studied), Tonkinese, Bombay, California Rex, Oregon Rex, American bobtail, Javanese, Ragdoll, Snowshoe, Bengal, Ocicat, American Shorthair, American Wirehair, Exotic Shorthair, Somali, Tiffany, California Spangled, American Lynx, Malayan (no idea!), American Curl, York Chocolate, Ojos Azules, La Perm, Si-rex (I don't know this breed either) Selkirk Rex, Nebelung, Munchkin and RagaMuffin. Note: we have to add the other 14 or so dwarf cat breeds to the Munchkin.

RELATED: RagaMuffin Cat.

Cat breed originating in Britain include: British Shorthair, Colourpoint shorthair, Oriental shorthair, Cornish Rex, Havana Brown, British Angora, Javanese, Devon Rex, Scottish fold, Colourpoint British shorthair, Coupari (I don't think this breed exists any more), Tiffanie, Burmilla, Seychellois, Rexed Maine Coon and Suqutranese (another breed that I have never heard of). I am sure the last breed no longer exists.

RELATED: List of cat breeds with date and place of origin.

To the best of my knowledge, Australia has one purebred cat breed originating in its country namely the Australian Mist.

I list the remaining countries and the breeds originating in those countries:

  • Burma (Myanmar): Burma;
  • Canada: Cymric and Sphynx;
  • Egypt: Egyptian Mau;
  • Ethiopia: Abyssinian;
  • France: Chartreux;
  • Germany: Prussian Rex and German Rex;
  • Holland: Dutch Rex;
  • Iran: Persian;
  • Isle of Man: Manx;
  • Italy: Italian Rex, Colourpoint European Shorthair, European Shorthair;
  • Japan: Japanese Bobtail, Japanese Bobtail longhair;
  • Kenya: Sokoke;
  • Russia: Siberian: Russian Blue, Kurilian, Urals Rex;
  • Singapore: Singapura;
  • Thailand: Siamese, Korat;
  • Turkey:  Turkish Angora and Turkish Van.
If you can correct or add please do so in a comment. This list may be out of date or incomplete.

Source: Dr Desmond Morris: Cat World and myself. I added to the list which was made in 1992.

Saturday 19 March 2022

Ukraine: actress and her four cats killed by rocket fragment as she slept in 16th-floor flat

A well-known Ukrainian actress with a distinguished stage career, Oksana Shvets, was killed while she slept in her 16th-floor flat in Kyiv, Ukraine as a result of a freak accident, as it happens.

Oksana Shvets
Oksana Shvets. Photo in public domain (assessed).

The flat is in the south-east of Kyiv miles from any frontline fighting or any previous missile strike. Regrettably, a missile that was flying above her flat was intercepted by Ukrainian rocket.

The Russian missile exploded and broke into several parts. One of those parts flew through her bedroom window, while she was asleep, killing her instantly.

Shvets was a known cat lover. She fed the local strays and took them in. At the moment she was struck by this piece of missile junk, it appears that her four cats were in her bedroom, perhaps on her bed at the time. Accordingly, they died with her.

Perhaps we can be comforted by the fact that it must have been an instant death. Perhaps she did not even realise it for a second.

It is incredibly sad that this well-loved person had her life taken from in such tragic circumstances. There is another potentially good aspect to this, if it is possible to say that, which is that her cats died with her. Without her they would have struggled to survive.

Sasha, an IT engineer was in the next room at the moment she was killed and survived unscathed.  I think he is her son.

Natasha Tsytsiarieva, a neighbour next door, said: "She was a beautiful person, a real star, kind to us all".

A fellow actor, Anatoly Petrov, 66, said that it is hard for him to believe that she has gone as they were acting on stage at the start of the war last month. Her last performance on February 12 was of a classic manipulative, scheming mother-in-law in a Ukrainian tragedy. Petrov played the young wife's father.

Her body was laid out amid the broken glass in front of her apartment block, covered by a shroud. Her son Sasha, 35, knelt over her body in shock and distress.

This is another tragic and distressing snippet from this brutal, unnecessary and illegal war started by Putin who wants to annex Ukraine and call it Russia. He wants to increase in an instant the population of Russia because it is declining. 

And he wants to return Russia to the old USSR. He is scared of Ukraine's democracy. He fears that it is contagious and that there might be a revolution in Russia to depose him. He doesn't mind whether he takes possession of a country that has been destroyed by his forces. And he doesn't mind if it takes possession of a country in which the citizens universally hate him and therefore his objective is entirely futile.

There is no doubt in my mind that he has engaged in war crimes. I agree with Biden on this. Many others will agree with me too. We can only hope that when this is over, he is somehow taken to The Hague, Netherlands, for a trial.

But it will never bring back people like Shvets.

Friday 11 March 2022

How to avoid getting toxoplasmosis from your indoor cat's faeces

I believe that the disease toxoplasmosis is somewhat underrated by many cat caregivers probably because the symptoms in people and cats are often all but invisible. But many are asymptomatically infected. 

The 24-hour window

Toxoplasmosis is one of the most prominent detriments to the overwhelming benefits of living with a domestic cat companion. A lot has been spoken about the danger of getting toxoplasmosis from your cat's faeces. This comes from the fact that domestic cats being the primary vector of the disease shed toxoplasma gondii oocysts in faeces for a short period of time after they been exposed to it.

Toxoplasma gondii oocyst
Toxoplasma gondii oocyst

Although this is a one-off event covering a 2-week period it does happen, which is why domestic cats are heavily criticised by people who dislike cats. But the CDC in America tells us something very important about the shedding of oocysts in cat faeces and it is this. They say that they are only infective (i.e. capable of passing on the disease) after they've been in the environment i.e. outside of the domestic cat for more than one day and between 1-5 days.

Therefore, there is a window between the moment a domestic cat defecates in the cat litter to 24 hours later when their faeces are not infective in terms of the toxoplasma gondii protozoan. That being accepted, if a cat owner cleans out the litter tray every day within 24 hours of it being used by their cat, they will not be exposed to infective toxoplasma oocysts.

This is provided they have been careful in cleaning the litter tray the day before and ensured that no faeces remain. To recap, if a cat caregiver ensures that they thoroughly clean the litter tray daily (on a strict basis) they should pretty well eliminate the possibility of being infected by this zoonotic disease through contact with a cat's faeces. I think that is quite an important statement because it deals effectively with this mode of transmission which has been discussed a lot on the Internet.

No raw treats or unpasteurised milk

And what I said above can be supported by this further information. If you only provide an indoor cat with commercially manufactured cat food there is no possibility that they can ingest the protozoan in food. However, if you feed them raw pork or beef or unpasteurised dairy products which might contain the toxoplasma organism, and they might contract the disease. So, there's two sides to this preventative process. You don't let your cat ingest the protozoan and you prevent them transmitting the protozoan through their faeces as described above. Tackled this way I don't perceive a problem with this disease for a family who looks after a full-time indoor cat.

Clean it every 24 hours for indoor cats to avoid a toxoplasma gondii infection from cat feces
Clean it every 24 hours for indoor cats to avoid a toxoplasma gondii infection from cat feces. Photo: Warren Photographic.

Children exposed to cats and mental health when adults

Today, I also read about a study which stated that, on my interpretation, children exposed to the family's domestic cat are 8 percent more likely to suffer from some sort of mental health problem when they are an adult compared to those adults who were not exposed to a domestic cat when there are children. 

In round terms, what the study concluded is that due to the possibility of being infected with toxoplasmosis when they are children, they are more likely to have mental health problems because of the presence of this disease in the brain when they are adults. It's a relatively small added risk but it is, at 8%, recognisable.

Please click on this link when you have finished reading this page for a cross-post on this topic.

We don't need to believe in the study but we should at least take note of it. Clearly, the tip about the cat litter that I mention above is significant in eliminating this added risk. Particularly as it is probably not unlikely that children will be assisting the household by cleaning out the cat litter tray. 

If they follow the method that I have mentioned it should all but eliminate the risk and place children with cats on a par with other children who don't come into contact with a cat in terms of mental health when they are adults.

Black domestic cat sees off black bear - why?

The video uploader describes this as a "brown bear". But the bear looks black to me 🤞! I'm not sure. But the question in the title is why is this enormous black bear scared of this tiny black cat? On the face of it there is no competition. Perhaps the bear is not hungry but it seems to me that he or she is inherently, at least, slightly scared or unsure of the black cat. This is pretty obvious from the video. And it must be down to the bear's character. And perhaps the circumstances play a role in this behaviour as well.

My research indicates that black bears are inherently timid and with that background character this bear decided that it was just not worth the bother getting involved with this cat because there was the possibility of getting injured on the face.

And my research also indicates that black bears are normally afraid of any animal that aggressively defend their territory. Unless we are talking about a female bear defending their young. Once again, the research indicates that black bears are timid. This is in contrast to brown, Kodiak or grisly and polar bears who are far less likely to be intimidated by a domestic cat.

Black domestic cat sees off black bear - why?
Black domestic cat sees off black bear - why? Answer: the bear is timid and wants to avoid injury. Screenshot.

As you can see the black domestic cat maximises her size by positioning sideways on and arching her back. This is the classic defensive manoeuvre and body language. It certainly worked.

RELATED: Why do cats do the crab walk?

There is also the common-sense approach of wild animal predators in general in that if they can see the possibility of being injured, they my back off. In this instance this domestic cat could damage the bear's snout with multiple slaps which is something that he or she is unprepared to accept. 

Injuries can impair survival. What if deep scratches on the snout became infected? This would affect the bear's survival. Survival in the wild requires the bear to be on peak condition and the bear decided to play safe, I guess.

RELATED: Domestic cats are as smart as bears but not as smart as dogs.

Sometimes you see bears and cats becoming friends. There is an element of that possibility in this video. You'll see some extraordinary and unexpected interspecies friendships online. It almost looks as if the bear is curious rather than thinking about attacking. This is what I get from his/her body language.

Thursday 10 March 2022

65-year-old British floor-fitter drives to Ukraine to rescue his wife and her cat

Steve Lucas, 65, responded to his wife's desperate pleas to be taken out of Ukraine with Lucky her cat because of Putin's invasion which is destroying the country. Steve Lucas met his wife Anastasia five years ago while working in Ukraine. They tied the knot while he was in Ukraine but the problem is he can't get a visa for her to bring her to the UK. The UK has got quite tough since Brexit on immigration and that toughness has spilled over to presenting barriers for refugees from the Ukraine war. This is immoral and the Home Office should do much more.

65-year-old British floor fitter drives to Ukraine to rescue his wife and her cat
65-year-old British floor fitter drives to Ukraine to rescue his wife and her cat. Photo as per embedded credit.

Anyway, I digress. Steve lives in the UK and Anastasia lives in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. She managed to get a train to Lviv in the relatively peaceful west of the country where the Russian troops have yet to arrive in force where she met up with Steve. A family gave her and Lucky shelter in their home while they waited for Steve. Steve has cat supplies in his van such as cat litter and food.

Steve travelled 1,300 miles across Europe in his Citroen van. He travelled through 5 countries to rescue his wife and her cat Lucky. He said that it breaks his heart to know that Kyiv is being destroyed by the Russians because it is such a beautiful city. The area where Anastasia lived has been bombed and she tells us that there are bodies everywhere. And the Russians are killing women and children indiscriminately.

And what about the cat? Steve said: "She was adamant that she wouldn't leave unless she found someone to look after her cat Lucky". The solution has been found; Lucky is going to go to the UK with Anastasia. We don't know what happens next because there are continuing immigration problems even for refugees from war-torn Ukraine in France.

You may have read that the British immigration officials in Calais are making a mess of it. Refugees have to complete complicated forms and are being sent to Brussels or Paris as part of the immigration process. It sounds completely horrendous and utterly out of step with the circumstances under which these refugees find themselves.

Ukrainian refugees should be allowed through into the UK 'on the nod' without any substantial barriers. I believe in controlled immigration but under the circumstances UK can do a lot more to help. It is beholden upon northern European countries to do their best to help refugees. It will cost the UK and other European countries as is the war but we have to pay that price.

There may also be obstacles in getting Lucky into the UK as there are no longer pet passports for pets travelling from the EU to the UK since Brexit. The rules are complicated. Lucky will need vaccination certificates.  I have touched on this in an earlier article:

RELATED: EU’s bureaucratic pet transportation rules causing cats and dogs to be abandoned at border by Ukrainian refugees?

Pet food prices are going to go up because the products contain wheat

This is a quick note to remind ourselves that cat and dog food prices are going to go up because both Russia and Ukraine produce a lot of wheat and Putin's invasion of Ukraine has disrupted production and exportation of wheat to the rest of the world, which will force up prices of wheat and therefore the prices of products containing wheat which includes cat and dog food.

Wheat is more expensive thanks to Putin's war. Image by FelixMittermeier from Pixabay

Did you know that cat food contains a product called wheat middlings? Wheat middlings are the product of the wheat milling process that is not flour. It's a source of protein which is used in pasta and breakfast cereals as well as fodder for livestock and pets.

Ukraine is known for its production of wheat. The country is being devastated by the invasion. The price of wheat has risen by almost 75% so far in 2022 and is now at its highest since 2008.

Ukraine and Russia are top exporters of wheat. Ukraine is described as the 'breadbasket of Europe'. The price of wheat is expected to rise by up to 20%. Covid has also forced prices up. This is in part due to supply chain costs.

Russia and Ukraine combined account for about 25% of global wheat exports.

Postscript: there's an interesting article on the Truth about Pet Food website concerning wheat middlings. Susan Thixton who runs that site has a colleague who is an expert on pet food. His name is Dr. Gary Pusillo. He said that he's been seeing ergot alkaloid problems in supplements and foods containing wheat middlings and other wheat products. What is this?

Susan Thixton tells us that ergot alkaloids are mycotoxins produced by fungi of the genus Claviceps. I take that to mean that they are toxins produced by a fungus on the wheat which finds its way into the food that people and pets eat.

There was a recent big pet food recall in the UK because of contamination by mycotoxins. A lot of pets died and the story fizzled out which is usually the case because the manufacturers like to dampen down publicity which harms them commercially. The link below discusses the story.

RELATED: Is there a cover-up over mycotoxins in cat food in the UK?

Ergot problems in dogs and cats might be misdiagnosed as a bacterial related problem. Cats and dogs become ill quickly. The mycotoxins can cause convulsions, diarrhoea, excessive salivation, breathing problems and ataxia. Sometimes cats detect the contamination and reject the food. But if the flavour masking agents are strong in the food, they prevent the cat from detecting this toxin.

Wheat in cat food can also cause allergies in cats. Marks & Spencer in the UK are promoting a gluten-free diet with gluten-free products. Why are they doing this? It's been done for health benefits because there's a long list of health benefits if you take up a gluten-free diet such as eliminating bloating, reducing the frequency of headaches, reducing lactose intolerance and reducing joint pain. The most common source of gluten is wheat. That's the connection in this story.

Wheat should not be in cat food. Cats don't eat wheat naturally. It's a cheap source of protein - a plant protein - to increase the profit margin for pet food manufacturers. It's unnatural in cat food and there are these potential health problems associated with it.

Wednesday 9 March 2022

Spider Cat - ginger tabby demonstrates his prowess (picture)

Just another day in the life of a domestic cat although it looks impressive to many humans. To other humans it might look a bit annoying because you don't know what kind of damage he is doing. I do not think that he is doing damage, actually, because the structure on which he's climbing is suitable for climbing and I don't think it can be harmed by him. And he is having a hell of a lot of fun. It's the vertical movement which cats love. They have to have their daily fix.

Ginger tabby Miko the Samoan cat is Spider Cat
Ginger tabby Miko the Samoan cat is Spider Cat. Photo: the owner of Miko the Samoan cat. He lives in Japan.

I just like the photograph. It's nice and symmetrical and this ginger tabby is looking very much like Spider-Man which is a very popular franchised film currently. That is why "spider cat" is a suitable title.

We don't know what happened next. Cats are very good at going forwards and upwards but less good at going backwards and downwards. He must have shimmied down or simply turned around where he was and jumped down.

RELATED: Cats have shock absorber legs.

The poor performance of domestic cats in going backwards i.e. in reverse down trees is one reason why they sometimes get stuck 40 feet up. They race up with not a problem in the world and then scratch their heads and try and figure out how to get down which normally means going backwards. 

RELATED: Cat climbing trees – moving vertically has great advantages for the cat.

The very adept and talented domestic cats race down headfirst using the branches as breaking points. That is mightily impressive and they need their shock absorber forelegs to cope with this and confidence and courage in abundance.

Putin's troops are shooting up and shelling animal shelters in Ukraine

NEWS AND COMMENT: The madman (actually he's not mad but behaves as if he is) Putin is allowing his troops to shoot up and shell animal shelters in Ukraine on a rampage of destruction with no rhyme or reason behind it. Except perhaps just to terrorise the civilians and to kill and maim wantonly. Putin is rapidly catching up with Hitler as the world's worst mass murderer. The problem is that the West is fighting with one arm behind their back because they are walking on egg shells as Putin has nukes and the big fear is that he may actually use them.

Medical student in Ukraine flees with his two cats in his arms
Medical student in Ukraine flees with his two cats in his arms. Image: Reuters.

In a better world, NATO would go in and defend Ukraine but if they do that, they may start a nuclear war. NATO is also walking on egg shells. Everything that is being done in support of Ukraine is one step removed from the real support that they need to beat Putin which is to fight and I fully understand but it is frustrating. And in the meantime, the three major animal shelters in Ukraine are being attacked by Russian soldiers.

One of them was shelled and another was shot up by invading Russians. Many cats and dogs have been killed. There are many animal lovers who are assisting as best they can by running pop-up animal shelters of their own. They are rescuing cats and dogs as best they can. These are great people under severe stress is are the animals that they rescue. They are fighting against the odds, insurmountable odds and seeing animals injured and destroyed.

These great people are going to suffer trauma in the months and perhaps years to come because of what they've seen and experienced. The International Fund for Animal Welfare has stepped in and are doing their best to help these charities and the rescued cats and dogs.

RELATED: Russians shell and shoot up Ukraine animal shelters. This linked post has some more details on the shelters concerned.

Note: These are posts from FB which are 'embedded' here. 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.

Separately, cats and dogs are on occasions at least being abandoned which is wrong but can you blame the owners? They are terrified. In contrast, there are many Ukrainians who are struggling to flee with their cats and dogs in carriers or they simply carry them in their arms. The sight of that gives me the heebie-jeebies because what chance have they of carrying their cats to the west of Ukraine and then over the border to Poland? 

Is there not a huge possibility that they will lose their cats in the process. The noise and the strangeness and the fear that will be instilled in those animals is going to almost force them to leap out of their arms and run to their deaths.

Some Ukrainians are staying, hiding in shelters for long hours while bombs and shells destroy their homes above. Imagine what it is like in those shelters. Look at the practicalities. What about going to the toilet for both humans and cats and dogs? How does it work? It seems all but impossible to manage that kind of situation while maintaining sanity and health.

And if and when they try and flee along a safe corridor the Russians continue to shell. Recently the Russians offered safe passage along a protected corridor which ended up either in Belarus or Russia! The cynicism is beyond belief.

And as Putin realises that he is losing this war, which is remarkable considering the overwhelming force against the Ukrainians, he may do something desperate like push that red button or instruct his generals to push it on his behalf. This is the real problem behind this: the West is walking on egg shells because he has nukes and he has threatened to use them on two occasions. The brutal truth is that he needs to be stopped although we are not allowed to say that. For the life of me I don't know why because the solution is in the removal of Mr Putin.

To hear about animals being killed and injured and terrified in this way is heartrending. You can't even say the war is just or good if ever a war can be just and good. It is just the desire of one person who believes that Ukraine should be part of Russia. It's his dream and he will achieve it in any way possible with a complete disregard for the lives of both animals and people.

He will lose in the end because he cannot control a country of about 40 million people of this geographic size even if and when he does win this war. Ukrainians will resist permanently. And the country will have to be rebuilt. Who is going to pay for that when and if Russia governs the country? Russia can't afford to pay for it. They will be running a broken country with no economy and broken infrastructure and a populace who hate Russia and this madman Putin.

It is a total humankind f**k-up and it is the innocents who suffer.

Sunday 6 March 2022

7-year-old Violeta and her large grey cat Richard evacuated from Odessa, Ukraine to Poland (picture)

This is a nice picture of 7-year-old Violeta who made the 4-day journey from Odessa with her cat Richard.  It is good to see that she has a nice leash for Richard as the journey must have been fraught with problems and there will be more hazards to come when Richard might have the urge to run. And if your cat runs you might never see him again under these circumstances.

I have seen many evacuees from Ukraine carrying cats without carriers. I have a couple of cats, one in each arm held by an Indian student who wanted to go home.  He was a foreign student in Ukraine as the fees are cheaper than in northern Europe.

That would scare me as there would be a constant possibility that the cat would run out of fear if a bomb goes off and be impossible to find.

7-year-old Violeta and her large grey cat Richard evacuated from Odessa, Ukraine to Poland (picture)
7-year-old Violeta and her large grey cat Richard evacuated from Odessa, Ukraine to Poland (picture). Photo: Twitter.

Here she is again. This is a photo of a printed hardcopy in a newspaper which is why the quality is poor. I can't find the original at the moment. She has become a bit of a celebrity and so has her cat, Richard.

Violeta and her cat Richard
Violeta and her cat Richard. Image: Twitter.

Saturday 5 March 2022

"Ocean fish" and "white bait" is shark meat in cat food. Do you care?

A research study tells us that endangered sharks are being used as "white bait" and "white fish" and "ocean fish" in cat and dog food. These are generic terms. There is no attempt to specify exactly what this food is. And the question is whether cat owners would stop buying cans of cat food if the products were properly labelled and shark meat specified in the labelling.

Blue shark
Blue shark. Photo: Joost van Uffelen / Getty Images

A lot of people nowadays are concerned about the environment. They are concerned about marine wildlife and overfishing. The argument is that the pet food manufacturers should be more transparent and honest.

This is particularly so since the shark populations have declined by more than 70% over the past 50 years. They found through DNA testing that some of the shark meat in cat food comes from sharks which are endangered. The sale of their bodies and body parts are under some degree of control in terms of their trade as specified under CITES or through classification by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The most common identified shark in cat and dog food was the blue shark. The species is not listed in CITES or classified as threatened by the IUCN but scientific research indicates that it is overexploited and the fishing of it should be regulated.

Another commonly encountered shark species in cat food is the silky shark. This species is listed under appendix 2 of CITES.

The fact that there is mislabelling on cat and dog food which misleads purchasers also leads to the unsatisfactory state of affairs that many environmentally conscious customers are contributing to the overfishing of endangered sharks.

The study that I am working off in writing this article suggests that many "pet owners and lovers would be alarmed to find out that they are likely contributing to the unsustainable fishing practices that have caused massive declines in global shark populations".

Overfishing of sharks has a negative impact on ecosystems' stability and function. Separately, a study found that the removal of sharks from the oceans has been linked to the "amplification of detrimental climate change effects".

In the United States, the most commonly encountered shark species in pet food was the short fin mako. In the current study all the pet food was produced, canned or packaged in Thailand.

In all, through DNA analysis, they found nine species of shark in pet food. One proposition is that the shark fin trade is contributing to this. Sharks are caught for their fins only and the bodies are thrown away as I understand it. Perhaps these bodies are being used in pet food. It is suggested that this might be beneficial because the bodies are being wasted. I would suggest that the better course of action would be to stop killing sharks for their fins.

Silky sharks are often caught as bycatch i.e. they are not targeted fish but they are caught in nets and killed when fishing for other species. This occurs during tuna fishing for example. Once their high-valued fins have been removed their carcasses make their way into the pet food industry chain which possibly account for the high prevalence of the meat from this shark species in pet food.

In conclusion, they state that "seafood fraud and the deliberate mislabelling or substitution of products is an increasingly recognise global problem".

Would you change your purchasing habits if they listed shark meat on cat food ingredients? Do you read the ingredient listings? Do you care? Are you concerned about the endangerment of many shark species? What do you think about killing sharks for their fins and throwing the rest of the shark away? Lots of questions. I would like you to comment on this if you have time.

The study referred to is: DNA Barcoding Identifies Endangered Sharks in Pet Food Sold in Singapore (04 March 2022 ).

Wednesday 2 March 2022

Wide, double-sided tape is better than vinegar to prevent a cat scratching furniture?

This is a personal view. Quite a lot of websites recommend diluted vinegar which you spray onto furniture to stop your cat companion scratching it. It's diluted so that the human caregiver doesn't smell it but the cat does because they have a superior sense of smell. I don't like the idea because although I have not tried it, I am convinced that I would smell the vinegar.

Wide, double-sided tape is better than vinegar to prevent cat scratching on furniture
Wide, double-sided tape is better than vinegar to prevent cat scratching on furniture. Photo: Amazon.

The deterrent of vinegar for a domestic cat is its smell. Cats do have a superior sense of smell as mentioned but I just think the method is flawed. Both the cat and the human can smell things. The human is liable to smell the vinegar especially when they are sitting in an armchair right next to the stuff. Vinegar has a very noticeable and slightly unpleasant smell. You don't want to your home smelling like a fish and chip shop.  This seems to be likely if you have to spray three items of furniture.

Wide, double-sided tape is better than vinegar to prevent a cat scratching furniture?
Wide, double-sided tape is better than vinegar to prevent a cat scratching furniture? The tape was put on too late 😢 after my cat had scratched it. But I don't mind. He has not scratched it since the tape was added. This is an absorbent leather and unsuited to vinegar spray 🤢.

Tell me I'm wrong. Please comment and tell me that I am being too negative about this method.

Personally, I use extra wide double-sided tape which you can buy on Amazon and which is customised for the use of cat scratching prevention. It's effective and it doesn't smell! And also, it is almost invisible.

RELATED: How to tell your cat NO to using your furniture as a scratching post.

I've just thought of another problem with vinegar and spraying it onto furniture. If you have leather which is very delicate and not treated it may absorb the vinegar solution. This may stain it. Perhaps once again I am being too negative and seeing the downside and not the upside.

Like I said, I recommend products such as Amazon's Choice: Petslucent Cat Scratch Deterrent Sticky Paws Tape, Cat Furniture Protector. There are many alternatives. The one I mention costs about £10 in the UK. The role is far too long for you to use up so there's no problem in terms of quantity. It gets a four-star rating out of five with about two and half thousand reviews. I will call that good. It's not perfect because some people might dislike it and it is visible to a certain extent but it is effective.

Tuesday 1 March 2022

Siamese cat tries to start a play session with another cat in a novel way

Siamese cat instigates a play session with another cat in a novel way
Siamese cat instigates a play session with another cat in a novel way.

I have always believed that domestic cats understand hard floors. You will see many videos of domestic cat sliding along hard floors. They recognise its properties which allow them to use the floor to please themselves and some cats like to slide along hard, tiled floors. 

In this instance the Siamese cat has used the hard floor to propel himself along it on his back into his cat companion to ask whether they would like to play. The response cannot have been to his liking because the other cat jumped out of the way, somewhat shocked by what has just arrived. It appears that cats like the feel of the floor on their back. 

I think that this is a similar pleasure that domestic cats experience when they roll around on their back on the ground, normally loose earth in a flower bed or something like that. It's a pleasant sensation for them. 

My cat actually likes to roll around on hard concrete which has been quite roughly finished. That roughness massages his back and he finds it pleasant.

In order to get the video to play, please click the centre play button and then the button bottom-left! That is the way you get Google Blogger videos to play these days it seems to me. If it works normally, good for you.

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