Thursday 26 May 2022

Quiz: bottle-feeding a neonatal kitten

Quiz: bottle-feeding a neonatal kitten
Quiz: bottle-feeding a neonatal kitten. Photo: Alley Cat Allies on Twitter.

Here is a nice little quiz: one question, multiple answers, from Alley Cat Allies, about bottle-feeding a neonatal kitten who is less than a week old. The question is how often should she be fed? The three answers are as follows:

A. Every hour

B. Every two hours

C. Every four hours

D. Three times a day

My answer (and I will be happy to be corrected) is C. For larger kittens D is the correct answer.

RELATED: Can cats drink Pedialyte? Yes.

It might be useful to add a little bit of detail to that and so here it is. I'm going to quote pretty much from the paediatric section of the book Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook Third Edition.

"Small, weak kittens at birth are often dehydrated and chilled. Before feeding formula, they should be rehydrated by feeding a warmed glucose and water solution (5% to 10% glucose) or Pedialyte solution at the rate of 4 mL per feeding every 1 to 2 hours until they are warm and well hydrated. Then begin using the calculated formula and feed every four hours. Older, larger kittens can manage on three meals a day. However, if a kitten cannot take the required amount at each feeding, then the number of feedings should be increased so the kitten gets all the recommended calories per day."

Samsung use a cat to promote its new 200MP sensor for Galaxy S23

Galaxy S23
Galaxy S23.

Samsung has developed a 200MP sensor for its new smart phone. This means that the sensor has 200 million pixels. Professional 35mm SLR cameras, even today, have 24MP sensors and therefore Samsung is really pushing the limits. And they chose a cat for their advert. What else? However, increasing the number of pixels does not automatically increase the quality. There are other issues to take into consideration.

The advert shows a photo session of a cat and the resultant huge billboard taken from the photograph. It looks impressive but it seems to me that the sensor is better than the lens and better than the printing process. 

If you're going to achieve fantastic definition and detail, every step in the process has to have equal quality. Another barrier to seeing that quality is that we all look at our pictures nowadays on a computer screen. The computer screen's quality is limited by the number of pixels. Therefore, it is doubtful you will see the improvement in quality.

However, one advantage of such a large sensor is that you can crop out the centre portion which turns the camera into a digital zoom while maintaining decent quality even at very extended zoom ranges.

Nonetheless, I am delighted that they chose a cat as the subject matter for their promotion. It isn't the first time. Back in 2019 another smart phone manufacturer, Xiaomi, included a 108MP sensor in their Mi Note 10 phone. They used a cat as well in their advertising.

Samsung use a new 200-million-megapixel sensor in the new phone camera and use a cat to promote it

There is speculation that the Samsung sensor which is labelled as the ISOCELL HP1, will be in the new Samsung Galaxy S23.

Commercial cat food does not need to be entirely grain-free

For years now there has been an ongoing discussion about the quality of commercially prepared cat food and how it is ostensibly stuffed with grains to pad it out and make it more profitable for the manufacturers. Cat lovers want to see their canned cat food to be 100% meat because domestic cats are 'obligate carnivores'. The phrase 'obligate carnivores' is constantly used and it conjures up an image of flesh-eating. Cats can only eat flesh and nothing else. This is a misconception.

It is a misconception because the paradigm prey animal for the domestic cat is the mouse. The mouse eats 10% of its weight every day and it feeds off grain, seeds and fruit. When a cat eats a mouse, they eat the whole animal in my experience. My cat can eat a mouse in about 60 seconds and he certainly eats the stomach contents. He therefore eats grains. Perhaps commercial cat food should contain 10% grains but no more. Perhaps they put more than 10% in.

It is actually more pronounced than that because in the video on this page, which is a YouTube short, he clearly likes to eat bird seed which is grain. The seed was put into a birdfeeder and chucked onto the grass by the birds. My cat wandered in and decided to eat it. Grain contains nutrients. It is a source of protein and carbohydrates. Perhaps there is roughage in there as well. The point that I am making laboriously is that domestic cats eat grain one way or the other and therefore it is not so bad that it is in commercially prepared cat food. It is normal.

RELATED: Reduce domestic cat hunting by feeding them grain-free food and playing with them.

It is an argument that cat food should not be entirely free of grain as it is part of their natural diet. "YouTube Shorts" are designed to be very short videos made with a smartphone and therefore they are in the vertical format. TikTok works on this format and method. YouTube reformat the embedded video to a horizontal format. I'm not sure why. I think the video makes the point.

I had to make the video because YouTube told me that unless I made some more videos, they would stop monetising them on YouTube. I have not made a video for about 10 years! At one time they were highly successful with one of my videos being viewed 11 million times. They made many thousands of pounds in advertising. Advertising is far more profitable on YouTube videos than it is on websites in my experience.

I do not expect the video to be in any way successful. If it achieves a thousand views over five years I will be delighted!

Friday 20 May 2022

Woman terrified of spiders relies on her cats

Most people, male or female, don't like spiders and some are terrified of them. Cats love 'em! They are prey animals to cats. They instinctively chase and trap spiders. They end up dead due to all the smacking and poking. Although cats can be poisoned by spiders.

RELATED: Cats are not frightened of spiders but humans are. Why?

My theory for spider fear is because spiders move rapidly and can be dangerous because some are poisonous. There seems to be an inherent fear of spiders for this reason. It is almost as if the fear of spiders is inherited in the human psyche. It is handed down in the DNA. 

RELATED: Can cats get bitten by brown recluse spiders?

Weak attempt at catching a large spider
Weak attempt at catching a large spider. She wisely relies on her 2 cats who succeed quickly. Screenshot.

And logically spiders can present a danger in places like Australia (where the video was made) as there are some dangerous arachnids there. The rapid unpredictable movement is a problem too. You don't know where they are going and they could climb up your leg. They never do but the fear is present. Sometimes kids have a traumatic spider experience which affects them for many years resulting in a deeply embedded fear of the creatures. This is probably rare.

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Welsh administration say that a Ukrainian refugee cannot have her cats with her

NEWS AND COMMENT - Montgomery, Powys, Wales: You may have heard about the Homes for Ukrainians programme in the UK in which UK citizens put up Ukrainian refugees in a spare bedroom or a second home that they might have. There have been some wonderful stories such as one family ending up with a billionaire living in a beautiful home next to his mansion! But there have been some bad stories too of breakdowns in relationships between the host and the refugee resulting in the refugee leaving the home and becoming homeless. But by-and-large it is working well it seems to me.

Ukrainian family separated from their pets by Welsh quarantine rules.
Ukrainian family separated from their pets by Welsh quarantine rules.  Family photo.

But in this instance, there has been another breakdown and it concerns domestic cats and a pet squirrel. I have read that half the refugees coming into the UK from Ukraine have a pet of some sort, normally a cat or dog. Therefore, the arrangements as to how to deal with companion animals is vital to the success of the scheme.

As I understand it, the UK rules in general with respect to refugee pets are that the government will pay for any quarantine, vaccination and microchip costs. Once the companion animal has been vaccinated against rabies and had a blood test to confirm that they have developed antibodies they can then be released from quarantine and go into the home where the family is staying. 

This means that they can be reunited at the earliest possible opportunity while protecting the UK from a possible rabies infection. Rabies was eliminated from the UK many, many years ago. But it is fairly prevalent, as I recall, in Ukraine. This is a major problem in respect of importing pets from Ukraine into the UK.

The trouble is that the Welsh administration have devolved powers in this respect and they have decided that even if rabies antibodies have been detected in the companion animal they cannot be reunited with their owner and therefore they remain in a quarantine facility many miles away.

And this is what has happened in this case. A family escaped Ukraine in a Volkswagen Polo. They travelled across Europe with three cats and a pet squirrel. The mother has a daughter who is eight-years-old who is special-needs. There are three other children. They had barely settled into their new home when they considered leaving because their pet cats are being kept in a cattery 170 miles across the border in England.

Lena, 53, the mother is distraught about the Welch rules which bans pets from staying with Ukrainian refugee families. Apparently, she has lost faith in the system and would prefer to go back to Ukraine than be without her pets. Her daughter relies on the animals for her well-being. I guess they are therapy animals for her.

The UK government website does not state that the Welsh have different rules to the English. A spokesperson for the Welsh government said: "We have concerns about how the current home isolation process can be monitored and enforced effectively. It is for this reason that we have taken the decision to uphold quarantine in authorised facilities as the safest option to protect both animal and public health."

On my experience, the Welsh are more cautious than the English which accounts for this more cautious approach. I think it is unfair and unreasonable. I think it is over-cautious and I think they should have discretion as to what to do and make an exception in this case. It is incredibly sad that a woman who has escaped Ukraine is considering going back because of this rule that the Welsh are adamant in keeping.

Lena's husband is in Ukraine fighting to defend his country. She has an app which notifies her every time an air raid siren goes off in her home city. It is heartbreaking for her. The Welsh are intransigent and have prioritised the protection and health and welfare of all animals in Wales by reducing their risk of exposure of rabies over the health and welfare of this family and perhaps other families. It's understandable but I think if the UK generally consider the rules to be acceptable, the Welsh administration should follow them.

Friday 13 May 2022

Man punishes his cat for stealing fish by lacing cat food with alcohol

This is obviously completely wrong. The man is ignorant, foolish and his behaviour is immoral. I'm surprised the young cat ate fish laced with alcohol but no doubt the cat was hungry and apparently didn't mind the fact that it was dripping with alcohol. The man didn't know how the alcohol would affect the cat other than that it would put them to sleep.  He is effectively poisoning his cat and he thinks that he is being clever and making a hit video! The man is mad. According to his video the cat slept for two days. We do not know what has happened after that. 

Man soaks his cat's food with alcohol to punish them
Man soaks his cat's food with alcohol to punish them. Screenshot

A cat's metabolism is different to that of humans. Sometimes small quantities of a drug of any kind can have severe effects on a domestic cat. Apparently one teaspoonful of alcohol can seriously harm a domestic cat. So, this man was also reckless as to the outcome. And you should never punish your cat. His cat stole his fish and he thinks they deserve to be punished. This was not bad cat behaviour but bad human behaviour in so many ways. He knows that his cat likes fish and he allowed access to the fish. This was his problem not a cat problem. But he doesn't recognise it. Because, as mentioned, he's ignorant.


Note: This is an embedded video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source or the video is turned into a link which stops it working here. I have no control over this. I expect the video to disappear as he is rightly receiving lots of criticism.

Of course, the video, on Instagram, has received comments of objection to his behaviour. It just shows how ignorant a lot of people are when it comes to cat caregiving. There are millions of examples similar to this one which happen across the planet on a daily basis. Sometimes I think that humankind should not have domestic cat companions at all. There's just too much failure. Although we have to recognise that there are hundreds of millions of people who provide great cat caregiving. I just see too much failure however.

To compound the error of his ways he decides to video his cat abuse, cat cruelty, and upload the video to Instagram, which is the source of the video you see on this page. He is one of those people who thinks it clever to make videos of cat cruelty. I don't know where it has occurred. I think it is Ghana. He even adds nice music to the video as if he is entertaining viewers. We bloody hate the video and your crass behavior.

If it had happened in America, he might have been prosecuted for animal cruelty under the relevant state laws. But it's probably happened in a country where they either don't have effective animal welfare laws or they are unenforced. Another reason to be exasperated by humankind's failure in the domestic cat-to-human relationship.

Quick research indicates that alcohol is positively not a drug that a cat should be allowed to drink. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is adamant that this should not be allowed. It can cause ethanol poisoning. Symptoms can be vomiting, lethargy, ataxia, depression, diarrhoea, trouble breathing, seizures and in the worst cases, and death. In this cat is a small, young cat. As I stated and I will state it again, this man is an idiot.

Thursday 12 May 2022

Two disabled cats make each other happy

Through their friendship in this household these two disabled cats make each other happy. And the relationship has a nice balance. I called it symbiotic on but apparently the word "symbiotic" refers to animals of two different species and here we have two domestic cats with different coats. One of them is a tabby-and-white coat and the other has a calico or tortoiseshell-and-white coat. So, technically, this is not a symbiotic relationship but a mutually beneficial one.

In order to get the video to work you should click on the start button in the middle of the video initially and then move down to the bottom-left and push the start button bottom-left afterwards!! The video will then play. Sorry for the complication. 😎. I think I'd turn the music off too! And it is sentimental. I like the friendship they have.

The tortoiseshell-and-white coated cat has dead hindlegs because they're paralysed. This may have been caused by an injury to the spine or it is a congenital disability. Her close friend and companion, the tabby-and-white cat has no forelegs. As I understand it, they had to be amputated because she was electrocuted.

Super mutually beneficial friendship between two disabled cats is great to see
Super mutually beneficial friendship between two disabled cats is great to see. This is a screenshot from the video also on this page.

The backstories to both these injuries are very sad but the friendship is very warm and beautiful. Perhaps they need each other and they found each other. Luckily, they got on and it must have made such a big difference to their lives.

Disabled cats can have very good lives and one way to achieve this is to have a cat companion. Another way is for the cat caregiver to be particularly committed in providing a lot of entertainment and interaction. Provided their lives are enriched in a safe environment they will live a life as good as any other.

I am sure that you know that cats don't feel sorry for themselves if they are disabled. They just accept it and get on with it. It is one of the charms of the personality of the domestic cat. They are very stoic, enduring and great survivors.

It seems that this person is attracted to caring for injured or disabled domestic cats and in doing so she has made a number of videos on TikTok which have attracted quite a high number of viewers. If I am being overly critical it could be argued that it is not wise or clever to make videos of disabled cats in order to attract a lot of viewers. It looks like that to me. I don't think videos of disabled cats should be made because, at heart, they are abusing the disability for commercial gain. Perhaps that is way over the top in terms of criticism but it does come to my mind.

Here is another video of the two:

Wednesday 11 May 2022

7-year-old boy saves bird from attacks by family cat and dog

The boy had been given a couple of birds as a birthday present. They seem to have got out of their cage and as the family had a cat and dog already, these two companion animals were intrigued, particularly the cat, and we have the incident that you see in the video. The nice thing about the video is that the seven-year-old boy, who clearly loves animals, intervenes and does his best to push away the family cat who has apparently grabbed the bird in their jaws. Please note that these videos sometimes stop working because the original version on another website is removed.

Monday 9 May 2022

Royal Canin dental dry cat food is too smelly for humans

I have a problem with Royal Canin dental dry cat food. I have an open plan kitchen and therefore it merges into the living room. And if cat food is too smelly it tends to permeate my living space. And I found quite positively that Royal Canin dental dry cat food is too smelly for my liking. 

Too smelly as far as I am concerned. And smellier than Hill's which is a comparable product.

It might not be too smelly for my cat. In fact, I am sure that it isn't but it is too smelly for me because I can smell it in the room which is not right. And, also, it is smellier than Hill's dental, which is also a large pellet dry cat food.

I just wonder whether the manufacturers have ever taken into account how cat owners react to the smell of their products. They must make is smelly to attract cats who depend a lot on the smell of food to judge if it is attractive to them. But what about the humans?

Normally, I wouldn't mention the smell of dry cat food in a bowl waiting to be eaten but because Royal Canin smells so strongly it is noticeable. And it shouldn't be noticeable. Of course, dry cat food is in a food bowl for a long time as it does not go off like wet. This means the smell is more likely to have an impact on the living area from a human standpoint.

During the day when my cat generally eats wet cat food, I sometimes place a small plate over the dry cat food bowl to stop the smell permeating my living space. I'm not sure what more to say. I just think that the manufacturer has got this wrong.

Hill's create a dry cat food for dental cleaning which is perfectly acceptable and as effective as Royal Canin but it doesn't smell like the Royal Canin. It is acceptable.

This is just a short note. I have nothing more to say really but I felt that I needed to get it off my chest. Does anyone else have the same problem with this cat food?

Cat coats: solid-and-white - bicolor cats

black and white cat
Cat Coats Solid and White - Bicolor - photo copyright fofurasfelinas

This is another posting on cat coats. This time I discuss the impact of the white spotting gene on "solid" colored cats other than Tuxedo cats, which I have already discussed on this page. Tuxedo cats are very common and specific in their coat pattern so I've dealt with them separately. Both are bicolor cats meaning a cat coat of two colours, white and another solid colour.

Bicolour development - white spotting gene. Image: Sarah Hartwell.

The particular effect that the white spotting gene has on any one cat dictates the spread of white fur on the cat (or put it another way it restricts the spread of color). The cat fancy has given names to the patterns caused by this gene, which by the way is also called the piebald gene. It is considered a "semi-dominant" gene.

Bicolour faces white spotting gene. Image in public domain.

White spotted cats are one of the most common cats. The white spotting gene (represented by the letter "S" in the science of genetics) can change the appearance of any colored cat including tabby cats or tortoiseshell cats or a combination of the two (torbie). [See cat coats tortie and white]. When it affects a tortoiseshell cat, the cat is called a calico cat in the States.

Bicolours. The chart is by Sarah Hartwell of messybeast. Many thanks.

RELATED PAGE: White spotting gene charts.

A fine example of a cat with a solid and white coat is the Turkish Van (high grade spotting - see below). This has, of course, the "Van" pattern. Van is a town in the South east of Turkey, where the Turkish Van originally came from (including adjacent regions).

Another example of a well-known cat breed with a "solid and white coat" is the Japanese Bobtail. The Japanese Bobtail has a Bicolor pattern in both "solid and white" and calico (which is tortoiseshell and white mentioned above).

bicolor cat
Bicolor cat photo by tanakawho (this photographer is well known - see more of his work here plus the work of 2 other fine photographers). Picture reproduced here under a creative commons license.

I discuss, in brief, the workings of the piebald gene on the Tuxedo cat page as well as here. The effects of the piebald gene can be seen to varying degrees. The amount of white dictates whether the pattern is a grade 9 (almost total white with the colored fur limited to a few spots). This is called high grade spotting.

At the other end of the spectrum at grade 1 there is a very small amount of white. This is called low grade spotting. When the cat is low grade the genotype (genetic makeup in relation to the cat's coat) is normally heterozygous represented by the letters "Ss". Conversely when the coat is high grade (lots of white) a spotted cat is generally homozygous "SS".

Black and white bicolor Scottish Fold kitten from Russia (Siberia). Photo (excellent):  Анатолий Кузнецов.

The presence of the piebald gene results in white fur by causing special embryonic cells to behave in a defective manner. These cells are called "Melanoblasts" and they become the cells of the cats body that produce the granules of pigmentation that are embedded in the individual hairs. During the embryonic stage these cells migrate from the spine area. They fail to migrate properly and fully causing parts of the body to be without color. The wide variability of the effect of this gene is due, at least in part, to the presence of other unidentified genes called "polygenes".

The great Dr. Desmond Morris discusses bi-colour cats in his book Cat World. He tells us that such patterns are most common in non-pedigree cats. But of course, you will see this coat type in pedigree cats as well. It depends on the breed standard is to whether they are allowed or not. In the early days of the cat fancy the bi-colour cat was less likely to be accepted because they felt that they made a pure-bred animal look like a moggy.

This was prejudice against the coat but it was more likely to be accepted if there was some sort of distinguishing factors about the bicolour coat such as an attractive symmetry or the distribution of the colour was interesting.

In the early days of the cat fancy the black-and-white coat was referred to as a 'magpie cat'. And sometimes the bicolour cat is called a parti-colored cat. You will see "parti-colored" spelled in different ways. Apparently bicolour cats only attained championship status within the show cat fraternity in 1966.

You will see bicolour cats in longhaired and shorthaired cats and in many cat breeds such as the American Shorthair, British Shorthair, Devon Rex, Cornish Rex, Japanese bobtail, Maine Coon, Manx and Persians. These are just examples. There are others.

Here are some photographs of the solid and white coat pattern:

Cream and white - photo:
copyright Helmi Flick

Cat Coats Solid and White - Turkish Van - Photograph copyright Lazy_Lightning

Cat Coats Solid and White - Black and White Van pattern with a lot of white (grade 8 perhaps) - photograph copyright Helmi Flick.

Black with white (more than a Tuxedo). Photograph copyright Helmi Flick.

Cat Coats Solid and White - This is another black-and-white cat (hairless cat). This demonstrates how the white spotting gene affects the skin color as well. Perhaps more accurately it is the almost invisible downy hair strands near the skin which are pigmented.

Perhaps a more accurate description for this cat, a Sphynx Cat (or Sphynx-like cat) would be Black and Pink! Photograph copyright Helmi Flick.

Cat Coats Solid and White - Sources:
  • Beth Hicks
  • Messybeast - Sarah Hartwell

From Cat Coats Solid and White to Cat Facts

Cat coats tabby - all about, nothing left out

tabby cat
Cat Coats Tabby - Mackerel Tabby cat Chihiro - photo copyright fofurasfelinas reproduced under a creative commons license

Introduction - history

The tabby markings/color
is probably the most common, in either domestic cats or wild cats (e.g. Scottish wildcat). When cats breed randomly over a long period of time, apparently the coat color and pattern tend towards brown mackerel tabbies with green eyes (the most common "phenotype" - meaning the observed expression of the genetic make-up).

RELATED: Why are tabby cats so common?

This indicates a genetic predisposition towards what is probably the most efficient coat color/pattern in respect of the cat's survival. There are three tabby patterns: the classic blotched pattern, the striped or mackerel pattern, and the spotted pattern. The Bengal cat for example can have a spotted tabby or blotched coat, while the Egyptian Mau has a naturally occurring spotted tabby coat - the only naturally occurring spotted domestic cat it is said. 

The agouti ticked coat (the Abyssinian cat has the classic ticked coat) is a special kind of tabby coat. 

The Abyssinian has a special tabby coat. There are few markings unlike the usual tabby coats that can be spotted or blotched. This picture shows the banded hair strands. This photo is published under a Wikimedia Commons license. Author: Martin Bahmann 

As mentioned, you can see the tabby coat in wild cats such as the African wildcat and American Bobcat for example. However, I don't recall seeing a wild cat with what the cat fancy calls the "blotched" tabby coat. All wildcats appear to have spots and/or stripes or no tabby pattern. The blotched tabby appears to be a creation of the cat fancy or at least it has been "developed" and enhanced by the cat fancy (cat breeders). 

Tabby cat from Ancient Egypt (not far from Saudi Arabia) from 1500 CE. Picture in public domain.
Tabby cat from Ancient Egypt (not far from Saudi Arabia) from 1500 CE. Picture in public domain.

Dr. Desmond Morris, the great zoologist and writer, tells us that it is believed that blotched tabbies arose first in Britain in the Elizabethan era. As you can see, they arrived very late during the evolution of the domestic cat. For the first 2,000 years or so or more all tabby cats were spotted/striped (broken stripes) tabbies and all domestic cats were spotted tabbies. And therefore, all domestic cat during the era of the ancient Egyptians were spotted/striped tabbies.

Dr. Morris says that the blotched tabby became a winner. In other words, a favourite and he is not sure why they did so well. Perhaps they were more healthy or more fertile than the other forms of tabby cat or perhaps they had an unusual level of aggressiveness or assertiveness. Perhaps people just like them and informally bread them?

Development of the blotched tabby domestic cat. My thanks to the scientists of the study:  The palaeogenetics of cat dispersal in the ancient world.

Today, the blotched tabby is the most common form of tabby coat and the striped tabby has gone into somewhat of a decline. Of course, nowadays the tabby coat is just one of many types of coat that have evolved during domestic cat evolution. However, Dr. Morris reminds us that genetically and in reality all domestic cats are tabbies. If they don't appear to be tabbies it is because the tabby pattern is masked by the other non-tabby colours.

African wildcat compared with domestic cat. Image: MikeB from images in the public domain.

Of course, the tabby pattern comes from the original domesticated wildcats. The North African wildcat has a week tabby pattern. And if we want to visualise the early domestic cats all you have to do is look at today's African wildcats. From paintings created in ancient Egypt we see that the Egyptian cats had light or broken stripes. When they were exported over thousands of years to other parts of the world including Europe, the cats began to hybridise with their European counterparts and the result was a full-tabby coat.

Tests have shown that when the week-tabby European and African wild cats were experimentally crossed the hybrid kittens developed coat patterns which were much closer to the full-tabby pattern of modern domestic cats according to Dr. Desmond Morris. I have quoted him verbatim.

Ginger blotched tabby
Ginger blotched tabby. Photo: Pixabay.

All tabby cats have the classic M marking on the forehead in varies styles and disguises.

An example of a purebred and pedigree tabby cat would be the American Shorthair.  This breed looks particularly stunning in silver tabby. Another example of a beautiful purebred Maine Coon tabby can be seen by clicking on this link. The tabby pattern is often seen in Maine Coon cats. The cat associations allow a wide range of Maine Coon cat coat types (you'll see a great tabby MC on this link). There are some classic tabby patterns on wild cats. A good example is the tabby coat of the wildcats. These cats look very much like domestic cats as they are the wild ancestor of today's domestic cat.

Origin of Name

It is thought that the word, "tabby" originates in the appearance of silk sold in Baghdad (the Attabiyah region). This region must have been known for selling silks that had a striped appearance (watered - waved - silk) as incorporated into the name. Attabiyah is reference to the Latin attabi, and later the French tabis, which means, as I understand it, watered silk. As the striped and marbled tabby cats have the same general appearance, the word "tabby" was used to describe the coat.
cat coats tabby - tabby cat
Cat Coats Tabby - Mackerel Tabby cat Chihiro - photo copyright fofurasfelinas reproduced under a creative commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

The Genes

As mentioned, the wild cats have tabby coloration and patterns and the domestic cat is descended from the wild cat (see a comparison between the Scottish wildcat and domestic tabby). The pattern has 2 elements to it. (1) There will be a group of hairs in which the individual hairs have bands of color running horizontally up the hair strand. One band will be yellow and the next black. These hairs form the background color upon which the pattern is overlayed by the second group of hairs. The commonly spoken of "Agouti" gene (A) creates this banding pattern on the hair shafts. The banding on the hair shaft is due it is thought to a reduction in the production of the pigmentation granules or the production of a different and yellow pigment. This results in fewer granules that are spread more thinly throughout the hair follicle to give the beige/yellow looking color.

The pigment producing the black band in the hair shaft is called eumelanin and the yellow pigment is called phaeomelanin.

Tabby Hair Strand. Image: MikeB.

If the band near the surface is beige you get the light brown broken effect and if the black banding is near the top the black is broken up by the beige banding lower down. (2) The other group of hairs will be black because the yellow banding referred to above will have been reduced (repressed) to the base of each hair or removed entirely. This group is seen as the spots or stripes or blotchy patches of black or brown that forms the patterns seen in the pictures. This effect is a result of the presence of the Tabby gene (Mc/mc), which is present in all cats and so are the markings but often sufficiently suppressed as to be invisible.

I know a small classic tabby that has also solid black hair in swathes, and also black hair with one band of beige near the surface which creates a speckled look on black. All these combinations are mixed together in various proportions and in varying sized clumps to produce the tabby pattern. The pattern that we readily see is due to the alternation of solid color (black fur) with the banded fur to create a pattern as mentioned above. It is the Primary Tabby gene (Mc) that dictates how the pattern will shape up for the individual cat.

tabby cat
Cat coats tabby - Tabby cat. This is a great photograph of a tabby cat. I just had to put it on this page. It is reproduced under a creative commons license.

There are several varieties of tabby markings and of course as mentioned an almost inexhaustible spectrum of colors, contrasts and pattern variations particularly in purebred cats where the appearance of the cat is of paramount importance.

Update 12th January 2011: See an article on red tabby cats and a nice picture of a Maltese red tabby.


The torbie is a mix of tabby and tortoiseshell. Here is an example:

Gemma: Torbie Siberian Cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

Read about torbies by clicking on the link below:

Tabby Cat Picture

There are a lot of tabby cat pictures on this page! People search for "tabby cat picture" so here is one of the best of a rescue cat by Giane Portal on Brazil. This is a classic blotched grey tabby cat - perfect example. You can see an orange tabby cat picture or two on this page.

Dominique - photo copyright Giane Portal

Mackerel Tabby

silver mackerel tabby cat
Cat Coats Tabby - Silver mackerel tabby cat - photo copyright Helmi Flick

Cat Coats Tabby - Cream and red mackerel tabby cats - photo copyright Helmi Flick

Cat Coats Tabby - Red mackerel tabby cat - photo copyright Helmi Flick

Cat Coats Tabby - Brown mackerel tabby cat - photo copyright Helmi Flick

Cat Coats Tabby - Blue and brown mackerel tabby cats - American curl cats - photo copyright Helmi Flick

The type we probably are most familiar with is the mackerel, stripped tabby. This is considered the wild type of tabby pattern. The genotype (the genes producing the black tabby coat) is A (agouti) + B (black) + D (dense coloration) + Mc (tabby gene).

Breeders like high contrast striping that is nice and evenly spaced and the stripe should be continuous. The Toyger has this. The Toyger also has a beautiful base or ground color that is incredibly warm (orange almost). The base color comes from the color of the agouti band on the individual hair strand. The warming up of the ground color is due to selective breeding in modifier genes (rufus modifiers). Click on the link to go to a pictures of videos of cats many of which are fundamentally tabby cats (YouTube, channel is broadsurf the YouTube name of Michael at Picture of Cats).

Classic Tabby

blue classic tabby cat
Blue classic tabby - photo copyright Helmi Flick

red classic tabby cat
Red classic tabby - Maine Coon - photo copyright Helmi Flick

cream classic tabby cat
Cream classic tabby - photo copyright Helmi Flick

brown classic tabby cat
Brown classic tabby - photo copyright Helmi Flick

silver classic tabby cat
Silver classic tabby cat - This as you might have guessed is an American Shorthair cat. I have a post dedicated to the American Shorthair tabby cat. The silver is due to the Inhibitor gene I, which inhibits the production the yellow Agouti banding leaving the black to contrast more starkly with a gray/silver background.

The genotype (the genes producing the black tabby coat) of the classic blotched tabby cat is A (agouti) + B (black) + D (dense coloration) + mcmc (tabby gene). The difference to the mackerel tabby is the existence of the mc allele (allele = one of a pair of genes).

Spotted Tabby

brown spotted tabby cat
Brown spotted Tabby - Bengal cat - - photo copyright Helmi Flick. Bengal cats are known for a very high contrast marbled pattern, see some superb examples by clicking on this link. Spots are another form of tabby pattern. You can see this beautifully expressed in the Bengal cat and/or, for example, the Ocicat.

blue spotted tabby cat
Blue spotted tabby cat - - photo copyright Helmi Flick
cream spotted tabby cat
Cream spotted tabby - Exotic Shorthair cat - photo copyright Helmi Flick

silver spotted tabby cat
Silver spotted tabby - an example of the presence of the Inhibitor gene I - a Bengal cat - photo copyright Helmi Flick.

Research is still being carried out on the genetics behind the spotted tabby coat. It may be due to a modifier gene on the mackerel tabby. The striping of the mackerel tabby can break up and if that is captured and bred into the cat you'll get spots. In the Ocicat it seems that the effect is due to a dominant modifier of the blotched classic tabby pattern. Click on the link to see a video of the Ocicat on YouTube (this video is part of Pictures of

Ticked Tabby - Abyssinian Tabby

Cat Coats Tabby - Silver ticked tabby - Abyssinian cat - photo copyright Helmi Flick

Cat Coats Tabby - Red ticked tabby - photo copyright Helmi Flick

Cat Coats Tabby - Brown ticked tabby - photo copyright Helmi Flick.

Robinson's genetics says that the gene that produces the Abyssinian ticked coat is not the same gene as the tabby gene producing the classic and mackerel. They call it the "ticked gene". The authors say that the Abyssinian cat's appearance is a mutation of the normal tabby. The tabby pattern occurs on the head, legs and tail and very faintly elsewhere on the body. Breeders like to reduce the pattern further by careful breeding. The most frequently seen Aby color is the ruddy (red) - middle picture above - called the "usual". Breeders breed in a warmer color.

The full set of genes producing the well known Abyssinian coat are: AA (Agouti) - B (black) - D (dense coloration) - TaTa (ticked gene).

The tabby cat locus maps to the feline chromosome B1. It seems possible that the tabby gene has a homologue (common evolutionary origin) on human chromosome 8 or 4. (src:


This is an interesting bit of information about the tabby cat as camouflage, which comes from Desmond Morris's book "Catwatching". It had been proposed by a nineteenth century naturalist (I presume) that when a tabby cat is curled up she/he looks a bit like a "coiled snake". Once again this is a form of mimicry, one of a number of examples of the cats mimicry of the snake as an act defensive. Read about a cat hiss as another example.

A Torbie is a mixture of tabby and tortoiseshell. An example of tortoiseshell is the black tortoiseshell or just plain old tortoiseshell cats (this page has great pictures). Some people think the tabby cat is a cat breed.

See a Tabby Persian cat picture by Helmi Flick

Cat coats tabby - Photographs not captioned are copyright Helmi Flick and as follows:
  • Top is a classic tabby
  • 2nd is the mackerel tabby
Cat coats tabby - Sources:
  • Messybeast
  • Cat Fanciers
  • Beth Hicks
  • Robinson's Genetics
From Cat Coat Tabby to Cat Facts

Sunday 8 May 2022

Flying pets into Australia is a nightmare!

NEWS AND COMMENT: There is a Facebook page providing advice on how to import pets into Australia by air (Petsflyingtoaustralia | Facebook). It is called Pets flying to Australia. The reason why there is an advice page on Facebook on this matter is because it is very complicated and troublesome. And, in my opinion, it is complicated and troublesome because the Australian authorities have a great fear of the importation of wild animals which may escape their owner's home and prey on native wildlife species. 

My distinct impression is that the Australian authorities are very risk averse when it comes to any importation of any non-native species, domestic or wild. The domestic cat is non-native to Australia.

Kucing and Amal
Kucing and Amal. Photo: Brooke and John.

There is a story currently on the Internet which highlights this attitude. A couple of Australians, Brooke Jones and John Waskiw, had the temerity to apply to fly into Australia from Malaysia a couple of domestic, street cats. 

RELATED: Why are there no native cats in Australia?

The cats' names are Kucing and Amal. The importation by air process cost them AU$25,000 (US$17,692). And apparently their story is not unusual. Attempting to bring pets home means going through a lot of hoops and hurdles and includes paying massive bills, uncertainty, headaches and long waiting times. Clearly the authorities want to put people off importing domestic cats into Australia. That must be the underlying purpose.

John must've been working in Malaysia because it is said that he found Amal on the street near his workplace as the only survivor of a litter of kittens, the mother which is Kucing. When he was scheduled to return to Australia, he found that he couldn't leave the cats behind in Malaysia.

He fell in love with the cats. He said that he had no option but to bring them with him. He said that once you take them off the streets and look after them you have an obligation to care for them for the remainder of their lives. There is an argument which supports that. If you rescue a cat, it is said that you become the owner of that cat.

RELATED: Is it legal to own a caracal in Australia?

In another story, Cielle spent AU$12,000 to get to Siamese-cross cats to Brisbane, Australia on a flight out of Los Angeles. She described the experience is very stressful. She said that when they saw her 84-year-old mother they stopped screaming! I can sense the stress that that entailed.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Saturday 7 May 2022

Confident cat is a happier cat

A confident cat is a happy cat. Why? Why is it good to live with a confident cat? Before I tell you why I think it is a good thing, I would like to say that I am drawn to cats that lack confidence. I see their vulnerability and I want to make them stronger. That sentence gives a clue as to what I am about to say.

Confident looking Bengal cat enjoying himself
Confident looking Bengal cat enjoying himself. Picture: Pinterest.

You can apply the same rules to people and cats when it comes to discussing confidence. A confident person is less likely to be anxious about the sort of things that are around him and which affect him/her. As anxiety makes you unhappy, less of it makes you happier or more content. Also, a confident animal is more able to deal with what is thrown at him or her. This is good.

The same rules apply to cats. A confident cat is a happy cat. They are able to express their views and natural instincts and behavior. This is shown in positive vocalizations in asking for food, for example. A cat that asks for food in a positive way is a cat that feels at home and that has become a part of the family. 

Vocalizations are good. They might irritate a bit from time to time but they are a sign of a contented cat that is part of the family. It means the cat feels like an equal, which is what we strive for as concerned cat caretakers.

When you select a kitten from a breeder, pick out the confident cat that comes to you. On second thoughts, why not try this: pick out the timid cat who is frightened, adopt them and take them home. Love them and fill them with confidence to allow them to be happier. This is my preferred choice as an adopter.

Of course, it perhaps goes without saying that a cat's character is dictated by their genetic inheritance and the environment in which they are raised and live. You can't change the former but you can improve the latter and therefore improve their confidence.

The point is that some timid cats can be drawn out and made more confident but they will always remain somewhat timid. There is, though, a great charm in a timid cat and there are advantages. One springs to mind immediately: they are less likely to roam if allowed outside and get into trouble and as a consequence be injured.

It is the foolhardy, young and confident male cats who are more likely to be hit by a car on the road. Confidence can lead to unhappiness sometimes.

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