Tuesday 31 January 2023

Transporting your cat on a car roof rack! Why?

Scenario: you want to take your cat to the veterinarian or some other place. You put your cat in a cat carrier and you strap the carrier to the roof rack of your car rather than putting the carrier on the front seat next to you where you can keep an eye on it and your cat. Why should someone put their cat on the roof rack? But this is exactly what a Queensland, Australia motorist did recently and it was photographed.

Cat in carrier attached to car roof rack
Cat in carrier attached to car roof rack. Image: Reddit.com

The car was seen on a busy road in a Brisbane suburb. You can't see the cat in the photograph but the photographer said that there was a terrified cat inside the carrier.

The witness said that there was room inside the car. She couldn't see a reason why it was strapped to the roof rack. Perhaps she was wrong? Perhaps the owner of the vehicle was allergic to cats and he was doing the cat's owner a favour by taking him/her to their destination?

The general reaction from people is outrage according to the news media. It is probably more bemusement and concern because there is no need to do this on the face of it and it does jeopardise the cat' safety.

The cat's safety is dependent upon how well the carrier is strapped to the roof rack. It is certainly less safe to put a cat on a roof rack than it is to put the animal inside the car. Although, we are told the weather conditions were benign and I suspect that the car wasn't going that fast.

That said, perhaps the car went out into the countryside afterwards. We don't know. The RSPCA in Australia apparently has a regulation which states that cats should travel in a secure carrier and the carrier should not be placed into the boot of a car. There are no specific regulations about attaching the carrier to a roof rack apparently.

Although regulations vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction within Australia, the general law is that cats should be housed in an appropriate area within the vehicle. That's really about common sense.

The discussion about the photograph indicates divided opinions. Some people have said that what we see in the photograph is no different to placing a cat in the back of an open storage area of an SUV. I'm referring to those "trucks" we see in America are a lot where there is a functional storage area open to the elements behind the driver's cab.

But I see a difference. Placing a cat in that area of an SUV is safer than attaching it to a roof rack on top of a car where it could become detached and fall off. In the "tray" of an SUV there is no possibility of the carrier falling off the vehicle.

This is probably a story out of nothing. There might be a genuine reason why this driver has the cat on his roof rack. The only reason that I can think of that works is the one that I've mentioned: he or she is allergic to cats!

Monday 30 January 2023

Realism! Infographic on 5 barriers to a successful relationship with your domestic cat

This is a brief cross post to a similar article that I have just written on the main website. The reason? I think it's an important topic. Although I don't want to talk down the relationship between domestic cats and humans. This is a wonderful success story which is why there are about 90 million domestic cats in America and about 11 million in the UK and so on. There are perhaps around 250 million domestic cats in the world but as a sign of failure there are a similar number of unowned cats as well. Not great. A pessimist might argue that the domestication of the cat is a failure as a whole.

Realism! Infographic on 5 barriers to a successful relationship with your domestic cat
Realism! Infographic on 5 barriers to a successful relationship with your domestic cat. By MikeB

There are some barriers if we are to be realistic to the relationship. And I am a great realist. I believe in realism because in this way we can overcome those barriers. If we recognise them, we can then develop strategies to deal with them. Normally, we do this automatically. 

Claws

We learn to avoid being scratched by our cat. Well, at least most of us do. Sadly, some don't. The terrified weaklings and nervous types who declaw their cats are cruel quite frankly. It is a barbaric operation. And the word "barbaric" is not one of my making. The world's top veterinarian and author Dr. Bruce Fogle DVM has used it in his book Complete Cat Care.

Declawing is a cop-out. It is a cheap fix for the owner and a dire mutilation for the cat.

I won't go on about declawing but it is a horror story and it should never happen. It does happen because, as mentioned, the domestic cat's claws are a barrier to the success of a good relationship between human cat and vets can't pass up on the opportunity to make a few bucks. And there are four others.

Teeth

How many people have been bitten by their cat because of redirected aggression or because they played too hard with their cat? How many times have domestic cats been abandoned to rescue centres because a child was bitten by the family cat because of manhandling?

If a domestic cat did not have those gorgeous canine teeth but little incisor teeth throughout their mouth, there would be no penetrating cat bites injecting bacteria under the skin of the human. And there would be much fewer abandonment of cats to shelters for this reason.

"Bad cat behaviour" is a reason why people abandon their cats. One form of bad cat behaviour is to be bitten and scratched by a cat. Of course, the reason is invariably due to human behaviour because they lacked the foresight and wherewithal to avoid those injuries. It is natural behaviour that humans naturally dislike.

It is down to the human to use their intelligence to learn how cats behave and when they are susceptible to biting and scratching and to avoid those moments.

Circadian rhythms

The disparity in circadian rhythms between domestic cats and people is highly noticeable but I think people don't sometimes recognise it. In stark terms, domestic cats like to be active at night, particularly dawn and dusk, while humans have the deeply entrenched habit of going to sleep at night when it's dark, waking up in the morning and being active throughout daytime.

Domestic cats don't understand this. They see their human companion as a surrogate mother and therefore a feline. Why is their mother sleeping all night? They desperately want to wake them up. That is why they come onto the bed at four in the morning and start poking and prodding their owner's face or nose to wake them up. Or they do something else. Domestic cats are very creative in waking up their human caregiver's in the early hours of the morning. This then is a barrier to a successful relationship with your domestic cat.

There are perhaps millions of words spoken about keeping cats out of the bedroom at night or preventing them from waking up their caregiver at four in the morning. This is down to a disparity in circadian rhythms.

It is also down to the fact that the human bedroom smells very much of the human and domestic cats love it. They want to be there, at the center of their home range. To prevent them coming into the bedroom at night I think is unfair even cruel. Jackson Galaxy, the American behaviourist would agree with me.

Environment

This leads me nicely to the environment. There is a gradual, year-on-year increase in the number of full-time indoor cats in the West, particularly the UK and the USA. This is to protect wildlife and domestic cats. It gives the owner peace of mind. It is doing the right thing on conservation and in providing security to their cat companion.

These are all great reasons but the counterpart is a great failing in not providing a substitute environment within the home which goes some way to making up for the loss of the outdoor environment where a domestic cat can hunt to their hearts content. Hunting is the raison d'être of a domestic cat. It is the way their mind is stimulated and the way they find happiness.

To simply shut all the doors and windows and keep them captive inside the home without anything else is also in my opinion at least slightly cruel. Dopamine is released into the cat's brain when he hunts thus creating a feeling of eager anticipation which makes it less likely for him to feel bored, anxious, or depressed.

It is beholden upon cat caregiver to at least provide a catio environment where they can sniff the air and feel some earth beneath their feet. 

Where they can hear the birds and the animals. They might become frustrated but at least they can see and hear. Also, in a good catio they can climb to the ceiling to exercise their desire to move vertically. Catio cats are content cats and their personalities improve.

In the very best homes where the owner has converted it to suit their cat, the interiors are awesome. Very, very few people do this but when they do it is done beautifully.

Predator

The domestic cat, as you know, as a top-quality predator. Within their weight class they are the top predator on land I would argue. They have inherited all the weapons they need to be successful. I've mentioned them. But this is a barrier to a successful domestic cat to human relationship. A lot of people don't want their cat to kill animals. And they don't like it when they bring half dead animals into the home where they kill them and then eat them on the kitchen floor. Millions of cat owners have spent millions of hours trying to save mice from their cat to release them to the exterior. This is a barrier to a successful relationship.

My cat is a wonderful hunter. He often brings mice into the home during the warmer months, kills them and then eats them under my bed. I wake up to the sound of a once living sending creature being eaten. I also can hear the mouse crying in defence before the killing bite. Not something I like at all. I put up with it but it is a detriment to our relationship.

Let's accept the barriers and find ways around them. That's what most but not all cat owners do, which is why I have written this article and created this infographic.

Best cat breeds for first-time owners?

I'm going to be brutally honest and provocative and say that the question in the title is a bit pointless and too narrow as it shuts out some great shelter cats with perfect personalities. I'll fully explain my thinking. It is a question that is probably not worth asking but because somebody did, I'm going to try and answer it honestly.

Pixie-bob cat breed is suited to first-time cat owners and kids. Image: copyright Helmi Flick.
Pixie-bob cat breed is suited to first-time cat owners and kids. Image: copyright Helmi Flick.

Placid personality

The first great difficulty with the question is what kind of domestic cat constitutes one which is ideal for a first-time owner? There's no definition of that. I don't think people have discussed it that much.

The implication is that a cat suitable for a first-time owner will be one which is calm, placid and pliable. A cat that can get on with different types of people and not be provoked into scratching or responding aggressively to mishandling from a person who is unsure about how to handle a domestic cat.

Better to choose a specific cat not a breed

If that long definition is correct then you're probably not going to find the answer in a specific cat breed. You will find the answer in a specific cat which has been socialised properly and which happens to have a personality which is ideally suited to a new cat owner.

Ragdoll

That said, some cat breeds are generally gentler than others. Perhaps the two extremes might be this. The Ragdoll Cat is bred to be calm and placid. The first filial (F1) Savannah cat, a wildcat hybrid, is going to be far more active and intelligent and demanding.

Of these two, you would therefore pick the Ragdoll. One website claimed that there are 13 best cat breeds were first-time owners. That, in my view, is idiotic. There maybe one or two cat breeds such as the one I have mentioned which are pretty good.

But don't believe that all Ragdoll cats are going to be super calm and accepting of mishandling. Ragdoll cats are domestic cats like any other in many ways. They have the same desires and motivations as others. They are not plush toys.

Pixie-bob

Many years ago, I created a cat breed selector and within that application I have selected the Pixie-Bob as a domestic cat breed which is suitable for children. As children are likely to mishandle cats you might extend that assessment to new cat owners.

Not all newbies will mishandle cats

I've got to add a caveat. I'm making the presumption that all new cat owners are going to be mishandling their cats. This is not true. Many cat owners despite being novices to cat ownership are going to research domestic cats before they adopt them and therefore be quite possibly as good as anybody else in terms of cat caregiving.

That said, I believe I can stick with my original thought that the kind of cat breed which is suited to new cat owners is one which will hopefully be accepting of mistakes. That means a placid cat.

Persian

Incidentally, people think of the Persian as a part of the furniture indicating placidity but they are actually quite nervous cats predispose to a certain extent to inappropriate elimination i.e. peeing outside of the litter box. Therefore, being nervous, they are probably unsuited to a new cat owner.

Personal preference

Personally, I would go for the Ragdoll or a breeds such as the American Shorthair or the British Shorthair and the rare Pixie-bob as stated.

Shelter cat

Better still go and see the rescue cats at a nice animal shelter and ask for a cat who has coped really well with the stressful circumstances of shelter life and plump for him/her as a good companion for a first-time cat owner.

Saturday 28 January 2023

Facebook post from Scotland claims that students identifying as cats are defecating on the floor

This is a spin-off or copycat situation from one in America where it was alleged that students were identifying as domestic cats and demanding litter trays and so on. It was denied by the school but it was a big press story for a while. They had a contentious council meeting to discuss it. It was taken seriously for a while. 

Lisa talking about furries and litter boxes at the schools meeting. Screenshot.
AMERICA: Lisa talking about 'furries' and litter boxes at the schools meeting. This was the original kids self-identifying as cats story which appears to have caused copycat scenarios in other countries. Screenshot.

School accused of installing cat litter trays for students who identify as ‘furries’.

It has been claimed that Scottish schoolchildren identifying as cats at a school in Banff and Macduff have defecated on the toilet floor because they were not given a cat litter tray.
It has been claimed that Scottish schoolchildren identifying as cats at a school in Banff and Macduff have defecated on the toilet floor because they were not given a cat litter tray. Screenshot.

Now a 'free-speech' Facebook page has published a video of human faeces on the floor in a toilet alleging that a student identifying as a cat is the perpetrator. The photograph on this page is a screenshot from the video which you can see in full by clicking on this link.

Another Facebook page called The Real Banff and Macduff Community Group has quite a few posts and comments on this topic in which they discuss it and in general they say that it is a fake story and should be dismissed.

While some other commenters are saying that it is true and pointing to the "Free-Speech, Banff, Macduff Facebook page. I guess they feel that their voices are being suppressed because comments and postings were removed by the administrators of The Real Banff and Macduff Community Group Page.

In truth, it is a bit of nonsense as I understand it. It's just somebody stirring up shite (excuse the pun please).

A spokesperson for Aberdeenshire Council said:
“We are aware of false rumours circulating online suggesting that Banff Academy has pupils identifying as cats requesting litter trays in the Academy’s toilets. It is disappointing to see this rumour continue to spread, however both Aberdeenshire Council and Banff Academy continue to focus on the well-being and education of our children and young people.”

If there is something truthful behind it, it might be because some students are unhappy with the way they are being treated and they are protesting. But they are not protesting, if this is true at all, by demanding litter trays because they self-identify as domestic cats. It must be something entirely different.

The trouble with these fake Facebook posts is that somebody gets hold of it and spreads the word and you have a conspiracy theory causing some people to believe it. Blame Facebook again. They are the source of many fake stories and identities.

There was another story about a young schoolgirl self-identifying as a domestic cat which came from Melbourne, Australia. That occurred around the same time as the American episode. Looks as if that was another example of copying a trend. That said, it is hard to know where the truth lies. You have to speculate as I have done on this page.

Kids identifying as 'furries' is not uncommon. It seems to be a way of escaping reality which they find difficult to bear.

Any enlightening comments are very welcome.

Friday 27 January 2023

Human cute aggression provoked by a kitten or puppy can damage teeth!

This is a bit of a stretch of the imagination but it is a recognised condition. You might have experienced it. You see a cute puppy or kitten. You have an urge to smother her with kisses and squeeze her tightly. At the same time, you might clench your teeth. If you do the latter in a slightly careless way, you might damage them. That is the order of events.

Human cute aggression provoked by a kitten or puppy can damage teeth!
Human cute aggression provoked by a kitten or puppy can damage teeth! Image: MikeB.

The experts say that these feelings result in a dimorphous physical action. The word "dimorphous" means existing in two forms. And in this instance, it means you have a feeling of euphoria in seeing something very cute which your verbalise and the other simultaneous form is doing something aggressive like squeezing the cute animal too hard or grinding your teeth.

That's the urge but of course self-control takes over and you don't actually squeeze the animal to the point where the action is aggressive and harmful.

In recognition of this known condition which I had not heard of before, a British dentist, Dr. Rizwan Mahmood, has claimed that idly scrolling through pictures of cute dogs and cats could damage your teeth.

I think that that he is successfully achieving a little bit of publicity and that may be the goal. If it was the goal then well done because it's worked.

If you grind your teeth at the sight of something cute, it would have to be persistent grinding to do any real damage. Like I said, it's a bit of a stretch of the imagination to see real damage occurring.

Social media celebrity, Molly Mae, who featured in the Love Island television series admitted that she has a habit of grinding her teeth to the point where one of them fell out! She blames cute aggression.

She said:

"I'm my own worst enemy because whenever I look at the cat or I look at Ellie Bellie (her stuffed toy elephant) I just talk to Tommy in a stupid baby voice, I do this thing where I grind my teeth. I bit down and my tooth literally came off last night."

The good dentist said:

"It's an instant physical response when humans see something cute like a fluffy kitten, puppy or rabbit which makes them react physically rather than verbally. It doesn't necessarily take too much pressure to do the damage either. So, if you are scrolling through footage on Instagram or TikTok, be mindful of your mouth. If you see something cute, verbalise it instead of physically reacting to it. It could save you a lot of money, and toothache!" 

Bosses have decided that homeworking is a disaster. What happens to your cat?

During the long Covid lockdowns both myself and my friend, Barry, agreed that the extensive periods of working from home which employees enjoyed would lead to disasters in terms of productivity. 

Bosses have decided that homeworking is a disaster. What happens to your cat?
Bosses have decided that homeworking is a disaster. What happens to your cat or dog? Image: MikeB

It was a common-sense assessment. Notwithstanding this, the government promoted the benefits of working from home and of course employees in general loved it. 

They had found utopia and many took the opportunity to adopt a cat or dog. They might have been thinking about it for a long time.

However, very often this was a short-term decision. Adopters during Covid lockdowns were often not looking long-term. They was simply taking advantage of that moment and seeking animal companionship.

And now, getting on for three years after those early days of Covid, bosses are gradually becoming enlightened about the lack of productivity that working from home brings to their corporation.

It is human nature to take advantage of a lack of supervision. Humankind is essentially lazy. And if humans can gain advantage for free, they will. Not everyone falls into this mentality but the vast majority do.

It seems that many leaders simply forgot this basic characteristic of human nature. There is an article in The Times today by Gerard Baker - an opinion piece - which he has titled: "Zoom and bust: why homeworking's a disaster".

He states that Netflix streaming data used to show that peak usage was during the weekends but now, in the UK, it is weekday afternoons! Does that surprise you?

Homeworkers are taking an extended break in the afternoon to watch a movie on Netflix or one of their series. Richmond Park is inundated with cycle riders mid-afternoon, mid-week.

There are numerous tales of a sharp drop-off in aggregate work performance over the past years according to Gerard Baker. Labour productivity has plummeted since the middle of 2020. And he says that "anecdotal evidence of the inefficiency of working from home is plentiful".

The tech companies of Silicon Valley are shedding staff in their tens of thousands. They hired extra staff during Covid lockdowns. There's been a big falloff in activity and share values have also plummeted. Even Google's market value is down by one-third from its peak about a year ago. Meta's value (formerly Facebook) has dropped by nearly two-thirds.

The truth of the matter is that these big tech companies got very fat, lazy and sloppy. They were making too much money. It was too easy. I have visited Google's offices in London several times to work with them. Compared to the average office theirs is a like a playground for adults. Rows and rows of computer stations without anybody using them. Free food, free this and free that. The average wage is £250,000 according to my research. And many of the employees are in their mid-20s. It was unsustainable in my view. Perhaps that unsustainability has come to fruition.

That is the long introduction. The bosses want the workers to come to the office and return to the status quo and work harder, I guess. Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter points to a radical rethink on how big tech operates.

James Gorman, chief executive of Morgan Stanley, had a warning for employees: "They don't get to choose their compensation. They don't get to choose their promotion. They don't get to choose to stay at home five days a week."

They've got to come in. For the cat loving aficionados and dog owners this can spell the end of a good relationship if they were thinking short-term or if they hadn't really foreseen the possibility of being forced back to work at the office.

They're going to have to give up their companion animals. For someone like me the critical issue is not the person but the animal. What's going happen to them - the animals? They're going to end up in a shelter. They're going to end up being sold online, on Facebook. They going to end up, some of them, being euthanised at shelters because suddenly the marketplace is full of unwanted cats and dogs.

I have painted a very bleak picture and I don't think it is actually that bleak because many people will retain their companion animal. But even under those circumstances the animal is going to be left alone all day. Some dog experts say that a dog should not be left alone for more than four hours.

Many people believe that the domestic cat is temperamentally ideally suited to being left alone all day. Wrong. Cats are sociable animals. They rely on the human caregiver very often for the only company and interaction that they have. We can't expect them to be alone all day, snoozing and killing time and be content. They are liable to suffer stress, over-groom and perhaps develop cystitis.

All these problems are due to a lack of foresight. The whole of the UK was lockdown for many, many months. Sweden did not employ the lockdown. They relied upon their citizens to use common sense to socially distance. They lived normal lives with this modification.

This was a much cheaper way of reacting to Covid. The £400 billion borrowed in the UK to give 80% of their salary to people confined to their homes plus grants to businesses has left this country with a £17 billion monthly bill on interest payments alone. 

This is killing any possibility of spending into welfare which is greatly needed. For example, there is a great need to fund social care. That's impossible now because the money has run out and we are being bled dry by interest payments.

It's a disaster both of people and their pets. They should never have believed that working from home was viable for the long term. It suits some professions but even then, employee should not stay at home because they lack productivity.

People have to come into work and interact and be stimulated and supervised. When they do that, they will have a different perspective on whether they are in a position to adopt a companion animal. Very often they should not because they cannot provide quality caregiving.

Wednesday 25 January 2023

Texas is introducing restrictions on what landlords can financially impose on tenants with pets

The Texas legislature is debating a bill - a proposed law - which would restrict what landlords can demand from their tenants if they are pet owners. Essentially, it limits what landlords can include in the landlord-to-tenant agreement which is normally some kind of lease.

An apartment for a cat owner
An apartment for a cat owner! Image: MikeB at PoC.

If the bill passes the legislature and is signed off by the governor the legislation “would allow landlords to either cap a monthly pet fee at $20 or collect a one-time refundable pet deposit at the outset of someone’s lease. However, the proposal would prevent them from doing both.”. 

Nathan Winograd, perhaps America's greatest animal advocate currently, says that this sort of legislation is long overdue "as is an outright ban on housing discrimination for families that include an animal companion" to use his words.

At this time, I do not have any more information about this change in Texas's legislation but clearly it is great news because arguably there is an undersupply of accommodation for tenants who live with a companion animal. It can be a great barrier for these people. 

There are many excellent people who can't afford to purchase their own property and therefore have to rent who are in effect barred from adopting a companion animal. Or, they have to give up their existing companion animal when they move into rented accommodation.

This is one reason why cats and dogs are relinquished to animal shelters which is unacceptable. Landlords have always had the ability to protect their interests when letting their accommodation to pet owning tenants. 

They can simply increase the deposit to pay for any damage by a companion animal and they can adjust the terms and conditions of the agreement which makes the retention of that deposit when the tenant leaves more likely. The new legislation restricts the financial imposition applied by landlords on tenants with pets

Terrifying picture of a cat sitting under a bunch of lilies

The cat's caregiver urgently but innocently asks: "HELP! I've heard lilies are toxic to cats. I was given this bouquet today as a bday gift and she keeps following it wherever I put it (outside, inside, living room, bedroom, bathroom). I cut the pistils and vacuumed the pollen and spores, not sure if that's enough. Are cats also attracted to lilies?"

Picture by u/Idrialis on Reddit.com

I find the picture terrifying to be honest. Anybody who has done some research on the effect of lilies on domestic cats should be terrified of this plant. There is no place for this plant in a home where there is a domestic cat or cats. They should be completely banned from the home. Even if they are a present on a birthday as is the case in this instance. Lilies and cats should be separated permanently and completely.

Why are lilies toxic to cats?

Even a small amount of pollen from one of the toxic lily species can kill through kidney failure. The lady says that she has removed some of the toxic elements of the lily and hoovered the area around the lilies but this is not enough. Not in my view. Perhaps I'm being a little bit over reactive but the problem is this: the risk is very high and because they can be fatal there is no place for them.

The top 10 cat poisons in the USA and lilies are in the number 1 spot.

There are some species of lily which are non-toxic. The problem is it's very difficult to know which ones are and which ones are not. Unless you are an expert and you can recognise lily species. There's quite a large number.

There are other plants you can put in the home although most popular plants, my research, can be toxic. Domestic cats like to eat plants sometimes because they like to eat grass and grass is a plant. They eat vegetation to improve their health which is ironic.

Dr. Desmond Morris says that domestic cats eat plants to ingest folic acid which is contained within grass. This helps with the transportation of haemoglobin in the blood around the body. That's his theory. Another theory is that they eat grass as roughage to help pass hairballs through their digestive tract. And another theory is that it makes him sick to throw up hairballs. Take your pick.

All these reasons are another reason why lilies should be removed from the home and never accepted even if it is your birthday and they are a nice present.

The lady in question posted her picture about 24-hour's ago. I hope and pray that her cat has not ingested a small amount of lily material during that time. If they have, they may be on the way to death. That sounds exaggerated. I don't think it is.

Monday 23 January 2023

The ultimate video of a cat getting into a vase. Manic and awesome.

I have seen many domestic cats obsessed with getting into glass jars, vases and boxes including very small boxes. But this when I think takes the biscuit. It's a supreme effort. Although I have seen a Bengal cat get into a billiard table pocket! Yep, equally extreme behaviour. Cats love tight spaces and they love investigating which is why they need 9 lives 😃. 

Here is that Bengal cat doing his extreme thing:


And here is a link to the page: Bengal cat gets into a billiards' table pocket.

The largish cat has to make two stabs at it. Determined. Admirable. Some cats love the security of tight spaces and it doesn't matter how they achieve that sensation: box, vase, jar you name it. 


Saturday 21 January 2023

Father and daughter 'wear' the same 'mask'

My reading of the genetics behind this father and daughter cat looking as they do (very cute and very rare) is that they have the white spotting gene or piebald gene in their genetic makeup and it has caused this highly unusual Zorro mask to develop. I guess it is just by chance that the white spotting gene had this effect upon the way the pattern developed. I don't think that there is any special genetic mutation going on here.

Father and daughter 'wear' the same 'mask'
Screenshot.

The white spotting gene normally simply results in a standard bicolour cat. These two are bicolour cats but the markings are remarkable. Normally the markings are just black-and-white blobs or a white background with markings being created by darker coloured fur. An example of a bicolour cat is the Harlequin. I have a page on bicolor cats. Please click on the link below.

Solid and white cat coats.


Female cat with CKD and hyperthyroidism is vomiting a lot. What's going on?

A person on social media asked for some advice because their cat is vomiting and they are suffering from chronic kidney disease and hyperthyroidism. They are seeing a veterinarian but they wanted to bounce the problem off other social media users one of whom is me. Of course, I strongly advocate seeing a veterinarian and this person has seen a veterinarian about the recent developments and will see them again.

Female cat with CKD and hyperthyroidism is vomiting a lot. What's going on?
Image: MikeB

This is my brief response:

"I am not a veterinarian but I know cats very well. Your cat has chronic kidney disease. She is vomiting. Is there a link between chronic kidney disease and vomiting? That is the question that comes to my mind.

There is a connection. Signs of uraemia which is toxins in the blood because they are not being eliminated by the kidneys, can result in vomiting, diarrhoea and anaemia.

There are other symptoms. So, it's just possible that the chronic kidney disease may have advanced more than is believed.

That said, the vomiting might not be linked to the kidney disease. Domestic cats vomit very well and competently for a large number of reasons and those reasons might not be associated with her chronic illness.

Has the vet done a urine test for blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine? I would ask the vet about that asap. 

I don't think vomiting is linked to hyperthyroidism. Hope this helps a bit and the best of luck."

Do any readers of this post have any other thoughts out of interest? 

Cat claw is bent sideways, what should I do?

The cat's caregiver asks the question in the title and adds:
"Should I leave like this or do something? He can walk fine and it only seems to hurt if you touch it, I didn't see any blood or complaining"
My response is as follows (it continues below the picture - what would your response be?):

"As the cat's claw is embedded into bone and that bone is the distal phalange of the foreleg and hindleg toe, it would seem to me that the claw has broken at its base where it enters into the bone.

Cat claw is bent sideways, what should I do?
Cat claw is bent sideways, what should I do? This is a screenshot from a video provided by the user whose username is: u/Kistar2.

It will be sore because there are nerve endings and blood vessels which pass into the base of the claw.

As the others have said, cats are stoic. They don't show pain generally but your cat does indicate that it is tender to the touch.

It would appear that he or she has landed badly after jumping down, jumping up or perhaps clawing their way up something and the claw has been damaged in a way which I think requires a veterinarian to check out.

That's my assessment. I could be wrong. I am not a veterinarian but I have spent 15 years studying domestic cats including their anatomy including the cat's claw as I am interested in a ban on declawing. Good luck."

Cat passed away; will the other get lonely?

 This is a question asked on social media which I'm going to answer here. I think the vast majority of cat owners would answer the question in the same way. When two cats live together and they are friendly with each other a bond is created (obviously). If one of those cat passes away the other cat will feel the effects of that. It depends of course on the depth of the bond and for how long they have been friends.

Cat friends
Cat friends. The loss of one may well cause grief in the other. Image: MikeB.

My strong indication, having researched the matter, is that domestic cats can grieve for the loss of their human caregiver or another cat. The subject of domestic cat emotions is work in progress but it's almost logical to presume that a cat will feel the effects of the loss of a friend.

Domestic cats do have emotions. The question is how complex are they? Grieving, or a form of grieving, can be experienced by a domestic cat I believe. We don't know for sure how cats feel in the grieving process.

I suspect that it is not the same as human grieving but similar. I sense that domestic cats get over the loss of a friend quicker than humans do. After all, domestic cats are much better at living in the present.

They live predominantly instinctively. They don't become nostalgic as humans do. They don't look to the future and question whether things will be better or worse. Those are my assessments. Living in the present is good for both humans and cats in terms of mental health.

Dr. Bruce Fogle, in his excellent book Complete Cat Care believes that domestic cats can feel grief. He says that he has no difficulty in describing the emotion that they domestic cat feels on the severing of an attachment as grief.

He says that "A cat's feeling of grief can be a combination of loss, frustration, worry, and bewilderment. Whatever the specific failings, a grieving cat can become withdrawn, or it may instead become over attached."

Like me, he says: "This may not be the same as grief in human terms, but it is still grief at a loss." Jackson Galaxy, the American cat behaviourist, would concur with this assessment, I am sure.

Does anybody use dehydrated wet cat food?

I have never considered it but there is an "intermediate" type of cat food which is dehydrated wet cat food. It is shipped in packets as a powder. You pour out the amount that you think your cat can eat at one sitting. You add some warm water and it becomes a pâté or a soup depending upon how much water you add.

The advantages are that you can control the portion size and of course the storage of the food is easier. It is very compact and very long lasting. It gives the cat owner better control over cat food storage and delivery.

How many people use dehydrated wet cat food to feed their cat?
How many people use dehydrated wet cat food to feed their cat? Image: The Honest Kitchen

I think this is important because often cats don't finish the portion provided because the sachet is too big or perhaps the owner gives them too much. I don't know how many millions of tonnes of wasted, smelly wet cat food is thrown away into garbage cans annually in any one country but I expect that it is a vast tonnage.

Anything to reduce cat food waste would be welcome. I think dehydrated wet cat food is a great way to control portion size as mentioned. There appear to be some downside. It is not that readily available it seems to me in the UK (for instance). It appears to be less common than conventional wet cat food and certainly much less common than dry cat food.

And of course, you've got to add warm water which means using the kettle. A small irritation but one nonetheless. And finally, it appears to be expensive. Some cat food nowadays is inordinately expensive. It looks more expensive than human food and cat owners don't have a bottomless pit of money.

There has to be a reasonable balance between the advantages of living with a cat and the expense of keeping a cat. Cat owners have a duty to provide high quality cat food and a lot of cat food is not of high quality particularly cheap dry cat food.

However, there is a limit and I suspect that the apparent lack of popularity of dehydrated wet cat food is due to its expense. Have you tried it?

If it is more expensive and it appears to be this may be due to the manufacturing process. It is dehydrated after all so all the moisture is taken out of wet cat food. That might be an expensive manufacturing process.

The point has to be made that it is impossible to try and make comparisons on price between the various types of cat food. It's far too complicated which is why I have questioned whether it is more expensive than conventional wet cat food.

If you have personal experiences of using dehydrated wet cat food then please share them in a comment. They would be most welcome.

Friday 20 January 2023

Why is my cat constantly peeing by my front door, he doesn’t do it anywhere else just in that one spot

 The full text of the question:

"Why is my cat constantly peeing by my front door, he doesn’t do it anywhere else just in that one spot,we have 3 litter boxes that are cleaned daily,he’s peeing in there also but constantly by the front door (6 months old maine coon x bengal booked into be neutered on the 28th." 

The person who posted the question and who was seeking help describes inappropriate elimination ('peeing') but I don't think it is peeing. It looks more like spraying to mark territory as it occurs near the front door. This is a major point in the cat's 'home range'. The area that he considers to be his claimed territory. 

They describe their cat as a Maine Coon x Bengal cat cross. A very rare cat breed. The cat looks more like a Bengal to me. Here he is:

Why is my cat constantly peeing by my front door, he doesn’t do it anywhere else just in that one spot
Why is my cat constantly peeing by my front door, he doesn’t do it anywhere else just in that one spot. This is the cat who looks more like a Bengal cat to me. Picture: u/beccamx41

If the cat feels that there is a threat outside the home and perhaps that threat is another cat (or a person) who comes into the home through the front door they might mark it to provide the strangers with a clear signal that they are stepping onto his territory.

The key is the 'front door'. Domestic cats will tend to mark territory in prominent place within their range such as on the boundaries and intersections. 

I feel that a front door might be the boundary of this cat. He might be an indoor cat. The walls and doors of the home is the boundary. 

Spraying is likely to be on the walls or door that is vertical surfaces whereas peeing will be over horizontal surfaces. That'll be the clincher. 

Check the exact location of the urine.

Cat kisses her man on the lips in very close bonded relationship

Nothing apparently really special about the video but it is special in many ways. This young man has created a beautiful relationship between himself and his cat companion. It is the human who runs the show. It is the human who dictates how well the relationship runs. It's their world and they create the cat's world. But when it is this good the cat is going to be very happy. And of course, that happiness is reflected in the caregiver.

An interesting little aspect of this repeating video is that the cat and man kiss each other. The cat really wants to kiss her man. Kissing is fine but it is very rarely done on the lips between cat and person.

There is the faintest possibility of the transfer of pathogens from cat to person in this activity. As a large number of cats have toxoplasmosis it is just about possible that the man could get it from his cat. It would be unlucky though. 

Toxoplasmosis is asymptomatic in cats very often.

My cat is acting weird. She’s standing on her rear toes with her butt in the air. What does it mean?

The exact words of the cat's owner asking for help on Reddit.com are as follows:
My cat has been acting weird. All day she’s been standing on her rear toes with her butt in the air always pointing it at me. She’s never done this before what does it mean?

I shortened them for the title. The picture accompanying the words immediately tell us what is going on.

My cat is acting weird. She’s standing on her rear toes with her butt in the air. What does it mean?
My cat is acting weird. She’s standing on her rear toes with her butt in the air. What does it mean?. Female (queen) in heat prepared to mate. Image: u/OMGJay on Reddit.

Their female cat is in oestrus (heat) and is seeking a mate and ready to copulate. She raises her bottom slightly and places her tail to one side. The classic pose of a female cat waiting to be mated. Before doing this, she would have provided other signals to males to indicate that she was ready to mate such as rolling around flirtatiously.

Clearly, the owner has adopted this cat and unusually not had her spayed (sterilised). He/she may have rescued her informally (found her). The vast majority of people in the West i.e. Europe and America, spay and neuter their female and male cats. 

If there is a lesson here it is to check if an informally adopted female cat has been spayed. It can hard to find the scare from the operation. You might like to ask a vet.

The veterinarians say that female cats are happier when they been spayed and it helps to remove the possibility of certain diseases affecting female cats. So, it is highly recommended.

The spraying operation is more severe than the neutering operation for male cats but I argue that male cats' appearance changes when they are neutered. They become more feminised whereas for female cats there is no change in appearance. I prefer the non-neutered male cat appearance.

In the spraying surgery, the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed. The operation prevents the queen (unsterilized female cat) from coming into oestrus and eliminates the problems of cystic ovaries, neutering infections, false pregnancies, irregular heat cycles and confinement during the mating season. 

And it also reduces the frequency of breast tumours. Spaying reduces the chances of a female cat developing mammary tumours by 90%.

Spaying does not make a cat fat and lazy. It might slow their metabolism and this can be countered by a fresh diet and some more exercise.

The best time to spay a female is at 5-7 months of age before she goes into her first heat.

Veterinarians believe that a spayed female makes an outstanding pet and she is able to devote herself exclusively to her human family. 

Plus, you don't have the risk of acquiring a bunch of kittens to care for and find homes for.

One kitten hates the other after they were neutered. What's happening?

This is a question on the Reddit.com website which I would like to also answer on this site. This is quite a typical problem actually. Domestic cats identify almost everything that they encounter through their sense of smell. Or to put it more accurately, they confirm the identity of the object. This happens as you can see when they eat. They sniff food because at close range their eyesight is not that great and therefore, they've got to identify whether it is edible and nutritious through its smell.

One kitten hates the other after they were neutered. What's happening?
One kitten hates the other after they were neutered. What's happening? Image: u/jkamio

When a cat goes to a veterinary clinic for any procedure including a minor operation like a male neutering, they come back smelling of the veterinary clinic. And the veterinarian has probably used a sterilising agent on the site of the wound which also will have a strong smell.

These smells transform the freshly neutered cat into a complete stranger to the sibling. Whereas once they recognised their sibling as a friendly cat who they knew, all of a sudden, they are encountering a stranger who has invaded their space.

In response they hiss at their sibling which is disturbing to their human caregiver. They hate to see this agonistic behaviour among friendly cats.

But the smell will fade and the kitten when then once again become a sibling who they like. And perhaps the smell of the operation can be removed with a damp cloth. In addition, a bit of bedding used by both cats could be rubbed over the cat who had the operation to speed up the return of their body odour to its true smell.

It is nothing to worry about although it is concerning initially. Years ago, I had a brother and sister siblings who got on well. The sister fell into a pot of white paint. It was water-soluble and I immediately washed it off. I also washed off her body odour. 

Her brother no longer recognised her and hissed at her. She groomed herself fastidiously for about an hour to put her scent back and at that point he recognised her and the status quo was renewed.

There is another point worth making. Siblings when they are young are normally friendly towards each other. When they become adults and independent, that friendship may disappear as they become competitors for resources.

That's the wild cat behaviour which looks peculiar in the home of their caregiver. There is no need to be independent-minded when they are both being looked after but of course it is instinctive. They may get along but they may not any more.

Wednesday 18 January 2023

Boar-cat

'Boar-cat' was an early name for a male cat. An alternative name was 'ram-cat'. Both were replaced by 'tom-cat' in the 18th century, with the spelling now normally being 'tomcat'. You can go back further to medieval times (500-1500 AD) when tomcats were called 'Gyb' which was a shortened name for Gilbert which is why it is capitalized in contrast to tomcat which is not.

The 'painting below' is by an AI computer on instructions to paint a 'medieval scene with cat'. I think the result is pretty damned good:

Cat in a medieval scene
Cat in a medieval scene as painted by DALLE E an AI computer.

Gyb was a generic name but it could also be a given name to an individual cat. And there were variations on the name such as 'Gibbe' and 'Gybbe'.

A Scottish poem from the late fifteenth century by Robert Henryson goes:

"When two mice are on a table-top,
Barely have they drunk once or twice
When in comes Gib Hunter, our cat."

Tuesday 17 January 2023

The cure for a fear of cats is slow desensitisation (familiarization)

A fear of cats, as you might know is called 'ailurophobia' (eye-lure-o-PHO-bia). A fear of cats is not uncommon. I'm told that nearly 22.2% of individuals living in the USA are frightened of animals of different kinds. I don't know the percentage for cats but it won't be insignificant. It might be to do with the fact that they are very competent predators with sharp claws and long canine teeth!

The cure for a fear of cats is slow desensitisation (familiarization)
The cure for a fear of cats is slow desensitisation (familiarization). Image: MikeB

The cure for ailurophobia is straightforward enough and it concerns desensitising the individual. This is distressing for the patient. It requires a step-by-step process in which the first step is presenting to the individual things that are only remotely feline. They just need the merest impression that something associated with cats is near them such as a photograph of cats or kittens or toy animals.

After a while a kitten can be placed in a small secure cage and left about 10 or 12 paces away from the patient on the far side of a room. The phobic person is gently reassured to tell them that the cat cannot get near them.

Then gradually the kitten or cat in the cage is moved towards the patient over a period of days. The phobia can be reduced in intensity in this way until eventually the victim can actually hold a kitten.

At this point the sufferer can spend a lot more time with a kitten or cat and the longer they do so the better. It's important that there are no sudden unexpected moves. This would suggest that the cat playing the role in this process should be very placid and guaranteed not to undo the process by, for example, scratching the patient. That would probably terminate the whole process and call it off.

After a few months of therapy, it is usual for even the most intense forms of cat phobia to disappear.

The whole process, as mentioned, is about desensitising the individual or familiarising them to the fact that they need not be frightened of cats.

Ailurophobia might start with an unfortunate childhood trauma, a sudden unpleasant shock involving a cat or kitten. For a very small child, a kitten might look like a fluffy toy. They might squeeze the kitten too tightly whereupon the fluffy toy produces needle sharp claws and inflicts pain and injury on that vulnerable child.

Such an action is so unexpected that in some cases the child might suffer a mental scar and this traumatic memory can then develop into a full-blown phobia in adult life.

There is an old wife's tale about cats smothering newly arrived babies by sitting on top of them. Perhaps a cat sits next to a child while they are in bed in their crib and the mother comes charging in believing that the child's life is in danger. She shrieks and yells at the cat to leave the room. The child believes that the cat is genuinely dangerous. That memory carries forward into adulthood.

It is that kind of way in which children can develop ailurophobia but as mentioned it can be removed with a great deal of patience.

Declawing

I feel compelled to briefly mention declawing. Clearly, cat owners who declaw their cats are frightened of claws and teeth. In fact, some people even de-tooth cats. Can you believe it? But this fear of claws is irrational in my view. It is possible, using intelligence and learning about cat behaviour to totally eliminate the possibility of being scratched by claws. And also, it is possible to protect furniture from damage through scratching.

Knowing this, it is clearly immoral to mutilate a cat. Cat owners who want to declaw their cat need to be educated on how to live with a domestic cat and if they are phobic about claws, they can be desensitised as mentioned in this article.

Sunday 15 January 2023

20 causes of domestic cat vomiting prepared by an AI computer

The interesting aspect of this pretty conventional list (see below the infographic) on causes of domestic cat vomiting is that it was entirely written by a computer. I mean it formulated the answer and typed the entire thing itself. It looks good so you can rely on it. The other point is that there are many causes of vomiting in cats and you'll need to see a vet if it continues beyond 24 hours.

Actually, there is only one thing you need to know about cat vomiting! Click this to find out.

Cats are good vomiters. Far better than humans. They do it with great ease. So, you might not need to race off to the vet but will have to go if it continues.


I have page which analyses cat vomiting with a bit more precision, which you might like to take a look at. Click on the link below.

Cat Vomiting – including types of vomiting for diagnosis.
  1. Eating too quickly or eating too much.
  2. Eating spoiled or spoiled food.
  3. Eating non-food items, such as plants or string.
  4. Gastrointestinal infections or parasites.
  5. Certain medical conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease or liver disease.
  6. Food allergies or food sensitivities.
  7. Hairballs, which can block the digestive tract.
  8. Medications or changes in diet.
  9. Stress or anxiety.
  10. Certain types of cancer or other underlying health issues.
  11. Pancreatitis.
  12. Kidney disease
  13. Bladder stones or crystals
  14. Intestinal blockages
  15. Poisoning
  16. Hormonal imbalances
  17. Hyperthyroidism
  18. Gastritis
  19. Bowel diseases
  20. Gastric dilatation-volvulus (twisted stomach)
It's important to note that these are general causes, it's best to consult a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis. Also, some of these causes can be serious and may require immediate medical attention.

Saturday 14 January 2023

How often should domestic cats be fed in 24 hours?

 A lot has been said about the frequency and number of meals over 24 hours. I think 2 meals a day is too low a number (but Cornell, VCA Hospitals and most other sources disagree with me 😢 - they advocate 2x). 

There could/should be more meals but less quantity in each meal I believe. I believe this to be more natural but it is up for debate (definitely). Although the domestic cat's wild ancestor, the North African wildcat, eats 7-20 small meals over 24 hours according to Science Direct. The domestic cat has inherited all of the wildcats attributes. We follow the ancestor to figure out these issues.

How often should domestic cats be fed in 24 hours?
How often should domestic cats be fed in 24 hours? Image: MikeB

RELATED: Some more on the topic.

I also believe that the typical sachet of wet cat food contains too much at one sitting. In my experience cats are more inclined to eat all of their food if the sachet is small. They tend to leave some otherwise which is annoying for a number of reasons including where do you put it and it is a waste of money. I believe that larger amounts can be too much for the domestic cat's stomach which is the size of a ping pong ball!

RELATED: How big is a cat’s stomach? And are we feeding our cats all wrong?

I also think that wet cat food should be the default selection (to replicate the rodent as the classic meal) and dry should be for night time grazing. Dry has to contain a lot of carbs to make it. And it is addictive because of the flavourings. 

If your cat is obese and, on a diet, has he lost weight? If not, he'll need to be more active, I am afraid. I sense that this is a problem as many cat owners are working and out all day. Not enough play time for full-time indoor cats. And he'll have to eat less. No magic formula. No treats too! 😊. Tough love comes to mind. 

But it should be a gradual change in food reduction as quick change can cause hepatic lipidosis. Sorry if this sounds too tough. One last point: dry cat food + stress can = cystitis. I am not saying this alaays happens but it can occur. Inappropriate elimination is quite a big issue with cat ownership and not infrequently it is for the above reason.

Friday 13 January 2023

Cat ownership in Finland. What is it like?

I wanted to discover some definitive laws about cat ownership in Finland, specifically with regard to whether domestic cats can go outside and wander around freely. I wanted to ask this question because Finland to an outsider is a cold place. It would seem to be inhospitable to domestic cats to be outside. Of course, I am stereotyping but what is the general rule about letting cats go outside?

Domestic cat in Finnish weather
Domestic cat in Finnish weather. Image in public domain.

I couldn't find any really good specific details but people who have lived in Finland say this.

They say that outside of the cities free roaming cats are quite common. The same applies to semi-feral barn cats and what the Finish called "summer cats". These are cats which have been adopted during summer months and then abandoned when winter arrives. That sounds rather unpleasant I must say. I would have expected better from the Finish.

I don't know of any specific law which states that domestic cats living in Finnish cities have to be kept indoors. I don't think they exist. I think the general rule is that domestic cats can't wander into certain places. To achieve this, they should be under supervision when outside the home.

Apparently, the law is "pretty clear" as per a person who has lived in Finland. They state that "any animal free roaming is supposed to be supervised by its owner. Any animal without its owner close by can be considered abandoned and, for example, a free roaming cat without its owner found on the property of someone else, might be killed."

They further state that there are hunters in the countryside shooting at stray and feral cats. They have the right to do this provided the cat in question is unsupervised and therefore the owner is not nearby and, further, they don't have a collar with an identification tag.

The general consensus in Finland appears to be that domestic cats in cities should be kept indoors and those that live in the countryside can roam freely or it is tolerated despite what I've said in the last paragraph!

I think, judging from my reading of this topic, the situation is rather vague and untidy. I could not find specific laws about indoor/outdoor cats. And I'm good at researching on the Internet.

People who have lived in Finland provide rather vague answers to the question whether domestic cats are allowed outside unsupervised.

This appears to be leading to the shooting of cats without sanction from the authorities. On that topic, if there is a law regarding keeping cats indoors, it is apparently unenforced or enforced poorly.

As in other countries, the Finish apparently are drifting towards the idea of full-time indoor cats. Although, you still see indoor/outdoor cats outside in the bigger cities. But it is apparently "technically illegal".

My research also indicates that sterilising domestic cats is not mandatory, which leaves many indoor/outdoor cats living in the countryside unsterilised, free to breed and procreate thereby encouraging shooters to take pot shots.

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