Tuesday 28 February 2023

Infographics on cat behavioural changes linked to health and on osteoarthritis in elderly cats

The information in this infographic about osteoarthritis in elderly cats may surprise you. It is a major health issue about which cat owners should be aware as it affects cat caregiving. Looking after domestic cats entering old age demands a little bit more vigilance to spot changes in a range of activities and sounds etc..

Observant cat caregivers can see changes in their cat when they are ill. They might not be able to identify the illness but to observe changes in activities, vocalisations, gait, and general behavior can be a signpost to understanding an as yet unidentified illness. 

The infographic below may help a cat caregiver in guiding them through these difficult times. This is a double cross-post from 2 other posts. They are overlapping topics concerning cats entering and during old age.

I hope you find them handy and if so please leave a comment and share your personal experiences to expand on the topic.

China - farmer mistakenly adopts an Asiatic leopard cat thinking it was a tabby domestic cat

This has happened before in other countries. I can remember a guy adopting a bobcat kitten in America thinking that he was rescuing a cute tabby kitten until the kitten's behavior made him suspicious that it was something else.

It confirms what I have always said that the cute wild cats and wild kittens can be pretty wild and the sounds they make are sometimes extraordinary. Nothing like a domestic cat.

The Asiatic leopard cat is actually wilder than the bobcat so I expect that this farmer quickly realised that the cute kitten that he had adopted was far too wild to be a stray domestic kitten. He stumbled across the ball of fur while working his hillside farm in south-west China's Yunnan province, we are told by The Sun newspaper.

He had spotted the kitten strolling alone and thought that he or she had been abandoned perhaps and decided to take him home. He quickly realised that this was not a stray domestic cat.

He struggled to care for the kitten as he would have because these little balls of fluff are very wild. And the Asiatic leopard cat is known to be particularly independent-minded.

He consulted the police and realised what he had done. He had adopted a leopard cat. It is an endangered species across the planet and in China. They are protected in China.

He let the police take the cat from him and look after it. The video tells us that the police will hand the cat over to a rescue center where the intention is to prepare the animal for release into the wild.

I am not sure about the way the police are handling the kitten so much apparently, which can only make the task of releasing the cat into the wild harder.

They do look a little bit like tabby cats. Only the markings are a little more intense and you will see white fur next to the dark tabby markings on the head. Although in kittens the markings are less distinct.  But these higher contrast markings indicate wild cat and not tabby. That is a giveaway for me.

They believe that the mother was out hunting while leaving her kitten in a safe place. The kitten perhaps wandered off and then was taken by this man. The mother would have returned to where her kitten was and found that she/he had gone. It is almost certain that the mother had not abandoned her offspring.

Monday 27 February 2023

Why do cats isolate themselves to die? They don't.

This is my opinion, essentially, based on common sense and a general understanding of feline and animal behavior, although I did a bit of reading up on it before putting pen to paper. Cats don't decide to 'isolate' themselves to die. It's the wrong word. Firstly, in my opinion, domestic cats don't know that they are dying. They are not making a rational decision to go away to die on their own. 

They do know that they cannot defend themselves against a predator because they are injured. And they do know they have to find a safe place to protect themselves from predators. The domestic cat is behaving as a wild cat. They don't recognise the fact, under the circumstances, that they have a human home to go to for help (when the injury occurs outside the home).

Why do cats isolate themselves to die?
Why do cats isolate themselves to die? Photo in public domain.

And so domestic cats find a safe place to protect themselves when they are badly injured or very ill. 

There is a complication here because if a domestic cat is very ill, they will normally be treated by a veterinarian with their owner's help. There is no opportunity to find a safe place to hide. The concept of finding a safe place to hide really is about indoor/outdoor cats and the cat being outside and getting into trouble. Or they live in a household where the owner is absent and unconcerned, perhaps even negligent.

They don't do the same thing if they are dying of natural causes in my opinion. Domestic cats will find a safe place for protection if they are seriously injured but not if they are dying of natural causes, but it depends upon whether they are dying of old age (general failure of the body's organs due to old age) or of a specific illness in my opinion.

I think this is a correct assessment because, as mentioned above, they don't know that they are dying (disagree with me? Please leave a comment). And therefore, if they don't feel pain, they don't feel vulnerable and if they don't feel vulnerable there is no need to find a safe place to protect themselves. Under these circumstances they will simply stop breathing wherever they are. 

This is why you read stories of domestic cats dying of old age anywhere in their owner's home. It might be in their favourite place or in the kitchen or on their owner's lap. They suddenly pass away perhaps during the night and their human caregiver simply discovers them.

But if they are injured, they will do their best to find somewhere safe which affords them protection, to allow themselves time to gain their strength and to heal themselves. They are not predicting into the future that they will be able to heal themselves. It's all instinctive. They just instinctively know that they need to have time in a safe place to try and get back to good health. They may well pass away at that place and often do.

They do not go away 'into isolation' to hide from associates (friends) but from predators. Although I would appreciate the views of others. I did a quick search of the Internet to see what other people thought and, by and large, the general mood is as I stated on this page.

Sunday 26 February 2023

Is Joe Exotic dying of cancer in prison?

NEWS AND VIEWS: You remember Joe Exotic, don't you? He is the former private zoo owner, addicted to big cats and breeding big cats who is currently in prison for animal abuse and plotting to murder Carole Baskin the owner of Big Cat Rescue in Florida. His jail sentence is 22 years. There were 17 charges of animal abuse and two counts of attempted murder for hire. Pretty serious stuff.

Joe Exotic
Joe Exotic. Image in the public domain (assessed).

And he developed prostate cancer but has refused further treatment. He has blood in his urine and his medical consultant is urging him to take further tests to see whether the cancer has spread to other parts of his body.

He has refused and said that he wants to let the disease take its course. He added that he is not frightened of dying and simply wants to see his partner and fiancé, Seth.

He said:

"I want to stay here and just let it take its course. I could care less about dying, my birthday is coming up soon and all I want is to see Seth".
He has been imprisoned for two years and has a long way to go. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2021 one year into his sentence.

RELATED: Joe Exotic was terrified of big cats and wickedly cruel says film producer.

An online fundraising campaign has been started to raise money for his funeral. He's confirmed that he wants his ashes to be scattered at the same place as his late husband Travis Maldonado who took his own life in 2017 aged 23.

While Joe Exotic is seriously ill in prison with the prospect of his cancer spreading, his targeted victim who he tried to murder, Carole Baskin, is enjoying great success at the moment.

Through a committed campaign, she successfully pressed for the Big Cat Public Safety Act which in effect does away with all the kinds of tiger abuse that took place at the hands of Joe Exotic such as raising cubs to be abused at roadside photo sessions and when they grow up to be discarded.

The Act basically does away with the private ownership of big cats and makes it illegal for exhibitors to allow direct contact with cubs. It will protect all the big cats that would end up in private zoos where they're often abused because private zoo owners in America are not infrequently unqualified and unable to care for big cats properly. That's why some of them ended up at Big Cat Rescue.

Tuesday 21 February 2023

TikTok vet Ben says 'Dear God, never get a Munchkin cat'. He explains why.

TikTok vet Ben says 'Dear God, never get a Munchkin cat'. He explains why.
TikTok vet Ben says 'Dear God, never get a Munchkin cat'. He explains why. Screenshot.

Here is Ben the Vet on TikTok explaining why people who love cats should shun the Munchkin, the founding dwarf cat. 

I wrote about the diseases that these cats tend to inherit many years ago. The health problems are linked to the dwarfism which makes them cute. This is due to a genetic mutation. To the problems that he mentions I can throw my knowledge into the ring and say that they can inherit: Lordosis and Pectus excavatum. You can read about them by clicking on this link.

If we are honest there is a moral dimension too. It is unacceptable really to breed dwarf cats. It is what the Germans would call torture breeding. Funnily humans see dwarfism as not cute in humans but cute in cats. It sheds light on the human-to-cat relationship.

@ben.the.vet #stitch with @Margie the growing popularity of Munchkin cats is a great animal welfare concern #catsoftiktok #veterinary #animallover #learnontiktok ♬ Puff - Hany Beats

Please note that the video above does not have a super-long lifespan as its presence here depends on its presence on TikTok. If it is deleted on TikTok it disappears here as you can expect and I have no control over it.

There are no studies on these diseases in dwarf cats regrettably. They are very cute cats and are still quite popular despite the potential health issues. 

This is because humans tend to place appearance above all other aspects in many walks of life. For example, during Covid-19, in the UK, people adopted French Bulldogs in large numbers in the knowledge (or they should have had the knowledge) that they suffer from health issues. 

RELATED: 21 genetic diseases inherited by the French bulldog. Are they always in pain?

And that they were often imported from European puppy mills. They just loved the appearance. There is a bit of a backlash now as they understand that pet health issues are in fact more important than appearance at the end of the day.

Monday 20 February 2023

Police night patrols by undercover officers catch alleged serial cat killer

NEWS AND COMMENT: In the UK, there has been another spate of cat killings - 20 in all - on a council estate in London (Pleydell Estate in Islington). From time to time these criminal events happen in the UK. The residents on the estate became concerned because dead cats were appearing.

Police night patrols by undercover officers catch alleged cat killer
Police night patrols by undercover officers catch alleged cat killer. Police tent outside the block of flats. Image: The Sun.

They raised their concerns with the police and it is nice to report that in this instance the police demonstrated some commitment to catching the perpetrator. They appear to have sent out undercover police officers on night patrols. Amazing. They were doing some night shift work. I am surprised they did that.

Perhaps the senior police officer in this department is an animal lover. My experience in reading about these sorts of stories is that the police can tend to be ineffective and show a lack of commitment. One of the problems of course is finding the criminals because they operate at night under cover of darkness and in a very surreptitious way. Evidence can be hard to find.

Nonetheless, they have arrested David Avhanvhondo, 56, and charged him with causing unnecessary suffering and carrying out a prohibited procedure on a protected animal. That last aspect of the charge is rather sinister, isn't it? It implies that he has been mutilating the cats either after or before they were killed.

He was arrested at 4 AM on Sunday. That, too, would imply to me although this is unreported, that he was caught red-handed by the undercover officers.

The man appeared in court on Monday and pleaded not guilty to both charges. The police have been investigating these cat deaths in September 2022.

The report also implies that there may be more than the 20 deaths reported so far. Avhanvhondo lives in King Square, Barbican, London. He will reappear in court on February 28.

Sunday 19 February 2023

Picture of a grossly obese and grossly matted abandoned cat is shocking

NEWS AND COMMENT: The RSPCA have named her Big Bertha. She is a young two years old tabby cat. The past owner appears to have grossly overfed her and then abandoned her. She was dumped in Calthorpe Park, Birmingham, UK and weighed 11.8 kg in pounds (26 pounds). The average domestic cat might way around 8-10 pounds.

Picture of a grossly obese and grossly matted abandoned cat is shocking
Picture of a grossly obese and grossly matted abandoned cat is shocking. Image: RSPCA.

The Birmingham Animal Center's supervisor, Emma Finnimore was shocked. She said that "This is the largest cat I have seen in my 22 years working for the RSPCA".

They found her in this bag:

The bag in which Bertha was found
The bag in which Bertha was found. Picture: RSPCA.

So, what did they do? The only thing they could do was to clip off all her matted fur and put her on a gradual weight, reduction diet. The clipped off fur weighed 0.3 of a kilogram incidentally. Dieting of this sort needs to be gradual to avoid fatty liver disease.

She was too large to go through a cat flap and the RSPCA had to adapt a cat run for her until she went to a foster home.

Foster carer Emma Cureton, said:

 "The weight has gradually come off and she's already lost an amazing 3.82kg - which is a third of her body weight. She's still got a little way to go but she'll get there and will soon be ready to find a new home. She was in such a sorry state when she arrived at the rescue centre with her matting pulling on her skin. We don't know how she got so large as she is only a young cat. We think maybe someone had been constantly feeding her as she was so large, she was left unable to groom herself."

Pretty well everybody knows that this kind of obesity is a major health problem leading to high blood pressure, diabetes, problems with the liver, skin and heat tolerance and damaging the joints.

Separately, the RSPCA said that there has been a 25% rise in the number of abandonment incidents. In 2021 there were 10,519 abandonments of pets while in the year up to October 2022 there has been 13,159.

The report does not say why, but I think I know and other reports have confirmed this namely that there were too many self-indulgent pet adoptions during Covid-19 in order to keep people company and to entertain them during those long lockdowns. 

Many of these adoptions have now gone wrong and the owners are either abandoning their cats and dogs or selling them on the Internet through social media.

Incidentally, there has been a worrying upward trend in harassment of farm animals by badly trained dogs in the countryside. This, too, has been put down to the same root cause namely adoptions by people who do not have sufficient knowledge about dog welfare and behaviour during the pandemic.

So, we are, in the UK, feeling the effects in a very major way, not only in respect of pet ownership but in many other areas of Covid-19 and its legacy.

Saturday 18 February 2023

Man who owns the world's tallest domestic cat spends almost $500 per month on pet food

Physician, Dr. William Powers, is known for being the man who owns two world record domestic cats: the domestic cat with the world's longest tail and the domestic cat who is the tallest to the shoulder. The former is a silver tabby Maine Coon and the latter is an F2 Savannah cat whose name is Fenrir Antares Powers. The Maine Coon's name is Altair Cygnus Powers. He is also known for losing 2 world record-holding domestic cats in a devastating house fire.

Powers and his overweight world record holding F2 Savannah cat
Powers and his overweight world record holding F2 Savannah cat. Image: Photo: Guinness World Records 

When I read that he spent upwards of $500 per month on pet food it made me perk up a little bit and I ask myself why and how because it seems to me to be an enormous amount of money.

And the reason is this: firstly, he has six cats in all including the two mentioned. And perhaps more importantly, he prepares a special diet for his F2 Savannah cat who is always hungry. 

The last point is an important one because not that long ago, I wrote an article stating that in my opinion this F2 Savannah cat was overweight at that time. It appears that Dr. Powers has been giving in to his Savannah cat's demands for more food. 

And I wonder whether he is having trouble keeping his Savannah cat entertained and stimulated. Perhaps the cat is bored but I feel fairly certain that he was overweight and at 36 pounds that, too, would seem to be excessive even for such a large domestic cat.

Apparently, he's a very friendly and outgoing Savannah cat but he is very big, as expected, for a domestic cat. And no doubt he is active because Savannah cats are active or more so than typical domestic cats. They are also more intelligent and therefore need more stimulation which in turn results in more activity.

He makes a custom diet made out of raw meat, mainly chicken but sometimes other animal sources. And he adds supplements like essential amino acids, long chain fatty acids, porcine bonemeal and other additives such as nutritional yeast flavour.

So, seems that he provides a raw diet for a Savannah cat as the main diet. This doesn't surprise me at all. He probably feels that it is necessary as this cat has a lot of serval DNA in him and a well-prepared raw diet containing all the nutrients that a domestic cat requires plus excellent storage is probably going to be better than standard high quality wet cat food. 

But that is a matter of debate and most veterinarians recommend that cat owners do not prepare a raw diet for their cat.

Of course, this doctor is going to be more critical about food preparation and so on which is why he is probably well-qualified to do what he does.

We don't know what the other cats get but I suspect that it is more of a standard commercially prepared cat food diet.

Friday 17 February 2023

40-60 wildcats to be released in Devon and Cornwall, UK

I am both surprised and pleased to read this story in The Times today. They are going to release European wildcats into parts of Devon and Cornwall in the UK. As I recall, the last wildcat in England was shot by a rich landowner in the middle of the 19th century. 

European wildcat
The European wildcat is very similar to the tabby domestic cat but a little larger and definitely fiercer! Image: in the public domain (believed).

Before that they were killed by hunters looking for their pelts. They were exterminated completely in England, Wales and Ireland but it is believed that around 200 remain in Scotland.

The problem with the Scottish population of wild cat is that it is probable that most if not all of them are hybrids being first-generation offspring from matings between a genuine, purebred wildcat and a feral cat or even a domestic cat wandering around outside as these two species can make quite freely. 

This is unsurprising because the domestic cat is a domesticated wildcat, specifically the North African wildcat.

So back to the rewilding. Like I said, I'm surprised because there's been talk about this for a long time and historically farmers dislike the rewilding of countryside with predators. Separately, there's a lot of talk about rewilding the New Forest (near the south coast of England) with lynx but the lynx is quite a lot bigger than the wildcat.

The wildcat preys on rodents and small mammals and of course birds. That won't please the ornithologists either.

As the title states, the plan is to introduce between 40 and 60 wildcat into parts of Devon and Cornwall which is in the south-west of England. It's very nice countryside down there. It is a place, if you live outside of the UK, where retired Londoners live.

The designated wildcats to be reintroduced have been bred by a conservationist and re-wilder whose name is Derek Gow. He has five breeding pairs of cats on his farm in Lifton, Devon which is 5 miles from Bodmin Moor.

The breeding wildcats were given to him by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. He is working with the charity to release dozens of them into coastal scrubland and dense forests.

Mr Gow, 57, said: "animals have a knock-on effect on the ecosystems and wildcat were a key part of that until they were hunted for their fur."

I hope they survive and that they are not persecuted.

Thursday 16 February 2023

Pill treats diabetic cats without daily insulin shots but is it a good idea?

This is a pill which apparently entirely substitutes giving a diabetic cat insulin jabs. It is therefore highly convenient. The drug is called Bexacat and it works by lowering blood sugar levels by causing it to be excreted in urine.

Made by Elanco Animal Health Inc., Bexacat was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December and is expected to be available in the U.S. in the next several weeks.

Pill treats diabetic cats without daily insulin shots but is it a good idea?

Pill treats diabetic cats without daily insulin shots but is it a good idea? Image: MikeB

Often, domestic cats with diabetes in the USA have contracted the disease because of obesity. And as obesity rates are rising among the feline population so is diabetes. 

I'm told that between 1 in 100 and 1 in 500 cats in the US have been diagnosed with diabetes. Feline obesity apparently is approaching 50% of the domestic cat population in the USA.

This figure is constantly being forced down our throats! It is a dire statistic. But I have the distinct impression that if you make it more convenient to treat diabetes it's going to lead to more diabetes. This is because the cause of diabetes is carelessness in cat caregiving if that cause is obesity.

Convenience emboldens carelessness. The big pharma companies are really using human neglect to make some more money. The far better solution would be to try and find a way to ensure that people don't allow their cat companions to become obese. Perhaps that is impossible but it should not be.

Research, by the way indicates a clear reason why this bill has been manufactured. Owners of diabetic cats often have their cats euthanised. Statistics tell us that 10% of cats with a new diabetes diagnosis end up being euthanised. And within 12 months another 10% are euthanised because of the difficulties of giving them insulin jabs.

There are some downsides to this wonder pill, Bexacat. The first issue is that you can't go from giving your cat insulin jabs to then giving them Bexacat. That apparently is a no-no because this drug is dangerous and I think under those circumstances you could kill your cat due to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis.

Also, before being prescribed this drug by your veterinarian, the cat has to be subjected to a health check for liver, kidney and pancreatic disease. The drug is not for every diabetic cat, they say.

And lastly, another barrier to its use, is the high cost. I'm told that most vets will double or triple the cost of the drug which is about $53 a month. That means they're going to be charging around $100 to $150 a month, which, it seems to me, is a substantial barrier to its use.

And on reading about the price, I suspect people who have been optimistic about using it will be brought down to earth rapidly and it may lead them to deciding to euthanise their cat.

Clearly, it's a good drug in many senses but I see a lot of downsides. Above all, it facilitates maintaining a diabetic cat.

It is harder to look after diabetic cat it may encourage cat owners to reduce their cat's weight which would in turn ease their burden in treatment. Perhaps I'm being too simplistic.

Turkish Van cat rescued from rubble of Turkey earthquakes after 129 days

Update a few days later! He adopted the cat. Fabulous and here is the latest image:

Below is an earlier image (a video screenshot) after the rescue. They are made for each other. I just pray that the relationship stands the test of time. 

Turkish Van cat rescued from rubble of Turkey earthquakes after 129 days
Turkish Van cat rescued from rubble of Turkey earthquakes after 129 days. Screeshot.

The caption to the video on Reddit.com is:
The cat, which was rescued in the 129th hour of the earthquake in Gaziantep/ Turkiye, did not leave the fire crews that saved it. They named it "Enkaz" (means rubble in Turkish) . Firefighter Ali Çakas said, "If we can't find the owner, I will own it."
A lovely little video. What a couple they make: handsome guy and equally attractive cat. I think it is a PR coup by the rescue department.

If I was being a little bit cynical which I am prone to be I would think that this was a set up job! The guy is too handsome and it looks like it was a video produced by the Turkish rescue team's public relations department! Great job though. I think I might be too cynical. Perhaps the PR department got hold of it and promoted the rescue but it is genuine.


Technical cat breed observation

An interesting aspect of this charming little video is that the cat is a classic Turkish Van with the inverted 'V' on top of head between the ears. The cat could be purebred although he or she is not officially a purebred cat. The markings are absolutely perfect. The thing is this: this is a Turkish Van cat in Turkey. 

I suspect that the cat is not registered with a cat association but he or she will be as purebred as the most purebred American created Turkish Van cat on the continent of America. 

In fact, it could be argued that the rescued Turkish Van we see in the video is more pure and more genuine than the selectively bred versions in America because the latter are very distanced from the original Turkish vans in terms of their DNA.

Wednesday 15 February 2023

If you have one of these diseases don't blame your cat (Infographic)

Sometimes the domestic and feral cat get a bad rap because some people think that they spread a lot of diseases to humans. It is a reason why they keep them off the kitchen counter for example. 

And sometimes people want to kill and even eradicate feral cats in the area where they live because they think that they spread disease. These claims are highly exaggerated. The truth of the matter is that human spread far more diseases to other humans than cats spread diseases to humans. 

So why don't we kill some humans instead? Crazy of course. It is equally crazy to kill cats for this reason.

If you have one of these diseases don't blame your cat (Infographic)

The obvious reason is that relatively few diseases which affect cats can be transmitted across the species barrier to humans. Diseases that can do this are called zoonotic. Covid-19 is zoonotic by the way. You may know that.

Anyway, the Infographic just sets out some diseases which people might blame their cat for transmitting to them or somebody they know or a relative. The idea is to put the record straight.

Being sensible before adopting a cat companion (infographic)

In the army, there is an old adage, "Time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted". In a roundabout way, it is applicable to this article. You would amend the adage to, "Time spent in preparation before adopting a cat is never wasted". It's about learning about cat behaviour and the basic health issues that you can encounter which impinges upon the expenses of looking after a cat companion. Budgeting is very important.

Diving in to adopt a cat companion without preparation is unwise. Perhaps that is common sense to most readers but it is not common sense to all people. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, there were some self-indulgent (as I would describe them) adoptions of cats and dogs in order to keep their owner company during long periods of lockdown. I don't agree with that unless these people were thinking about adopting a cat or dog for a long time and had made the necessary preparations.

There is a lot to think about before taking on the responsibility of looking after a cat or dog for their lifetime. It is a great commitment. Cats and dogs alter your lifestyle. Depending upon your connection with your cat and how strong the bond is, cats can prevent you from going on holiday for the entire time of their life. Because taking them to a boarding cattery is problematic and allowing a friend to look after your cat while you are away is also problematic.

That is just one illustration of how companion animals can profoundly impact a person's lifestyle. There has to be a change in one's habits and routines to suit the new member of the family.

There are many other issues such as financing. Looking after a cat or dog is more expensive than some people believe. There needs to be some fat in the family budget to accommodate the expenses. There's the question of insurance. Should I or shouldn't I take it out?

Should I adopt a purebred or rescue cat? The latter is certainly better for many reasons, the most important of which is that you are saving a life rather than preventing the saving of a life if you adopt the former!

The Infographic covers some basic points. This is a cross post from my main website because it's an important topic. It is the kind of topic that needs to be remembered and recycled because it is quite easy to become a little bit careless when adopting a cat.

If you just fancy adopting a companion animal because you're bored with your life, that is not a good starting point for obvious reasons. I know I am being strict and perhaps a little too organised but these are important points.

The last important point is that before adopting a cat or dog the person needs to know about feline and canine behaviour to enable them to better interact with their companion animal and in doing so to provide the kind of environment where they thrive and feel confident.

Monday 13 February 2023

Like cats? But don't want to be an owner? Cats Protection are looking for foster carers

Date: Feb 13th 2023: Cats Protection, a very large and high-profile cat rescue organisation in the UK, need more volunteers to foster their cats after an increased demand due to the cost-of-living crisis.

Cat fostering is very rewarding if you want to help in animal welfare and if you enjoy the company of cats but are not really in a position to 'own' a cat.

Certainly, if you been thinking about being a cat foster carer but are yet to take the plunge, this could be an ideal moment.

The Dorset Echo, a local newspaper, tells us that in Weymouth, UK, for example, there is an increased demand. The cost-of-living crisis as it is called is biting in the UK causing people to give up their domestic cats which is a very unhappy state of affairs.

On that topic by the way when a person adopts a cat it should be for the lifetime of their cat and they really should be in a position financially to be able to take setbacks to their finances in order to allow them to retain their cat under difficult circumstances. I know I am being idealistic but that is a fundamental philosophy I feel.

Also, in a cost-of-living crisis with high inflation and increased mortgage rates, a cat owner should cut back on expenses in all areas of their life before they give up their cat. Giving up their cat should not be the first thing they do. That sounds obvious but it might not be obvious to some people.

People won't give up their car which they might hardly use and which is expensive to run but they might give up their cat. That's the kind of discussion I would like to raise. It's about making the hard decisions but the right ones.

Cats Protection have a video about volunteering as a foster carer. The entire organisation is based upon foster caring by the way. It's highly successful.

How can I become a volunteer fosterer? You must be over 18 years of age and you must own your home or have permission from your landlord to keep a cat at the property. Foster cats require one room in the home which can be shut off from the rest of the home to keep the cats safe and settled. All the essential requirements of that foster cat are in that room.

You don't require essential skills or experience although of course a knowledge of cats would certainly help but if you don't have it Cats Protection staff are on hand to provide training and advice.

Also, as I understand it, Cats Protection provide all the equipment and costs of caring for their cats so this is volunteering to give up one's time to temporarily care for a vulnerable animal before they are rehomed.

If you are interested you can call them on (020) 7272 6048.

Friday 10 February 2023

Video of dog pulled from rubble 60 hours after earthquakes hit Turkey

This could just as well have been a cat or any other animal which is why the video is relevant on a cat website. It is remarkable and nice to see attention being given to an animal during this disaster which has claimed upwards of 20,000 people. The numbers are being constantly updated and the figures you see on news media are out of date at this time. They will continue to climb. Update: I have added a video of a cat rescue.

Many animals have been killed. I'd like to see a bit more focus on them.

The video gives a warning but it is not that bad. Nothing too unpleasant. In fact, it is an uplifting video of success and animal welfare. It almost seems fabricated as the video starts with the dog's head poking out of the rubble. What happened before that moment? The dog must have been covered in rubble in which case he would be covered in dust but he is not.

I think it is genuine but I believe that the dog was never totally under the rubble. It fell on him/her and covered part of their body which explains why their head is not covered in dust. But you never know these days as there are tons of fake animal rescue videos on social media. It is horrible. The world has become a big fake factory.

Note: these embedded videos sometimes disappear as they are removed from Twitter. Sorry if that has happened. They have a limited lifespan.

Thursday 9 February 2023

Should I remove a tick from my cat as soon as possible?

Yes, ticks should be removed as soon as possible. What I like about this photograph - even though it is ugly because of the fact that there are tics attached to this cat's ear - is that it shows you where tics often end up on cats which is, as mentioned, inside the ear flaps. 

I guess this is a convenient height for a tick because they sit on long grass and then crawl off the grass onto a cat that has perhaps been sitting in the grass for a while. Or they are passing through slowly.

Ticks on a cat's ear flap
Ticks on a cat's ear flap. Image: u/PrashantThapliyal

The ticks walked off the grass onto the cat and attached themselves to the insides of the ear in this case. This particular cat has several tics. Perhaps he or she goes to the same place outside the home all the time and it happens to be a place where there is an infestation of ticks.

The owner asks on social media what they are and what to do about them and whether he should remove them.

This leads me to the next issue. Ticks should be removed quickly. In fact, an owner should check their cat at convenient moments if they are an inside/outside cat. What I mean they should be checked at any convenient moment when the caregiver is handling their cat or interacting with their cat in some way including petting.

Lyme Disease in Cats (reinforcing an indoor lifestyle).

It's important because studies have shown that infected deer ticks (infected with the species of bacteria that causes Lyme disease - Borrelia burgdorferi) begin to transmit the bacteria to the host after they've been attached for 36-48 hours.

This means that there is a window of opportunity between the time that they became attached to their host and the beginning of the time when they deliver the bacteria to the host in their saliva. And that window is around 36-48 hours.

If you remove a tick within that timeframe there is very little chance of the host contracting Lyme disease.

Anyone removing a tick should wear gloves and avoid touching the tick with bare hands. They should wash their hands after disposing of the tick in a jar of alcohol. This is because the aforesaid disease can be transmitted to humans just as easily as it can be to cats or any other animal who is the host for this ectoparasite.

"Although deer ticks have been identified in every U.S. state except Hawaii, they are most commonly found along the eastern coast of the United States from Florida to Maine and as far west as Texas. They are also located in the Great Lakes region of the upper Midwest United States." - Tick Check website.

Wednesday 8 February 2023

What is the native American word for 'panther'?

Realistically, you can't answer the question in the title. I will tell you why. There are hundreds of different Native American tribes and languages. The native-languages.org website lists the most popular Native American languages of which there are 30. 

These are the most popular but, as mentioned, there are far more. It is simply impractical and I would suggest impossible to find out how these Native Americans used or still do refer to the mountain lion in their own language.

Cree man and puma
Image: MikeB

I'm going to presume that the word "panther" in this context is a reference to the mountain lion which is better described as the "puma". This is the most scientific term.

The puma has the most names in any case, not including Native American languages, of all the wild cat species. This is a very complicated picture.

Let's take one of the native languages of the Americas: Cree. I have selected them at random. It is spoken by more than 70,000 people across southern Canada and into Montana. It is an Algonquian language apparently. And there are five major Cree dialects. 

The Cree are Canada's largest native group with 200,000 registered members. There are dozens of self-government nations.

The most popular or commonly spoken native language is Quechua. There are approximately 8 million speakers and they live in the Andean region of South America. It is the language of the Inca empire of Peru.

Interestingly, the official name of the mountain lion, as mentioned, the puma, is a word which comes from the Quechua language.

The name puma first appeared in 1609 when Garcilasso de la Vega, the son of a Spanish conquistador and an Incan Princess wrote, "Lions are met with, though they are not so large not so fierce as those of Africa. The Indians call them Puma." 

The AI computer ChatGPT responds to the question in the title as follows:

"The native American word for panther varies among different indigenous cultures. Some common words for panther include "puma" or "cougar" in the Americas, and "mountain lion" in some western tribes. In some Eastern tribes, it's referred to as "catamount." The exact word used for panther can also depend on the specific language and dialect of the indigenous culture."
I thought that it is wasn't very helpful 😎.

Tuesday 7 February 2023

Woman in China locked out of her home uses her cat to get in (video). True or False?!

USA Today introduces the video below with these words: "A woman in China was locked out of her home after forgetting her keys. Luckily, one of her cats was able to unlock the door for her."

Do you see the ginger cat unlocking the door? I don't. They don't question whether this is implausible. It has to be a false assessment. A lie - a fake. Strong words but I feel that they are true words.

The cat lets the owner in by jumping up onto the door's handle and pulling it downwards using their weight. They did not turn any key or adjust any locking mechanism inside the door. They simply pulled down on the handle as stated. This means that the woman outside on the other side of the door was able to pull down the handle in just the same way. 

Therefore, she was not locked out. Also, it means that this is a fabricated video as so many are to try and get some views and a little bit of internet fame for the video maker vicariously through their companion cat. 

It is incredibly tiresome for someone like me and it is compounded by the blind journalism simply regurgitating what they've been told in the video or by somebody else.

This video may disappear over time as they often do and if so, I apologise but I can't control this as it is embedded into this site but held on USA Today's server.

Monday 6 February 2023

Guardian journalist overcame her fear of cats using 2 methods

Having read Annalisa Barbieri's article in The Guardian online newspaper, I can take from it two methods that she used overcome her irrational fear of cats.

There is no doubt that she suffered from ailurophobia which is the scientific name for a fear of cats. It was a lifelong fear which she readily admits in the first sentence.

Annalisa Barbieri and Sidney
Annalisa Barbieri and Sidney. Photo: Dan Burn-Forti/The Observer

This fear ruled her life until she became a mother and her children asked for a cat. She said no. And then gradually, she decided to take the plunge and adopt a kitten.

But she wasn't really prepared for it. She felt that she wanted to do this but I sense, reading between the lines, that she had not got her head in gear. She dived in and initially it did not work out.

She admits that she thought that domestic cats were tricky and that they wanted to harm her. And then a friend of hers, Tasmin, a person that she describes as being "a cat pro" came over and spent the day with her because clearly Tasmin understood that Annalisa was having trouble and she wanted to help.

Her adopted cat is a beautiful gray (blue) male who they named Sidney. He was 13 weeks old when they adopted him. A young cat. But he has a very beautiful personality, very calm and ideal for Annalisa.

Despite his personality she was fearful because of a deep, ingrained irrational fear. She watched Tasmin play with Sidney and noticed that Sidney genuinely wanted to play. However, when Sidney played with her, she felt that he was trying to be tricky and wanted to harm her.

Having seen Sidney behave under these two scenarios she was able to make the rational decision that she was perceiving Sidney's behaviour in the wrong way. The problem was hers she admitted.

So that objective appraisal of her mentality unlocked the door to enable her to follow the normal route of acclimatising herself to a domestic cat in baby steps. That is the way you overcome a fear of cats or any fear. You do what you are frightened of but in very small steps which makes each step manageable. In doing so you chip away at that irrational fear.

And that's what happened. There came a moment when she realised that she loved cats. She could kiss Sidney. She can 'read' him and understanding him and no doubt this skill is reciprocated.

The key, in conclusion, is to realise that the problem is yours and not the cat's and then to chip away at that fear in tiny steps because if you take big steps you reinforce your fear. That's because the interaction can go wrong.

There is no doubt that if a person is fearful of a domestic cat, they are not really going to interact well with them which might encourage their cat to take a swipe, perhaps in play. That would be enough to set back the whole process to square one and even worse potentially.

Sunday 5 February 2023

90-year-old couple take their elderly cat for a homemade cat stroller walk daily!

Cool. What makes it even cooler is the homemade cat stroller (re-purposed) used by an elderly couple to give their equally elderly cat, Angus, some mental stimulation. 

This is not the real thing but a neat substitute for an elderly cat who stays put. There's no roof on the 'stroller'. No problem. He has no intention of jumping out. They are a great elderly threesome, and I bet they catch the eye of pedestrians.

90-year-old man pushes a homemade cat stroller with elderly cat on a walk for himself, his cat and his wife who is the same age
90-year-old man pushes a homemade cat stroller with elderly cat on a walk for himself, his cat and his wife who is the same age. Image: Screenshot.

It is their granddaughter who posted the video below on TikTok. They've got some attention there too as the video is heading towards 1 million views. Although TikTok fudges the viewing figures because they put the videos on a loop which probably doubles the true number.

Look, there is hardly anything better in the world of cat ownership and caregiving than seeing an elderly couple adopt an elderly cat (I presume from an animal shelter) and then use a cat stroller to provide some mental stimulation for their cat and some exercise and mental stimulation for themselves at the same time. Wise.

Imaginative Humane Society fundraiser goes viral

The Animal Friends and Humane Society, in Hamilton, Ohio have come up with an imaginative fundraiser on their Facebook page. They are asking visitors to provide them with the name of an ex-partner who they believe behave badly towards them. That name will go onto the base of a litter box and the litter box will be used for the rescue cats in their care.

Humane Society fundraiser goes viral on news media
Humane Society fundraiser goes viral on news media. Image: MikeB

They are accepting donations between February 1-12 and on their Facebook page there are instructions on how to make the donation. It is via an American mobile payment service called Venmo which is owned by PayPal.

There is a QR code on their Facebook page which you can scan using your smartphone or "search the Charity @AFHStreasurer2011." Your chance to kill 'two birds with one stone' to use an appropriate saying. You can clear your conscience of that pesky relationship that you had which bugs you and you can do some good for animal welfare.

Saturday 4 February 2023

A pathetic reason for giving up a cat to a shelter or they lied

This story on social media irritated me. All I have is the headline. And it is this: "This cat was handed into my shelter for eating the family hamster". I think that is a pathetic reason for giving up on your cat and putting them in jeopardy (unless they lied). 

Putting a cat into a shelter does indeed put them in jeopardy because it depends upon another person coming along to adopt him or her. If they don't, they are in dangerous territory; they can be euthanised.

So why is the reason for relinquishment pathetic? The people who adopted the cat in the first place either had a hamster at that time or they bought a hamster while they had their cat. Either way, they knew that there would be a danger of their cat attacking the hamster. 

A pathetic reason for giving up a cat to a shelter or they lied
A pathetic reason for giving up a cat to a shelter or they lied. Image: skeletonclock on reddit.com

They created the conditions under which their cat eventually did attack and kill the family hamster.

If fault is to be apportioned it goes a hundred percent to the human care givers. The cat was simply behaving instinctively and naturally. I don't need to go on about this because it's obviously wrong for the owners to give up their cat for this reason. It is also obviously wrong for them to place a cat and hamster together.

I'm not saying it was deliberate. It can't have been but it was due to carelessness in some shape or form. Perhaps the hamster escaped their cage. Perhaps the owner was playing with the hamster and it jumped off onto the ground and their cat was not too far away and attacked it.

No matter how you interpret it the problem always goes back to humans. It is probably fair to say that every time a domestic cat is relinquished to a shelter the underlying problem is human behaviour. The only time that it can't be is if the cat is mentally ill, otherwise it is instinctive feline behaviour reacting to human-made circumstances.

There are very, very few mentally ill domestic cats requiring drug treatment of some sort. Rather sadly, the person who posted on social media completed their title with the word "Reckon she did it?" It's irrelevant except to say that the owners might have made up the story in order to give up their cat.

That wouldn't surprise me one bit. Perhaps it's a very good question. People like to make up stories when they walk into a shelter with their cat to give them up. They want to divert attention away from their mistakes and inability to care for a cat. If they did lie, they fabricated a silly excuse.

Everybody knows that when you adopt a cat you do so for the life of the cat unless some extraordinary and exceptional circumstance intervenes. That's the target. And there will be ups and downs. There will be difficult moments. There will be times when you want to give up your cat (maybe).

But just like a marriage between man and wife or man and man or woman and woman, you make sure that you go through those moments and sort them out. Often when you come out the other side the relationship has improved.

Friday 3 February 2023

New Zealand's state sanctioned animal AND CHILD abuse by indoctrinating kids to kill non-native species

New Zealand's Ministry of Education encourages children to kill non-native mammals including cats which they label 'pests' (yeh, not 'pets'). It is state sanctioned animal abuse and the abusers are indoctrinated kids. Horrible.

In an astonishing conclusion to his lengthy analysis, Michael C Morris of the Royal Agricultural University, concludes that "even the Ministry of Education resources, encourage children to kill non-native mammals, show them how to set traps, and emphasised to teachers how they need to impress on children the importance of eradicating pests."

New Zealand's state sanctioned animal AND CHILD abuse by indoctrinating kids to kill non-native species
New Zealand's state sanctioned animal AND CHILD abuse by indoctrinating kids to kill non-native species. Image: MikeB

Other organisations in New Zealand including four government agencies, three conservation NGOs and one education NGO, promote the killing of non-native species by children.

"Non-native" means a species of animal which has not evolved in the country concerned. The domestic, stray and feral cat in New Zealand is a non-native species. It is therefore an alien species and regarded as a pest by New Zealand's authorities despite the fact that there are many cat loving care givers with cat companions in that beautiful country.

Shame, therefore, that despite being visually beautiful, the mentality of the Ministry of Education is far from beautiful and indeed quite ugly.

All the organisations promote trapping and poisoning to eliminate feral cats and other non-native species. The objective? To preserve biodiversity. To conserve native species because feral cats are very good hunters.

Shockingly, no consideration whatsoever, according to Mr Morris, is given to alternatives "such as changing human activities, non-lethal contraceptive or gene drive techniques, more localised and targeted pest control or translocation techniques such as Operation Nest Egg."

Mr Morris has not mentioned a very well-established alternative with respect to feral cats namely TNR which is widely practised in America where they, too, have a feral cat problem.

TNR is simply not on the radar in New Zealand. Well, it might be in the minds of some decent citizens of New Zealand who want to help feral cats but it is not in the minds of the country's administrators.

New Zealand introduces words such as "war" and "invasion" to describe the "pests" that are the feral cats in their country. For me, it is the feral cats who are the victims as much as the native species upon which they prey. 

The feral cats of New Zealand were introduced to the country as is the case in Australia by immigrants to the country bringing domestic cats with them and allowing those cats to return to the wild and procreate.

The back story, the root of the problem, is not the feral cat which is the 'messenger' of the bad behaviour of humans.

It appears that New Zealand is unique in mandating and encouraging children to kill non-native species which are perfectly good and decent animals. It is entirely inappropriate to single out non-native species as a target for eradication. It's a happenstance due to human carelessness that they are non-native and feral.

For the state to encourage children to kill animals is a form, in my opinion, of state sanctioned child abuse. 

It is indoctrinating them to believe that the cute possum or the cute feral kitten is an enemy of New Zealand. These children probably love the sight of cute possums. That is their natural instinct. And then, the Ministry of Education reprograms their brains to think that they are pests to be killed. It is simply unacceptable.

There are studies which have found a causal relationship between children who've witnessed animal abuse to then being more likely to be animal abusers themselves. 

If the children are animal abusers (which is what this program makes them), they are certainly more likely to become animal abusers and even human abusers when they are adults.

Larry, Downing Street's cat was selected because he was calm and unbothered when picked

There are a couple of news items in the press today about Larry, Downing Street's resident mouser to 5 prime ministers. Interesting to me, is how he was selected above four other candidates at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. 

Larry, Downing Street's cat was selected because he was calm and unbothered when picked
Larry, Downing Street's cat was selected because he was calm and unbothered when picked. Image by MikeB at PoC.

He was selected by a guy called David. We know this because a woman, Helen, wrote into Times Radio to mention it. She'd met David while queueing to see Queen Elizabeth lying in state at the Palace of Westminster.

And David told Helen that Larry was chosen because he was calm and unfazed about whether he was picked or not. The other four candidates were more needy. They meowed and wanted attention. David was and perhaps still is a Downing Street staff worker and he was selected to choose the resident cat. He is an Australian incidentally.

It seems that the criteria for being a Downing Street cat is that they should be unruffled by all the comings and goings that inevitably occur at the center of UK government. So, it seems to me that the right criteria was used. 

Larry should be in the background doing his bit and keeping the staffers company and adding a bit of 'soul' to this large building which appears to be much smaller than it actually is.


There is a health story about Larry as well. There were concerns about his health because there were claims that he was poorly after he received treatment for cysts following a trip to the veterinarian. We are not told where these cysts were. I hope they were not on his kidneys because that would be a very serious illness.

He's now been declared to be in good health after being given antibiotics (which indicates the disease was not serious). 

A Downing Street source told The Sun:

"Larry saw the vet that last month for a routine checkup. He remains in Downing Street and is feline well!"

Larry is between 15-16 years old at the time of this post. A good age with some mileage left I should think. 

Thursday 2 February 2023

Why is the cat omitted from the Chinese zodiac? It is not!

Answer (my answer!): the cat is listed as one of the 12 zodiac animal species as the tiger, a specific species within the cat family. The creators of the zodiac therefore included the cat but as a distinct species and not generically as at the time of creation of the zodiac - 2,500 years ago - there were no domestic cats in China.

There are 12 Chinese zodiac signs, in the following order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. There is ostensibly a shocking omission: the 'cat'. With the domestic dog, the domestic cat is the most popular companion animal in the world.
However, the cat is listed in the zodiac as a specific species namely the tiger. If you read the serious version set out below, you'll see what I mean.

Chinese zodiac of 12 animals
Chinese zodiac of 12 animals. Image: MikeB

There are 2 versions for the reason for the omission. One serious and the other a myth. 

Serious version

The Chinese Zodiac was created about 2500 years ago. It hasn't changed since that time. At the time of its creation the domestic cat had not arrived in China. This occurred when pet cats were introduced to China along the silk Road during the period 386-589 A.D. around 1600 years ago.

On those figures, the Chinese Zodiac was created 900 years, almost 1000 years, before the people who created the Zodiac had seen domestic cats.

Comment: I think that's a pretty weak argument. My research indicates that the South China tiger was in China 2 million years ago. There must've been tigers in China when they created the Zodiac.


This is why the tiger is listed as one of the signs of the Chinese Zodiac. The tiger is obviously a cat, actually the world's largest cat species. Therefore, they could not include another cat species in the zodiac when the domestic cat arrived a thousand years later. Logically this must be the reason why the "cat" is not specifically listed as a generic name for all the species of cats.

The problem is that they have taken one species of the cat family - the tiger - and listed it whereas for the other animals they have used generic terms and not broken it down into specific species.


The myth plays out as follows. The divine Jade Emperor organised a race for animals and there would be 12 winners each one getting a spot on the zodiac.

The cat and the rat were in the race but they were friends. They joined the race together and they hitched a ride on an ox to cross a river. While they were crossing the river the rat pushed the cat off the ox because they were fearful of being beaten by the cat in the race.

The cat did not drown but lost the chance of securing one of the 12 zodiac signs. This, incidentally, is why the cat hunts rats which is not actually true because modern day rats are a little bit too big for the average domestic cat!

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