Thursday 31 August 2023

Boy adopts rescue cat with the same odd eye colour and cleft lip as himself

There is a nice symmetry in this relationship. The boy was bullied at school because of his cleft lip and odd-eye colour but he found his soul mate in a bicolour cat - grey tabby and white. The piebald gene causes the bicolor coat and that gene made one of the cat's eyes blue and the other yellow. And as it happens the cat has a cleft lip. Both of these conditions are fairly rare in cats.

Heterochromia iridium is the scientific name for on-eye colour. It was probably inherited by the boy although it might have been caused by trauma. For the cat, it was also inherited because the cat inherited the piebald or white spotting gene which gives him his coat and his odd-eye colour.

The boy's cleft lip is inherited as well. It may be a genetic mutation and deficiency or it might have been something that the mother came into contact with in her environment or what she ate or drink or the medications that she took during pregnancy.

This is obviously a great relationship because both the boy and the cat benefit tremendously from it. The boy can mentally process the fact that he was bullied by interacting with his cat. He can find solace there and some comfort. And of course, the cat will benefit tremendously as well.

It is possible to operate on a cat with a cleft lip. The boy has already undergone that operation quite clearly. I remember funding a cleft lip operation of a cat in Malta. The cat was rescued by a charming woman, Martha Kane, and she didn't have the money to pay for an operation so I used monies acquired through advertising on my website to pay for the operation. I'm proud of that. Although I forget about it most of the time and it has just come to my mind while writing this article.

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Yesterday was the birthday of Henry Bergh the founder of the ASPCA

Henry Bergh
Henry Bergh. Image in the public domain.

The world and particularly Americans I feel have an obligation to thank, at this time, Henry Bergh, the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). 

Nathan Winograd has reminded me of his birthday as he sent me an email yesterday. I had heard of him so I need no reminder of his history. He was a great man. Many people would agree with me.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote this about him:

Among the noblest of the land;

Though he may count himself the least;

That man I honor and revere;

Who, without favor, without fear;

In the great city dares to stand;

The friend of every friendless beast.

Winograd refers to him as 'The Great Meddler'. This is because with great commitment, passion and persistence he meddled in the lives of those people in New York City - and I guess other places - who abused animals. He fearlessly stopped their abuse.

He got New York to pass an anti-cruelty law and put a copy of that law into his pocket and then took to the streets of New York every night for the remainder of his life to protect animals against the abuse of humankind. An amazing man as I said.

I guess nobody can match that today but some come close.

Henry Bergh stops animal abuse in 19th century NYC
Henry Bergh stops animal abuse in 19th century NYC. Image in the public domain.

Winograd refers to a report of the time about Henry Bergh which went as follows:

The driver of a cart laden with coal is whipping his horse. Passersby on the New York City street stopped to gawk not so much at the weak, emaciated equine, but at the tall man, elegant in top hat and spats, who is explaining to the driver that it is now against the law to beat one’s animal. Thus, America first encounters ‘The Great Meddler.’

And then Winograd goes on to explain an example of his meddling. He describes one winter evening during the New York City rush-hour. People were rushing to horse-drawn carriages to get home. The horses were exhausted and flogged near to death to pull overloaded cars along a railway line.

It was snowing and the ground by slushy. When one overloaded car reached the corner near where Henry Bergh was standing the driver was about to abuse his horses again to keep them moving forwards when he heard the shout "Stop!" and "Unload!" It was Henry Bergh telling the man to stop and unload his car. The driver shouted back, "Who the hell are you?"

The driver refused to comply with Bergh's request. Bergh then pitched him into the snowbank and unhitched the horses. This, apparently was a common sight in New York City at the time.

Winograd then refers to the words of Henry Bergh himself about his day-to-day efforts to curb animal abuse under the law that he had campaigned for:

I am in slaughterhouses; or lying in wait at midnight with a squad of police near some dog pit; through the filthy markets and about the rotten docks; out into the crowded and dangerous streets; lifting a fallen horse to his feet, or perhaps sending the driver before a magistrate, penetrating dark and unwholesome buildings where I inspect collars and saddles for raw flesh; then lecturing in public schools to children, and again to adult Societies. Thus, my whole life is spent.

It paints a very hard picture. This was a man of high endurance, great commitment and persistence as mentioned. He was driven by a great compassion to help animals, those creatures more vulnerable than humankind against our exploitation.

Perhaps not many people know of his name but everybody on the planet owes him a debt of gratitude. I'm sure that millions of animals have been saved by his valiant efforts to improve animal welfare in the 19th century. He lived between August 29, 1813 and March 12, 1888. A time when animal welfare was far worse than it is today but there is still a lot of work to do.

Tuesday 29 August 2023

If your cat smells bad there is something wrong. Time to investigate.

If your cat smells there is something wrong. Time to investigate.
Image: in public domain.

On the website a lady asks if cats smell? She says that her cats don't smell which is normal she says if a cat is healthy. She is seeking reassurances from other users.

Actually, domestic cats do smell slightly when they are healthy. It is a subtle, pleasant smell. Most cat caregivers have kissed their cat on various parts of their body and picked up the smell. It is a pleasant experience.

New cat owners

People who are new to cat ownership might be unsure about how domestic cats smell. This might be because they've read some misinformation on the Internet. Or, they might have a distorted idea about the normal body odour of domestic cats because they have a cat litter tray which is not cleaned enough or, perhaps, their cat is eliminating inappropriately. 

This means that they might be peeing outside the litter box or even defecating outside the litter box due to stress. That by the way will be due to an environmental problem which would be fully in the control of the cat caregiver and it would need to be investigated.

It may be that the entire house smells bad and their cat is picking up some of this odour. There are many possible reasons why their cat might not be smelling nice. Or they think their cat doesn't smell nice. There may be a subjective issue here: the owner's sense of smell might be dodgy or they don't like certain smells. 

It needs to be investigated because this short post has been published to tell people unequivocally that domestic cats don't smell bad. They smell nice.

Some possible reasons why a cat might smell bad

I will try and think of a few reasons why your cat might smell bad. These are some examples.

Oral health

Firstly, he or she might have very poor oral health. Bad teeth and gums are not uncommon in older cats. She might have bad breath. This might give the impression that she smells. This will need to be investigated because poor oral health is painful and it can stop a domestic cat feeding properly or at all if it is very bad.

Ear mites

Image: MikeB

A bad infestation of ear mites can result in a bad smell around the ears. This may give the impression to the owner that there cat smells bad. Ear mites are terrible parasites and they cause a lot of distress to the cat. Urgent medical treatment is required. The owner should not try to clean their cat's ears themselves unless they are very skilled at it. I have a page on that which you can read by clicking on the following link if you wish. Home treatment for cat ear mites.


She may have diarrhoea and be unable to maintain a hygienic bottom. This may give the impression that she smells. If this is the case you need to investigate the underlying cause of diarrhoea which is a symptom of a range of ill health conditions.


He might have an abscess which you've not spotted which is weeping pass which is smelly. That would be unusual for an indoor cat but possible as the most common cause of abscesses are fights. If an abscess is left unattended there will be a big buildup of pus under the skin. It will need to be attended to. It will need to be cleaned out and the cat given a course of antibiotics.

Chemical on coat

Another possibility would be that the coat has picked up some chemical or substance which you've not spotted which smells. Obviously, this should be removed from the coat because anything on a domestic cat's coat presents a health hazard to the cat as they are fastidious groomers normally and therefore will ingest that substance.

Skunk (America)

It is conceivable that an indoor/outdoor cat has met a skunk on their travels and they been left with the owner that that creature chucks and other creatures! Skunks spray to repel potential predators with a foul-smelling, oily secretion stored in their perianal glands.
Not grooming?

Cat fails to groom themselves

And this takes me to the last point and perhaps the most important point. If a domestic cat is not maintaining their own hygiene to a high standard as they normally do by which I mean they are not grooming themselves regularly on a daily basis, it is an indication that they are ill. 

It is an indication that they are not feeling themselves. It may result in the cat smelling not quite right. The usual pleasant nutty smell may no longer be there. This would be a warning sign and the cat caregiver should investigate carefully and it is likely that a veterinarian's visit is required.

Rolling in dirt

RELATED: Why do cats roll in dirt? 3 reasons.


Cats don't normally need bathing and they should not be bathed regularly because it's not good for them. But bearing in mind that this page is about a cat smelling abnormally unpleasant it may be a moment to bathe your cat which of course should be done with care and respect.

RELATED: Do cats really need baths: If so, how often?

Monday 28 August 2023

Can sand cats survive without water?

To the question in the title the answer is YES. I will quote two real experts on this topic: Mel and Fiona Sunquist.

They say:

Given the nature of its desert habitat, it is not surprising that the sand cat can survive without free-standing water. Indeed, for most of the year, these cats do not drink, but obtain sufficient moisture from their prey. One captive fed on fresh rodents and birds refused all freshwater and did not drink for two months, but another drank freely. Though they can live without water, wild sand cats will drink when water is available; in the eastern Karakum, their tracks have been found around pools of water.

Mel and Fiona are the authors of probably the best book on the wild cats: Wild Cats of the World. Their reference for the above information is: 

  1. Heptner WG and AA Sludskii 1992 Mammals of the Soviet Union and
  2. Roberts TJ 1977 The mammals of Pakistan 
Here is a picture of a sand cat by me using Canva.

Do black cats live longer?

The question in the title is asking if black cats are healthier than other cats and therefore live longer. The answer is imprecise. You'll see references on the internet to an NIH (National Institutes of Health) article about the genetic mutation causing the black fur to offer some added protection to the cat in terms of health but I can't find that article after a careful search. There are no studies on this. There is nothing but weak anecdotal evidence that black cats live longer. I don't believe that they do until someone pulls a rabbit out of a hat and tells me that I am wrong!

Black cats audition for a Hollywood movie. Ralph Crane The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock
Black cats audition for a Hollywood movie.
Ralph Crane The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock.

Are black cats: lucky, unlucky, haram, affectionate, rare or hypoallergenic?

Yes, yes, no, yes, no and no!
Black Peterbald cat
Black Peterbald cat. Pic is in the public domain.

Black cats have a special place in the cat world as they are the subject of continuing and detrimental superstition going all the way back to the Middle Ages many hundreds of years ago. It is this illogical superstition unsupported by science and good sense but supported by fear of the unknown which leads to the great spectrum of beliefs that black cats bring good or bad luck in equal measure!

Lucky or unlucky?

It depends where you live and your particular beliefs. Take your pick. In general, black cats crossing your path brings bad luck but in some countries, it is good luck! Mad right?

RELATED: 15 facts about black cats bringing good luck.


Haram means forbidden and black cats under the rules of the Koran are not haram. In short, if you are a Muslim you can own a black cat. Although some Islam teachers tell their followers that black cats can carry 'jinn' or bad spirits which can disrupt family life. I am afraid that this is more superstition and a variation on the devil lives inside black cats from the Middle Ages. It is rubbish.

I have a full article on this topic: CLICK HERE TO READ IT.


Yes, black cats are affectionate like all domestic cats provided they are well socialised to people and are treated with kindness and respect.


No, black cat are not rare. In fact, they are commonplace among the pantheon of cat coat colours and patterns. FYI - grey cats are black cats carrying the dilution gene.


No, all domestic cats have the allergen called Fel D1 which is mainly in their saliva and which they deposit on their coat when grooming. It dries and flies off around the home. Don't believe the stories on the internet that some cat breeds e.g. the Siberian, are hypoallergenic meaning that they won't cause an allergic reaction. They will.

A dry cat food called Purina LiveClear is pretty effective in containing the allergen and preventing it causing an allergic reaction in people allergic to cats. Try it and tell me how it went in a comment please!

Sunday 27 August 2023

Are bicolor cats rare, friendly, hypoallergenic?

Tuxedo cats are bicolor cats. This is my darling deceased female. Image: MikeB

Bicolor cats are cats with a coat of two (as in 'bi') colors: white and another colour such as black or ginger. And the 'other colour' can have tabby markings. 

They can be moggies (random-bred cats) or purebred, pedigree cats. It does not matter which. They are common and therefore not rare. Neither are they hypoallergenic but they are friendly if they've been socialised properly and treated well.

No domestic cat is hypoallergenic as the Fel D1 allergen is produced by all domestic cats. Purina LiveClear works pretty well to make a cat acceptable to a person allergic to cats.

'Hypoallergenic' means not producing an allergic reaction in people. About 10% of people are allergic to cats.

The white fur in bicolor cats is caused by the presence of the piebald aka white spotting gene, which affects the migration of pigment producing cells (melanocytes) in the skin during the development of the embryo. 

Where there are no melanocytes there is no melanin in the hair strands. White fur does not contain pigment namely melanin.

It is white because the light from sun or room light passes through it. White light is a mixture of all the colours of the rainbow.

Melanin is a brown/black. If it is diluted, black becomes blue grey and red becomes cream and so on.

The experts rate bicolor cats from 1 to 10 depending on the amount of white fur. Level 1 is black and no white fur while level 10 is all-white. The cat in the picture is about level 4.

If you have a question, ask in a comment and I'll be pleased to respond. I always check comments as I get so few! :)

Level 9 bicolor Cornish Rex
Level 9 bicolor Cornish Rex. Image in the public domain.

Cat holds the record for the number of skips over a rope!

This is a very peculiar Guinness Record. For the life of me I can't see the point of it. I know I'm being cynical and world-weary but this is really stretching things too far. That said, this cute, dilute ginger tabby, 13-year-old cat has been awarded a Guinness record for the most skips by a cat in one minute! The cat achieved nine.

Here is the video. 

You can see that the cat's owner rewards her cat every time he skips by putting down a pellet of dry cat food. That is after every single skip she rewards her cat with some food which limits the number of skips per 60 seconds. That wouldn't normally be needed if the cat was fully trained in my view. It seems that she has achieved this record with her cat during the training of her cat.

The whole thing is simply about reward-based training (positive reinforcement). There is nothing particularly clever about it although one has to praise the woman for at least making the effort to get into the Guinness World Records.

The cat's owner is Trish and she said: “By six months old Kit Kat was jumping rope in front of huge crowds of people at the farm, helping to bust myths that cats can’t be trained.”

Comment: I don't think that she is busting myths because you can train a cat to do more or less anything with sufficient patience.

I’ve never seen another cat work as hard and long as he does. He gives it his all no matter what he is doing! He purrs non-stop and loves to please others! - Trish

Trish runs a leading talent agency of animals and has been working as a professional animal trainer for years. I suspect that she wanted to promote her business which is fantastic and she achieved it by getting this record with her cat.

Her cat can do around 20 different tricks including giving high fives, waving, meowing on command and spinning. Trish says that jumping a rope is the most impressive trick that she has trained her cat to do.

I almost forgot; her cat's name is Kit Kat. Trish says that he loves to learn. Trish uses his favourite reward which is Tiki Cat Stix as it's sure to motivate him! He is the most affectionate cat Trish says and he is everyone's best friend.

Saturday 26 August 2023

Men should talk to their dogs like women using baby-talk (this is science)!

Men should have the courage to speak to dog companions as if they are a woman using baby talk communicating with an infant. In that way the dog will better understand them and understand their commands! 

That is the finding of a study (see link below). It found that dogs respond to the kind of intonation and patterns of speech (prosody) employed by women (and of course men sometimes) when communicating with their infant child. 

This is a cross post from my main website. I think that it is interesting enough to post this twice but from a different perspective. In this article I am looking at what men might do to improve their communication with the family dog! They might learn from their female partner.

The video explains it all better than me as the voice over is by the lead researchers I believe

fMRI scans

They used fMRI scans to see how the brain reacted to both men and women talking to dogs in various styles such as adult-speak, dog-speak an infant-speak. They found that if a man spoke to a dog in human adult language the dog would respond less well as their brain would be activated to a lower level that it would be if a woman spoke to the same dog in baby language.

It is the way women emphasise certain parts of their speech, the rhythms and patterns and intonation of their speech when communicating with their young child and the family dog which triggers the dog's brain better than standard adult speech.

Although the emphasis is on women speaking to dogs in an infant language, one can imply from the research that cats would also respond to infant or cat-directed speech using a certain 'prosody'. 

Dog studies

In fact, it is certain that millions of women talk to their cats in exactly the same way that women talk to their dogs. The reason why the research is about dogs is because dogs are much easier to deal with in a research study. It's a typical problem: that there are far more scientific studies about dogs than there are about cats for this reason.


The word "prosody" means speaking in a certain way in which there are certain emphases on certain words and there is a certain pattern and intonation in the language.

Comment: it doesn't surprise me that dogs' brains showed more activity when women spoke to them in dog-directed baby talk because women talk to their babies all the time and more so than men normally. 

They become better skilled at communicating with infants and babies. As they are better skilled in communicating with infants and babies, they are more likely to speak in a way which is understood by the family dog. Dogs are better able to understand commands and requests in infant-directed speech. This is the domain of women normally.

More information: Anna Gergely et al, Dog brains are sensitive to infant- and dog-directed prosody, Communications Biology (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s42003-023-05217-y

Thursday 24 August 2023

The reason why images of big cat sightings are always fuzzy

Every single video of a big cat sightings in locations where the cats are not meant to be are fuzzy. They are unclear. The people operating their smart phone do not zoom in to enlarge the image of the cat. Note: 'big cat sightings' of pumas walking down the road in some American town is entirely different as you can expect mountain lions to be in the urban environment sometimes as these settlements are on mountain lion land.

It seems to me that people deliberately create bad quality videos or still images of big cats and then send them off to the news media in the hope and expectation to make a few hundred dollars or pounds. It would be so easy to create a decent quality video but the problem is that you would create a video of a domestic cat!

The reason why cat sighting videos are always fuzzy

If people created a decent quality video or image of a so-called big cat sighting, they would create a video of a domestic cat wandering through someone's backyard or in the countryside where they are meant to be. This most often happens in places such as the UK were there are no wild cats (except feral cats!).

Big cat sightings have to be fuzzy images. This makes them mysterious. It creates a discussion about what the animal is. The reason why there are no sharp images and high-quality videos of mysterious big cats captured by the general public is because there are no mysterious big cats in places where they're not meant to be.

It must be quite difficult for the television presenters to talk about these cat sightings. It is quite embarrassing to do it because the video is so obviously a video of a domestic cat. As usual it must have been a very bad news day. News media outlets like any other content producer can sometimes struggle to find reasonable content to fill their programs and this is a good example.

Poor quality images and poor-quality videos are synonymous with big cat sightings. The two go together like apple pie and custard. On this page is yet another version of the so-called big cat sighting and as ever it is a domestic cat minding his own business. 

If the video maker had zoomed in a little or taken a still image when zooming in the smart phone camera (and all smartphones these days have a facility to zoom in) they would have seen quickly that the cat is a domestic cat. And that would have been that. 

They would not have been able to send the video to a news media outlet because it would be a straightforward video of a domestic cat wandering around someone's backyard or on the edge of the countryside.

As you can see, there has to be an element of mystery about it and you get that by creating a poor-quality image or video. I have said enough about this.

Wednesday 23 August 2023

How do I turn my cat vegan? I don't want her to eat meat because it's not right.

How do I turn my cat vegan? I don't want her to eat meat because it's not right.
Benevo wet and dry. Balanced?

Well, a lot of people would say that the person asking the question is mad. They remind us that cats are 'obligate carnivores'. Yep, we know that, thanks. But the point is this: it is possible to manufacture dry cat food from plant protein to which you can add nutrients to ensure that the final product is a dry cat food which contains the same nutrients and is as balanced as any other cat food. It comes down to the formula of the nutrients in the food and you can rely on plant protein to provide proteins.

Important: is absolutely impossible and dangerous to feed your cat a vegan or vegetarian diet similar to the diet that a human might eat. The diet will not contain the requisite nutrients for cat health. It will not sustain a cat. It should never be attempted. You will have to rely on a commercially prepared cat food to which has been added all the required nutrients. I believe the company mention on this page achieves that but please do your own research.

Benevo Adult dry

This is the fact sheet from the Pet Express website:

Benevo Adult Original Complete Vegetarian & Vegan Cat Food is a delicious meat free recipe that with provide your cat with all of the nutrients they require to thrive.

This tasty dish is complete and balanced, having been approved by the Vegetarian and Vegan Society. It contains taurine and spirulina to boost the immune system, without the addition of any GM ingredients. With 28% protein, this is a great vegetarian meal that your cat will love to savour.
  • Nutritionally complete and balanced recipe
  • 28% protein
  • Not tested on animals
  • With Prebiotic FOS to help digestion
  • Added Yucca extract helps reduce toilet odour
  • Contains Spirulina to boost immune system
  • Omega 3 and 6 oils for healthy skin, fur, joints, vision and brain function
  • Approved by the Vegetarian and Vegan Society
  • Free from genetically modified ingredients
Ingredients: Soya, Wheat, Maize Gluten Meal, Maize, Rice, Sunflower Oil, Beet Pulp, Vitamins & Minerals, Brewers Yeast, Yeast Based Palatant, Linseed, Seaweed, Fructo-oliogosaccharides (0.09%), Spirulina, Yucca Schidigera Extract (0.01%.)

Analytical Constituents: Protein 28%, Fat Content 13%, Crude Fibre 3.0%, Ash 5.0%, Moisture 7%.


A study conducted at the Vienna Institute for Food Nutrition and Functional Plant Compounds published in 2014 assessed the nutritional value of vegan cat and dog food, both wet and dry. The assessment included Benevo and another brand Yarrah. The focused on Benevo Duo.

Benevo Duo - for cats & dogs (same food)

Benevo Duo cats was found to meet most of the minimum fulfilment requirements the cats consuming this vegan pet food. They say that the majority of daily nutrient requirements were met with the exception of energy, kilocalories and crude protein. It is suggested to meet the total of these requirements to help with the vegan cat food supplements to ensure the health of their cat. 

This food is both a dog and cat food (hence 'duo') which is very strange because normally cat food is too rich for dogs and dog food is not rich enough cats. That's possibly why this study found that this particular version of vegan cat food was not quite up to scratch in terms of energy and crude protein. 

But the Benevo Adult Original Complete Vegetarian and Vegan Cat Food mentioned above appears to be as balanced as any other dry cat food.

Can domestic cats be super-shy?

Shy cat?
Shy cat? Screenshot.

The word "shy" is normally used in relation to the emotions and behaviour of humans and it means a person who is nervous or timid in the company of people. On THAT definition domestic cats can certainly be shy because there are two distinct character types for domestic cats namely the confident cat and the timid cat. 

A timid cat is more likely to hide when a stranger enters the room for instance. A more confident cat is more able to adjust to the presence of a stranger and perhaps even approach them. This is about nervousness to new events and strange people. It's about confidence really.


The kitten in the video is called super-shy? I don't think that the kitten is behaving this way because they are shy. It looks that way but I think the looks are misleading. It looks as if this kitten is a little tired and is placing her paws over her eyes in preparation to sleep or snooze.

Discussion about cats being shy - same as for humans?

But I am not sure that domestic cats experience the same kind of shyness that humans do. A young person might be shy in the presence of strangers because they lack confidence and are unsure about themselves. A cat might be shy in the presence of strangers because they lack confidence but the underlying emotion will not be a feeling of unsureness about their abilities but about the potential dangers that a stranger presents to them. It's about self-preservation. That does not come into play when a person is shy.

To stress the point: for a cat being shy it means that they are protecting themselves against an unknown creature whereas for a human being shy it is not about self-protection but about self-confidence. Although the physical behaviour will look similar between cats and humans.

RELATED: Shy male tabby cat falls for pretty gray female and opens up.


In humans, as well, when they are shy, they can tend to be embarrassed with a red face. Obviously, this does not happen with cats. The emotion of embarrassment is not in the domestic cat's repertoire of emotions as far as I am aware. 

This is a higher emotion and there is a big discussion about whether domestic cats can experience the higher emotions. There is no difficulty in understanding that cats experience the lower emotions such as happiness and sadness, anger and calm but the emotions such as grief and jealousy are up for discussion.

Learned a lot

There is one thing for sure, though, people are gradually learning a lot more about domestic cats and their abilities together with their intelligence and in doing so we are understanding that cats have a greater range of emotions than we had previously thought were possible.

If you go back far enough you even find that some veterinarians didn't believe that cats could feel pain! That's how far we have moved on and a lot of that is thanks to the education about cats brought to people via the Internet. It has transformed our knowledge of cats.

Tuesday 22 August 2023

You can't check your cat's poop without difficulty if she is an indoor/outdoor cat

This is an aspect of looking after an indoor/outdoor cat which genuinely concerns me. Indoor/outdoor cats go to the toilet outside. Normally you never see it happen. I don't see my cat going to the toilet. I sort of know when he is gone to the toilet because he does it at a similar time each day and I can smell actually that he has just been but I don't know where and I don't see his poop.

And to be perfectly honest I am failing my cat in this respect because at a very simple level it is useful for a cat caregiver to check their cat's poop from time to time. It is a good diagnostic tool. And of course, if your cat is an indoor cat, you will be looking at your cat's poop every day when you clean out the litter tray. It's an automatic, quick check on your cat's digestive system and general health.

A lot of illnesses result in diarrhoea. Diarrhoea, as you no doubt know, is not a disease but a symptom. A common cause is overfeeding because the colon cannot deal with the quantity of food provided.

Food in the small intestine takes about eight hours to get to the colon. The bulk of the food is absorbed at this stage. 80% of water is absorbed in the small bowel. The colon concentrates and stores the waste and at the end of the process a well-formed stool is evacuated containing no mucous, blood or undigested food.

But if the food passes through the intestinal tract rapidly it is incompletely digested and arrives at the rectum in a liquid state. This is diarrhoea. And the transit time down the gastrointestinal tract can be speeded up because the cat has eaten some irritating substances including (this is not a complete list):

  • Dead birds, rodents and other dead animals; 
  • decaying food and garbage;
  • foods that are too rich, salts, spices and fat;
  • indigestible items such as plastic, paper, cloth et cetera;
  • intestine or parasites (endoparasites).

Although it can happen, it is uncommon for a cat to have diarrhoea from eating toxic substances. This is because cats are quite careful about what they eat and they tend to eat slowly. But sometimes toxic substances can be ingested when their cat grooms themselves and clean their feet. These toxic substances can be toxic to the stomach and cause vomiting and diarrhoea. The substances include, for example:

  • Tar derivatives, oil, kerosene gasoline;
  • refrigerants and cleaning fluids;
  • toilet bowl cleaner inserts, bleaches, insecticide;
  • mushrooms, ornamental plants and wild plants;
  • and building materials such as paints, lime and cement.

Some adult cats and kittens are unable to digest milk and milk byproducts. This is because they are lactose intolerant. Most domestic cats are lactose intolerant because they lack adequate amounts of the enzyme lactase. It causes diarrhea and for kittens it can be very serious because it dehydrates and ultimately it can kill kittens if the problem is left unaddressed.

Finally, some cats experience emotional diarrhoea when they are excited or stressed. If you want to narrow the search for the cause of the diarrhoea you begin by examining the colour, frequency of stools and the odour and consistency.

It is notable that veterinarians suggest that you bring to a veterinary clinic appointment a sample of your cat's stool as it will be useful to your veterinarian in diagnosing illness

Analysing diarrhoea, although it sounds horrible, is a very good way to diagnose the where it has happened in the intestines such as rapid transit or a bacterial infection or malabsorption and then from that you may be able to get a handle on the underlying cause.

  1. For example, if there are several small stools in an hour with straining the likely location is the colon and the likely cause is colitis according to my veterinary handbook.
  2. If, in another example, the diarrhoea is putrid, the likely location where this happens is the small bowel and the likely cause is an intestinal infection with bleeding.
  3. In a third example, if the colour and appearance of the stool is soft and bulky, the location where this occurs is a small bowel (rapid transit) and the likely cause is due to overfeeding or poor-quality diet, high in fibre.

My suggestion if you want to take me up on this would be to occasionally place a litter tray in the home or outside the home with fresh litter substrate in the tray to encourage your cat to use it at which time you will be able to check on their poop.

Of course, you can make an outdoor toilet with sand or some other suitable substance but there's no guarantee that your cat will use it and they might have a variety of locations where they go to the toilet of which you are unaware. 

It is very convenient for the caregiver if their cat goes to the toilet outside. Perhaps it is too convenient because you tend to accept it and forget about the advantages of cleaning the litter tray. That's sounds extraordinary but there are advantages in terms of monitoring your cat's health.

Monday 21 August 2023

America's pet store owners need to be both ethical and businesslike

Entirely understandably, American's pet store owners, take a commercial stance when running their business. They have to in order to make a profit. The world is highly competitive. But my argument is that they need to temper that objective with the objective to ensure that they run their businesses along ethical lines.

Inherently unhealthy Bulldog for sale at Perfect Pets
Inherently unhealthy bulldog for sale at Perfect Pets. Image in public domain.

And I'm referring to the acquisition of cats and dogs from puppy mills to supply their pet stores. No doubt these animals are quite cheap because they are bred in a cheap fashion. They are bred in facilities where there is poor regard to healthcare and socialisation normally. I don't want to brand all puppy mills with the same criticism but they are called "puppy mills" for a reason. They churn out puppies which means the pet stores can buy them cheaply.

It also means that the puppies are going to be popular breeds such as dachshunds and French bulldogs. But both of these dog breeds have health problems particularly the French bulldog which I think is the unhealthiest dog breed of them all with a reduced lifespan as a consequence.

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

The moral aspect of acquiring cats and dogs from puppy mills is this. They should be selling rescue dogs and cats from local animal shelters because in that way they will save the lives of some animals scheduled for euthanasia because the shelters are oversubscribed. Sometimes there is not enough space for incoming unwanted animals.

And when an animal shelter does not run a no-kill policy with commitment, you get a situation where you have to euthanise healthy animals. Nathan Winograd would argue that if you run a proper no-kill policy there is hardly ever if ever a need to euthanise healthy animals. But it does require a huge amount of commitment and a smart approach to running a shelter.

RELATED: Pet stores in America are unfeasible unless they buy from puppy mills.

Back to the moral point. In Aurora city the council has passed an ordinance to ban the sale of cats and dogs that have been commercially-bred at puppy mills. Pet stores are going to have to sell rescue animals acquired from animal shelters.

And, as expected, the pet store owners are up in arms. They think the decision by the city's administrators is entirely wrong. They state that many pet store owners are good people running good stores and are not evil and overly commercial in disregarding animal welfare.

I get that. But the moral dimension is still there for all to see. It doesn't matter if the pet store is run really well if they are stocking the outlet with puppy mill cats and dogs. That's because in doing so, as mentioned, they are indirectly encouraging the killing of healthy animals are animal shelters, which is unsupportable.

And it is interesting to note that one pet store owner, Jens Larsen of Denver Perfect Pets in Centennial says that the decision to ban the sale of puppy mill dogs and cats as "wrongheaded". He's outspoken but he should keep his head below the parapet - see below.

He said that not all people are evil or wrong that run pet stores. Correct. And he adds that he has never had any violations or citations against him. He says that puppy mills are often licensed and regulated and therefore to ban supply from these facilities to pet stores as "just wrong".

In some ways he is correct but I have to stress once again the moral dimension. The ethics of the current situation in which puppy mills supply pet stores is unsustainable.

Jen Larsen's Perfect Pets

And interestingly, if you go onto the website you see that his outlet has two stars out of five from 69 reviews. That definitely points to a problem and if you dig around further you will find a news media story on the Denver 7 ABC website with the headline, "Centennial pet shop accused of selling sick dogs to customers". That is a reference to Jen Larsen's pet store.

Some customers are accusing him of selling sick animals. One of them was a dachshund who was bought by a couple and they said that they "went to bed thinking I might wake up to a dead dog. So how could that get any worse?" Just days after bringing her dog home she said that he flopped and rolled and couldn't stand up on his own.

The dog had giardia, a protozoan parasite that most dogs contract from drinking faeces-contaminated water. The condition was not covered by Perfect Pets' insurance. They took the dog to a veterinarian, one that was not suggested by Larsen. As it happens, Larsen partly paid for the veterinary treatment. The dog needed oxygen but survived.

Denver 7 went to check out Perfect Pets with an undercover camera and noticed lethargic dogs and one that had mucus running out of their nose. An employee said that the place was too dusty. But the point here is that Larsen has been accused of selling sick pets and he is the one who is vociferously against the Aurora city ordinance banning the purchase of puppy mill cats and dogs.

And that's the point of this article. Business people owning pet store outlets need to balance the objectives of being ethical and of making a profit. The former puts a check on the latter and the former should underpin all their activities. In doing so, they will run a better business and it will be more profitable in the long run.

Sunday 20 August 2023

Police officer adopts kitten 'thrown from window' who clung to his shoulders

 Come on, this is great story. I think this police officer is a really nice guy. He has a heart. And Penny was brave and smart to pick him! She made it known to him that he was the man for her. And she got him for life. She is a dilute calico - a really nice coat They are nearly always female and I guess that is what the SPCA told him when he was allowed to foster her.

Penny was thrown from a window. It must have been a downstairs window. And she was under a couch. The owner must have been a thrown away their couch in the same way they threw away their cat.

That's a crime, isn't it? Cat abandonment. Normally is and it is a form of cat cruelty anyway. Why didn't this nice police officer arrest the owner!? 

They make a great couple, don't they? The story is proof that the cat picks the person when it comes to selecting a cat at a rescue shelter. If the cat comes to you and jumps onto your shoulders or lap, that's it. Over and out. You have yourself a new cat companion. No arguments.

He fostered Penny first but that was only an interim step as he always intended to adopt her, I think. He, like me, is a failed foster carer!

This relationship will have legs. It'll last and last. The bond is unbreakable. Adopting like this creates an instant and durable bond. A connection that you don't always get when you purchase a purebred cat from a breeder.

Friday 18 August 2023

How do you define "cat obesity"?

When you think of the word "obesity" you think of very fat people or sometimes very fat cats (and I don't mean the human fat cat namely the greedy, alpha male smoking a cigar happy in the knowledge that they have ripped off people to make a large profit).

Just 15% above the normal

But it might surprise people that feline obesity refers to cats with a weight which is 15% above the ideal. That's not much more than 10% above the ideal. You might think that is acceptable. You might not even really notice it and I wouldn't blame you. That's because people, including me, tend to normalise weight gain. You gradually lose your bearings as to what is the correct weight both for yourself and for your companion animal. The problem creeps up on you almost invisibly sometimes.

So, a weight gain of 15% in your cat might not be noticed but a veterinarian would describe your cat as obese. And it might not surprise you that the most prevalent nutritional problem for domestic cats and dogs in Western Europe and the United States is obesity!

You may have heard about the obesity epidemic both in humans and cats and I suspect dogs as well. It affects between 10 and 20% of pet cats but that figure is probably out of date as it is constantly climbing. The figure relates to a book published in 2007. That's long enough ago for the obesity epidemic to become much worse.



The reason for cat obesity might be a medical condition and it should be ruled out before a weight loss program is started. However, in the vast majority of cases weight gain is associated with over-nutrition i.e. feeding too much. The cat is taking in an increased calorific intake or there is a reduced requirement for the body to burn up those calories. The infographic above mentions other issues.

To put it another way, the cat is either eating too much or not burning off enough calories or both. My mind immediately turns to the trend which I believe is taking place in America and in the UK to keep cats indoors full-time. This restricts activity. Cats become bored and they eat addictive foods for pleasure. This is a formula for obesity.

Health problems as a result of feline obesity

And the problems associated with obesity include:

  • Respiratory difficulties
  • decreased cardiac reserve
  • insulin resistance and the development of diabetes
  • poor response to infectious diseases
  • fatty infiltration of the liver
  • increased surgical risk due to increased risk of anaesthesia, fat necrosis, slow wound healing, technical difficulty in performing surgery and
  • feline lower urinary tract disease.

A quite comprehensive list which comes from (verbatim) NUTRITION AND WELFARE in my book The Welfare of Cats Edited by Irene Rochlitz.

Slow weight loss

Veterinarians would provide a word of warning about reducing a cat's weight. It should not be done too fast as this can lead to hepatic lipidosis which itself is a serious disease which can, unless it is turned around, lead to the death of the cat.

Clearly, for an obese cat to lose weight requires self-discipline on the part of the cat's caregiver. It's probably wise to obtain veterinary support to encourage the owner to follow dietary recommendations. This may be crucial to success on occasions.

Eating less is more effective than exercising

In respect of people becoming obese and desiring to lose weight, my personal research indicates that the strongest way to lose weight is to reduce food intake compared to doing more exercise. The latter will certainly help but the former will have a more dramatic effect and it should be a permanent change in diet for the lifetime of the person and the cat!

Thursday 17 August 2023

When you rescue a shelter cat you save two lives

This is a very sweet, cat loving couple in America who have a wonderful relationship with domestic cats. That message comes across loud and clear in the video at the end of this article. Note: sometimes these sorts of embedded videos from news media website stop working. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

When you rescue a shelter cat you save two lives
When you rescue a shelter cat you save two lives. Screenshot.

They've adopted all their cats from shelters and have seven. The lady says that rescue cats are begging to be loved and they will give love if given a chance. 

And she made a nice point about adopting a rescue cat at a shelter. She said that when you do that you of course, save the life of the cat that you have adopted because there is a chance that they might be euthanised if they stay at that shelter for too long because nobody wants them; and secondly, you potentially save the life of another rescue cat because you make room for the cat at the shelter. 

Often shelters are quite full and sometimes full to capacity so in adopting one cat you open up one space for a new rescue cat to be brought into the shelter.

I think that is a very nice way to explain one of the advantages of adopting a shelter. And the husband in this charming relationship says that if you visit a shelter and you meet the cats it's like meeting people. You will meet a cat or cats where there is some chemistry between you.

I am sure that there are many millions of people who don't believe that a human can have a relationship with a cat which contains that magic chemistry but I believe it can happen and you can make it happen at a shelter because you can meet a lot of cat sometimes.

Arguably, there is a much better chance of meeting a cat with that chemistry at an animal shelter than there is at a cat breeder selling a purebred cat. Cat breeders might have four kittens for sale or less. And kittens don't really have a formed character when they were young.

But if you meet a mature cat that has for some unfortunate reason found themselves at a shelter, they will have a character and this allows a connection to be made based upon your character and there's.

It's notable, by the way, that this couple have adopted black cats. That is unusual as well because typically, as you know I am sure, people tend to reject black cats at shelters and prefer to adopt kittens with a more interesting coat type.

Adopting a black cat from a shelter is a sure sign that the person is a true, died in the wool, cat lover. Both these people are. There is no question about it.


Tuesday 15 August 2023

Can a cat yawn cause a contagious yawn in a dog?

Here is a video of a cat yawn leading to their dog companion yawning due to the contagious nature of this form of behaviour. Yawning contagion crosses the species barrier.

Cat yawn is contagious to their dog buddy
Cat yawn is contagious to their dog buddy. Screenshot.

RELATED: Is yawning contagious to cats?

Cats can cause a dog to yawn when they yawn. It's called contagious yawning and it is likely that you have heard about it. And, interestingly, contagious yawning also affects dogs when their owner yawns. The point probably is that if the dog is in a close relationship with a sentient being - normally another dog or a cat or a human - who yawns, then they are likely to yawn as well.

The University of Tokyo did a study and they found that just over half the dogs monitored yawned after watching their owners yawn. When the dogs watched a stranger yawning the contagion from those people to the dog was about half as powerful and they yawned about half is frequently.

And in the video below, we see a cat and dog who are very good friends. They are on Instagram (link). The dog is said to be a bit nervous and the cat is said to help calm the dog down. They are good buddies and the contagion effect is going to be much stronger from cat to dog under those circumstances.

Separately, in another study from the University of Portugal, they found that 12 of 29 dogs yawned when they heard a recording of their owners yawning. Powerful stuff.

You will find other studies on this topic. They've all come to the same conclusion that human yawning is contagious to dogs. I have extrapolated that information to strongly argue that cat yawning is also contagious to dogs if there is a close relationship between the two.

And the video on this page confirms it. I know that there is a possibility that the dog is simply yawning but it looks very much like contagious yawning to me.

Did you know that when lions wake up, they yawn to coordinate their movements?

Grand jury's scathing report of Orange County Animal Care, California rejected by BOS

A board of supervisors (BOS) is a group of elected officials responsible for overseeing county government. In Orange County a grand jury investigation of Orange County Animal Care (OCAC) in California has uncovered inhumane conditions but the BOS have rejected the findings.

They also revealed the killing of shelter animals despite there being empty cages and turning volunteers and adopters away by refusing to end pandemic-era closures. 

The OC Animal Care Shelter located in Tustin, California on June 17, 2023.
The OC Animal Care Shelter located in Tustin, California on June 17, 2023. Image: Hannah Okamoto / VOICE OF OC

That information comes from Nathan Winograd. In addition, I can report from the Voice of Orange County website which states that Orange County officials dispute the grand jury report on increased kill rate at the shelter.

The grand jury came to a majority finding that the county-run animal shelter needed to update policies such as increasing visits for residents.

And they found that the shelter has been euthanising animals at a higher rate than in previous years.

This latest report is part of an uncomfortable line of scathing reports; five over the past 24 years.

The latest report came out early on this summer and it echoes calls in the community to reopen OC Animal Care to the public, to reinstate trap neuter and release (TNR) programs and to reduce kill rates.

Nathan Winograd is critical of the BOS, whose role I mentioned in the opening sentence. I'm told by Nathan Winograd that the BOS passed a resolution disagreeing with almost all of the findings and recommendations. 

Among the many "breathtaking claims in its rebuttal, the BOS stated there is no link between refusing TNR and killing cats-even as OCAC does that very thing".

At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, OC Animal Care suspended most of their walk-in services and introduced an appointment system in its place. And they also suspended the "catch-and-release" programme for community cats. I suspect that that is a reference to TNR programs for stray and feral cats in the county. Note that they suspended the program and didn't terminate or cancel it.

If it suspended then surely it can be reinstated?

I'm told that the kennel areas at the shelter are still mainly off-limits to the public except for a 2.5-hour period on Wednesdays and Saturdays when certain kennel areas are in fact open to the public.

The grand jury claimed that the adoption appointment system is restricted and it prevents potential adopters from viewing the animals easily. The county disagrees with those claims.

Animal advocate Sharon Logan commented in saying that the "themes" of the grand jury reports are always the same namely "lack of leadership and high euthanasia rates".

Logan is a local animal rescuer who, remarkably, successfully sued the county shelter over the shelter's euthanasia practices in the past.

The shelter is open to the public for five hours a week since the Covid pandemic. An Orange County resident, Margot Boyer, has started a petition to urge the shelter to entirely reopen the kennels to the public. The petition has surpassed 23,000 signatures.

She is pessimistic about the grand jury report because she believes that nothing will happen but at least the report was made which is more than what the BOS are doing.

Monday 14 August 2023

Dog walker sits two dogs on a railway line for a photograph (video)

his is a video from Sky News which is a compilation of security camera footage from a railway company. It shows some pretty risky behaviour.

Woman risks her life and the life of the dogs in her charge as a dog walker
Woman risks her life and the life of the dogs in her charge as a dog walker. Screenshot.

Security camera footage shows a person risking their lives and the lives of the dogs under their supervision at a railway level crossing as the dog walker encourages two dogs to sit on the tracks while an onlooker takes a photograph of them.

And in another section, two dog walkers rushed across the railway tracks eight seconds before a high-speed train arrives. You can hear the train's horn sounding. They look very casual.

Network Rail released the video footage showing people risking their lives on a footpath level crossing in Worcestershire, UK. In addition to the above, a teenage boy was filmed doing a one-armed press up on the tracks.

Without wishing to preach, the first duty of companion animal caregivers and dog walkers is to keep their animals safe at all times.

Sunday 13 August 2023

Save £50 per year when making a cup of tea and have less limescale in your kettle!

With this hack you'll save £50 per year and have less limescale in your kettle!
With this hack you'll save £50 per year and have less limescale in your kettle! Help the cat caregiver to help the cat! Image: MikeB

Here is my tip, trick of hack to save money and reduce the amount of limescale build up in your kettle. And it takes less time to make a cup of tea.

In the UK, the price of energy is high currently. It'll probably remain pretty high for the foreseeable future and the cost of living has risen. Budgets are tight in many homes.

What has this got to do with cats?! Nothing directly. But indirectly, yes. We need to look after the cat caregiver to look after the cat!

The 'hack'

Rather than taking the kettle to the faucet (tap) to fill it up enough to make a cup of tea, you take the mug to the faucet and fill it up to between 2/3rds to 3/4 full of water depending on how you like you tea (with or without milk).

Take the mug to the kettle and pour in the water

Boil the kettle and as you do so place a tea bag in the mug

Stay by the kettle as it boils because it'll be fast!

When boiled, pour out all the water leaving as little as possible in the kettle to minimise the buildup of limescale.

How much money will you save?

It depends on the current price of electricity wherever you are! But in the UK, it costs around 1.2 pence to boil a kettle with the correct amount of water in it for one mug. It'll cost around four times that if you just partly fill a kettle.

On average people make four teas/coffees per day.

That makes 4.8 pence to per day (min cost) and 19.2 pence per day the more careless way.

This makes £70 per year for the careless way and £17.52 the more precise way I have described.

The difference in cost is £70 minus £17.52 making £52.48 per year!

If you make a mug of tea in the conventional way you are wasting about £50 per year.

Wrong? Tell me in a comment and we can discuss it!

Saturday 12 August 2023

Can cats be trained like dogs?

Can cats be trained like dogs? The answer is yes. It just takes a little bit longer because cats are not pack animals unlike dogs. Dogs look to their leader, their caregiver for instructions and therefore learn them quicker. But cats are adaptable and they have adapted to the human environment over thousands of years.

And, it is said, that the wildcat hybrids such as the Bengal cat that you see in the video are more suited to being trained. This is because they are, in general, more intelligent thanks to the wildcat element in their makeup. Wild cat species are considered to be slightly more intelligent than domestic cats because they are more challenged.


So, here we have a video of a Bengal cat who has undergone some fundamental behavioural training as you would give to a dog.

The woman would have simply trained her Bengal cat just like any other cat or a dog perhaps using a clicker to bridge the gap between the command and the desired action. You will see other domestic cats on the Internet who have been trained to do various things.

Perhaps the most remarkable example of domestic cat training is of a sweet, little moggy who has been trained to do sign language. Their owner is deaf and therefore they have the ideal teacher.

It is a fallacy to think that domestic cats can't be trained if anybody believes that nowadays. I think that idea has been scotched thanks to the Internet which I think is a wonderful medium for training people! I mean educating millions of people who have adopted a cat for the first time.

From 1 to 250 million domestic cats in 10,000 years

At the moment the news media is discussing the domestication of the cat. A good moment to present the story in a different light as indicated in the title. 

At one time - we are unsure exactly when but perhaps around 10,000 years ago - there was one domestic cat. The first domestic cat in the world. Well, they weren't exactly domesticated, more tamed North African wildcat but for sake of keeping things simple we'll call that first, precious cat 'domesticated'.

From 1 to 250 million domestic cats in 10,000 years
Image: MikeB

Of course, the person with whom the cat resided had no idea that they were making history! But they were. It was entirely novel at the time. But also, at that time the dog had been domesticated for about 10,000 years already!

Anyway, 10,000 years later humankind has around 250 million domestic cats living on the planet it is believed. The number is a guess so please don't quote the figure as a fact as it is not.

The trouble with the internet is that what starts out as an estimate or even a guess becomes fact after it has been recycled hundreds of times online through various website but mainly news media websites.

To the approximate quarter of a billion domestic cats, we can add a similar number of feral and stray cats making a grand total of around half a billion (500,000,000).

For me, the equal number of feral cats strongly indicates that cat domestication has been an unmitigated failure despite the fact that their presence in millions of homes has brightened up the lives of their human caregivers. But there should be no feral cats.

Each feral cat is a failure in cat domestication. A failure in cat ownership and caregiving. In the early days of cat domestication by the Ancient Romans I suspect that there were very few feral cats.

Domestic cats were perhaps more important and relatively rare. As they become ever more commonplace their value decreased leading to poor cat caregiving, carelessness leading to domestic cats becoming unwanted strays and ferals.

This carelessness in cat ownership would have led and still does to allowing them to procreate. Back in the day there was no such thing as spaying and neutering or veterinarians.

Now we have vets and still careless people allow their cats to procreate to swell the number of feral cats further.

The worst case of humankind's relationship with the cat is in Australia where there is legalised cat cruelty on a large scale as the authorities poison, shoot and kill in any way possible the feral cats on that continent with no thought to dealing with the 'problem' humanely.

Australia is the ultimate example of failure in cat domestication as it is full of cruelty.

Friday 11 August 2023

Is the Iberian lynx further endangered by the devastating Algarve wildfires of 2023?

Iberian lynx in the wild. Highly endangered. Image: Pinterest.

No one has mentioned this but it seems to me that the highly endangered Iberian lynx - perhaps the world's most endangered cat species - is now under further threat to its survival in the wild: the massive wildfires in the Algarve region of Portugal which is exactly were the Iberian lynx lives!

RELATED: Climate change and illegal water extraction add to threats against Iberian lynx

Even without the fires, the temperatures have been so high in the Algarve and other parts of Portugal and Spain that they present a threat alone it would seem to me. What about water courses drying up and the lynx failing to get enough water or its prey animals such as hares and rabbits dying because of the temperatures and drought? The temperatures have been hitting the mid-to-high 40 degrees Celsius in parts.

RELATED: Iberian lynx – comprehensive treatise focusing on conservation 2022

I have two maps: one of the area of distribution of the Iberian lynx and one of the area of extreme temperature and danger to wildfires as published on The lynx distribution map is by me.

The Iberian lynx distribution

Marked Area What It Means
Green Line This encloses the wider area that contains fragmented habitat where this wild cat is believed to be extinct. You can zoom back to see the big picture
Red Line This contains the wider area around the Parque Nacional de Doñana. The park is a place where the Iberian lynx is known to be found and the wider area where they are also found.
Blue Areas (2) These are the areas where this wild cat is known to live. The population in the park is estimated at 24-33 and in the eastern Sierra Morena (the “stronghold”) 60-110 (2009). Please note that the effective population size (breeding adults) is much less at about 50 in the Sierra Morena.

Where the wildfires are

As you can see the distribution of the Iberian lynx very much overlaps with the fire zone. And the high temperatures are much wider.

Surely this of concern to the wildlife conservationists?

Thursday 10 August 2023

What does Acinonyx mean?

Acinonyx is the first half of the Latin, scientific name for the cheetah. The full name is "Acinonyx jubatus". Because of its anatomical peculiarities, the cheetah is always placed alone in a separate genus, and sometimes even in a separate sub-family of the Felidae. 

Cheetah mom and cubs
Cheetah mom and cubs. Image: Pixabay.

According to Dr. Desmond Morris:

"There is no specific record as to why the cheetah was given this name in 1828, but it has been assumed that the word was derived from the Greek akaina and onux, meaning 'thorn-claw', referring to the fact that its feet are visible, unsheathed claws."

An alternative theory is that it may have been derived from the Greek a and kineo which means without movement. This is another reference to the cheetah's claws which are an exception within the cat family. 

Saying the word:

The claws not entirely unsheathed but they don't operate like a domestic cat's claws which are retracted and then protracted (extended). They remain out so that the cheetah can grip the ground firmly as they have to weave left and right and run at maximum speed to chase fast prey animals. The cheetah's claws remain visible hence the name.

The species name jubatus is from the Latin which means having a crest or mane. This is because cheetah cubs have a crest on the back of their heads and along the spine (see above) until it grows out when they become adults.

Vodka-soaked grandmother tried to stone her cat to death in her neighbour's waste bin

NEWS AND COMMENT-UK: The word "grandmother" conjures up the image of a benign, pleasant elderly lady who loves to be with her grandchildren and provides wise words of wisdom while sitting on her armchair with a loving cat on her lap. In the case of Pamela Mattison, 49, this image could not be further from the truth.

Mattison leaving court. It looks like she is enjoying the celebrity. Image: Cavendish Press.

She admits to dumping her cat in a neighbour's waste bin before trying to stone the cat to death using a brick. Apparently, she threw the brick four times into the wheelie bin with both hands. None made direct contact sufficient to kill the cat thankfully.

She was confronted by her neighbour into who's waste bin she had thrown her cat. The neighbour had heard a loud banging noise from the rear window of his property and he also heard the screams of what sounded like an animal.

He went to investigate and he saw Pamela Mattison standing by his waste bin. She was picking up a large brick and throwing it with two hands into the bin. She did this four times. The neighbour then opened the back door to his garden and asked what was going on.

Mattison fled to her backyard next door. The neighbour then called the police. Shortly afterwards Mattison returned to the bin and pulled her cat out. It appears that they were in a black bin bag. As she pulled the cat out, she asked her neighbour why her cat was in his bin.

She then marched off towards the local veterinarian but was detained by the police. The police constable saw that the cat was frightened and took him/her from Mattison.

The cat was distressed with injured legs. One of their paws was bleeding heavily. Mattison was arrested and admitted to committing animal cruelty offences.

Mattison's cat who survived Mattison's attempt to stone them to death but was injured. Image: Cavendish Press.

The cat was then taken to the Pet Medic Center in Worsley for treatment. They remained at the center for four days. On arrival they were unable to place weight on their hind legs. With great good luck they made a full recovery.

Madison agreed to sign over the cat to the police. It appears that the cat has been rehomed but we don't know the name of the owner which is normal.

Madison, we are told by the news media, had 13 previous offences but this was the first for animal cruelty.

At her trial, her defence counsel said that there was another large cat in the area which would harass the abused cat. Comment: is that relevant? It is not.

Also, in mitigation, her lawyer said that, "At the time she had come back from work and went for a bottle of vodka before letting a kitten out."

Apparently, Madison claimed that she threw the brick at the larger cat but then decided she would put her cat out of its misery because she had her cat by mistake. Believable? No.

Mattison was convicted of animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (although the act is not mentioned in the news media reports). Her punishment is to complete 20 hours rehabilitation activity days as well as 180 hours of unpaid work. She was referred to the Women's Problem-Solving Court where she will appear on November 6. Comment: is this to deal with her drinking habit which she appears to have?

The judge told Madison:
"The footage taken by the other party in the case shows a most despicable crime. It is quite sadistic to place the cat in the bin and then target it with such forceful blows. Perhaps the most remarkable thing is that no further damage befell that poor creature. This particular animal got off lightly, although it was extraordinarily frightened. You have previous convictions for aggression, including domestic abuse convictions against your former and current partner. However, most of these offences are linked with excessive alcohol. You also have PTSD stemming from abuse you suffered as a child. Your behaviour can be addressed should you engage with probation."
Yes, the judge said that she was sadistic which is entirely correct. The case is interesting because it sheds some light on the contributory factor of alcohol leading to animal abuse. I suspect that many examples of animal abuse are as a result of alcohol abuse or drug abuse combined with a callous character.

It is also interesting for the fact that this is a grandmother albeit at the age of 49. I have a strong suspicion that she is a person of disreputable character and that her sadistic behaviour towards her cat is an extension of her unpleasant character. She smiled as she left court having avoided what might have been a prison sentence.

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i hate cats

i hate cats, no i hate f**k**g cats is what some people say when they dislike cats. But they nearly always don't explain why. It appe...

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