Thursday 28 September 2023

Is it bad for a cat to spend all their time indoors without going outside at all?

A simple example of enriching the cat's environment by a friend's husband who lives in the US.

A person on social media asked the above question. Another asked a very similar question: "How do cats stand staying inside their whole life?"

The questions go to that eternal debate about the necessity - it is believed by many - to keep domestic cats indoors full-time for their safety, for their owner's peace of mind and to protect wildlife.

Many more people are keeping their cats indoors full-time nowadays than in the past. If you go back far enough into the past, nobody kept their cat inside full-time. And in certain parts of the world, most domestic cat are community cats. They mingle between different owners. It is a very were loose relationship and they are all outdoor cats.

Cat domestication is still on a journey which started 10,000 years ago. It's evolving and it will be very different in 10,000 years' time.

I suspect that in 10,000 years' time all domestic cats will be full-time indoor cats. And I hope at that time cat owners will have done something about a major failing that is apparent to me nowadays.

This is that you can't just keep cats indoors full-time by locking the doors and windows on them. You can do that but if your cat is used to going outside, they will be unhappy. They will be confused.

But if you raise a kitten from scratch i.e. as a newborn and they begin their life indoors and they remain indoors it is more likely that they will be happy staying indoors all their lives. That's because of the obvious reason that they only know life indoors. That is their world.

So, the starting point is important. And equally important is how enjoyable you make the indoors for your cat. You must have heard the phrase "environmental enrichment". If you haven't it means converting the inside of your home to be equally suitable for humans and cats!

This is how the indoors should be for full-time indoor cats! Very few cat caregivers go this far. The words in the image are those of the constructor of the cat runs. Image in the public domain.

Very few people do that by which I mean making it equally good for both species. But some people do make the interior of their home more interesting for their cat companion. This would include variously:

  • Providing lots of climbing materials such as cat trees, some of which might go to the ceiling;
  • Providing cat runs which traverse the walls and go up to the ceiling!
  • Providing little hidey-hole places where they can hide and sleep. They should be high up sometimes where they will feel more secure.
  • Providing toys to play with and then playing with your cat frequently.
  • Building a catio, which is a small enclosure attached to the home with a wire grill to the exterior so the cat can smell and see the exterior more easily. They can employ their senses to pick up all that is going on in the exterior.

Cats need to be able to travel vertically as well as horizontally. They need a den the sleeping which is covered. Cats like something over their heads when they sleep ideally. That is not an absolute requirement but it's a good recommendation.

So, the answer to the question is you can keep cats indoors full-time but there is an added obligation on the owner to make sure that their cat does not become bored. There are tens of millions of very bored full-time indoor cats in America and elsewhere. And they end up pleasure eating to relieve the boredom which leads to obesity which in turn leads to illnesses such as feline diabetes.

When people say their indoor cat sleeps all the time, it is no surprise to me because they have nothing else to do. They are not actually in deep sleep. They are simply snoozing, killing time, resting and zoning out. It is incumbent upon cat owners to really rise to this very difficult challenge of enriching their cat's environment if they are confined to it.

When they do it is not bad to keep a cat indoors all the time. If they don't rise to the challenge, it is bad! It is down to the caregiver to make it work. Thus far I have not seen enough - anywhere near enough - commitment to enriching a cat's indoor environment.

There are some secondary issues which are perhaps obvious. It's much easier for a full-time indoor cat to live in a big house with many rooms. Lots more space. It's much harder for a cat to live in a bedsit in a high-rise apartment block. It's much harder to make the latter environment enriched compared to the former.

And also, there's the question of how often the owner is around. I believe that it's important that the caregiver is around a lot to ensure that the indoor cat is entertained. Perhaps I'm being too demanding and expecting to high a standard. But this goes back to the original issue about the added responsibility placed upon the caregiver of full-time indoor cats.

Do cats actually love their owners?

I think you've got to start this discussion with a definition of the word "love". And I think most people would agree that it means an intense affection for another. Although this is a very elastic definition. What I mean is that love is a very personal emotion. Different people have different depths of emotion for their significant other when they say that they love them.

And bearing in mind that the term is elastic and that the word "love" normally applies to the affections that a human has for another, it is impossible to come to any other conclusion that a domestic cat can love their owner, in their way, depending upon whether their owner loves them and treats them in a way commensurate with that love.

Love is a two-way street. A person can love another if that person doesn't reciprocate but it won't last. It'll fizzle out eventually. So, love feeds on the love of another. It is entirely mutual as I see it. The love of one magnifies the love of the other and vice versa.

So, taking that introduction into cat ownership, in the best examples, the cat owner loves their cat deeply. They care for them beautifully. They provide a beautiful, enriched feline environment for their cat which is thoroughly enjoyed. The caregiver feeds the best quality cat food and they spend hours together in play and cuddling.

Under that scenario, a cat will love their owner. I think it's impossible to come to any other conclusion. It has to be said, though, that we do not know what is in the mind of a domestic cat. At least we don't know what is in that mind accurately. We can guess through their body language and their vocalisations. But nobody has yet has actually truly read the mind of a domestic cat.

This mutual love between human caregiver and domestic cat is supported, I believe, by the fact that in this relationship the owner is a surrogate mother to an adult cat who feels like a kitten. That's because their every need is provided for. It's just like a cat mother is looking after their kitten.

This is a useful point to make because it supports what I have just said. A kitten is going to have a close connection with their mother and there will be a mutual love bond between them. That's exactly what the cat owner and their cat should replicate.

You can go further than that when the owner is imprinted on the brain of the cat that they are their true mother. This is when the owner has raised a newborn kitten and become imprinted on that kitten has a feline mother not a surrogate mother. And this imprinted mentality will be there for the rest of the cat's life. Under these circumstances there will be a special and super-close relationship of mother and offspring.

I think everybody would agree that the mother-to-offspring relationship is bonded by love and it doesn't matter what species of animal we are talking about.

But I have to return to the beginning and say that the word love is elastic. We don't know how cats feel except that we do know they feel contentment and pain. They are sentient animals. They indicate very strongly to us that they love being around us if we are good cat caregivers. 

They like to sleep on us and next to us. They like to lick us in a friendly example of allogrooming. They like our emotional warmth and our physical warmth. They like the way we smell. They greet us at the front door and they are thoroughly connected to us.

These are all the ingredients of mutual affection which when deep enough qualifies as love.

The above section of this article was straight out of my head. That's me, Michael. I would like briefly to refer to the words of Dr. John Bradshaw who is a renowned cat behaviourist and who wrote the book Cat Sense. I'm referring to his book.

He says that domestic cats don't automatically love people. "Cat are not born to love people. It is something they have to learn when they are kittens-they do not automatically love other cats [either]."

In that statement Dr. Bradshaw is stating that cats have the potential to love people. He therefore supports what I have said above.

But the whole process of learning to love a person starts off with being socialised. Unless a domestic cat is socialised at an early age, they will probably never totally lose their inherent fear of humans. They will lose 99% of it if and when they are socialised later as adults but it is far better that they are socialised when they are newborn kittens. They lose the fear of people and then building on that they are able to love people especially their provider, their caregiver.

The video maker things cats can love their owners:

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Do feral cats voluntarily come into people's homes?

Sometimes feral cats do come into people's homes. It depends on the circumstances. One of those circumstances is how feral the cat is. If the cat is hard-wired feral and totally unsocialised, they won't go into a person's home as it would be too frightening. Too many possible dangers lurking in a strange place.

Dorothy and Marvin. Marvin was a semi-feral cat that DW adopted and brought inside. He adapted brilliantly to home life.

But if the cat is somewhat feral and partially domesticated as is the case fairly often and if they are starving which is also pretty common, they'll take risks to get food and take their chances particularly if the home owner is apparently friendly or even calling them over and actively encouraging them to come in.

It is all about the competing feline emotions of fear and hunger. Both are linked to survival. The cat makes a decision on the best strategy in order to survive. Cats are great survivors which is why they have nine lives.

RELATED: Stunning beauty: extreme high grade 9 white spotting adopted feral cat.

Sometimes people confuse stray cats with feral cats. The stray is often domesticated and quite likely to come into people's homes looking for food or even a new caregiver.

Some cats can be quite bold in that respect. The almost ask to be adopted through their body language, vocalisations and behavior.

If the recipient person is in the mood to adopt, they do. There have been some great cat adoptions in this way.

But true ferals just run from the nasty hostile human! Well, not all humans are nasty and hostile but to true feral cats they are. They are an unknown quantity to be avoided.

So, that's the key to the answer to the question in the title. How feral is the feral cat?

Tuesday 26 September 2023

This stray cat brings his feline friends to a Metro station in Istanbul

Ginger tabby owns the Istanbul Metro. Screenshot.

This video, for me, is a reflection of the relationship that Turkish people living in Turkey have with their stray cats. They have community cats in Turkey and Turkey has an ancient tradition going back thousands of years to be kind to street cats. That's the way I see it. There are two cat breeds which originated in Turkey namely the Turkish Van and the Turkish Angora. Although, in my view, they are one and the same cat breed. What happened was this: the cat fancy took one Turkish non-purebred community cat and turned it (selective breeding) into two different cat breeds. But that's my theory and I can't really support it.

The real Turkish Vat.

But the real Turkish Angora is entirely different to the American cat fancy version of the Turkish Angora. And something similar can be said about the Turkish Van.

The real Turkish Angora.

But to get back to the video, initially we see a ginger tabby enjoying sitting on the barrier to Istanbul's Metro. The reason why this cat is there is because it is warm. They enjoy the warmth coming out of the machine. 

And then people stroke him because he is adorable (the vast majority of ginger tabby cats are male cats). And when they stroke him, he might follow them down the escalator by sliding down the side of it as if he is on one of those ski slopes about to do a job at the end.

And at the end of the video, you will see that feline mates of his join him in Istanbul's Metro where they do exactly the same thing; sitting on the warm ticket barrier waiting to be petted. It is here that they get access to company and some interaction with humans. That's what they like.

They should be in someone's home. It looks cute and lovely in many ways but it is very sad in another way. They don't have a genuine home and a cat caregiver to look after them properly. That is the failure of community cats. People do look after them in an ad hoc way but they don't really get the kind of care they need such as veterinary care.

Monday 25 September 2023

What are 'laces' in the cat fancy?

Laces refers to white fur on the back feet. You'll see them on some cat breeds like the Birman and Snowshoe. The Birman is a pointed cat with 'gloves' (white fur on the feet to contrast with the dark pointing). These gloves on the hind feet are referred to as laces. In the Birman the laces finish with an inverted V extended half to three-fourths up the hock. The hock is at the end of the foot and the beginning of the leg; the joint between the tarsal bones and tibia of a digitigrade. The cat is a digitigrade (walks on their toes).

Blue point Birman showing gloves and laces
Blue point Birman showing gloves and laces. Image: Wikipedia.

Full image credit: By Claudia Zaino - Albafeles Sacred Birmans, CC BY-SA 2.5 it,

The cat fancy likes to use these terms that are applicable to human clothes. Another is 'britches' (or pantaloons) which describes the longer fur at the top of the hind legs of some cat breeds.

Cat killed on road after parents screwed up when cat-sitting for daughter

This is not Kylo but another tuxedo cat. Image: MikeB.

I want to ask the readers (not many I guess!) who they think is most at fault in this story. I'll say right away that I'd apportion blame at 50:50. What do you think?

Here is the story:

In America, a young woman (26) with a full-time indoors tuxedo cat, Kylo, asked her parents to take care of her cat while she moved to a new state to live with her husband. She gave her parents strict instructions that Kylo was an indoor cat because her previous cats had been indoor/outdoor cats who'd come to early, unnatural deaths such as being poisoned and a hit and run.

Her parents agreed. But they had three dogs and liked to keep the backdoor open! Not good and I guess she might have foreseen what was going to happen and it did.

Kylo escaped the home and was hit by a car outside and killed. Her father telephoned her to inform her that her cat had been killed and she yelled at him: "I told you to keep him inside!". His response was, "Oh stop, it's just a cat". Not good.

This made things worse. She'd had begged her parents to keep Kylo inside but despite their promises they failed to respect her decision. The parents said that Kylo was curious and hinted at that they wanted him to satisfy his curiosity.
"I constantly told them 'no, Kylo is an indoor cat, keep him inside'. I begged and begged them to respect my decision with my cat and I had thought they had…I received a phone call from my father saying that Kylo was hit by a car and killed today. In the midst of sobbing and yelling at my dad, 'I TOLD YOU TO KEEP HIM INSIDE!!' my dad said 'oh stop… it's just a cat' so I promptly hung up on him and immediately called my best friend (26f)."
Comment: Not good enough. The parents failed her terribly. It highlights the problems of getting relatives to cat sit. It is very risky. There is a huge responsibility on the cat sitter to protect the cat or cats. I don't think they realise the responsibility sometimes. But the cat's owner failed her cat too I am afraid. She has ultimate responsibility for her cat. She made the decision to leave him with her parents who apparently were unsuitable and not up to the task.

One issue is failing to recognise the value of a domestic cat. The father clearly didn't. For him it was 'only a cat' which is sure to lead to carelessness.

The response from the daughter is to ban her parents from baby-sitting which is sad but understandable.

The daughter said:
"After a good cry and a stern talking, my husband and I decided to keep my parents from watching their grandchildren without us there, no matter the circumstances. If they can't respect my one wish for my cat, what is to say they will respect my wishes for my children? So, am I the a**hole for not allowing my parents the chance to babysit their grandchildren?"

The source of the story is 

Young cats are skinnier than middle-aged cats

 A user on the website was concerned about their recently adopted young Maine Coon. As you can see in the photograph, he is quite skinny. He looks a little bit underweight to me. But young cats tend to be skinnier than older cats. They are more active and they don't tend to eat enough to bulk up to counteract the increased activity in my view. 

And in any case, Maine Coon cats tend to be quite rangy or skinny below that shaggy coat. That's the normal shape but you don't want your young Maine Coon cat to be too skinny.

Young MC is skinny. Image: Reddit user: u/morbidleo

I think it's okay to feed treats in moderate amounts which might help to bulk them up a little bit. My cat is not a Maine Coon but he likes king prawns! He likes them so much that I can bulk him up a bit because he was skinny when he was a youngster. In middle age he's become a little stockier in appearance which is fine.

If a young cat is skinny, it's okay. You might describe them as fighting fit. But you've got to make sure that they are actually fit and not suffering from some sort of health problem. Being underweight is a symptom of illness but the trouble is that there are a large number of illnesses which can cause a cat to be underweight.

But it should be apparent if a cat is ill causing the cat to be underweight because they would have lost their appetite. This is a case of watching a cat and making sure that they are eating enthusiastically. Young cats should eat pretty enthusiastically. They should be doing everything enthusiastically!

Sunday 24 September 2023

Deciding what type of cat litter material is the best for you and your cat

In broad terms, there are six types of cat litter substrate (material) and each cat owner has their personal choice. The infographic below covers the pros and cons succinctly. Personally, I have always used sawdust turned into wood pellets because I thought this was the best in terms of the environment, odour retention or odour control and for the health of my cat.

One of the great issues with cat litter material is the dust that is kicked up by the cat when they are rummage around. If the litter material is clumping and that dust gets into their lungs it can clump inside the kitten or cat. This is clearly very bad for health. 

The most notorious cat litter material - allegedly - which does that is lightweight clay-based litter and the manufacturer Tidy Cats comes to mind the most and I have an article on it which ranks highly in Google search results. There is strong evidence that this litter is dangerous to cats although no doubt it is still popular which, personally, I find disturbing.

And that's another factor in deciding which litter to buy. The weight of the litter itself in large bags is a problem or can be a problem for many women and a lot of women live alone with their domestic cat companion. That was the modus operandi of the Tidy Cats manufacturer; to serve those women.

Clumping clay litter is the most common type and it is said to be easier to clear up the litter tray because the urine is in clumps. Although personally, I don't find it any easier than wood-based because although it clumps sometimes it doesn't always absorb all the urine leaving some unabsorbed urine in the tray. To be honest, I find wood-based litter better in terms of absorption.

Below is an Infographic on the different types of litter material and the pros and cons of that material which may help you decide which kind the purchase. I hope that you find it useful.

Thursday 21 September 2023

The hypocrisy of humankind in describing feral cats as 'invasive' beggars belief

The Week, a website, has the title "6 of the most invasive species on the planet". The author lists the feral cat as the second most potent invasive species. And I've heard this numerous times. You hear this in Australia by the way where the feral cat is in general hated certainly by the authorities. Of course, the domestic cat is also an invasive species in Australia but you don't hear them say that.

Remember that the so-called "feral cat problem" is actually a human problem because it is of human making. This picture is in the public domain in my assessment.

Sidebar: let's remind ourselves that all invasive species are the handiwork of humankind. That's true to the best of my knowledge. All species would not have moved around the globe from one country to the other but for the movement of humans bringing those species into countries where they don't belong.

The Australians regard the dingo, as a native Australian wild dog species. But the fact of the matter is that the dingo is an invasive species because it was imported into the country 4000 years ago approximately, I'm told. In other words, the dingo did not evolve over hundreds of thousands of years on the Australian continent. The animal was imported into the country. Technically that makes them an invasive species.

But where do you draw the line? For how many thousands of years does an animal have to be in a country before they qualify as native? That's the issue and as far as the Australians are concerned 4000 years is long enough. Therefore, there is a limit. The term 'invasive species' is not an absolute term.

So, the feral cat in Australia is an invasive species because it was brought into Australia via domestic cats with the early settlers in the 1700s. That isn't long enough for feral cats to be native.

And the other problem which led me to write the title about hypocrisy is that this invasive species is the handiwork of humankind. The feral cat is the victim of humankind's carelessness. Humans brought the domestic cat to Australia and then they let them loose to become feral.

The creation of feral cats, to stress the point, is entirely due to human carelessness. That doesn't stop them being invasive. Feral cats, as mentioned, are invasive because there had never been any cats in Australia until the domestic cat was imported into the country.

But it does stop people, on a moral level, denigrating the feral cat and wishing to kill the feral cat in inhumane ways to protect wildlife. In hating the feral cat, Australians are indirectly hating their human ancestors. Perhaps they do hate them because they were British prisoners, were they? Perhaps the Australians have a real problem knowing that their ancestors were British prisoners.

Today, it is estimated that 20% of the Australian population are descended from people originally transported as convicts. Is it possible to speculate that the Australian authorities' hatred of the feral cat is because they hate their ancestors?

You don't carelessly take pot shots at feral cats - who are the victims of human negligence - which harms and injures them and leave them to slowly die because you are being negligent again. You are being negligent twice over and the victim, as mentioned, is the innocent cat. This is clearly immoral.

The domestic cat would be a better pet if they weren't predators!

The video is about the capybara described as one of the world's friendliest animals. It is semi-aquatic which is probably one reason why it can't be a great pet despite the potential for being a much better pet than a cat! We are all familiar with the domestic cat as one of the world's most popular pets with the dog; but both cats and dogs are predators. This a great drawback to their success as pets. 

There are constant aggravations as a consequence of the cats desire to chase and kill prey. The predatory instincts are a barrier to the cat's friendliness. The weapons! Claws and teeth which scare a lot of people.

The capybara is said in the video to be the world's friendliest animal because they are not predators but herbivores. They don't make enemies. Other animals don't run from them. It's a point worth making. 

We have to play with our cat to entertain them especially if they are indoor cats. But play is centred around hunting. All cat play is a variation on hunting. And if there is a problem between cat and owner it can often be put down to undesirable cat behavior. This is an oblique reference to being bitten or scratched. And that comes from their predatory instincts often in self-defence when mishandled for instance by a human.

I'd bet the capybara wouldn't do that!

The reason why indoor cats often become bored is because they can't hunt. It is such a deep-seated desire. It needs to be expressed. Sometimes I think that domesticating the wild cat was a mistake. 

Going a step further you can also argue that the wild cat hybrid pets cats such as the Bengals are a mistake especially the F1-F3s which retain some wild cat traits which makes it more difficult to live with them.

Am I being too negative? I don't think so. Just exploring the difficulties of satisfying a top predator and the domestic cat is a fantastic predator. Their anatomy has evolved over eons to hunt and kill. It is all about that.

How Chekhov's uncle made his cat frightened of mice!

Anto Chekov in 1889. Image: Wikipedia.

Anton Chekov (1860-1904) wrote a story about his uncle and how inadvertently his uncle trained his cat to become frightened of mice when he was trying to train them to catch mice. At the time the cat was a kitten. Each time a mouse was caught in a trap, uncle Pyotr grabbed his kitten and pushed his/her face towards the mouse. When the mouse was released, the by then terrified kitten ran away.

I think it was the whole experience of being pushed into the mouse. Perhaps the kitten associated the mouse with the handling they'd received from uncle Pyotr. It was a form of negative reinforcement. The opposite to the classic positive reinforcement training model.

It is strange that the 'training' completely upturned the cat's natural predatory drive to catch mice. That said another factor would be that kittens might be cautious around mice as they might believe that they could be harmed. Mice are amazingly brave in the face of instant death in the jaws of a cat. They stand on their hind legs and scream at the top of their voice.


Anton Chekhov, often spelled as Anton Chekov, was a prominent Russian playwright, short story writer, and physician. He was born on January 29, 1860, in Taganrog, a port city in southern Russia, and passed away on July 15, 1904, in Badenweiler, Germany. Chekhov is considered one of the greatest playwrights and short story writers in world literature.

He is renowned for his unique style that combined naturalism and symbolism, portraying the complexities of human nature and the subtleties of everyday life. Chekhov's works are characterized by their deep psychological insight, realistic dialogue, and the exploration of the human condition.

Some of his most notable works include plays such as "The Seagull," "Uncle Vanya," "Three Sisters," and "The Cherry Orchard." These plays often depict the struggles and disillusionments of the Russian middle class during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In addition to his plays, Chekhov wrote numerous short stories, often with a focus on the lives of ordinary people and their struggles. His short stories are celebrated for their concise yet powerful narratives and exploration of the human psyche.

Chekhov's contributions to literature have had a lasting impact, and his works continue to be widely studied, performed, and appreciated worldwide.

The mutually beneficial relationship between cats and writers

Canadian novelist Robertson Davies (1913-1995) amusingly described what he saw as a mutually beneficial relationship between domestic cats and writers in his line: "Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reason". He wasn't alone in those feelings.

Robertson Davies. Image: Wikipedia.

There is a natural connection between domestic cats and authors both in their character and in their lifestyle. Introverts tend to make good authors. It doesn't mean that all authors are introverts but it is probably fair to say that the majority are.

Introverted authors are introspective and they often work alone. There is a similarity in lifestyle right there because the domestic cat has this slightly solitary nature, living apart a little from mainstream life, doing their own thing. The cat's activities intersect with those of their human caregiver. There is this slight distance between cat and caregiver in contrast to that of the dog. That's because of the cat's solitariness.

And the writer works alone. Sometimes they go away to a quiet place to work, to think, to create to be introspective. It is said that writers can be shy because they are fearful of being rejected, being judged and not being good enough.

RELATED: Authors Who Loved Cats.

I guess one aspect of writing is that you are offering to the world your opinion, thoughts and ideas. In writing a novel you are expressing your imagination. You are opening yourself up to criticism. You're giving the public a bit of yourself. You are exposing your inner self to the public which can be difficult. Sometimes you have to put your head over the parapet so to speak to potentially be shot down.

The great Mark Twain loved cats and gave them strange names. He said that the reason was to teach kids how to pronounce words! Image in the public domain.

There is perhaps a similarity here between writers and cats. Cats, I would argue, are inherently slightly fearful of the environment that the human creates for them. It doesn't take much for a cat to become anxious which is why one of the primary roles of the caregiver is to create a calm and friendly environment for their cat companion to counteract this potential for anxiety.

And when a writer writes, alone at their desk, they create an ideal environment for a domestic cat companion. It's almost a merging of minds and character. And in being alone, the writer has an ever-present friend in their cat. They can just be there warming up the place emotionally without distracting by interfering except perhaps when desiring to sit on their lap or on their paperwork. Unlike dogs who are prone to loud barking and making demands to go for a walk.

One of the literary world's greatest cat lovers was Colette (1873-1954), the author of Gigi. She wrote, "By associating with a cat, one only risks becoming richer".

It is the aloneness of writers which enables them to produce their best work. If many are introverts, they love to read, sit quietly with their cat. Introverts love written communication. It gives them time to put their thoughts together.

They like attention to detail, in editing their work and they are constantly thinking, creating ideas and polishing their thoughts.

It is said that they are the masters of introspection. In their solitariness they observe the world around them. They are great observers. My mind turns to Dr. Desmond Morris, probably my favourite author who observed the world so well that he was able to write so beautifully about what's behind the behaviour of our feline companions as well as their human caregivers.

You can see the similarity between authors and cats! Cats are great observers too. Very alert to events occurring around them with sharpened senses.  Writers are also alert to events and happenings. And they think about them in their creative process.

Cats and authors go together like custard apple pie or steak and chips. Of course, not all authors like cats. Some will be fearful of them just like other people. But all things being equal you'll see a higher-than-average association between cats and writers.

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Domestic cats understand the phonetics of their name

In a study it was conclusively found that domestic cats can tell the difference between the phonetics of their name when spoken by people from the phonetics of general sounds and the phonetics of the name of other cats.
We conclude that cats can discriminate the content of human utterances based on phonemic differences.

They also found that domestic cats living in a cat cafe could do something similar but not quite as good as they could not distinguish the sound of their name from the sound of the name of cohabiting cats at the cafe.

My guess is that domestic cats living in a home have a close connection with their owner and their name is said regularly. They are trained to understand the sound of their name. In contrast cats at cafes don't have this advantage. Different people - one-off visitors - say their name in different ways and perhaps they get their name wrong. The 'training' is less intense and clear cut. It is more confusing.

When people say that cats understand their name, it's true to a large extent. However, they don't understand their name as humans understand their own names. Cats understand the sound of their name. It is only the sound, the phonetics which they detect and respond to.

Study: Domestic cats (Felis catus) discriminate their names from other words. Link:

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Well known American animal advocate is conned into believing that the Greeks are kind to their street cats

Nathan Winograd and his wife went on holiday in Greece. He is a great American animal advocate and an expert on no-kill animal shelters. I can visualise his visit now. The warm balmy evenings, the white buildings and the deep blue sky reflected in the sea. And in Greece there are lots of street cats. 

It seems that all the domestic cats are on the street joining with the stray cats and the feral cats. I guess we call them community cats. But in Greece the domestic cats live outside which contrasts with the 50% in the US who live inside 24/7. But there are too many stray and feral cats in Greece.

Nathan Winograd in Greece interacting with a dark tortoiseshell street cat and enjoying himself. Perhaps this little fella will be poisoned like many thousands of others in October. Picture by Nathan Winograd's wife (believed).

The feral cats are quite friendly because the meet with the tourists who like to have them around. Just like Nathan Winograd they enjoy interacting with the street cats of Greece. He wanted to help them, to feed them but was told that they are fed and well looked after.

He asked a restaurant owner to give him some food to feed the cats but he insisted there was no need. He was told not to worry. They are taken care of.

The street cats of Greece are tourist attractions which brings me to the next point. When the holiday season is over in Greece sometime in October, the local people poison the street cats. They put down poison in water or in food. It might be weedkiller it might be antifreeze. You name it they use it.

They rely on the dustbin men to pick up the dead bodies and throw them away. It's as simple as that and its mass cruelty. It is mass animal cruelty and, in the UK, and in America I suspect there would be mass prosecutions of these friendly Greek locals who think nothing of poisoning the charming street cats of mainland Greece and the Greek islands. But not in Greece. It is simply accepted as normal.

You don't have to research very hard to find out that what I have said is true. It appears that the Greeks don't like to neuter their animals which is why there are hundreds of thousands of them in the street. And it also appears that they don't like to operate TNR programs. This implies to me that they are lazy about looking after these cats. They say it's easier just to put down poison and kill them at the end of the season.

It doesn't seem to be a very good relationship between humans and cats, does it? It is not the way it is meant to be. It's not part of the unwritten contract between cat and person.

The Daily Mail online recites an interview between a visitor to Greece and a local. And the visitor asked why aren't the cat poisoners caught? He said no one's bothered. They aren't bothered about catching the poisoners. They know who they are but nothing is done. "It's just the way of things here".

It's the attitude and the attitude is that the cats are expendable. They have zero value. It almost seems that they believe that the street cats of Greece are not sentient beings; just decorative objects to add a bit of colour to the streets for the enjoyment of the tourists.

I'm afraid that Nathan Winograd, the great man he is, was conned mercilessly by the locals when he was told that they looked after the cats. I guess that was partly true because during the summer months they are looked after by the residents and by the tourists but come October, the cats that Nathan Winograd saw and interacted with will be dead, in a landfill site, out of the way.

And then in the spring of next year more kittens will arrive to live their short lives as entertainers to the unknowing tourists.

Cat and dog boarding catteries and kennels squeezed out of business by council licensing fees

NEWS AND COMMENT-KIRKLEES COUNCIL, WEST YORKSHIRE, UK: It's reported by the Yorkshire Post that cat and dog boarding catteries and kennels are being squeezed out of business in the region governed by Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire because the council have dramatically raised licensing fees for these businesses.

Amelia Franks (centre) with others argues her case against the fee increase. Image: YouTube/Kirklees Council.

You have to have a licence from the council to run a boarding cattery and kennels. The huge increase is due to come into effect next month. Charges are being raised from £482 for a three-year licence to £1650 together with a consideration fee of £221. The owners of these businesses are outraged and can see themselves going bankrupt because of the sharp increase.

Comment: it seems to me that too many UK councils have found themselves in dire financial straits due to poor management, sometimes investing in risky projects such as buying commercial property and renting it out. The news is that about 20 UK councils are in effect bankrupt with massive debts. And if they aren't in this sort of mess, many are struggling with inflation and with post-Covid problems to run their councils in a financially viable way. They are seeking alternative means of revenue one of which is driving fines and charging for parking. The motorist is being hammered and now it seems that this council is hammering dog kennels and cat boarding catteries in order to raise some precious cash.

The business owners have pleaded with the council to review the increased charging. One of them is Amelia Franks, the owner of Countryside Canines Dog Walking and Boarding. She attended a full council meeting last week with two other business owners to present their argument that the fees are unreasonable.

Ms Franks boards one dog at a time but she has to pay the same as a kennel with 20 dogs. For her the licensing fee will be an overhead that is simply infeasible and she said that it will be the same for other small businesses.

She argues that other neighbouring councils have licensing fees which are considerably cheaper such as £403 in Leeds, £409 in Calderdale and £341 in Wakefield. And often fees vary with the number of dogs in the kennel which doesn't apply at Kirklees.

Ms Franks also feels that the increased licensing fee is discriminatory against women because often women run these boarding catteries and boarding kennels. 

She added:

“Not only is it concerning that our businesses are at risk but as a predominantly female industry we feel that the female business owners are facing yet another unintentional disadvantage in society. I have asked if other industries that are predominantly male-led have faced similar price increases within Kirklees, however, I’m yet to receive a response on this. Lastly, and most importantly, we feel that the welfare of the dogs and dog owners within Kirklees has been totally overlooked. We mostly take on dogs who are not suitable for kennels, they might be anxious, nervous, come from a rescue centre and have very specific requirements. Ourselves and our clients are in despair. We urgently call for the new licensing fees to be reviewed before many of us lose our essential businesses that we’ve worked hard for and before dog owners find themselves making tough decisions about where to place their dogs.”

In response, the council argued that the size of the business has minimal impact on the actual cost of carrying out the licensing process which is why they don't make adjustments for smaller kennels.

The councils argue that their licensing fees are reasonable costing about £12 per week or £1.70 per day as a business overhead. And they allow the businesses to pay the fee in stages by direct debit to ease the burden. In short, they will not change their position on this.

Monday 18 September 2023

Couple of burglars take their cat with them in the getaway car

Burglars take their cat with them
Burglars take their cat with them. Screenshot.

NEWS AND COMMENT: A couple of burglars appear to have taken a cat with them in their car! Who'd do that? The burglars had to abort the burglary of a local chemist and got away with $500 of drugs before being caught by the police. In the meantime their cat was in the getaway car! The police called the RSPCA who took the cat away. I'll presume that once the alleged criminals have been tried and by the look of it convicted that they'll eventually be reunited with their cat. If the cat belongs to them.

They are currently on remand as we call it in the UK meaning in a police cell until trial. As they were caught red-handed in the act, they'll be convicted. I wouldn't expect them to be imprisoned but Australia have a different culture. The point is that the cat needs to be reunited with their owner or owners so when will that happen? If it should happen at all.

There is an argument that says they should not own a cat as their caretaking is substandard! Taking a cat on a burglary indicates less than optimal car caregiving, I think you'd agree. But as mentioned this might not be their cat. Scanning a microchip comes to mind to check for the owner.

That said I should not prejudge. One of them could be the owner and he might be a bloody good cat owner. Perhaps they were just in dire straits and hatched a bad plan to make some quick bucks. We don't know. They might not be hardened criminals but silly blokes.

It's tough for the cat as she/he will now have to spend time in an animal shelter which are unpleasant places for rescue cats and dogs: noisy and strange.

Sunday 17 September 2023

6.5 years in jail, the longest Canadian sentence for animal cruelty

Aleeta Raugust. Image: Screenshot from video.

A young woman, living in Calgary, Canada, Aleeta Raugust, told police that she deliberately bought kittens through an online marketplace called Kijiji between 2018 and early 2023 with the intention of killing them, videotaping the killing and watching them to entertain herself. She also placed the bodies in public places to watch the reactions of those who saw them.

She underwent a psychological assessment before sentenced and was described as an impulsive psychopath with no remorse.

Her mother said that if she is released from prison that she will commit more horrific crimes.

The prosecution at her criminal trial requested an 8-10 sentence but the judge - arguably too soft - said that he did not want to give her the maximum sentence allowable under Canadian law to ensure that the sentence wasn't "crushing for a youthful offender."

She was 26 years of age in March of this year. She pleaded guilty to 9 charges involving animal abuse as well as a charge of threatening to damage property. She tended to burn down her former residence.

The news media headlines are that a Calgary woman tortured and killed cats. I don't have details about the torturing but she did video her cruelty towards the cats. I think it is better that we don't have to read a horrendous description of what she did but rather leave something to the imagination.

It is certain that she was horrendously cruel but without any remorse or sensitivity towards the animals. Arguably, she is more in need of psychological treatment then she is in need of an extended punishment but perhaps she requires both.

The previous longest sentence of animal cruelty in Canada was three years. Clearly, for many animal advocates, three years is far too short. But historically judges are reluctant to give extended sentences to those convicted of animal cruelty because animals are devalued in my opinion.

So, this 6.5-year sentence is the longest ever handed down to a criminal convicted of animal cruelty in Canadian history.

Saturday 16 September 2023

Texans convicted of animal cruelty will be banned from owning animals for five years

NEWS AND COMMENT: A pleasing new animal welfare law has been enacted in the American state of Texas. Those miscreants who have been successfully convicted of animal cruelty will be barred from owning animals for five years. Animal cruelty includes dogfighting. And the law applies to those who been convicted of animal cruelty for the first time. This is a much-needed step I would argue but I am an animal advocate and not everybody will be with me on this topic.

Shelter dog. Image in public domain.

But clearly, Texas' politicians i.e. the lawmakers of that state have decided to make it harder for people who want to be cruel to animals to own and possess them. And this surely must be correct.

The legislation, House Bill 598, successfully passed through the legislature. It was sponsored by state Rep Matt Shaheen, R-Plamo. It also covers people who have unjustifiably injured an assistant animal or who have been cruel to non-livestock animals. The law came into effect Friday.

Although, surprisingly, I'm told by the Texas Tribune that convicted offenders will still be able to live in the same household as animals. Isn't that peculiar? The idea of banning ownership of animals by convicted criminals is to prevent them being around animals. To prevent them being cruel again to animals. If they can live in the same home as animals that are possessed and owned by somebody else, they have the opportunity to be cruel again, don't they?

The law apparently also applies to people who've lived with assistance animals. If that person is then cruel to an animal and is convicted of animal cruelty they will lose their assistance animal under this legislation, as I understand it.

And if an order banning a person from owning an animal for five years under this legislation is then found to have an animal during that period, they could be charged with a Class C misdemeanour and be fined $500. And if they repeatedly breach the order, they could be charged with a Class B misdemeanour with an increased fine of $2000 and a possible jail term of 180 days.

The new legislation is one of 774 bills passed by the Texas Legislature during this season. This addition to the animal protection laws of Texas will be more effective in protecting animals. Simply punishing people by fining them or imprisoning them is arguably less effective at protecting animals than banning them from owning animals.

Animal cruelty is often a precursor to violence against people. This is a known phenomenon and therefore animal cruelty should be dealt with severely. An example would be the Uvalde school shooter. That person had committed animal cruelty and posted it on social media.

There is one last point to make and that is people who are inclined to be cruel to animals probably need psychological treatment of some sort. They need help as well as punishment. My personal theory is that they are often very angry people. They want to hurt somebody or something because they have been hurt themselves. It is the vulnerable domestic animals of this world who become the victims.

Thursday 14 September 2023

How do I get my cats to stop stealing my man?

 It seems that the woman feels that her cats are 'stealing' her man because they love being with him as the picture shows. My response was this:

Let them both have the freedom to have their relationships as it will strengthen your relationship.

What I mean is if she tries to restrict access between the cats and her man, she'll stress her relationship with her man whereas in doing the opposite he'll appreciate it and it'll be good for her relationship. Giving your partner freedoms is the best way to bring them nearer. Restricting people pushes them away. Allowing freedoms brings the person closer.

But it nice to see that the cats seem to prefer the man! Uhm..that's good as the default impression we have from the internet is that dogs are a man's best friend and cats belong with women! Nah...wrong.

How do I get my cats to stop stealing my man?
How do I get my cats to stop stealing my man? They get along great, don't they? Image: Reddit user: u/MckennaMakes

Wednesday 13 September 2023

My kitten is 13 weeks old and does not eat her wet cat food. Ideas?

 This title was/is on This is my response on that social media website:

Dry cat food is sprayed with tasty stuff which can make it addictive almost. Without this covering it is like cardboard. I think it is fairly important that she eats some wet. What might work is trying best quality wet and heating it very slightly in the microwave. Also try wet food for elderly cats for a short time as it is smellier. Just some thoughts. Eating dry all the time might make her slightly dehydrated. It can cause urinary tract issues. If she is a rescue cat, she may have got used to dry food at the shelter.

I am not sure I am completely right but the gist is correct. 

Here is the sweet, young, grey cat. Photo by Reddit user: u/Coke900lp.

My kitten is 13 Weeks old and does Not eat her wet cat food. Ideas?

I will add a little bit of detail. It is not unusual on my research for domestic cats to become almost addicted to dry cat food because it appears to be tastier than some wet cat foods. It must depend upon the quality of the food as well but they do spray tasteless dry cat food with a fatty spray which makes it very tasty. And it probably smells better than some wet cat food as well. And they get in the habit of eating dry cat food only as this cat has.

I think a possible solution is to buy high quality wet cat food for elderly cats which is smellier than your typical wet cat food and then microwave it for a very short time say five seconds on full power. This will ensure that the food is smellier which is important as smell is how cats judge the palatability of food initially.

As stated, I think domestic cats should eat wet cat food as a default and then some dry cat food when appropriate perhaps at night for grazing. And the odd treat. But to feed dry only can, on the say-so of some veterinarians, cause mild dehydration because domestic cats don't compensate for the dryness by drinking more than they would normally drink. 

And if a cat is mildly dehydrated it can affect their urinary tract and it might predispose them to urinary tract health problems especially if they might, for some reason, become slightly stressed. Stress can cause to cystitis when combined with dry cat food only.

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Keeping cats indoors is a rare solution where everybody wins including the cat. Is this correct?

Full-time indoors
Full-time indoors. Image: MikeB (Canva).

In The Guardian today there is an article written by Calla Wahlquist which says that keeping cats indoors is a solution where everybody wins. By "everybody" I presume she means people and cats. She is goes on to state that "cats should be kept indoors for the sake of cats".

For full-time indoor cats their behaviour is neutered as is their anatomy. It is the modern way to turn cats into fluffy plush feline toys. - MikeB

How does she know? How does she know what is good for cats? Is she mind reading domestic cats? No, she's not. All she is doing is stating that when cats are kept indoors, they are protected and therefore safer. But that might not be the same thing as being what's good for cats. Domestic cats might like to take risks. They might not mind being injured or hurt or killed. Perhaps their normal lifestyle is to take risks? Perhaps they are happier when they take risks.

Perhaps they need to be predators outside unsupervised. Perhaps being happy and living a life which is shorter is better than being unhappy and living a life which is longer. A lot of people think that statement is true.

And there is a big hole in her argument. People do keep cats indoors a lot nowadays to protect wildlife and keep their cat safe but they do not enrich the interior of their homes to ensure that their full-time indoor cats are kept entertained; kept happy. They just close the doors on them and confine them to what is a list zoo-like but entirely human environment. Somewhat sterile. Perhaps very sterile.

And that's why you often see people saying that their cat sleeps all day. Absolutely! That's all he or she can do. There is nothing else to do but to sleep/snooze because the poor thing is confined to the indoors all the time and the owner is not entertaining them. He or she is not playing with them. There is no way to express their character. The natural drives are neutered as are they. There is no cat companion to play with. Is that better for the cat?

The reason why people keep cats indoors all the time is for their peace of mind. That is the primary purpose. The secondary purpose is to keep wildlife safe but you will find in studies that the vast majority of people don't really care about keeping wildlife safe. They want to keep their cats safe because they don't want to be anxious about their cat being hurt outside. Or lost or stolen.

The decision to keep a cat indoors full-time is human-centric. It is about human emotions primarily. And in Australia where there is a trend towards keeping cats indoors full-time or curfews on keeping cats indoors at night, this changing human behaviour is a directive from the authorities. It is the conservationists of Australia who are telling the authorities to do all they can to stop domestic cat preying on native mammals and marsupials, especially the small ones. 

And so, the authorities dictate to people to keep the cats indoors. If it wasn't for that directive, I don't think they would do it. Unless of course they've being fully indoctrinated about protecting wildlife which actually might be the case.

I can't even be bothered to read Calla's article because I know what it states before I read it. It's just talking about protecting wildlife and then arguing back from there to say that it's better for cats anyway to keep them indoors. Frankly, it isn't. 

If we really wanted to make the domestic cat's life better, we would allow them to go outside perhaps into a large enclosure which encompasses the entire backyard full of games for the cat to play and trees to climb. No one will do that because it's too expensive. They will just close the front and back door and call the job done. I get it. I understand what's going on but Calla is wrong when she confidently says that everybody wins.

When you keep cats indoors full-time the cat does not win. They lose. They lose their life. They lose a chance to express that predatory drive. To hunt, to chase the feel alive. Their behaviour is neutered as well as their anatomy.

Monday 11 September 2023

Influencer's chinchilla Persian believed stolen for satanic purposes

NEWS AND COMMENT-ITALY: this disturbing story of an Internet influencer's pet cat carries a lesson about what to do with your cat when you go on holiday. It concerns a lady, Nima Benati, who clearly loves cats and lives with a chinchilla Persian who was not micro-chipped. She lives in Italy and she has a habit of leaving her cat with her parents when she goes on holiday. She is a social media influencer.

Nima Benati and Bartolo
Nima Benati and Bartolo. Image: Social media.

They live in Monghidoro, a small town near Bologna. She went on holiday to Costa Rica. In the past all had worked out well. Only this precious cat which looks expensive and valuable, is allowed to roam outside unsupervised wherever they wish to go when staying with relatives. In the past, he has been away for a couple of days and come back sopping wet with a mouse in her mouth.

In other words, he is treated like any other domestic cat which is fair enough but when a cat is this attractive and almost certainly looks to the public like a purebred cat then you have to supervise them when they go outside.

Anyway, this lovely looking cat whose name by the way is Bartolo, never came back from one of his outings and her disappearance has joined what appears to be a large group of other cats who gone missing their Bologna.

Thirty cats have been reported missing last month alone in a small stretch of the Apennine Mountains. Nima Benati is offering a €5000 reward for her cat's return.

RELATED: ‘Chinchilla’, its meaning in the cat world (infographic).

Benati has commissioned a pet detective, Said Beid, to find her cat. He, tellingly, shed some light on what might have happened because he says that cat disappearances are common during the summer in Italy when owners go on holiday and they leave their companion animals with friends or family.

The cat is suddenly plunged into unfamiliar surroundings and this makes them vulnerable because, for example, they might want to try and go home. They use their great sense of direction to head home and get lost (if it is too far) and then they get attacked by a predator or stolen or they die of starvation and so on.

Or, they might get attacked by a predator when popping outside. The cat might escape but if they end up outside, they are in a vulnerable position to attack by predators and theft. Italy has some large predators.

The Italian Association for the Protection of Animals and the Environment believes that there might be a satanic sect in the area abducting cats for satanic purposes. That seems like imagination running riot but it is quite plausible because there are people engaged in witchcraft and suchlike even today in the 21st-century.

A spokesperson said: "The issue is urgent and alarming, and cat owners are beginning to be afraid". The Association has reported the presence of sects across Italy whose members sacrifice black cats to mark Halloween.

Of course, Bartolo is like a son to Nima Benati. I'm surprised that she didn't have him micro-chipped although that would not have worked in this instance if the cats are being killed. Others have been reported missing such as Eddie, a 12 kg cat that disappeared near Monzumo on August 21. His owners have offered a €1000 reward for his return.

Some owners have found their cats with their collars unbuckled whatever that means. The police are investigating.

The lesson to be learned from this is that when you leave your cat with a friend or relatives when you go on holiday, your cat is exposed to higher-than-normal risk of being injured, killed or lost. And that is a very important lesson. 

There is a great difficulty actually in dealing with a domestic cat when their owner goes on holiday because the alternative is to leave them at a boarding cattery which although safe is very stressful for a cat. There are no easy answers. I haven't gone on holiday for many years mainly for this reason!

Saturday 9 September 2023

Woman allows her cat to repeatedly knead her face with claws out (video)

Woman allows her cat to repeatedly knead her face with claws out (video)
Woman allows her cat to repeatedly knead her face with claws out. The claws must have been trimmed beforehand. Image: Screenshot.

Would you allow your cat to do this to make a high-hitting TikTok video. She did and I'll tell you why she is not being scratched to blazes! She trimmed her cat's claws before she started videoing! Simple. That's the only reason why the cat is not drawing blood because untrimmed front claws are often very sharp especially immediately after the cat has sloughed off the outer sheath of the claw on a scratching post. 

The woman is smart because (1) she knew it would make a high-hitting TikTok video and it has at 83m and (2) she knew that doing a careful job of trimming her cat's claws would save her from pain!

This is clearly a close relationship. Normally domestic cats knead their caregiver's lap. The motivation for doing so is exactly the same. The cat, in their mind, is a kitten because the owner keeps them in that mental state and they are at their mother's nipple drinking colostrum. 

Obviously, what you see in the video is nothing like that description but in the mind of the cat this is exactly what is happening. The typical human-to-adult cat relationship is one of surrogate mother to kitten because the owner keeps their cat in a constant state of belief that they are a kitten as they are cared for so comprehensively.

Animal shelter is heartbroken at the prospect of splitting up mum and daughter cats but should they be?

The news media reports that staff at an animal charity in Warrington, Warrington Animal Welfare, say that they are going to be heartbroken if a mother and daughter duo, Isobelle and Phoebewho have lived at the shelter for a considerable time, are split up. 

The pair are aged four and two respectively. They say that they are the longest staying shelter cats at their rescue and if they can't be rehomed together there may have to be split up and rehomed separately.

Animal shelter is heartbroken at the prospect of splitting up mum and daughter cats but should they be?
Isobelle and Phoebe at Warrington Animal Welfare. Photos by the rescue.

But if they are rehomed separately the staff at the shelter would be upset. But I question whether they should be upset because in the natural course of events, daughters and sons of parent cats become independent at a certain point in time. 

In the wild, they would leave the natal range and find their own home range and thereby find their own home. They would become independent at a certain age after their mother had shown them how to kill prey and bring it back to the den.

So, my argument is that splitting up mother and daughter is not such a big deal as the shelter staff think it would be. I don't think the daughter would be particularly upset and neither would the mother unless there is a particularly close bond between the two for whatever reason but that, I believe, is unlikely.

You get a similar story with siblings. Some people think that siblings should stay together at the shelter and be rehomed together. But the truth is that if they are adopted by somebody before they become fully independent, when they become independent, they might start fighting each other. You can't automatically presume that siblings will get along well. They might but they might not.

Friday 8 September 2023

Freddie Mercury's favorite cat waistcoat at auction will fetch far more than the estimated £7,000

The hand-painted favourite waistcoat of Freddie Mercury is under the hammer at the moment. The waistcoat contains images of his cats, one of which is Delilah, his favourite cat. Freddie was a great cat lover. I think he preferred them to people. The waistcoat is estimated to fetch between £5000 and £7000 at the Sotheby's auction. I would expect the price to be much, much higher than that. I will try and update this page if and when I hear the result of the auction but I do know that the gate outside his home covered in graffiti achieved as I recall something in the order of £400,000 which was massively higher than the auctioneer's estimate. 

Update: it sold for £139,700!!

RELATED: Freddie Mercury’s favorite cat DELILAH.

Freddie Mercury was much loved. His possessions are very desirable. His cat waistcoat was one of Freddie's favorite possessions therefore my estimate for the price would be something well over £100,000 at a very rough guess.

93% of the lots were sold above the estimate at Sotheby’s New Bond Street auction rooms, London, UK.

Freddie Mercury's favorite cat waistcoat at auction will fetch far more than the estimated £7,000

Above: Freddie Mercury’s favorite waistcoat (hand-painted with portraits of Freddie’s cats): Estimate £5,000–7,000.

Taiwanese offered a free pet if they have a child

Like other developed countries, Taiwan is suffering from a low birthrate. In fact, the country has one of the world's lowest birth rates. In order to encourage the Taiwanese to have a kid a billionaire who wants to become the president of Taiwan has proposed offering couples free companion animals if they have a baby as a kind of reward. And the idea comes from the fact that while human birth rates have plummeted pet ownership rates have skyrocketed. People want pets.

Pets are popular in Taiwan but having kids is not
Pets are popular in Taiwan but having kids is not. Image: Getty (Sam Yeh).

People want to live with a companion animal rather than a child, which brings to mind the current Pope's concern about this trend which is also taking place in Italy. He doesn't like the thought that people prefer to have pets. He sees it as children being substituted by pets and he is right.

The reason for the plummeting birth rates in Taiwan have been put down to the high cost of living and difficulties accessing childcare together with "traditional gender expectations" whatever that means. I think there are other reasons such as a lot of people don't like the direction in which the world is travelling and I mean in terms of human behaviour.

By far the most obvious and biggest reason why the Taiwanese are not having kids is because they are facing the potential invasion of their country by China! And that can happen at any time judging by the threats coming out of the Chinese government. And there are other issues, world issues.

We have the war in Ukraine started by Putin. A brutal, unnecessary war started by a deranged dictator who has become a mass murderer destabilising the world with many threats of nuclear war, which is incredibly worrying to hundreds of millions of people including potential parents. They don't want to bring a child into the world which is that scary.

And then we have global warming i.e. climate change. Billions of people are concerned about climate change. They don't see enough being done to curb it. They foresee their child, if they had a child, living through horrendous conditions in 2050 and beyond. It's not worth bringing a child into a world with these sorts of problems. That is my thought on this problem.

And I see another problem! I tend to see problems being a cynical old man. Having a 'pet' as companion animals are euphemistically called is not as easy as it looks. Kittens and puppies are cute and great and beautiful but you've got to be living in the right circumstances to make the relationship work.

Having a pet is not all fun and it doesn't always enhance your life. There are responsibilities. Very serious responsibilities. And owning a companion animal can be expensive especially with rising prices right now. And you've got to have a lifestyle which makes cat and dog caretaking workable. You can't just adopt a couple of kittens and leave them alone at home all day while you go to work. That is not going to work in any sense of the word.

You can never leave a cat alone all day for 10 hours while you go to work without some sort of problems and for it being very unfair on the companion animal. They are likely to suffer from separation anxiety and their behaviour will reflect it with inappropriate elimination such as defecating on your bed and spraying urine. And if they don't do that, they may develop cystitis. And if they don't suffer from cystitis they're going to be upset, distressed and stressed and even depressed.

The point is that this billionaire presidential hopeful thinks that offering a pet as a reward by having a child in Taiwan is a wonderful idea but he's not offering these potential parents and new car as a reward. He is offering them a sentient being who will live in the human world and you've got to be a committed caregiver to do justice to the ownership of a pet.

Thursday 7 September 2023

Emulsifiers in cat food might harm cats due to inflammation

If you know a bit about cat food ingredients, you'll know that emulsifiers and stabilisers are sometimes used in wet pet food. An example would be lecithin, an emulsifier that can be used in wet pet food. They act as a glue to the processed foods to hold them together. To that information I can add, today, a report in The Times, on a study in which scientists examined the health implications of emulsifiers, a group of E-number additives added to industrially produced foods such as bread and chocolate for the human market!

Does this list of ingredients in cat food mean anything to you? Me neither.

And it has been found that people who consumed many emulsifiers were more likely to suffer heart disease and stroke even when adjustments have been made for factors such as weight and overall diet.

The study which has been published in the British Medical Journal, monitored the diets of 95,000 French adults over seven years. They examined the average daily intake of eight groups of emulsifiers. The scientists suggested that the 5% increased risk of heart disease was because additives can damage the gut by disrupting the community of bacteria known as the microbiome. This leads to inflammation that increases the risk of other conditions.

Sidebar note: am I the only one (I am sure that I am not) who finds it next to impossible to read wet cat food label ingredients? There's a long list of ingredients which by and large looks meaningless to me. I don't know whether the ingredients are harmful to my cat or not. I don't know what many of them mean. I don't know what purpose they serve as an ingredient. I have to do research which is troublesome. There is an argument that pet food labelling listing ingredients should be much clearer and understandable by non-expert laypeople, the typical cat owner.

So, what can we take from this is cat owners? I think we can look at the wet food labels from time to time to check whether there are additives and emulsifiers in it. A small task but I think that cat owners should know about quality cat foods and poor-quality cat food. It doesn't take much to work it out and these kinds of harms can be insidious. They are in the background. Cat owners don't know that they are taking place. They rely upon pet food manufacturers to create pet foods which are healthy but they aren't always.

It is difficult cat owners especially with increased prices on pet food due to inflation. Sometimes they opt for the cheapest dry cat food but, in my view, after many years of research on cat foods, a cheap dry cat food fed exclusively is likely to cause health problems. There has to be some wet cat food in their as the primary food source and it should be high quality without emulsifiers.

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