Monday 5 May 2008

Cats on Your Bed

cats on bed
photo copyright DDFic

Cats on Your Bed is bad, some people think. Personally, I just don't get this. There may be some good reasons, sometimes for some people to keep a cat of the bed at night but generally, there is no evidence to suggest that this harmful. I have kept cats for many years without the slightest suggestion of transmission of disease from my cat to me (zoonotic diseases are those that are transmittable between animals and humans). I actually have never considered that there is a distinction between animals and humans as humans are simply a more intelligent animal. Humans cannot though be considered to be intelligent in an absolute sense. Look at the mess we make of things! In short we are all animals, just different species.

And as far as I am aware, the great naturalist, Desmond Morris has similar thoughts. That's not the reason that I have mine, though.

Some diseases that a cat can have can be transmitted to us and if she sleeps on your bed it would seem that there is a greater chance of transmission. However, as the Cornell University College of Veterinarian Medicine puts it, you are more likely to catch an ailment from another human than a cat. So, if you stop your cat sleeping on your bed to minimize transmission of disease, you'll have to do the same with your partner if you are to apply fair standards. In fact you should remove your partner first on the sole basis of transmission of disease.

Most zoonotic diseases are harmless to humans. Some people are more vulnerable such as the very old and very young because of immature or weakened immune systems. The most common zoonotic disease is cat scratch disease. A certain bacteria transmitted through the scratch or bite of the cat that breaks the skin. This doesn't mean that all bites and scratches result in this disease - far from it. I have had many scratches (in play) and no trouble. Never had a sign of a disease.

Cats on Your Bed will not increase the possibilities of transmission of this disease, obviously. Unless you play rough with your cat and that is in our hands. Note too that only some cats have cat scratch bacteria to transmit. I don't know the percentage but it is probably very low.

So, this is about risk really. There is a risk of getting something from a cat or dog etc. There is risk in everything we do and my argument is that the risk of catching a disease from a cat is much lower than being hurt from other sources in our daily actions. The logical thing to do is to modify our behavior to minimize injury in those areas where the risk is high before thinking of arguing that Cats on Your Bed is a bad thing.

All that said a sensible and reasonable approach to keeping a cat should be employed. Avoid getting scratched and bitted by sensible handling of your cat (but don't be fearful). For example disease can be transmitted through a cat's faeces. Toxoplasmosis is the classic disease that can be transmitted this way so handling cat litter sensibly and keeping the litter tray clean is important. Of course the cat has to carry the disease in the first place.

Fleas are another problem, a very common problem. I would always be alert to fleas :). Check your cat frequently and comb them out with a flea comb. I wouldn't use sprays or chemicals. But if it's bad the drops that are placed on the back of the cat work well for about one month. But the cat's skin smells different and it affects the cat (in my experience it made my cat more sleepy initially).

Another transmittable disease is ringworm. Cats on Your Bed is good for both human and cat with a bit of care.

Sunday 4 May 2008

Animals in War

dog in war animals in war
Animals in War - A sculpture illustrating a dog surviving in a battle zone. Swedish Army Museum. Photo copyright surstubben under creative commons

Lets think of animals in war. Not this time those brave animals who have assisted humankind in conflict (I'll make a posting about them another time) but the innocent victims of "collateral damage" or even the victims of in my opinion unnecessary cruelty towards animals by forces involved in conflict. And lets not forget these cats (and dogs) left behind by their human keepers when they go to war (and left forever if they don't come back).

Of those unnecessarily hurt by the military I refer to a previous posting about the feral cats in Baghdad. If these cats are killed under a standing military order then it happens all over the world where there are US forces. This is a hidden and cruel consequence of war. Why should innocent animals be deliberately slaughtered? There are better ways. Please read the story and come back. It is thought that the military kill cats on Iraq bases for tax reasons. The official reason is the prevention of spread of disease. I have never caught anything from my cat in decades of living with cats. Come on guys!

When the military are not deliberately killing cats, they are killed in the conflict or by the aftermath of the conflict. Here are extracts from a news article written on 10th December 1870:

"In the village of Bazielle, near Sudan, which was burned by the Bavarian troops on Sept . 1 - so completely destroyed that there is not a house left in the place - it is pitiful to see the poor cats. When the fighting took place the people all fled; a few took shelter in the caves or cellars of the houses; but when the place was fired all had to seek safety in the flight; the cats also had to fly. The unfortunate inhabitants could not return, for the village remained a mass of rubbish.....The cats of the village nearly all returned; each found out its old quarters. the destruction by fire and utter ruin did not prevent these domestic creatures from finding out their old abodes, and there might be seen sitting on the charred window-sills, looking starved and miserable. The village contains nothing but blackened heaps of stone and charcoal-nothing to eat, for every consumable thing was annihilated by the fire and poor puss is left without a friend or any source from which commissariat supplies can be got......"

So as we see, it is not only humans who suffer the consequences of war but we totally forget the other animals. We shouldn't.

Animals in War to homepage

Saturday 3 May 2008

UK cat shows

Crystal Palace 1851
Early UK cat shows were held here. The Crystal Palace Exhibition Hall, London at the opening by Queen Victoria in 1851. This was in Hyde Park in the center of London. The glass and metal hall was moved to Sydenham (further out) in about 1853 and it burned down in 1936 - picture in public domain as copyright has expired

Early UK cat shows, the big ones, were held at Crystal Palace, London (see above). These shows go back to the beginning of the cat fancy (meaning the start of the era where cat lovers got together to show and develop cat breeds).

The cat fancy has changed enormously. When you read the very early reports (late 1800s to early 1900s) of cats shows and see illustrations it is evident that there was little concept of creating and developing cat breeds. Breeds were generally natural cat breeds and the breed was "refined" (as people in the cat world call it).

Here is an interesting extract from the Penny Illustrated from 1871:

"The Cat-Show" (comment: they hypenated the phrase then)

Shows are so various as the Crystal Palace that even a cat-show treat scarcely takes one by surprise. This exhibition is interesting; but, having to commence printing so early, we can only devote a few lines to the feline-show this week. Of the 150 entries, some were extremely fine animals. There was a live wild cat of Scotland (Felis catus) (comment: this is obviously the Scottish Wildcat, which has survived in the wild although there is concern about natural hybridization with domestic cats - a survey is being carried out), exhibited by the Duke of Sutherland; two stuffed specimens of the same variety (comment: don't like that, it wouldn't happen at a cat show today), sent by Mr. F. Buckland. The Hon. Mrs. Grey contributed an imported Persian cat of rare pedigree (comment: this would be what is now called the Traditional or Doll Face Persian the only type at that time), besides which there were many Persian cats of several colours; Angora, Aleppo, and other foreign sorts, including one of great rarity from Siam (comment: this must have been a Siamese Cat, now called the Thai by TICA or the Traditional Siamese in the cat fancy today).

Lady Lubbock sent a beautiful long-haired creature in this class (comment: this it seems to be a Balinese cat). There were also several of the tailless Manx cats, and many displaying curiosities of natural development and colour, some weighing as many as 18 lb, and 20 lb., and one tortoiseshell tom. Altogether this is a fine time for our four-legged fellows. We are next promised (comment: I presume that this phrase means that there will be a show next year)

UK cat shows to Traditional Siamese

Friday 2 May 2008

Old cat health

Old Himalayan Cat
Old cat health - Mocha an 18 year old female Himalayan who lives with Marilyn Papp. Photo copyright Marilyn Papp. This is where she spends most of her time nowadays.

Old cat health is a worry to people who keep cats. My cat is about 15+ years old. She is still healthy touch wood. She can't groom her back because she is a little overweight but is still in robust good health. For that I am eternally grateful and long may it last. As the years roll by we become closer and as I am retired I spend more time with her, which I sense she appreciates. We are very close companions, the relationship burnished and polished by time.

catMarilyn emailed me about her cat.

"I just wanted to let you know that my Himilayan Cat is now 18 years old, Mocha, her top weight during her life was 5lbs 2 oz, she now weights 4lbs 2oz, her eyesight is very limited and the mobility in hind legs is deteriorating. But she is a trooper and still holding on. I have noticed lately...that.... her teeth are not looking good, but she does still eat dry food. Just thought you would like to know about my Mocha."

I do want to know about your Mocha. Mocha has a habit of burning her tail on wood stoves and has never learned to avoid the stove. She obviously doesn't care. She also used to love to travel (unusual for a cat). Mocha is well traveled. She has been to Wawa, Ontario, Ottawa, North Bay, and Sault St. Marie in Canada (all those places are in Canada aren't they, Marilyn?).

catHere's a picture of her perched on top of the scratching post. She prefers to be there rather then scratch it. Sounds like mine. You can't get 'em to do anything they don't want to do (unless you trick 'em).

In human terms Mocha is 85 years old. My cat is a sprightly 73 in comparison. You can work out cat age from this posting, entitled, "How Old is My Cat".

I also made an earlier posting about "Senior Cat Care". From a common sense point of view, old cat health has the same problems as for old humans. The senses and mobility deteriorates etc. but they can live happy and full lives still. I try and exercise mine in the garden to keep her active. In fact she asks me out. She actually needs me out to supervise the area and protect her (and comb her). She feels safer then. Old cat health can be improved if activity levels are maintained.

Marilyn mentions that Mocha eats dry food. I used to give my cat dry food (on a vet's advice) but I now believe that it contains too much carbohydrate which can lead to less activity. I would recommend that Marilyn gradually transfers Mocha to wet food (canned or in a sachet) as this is better. I think this is now recognized as a fact rather than supposition. It can improve old cat health. (Update: Marilyn says this: - I do feed her moist food, I have to buy it at the vet, she goes through 1 little can every 5 days! - thanks Marilyn :)

Himalayans are pointed Persian cats. I have never lived with a Himmie. They have characters like Persians but perhaps not quite so docile as they are a cross between a Persian and Siamese. Siamese are quite active and vocal so this combination shouldn't be to docile. Marilyn will tell me in the comments section.

Marilyn, thanks for sending me your pictures of Mocha. I am sure like me you are occasionally concerned about your cat's age and her passing on. I am with mine. This is a tough part of living with a cat. But for me it has been a lovely journey full of reward.

Old cat health to Traditional Persian Cat

Thursday 1 May 2008

Cats in Baghdad

Cats in Baghdad US bases and other bases in Iraq are being killed by US contractors to protect the soldiers from getting rabies and other diseases. 5,300 were trapped and killed last year. 7,100 were trapped. Therefore a substantial number must have been released. How are they treated and is this right? Clearly the greatest danger to cats in Iraq is the occupying US forces. Another downside of the invasion of Iraq and a hidden one. It is barely news but these are large numbers.

The US corporations that protect the compounds are following a general military order. I see the need to protect the soldiers.

I wonder if there is not a better solution. Can't the forces there make the compounds more difficult for cats to get into to? I presume that there is an order that army personnel are not to approach and befriend cats. Why then is it not possible to punish the army personnel if they befriend cats or touch cats for example. That way it would be the humans getting punished (the people who have created the problem for cats) rather than killing innocent animals.

It just seems to be a hammer to crack a nut syndrome. One security person, a women is doing her bit to help and saving some cats by exporting a small number to the UK -wow but it is very difficult and expensive (apparently $3,500 per cat to ship them out). Good on her (she calls herself Louise but this may be a false name to protect her identity, I don't know) but the general order needs to be amended to be more humane.

Louise, the person saving some cats has a website She needs funding. Although she was looking for finds last November to export the cats, I expect she still needs financial help. is doing its bit to help.

Photo: this cat is being treated nicely by army personnel in Baghdad. What is going on? It seems that the generals accept this but on the other hand kill cats. I am confused. Photo copyright MASSIVE DEFEAT

Cats in Baghdad to warrior cats

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