Friday 26 September 2008

Are we good cat owners or keepers?


This combines three elements of healthy cat life: companionship, play, grooming. Photo by Kirk Siang

Are we good cat owners or keepers? The reason I have included the word "keeper" is because I do not believe that we own cats as if we own an inanimate object. We keep cats. This is a better description, I think. That said, legally we do own cats, but the law is sometimes stupid and/or out of date.

So how do we find out if we are good cat owners or keepers? Answer these questions:

Do we play with our cat(s) for a part of the day, say 10-20 minutes? Cats need some form of stimulation as they are living an artificial life in which they are perpetually provided with all they need (in the right household at least). This keeps them as kittens mentally. They are adults so they need some challenges and stimulation. Play in one answer. Personally, I do out with my cat into the garden and comb her and check for fleas in the garden as she is more tolerant of doing that in the garden on her feet and being stimulated by what is going on around her.

I'll play with a piece of plant (a dried plant for example) or I push her over and she accepts this as it is the signal for a game in which she lies on her back and waves her arms at me. I do the same back to her. I also prod her in the rump. This gets the juices going but these things are personal to her. Each cat will tell you eventually by trying things out, what he or she likes.

Play is a physical release and good emotionally - it is good for humans too. Giving up the time to play confirms that the answer is, yes, to the question: Are we good cat owners or keepers?

Do we groom our cat at least once day? My girl is a medium length haired cat but she has a thick undercoat, which tends to matt and she is overweight so she can't get at all of the coat; plus she is old (16). This makes her less flexible. Grooming your cat and grooming with a flea comb is pleasant for nearly all cats (and us) plus it serves a useful purpose and it means we are close to our cat companion so we can inspect for problems. It also helps create a bond - beneficial on a number levels then. A yes to daily grooming means another yes to the question: Are we good cat owners or keepers?

Do we check bowel movements and eating habits daily? It is good to check what goes in and what comes out!! This tells us quite a lot about our cat's metabolism and general health. Doing the litter tray tells us what we need to know about the products of her toilet sessions. Feeding her will tell us if she is feeding well. Good cat food is I think a little hard to come by but the best simple answer is to try and buy the better quality food and feed a balanced diet which for me translates into not feeding dry food all the time. Feline diabetes is one condition that can be created through the wrong diet at least for Dr. Hodgkins it is (Your Cat).

The experts recommend yearly vet check ups. I cannot deny the sense of that. But I am more the kind of person who checks and keeps an eye on things and goes to the vet when needed. On a practical level a lot of people can't afford vets. This is not to say vets are expensive. I discuss vets. Cat insurance is expensive too, potentially, at least. For some people insurance is good and it does mean we go to the vet more freely which means earlier treatment sometimes. The truth is we shouldn't keep a cat unless we can afford to and that means the cost of proper care. This amongst other things needs to be factored in when adopting a cat. See cat vaccinations recommendations for example.

If we are out a lot does are cat have a companion cat? This is not obligatory of course but if we are out a lot a companion cat could be a way of improving our cat's life provided the introduction is done properly. See sociable cats.


Are we good cat owners keepers? to Home page

Are we good cat owners or keepers? - Photo: published under a creative commons license - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License.

Giving Glucosamine to a cat

Giving Glucosamine to a cat is, it seems, acceptable in the treatment of osteoarthritis, a condition from which older cats can suffer.

Somali cat
Somali cat - photo by Per Ola Wiberg (former ponanwi and Powi) - this cat is not arthritic nor it seems old! Just a good photograph of fine looking cat to illustrate the page. His name is Vincent.

Glucosamine is a well known, popular and well promoted alternative medicine for the treatment of osteoarthritis in older people. It is almost seen as some kind of miracle cure, a life improver. So, this is a testament to the fact that cats and humans have a similar anatomy and in some cases a similar treatment for illness. Although giving pain relief to cats without veterinarian advice would be very foolhardy indeed (see feline pain relief).

Glucosamine is an amino sugar and a precursor in the synthesis of certain types of protein and lipids including "glycosaminoglycans". These substances are a component of joint cartilage. And osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of the cartilage. This allows the joints to rub together, which in turn causes painful inflammation.

So, the theory is that Glucosamine will help in the repair of the cartilage and ease the inflammation and get the joint working again. This is better, it is argued, than simply administering anti-inflammatory drugs. In any case drug treatment in cats particularly aspirin (an anti-inflammatory and pain killer) requires extreme care. Giving Glucosamine to a cat is, on the face of it, a better treatment.

As the Glucosamine acts on the existing cartilage it is best to treat early as there is more cartilage upon which the Glucosamine can act. It is sold as a food supplement.

It is slow acting (2 months estimate and more I expect) as it is repairing the cartilage, a natural process and these commonly take longer than one expects.

It is recommended that high quality products be bought, if one buys at all, to maximize the prospect of successful treatment. It probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, that a veterinarian needs to be involved before going ahead with giving Glucosamine to a cat.

Giving Glucosamine to a cat to Cat health problems

Giving Glucosamine to a cat - photo: published under a creative commons license - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

Ethiopian cat

Ethiopian cat Abyssinian cat
Anton says, I don't care what you call me - he's knackered - photo by isbye

The term "Ethiopian cat" is an old (outdated and unused I believe) name for the Abyssinian cat. This is interesting as Ethiopia is a more modern name for the country once referred to as Abyssinia (by people outside of Ethiopia and perhaps referring to an area). Although the name Ethiopia is, in fact, an ancient name.

So the cat fancy is working in the opposite direction to the rest of the world. Hardly interesting really now I think of it. One reason why this cat breed is called the Abyssinian rather than the Ethiopian cat is because it sounds better. Perhaps another better reason is because the name "Abyssinia" referred, as I understand it, to an area encompassing Ethiopia and this cat breed came from the wider area, so the name may be more accurate.

We know that the name of this cat was created after the place of origin of the cat, Abyssinia. But the places of origin of naturally occurring cats (and the Aby is a naturally occurring cat) are understandably a little vague sometimes. By my reckoning the Abyssinian cat or Ethiopian cat could have originally come from the areas marked by the red spots on this map:

Abyssinian cat place of origin

Apparently the Chinese used to call the Abyssinian cat the "Algerian cat" or the Ethiopian cat. Maybe they still do. Why, I wonder, call this cat breed the Algerian cat? Algeria is at least about 3,000 km to the left (north-west) of Ethiopia so is a considerable distance away from the mutually agreed source of this cat breed. Perhaps they have a different theory for the origins? Maybe they just prefer the name or maybe they got mixed up with the region or in translation.....?

You can read a lot about the Abyssinian cat and see undoubtedly the best pictures (by Helmi Flick) on this page: Abyssinian cat.


Ethiopian cat to Mixed breed cats - domestic cats - Moggies

Ethiopian cat - Photo: published under creative commons license - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

CHARGE syndrome, split foot and cats

Are CHARGE syndrome, split foot and cats related? I take the subject matter for this post from the helpful and concerned cat breeders who are part of a Yahoo Group who have raised the possibility of a link. The discussion is also about how cat breeders deal with genetic defects in breeding lines.

First things first. What is CHARGE syndrome? This is a mnemonic that stands for Coloboma, Heart defects, choanal Atresia, Retarded growth and development, Genital abnormalities, and Ear anomalies (src: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). In other words, in layperson terms, a range of diseases and conditions that profoundly affect the person. This disease affects people, by the way. Of the people who inherit this multifaceted disease some, for example (I won't set out a complete list) have hearing, and/or swallowing problems (70%-90% of people with this condition have these problems) and/or abnormal outer ears (the ear flap is deformed). There are a wide range of abnormalities, developmental malformations and deformities. What causes it?

CHARGE syndrome is inherited through an autosomal dominant defective gene. If a parent has CHARGE syndrome the offspring have a 50% chance of acquiring the condition. Mutated/defective genes have resulted in the creation of new cat breeds, think American Curl (curly ears) or dwarf cats as two examples, there are more. So, this is an inherited health problem that causes a range of developmental deficiencies of a serious nature in humans. Can this be syndrome occur in cats and is there a relationship between CHARGE syndrome, split foot and cats?

Cat anatomy in similar or the same as ours at a fundamental level. For this reason, cats are used (most regrettably from my standpoint) in medical research. Cat health problems are often similar to ours. There are wide range of similarities such as heart disease (HCM - see HCM in Bengal cats), kidney disease etc. There is the possibility that cats could suffer from CHARGE syndrome it seems to me. It may even be accepted that CHARGE syndrome affects cats - please leave even the briefest of comments if you know the answer.

Next, what is split foot? A lot of us have heard of Polydactyl cats, cats with more than the usual number of toes. Some people think that there is a breed of cat called the American Polydactyl cat - there isn't. Anyway, split foot as the name implies, is a foot (and this developmental defect can affect many animals including humans) that looks as though it has been split into two, when in fact it is the result of the fusion of the toes or digits. The medical term is "Syndactyly". And cats that have the condition are called "Syndactyl cats" as opposed to Polydactyl cats.

Is it possible that split foot is one of the developmental deficiencies that come under the umbrella of CHARGE syndrome? Possible I guess. This leads to another topic where the word "profound" can be used. The question is how should cat breeders deal with genetically inherited diseases in cats? This is a question that goes to the heart of cat breeding as a feature of cat breeding is the need to inbreed (breed closely) to enhance appearance and this is fraught with problems. (Do wild cats instinctively avoid inbreeding - does this give us a clue as to how to breed cats?)

The arguments go like this:

One argument: If I, as a cat breeder, am totally open about a genetic defect that I think is in my breeding line(s) then other breeders will use it against me. It'll cause problems. It is best that I keep quiet and deal with the problem myself. Or wait until the experts research the problem and then I'll take action.

Another argument: Genetically inherited diseases occur in all non purebred cats (mixed breed cats or moggies), they are everywhere as a part of normal life. Why should I as a cat breeder highlight problems that are normal at the risk of ruining my business and making things worse?

Another counter argument: We can't wait until the experts research complex genetically inherited health problems because funding is slow to come through and in any case we, as cat breeders, can see or sense that there is a problem and we therefore owe it to ourselves, the cats (this is the main reason) and our customers to deal with it without delay and to discuss the matter with other breeders to allow a full and open discussion to take place to expedite a resolution of the problem.

Which argument do you agree with.............?

CHARGE syndrome, split foot and cats to Cat health problems

My view is that it is likely that there is a relationship between CHARGE syndrome, split foot and cats.

Thursday 25 September 2008

Egyptian Mau pictures

Here are two of the very best Egyptian Mau pictures that you will see on the Internet. They are by Helmi Flick. They are show cats. So you've got the best cats by the best photographer....simple really. Better than that I have made a comparison with Egyptian feral cats.

The Egytian Mau is a very exotic looking cat in the show rings of America. In Egypt slightly less glamorous or refined versions of this cat are seen on the streets foraging for food and as I understand it persecuted by some people (in authority?).

These Egyptian Mau pictures show you how this breed has been developed or put it this way, the pictures show you how, I think this cat breed, might have been developed.

Egyptian Mau
These are feral cats in Egypt. The large cat and her sibling, on the left (I am guessing that this might be the case) look a bit like less refined versions of the purebred Egyptian Mau in America. "Mau" means "cat" in English. Click on the photograph for a bigger image or here to see the cats better. Photo by Jeff_Werner. This cat breed is meant to have a belly flap to enhance speed. This cat has one but is probably due to age and having kittens. I am dubious about the "belly flap" argument. A flexible spine is more valuable for speed. The belly flap would also seem to be called a "primordial pouch". It is seen on the Bengal cat as well and wildcats as it allows food to be stored between well spaced out kills. In domestic cats it can be filled with fat through over feeding when it is called "spay sway". Spaying, the neutering of femals cats can result in fatter cats hence the term.

The next picture shows a purebred show cat. This is a silver Egyptian Mau.

Egyptian Mau
Silver Egyptian Mau - Luke - photograph copyright Helmi Flick - contrast between the pattern, in this case spots, and the background should be distinct i.e. in high contrast as is the case.


Egyptian Mau
Egyptian Mau kittens photograph copyright Helmi Flick

I think we can see a likeness between these lovely kittens and the feral kitten in the picture at the top of this post. The eyes should be alert and gooseberry green.

You can see a lot more on this cat breed here:

Egyptian Mau (a full description and great Egyptian Mau pictures)
Egyptian Mau cat (large format slide show of the best Egyptian Mau pictures)

Egyptian Mau pictures to Mixed breed cats (moggies)

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