Sunday 2 November 2008

Habitat of Snow Leopard

The habitat of the snow leopard covers a large number of countries, which can be seen on the map below marked in green. The range is actually more fragmented than as presented in this map - see below.

range of Snow Leopard
Range of the Snow Leopard (marked green).

The above map is published under a Wikimedia® creative commons license license = Attribution-ShareAlike License. User: Laurascudder. This is a modified version as allowed under the license. The picture has been cropped slightly and the names of the countries added.

Perhaps a more complete or detailed list of countries where this big cat is considered native are: Afghanistan, Bhutan, China (Gansu, Nei Mongol - possible, Qinghai, Sichuan, Xinjiang, Yunnan - Regionally Extinct), India (Himachal Pradesh, Jammu-Kashmir, Sikkim, Uttaranchal), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russian, Tajikistan, Tibet, Uzbekistan (src: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™).

Below is another map of the snow leopard range (distribution). It is more fragmented than the Wikipedia version but more precise. It is based on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ map which should be the most up to date range map available.

The habitat of the snow leopard is a rocky one. They are rock climbers and very agile over rock. The terrain is rugged. The terrain is broken and rocky, sparsely vegetated. and dry. It is above the tree line. As can be seen from the above video the habitat of the snow leopard is steep! They spend most of the time living on 40ยบ slopes. Although at lower elevations they use the flat planes in between the mountains.

The snow leopard is "sparsely distributed" throughout the mountains of Central Asia. The population size is not certain. Snow leopards inhabit elevations between 600 meters (2,000 feet) to 5,500 meters (18,000 feet) in the summer. They are found in arid and semi-arid steppe habitats. In some areas such as the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and Tibet's Chang Tang there is virtually no vegetation despite the fact that the diet of this cat includes a relatively high percentage of plant material. In Pakistan and India they come down to the fir, oak and rhododendron forests in the winter.

Populations of snow leopards are separated by the mountain ranges. As at 2002 the area of the snow leopard was estimated to be 1.2 to 1.6 million km², although at one time it exceeded 2.5 million km².

If you have searched for, "habitat of snow leopard", the natural question that folloHindu Kushws from looking at this map is what is it like "on the ground" in the places on the map? I hope the following pictures give a good indication. In the summer the Snow Leopard lives at a height of 9-20,000 feet, above the tree line and in rocky areas. In the winter it is lower down at about 6,000 feet and into the forests.

In Afghanistan the Hindu Kush is an area in the north of country and on the boundary with Pakistan. The picture above is what it looks like. This is an area where the Snow Leopard lives.

Prey will be sparse in an area like this so the range will be very large.

In Nepal prey is easier to find and the range smaller as a consequence as the habitat is less hostile:

Nepal forests

In Mongolia the habitat of the Snow Leopard is the Mongolian Altai. This is a place where where Russia, China (Tibet), Mongolia and Kazakhstan come together (please see the map above). This is what it looks like "on the ground":

Mongolian Altai

Then we have the Tibetan mountains. Here is what it looks like on the ground again:

Tibet mountains
All these photographs generally indicate a pretty harsh habitat for the Snow Leopard. The Snow Leopard is ranked as endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List. This ranking is mid-point on the list between the best status of "least concern" and the worst "extinct". Yet there are only about 4- 7,500 cats in the wild (update: population sizes are always estimates and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ says, "the total estimated population is 4,080-6,590" (at 2009)). In Afghanistan, for example, there are only 1- 200 covering an area of about 50,000 Sq. Kms. This seems more than endangered to me.

Snow Leopard
Snow leopard photographed at a zoo - photograph by Ginger Me

Photographs other than the map of the range of the habitat and as indicated in the captions are:
  • Hindu Kush by Fieldmedic
habitat of the snow leopard - All photographs are published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License.

Habitat of Snow Leopard to wild cat species

Saturday 1 November 2008

The reason for cat microchipping

Here is a story that underlines the reason for cat microchipping. I'll keep the story short. It's about a young cat called Lono, who was barely into adulthood who lived in West Hartford, Connecticut, USA (see the Google map below) with four other cats and Stephanie Nielsen.

View Larger Map

He went out with the other cats. He normally stays near the home. This time he disappeared. He had wondered into a neighbor's home. The neighbor had taken the cat to a veterinary center. Within the short space of time of 2 hours he was euthanized because there was no one to pay the bills. What bills? He was fit.

Whose fault is this? All three parties. Stephanie could have had Lono microchipped but was scared about health issues. There are health issues but the indicatios are that the benefits outweigh the health risks (see microchipping for pets). The neighbor is at fault most for not hanging on to Lono for a while and finding his home or at least wait a while for him to simply go home. What was the big deal? And to take the cat to a vets - big mistake. What are they going to do? And the vets; for me they were far too commercially minded and hasty to put this perfectly health cat down. Almost obscenely hasty. There actions showed an attitude that is diametrically opposite to that which should be demonstrated by a veterinarian, one which is committed to saving life. I think there is an attitude that undervalues feral cats (they presumed that Lono was a feral cat - bad presumption - never make presumptions unless you are forced to).

Is there any legal recourse, compensation? Not a chance. This would be civil action for tresspass to goods (cats are chattels in the eyes of the law) perhaps but it would be simply too troublesome and the chance of success slim. A criminal action is out of the question but it looks close on the face of it. There was no need to kill the cat. Might that action fall under the animal protection laws of Connecticut? I am being provocative.

Connecticut cat and animal cruelty laws
Check out the laws and decide for yourself. The truth is that there is some merit from my standpoint in considering a criminal prosecution but it is without merit as it would not be in the public's interest. The reason for cat microchipping cats can be found in this story but the health risks surrounding the process need to be sorted out. Microchipping is a powerful force in the control of irresponsible people who abandon cats feeding the feral cat problem.

The reason for cat microchipping to Cats and the Law

Aggravated cat cruelty is a felony

Aggravated cat cruelty is a felony in Colorado. A man who shot his wife's cat with a .22 rifle to get even has admitted it and pleaded guilty to felony. A felony is a serious crime. This crime was aggravated because he needlessly killed an animal.

Cat and animal cruelty laws Colorado
See the legislation.

The punishment is severe I am personally pleased to see. The minimum jail sentence is 1 year and the maximum is 3 years as at the date of this post. Laws change.

Aggravated cat cruelty is not a felony in all the states of America. The legislation differs.

USA cat and animal cruelty laws
See an introduction to the laws relating to animal cruelty in the USA plus other countries for comparison.

Black cats and Halloween

It's that time of year again when black cats better hide. Halloween harks back to an ancient Celtic festival. There is a tenuous connection between black cats and Halloween. The original festival was a celebration at the end of the harvest. The Gaels believed that on 31st October the dead crossed the barrier of death and could affect the lives of the living. They did things to protect themselves. This seems to have been the start of the black magic/horror movie tradition of Halloween.

But where did black cats come in? Black cats were persecuted in the Middle Ages as were people who were considered witches. Cats lived with so called witches and were therefore tainted. Witches, death, magic, cats you can see how black cats and Halloween became connected. There was a lot of superstition about in the Middle Ages. There still is unfortunately. Because the black cat still suffers at the hands of idiot people.

Cat rescue centers historically do not release black cats to people at this time of year for fear of abuse being perpetrated upon them by idiotic and abusive people. That wise policy has been changed by one organization in Canada, however, the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society. They have one of the largest animal shelters in South Western Ontario.

Because of the increased numbers of cats being brought to the sanctuary their policy was changed. The number of cats brought in up to October was the same as for the entire previous year. And of the 5,300 cats dropped in 4,000 have been euthanized. That is a staggering 75%. They do a great job, obviously, but the reality is that they are forced to do a lot of killing. When will the killing stop?

Euthanasia is not killing in the conventional sense, it is killing gently and painlessly or that in any case is meant to be how it is done. Not all euthanasia is painless however.

No kill cat shelter
Are these actually no kill? This post is deliberately provocative.

Euthanize a cat
A morbid and ugly subject but considering it is done over 2 million times in the United States every year it needs to be discussed. How is it done and is it painless?

Black cats
Some more on black cats and superstition plus some great Helmi photographs.

Black cat names
Here is a comprehensive list.

Black cats and Halloween to Home page

Black cats and Halloween - Photo by JustUptown of a black feral cat. Watch out and hide. Published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License

Yukon cat and animal laws

Aurora in Yukon CanadaYukon is a territory of Canada, there are three in total. It is next to Alaska, north west. It looks remote up there (look at this fine photo by Studiolit). I'd bet there is masses of space and a low human population. Plenty of wildlife and hunting.

This is probably why the Yukon cat and animal laws designed to protect cats (my area of interest) and other animals are relatively lax. In Canada there is federal criminal law but it is overlayed with the laws of the provinces and territories. But federal law is supreme. There shouldn't be a clash between the two.

In Yukon there is talk and petitions (I believe) to change the animal protection laws, to tighten them and make the punishment stronger and the enforcement easier (extra rights to the police for example to search and enter). One area that seems to be lacking in Yukon cat and animal laws is the obligation to provide adequate care to animals in a person's charge. This is covered by UK law under section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This kind of legislation helps to create an environment in which people's views on animal rights are gently altered, which leads to better treatment of cats and animals. Is it possible to change a society's views and behavior through the application of criminal law? - I think yes.

In fact there would seem to be a ground swell of feeling that the laws protecting animals be strengthened generally across Canada. In a direct comparison with the UK cat and animal protection legislation, Yukon cat and animal laws are substantially lighter certainly. For example, the sentence on conviction in the UK for causing unnecessary suffering is a fine of no more than £20,000 ($39,000 Canada Dollars at Oct 2008) and/or imprisonment no longer than 51 weeks. In Yukon the crime is causing "distress" and the fine is $500 Canada Dollars and/or a maximum of 6 months imprisonment. There will also be the hidden factor of lack of enforcement. Weak laws encourage a sloppy approach to enforcement.

This is something that is not apparent on paper but on the ground even if the legislation is strong and efficient, if the police force is demotivated or lack the will to enforce the laws they become useless. I'd expect some police officers in Canada to be lets say a little right of center in their thinking. This may lead them to like firearms and hunting which in turn may mean some police officers lack the sensitivity towards animals that is required to be motivated to protect them. This is certainly the case in the UK. I have no faith whatsoever in the UK police. They used to be respected; not anymore.

I am all in favor of strong animal protection laws, obviously. Cruelty to animals is known to be a precursor to cruelty to fellow humans. The crime of cruelty to cats and animals should be taken very seriously indeed. Not just for our sake but (for me) the cats and other animals.

A civilized country looks after its animals. See cat animal cruelty laws Canada. Sweden has better animal welfare laws.

Yukon cat and animal laws - Photo: The Aurora at Lake Scwatka, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Photo by by Studiolit and published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License

Yukon cat and animal laws to Cats and the Law

Friday 31 October 2008

Munchkin kittens

Munchkin kittens - This is an offspring of "Milton" a fine solid Cinnamon, longhair, male Munchkin dwarf cat. Milton is a TICA Champion. This cat is a chip off the old block. Photo published with the permission of Terri Harris. Photo copyright Terri Harris. You can see Milton one of this cat's parents and a lot more on the Munchkin on this page: Munchkin -- founding dwarf cat. You might like to read this page and click through some of the links before thinking of adopting Munchkin kittens. First things should be first. What is a Munchkin cat? A lot of us might know that the Munchkin is a dwarf cat or a small cat. There is, of course, a difference between a dwarf cat and a small cat. A dwarf cat is a normal cat with abnormally short legs due to dwarfism. A small cat, such as a miniature cat or a teacup cat is simply a very small cat. A cat breed that is not is neither a miniature cat nor a teacup cat but which is a the smallest cat breed is the Singapura cat. What gives Munchkin kittens their short legs? This is caused by a dominant genetic mutation. Sometimes the presence of mutant genes can result in defects in a cat that go beyond the the outstanding characteristic that distinguishes the cat from others. The classic case is the Manx cat. The gene that makes the tail short or eliminates the tail can also produces some health concerns: see Manx cats health. In the Munchkin and for all dwarf cats there are potential health concerns caused by the mutant gene, but dwarf cats are generally healthy. See dwarf cat health issues. The Munchkin is the founding member of the dwarf cat family of which there are at least eleven (11). Yes, a large number. All of the dwarf cats have been breed from the founding cat the Munchkin. This is the full list of 9 dwarf cats with Munchkin genes in them (the link to the Munchkin is above): Bambino -- a cross between a Munchkin and a Sphynx Dwelf -- a cross between a Munchkin, Sphynx and an American Curl Genetta a cross between Munchkin, Bengal, Savannah, Domestic Short Hair and Oriental SH Minskin a cross between Munchkin and Shynx, Devon Rex and Burmese Knooks a cross between a Kinkalow and La Perm Lambkin a cross between a Munchkin and Selkirk Rex Napoleon a cross between a Munchkin and Persian Skookum A cross between the Munchkin and LaPerm. Appearance - short legs and curly coats and an interesting origin to the name Kinkalow A cross between the American Curl and Munchkin - curled ears short legs You might like to see pictures of them and read about these rare cat breeds before going further? Click on this link to read about dwarf cats and miniature cats generally. And if you want a short cut to see all the dwarf cat breeds (bar one that I hadn't seen before, Fantasy cats) before buying Munchkin kittens, here is a video on the dwarf cat breeds. The video contains one deliberate error (actually it was not deliberate just what could be called "brain fade"). The first cat, the Elf cat, is not a dwarf cat - sorry: From Munchkin kittens to Home

Cat (Siamese) and Ferret - they love each other - photo by _schadenfreude has been around for ages and never filled its potential. How can I say that? The domain name is impossible to buy now. It's been impossible to buy for a long time. Yet is Alexa ranked 400,000. With a domain name like that and the time the site has been on the internet the Alexa ranking should be much better. Alexa is an company that measures traffic to a website.

I'd expect the domain name to be worth lots more than the website. People search for the website. I guess that they do this to look at cat breeds and find information about cats.

Well, if I say it myself and I will, Pictures of is much better. The photographs are by Helmi Flick and the best amateur photographs of cats in the world and the facts are very carefully researched. The facts are not regurgitated "facts" but real information carefully thought out. And if you disagree you can tell me by leaving a comment. That will be fine. I am open to criticism. And the Alexa ranking of Pictures of is 116,000 at Oct 2008. The lower the number the better the site by the way. is number 1.

Sure, things could and will change. But should do better and probably will after this post! One last thing. All the money made at Pictures of goes to cat charities and it made over $700 dollars in October 2008 on adsense alone. to Pictures of cats home page

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