Sunday 4 July 2010

Cat Experts Aim Too Low

When cat experts give advice about cats they often aim too low. What I mean is their advice is too heavily compromised and modified by what suites us and not what is in the best interests of the cat.

Let me give you a good example. The expert in this instance is Linda P Case who wrote a book I sometimes refer to and which is called, The Cat, It's Behavior, Nutrition & Health. She writes on page 180-181 about, "Undesirable predation". How can predation by undesirable for the cat? It is completely natural for a domestic cat to prey on small animals. We all know that. This advise is too people orientated.

In order to stop this undesirable behavior we are advise to bang up our cats, indoors, on a permanent basis. Job done, problem solved. Or is it? A lot of cats who are full-time indoor cats will find alternative outlets for their desire to hunt and some of these will be abnormal behavioral conditions; conditions that are stress related such as overgrooming or OCD conditions such as tail biting. The cat might suffer hair loss through stress in my opinion.

More importantly, I feel that the advise should be more optimistic and more adventurous and certainly more in keeping with the best interests of the cat. And it should seek to provide as natural an environment as possible surely?

The better and more absolutely correct advice is to encourage people to build enclosures. In my view, in an ideal world we should be thinking much wider than simply forcing the domestic cat to acclimatise to an unnatural life indoors to suite us. Of course a cat indoors can't get run over by a car. But if we gave more effort to figuring out how to protect cats from cars or keeping cars away from cats or slowing down cars, that sort of thing, then we would come up with a better solution for us and that cat in the long term.

For instance, in an ideal world no one should keep a cat unless that person had safe enclosed land to allow the cat to roam and behave naturally. And people who keep cats should sign a declaration that they accept all of the cat's behavioral traits. We need to accept the fact that our cat might bring in a half alive mouse and then play with it. If we can't accept that don't keep a cat. How simple is that?

The bottom line answer to "undesirable predation" is to relabel it "desirable and acceptable predation" and to thoroughly accept it. To bang up a cat to stop it behaving naturally is little better than declawing it.

Linda, for me, your advise is too conditioned by conventional human experience and knowledge. It is not expansive and novel enough. It is predictably American and in America there is a tendency to see the cat as a fluffy moving object whose purpose is to amuse people and not as the most effective predator on the planet.



 From to Home Page

Cats Can't Give Informed Consent

The obvious fact that cats can't give informed consent places us in a position of responsibility that a lot of cat keepers don't recognise. How do I know that? Well, it's easy really. In the USA there are about 20 million cats that have been declawed for the benefit of the person and to the detriment of the cat. Clearly millions of cat keepers in America have not taken on the burden of responsibility to protect the rights of their cats.

It is very easy for us to become complacent about the rights of our cats. They are in fact quite vulnerable despite being under our care. We have total power over them.

The concept of informed consent, in relation to medical procedures for a human, means that we are clearly informed about the procedure and then we make a decision whether we should undergo it. The objective is to improve our health and wellbeing.

In respect of medical matters regarding our cat we listen to the veterinarians advice and make a decision. We are the vet's client from the vet's perspective. This is wrong. For the vet the client should be the cat and the cat owner or keeper is the cat's guardian and spokesperson. With that perspective in mind, it is possible to envisage a lot of decisions concerning the health of cats having a different outcome.

For a start there would be no declawing  - none whatsoever because the cat would obviously object to it. In the same vein of thought, a cat would not accept the administering of drugs to modify its behavior. Some cats might be considered troublesome with so called behavioral problems when in fact the behavioral problems could well be ours in not accepting a cat's normal but sometimes disruptive behavior.

When administering medical treatment to a cat, both the veterinarian and the cat's owner should place themselves in the shoes of the cat and make a decision accordingly. In short both human parties should protect the cat's rights and give informed consent on behalf of the cat.

A cat has no legally protected rights in a general sense in the USA as far as I am aware other than standard animal cruelty laws. In the UK there is the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which also sets a framework for animal welfare. There appears to be a gap in the law here. A cat is protected against cruelty under criminal law. But a cat is not protected in respect of the need to obtain informed consent before medical procedures are carried out on the cat.

The only way around this is to make it law that veterinarian medical procedures must only be for the promotion of the cat's health and not for the convenience of the person. A vet's oath and guidelines say that this must be the case at all times. But it is flaunted and ignored in the USA hence the need for legislative protection.



From Cats Can't Give Informed Consent to Home Page

Thursday 1 July 2010

Litter Box Aversion

Litter box aversion is a favorite topic on the internet. Piles of words have been written on it. Here are some more!

Litter box aversion is not spraying for territorial marking. It is when the cat simply stops using the litter box for urination and defecation. The cat will do it elsewhere on horizontal surfaces as opposed to vertical surfaces for spraying.

For example, the cat might try to use the litter box, half in and half out, without touching the litter itself and dig outside the box.

Two common reasons for litter box aversion are:

  1. a dislike of the litter (technical term: "substrate") - heavily scented litter although marketed as beneficial for the human might not work out that way if the cat dislikes it and pees on the carpet! Apparently finer clumping litters are preferred by cats over the coarse clay litters.
  2. less commonly - a dislike of the location of the litter box

A dislike of the substrate could be because of its feel and smell. A change in the litter might provoke an aversion and the cure is therefore obvious.

Another reason why a cat might not like the litter is because it is not clean. Some cats are fussy or more fussy than others.

Another entirely separate cause of litter aversion is because another cat is using it. Or the use by another cat might exacerbate the problem. The presence of another cat would also alter the status of the existing cat, which might also exacerbate an aversion.

The initial diagnosis is to assess whether there is a medical condition such as cystitis that drives the cat to urinate frequently and outside the litter box. This is one example. Once medical issues have been successful dealt with or eliminated the other reasons can be ticked off.

Moving the box and employing more than one box in a multiple cat household might do the trick. Then the litter type can be changed and the litter kept spotlessly clean - twice a day should be OK.

Punishment is a definite no no as it does not work and makes the cat fearful. It will damage the human caretakers relationship.

Confining the cat to a small area with the litter without carrying out tests on the preferred litter type and without ensuring the litter box is clean may work within the confined space but not when the old routines are recommenced.

Cats who stop using the litter box for whatever reason may develop a certain area in the house as a substitute and as this area then smells like a cat toilet is will be reused. The area must be thoroughly cleaned with an enzyme odour eater that are available on the internet to remove all traces of the smell. Conventional cleaning won't work.

The cat should then be prevented from returning to the area while being retrained to use the litter box. The key to solving litter box aversion is to discover the underlying cause and remove it, whilst remaining patient and constructive in re-habituating the cat to use the litter.



From to Litter Box Aversion Home Page

Photo by Wunderkrafts (Flickr)

Monday 21 June 2010

Some Strange Weird or Sick Cat Stuff

The first bit of strange cat stuff is a weird picture of a….well it is obviously not real. There are a lot of sites peddling a wide range of sensationalist images and videos of any subject.

It is all circulating around the internet.

Here is this weird photoshopped image:

photoshopped cat

Despite being a bit disturbing it is well done.

Next comes a video. This is a nice video but the title is…Little lion survived in Siberia due to “adoptive dogmother” . This gives the impression that the lion cub was in the wild in Siberia. As there are no lions in Siberia the cub must have been born in captivity in Siberia.

The strange bit is not the dog nursing a lion but the title.

Next comes “Cat Missile”

cat missile

This must also be a clever piece of photo editing using Photoshop or some other similar software.

Next one…You have to figure out what the image is..can you see the girl?

Strange image of a tiger

Next some images that I find disturbing:

cat-trapped-up-power-cables

Picture above: He was up there for 18 hours! These are power cables!

cat-covered-in-tape

Not a clue how this cat ended up like this. Someone must have put this tape on. Although the caption on the original says that the cat achieved this all on his or her own. Possible? Not sure.

cat shot by crossbow

This last picture makes me feel ill. A tabby cat shot by a crossbow for fun no doubt. He survived. He wandered around like this for a week before making it home. That is the story. I have one slight doubt. Is this a genuine photograph. It almost looks like the arrow is resting underneath the cat and not piercing it. I hope that is the case. If I am right then it is sad that people publish this kind of thing.

This is the real world of the internet where people crave weird and strange images and videos for instant gratification. It is a sad reflection on us.

All the images are in the public domain.

Some Strange Weird and Sick Cat Stuff to PoC Forum

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Witchcraft banned cats from the bible

Witchcraft banned cats from the bible. Crazy? Absurd? No not really. Here is my argument. The bible contains no reference to the domestic cat whatsoever. The domestic dog is mentioned but not that frequently. Lions and leopards are referred to rarely.

At the time of Christ the cat had, by mutual consent, been domesticated for more than 6,000 years. In Egypt the African wildcat had been well and truly domesticated also by consent with the cat. In other words the cat and humans gained from the relationship.

For a while, the domestic cat in Egypt before the time of Christ (a cat that is the Eyptian Mau even today), was revered and worshiped. We know about that. As a result, a lot of potential existed for a least a mention in the bible. But nothing. Zilch. Rien. Porquoi?

It may simply be that the authors of the bible found nothing in the domestic cat that related to their stories. That seems a fair assumption as the bible is about people. And the bible was written second hand many, sometimes hundreds of years after the event. It is not necessarily an accurate account of events.

And then we have the translation. Lost in translation might apply to the bible. Did the 47 Church of England scholars who translated the Greek text of the bible into the King James Version do it objectively, accurately? Or were they tempted (as I would be) to put in a bit that I thought is more important and which would guide readers in the direction that the Church of England wanted them to go?

At the time (early 1600s) cat familiars (black cats that lived with so called witches) were thought of as real. People believed in them. Might it have been very easy to erase the few references to the domestic cat that might have been in the original text to "clean it up" for modern England? What I mean is modern in relation to the origins of the bible.

Three Legged Black Cat
Black Cat - Charlie

You know, translating text from one language to another, particularly an old language allows for a good amount of artistic enterprise. The translator is looking for the true meaning of the text as they understand it. It is objectivity built upon subjectivity - a dangerous concept.

So, if as I say witchcraft and cat familiars were part of the national consciousness in the days when the bible was translated into the most widely used languages, it is not beyond the bounds of reasonable thought to suggest that the cat was removed from the text. After all, witches familiars revealed the devil to the witch. It was possessed by the witch. How could an author put a cat in the bible on that basis?

My conclusion as to why there is no reference to domestic cats in the bible is:
  • They were not that relevant to the stories in the bible
  • Cats were seen as evil and possessed of the devil at the time translations of the bible were being carried out
  • The bible was written 50 to hundreds of years after the events. The stories are second had and somewhat historical. Under these circumstances only the broader issues where referred to. Detail mentioning the cat were irrelevant to the stories as mentioned.
The Islam faith has a more practical and open culture and teaching regarding the domestic cat because Mohammed kept a cat as far as I remember. A great start for a domestic cat. I don't know what the modern Muslim feels about the domestic cat but if they read the books they will be tender and compassionate because that is what is taught.

Michael Avatar

From witchcraft banned cats from the bible to Home Page

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