Friday 14 January 2011

Coughing In Feral Cats

 The reason for the white cat coughing is strangulation! Photo by aylaujp (Flickr)

The reasons for coughing in feral cats is going to be the same as for domestic cats only the feral is obviously more exposed to viral and bacterial infections and serious ill health so you are more likely to see a feral cat coughing than a well cared for domestic cat.

As it happens, I have a page on the website about the cat cough, which may help concerned people to diagnose a possible cause...Cat Cough.

That said the only way to deal with a feral cat that has a cough that looks like something serious (and not all coughs are serious) is to trap the cat and take him or her to a vet and there are very few people who are prepared or who have the equipment and know how to do that.

Most coughs that require no action are due to foreign objects in the throat and which can be removed by coughing.

All the other causes will require veterinary treatment. If a cough lasts more than 5 days it requires veterinary treatment1.

Note:

1. Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook - Drs Carlson and Giffin


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Thursday 13 January 2011

Serval Population Graph

There is no such thing as a serval population graph because we don't know the world population of the serval. We don't know a lot about the wildcats generally, in fact.

That might surprise people looking for information about serval population but I can assure you that it is true - sorry.



If you are a student looking for a serval population graph for your course work tell your teacher that it doesn't exist.

The best authorities come up blank when discussing serval population:
  1. Wild Cats Of The World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist, unquestionably the best book on wildcats in the world does not quote any figures. They say that "servals have declined in numbers". This is pretty much the story for all wildcats. 
  2. The IUCN Red List, another excellent resource that should be able to tell us about wild cat populations because that is their main business  - monitoring populations - cannot come up with a serval population. They simply say that the serval "occurs widely" on the African continent below the Sahara desert except for rainforest. That is pretty much it.
  3. Then good old Wikipedia simply does not even refer to serval numbers but recites what the Red List says more or less.
Well that is it. The serval is not the only wildcat for which we have no accurate data on population. We don't even know for sure what the population of the tiger is! We have a decent idea (about 3,000+) but estimates in the past have been overly optimistic - unsurprisingly because politicians in India don't want to admit to failure in protecting the tiger from poachers.

See Serval for lots more.

Michael Avatar

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Wednesday 12 January 2011

Feline Euthanasia

 Bob on the day he was euthanised. Photo Maggie Osterberg (Flickr). This page in his memory.

There are two things about feline euthanasia that are worth knowing (a) how it is done today and (b) when to do it. The latter is the most difficult subject.

It is interesting to note that in probably the best book on cat health, Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, a truly excellent book that I heartily recommend, there are only 10 lines on the subject of feline euthanasia (note: the latest edition has more!). The book has 419 pages.

This is because there is not much to say about it, if we are honest. There comes a time when your cat will either die naturally and hopefully painlessly at home, or a decision will have to be made to put him or her to sleep. At this point it is worth reminding ourselves what the word "euthanasia" means. It is said that cats are euthanised at cat shelters but this is frequently untrue. They are killed, plain and simple. See also Euthanasia of Feral Cats.

Euthanasia means, "..the practice of ending a life in a manner which relieves pain and suffering..". In other words the tough decision is made between veterinarian and cat caretaker to end a cat's life because it is the humane and kind thing to do. The classic situation will be when the cat suffers from a painful and progressive terminal illness and there is no chance of improvement and where the cat is suffering.

Clearly the veterinarian will be called upon to give best advice. He or she takes the responsibility whether to euthanise or not. It must be a difficult assessment as cats hide pain and you can't ask a cat how they feel etc.

These days, at veterinarians, euthanasia is carried out "by an intravenous injection of an anesthetic agent in sufficient amount to cause immediate loss of consciousness and cardiac arrest". I have quoted the above book for absolute accuracy.

In some shelters other forms of so called euthanasia is sometimes employed probably for financial reasons. It is not cheap to kill a cat. Carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide has been used but this causes distress. This post talks about this unsettling subject in more detail, describing the various methods old and modern: Euthanise a cat.

Feline Euthanasia -- Associated pages:

The Argument for Euthanizing Feral Cats

Humanely Euthanize A Cat

Killing Cats

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Tuesday 4 January 2011

Mountain lion killed in Ray County

Why was a mountain lion killed in Ray County? Why oh why? For the bloody pleasure of it that is why. In this case the idiot farmer was out getting his kicks shooting raccoons. He simply had to shoot something.

Then low and behold he came across a glorious male mountain lion perching in a tree minding its own business and he shot it. Why not, nothing else to do I guess.

The cougar is almost as rare as hen's teeth in Ray County, Missouri as this state is central and most cougars have sought to escape humankind by migrating west.

There have been 3 confirmed sightings in eight years in the area so it cannot be said that this wild cat poses a threat.


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It is well known that they can be dealt with without shooting them although idiot people who love to fire off their ridiculous guns will always find a well worn excuse to shoot a magnificent creature such as a large male mountain lion. Think of the kudos. The ignorant farmer can go back to his mates and proudly proclaim that he shot a fierce mountain lion - how brave. The poor cat was doing nothing!

Not matter how many clich├ęd excuses he makes, there is no need to shoot this increasing rare animal. There are a million different ways to deal with them and the first requirement is to leave the bloody animal alone and for God's sake grow up. See: Mountain Lion Attack.

On my reading of the law of the state of Missouri, this farmer has acted illegally. It is only legal to shoot a cougar if a person is threatened or cattle attacked. There is nothing in this report to suggest either occurred.

Of course the farmer can lie and say he was threatened which shows how idiotic the conservation laws are concerning this rare cat. The law is an open invitation to kill the cat and places no restriction upon the person whatsoever unless there are third party witnesses who are brave enough and decent enough to come forward and tell the truth - what chance of that happening?

It is no wonder the cougar and other rare wildlife is being extirpated (totally eradicated) from the United States. The US has an incredibly poor record of environmental and wildlife conservation. The story of the mountain lion killed in Ray County confirms why.

The people of Britain killed off nearly all large wild animals in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland over 100 years ago so we have a far worse record. That is just to show that although I live in the UK I do not support or criticise any one country. I try and support the truth.

Michael Avatar
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Why Don't Cats Like Water?

Although people might ask this question, the truth is that it doesn't need asking because, in general, it is not true. Sure, some individual cats (and cats are individuals) don't like water. This may be for any number of reasons.

If they don't like water this might be due to a personal preference of the cat owner who routinely sprays water over the cat as a form of punishment. I say, don't punish your cat as it does not work. And in any case the opposite, positive reinforcement is far better as a training process.

John Swain (Northeastern University physicist) makes a very good point. Cats are a bit like humans when it comes to liking or disliking water but we have to take into account the obvious fact that cats wash themselves with saliva and therefore don't need water. In respect of sustenance, they also get a lot of their water from their prey in the wild. The sand cat gets all the water it needs from prey - astonishing.

If a cat has been routinely bathed as a kitten he or she will be perfectly happy to be in water. I can clearly remember Kathrin Stucki of A1 Savannahs in Oklahoma placing a gorgeous Savannah kitten under the tap to wash him and the cat was perfectly at peace with the whole process. That said, Savannah cats tend to like water as is the case with Bengal cats. This is a throwback to their wild cat parents, the Serval and Asian leopard cat. Both like to hunt near water courses. You will find that wild cat hybrids generally like water, the complete opposite to the generally held opinion - see water cats for a full list.

A well known non-wildcat hybrid that actually likes water is the Turkish Van. The town of Van is near Lake Van in Turkey. Perhaps the combination of the hot weather, the proximity of the lake and this cat's long history has resulted in this domestic cat being the most adept at swimming! Interestingly, the Turkish Angora, a close relative (the same cat?) is not known to like water. Not sure about that.

That said there are a number of wild cats that like to swim and rest in water. Often these are cats in hot climates. The tiger is the best known of these. This cat, the largest of all the world's cats, has been observed swimming in the sea for 2 miles (lion vs tiger) and routinely stays in water during hot weather. However, it is fair to say that this applied to a Sumatran tiger, the smallest of all the tiger subspecies. The Siberian tiger whose habitat is in the far east of Russia, almost exclusively, will be less likely to like water - it is much colder and there is little need to wade into it.

The Jaguarundi, a small wildcat (see wild cat by size) is a good swimmer and the fishing cat definitely is! The Asian leopard cat, Jaguar and many other wildcats like water as it is a great source of food. Much small prey live in or around water in hot climates for obvious reasons.

John Swain also makes the valid point that show cats are routinely washed in a bath or showered before a show. These cats will have become habituated to this since being kittens. It cannot be said of them, "Why don't cats like water?"

In addition to the above, many cats like to play with drinking water. Some like to scoop up water in their paws and lick the water from their paw. Maine Coons do this fairly often and I saw my moggie lady cat do it the other day, using both left and right paw equally.

The conclusion is that, subject to individual cat's preferences, domestic cats that have not become accustomed to being bathed and which are not wild cat hybrids will probably balk at being washed. For all the other cats it will a matter of character (genetics) and/or experiences as a kitten, perhaps because they are wild cat hybrids or were washed all over in preparation for sale to a customer (as a purebred cat) or for whatever reason.

Michael Avatar


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