Saturday 12 March 2011

The battle between bird conservationists and cat lovers

Photo copyright Stockxpert

There is a long standing battle going on between bird conservationists and cat lovers and it is the bird conservationists who instigated the war. The cat people are simply defending their position and the cat.

I find it shocking, actually. Bird conservationists should be animal lovers or at least people interested in the wider picture of wildlife conservation and the respect and welfare of all animals.

But it appears to me that they appear to be massaging data and figures (or have been careless) to support their desire to eradicate or kill the feral and stray cat - they would call it "euthanize" but this is incorrect. This is by implication the case because trap-neuter-return is not working on a wide scale due to a lack of funding. Either they are massaging figures or they are making unreasonable assumptions as to domestic cat predation.

I know that I have used provocative words but that seems to me to be the case. I see this on the internet quite a lot.

I have written about this before:

I was prompted to write this because of an article ("the article") by the Smithsonian Institution that reported on a research study “Population demography of Gray Catbirds in the suburban matrix: Sources, sinks and domestic cats,” authored by Anne L. Balogh, Thomas B. Ryder, and Peter P. Marra.

In the article they say that 80% of urban dwelling fledgling Grey Catbirds (a medium-sized northern American perching bird of the mimid family) are killed by predators before adulthood. They say that "Nearly half (47 percent) of the deaths were attributed to domestic cats in Opal Daniels and Spring Park."

The 47% figure comes from an assessment that 16 out of 34 birds where killed by cats. However a commentator - Peter J. Wolf - says they have distorted the original report. The original report says that 9 birds that were killed were attributed to cat predation and of those only 6 were observed. The remaining three were assumed to be killed by cats because of the nature of the remains of the birds. But apparently other wild animals kill birds and leave similar remains such as owls and magpies.

In addition the gray squirrel which is much more abundant than the cat in the area surveyed and which is classified as a "potential nest predator”, was not mentioned in the report.

It seems to me that as this misinformation about the impact of the domestic and feral cat on bird populations has occurred on a number of occasions, I am being reasonable in saying that there appears to be a deliberate attempt by bird conservationists to criticise the cat which is resulting in a sort of battle going on between the bird conservationists and people who keep cats and indeed decent people interested in truth. This battle is sometimes played out in court.

I understand and sympathize with the bird conservationists but we are all interested in the same thing, surely. We want to support the welfare of animals. We don't do that by fighting each other and trying to exterminate the cat, the innocent victim of irresponsible behavior by people.

Bird conservationists should stop making "assumptions" about mortality rates of fledgling birds. Another well know assumption was bandied around the internet for ages about the breeding capacity of the domestic cat. It was wildly exaggerated and the disseminated information hurt the cat. It promoted more cat killing either legal or illegal and sometimes you can't tell the difference (Fremont County Wyoming Sheriff Shoots Any Cat).

Let's get together, all of us, do proper, accurate well funded research, and act on it together, in a humane and decent way, in the interests of all life on the planet.

Michael Avatar

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Friday 11 March 2011

India The Cat

"India the cat" refers to a cat that was "owned" (kept and cared for is better) by ex-president George W. Bush and his wife Laura.

India the cat - photo Paul Morse

The Wikipedia authors say the cat was an American Shorthair cat meaning a purebred cat but India looks more like a random bred cat to me. She was an all black cat. She died in 2009.

The interesting thing about this cat is the name, "India". India is a country as we all know and it appears that a group of Indians living in India objected to the name.

Her middle name incidentally was "Willie". Another strange name as this was a female cat. Willie is positively a male name and nothing but a male name being short for "William".

The name "India" was dreamt up from the name of a baseball player, "El Indio" who played in a team owned by Bush. El Indio, though seems to refer to native Americans who have been called "Red Indians".

The naming process therefore seems a bit of a mess. However, there is a journalist in the UK working for the Times newspaper who is called India Knight. She is Belgium. Her father is Belgium and her mother is Pakistani.

So that sort of proves to me that the name "India" is suitable for someone who has a connection with India or Pakistan.

So, I am not sure why this, I presume, small group of Indians objected to the name of a black cat being India. They felt that it was insult to their nation, it appears.

They must have a low regard for the cat, thinking that linking the name of their country to a cat was an insult. Or perhaps there was an element of racism in the argument as India was black? Not sure. That is a very speculative thought of mine.

There may have been a bit of background animosity present. Perhaps George Bush was unpopular with Indians at the time and they felt this was an arrogant American attack on India, belittling their nation. I can see that.

The problem was that it was a US president who named his cat India. Anyone else can and no one knows or cares but when a US president does it, it is symbolic of something or at least that is what these people appeared to have thought.

Perhaps an Indian living in India might leave a comment to clarify the matter.

Michael Avatar

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Cat Breed Quiz

I can't resist building a cat breed quiz. Have fun trying it out. There are no winners or losers. So please don't read the answers at the base of this page until you have had a go!

Started 11th March 2011: You can see visitors' answers here: Cat Breed Quiz Answers. Please don't click on this link until you have tried to answer the questions yourself!

Don't know cat breeds? Know tigers and lions, instead? Try:
You may actually disagree with the answers...if so please say so, by leaving a comment.

You can see visitors' answers here: Cat Breed Quiz Answers.

Here are my answers:

1. No. All cat breeds are one species of cat, the domestic cat, scientific name: Felis silvestrus catus or sometimes referred to as Felis catus.

2. Over 100 but many are rare and very much on the fringes. The CFA recognise about 40.

3. The Abyssinian cat. See Agouti Ticked Coat and Abyssinian Cat.

4. Maine Coon  Cat

5. F1 Savannah Cat "Magic" and she is a Savannah cat recognized by TICA.

6. Toyger

7.  More breeds because it is more adventurous. The CFA is quite part of the establishment.

8. Egyptian Mau. Amongst the first cats to be domesticated from the African wildcat.

9. Yes, the CFA calls them (at 2011) "Household Pets". I don't like the description. Some of these cats are stunning.

10. Persian. The "Ultra Persian" or contemporary Persian cat with the obligatory flat face. See traditionals and the arguments.

11.  Bengal cat.

12.  Chartreux.

13.  Four. See Grey Cat Breeds.

14. Yes, both are oriental in body shape. See Modern Siamese cat and Oriental Shorthair cat.

15.  F1 Savannah cat, top quality - A1 Extremes.

Michael Avatar

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Vitamin Supplement Senior Cat

Average cat to others. Eighteen year companion to me.
18 year old cat - she is losing weight

Because of a geriatric cat's reduced ability to absorb vitamins through the intestinal tract, the senior cat needs more vitamins and minerals.

Also, reduced kidney function leads to a loss of vitamin B in urine.

However a high quality cat food for the geriatric cat will accommodate this change in dietary requirement.

Accordingly, there is no need for a vitamin supplement for the senior cat unless the cat has an eating problem when vitamin supplements can be discussed with a veterinarian.

However, there might be a consensus amongst cat health experts that antioxidants benefit the elderly cat.

Antioxidants most commonly used are vitamins E and C (and co-enzyme Q). The Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, Fully Revised and Updated (at page 509) says that, "you can safely supplement your cat's diet using an antioxidant product prescribed by your veterinarian."

Michael Avatar

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Thursday 10 March 2011

Cat Licked Paint Off Paw

My cat licked paint of her paw. What should I do? We decorate. Our cat is inquisitive. Our cat walks into the paint or falls into the paint. This is what happened to my cat. I was painting the bathroom using solid paint. It is like a slab of butter in a tray. She climbed the bath and slipped. She fell on her side into the paint and ran off leaving a trail of paint paw prints on the carpet and fear in my heart for her health.

I found her, grabbed her and put her in a sink full of water! The paint was water based so it washed off. Some paint is water based and some oil based. The latter is washed off using turps or a specialist paint brush cleaner (but don't do this if it is on your cat). This paint might have lead in it. Lead makes the paint more durable and usually applies to outdoor paints. Lead though is poisonous. Lead is probably banned in many European countries and parts of America in paints at the time of writing this.

So, if your cat licked paint of his or her paw the first question is what kind of paint is it? It might be possible to catch your cat before she licks much off and the paint might be water based. Check the tin.

Lead is listed as a poison (and rightly so). Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook says that lead "previously served as a base for many commercial paints" (i.e. does no longer). Correct. Paints these days should be lead free. This applies to America and Europe I suspect as mentioned. Apparently the USA banned lead paint in 1977!

However, many countries are not at that stage where lead in paint is not used or banned. Cat toys manufactured abroad is one example.

I would check the paint. Is there lead in it. Read the can. In fact if we keep cats there is an argument that we should check the paint before buying it! The paint should be water based and lead free.

If your cat has walked in paint and is licking it off, the first thing to do is to stop him or her licking her paws - obviously. If the paint is water based it can be washed off with water. Water is a solvent and soaking the paws that are covered in paint will dissolve the paint. It can then be washed off.

If the paint is oil based it is more complicated. The same book says that residual [paint] should be saturated in vegetable oil and left for 24 hours. Then wash the area with soap and water. Apply nail polish remover and "follow with a good rinsing" if the "substance is on the feet".

Meanwhile the cat should be prevented from grooming off the paint. An "Elizabethan collar may be required" (one of those plastic collars that vets put around the neck).

Solvents such as turpentine (turps) and gasoline should not be used to remove the paint because they are toxic to the cat and harmful to the skin.

If in doubt see a veterinarian as an emergency. Take the paint can with you.

Diversion: Turbo scratcher cat toy: Furby's First Toy By Furby

Michael Avatar

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