Thursday 31 March 2011

Smallest Wild Cat

Smallest wild cat: rusty-spotted cat from Indian and Sri Lanka

The smallest wild cat is the rusty-spotted cat. According to the renown book on the wildcat species, Wild Cats Of The World the minimum size of this cat is 0.8 kg and the maximum size is 1.6 kg. That is 1.7 lbs to 3.53 lbs.

Even at the maximum size the rusty-spotted cat is the same size as the smallest of the domestic cats, called teacup cats or miniature cats.

Below are the vital statistics taken from another PoC page: Rusty-spotted cat where you can read a lot more about this tiny cat.

Characteristic Measurement
Length of head+body 35-48 centimetres (14-17 inches)
Average weight (approximate) 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)
Average weight females 1 kg (2.2 lbs)
Average domestic cat weight – for comparison 8-10 lbs
Average weight of miniature domestic cat for comparison 3.5 lbs
Average weight of Black-footed Cat – for comparison 3.5 lb

Its size makes you wonder if it has been domesticated. People like small cats. However, it is not advised to domesticate a genuine wildcat in my opinion. You'll probably have difficulty coping, become disappointed and it will not be fair on the cat either. The rusty-spotted cat is said to be, "not an adaptable species"1. However 100 years ago two naturists kept rusty-spotted cats as pets. They tame easily apparently. They were acquired as kittens, however. They were active pets blessed with great agility and grace they said.

They can live in abandoned houses within their range. They are frequently killed by local people (Indians and Sri Lankans). They are mistaken for baby leopards and killed. I suppose this is to protect farm livestock. Pretty dumb though as the rusty-spotted cat is no threat to farm livestock. Or perhaps they can prey of hens and the like.

Despite their tiny size they are "extremely fierce"1 and it seems fearless.

The smallest wild cat is found in India and Sri Lanka.

For the sake of completeness on wild cat species sizes, here they all are:



Note:

1. Wild Cats Of The World - Page 239.

Michael Avatar

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Wednesday 30 March 2011

Why Do Cats Purr?

Here is the definitive answer to the question, "Why do cats purr?" The answer that is usually said to be the obvious one - that the purring cat is showing his or her contentment - is not true.

This is because cats in great pain, those who are injured, in labour and even dying or even sometimes at the vets being euthanised, purr loud and long (or it can last a second3). Kittens purr when they drink mother's milk purr and the mother purrs back. They also purr when being groomed by mother or by siblings. Kittens start purring when a few days old1. All domestic cats purr. Sometimes cats purr when hungry. Body contact between the sender of the purr and the receiver may be an important factor in instigating it3.

Cats purr when contented also but it does not only happen when the cat is content. How do we find a reason for cat purring that encompasses all the circumstances under which it might happen?

Dr Desmond Morris in his famous book, Cat Watching, which is still probably the master work on cat behavior despite being first published in 1986, says the following.

"Purring signals a friendly social mood." It can act as a signal to ask ("the need") for friendship or say thank you for friendship received. Some cat behaviorists believe cat purring is a signal that the cat is not a threat2. I prefer Dr. Desmond Morris's all encompassing explanation. Purring is classified by scientists as a "close-range felid vocalisation". It is used most commonly between mother and kitten3. This, then, is the answer to to, why do cats purr?

When purring is used by a kitten in the first days of his or her life it is a signal to the mother, when suckling, that the kitten is receiving milk. This reassures mother. Her return purr acknowledges the message and tells her kittens that all is well with her too. Kittens and mother usually purr continuously while nursing1. Kittens aid the flow of milk by threading the abdomen (we know this as kneading, which frequently happens if our cat is on our lap). Cats often purr at the same time.

Calico cat - Photo by Crane1989

Purring can take place while the cat is drinking, therefore. It is a two way action - the sound being produced on inhaling and exhaling.

The big wildcats cannot purr. They make a sound similar to the purr but it is a one way (exhalation) process. The four big cats can, however, roar (see tiger roar). The cheetah is not classified as a big cat and it can purr2. Its purr is much louder than the domestic cat but is it as loud as Smokey's purr (see below)? The Eurasian lynx also purrs. It is a vocalisation used by mothers nursing their kittens3.

Purring is classified as a "murmur pattern"1. This is a sound that is produced with the mouth closed. The trill/chirrup is also made with the mouth closed.

Purring is produced in the cat's throat. It is not absolutely clear how it is produced. It is thought to be produced "through (the) alternating activation"1 of the muscles of the larynx and diaphragm. There is a build up of and release of air in the glottis. When we feel the purr by placing our hand gently against the neck we feel the vibrations of the air and muscles. The sound is louder and rougher when produced on breathing in.

Cats purr in the "frequency range of 25 to 150 Hz2. This is a low amplitude murmuring sound3. An interesting theory is that cats might be instinctively trying to heal themselves at the "cellular level". This is because at the frequency range of the purr, sound is thought to be "beneficial to healing"2.

It is said that a cat's purr is unique to the individual cat2. It can usually be heard three meters away. However, one famous cat named "Smokey", who is described as a 12 year old British Shorthair (this means a random bred cat with short hair) has a purr that is so loud it is more noisy than a vacuum cleaner! His owner describes the sound as if "Smokey had a dove caught in her throat". She has had eight different homes. Are the two connected? I think so. The purr has been recorded at 73 decibels (dB). Guinness World Records are considering making it a record but there are no competitors. It would be a new classification.

Read about cat behavior.

Read about cat sounds.

Notes:

1. The Cat: Its Behavior, Nutrition and Health

2. Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook - page 296 - 297.

3. Wild Cats of the World - pages 10, 422.

Michael Avatar

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Sunday 27 March 2011

Cat Declawing

I want to write about cat declawing but I don't want to alienate people who keep cats and who are good cat caretakers except for the fact that we disagree about declawing cats. As you might know I strongly dislike the operation and its sister operation the cutting of the tendon to the claw (tendonectomy).

I'd like to explain why I dislike declawing. I hope that people with the opposite view or people who are wavering in the middle ground, will listen and present their alternative ideas in comments.

There are numerous reasons why cat declawing is wrong. I'll present just the main ones here. I'll also present the reasons why vets support and encourage (yes, lots do) declawing. Actually there is only one reason that they can come up with. The cat owners who declaw also can only come up with one reason to declaw. Some cat owners may have a misunderstanding about the operation, so I would first like to show you the bits of cat that are cut off after the operation and it is not just removing the claws:

Set of ten toes and claws of declawed cat -
copyright protected. Don't breach copyright, please

I hope you are as shocked as me. As you can see that cat declawing is the removal of the last phalange or phalanx of each of the front toes of the cat. It is usually only done to the front paws as it is these that scratch. They are the primary weapons with the teeth that protect the cat.



Video above: this is me doing a spur of the moment video on cat declawing. See my Flickr photostream.

The first reason why cat declawing is wrong is because it is a major mutilation of the cat that does not benefit the cat's health and welfare - quite the opposite.

Think what we would feel like if the last joint of each of our fingers were amputated for no good reason. We would be massively distressed and physically disabled.

As you might expect ten amputations cause a lot of pain and blood and distress and confusion etc:

As I said, pain, fear and confusion reign after the operation

And all this controlled brutality befalls little kittens in the first months of their lives. Yes, kittens are the primary target for the vets in respect of this operation.

There have been numerous studies as to the effect cat declawing has on the cat, both physical and psychological. If you have declawed your cat you might well, justifiably argue that your cat looks and acts fine after the operation. He might be but he might not. You can't be sure because cats are damn good at hiding pain and discomfort - it is a survival thing and a declawed cat has a massively reduced chance of survival in normal life. They have to be permanent indoor cats for the rest of their lives.That entails greater responsibilities for the cat owner (caretaker is a better word, I think). Here is a story about how two dogs played tug-o-war with a declawed cat. And here are two more stories: Declaw Cats (please scroll down when you get to the page)

There are many potential and actual complications of declawing and many myths and truths. Please click on the two last links. One is the onset of arthritis. Here is an individual example - a semi-domesticated CANADIAN LYNX gets a haircut!



There are also many easy alternatives to declawing so it is not necessary to put a cat through it.

A good scratching post and the right expectations about cat behavior from us will take us 99% of the way to avoiding declawing our cat. Please see this example Free Cat Scratching Post and this advice: Will my cat use a scratching post?

So what reason do the vets give for cat declawing? Answer: It saves lives. They argue time and time again in defence of an operation that is banned in over 30 western countries that the operation saves lives. A new country is about to join them: Banning Declawing in Israel.

They argue that if the cat is not declawed the owner will abandon the cat. This is emotional blackmail isn't it? And it simply misses the real point. That cat owners who need to declaw their cat before acquiring it should not really adopt a cat at all. Or as mentioned they should explore alternatives. The vets also like to muddy the water by introducing distorted so called "facts" about the consequences of cat declawing. Their purpose is to reassure the cat owner. Please be aware of this. And please note that laser declawing is not what it is made out to be by the vets. Vets like to fudge the reality and they even deceive themselves.



Vid above: Vet presenting the usual reassuring blurb to adoring customer! There are actually some vets who never declaw. There are not that many but I have listed them and mapped their location on this page: North American Veterinarians Who Never Declaw - please use them if you can.

People who declaw shamelessly declare that their sofa is more important than the cat and it has to be declawed to protect the sofa. At least that is honest. The vets, I regret to say aren't when in comes to cat declawing.

I don't think a piece of furniture is more important than a living creature. If a person thinks that they can't be the ideal cat caretaker can they?

See over 150 visitor articles on declawing cats.

Michael Avatar

From Cat Declawing to Home Page

Saturday 26 March 2011

F3 Savannah Cat

I have got to show you this photograph of an F3 Savannah cat. The cat's name is "Shine". You can see why - her silver spotted coat shines. The photographer is Kathrin Stucki, the proprietor and manager, with her husband, Martin, of A1 Savannahs, the number one Savannah cat breeder anywhere.

F3 Savannah Cat "Shine" photo: copyright Kathrin Stucki

Shine is a silver Savannah cat. The photograph was taken at Kathrin's own photographic studio on her farm where the breeding cattery is situated.

Savannah cats are not meant to look like Bengals. This is solely my observation but the Savannah cat is, I think it fair to say, more natural looking than the heavily developed (through selective breeding) Bengal cat.

While the Bengal has a variety of coat markings from the classic blotched tabby coat to a rosetted spotted coat, the Savannah has what I would describe as wildcat spots. These are the sort of spots that you see on wildcats not selectively bred domestic cats. I like that, personally as it is more natural. Once again this is my personal view but one reason for this is that the wild cat parent of the Savannah cat is the serval. The serval has a simple, clean high contrast spotted coat against a yellowy background. The Bengal wild cat ancestor is the leopard cat and that wild cat has a coat that is more complex and "fancy" for want of a better word.

The Savannah spotting is similar to the Egyptian Mau's spots, which comes direct it is thought from the African wildcat.

Talking of wildcats, Shine has an awesome wild looking face. It is very purposeful and gentle but with a hint of fierce wildcat lurking underneath. Don't get me wrong, though. All of A1 Savannah cats are highly socialised and make great companions.

Shine is a breeding cat incidentally.

Selected related pages:

F4 Melanistic Savannah Cat

F1 Magic

F1 Focus

F2 Savannah Kittens

Michael Avatar

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Friday 25 March 2011

DVD For Cats

Chilled out - Photo by abbesses

DVD for cats means music for cats. One fine cat lady who knows a lot about cats says she is very happy with her Amazon purchased cat music. Her name is Elisa Black-Taylor and she refers to cat music in an article that discusses whether cats can tell the time. She doesn't mean reading a clock! Just whether cats get a feel for the time based on sensory markers, routines and the light (dawn, dusk etc.) - Can Cats Tell Time? There is no doubt that cats can tell the time.

This is important when cats are left alone at home for hours on end. What happens? If we live alone with our cats we don't know how they react when we are out. We might be out all day at work. Or we might visit a relative overnight. We provide good food, plenty of fresh water and a nice clean litter box so all is well. But is it?

What about the cat's expectations and emotions. Is she stressed? It is almost impossible to tell except that she will probably be very pleased to see us on our return. That in itself tells us that she might have been stressed. Stress can cause behavioral problems (inappropriate elimination for example) and health problems (cystitis for example).

The idea is that playing a DVD for cats may de-stress our cat. Here are some Amazon.com products to try out:




Michael Avatar

From DVD For Cats to Home Page

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