Sunday 17 April 2011

What Does The New Google Algorithm Achieve?

This is what the Google algorithm looks like to me!
Photo by Zer0Her0 (Flickr CC file)

I am critical of the new Google algorithm but cannot criticize Google. I'll tell you why. Firstly, though I think we need to decide what the internet is for or what it should be for. Taking a broad brush approach, there are three types of website: (1) content sites like this one and PoC, (2) social network type sites and ancillary sites like Facebook and (3) sites that sell products or are fronts for businesses selling products or providing services. I am sure there are other categories. Content sites make their money from advertising and affiliate work (acting as an agent of another online or offline business and directing traffic to it and receiving commission for that).

Another fundamental thing about the internet is that it is all on one "high street". It is very cramped. What I mean is that on the ground, in the land of reality - shops and stores - there are hundreds of thousands of Main Streets or High Streets where there are stores selling things and getting visitors through the door. On the internet, in the ether, when doing a general search there is one high street of 10 stores and it is page one of a Google search result! Most people find sites using Google and most people don't go beyond page one. That is a defect of the internet. Perhaps Google should artificially create many more Main Streets.They are actually doing this by breaking searches down into categories such as video, images etc.

As I understand it the new Google algorithm tackles the deficiencies in the Google search results for content sites. The internet has progressed very rapidly unabated and almost without control for years. It is a semi-anarchic business world. Google is itself a business although with the power that it exercises over the lives of internet entrepreneurs you could argue that it should be a publicly run, unbiased and regulated body that creates a level playing field. It does not do that in my view. Google does things that improves its business. We must never forget that. It is completely to be expected and we can't criticize Google for that. It is normal. So don't expect fair play and an altruistic approach by Google.

Google search for content should find the best content and present that at the top of the search results. The purpose of that objective is not to please people searching for information but to promote Google as the most efficient search engine.

It has not always quite achieved that and it still does not. There have been times when I have clicked on some sites that feature at the top of page one of a search result to find nothing but adverts and some stupid one line piece of content that is nearly meaningless. I have seen sites that are made up entirely of Google-translated into English pages that are almost unreadable and which were getting decent traffic with decent Alexa rankings. If you search Google News for "wildcats" all you get are football and baseball teams! How about the real thing? I have seen and continue to see image searches that produce rubbish images at the top and fantastic pro images well down the listings - not good.

The Google engineers are good though. They are probably the best. But they don't have complete control on how to manage search in an absolutely fair and proper way. The algorithm is very complex we are told and works on assessing hundreds of different criteria.

The new Google algorithm is intended to improve search results, to put the best web page at the top and to cut out the spammy farm sites. These sites use software to dice and slice copied content from the good sites to re-present it and make money through high value advertising. Camera reviews, which are full of hard data that cannot be copyrighted, is an excellent example. The new Google algorithm has been referred to as the "farmer algorithm". Farm sites grow content! They are not written I guess.

Has the new algorithm worked? There are many webmasters who are frankly p*ss*d off because for them it has not worked. They have the opportunity to vent their frustration on this page at Google. At the date of this post there are 43 pages of submissions! Mine is one of them. There are a lot of people who feel unjustly adversely affected by the new Google algorithm because they have made great efforts to produce the best possible content. Yet Google has downgraded their search results in respect of these sites. Some farm sites are still growing their crops successfully.

The same has happened, albeit on a relative smallish scale for PoC - Pictures of I have lost about 10% of traffic at least from day one of the change: 24th February 2011 (the figures are from the host server not Google Analytics). I am referring to the main site. There are satellite sites, which are Google blogger site subdomains. The satellite sites have not lost traffic. This indicates that the satellite sites have had an impact on the main site. a nice site has lost 10% traffic - this is strange as is a genuine site and a very large site.

PoC is all hand written content. 2,500 pages of a total of 6,500 pages is unique in terms of topic (all the pages are unique in terms of content) as it is the thoughts of visitors reciting their experiences. My content is carefully researched often from bought books and research papers and I also add value through my analysis and assessment. I don't just say the same stuff. I am doing what Google wants me to do and getting punished for it. Well that is what is feels like. I think that you will find that the techie sites have done well out of the changes and the second level topics such as domestic and wild cats have not. Promoting techie sites promotes Google. Also Google favors its own products. If you use a Google product it will probably do better after the algorithm changes.

So, in conclusion, the Google engineers have not quite got it right in my view for the rest of us but it has got it right for Google (to promote themselves). I love Google and their products but right now I am a bit fed up with them. PoC has added 2,500 pages over a year and gets less traffic now than a year ago! Sure competition is fierce but to compete with Google as well as the rest is too much. What is the point I have to ask?

The internet is still not regulated carefully enough. It is still too anarchic. You have to allow the best to succeed and at the moment too many parasites and scammers are allowed to thrive. We need a proper worldwide oversight body that regulates the search engines and which is far stricter on the bad boys of the internet. Or the search engines need to behave even more altruistically and objectively. Note: Google provide a host of excellent free apps that I use extensively. We must praise them for that generosity.

For as long as content is assessed by a computer program directed by a "bot" how will it be able to conclusively decide what is the best content? It can only assess on the basis of how many people see it and for how long but that is not conclusive evidence. Computers can't yet read and decide what is quality writing.

In my case what may have caused a 10% drop in traffic is that I have a blogger site (this one, which as mentioned is a subdomain) which on rare occasions discusses similar topics to the main site. Also this site seems to have taken traffic from the parent site because the new algorithm favors Google products. For example, YouTube is featured more at the top of page one of search results. Google owns YouTube.

That said no one knows exactly what is really going on. All the websites discussing the new algorithm are in the dark if we are honest.

Update: Here is an interesting observation. A search for "oriental shorthair" results in a Flickr photo taken by me coming high up in a Google search result. My original page which is comprehensive in describing the Oriental Shorthair cat (entitled "Oriental Shorthair Cat") is listed below this single photo taken from a Flip camcorder video (in respect of a text link).  Flickr is owned by Yahoo. Why is Google keeping Yahoo happy? Note: Google has listed an image from my site at the top.

It appears that the new Google algorithm is trying to consolidate the internet because it is too big. It seems to be favoring the big sites and it likes new work (although has lost 10% of traffic due to the new algorithm and that is a nice large site). It seems to want to constantly turn over the internet an give other sites a chance as if it is gardening it. It doesn't matter if the new stuff is awful or stolen. No doubt these super engineers will be fine tuning the changes to improve things.

Update: i hate the internet. It appears that the new Google algorithm cannot tell when a person steals text and photographs in breach of copyright. Many people steal my work and the photos of Helmi Flick. Google lists these sites above mine sometimes - the stolen material is ranked higher by Google than the original work or on a par with it. I have to make complaints to Google. When will Google be able to tell who publishes the original work and who copies it? If Google could do that it could de-list the copiers from search results or delete web pages if it was a Blogger site, without first receiving a complaint.

Update 1st May 2011: Google's new algorithm prefers a 20 line page on cat history on this Blogger site subdomain that is a Google translation from Wikipedia France (a poor page) to my page on the same subject and same title that is comprehensive. Perhaps Google doesn't like links on pages. But when you have a big site you have to have links on pages!

Page one Google Search 1st May 2011.

Is Google trying to force us to use Adwords? Is this a way to push people to sign up to Adwords to recover lost traffic? Just a thought.

Michael Avatar

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Wednesday 13 April 2011

Rhinestone Cat Collars

Here's a nice selection of rhinestone cat collars brought together on one page. They look particularly good on wildcat hybrids. I am thinking Savannah cats in fact, F1 Savannah cats in particular. Cat collars should be the type that release if they get caught as there have been cases of cats being injured and hanged by cat collars.

Cats can get feet and legs caught in them too. Please take precautions and chose wisely if you buy a rhinestone cat collar. They look classy on the right cat but there is a health issue. Collars can become too tight if the cat is growing up. This is another thing to factor in when buying.

Personally I wouldn't buy one but I respect peoples' choice and preferences as long as they are sensible and show concern for the cat as well.

Rhinestones are fake diamonds. They are made of glass, rock crystal or acrylic.

As for the Amazon UK market, I don't see rhinestone collars. One of the nearest to this type of cat collar is a glitter one!

Next are a series of links.

There are some really fancy Rhinestone Cat Collars at Here Kitty Kitty (USA market):

Fancy rhinestone cat collar perfect for a Russian Blue cat

See a full selection on this page.

The reason why this particular cat collar would suit a Russian Blue is because they have gooseberry coloured eyes and those eyes would go really well with the colours of these stones.

Pet Jewelry & Collars do some nice safety rhinestone collars in a range of 11 colours (USA market):

See their full selection on this page.

Next on the USA market I would like to introduce a Ragdoll cat breeder who sells rhinestone cat collars. They are called Willow Tree Rags and they have some great collars:

Cat collar from Willow Tree Rags.

See their full selection on this page.

What about the UK and India (India are a growing marketplace for people who are interested in keeping domestic cats)?

India is a source of low cost consumer goods much like China. So, although there is probably only a very small domestic market for cat collars there are a good number of manufacturers who supply internationally. One is Lotus Handicrafts who don't make rhinestone collars as far as I can tell but they do make customized collars to order.

Kingdom - Pet Collar
Designer on Flickr - click on pic.
As for the UK market, this has proved very disappointing. On a Google search I did find UK websites selling cat collars but it appears that rhinestone collars are not a favorite in the UK as none appeared!

It may be that the rhinestone is more a part of American culture resulting in the wide range on (north American market). Although originally, they were "rock crystals gathered from the river Rhine"1 in Germany.

Associated Pages:

1. Wikipedia authors.

Michael Avatar

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Tuesday 12 April 2011

Lynx Kittens Fight Each Other

Lynx kittens fighting
Photo by Joachim S. Müller (Flickr)

Lynx kittens of the same litter fight each other spontaneously and in a manner that is so violent that it can cause serious injury and even death. What is going on?

Anastasia Antonevich and Sergey Naidenko are conducting research into this phenomenon that goes far beyond simple sibling hard play and rivalry. These are serious unprovoked attacks by one sibling on another.

They have observed sudden attacks by one kitten on another. The mother has to beak it up. Injuries can be serious and include bites to the paw and neck. Sometimes limbs are broken and a cub is occasionally killed.

The fighting has been observed between 7 week old Eurasian lynx cubs (60% of time) and can go on for several days. "Almost all of the litters.." of the Iberian lynx fought in this violent way. The fights occur once but the hostility can last for several months.

The research investigates why lynx kittens fight each other so violently and how these fights affect the development of the cubs. They are not motivated by shortages of food.

Bobcats apparently also demonstrate sibling aggression. It is not known whether the Canadian lynx litters engage in these fights.

The fights occur in the wild and in captivity. My observations? Well I am not sure. It seems that the young lynx starts to prepare for independent survival at a very early age. When adult these siblings will have to survive in competition with each other. Perhaps the competition starts at 7 weeks of age for the lynx and the sooner one can dominate and even eliminate another so much the better for the winner.

See also rewilding of lynx wildcat.

Michael Avatar

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Monday 11 April 2011

Tabby Cat Personality

Grey tabby British Shorthair show cat sleeping on grey litter at a cat show
Tabby British Shorthair cat sleeping on grey cat litter
in his cage at a cat show - Photo by Michael

There is no such thing as a tabby cat personality. There really can't be. The tabby cat is not a breed of cat  - see Tabby Cat Breed. The tabby cat is a cat with a tabby coat and this coat type is found on a large number of different cat breeds and is the most common type of coat for random bred cats (mixed breed cats).

The tabby cat coat is everywhere. The tabby coat is found on a large percentage of wildcats too. In fact nearly all the wildcats have tabby coats. If there are 500 million domestic cats in the world, about 300 million would be tabby cats!

It is absurd to think that these 300 million cats all have the same or similar personality and also odd to think that the type of cat coat also dictates the cat's character. Also if there was such as thing as a tabby cat personality the wildcats would have the same character as the domestic cats.

People also think that calico cats have the same personality. Calico cats are also not a cat breed. "Calico" is the American name given to cats with a totoiseshell and white coat. I don't think that the calico coat affects the personality.

It is possible that people search for tabby cat personality thinking that the "tabby cat" is a cat breed - it is not. It is a very ubiquitous cat coat, no more, no less. It is worth pointing out that the difference is personality between the cat breeds is quite small. Most are in the middle ground. There is a difference between the most static (e.g. Persian) and the most active (e.g Bengal) but most are in the middle.

If you would like to read more about the tabby cat coat and see a wide range of photographs of different types of tabby cat, please go to this page: CAT COATS TABBY.

Even if there was such as thing as tabby cat personality, the character of individual cats would have a greater impact on behavior. Individual cats have quite a wide range of personalities.

Michael Avatar

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Sunday 10 April 2011

Feeding A Stray Cat

I am feeding a stray cat and I am becoming frustrated and irritated. I'll explain why. About 3 years ago he walked into my life through the back door cat flap. He was skinny, underweight and very light. He was athletic and adventurous. And he was and is unneutered.

Today, he is a bit overweight, less athletic, lazy, demanding food that he does not need while giving me ringworm and massively itchy skin because I am allergic to him (see cat allergen Fel D1). He is on my bed about a yard from me as I write this and I itch. He has also acquired two cat abscesses through fighting over territory that I have fixed by trips to the vet.

All my life I have never been allergic to cats. But I am to Timmy, the name I gave him.

stray cat
Timmy - the man after eating 5 sachets of cat food.

He gives me ringworm because he carries the fungus although I can't see it on him. Perhaps he just carries it and transmits it. It seems like that. It means that when he comes up to me in the early hours of the morning for food, I have to put on trousers as he rubs against my legs and delivers the ringworm that way. Or he head butts my arm and gives me ringworm there too.

I have two domestic cats, Binnie and Charlie. Binnie is about 19 years of age and Timmy's presence makes her insecure. That is another downside. Charlie is OK with Timmy but all in all there are a pile of downsides and irritations but I love him and cannot "get rid of him", however you do that. Because I have no idea really how to stop him coming in.

I could put in an electronic cat flap and put activating collars on Binnie and Charlie. That would stop him getting in. But, I don't want to do that because Timmy relies on me now and it is a big complication. Also, it is my fault, entirely. I have created this dilemma.

And this post is about "the dilemma". When you can't turn your back on a cat in need you create for yourself a potential dilemma because at some point in time you have to stop.

And that time has come for me. I have had one cat for many years. That is about fine for me. Then I took on my mother's cat, Charlie, after she died about a year ago. I don't want to care for a third cat who gives me diseases and raids my wallet.

That said Timmy does not stay. He comes, eats, sleeps and goes to where he came from if there is one place. God knows where that place is. I have seen him cross the busiest of main London main roads. One day he'll get hit. But he has survived thus far. That is another downside - the worry.

Feeding a stray cat, you see, can bring with it a lot of problems. Timmy gets the same high quality food as the others and demands it now. When he first turned up he ate all the left overs and rubbish. Now he wants boiled fish and prawns and looks at me plaintively if he hasn't been served it. And if he dains to eat cat food he can eat more than a person at one sitting - 5 sachets of 100 grams each! His belly swells up as if he is pregnant. He gets through a lot of what you see below:

cat food in boxes
Cat Food - don't buy Iams by the way
as they animal test

I can't afford him. I can hardly touch him. I need to get him to the vet to treat his ringworm and to be neutered. But I don't want the hassle, can't really afford it and in any case he hates being put in a carrier and I would hate to have his balls cut off.

Feeding a stray cat? Think about where you are going. It's a dilemma.

Michael Avatar

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Friday 8 April 2011

Diabetic Cat Food

Moonchild, diabetic cat at shelter
Photo by Taekwonweirdo

Diabetic cat food refers to cat food that is suitable for diabetic cats and which might avoid the use of insulin injections.

The food profile for diabetic cat food is:
  1. high-protein
  2. low-carbohydrate
This is because cats mainly metabolise protein for glucose rather than carbohydates thus the cat food profile mentioned is "more efficiently metabolised" and a help in controlling cat diabetes.

Cat foods matching this profile at the date of this post and in the USA are:
  • Purina DM Feline (Purina pet food is owned by Nestlé Purina®/Friskies who I am told conduct animal testing. This may colour your assessment in respect of buying this cat food.
  • Royal Canin Diabetic DS 44.
  • Science Diet m/d Feline.
  • {for the UK and Europe I would ask your vet but please direct your vet. The diabetic cat food should be as stated in the above profile}

Veterinarians don't generally recommend homemade cat food because of the risk of preparing it poorly and raw food contamination. But if it is prepared properly under tightly controlled hygienic conditions complying with all the rules of raw food handling it is the best cat diet in my opinion. See Homemade Cat Food.

Apparently some vets advise adding meat to purchased, commercial cat food. A1 Savannahs add raw chicken to commercially prepared cat food for their cats - Best Kitten Food.

Best Kitten Food! Photo by Michael @ PoC

But the picture above is not a recommendation that a kitten be solely feed raw chicken. That would be very wrong, please note as the diet would lack sufficient essential nutrients such as taurine and arginine.

Elizabeth M. Hodgkins DVM is one of those veterinarians who recommend that dry cat food should be off the menu even if your cat is not diabetic.

This is because the dry cat food manufacturing process demands the addition of a "carbohydrate source" to make what they call, "kibble". It is said to be unnatural for a cat to eat such large amounts of carbohydrates bearing in mind that they are carnivores (meat eaters) - Cat Food Recipe.

Obese cats are predisposed to diabetes. Obesity "reduces tissue responsiveness to insulin". Diabetes becomes difficult to control. Overweight cats should be dieted.

One of the classic diet cat foods is Hills c/d but this is dry cat food and not recommended by some vets.

I am sure a vet would help a cat caretaker create a diet for their cat. It depends on the cat and the vet!

Examples of blood glucose curves
The basic principle is to divide the cat's calorific use by the calories in the food. The figure should be more than 1. Diabetic cat food should be provided in more than one meal to avoid high blood sugar levels after eating.

Cats on insulin injections given once daily should be fed half the cat food when the injection is administered and half at "peak insulin activity" which is 8-12 hours later (based on the cat's "glucose curve" - see image).

A glucose curve is a graph that shows blood glucose concentration over a period of time (say 24 hours) after the insulin injection. Blood samples are taken from the cat and a test conducted on the blood. Bob Tucker discusses this in his article on treating a diabetic cat.

Cats on two injections per day should be fed half the daily cat food diet at the time of the injection.

Cats on oral medication should be fed small meals throughout the day.

All short quotes and all information for this article are from Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, Fully Revised and Updated. The rationale for claiming fair use of the quotes is that they enhance the sale of this book (twice advertised here) and they are short.

Associated Pages:

Michael Avatar

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Thursday 7 April 2011

Fisher Cat Pictures

Fisher Cat - photo by Sayjack (Flickr)

Here are some fisher cat pictures. The fisher cat (commonly called simply "fisher") is not the Asian fishing cat. The fisher cat is not a cat! It is part of the of the Mustelid family, commonly referred to as the weasel family.

Fisher cat picture - Wikipedia Commons

Prevention is the best medicine for your pet's health.This is an animal that is similar is size to the domestic cat at 3.5 to 5 kilograms (8–11 lb). There was talk on the internet recently about the fisher attacking and eating domestic cats! This seems strange and unlikely. As the fisher's coat is dark the so called sightings may have been a case of mistaken identity as black cats at a distance might look similar.

ROLAND KAYS studied scats (feces) of fishers and concluded that they don't eat cats! They seem to prefer squirrels. Although, fishers are great climbers and could in theory attack and kill a declawed cat. A fully clawed cat would present a real risk of injury to the fisher and predators do not want to get injured as it may result in an inability to catch prey leading to starvation.

Fisher  - photo by forestgladesiwander (Flickr)

Sometime ago I wrote about the sound that the fisher makes. It is a very erie sound indeed, quite scary. You can read about it by clicking on the following link and see another fisher cat picture as well: Fisher Cat Sounds.

Michael Avatar

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Wednesday 6 April 2011

Cat Body Odor

Cats are naturally clean - Photo by ex.libris (Flickr)

Cat body odor is quite rarely talked about in my experience so I talk about it here. Most commonly people discuss the odor of cat urine because of inappropriate elimination. I am not, incidentally, writing about the general smell of cats in a cattery but the smell of individual cats. There is little about a cat's body odor in a general sense in the well known and respected: Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, Fully Revised and Updated.

I was prompted to write about cat body odor after reading an excellent article by Elisa Black-Taylor on cat sniffing! Yes, do you sniff your cat? If you feel frightened to bury your head into your cat's fur I would suggest that you are the wrong person to keep a cat and/or your relationship with your cat is not good enough.

The Standard Smell

I love to kiss my cats and when you do that you can smell them. My cats are both regular well cared for domestic cats. Their cat body odor could be described as very pleasant. Elisa calls it a nutty smell. I call it "clean-nutty" or "sweet-nutty".

I think, therefore, that we can describe the standard body odor of a standard well cared for domestic cat: clean-nutty. The smell of the cat tells us quite a lot about the lifestyle of the cat. It can also provided us with information about the cat's life history, believe it or not.

This is where cat sniffing becomes very interesting. Elisa is a seasoned cat sniffer and her comments are fascinating.

Cat Food

She says that some of the variations in a cat's odor comes from the food the cat eats. Urban feral cats eat waste human food. Countryside feral cats eat wild animals. This can translate into a cat body odor in the same way that if person eats spicy food you can smell it on the skin of the person. That is the theory in any case.


I find that stray cats who genuinely live outside do smell different. Despite the fact that they clean themselves as regularly as a domestic cat they invariably become dirtier and this results in a mangy type smell. Outdoor cats are more likely to become ill, be unable to groom themselves and become dirty. Some illnesses have an impact on cat body odor too, which is a diagnostic aid to a veterinarian.

Bad breath will cause the air around a cat to smell but obviously this is not to be confused with body odor. This is a fairly common cause of foul smelling cats. Bad breath can be caused by mouth disease or kidney failure (uremic breath).

And neither is the smell of the substance emitted by the anal sacs that is musky smelling. The smell of anal sacs can be an indication of an infected anal sac or abscess. See also: Diet Pills For Cats?

A cat having difficulty in grooming him or herself may acquire feces and urine on the long fur around the rear end. This will obviously cause bad body odor. The cause is most likely obesity and/or arthritis and old age. Poor grooming may result in a matted, dirty coat, which will naturally smell dirty rather than the clean-nutty smell described.

Two other illnesses that have a negative impact on cat body odor are, ear mites and ear infections and autoimmune diseases that attack the cat's skin. Skin disease, such as a bacterial skin infection, can also change the odor. (See Natural Cure For Cat Ear Infections). Seborrhea is a skin condition that can cause an oily scaly skin and which has "an unpleasant odor..."1. Stud tail is similar to acne being caused by an over secretion of the sebaceous glands. The hair at the base of the tail at the top becomes matter and greasy and smells rancid1.

Skin Complaint

A visitor commented about a musky unpleasant smell coming off his cat's coat (as the smell was transferred to the person's hand when petting). Please see the comment below. I suggested feline seborrhea. This can be a secondary or primary complaint. The treatment is an antiseborrheic shampoo and omega-3 fatty acid supplements. This cause of cat odor is just another option to be checked out by a vet.


It appears that people sometimes lie about the reasons for abandoning their cats to shelters. Elisa fosters shelter cats and she can tell if the former owner is lying by sniffing the cat! For example a person might bring in a cat that they say was a stray that they just picked up. The cat might smell of a stray cat or the cat might smell sweet-nutty or of cigarettes as Elisa said.

In conclusion, cat body odor informs us about a cat's life in much the same way that, for example, a man's hands might inform us about a man's working life - labourer or desk worker.

The smell is dictated by the cat's cleanliness, diet, illness and in some cases sex/neutering (Intact, unneutered, tom cats can have a smell that is described as "pungent") . Cats have a finely tuned and sensitive sense of smell. They recognise us by our smell. They recognise each other by their smell. I can give a good example of how important body odor is to cats. I used to keep a brother and sister. They knew each other intimately. The sister fell into some paint. I had to bathe her all over. This temporarily took away her body odor. Her brother hissed at her as if she was a stranger!


1. Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook page 156.

Michael Avatar

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Monday 4 April 2011

Iams Cat Food

Nothing to do with Iams Cat Food!
Photo by seanmcgrath (Flickr)
Great cat portrait

We should not buy Iams cat food because Procter and Gamble (P&C) own Iams and P&C conduct animal testing on cats and dogs in pet food research. These tests are cruel and harmful to the animals, it is said. Any animal testing even at its most benign is cruel as far as I am concerned and it should all be banned.

There is no need to animal test to improve pet food. What is extraordinary is that although I abhor animal testing of all kinds and particularly for cosmetics and pet food, I have two packets of Iams dry cat food in the kitchen that I bought online. It is a question of availability and convenience for us. The big manufacturers seem to be the ones that are most likely to be guilty of animal testing and it is their products that are the easiest to buy.

However, I am ashamed of myself. I will not buy Iams cat food again. In any case my cats are not that fond of it. They prefer Hills dry cat food. I buy Hills light for them. But do Hills animal test? Probably.

How do I know that Iams animal test? There are a number of trusted websites that have detailed information about it.

Express Story
The first is This is a well known and respected website. This is the relevant page: Iams test on animals.

The other site that I would like to mention is Yes, this is an entire website dedicated to animal testing by Iams! This is a link: Animals suffer at Iams.

Iams cruel animal testing was reported on by the Sunday Express (journalist: Lucy Johnson).

So we have good evidence. Knowing this we really must steel ourselves and not buy Iams cat food.

Site Build It!There are many alternatives. Which pet food manufacturers do not animal test? The Iams website list the companies/businesses that they are confident do not animal test. This is the link: Brands that do no test on animals.

Hills are not listed as not testing! Well, if that is the case I'll have to change. The list relates to north American brands by the way.

One of the best canned cat foods on my reckoning is Newmans. Newman’s Own Organics are a brand who don't animal test apparently. Maybe we should buy Newmans?

The best dry cat food in America on my assessment is Innova EVO Dry Cat Food. Do they animal test? As far as I can tell, Natura Pet Products are the parent company. Neither Natura nor Innova are on the list of pet food manufacturers who can say for sure do not animal test. On that basis they animal test.

This is confirmed on another site: The Natura Pet Products policy on animal testing.

They say they prefer to animal test. The company "believes strongly in the importance of nutritional testing". But they are concerned animal testers and the testing in non-invasive and they say it only includes animals eating their products.

That said, the animals are in a facility, albeit a nice facility. They live unnatural lives and are probably stressed at least at some point and their lives are unnatural which is diametrically opposite to the brand name, "Natura Pet Products" indicating "natural pet products".

It is a shame that Natura Pet Products animal test because their Innova brand dry cat food is pretty well universally acclaimed as the best.

It seems that it is not that easy to avoid buying from an animal testing company. We should make the effort, however. Don't by Iams cat food, please. You can't feed your cat knowing that another cat in a cage in a nasty research facility has been tested on and is probably frightened and possibly abused. Note: legally no wrong has been done in animal testing to improve pet food.

Iams Cat Food -- Associated Pages:

Michael Avatar

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Note: the rational for publishing the picture of the Sunday Times under fair use is that it is very small and has no impact on the commerce of the Sunday Express, indeed it promotes it.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Ragdoll Cats Do Go Limp

Ragdoll cat
My lovely Ragdoll cat :) He's 1 year old - by Mah² (Flickr)
My friend, Ian, has the most friendly and true to his breed cat named Bear. Bear is about 27 pounds, a hefty cat with stunningly clear blue eyes. The first time I ever picked up bear he immediately went limp.

Ian just nonchalantly told me "Yeah all of them did that when we had kittens, even his mom did that when we got her at the shelter."

Bear is my favorite cat, he is so fuzzy and such a Ragdoll cat that he has changed me forever, I am now a cat person...Britteny (Pheonix, USA)

Prevention is the best medicine for your pet's health.

Thanks Britteny for your contribution based on personal experience. The myth surrounding the Ragdoll cat is immense. It was created by Ann Baker the founder. Or was it all true?

Your first hand experiences of a Ragdoll cat that you know at least confirms that this cat breed can be limp and laid back, fitting in nicely with the usual description of this cat breed's character.

Note: the Ragdoll in the photo is not the Ragdoll described in the text.

See Ragdoll cats for more.

Michael Avatar

From Ragdoll Cats Do Go Limp to Home Page

Friday 1 April 2011

Cat Travel Tips

Cat Travel Tips! - Photo by katepc (Flickr)

These cat travel tips relate to car and air travel. Air travel is often international travel so you have to be aware of the rules pertaining to the importation of animals into the country concerned. For me this is where is gets a bit hazy because to be honest it is complicated. This is because the rules are fragmented and hard to understand and they depend largely on which countries are rabies free and which are not. Rabies is a major factor in animal air travel because as mentioned below it is transferable from animal to human and invariably fatal. You will need to look at the whole journey. Are you traveling from or to (or in transit) a country where there is rabies and which is not a participating country of PETS (see below)?

Air Travel

In broad brush terms, pet travel within the European Union (EU) requires a pet passport (Pet Travel Scheme - "PETS") and for certain countries (Ireland, Sweden, Malta or the United Kingdom) a test that confirms that the rabies vaccination has been effective. This would seem to be in addition to the actual rabies vaccination. For other countries in the EU the simple fact that a rabies vaccination has been administered is sufficient. The test is "a neutralising antibody titration at least equal to 0,5 IU/ml carried out on a sample taken by an authorised veterinarian at least 30 days after vaccination and three months before being moved..." if that helps!

Pet Passport

The pet passport is a EU document and does not relate to pets traveling from countries outside the EU except for certain non-EU countries who participate. Pet passports should be applied for well in advance and and rabies jabs administered well in advance (check with vet). I am talking 6 months and more. The purpose of PETS is to keep the member states free from rabies and other diseases. PETS applies to cats, dogs and ferrets traveling between certain countries and these animals can only travel on certain routes. These animals arriving at the UK from non PETS participating countries must be placed in quarantine for six months. There is a limit to five pets please note. These are the qualifying European Union (EU) countries and territories:

Austria Estonia Hungary Netherlands
Azores Faroe Islands Ireland 3 Poland
Balearic Islands Finland Italy Portugal
Belgium France Latvia Reunion
Bulgaria French Guiana Lithuania Romania
Canary Islands Germany Luxembourg Slovakia
Ceuta Gibraltar Madeira Slovenia
Cyprus 1 Greece Malta Spain
Czech Republic Greenland Martinique Sweden
Denmark Guadeloupe 2 Melilla

Below are the qualifying non-EU countries and territories:

Andorra Fiji Russian Federation (2)
Antigua & Barbuda French Polynesia St Helena
Argentina Guam St Kitts & Nevis
Aruba Hawaii St Pierre & Miquelon
Ascension Island Hong Kong St Vincent & The Grenadines
Australia Iceland San Marino
Bahrain Jamaica (1) Switzerland
Barbados Japan Taiwan
Belarus Malaysia (3) Trinidad and Tobago
Bermuda Mauritius United Arab Emirates (4)
BES Islands (Bonair, Saint Eustatius and Saba) (5) Mayotte USA (mainland)
Bosnia-Herzegovina Mexico Vanuatu
British Virgin Islands Monaco Vatican
Canada Montserrat Wallis & Futuna
Cayman Islands Saint Maarten (5)
Chile Singapore
Croatia St Lucia
Curacao (5) New Caledonia
Falkland Islands New Zealand
Liechtenstein Norway

The above come from the DEFRA website (government website so excellent authority)

Site Build It!The major concern would seem to be rabies. In the UK it is extinct if that is the correct word. But is the USA for example it is not. Rabies is zoonotic (transferable from animal to human) and invariably kills both animal and human, hence the strict rules on importation of animals into the UK.

You get a pet passport from your veterinarian. He or she should know what to do regarding travel in the EU. I think microchipping is obligatory under the pet passport scheme. For the technically minded this is: "For the purposes of Article 4(1), the standard electronic identification system shall be a read-only passive radio frequency identification device (‘transponder’).." if your vet is unsure about pet passports, I would contact the airline. I would do this anyway as they all have different processes.

Read this page from Defra on PETS for more detail.

Rabies - importation from outside EU

Movement between Member States (of the EU) or from a territory listed in section 2 of Part B of Annex II of animals of the species listed in part C of Annex I shall not be subject to any requirement with regard to rabies (see list below).

Section 2 of Part B of Annex II

Section 2
  • AD Andorra 
  • CH Switzerland
  • HR Croatia
  • IS Iceland
  • LI Liechtenstein
  • MC Monaco 
  • NO Norway 
  • SM San Marino 
  • VA Vatican City State
Prevention is the best medicine for your pet's health.The rules relating to importation from other countries is almost unintelligible. It has been drafted in the most horrible way so I can't safely tell you what they are or mean. I would check with your vet. Rabies will be the determining factor but I know that rabies vaccinations are routine in the USA so I would not foresee a problem for cat travel from the USA to the EU provided the rules are complied with. The situation is probably similar in many other countries.

For those of you brave enough the rules on pet importation from outside the EU to the EU can be seen in this document: RULES!

Airline Requirements

These seem to vary from airline to airline as mentioned.  The cat travel tip is common sense: contact the airline concerned. This page from has a list of links to phone numbers.

Air Canada, as one example, allow pets in the cabin provided they can fit under the seat in a cat carrier (note: this I believe applies to embarkation from Canada only - see how confusing it is). There is not much space under the seat! This has to be a small cat...For Air Canada these are the in cabin specs:

Max weight: 10 kg (22 lb) (pet and carrier combined)

Carrier size:

Height: 23 cm (9 in)
Width: 40 cm (15.5 in)
Length: 55 cm (21.5 in)

Height: 27 cm (10.5 in)
Width: 40 cm (15.5 in)
Length: 55 cm (21.5 in)

See here for more.

If they can't go under the seat they obviously go in the hold. This means a non-spill water dispenser and cat food in a nice carrier. At check-in with Air Canada in London the check-in person asks for the weights of the cat and carrier separately. A third person will take the cat and carrier to the luggage loading facility. As far as I am aware cats cannot go into the cabin from London, Heathrow.

Car Travel

What about car travel? Well most cat caretakers have travelled short distances with their cat and all that requires is a good cat carrier and a a bit of rescue remedy (for us!) as it is quite stressful driving with a cat as a passenger unless your cat likes it (rare).

I have travelled a long distance in my car with two cats. I went on holiday to Ireland from London! It worked out well, in fact. I even took them on the ferry and smuggled them on the boat in a large briefcase!

Anyway back to serious cat travel tips. On short distances the cat will remain in the carrier and that is all you need.

On a long trip the cat should be free to roam the car, in my opinion. This causes potential hazards (getting under your feet). But in practice a cat will quickly settle down on the back ledge at the rear of the car, on the dashboard or back seat etc.

What you need then is all the basics that are available at home: cat litter, cat food (I'd recommend a good dry food), something to clean up and perhaps some enzyme urine cleaner - sorry to be so negative. A cat first aid kit would come in handy too.  Cat toys and your cat's medical records and pet passport should be brought too.

I don't think there is any requirement to stop and let the cats out for a break. I would be against this unless the cat is on a leash. Cats disturbed and confused by a new environment may panic and run. That would cause chaos.

Cat Carriers

You'll need a good one. Here is a nice selection from (north America market).

See also cat stroller.

Michael Avatar

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