Friday 29 April 2011

Abyssinian Cat

Abyssinian cat
Abyssinian cat "Hawkeye" -
photograph copyright Helmi Flick


The Abyssinian cat is a very popular, slender purebred cat that is well known for his or her special ticked tabby coat. The history of this cat breed is interesting. There are no facts but plenty of speculation. There is agreement that this cat breed is one of the oldest in the cat fancy and that the breed quite possibly originates in India as a jungle cat (Felis chaus) wildcat hybrid that was imported to England by a British soldier via Abyssinia (now Ethiopia).

Showing ticked coat
Photo by key lime pie yumyum

The two most recognised cat coat colours are probably the ruddy or natural colour and the blue.

History of Abyssinian Cats

My assessment as to the possible history of the Abyssinian cat is based on historical record and Darwin's records that come from his voyages to the far east. As mentioned above my theory is that this cat breed started in India, around the middle of the 19th century as a wildcat hybrid to the domestic cat sized jungle cat (Felis chaus), which, incidentally, looks very like the Abyssinian. It is not uncommon for semi-domestic cats to mate with small wildcats. This occurs with the Scottish wildcat for instance. A modern version would be the Bahraini Dilmun. The original Abyssinian cat in unrefined form would have been very interesting looking and it would not be unsurprising if a person took a fancy to the cat and imported it into England.

{Note: it is interesting to note that the modern version of the jungle cat x domestic cat cross - a wildcat hybrid - is the Chausie, a relatively rare cat breed.}

Click on the link to read lots more: Origins of the Abyssinian Cat.

You can see a time line of the history by clicking here.

You can read about the first Abyssinian cat Zula Zula in England by clicking here.

Blue Abyssinian cats

Blue Abyssinian cat - photo by polandeze (Flickr)

I have a page on blue Abyssinians. You can see it by clicking here. The page also discusses red Abyssinians and some genetics.

Red Abyssinian cats

Ruddy Abyssinian Kittens - the person in the picture is the
the breeder: Pat Harbert.

See this image in large format: Two Ruddy Abyssinian Kittens. You can see three ruddy and three blue Abyssinian kittens in a large format picture by Helmi Flick by clicking here with some background info or see it right here:

Taken at an Oklahoma cat show. Two blue, 3 ruddy and 1 spoiler
Please respect Helmi's copyright.

These are commonly called "ruddy" (Tawny - Ruddy/Usual). Below is the video of the blue and ruddy Abyssinian kittens that you see on this page. They are ready to be photographed by Helmi Flick at a cat show in Oklahoma, USA. One of them caught my eye. He was tired and I think he was a bit of a loner. Is he the one on the right spoiling Helmi's photo? I think so.

Click here to see the above video in HD on YouTube. You can see the finished photographs and compare blue to ruddy in this video. Or you can read some more about the background to the video by clicking here.

Long Haired Abyssinian Cats - The Somali

The Somali cat breed is extremely attractive. The resemble foxes in their coat color and foxy plumed tail. I like foxes so I like Somali cats. The male cat in the video below was one of the stars of this cat show in Oklahoma, USA.

Click on here to see it on YouTube in HD.

Abyssinian Cat Personality

This section incorporates Abyssinian cat behavior because personality dictates behavior. Please don't believe that each and every cat breed has a particular and nicely defined personality. They generally don't. Remember there are over 100 cat breeds. You do get some generalized differences between the more active, slender and perhaps more intelligent cats (say Bengal cat) and the more gentle indoor loving cobby type cats (for instance the Persian) but individual cat personalities outweigh differences in cat breed personality.

That said a person with first hand experience of handling and wrangling the majority of cat breeds, Ken Flick,  says that the Abyssinian is extremely active. He says that the Abyssinian cat is more active than an F1 (first filial) Chausie (a Chausie is a wildcat hybrid - jungle cat to domestic cat as mentioned above).

Abyssinian cats are one of the more intelligent cats it is thought and this degree of activity supports that finding.

See a video about the two extremes of cat personality (Bengal to Exotic Shorthair that supports this point).

Abyssinian Cat Rescue

As it happens, I have a page on Abyssinian cat rescue so there is no need to go over it here. Yes, there are Abyssinian cats that need rescuing but I think you will find them quite scarce. After all this is a very popular purebred cat. Click on the link to go to Abyssinian Cat Rescue.

Next some more frivolous and more commercial stuff. People search for it.

Abyssinian cat cursor

There are several sites that offer an Abyssinian cat cursor. Tucows is one. It is a download and the cursor is the head of an Abyssinian cat. See the page here.

Abyssinian cat license plate

This is a purely American thing. You don't see it elsewhere and they would be illegal in the UK and probably Europe generally. (North American market) do a license plate frame that might appeal to an Abyssinian cat fan:

Abyssinian Cat License Plate Frame

Abyssinian Cat Care

Breed Predispositions to Disease in Dogs and CatsCaring for Abyssinian cats is the same as caring for all domestic cats with the proviso that plenty of attention is given to your Aby as they are intelligent and active. These qualities need to be expressed.  One other aspect of caring for the Abyssinian cat is a knowledge of any genetically inherited diseases that might concern this breed of cat. There are several which you can read about on this page - just scroll down the page.  Two are:
Here are some web pages from PoC on caring for the domestic cat:
Abyssinian Cat Price

Depends on quality as is always the case with purebred cats. By quality I mean to what extent the cat matches the breed standard in appearance. At the poorer quality end expect to pay $300-500 (USD in the USA) and £1000 at the best quality end. You can translate dollars for pounds to figure out the price in the UK but please check (prices as at June 2011).
    Abyssinian cat earrings

    Couldn't find earrings but this ornament might do (please click on the image):

    Abyssinian Cat Ornament

    See and read more in a quick guide about the Abyssinian by clicking on this link.

    Would you like to tell people about your Abyssinian cat or your thoughts about this cat breed? Please use the form below:

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    Thursday 28 April 2011

    Cat Eating Litter

    A cat eating litter must be rare and it is means a trip to the vet, for sure. Dogs are less particular about what they eat. They are omnivores with a carnivore bias. They can eat cat food for a while. Dogs sometimes eat cat litter and cat feces.

    Grey tabby British Shorthair show cat sleeping on grey litter at a cat show
    Not a cat eating litter but sleeping on it. A sign of anxiety.

    I'll cut to the chase. There is no reference, as far as I can see, to a cat eating litter in the best book on cat health on the planet: Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, Fully Revised and Updated. Neither is there any reference to it in a first class book on cats: The Cat: Its Behavior, Nutrition and Health. That is what tells me that it is a rare condition.

    I am therefore reliant on the internet for information. And the internet is not that reliable. However my research indicates that when a cat eats litter it may be one of three conditions:
    1. A dietary deficiency
    2. Feline anemia
    3. Pica in cats
    Clearly the type of litter being consumed will inform us as to what might be wrong. Clumping clay litter may contain minerals that are lacking in the cat's diet. Eating clay based litter is very serious as it can cause a digestive tract blockage. It must stop immediately and veterinary assistance should be sought. The cat's diet will need to be reevaluated. Change the litter and the diet.

    Feline anemia is a lack of red blood cells. There may be an underlying condition. Read about feline anemia. If there are signs of feline anemia then my earnest advice is an immediate visit to the vet to check out general health and underlying serious illness.

    Pica in cats is a manifestation of a psychological imbalance. Check out the other symptoms. Check out stress, cat play, your absence, your behavior. Stressed cats are usually the result of our behavior. Make changes where necessary and check out the vet too.

    Vets are expensive. They are getting more expensive. This presents a resistance to going to see them. But there are times when we must. A cat eating litter is serious enough for a vet visit unless something is obviously wrong after reading these pointers,

    Michael Avatar

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    Tuesday 26 April 2011

    Cat On Leash On Head

    Here is a nice way, umm..interesting way and a safe way to take your cat out for a walk on a leash. Only this black and white cat prefers to be transported by his male human companion, which allows the cat a nice high vantage point. Cats feel safer high up. Common sense, I guess.

    I like this because it is safe. The human is a young hip male and that debunks the notion that all cat people are older frumpy females and the cat is on a leash that is not needed.

    From POC STUFF

    I included a still from the video in case the video gets removed for some reason.

    Michael Avatar

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    Monday 25 April 2011

    I love cats and I hate cats

    There are more people who love cats than hate cats. How do I know? I have used keyword search statistics backed up by common sense.

    I think you would actually deduce that more people love cats than hate them without reference to any statistics but it is nice to have that gut feeling confirmed.

    What are keyword search statistics? People use the search engines to search for information. The words that they use are saved by search engines and other Internet businesses. These are called keywords.

    The chart above shows how many people search for "I love cats" compared to those who search for "I hate cats".

    "People that hate cats will
    come back as mice in their next life." Faith Resnick
    Photo by herrwiggens

    I have made the reasonable presumption that in general people who search for a "I hate cats" will dislike/hate cats and those who search for "I love cats" will like/love cats".

    I wrote an article about people hating cats a long time ago. It gets a decent number of hits and it has acquired a decent number of comments! These people in general:
    • don't understand cats;
    • are young people;
    • are semi-literate and
    • stupid
    Say no more, then. If you hate cats you are ignorant. If you love cats you are probably intelligent. I am being deliberately provocative please note!

    There is nothing to hate about cats if you understand them and respect animals. All of us should respect animals because it is better for the planet if we do. Why? Because:
    1. animals have an equal right to be on the planet and
    2. they are part of nature and if we disrespect animals we disrespect nature. If we disrespect nature we end up destroying it, using and abusing it which in the long term is bad for us all as we rely on the planet to keep us alive.

    Michael Avatar

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    Sunday 24 April 2011

    i hate the internet

    It is eating us up - Photo by Will Lion (Flickr)

    i hate the internet. That is how people say it - lower case. It's all in lower case. That is the modern way on the blessed, bastardized internet. I also love the internet. I depend on the internet for a lot of things; food, maps, information, socialization etc. blah, blah, boring.

    I depend on it more than most as I have a successful website: PoC. It gets, got, lots of hits: One million page views in one month...until Google thought it would change the algorithm (ridiculous word). Now it is going down and down and turning me off, off for no good reason other than it serves the purposes of good old Google to constantly fiddle with the rules. Google off, Google!

    Google is more important than any government including the US government. The USA has lost its way. It has too much debt. It can't afford to do anything on the world stage. It just has to survive and I am not sure it can do that. It is one notch above Greece in terms of fiscal solidity. And that is bad. The predicament is down to years of funding the American dream - no more than a dream, not reality.

    Nobody in American in ready to face reality. Europe is no better. The Eurocrats just don't get it. These are the people on the gravy train. The people who manage the European Union. They spend, spend, spend on administration in total denial of reality. China powers on, on the back of an enslaved workforce turning out consumer products to feed the world's insatiable appetite to buy happiness. It's horrible and i hate it.

    i hate the internet because it has grown a culture of immorality and impolite behavior and plain stealing. It has fostered bad grammar and crappy spelling. It has shown us how illiterate the world is. It has glued people to the damn computer screen and destroyed relationships.

    Bloody pain in the neck networking has superseded the real thing. Every website owner and manager has to - really HAS TO -  connect to Facebook and Twitter, the new gods of the internet that I hate.

    You just HAVE TO link up to bloody Facebook; u must or you are nobody. If you don't you are damned to eternal oblivion and hell. God, the Facebook guys love it and milk it. The rest learn to hate it. It is a kind of an addiction - a form of enslavement. An addiction to chasing your backside going nowhere.

    If you don't go on Facebook you get forgotten. On Facebook everything links to everything. You make a comment here and it gets spread there and everywhere. That is how they did it. They invented the bloody internet virus.

    I feel sorry for the guys who have a million Twitter followers. Think of the pressure to go on Twitter all the time to feed the hungry mouths of the worshiping disciples. Give me something witty, go on, give it me. I need entertaining. I need instant fun. You can provide it. You always have. It is an endless treadmill for successful twitterers. It can only end when the twitterer finally gets terminally pissed off twittering.

    If you have a website these days the webmasters all cling on to Twitter and Facebook as lifelines. It doesn't matter how big your site is; you have gotta have one of those bloody irritating Facebook buttons that say "I like it". i hate it.

    I love the internet. I love surfing...yeh let's surf and see. What is out there? What is happening? Am I missing something? I love watching the BBC online with iPlayer. In bed. Pure comfort. Purely out of it.

    But now I want to get back to where I should be. On the ground not in the ether. On the grass; smelling the grass; feeling the sun. Forget the internet for a bit. Be real.

    Michael Avatar

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    Saturday 23 April 2011

    Solving the cat overpopulation crisis

    Off to be spayed and neutered - Photo by Shamey Jo (Flickr)

    People think that in the United States of America there is a cat overpopulation crisis. When you read the statistics you can believe it. There is a bland almost calm acceptance of this crisis. Millions of cats are deliberately killed in "shelters" every year and people just carry on as before with little effort to address the cat overpopulation problem. If we are killing cats by the million yearly there has to be a crisis. So what do we do about it?

    Firstly, I want to make clear that cat overpopulation refers to domestic cats and the problem is not only an American problem. The same can probably be said about Europe. It is much less discussed in Europe and the figures are not as transparent. That does not mean that there is no problem.

    Secondly, having said this is about domestic cats you could argue that there is a tiger overpopulation in America! There are too many captive tigers in the US and not enough wild tigers in world - wake up world, please!

    There is only one way to tackle to cat overpopulation crisis properly and for the long term. People need to stop taking reactive measures - killing unwanted cats - which hides the problem or lessens the impact of cat overpopulation. We must take proactive measures.

    Proactive measures can only mean better and more responsible cat caretaking that lessens relinquishment to shelters, plain abandonment to the wild and cat abuse such as declawing, negligence and abuse.

    Proactive measures can only mean education. Education about proper and responsible cat caretaking will result first and foremost in proper and realistic expectations about what it is like to care for a domestic cat. I call it expectation management. This is the first step. Beyond that there is a need to educate people to respect animals.

    When I was a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, the first thing I did when I saw a client was to manage their expectations about the possible outcome of the case and the time it would take. Well...that was after I discussed the cost!

    I did this to stop the client being disappointed if and when the litigation didn't work out as they had planned. In that way it helped me too. It protected me from criticism.

    If we transfer that analogy to the world of the domestic cat, we have the situation where someone, probably a public body, should be making it obligatory to attend a short course in realistic cat caretaking before the prospective cat owner takes possession of their new cat.

    People acquire domestic cats from breeders (relatively rare as these are purebreds), friends and neighbours and rescue centers. I don't know the percentage breakdown. I suspect that the majority of cat adoptions happen on an ad hoc basis from a neighbor who has allowed their cats to breed.

    People who adopt from breeders and rescue centers should be made to attend a government proscribed course in cat management and care under local government legislation. The course should be realistic. That is its purpose - to control expectations. Do people know that it can be expensive to care for a domestic cat? It might cost up to $10,000 over the lifetime of the cat including all expenses: vet, food and extras. That will put off a good percentage of potential cat adopters. Yes, it sounds outlandish but it is not. It is sensible. Lets start with cat rescue centers (shelters) and breeders.

    You might say that it will put potential cat adopters off having learnt about the realism of cat caretaking. The consequences will be less cats adopted and more cats killed. Yes, that is true at the beginning of this long and difficult process of change in culture.

    But, and this is the clincher, in the long term there will be less abandoned cats, less relinquished cats, less needlessly killed cats, less starving feral cats, less shot at feral cats (for fun), less declawed cats and more happy, contented cats in homes where they are really wanted.

    Solving the cat overpopulation problem requires the will of the shelters and the legislators. But you know what? They are in a nice settled rut. The vets get their profit from treating shelter cats. They need shelters. Cats don't. Vets are a constant source of pressure that drives cat caretaking in the wrong direction because they put profit above care. That is to be expected, of course.

    Solving the cat overpopulation crisis in the USA will not come overnight because it requires a change in culture and a nation's culture takes decades to be formulated. Something that takes decades to build often takes decades to change unless it happens by revolution. Let there be a revolution in the cat world!

    Michael Avatar

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    Friday 22 April 2011

    How to get rid of fleas on cats

    Siamese cat who was given spot treatment
    behind the head (see spiky fur)
    Photo by terriem (Flickr)

    I explain how to get rid of fleas on cats. The cat flea is probably the most common cat health problem that we have to deal with. It is certainly the most common parasite on the cat's skin. An understanding of the life cycle of the cat flea helps us get rid of them. If you open the link a new page will open too so you can read it while you read this page. As you can see from the life cycle a holistic approach has to be taken to defeat the horrible cat flea. By holistic I mean that the flea needs to be killed both on the cat and on the ground in the areas inhabited by the cat. There is no point just killing fleas that are currently on the cat and ignoring the larvae and fleas that are off the cat and which will jump on him or her. At any one time, one percent of fleas are adults while the remaining 99 percent are at the larval and pupal stages. The fleas on the cat are the tip of the iceberg. This page: The Cat Flea: biology, ecology and control, provides detailed information about the cat flea.

    A byproduct of getting rid of fleas on cats is that you will also cut the life cycle of the tapeworm as fleas are an intermediate host of the tapeworm.

    Some cats are allergic to flea saliva, which can cause inflammation and intense itching. See feline allergies for a full list and description. Read about a visitor's cat, a Ragdoll, who is allergic to fleas.

    You can tell when you cat has fleas. He or she will probably be scratching around the neck area. This area of the cat's body and the rear at the base of the tail are in my experience the two prime areas to focus on.

    To confirm that there are fleas on your cat you have to have a 32 prongs to the inch flea comb. Please don't use a human nit comb as these have less prongs to the inch an are ineffective for fleas. This is an essential piece of kit and it should be used regularly. I would say daily but it depends on the circumstances. If you are getting rid of fleas on a cat the flea comb should be used at least once daily and more often if needs be.

    For a normal level or mild infestation of fleas the flea comb combined with an environmental clean up will probably control the flea problem. I always start by combing around the head, neck and shoulders and then the area at the base of the tail where it joins the spine. You will find that live, mobile fleas are up front and black specks, which are flea feces and salt-like material (flea eggs) are at the rear.

    The fleas in the cat's fur will try and evade the comb by moving through the fur quickly. I always go over the same area several times and expand the area of combing to catch the retreating flea!

    Fleas are very athletic and extremely robust. When you have combed out a flea or two they will be on the comb. They will be moving and they will not stay on the comb for more than a few seconds. You have to move fast to kill them before they jump off the comb back onto the cat. Sometimes they will jump onto the surrounding area. Cat fleas can bite humans incidentally.

    There are various ways to kill the live, jumping, dastardly robust flea. I crush them on the comb with my thumb nail against the ridge where the prongs are attached to the base. They go pop when the exoskeleton is crushed (see photo). You know then that it is killed. But watch them afterward to check. They are great survivors. Some people dip the comb in water or alcohol. I prefer my way because it is very satisfying and very positive. Whatever you do, do it fast!

    Flea combing is a mechanical method of getting rid of fleas on cats. There are countless numbers of chemical methods (see Cat Flea Treatments for a full discussion). For a medium to bad or persistent flea infestation I use Frontline spot treatment (there are others) in conjunction with flea combing. Flea combing not only allows you to find and kill cat fleas it also allows you to check whether there are fleas and cats will nearly always like it especially if done regularly. Which leads nicely to the fact that if we flea comb regularly, the fur will be thoroughly untangled and in fine condition allowing the comb to pass through the fur easily. Flea combing gives the fur a nice glossy appearance.

    If flea combing pulls on the fur our cat won't like it. We need our cat to like being combed as it makes the whole process of getting rid of fleas on cats much easier and even a pleasant experience for our cat. I can comb the entire body of my cat who has a dense double coat if I flea comb regularly.

    Chemical treatments can be effective but as far as I am concerned they are a last resort as they are insecticides and they can have cat health consequences. Treating cats with dog flea control products and over-treating kittens can seriously hurt or kill the cat. Please read the instructions and follow them to the letter. Click on the following link for a post by a visitor; an example of how cat caretakers can hurt their cats while trying to help them: Are my cats suffering? How may I stop it?

    Chemical treatments include: shampoos, powders and dusts, sprays and foams and insecticide dips. I used a foam once and my cat licked it off and started foaming at the mouth. I had to take her to the vet. I have never used these sorts of chemicals again. These products can cause toxic reactions in cats. Dips are the most effective and have the longest residual action but please take care, don't use them on kittens under four months of age and dilute the product per the instructions. These are toxic products.

    Two other products can be used to kill fleas on cats (a) cat flea pill (use with caution) and (b) a cat flea collar. These have chemical treatments inside them providing protection for a good time. Collars are potentially dangerous to the cat - chocking is one hazard. Cat collars can kill. And please don't use collars that use amitraz, permethrin or organophosphates for cats. Extreme care needs to be taken when using insecticides on cats.

    Flea Bathed Kitten - bedraggled but flea free - Photo by psiconauta

    I will assume that the cat has been properly and consistently treated. The environment needs to treated as well, as mentioned. There are three types of environment (a) the ordinary home where there might be a mild infestation (b) the home that is a complete mess where there will be a severe infestation and (c) the multi-cat breeder type environment. The breeder will know how to control fleas so I am just going to refer to the typical home. In multi-cat and multi-animal households or facilities all the animals (ferrets, rabbits and dogs) must be treated.

    One obvious aspect of environmental flea control is whether your cat goes outside. Mine do go outside and there are foxes in this part of London. You can see how fleas can be picked up outside: flea larvae drops of fox, cat lies in grass, adult flea jumps on cat. You can't rid the garden of fleas so that is a source of re-infestation.

    Keeping the home thoroughly clean and regularly hoovered will, I believe, control fleas on cats sufficiently even if they do go outside. Carpets should be cleaned professionally on a regular basis but not to the point where the cost becomes prohibitive. Cat bedding should be cleaned routinely.

    One non-chemical environment flea killer is food grade diatomaceous earth. It is actually used to kill parasites inside cattle. It can be added to livestock food. But it can also be sprinkled on the ground where your cat sleeps or the area where he or she frequents. It works by cutting the flea's exoskeleton, which is the hard body of the flea. Fleas don't have internal skeletons like us.

    This post is based on my personal experience. A very good resource to learn about how to get rid of fleas on cats is the Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook which at about £20+ is no more than the cost of some flea treatments.

    Associated Pages:

    Michael Avatar

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    Wednesday 20 April 2011

    Why the Maine Coon cat is the most popular

    Miss Kate a famous Maine Coon
    Photo copyright Helmi Flick

    I explain why the Maine Coon cat is the world's most popular cat breed. You might argue that this is the world's most popular cat, period, full stop. I am not saying that this is the most registered cat (with cat associations), by the way. That accolade might go to the Persian. I am saying that the Maine Coon is the most popular with people who keep and care for cats - you and I.

    I have broken things down into sections.


    I know of no better vote-for-your-favorite-cat-breed-poll than the one on my own website, Pictures of (PoC). It is a great poll because:
    • it has been running for several years;
    • the site is visited by people from all over the world. It is very much an international website;
    • Americans make up most of the visitors and therefore most of the voters but America is by far the biggest cat breed market.
    At one time the Abyssinian led the way. Then the Siamese but for the last 18 months or more the Maine Coon cat has been placed firmly and I think immovably on the top of the list of 66 mainstream cat breeds. Below are the current standings:

    As you can see there are over 4,000 votes and the Maine Coon cat is well ahead of the pack.


    The Maine Coon cat is an American cat - it is said. I agree with that. It epitomizes the United States. The origins of the Maine Coon are also closely linked to the founding of the United States of America. Although it is not absolutely clear how the Maine Coon started in the US, it appears most likely that the long haired moggies that came with the first settlers and who landed at Cape Cod in Maine were the cats that founded the Maine Coon. There are alternative theories and I have just found out that the wild cat (probably an Andean cat) was domesticated in South America some 3,500 years ago but for the USA it seems that the Maine Coon's long path of development and evolution went hand in hand with the American people - a nice touch and very fitting. Particularly so as the United States is the most developed country for cat breeds after England.

    So a major factor why the Maine Coon is the most popular cat breed is because it is an American cat, the American cat and if as someone has argued that it can't be because the founding cats were English and European, they are wrong! That was almost 400 years ago.

    Longest History

    With the American Shorthair, this cat has the longest history of all the breeds of America if you take into account the natural evolution and development before this cat was recognised as a cat breed. That counts I think. Americans think so. It all started at least in the early 1600s and perhaps much earlier with the visit by the Vikings. Of course the actually deliberate development of this breed by selective cat breeding didn't start until the late 1960s but over hundreds of previous years the long haired immigrants were developing naturally as barn cats. That counts too in my book.

    Incidentally the oldest cat breed is probably the Egyptian which goes back to ancient Roman times.


    America is big, bold and imposing, long and sweet in character. There are wide open spaces (getting smaller!). The Maine Coon cat mirrors that image of successful America. It is the largest cat breed, excluding wildcat hybrids and the largest registered by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA).

    Size counts in today's world. Americans like big cats and Americans have the lion's share of the vote, which is far. The Maine Coon is large, yes but it is also long and slender under all the fluffy raggedy fur.  They are quite rangy cats. The world's longest domestic cat is a Maine Coon.


    The Maine Coon has the widest of ranges of colours and pattern types. The types are almost infinite. To put it into cat fancy language, the Maine Coon is recognised in all colors and divisions of the traditional category.

    This allows people to chose their favorite color/type coat. Some cat breeds can only be in a single color dictated by that breed's breed standard. An example is the color grey - see grey cat breeds. You gotta like grey in that case.

    Perhaps the brown tabby and white is the best color and pattern combo and if that true it makes sense because the tabby coat is the type most usually encountered and tabby and white is popular, it appears at cat shows.

    Tail and Ears

    Cat breeders like to develop ear and eye size. Tails are important for the long haired cats. One distinguishing feature of the Maine Coon is the large ears with the gorgeous ear tufts that come out of the top. They are lynx like. The tail is a spectacular plume of floppy, flying, flowing fur!


    I have played Zak, a gorgeous Maine Coon who lives with Ken and Helmi Flick. He loved to play but was quite shy too - a nice combination.

    Ken and Helmi Flick's Maine Coon Cat - ZAK
    Zak - Blue and White Maine Coon - photo Michael@PoC

    Maine Coons are generally relaxed and easy going and they get along with children and dogs. They are people orientated. That group of characteristics is about as good as it gets in the modern busy world. It is what people want and they get it in the Maine Coon.

    They don't necessarily want to be held but they do form close relationships with their primary carer. You will have to be around to return that affection.


    A cat's voice is part of its character and the voice of this cat is generally quiet. They are said to have a tiny voice and a special voice - a chirp-like sound. The voice is endearing and charming, another reason why this cat breed is the most popular.


    Is it fair to say that the Maine Coon is more likely to become the alpha cat in a multi-cat household? Probably, yes. This is because of size and presence, I would speculate. This characteristic would generally prove popular with people.

    Michael Avatar

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    Cat Clicker Training

    I find the concepts behind cat clicker training hard to understand and the explanations of how it works unclear. Maybe it is me being a bit thick but I would like to see if I can put an explanation about this training aid into clear simple language.

    Cat clicker training is part of training cats by positive reinforcement or giving the cat a reward for behavior that we consider good. Let's be clear though. From the cat's standpoint the behavior is neither good nor bad. It is plain natural, but we like cats to do certain things.

    Whereas we train ourselves to do things for monetary reward cats don't understand money. The classic reward for a cat is food - their favorite food or treat. This will motivate a cat in a positive way.

    If a cat does something that pleases us we reward the cat with a treat. If we do this enough times the cat will do the same thing so that he or she gets the treat. Positive reinforcement happens naturally all the time. Often mutual training is going on. This is my example.

    My three legged cat likes to sit on top of the sofa. The position suits the fact that he has three legs. When he is hungry he calls out. On one occasion I picked him off the sofa and took him to a fresh bowl of food. I did this to avoid the need for him to get down from the sofa which is hard for a cat with three legs. It also gets the job done quickly and stops him screaming at me. I did this a few times. Now he knows that if he screams at me from the top of the sofa he will get carried to food. I inadvertently trained him to do that through positive reinforcement. And he trained me in the same way to lift him down. My reward was to avoid him asking me again and again.

    Where does the clicker come into this? This is the bit I find hard to understand. The clicker is a device that you can buy on the Internet and which emits a nice clean sharp but not unpleasant sound. It is based on the toy crickets you used to be able to buy.

    You click immediately after the cat has done what you want her to do and then immediately after that you give her the food treat. The click and the treat become linked, each being a part of the reward (you are "pairing" the click and treat). The sound of the clicker allows the cat to more precisely and more promptly identify the action with reward. It is a form of quick and clear communication that is more efficient that simply giving a treat or verbally praising which, because they are delivered relatively slowly, may not be connected to the desired action of the cat.

    The clicker makes that certain connection between behavior and reward and it is also connected to the food treat. It is a secondary reinforcer and it creates a bridge between the action (called the "response") and the reward (the "reinforcement").

    Once the cat has learned that a response (the desired action) leads to the reinforcer, you can attach words to the clicker to allow you to make commands that are acted upon by the cat - the actions are a response to the command. You can also use the cat's learned awareness of the clicker to train her to do other responses. Actions by us such as tapping with a stick can be used rather than our commands but I guess the objective is to attach a command to the clicker. In the early part of the cat clicker training the food treat is attached to the sound of the clicker.

    See the above video YouTube.

    Michael Avatar

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    The extraordinary words of a vet "THE GUILT FREE LASER DECLAW" is the title of his web page. He carries out laser declawing and he wants to promote it. I find this title extraordinary because he goes on to say that he knows cat owners feel guilty because he hears comments all day from customers that tell him that they are feeling guilty about asking him to chop of the last phalange (section of bone beyond last joint) of each front toe.

    He is trying to assuage their guilt, make them feel less guilty by saying that the operation is less painful and much better for the cat. The cat gets over laser declawing faster. Not all vets agree. This page discusses laser declawing in more detail.

    I just want to analyse the idea that the vet can promote declawing on the back of the customer's guilt! It seems very odd indeed.

    He is sure people feel guilty about getting their cat declawed. This tells us that these cat owners know that what they are doing is wrong but can't resist having the operation carried out. The drive to remove the cat's claws overcomes the resistance in knowing that it is wrong.

    The vet knows that the customer knows that the operation is morally wrong and tries to convince the customer to go ahead anyway. The vet, in short, is encouraging the customer to do something that the customer knows is wrong. Don't you find this extraordinary? What is also very strange is that the vet does not understand what he is actually doing in promoting laser declawing in this way. This tells us that the vet is stupid (this is my opinion only and not a statement of fact).

    It is encouraging to know that people who have their cats declawed do in general (according to this vet) feel it is wrong. They sense it is wrong but bury that uneasy feeling about the operation. This squares up with what the law states in Europe where it is banned. Legislators create law for the people and the law should reflect what the people want. So people in Europe find declawing morally wrong. Americans feel the same way but that feeling is squashed by the promotional activities of vets.

    The vets also know it is wrong but in the absence of overriding legislation to stop them they allow their greed to get the better of them. See this classic promotional method.

    Declawing cats in the USA is based on greed and expediency. The classic weaknesses of humankind are manifested in this horrible and inexcusable operation. See Cat Declawing.

    Michael Avatar


    Tuesday 19 April 2011

    Cat Statistics

    Feral cats - we need better stats
    Photo by dimitridf

    Either there are no cat statistics, or they are disheartening cat statistics. In the USA there is a need for a proper government compiled and managed national statistics database on matters pertaining to cat adoption, cat abandonment, cat rescue and cat cruelty.

    We need to get a handle on cat ownership in the USA. The same can be said incidentally about most countries. I am mainly writing about the US because that is the biggest domestic cat market and perhaps the most advanced market for companion animals although there are some peculiarities and anomalies in the USA companion animal market. I am thinking of cat declawing (legal in USA, illegal elsewhere) and the huge number of pet tigers (believed to be about 12,000) far more than wild tigers worldwide.

    ASPCA provides some cat statistics but says that there is no government body that is responsible for compiling the figures.

    What figures we do have paint an uncomfortable picture of a nation that has what could only be described as a dysfunctional relationship with companion animals. Despite the many millions of cat and dog lovers 5 to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters each year. Seventy-five percent of the cats that enter shelters are killed. ASPCA calls it "euthanized" but with respect to them, this is incorrect. Euthanasia is the humane killing of animals that are sick. Most of 3 to 4 million killed in shelters are not sick. But it appears that we don't know the statistics. The statistics that we have are sometimes estimates. How many feral cats are there in the USA? Seventy million? Maybe. Some say the number of ferals is the same as the number of domestic cats. How many domestic cats are there? We don't know the exact figure. HSUS says 93.6m. ASPCA says 85m. HSUS uses American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, while ASPCA uses Pet Food Institute for these figures.

    In a more functional relationship with the companion animal there would be a balance between supply and demand. The number of animals available for adoption (A) would be the same as the number of people who want to adopt (B). Supply (A) = demand (B).

    As about 2,600,000 cats are killed each year (75% of of 3.5m estimated in shelters) supply outstrips demand by 2.6m (C).

    A = B + C

    This is probably incorrect because it does not take into account abandoned cats that die outside after becoming strays. As there are about 70m feral cats which possibly includes stray cats it might be fair to deduce that, of these, about 5 million are simply abandoned strays that do not find there way to shelters where they are killed.

    Some basic cat statistics for USA:
    • 2.45 cats per household
    • 93.6 million owned cats
    • 38 m people want a cat (93.6 divided by 2.45)
    • 3.5 m in shelters
    • 75% killed (2.6 m)
    • 70 m feral - estimate
    There needs to be an oversight government body on cat statistics and dog statistics to allow people to formulate an informed strategy into reducing supply and upping demand in the formula above. In addition I would prefer a government department tackling the feral cat problem and irresponsible cat ownership. All this should be supported and instigated through obligatory, nationwide registration of domestic cats. Perhaps one county or state might start a pilot scheme.

    Here are some cat and pet statistics from across the world:

      Michael Avatar

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