Tuesday 25 October 2011

Ragdoll Cat Pictures

Here are three Ragdoll cat pictures. The first one is by the celebrated cat photographer, Helmi Flick. The second is by Dani, a breeder and great cat photographer in Holland and the third by an amateur photographer, Flickr username: quatre mains who has kindly licensed use of the photo under creative commons.

Ragdoll cat - seal point - Photo copyright Helmi Flick

The photos on this page are protected by copyright © except where indicated. Violations of copyright are reported to Google.com (DMCA).

Ragdoll cat "Myst" - Photo copyright Dani

The next photo is of a Ragdoll show cat at a cat show in Holland:

Beautiful Ragdoll cat - Photo quatre mains (Flickr)

You can read about the Ragdoll and see more photos by Helmi on this page.

Over the Counter Pet Antibiotics

Is is sensible to buy over the counter pet antibiotics? Are we knowledgeable enough to prescribe pet drugs without veterinarian supervision? Breeders probably are as they have learned through constant veterinarian visits. I don't know where you would get them in the UK. Apparently in the USA there are ways to acquire pet antibiotics over the counter. Antibiotics for fish, for example, are freely available at pet stores. In the USA you could drive to Mexico if you are suitably located as pet antibiotics are available over the counter in that country.

Over the counter pet drugs should be the sort of drugs that are safe to use without diagnosis and prescription.

Antibiotics are used to fight bacterial infections. Do you know that your cat has a bacterial infection rather than a viral infection? Most URIs are caused by a virus.

Antibiotics are bacteria specific and are not generic. One antibiotic does not cure all bacterial infections. Are you able to select the correct antibiotic when buying over the counter? Antibiotics can cause allergies and sensitivities in the pet. I'll focus on cats. A knowledge of veterinary medicine is required to avoid pitfalls.

Antibiotics kill the good bacteria of the stomach. These act as a natural barrier against pathogens. Altering the balance of stomach flora can cause illness such as diarrhea. Giving antibiotics to pregnant cats is potentially hazardous for the unborn kittens.

Some antibiotics are combined with steroids. The steroids reduce inflammation. These drugs are usually in the form of creams. Steroids are last resort type drugs that depress the immune system of the cat. Are you able to use these creams safely without veterinary supervision?

Pet antibiotics when administered for too short a time or in too low a dosage can cause bacterial resistance to the drug.

Finally do you have the knowledge to decide how best to administer the drug for maximum effectiveness? Are you able to decide the dosage and frequency?

I sense that we would be less likely to buy over the counter antibiotics for ourselves.

Monday 24 October 2011

Why do cats put their bum (butt) in your face?

Well to be honest mine don't do that! Maybe we just think that cats put their bum in our face because we as humans are sensitive to what we consider rude behavior but which the cat considers acceptable and normal.

In other words in the normal course of events our cat will present his or her bum to us and she will present her face to us etc. We are just overly sensitive to those times when our cat presents her bum to us and think there is some sort of weird reason for it.

Cats do put their bum in the air when you stroke them. The reason is on this page. That might be what people are talking about. There is nothing in the books about cats putting them bum in your face other than as described on the linked page above.

There is one other possibility. Cats like to scent exchange. They like to deposit their scent on us as it makes them feel more secure. Scent glands are situated around the body including towards the tail. If a cat rubs against you with his or her rear area while at the same time being at around head height she is liable to present to you her bottom. That might be the reason why cats put their bum in your face.

When do you euthanize your cat?

It is easy to decide to euthanize your cat if she is very old, in incurable pain, losing weight, has an incurable disease and sleeps all the time.

What if she is 20 years old, has an incurable disease, is not in pain, sleeps all the time, is static to the point where flies burrow into her fur and lay eggs, sleeps 24/7, refuses to come inside and requires permanent antibiotics to manage an infection in her kidneys? That is my lady cat.

My vet has just telephoned me. It happened a minute ago. I thought it was nice of her to phone me, very nice of her. I gave her the information. She hinted that it was time to consider euthanasia.

I became tearful. I love my cat more than any other creature in the world. But am I keeping her alive for me or for her?

Am I hanging on for me? As I look out the window now, I see her in the garden. She is static. She is lying down. She is in nature. She is glazed over. She recognizes me and comes to me when I go out to her provided I can wake her up. Sometimes it is hard to wake her up. She likes to be picked up and put on my shoulder.

There is almost no life left in her though. I have a week's worth of antibiotics left. What do I do when they run out?

Over the Counter Pet Drugs

Here is list of over the counter pet drugs available in the USA with some detail on usage:

How to look after an old cat

How to Look After an Old Cat? Cats are living longer. People are living longer. This is due to better food, health care and lifestyle etc. That means more older cats. It might be useful to think about things that we could do to help an older cat.

Some people believe that there are things we can do and I'll list them. They all translate to being aware of our cat's health and diminishing abilities and accepting that old age brings change. One of those changes is the coat. And another is being less active, which can mean a tendency to put on weight. But (and this is my personal viewpoint) we should not try and "shoe horn" an older cat into a young cat's body. We change shape as we get older and so should a cat. It is natural. Sometimes I feel that we tend to treat cats as robots and think of them as all the same. That said, being overweight is to be resisted.

One point about being less active has come to my attention recently (Oct 2011). My old lady cat (20) sits on the ground in the garden all day and night. I have to watch for maggots. This sounds ghastly but a cat that is static for long periods will attract flies who treat the cat as dead almost and lay eggs in the fur. I am not sure how common this is but please watch out for it. Fly larva can be combed out with a flea comb. They are like small grains of rice bundled together.

Here are some pointers:
  • Regular vet visits and blood work are recommended. This can pick up health problems early. The trouble is that money doesn't grow on trees especially at this particular time. But a check over without blood tests is relatively inexpensive.
  • Be aware of your cat's gradual change by making mental comparisons to the way she has behaved in the past. Knowing our cat's routines helps with diagnosis.
  • Buy senior cat food. I am personally a bit skeptical about the benefits of senior cat food. It is more a marketing ploy but I am sure there is an intended benefit to the cat as well. My personal experience is that it has some benefits. My old lady cat gets gas with non-senior food but not with senior food.
  • Water should be fresh and in a clean bowl.
  • Sometimes certain drugs can help such as glucosamin and chondroitin, which are good for healthy joints; plus non-steroid anti-inflammatories. I would always treat drugs with caution though. Minimize drugs for obvious reasons.
  • Getting older can mean that the cat becomes more nervous and this might mean more aggression from defensiveness that could be misconstrued by us.
  • Old age can bring on cognitive dysfunction syndrome - dementia. This is the same for humans e.g. Alzheimer's. This might lead to symptoms such as disorientation etc. A vet can advise. Dementia in old cats is quite hard to deal with because a cat's routine changes. Also the cat becomes distanced from the owner. The caretaker begins to lose her cat gradually. People should make an extra effort to stay in touch with their cat and play with their cat or hug their cat to offset this.
  • The coat becomes dryer making grooming (always important) even more important. However, cats that were overweight might begin to lose weight when geriatric which allows them to groom better. This has occurred with my cat.
  • Play is also always important for mental and physical activity. Regular sessions are best but I realise that in practice finding time can be factor.
  • Maintain an interesting environment.
  • Watch for dental hygiene and fleas. My cat has good teeth (lucky) but some are predisposed to bad oral health. Periodontal disease is common.
  • Above all love her or him unconditionally and gently. This will keep them relaxed and feeling secure. That, bottom line, is how to look after an old cat.

How to Look After an Old Cat to Home Page

How many cats are there in the world?

500 million estimated at 2011. There are some idiotic answers on the Internet. We don't know how many cats there are in the world. By far the greater proportion of cats are domestic cats. There are relatively few wildcats left in the world. My estimate is that 99.9% of all cats in the world are domestic, feral or stray cat.

Countries like France, Germany and the UK have about 10 million domestic cats each. You would have to add feral cats to that. There would seem to be an equal number of feral cats and domestic cats in the USA (see below) so I wonder whether that rule applies to European countries. I sense that there are less feral cats proportionally in northern European countries because of the climate. In Mediterranean European countries there is no doubt that there are more feral cats in proportion to the total.

The UK has 400 wildcats - the Scottish wildcat.

There are about 80 million domestic cats and 80 million feral cats in the USA (160m total). There is probably about 50 million domestic and feral cats in each of China and India. These three countries combined amount to 260 million. Continents such as Africa and South America probably have 50 million each making 360 million.

These figures give us an idea what the grand total probably is and about 500 millions feels right.

But it is guesswork. We don't count cats! Estimates can be quite incorrect.

Wild Cat Species in Texas

Texas Parks & Wildlife list 4 wild cat species in Texas (2011):
  1. Bobcat (Lynx rufus)
  2. Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yaguarondi) 
  3. Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)
  4. Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) 
You can read about these cats starting on this page. You will be hard pressed to see these cats, particularly the jaguarundi and ocelot.

Note: the IUCN Red List does not include Texas in the range of either the ocelot or jaguarundi. The most northerly part of the range of these species is Mexico.

The other two wildcat species are listed by the Red List as being found in Texas.

Sunday 23 October 2011

Scottish Wildcat Hybrids

Scottish wildcat or a hybrid? Photo by Peter G Trimming
At 2011, the greatest threat to the survival of the Scottish wildcat is its interbreeding (also called crossbreeding) with the domestic cat to create a Scottish wildcat hybrid. The purity of the wild cat is gradually eroded through interbreeding. The African wildcat also interbreeds with domestic cats. This is to be expected as the wildcat is the ancestor of the domestic cat. They are almost the same cat.

It can be difficult to see the difference in appearance between a Scottish wildcat hybrid and the purebred Scottish wildcat.

One fairly clear difference is in the tail. The wildcat has a thick tail with clear dark banding (4 rings) ending in a black tip. The rings nearer the root of the tail are fainter than those at the tip. The dorsal stripe that follows the spine stops at the beginning (root) of the tail.

The hybrid cat has a less thick tail and the dorsal banding follows through continuously from the cat's back to the tail.

There are other more subtle differences on the crown of the head where stripes run backwards to the body. On the wild cat they are "broad and wavy" while on the hybrid they are thinner and straighter. And on the rump of the hybrid the stripes have broken into spots.

Both are in cat fancy terms, mackerel tabby cats. The Scottish wildcat is a very stocky (cobby) looking cat. The domestic cat and hybrid are not as stocky it seems to me. Although people understandably find it difficult to tell the difference. This must impact the monitoring of the wildcat in terms of sightings.

The Kellas cat is a black (melanistic?) version of a Scottish wildcat hybrid.

Why do cats show you their bum?

Charlie sticking his bum in air
Photo: Michael

Why do cats show you their bum? There is one situation under which cats do show you their bum. One of these is when we stroke our cat's back especially the lower back. A cat might raise her bottom and present it. This seems rude to us but is actually natural for our cat. It is a throwback to when the cat was a kitten.

The kitten's mother will lick her kitten's bottom to stimulate defecation, something that is important from a health standpoint. Mothers will also lick her kitten on their back and other parts of the body.

When we stroke our cat's back we are acting as a surrogate mother and our cat's instinctive, reflex response is to raise her bottom for her mother to lick it.

Why do Persians have flat faces?

Flat faced contemporary Persian cats
Photo copyright Helmi Flick

The reason why contemporary Persian cats have flat faces is because the breed standard of the cat association says that they have to have flat faces. The elements of the face should be in alignment in the CFA breed standard ("the forehead, nose, and chin appear to be in vertical alignment").

This came about over about 50 years of cat shows, judging cats, selectively breeding cats and rewriting the breed standard. Breed standards allow for a certain amount of discretion by judges when judging at cat shows. This gradually resulted in a shift to the more extreme appearance of rounded head, very long hair, cobby body, small ears and flat face.

The traditional Persian cat is not extreme in appearance and has a "doll face" appearance.

The underlying reason why the drift from normal face to flat face took place is the desire of cat breeders to create ever more eye catching purebred cats that will win prizes at cat shows. That mentality tends to lead to an extreme appearance over time.

The photo on this page is protected by copyright ©. Violations of copyright are reported to Google.com (DMCA).

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