Saturday 4 July 2020

Coronavirus pandemic might encourage cat owners to spend more time with their cats

This morning I was listening to the radio. A woman who had three children said that she had grown closer to her children during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Before the lockdown she admitted that everything was done in a rush. She would get the kids to school after having rushed breakfast. In the evening there was more rush. She did not recognise that she was failing to give herself quality time with her children. She was trying to fit parenting her children around her work and was as far as I can tell run off her feet.

We can thank the coronavirus pandemic for more of this. Photo: public domain.

Working at home during the pandemic and having more time with herchildren flicked a switch in her brain. She realised that she needed to spend more quality time with her kids and work out a better work-family balance. She did not want the years to go by without enjoying spending time with her children.

This got me thinking. The exact same conclusion might be drawn with respect to cat companions. During lockdown, in the UK, many millions of employees are being furloughed and therefore receiving 80% of their pay. They have had a lot more time with their cats.

I've not heard any reports about this online but it must have happened. If it didn't then cat owners have failed to take advantage of a great opportunity to give their cat the interactions with them that their cats deserve. I'm convinced that in many households domestic cats are left alone too much. People can't be blamed because they have to go to work. They rush out of the house and when they come home they are perhaps too tired to want to play with their cat.

I hope that the lockdown has open the minds of cat owners - who in the past failed to be great cat owners because of work pressures - to the possibility that they can do better and try and find a better work-family balance. It is reported that many firms will be allowing their employees to work from home where suitable.

Certainly Facebook has accepted that about half of their workforce will, in the future, end up working from home. In addition, Twitter, as I understand it, is allowing almost all their workforce to stay at home to work. This will be a permanent arrangement. These are good examples of how employees of companies involved in digital media can take the advantages that the pandemic has offered to alter their lifestyles to the advantage of their domestic cat companions.

Tuesday 30 June 2020

Women Less Likely to Date Men Holding Cats!

You must have heard of it. A study (by Colorado State University) in which numerous women participated and which came to the conclusion that when women use dating apps or online websites to find a male partner they are less likely to select a man who presents himself to the world in a photograph holding a cat. Yuk, it's too wimpish for women. They found them less masculine, more neurotic, agreeable, and open; and less dateable. Damn it I have a picture like that :) . I am not gay...which leads to the point of the article... (The photo was Helmi Flick's idea entirely!).

This is me about 12 years ago. Women are going to hate me :) Photo: Helmi Flick. The cat is a Maine Coon show cat. The pic was taken at an American cat show.

I also think you probably know the reason why and I'm not referring to the study when I write this. It is coming out of my head because it is rather obvious. Women think that men who like cats might be gay. They sometimes associate gay men with domestic cats. The two go together like apple pie and custard or bangers and mash to some people - misguided people, no? I think they are very wrong because there are lots of men, macho men, alpha male men who also like cats.

However, stereotypically, I have to concede as does everybody else that in general the male of the human species prefers dogs. This is for the simple reason that dogs are pack animals and they look up to the male human as the leader of the pack. Men like this. Especially needy men like this because they want to be admired by anybody and anything including their companion dog.

The trouble with cats is that they are too independent for many men. They don't come to heel or on command. Although they do sometimes if you have a particularly good relationship with them and have gently trained them. But they are more independent and they let their human companion know that. A lot of people like this, particularly independent-minded women.

I think it all comes down to massaging the male ego as I've mentioned. Women don't need this but many men sometimes do. And women looking for men to date tend to participate in the process in a stereotypical way. They still are looking for a man who is physically strong, intellectually strong as well, who can protect them in a very hostile world, make a lot of money and set her up in a beautiful home where she can spend his hard earned cash. That sounds misogynistic and it probably is but it is not meant to be. I'm just presenting a stereotypical image which I have to because the whole study simply reinforces stereotypes.

I don't like it. It just says that nothing has moved on. There is no enlightenment in the modern era. We might as well be back in caves 50,000-100,000 years ago because the human mentality remains the same at a fundamental level in respect of the female's relationship with the male of the species and vice versa.

Sunday 5 January 2020

Why not genetically engineer feral cats to stop them reproducing?

This may be an idea that has been put forward before but which has just occurred to me. It is possible, nowadays, to genetically engineer animals so that when they reproduce the female cat is rendered sterile. This genetic modification is passed on from the male to female.

Feral cat colony. Picture in public domain.

Therefore, if you introduce into a population of feral cats some male cats who can pass on this modified gene then eventually that colony would disappear and in a very humane way.

The technology is called "gene drives". As an alternative to passing on a gene which renders female cats sterile, you could ensure that offspring are nearly always males which would create an imbalance between males and females in a large colony. This also would have the result of reducing the colony's size to the point where it became zero ultimately.

I am convinced that it must have been discussed. It is new technology but I don't recall it being discussed in relation to feral cats. In The Times newspaper date 'gene drive' is discussed in relation to grey squirrels in the UK which have had a decimating impact upon red squirrels as many people know.

A lot of people consider that the domestic and feral cat is an invasive species (like the grey squirrel in the UK) and gene drives are one way of dealing with invasive species. I don't approve of it particularly and neither does the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They dislike it because genetic engineering is unapproved for people and therefore why should it be approved for animals.

Another issue is that it may be difficult to confine this kind of genetic engineering to the target animals concerned. If it spread beyond the targeted species it may have a detrimental impact upon ecosystems.

However, I believe that this risk is being tackled. Like many other people, I am concerned about the plight of feral cats in many parts of the world. They are often abused or live rather short and miserable lives. However, sometimes their lives are quite decent because there are many volunteers running TNR programs in America, for example, which I think is wonderful.

TNR programs, I would argue, are similar to genetic engineering. In the former surgery is employed to make cats sterile and in the latter that objective is achieved through genetic engineering. Both are humane methods or considered so, certainly in relation to alternatives such as mass killing which is employed in Australia.

I would certainly recommend that the Australian government looks at this method of controlling feral cat populations. They have struggled for many years with methods to reduced the number of feral cats on their continent. As it happens, those efforts which are very cruel now seem rather futile and stupid in comparison to the estimated half a billion animals of native species which have been killed in the infamous wildfires which are largely out of controlled in the east of the country.

These fires have arguably been inflamed by global warming and Australia contributes to global warming by being one of the world's major coal mining countries. They export coal to China where it is burnt in coal power stations which contributes to global warming.

Arguably, Australia is in a complete mess with respect to the preservation and conservation of their native species. This is because of the ambivalent approach by their government and because they pursue economic growth at all costs as do most other countries which is very hard to stop in a competitive world. However, global warming is having a devastating impact upon wildlife conservation.

Two new Illinois animal laws for 2020

There are 2 new animal laws for Illinois for 2020. One was introduced by state senator Jill Tracy. Cats four months and older must get a rabies shot. This does not include feral cats. Also, dog and cat kennels must now be equipped with a fire sprinkler or alarm system if the facility is not staffed 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

This is a very brief notice primarily directed at Illinois' boarding catteries.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Children should be encouraged to explore the natural world in the interests of wildlife conservation

I agree with two children's authors, Sir Michael Morpurgo and Julia Donaldson, when they say that children should be encouraged to explore the natural world on their own and take risks. They should not be crowded out by regulations but exposed to the countryside.

"People tell them to love the planet, but if you don't actually know what the planet is, and love things about it, why would you? You need to get dirty." - Julia Donaldson.

They should get dirty. They should scratch their knees and talk to trees. They need to smell the earth and cut grass. They need to feel the wind in their face. Silently falling rain should please them.

They should listen to the landscape, look up at the sky and admire the clouds. See them scuffling against a blue-grey backdrop and learn how to read the weather.

They should love to watch squirrels and birds feeding. The sound of the fox at night should not disturb them but make them smile. All these things will give them an understanding of nature. Through that understanding they will be more sensitive to the needs of wildlife.

And through their sensitive they will wish to protect wildlife rather than abuse it, use it and trash it as it is so commonplace nowadays.

And when they understand wild species better they will also understand and respect their domestic cat companions. In the domestic cat they have a miniature wild animal in their home. The traits of a wild cat are in the domestic version.

It is a great pleasure to have such a special relationship with our domestic cats. Two completely different species getting on beautifully. One is almost wild and the other is us, full of baggage and contradictions. They are innocently pure. Such a joy to experience it.

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