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.

Why are domestic cats so small?

Because they are descended from the North African wildcat, a cat of similar proportions and appearance even after about 10,000 years of domestication. I suppose you might ask why was the North African (African-Asian) wildcat domesticated?

Comparison domestic and wildcat ancestor.

It is because the place where they were first domesticated - the Fertile Crescent (in the area of Syria) was suited to farming and it so happened that this wildcat was present in that landscape. The cat and farmer met to mutual benefit and the rest is history as they say. 

The North African wildcat has a relatively nice temperament suited to domestication. They kept the rodents down and the farmer had a working cat and some company and fun. This happened around 9,500-12,000 years ago it is believed.

There are other small wild cats who are also suited to domestication to various extents e.g. the margay, but it just happened that the North African wildcat got their first perhaps because 10,000 years ago the Middle East was a developing and active area for farming. 

Farmers would have encroached onto the wildcat's territory forcing them together. There may have been conflict between human and cat but some farmers liked their presence for their rodent killing habits.

There must have been the very first domestic cat. At that time there was a single domestic cat in the world. Now there are around half a billion domestic and feral cats.

It is worth arguing that the question is incorrectly formulated as what is 'small'? There are smaller animals than the domestic cat and there are larger ones. They are small compared to us. It might be argued that the domestic cat is somewhere in the middle range of animal size. 

Therefore it could also be argued that they are not small. I think perhaps the reason why the question has been formulated is because the questioner is comparing the cat to the size of humans. Therefore relative to humans the domestic cat is small. That is not a good reason to ask, "Why our domestic cat so small?"

Thursday 5 December 2019

Luka Magnotta the babyfaced kitten killer and then a man killer

A page which I wrote some time ago has suddenly gone viral (at 4th and 5th Dec. 2019) and I think it is because Netflix have made a documentary about him and it is going to be aired on television on 18 December 2019.

Please click this link to go to the page I wrote about Magnotta a while ago. It has been regularly updated as more information has been revealed.


Photo: Rex Features.

The man that I am referring to is the Canadian Luka Magnotta. He is a classic psychopath and he is truly infamous. First he killed two kittens and made sure that he was videoed doing it and he uploaded the video to the Internet. It was subsequently deleted but screenshots were made of it.

Then he met up with another gay person who he murdered and dismembered. He sent body parts to politicians and teachers. You can read about it on the page that I have referred to above. It's a classic case to of a psychopath moving from animal cruelty and torture to doing the same thing to people. You could write a textbook about this boy as he was when he kill the kittens but is now a man and a very dangerous one.

As I said, he so infamous that Netflix decided to make a full-blown documentary about him. He has that baby face: a veneer to a truly evil mind.

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