Thursday 10 September 2020

Veterinarians have decided to spay or neuter rather than consider the more delicate tubal ligation (females) or vasectomy (males)

When it comes to preventing the reproduction of unwanted cats, it is universally accepted that the two operations to choose are the spaying (ovariohysterectomyand neutering (orchidectomy) operations. For the female cat the spaying operation is pretty invasive. It is the removal of her entire reproductive system and it looks quite brutal to be honest. An alternative would be to prevent the eggs from the ovaries going down the fallopian tubes with an operation called a tubal ligation; far less invasive but hardly ever considered.

Female cat in Syria about to undergo the spaying operation. Picture in the public domain.

For male cats, the standard operation is to remove the testes which can be done very quickly with little problems. However some cat owners don't like the thought of this! An alternative would be to allow a domestic cat to keep their balls and to prevent the sperm going down the tube and joining with semen to fertilise the female's egg (vasectomy).

Some male cats might be well-behaved and don't need their behaviour altered by the removal of their testes. Some female cats might be healthy and don't need the added benefits of a full spraying operation which brings health benefits such as the removal of certain cancers and pyometra - an infection of the uterus. It also stops the female cat going into heat. This is a behavioural benefit to many.

The issue that I'd like to discuss is whether in some instances a cat owner wants his or her cat to retain their normal and natural behaviours and simply wants to prevent them reproducing and creating babies. This option is not on the table. Veterinarians don't want to do the lesser operations. One reason possibly is because they are not trained to do tubal ligations and vasectomies according to one report that I read. Secondly, a tubal ligation is a more delicate operation which may put some veterinarians off doing it.

The bottom line is that veterinarians, probably most veterinarians, believe that the added benefits in terms of behaviour and health from the spraying operation pretty well precludes any alternatives and therefore they have shut them out as an option. With respect to the male cats, once again they probably consider the behavioural benefits of removing the cat's balls as being overwhelming and therefore there is no point offering an alternative which is the vasectomy. To do something else would be unethical is what some vets believe. I am not sure they are correct.

And what about the complications and chance of the operation going wrong? These are factors in deciding which option to take. Perhaps a tubal ligation carries less complications. In which case it may be a better operation for certain patients.

I think veterinarians should provide options and allow the customer to help decide. After all the cat belongs to the customer. The customer should be thinking overwhelmingly about their cat's welfare. If they are prepared to deal with the natural behaviours of a male cat who has retained his testes then they have the right to make a decision which achieves that objective. Veterinarians are shortchanging the public it seems to me. The alternatives to spaying and neutering achieve the basic goal: no unwanted cats. The finer issues should be down to choice but at the present that choice is not on the table.

If ancient Egyptian mummies were prepared for the immortal afterlife why are we digging them up?

It is uncivilised, disrespectful and unethical for archaeologists to dig up the mummified remains of people and their pets from ancient Egyptian sandy graves. They excitedly and eagerly want to discover another ancient coffin to inspect while apparently brushing aside the ethical issues. And this applies to domestic cats and dogs as well. Indeed any other animal, and many species of animal were buried with their owners.

2,500 year old coffins exhumed in Egypt recently. Credits: Xinhua/REX

As I understand it, they were buried in mummified form with their owners to accompany their owners to the afterlife. The afterlife was for eternity. They became immortal and this applies both to their owners and their pets.

What interests me, and indeed what upsets me to a certain extent, is that the intention of the people who buried these bodies was to allow them to travel to the afterlife and live there for eternity. If they are dug up and desecrated like this does it not stop their journey into eternity? Does it stop them being immortal in the eyes of the people who buried them?

Cat mumies - Photo: Getty Images.

I know this is about beliefs rather than facts because we cannot talk about the afterlife and immortality in a factual sense but beliefs are important. We have to respect the beliefs of the people who buried the pets and their owners. In many countries in the world people cannot exhume the remains of the deceased without obtaining permission from the local authorities beforehand.

Why should it be any different with respect to 2,500-year-old remains? Perhaps the archaeologists obtained a licence from the Egyptian authorities but those licences would have been granted come what may. There will be no, in my view, discussion about the ethics of digging up human and pet remains and whether it was uncivilised or not. The commercial aspects and the archaeological interest rides roughshod over the intentions, views and attitudes of the ancient Egyptians who buried them.

Associated: What was the penalty for killing a cat in Ancient Egypt?

The end of a cat's nose should be dry under normal conditions

The end of a cat's nose should be dry under normal conditions and good health in my considered viewpoint subject to condensation (see below). Over the years, there has been quite a lot of discussion about the end of a domestic cat's nose and whether it should be dry or wet or damp or whatever else it should be. I think people are getting confused about it.


It depends upon the external conditions. If you take an indoor cat who is healthy and on the assumption that the ambient temperature in the home is comfortable for human and cat then the end of that cat's nose should be dry. If that cat then goes outside into cold winter weather the end of her nose may become damp because of condensation from her damp breath forming on the end of her nose.


Temporarily her nose will be damp but this is due to physics. It has nothing to do with her health. If she is unhealthy with a cold then she may have a runny nose so the end of her nose will be damp. If she is a little confused or stressed she may engage in what is called "displacement activity". This may entail her licking the end of her nose repeatedly. This would make her nose damp.

Dr Yuki Hattori, a well-known Japanese veterinarian, in his book What Cats Want states incorrectly in my view that the end of a cat's nose should be damp. I genuinely believe that he is confused about this. He argues that it is damp so the cat can smell scent molecules more effectively. That I just cannot believe. Yes, certainly if scent molecules are damp they can be smelled more effectively but this is not a reason why the end of a cat's nose should be damp.

My cat's nose is dry. I've just touched it. He's inside with me in dry, warm conditions. His nose reflects those ambient conditions. I would challenge anybody who reads this (and they will be very few people who do!) to carry out their own test and touch the end of their cat's nose. You can then tell me in a comment whether it is dry or wet or something in between such is damp.

To reiterate, the dampness or dryness of the end of your cat's nose depends upon a range of circumstances and conditions one of which is the ambient air temperature. You cannot discuss the end of your cat's nose in isolation of ambient air temperature and a cat's health. But the default situation should be a dry nose leather in my view. The phrase "nose leather" is a cat fancy term meaning the end of the cat's nose which looks a bit like leather. As the flat bit out ofwhich two nostrils protrude.

Wednesday 12 August 2020

9 countries where they eat cat and dog meat (2020)

China - dog meat. For me it is horrific. What about you?

Although China is known to be the country where cat and dog meat is eaten in large quantities, in the south of the country particularly, there are eight others and one of them, surprisingly, is the United States of America. I'm not sure where it happens or whether certain states have banned it or indeed whether there are plans nationwide to ban it. I thought I had read somewhere that the federal government had stopped the eating of cat and dog meat but I appear to be wrong. The American government has, however, put pressure on China to end the cat meat trade.

Apparently, people in Hawaii like to eat stray cats and dogs and have done so for years. A proposed bill to ban it was shelved because apparently there was no enough evidence that it actually took place.

Vietnam is another country where they eat a lot of cat and dog meat. The dogs are snatched from the streets of Ho Chi Minh City and sold to restaurants and street vendors. There is a lucrative black market trade. Dog meat can sell for about $10 per kilogram. It is used in dog stew and in a soup of blood apparently. You can get barbecue dog lemongrass and ginger and steamed dog with shrimp-paste sauce. To me, it sounds disgusting. It is not part of the contract between dogs or cats and humans to allow humans to slaughter them brutally and then eat them. That term was not written into the contract. There is a booming appetite in Vietnam for cat and dog meat. It is deeply ingrained into their psyche and their culture.

Another country where this practice takes place is a European country namely Switzerland. Farmers in the hills of Switzerland like to eat cat and dog meat occasionally. They tend to prefer Rottweiler because it tastes like beef. Eating cat and dog mean apparently is quite popular in the Rhine Valley and dog lard is occasionally used for medicinal purposes in this attractive country. For me, the practice of eating cat and dog meat is unattractive. How is it compatible with European culture? Switzerland is not in the EU and therefore companion animals are unprotected by EU law.

In French Polynesia they have eaten cat and dog meat for hundreds of years. When European settlers arrived in 1769 it appears that they wanted to engender the idea that cats and dogs were pets but the practice persists. Reportedly, Captain Cook and his crew ate dog meat when they arrived on the islands.

Korea consumes about 2.5 million dogs as a health food. I am talking about South Korea. We don't know what happens in North Korea but I would suspect that they have the same attitude towards eating companion animals. Eating dog meat is particularly popular in the summer. Some people believe that eating dog on the warmest days of the year helps to beat the heat. It is a $2 billion-a-year industry in the country.

I have just realised that there is a tenth country where they eat cat meat and that country is India. It is not at all widespread but it does happen in some villages. I have written about this so please click on this link to read the article.

I must finish on a slightly uplifting note. There is a gradual shift away from cat and dog meat in the Far East. There are animal advocates in China for example who rescue dogs and cats from the back of trucks while they are being transported to cat and dog meat markets. It is pleasant to understand that there are animal advocates on the ground in China during this. 

The Internet plays a big role here. Although chunks of the Internet are banned from the Chinese, the attitudes about the relationship between humans and cats and dogs in the West is infiltrating into Chinese society, I believe. So gradually they are becoming more aware that cats and dogs are just pets and not to be eaten. Of course, there are many millions of Chinese who live contentedly with well loved companion cats and dogs which I must say is contradictory bearing in mind the thousands killed brutally to be eaten.

I am told that dog meat is eaten in hard times in Canada, Greenland and Siberia (Russia). I have balled these together.

Friday 7 August 2020

Amazon fake verified review scam

I guess people realise that you can't rely on Amazon reviews. You just can't be sure that they are genuine. A recent development confirms this assessment.

The people who sell on Amazon through associate agreements want to improve the ratings of their items by Amazon. The ratings are based upon reviews i.e. how many five star reviews the item receives. The fact that the reviewer is verified is important. Verified reviewers are those that have actually bought the product.

In order to achieve five-star reviews from verified reviewers, these businesses are setting up fake purchases using stolen data. They steal the data of American citizens and on their behalf they purchase the items that they are manufacturing and selling.

In doing this, they set up an account on behalf of that person i.e. the recipient. The recipient is completely unaware of what is going on and they receive unwanted goods like seeds, whistles, sunglasses and socks. A five star review is written on behalf of the unwitting recipient.

It is reported in The Times newspaper that businesses are advertising on Facebook for people to write fake reviews at a price. It is the trade in fake Amazon reviews which Facebook promised a crackdown on but apparently are not. The magazine/online website Which? found that Facebook are failing to stop it. It's called a "fake review factory". Facebook told the Competition and Markets Authority in January that it would install systems to detect and remove this sort of content.

Apparently you can find this trade on Facebook by searching for "Amazon review". There are several Facebook groups dealing in these reviews and across them there are at least 82,000 posts a month. Often these posts are from agents offering refunds and commission free products in exchange for the reviews. It is not only on Amazon that these fake reviews are written. Fake and misleading reviews are illegal under UK consumer protection law.

Which? said that over the preceding year there had been no change in the amount of trading on Facebook with respect to fake reviews. The average number of posts in individual groups are up to 5600 over a 30 day period.

The worrying aspect of this is, of course, it is a scam and online scams of varying types are a rapidly developing phenomenon on in the West and probably elsewhere. The other worrying aspect is that the scammers have acquired the personal data of Americans. We know that there have been many computer hacks leading to the acquisition of personal contact details and it is quite likely that these details are being used in this way in this instance.

The receipt of seeds by unwitting recipients in America has baffled them. People all over the US started to receive small parcels of seeds from China. At one time people thought that this was part of a Cold War. Perhaps they were sending invasive species into America to destroy America's nature; to propagate plant diseases but no, it appears that it is simply an Amazon scam.

FYI - another Amazon scam is to inadvertently get people to pay an Amazon prime subscription at an inflated price. These people receive scammy phone calls often generated by computer systems to trick them into paying an Amazon prime subscription but not at the usual rate but one which is a hundred times larger (799 rather than 7.99). Be aware of telephone scams by people referring to Amazon prime subscriptions. Never get involved with those. Put the phone down immediately. You might like to contact Amazon if you can to report it. I am sure that they are aware of it but the more reports they get the better.

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