Saturday 31 October 2020

Cat heads follow the action through 'cat television'

This is a particularly good example of cats following action with their heads. You will see a lot of videos on the Internet like this but they won't be as good as this one. I really like this example especially the middle cat. Watch his or her head. He's really intrigued about what is going on. They seem to be full-time indoor cats and they are watching cat television as the experts call it. This means looking out through a window at the activities taking place outside. Cat TV is a great way for a full-time indoor cat to be entertained and stimulated. Make the area by the window comfortable so a cat can spend long hours there if they want to. And notice how the sun passes through windows to find the best spots to place cat beds to give them as much time as possible in the warmth of the sun.

Friday 30 October 2020

My cat catches a rat but doesn't want to eat it

In the video I ask whether my cat has caught a large mouse or a rat. I am now convinced that it was a rat because not soon afterwards my neighbour started to poison rats because they were chewing at the roots of her roses. In doing so she threatened the lives of a number of cats who walk along a right of way behind her house including mine. She also threatened the lives of two foxes and two badgers. Why were they threatened? Because it takes about three days for a rat poisoned by the poison used to die and in that time they can be caught and eaten and thereby poison the predator which eats it.

So my cat caught a rat and he didn't want to eat it. This happened later on as well. In contrast, he eats mice very quickly once he has caught them. So is there something about a rat which is unappetising to cats in general or my cat in particular? There may well be. It may be something to do with the way the carcass smells. Perhaps this rat was poisoned and my cat could smell the poison. Who knows? 

The important point, though, to make is that domestic cats and stray cats can be a deterrent to the presence of rats. A lot of people say that domestic and stray cats don't have the stomach to fight and compete with a big rat. There is some truth in this but it depends upon the individual cat by the way. 

This said, rats tend to stay away when a domestic cat is occupying a particular place or space. A brewery in New York City keeps a couple of feral cats which had been socialised. The cats have transformed their business because their grain is no longer being gnawed at by rats. Once a bag of grain has been attacked by a rat they have to throw that bag away which is expensive. Apparently each bag of grain produces about 120 pints of beer. That's real money. In addition the presence of a cat in a workplace such as a brewery makes the place more pleasant to work in. There you go. Sometimes domestic cats are not very good with rats but they deter them and in my case my cat caught one but wouldn't eat it.

Thursday 15 October 2020

More than one tonne of plastic produced per person since 1950

The amount of plastic sloshing around the planet is equivalent to one tonne of plastic being produced by every person alive on the planet since 1950 (8.3 billion tonnes produced over the past 70 years). And clearly not enough is being done to rectify the problem. It's getting worse and worse annually. The problem is exponential. Dame Ellen MacArthur's foundation has called for an international treaty. Such a treaty would obtain the agreement of signatories to commit to doing something substantive about plastic production. Others say that it is too late to mess around with treaties. It can take years to get countries to agree to treaties and when they are signed they don't stick to the agreement. This happens all the time.

Of the 8.3 billion tons of plastic produced in the past 70 years, three quarters has become waste and a third of that has been mismanaged which includes being dumped or dropped as litter. There is 150 million tonnes of it in the oceans already and every year another 11 million tonnes ends up in the oceans. You'll find plastic in all parts of all the oceans.

Plastic pollution of the oceans
Plastic pollution of the oceans. Picture in the public domain.

Urgent action is needed. It is believed that the amount of plastic in the oceans will treble over the next 20 years. The foundation's report refers to the 1987 Montréal protocol which has helped to protect the ozone layer. There is, therefore, some history in the success of treaties such as this. Germany, the Philippines and Vietnam are three countries who have called for a treaty but other countries such as Britain, the US, Japan, Australia and Canada don't support it, including the WWF.

A treaty (to be clear this is an international agreement) would place limitations on certain single-use plastic products such as straws and set targets on recycling and how to stop the products getting into the oceans.

The problem, as reported, is that although 115 countries have set up regulations regarding single-use plastic and how to limit its damage on the environment it's having little impact. Most of the restrictions concern plastic bag usage and disposal. It's a small part of the overall problem. Beach clean ups report that only 7% of items found are plastic bags.

Some major companies support the initiative such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Mars, Tesco, Unilever and Nestlé. It is not enough. There needs to be a high level of commitment by governments. A campaign group, Changing Markets Foundation, said that calls for a global treaty were "just another delaying tactic by the plastic industry". They argue that the world needs "proven legislative solutions, like deposit systems and reuse targets".

Comment: I shop at Sainsbury's in the UK. I see little, very little commitment by this large company to limiting plastic usage. They still sell bottled water when it could be dispensed in a machine and the customer brings a non-plastic container to the shop and buys it by the litre. That's just my idea but the point I'm making is that I see almost no change in the attitude of Sainsbury's with respect to limiting plastic usage over the many years that this has been discussed. 

Other supermarkets have a similar attitude in my view. The big problem with humankind is that unless individuals are personally impacted by pollution of this kind and only if it affects their health and welfare do they lobby for change. If people can't see it they don't react to it even if it is killing them or harming them in some way or other.

Plastics are certainly killing wildlife but then again people don't see wildlife so in general people don't care about it. It's like trying to turn a juggernaut around. It just doesn't happen or it takes tens of years and which point it is too late.

What has this got to do with cats? A hell of a lot because micro-plastic particles find their way into all areas of our lives. They are in the food chain. They are in marine wildlife which humans and cats eat. Cat food I'm sure contains micro-plastic particles. It affects the health of us all both the human-animal, the domestic animal and the wild species particularly marine wildlife. It is all pervasive and you cannot dissociate the domestic cat from the problem.

Scotland's first Minister, Nicola Sturgeon says that the coronavirus is no one's fault

How can it be that the coronavirus pandemic is no one's fault? This is what Nicola Sturgeon believes or it is what she stated before the cameras at one of her coronavirus updates to the nation. There is no rhyme nor reason why she should say this. Does she believe that the coronavirus pandemic is no one's fault? Surely it must be someone's fault? It would not have happened if the relationship between people and wild animals had been better regulated in China. This catastrophic disease would not have jumped from animals to people.

Go to 13:23 on the video:

The experts state that the cause of it is abuses of nature and that abuse or mishandling to put it more kindly of nature took place in the more than 20,000 wet markets of China. These are places where wild animals are slaughtered in unhygienic places and under circumstances where the killing of animals was and probably is not properly regulated.

All the evidence points to fault being placed at the feet of the authorities who regulate how the wet food markets operate, in this case in the city of Wuhan. Clearly more evidence is needed and we may never get it because the Chinese will hide the evidence but what we have points to Covid-19, as it is now called, because transmitting from a wild animal possibly a pangolin in one of these wet markets to the human who was killing it. This released the virus to the person and other people in the wet market where it was then transmitted to other people rapidly. The disease is a zoonotic disease which is one which can be transmitted from animal to person and person to animal.

I put the blame at the feet of the Chinese government. I don't want to sound xenophobic or racist but that is where it happened and I think the world would agree with me. I will allege, and this is strictly an allegation, that Nicola Sturgeon was asked to make this very strange statement in her speech to the nation by the Chinese ambassador because he promised her investments and a possible deal if and when Scotland becomes independent or even before that. Scotland's economy is in a bad way. It was in a bad way before the pandemic and it will be worse afterward. They need help. They spend more money than they make which is what Nicola Sturgeon describes as progressive government. I'm afraid that she cannot face reality. I read somewhere that more than half the nation in Scotland do not contribute to the wealth of the nation. In other words they are takers rather than givers to the nation in terms of tax contributions. Scotland is running a big deficit year-on-year, the worst in the EU. Although they blame the UK as a whole. They are given billions under the Barnett formula which was meant to be temporary.

What has this got to do with cats? Well a lot. Cats get coronavirus. Wildcats get coronavirus. The trillions of dollars poured into trying to protect people because of the coronavirus would have been better used in conservation of the wild cat species and it would have been better used in combating climate change and many other issues regarding the natural world. Now that money will never be available. It is devastating for conservation never mind the effect that it is having on human lives.

Wednesday 14 October 2020

Sainsbury's expansion versus hedgehog conservation

Sainsbury's, in Guildford, Surrey, UK, want to expand their facilities because they need to expand their online presence having discovered that Britain is moving towards an online purchasing world. Online purchasing has been spurred on by the coronavirus pandemic as we probably all realise by now. 

Sainsbury's Guildford surrounded by hedgehogs where there are hedgehogs. Map: Google Maps.

In order to accommodate a vastly increased online delivery service, Sainsbury's have placed an application with the local authority to demolish 67 trees in a designated green space next to its superstore. The place where these trees live is important for hedgehog conservation. And as the UK hedgehog population has fallen from 1.5 million in 1995 to 500,000 in 2018 there is added pressure on conservationist to protect this much love species of wild animal.

One of those people is Brian May, the Queen guitarist. He has accused Sainsbury's of chasing profits at the expense of wildlife conservation. Their plan includes tripling their capacity for online orders and groceries. Brian May said that the site was home to threatened hedgehogs, bats, bird species and insects. He argues that Sainsbury's have made enough profits during the pandemic and to approve such a planning application would have a devastating impact upon wildlife in the area. The supermarket chain is prosperous, surely they can find an alternative place to expand in to? That is part of Brian May's submission. Also, when Sainsbury's built the superstore at Guildford their planning application contained a mitigating argument that they would leave the woodland secure. Presumably they knocked down some of the woodland in order to build the superstore. This historical aspect of the application must go against them in their fresh application.

Andy Clapham, chairman of the local Burpham Community Association said that the area was one of the few locally where hedgehogs are often seen. And the land helps to shield houses from the superstore and its car park. Sainsbury's promised to replace the 67 trees with 300 plants and install stacked timber for wildlife to hibernate and supply bird-nesting and roosting boxes. They have commissioned a comprehensive ecological appraisal and taken steps to mitigate the wildlife damage that would be incurred if their application were approved. They argue that the application benefits the local community.

Comment: I have to comment. If you take this planning application in context of a world issue with respect to deforestation and the destruction of wildlife habitat by businesses across the planet, you have to be against Sainsbury's' application. As Brian May asks, why can't they find somewhere else? Okay, it will be less convenient but businesses will have to start accepting inconvenience in the interests of wildlife conservation and creating a better world for people to live in. There's going to be mass inconvenience by businesses going forward for the next hundred years if we are to curb global warming and take genuine steps and show genuine commitment towards the conservation of wild species. It is time that businesses took a far more ethical and sustainable approach when focusing on profits. Profits should not be at the expense of the natural world. Businesses should work with the natural world because there is money to be made from that attitude.

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