Thursday 2 December 2021

Clever tin foil hack helps keep cats away from Christmas trees

Yeah, this is a classic example and a useful one of how to use tin foil to deter the family cat without scaring him/her. You want some sort of control at Christmas and this provides it. Cats hate tin foil. I have seen is used successfully on kitchen counters. Cats immediately jump off when they land on foil. 

Clever tin foil hack helps keep cats away from Christmas trees
Clever tin foil hack helps keep cats away from Christmas trees. Screenshot.

The problem with tin foil on kitchen counters is (1) you can't use that part of the counter and (2) it's inhumane because it frightens cats.

But putting tin foil around a Christmas tree deters the cat in a friendly way. They hate the stuff but as you can see in the video they place one paw on I and back off.

This cat's response might not be entirely typical but I would expect it to be pretty commonplace. A cat might run onto it which may scare them. 

Reason why tin foil deters cats

Why is tin foil such a hostile product/object to the domestic cat? The answer is that it makes a strange crinkling noise when walked on. That is the source of its effectiveness.  All animals including the human-animal become agitated and anxious when they hear sounds of a certain high frequency and which are repeated. Alarms make these sounds to get our attention. It is a natural response. Tin foil makes this sort of sound when walked on or compressed by hand or fiddled with.

Also, I feel sure that their is a connection with the sound of snakes that rattle their tails. I believe the noise is similar to the sound by a range of species of snake which shake their tails as a warning to keep a distance, including: rat snakes, gopher snakes, corn snakes, kingsnakes, pit vipers, copperheads, cottonmouths, bushmasters, terciopelo snakes, and cantil snakes.

Snakes of the Viperidae family (vipers) rattle their tails and they are sympatric with the North African wildcat i.e. they live in the same area. My guess is that the domestic's inherited memory interprets the sound of tin foil as a viper. Far fetched? 

The video shows us the rattlesnake sound. This species of snake is not distributed in the same area as the wildcat but the video's purpose is to compare the sound with the sound of tin foil. The rattlesnake is a viper.

The domestic cat ancestor, the North African wildcat meets some of these snake species and will avoid them. I believe that the domestic cat has inherited this fear of tail rattling snakes and avoids the sound of rattling tin foil when walked or jumped on.

Most animals consider snakes dangerous. That's why cats hiss like snakes when defending themselves. And it is why they curl up to look like snakes when sleeping (for tabby cats only but all domestic cats were tabbies at one time).

Can you tell the difference between twin cats?

The owner of these charming ginger tabby twin cats says: "People always ask how I can tell my cats apart; and I can never answer how. I just know. Reddit do you spot any differences I can point out to people?"

Well, you can see the faint difference in the 'M' tabby mark on the forehead. It is not a huge difference obviously but there is one. And the cat on the right looks slightly more feminine to me. The owner does not say if they are males or females. 

That is interesting, as it is part of the problem of identifying domestic cats. Can you tell the gender of these twins? They look male to me but I am not sure. Can you always tell a female from a male? I can't. There are often clues, the biggest of which is the size of the cat. And I believe a cat's face can look more masculine or feminine.

Twin ginger tabbies. Photo: u/Lazy-Squish on Reddit.

Between these two, there will be some differences in behaviour I expect. This should help the owner to distinguish between them. I'd expect it to be rare for a good cat owner to fail to be able to distinguish twin cats from each other but it probably happens from time to time. It'll be a spur of the moment mistake, I'd expect.

Domestic cats are not selectively bred to live indoors 24 hours a day

Some people might find the title provocative. There is a movement towards confining cats to inside the home 24 hours a day. I'm told that in the US about 40% of cats are now full-time indoor cats. I'm a fan of full-time indoor cats because it's peace of mind for the cat owner, safety for the cat and wildlife is not attacked. It's a triple winning method of cat caregiving.

Domestic cats are not selectively bred to live indoors 24 hours a day
Domestic cats are not selectively bred to live indoors 24 hours a day. Bored 24/7 indoor cat snoozes his life away. Photo:Pixabay (modified by MikeB).

The only problem is how domestic cats adapt to full-time indoor living. Domestic cats are adaptable, we know that. Therefore most do accept confinement 24/7. The question is: what are they feeling? What's going through their mind? As mentioned, they are not selectively bred to live like that.

They are made to roam over up to 100 acres or more. In Australia feral cats can have home ranges of 500 acres and more. Indoor domestic cats have to adapt to living in 1/4 of an acre.

The weakness I see in this method of cat caregiving is that cat owners don't really realise the responsibilities that they have to counteract the mental problems that can emanate from confinement. You won't notice those mental problems, probably. They may be manifested in signs of boredom and the cat crazies as they are euphemistically called.

RELATED: Cat breeders should selectively breed for cat confinement.

There may be signs of stress sometimes with inappropriate elimination. There may be cystitis causing inappropriate elimination. All may seem well. But cats are very good at hiding their mental state.

I think I can say with complete certainty that 99% of the inside of homes of full-time indoor cats have not been modified in any way to make it more suited for a domestic cat. In short, there's been very little environmental enrichment. 

RELATED: Extreme breeding of cats creates misleading facial expressions.

But cat confinement demands environmental enrichment. Can owners really have to dispense with the usual notions of what the inside of their home should look like. It should look like a cat jungle of some sort. It should be an amalgam of what a human wants and what a cat wants and needs. But they aren't. They never are. They are human homes designed for humans to live in and the cat has to adapt to it whether they like it or not.

In the UK, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is based upon a cat owner's duty of care. Anyone responsible for an animal must take reasonable steps to make sure their animal's welfare needs are met. When you confine a cat to a home you have to consider their welfare needs.

The life of a cat is centred around hunting. It's in their DNA. It is inherited as part of their memory. The do it instinctively. The need to hunt to be whole. We know that. How is a cat going to hunt inside a three-bedroom semi-detached home? There is only one way: play-hunting. And a cat owner has to set up that form of play. If the owner doesn't, they are not meeting the welfare needs of their cat. And 99% of cat owners don't meet those needs. I'm painting a black picture but I'm convinced that I am correct.

Wednesday 1 December 2021

Japanese man said: "I got a thrill out of abusing cats"

The mood music coming out of Japan is that, in general, the citizens like cats. I always thought that Japan was very organised. They do have stray cats but they are generally respected. Obviously there are exceptions to that thought, and in any case my thoughts are probably wrong. I've never been to Japan but seen some lovely stray cat photographs! In any case, this is not a good story from Japan if you love cats.

Japan stray cat being photographed with a 6x6 film camera
Japan stray cat being photographed with a 6x6 film camera. Photo by Noelas H. under CC license.

A 49-year-old man, Yuichiro Hirata, received a suspended prison sentence of 18 months after he was found guilty of killing and injuring nearly 100 cats over the past three years.

He said:

"I've killed or injured nearly 100 cats since three years ago. I got a thrill out of abusing cats."

He was convicted under the Animal Welfare Law according to Japan Today for injuring cats with an airgun in Yachiyo, Chiba, Japan last November. The court heard that he also used an airgun to shoot at cats and he poured boiling water on cats which he had encouraged to come to him with food.

There were 15 reported incidents of cats being shot at with an airgun from February 2019 until his arrest in Chiba City and neighbouring Narashino City. Yuichiro Hirata is a part-time worker in Chiba City.

Comment: this sounds a bit like anywhere else. In the UK idiotic kids shoot airgun pellets at cats sometimes, for the fun of it. In the USA idiotic adults shoot .22 calibre bullets at stray cat, sometimes. And in those countries, and in other countries, the courts tend to treat them leniently when they been convicted of animal cruelty and abuse.

Of course, it depends upon your point of view as to whether an 18 month prison sentence suspended for three years is lenient or not. To me it is, obviously. It should not have been suspended. All he has to do is keep his nose clean for three years and he is home free. No punishment. He'll then start up again abusing stray cats.

If anyone actually likes to hurt animals they are a danger to society. He should be medically treated too. Why wasn't there an order that he attend a psychiatrist or mental health worker for mental health treatment? His pleasure in harming cats needs to be removed from his mind.

It seems to me that this man is very angry and we wants to strike back at something as he feels aggrieved and hard done by. Rather than harming humans he harms the innocent cat because they are easier to harm and the punishment is light. He has mental health problems.

Does dry cat food improve the oral health of domestic cats?

It's a recurring question: does dry cat food improve the oral health of our cat companions? I've just spent about an hour updating a page that I wrote on this subject about four years ago. It's always useful to go back and rethink matters afresh. I can provide my conclusions in this cross-post. 

Does dry cat food improve the oral health of cats?
Does dry cat food improve the oral health of cats? Image: MikeB

Genetics, not food, plays the biggest role in oral health

The type of cat food that you feed your cat has little impact on their oral health. If there is one food which possibly or probably improves the oral health of cats it is a well-made home-made raw cat food that is correctly stored to avoid bacterial cross contamination. 

This comes out in studies. It is, after all, the most natural cat food. Therefore, to me, it is no surprise that this food comes out on top in this discussion. Do wild cats have the same oral health problems as domestic cats? No, in my view because they feed on prey. Poor oral health is in the top 10 health issues for the domestic cat.

However, veterinarians advise against cat owners making their own raw cat food because they believe that the potential benefits might be nullified by the potential downsides through improper preparation leaving the food without certain nutrients and improper storage leading to potential cross contamination of bacteria.

RELATED: Three domestic cats infected with bovine tuberculosis through eating raw cat food

Having got that out of the way, the biggest factor as to whether a cat has good oral health i.e. healthy gums and strong and healthy teeth, is their genetic inheritance. It's just a matter of luck whether they are born with the genetics which help make their gums and teeth healthier throughout their lives. 

That's the belief of Dr. Jean Hofve DVM, a well-known American veterinarian who often writes articles on the Internet. She has seen the inside of the mouths of 13,000 cats. She said that many years ago so the number will be much higher by now! She's convinced that genetics plays the biggest role but she does support home-made raw cat food as being beneficial with caveats about preparation and storage as mentioned.

Big pellets

If there is one dry cat food which might go some way to meeting the claims of pet food manufacturers it is large-pelleted kibble such as Hills t/d. A study found that dry cat food 'biscuits', which are going to be larger than even over-sized pellets, did show some merit in improving oral health. Perhaps this is because cats have to chew on these extra large pellets which would include some abrasive action on their teeth.

Image and thoughts: MikeB years ago.

Can't be abrasive

The reason why pet food manufacturers claim that dry cat food can clean teeth is because of the abrasive quality of the food. However, if you watch a domestic cat eating dry cat food they immediately crunch it into pieces. This occurs as soon as the food hits the back of the mouth. Therefore it cannot have any abrasive action on the teeth. However, larger pellets are more likely to have a little bit of abrasive action. 

Resorptive lesions

Countering the benefits that might occur, dry cat food may, it is claimed, cause gum-line cavities i.e. resorptive lesions. Dry cat food is high in carbohydrates which is more likely to cause cavities and gum disease.


Become an expert of homemade raw cat food! And clean your cat's teeth (almost impossible unless kitten was trained to accept it).

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