Saturday 7 May 2022

Confident cat is a happier cat

A confident cat is a happy cat. Why? Why is it good to live with a confident cat? Before I tell you why I think it is a good thing, I would like to say that I am drawn to cats that lack confidence. I see their vulnerability and I want to make them stronger. That sentence gives a clue as to what I am about to say.

Confident looking Bengal cat enjoying himself
Confident looking Bengal cat enjoying himself. Picture: Pinterest.

You can apply the same rules to people and cats when it comes to discussing confidence. A confident person is less likely to be anxious about the sort of things that are around him and which affect him/her. As anxiety makes you unhappy, less of it makes you happier or more content. Also, a confident animal is more able to deal with what is thrown at him or her. This is good.

The same rules apply to cats. A confident cat is a happy cat. They are able to express their views and natural instincts and behavior. This is shown in positive vocalizations in asking for food, for example. A cat that asks for food in a positive way is a cat that feels at home and that has become a part of the family. 

Vocalizations are good. They might irritate a bit from time to time but they are a sign of a contented cat that is part of the family. It means the cat feels like an equal, which is what we strive for as concerned cat caretakers.

When you select a kitten from a breeder, pick out the confident cat that comes to you. On second thoughts, why not try this: pick out the timid cat who is frightened, adopt them and take them home. Love them and fill them with confidence to allow them to be happier. This is my preferred choice as an adopter.

Of course, it perhaps goes without saying that a cat's character is dictated by their genetic inheritance and the environment in which they are raised and live. You can't change the former but you can improve the latter and therefore improve their confidence.

The point is that some timid cats can be drawn out and made more confident but they will always remain somewhat timid. There is, though, a great charm in a timid cat and there are advantages. One springs to mind immediately: they are less likely to roam if allowed outside and get into trouble and as a consequence be injured.

It is the foolhardy, young and confident male cats who are more likely to be hit by a car on the road. Confidence can lead to unhappiness sometimes.

Friday 6 May 2022

Why do a lot of people hate cats? 8 reasons listed.

A lot of people love cats too. The domestic cat is slightly more popular than the dog as a companion. This is probably because the cat fits better into a modern busy society. However, it does seem that people have stronger feelings about cats. This results in more people hating cats. Why is this?

Cat Hater. This is part of a poster by Ruth aka Kattaddorra
Cat Hater. This is part of a poster by Ruth aka Kattaddorra.

I'll list what I think are the reasons in order of importance. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment:

1. Lack of knowledge of cats handed down generation to generation. Children learn from their parents. If their parents have distorted ideas about cats for whatever reason (usually because their parents had the same ideas) then the kids inherit these thoughts. It is self-perpetuating. As the domestic cat is the most popular companion animal, I feel confident in saying that if a person hates a cat, it more or less has to be due to incorrect ideas about the cat. Why do the parents of kids have these 'distorted' ideas? These are reasons:

2. Fear. The cat is probably the world's most effective predator. The cat has sharp claws and a strong bite. The cat is quick and athletic. Some people are scared of that. It is as simple as that. If you fear something you won't like it. In fact, it can lead to preemptive killing or abuse. Fear of cats can be acute when it is called: Ailurophobia. But often it is just in the background.

3. Independence. Cats give the impression of being very independent. They can be but the domestic cat is actually totally dependent on us. Cats do their own thing. You can't force a cat to do something. This irritates some people who like to get their own way with other people. Alpha types are like that and they prefer dogs. The cat can seem aloof and often people who hate cats say they are 'mean'. Perhaps needy people require the cat to be more giving. The problem ultimately is a human problem and not related to the cat's independent air.

4. Feral and stray cats. There are too many. This is bad publicity for the domestic cat. The feral cat is forced to lead a dirty, cruel and short life in a human world. They are often ill with infectious diseases. Some are zoonotic. Is this why people see the cat as 'dirty'? The problem is the feral cat per se. The problem is the people who created the feral cat. Once again, this a human misconception but it is a reason why some people hate the cat.

5. Superstition. This goes back to the Middle Ages (14th century etc.). There is a long history here and the human race has still not released itself from the shackles of superstition.  There is still a lot of superstition. Black cats are bad luck etc.

6. Gay. Some people, I must say they are ignorant people, think that if a boy or man likes cats, he has to be gay. Rubbish; but this may have a negative impact on the male of the species liking cats. In any event being gay is irrelevant but there is still a lot of baggage in society attached to the word "gay". It was illegal in Britain at the time of Oscar Wilde and still is in some countries today.

7. Grooming habits. I have read some websites where religious types say they don't like the fact that cats lick their bottoms. They see this as dirty and devil-like. In fact the cat is very clean. Almost certainly cleaner than the average human!

8. Predation. This is the last item on my list but it is perhaps the most important. A lot of people don't like the fact that domestic cats prey on much loved wild animals such as birds. Obviously, bird lovers in particular dislike cats for this. Ironically, most cat owners are more concerned about their cat's safety as a reason for keeping them inside and not to protect wildlife. 

But there is increased pressure on keeping cats inside because there is a heightened awareness about the environment nowadays due to global warming and the gradual destruction of the natural world by people due to consistent human population growth and a lack of sufficient concern for nature.

When people see the destruction of wild species, they tend to pass the buck onto cats rather than look to themselves as the cause. And this can attract hatred for the domestic cat and perhaps more so the feral and stray cat. Once again people tend to forget that the feral and stray cat is a product of their own carelessness. This is a blind spot for humankind.

Associated: i hate cats.

UK: number of neutered cats fell from 91 to 86% in 2020 due to Covid

NEWS AND COMMENT - UK: The legacy of Covid is with us in the world of cats because it is reported that the pandemic has caused the number of neutered cats in the UK to fall from 91 to 86% in 2020. The reason: cat owners were frightened to go to a veterinary clinic because of the fear of getting Covid.

Cat at a veterinary clinic in the UK
Cat at a veterinary clinic in the UK. Photograph: Getty images

The problem is compounded by the fact that more people than usual adopted cats and dogs during the Covid pandemic as company at home during lockdowns. The two changes in human behaviour combined resulted in more than the usual number of unsterilised domestic cats. This in turn produced more unwanted litters which further in turn has put rescue charities under increased pressure as the number of unwanted cats has increased at their rescue centres.

One veterinary clinic is offering low-cost neutering and spaying for eligible cat owners on low incomes in the Bristol area: Bristol Animal Rescue Centre. The cost of neutering a male cat at this centre is £30. Spaying of female cats costs £45 to eligible pet owners across Bristol. I am sure that there are many more clinics offering the same service to try and rectify what is a problem caused by Covid.

The RSPCA report that over 1 million cats remain unneutered in the UK resulting in an unprecedented increase in cat breeding.

The Independent newspaper reported that the RSPCA had warned that these conditions might lead to hordes of cats roaming the streets. I think that was an exaggeration. A bit of good news according to Cats Protection is that the number of cats neutered under four months of age rose from 22% in 2020 to 24% in 2021. This was a welcome increase in the uptake of pre-pubertal neutering by the veterinary profession.

Cat in second floor apartment enjoys a lift service for an indoor/outdoor life

Your lift service sir
Your lift service sir. Screenshot.

We do see this from time to time. This is a particularly good example. The man wants his cat to enjoy the outside. When he leaves his apartment, sometimes he lets his cat join him. It seems that there is no cat flap in his front door. On other occasions he employs this Heath Robinson lift service. 

The man, Kai Liebe, and his cat, Misco, live in Munich, Germany. He says that "Misco is an outdoor cat that I trained to get out and back inside again using a bag as an elevator".

It looks a bit precarious but his cat is well trained. If I was being a little bit critical, I think he could use a rigid cage of some sort because there does seem to be a possibility that his cat could fall out. Despite that, his cat looks incredibly relaxed and knows exactly what to do. This method has been used for quite some time.

Some people go to extraordinary lengths to allow their cat to go outside. Other cat owners go to extraordinary lengths to keep their cat inside. I'm talking about people who enrich the indoor environment in order to stimulate the mind of their full-time indoor cat.

There are probably upwards of a hundred million domestic cats living in apartments on the planet. Probably more. And they are all confined to a small living space; a space which is substantially smaller than they naturally require.

Domestic cats require something in the order of about 20 acres of space in which to live naturally and call their home. It might be larger. When a cat gets lost, they will normally be no more than about 500 m from the back door of their home.

Male domestic cats demand larger home ranges and females. This is entirely in line with the wild cat species. If you lose your cat, initially, look within about 100 m of your back door. If they are not there then they might have hitched a ride in a van or lorry or tried to return to their previous address if you've moved recently and you've not move that far.

Thursday 5 May 2022

Cyprus: where feral cats outnumber humans

NEWS AND COMMENT-CYPRUS: Cyprus is the place where archaeologists excavated evidence of the first domesticated wildcat. It is believed that the deceased person brought his 'domestic cat' over from the mainland. This would have been a domesticated wildcat and it happened about 10,000 years ago. And now Cyprus is in the news again. They don't know how many feral cats they have but at a rough estimate they think it could be a similar number to the human population of the island which is 1.2 million.

Sadly, Cyprus has a reputation-a long-lived reputation-of having too many feral and stray cats. They are known for it. But it seems that the government has continuously brushed the problem under the carpet. Perhaps they think that it is a tourist attraction! I don't think it can or should ever be a tourist attraction.

Is the breeding season for cats extended in Cyprus? We know that oestrus is brought on by extended daylight hours after shorter hours of daylight. And temperature has a role in inducing ovulation in domestic and stray cats. Perhaps the climatic conditions of Cyprus induces oestrus more efficiently than in the northern European states?

REALTED: Cats may have been first domesticated 14,500 years ago.

Stray and feral cats of Nicosia
Stray and feral cats of Nicosia. Photo: Cyprus Mail.

And when there are that many feral and stray cats sitting around and wandering around the streets of Cyprus you are bound to get the odd person who wants to kill them and abuse them. And in any case, it is simply cruel to create or to allow to create feral cats in these numbers because they live tough lives. No doubt they depend upon kind people to feed them but they're not going to receive veterinary care unless under exceptional circumstances.

What I like about the story is that the policymakers of that island i.e. the politicians, see that the solution is to put money into TNR programs. They admit that the current funding of TNR programs on the island is far too low. They are spaying and neutering between 1500-2000 cats annually. At that rate, is estimated, it will take between 500-600 years to spay and neuter 1 million+ stray and feral cats.

The European Union has a target of 75% stray cats to be sterilised. The government of Cyprus is going to increase state funding of TNR to €100,000. The opposition party states that that is not enough. It almost certainly isn't enough. By the look of it, it is far too little, actually.

What is nice about this discussion is that the government is looking at TNR and not looking at killing stray and feral cats which is the policy in Australia. I don't see any discussion about mass slaughter in online news media. That, at least, is a step in the right direction. And it disheartening to think that the government is involved in TNR. When governments get involved and help volunteers and NGOs you get more effective TNR programs. In the case of Cyprus, it has to be an island-wide TNR coordinated programme. It has to be organised carefully. That is the way I see it working out.

However, Cyprus is well known as having a feral and stray cat problem as does neighbouring Greece. It must be the climate. These warm climates allow feral cats to survive more easily but the back story is straightforward: it's the people of the island who carelessly allow their cats to procreate. If every Cypriot sterilised their domestic cat and looked after them properly, there will be no feral cats. Every feral cat anywhere is the result of careless cat ownership, at root.

Clearly, the government of Cyprus has under-prioritised the feral cat problem. This is completely to be expected. Feral cats are low down the priority list for government expenditure. But there comes a time when something has to be done and that moment appears to have arrived.

And as mentioned, when you have a high visibility of unknown cats wandering around the streets, you're bound to get animal cruelty. There are often reports of stray cats and indoor/outdoor domestic cats being severely mistreated. This puts pressure on the government to tackle the problem because otherwise they are condoning animal abuse through inactivity.

For example, in January 2021, members of the public reported that up to 11 cats were killed near a cat café in Oroklini. And in August a person was arrested for killing a cat. A recent high-profile case has emerged from Greece in which a man kicked a cat into the sea by Taverna. 

The crime was videoed and uploaded to social media where it sparked outrage. As I recall that man has been arrested and charged. The news media states that he faces 10 years in prison. That will not happen believe me. In Greece, an act of animal cruelty can lead to a maximum of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of €50,000. How many times is the maximum punishment dished out? Never, I would argue.

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