Tuesday 21 June 2022

Are these cats playing or fighting?

A Reddit.com user asks whether, what appears to be siblings, are playing or fighting. My response is that they are doing both. When young cats play together, the basis of their play is fighting. It can get quite rough but the 'victim' at any one time tells the other when it has become too rough by screaming at them. 

Screenshot from video below.

This helps to keep the "violence" down to a reasonable level. But you see slapping, biting and kicking with hind legs et cetera and it's all roughhousing play. One might invite the other to attack by laying down belly up.

Note: This is an embedded video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source or the video is turned into a link which would stop it working here. I have no control over this.


I guess it is all preparation for independence when, if they lived in the wild, they would have to leave the natal home range and set up their own home range and defend it against incoming intruders with whom they would have to fight.

So, play for young cats as we see in the video is play-fighting. This is the default situation. There is a set of kitten play postures which include: belly-up, standing over, side-stepping, pouncing, chasing, vertical stance, horizontal leaping and face-off. You will notice that they are all to do with fighting an enemy which will no doubt happen in the future.

You will see play between offspring and mother which is not it seems to me "violence-based". Although even in this instance there is often a hint of violence because for example the kitten may bite their mother's tail or their ear. A modicum of violence appears to underpin all domestic cat play throughout their lives.

The other form of play that domestic cats engage in is also centred around violence namely play-hunting. All the toys that you can buy for cats are based upon hunting, chasing and attacking an object. The classic home-made toy is a piece of string which your cat will chase, catch and bite. This form of play is fine tuning a kitten's ability to catch prey. It is called object play. 

Adult cats also engage in "object play" and clearly, they aren't practising for the time when they will become adults because they are already adults but, in their minds, the adult domestic cat is still a kitten because they are cared for throughout their lives by their human caregiver.

It is interesting that domestic cat play is so closely tied to violence and aggression. The only reason I can think of as to why is because they are super predators. The cat is one of the world's best predators. Everything about their anatomy, being and mentality is to chase and kill. It is their raison d'être. We sometimes forget it because they become cuddly companions.

But at heart they are still that killer cat that is their wildcat ancestor who is still out there in Africa and Asia hunting rodents.

Monday 20 June 2022

Covid may close a Rhode Island no-kill shelter founded in 1968

Pet Refuge is a North Kingsdown, Rhode Island, no-kill cat shelter which is in financial trouble due to their inability to carry out fundraising and raise donations to support the charity during 2 years of lockdown and social distancing. They do not receive any taxpayers among; everything they do is about fundraising and donations. The secretary for the North Kingsdown-Exeter Animal Protection League which runs the shelter said: "Everything we do is fundraising and donations. We weren't able to do any fundraising. We lost a lot of money."

Pet Refuge is a North Kingsdown, Rhode Island
Pet Refuge is a North Kingsdown, Rhode Island. Picture: the refuge on Facebook

Pet Refuge is one of the largest shelters for cat in Rhode Island and they accept cats from all over the state. They do not euthanise animals because they have a lack of space or because they suffer from certain medical conditions. They only euthanise if a cat has a fatal disease or is in severe pain.

As a consequence, the facility has around 30 resident cats. These are called "lifers". They have not been adopted because of their medical conditions, age or because of temperament. Some cats live their entire lives at the shelter.

RELATED: 45% reduction in cat euthanasia in Humane Canada shelters over 27 years.

It costs around US$180,000 annually to run the shelter. Spaying and neutering costs alone are between $15,000-$20,000 annually. To these numbers you have to add pay for one full-time and four part-time workers as well as heating, lighting, electricity and repairs for the building. They need a new roof and a new air conditioning system within a couple of years.

The shelter is running a Go Fund appeal with a goal of $50,000. A background problem is that cat owners who have lost their home one way and another and are forced to rent may have to give up their cats and dogs because the landlord does not allow tenants with companion animals.

They have no plan B to cope with the possibility that if they really do have to close their doors what happens to the cats? They have not really got I plan B. They are a true refuge and they want to accept every cat who can stay with them until they are placed with a forever home.

Sunday 19 June 2022

Are feral cats clean?

Are feral cats clean? It's quite a good question and I feel that I need to try and answer it. Without reference to any books or the Internet, my personal viewpoint is that feral cats will maintain their typical cat cleanliness - the type of cleanliness that we see in domestic cats - if they are in good health, well fed and perhaps cared for by a feral cat colony volunteer working under the TNR umbrella.

Handsome Greek feral cat
Handsome Greek feral cat. Photo: Image by user32212 from Pixabay 

However, the big problem is this: feral cats have greatly shortened lives because survival is much harder. Food is harder to come by. The kind of food they can get at is often unhealthy. They may hunt whenever they can but the nutrition is much less good than it is for a domestic cat.

In addition, they have no veterinary care and therefore when they get ill, they stay ill. When a cat becomes ill, they lose motivation to self-groom (autogroom). Many illnesses cause a lack of appetite (anorexia). Many illnesses cause lethargy. Both these symptoms will severely reduce activity levels and motivation to do things including maintain self-hygiene.

RELATED: Feral Cats Are Healthier and Live Longer Than Thought.

And therefore, they don't clean themselves which can exacerbate their ill-health. They will develop more fleas and very badly infestations can greatly impact health especially for a young cat and certainly for a kitten.

RELATED: Independent newspaper’s BIASED headline about the feral cat threat to the Kangaroo Island dunnart.

The answer to the question is this: feral cats are not clean very often but they are sometimes. And normally they will be clean when they live in a colony cared for by volunteer. When you see those colonies, you see feral cats which are akin to domestic cats in all but name. They are semi-domesticated and are well able to be rehomed a lot of the time. And they are.

It is the neglected feral cats, particularly those living in developing countries, where conditions are hasher than usual. Where the temperatures are high or where the winters are very cold such as in Russia. Clearly, the climate affects health. Long winters will kill cats and long hot summers with 40° temperatures which appear to be commonplace nowadays in countries like India, are going to ultimately lead to premature death when combined with ill-health. These cats will not be clean. I have seen many dishevelled, unkempt, sad, clearly ill, destined to die prematurely feral cats on the Internet when researching articles. They are examples of many others.

RELATED: US troops shoot feral cats with air guns on their South Korea base.

However, we should not brand all feral cats with the same brush because it needs to be stressed that many are clean.

Mumbai: medical student beaten up by a group of thugs for feeding cats

NEWS AND COMMENT - MUMBAI, INDIA: A 25-year-old animal-loving medical student, Moin Asif Darvesh, agreed with his father's request to feed stray cats outside of Sir Elly Kadoorie school at 7:30 PM in the evening. It was something that they did regularly and have done for 7 years.

Unbeknownst to the 25-year-old, his father had been threatened 4 days earlier by a few people who objected to him feeding the cats. It appears at the same people approached Moin and insisted that he stopped feeding the cats with chicken. There appears to have been a short discussion at the end of which Moin refused to comply with their demands.

Medical student Moin Asif Darvesh
Medical student Moin Asif Darvesh. Image: Mid-day.com

Four more people approached him and allegedly started to kick and punch him. The attack continued for 15 minutes. Onlookers gathered to watch. Police on patrol rescued him.

He sustained injuries to his face, elbows and forearms. He was taken to a local hospital and treated. He later attended the police station to register his complaint and provide evidence.

His father then confessed that he had been threatened 4 days earlier and told that he would be taught a lesson for feeding the cats. He didn't argue with them and went home. He said that the attack on his son was planned for him. He had not told his son to miss that feeding session at that spot.

He accuses a politician for backing the thugs who attacked his son.

The Byculla police recorded a series of offences against the alleged attackers including: voluntarily causing hurt, voluntarily causing hurt by weapons and means, intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace, unlawful assembly armed with deadly weapon, rioting and every member of unlawful assembly guilty of an offence committed in prosecution of common object. These are crimes specific to India. The description of the crimes is different to those in other parts of the world including the UK.

Two people have been arrested concerning the incident and the senior inspector said that there was a search on for the others.

Comment: this is not the first time and it won't be the last when a person is attacked for feeding stray and feral cats. It has happened in America. On occasions the violence escalates. I can recall one cat feeder being shot dead by a murderer.

The animosity can become severe between those who don't like stray and feral cats and those who feel sympathy towards them and want to help. Stray and feral cats polarise the viewpoint of society probably in almost all countries of the world along the lines indicated.

Extraordinary but sad picture of 47 cats inside a car

NEWS AND COMMENT-MINNESOTA: This is a story about a person who must have been made homeless. We should always be sympathetic towards homeless people even if they are homeless because of what they've done. And in the photograph, you can see there are 47 cats inside a car in which he was living. 

Or in which the cats were living because there was no space for a person to live with them. And if you look carefully you will see that they are all ginger tabby cats. There is no doubt in my mind that this person allowed his cats to breed to the point where the whole situation became completely unmanageable. He may have been evicted by his landlord. 

47 cats before rescue. Note: ginger tabbies all. Image in public domain.

Clearly, he must have been desperate to put 47 cats in a car to try and continue to care for them. And sadly, this photograph was taken on a day when the temperature outside was 32°C (90°F). The temperature inside the car would have been higher.

And this is why he apparently sought help because the cats were rescued. The local Humane Society spokesperson said: "Unfortunately, with the heat yesterday he recognised that it was above and beyond what he was capable of at this time. And he let us help them out."

We are told that he had previously given up 14 other cats that had been living in the car. Does that mean that there were 61 cats living in that car at one time!?

Fortunately, the cats were in reasonable health implying that they weren't in the car for very long. They will be sterilised and made available for adoption.

This is obviously a sad story both for the cats and the person to be in such a difficult predicament. The good point is that he sought help. If all cat orders sought help many more cats in hoarding situations would be saved from a premature death due to neglect; neglect through starvation or ill-health.

The man deserves credit for that. It is an admission to himself that he has failed. Not many hoarders have the courage to admit to themselves or the necessary enlightenment and awareness to realise that they are in trouble and need help. This is because many cat hoarders have borderline health problems.

Secondly, this man must really love cats. He wants to help cats. He failed because he allowed them to breed and in doing so, he achieved the opposite almost to what he desired because he has made their lives very difficult and jeopardised their health.

I would suggest that he requested help because he realised that he was harming his cats. This is indicative of a person who has his heart in the right place.

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