Wednesday 7 September 2022

Boris Johnson mentions Larry the cat's improved relationship with Dilyn his dog in farewell speech

Boris Johnson gave his farewell speech early this morning before flying up to Balmoral. He's been booted out of his job as the leader of the Conservative party and therefore the Prime Minister of the UK. And there has been some discord within the Conservative party. 

Larry the cat interviewed over Partygate
Government Chief Mouser Larry the Cat questioned over Partygate. Screenshot.

And also, there's been discord between his rescue dog, Dilyn, and the resident Downing Street cat, Larry. Larry is a celebrity cat and he's been at No 10 for some time as a mouser. He was adopted from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. In fact, he was specially selected as a proficient mouser. I don't think he has caught many mice though!

Larry and Dilyn
Larry and Dilyn. Photo credit: Deposit Photos | BBC

Dilyn was fairly recently adopted by Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie, also as a rescue animal and there were reports of them not getting along very well but Boris Johnson hints in passing in his farewell speech that Larry and Dilyn have made friends or at least there has been a rapprochement in their relationship. And he uses this snippet of good news to urge his fellow conservatives to work together under the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss.

I always like it when cats are mentioned by senior politicians. Even if it is in passing. It kind of puts them on the map and in a small way it helps to improve their public profile. The video of his speech commences at the moment he mentions Larry and Dilyn.

: 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.

Tuesday 6 September 2022

Kindhearted, cat-loving widower, one of 10 murdered by stabbing in Canada

NEWS AND COMMENT-SASKATCHEWAN PROVINCE, CANADA: The world has heard about one of Canada's deadliest mass killings on record leaving 11 people dead and at least 18 injured. Two attackers went on a stabbing spree in the rural heart of the country murdering people at random, one of whom was Wes Petterson, 77, a widower. He was stabbed at the same location as Lana head, 49, a mother of two and a 14-year-old boy and an emergency responder.

Damien and Myles Sanderson the suspects
Damien and Myles Sanderson, the suspects. Image: Associated Press.

Ruby Works, a resident of Weldon, with a population of about 200, many of whom are retired people, said that Petterson was like an uncle to her. She said: "I collapsed and hit the ground. I've known him since I was just a little girl."

She said that Wes loved his cats and that he was proud of his home-made Saskatoon berry jam. He frequently helped his neighbours. She said that "He didn't deserve this. He was a good, kind-hearted man. No one in this town is ever going to sleep again. They going to be terrified to open the door."

It is reported that the two suspects, Damien and Myles Sanderson, travelled south of their killing zone in a black Nissan Rogue SUV for about 210 miles. One of them had been stabbed in the face. It looks as though one of his victims tried to defend themselves or was successful. It is reported that he approached the daughter of Doreen Lees, 89, from Weldon with his face covered asking if she would call for help. She did not assist him. She went back into her home.

Myles Sanderson is thought to be at large while Damien's body has been found by police. His injuries were not self-inflicted. We don't know who inflicted the injuries.

But this short article is about Wes Petterson who I would like the world to remember as a decent man, kind to others, a gentle cat lover who it seems had a good retirement and enjoying the company of his cat companions and whose life was taken from him unnaturally and for no apparent reason by a man intent on stabbing him to death. Why? The world is unfair, we know that. 

His cats will miss him. They will be confused. I hope and I believe that they are being cared for by the neighbours who he helped.

Saturday 3 September 2022

I just want to sleep! My full-time indoor cat keeps me awake all night.

There is a classic cat caregiving problem on the website from a woman who is at the end of their tether. They have 2 cats and the boy was neutered recently (and therefore is young) but he is stopping them from sleeping. They tried ignoring him. They allowed him to come into the bedroom but then they stopped him coming into the bedroom. 

I just want to sleep! My full-time indoor cat keeps me awake all night.
I just want to sleep! My full-time indoor cat keeps me awake all night. Image: MikeB.

But he continues to wake them up at least twice between 3 AM and 6 PM every night. He chews "and destroys everything on our bedside tables, knocks things over, and steals things and runs away with them". They have given him a lot of toys which he happily plays with but it isn't enough. His owners want to sleep more than four hours a night.

I'm sure that they are describing a not untypical situation in any home with any full-time indoor cat. Male cats tend to be more of a problem because they have bigger home ranges than females and therefore the confines of a home will be more difficult to adapt to. This couple have tried all they can to play with him and to stimulate him to no avail.

The problem, as we all know, is that the domestic cat's circadian rhythm is totally out of sync with the human circadian rhythm. They tend to be active at dusk and sometimes throughout the night and then at dawn and they sleep from around mid-morning to mid-afternoon. The opposite can be said about people. And we buy into this difficulty when we adopt a cat. The problem is exacerbated with full-time indoor cats because they will tend to be bored because they are under stimulated through play.

It is almost an intractable i.e. unsolvable problem because of the inherited behavioural traits of both humans and domestic cats. They simply are not compatible in terms of the time that they are active. Of course, I'm sure there are some people who are active at night and sleep during the daytime and this must suit their cat companion tremendously.

The answer apparently to try and tire your cat out to try and shoehorn their behaviour into the circadian rhythm of humans. And Jackson Galaxy, the well-known American cat behaviourist has written about this in his book Total Cat Mojo.

Stop your cat waking you at night as per Jackson Galaxy

I've written about it myself based upon his book and therefore all I can do is to suggest you read the linked page above. However, I am sceptical about the outcome. I don't think that it is going to be easy to solve this problem. I suspect that in most homes people find a reasonable solution (compromise) which gets them by but there is always this underlying problem. Cats will wake up their owners at night. Even indoor/outdoor cats. Mine does.

Perhaps it might be worthwhile, before adopting, to consider what type of cat you want to adopt. For example, I think females will be less active at night than males. And I think perhaps the Ragdoll, a laid-back cat, might be less active than a non-purebred cat. Certainly, a male Bengal cat is not going to be very quiet at night. The wildcat hybrids are generally more active than the standard domestic cats. And old cats will be less active than youngsters. Adopt an old cat. They are often left on the shelf at shelters.

Of course, the other solution which goes against the grain of a lot of people's thinking is to allow your cat outside at night. That is unsuitable in many locations but if it is considered suitable in terms of safety then it would substantially solve the problem. But even them it won't be the magic solution.

Friday 2 September 2022

Test finds that domestic cats might experience the emotion of jealousy

I'm going to refer to a test carried out at Kyoto University to see whether domestic cats can experience the emotion of jealousy. They describe jealousy as a "second-order emotion". I take that to mean a higher emotion which humans experience but there is a question mark as to whether animals experience it although a basic form of jealousy has been detected in domestic dogs.

RELATED: in a previous post the conclusion was that cats feel jealousy but not grief: Cats feel jealousy but not grief.

In this test with cats there were 52 participants taken from Japanese households or cat caf├ęs.

They conducted a simple test by recording the behaviour of the cats while they saw their owner petting a social object which might be a rival and which in this instance was a realistic-looking soft toy cat. They compared the cats' reaction when a non-cat object was petted by the cats' owner (a cushion) and when a non-cat owner petted the toy-cat.

I wonder whether that was a wise decision to use a toy because it is plausible to suggest that domestic cats can tell the difference between a soft toy cat and a real cat.

Anyway, when a cat's owner petted a soft-toy cat, they found that household pets reacted more intensely towards the soft-toy cat. There were no other behaviours and they don't describe what 'reacted more intensely' means in the summary. When the soft cushion was petted by the owner there was no reaction and when the soft-cat toy was petted by non-owners there was no reaction.

They were unable to come to firm conclusions about the existence of jealousy in domestic cats. Jealousy is an emotion which is expressed in the context of a close relationship and cats can have close relationships both with other cats and people. Therefore, the question as to whether they have the emotion of jealousy is a fair one.

The study pointed to a distinct possibility that domestic cats can feel the emotion jealousy but further work is required.

The study is called Domestic cats' reactions to their owner and an unknown individual petting a potential rival.

Thursday 1 September 2022

Chinese use live sparrows as bait to capture pets for the cat meat market

Like many others, I despair at the news stories emanating from China about the cat meat market. The latest story actually has a good ending which is very pleasing. It is also very pleasing to be told that the Chinese police rescued 150 cats headed for the dinner tables. On my experience reading about these stories, it is nearly always animal welfare volunteers who stop lorries travelling to the south with stolen cats and dogs for the meat markets. 

Domestic cats lured with live sparrows and caged for shipping to the south for the cat meat market
Domestic cats lured with live sparrows and caged for shipping to the south for the cat meat market. Image: Yahoo News!

But here we have the police being involved which may hint at a change in attitude by law enforcement. It also tells me that it is illegal to steal domestic cats and ship them off to the south to be eaten.

It may surprise people to read that but because there are no real animal welfare laws in China there is no law to enforce when there is animal cruelty. Perhaps the country has introduced some laws that I have not heard about. If so, they will be laws which are not directly about animal welfare but about shipping animals or transporting animals I suspect.

The cats in this instance were crammed into rusty cages as usual and they were found by police in the eastern city of Jinan in the Shandong province. The report comes from The Humane Society International.

This unscrupulous gang of cat thieves and smugglers placed sparrows in cages as bait and used a remote-control system to shut the traps as soon as each cat entered. Of course, many of the cats were in a terrible state being emaciated and clearly in discomfort or pain. You can see them crammed together which is totally unnatural and incredibly emotionally stressful. They must have been permanently terrified.

RELATED: Mumbai’s dog and cat meat eaters.

One of the volunteers involved in the rescue said "Our discovery of dozens of live sparrows used as bait to lure the cats was also a big shock."

They believe that most of the rescued cats were household pets. They've been sent to animal shelters. There were 31 sparrows. They are a protected species in China and they were released back into the wild immediately.

I'm told that the smugglers may be in breach of laws concerning the hunting of birds, property theft and for violations of animal epidemic prevention rules, which I believe concerns the transmission of zoonotic diseases such as Covid.

It is only in the south in China's Guangdong and Guangxi provinces where they eat cat and dog meat and this dates back thousands of years. These are the China hotspots for this barbaric business. Apparently throughout mainland China cat meat is not part of the food culture.

RELATED: Coronavirus pandemic must encourage cessation of cat meat trade.

Thanks to Covid-19 there has been a reduction in a desire to eat cat and dog meat because of a fear of acquiring a zoonotic disease from the unregulated slaughter of these animals. 

The Guandong cities of Shenzhen Zhuhai banned the consumption of cats and dogs from April 2021 but they are the first cities in China to do so. To the best of my knowledge, cat and dog meat is still a thriving industry but the sooner it is banned the better. It is horribly cruel and completely out of step with modern life in the West.

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