Friday 6 January 2023

American Blue Cat

Ever heard of the American Blue Cat? I doubt it because according to a very earlier writer about the cat breeds, Rush Shippen Huidekoper, writing in 1895 this was a name for the Russian Blue of today. 

The naming of the cat breeds can be a little bit confusing and problematic sometimes. Back in that time more than 120 years ago, this cat breed had been given many names including "Blue Cat", "Maltese Cat", "Archangel Cat", "Russian Cat", "Spanish Blue", and "Chartreuse Blue". 

Russian Blue photo copyright Helmi Flick.


Apparently, the author explained that the name "American Blue" is "probably due to the fact that the Maltese for some years has been a very favourite cat in America, and has probably been bred more carefully than any other breed of cat, so that its representatives formed a distinct type of good quality".

That is a little bit of history which may interest one or two readers. The Russian blue today is a popular cat breed from we are told the city of Archangel on the north coast of Russia (Arkhangelsk, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia). The blue coat sits very nicely with the fact that Archangel is a cold city by some standards.

If you are interested in reading about the Russian blue cat breed today, please click on the following link.

Thursday 5 January 2023

Olivia Benson, a cat worth millions with big earning potential

Everything that Taylor Swift touches turns to gold metaphorically speaking. For example, Taylor Swift, herself, is officially the most followed person on Instagram with a mind-blowing 239 million followers. We know she loves cats and we know that one of her cats as Olivia Benson, a Scottish Fold.

Olivia Benson
Olivia Benson. Image: Instagram (modified by MikeB)

And because of that connection and for no other reason in my opinion the news media are saying that Olivia Benson has the potential to earn millions and therefore is worth millions herself.

Taylor Swift has given Olivia her own Instagram account. From that account she has the potential to earn big. She is described as a moneymaking machine with an estimated value of US$97 million.

How does it happen? Why can't I have a cat worth millions of dollars!? Hundreds of millions of people would love that too. But you've got to be Taylor Swift. Olivia Benson living with John Doe in a suburb of New York would not make a penny even if they had their own Instagram account.

The idea that Olivia Benson is worth pots of money comes from a website called All About Cats in which they state that Olivia "has found success outside the world of Instagram influencing. The Scottish Fold earned her fortune starring alongside her owner in several music videos, has crafted her own merchandise line, and has had cameos in many big-budget ads."

That's the story! I don't have much more. I have to touch on a couple of moral issues which I know are boring and there's no glitter or celebrity discussing moral issues but I have to do it.

Note: these embedded social media posts sometimes fail. It might not work. If so, sorry.

Benson's followers

Well, I have discovered that Olivia is not doing great on her own Instagram page with a measly 581 followers. Perhaps this story is all hype, smoke and mirrors?!

Moral Issues?

The first issue is that Olivia Benson is a Scottish Fold as mentioned. A lot of people think that this is a cat breed that should not exist. The reason why the ears fold flat is because the ear flaps, made of cartilage, are defective. The cartilage isn't stiff enough to keep the ear flaps erect and that is due to a genetic mutation which has been handed down to offspring through selective breeding over many years. 

The Scottish Fold is a breed of domestic cat with a natural dominant-gene mutation that affects cartilage throughout the body, causing the ears to "fold," bending forward and downward towards the front of the head, which gives the breed its distinctive appearance. Scottish Folds are known for their sweet and affectionate personalities, and they are a popular choice as pets. 

The genetic mutation that causes the folded ears is dominant, which means that if a Scottish Fold is bred with a cat that does not have the mutation, approximately half of the offspring will have folded ears. However, there are some potential health concerns associated with the Scottish Fold breed, including an increased risk of developing certain orthopedic problems due to the genetic mutation.

So, Olivia Benson is perpetuating something which is not that great to be honest. And secondly, I'm not sure it's a good idea to have a domestic cat earning money for you. My mind immediately turns to that great organisation PETA which has that wonderful motto on their website about animals that are not ours to be used for our entertainment or any other purpose.

Certainly, when cats are used to make money, they break that PETA mantra big time. I'm not suggesting that Olivia Benson doesn't like performing for the camera and making some dosh for her owner but she would probably be happier at home snoozing above a warm radiator or soaking up the sun by a window.

Wednesday 4 January 2023

Do domestic cats feel the cold?

Do domestic cats feel the cold? There are six topics to be addressed in answering this question. 

Wildcat ancestor from hot climate

Firstly, the North African wildcat is the wild ancestor of the domestic cat. That wild cat's attitude towards the cold and towards heat is within the domestic cat. And the North African wildcats as you can imagine live in a very warm climate.

Do domestic cats feel the cold?
Do domestic cats feel the cold? Yes, of course but they tolerate it better than humans. Image: MikeB

Feline behaviour

This is why the domestic cat likes to be in a warm environment. That's why they like to be on your lap if they are lap cats. That is why they sleep in the airing cupboard where the hot water cylinder is. That is why my cat is right now in a utility room where the boiler (furnace) is situated.

We know that domestic cats like warmth. They seek it everywhere all the time. Therefore, by definition, they dislike cold. That's the first point.

Tolerant

The third point is that domestic cats are very tolerant. They are less complaining than humans. They are more tolerant of pain and distress. There are more tolerant of extreme conditions. That does not mean they don't feel the cold, it just means that they tolerate it better than humans at a psychological level. Their brain processes the feeling of discomfort, in this instance through being cold, better than humans do.

You will find stories on the Internet of domestic and stray cats being frozen to the ground, literally. In these instances, sometimes, when the cat has been rescued, they've had to amputate their paws because of frostbite. A horrible thought.

And of course, feral cats in many parts of the world survive winter in freezing conditions. That's why nice people who operate TNR programs provide feral cats with little homes which are insulated so they can at least feel warmer during those very cold days and nights.

Cat coats

We therefore know that domestic cats feel cold but they tolerate cold better. And one reason why they are better able to tolerate cold is because they have a permanent overcoat on them ๐Ÿ‘✔️.

Clearly, some cats are better protected in this regard than others. The longhaired cats with a downy undercoat are going to feel less cold than sleek, single-coated cats.

The well-known Maine Coon cat example has a shaggy, semi-longhaired coat because they originate in the state of Maine as barn cats. They were semi-domesticated in that state, before they became show cats, in the 1800s and before.

Siberian cats
Siberian cats. Image in public domain.

The Siberian purebred cat is another example of a domestic cat with a history of coming from a cold part of the world. They have coats designed for cold climates.

Evolution

Arguably they will be too hot in warm homes and in warm climates. A thought. An interesting further thought is this: Siberian cats and Maine Coon cats (for example - there are other breeds) would not have evolved through natural selection to have these warm, longhaired coats unless nature recognised the fact that they needed to keep warm and in doing that nature obviously agreed that they feel the cold. Evolution has protected these cats from cold conditions. It is, therefore, an admission that domestic cats and semi-domestic cats feel the cold.

Nervous system and anatomy

It has to be said that the anatomy of the domestic cat is really very similar to that of humans in very many ways. And certainly, in terms of feeling and detecting cold their nervous system and brain is very similar to that of humans. This strongly supports the idea that domestic cats feel the cold.

Longhaired feral cats

Interestingly, you will find that there are very few feral cats that are long haired because the gene that creates long hair is recessive. That means two carriers of the gene are going to have to meet and procreate to produce a litter of kittens that are longhaired. 

Most feral cats you see will be shorthaired. And they will feel the cold. But in feeling the cold, as mentioned, they process it in a way which enables them to accept it without complaint

Tuesday 3 January 2023

Do cats like the feel of tidy fur?

 This is a very esoteric, philosophical question but it came to my mind and I think it's quite important because it's tries to investigate how domestic cats feel. I want to know whether domestic cats like the feeling of their fur to be lined up and combed. The other side of the coin would ask whether domestic cats find it uncomfortable when their fur is not lined up as it is when it's been combed by their human caregiver. The issue is more relevant for longhaired cats because their fur is more likely to become matted if neglected. Do domestic cats hate the feeling of matted fur?

My cat loves to be combed because it feels nice and his fur feels in good nick, all lined up! Image: MikeB.

We know that domestic cats like to be combed and brushed or at least they normally do. So, they like the experience of being brushed. I suspect that this is because they like the feeling of the comb or brush on their skin in much the same way that people like their hair to be combed by somebody else. It has a calming experience.

But people also like to feel that their hair on their head is well-kept. They want it to feel right which means in alignment and tidy. A lot of people dislike the feeling of their hair being untidy and unkempt.

The philosophical question is: do cats feel the same way about their fur? We don't know is the answer! We should know and I would like to know. I'm going to guess. They like it. They like their fur to be in good order, all lined up and neat and tidy.

This is one reason why they are so fastidious about self-grooming. And you know what comes to mind when I think of domestic cats grooming themselves? It is seeing feral cats looking terribly untidy and dirty. You don't see it much but you do see the occasional feral cat looking a complete mess. It must be terribly disconcerting for them to feel like this.

It indicates to me that they have given up mentally and emotionally. They probably feel terrible because of illness and have totally lost motivation to maintain their own hygiene. The beginning of the end for an animal trying to survive in the urban jungle and surrounding environment.

Postscript: in the picture you can see me combing my cat with a flea comb. Another benefit of being combed and another reason why domestic cats like to be combed especially with a flea comb is because it removes any fleas which are an irritation to them. The domestic cat might equate combing with relief from irritation and itching. Another reason why they like it.

PPS: My cat hardly ever has fleas! I flea comb him because he likes it.

Large feral (?) 'Siamese' cat in Australia trapped and killed causing an outcry from some sections of the community

A large feral cat in Australia has been trapped and killed causing an outcry from some sections of the community. But was the cat feral or an inside/outside domestic cat? It appears so.

Large feral cat in Australia trapped and killed causing an outcry from some sections of the community. Image: Daily Mail Australia.

Comment on the above photograph: I find it very strange. The comments on the right-hand side appear to be have been made by the owner of this 'feral cat'. That means that the cat is not feral but an outdoor/indoor domestic cat. And the person has described the cat as "Siamese". The cat does not look like a Siamese cat judging by the camera traps image. The cat does not have pointing but appears to be an even colour throughout. So, I'm not sure what is going on. And if this is the case the authorities have killed someone's pet! Damages come to mind. The owner should sue them.

-------------------

I have followed the shenanigans and attitudes of the Australian authorities towards feral cats on the continent for years. It doesn't surprise me one jot that the authorities in charge of administrating Moreton Island off the coast of south-east Queensland decided to trap a so-called feral cat weighing 6.8 kg (15 pounds) and euthanise it (kill it). At least they didn't shoot it! That is the normal way for Australia's authorities to deal with feral cats.

Trapping and euthanising is way too humane for Australians when it comes to the 'vermin' and 'pest' that is the feral cat on that continent. They hate the animal but not everyone does because in this instance this feral cat who had earned the name 'Tangalooma puma' had a following and there was an outcry when the feline was trapped and killed.

A resident caught the cat in July having set up a humane trap. He learnt the technique in a workshop run by Brisbane City Council. The cat was then euthanised by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 2014.

In order to verify that this cat was a pest by preying on native species, they conducted an autopsy and discovered the remnants of a crow and a bandicoot in the stomach. This proved to them that the cat was decimating native while species which justified their actions in killing it.

Residents of Moreton Island are allowed to have pets but as it is given over to being a national park, they can't really let their cats go outside. I'm not sure if there is a local ordinance which forbids domestic cats going outside. The reports don't comment on that.

Of course, most of the residents are happy that the cat was killed but, as mentioned, not everyone is in agreement perhaps because it was a pet cat ๐Ÿ˜Ž. It makes me smile ironically. No one should agree to domestic cats being killed by the authorities for doing nothing wrong. It is wanton cat killing.

It's peculiar that they dubbed the cat a "puma". It seems that in the imagination of many they exaggerated its size to that of a mountain lion (a very large feline). This is not untypical of humans. And in doing that there was a gradual swell of hatred of the animal resulting in one resident deciding to trap it.

But 15 pounds in weight for a domestic or feral cat is not that big. It is slightly bigger than normal but not huge. And if a cat has become feral for whatever reason, they're going to have to hunt to survive. 

People need to look more carefully at why the cat became feral cat in the first place. The only reason is because of human carelessness. I always think it is very unfair if the existence of an animal due to human carelessness becomes such a nuisance that they have to kill it. The animal is an innocent victim of sloppy human behaviour. This is not a reason to kill the animal.

It is a reason to educate people to stop being sloppy on cat ownership. It's a reason to be kind to the animal because they are victims as well as the animals that they eat.

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