Monday 13 May 2024

Nine house plants safe (non-toxic) for domestic cats

Here are nine houseplants which are safe for domestic cats. It is nice to see a list of safe houseplants because so many articles write about plants that are dangerous for cats. And many plants are. The most dangerous, as you might know, is the Lily but here are some safe ones.

Baby Rubber Plant: according to a very good source, the ASPCA, this plant is safe for cats and dogs. The plant likes filtered light and the potting soil should have plenty of organic material. It's a plant which helps to remove impurities from the air and I believe it comes in different shades of green and variegation.

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Ponytail Plant - Ponytail Palm - Beaucarnea recurvata


The Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is a captivating houseplant with a unique appearance. Despite its name, it’s not a true palm but belongs to the Asparagaceae family. Here are some key details:

  • Appearance: It features long, slender, arching leaves that resemble a ponytail, hence its name. The swollen base of its stem gives it the nickname “elephant’s foot.”
  • Size: In the wild, it can reach up to 4.5 meters (about 15 feet), but indoors, it typically grows to around 2.5 meters (8 feet).
  • Care Tips: Light: Place it in bright, indirect light (near a north-facing window or set back from a south/west-facing window).
  • Soil: Use free-draining houseplant compost.
  • Watering: Water sparingly—allow the compost to dry out completely between waterings.
  • Pruning: It doesn’t require pruning, but you can trim brown tips for aesthetics.
  • Winter Care: Reduce watering during dormancy.
  • Pet-Friendly: Good news—it’s not toxic to cats or dogs!
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African Violet - Saintpaulia


African violets, also known as Saintpaulia, are charming little houseplants prized for their vibrant blooms and fuzzy leaves. They are not actually violets, but rather part of the Gesneriaceae family, and are native to the tropical rainforests of Tanzania and Kenya in eastern Africa.

Here are some tips for caring for African violets:
  • Light: African violets prefer bright, indirect light. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves.
  • Water: African violets should be watered from the bottom to avoid getting water on the leaves. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
  • Humidity: African violets prefer high humidity. You can increase the humidity around your plants by placing them on a tray filled with pebbles and water, or by using a humidifier.
  • Temperature: African violets prefer warm temperatures, between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fertilizer: African violets can be fertilized with a weak solution of liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing season.
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Spider Plant: These are pretty, grow well when hung (keeping them away from most cats), and quickly produce new leaves and baby plants if nibbled upon.

Rattlesnake Plant: Also known as Calathea lancifolia, this plant has beautiful striped leaves and is safe for cats.

Boston Fern: With shaggy fronds, Boston Ferns are a great choice for cat-friendly homes.

Polka Dot Plant: The Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) features colourful, spotted leaves and is non-toxic to cats.

Remember, every cat is different, so always be mindful and observe your pet’s behaviour around plants. ๐Ÿ˜บ๐ŸŒฟ

Sources for above: Gardeners World, Bing, Prevention.com, Typically Tropical.

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Cast Iron Plant - (Aspidistra)


Certainly! The Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) is a robust perennial native to Japan and Taiwan. Here are some key details:

  • Appearance: It features lush, dark green, glossy leaves that grow straight out of the soil in a clumping fashion.
  • Size: Typically reaches 1-3 feet in height (30-90 cm) and spreads out to about 2-3 feet (60-90 cm).
  • Flowers: Small, brownish-cream blooms appear near the soil surface in late winter or early spring, but they’re often inconspicuous.
  • Hardiness: Hardy in USDA zones 7-11, making it suitable for shaded garden areas or indoor settings.
  • Uses: Widely grown as a houseplant due to its resilience in low-light conditions.
  • Trivia: It’s known as the “cast-iron plant” because of its ability to withstand neglect and tough conditions.

Feel free to add this hardy plant to your indoor collection! ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿก

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Dwarfpalm (Collinea) - other names: Good Luck palm, Parlor palm


Certainly! The Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans), also known by various other names such as “Dwarf Palm,” “Good Luck Palm,” and “Neanthe Bella Palm,” is a delightful indoor plant with attractive light green fronds. Here are some key details:

  • Origin: Native to Mexico and Guatemala, it has been a popular houseplant since Victorian times.
  • Appearance: Its lush, graceful fronds grow in a compact clumping form.
  • Low Maintenance: The Parlor Palm is tolerant of low light levels and dry air. It’s also an excellent air purifier.
  • Growth: Slow-growing, it may produce tiny yellow flowers and black fruits when mature.
  • Pet-Friendly: Good news for cat and dog owners—it’s not toxic to pets!
  • Care Tips: Light: Bright, indirect light is ideal. Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Temperature: Keep it in a warm room (around 18°C-24°C) with a minimum of 10°C.
  • Watering: Water when the top few centimetres of compost have dried out (more frequent in warm weather).
  • Repotting: Repot only when root-bound, typically every three years.
  • Misting: Mist the plant a few times a week to maintain humidity.

Enjoy your Parlour Palm—it’s a charming addition to any indoor space!

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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Dogs eating cannabis edibles on the increase in the UK

Dogs eating cannabis edibles has hit a new high in the UK according to the Mail on Sunday. Of the cannabis edibles available to dogs, it appears that gummies, cannabis-infused sweets are increasingly popular and are thought to have contributed to a rise in the number of dogs poisoned by dope recently.

Dogs eating cannabis edibles on the increase in the UK
A fictional image ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿถ.

The Poisons Information Service reported that more than 450 dogs have been treated in the past four years including 119 in 2023 compared to 82 in 2020. These figures are probably quite substantially underreported because Nicola Robinson, the head of service of the above-mentioned agency said that, "Not all animal poisoning cases are reported to us, so these are not a completely accurate representation of numbers."

The poisonings are taking place at home or perhaps while the dog is out on a walk.

The dangers to dogs eating cannabis gummies are quite substantial and variable. The RSPCA say that the symptoms include overstimulation and a high temperature. A dog might need intravenous fluids.

Other symptoms include wobbliness, agitation, incontinence, hyper-salivation, a change in heart rate, vomiting, seizure and possible coma according to Dr. Glassman, writing in Dogs Today.

The symptoms can develop quickly within 30 minutes but sometimes after about three hours. Dog owners should contact their veterinarian quickly if they see these symptoms and if they fear that the dog has eaten a cannabis gummy or other edible. 

Or, the owner can administer an oral detoxifier containing advanced activated charcoal. Vomiting should not be induced. Veterinarians can treat dogs at a cost of £800.

Cannabis gummies contain THC which is the primary proactive compound in cannabis. They are illegal in the UK as a class B drug. Although, on a practical basis, I don't think the police ever get involved with cannabis use in the UK. By default and through police inactivity, cannabis in any form is legal in the UK.

In the US cannabis gummies and other edibles are legal for recreational purposes and for medicinal use in more than 20 states. Cannabis edibles poisonings of dogs in the states amount to around 6000 over 5 years.

Some dog owners give their dogs CBD oil which is legal. This does not contain THC and is purely medicinal. It can be used to treat allergies, anxiety and pain.

Around 38% of Danish dog owners regularly give their pets some form of medicinal cannabis i.e. CBD oil with positive effect.

CBD can reduce stress in dogs and treat pain which is useful for those suffering from osteoarthritis. In Britain a vet has to prescribe human CBD oil preparations for a pet.

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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

No whiskers makes the Sphynx cat illegal in Germany

Under Germany's torture breeding laws, the Sphynx cat is illegal because it has no whiskers. There are other reasons but if you visit a Sphynx cat forum, the aficionados on that website constantly refer to the fact that this breed normally has no whiskers.

They are born with whiskers but they are very brittle and they break off. That's part of the result of the genetic mutation which makes the cat hairless.

"I would consider the lack of a sensory organ to be harmful," animal expert Thomas Gรถbel said before court during a case about neutering a male Canadian Sphynx cat in Berlin owned by a breeder, Jacqueline L. The court made an order for the breeding cat to be castrated to prevent him breeding thus undermining the breeder's hobby business. 

The court case proves that the law is occasionally (at least) enforced. The report is dated 2015.


You might know that Germany has a unique policy on domestic cat breeding which prevents breeders from creating animals that suffer through what I would call misguided breeding practices. It's the cat fancy which drives breeders to creating unusual-looking cats such as these hairless cats and others such as the Persian with the extremely flat face which causes breathing problems. That breed is also illegal in Germany despite the fact that it is a very popular cat breed in America and has been for decades.

Germany is ahead of the game in terms of controlling cat breeding. Although, this law is difficult to enforce in Germany. On the forum I mention they say that there is at least one Sphynx cat breeder in Germany ๐Ÿ˜น๐Ÿ™€. I presume they are exporting their cats abroad.

It was interesting to me to see what these Sphynx cat owners say about their cats falling foul of the German Qualzucht law. They pinpointed the lack of whiskers but there are other reasons because this is a hairless cat.

A side effect of a lack of cat coat is that the sebaceous glands' oils are deposited on the skin and not into the hair strands. This causes the skin to become grimy which means the Sphynx caregiver has to wipe down their cat regularly. It can also cause the cat to smell. 

20 facts about cat whiskers


Cats need whiskers for balance, to help guide them in darkness, to feel a prey animal that's been captured. You see a cat force their whiskers forward when there is something of interest right in front of them. Whiskers are incredibly sensitive because of a large bundle of nerves at their base. They are really an important part of a domestic cat's anatomy and therefore their life.

To remove them is cruel and the cat will suffer which is why this breed is banned in Germany. And to that obvious fact you can add another one which is recently been revealed namely the incredibly short lifespan of this cat breed which is 6.68 years according to a comprehensive study.

And the reason why the lifespan is so short is because this breed like other cat breeds suffers from HCM which stands for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which describes a thickening of the left ventricle of the heart causing the heart to become very inefficient leading to a shortened lifespan. And a high percentage of Sphynx cats suffer from this disease. It isn't good enough. The Germans know this. And that's why it's illegal in Germany.

How does a cat use her whiskers?


This is a cross-post because it's an important post. It's important to tackle what cat advocates regard as inappropriate cat breeding. I'm not against cat breeding per se but when the animals produced are inherently unhealthy because of genetic mutations it's unfair on the cat. But the cat fancy allows it because these cats look interesting. They attract attention.

This is an attractive and popular looking cat but there are too many deficiencies all because of what animal advocates would regard as inappropriate breeding.

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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Sunday 12 May 2024

Lord Blencathra would ban cat flaps to protect wildlife

Lord Blencathra sits in the House of Lords in Parliament. He is a peer of the realm and a life peer. He was a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Penrith and The Border from 1983 to 2010. He wants to protect wildlife and he has some ideas in that respect which he announced in the House of Lords which has been reported by The Telegraph.

Lord Blencathra would ban cat flaps to protect wildlife
The Rt Hon Lord Blencathra.


One of his silliest ideas (and I'll explain why I think it's silly) is that all cat flaps in the UK should be banned under the law. He doesn't believe that cats should be allowed to come and go as they please from indoors to outdoors (which is not an unreasonable thought of itself). 

And to justify that attitude he says that "All independent studies suggest that cats allowed the wonder will kill about 260 million mammals per annum in the UK and 60 million garden birds."

He doesn't say that these statistics are based on estimates from relatively small-scale studies. There is a lot of incidental information that one needs to bring into the equation when you talk about domestic cat predation on wildlife. But that is another story.

In addition to banning cat flaps and allowing cats out manually through the back door when the sun rises and after the sun has set, he suggests that all domestic cats allowed outside should wear bells on collars.

This last suggestion is fairly reasonable because although domestic cats learn to keep the bells as quiet as possible when stalking prey, bells on collars can help save the lives of some birds stalked by domestic cats. I can't see a problem with that suggestion in general terms but both his suggestions are unenforceable.

Enforceability


If a government makes a law in any field of human life, it has to be enforceable to be effective. That means that if somebody breaks the new law it must come to the notice of the authorities and law enforcement. The prosecution services should prosecute the individual and punish them under the law.

How is law enforcement going to find out if a homeowner has a cat flap in their back door or not? There are many millions of them across the UK. No one knows who's got one and no one knows who has not got one. No one in authority can check because they open to the backdoor in the backyard which is invisible from the street.

Neighbours will or might know but that means that neighbours have to spy on neighbours which is going to cause friction. If that goes on across the country it is going to create a problem in society. You cannot rely on neighbours to spy on other neighbours as happened in East Germany during the communist era.

So Lord Bethcathra's suggestion is foolish and entirely unworkable. It will never happen.

And therefore I don't see why he's bothering to suggest it in a debating chamber in the Houses of Parliament. He is wasting his time, the time of the other lords in the debating chamber and he is wasting taxpayers money who pays him to be there.

It's also unworkable to enforce a law which makes it mandatory for domestic cats to wear bells on collars. It's easier to enforce it than the cat flap proposed law but it is still unenforceable. It would rely upon neighbours spying on neighbours as well.

You've got to work backwards with the creation of laws. You've got to ask yourself if it's enforceable and how could it become enforceable. What kind of machinery do you need to make it enforceable? 

And if existing machinery i.e. law enforcement and prosecution services and the local authority can't make new laws enforceable they should not be enacted unless you think that the law is so popular and universally supported by the public that they will comply with the law voluntarily but this makes the law unnecessary. Government advice, under those circumstances, would probably suffice.

In the meantime, there is a need for a much more thorough evaluation of domestic cat predation on wildlife over a much larger area. You can't extrapolate data from a small study in one particular area and say that those figures apply to the rest of the UK. You might get a rough idea but you do not end up with really accurate data.

And we need to know how many feral cats there are in the country. We don't know (accurately) and if you don't know the number of feral cats in a country you can't decide how many birds and mammals they attack and eat

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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Eurovision Song Contest is very political which is why it has descended into semi-chaos

Eurovision 2024 has descended into a form of political chaos. There are protests outside the Malmo stadium where the contest is being held in support of Palestinians being slaughtered in the Gaza Strip. The climate activist Greta Thunberg participated and we see photographs of her being hauled away by Swedish police.


The Swedish police removed Greta Thunberg from an unauthorised pro-Palestine protest outside the Malmo Arena, the venue for the Eurovision Song Contest which includes an entry from Israel. The Israeli singer, Eden Golan, is under protection in her hotel suite, as reported by The Sunday Times today.

And I can remember a person saying that protests shouldn't take place outside the Eurovision Song contest because it's a non-political contest but he's wrong. It is highly political. It has been a highly political contest for years. In fact I think it was created for political purposes! And the Eastern European block always work together and vote against nations they dislike such as the UK. It is simply hopeless as a music competition. A total waste of time.

Back in the day the best songs won the contest (sometimes). Nowadays nearly all the voting is based on political affiliations. It is highly distorted by political bias. Arguably, the UK is the best country in the world for the creation of new pop songs but Britain nearly always comes last nowadays because of political bias against the UK.

I'm not just moaning about the UK being unfairly treated. I've just decided years ago that the Eurovision Song Contest is a complete joke as a song contest. It is nothing about song. It's about politics and making a statement.

And nowadays it isn't about songs anyway. It's about dance routines and lighting and extreme visual images. It isn't about pure song or music. And that's probably because the songs are rubbish. They've had to jazz up the music to make it interesting and they've done that with dance routines and groups and jazzy lighting.

The Netherlands entry, Joost Klein has been disqualified perhaps unfairly. The reasons for that are listed below. And now we have more uncertainty with speculation about island's entry performing this evening. The group Bambi Thug took to social media to reveal that they missed the flag parade and dress rehearsals because of an issue which remains unresolved.

The Irish delegation believed that comments made on Israel's Eurovision broadcast, Kan, contravened the Eurovision Song rules stated in the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) about discussions regarding other contestants and their disparaging nature.

Once again this is a political element to what should be an entirely non-political event. But this is what happens when over years and years you gradually politicise what was a pure song contest in the good old days; in the innocent days when it first started.

When you gradually politicise something you end up with this form of fiction because people start using the event as a political platform. And politics is bound to create friction whereas song and music achieve the opposite. It achieves harmony, pleasantness, enjoyment and contentment or at least that's the objective.

But the Eurovision Song contest has been hijacked by political activists because it is a political platform.

It would appear that the choice of Malmo as the town where the Eurovision Song Contest was to be held is shrouded in controversy thanks to the participation of Israel. The city itself has been beset by bubbling ethnic tensions according to The Sunday Times. And, the Israeli contestant, Eden Golan, was under heavy protection last night before the show and Israel advised its citizens not to attend because of a "well-founded concern that terrorist elements will exploit the protests and anti-Israel mood to carry out attacks against Israelis."

In other areas, there have been bubbling tensions and political protests away from the site of the show. For example, student watch parties at the University of Warwick and the London School of Economics were cancelled at the last minute. And the University of East Anglia said that it would not air Israel's entry during the Eurovision party.

The Eurovision Party London was cancelled at the Rio cinema in East London in protest at Israel's participation. A screening at the Duke of York cinema In Brighton was also called off because of safety concerns.

Ollie Alexander was in trouble after he called for a ceasefire in Gaza. He resisted pressure to boycott the contest but broke down in tears in a recent interview because of the stress he was under.

Alexandra Mele pulled out of her role communicating Norway's points citing the inflamed situation in Malmo. And Finland's jury spokesman, the runner-up in last year's contest, announced he would not be fulfilling his role.

The Netherlands disqualification explained by Bing's Co-pilot and AI bot. It is polite.

The Netherlands’ disqualification from the Eurovision Song Contest was due to an incident involving Dutch artist Joost Klein. Here’s what happened:

  • Backstage Incident: During the Eurovision Song Contest, a female member of the production crew made an allegation of intimidation against Joost Klein. She reported this to the Swedish police.

  • Filming Dispute: The Dutch broadcaster Avrotros stated that Joost Klein was filmed without his consent when he had just come off stage and was rushing to the greenroom. Despite repeatedly indicating that he did not want to be filmed, his wishes were not respected. Joost did not physically touch the camerawoman, but there was a threatening movement towards her.

  • Disqualification Decision: The contest organizers decided to disqualify Joost Klein, stating that it would not be appropriate for him to participate while the legal process was ongoing. Dutch broadcaster Avrotros called the disqualification “disproportionate.”

  • Favourite to Win: Joost Klein had been among the favourites to win the contest with his song “Europapa,” a pro-European techno anthem dedicated to his late father.

  • Suspension: News of his suspension emerged during the first dress rehearsal for the televised grand final. His performance was skipped without explanation, and Israel’s entrant took his place.

  • Zero Tolerance: The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has a “zero tolerance” policy, leading to Joost Klein’s disqualification.

It’s unfortunate that Joost Klein’s Eurovision journey ended this way, especially considering his dedication to honouring his father’s memory through music. 

Sources: The Sunday Times, general internet searches and Bing's Copilot.

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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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