Friday, December 19, 2014

Beautiful clouded leopard in Borneo rainforest

This video gets absolutely no views but I like it because there is a mysterious/ghost-like quality. It was taken with a camera trap. It shows the shape of the clouded leopard very well and particularly the extraordinarily long tail (and it is thick too). The tail is used for balance because this cat is arboreal - a tree dweller.

You probably know that the name is after the cloud-like shapes of the spots on this cat. This is a medium-sized wild cat species but at the top end of the medium-sized group.

Cat tails are used for balance. For the domestic cat it is also used for balance but also as a form of communication such as tail up for a friendly greeting and swishing side to side when the cat is indecisive.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

All UK council cleansing departments should check for microchips in cats found dead

This idea comes from the founder of Missing Cats in Scotland and Missing Cat in England.   She makes a very good point.  Cat owners who lose their cats but cannot find them are unable to close the matter.  There is uncertainty.

Often these cats will be killed on the road and sometimes they will crawl and stagger under a bush beside the road to die but sometimes they might be picked up by the local councils.  It has to be said, by the way, that a lot of cat owners don't really seek closure and don't care that much when their cat fails to come home. But the majority do.

That said, it would not take much in the way of resources and effort for the local councils to ensure that their cleansing departments carried microchip scanners which could check whether the dead cat on the road was microchipped and if so identify the owner. They could then pass on the information.

Traveling vet helps to control cat colonies, protect public health

Traveling vet helps to control cat colonies, protect public health

I love to see vets doing things with passion and their heart, while for a moment putting aside profit. This lady in America, Dr Becky Morrow, has a soft spot for strays which is why she conducts clinics in Western Pennsylvania to vaccinate and neuter feral cats. She also founded Frankie's Friends Cat Rescue with some friends.

Dr Becky Morrow - Photo: Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
“We're helping animals who don't get help, and that's what I went to vet school to do,” Morrow said.
Here, here. Well done Dr Becky. I wish more vets were like that but as most of them in the USA declaw cats they can't be because declawing cats goes against the vet's oath and therefore it follows it is not what they went to vet school for....

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Feeding a stray cat is effectively adopting that cat

I think it's true that if you feed a stray cat you are very close to the moment of adopting the cat. Even if you don't actually take the cat in and treat that cat as your own, you are adopting the cat, aren't you?

A journalist, Tim Kreider, writing for the New York Times made a good point. He said that people have “a reservoir of affection". People need to express their affection and in the absence of a person, perhaps child or a lover, they give their affection to a companion animal.

I'm thinking of Sarah Hartwell (of who says that cats just happen. They are just there and I'm fairly certain that Sarah Hartwell a well-known cat lover and author has never purposefully adopted a cat because it just happened.

People with this reservoir of affection see in a vulnerable kitten or cat a receptacle for their affection although they probably don't realise it.

I think it happened to me when I adopted Charlie. My mother had just died and I was at her home looking over some furniture which I could take; the usual thing. I had no intention whatsoever of adopting Charlie. I didn't even think about him but there he was looking sheepish in the corner of a room with anxiety written all over his face.

There was nothing I could do other than take him home with me despite the disruption that it was bound to cause together with the long-term responsibilities which I had inexplicably taken on. It must have been that reservoir of affection that I needed to offload onto somebody. At the time I did have a girlfriend but I guess I wasn't allowed by her to deliver enough of my affection to her.

When people have to care for a person who is ill and that caring goes on for a long time then the reservoir of affection runs dry and the process becomes work, painful and irritating. I suppose each person has a different amount of affection in their own reservoir.

You can look at this “reservoir of affection" from the other side of the coin. If we have a reservoir of affection which we need to give to others then it follows that people receive affection from others and therefore need it. They need to be nurtured.

The question is whether a companion animal can nurture a person and I am I not sure that they can sufficiently and this is where there is a possible weakness in the relationship between companion animal and person.

Do you think that a cat companion is able to fully nurture a person? Does a cat have a reservoir of affection which they wish to give to their human guardian?

I do believe though that people have this reservoir of affection and they have a need to nurture others. In fact you can go further than that and say that under normal circumstances a person needs to have responsibilities and those responsibilities extend to looking after another; a companion animal or a person.

Havana Brown: Real Name Angelique Meunier

Angelique Meunier, an Australian celebrity singer/dancer took the name of a cat for her stage name. She must have hijacked the name of a fairly rare purebred pedigree cat, the Havana Brown, which is the name of a chocolate coloured fine looking cat breed. The origin of the name is unclear. It does not refer to havana cigars but may refer to Swiss chocolate or a rabbit!

Havana Brown Cosmo Fun Fearless Female Awards

I don't know of any other celebrity who has taken the name of a cat! It is quite neat in one way but I guess only a few people know it is the name of a cat.

I am slightly peeved because when you Google "Havana Brown" you are presented with a pile of information about this female celebrity. You have to add "cat" to the search. 

Havana brown cat

There are many examples of the names of wild cats being used by people. Tiger Woods, the golfer, is the standout example but many teams also use wild cat names such as "cougar" and "lion" etc.

It is a shame that none of this translates to better cat welfare.

The picture of the cat is by Rikki's Refuge on Flickr

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Is cat genome sequencing a precursor to more experimentation on cats?

We are told that the cat genome has been sequenced. The impression given is that this is a major step. What is genome sequencing? I don't exactly know to be honest but what I do know is that it does allow people to better understand the building blocks of the animal of which the genome has been sequenced and it also allows scientists to better understand the genetics of the animal, as I understand it.

In this instance an Abyssinian cat living at the University of Missoula in Colombia was the subject chosen to represent her species.  A 25 man multinational scientific team was pulled together to sequence the cat genome.

It is stated on the website that provides the source of this information that one reason for sequencing the genes of the cat is to better understand disease, at least in theory. Although cats and humans don't infect each other with their respective diseases except on rare occasions, domestic cats are known to suffer from about 250 conditions which are “analogous to human conditions".

One of them is feline AIDS (FIV) caused by a virus which depresses the immune system.  Accordingly, “feline infectious agents offer powerful natural models of deadly human diseases".

Those words indicate to me, possibly incorrectly, that scientists have recognised that many diseases that affect the cat take a similar course to diseases that affect humans and therefore testing medications on cats may help scientists to better understand how to cure human diseases.

I'm just throwing up a red flag to see where it lands but I don't see any reason to sequence the cat genome other than if it has some benefit to people because that is how people think. Already we know that cats are used in medical testing, although of course, far more rarely than mice, for example.

I hope I'm incorrect.

Working Cats

Let's restore a greater percentage of semi-feral cats to their rightful place in society: the working cat. Wasn't that meant to be what they were at the beginning, when first domesticated?

Not all feral cats run a mile at the sight of people. There is a wide spectrum of types of feral cat and some are quite domesticated but live outside. For instance, there is a lady in the UK who looks after "allotment cats" (allotments in the UK are gardens in a different place to where you live). These are semi-feral cats.

Cats Protection in the UK ask people to contact them if they know of cats that would suit the working cat environment such as farms, stables, smallholdings etc.

In America, the Arizona Humane Society have a page on their website where they say cats will work for mice. I like that. They ask people to give them their stray and feral cats. They say there is a waiting list of potential homes for working-cat candidates. I presume this to mean there are more people seeking working cats than there are available cats.

Arizona Humane Society provides a great start up pack to a person who'd like a working cats (applicants for cats have to take a minimum of cats).

The Society supplies:

  • an enclosure
  • food
  • bedding
  • and litter box and litter to get you started.

They make the good point that working cats are an environmentally friendly form of pest control. The benefits are enormous. The lives of two cats are saved and there is no need to put down poisons to control pests, plus you have the fun of looking after a cat which will probably be friendly as well as able to live semi-wild.

There may be some difficulties with relocating cats  but if those risks are outweighed by the benefits I believe and these sorts of programs also raise the profile of feral cats in the eyes of others. We need that because too many people see feral cats as pests. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

One-eyed Jaguar Bites Caiman to Death

A caiman is a fairly small crocodile living in South America. The jaguar is one of the big cats and a roaring cat. The interesting fact about the jaguar is that it has the strongest bite of any of the wild cat species and substantially harder than the tiger. The tiger's bite is also harder than the lion's.

Judging by the images it seems that the jaguar used its impressive bite force to kill the caiman by biting the back of its neck somewhere near the nape of the neck in the same way that a domestic cat kills a mouse by biting the nape of the neck which splits open the vertebrae.

Cats do this very accurately by feeling where the vertebrae are and where they meet. I think this is the interesting aspect of this story; the way the jaguar kills this South American crocodile

It is an example of a superior predator using its inherent attributes to kill prey efficiently.

Mystery Animals Are an Expression of Our Fear

The video above is all over the Internet including screenshots from it. We are told that experts are mystified as to what species this animal is. There's lots of speculation that the animal is a mountain lion or even a lion. But this animal's shape does not resemble a mountain lion or a lion or for that matter any large wild cat species. The torso is too short for a start off.  Of course the pictures are indistinct because the images are grainy and there are strong shadows which appear to alter the shape of the animal.

My distinct impression is that people are too eager to look for a mystery where there is none and look for danger where there is none.  People are fearful of the dark and of dangerous large animals.

I believe this is a throwback to the early days of homo sapiens when indeed there were dangerous predators and when lions roamed Europe and when sabre-tooth tigers roamed North America.

I think people are hardwired with a fear of large predators and that fear leaks out of them when they see blurry images of a dog ambling down a suburban road minding his own business until the whole world starts analysing him and what the hell is. He's a dog that's what he is and to me it is rather obvious.

This particularly fearful predator was wandering around a place called Norwalk in the USA.  As mentioned, people thought it may have been a mountain lion but experts said, no, but it might be a lion. The lion is more stocky and has very strong forelegs and shoulders whereas the mountain lion is more slender so that makes sense because the animal in the video is quite stocky.

The experts figured that if it was a lion and then it might have escaped from a backyard.  Some people do like to keep lions in their backyard as exotic pets.

The video was taken with a resident's security camera. A lot of people were concerned about their pets being attacked by this mystery, monster predator lurking around their streets at night.  One guy said he might carry is firearm as protection.  A lady in her car said she couldn't understand why mountain lions were in the area because there are no mountains.

Then a large man with a large amount of common sense said he knew what the animal was: a large grey dog, a Rottweiler or a Pitbull.  That is what this animal looks like to me.

Nothing has happened in the way of a follow-up story telling us how it all ended up so I believe that we have to presume the animal was and is a large dog.

It is all about subliminal fear. We are afraid of some many things.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Chancellor of the Exchequer's Cat Freya Hit by Car

It was totally expected. Very recently, Freya has been hit by car because she wanders all over Central London in one of the areas where the traffic is at its heaviest and let's not forget that traffic is heavy anywhere in London a lot of the time.


So we have to conclude that George Osborne, the current chancellor of the exchequer, and his wife are irresponsible cat owners because they let their cat wander all over the most dangerous place for a cat on earth, practically. Let's also not forget that trauma - and by trauma I mean being hit by a car on a road - is one of the major causes of death of the domestic cat in the world today.

Any decent cat caretaker knows that they must supervise their cat if he or she goes outside in an area where there is traffic. That's common sense. Anybody knows that but apparently George Osborne and his wife who are both highly educated don't realise it or they have some sort of intransigent, unreasonably idea that a domestic cat should be allowed to wander wherever he/she likes.

This is clearly a ridiculous idea if you live in the middle of London which is exactly where the Chancellor of the Exchequer lives. George Osborne and his family are setting a deplorable example on how to look after a domestic cat but when the news media reports this story they appear to make no reference to that important fact.

There are places where a certain sort of cat can go outside safely but some cats like to wander far and wide and Freya is one of those cats. She has a history of wandering long distances over central London.

That might be all right if George Osborne lived in the country but even then I wouldn't allow it myself because you just do not know what hazards are awaiting your cat. I think it is time that somebody other than me criticises George Osborne and his wife for this sort of behaviour. It simply is not good enough.

Apparently, although Freya has been hit by a car very recently and she has been seen by a veterinarian, she appears to be all right as far as I know but let's wait and see what the follow-up news on this.

As far as I'm concerned it is only a matter of time before Freya is killed on the roads of London and if she is not it will be a matter of extreme good fortune.