Saturday, November 18, 2023

Scentsicles are a Christmas tree scented ornament that might stop your cat climbing the tree BUT IS IT SAFE?

This is a "hack" in modern, internet parlance. It's a little trick dreamt up by a lady on TikTok. She has a successful TikTok account where it is obvious that she loves Christmas but she finds ways to save money and make her home look nice. 

I HAVE TO ADD A CAUTION AGAINST THIS PRODUCT. ON MORE RESEARCH I THINK THIS PRODUCT IS UNSUITABLE AS A CHRISTMAS TREE CAT DETERRENT AS SCENTS CAN BE TOXIC TO CATS

They smell nice to humans but the opposite to domestic cats! Image: MikeB

And because she lives with a cat or cats, she needs to protect her lovely Christmas tree from them because as we know cats see trees as something to climb even if it's almost impossible to do because of the decorations. 

How many times have you seen a Christmas tree being felled by a cat trying to climb it? On the Internet you will see it happen quite a lot.

The lady's name is Jess and she discovered that a certain Amazon product designed to make your Christmas tree smell nice deters cats from the tree. In America they cost eight dollars, a very modest price and the product is called:

Scentsicles Scented Christmas Ornaments for Christmas Tree, All Natural Holiday Air Freshener (Christmas Berry Holiday Fragrance) Includes 6 Ornaments & Hooks

To give you the full description from Amazon. They are an "Amazon's Choice". And they get a very good rating of 4.3 out of five. 

They make the tree smell nice as I say but according to Jess, cats strongly dislike the smell and therefore stay well away from the tree. They are not designed to be cat deterrents! It just so happens that Jess's cats hate the smell. I can't guarantee that this dislike applies to all cats.

Caution

You might wish to give them a try. Please be cautious though because I don't know whether this product is dangerous to companion animals. I don't think it is.

What I mean is some products you can buy Christmas can look nice and smell nice but if you have a dog, for example, they might like to chew on it and it may contain some substances which are toxic to dogs or perhaps cats as well. So just be careful there, please.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Toddler prefers cats to candy!

Or, who needs candy when there's a kitty. The father wants his child (daughter I believe) to grab some candy (sweets in UK language) but she is far more interested in the family cat. She insists of interacting with the cat while dad tries to get her interested in the candy.

For me it is great to see. We have a child who likes cats more than sweets. That's very good in terms of cat welfare and human health going forward.

I sense the world has a really nice adult human in the making.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Lost cat found in mineshaft by the family's dog who insisted the owner followed her

Daisy, a dog, lives with Michele Rose together with Mowgli and Baloo, both cats. And then one day Mowgli went missing and he was lost six days at which time Michele Rose had almost given up hope of seeing him again.

Daisy and Mowgli. Picture: Michele Rose.

But she said that she saw Daisy "going berserk". She was running in and out of the woods near her home in Harrowbarrow, a village in East Cornwall, England, UK.

Near Michele Rose's home there is an old mineshaft, part of the Prince of Wales old mine workings, discontinued long ago.

Daisy insisted that Michele followed her and guided her along a footpath towards the mineshaft where she stopped dead in her tracks.

Michele said that Daisy "was persistent in making me follow her, it was amazing."

She added that Daisy "is a superstar, she's an amazing dog."

She had stopped dead at the exact spot where Mowgli had fallen into the mineshaft to a depth of about a hundred feet (30 m).

Michele was able to call the RSPCA who I believe called Cornwall Fire and Rescue but at the time they located Mowgli it became too dark too quickly, and they had to return the next day when they were successful in rescuing Mowgli.

Remarkably, he was uninjured and pulled to safety. While inside his carrier, Mowgli was greeted by Baloo. They did a friendly nose touching greeting - see below.

RELATED: Cat Saves Dog from Dog Attack.

Lost cat found in mineshaft by the family's dog who insisted the owner followed her
Baloo meets Mowgli after his rescue from the mineshaft. Picture: RSPCA.

Michele Rose said that she adopted Mowgli and Baloo in December 2022 as kittens and introduced them to Daisy, the resident dog at that time.

Daisy was a year old when she met the kittens and they made friends immediately and have been inseparable ever since.

Daisy behaves a bit like a mother to the cats and puts up with them. She is very protective of them and in return they love her.

The story is just another little example of how dogs and cats have very close relationships and where the dog can sometimes act as a mother. Many dogs like being mothers and if there are no puppies then little kittens will do just nicely thank you very much.

RELATED: Dog saves cat from rubble of building brought down by earthquake in ─░zmir Province, Turkey.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

What is the best cat food? A novel and different answer!

The question has been asked a million times on the Internet and there are a million answers and therefore this page will not be seen when I provide my answer which I think is the best one (!) as there will be too much competition. I'll press on nonetheless.

The answer must be this: a mouse, yes, a live mouse that does not have any worms in their gut! The mouse is the ideal food for a domestic cat. As cats are obligate carnivores, their ideal diet is 40% protein, 50% fat and only 3% carbohydrates. And inside the stomach of the mouse there is some vegetation - a bit of roughage when combined with mouse fur. This is the ideal diet. But the problem is that mice sometimes have worms in their gut and the domestic cat acquires these worms when they eat mice.

It's no big deal as you can administer deworming pills but it is not ideal. However, in terms of a balanced diet a living mouse attacked and eaten by a cat is very healthy. 

Next in line would probably be home-made raw cat food [link to a full page on this] which meets all the requirements of a balanced diet with all the required nutrients added in (you can buy a nice mix online). The problem here is that many people don't know how to make home-made raw cat food and neither are they sure about how to store it to avoid cross contamination. It is a bit tricky and the vets say cat owners should not try. Too risky.

But certainly, a genuine expert who is also a cat owner could make some excellent raw cat food themselves. There are many people who promote this kind of diet particularly some breeders who have acquired the expertise to do it properly.

And then next in line after that, would be the highest quality wet cat food on the market because it should replicate exactly a whole living mouse! And there may be some added nutrients as well which will be of benefit to a domestic cat. It must be balanced and complete.

And then last in line would be poor quality dry cat food because it's just too dry and domestic cats don't compensate for this dryness by drinking enough water. Plus, the carb content is far too high. It is very unnatural albeit convenient for the owner. Some vets think that dry food promotes feline diabetes and obesity.

There is actually another option in respect of dry cat food which is vegan dry cat food. A lot of people will wince at the thought of it because they have this firm belief that domestic cats can't be vegans but commercially made vegan dry cat food contains all the nutrients that a domestic cat requires. The only difference is that the protein is plant protein rather than animal protein. There is little difference between the two in terms of nutrition for the cat.

And there are advocates of this kind of dry cat food who say that their cat's health has improved. I am going to try it out myself and I will report back.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Are cats smarter than dogs? A common question but difficult to answer.

People like to ask whether cats are smarter than dogs or vice versa; a topic of debate on the Internet and has been for many years.

The answer depends upon how you measure intelligence as both cats and dogs are intelligent but arguably, they possess different types of cognitive strengths and abilities. This is because dogs have been domesticated for about twice as long as cats (for around 20k years for dogs) and secondly dogs have a background of being working animals, serving their human owner whereas initially cats were working cats employed as rodent killers but nowadays they are companions and entertainers to their human caregiver.

So, these animal species have different purposes in life. This affects their skills and how you measure those skills and therefore how you measure intelligence. Cats are known for their independence and problem-solving skills. They are great hunters with great predatory instincts. They can learn from observation and can manipulate their environment. They often learn from their human caregiver such as when opening internal doors or the fridge door.

A cat's senses are incredible. It is thought that they are sensitive to the Earth's magnetic field which guides them home if they been removed from their home by their owner who is moving to a new home. You may have read the stories of cats going home after their owner has moved. My cat did that actually. This is because cats are attached to their home range - their territory - arguably more than they are attached to their human caregiver!

But we don't read stories of dogs finding their way home on their own using the Earth's magnetic field. That said, dogs are highly social animals and they excel in areas such as social intelligence, they are known for their emotional understanding and their ability to cooperate with humans. They seek guidance from their human caregiver as the alpha dog in the pack.

So, dogs and cats are different in terms of the development of their cognitive abilities due to many thousands of years of domestication and this makes it very difficult to compare intelligence. Essentially, they have evolved different cognitive abilities to suit their respective lifestyles and relationships with people.

Dogs are easier to train because they are pack animals and they look to their owner for guidance whereas cats are more independent as mentioned. But cats can be trained and they develop strong bond with their owners.

And there will be variations between individual animals. Some cats will be smarter than others and some dogs likewise. It is perhaps difficult and unwise to generalise and it is also tricky to compare cat and dog intelligence.

Conclusion

Having studied this aspect of cats and dogs for about 15 years, and read studies, I cannot put my finger on a definitive answer to the question. In the human world, and against my best instincts, I would probably lean towards dogs as being slightly more intelligent than cats but mainly because they are better at relating to humans due to their longer domestication as a species and the fact that they are pack animals.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Picture proves that cats like warmth and height

The old Volkswagen Beetle pulls up after a long journey. The ambient temperature is slightly chilly. A stray cat is huddled nearby watching as the driver gets out and walks to their apartment across the road. The cat seizes her opportunity to both feel safer and be warmer. The engine vent allows the hot air surrounding the engine to gentle emerge from the engine compartment and the rear light fitment which illuminates the car's registration number provides a neat if slightly cramped platform for the cat to hop onto.

And here is the finished result: a warmer and safer cat until the drive returns to use their car again.


You must know this by now. The basic tenet of cat caregiving is to provide security for your cat and after that comes warmth, food and high places! Those high places are so important because the cat feels safer there and embedded in their DNA is this desire; this instinctive desire inherited from their wild cat ancestor, to climb. To climb a tree and if there is no tree to climb a manufactured cat tree in the safety of their family's home.

For a stray cat this luxury is missing. But the substitute will be a light fitment on a Volkswagen beetle next to an engine air vent to keep her warm.

I was going to say that all drivers should check inside the engine compartment of the car during the winter to make sure that there are no kittens or adult cats there but I have to be realistic and practical and say that it is impractical to do that every time. However, many stray cats are injured after they sought warmth within the engine compartment of a vehicle that's just parked up and therefore the area around the engine is warm.

RELATED: Cat uninjured and safe after 2 hours 30 minutes of motorway driving in engine compartment.

On the topic of cars, you will find the odd neighbour complaining about their neighbour's cat who likes to jump on top of the hood (bonnet in the UK) of their car. They might claim that the cat scratches the paintwork. I would argue that that is very rare because cats are good at jumping onto objects precisely. They don't need to use their claws. And the reason, once again, why a cat is jumping up onto the hood of a vehicle is because it is warm there and it is a high place! The same rules apply.

Rather than complaining about a cat doing this people should ask more profound questions about why there is a stray cat on the streets who needs to do this. Why the neighbour's cat is stuck outside wanting to do this. Anyway, it's pretty rare for a cat to jump up onto a car hood although it does happen.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Distressing video example of cat separation anxiety in action

This cat was apparently left alone for a mere 30 minutes. They would appear to have a very close connection with their human companion. You can see that the cat is suffering from separation anxiety. She is howling and looks confused. It's unclear why she is carrying a lead around in her mouth but I will guess. 

The owner probably takes her out on a lead from time to time for a walk. The cat might be an indoor cat. And therefore, this cat understands that in order to get outside she must have a lead and therefore grabs it in her mouth and is trying to offer it up to their owner who isn't present. It's all instinctive behaviour so it doesn't make sense but that's my take on this.

And, I think you will agree with me that it is a distressing video in a kind of subtle way. It might not bother some people but what I see here is a cat in distress and stressed. And separation anxiety is very common and it can and does cause stress. Stress can lead to health problems. And in addition, cat owners who are away from home quite a lot tend to put down dry cat food because it is convenient.

Dry cat food is clearly dehydrated food and it causes mild dehydration in the cat because they don't really compensate for that lack of moisture in the food by drinking more. This is because of their wild cat ancestor's inheritance in terms of behavioural traits. This kind of scenario can lead to cystitis. It might lead to other health problems.

And people say how does my cat know when I'm going to come home because they are always behind the door when I arrive. Well, if that person has a fixed routine, then the cat's internal clock will help guide them went to wait by the front door but if their owner is absent for a non-routine reason then their cat won't know when he or she is going to return and under those circumstances, I believe, they will wait behind the front door or near the front door for many hours.

It is even plausible to suggest that they might remain there all day. They might be desperate to be reunited with their human caregiver. I think cat owners should be aware of this potential problem. And it may also be useful if they purchase a camera trap video camera for around $40 on Amazon which will be motion sensor activated and which will allow them to quite possibly detect what their cat is up to when they are away. You may need two or three of the cameras in different rooms to get the full picture. I think it would be money well spent.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Cat purring is like people talking with a vocal fry

I'll try and explain the title. The human vocal fry is vocalising in a deep, creaky, breathy voice. I think you hear it quite a lot in advertisements when a man speaks in a vocal fry register to compel people to be attracted to a product.

And it may surprise people to know that a recent study which I believe has been peer-reviewed but which requires follow-up studies, indicates that when a cat purrs it's a simple case of an airflow passing over connective tissue masses within the larynx of the cat. Human vocal fry requires a shortening of the vocal cords.

The study researchers compressed the larynx slightly and then passed air through it and they produced a purring sound. How did they achieve this? They received the consent of owners of cats who had been euthanised because of chronic illness. And they surgically removed the larynxes of the disease cats. They were then able to pass an airflow through the larynx having, I believe, restricted it slightly.

The point is this: it was a very simple test. It only required an airflow going over these tissue masses inside the larynx to create the sound. This is a very low rumbling sound as we know made by animals much larger than the domestic cat. It is therefore a very specialist sound.

It registers with a frequency in between 20-30 Hz as I recall. The study is called: "Domestic cat larynges can produce purring frequencies without neural input."

The referencing the title to "neural input" means that the brain doesn't have to send signals to the throat to constricted and then release it many times a minute which is what the experts originally thought was the process of creating the purr. It was more or less universally thought that in order to create the purring sound the throat had to be constricted and then released rapidly through a nervous system signal. We now know that that isn't the case.

Although, the people who conducted the study say follow-up work would be useful, the lead researcher in the study, Christian Herbst, believes that it should shed some light on animal and human vocal communication. It shows that the cat converts aerodynamic energy which is the flow of air caused by breathing into acoustic energy via the "passive, cyclical oscillation of tissue".

In the early days, many experts were mystified by the domestic cat purr and some proposed that it was created through the flow of blood through the cat's main veins into the heart. When it was increased it caused turbulence and the sound of the turbulence were transmitted to the animal's chest and amplified by the diaphragm. A very complicated and entirely incorrect hypothesis as it happens.

An interesting aspect of the study is that we know that kittens purr while they are drinking their mother's milk. So, cats can purr and drink at the same time. I would like that to be explained to me. There must be a simple explanation for the ability of a cat to do that.

The last point to make is that cats purr when they breathe out and in, which creates this continuous sound.

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