Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Celebrate the cat for her skills

Lets remind ourselves of the beautiful innate skills of our cats. Some people think of animals as lesser creatures. This leads them to thinking that hunting them (killing them for pleasure) is acceptable. No thought is given to the animals feelings, pain etc. when this happens.

Yet, as an example, the cat has many fabulous skills well beyond ours. Take her sense of smell. It's 14 times better than ours. She has a "device" called the Jacobson's Organ just behind her front teeth in the mouth which allows her to maximizes her sense of smell.

When a cat wants to get all she can of the odor she will open her mouth and suck in air to pass over the Jacobson's Organ and into her nose. This gives phenomenal smelling power.

Add to that, heightened senses in other areas and you have an animal that can sense earthquakes before any man made machine, for example.

Her whiskers are so sensitive that they can pick up minute air currents passing over them. This allows her to "see" in the dark. As she approaches an object that she can't see clearly, the air current around the object changes due to her presence. Her whiskers pick this up so she is able to recognize that the object is there.

These are just a few examples of the sensing power of a cat. We don't have these skills. Unfortunately, as we cannot readily see these skills in action we often fail to recognize their existence. This is a common failing of mankind. For example, if polluted air was colored pink we would stop polluting the air.

Education is the answer. If all people recognized a cat's extraordinary skills perhaps there would be more respect for her in certain quarters of the world. Lets love and celebrate our fellow creatures, particularly cats.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cat Aggression?

Sometimes a when a cat bites you it can be mistaken for aggressive behavior. Be careful in making a judgment that the cat is aggressive. It may be play. If you stroke your cat a little to vigorously for example it may awaken play instinct in your cat. When cats play they bite. Cats are taught to hunt through play.

Sometimes you can stroke your cat gently and she shows she likes it. But after a while without warning she will complain, maybe nip you and walk off. Why does this happen? When your girlfriend comes over to you and cuddles you and then cuddles you some more do you always like it? Do you reach a time limit when you have had enough? You might not be in the mood. Something may have upset you. Even though it is something that is nice you reach a limit. I think that gives a clue as to the answer.

Cats are not as intelligent as humans when measured by our methods for measuring intelligence. That doesn't make them less intelligent in an absolute sense. Their intelligence and skills are parallel to ours but not less than ours.

Once you can tap in to a cats psyche you will understand how they think. They think remarkable like humans on a fundamental level. We are after all both animals on this planet. We are both programmed to survive using our particular skills.

If a cat is aggressive under certain circumstances it will be because of prior experience (i.e. learned by the cat through a bad experience). Usually the experience will have been created by human intervention. Understand what this might have been and avoid creating the same situation. Cat aggression is usually defensive. Don't give her a reason to be defensive.

Learn to understand what makes her tick by empathising with her. Get to understand her habits, likes and dislikes and you will see how similar we are.

Photograph - credit: GrahamlX - creative commons

Indoors or Outdoors

There is a terrible dilemma for cat lovers and their cats. In a world increasingly more hostile to animals including domestic animals the question is how much freedom do you give your cat?

You want to do right by your cat, but are you? The Cat Fanciers Association make it clear on their website that they recommend Persian cats be kept in all the time. This is to manage the cat's coat to stop it getting too dirty and increasing maintenance demands for the human. This advice may not be such a hardship for the Persian Cat as she is pretty placid.

The Bengal (perhaps the opposite end of the spectrum to a Persian as this breed of cat is very active) likes activity as is the case for wild/domestic hybrids. Cab you justify keeping him in all the time? Yes, you can. For his protection. Bengals like to wander, do things, chase things, get lost, get trapped, get nicked (stolen for our American friends). {picture copyright Helmi Flick}

Yet are you keeping your cat in for you or the cat. The cat remember wants to go out. This brings to mind the "old days". Back in the 1960s or so a lot of people thought nothing of "putting the cat out" at night. It seemed the normal thing to do. I can't see why though. But was it safer for cats back in those days. Probably, yes. Less cars, less traffic, less people, less in the way of exotic type cat breeds too.

To people in the 1960s and 50s a cat meant a Domestic Short Hair (DSH) or DLH (domestic long hair). We didn't think much about breeds although they were about of course. Only there were less breeds then. It seems the 80s onwards brought on a lot of new breeds some very glamorous and expensive.

Anyway, the answer to the question whether your cat should be kept in or allowed to roam can be answered if you ask this question, "what does your cat want, is it good for him and can you accommodate him?" In other words focusing primarily on the cat's interests, yours being secondary.

The answer to the above question will probably result in a compromise; in an ideal world. This means building an enclosure with free access in and out for your cat. The picture if of a cats enclosure build by a Canadian business The Cats Den and is reproduced courtesy the business.

This allows freedom and protection. Your cat can as near as practically possible behave as normally as possible. Most people can't afford this or don't have the space. Although I don't think they are very expensive.

Training your cat to accept a collar and lead is a good idea. I've seen cats in Paris on leads and there are pictures of Bengals on leads on the internet (Bengals are trainable though).

Before we adopt cats we must ask some tough questions. Much like we should ask questions before we have children.

Photograph of Bengal cat copyright Helmi Flick

China and lead

Here's something that I picked up on Yahoo Groups. You have probably heard about children's toys made in China that have high levels of toxic material such as lead in them. They have been removed from shops.

It occurred to a person called Mike L on a Yahoo Group that cat bowls made in China may have similar defects. I am sure that there are feeding bowls out there in the UK or USA that are made in China. It would seem possible therefore that some may be painted. Some paint made in China has high levels of lead in it.

Lead in paint makes it more durable. In fact lead was routinely used in paint made in Western countries until it was realized that it was dangerous in much the same way that lead in petrol (gas) is now known to damage children (hence lead free petrol).

It's just that China is behind the West in certain areas. If I were buying a cat's feeding bowl that was made of metal and painted I would check if it was made in China and if so not buy it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pictures-of-Cats.org website update

It is important to keep building good content and I have posted my first page that has been created entirely from scratch (as opposed to using a template) using HTML and a WYSIWYG application (NVU). However, although I have used a template in the past I have used quite a lot of HTML as well to help create a pleasing appearance.

I needed to create a page where large photographs of cats could be viewed. My website page is quite narrow to accommodate all types of screen but this limits the size of photograph that can be published.

It is a continuing debate as to the ideal page size for a website. As monitors are getting larger and cheaper I guess that there is a drift towards a larger page. The ideal is probably a larger page with flexible page width so the text bunches up when the window is compressed.

Anyway, thumbnails on my website from now on will link to a page that is specially formated for the large image to show off the best cat photographs to maximum effect.

Bengals and the Loo (bathroom/restroom in USA)

The Bengal cat is a fabulous cat having in abundance all the characteristics of the domestic cat. It is said that about 12.5% of wild Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) remains in a 4th generation (Stud Book Tradition) Bengal cat. So there is some wild in him. That is what you want. In fact some people like their cats to be more "wild" than that and consequently adopt a first or second generation cat.

One characteristic of the ALC is that she likes to defecate and urinate in water to cover her tracks. Sometimes this trait carries forward through the generations to an SBT cat. The Bengal cat has a propensity to go to the loo actually in the loo (or sink or shower for example) rather than the usual litter as a reflection of this characteristic.

It occurs to me that you might use this to advantage and train your Bengal to use the toilet properly like a human (quite a lot of people do this).

However, you can train a Bengal to use the litter. But in the meantime treat it as something that goes with the territory of a hybrid cat with some wild left in him.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Building a website about cats

You would be forgiven for thinking that there are a gazillion cat websites. There are actually not that many websites exclusively dedicated to cats above 1m Alexa. And there is only one dedicated to the very best pictures of cats supported by carefully researched facts. Yes, I promoting my own website Pictures of Cats and I shouldn't.

But the effort that has gone into getting it to the position it is in now has been awesome. And I am not saying that it is in a good position; just an OK position. Currently ranked about 620k in Alexa and falling (!) having risen to 608k.

The hard part is to keep building great content. It takes a long time and you cannot go too fast and skimp on production as you will, in the end, lose visitors.

The key is to deliver information that is really useful. My modus operandi is to combine the finest cat photographs (and art - yet to do this) with carefully researched facts supported by my thoughts covering wider issues.

If someone reads this (and I have no illusions believe me) then if you want to build a website think hard about it. Make sure that you are very interested in the subject matter of the website as this will keep you going (vital as sometimes it is hard to keep going as it is massively hard to to get seen no matter how well you have SEOed the site).

Keep disciplined and resolve to build pages regularly. Try and build say 200-400 pages (a lot) all of good quality. The search engines will reward you for it.

Don't try and trick the search engines. You can't beat father Google he is too good at this kind of stuff. But use Google and befriend him. Make it a symbiotic relationship.

I have been trying to get a page rank and am still unranked. I have 190 inbound links some from sites ranked in the 300-400k and I am on the home page of these sites. One day Google will be kind enough to page rank me. I've been going since June 2007.

Head down and press on. Like a golfer about to win a major championship it pays to not look at the scoreboard and just keep building quality content.

Cat Mutilation

There is a serial cat killer/mutilator doing his evil work in San Antonio. Nine cats have been attacked and the person is at large.

I have heard of horses being attacked in a similar way. I have heard of cats being shot with air rifles. In the middle Ages black cats where burned at the stake with their witches. Am I right in saying that Jehovah Witnesses think that the cat is an embodiment of evil? I think this is true and the reason in part is because a cat washes her bottom herself. Religion is another story.

An attack like this must be due to a mental illness of some sort. Maybe brought on my drug abuse for example. Only humans can express anger through unprovoked violence against innocent victims.

Cats are reactive and they sometimes have to react to bad situations brought about by mankind. There are though a large body of good animal loving people in the world helping animals and cats.

For example, the problem with feral cats (another man made problem) is now it seems being dealt with more effectively by the trap, neuter release program that is run by an army of good hearted volunteers.

California Forest Fires Update

I'm still getting emails on the forest fires. I call these "on the ground" updates from those "ordinary folk" who are living through the fires. It seems that the news service and reporting to senior people who are making the announcements are not that accurate. That may be because of a certain amount of confusion that must accompany such an event plus the usual exaggerations.

Anyway 600,000 people have been evacuated just in San Diego county. But there may be better things on the horizon as the winds are changing and the humidity is going up - vital as it's the dry Santa Ana winds that fan the flames.

Off shore damp breezes are raising the humidity. The downside is that the air quality is getting worse as at least the fast moving dry winds moved the air along.

The evacuees are being well looked after on all accounts and the President is visiting! I have a feeling that the corner has been turned and things will gradually get better for the people, pets and wild animals.

The photo is courtesy Creative Commons Credit: by kowitz

California Forest Fires

There has been a lot of news about the Southern Californian Forest Fires. I am a member of a number of Yahoo cat breeder groups. There is a lot of correspondence on the fires and its impact on their cats. There are a lot of frightened cats (and other animals) as well as humans in Southern California.

Of course for most humans, humans come first in terms of safety in this difficult time. But being a mad cat lover that I am I feel for the cats, who don't really know what it going on and who will have the instinct to hide and run.

There are instances of cats and dogs being left behind after people abandon their homes in the face of the oncoming fires driven by the 100 mph Santa Ana winds which apparently come at thus time of year.

California is a rich state so I would expect the support to be of the highest calibre. But I have read (from people experiencing this first hand) that there has been a lack of co-ordination in the fire fighting. Don't know for sure if this is true though.

All I know is that there are plenty of frightened pets and cats in particular. One other thing - one of the Calif cat breeders was saying that the smoke and ash is blowing in a making it difficult even if there wasn't a pressing need to leave your home.

We in the UK are thinking about you and your cats and praying that you come through unscathed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cat Behavior

Picture reproduced under creative commons credit: urabanmkr flickr

There has been a bit about cat behavior on the internet recently. Actually it's always on the internet. The general view is that a cat's behavior is something to be corrected on occasions. For example, jumping on a kitchen counter.

The way I see it is like this. For the cat jumping on a kitchen counter is normal behavior. We decided to live with the cat and he decided to live with us. We didn't set down any rules and anyway you can't with a cat.

So, we shouldn't really complain when a cat jumps up onto a counter. Your cat may dislike some of the things that you do. Such as making noise or locking your cat in a room for some reason.

Your cat might not like the fact that you argue with your partner sometimes as this creates a hostile atmosphere for your cat and she picks this up.

There are then numerous instances when your cat has a chance to complain but doesn't, about your behavior. Except, of course, when your cat walks out and never comes back. That happens not too infrequently. You know how often stray cats or cats that are thinking of moving mouch into your home looking for food. I've got two that come to my place.

The point I am making is this . We should accept our cat's behavior as much as possible. If it is natural to the cat. If however, you don't like your cat jumping onto the counter for hygiene reasons (I personally don't see the hygiene problem as I have never had any problems with health issues arising out of my cat), you should gently train her to jump on a construction that is a good substitute.

Personally I just think it is so much easier and more sensible to accept our cat's behavior and enjoy it.

From Cat Behavior to Cat Chit Chat

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Hi, I'm back and I know no-one knows (yet...) but things are gradually changing and it's really thanks to 2 things.

Firstly, my determination to make this website work and earn some money to give away to cat charities. That would make me happy.

Secondly, a thanks to Ken Evoy the President of SiteSell and Site Build It (SBI). My site is an SBI site and without the SBI mentality and Search Engine optimization techniques I would not have achieved anything like I have.

The SBI mentality is very clear. It is not about quick fixes and fast bucks but creating quality content. This must be the way. It must be a long term objective, to achieve traffic. And the only way to get there in the long term is through quality as it endures longer than the quick fix stuff.

Essentially, in time (and I reckon the journey from starting a website to achieving an Alexa ranking of say 300,000 takes about 2 plus years or more) excellent content will keep visitors and get new visitors. The way the site looks (its "look and feel") although of some importance is much less important than the content - what the site says and does.

Look for example at Craigslist, a retro style website of enormous success. It is very functional and does it function.

This is (as they say) not a beauty parade. The most beautiful site doesn't win. The best site wins and the best site is the one with the best content as after all a website is something to read.

This blog is now about my journey to a successful website. I will no doubt look back with a smile. My target is to make £500 a month from the site.

I am currently ranked 648,ooo by Alexa and at one time it looked like going up (and it still might). But, you know, Alexa is not that accurate for sites ranked below 100,000 so not too much should be read into the figures if you are outside that figure.

I am also working on Page rank by slowly getting good inbound links from well ranked sites. This is a slow process as well and the inbound links that I have are not yet showing up in Alexa.

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