Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm preparing for my cat's death

Photograph reproduced under creative commons, copyright YanivG (Flickr). This is not Binnie Do, my cat, just a well made but very sad photo of an old cat. The upload of this photo has made this cat look in worse condition than the original photo on Flickr. Remember though there a lot of feral cats like this.

The lady cat who lives with me is Binnie Do (proper name Judds). She found me on the streets of Notting Hill Gate, West London in 1993. She was under a car in the street seeking protection from the cold rain on a dull November day.

I guess she was about a year or so old at the time she found me. That makes her about 15 years old.

The average life span of a cat is about 10-12 years. Domestic cats living as domestic cats (with humans) should live between 9-15 years. That puts my darling Binnie at the top end.

The life spans mentioned above refers to the average Moggie (mongrel cat). Moggies are cross bred cats. Pure-bred cats are also sometimes cross bred but under controlled conditions. Moggies will have a history of unmanaged and unrecorded cross breeding, while pure-bred registered show cats have breeding records that meet the registry's requirements.

The lives of pure-bred cats is sometimes shorter than that of Moggies due to a lack of hybrid vigour. Hybrid vigour means the improved physicality of the cat due to out crossing resulting in a better genetic makeup (in terms of health). Cat breeders, though, do their best to maintain hybrid vigour through careful breeding.

Old age for cats takes place during the last year or so their life. Binnie Do has signs of old age. She is less flexible and jumps poorly by cat standards. She likes complete routine and I give her it. She is nearing the end of her life and I must get myself ready for the moment.

Binnie at 19
I will miss her sorely and I tell her this. More on old age to come..........{Sorry if this is a bit morbid. It is not meant to be. I am just aware of and thinking of the time when I will be without here. I need to do this to minimise some of the impact.

This is an update about 5 years later. She is still alive but near the end. She has a tumor on her right kidney and is on permanent antibiotics. I am stressed and anxious. She stays out all the time 24/7 and if I try and keep her in she gets stressed and claws at the cat flap/door. She is frail and anemic with a heart murmur. She is about 19 years of age.

The picture right was taken about 5 days ago in early October 2011.

A cat's way of scratching his head

We lick our lips and cats lick their noses, we're not so different.

When I refer to a cat's way of scratching his head, I am not referring to an itch but a cat's version of the human action of scratching our heads when we are uncertain and thinking about something to which we can't find the answer and are a bit agitated.

I know when my cat is agitated and uncertain about my actions towards her. She is a nervous girl anyway. Actually she is a lady cat in her 80s (by human years). She has spent all he years a little fearful of everything due to a difficult start in life as a stray cat. This has made her less active and consequently a little overweight. Yes, I've tried to keep her weight down but she always wins the argument.

When a cat becomes a little agitated she will use her flexible and highly useful tongue to lick her nose. We scratch something and she licks. Actually we also lick our lips when we are talking and are concerned about what we are saying. That is why some people have slightly red or dry lips some of the time. They are probably more agitated than other people. There is then a similarity between a cat's instinctive behavior and ours which is to be expected as we are both animals (here I mean "animal" as a living creature on this planet).

The action brought on by uncertainty as to what to do next is typical of all animals. The action is a way of breaking out of the mental "log jam" created by being unsure about how to deal with something. Humans biting their nails is, I think, another example.

As for humans there are various versions of what the experts call "displacement activities". Activities that take you away from and give relief to the difficulty.

A cat might also yawn as an alternative. Licking the lips and the nose is the favorite though.

Photograph reproduced under creative commons copyright: danilou (Flickr)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Do you flush cat litter down the toilet? Read this.

Photos reproduced under CC: top - copyright lynx81, bottom - copyright johnbullas both Flickr

I for one have never heard of the idea of flushing cat litter down the toilet. It seems though that some people do it. I would have thought that you risk blocking the drain with the "litter element" of the cat litter. Anyway, there are hidden dangers in respect of health as well.

In London pet owners, usually dog owners, who take their dogs for a walk in the park are requested to pick up their dog's droppings from the grass to avoid the potential for passing on disease such as Toxoplasmosis.

The same kind of potential health risk exists for wildlife if you dispose of used cat litter down the toilet and this I presume must include toilet trained cats (i.e. cats who use the toilet like humans).

Some cat feces (feaces in the UK) contain a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite is in wildlife such as rodents. When cats catch rodents and eat them they ingest the parasite and is then expelled with the cat's feaces.

Sewage systems can't remove the parasite so it is carried into the sea with the treated sewage. The parasite is then ingested by small sea creatures which are in turn eaten by such beautiful creatures such as the sea otter. The parasite can kill animals and seriously harm humans.

Lesson: throw cat litter into the refuse, double wrapped, where it will be placed in land fill and the parasite will die. (land fill is another problem however; we are running out of land fill space in the UK).

Normally cats would go to the toilet outside on soil and bury it. The parasite would die after one year. It is the artificiality of modern living with humans that seems to be the cause of this problem.

One solution put forward is to keep cats indoors to prevent them catching and eating wildlife but does that sound correct?

Do you flush cat litter down the toilet? Read this. to Cat litter and burying feces

Cats are Coca-Cola or Kentucky Fried Chicken for Some

Photo reproduced under CC: copyright Maltese Falcon59

You may have heard of the secret recipes of some famous brands such as Coca-Cola and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Of course you don't know recipe (well you might). There are many more secret manufacturing processes, less well known.

In a sign of the modern consumer society and, in my opinion, how the attitude to cat breeding can go a little wrong and become too commercialized perhaps, the company "making" the Allerca cat say that they throw the best "ingredients" into their breeding program to come up with the best final "product". The Ashera (a "brand" of Allerca cat, there are 3 I think) is a mix between an African Serval, an Asian Leopard and a domesticated cat. They can weigh 30 lbs (some F1 Savannah's weigh the same).

I think that the terminology used by this executive is a little unfortunate. Perhaps people think that it is OK to talk about a cat as a "product" but I for one see a problem with that.

The Allerca is a designer cat along the lines of the Toyger, Savannah, Serengeti and Chausie for example.

I believe that we are all here on the planet together getting along as best we can. We are all fundamentally equal. We therefore need to respect other creatures. The kind of language used by this company does not, in my considered view, indicate a real respect for animals. Although this is only an indication. Perhaps it is just the wrong language being used. I'm not sure.

We can't deny ourselves our basic instincts but we must exercise some control over them in a modern world.

The old world (third world countries - some of which are about 100 years or more "behind" the West in certain areas) also commercialize animals in a different way. Some Chinese communities (mercifully only a few I understand) trap and cage Bears (for the entire remainder of their life) to "bleed" from them bile to use in so called medical products. This is obviously abhorrent to decent people. Some Chinese also eat cats and dogs for bogus (in my view) medicinal purposes and treat them appallingly before-hand. It makes me quite sick to think about.

There is a natural place for cat breeding in society but I am not sure that it can become too commercialized. When sufficient respect and care is given to the cats in a breeders charge it makes the "business" of cat breeding less commercial but that is the way it is. It should not be possible to make a highly profitable business out of cat breeding because if you do you risk crossing the line into prioritizing profit over animal welfare.

From Cats are Coca-Cola or Kentucky Fried Chicken for Some to Toyger cats

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Intimate Liaisons with Your Cat

I've been talking about Timmy recently, a stray who comes in frequently. After he's had a belly full of the best canned and cooked food he can get off me he goes to sleep it off on the sofa. Typical cat of course.
Despite only knowing each other for a relatively short time, he has demonstrated to me that he is very relaxed here.

When he's dozing he'll go on his back, belly up, and into a contorted position that actually looks very comfortable in a contorted kind of way.

That's a sign that he feels secure as he's put himself into a vulnerable position. He is telling me that he's secure. It is a form of communication and friendliness. There are many human to human forms of friendliness that are communicated through actions similar to this.

But Timmy goes a step further. He also lets me rub his belly. A cat's belly is a well protected part of a cat's body and he would not normally find direct contact there pleasant or acceptable.

But in a sign of his acceptance and the friendship that he has granted me, he likes me to rub his belly. This can lead him to think that it is play time though......more about that next time.

Photograph reproduced under creative commons (Flickr) copyright Cherie Priest

A Cat Amongst Giants

Photo copyright mackncat Webshots

In my last post I talked about little Timmy and his hug (scent exchange by rubbing against my legs). Of course Timmy would prefer to make face to face contact and exchange scent that way.

The trouble is that when Timmy enters my home he is entering the land of giant cats. I'm about 7 times taller than him. If humans were cats we would be looking up at a 42 foot giant. It amazes me that cats aren't terrified of us.

Anyway, because Timmy is a great leg rubber he also has a desire to rub face to face with me, particularly soon before he is about to get his fish. The route to a man's heart is his belly.

So, what does he do? He does a little hop on his hind legs when I lower my hand towards him. He head butts my hand with both front legs off the ground. That is Timmy's face to face greeting, or a near as possible he can get to it.

I find this very endearing and friendly from a cat who has come in from the cold. Occasionally he will exercise his athleticism (he's very wiry, long and supple) and jump on to a higher object and have another go at real face to face scent exchange.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Cat's Hug

Photograph reproduced under creative commons (Flickr) copyright dave77459 - notice the black cat on the left :-) - this is not me!

A new boy cat has entered our lives here in Barnes, West London. I've called him Timmy. I don't think that he is a totally stray cat (although he might be) but he spends the day here more or less and the night somewhere else, perhaps just outside. If that is the case he may come in for the winter, we'll see.

Every morning when he walks in calling for his breakfast he rubs against my legs. And he does this more than any other cat I've met.

To me this is his morning welcoming hug before we get down to the business of eating. When cats rub against you it is partly to make friendly contact and partly to deposit on you his scent. There are scent glands by the mouth and on the temples and at the root of the tail.

When he rubs against you he leaves some scent on you. We can't smell it (because we're stupid humans :-) but cats can.

Having his scent on you makes him feel more relaxed and at home. Also he will check out our scent by sitting down after he has rubbed against you to lick the area of his body that has made contact with you, so that he can taste the scent from you.

Voila, we have a scent exchange and a metaphorical morning hug. Nice to see you Timmy, how yu doin boy. I'm a member of his cat family and I'm pleased about that. There is a lovely element of equality in that exchange in that he is approaching me and making me part of his family.

Changing preferences to cat breeds

For as long as cat fanciers care to remember the Persian has been the number one breed. But as with everything else in life that is changing.

The change may in part be because of the maintenance requirements of a Persian cat with her long fur. And then there's the tear overflow, if you've got an Ultra Persian (they're the ones with the flat squashed faces). The configuration of their tear ducts has been altered as a side effect of the breeding practices of breeders who try and win show competitions where judges like the extreme look.

Then of course you have the rise and rise of the Bengal cat, a highly popular cat but not registered by the largest cat registry, the CFA.

But most of all the change has come about because attitudes change and evolve on all issues including cats and there are more and more designer type cats around. Cat that substitute for wild cats. I'm talking about the Toyger, Savannah, Serengeti and Chausie for example.

As the world becomes more prosperous financially and more competitive and demanding so the preferences of consumers shift to the more exotic and unusual breeds and it is not only the exotics.

Other interesting and rare breeds are the Snowshoe, Sphynx and the Peterbald to name a few. You can see these breeds on Pictures of Cats

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bengal Proof Christmas Tree

Photo reproduced under creative commons (Flickr) copyright lyzadanger - see her photos at Flickr she's good.

How do you make you Christmas Tree Bengal Cat proof? Well actually Bengals are not that bad. They're ordinary domestic cats bred to be absolutely non challenging (non-aggressive). Yet Bengals are athletic, active and intelligent and that combination means that they can be more mischievous.

And of course they will like to see their very own special climbing tree going up with special balls on it to knock off. The Christmas tree could be made for some Bengals. One Bengal breeder apparently bolted the tree to the ceiling with cables!

Perhaps there are one or two things to think about. Bengals like water so if you have a real tree that you are watering make sure that you don't put any chemicals in the water as she may drink it.

A Bengal might like to climb a Christmas tree (lots of other breeds and moggies might like to as well). A large and heavy stand for the tree would make it more stable and stop it falling over - disaster on Christmas day to add to the stress of Christmas.

As for the decorations these really should be of the unbreakable type as a Bengal may like to knock them off. If you have hard floors that may break the decoration when they fall and subsequently injure your cat (and your bank balance :-)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My cat has stopped burying her faeces, why?

My cat uses a litter. She always buried her faeces until fairly recently - why? Cats bury their faeces to prevent the smell drifting around the area. Cats don't want the smell drifting around signaling their presence because they want to act in a low profile way by being subordinate to the boss cat, the human "owner".

Domestic cats know their place on the world and it is second to us. Although a lot of humans in return don't see cats as secondary to them (me for one). Cats feel subordinate because we feed them. We dictate their means of survival. Everything turns on our activities towards them. They need to keep the balance and ensure that we humans think that we are the boss (although you wouldn't think it sometimes). The cat needs to remain subordinate to get his food, he thinks.

If a cat stops burying faeces it would usually mean that he or she is the top cat who wants her smell to waft around the place to alert other cats to her presence and to be aware of her status.

And I think this is happening with my cat. I treat her totally as an equal. I don't see her as a cat in fact. I have done that for the past 14 years or so. We have a great understanding. She is very relaxed with me. She has no worries about being subordinate to me because I have trained her through my actions that she is not subordinate.

Accordingly she no longer buries her faeces. That's my theory anyway.

Piebald Gene - what does it mean?

Photographs illustrating this article are by Helmi Flick and copyright Helmi Flick - respect copyright please.

The piebald gene is gene that produces an animal with patches of white fur. It is semi-dominant and indicated by the symbol S. The "painted" horse is a classic non-cat example. The bicolor cat is a cat example. It is also called the white spotting gene. Cats that have the piebald gene are common. It affect any color of cat. It is variable in how it works. There might be lots of white or small amounts. The tuxedo cat is an example of a cat with a small amount of white fur produced by the piebald gene.

Breeders of cats grade the amount of white between 1 and 10. At 10 the cat is white and at 1 the cat is black. The medium grade white spotting is found on many cat breeds while high grade spotting is seen on the Turkish Van. Some medium grade and all high grade white spotted cats are homozygous SS. Low grade and some medium grade white spotted cats are heterozygous Ss.

If you're a cat breeder you'll need a moderate knowledge of cat genetics to exercise some degree of control over what you're doing. I'm guessing, but I would think that most breeder's knowledge of genetics is based more on practice and experience rather than academic study. Although some have a high degree of knowledge.

My reading about genetics clearly indicates that research is still being carried out on cat genetics; there is still a lot to know.


In order to build a page for the PoC website on the Snowshoe Cat I had to discuss the bicolor gene (mainly) and the Himalayan gene. This is because the overriding feature of the Snowshoe cat is the amazing coat pattern that is controlled by the genes brought to the cat from her parents, which are the American Shorthair Bicolor and the Applehead (Traditional or classic) Siamese. The Snowshoe is a hybrid cat and a rare cat.

American Shorthair Bicolor

The Bicolor gene is found in the Bicolor American Shorthair. As you guessed bicolor means a cat of two colors, white and another color.

The Piebald gene is otherwise known as the bicolor gene or the white spotting gene (WSG). The effects of the WSG varies. The variation has been put down to modifier genes (other genes that modify the action of the WSG) and/or whether the gene is present in the cat on both of the pair of genes (heterozygous form) or on one of the pair of genes (homozygous form).

It is thought that there may be more than one type of WSG and that it is this that produces the variation in the pattern from cat to cat.


The gene that gives the Siamese her trademark pointing (dark extremities) is the Himalayan gene. This gene is recessive and therefore both copies of the gene need to be present in the cat to create the pointed coat.

This gene is also heat sensitive and that is why the extremities are darker than the torso of the cat. The torso is warmer than the extremities due to the distance the blood has to flow from the heart. The face is also cooled by the sinuses apparently.

When you combine the Himalayan gene and the WSG you get the remarkable white blotches on the Snowshoe. They are well defined white patches. The objective for breeders is to create as much symmetry as possible particularly on the face as this is more aesthetically pleasing being more in harmony with the facial features. Although the major registry, TICA, registering this breed wisely does not specify a particular design of marking (e.g., symmetry). The CFA does not as yet recognize this cat breed.

I suspect that this is for the welfare of the cat by avoiding poor breeding practice could be encouraged if there was a breed standard which over-specified the pattern.

Nonetheless through selective breeding over a long-time breeders will be able to exercise some control over the shape and look of the pattern. The picture at the top of this article is the desired pattern for the face.

The WSG it is thought is associated with deafness, eyes of different color or blue eye color if those organs are in the areas where the gene is operating. Although I have read conflicting information about this.

from Piebald Gene - what does it mean to cat health

Saturday, November 24, 2007

My Cat Has Nightmares

Photograph reproduced under creative commons (Flickr) - copyright and credit: Eirik Newth

I know my cat dreams heavily and has nightmares. And it is always the same nightmare. A lot of the time cats are snoozing. Their ears, like radar, twitch and rotate to the right direction to pick up new sounds while they are supposedly asleep.

But like all animals they eventually get off to sleep (but even then they wake up very easily on the slightest of noises or disturbances). Cats definitely dream because you can see them doing all kinds of things in their dreams through the action of their whiskers, legs, paws and the sounds they make.

The most obvious signs that my cat makes when she is dreaming are ones which indicate that she is dealing with a problem of some sort. This could be another cat approaching which might reflect the fact that I have two strays coming in during the day and night to feed. She accepts this gracefully and placidly but it may upset her. The upset coming out in her dreams.

The most obvious and recurring dream for my cat is, in fact, a nightmare. Of course I can't see the nightmare; only guess what it might be. She cries out during deep sleep, quite a noticeable noise and then wakes up. She looks and sounds upset. She might make a little grunt immediately on waking up as if to say "bl**dy hell* not that dream again.

She'll take about 5 seconds to get over it and settle down again. What is the nightmare? This is my thinking about it.

She is not a lap cat and is not sure about the lower part of her back and the back of her body being stroked. She is an abandoned cat (I found her under a car in London on a cold Nov. day some 14 yrs ago). My theory is that she was a lap cat but the owner smacked her when she kneaded the person (as cats do).

She was abused somewhat I believe too. I think it is these experiences that are played out and which have made her what she is, a loving gentle lady but nervous of strangers and service engineers particularly.

This nervousness translates to inactivity and that results in being a little rotund.

Are cats solitary animals?

Photo - Reproduced under creative commons - credit: Tidwater Muse (Flickr)

It seems that a lot of people think that cats are solitary, selfish and will do as they please and are a bit aloof etc. I just don't see this.

First, it is worth remembering that cats domesticated themselves 9,500 years ago. In other words they liked what they could get out of a relationship with us and decided to hang around. That's pretty much what we do human to human when we form relationships and humans categorically need humans. It is very hard to live alone.

Then most cats accept and get along with visitors to the home. Mine actually runs for the nearest hiding place but that's because she's scared (bad start in life as a stray cat). Cats see us as large cats and get on well with us. It indicates a great degree of social adaptability. Would you live with another animal that was as high as a small block of flats and feel comfortable?

If things go wrong in the relationship it is usually us who caused it as cats react to situations and don't take unilateral steps to achieve something.

There was a story not so long ago of a cat that lived in an old peoples home and when the person was going to die he would sit with them. True story.

Under certain circumstances cats will adopt and nuture another cat's kittens demonstrating a high degree of altruism in comparison to a lot of humans.

Feral cats are a particular example of groups of cats living together. Groups of feral cats are a common sight. I can remember going on a holiday in Italy and staying at a good hotel. There were at least 20 feral cats outside the window. One of the cats was blind and he smelt his way to the food. When it got cold one cat would sit on the other; good teamwork.

When you throw food to a group of feral cats you don't get a mass fight; you get a calm queue forming British style :-) More signs of sociability and co-operation amongst cats.

The cat is adaptable. Given a chance and more space he may become more solitary but he is able to adapt.

One other factor; we keep cats as kittens by mothering them all their lives. Kittens are mentally more playful with other creatures and accepting, which facilitates a more sociable approach.

GCCF Supreme Show 2007 - Part 3

I have a few more photographs from the GCCF Supreme Cat Show Nov.17 2007, that may warrant being reproduced on this blog website. Here they are with captions.

Picture above - Here is the vast expanse of the Show Hall at the NEC (Halls 16 and 17 I think). It could be argued that the space was too big but it gave a sense of theatre to the whole thing. Except as I have said I think there could have been more theatre at the show rings during the judging.

Picture above - This sort of things interests me (sad aren't I). Here is a competitor (the cat) in her luxury "hotel room", all mod cons including room service "on demand". In fact the cat has her own private maid/butler/driver and cook, who happens to be on permanent "stand by" about 3 feet away. She (the human) wiles away the hours before showing her cat by reading a book on cat genetics :-)

She is asleep within 5 minutes having just read about the "spotting gene". Her charge meanwhile is anxious to get into the show ring to earn another rosette to add to the copious number that already adorn her cage (err no hotel suite).

Picture above - A British Shorthair Bicolor looking at me as I poke my camera through his cage bars. "What the hell do you think you're doing Charlie boy....!" "Er sorry guv..just want to get a quick snap shot.." "Go on then... but make it quick and no flash". I like the chunky solid look of the Brit Shorthairs. Helmi Flick likes them too.

Picture above - Another fine tabby patterned British Shorthair looking suitably angelic behind her bars and on her oh so comfortable bedding. She could never do anything wrong.

From GCCF Show to cat behavior

Friday, November 23, 2007 website update

Another quick update on the progress or otherwise of my website Today I added two Amazon shop pages. I needed to write these pages using some free software (NVU - very good free download) to ensure that the page was wide enough to accept the Amazon shop (my site is quite narrow).

I think it is time to add a shop for 2 reasons:
  • Traffic is slowly climbing despite MSN totally dropping the site (if Google drop it it's over and out asta la vista baby - actually it wouldn't be over, I'd just press on until they came back and they would)
  • It may encourage some visitors to come back. This is important as 80% of my visitors are first and last timers.
I can see traffic climbing as I add pages but the search engines are slow. Alexa (traffic rank compiler) seems to swing around a bit too. It seems to lag a bit and it can mislead particularly if your site is ranked outside the 100,000, which 99.95% are!

I have languished on about 600,000 for about 1.5 months but hope to drop into the 500,000 area soon with a far wind, but can't bank on it.

I hope MSN will return soon too as that would give the site a boost, which is much needed.

I have also added some contextual Amazon links on two pages. You just add some script code to the page in question and Amazon adds links to certain words and phrases on the page automatically. The links lead to Amazon products. This is really cool as some companies demand that your site has 500,000 hits per month before they do this. You'd have to be traffic ranked about 10,000 to get those kind of hits. I am impressed with Amazon on this service.

Injured cat

Photograph reproduced under Creative Commons credit: scazza (Flickr)

My cat Binnie Do was injured once. The fact is that you might not be sure that your cat is injured or in pain. A sign that she is in pain is if she runs away and hides in a dark spot out of the way. She wants to be left alone. The usual places are under furniture if indoors and under a bush, for example, if outside.

Provided you're cat gives clear indications that she is alright at a fundamentally level then she is best left alone. For example, you may know why your cat is in pain (post operation). Make sure there is water and a litter tray near by and that she has peace and quiet for up to 24 hours.

If your cat stays put for longer you would need to take action and check her over. That would mean some upset, but needs must.

What should you do if your cat shows signs of injury? He or she will want, as mentioned to hide, and she probably be frightened. The natural reaction for your cat under these circumstances is to be aggressive even towards people she knows ( and are trying to help). Take appropriate care to protect yourself (gloves and long sleeved top).

To both protect yourself and your cat from further injury (and to better manage the situation) you will need to secure your cat. No-one I know has a suitable basket for this purpose so the best thing is to wrap your cat in a towel to the extent that movement is prevented (see picture - although this is a cat that is resting after treatment as I understand it).

You can then safely transport her to the vet as quickly as possible. If she is bleeding you will need to limit the flow of blood.

This can be done by by applying pressure to the area. If it is suitable, a pressure bandage can be used (e.g. for a leg). Otherwise applying pressure by hand is the next best thing.

Injuries such as suspected broken bones (feet and legs), burns and eyes (through a fight or if there is something in it) are best dealt with by a vet as soon as possible.

Transportation may be necessary as described above if she is in pain.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sokoke Cat

Photographs illustrating this article are by Helmi Flick and are her copyright.

Click here to see all the breeds including an analysis of the rare breeds.

Just had a look at this very little known cat and she is probably the rarest domestic cat on the planet. The breed's history is what interested me but it is a little hazy and to my mind leaves some questions to be answered. This is a great cat with a character a little like the Bengal cat but it is the history that requires the most attention.

It is said that this breed has existed for perhaps centuries in and around the Sokoke Forest which is close to the Savanna that straddles North Tanzania to South East Kenya. There is a town called Sokoke as well.

The local people, of the area, the Giriama tribe, knew of the cat. They knew it wasn't a wild cat nor a domestic cat as her appearance was quite distinct. This cat has an elegant slightly rangy appearance with long legs. She is not dissimilar to the Savannah cat, which is a man made cross between the wild Serval and a domestic cat (and the Bengal being introduced later).

The locals called the cat, "Khadzonzo". This word means "look like tree bark", because as you can see from Helmi Flick's photographs the modified tabby pattern (marbled) against a brown background looks a bit like bark.

It is said that they ate the cat as she tasted sweet. This apparently has stopped (perhaps as a result of the intervention of Western people in exporting this cat to the Wet and making a breed of cat out if her).

Anyway, this is a cat well known to the area in Kenya and is probably a feral domestic cat on the evidence. She still inhabits the area but as far as I can gather is rarely seen.

As she looked very similar to the Savannah cat, whose genetic parents are the Serval and a domestic cat, I thought that the Sokoke could be the result of the mating of a Serval and a local domestic cat. Especially as the habitat of the Serval is the Savanna, which is close to the Sokoke forest area.

As it happened a former horse breeder, plantation owner and artist (Jeni Slater) lived near the forest. One of her servants found kittens and mother hidden in a tree. Their interesting coloring and conformation attracted her and the first steps in the founding of this breed began. The year was 1978.

Since then they cat has been exported to the West, firstly to Denmark, Italy and then the US and Canada. The breed is accepted for full registration by FiFe and the TICA has agreed registration fairly recently

There are few breeders of this lovely cat. She has a pleasant character and like a lot of "jungle type" cats likes or doesn't mind the water. Lots of cats hate it.

As far as I can ascertain there are probably no more than about 50 Sokoke in existence but this is a bit of a guess. It is certainly a very small number as there are very few breeders.

The breeder who seems to top the list is Sunbright Sokokes

From Sokoke to Serval

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cat collars

Just a quick note about collars. It would seem that the releasable type (break away) collars might not be completely safe. These cat collars are meant to release when they are under stress (i.e. when they might cause harm to the cat).

Yet I have read that they are not 100% safe although I make no comment other than to say that there may be the possibility of injury (no matter how small) when a cat wears a collar.

If that is the case (and I believe it is) why take the risk? Micro-chipping is probably better in terms of telling other people the name and address of the cat.

Although I have also read that certain types of microchip (transmitter types) may cause injury - check that out.

Picture of collars courtesy

Iowa Ban Wild/Domestic Hybrid cats



You can see an extract of this law under another article on the subject just below this one.

The photograph illustrating this article is by Helmi Flick copyright Helmi Flick

Comment: On the face of it this means a ban on Bengals including SBT Bengals (Stud Book Tradition). SBT Bengals are 4th generation, at least, and have about 12% wild blood in them. They are bred to be non-challenging and are true domestic cats, albeit it more active and more demanding than some other breeds.

This legislation which as far as I am aware is in force seems to have gone too far. Breeders have spent years developing a domesticated socialized Bengal cat. The other cats that fall into this category would be the Chausie and Savannah.

The tame wild cat would the Serval. Keepers can keep their "dangerous" cats (obviously) but need to register and pay a fee. As I understand it existing keepers will need also to microchip, supply a color photo of the cat, get insurance and keep the cat in an enclosure except under specific and authorized conditions.

Breeders can it seems seek exemption under conditions.

USDA licensed owners and breeders ARE NOT EXEMPT unless they are 501(c)3
non-profit as well, or are carrying out wildlife rehabilitation

I don't know what this means, if anything, on wider scale. Will there be a knock on effect and why are Bengals banned? What is the underlying thinking? On the face of it the purpose of the Act is the protections of the public from "dangerous" animals.

Are Bengal cats dangerous - No.

From Iowa Ban Wild/Domestic Hybrid cats to Cat Chit Chat

Iowa has banned ownership of felines with wild ancestry

Bengal cats banned by Iowa. This ban included all cats with a wild ancestry meaning wild cat/domestic cat hybrids. These cats are the Bengal, Chausie, Savannah and Safaris for example.

Photograph illustrating this article is copyright Helmi Flick

Those with these cats can continue to live with them provided they comply with some fairly strict rules and pay a yearly fee. "USDA licensed owners and breeders ARE NOT EXEMPT unless they are 501(c)3 non-profit as well, or are a wildlife rehabber" (quote from this site:

Here's an extract from the legislation:

5. a. "Dangerous wild animal" means any of the following:

(3) A member of the family felidae of the order carnivora, including
but not limited to lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, cheetahs, ocelots, and
servals. However, a dangerous wild animal does not include a domestic cat.

5. b. "Dangerous wild animal" includes an animal which is the offspring of
an animal provided in paragraph "a" (this seems to refer to 5 a above), and another animal provided in that paragraph or any other animal. It also includes animals which are the
offspring of each subsequent generation.

For clarification, the basic argument/interpretation is as follows:

Clause 5. a Defines the term "Dangerous wild animal"

clause 5 a contains a numbered list (1) to (10)

Number (3) refers to "a member of the family felidae....including leopards

Clause 5. b refers to "Dangerous wild animal" includes an animal which is the offspring of an animal provided in paragraph "a" (my note: this refers to 5 a above) and another animal provided in that paragraph or any other animal. It also includes animals which are the offspring of each subsequent generation.

This would therefore seem to include the Bengal cat as she is a Leopard/domestic cat hybrid or subsequent generation.

I live in the UK so please investigate further. This law seems to reflect the continued discussion and controversy on the issue of ownership of these breeds. All the evidence and experience seems to point to the fact that these cats are not dangerous so what is the underlying purpose behind this law?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bengal Cat F1-F3 generations

Can F1 - F3 Bengal cats be regular pets? Are they too wild and aggressive? Should people have them as pets?

The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) considers the Bengal cat a wild cat and won't register this breed. This means it won't register any generation of Bengal Cat. Four generations from the wild Asian Leopard Cat the Bengal is called an SBT (Stud Book Tradition) and is a true domestic cat albeit a pretty active, athletic and demanding cat compared to some other breeds. A lot of people and TICA (which registers the Bengal) disagree with the CFA.

I did a Google search to try and find out why, in detail, the CFA won't register this cat and have thus far failed. It must be to do with underlying issues of breeding from wild cats and creating wild cat/domestic cat hybrids, which could be seen as detrimental to the wild cat. Although some say it is beneficial. The wild cat population continues to decline however due to mankind's activities.

There is a lot of controversy about this. To me living in the UK it seems that most if not nearly all of the market in keeping wild cats as pets takes place in the USA, which is the biggest domestic cat "market" (96 million cats I think at the last count).

America is a relatively rich country and the people there can often buy what they want. Like other Western Societies it is consumer orientated.

All this leads to acquiring wild animals and particularly wild cats as pets. There is more space in the US to keep them too.

In lieu of keeping tame wild cats there are of course the Bengal F1-F3 fillials. Some say these cats are just fine to keep and friendly etc. etc. But the truth is probably that in general these cats are too naturally aggressive to be true pets. A wild cat needs to be aggressive to survive. But as a pet they don't need to be aggressive as they are cared for. The trouble is they don't realise that.

You've probably got to be someone who is "into" wild cats and can spend all the time needed to care for them to adopt a cat of this type. Remember that the females of these cats are breeding cats housed at catteries so they act completely differently to neutered cats. The male fillials are sterile (this is just the outcome of crossing a domestic cat with a wild cat it seems), but they will spray (mark territorially).

A domestic cat needs to integrate into the family and be friendly. Some of the Bengal fillials won't have this character so the relationship becomes not one where the cat is a family member but one where he/she is an animal in a private zoo and the zoo is your home.

Photograph illustrating this article is by Helmi Flick and copyright Helmi Flick

Bengal Cat Fillials to Chausie Cat Breeders

Cat Breeding

I've just been thinking about cat breeding again and asking if it can be a business. I think the answer is that it can't be a business that you rely on as a living. You may be able to make some money but not for a number of years from start up.

There is a lot to know. The most important of which is genetics. This is a complicated subject but a reasonable knowledge is essential.

Then you've got to know about the breed of cat and what happens in terms of coat color and patterns etc. when they mate.

Can you cope with the constant level of care? It will be like caring for a new family. Then there are the vets bills and the unavoidable deaths of kittens that you became attached to.

Perhaps some people think that breeding cats could be a nice little earner on the side. I don't think so.

Above all the above, there is the huge responsibility in bringing into the world a new a delicate creative that wouldn't have been there but for you. Can you ensure that the cat's welfare is taken care of up to and beyond the moment he/she has been re-homed with a purchaser?

Some breeders pursue prizes it seems at any price almost. And the price can be the health of the cats produced. I am talking particularly about the extreme cats which get noticed and win prizes but I cannot see how they can be as healthy as a normal looking cat. How would you deal with this aspect of cat breeding?

The classic example of over-breeding for me is the Ultra Persian (read about this here). There are many others (Modern Siamese being one). Breeders would disagree of course. You can always find an argument to justify creating a cat that needs to have his eyes washed daily because the tears won't drain away because of his facial structure (Ultra Persian).

I am not against cat breeders; just against ones that forget that the most important thing is the cat's welfare and that there are wider issues such as the rising cat population and how to deal with it.

Cat Food

There are three types of food for your cat, dry cat food, wet cat food and raw (they catch this sometimes).

What is the best? One of the points that some people make about dry cat food is that cats tend not to drink enough to compensate. If this is the case they don't urinate enough and that can lead to kidney infection. It is good to urinate a lot to flush out bacteria. Cystitis in a cat can result from eating dry food in my opinion as, by the way, can stress. My cat Binnie can get Cystitis as a result of stress. That is why I never leave her alone for more than several hours (comfort zone for her).

That said, dry food is very convenient and cats like it a lot of the time. The obvious answer is to provide a mixed diet by alternating, for example, fish with dry food. If you add some water to the fish (I use frozen fish) before micro-waving then the fish meal has more liquid in it resulting in the cat drinking while eating.

Wet cat food in the UK is coated in jelly which cats like more than the solid bits leading to waste and perhaps less nuitrition. I think dry food is beneficial for the cat's teeth or at least better than wet food in this regard.

Then we have raw. This kind of food may suite wild cat/domestic cat hybrids as the wild in them should make them more suited to the kind of food that their wild ancestors would eat in the wild.

Finally do you provide whole animal raw meat or prepared raw meat. Hell, if it's going to be raw give 'em it whole I say.

Monday, November 19, 2007

American Bobtail

The photographs illustrating this article are by Helmi Flick and copyright Helmi Flick. Please respect copyright.
American Bobtail cat - tabby pattern
There are some myths surrounding both the American Bobtail and Pixie-Bob. Both are now distinct cat breeds shown at cat shows. Both have short tails and both have the look of the wild to a certain extent, although not as much as the exotic breeds such as the Savannah. That said the Savannah's parent is the Serval an African wild cat. While the Bobcat, the possible ancestor of the American Bobtail, is an American wild cat (different look).

Some think that both the American Bobtail and Pixie-Bob are the result of an American Bobcat (a wild medium sized cat with a short tail) mating naturally (without human intervention) with a domestic cat. As nice as this idea is there is no genetic evidence to support it. Although wildcats do mate with domestic cats sometimes. The American Bobtail originates from a feral cat that had a short tail due to a genetic mutation. The short tail caught the eye of those who found the cat. The cat was mated with a long haired cat and the breed developed from there.

I took a long time for the breed to gain full recognition by the cat registries. The CFA granted Championship status May 1st 2006. TICA granted Championship status in 2002.

The mutation is dominant meaning at least half of the litter will have the short tail if bred with a non-short tailed cat. There is a Japanese short tailed cat as well.

American Bobtail - lynx pointed
The breed began in the 1960s, when the idea of keeping domestic cats that had a wild appearance was relatively new. Now there are a number of cat breeds that satisfy the public's desire to live with and be near a wild cat with the temperament of a domestic cat.

This cat is reportedly well balanced, friendly, good with other animals and can be leash trained. The breed is intelligent. I am not sure about the idea of some breeds being more intelligent than others. Is this possible? Maybe. It is said that the Bobtail's origins as a feral cat has imbued the cat with intelligence.

People who live with the exotic domestic "wild cats" such as the Chausie say that they are more intelligent, dog like and that they learn from your actions.

This cat is healthy (probably due to the mixed genes). Although the genetic mutation that reduces the length of the spine and so produce the short tail can it seems result in ill health if the shortening goes too far.

The American Bobtail can have either medium-long hair or short hair and a wide range of coat color and patterns. This is a medium to large cat with a powerful build. The tail should be 1.5 to 6 inches in length and not kinked (source: Legacy of the Cat).

American Bobtail Breed Information 

See a lot more on this cat breed. This linked page contains more pictures - the best - and a lot of breed information. It is pretty comprehensive.

American bobtail cat rescue

American Bobtails are purebred cats of course. I am minded to think of an article recently written by a regular contributor, Maggie, which highlights the need for us all to consider how we go about adopting a cat. If are mind is set on an American Bob then we should at first try and rescue one! This is a more difficult route than simply going to a breeder but more rewarding.

This page on Purebred Cat Rescue might help. Yahoo Groups can help but the ones I see are for breeders only, sadly.

This page may help.

American Bobtail Breeders

The American Bobtail Breeders Club has a nice list. Why not ask if  they know of a cat that needs re-homing?

The CFA is a good and reliable source of breeders but a page that is hard to find! This is the page: CFA Breeder Referral Search - select "one or more of the following breeds" and then select the breed. There are just two listed. Not brilliant.

TICA the next largest cat association also list breeders. They list four. Click here to see the list.

The above are probably the best sources and certainly good starting points for breeders in the USA. Be careful when buying/adopting. Highly recommended: visit the breeder/seller. Use your instincts to judge the facility etc. I had difficulty finding a UK breeder. I found bobtails for sale but they looked dodgy to be frank. Exercise caution please. We don't want to encourage poor breeders and the breeding of unhealthy kittens who live a miserable life.

American Bobtail Temperament

Gloria Stephens of legacy of the cat - a fine book - says that this cat is calm and intelligent and as a consequence "easy to live with". I have heard this before. Helmi Flick who has photographed thousands of stunning purebred show cats says that this is a nice cat to work with.

American Bobtail Breed Standard

Gloria makes the point that as at the date of publication of her book 2001 the breed standard was evolving. This though is not unusual. Breed standards can vary between the cat associations. Click here for TICA breed standard (PDF file) and click here for the CFA breed standard (updated 2008 - PDF file).

American Kurilian Bobtail

My research indicates that some people search for the above. This must be a reference to the Russian cat breed that is called Kurilian Bobtail.  Click on this link to read more about this relatively rare cat. Some breeders in America are listed.

From American Bobtail to POC American Bobtail


Ocicat photographs illustrating this article are by Helmi Flick and copyright Helmi Flick.

The Ocicat is my kind of exotic or jungle cat. Why? Because she is a result of selective breeding and not wild/domestic cat breeding. I am not against the latter but if you breed from a wild cat as for the Chausie or Savannah for example it means that you have a wild cat to breed from in the first place.

One of the underlying motivators in breeding exotic cats is to educate the public about the problems of population reduction facing wildlife and wild cats in particular. It seems, then ,counter productive to capture and import a wild cat to breed from. You are undermining the raison-d'etre of the program to a certain and perhaps large degree.

The Ocicat being bred from three domestic cats, the Abyssinian, the Siamese and the tabby American Shorthair has no wild blood and great looks. I think this may have been the first exotic cat created to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the public for jungle cats.

The Ocicat was created by mistake in the 1960s when regulations and ideas about breeding were very different. When I say mistake I mean that the breeder who began this breed was trying to produce an Abyssinian with Siamese like points (dark estremeties). She bred one cat with the other and got Abyssinian kittens; no points in sight. When she breed the kittens with a Siamese the Ocicat was born. This was purely experimental breeding in the 1960s, which would probably be regulated in some way now.

It took many years before the cat achieved full registration status with the CFA (1987). She is a muscular, solid and sociable cat, good with people and pets. Remember a cat sees us as as a cat so if there are cats and humans in the house she just sees cats. So, we could say she is good with other cats and dogs. She is also a little dog like.

I read a lot about exotic cats that are dog like, meaning intelligent to the point where they are trainable. And they can learn from human actions such as opening doors.

This is particularly so with the wild/domestic hybrids, which are possessive of their human companions and alpha male or female assertive in that regard.

As the Ocicat is sociable she is best socialised with, so you can't be out all day and expect her to be in the best mood when you return.

Cat Behaviour

Are you trying to make your cat behave the way you want her to behave? There are numerous instances of so called bad behavior in cats, like jumping up onto counters or going to the toilet in the wrong place.

Is this bad behavior? Is this normal cat behavior in the circumstances under which the cat finds herself? Is is just plain normal cat behavior? Is it a reflection of the human companion's behavior?

Can a cat ever behave badly when all she does is behave instinctively under the circumstances?

Can a human ever behave badly?

Who is at fault if a cat behaves badly in our eyes?

Are feral cats a nuisance? Who created feral cats?

Does breeding cats exacerbate the feral cat problem? Who is responsible for breeding cats?

Do cats complain about bad conditions or do they just quietly walk and find somewhere better?

Do you like people who complain or who just get on with it and walk if they don't like the company?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Older cats

Shoveling cat sh*t can tell you a lot about your cat. Lets love and support our older cats. Older cats have a lot of benefits for human companions. Firstly, you may well have lived with your cat all her/his life so when she is old you know each other very well. There is a comfortable familiarity which makes for a nice relaxed relationship.

You know each others habits, likes dislikes. She knows when you get up and go to bed and what to do at those times.

You know the kind of food she likes and when she likes it. Hell, you know the most intimate things about her such as the quality of her sh*t. I know that's a bit rude but it's important.

I've been shoveling my darling girl's sh*t for 14 years or more. I know when she is healthy from its texture!! It's a great way to keep an eye on her health.

On the continent (Germany I think) they have different style toilets so the person can check on what they have produced as a way of monitoring health. Yes I know it's a bit gruesome but I can see the benefits.

Old cats are less energetic so are less demanding. They do less damage! A lot of old cats are found in rescue centers where they probably stay until put to sleep because people prefer kittens as they are cute.

Look for the character of the cat. This will always be more enduring than the way she looks.


Ranking in this context means Alexa ranking. This blog I am surprised to say is ranked just over 4 million. I think that's not bad since very little SEO stuff has taken place. And it is so easy to add content to this blog as the HTML side works so well, such as uploading photographs. It is just delightfully easy. The ease encourages me to write something as I don't get bogged down with HTML stuff and formatting stuff.

Another thing about the Google Blogger that I love is the labels. You don't need a navbar as you just tag the article with a name that describes it and Google lists the labels in the left margin. It makes a navbar for you as you go along. Neat.

The biggest difficulty in building a visited website is creating enough good content. That takes time and making it easy to type an article is a great plus.

Pictures of Cats is doing OK but stalling as MS have gone a bit silly and totally wiped me of the face of the internet. I am totally unlisted by MSN but fortunately Yahoo and Google as still listing me so I still get found only my hits have fallen due to no MSN searches.

I emailed MSN and they "kind of" admitted that there was a problem and asked me to re-submit the site and they said wait 2 weeks or so and I should be listed again. I really don't think that this is my website that is wrong but the way that the searech engines change the algorithms. I don't blame them they as are always trying to improve the way the search works but for website builders it means that the goal posts are being moved.

The overriding point though is that the search engines want to find the best content so if you wan to be found make it good. On that basis I am going over some of my pages and upgrading them and see what happens.

Ranking to POC website POC American Curl

GCCF Supreme Show

GCCF Supreme Show - This is a British Shorthair in his cage waiting to be judged and looking suitably regal and a true champion in the making. I had to come away with some photographs of the cats but it is very difficult to get good pictures under the conditions of a cat show.

The cats are normally in a cage (albeit a very luxurious cage) awaiting to be taken to the show ring where they are held in a smaller cage before being taken out by a steward and judged. All the staff who touch the cats do so having wiped there hands with alcohol to prevent the spreed of germs.

All public cannot touch the cats. Suffice to say the first thing I did was to touch one, an ex-feral maine coon look alike (quite gorgeous) while the human partner ("owner" to other people) looked on. I had just arrived so was unaware of the rules.

Anyway back to the photos. In the end I poked my camera through the bars of the large cages and got close ups with the lens at wide angle. The light was poor but I had to use natural light for 2 reasons. First I didn't want to upset the cats and second flash is awful.

Got some reasonable and slightly odd photos but I think that they capture the mood of the show.

<<< on his magic carpet....

Home from Home. Full room service, hot and cold running water, indoor toilet, central heating....>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

<<<<<<<...British Shorthair becoming a little irritated at the long wait to be judged and why bother I'm bound to win the bl**dy thing as I won everything else in sight.....where's my human..

GCCF Supreme Show to POC Ocicat

Saturday, November 17, 2007

GCCF Cat Show

Photographs copyright Michael Broad

GCCF Cat Show - I went to the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) Supreme Cat Show yesterday 17th Nov.

It took place in the NEC near Birmingham. This is a very big show; a very large space. I was impressed by space and size. The GCCF Cat Show is divided up into 4 areas:

  • Cats in large holding cages in readiness for being shown to a judge.
  • Show "rings" where cats are held in smaller cages close to a judge and stewards where the cat is judged.
  • Stands where products are sold.
  • Eating areas.

The cages where the cats were held waiting waiting to be transported to the show rings were one of the features of the show, I thought. They were amazing; like little "hotel" rooms fully kitted out with room service on hand at all times! There was even a competition for the best cage.

Of course the cats are the stars and they are simply fabulous. I was struck at how delicate some were (the Orientals and Modern Siamese for example looked very fragile).

However, for me the most surprising thing was the lack of a "show" feel. Where was the show? It was like going into a market (the shops) with a private club attached (the judging).

For the public who come to learn and widen their knowledge it was a little hard. Of course you can ask questions etc. But I was surprised that the judging did not involve the viewing public more.

The judge could have had a microphone and discussed what he was looking for as he judged a cat. That would have involved the public and generated some excitment. There could have been a score card or some such device at the judges table so that we knew how the cat had got on as the judging took place. I felt that the judging ring could have been better "labeled" to tell us what breed was being judged there (no sign at all).

During judging, it was as if we were looking in on a private matter. There was some, but very little, interaction between judges and the public to make a show of the judging process. The most important part of the process.

Sorry for the winge but I was a little disappointed as this is the biggest show in the UK and it could have had a little more razzmatazz about it.

I had a nice day though and the cats were out of this world.

GCCF Cat Show to Pictures of Cats home page

Go some pictures from GCCF cat show

Friday, November 16, 2007

Toyger -The Designer Cat

Links to large format Helmi Flick images

Click on these Toyger thumbnail links to see rare and fine large format images of these superb cats, presented beautifully
toyger toyger toyger toyger toyger toyger toyger toyger toyger toyger toyger toyger toyger toyger toyger
Please give feedback on the photographs using the form in the margin.

The Toyger is a designer cat for the modern age. The idea is to reproduce the tiger but in a domestic cat. This is a tall order and the cat breed is in the making still.

The person who had the idea of developing the Toyger and began the process is Judy Sugden of EETAAS Cattery (USA). The wild tiger has an almost orange coat and dense dark stripes for markings; a strong head with a thick solid looking nose and white around the eyes. The ears are of a tiger are proportionally much smaller than the domestic cat, with rounded tips.

These are some of the elements in the Toyger appearance that was aimed at. Look at the wonderful photographs of Hemli Fick (copyright Helmi Flick) and see how the breeders are doing.