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Showing posts from November, 2007

I'm preparing for my cat's death

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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 controll

A cat's way of scratching his head

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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 wh

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

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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 a

Cats are Coca-Cola or Kentucky Fried Chicken for Some

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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

Intimate Liaisons with Your Cat

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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 ac

A Cat Amongst Giants

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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 ex

A Cat's Hug

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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 hi

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 pr

Bengal Proof Christmas Tree

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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 t

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 h

Piebald Gene - what does it mean?

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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 heterozygo

My Cat Has Nightmares

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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 dre

Are cats solitary animals?

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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 w

GCCF Supreme Show 2007 - Part 3

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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 anx

Pictures-of-Cats.org website update

Another quick update on the progress or otherwise of my website www.pictures-of-cats.org 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 bu

Injured cat

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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 circumst

Sokoke Cat

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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 ma

Cat collars

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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 www.petplanet.co.uk

Iowa Ban Wild/Domestic Hybrid cats

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AN ACT REGULATING DANGEROUS WILD ANIMALS, INCLUDING THEIR OWNERSHIP AND POSSESSION, REQUIRING REGISTRATION, PROVIDING FOR FEES AND APPROPRIATIONS, AND PROVIDING PENALTIES. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA 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 c

Iowa has banned ownership of felines with wild ancestry

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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: http://fennecfoxes.com) 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 para

Bengal Cat F1-F3 generations

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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 abo

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

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 lik

American Bobtail

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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

Ocicat

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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

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?

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

Ranking

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 fortunat

GCCF Supreme Show

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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 h

GCCF Cat Show

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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

Toyger -The Designer Cat

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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 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.