Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cat and Dog Pictures Blog

This is not a Cat and Dog Pictures Blog but I love to see cats with other animals. Dogs are a lot bigger than cats normally so to see a cat relaxed with a dog indicates a lot of trust. We normally associate dogs chasing cats. This has been reinforced through cartoons and films. But this need not be the case.

In fact cats can form relationships with just about any animal. You may have seem pictures of cats and horses as an example on the internet.

How can this come about? Apparently a cat's fear of other species (meaning species that are naturally able to cause injury) doesn't develop until the kitten is 7 weeks of age.

If during the first 6 weeks of life the kitten is introduced to other animals then a lifelong bond can form.

If the kitten is able to play with another animal, and I guess this is more likely to happen with a more naturally gentle animal such a Labrador dog, accompanied by lots of head and body rubbing (the transmission of the cats scent to the other animal) then it seems that this breaks down the natural hierarchy of the animals.

If this bond has been formed (as in this picture of a white rat on the back of a cat), the cat's natural instinct to prey on an animal of that breed will be modified and the cat will not hunt this animal or treat the animal as prey.

As to cat-on-cat relationships it seems that certain cat breeds are more likely to be accepting of other unrelated cats.

Siamese and cats from Asia (I can think of one, the Singapura, a very small cat) are less likely to accept other non related cats, while Persians are the opposite.

Photographs reproduced under creative commons:

Top: copyright ymktmk918
Bottom: copyright craftyfox

From Cat and Dog Pictures Blog to Cat Chit Chat

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Cat Eating Grass

Why? Looks strange. Maybe cats just like it. I always wondered why my cat likes to pop out and almost one of the first things she does is to chew on grass.

Sometimes (thankfully rarely, it seems) a cat will chew on the next available thing, a house plant, and some of them are poisonous. You can see a list here.

I actually thought it was something to do with the digestive system of cat and a means to improve it - a bit like eating roughage for humans!

Some experts though it was a means to making themselves sick to throw up hairballs.

It seems that the jury is still out on this but the likely explanation is that the cat is chewing on (normally long grass) to extract the sap or juice in the grass as it contains a substance that is not normally obtainable in her diet and which is vital to her.

The chemical that the cat needs is folic acid, a substance that aids the body's production of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a substance in the red blood cells of the body that contains iron and which transports oxygen around the body in the blood.

Cats are not becoming vegetarian though. They are confirmed carnivores and the diet should reflect that.

Source: Cat Watching - Desmond Morris
Photo: reproduced under creative commons copyright Irregular Shed (Flickr)

From Cat Eating Grass to Black cat in grass

Friday, December 21, 2007


The Chakan GD is a cat that is bred by LifeStyle Pets (the parent company of Allerca). She is one a trio of cats, the others being the Allerca GD and the Ashera GD (there is also a non-hypoallergenic Ashera - the GD indicates that she is hypoallergenic).

The Chakan is a cross between the Allerca GD (the original hypoallergenic cat) and a Traditional Siamese (I have guessed this as the appearance of the Chakan is not extreme and Modern Siamese are extreme in appearance).

The Chakan has a pretty classic Siamese appearance, with blue eyes and points. The company says that her character is similar to the Siamese. Her size though is smaller than the average Siamese. The Siamese has an average weight, while this cat weighs on average 6-8 pounds (2.5-3.5 kg), which would put her towards the small end of the cat weight/size spectrum.

Lifestyle Pets are confident that their cats are truly hypoallergenic as they provide a guarantee as far as I remember and there are testimonials. Also, in my limited experience of cat allergies (I am allergic to a stray cat that comes to see me daily), the effect comes in almost immediately, so if you are able to stroke your new cat partner before adopting, you'll know pretty quickly if the Chakan is truly hypoallergenic for you.

This cat is not a registered breed - none of the Allerca cats are. That doesn't make her less of a cat though.

Photo reproduced with permission of LifeStyle Pets copyright LifeStyle Pets.

From Chakan GD to Ashera GD and Allerca cats

Traditional Cat Breeds

There is a gradual and perhaps growing movement towards a return to a more sensible approach to cat breeding and registration of breeds

A number of recognized cat breeds are, it could be argued, created artificially or have evolved through modern (and I think misdirected) breeding practices. The underlying reason for this is always commerce. I know this sounds cynical but it must be the reason. Commerce is not a bad thing obviously. But in relation to living creatures it can be and usually is.

There are two outstanding examples that come to mind, the Modern Siamese and the Persian cat.
Classic and Modern Siamese

The original Siamese is the one I used to know, a standard looking cat with color points, you know, the classic looking Siamese cat. This cat was until recently no longer recognized by the major cat registers as the breed had evolved into the Modern Siamese a rather fragile unhealthy looking cat with a tiny head. Strange and interesting looking - yes, but normal looking - no, not for me anyway. This is more apparent if you see these cats in the flesh.

This change has been brought about in my opinion by the desire to breed cats that have a "stand out" appearance. Something different. It is the same motivator that drives a car manufacturer to bring in a new car that is "different" and exciting in order to boost sales.

The difference with cats is that she is a living creature. And anyway there are potential health issues when you breed like that. So you get a strange looking and potentially unhealthy cat.

That said there are many who like the Modern Siamese and claim that the appearance is nearer to the true appearance. The history of most of the cat breeds is murky and no on can be certain as to what an original Siamese looked like except that to me the Classic Siamese looks like a normal cat (which is good evidence that she is the original Siamese) and the old books such as the 1911 Encylopedia show this breed of cat as the classic look.

Also it is worth mentioning that all domestic cats originate from the wild cat and there are no wild cats that remotely look like the Modern Siamese.

TICA (the second largest registry) have I believe recently recognized the classic Siamese but had to rename the breed the Thai because the Modern Siamese breeders insisted on it.

PersiansI go on at length about the over breeding of the Persian on my website so I won't go on about it it in detail here.

There are though now 2 types of Persian cat. The recognized one, the Ultra, peeked squashed faced cat with tear overflow and nose problems and the good old normal Persian which is called the Doll Face, which is unrecognized (at least at the full status level) by the major registries (I don't know is some registries recognize this cat).

The Doll Face breeders want of course recognition but it is hard work getting it. The purpose of this posting is to support them in a very small way because as is apparent I am fan of the natural and normal and health.

Pressure needs to be put on the CFA, TICA and GCCF (the major registries) to fully recognise the traditional Persian and treat the breed in the same way as the Ultra. In fact if I was in charge I would change the breed standard of the Ultra, year on year to gradually bring this breed back to normal.

There is no good reason why there cannot be two types of Persian cat - the current Ultra and the Traditional or Doll Face if there is a reluctance (and there is) to rectify a wrong (the overbreeding of this cat)

Siamese:Top photo of Modern Siamese copyright Helmi Flick, second photo reproduced under creative commons copyright KaCey97007

The top photo is a Traditional Doll Face "Orlando" copyright Dani Rozeboom. The bottom photo is an Ultra Persian reproduced under Creative Commons copyright mephistofelicatFrom Traditional Cat Breeds to Cat Chit Chat

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cats Animal Testing

This is a follow up on the other 2 posts on animal testing that I have made. It is so easy to forget about the cruelty of animal testing as it is out of sight ("out of sight out of mind"). The concept of out of sight out of mind pervades all we do.

For example, we can't see pollution from second hand cigarette smoke. Sure you see it being released from the cigarette, but at low levels when it is gradually released from objects where it has been sitting for along time, it is impossible to see it. If we can't see it, it doesn't exist, almost.

Research indicates a lot of damage done to passive smokers. 30,00o people in the UK die of passive smoking every year. Think what it is like in the poorer countries being targeted by the cynical cigarette manufacturers.

So if we can't see cats being used in animal testing experiments, we forget about it. That's why I am posting some photographs with the permission of the person who has copyright. All the photos are copyright Brian Gunn IAAPEA. The objective is to put the issue in front of us to remind us.

The cat in the picture with the mask below was kept blinded by the mask (that you can see) for 6 months. I presume to see the effect that it has on the cat psychologically. Wicked cruelty.

Large companies such as the largest consumer products company Procter and Gamble conduct "product safety research". Nice one P&G. P&G are the parent company of Iams pet food.

There is hard evidence that Iams are conducting or paying others to conduct animal testing. Iams is a respected cat food manufacturer or that is the image they portray.

  1. I know of no connection between Iams or P&G and the images on this page.
  2. I do not condone violent protests against animal testing
  3. I admire those brave souls who spend time to protest peacefully
I have to be cautious as Procter and Gamble are huge and with their muscle they could sue me off the face of the earth :). However P&G apparently admit that they do use cats (and of course other animals) in product research. A part of their website is dedicated to their arguments as to why they feel they need to use animal testing.

Humane Society of the United States® is working in partnership with P&G to I presume minimise and eliminate the need for animal testing. If you were a cynical pain in the backside such as me you might think that P&G had donated a large sum of money to the Humane Society of the United States to give credibility to their argument that they are doing their level best to find alternatives to animal testing. I am not saying that P&G did donate a large sum - this is supposition only.

The only reason why companies do animal testing is to allow them to make more profit. We the consumer don't need more products. In fact we need less products, less possessio
ns and more thought and proper actions.

Animal testing then is carried out in the name of commerce. This is still the case if the products are ultimately beneficial to mankind. The profit element is the first objective, always.

Making profits is fine it what makes the world tick. But it can tick a little slower for me if it means no animal testing. It would take longer to introduce the products and they may be less good but so what. The trade off is enormous.

The picture of the cat with what appears to be broken legs on the right at the bottom of this posting is in fact a cat that has legs that have been deliberately deformed by humans to see the effect this has on him. Wicked.

My mind turns to Gandhi again, who was the master of effective non-violent protest.

Here are some of his sayings courtesy All Great Quotes

"Non-violence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed"

"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty"

Cat Bravery

Animal (and for me cat) bravery is very touching. In the UK there is a medal called the Dickin Medal which is awarded to animals for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty while serving for the armed forces. It is the animals' Vitoria Cross.

The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry in the UK. The award is very rarely made. There are some incredible stories of gallantry so you can image that the animals awarded the Dickin Medal have been outstanding in carrying out their duties in war.

60 Dickin Medals have been awarded since its inception in 1943 by Maria Dickin CBE who founded the PDSA a large animal charity employing about 1500 people.

Of these 60 there is only one cat, Simon who has been awarded the medal. Simon served on HMS Amethyst a ship of the size of a frigate as a rat catcher. He found his way on board when a member of the crew spotted him in Hong Kong. At the time he was smuggled on board he was sickly. He endeared himself to the crew and kept the rats down.

He was caught up in the Yangtze incident. This incident occurred on April 29th 1949 on the Yangtze river in China. The ship was bombarded by field guns on the shore that hit the ship 50 times and caused severe damage. The shelling killed 22 and and wounded 31.

The award was made posthumously (after his death) after the incident. Simon was wounded by one of the 50 shells that hit the ship. Four pieces of shrapnel were removed from him. he survived to continue his duties which included boosting the morale of the crew.

His "behaviour throughout was of the highest order.." The blast that injured him made a hole a foot diameter in steel plate.

Simon was an exceptional cat because he was able to function normally under such horrendous conditions for both human and cat. He died shortly after returning to England as a result of an infection while in quarantine. The entire crew of HMS Amethyst turned out for the funeral and hundreds of others.

Simon was smallish black and white moggie with a gentle face. There are pictures on the 'net of him but I do not have permission to use the photos at the time of writing this.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cat Trespassing

Cat trespassing can be irritating or worse for some people. I used to live in a bungalow with a garden and my darling Missie who was killed on the road outside the bungalow used to go next door. The next door neighbours didn't like it and I can understand that as he was a keen gardener. Cats can make a bit (but only a bit) of a mess in a garden sometimes. He simply made some noise and she came back.

What if he had put in place deterrents that caused injury to my cat? In the UK there are one or two things that can be done although the law is a bit of a mess on this. It is also untested.

The Occupiers Liability Act is designed to protect anyone who is injured as a result of the negligence of the occupier of the building or land. So for example, if I visited a persons house at Christmas and his staircase collapsed and caused injury, the person who occupied the house could be liable in negligence (the tort of negligence) and be required to pay compensation.

The liability extends to trespassers. A trespasser can, it seems, include your cat. For trespassers the duty of care is a little tighter. If the occupier knows that there is a danger and that your cat may come into contact with that danger and the risk is one that you could have provided protection against then the occupier could be liable.

Obviously if the occupier takes deliberate steps to deter the cat the test above is satisfied. Clearly if the human keeper of the cat accepts the risks knowing they exist then that would be a defence for the occupier of the property.

The best course of action is to take steps to avoid the problem occurring through preventative measures and dialogue. The rights of humans (your neighbour) is as important as those of your cat.

If you were forced to litigate on this expect a bumpy ride and an expensive one if you used a lawyer. Although this might fall under the small claims process. I would doubt if anyone would sue under this act in reality. It is too problematic. In general people accept that there is little that can be done in law against "trespassing" domestic cats. The answer is in dialogue. In North America, neighbors occasionally kill trespassing cats. That is cruel and against the criminal law in the UK.

Thanks to the author of the book Veterinarian Notes for Cat Lovers (for bringing this to my attention)

Photo copyright Paul Watson reproduced under Creative Commons

Cat Fur

Allegedly cat fur is being produced in Belgium under the noses of MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) while the MEPs proudly declare that there will be a ban on the importation (mainly from China) of cat and dog fur into Europe generally starting 2009. Several countries in the EU already ban the importation. Although how effective it is, is another business.

The UK can't even control immigration so how will it control the importation of fur that is misleadingly labeled?

The alleged farming of cat and dog fur in Belgium (Brussels) is not news (it was announced over a year ago) but it needs to be pushed out over and over again if things are to change. The apathy of the European Parliament in banning cat and dog fur is highlighted by the fact that the US banned it in 2000. And to allow the fur trade to thrive on the doorstep of the European Parliament is an insult (the preparatory meetings and complementary, non-plenary sessions of the Parliament take place in Brussels) to us all.

It would seem that for some time dogs and cats have been going missing from the streets of Brussels and Ghent. People have lost their pets. Of course they aren't sure how but there is circumstantial evidence.

There is also some hard evidence in the form of a videotape of a fur traders discussing the business made by the Humane Society International (HSI).

There is a lack of will to change things. It will change slowly. Far too slowly for the 2 million cats and dogs that are brutally killed in China alone.

It is alleged that the cats are skinned alive to ensure the fur is of better quality. I'd like to do the same to the people who are doing this to see how they like it.

The photographs are to grab attention are not illustrations of the brutality carried out on cats and dogs (obviously you can't get photographs of cats being skinned alive). They are (top) copyright Urtica and (bottom) flashman reproduced under creative commons.

The fur in the top picture may come from a feral cat but probably not and the blood in the bottom picture comes from a human.

Cats and Creationism

"In my humble opinion, non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good" - Gandi

Evil means: Morally bad or wrong; wicked; Causing ruin, injury, or pain; harmful. Evil is normally accompanied by intention to do wrong or a disregard for doing wrong.

I think that it is inherently wrong (perhaps evil) to conduct experiments on animals and for me, most particularly on cats, although I treat all animals the same.

Cats apparently are used for neurological research. More then 25,000 were used in the USA in year 2000. More than 50% suffered pain and or distress. I refer to animal testing on Safari cats (a tamed wild cat of great distinction and presence) in my website Pictures of Cats on this page. These wonderful cats were "tested to destruction" (as are cars in their manufacture).

I believe that we should do our best to improve the amount of contentment in the world. That means for ourselves as that improves the overall level of world contentment and for others. As I have said by "others" I means all fellow animals including human animals.

A lot of people agree with animal testing. Who are these people? If we know who they are we may be able to understand why they think like that. One thing is for sure, people who condone animal testing must think that humans are "special" or different from animals. This allows them to cause pain on an animal in the interests of the "special" human. In other words if the person causing pain on an animal knows he is causing pain then he must think that it is a reasonable "trade off" in the interests of benefiting mankind.

In other words he decides to impose suffering on a fellow creature on the possibility (and it is only a possibility) of alleviating suffering in humans. In a way he is playing a being a kind of god, with the right to make such a huge decision.

This thought process is dependent somewhat on the evolution of mankind in that as we become more civilised we begin to realise and understand better. Think for example of the kind of punishment handed out to criminals. We used to do terrible things to convicted criminals. They now have rights equal to non-criminals (although some say the pendulum has swung to far).

Think also of modern research about fellow animals. We now know that monkeys have better memories than university undergraduates and can do simple maths calculations better than undergraduates. We are only beginning to understand the cognitive abilities of other animals.

One such group of people who a likely to believe that they are superior to cats and other animals are people who call themselves Creationists. They believe that the earth was created by a god as described in the Bible. In other words they disagree with Darwin's theory of evolution. Why? Because they don't like the idea of being descendants of the apes. It is just too horrible a thought to contemplate.

For me these people are too arrogant and full of themselves to be open to the prospect of being one removed from an ape. There is also a substantial degree of ignorance in many. A toxic combination of arrogance and ignorance (of the emotions and pain caused to animals through animal testing) lead people to do this.

I am not though saying that all Creationists are evil or harm animals; just that these beliefs could lead to the harm of animals if the other conditions are present (ignorance and arrogance)

There is one more driving condition: commercialism. Animal testing is conducted by large companies and it is expedient to test on animals. It would cost more and be slower to test in another way.

Expediency and short-termism is a condition of mankind. Back to the Gandi quotation. We should not buy products from companies that condone animal testing. In that way we exercise peaceful non-cooperation to effect change.

...more to come.

Photographs of pie chart and graph copyright cpurrin1 under creative commons

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cats in Animal Testing

"Latest figures show Animal Testing is up overall by 3.2% to 12.1 million in 2005. This includes 3,600 Cats. This is despite European Commission and member state's individual promises to reduce and replace the use of animals in experiments."

This comes from an email circulated amongst a Yahoo Group. I am not sure if this relates to Europe or worldwide. Either way it's a large figure. Animal testing has to be fundamentally wrong.

I know it can be argued that for certain kinds of research it could be justified. Research into life saving drugs being an example. However, even for this kind of research it presupposes that we (as human animals) are more important and more valuable than other animals, which justifies killing other animals to save the lives of human animals. That just doesn't sound correct to me.

But it does sound correct to many people. The world is still pretty basic in its thinking. In 1000 years we will look back at 2007 and think that we were barbaric just as we do now we we look back 1000 years.

All animals are equal. All have a value and all should be respected in exactly the same way.

If we as humans want to prolong our lives through drugs that need to be tested lets do the tests on ourselves or in a purely scientific way.

If there is an argument at least that testing on animals might be justifiable under certain circumstances, if it is for the improvement of cosmetics it is frankly totally immoral and it makes me sick to think about it.

"CoverGirl is one of the largest U.S. brands to conduct animal testing but Procter & Gamble contends that they have discontinued animal testing with respect to about 80% of their products worldwide." (Wikipedia - this is not copyright material)

Shame on them, I say. Those of us in Europe should write to out MEPs in I know this takes time and it's a pain and we think it won't do any good. (I've just done this, its easy to do).

Here are two quotes from the great man that may encourage you:

In my humble opinion, non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

Mahatma Gandhi

These saying inspire me to do the right thing. What about the 3,600 cats that were used for testing purposes? Apparently Iams (the pet food manufacturer) and Hills test on cats and dogs and cause suffering to these animals. Read more about this here

We just don't think about animal testing. It's hidden away. We are too busy; too self concerned. We have to be to survive. We should though give back a bit if we can. We hold the lives of cats in our hands. We have an obligation to act responsibly.

Cats domesticated themselves some 9,500 years ago. We accepted that. We have a "social contract". This means an unwritten contract implied from actions that governs how we treat each other. We are in breach of that contract and we should be ashamed.

Photograph reproduced under CC copyright Daveybot (flickr)
Figures from an email from Tony on Yahoo Group Benagal L
Ghandi quote from All Great Quotes

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cat Gum Disease

Gum disease is periodontal disease to use long words. "Periodontal" means relating to the gums and bone supporting and surrounding the teeth.

I've seen this a lot in cats. My cat, Binnie has really good teeth and gums, however, for a cat of her age (about 14+ years). This is probably due to her having a diet of biscuits, fish and good wet cat food and being a true blue Moggie (extremely hardy stock). Every time she yawns I look inside mouth :). She looks fine at the moment.

A lot of modern cat food does not replicate the kind of teeth cleaning properties of food caught in the wild.

Gum disease is the most common form of dental disease affecting 80-90% of the feline population. Of course humans have exactly the same problem. The disease is caused by the build up of plaque around the tooth. Plaque is a mixture of food debris, salivary proteins and bacteria.

The way it is controlled in humans is to either or both: use a mouth wash or go to a dental hygienist who scraps at your gums and teeth 'til they bleed. They say brush under the gums as this is where it is formed. I find mouthwash by the best way to control plaque build up. Dentists don't like mouthwash in my view because it means less business. Is there a mouth wash for cats?

Yes, there is in the States at least. CET Oral Hygiene Rinse 8oz. There is also CET chews which does a similar job.

In the UK you've got products like Logic Oral Hygiene Gel: Enzymatic Dog & Cat Toothpaste. These are examples. I am sure there are more.

The plaque causes the gums to become inflamed. This mainly happens on the outside surface of the gums (nearest the cheeks). Minerals from the saliva stick on the plaque and harden it and the cycle continues.

The plaque pushes the gum from the tooth leaving it open to infection. When the tooth becomes infected it can spread to the bone and the supporting bone will be damaged and the tooth loosened.

Oriental Shorthair cats have a predisposition to it, it appears. See also bad breath in cats.


It is near impossible (unless trained over time) in my experience to use a toothbrush on a cats teeth so you may have to have a vet deal with this under general anesthetic to get the teeth in good condition (if this is necessary - your vet will say) and then practice preventative processes. The best way is to clean her teeth, failing which use the kind of products mentioned above.

Regular use has a dramatically beneficial effect on you cat's oral hygiene.

Photo reproduced under CC copyright mikeandanna

A Cat's Common Cold

Cats get colds just like us only for a cat we call it Infectious Rhinitis (the same term is used for humans too). Vets seem to call cat colds "cat flu". However, the word "flu" is short for influenza and this is a much more severe illness than the common cold and caused by a different virus. It can lead to pneumonia.

"Rhinitis" is a term describing irritation to the nose. "Infectious" refers to the infection of a virus. For a cat the virus concerned is feline herpesvirus (FHV) and feline calicivirus (FCV). 80% of cat flu is due to these viruses.

These are conditions that are very important to cat breeders as they must be controlled and absolutely minimized. They are most common in cats under 6 months of age. Also the infection (understandably) in most likely to take hold in an environment where there are several or more cats as in a cattery.

I have read some unfortunate stories about cats being bought that have these symptoms, which have been hidden from the buyer.

As in humans the cold can develop into a secondary bacterial infection. Vaccines are available for cat flu and these have proved successful. Why isn't there a successful vaccine for humans against the common cold?

It would seem that a cats suffers the same symptoms as us and in addition, conjunctivitis, which is an inflammation of the outermost layer of the eye and the inside of the eylid due to the same viral infection (although it can be caused by allergens and bacterial infection).


As for humans a cold should eventually go through the actions of the cat's own defense systems. Humans can help the process. The best care is provided in an environment where the cat is comfortable i.e. her home.

Other things that can be done:
  • warm ventilated environment
  • tasty food warmed up to enhance the smell if she is off her food due to ulcers or sore troat
  • steamy bathroom can help clear the nasal passages but take extreme care with hot water in the bath or shower.
  • if symptoms worsen a trip to the vet is the thing to do obviously.
Although colds an be cured they may leave a legacy of chronic inflammation of the nose. "Chronic" meaning recurring. This is due to the mucous membrane in the nose is permanently changed and enlarged. This may result in a permanent state of a low level cold like condition with sneezing and snuffling etc.

This is where buying a cat can be problematic. Watch out for these conditions on purchase and don't get carried away. Buying a cat is an emotional experience and a degree of common sense can disappear.

Lastly most cats don't completely rid themselves of the virus so they carry it and spread it. This applies to both FCV and FHV.

Note: I'll make the usual disclaimer. This article is carefully and responsibly researched and is based in part on personal experience but there is no substitute for getting a vet's opinion. I am not a vet.

Picture of healthy cat nose reproduced under creative commons copyright sniffette (appropriate don't you think)

Cat Intelligence

We are the most intelligent animals in the world, we think. Each day we learn more about the different forms of intelligence of our fellow animals. Yes, we are animals and so are the other creatures on this planet.

There are apparently 9 types of intelligence. In some forms the "others" beat us. Here very briefly are some examples how our humble moggie beats us hands down.

Kinesthetic Intelligence

This relates to the ability to use a range of physical skills and "manipulate" objects. I presume this means to handle objects deftly. It is also reflected in great timing and co-ordination. "Timing" refers to the sequence of events in a certain action (such as jumping) that maximizes the use of the effort put in). Think of all our best sports people and dancers for example.

Now think of the cat. The WOW factor. The sheer ease with which a cat jumps up and lands on a flat surface with dead weight. When I see a cat jump to the kitchen counter he uses the exact amount of force needed to jump the height required and no more so that he lands softly. That is one example of superb athletic ability and co-ordination, which makes us look clumsy. And I haven't mentioned the height they can jump to.

Here's another (there are many). Cats are very efficient hunters. They can stalk in the dark using eyes, nose and whiskers (to sense air movement). They kill prey by biting the exact spot on the neck of the prey to kill it. The whiskers guide the teeth in the dark.

The speed of a cat's swipe is impressive. We have all been caught out by our cat swiping us when we have gone too far in play.

Spatial Intelligence

This is about image manipulation, thinking in three dimensions and mental imagery. There is an overlap here I think in the cats kinetic intelligence (jumping ability)

Only recently I have
mentioned a cat (Podge) that routinely travels a few miles daily to the exact same spot and waits for his human to pick him up. Then there is the story of the white Moggie living in South London, who regularly jumps on a No. 22 bus to go one stop to the fish and chip shop. At first the other passengers were surprised. Now they accept him as another passenger and are surprised when he's not there. He always sits at the front :)

Cats can get around their territory extremely well without maps....We can't even read maps half the time.

Intrapersonal Intelligence

This relates to an awareness of self and how to act with that knowledge. Obviously cats act instinctively as opposed to a rational logical process (I got that wrong as it implies humans are rational and logical). Yet they have some great intrapersonal intelligence.

For example they wash themselves all the time in a set order, maintaining a high level of personal hygiene (beats some humans I know). Cats demonstrate an awareness of their position in the house and amongst human and never push their luck or overstep the mark.

When she wants something she'll persist and wait; demonstrating skills beyond many humans.

Yes cats aren't as intelligent as us in some ways but in others they beat us - let us respect them for that.

Top photo reproduced under creative commons copyright zach kowalczyk. Bottom photo copyright leff

Monday, December 10, 2007

Giving Cat Medicine

Giving cat medicine can be a pain in the ***. Cats can be very difficult when you want to get a pill down or give her some liquid medicine. It's a huge put off and you are liable to not give all the medicine prescribed.

Of course you must do as your vet ordered :) Vets will prescribe pills or liquid medicine.


The classic way to deliver these is to firstly hold your cat's head firmly. I think that you have to demonstrate to your cat that you are the boss and that must come across in a firm hold but obviously not too firm. It will help is you have someone to assist to keep her still and further send the message that you both mean business and that it is better to submit. That should make the process easier. But always act with caution and sensitivity to the cat's feelings.

With the head held firmly, you pry (gently but firmly force open the mouth) with a finger of the other hand. Speed is important too. The faster the easier. If you take too long the moment is passed and your darling cat will win that one.

If you fail, I would stop and come back for a second attempt a bit later. Once the mouth is open, drop the pill at the back of the mouth. The pill should be pushed far enough back on the tongue for the automatic triggering mechanism of the cat to take effect. She may and probably will try and spit it out.

Experience will improve your technique. Apparently, a little tap on your cat's nostril (be careful here) can help to trigger the swallowing process.

If this fails you've got the pill dispensing devices. You can get pill crushers and pill dispensers both sides of the Atlantic. They are cheap (in the US below $3) and you can buy online. Of course they are probably twice that price in the UK :)

The crusher of course allows you to put the crushed pill (now powder) into some food (something that she can't resist). I find this method one of the best, in fact. Of course you can crush the pill yourself.

The dispenser (pill gun) works by loading the pill on the tip of the device, opening your cat's mouth and pressing the tip of the device gently to the back of your cat's tongue and releasing the pill with the trigger on the device. Voila!

If you have a syringe (perhaps given to you by your vet to dispense liquid medicine or on request - without the needle) you can give your cat a quick drink of water with it to wash the nasty taste down.

Liquid medicine

This is dispensed with a syringe. These are marked up on the side in cubic centimeters to make it easy to gauge the quantity of medicine dispensed.

Hold head and open mouth as before and place syringe at back of mouth and plunge gently and in a regular manner to allow your cat to swallow the liquid.

Photos: top dave77459 and bottom: Jan Steen (painting) and mharrsch the photo both creative commons Flickr

Sphynx Cat Breeders

Sphynx cat breeders are best found, at least initially, on the internet. Let's say that today (2011) searching for a breeder probably starts on the internet. A search can be made more efficient by checking the breeder's website with a critical eye as you can learn quite a lot from a website about the kind of people that you are going to deal with when you come to adopt a cat. However, I agree with a comment to this post, that a breeder does not have to have a website at all to be a good breeder. It is just that an excellent website gives a good impression. However, there is no substitute for visiting the breeding cattery and asking questions. Helmi Flick says it is a must in fact. It is common sense really.

First and foremost and more important than the way the site looks, it has to be functional. That means readability, excellent content and good navigation. Some noticeable inbound links to the site in question would indicate that people want to link to the site. This indicates a well established business.

In general it has to be said that cat breeder websites are not that great in my opinion. They tend to be a bit tasteless (sorry for that but it's my view). Some, though, do stand out.

Cat breeders could do a lot worse than had a good look at the CFA site which is obviously good but noticeably better than the next biggest cat registry TICA. Update: the CFA has been updated and it has gone wrong.

See a glorious Sphynx cat picture....

Here is my selection of Sphynx Cat Breeders from a Google search:

AAA Diamond Sphynx
Based in the USA, Pittsburg. This website is the first listed site of a cat breeder not being part of a directory site. It has a Google PageRank. It is quite a good looking clean site, readable and functional.

Sphynx Cats
Based in Birkdale, QLD, Australia. Nice functional site. This site is the next ranked site on a Google search. The webmasters newsletter dried up in 2005. May not be a bad sign. But the website should be altered if the place for newsletters is not being utilised.

Furless Felines Sphynx
I liked this site for the sensible advice it gave. The breeder gave me the impression from this site that she a) new what she was doing and b) cared enough to do it. This on the face of it makes her a good breeder. It is not immediately clear where they are located. I guess it's the USA.

Australian cattery. One of the first if not the first in Australia. Site looks good. Have co-authored a book on the breed.

Sundancebare Cattery
Located in USA. Salt Lake City. This looks like a very good breeder indeed. Recommended.

Ryejoli Sphynx
Very impressive opening page of site which loads quickly despite there being large images. Based in Southern New Mexico.

The above sites are from the first two pages of Google listing.

from this blog to Pictures of Cats different cat breeds page

Sphynx Cat Picture

A Sphynx cat picture is rather hard to get hold of as this breed is rare. However, I've just been to the National Cat Club Show 2007 in London and got one or two pictures. Also, Helmi Flick has photographed on or two Sphynxs in her time and (yes there are more), one of the Flickr photographers has taken some great pictures of Sphynxs.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to provide some links to places on the net where you can see the very best Sphynx cat pictures (actually photographs) both amateur and professional.

Here are the links:

On this blogger go here

On the internet go here

On the internet try this

An finally here is one more link

The photoraph on this page is by Helmi Flick and her copyright

Cat Allergies and Realities

The reality is that if you think that you have a cat allergy you may not. If you have an allergy it may not be the cat. If you love your cat and she loves you it would be a hell of a shame (for the cat :)) to part company on a mistake. Or, if you do have an allergy to cats you may have allergies to more than just a cat allergen so kissing your cat goodbye won't help.

First things first, find out what your allergic to. This can be done through a blood test I believe. Try and convince your doctor to do a thorough check of all the possible irritants - get the figures, the data before taking big steps.

Timmy the stray boy cat who has set up home here is the first cat to whom I am slightly allergic. I'm a bit shocked in fact. He makes me itch as if I've got dermatitis. But it won't stop me seeing him and I think it's starting to ease a bit. Perhaps I am adjusting to the allergen in his saliva.

If the tests establish that you are allergic to cats, the tests may also show that you are allergic to other things. You can take steps to minimize the allergic reaction to the other things. In doing this you reduce the number of allergens to the point where you have no or minimal symptoms.

In addition to allergy shots try these steps:
  • vacuum more often using a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter and try and wet wipe all surfaces and use a mask when vacuuming (pain the back side I know) - or get someone else to do it
  • Some cats are better for people who are allergic to cats. The well know Allerca comes to mind and the siblings the Ashera GD and the Chakan GD. These cats though are for the rich as they are very pricey. There is also the Siberian and the Sphynx come to mind
  • You might try and set up a cat free zone for a period of time in day to allow some relief from the cat allergen causing the allergy
  • Bathe your cat frequently (every few weeks)
  • Watch out for a dusty litter type. Try and find one that produces less dust when doing the litter
  • there may be some products on the market for shampooing your cat which help reduce the allergen
  • Apparently a tannic acid stray (Allersearch ADS is the product - not sure if this is a US product - it probably is) of 3% tannic acid sprayed onto carpets, curtains and bedding can help by killing allergens
  • wash your hands after handling your cat and don't kiss her :)
This advice comes from Abyssinian Rescue
Photo copyright messtizza - creative commons

Cats communicating with scent

Cats communicating with scent is possible because they have a fine sense of smell, much better than ours. It so good that they have developed a vocabulary around it. This vocabulary is as good as the written word filed away in the filing cabinet or posted on a banner over the shop front. It is also as precise as the written word and much more precise than some of the stuff written by some humans :)

Fair enough, we also use scent to certain extent to send signals usually to the opposite sex, with perfume for example. Strange though that we have to cover up our own smell with something artificial? It must mean we don't like our own smell. Cats don't have that low self-esteem so they're better than us in that area too.

How do cats make transmittable odors? Feces, urine and scent glands. I know it sounds a bit gruesome for humans but we are really too sensitive about these things.

I've talked about Timmy a boy cat who has entered our lives here in London (he's just walked in by the way - hi Timbo how yu doin mate - meow (I want food) - rub rub (scent transmission to me). Timmy rubs me with his scent glands endlessly as a friendly greeting and I return it. He's communicating loud and clear.

He may (I don't know what he does outside) also leave his feces either covered or uncovered after going to the toilet. He's a stray cat and if he's boss cat in a group he may feel minded to leave it uncovered to send out the signal that he doesn't have to hide and be subservient but is top man.

Cats are territorial. Spraying urine on a prominent area sends an obviously clear signal - "this is my area stay out" (like a red light). This avoids confrontation. If the urine is old the "red light" of fresh urine is turned into the "green light" of old and the way becomes clear for others to come through.

Both scent transference and spraying also provides a comfort zone for the cat as he is surrounded by friendly scent.

Where's the filing cabinet I got some **** to put in it.....

Photo - creative commons copyright Sheila Steele (Flickr)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The National Cat Club Show 2007 Part 2

Here's some more photographs from the 2007 National Cat Club Show. The club is the oldest in the world. Click on the "Cat Show" label in the left margin for more on this show.
This charming little cat was on her Mom's shoulder while she chatted to someone.

Humbug Holly a non-pedigree cat looking like one. He is a kitten (you wouldn't believe it) and he posed calmly and with purpose for the camera.

This is Dillon an Exotic Shorthair (a mix of Persian - the Ultra Face - and British Shorthair). He looks regal and the boss.

This is Casper a Sphynx kitten of 16 weeks looking a bit agitated but he was a great boy.

It is pretty stressful potentially for some of the cats, while they wait to be judged in their cages. Some hide under a comfort blanket, some sleep in the cat litter and some go half way and make a little nest with the help of their mistress in the blanket. This is an example.

Women Prefer Cats to Men

I receive a newsletter from Dr. Jon who runs a website called PetPlace. They asked their readers some questions about cats and men - "54.1% preferred the company of cats to men" and only a miserly 5.6% preferred the company of men.

OK, so women prefer cats. Not a bad decision really. I prefer cats too :) What do men refer? I am not sure why the survey didn't put the same question to men about women and cats. Maybe they did but we haven't heard the result yet. Maybe 55% of men prefer cats to women but I think that highly unlikely. Why? Because if men are to prefer another animal to women, the animal would be a dog.

In another posting I discussed why women prefer cats to dogs and why men prefer dogs to cats. That is at least a partial answer as to why women prefer cats to men. By the way women still need men and that must be why they stick around. Why do they need men? Because we run the world. Back to cats..

The reason why women prefer cats to dogs is because they are allowed to be more of an individual in the role of home building (this is gradually changing). Men work in packs as they are essentially cave men. As a cave man he had to hunt in packs to kill prey - we haven't changed on that fundamental level.

That established, it is a small step to presume that women prefer animals that are individuals and therefore find it difficult to prefer the company of men. But, they do have a propensity to like the more rebellious man, the man who is an individual.

photograph reproduced under creative commons copyright sean dreilinger

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The National Cat Club Show 2007

Well, I'm back from The National Cat Club Show 2007 at London Olympia. This is an old venue for exhibiting and it looks it but is a nice space. I think it is just the right size for this show. I found the GCCF show at the NEC a little to "extended" as the venue may have been a tiny bit too spacious.

I'm a little surprised at how fast the judging takes place. Also at this show there were no rings. "Rings" are areas to which cats are moved from "holding cages" to be judged.

At this show the judges go around with a steward (to help handle the cat) and a table on wheels where the cat is judged. They go to the cat in her holding cage as opposed to the cat being taken to the judge.

I changed my mind about Sphynx cats. I had thought them a little unnatural and frankly not that attractive, but I meet a really nice little fella called Casper, a 16 week old Sphynx who was just at an age when he could be shown and get some merit points.

He had an elder brother who was 16 months old. Touching a Sphynx is a new experience. They are covered in fine light brown downy hair and feel quite warm. They look a bit neurotic because they are thin but both these boys were great. The elder brother was really laid back and the kitten jumped around his cage looking for attention (see photo).

As you can see, Casper was eager to get out of his cage and be part of the action. As I photographed him quite a large crowd formed around his human companion, a nice helpful lady who let me photograph without interruption. I used a fairly cheap non SLR camera. The big problem with these is that there is a slight delay between pushing the shutter release and the shutter firing so if you are photographing a fast moving object like Casper it is hard to capture the moment.

I missed some shots for that reason. In this picture opposite he is trying to catch the attention of his Mom (bless), without success I can add.

I also bumped into the Blue Peter production team who were at the show recording for a programme which will go out in the very near future. For overseas visitors to this site (fine chance), and in case you don't know, Blue Peter is a TV programme that goes out in the afternoon for children. They were interviewing children with their cats.

Here's some more photographs and captions:

Blue Peter presenter Andy Akinwolere with Himmie and children. They had a great time with both.

Cat owner (I prefer companion) and a steward enjoying the company of this beautifully behaved white cat.

The National Cat Club Show 2007 show hall at Olympia. The line of white "boxes" in the foreground are the cages for the cats. The place looks a bit like a railway station. The show is a bit like being at a railway station in some respects. A lot of people but not much actual "show". Sorry but I'd like to see a bit more from the organizers. This is more than just a place to judge cats, it is also a show event for the public to visit at a price (£12).

Don't get me wrong, the show is good but I think it could be better with more input such as an announcer explaining where things are and what is going on. Or perhaps some sort of input to the public from the judges as they judge. It all seems so very private as if we were looking in on a private club going on about their busines.

More on the show in the next post.......
Photographs by copyright Michael Broad

Friday, December 7, 2007

The National Cat Club Show 2007

The National Cat Club is having it's annual show at Olympia, London today 8th December. As I live about 3 miles away in Barnes I'm going with the camera.

Barnes is just over the river Thames from the Fulham area where the Olympia exhibition halls are situated.

The National Cat Club is the oldest in world so they claim and it can be believed as it was founded in 1887. The club was the Governing Body of the Cat Fancy until 1910 when the GCCF took over.

If you read about cat shows it seems to me that all the early major shows were held at Crystal Palace. The first as far as I am aware was held there in 1871 and this was the National Cat Club Show.

When researching the history of cat breeds Crystal Palace comes up time and again. I am currently working on the Abyssinian Cat. This breed was imported into England in about 1874 from Abyssinia by a soldier, who it is presumed was in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) as part of the military forces there in the lead up to the Abyssinian-Egyptian war of the 1870s.

The Abyssinian was first registered worldwide in England by the National Cat Club in 1896 apparently. The cats were called Sedgemere Bottle and Sedgemere Peaty.

The Crystal Palace fire is well known. The Crystal Palace was a well known large glass and iron building built for the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London's Hyde Park. It was moved and rebuilt at, what is called now, Crystal Palace Park in 1854. This was the world's first theme park.

The Palace was a very impressive structure. Perhaps too big to be financially viable at the time. There was a fire in 1866 and another in 1936 when the entire structure was it seems destroyed. The National Cat Club Show had to be moved and it has found a home at Olympia having moved around over the years to various London venues.

This is where I am going to in about 3 hours. I'll report back. Finally, the club must be commended for existing for so long.

Photograph reproduced under creative commons ian-n flickr, after an exhibition at Olympia

Your cat wants you to breast feed her.

Humans often succumb to infantile behavior. Your cat has her moments too. And there are lots of them for a domestic cat.

As humans we keep our cats in a perpetual state of kitten hood, until they wander out at night (if you allow that) and instantly become wild cats stalking prey.

There is no need to stalk prey indoors though. If your cat is a lap cat you've probably felt your cat's claws on your legs.

When you sit down you are giving a signal that you are a mummy cat ready to breast feed your cat. Your cat jumps up and being reduced to infantile pleasure kneads your legs/knee in simulating what she would do if she were at the breast of a real mother cat.

In kneading your knee she is stimulating the production of milk. The trouble is it's your knee so not much milk is going to be produced.

Still acting on instinct she presses on and may even salivate all over you in anticipation of the meal to come.

It is your beholden and avowed duty to play along. You should not move or become distressed at the agonizing pin pricks rhythmically being inflicted.

Keep pretending that you're Mum and provide a loving warm environment for your cat at this moment because for your cat it is just that, warm and tender. To throw her off would be almost cruel and difficult to understand for your cat. It may even be hurtful to your cat and send the wrong signal. It may make her insecure as well.

To a cat we are maternal figures so we must act in that way. They are seeking the warmth that a mother provides; we shouldn't disappoint them.

Picture reproduced under creative commons (forgotten credit - sorry)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cat Swaying and Jumping

My little and now old girl cat, Binnie, can still jump, when she puts her mind to it. However, it's not that far. She has lost a lot of her jumping power and walks a little stiffly - all to be expected as she is about 14 years old.

As jumping is more difficult for her she has to think about a jump more. She also has to concentrate more and this shows. She sways her head from side to side a lot and for longer before making a jump.

She moves her head from side to side to use her binocular vision to maximum effect in judging the distance accurately. When the head is moved the eyes see the target object from a different angle allowing the brain to better compute the distance and the force required to jump to the exact spot.

For a predator inch perfect precision in required as she is in fact pouncing on prey. The African Serval is particularly adept at this as she leaps into the air and drops onto small prey such as rodents, stunning them on impact with her front paws.

For Binnie, life is less exciting but instinctively she measures the distance with the same radar like precision. That's me girl Binnie you show 'em how clever you are...

The cat in the top photograph is not mine but a cat about to jump - reproduced under creative commons (Flickr) copyright danilou

The picture on the right is my Binnie taken about 5 years ago.>>>>>

This is her more usual position :)

Cat's Laser Eyes

There are masses of photographs on the internet of cats that have been taken with flash on the camera.

When the flash is on the camera the light from the flash reflects off objects at an angle which results in the reflected light returning close to or at the position on the camera lens.

If you are photographing a cat this way you often get a picture of a cat with laser eyes and a funny cheeseburger caption. You get "red eye" when the same thing happens to a person.

Why are cat's eye reflections brighter? This phenomenon has been known for decades hence the term "cats eyes" when referring to the center lines on roads (there are much fewer than years ago).

The reason is bound up with the cat's ability to see better in the dark than humans. Behind the retina of the cat's eyes is a reflective material which is designed to boost the image received by the eye. In modern parlance it is an image intensifier.

Human eyes reflect red (the color of blood, which feeds the retina). For the cat it is a bright light from this reflective material.

When it is completely dark, however, cats can't see in the conventional sense. They fall back on their other outstanding senses namely smell, sound and her sensitive whiskers that detect air currents.

Photographs reproduced under creative commons. Copyright (top) Maggie Osterberg (bottom) r11132a (Flickr)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Japanese Bobtail

I have just been working on building a page about the Japanese Bobtail.

This cat is steeped in history going back it is said 1000 years or so when the breed was supposedly imported into Japan from China or Korea.

The fact is that nearly all cat breed histories are vague except those that have been deliberately created by man's intervention (by cross breeding).

Although some cats have been fairly recently discovered such as the Muchkin dwarf cat. The point is that a number of new breeds recently discovered have probably been around for some time in parts of the world where there is no cat fancy (cat lover associations). People in some countries would not be at all interested in a slightly strange looking cat.

Mutations that cause hairlessness, for example, have been around all over the world for many years, but it is in places like the USA where people take action on discoveries as there is ultimately a commercial gain and perhaps status to be had.

Mutations occur naturally. It is how nature evolves. Only sometimes the mutation can be a defective and not to the benefit of the cat. A shortened tail is not a benefit to the cat and may be a slight detriment as it is used for balance.

But mutations produce something new to the breed concerned and is therefore of interest to cat breeders.

The Japanese Bobtail is a healthy cat apparently. She is slighter than the other bobtailed cats namely the American Bobtail, the Pixie-Bob, the Manx and the Kurilian Bobtail. These are quite stocky cats with thick fur while the Japanese Bobtail is medium small with smooth tight fur.

The Japanese have many stories about how the breed came about. They are all fiction as this is a simple genetic mutation.

The Japanese particularly like this cat in bicolor or tricolor (calico). The cat opposite is bicolored. This coloring is caused by the white spotting gene. This gene can sometimes restrict the migration of pigmentation to the eye (just as it does for the fur). When this happens the cat may have different colored eyes, one blue (or silver as the Japanese would call it) and one yellow (the Japanese would call the color of this eye gold).

Read more about this breed - Japanese Bobtail blog to Picture of Cats website

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Is Domestication bad for a cat?

The answer is a qualified "no". Life for a domestic cat is easier. Domestic cats live an average of 10-12 years or more and about 3 years or so when feral. Although this is probably a distorted statistic as feral cats are in, my opinion, living in an unnatural way. They are living in suburban areas still relying to a certain extent on humans.

But everything that is more comfortable for us is not necessarily good for us. An animal (and I include human animals) need challenge, some stress, a target, a motivation etc to live in balance.

When it's too easy (think of rich kids) things can go wrong - drugs, drink, bad behavior due in part to boredom and lack of direction.

The same is surely true of cats or indeed any animal that has an unnaturally restricted or limited life. In domesticating herself the cat has sought and found an easier life, this was done instinctively some 9,500 years ago. But she also lost some essential challenges in her life.

Our instincts don't always lead us down the right path. We have an instinct to make life easier like all animals but this must be controlled like all human instincts.

What I'm getting at is this. A domesticated cat's life can be easy to the point of boredom, dullness and lack of focus that can result in disorders such as compulsive repetitive disorder.

The symptoms are for example, skin rippling, compulsive grooming, compulsive meowing, excessive chewing and chasing around unnaturally.

Some of the symptoms may be due to a specific illness but there may be an underlying issue with boredom and lack of focus which we as carers can give back at least to a certain degree.

We should force ourselves to play with out cat at least twice daily, I think, for about 20 mins or so each time. This is difficult and becoming increasingly so due the competitive nature of the modern world and the demands that it places upon us.

It seems that the problems that we as humans face are reflected in our cats behavior. We are more occupied and therefore less able to give our cats the time they need from.

When I read articles about how to resolve a cats poor or unnatural behavior, I think it is us who should be addressing our behavior as this is often the source of the problem or at least the answer can be found there.

Photograph reproduced under creative commons copyright brainwise Flickr (top) and jpmatth (bottom)

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