Thursday, July 30, 2009

Analysis of the Big Cat Video UK

It has been claimed to be "one of the best pieces of footage of a big cat in the UK". This is my brief analysis of the big cat video UK.

First it has to said that this is simply not a big cat. If it is a wild cat it would be classed as one of the small wild cats (see Wild Cat Species). It is about 2 feet long (excluding the tail) and looks like it weighs about 20+ pounds. This is gauged by comparison with the tracks (apparently 4 feet 8.5 inches wide in Britain). This cat walks like a small cat or domestic cat meaning lightly and without that slightly arrogant and slower paced walk of the bigger cats. Its shape is neither cobby (stocky) nor slender. The smaller big cats like the puma and leopard are quite slender with long limbs. This cat cannot be either. It cannot be a lynx because there is no ruff.

This cat has been described as "fearsome" and a "panther" by the tabloid press. Well it is not fearsome it seems to me. And it is not a panther as this is a term to describe melanistic (black) leopards and pumas. The smallest leopard weighs about 20 kg (44 lbs pounds - small female Cap Province -- Wild Cats of the World) and are normally about 50 kg (110 lbs the size of female person). The puma is quite a large cat with some small cat characteristics and weights at the lower end about the same as a small women. Both are larger by a factor of about 4 or 5 than this cat.

Domestic cats can weigh on average about 8 lbs but some weigh over 20 lbs. The all domestic cat, the Maine Coon can and frequently does weigh over 20 lbs. But this cat is not a Maine Coon as the fur is short on this cat and the Maine Coon is longer bodied.

It is more likely to be a large (top end) domestic cat than a wildcat. And this cat is behaving like a domestic cat wandering down a railway line. This cat is not behaving secretively as a wild cat would. It is very hard indeed to see a Scottish wild cat. It takes a lot of tracking and patience.

One viewer of the video made the comment that it could be a domestic cat/Scottish wild cat hybrid (first generation). This could be the case. They are black apparently and although the Scottish wild cat is the approximate size of a domestic cat with hybrid vigor the offspring could be larger than the parents.

I think it is also worth mentioning that this cat is not very elusive, is it? It is calmly walking down a railway line in broad daylight when it could be hold up in a den and coming out at night as black panthers are meant to do. And why is this oh so fantastic video footage, some of the best ever pretty poor, frankly. Over all the tens of years we have been told about fearsome big cats in the UK the best evidence we have is this poor camera phone video of a 20 lb domestic cat!

Analysis of the Big Cat Video UK - conclusion: Can the papers please stop exaggerating as this is irresponsible and puts fear into some people who might react badly to the cat and try and kill it? Being at the very top end of the domestic cat range it is more likely to be a very large domestic cat or a Scottish wild cat first generation hybrid and it is certainly not a black panther.

More reading:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When a Stray Cat Comes to You

What to do when a stray cat comes up to your home? Or there is a cat wandering around in your area and you feel that it is stray. A lot of people take what only can be described as hostile action, against the cat, for example, kill it by poison or kick it etc. (see cat poison). In fact there is a post on this blog made a day or two ago in which the person said she loved cats but puts down poison to deal with stray cats! See Stray Cats.

I have lost the credit for this photo. I think it could be MAR please advise - sorry

But the question is what is the thing that we should do? The proper thing throwing out all other considerations? If the cat is tame it is probably a stray cat as opposed to a feral cat. And in that case it probably lives with someone - but who? And if you can't find out, then what?

One way to find out is to ask around the neighbours. This might seem troublesome to many people who don't care about cats or animals generally. Fair enough but it is the right action to take. Another way to try and find the owner is to place a collar on the cat in which the question as to who is the owner is asked with your contact details provided. You can see an example here.

If the owner (keeper) comes forward you should try and convince them to act more responsibly and I realize that that is going to be all but impossible but at least you know who the person is and can deal with the matter in a better way if things get worse.

Another way to try and find the owner is to contact the local shelters (in the UK - here is a list). Once all reasonable steps have been taken (and ideally recorded) but without success, you can move on to the next stage, which is to rehome the cat. That means deciding whether ownership should pass to you (a very serious commitment for the remainder of the life of the cat) or whether the cat should be rehomed by a local shelter.

Provided you have done all you reasonably could have done to find the owner no one can accuse you of theft. If the cat is feral and therefore wild there can only be one course of action, which is to support the cat (which is effectively wild), while ensuring the cat cannot reproduce. This is called trap, neuter, return and it is probably best left to the experts, provided the experts are simply just not going to kill it after a couple of days at the shelter.

When a stray cat comes to you, you should take the above action provided you are convinced the cat is stray. What I did was to take in the stray cat. He is called Timmy (middle picture above) and he is possibly a time share cat because he lives somewhere else as well as at my place. I took the hardest step and that has to be for life.

When a Stray Cat Comes to You to Home Page (main site)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cat-Photo-Technique Flickr Group

Here is a photo stream from the cat-photo-technique Flickr group that I started to encourage good cat photography. Of course Helmi Flick the best cat photographer very generously allows me to use her photographs on the main site: Pictures of Cats but inspired by her fine photographs and knowing that there are a lot of cat photos on the internet, I thought it would be nice to see if we could find the best amateur cat photoraphers. Professional photographers can submit to the group to, of course.

In fact it would be great if some professionals did submit their work to the group as it would intruct and train the amateurs. That said there are some fantastic amateurs who could teach the professionals a thing or two (fofurasfelinas and Dani Rozeboom come to mind immediately).

Anyway, these are the pages to visit:

Our Relationship with Cats

There are many millions of people who tenderly love and care for the domestic cats with which they live. There are many millions who are concerned about the wildcats. But there are not enough. Today I was shocked by a submission to the main website ( by a person who said she (or he, not sure) loved cats but poisoned them because her neighbours were irresponsible in letting them stray. And these stray cats upset her by defecating and urinating around her home. She also said that they bring fleas and "other insects". What she was doing or what she said she was doing was quite possibly a felony in her state of New York.

The person was arrogant and ignorant enough to state her views and actions on the internet on a site that gets a lot of hits. Beware doing such things as it can backfire. It does show us the level of "out of reality" lives some people live. The person's arguments were totally lacking in sound thought. And upon this ignorance, cats were, on the face of it, being cruelly killed - quite mindless and idiotic but an example of behaviour not that uncommonly seen.

I know that for many people who are not that fond of cats, feral or stray cats can be a nuisance. But the only way to deal with this is to deal with the owners. And as to the feral cats that can only mean being dealt with by trap, neuter return and plenty of investment in time and effort. There is no other way. Our relationship with cats can be quite fraught. And our relationship with cats is certainly very polarised. What I mean is that people have very widely held views, which makes a coordinated approach impossible.

Take feral cats again. There is the beginnings of a new direction in how to deal with feral cats at the governmental level in the potential city ordinance (laws) of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. Beverly Hills could be the beginning of change and a proper approach to dealing with feral cats. Millions are killed each year. Some go into cat food - yes it's true. And one comment on a YouTube video about how some feral cats or unwanted domestic cats were turned into cat food, said that is was a good idea. Maybe you do too. But it cannot be right. It is not the way things were meant to have turned out when the wild cat was first domesticated. We thought that our relationship with cats would be beneficial to both cat and human. Now that "dream" has turned sour.

If feral cats are generally badly treated (and they are only surviving like you and me) then the domestic cat can have it pretty hard too. People in the USA have created a country where the domestic cat has to be kept in permanently. How odd and unnatural is that? And an unlikely and horrendous spin off from that (and I believe a contributory factor) is that 20% or about 20 million domestic cats in the USA are declawed. This is a crime in many European countries. America is a decent and good country with good and decent people, so what happened on this one? Something went badly wrong and I say it is largely to do with commerce and the veterinarians who encourage non-therapeutic declawing, a truly unethical process of great cruelty.

That said many people in the USA will say that declawing is OK and that they love cats. I just think that they don't understand and that misunderstanding comes from the people who do understand but hide behind euphemisms and denial, the veterinarians.

Our relationship with cats works brilliantly when we love our cat and let our cat be his or herself. When we accept out cat as he or she is. Is that so hard? If we can't do that it's OK. Just don't keep a cat. Is that so hard? If we wan companionship from a cat we should respect the cat. Declawing is highly disrespectful and much worse. See AVMA policy on declawing cats.

As to the wildcats, for me it is more sadness. Once again a different form of business is destroying the cat, businesses like the timber business destroying forest and the habitat of forest dwelling cats (African golden cat, Sumatran tiger and Clouded leopard to name three - there are many more). If it is not timber it is farming or some other business. Sure we have a right to make a living but it is time we did it in a way that doesn't destroy the planet. Is that so hard?