Sunday, February 28, 2010

Interpreting a Cat's Appearance

Sebastian says hi
Originally uploaded by fofurasfelinas
Yes, another fine picture of Sebastian this time, by the renown cat photographer, fofurasfelinas (Flickr - Giane Portal is her real name). This is one where I can see people who do not understand cats making derogatory or misleading comments.

Some people might say things like, "he's a mean son-of-a-bitch" (yes it would be an American teenager from mid-America I am afraid). That would be totally misreading Sebastian's expression.

That said there is a great opportunity to make up some funny cheeseburger type titles or comments for this cat as he is winking at the camera and talking out loud! Well, of course he is not doing that but you could pretend that he was.

"How ya doin darling.." is one such comment that comes to mind. It is the sort of thing a cockney bloke in the east end of London, England, says to a girl when he picks her up!

What probably happened was simply that Sebastian just happened to close one eye as he began to yawn or something like that.

I love those whiskers and he has great looking teeth - very healthy. Everything looks healthy about him and he is at a cat sanctuary at Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, which tells you how so very good this sanctuary is.

Sebastian is a red tabby cat. Sometimes red is described as yellow or orange. It means the same thing and the cause is the same - the presence of the O gene that turns eumelanin (black pigment in the hair strands) into a different colour. His eyes are a pale green making a nice counterpoint to the coat colour and the wall behind is a perfect off blue to contrast with the ginger coat. Nice photo Giane. Well done.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Green eyed cat among the leaves

Among the leaves
Originally uploaded by fofurasfelinas
This is an exquisite photograph of a random bred (I presume) cat at a cat sanctuary in Brazil by the talented photographer, fofurasfelinas, here Flickr username. Here real name is Giane Portal.

I love the way the way the colour of the eyes match the colour of the leaves. And the way the cat is inquisitively looking at Giane as she takes the photograph.

This cat is a tabby cat. In fact on first glance this cat appears to be a special sort of tabby cat where there is little or no tabby pattern but a heavily ticked coat.

A ticked coat is one where the strands of hair are banded with yellow, black and clear fur. The black part of the fur appears to be at the top of the hair strands producing the dark colour down the spine.

The forehead has the classic "M" tabby mark. There are a lot of legends about how that mark was produced but they are just that legends and myths.

This cat looks quite like an Abyssinian cat in fact. I would doubt that there would be an Abyssinian cat in a cat sanctuary but it is possible.

The leaves look fresh green indicating that the photo was taken in Spring. But is this true? I have no idea.

This sanctuary is one that houses about 300 cats that have been rescued. The intention is not to rehome them but to look after them. Foz do Iguacu is right on the Argentinian border as far as I remember. And the place is named after a magnificent tourist attraction waterfall.

Nice place for a cat sanctuary.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Wild Cat in a Domestic Cat

Jungle Toji
Originally uploaded by fofurasfelinas
In this photo by the talented fofurafelinas (Giane Portal) you can see the wild cat in a domestic cat. Toji, the tabby cat that is the subject matter of the photograph, actually looks quite wild in this photo. He looks like a European wild cat or a Scottish wild cat (a species of European wild cat). I think he has that wild look that breeders of wildcat cat hybrids love so much. The Bengal cat is a wild cat hybrid so it is considered good breeding if the cat is to type and looks wild. Toji is not a Bengal cat though. He is a random bred cat.

After all the purpose of the wildcat hybrids is to allow people to keep a little bit of the wild in their homes and to remind themselves of the small wild cats that are endangered. It doesn't work like that though, in my opinion.

Of course, in this photograph Giane has used the background nicely to give us the sense of being in the wild. The background is "soft" (out of focus) by the use of a wide aperture and or a long focal length lens (or longer than standard).

This allows us to focus on the cat. I like Toji's brown nose too. I always think this makes a cat look more wild because the F1 Savannahs have brown or dark brown noses and they always look wild. I am not sure whether breeders think that way though.

When I look a Toji, I think of the Scottish wildcat, which is a mackerel tabby cat that similar in proportions to a classic domestic cat but perhaps a bit more stocky and a bit bigger.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tabby Theatre Cat

Chihiro in the Theatre
Originally uploaded by fofurasfelinas
This photograph looks as though it is of a tabby theatre cat but it is not. It's Giane Portal being very clever in her photography. The cat though is a beautiful mackerel tabby cat looking confidently into the camera. The depth of focus is very narrow which throws the background out of focus producing the very simple geometric shapes and the impression that Chihiro (the name of this adorable cat) is behind a curtain about to come on stage.

When I think of theatre cats I think of the Moscow Cat Theatre. This is a well known show in which cats do acrobatic stunts. But, and I will be honest, I don't like it. It looks a bit cheap and Russian, a bit tacky. Plus the cats look as though they are having a hard time of it.

I understand that they are well treated etc. but I don't think we should train cats to perform tricks for an audience. Maybe I am being old fashioned and a prude, I don't know.

Another theatre cat was a cat called Gus. Is he the name of a cat in the show "Cats"? Not sure but in any event that does not qualify as we are talking about cats not humans pretending to be cats.

No I may be getting confused. I am thinking of the poem by TS Eliot called Gus The Theatre Cat.

Whatever, cats used to be not uncommon in theatres as working cats to help keep the rodents down. You can see rodents including rats being very possible and troublesome in large old theatre buildings.

Chihiro is a rescue cat as far as I am aware. He has a perfect face and body shape I feel for a domestic cat - absolutely classic in appearance.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Flat Faced Tortoiseshell Persian Cat

Originally uploaded by Ⅿeagan
I really like this interesting photograph of a flat faced tortoiseshell Persian cat. We can't see the tortie colours (blacks and oranges) as it is in black and white but black and white improves the photograph. It becomes a picture of shapes, texture and an eye!

I love the shapes that the tortie pattern has formed when in black and white. It is like the cat is wearing a mask. And the long hair of the Persian cat is very apparent.

That flat face it very apparent too. This is a very controversial face. The cat fancy is really split about this sort of unnatural cat face. Yes, it is interesting and it has been around for a considerable time, about 50 years or so getting flatter and flatter until the breed standard says that is has to be flat or else!

I was asked today what to chose between a doll face and modern Persian "Ultra" type Persian. Answer: no decision. It must be the doll face.

Not to say that this cat is stunning in this photograph. It is a mile away from the classic show cat photograph taken by professionals because professionals have to show the whole cat cleanly and clearly as the client is the cat breeder and he or she wants to show off the cat's type (appearance).

This photo is more "artistic" to use a well worn word. A photographer can be more expansive and take more risks when taking a picture for the fun of it.

The expression on the Persian cat's face gets us inside the cat's head a bit I say. For that reason together with the design and composition it is a fine portrait of a flat faced tortoiseshell Persian cat.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Persian Cat Flower Eater

Flower Eater
Originally uploaded by Ⅿeagan
Yes, this is a Persian cat flower eater and this photo made me smile. A photo that makes a person smile is a good photo; cat photo or otherwise. I like this photograph because it shows us how dangerously cats live sometimes. They do things that we see as dangerous but they don't know it.

They extricate themselves from dangerous situations by their athleticism and excellent senses. That is why they have nine lives.

This photo seems to have three major parts. On the left are the stalks of the plants, stiff and upright. On the right is the flowing texture of a Persian cat's fur. They have the longest fur of all the purebred cats, which makes them more or less obligatory indoor cats as the fur picks up all kinds of stuff outside. In the middle is a blob that is the cat's face and attached to this blob is a mouth about to munch through the leaf of a plant.

Is the plant safe to eat? Some aren't and that includes house plants. But, the photographer is sure things are alright. But does he or she? Just after the photograph was taken the cat pulled the vase over and spilled the water in it.

The photographer must have been very intent on getting the photo. You got it! Well done.

I like the lack of colour too. It makes us focus on the texture and design and the mouth. That mouth will haunt me! :)

From what I can see of the cat it is a traditional Persian cat. The better more natural type with a more normal face. And this cat seems to be a smoke - a coat colour that is darker at the tips and lighter at the base. But I could be wrong.

See more on Persian Cats.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Cat's Senses on Display

From the Dark corner
Originally uploaded by fofurasfelinas
Here is a fine cat photograph by fofurasfelinas (Giane Portal in Brazil) of Toji. He is a tabby cat and this photograph captures the senses working or on standby all at once.

The large vibrissae (whiskers) are in a passive mode but their position gives the impression that they are ready to go and they are very nice long whiskers. A cat's whiskers are extremely sensitive. At the base of each whisker is a bundle of nerves. This allows the whiskers to detect air currents that flow around static objects. Air currents are created by the movement of the cat so the cat can see in the dark in part with the aid of its whiskers.

The whiskers can also detect the position on a prey's body where a bite should be made to kill the prey (nape of neck). The whiskers in effect feel for this position. They are quite extraordinary and we don't really realise this most of the time. Toji has magnificent whiskers.

Toji's canine teeth (long teeth either side of the mouth) are nice and symmetrical and visible in this picture. Ready to inflict that killer bite!

The eyes are focused and alert in a highly responsive gaze. The irises have formed a slit so there must have been a bit if light when this photo was taken.

The ears are pointing forwards so the action that concerns Toji is in front of him and he is looking intently at it.

Finally the classic tabby "M" is apparent on the forehead - the hallmark of a tabby cat. "Tabby" is the name of a coat type not a breed or species of cat. From what I can see of the forelegs Toji is a brown mackerel tabby cat - a cat with dark brown/black stripes on a brown background.

It is a great picture that shows a cat's senses on display or we at least get a sense of the senses that are being used or about to be used.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Real Cat Photography

Unnatural Shapes
Originally uploaded by jewdan_jorcobs
It is rare to see what I call real cat photography. Fofurasfelinas does real cat photography. Helmi Flick does as she is probably the best cat photographer anywhere and a professional but for an amateur and I will presume (perhaps incorrectly) that this photographer is an amateur to use strobe lights and a remote wireless shutter to photograph his cat (is it his cat?) that is impressive, very impressive.

Because of the care taken to produce the photograph and the lighting, it is an outstanding photograph.

It is the lighting that really achieves this. Ninety-nine percent and more of amateur photographs of any subject and especially of cats are taken in natural light.

It is just too fiddly and difficult to use strobe lights even if you know how to use them and most don't when photographing a cat, which moves quickly.

I really like the shadows that form great shapes in the background while the subject matter is in motion. It is dynamic and composed.

Great stuff. I might upload it to the home page of Pictures of Cats org because the colours match that site as well as it being a bloody good picture. See more real cat photography: Cat-Photo-Technique

Cat Sanctuary Beauties

Cat Sanctuary Beauties
Originally uploaded by fofurasfelinas
This is another one of Giane Portal's (fofurasfelinas - Flickr name) great photos. This is just a symphony in blue. The cat is a random bred cat that has found a great home in a sanctuary that can shelter a maximum of 300 cats and this is not a rehoming shelter. The cats live here in a large colony.

There are some brightly coloured walls in the sanctuary which allows Giane to get some nice contrasty colours as backgrounds for the cats.

This cat has blue eyes as well, hence the symphony in blue! His or her name is Barbarus - I think that is a boys name and he looks more like a male cat than a female although it is not always clear. This is a white cat and the gene that produces the white coat also takes the colour from the eyes which leaves them blue.

I have blue eyes and they have less pigment in the iris, which allows more light through and so in bright light my eyes hurt. I have to squint to protect them or wear dark glasses.

Cats as we know have a very efficient method of keeping light out of their eyes. The iris forms a slit rather than a circle when it " stops down" (closes). This allows for the eyelid to further block out light by riding down the eye and covering part of the slit.

This means a cat can see is very dark conditions (cats have a reflective layer behind the retina) and very light conditions without damaging the eye.

It is believed that cats can see colour but not as well as humans. They can though as stated see much better in the dark. The laser eyes pictures that we see of cats in the dark taken with flash light is of the light reflecting of the reflective layer behind the retina and back out of the eye.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Traditional Siamese Cat Photograph

Here is a really nice traditional Siamese cat photograph. The "conformation" or body shape is absolutely classic old fashioned Siamese cat me. A far cry from the contemporary, rather odd look to be honest. For the life of me I do not understand how people can prefer the modern Siamese as it is simply less attractive and that is not just me talking.

I love the intent gaze and the vivid blue eyes. And what comes across very strongly in this photograph is the "mask" of the of the classic seal pointing. It really does look like a mask in this picture.

This cat immediately reminds me of the Siamese cats of the early 1900s and late 19th century at the time of the beginning of the cat fancy in London, England.

It is all about the overall shape of the body. This cat looks entirely natural, while the so called "refined" and elegant modern Siamese cat can never be said to be natural looking. Quite the contrary.

As this photo's caption is in French I presume that this cat is in France. I hardly ever talk about the French cat fancy or the Russian cat fancy or any other cat fancy other than the UK and the USA.

That is remiss of me as there is a lot happening in France but inevitably it is less than in England. Why? Why are the French less interested in cats or are they as interested? I don't know but I do know that a recent survey estimated that the domestic cat population in the UK was about 10.3 million as far as I remember. Number have continually risen over the years as the human population has risen. Cats are a fraction more numerous than dogs in the UK at early 2010 on this estimate.

What is the estimated domestic cat population of France? Well the website: says that as at 2006 the UK had 7.7m while France had 9.6m. I am not sure if that is accurate nor am I sure that the difference is the same today 2010.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Contemporary Persian Cat

Garley the Persian cat
Originally uploaded by arash_rk
This is a nice black and white close up of a contemporary Persian cat. I think the picture was taken with film as opposed to on a digital camera but I could be mistaken.

The contemporary Persian is sometimes called the Ultra Persian signifying "ultra typing" which means that it is bred to "type" (required appearance) but in an extreme way. It means that breeders, in their desire to get the appearance just right plus a bit extra gradually bred cats that drifted away from the natural appearance of the original traditional Persian cat called the doll face persian. I suppose the term "doll face" simply describes the doll face beauty of the Persian, sweet looking and charming.

But the contemporary Persian cannot said to be charming looking and doll faced! Very often they look angry or cross even when they are not. It is a kind of "built-in" look.

What I find interesting is that the head of the Persian should be round; in fact the body and ears should convey this sense of roundness. Yet in making the face flat the breeders have created a round head with one side flat! Think of a football that has been kicked or that has hit against a wall. Or a golf ball at the moment it is being hit by a golf club.

Anyway enough frivolity. There is a serious side to the flat faced Persian. It not only has a built-in cross look it also has a built in health problem, in fact more than one but the obvious one is that the tear drainage ducts at the corners of the eye do not function properly because they are deformed and blocked. The tears fall down the face staining it. A commercially available cleaning fluid is manufactured specially for this!

Well I could go on but suffice to say I prefer natural and healthy and it never ceases to surprise me that the Cat Fanciers Association continue to support and praise this cat and decry the traditional Persian a much better cat all round including more healthy.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Norwegian Forest Cat in the Wild

norwegian forest cat
Originally uploaded by gari.baldi
This picture of a Norwegian Forest cat in the wild makes my mind soar to a time hundreds and thousands of years ago when this was normal, when all domestic cats were semi-feral (barn cats). They lived outside. There was no commercial cat food and there were no full-time indoor cats. In American many millions are full-time indoor cats. I understand why but dislike it.

Of course this cat is probably a domestic cat and not a feral cat and the stream is probably about 50 feet from the back door of a house!

I don't care, it looks like the way it was all that time ago and it is more natural and I love it when things are natural because only then are we in harmony with nature and our true selves.

The Norwegian Forest cat was a forest dweller in Norway before becoming a purebred show cat in Germany in the 1930s. Until then it got along fine as a moggie cat (random bred cat) in Norway superbly adapted to the climate and environment.

Norwegian Forest Cats are good climbers, a legacy of their forest dwelling days. Many wild cats are forest dwellers and fantastic climbers. The clouded leopard and margay come to mind but there are more.

This boy cat (I am sure it is a male) has a brown tabby coat that looks very functional. I like that. He might not be purebred. He likes water. Maine Coons also like water. The Maine Coon is similar to the Norwegian Forest Cat and there just may be a common origin with the Vikings bringing over long haired cats (the precursor to the NFC) from Norway to the American continent about 1000 years ago. Some may have evolved into Maine Coons.

It is a fallacy to think that cats don't like water. Some do and some don't on an individual level. And in some breeds there are a greater than average number of individuals who like water. Another breed that fancies water is the Bengal cat. This is a hand down from the wild cat parent, the Asian leopard cat which lives a lot of the time on and around water course where there is more suitable prey. The Turkish Van is a good swimmer and its origins are around lake Van in Turkey.

So, a Norwegian Forest cat in the wild gets my imagination going, thinking about the natural world, a world we have long lost.

See Norwegian Forest Cat for more.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Scared Cat / Gatto

This picture of a scared cat says so much about the life of a cat in a human world. And it is a fine photograph as well. I don't know if this cat is a feral cat. The photographer says, "My scared cat". Does the cat live with the photographer? I don't know. It doesn't matter actually because this is a frightened or at least very cautious cat.

The thing is that every cat, feral, domestic or wild has a large amount of caution built in to their psyche as they are, after all, living in a land of giants. We forget that. We are much bigger than them and for a cat on the street it must, on occasion, be frightening.

And a cat living on the street is very much at the mercy of humans. Yet we see this kind of behavior from a cat living indoors even when the cat is loved and fully domesticated.

A cat will instinctively move under a low table or chair when even a little uncertain about what is happening. This protects them from attack. They always retain that independence or wild cat instinct.

This cat is a tabby kitten. You can see the "M" mark on her face. I feel a huge degree of empathy for this cat. The sense of vulnerability is written all over her face.

But there are many people in the world who are not empathetic to that vulnerability. They just don't see it or feel it. For some people, a cat is "only a cat" to do as they please with. And a cat will always be forced to comply with the human will.

I wonder if all cats are often scared cats but don't really know what that means. Or at least more often anxious than we know or understand. I don't think that is an unreasonable thought as the world is pretty scary for us never mind a domestic cat.

When we are scared we feel uncomfortable. When a cat is scared he or she just feels different. And that is a better approach to feeling scared.

So, I think we need to be more gentle with cats - all cats. Lets try and reassure them and not give them a reason to be scared cats but relaxed and confident cats. This is our job, as domestic cats just react to the world that we create.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Most Beautiful Stray Cat?

Is this the most beautiful stray cat? Who knows. I just know that he or she (I would say that this cat is female) is startlingly beautiful. Just goes to show how impressive a moggie (random breed) cat can be. Of course, it is a fine photograph too.

The photograph is all about texture, pattern and colour. The texture and patterns of the paving stones contrast nicely with the coat texture and patterns.

This stray cat is a spotted tabby and white. She looks very healthy but probably isn't. Stray cats get very serious illnesses such as FIV and FIP, both killers. See Cat Health Problems.

This cat though could (I feel) do well in the Household Pet division (moggie division) of a cat show because of the fabulous coat.

View Larger Map

The photo was taken in Oeiras Garden in Portugal. It seems to me that probably the most common of all cat coat types particularly in the Mediterranean countries is the tabby and white. The Mediterranean basin (the area around the Mediterranean sea) is where the wild cat was domesticated and that includes in Cyprus and Egypt. In Egypt the African wild cat was domesticated. The European wild cat was domesticated in Cyprus as I understand it. So this cat, which lives in the Mediterranean basin has some 10,000 years later a bit of wild cat in her including the genes that created the coat - the wildcat has a tabby coat. You can see more spotted tabby and white cats here and Turkish Van type cats (in Cyprus) here: Birth of a New Cat Breed.

Since writing this post I have written a page about the cats of Morocco discussing what makes the cats of North Africa the type (shape, colour and pattern) that they are. They will be the same or similar to those of Portugal.

I also reproduce the photo below in large format as the one top right is located on Flickr. The photographer may remove it from Flickr in which case it will be removed from this page as well!

Beautiful Stray Cat - Photo by * starrynight1

Another thing that is noticeable about this cat and which makes it and her is that she appears to have been pregnant before. This, though, is a wild guess - I could well be wrong. She could be a male cat!

Another thing is that the tip of one of her ears has not been clipped signifying that she has been trapped, neutered and returned. I say this because the photographer has photographed several cats in this park an one, a jet black one, has had his ear clipped.

Often stray cats (particularly true feral cats) can look very dirty and thin. That is not the case with this cat. I get the feeling that she is well fed by visitors to the park. Here is a classic tabby cat from the same park:

Photo left by by * starrynight1

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