Friday, June 8, 2012

Flame Retardants and Cats

There is a lot on the internet about the toxic chemicals that are flame retardants. The chemistry of flame retardants is complicated. I won't therefore go into that in detail. Proving that flame retardants cause health problems is difficult. You have big business bearing down on people, using their wealth to lobby government (and worse?) to ensure that they can continue putting dubious chemicals into household items for limited benefit.

The insurance industry is probably in league with the big chemical manufacturers. This is probably a 'bent relationship' - a scam because insurance companies have a history of scamming. Insurers will insist that certain items have flame retardant before insuring. This certainly applies to furniture in apartments and houses that are let in the UK. Are they receiving a kick-back from the manufacturers? Probably, yes.

To sum things up. We have nasty chemicals put in household items that retard burning which could be replaced with less toxic chemicals or the benefits (retarded burning) are less than the downsides (poisoning people and domestic animals). In short the poisoning problems probably outweighs the safety issues.

Is he safe? Photo Todd F.

This brings me to cats. Cats, especially full-time indoor cats, are often on furniture that contains flame retardants in the foam. They are close to the foam. They spend hours next to flame retardant. Has anyone done any research on the impact of flame retardant on the domestic cat? I doubt it.

However, there is a large body of work on how these nasty chemicals affect people. How the chemical stays inside you for a long, long time. An example is brominated flame retardants. They are widespread environmental contaminants and they are persistent. They degrade slowly. They accumulate in animals and humans and they cause a range of health issues such as liver tumors and a disruption to the endocrine system  - production of hormones.

In North America and in Europe the demand for brominated flame retardants is reducing but rising in developing countries. When the big manufacturers get found out they move to less well developed countries and peddle they rubbish there because they know that lax government and corruption will let them carry on poisoning people for big bucks. This is happening with cigarette manufacturers exporting to Africa for instance.

There is a petition on that demands that the manufacturers become more transparent and let independent scientists assess the product.  Please sign it.

This is a classic battle between people with a conscience and big business which rarely has one. And don't forget the politicians who are often bought by big business.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Timeline of Cat Breeds

Photo of Abyssinian cat copyright Helmi Flick

Here is a timeline of cat breeds. The breeds are in alphabetical order and the place of origin is specified. You will see variations on dates and place on the internet and even on this site because the origins of cat breeds is not always clear. Also the word "origin" can be interpreted in different ways. On occasions you will also get some variation in the name of cat breeds. This is not necessarily a complete list but it is a good list. Please go to this page: Pictures of Cat Breeds and follow links for much more on these breeds.

Abyssinian - Ethiopia - 1860s
Alaskan Snow Cat (Snow Cat) - USA - 1990s
American Bobtail - USA - 1960s
American Curl - USA - 1981
American Lynx - USA - 1980s
American Shorthair - USA - 1900 as "Domestic Shorthair" and then 1966
American Wirehair - USA - 1966
Australian - Australia - 1946
Australian Curl - Australia - 1996
Balinese - USA - 1940s
Bengal - USA - 1963
Birman - Burma - uncertain
Bohemian Rex - Czech Republic - 1994
Bombay - USA - 1958
British Angora - UK - 1960s
British Shorthair - UK - 1870s
Bristol - 1970s
Burmese - Thailand - 1350-1767
Burmilla - UK - 1981
California Rex - USA - 1959
California Spangled - USA - 1971
Celonese - Sri Lanka - 1984
Chartreux - France - 14th century
Chantilly - USA - 1967
Chausie - USA - 1995 (I say 1960s)
Chinese Lop - China - 1796
Colourpoint British Shorthair - UK - 1980s
Colourpoint European Shorthair - Italy - 1982
Colourpoint Shorthair - UK - 1947
Cornish Rex - UK - 1950
Cymric - Canada - 1960s
Devon Rex - UK - 1960s
Don Sphynx - Russia - 1987
Dutch Rex - Netherlands - 1969
Egyptian Mau - Egypt - ancient and 1953 in Europe
European Shorthair - Italy - 1982
Exotic Shorthair - USA - 1966
French Sphynx - France - 1960s
German Rex - Germany - 1946
Havana Brown - UK - 1951
Himalayan - USA/UK - 1950s/1920s
Italian Rex - Italy - 1950
Japanese Bobtail - Japan - 5th - 10th century
Javanese - USA/UK - 1960s
Karakul - USA - 1930s
Karelian Bobtail - Russia - 1990s (uncertain)
Kashmir - UK - 1950s
Korat - Thailand - 1350-1767
Kurilian Bobtail - Russia - 1990s (uncertain)
LaPerm - USA - 1986
Longhair Exotic - USA - 1990s
Longhair Fold - UK - 1980s
Longhair Japanese Bobtail - Japan - 1954
Maine Coon - USA - 1860s
Manx - UK - before 1700s
Marbled Mist - Australia - 1997
Malay Cat - Malaya Peninsula - 1881
Malayan - USA - 1980
Mei Toi - USA - 1994
Mexican Hairless - USA - 1902
Missouri Rex - USA - 1990s
Munchkin - USA - 1983
Nebelung - USA - 1990s
Norwegian Forest Cat - Norway - 1930s
Ocicat - USA - 1964
Ohio Rex - USA - 1959
Oriental Shorthair - UK - 1950s
Persian (modern) - USA - 1950s
Persian (original) - UK - 1800s
Peterbald - Russia - 1994
Pixie-bob - USA - 1980s
Poodle Cat - Germany - 1994
Prussian Rex - East Prussia - 1930s
RagaMuffin - USA - 1994
Ragdoll - USA - 1960s
Renegade - USA - 1997
Rexed Maine Coon - UK - 1988
Russian Blue - Russia - pre-1800s
Russian Hairless - Russia - 1987
Safari  Cat - USA - 1970s
Savannah - USA - 1986
Scottish Fold - UK - 1961
Selkirk Rex - USA - 1987
Serengeti - USA - 1994
Seychellois - UK - 1984
Siamese - Thailand - ancient - shown late 1800s in England
Siberian - Russia - 1980s
Si-Rex - USA - 1986
Singapura - uncertain (Singapore/USA) - 1971
Snowshoe - USA - 1960s
Sokoke - Kenya - 1977
Somali - USA/Canada - 1967
Sphynx - Canada - 1966
Spotted Mist - Australia - 1976
Suqutranese - UK - 1990
Thai-Bobtail - Russia - 1990s?
Tiffanie - UK - 1980s
Tiffany - USA - 1967
Tonkinese - USA - 1950s
Toy-Bobtail - Russia - 1986
Turkish Angora - Turkey - 1400s
Turkish Van - Turkey - pre-1800s
Ural Rex - Russia - 1991
Ussuri - Russia - 1990s
Victoria Rex - UK - 1972
Wild Abyssinian - Singapore - 1980s
York Chocolate - USA - 1983

  • Myself
  • Robinson's Genetics (primary)
  • Encyclopedia of the Cat
  • Legacy of the Cat

Monday, June 4, 2012

Baby Cat Photo

Baby cat by fofurasfelinas
Baby cat, a photo by fofurasfelinas on Flickr.
A Giane Portal special baby cat photo. This photograph has almost 91,000 views, 460 comments and 1,045 favorites. That puts it in the very top rank of Flickr photos.

It was taken in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The photo is protected by copyright. Please respect Giane's copyright.

You can see the picture on Giane's photostream on Flickr by clicking on this link.

Giane's Flickr username is fofurasfelinas. I guess you knew that. Giane started out photographing cats as an amateur. She likes cats and photographer so much and people liked her photographs so much that she turned professional. I think she says she cares for 15 cats. She photographs them all beautifully.

This little baby cat is so vulnerable but looks serene and content.

Suburban Lions of Kenya

The lions of Nairobi National Park have taken a fancy to the leafy suburbs and gardens of Langata which borders the park. See the map below.  The park is labelled "Mugumoini".

Picture showing the close proximity of Nairobi NP to the suburbs.
Photo by urbangarden

Quite understandably they are causing anxiety amongst the local inhabitants. Pet dogs have been eaten. "It was just bones and a bit of skin". When will the first child be taken? Stephanie Dloniak has a "lion lockdown" at dusk to protect her family. The kids are comprehensively grounded from 5:30 pm onwards. You can see her point. She photographed a lion sliding under her garden fence.

View Larger Map

It is the classic clash between human and big cat. This normally occurs when humankind gradually encroaches upon big cat territory which brings the two into conflict. Invariably the cat losses the battle in the long run. The sad truth is that this sort of thing will get worse. It has to because the human population is expanding and the lion population is deceasing in Africa. The lion is assessed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List™. The people living in the suburbs of Nairobi are feeling vulnerable too.

In this instance, it is believed that the lions of Nairobi NP are moving out of the park because:
  1. They have be socialised to the human. They are familiar with people.
  2. Male lions may have forced one of the lionesses out of the park. This is because incoming males kill cubs and females sometimes defend their cubs or in this instance go elsewhere. Other females followed.
  3. The gardens are attractive for prey - e.g. dogs.
When push comes to shove and trapping the lions and shipping them back to the park finally fails, the police will be compelled to shoot them. One less lion in a declining population. Sounds a bit dysfunctional doesn't it?

Cat Food with Tranquilliser

I had not heard about this cat food until today. Perhaps I am out of touch. I can certainly see the usefulness of this cat food. Although I can also see its dangers.

The product is Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Feline Calm (a mouthful of a title). It is dry cat food that contains a naturally occurring chemical that is a tranquilliser.

The tranquillising ingredient is described as "casein milk proten hyrolysate and L-tryptophan (that is a shortened version).

Lovely shelter cat. Mackerel tabby & white.
Mendocino County Animal Care Services
Picture above: Shelter cats can be very stressed. Do they feed them Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Feline Calm?

On a forum it is said that the chemical that calms cats is Zylkène. On the Zylkène website it is described as "natural product derived from casein, the protein in milk". I therefore have decided that this dry cat food does contain Zylkène. Zylkène can also be given to dogs.

You can buy it in pill form. You can buy it in the internet in the UK and probably elsewhere.

How do you know if your cat is stressed and might benefit from being fed Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Feline Calm?

Well on the Zylkène website, they ask some questions in the form of a quiz which helps you to decide.

Examples of questions are:
  • Is your cat going into a boarding cattery soon? We know that can be stressful for our cat (and us).
  • Does your cat over-groom?
  • Are you about to introduce another cat into the household? This can cause a change to the dynamics in the house and the existing cats might become stressed. Sociable domestic cat.
  • Is your cat hiding more than what might be considered normal? Cats need places to hide as it is natural behavior.
  • Have you moved home recently?
  • Does your cat soil the home?
  • Is your cat a full-time indoor cat? This is an interesting point to make. Obviously the manufacturers of this product believe that a full-time indoor environment can be stressful to some cats.
  • Does your cat like to perch on high platforms more often?
  • Are your cat's pupils dilated often?
The upside to this product is obvious. There are numerous circumstances under which our cat can become stressed. For the short term, feeding this food will probably help provided the cat likes the food.

On the downside there may be a temptation by car caretakers to use Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Feline Calm as a standard food to keep their cat permanently chilled out. This might be an opt out from taking up the responsibilities associated with cat caretaking.

An alternative is to buy the pills but then you have to give your cat a pill. They say it is easy to give, however.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Baby Cats are the Best!

Baby cats are the best! by fofurasfelinas
Baby cats are the best!, a photo by fofurasfelinas on Flickr.
The title is the photographer's: Giane Portal (AKA fofurasfelinas). She is a professional photographer specialising in cat photography.

Giane knows best. Kittens are always adorable in photographs.

This little guy is from the Doce Encanto Cattery. Giane lives and works in Brazil so the cattery is in Brazil.

There is quite a lively cat fancy in Brazil and as I remember it, there is an expanding number of domestic cats in Brazil. I think, actually, it is one of the fastest growing domestic cat market places.

Brazil is one of the top 15 "pet-keeping countries" (source: The Welfare of Cats). In fact at 2002 it was 5th in terms of numbers of pets at 67 million of which 12.5 million are cats. Pet ownership in Brazil has increased by 28% over the period 1998 to 2002. This is because of changing attitudes, increased disposable income and increased urbanisation.

The photograph: it's a great picture. This cat seems to be a spotted tabby cat. Maybe Giane will leave a comment because as this kitten comes from a cattery (I presume a breeding cattery), the question is: what breed is this cat? I can't tell. He or she looks like a very attractive random bred tabby cat but I am not sure.

Classic Cat Allogrooming

Friendly kiss by fofurasfelinas
Friendly kiss, a photo by fofurasfelinas on Flickr.
The friendly kiss. This is another lovely photograph by Giane Portal (AKA fofurasfelinas) showing two cats living in a sanctuary who have a close relationship. And what a sanctuary! These cats look as if they are well cared for.

The tabby and white cat on the right is licking the all grey cat on the ear. The grey cat seems to have presented his right ear to the tabby cat for a spot of grooming.

This is called "allogrooming" by scientists. We call it a friendly kiss, as has Giane Portal.

Allogrooming happens more often between cats who are friendly ("preferred associates") than non-preferred associates (see The Sociable Domestic Cat).

Sometimes, as might be the case here, one cat invites another to groom her/him.

The cat being grooming is "highly cooperative". I bet he is! I would be too. I'd love a bit of allogrooming from time to time.

Cats in colonies and groups can be very sociable with each other. This appears to be an adaptation to domestication as the small wild cats do not have the same lifestyle.

However, when there is more space and food sources groups are less likely to form up. It is about these things: food source and available to space to form a home range.

The domestic cat is adaptable. They do choose their buddies though. We can't force that.

Regality Out of Normality

A very regal cat by fofurasfelinas
A very regal cat, a photo by fofurasfelinas on Flickr.
I'll try explain what I mean in the title! This handsome grey cat photographed by Giane Portal (AKA fofurasfelinas) has a regal bearing as Giane rightly says.

He has a nice upper class profile. He has a slender, toned body and is well bred and raised! He has got to be regal.

Yet as far as I am aware he is a random bred cat - a commoner...He is not a champion purebred cat with the name "Prince" in it.

He is just an elegant, ordinary cat who has a regal bearing.

Giane chose the background really well. There is a nice balance between the neutral grey coat and the colorful background.

So...what can we learn from this? Every cat is a prince and princess. You just have to get to respect them all, know them well and love them tenderly.

Here is a post about an unwanted cat who is a true princess: The RagaMuffin Cat and the Princess.

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