Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Feral Cats Of Israel

Alley Cats in Heat - feral feline sex in Tel Aviv

One thing is for sure: there are a lot of feral and stray cats in Israel. I have been there and seen them first hand. The picture at the top of the page is of feral cats in Tel Aviv. In that city there is one feral cat for every person. They live a harsh life but people like to feed them and as you can see in the photograph the cats like to procreate. 20,000 cats and kittens are received by shelters every year in the Tel Aviv region alone.

Apparently, in the 1980s the idea of neutering feral cats came about but before that stray and feral cat population control was somewhat cruder; poisoning on masse, which brings to mind the treatment dished out to feral cats in Greece after the holiday season. Apparently, strychnine was used to poison the cats of Israel.

Population control by poisoning is now illegal. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled against the poisoning of cats in June 2004. Trap-neuter-return is now the norm and it seems that the Israelis have taken this well-known process of feral cat control to new heights.

They are doing something that I have argued for, for a long-time and which should or could happen in the United States of America.

 In late 2013 Israeli Minister of agriculture and rural development committed about US$1.27 million to the sterilisation of 45,000 feral cats by the end of May 2014. Central government is providing subsidies to each municipality on a matching bases to help them with their trap-neuter-return programs.

The Israeli government has realised that there is a need to manage feral and stray cats and are doing the right thing in operating trap-neuter-return programs which are acknowledged to be the most humane way to manage these unfortunate cats who live hard and short lives and which present a health hazard to people, it is believed.

I would suggest that this TNR program is the largest of its kind in the world. The Israeli government's attitude towards feral cats is in line with their ban on the declawing of cats. Israel is one of many advanced countries in which declawing is banned. That said, by the way, I would expect very few Israelis to want to declaw their cat.

Photo of Alley Cats in Heat - feral feline sex in Tel Aviv by David Shankbone on Flickr (if you don't see the picture it has been pulled by David on Flickr.

GoPro: Cat Bike Guy - Philadelphia, PA

The joie de vivre of living with a cat in a city and travelling around the city with your cat on your back.

This video is full of the joys of life. It sings and it is fun. I love the connection between the man and his cat which is heightened I believe because this looks dangerous.

However, the man does not think it is dangerous and for some reason I trust him. I trust his judgement and he looks confident that both him and his cat are safe on their escapades speeding around this city which to me looks as if it is Paris but it is Philadelphia!

There is a great connection between these 2 and I wonder if that makes the whole thing safer. They seem to understand each other completely and have a routine and that too makes the whole process safer.

I'm sure a lot of viewers will think that this person is a bad cat caretaker, a bit wild and stupid and you know he might be but I don't think he is. I think he decided to do this with his cat with careful consideration and he built up to this gradually so that he understands the risks and he understands that his cat is safe.

Of course, if the man on his bike should have an accident and falloff then the two would fall off which would put the cat in the middle of a road with traffic. That would surely end in tragedy for the cat.

So we are balancing the joys of living against the possible tragedy of death and a shorter life. What do you think is best? It seems to beg the question whether living a short and full life is better than living a long and dull one. I am being too philosophical but when I see this sort of video which carries danger for the cat while the cat is having fun I can't help but think of these bigger issues and I'm drawn to the conclusion that what they are doing is right and proper.

Why does my cat groom so much?

Why does my cat groom so much? Of course, he's grooming his coat. You might think that the obvious answer is that he's cleaning himself and that is the only reason why he does it. That is one reason but not the only reason. Not only is he cleaning away dust and dirt when he licks his coat he is also making his coat into a more efficient insulating layer. This keeps him warmer when required.

Cats do not have sweat glands. As you know sweat evaporates and cools us down. Instead of sweat, in warm weather, the cat will groom himself so that his saliva evaporates on his fur thereby cooling him down.

In addition, when a cat is lying in sunlight, vitamin D is produced on his hair.  A cat will lick off and ingest this vitamin D, an essential vitamin.

When we are agitated sometimes we scratch our head or bite our fingernails. Instead of this, a cat might lick his coat or his nose. A cat will feel better when he does it and it is called displacement activity.

You will notice that when we stroke our cat or handle our cat in anyway, he will often, shortly thereafter, groom himself. One reason for this is to smooth down the fur,  another reason is that he is tasting your scent that you deposited on his coat.  In addition he is removing your scent and letting his scent take its place. A cat prefers to have his fragrance on himself rather than our scent.

In addition to the above, in grooming himself, a cat will stimulate his skin glands at the base of individual hairs. The secretions from these glands help to keep his coat waterproof.

Sometimes, very rarely, a domestic cat will groom too much and this might be because he is stressed and he is using grooming to calm himself down. When a cat does this you will tend to see bald spots in his coat and usually in areas which are easily accessible such as the belly.

Finally, you will see domestic cats grooming each other. This is an act of friendship as we would expect it to be. The domestic cat has become quite social in his or her domestication and the concept that the domestic cat is a solitary animal is no longer true.

When a cat grooms another cat it is called allogrooming.  When a domestic cat grooms himself it is called autogrooming. You will notice that the domestic cat follows a set procedure when he grooms himself. And the domestic cat will groom  routinely at certain times (for example after eating) and in certain places (for example in a favourite chair after eating or against you when you are in bed).

A cat will nibble at his claws to remove any loose keratin and when he grooms around the eyes and ears he will deposit saliva on his paws and then use that to wash himself. I'm sure that you are familiar with this. I hope this helps.

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