Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Do hungry domestic cats hunt more than well fed ones?

There is or was a belief that a domestic cat's desire to hunt is divorced from his hunger or lack of it. In other words whether a cat is well fed or not does not affect his desire to hunt prey animals as the desire or motivation to hunt in innate. It is instinctive and the feline will always do it when the prey is available.

This article refers to a study on cat food ingredients and hunting desire but before you read that it has to be common sense that a hungry cat will be a more committed hunter for the simple reason they need to eat to survive. They will kill and eat what they need to survive.

And on the other side of the coin a well-fed cat is less likely to hunt provided the food is balanced and contains all the nutrients but a fed cat will still hunt instinctively with the caveat that each cat has their own desire to hunt. Some cats just don't want to do it. I lived with a female cat who was disinterested for instance.

High quality wet cat food which is grain-free plus play will curb your cat's desire to hunt
High quality wet cat food which is grain-free plus play will curb your cat's desire to hunt. Graphic provided by the scientist conducting the study. 

There is no doubt that there is some truth in this but a recent study  might be considered to undermine the theory or perhaps it supports the theory? The scientists found that complete diet cat food as described i.e. wet cat food which is considered by the manufacturers to totally complete, might not be quite so complete as expected as it might be omitting some micronutrients (unspecified). Domestic cats instinctively sense this and hunt mice to make up the deficit.

The scientists decided this because when they fed cats grain-free wet cat food their hunting behaviour diminished by 36 percent. Playing with your cat can reduce hunting by 25 percent.

Martina Cecchetti, a PhD student also of Exeter University who conducted the trial said: 

"Some cat foods contain protein from plant sources and it is possible these foods leave some cats deficient in one or more micronutrients, prompting them to hunt."

So there is some potential deficiency in 'complete cat food' which contains grain. Perhaps the presence of the grain in some of these foods triggers a message in the brain of cats to tell them that the food is not quite up to scratch and drives them to hunt for the real thing: a small rodent, their preferred prey animal.

Play also helps to deter feline hunting. This indicates that when a cat has hunted he pauses because he has satisfied his desire to hunt. This is the likely conclusion because playing with a domestic cat is a hunting substitute for the cat. All cat play is play-hunting.

Most cat owners who allow their cats free access to the outside would wish to curb their cat's hunting. Some find it disgusting, others accept it but dislike it. Here are two things that can be done to curb it. Select grain-free wet cat food and play with your cat a lot more.

Click here to read the study.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Felines are related

Felines are related through evolution. It is obvious that all cats are closely related because they are so much alike. The biggest Siberian tiger is a carbon copy of the smallest domestic cat in terms of anatomy. The size is vastly different and the coat colours and markings are different too but all the internal and external anatomy is the same. The coat colour is different because it is camouflage for tigers. Domestic cats don't need camouflage anymore. They just need to look pretty for people!

The domestic cat
The domestic cat. Photo: Helmi Flick.

You have to believe in evolution to understand how they are related. I am referring to Darwin's 'On the Origin of the Species'. It has taken perhaps around 40 million years for the various species of cat (around 36 different species) to evolve to the current state. And evolution is continuing. It is a perpetual journey.

What happens is that different types of cat gradual evolve to fit the environment in which they live and times in which they live as climate is dependent in the long term on time. Nature has a way of refining animals through evolution so they can survive more successfully.

This happens by faults occurring during reproduction. A genetic mutation causes a copy of a gene to be different. This results in the animal being slightly different. Perhaps the cat with a genetic mutation resulted in longer fur and perhaps that cat lived in a cold place. It was easier for that cat to survive and the shorthaired cats could not so a new long-haired cat evolved in that place. This example could apply to Pallas's cat.

Evolution starts with a mistake. Nature finds that the mistake works as the animal survives more effectively and therefore the mistake becomes the norm and bingo you have a new species. It takes millions of years for these mistakes to 'stick'. Evolution is a mighty slow process. For the cats this happened around 36 times to make 36 new species. The domestic cat both purebred and random bred is one species.

You have to realise though that the classification of the species of cat is somewhat arbitrary. Scientists decide how to divide all the various cats up into different species. This is called taxonomy. Taxonomy is also becoming more refined and changing.

Because all the cats started off with one species, they are all related by that original species. They are all one family.; the cat family. Felidae.

This is the taxonomy for the felidae courtesy Wikipedia:

Scientific classificatione

Here is a decent video on cat evolution. It is not great but adequate. My thanks to the maker of it.

Are Bengal cats dangerous?

Bengal cats are not dangerous but it does depend on how you interact with them and whether we are referring to F1 or F5 Bengal cats and finally whether we are referring to Bengal cats being a danger to other cats or people.

Bengal cat
Bengal cat

Fifth filial (F5) Bengal cats are pretty well like any other standard domestic cat. Treat them nicely and they will be nice back to you. There is nothing more to say particularly about this breed of cat except perhaps that they are liable to be more athletic than your standard random read cat. I say "liable" because that does not apply in every instance. And because they're more athletic they are more inclined perhaps to get into trouble or break out of cat confinement fences if you've taken the trouble and time to build an enclosure in your back garden.

If you adopt a first filial (F1) cat it is a different proposition (note: license required in the UK and elsewhere probably). The father of these cats is an Asiatic leopard cat and there is a lot of wild cat DNA in them which makes them more difficult to handle and live with. They may be dangerous if you mishandle them and mishandling them is more likely because they are more demanding. This applies to all first filial wild cat hybrids by the way.

I would not advise the average person to adopt a first filial wild cat hybrid for this reason. They require more time, money, patience and commitment than standard cats. Most people want a cat companion to be placid, somewhat docile and friendly all the time. They don't want to be challenged and have demands placed upon them. That's why I would go for a well socialised random bred cat from a rescue centre compared to a glamorous and highly expensive F1 Bengal cat or Savannah cat.

It may be argued that F5 Bengal cats are more territorial than your standard domestic cat companion. This means that if they go outside to wander freely they may be more aggressive towards other cats doing the same thing. There is, however, an argument that people should not let the Bengal cats go outside because they are too expensive, too glamorous and more liable to be stolen. Keep them inside and they would not be in a position to attack a neighbour's cat.

That said, there are complications in keeping an active F5 Bengal cat inside a home because I think they demand more space and challenges than that. Therefore an F5 Bengal cat owner has a dilemma. If you let them out there may get stolen and if you keep them in they may be bored and they place more demands upon the owner. 

I may be unfair because as mentioned the Bengal cat is ultimately very similar to any other domestic cat. But that said again domestic cats need challenges and entertaining and being confined to the home that does place automatic extra obligations upon the owner in order to stimulate them mentally and physically.

So back to the question in the title. The answer has to be a no, they are not more dangerous than any other but they are possibly more challenging and more demanding even at the F5 level which means that you have to interact with them in the right way. I suppose it is fair to say that a Bengal cat might be more dangerous in one sense and that you might be more liable to be scratched than if you live with a very placid female Ragdoll cat for example.

There is a Daily Mail article about the aggressiveness of the Bengal cat. It is highly misleading in my view. It is exaggerated. They paint a picture of a cat which is diabolical to live with, attacking other cats willy-nilly. They say that cat breeders have bred a cat which is deliberately aggressive and with heightened hunting skills. Wrong!

Bengal cat
Bengal cat

In my view, cat breeders have tried to breed Bengal cats which are the opposite. They want to create cat companions which are suitable for living in the home in which are friendly and gentle towards their owners. It is entirely inappropriate to claim that breeders are selectively breeding Bengal cats which are highly aggressive. This may be out of ignorance but it does tend to put people off this breed which is unfair in my view.

That said, the Bengal cat is probably more territorial than your standard domestic cat and therefore if it is outside they may attack other cats for territorial reasons more commonly than other cats.

Domestic cat contracts TB from badger

A domestic cat in Ireland contracted TB from a badger which had been vaccinated with the BCG vaccine. I don't have any more information as it is reported on one website: fginsight.com but that site requires registration to access their content. The report is troubling as I think it is the first report that I have seen of a domestic cat contracting TB from a badger. 

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay 

The information would seem to be at least potentially of a real concern to domestic cats anywhere particularly in countries where it is normal for domestic cats to be indoor/outdoor cats as in the UK. I am particularly aware of this hazard as I put out food for foxes and I also know that a couple of foxes and a couple of badges eat the food. 

Thirdly, my cat walks around the same places as these wild animals. Is there a chance that my cat could contract TB? I think that it is highly unlikely but the story tells us that there is a possibility.

Although the document is undated (presumed middle of 2020), and article online from the University of Edinburgh tells us that they were investigating a cluster of TB infections in cats which may have been linked to a certain type of raw pet food. I wrote about this at the time - click here to read the article. 

They also say that most cases of TB in cats are caused by infected bites. The prevalence is low in the UK, in that they write: "More than a hundred cases of TB in cats are reported in the UK each year. The majority are caused by infected bites from wild animals."

This seems like a very low number and they don't report that TB can be transmitted from cattle to domestic cats.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

You shouldn't buy a sentient being like a cat online sight unseen

There's quite a lot of talk about scammers selling cats and dogs online at the moment partly because the coronavirus pandemic has brought these abusive people out of the woodwork because they can see vulnerable victims to be preyed upon. These gullible victims are people who want to adopt a cat or dog, now without delay during the lockdowns. The scammers are like flies to the honeypot.

Avoid scammers selling pets online
Avoid scammers selling pets online. Image: PoC.


There is so much wrong with buying a cat online and I know it happens quite a lot, sometimes through Facebook which is against their policies. I know that breeders sell cats online and they are shipped sometimes hundreds of miles by airfreight to a purchaser who has never met the animal before. If you buy direct from a reputable breeder it is probably okay except I would never do it myself.

But a lot of people are buying online and the sellers could be scammers. They may present excuses as to why you can't see the cat. They may present a photograph to you in an email attachment of a cat but it might not be the cat that you were purchasing. They might want money upfront for various reasons such as a deposit or vaccination and that's the last you hear of them because they disappear as soon as they've got their greedy hands on it.

You might do a video call but a lot of fakery can take place during a video call. People can misrepresent the facts and totally concoct a fictional account on a video call.

Do people who are purchasing for the first time ever look for a contract and read the contract beforehand? Do they check that the cat is registered with a cat association if that animal is purebred?

If you do buy online then use a credit card because it may provide some protection. There are credit card laws in most Western countries which protect the purchaser. This is because credit cards are provided by banks and banks have the money to protect customers. 

It's a weighting of the transaction towards the purchaser who is more vulnerable particularly when purchasing online which is why you will find some intricate laws protecting customers using credit cards. Think about that and check beforehand.

Also check for a contract, which I've just mentioned. And if they make excuses when they sell an animal to you as to why you can't see the animal then hang up and stop talking to them. Stop emailing them. Don't trust them. And don't provide them with too many bank details on a pro forma form in case they end up raiding your bank account.

I know that I'm making a whole range of negative comments about online purchasing because sometimes it can be okay but it is too risky in my opinion. The biggest point though is that I don't think it is right to buy a sentient being like a domestic cat online sight unseen. The truly moral and decent way to do it and the most secure way to do it is to go to an animal rescue centre and adopt an unwanted cat. That makes sense. It requires a bit of discipline and a bit of introspection.

Think of the animals too. If a person is trying to scam people online he is not going to concerned about animal welfare is he? 

You need to ask yourself questions as to what you're doing. But if you buy a purebred cat online or dog because you fancy a beautiful creature and you can't wait to get your hands on then I think you need to look at yourself. I know I'm lecturing and perhaps that is a bad thing but there are better ways.

These are sentient beings. They have feelings and often their life is ahead of them. It's going to be 15 to 20 years at a normal maximum living with this animal. They will be a major companion to you. You don't go into that sort of arrangement without a lot of consideration and thought. And you don't started off by being scammed out of 750 American dollars because you sent it all up front and the guy disappeared.

Does the Facebook deletion of Australian newspaper posts affect news from cat rescue?

Australian newspapers on Facebook have lost all their posts as Facebook admin have decided to remove all news activity on their site emanating from Australia over their dispute with the Autralian government who want Facebook to pay for news when it is published on their site.

It is a difficult one to understand because many Australian newspapers are on Facebook voluntarily because it is a way of promoting their businesses. They have quite a hefty Facebook presence in addition to their website presence.

Facebook removes all posts from Australian newspapers on their website
Facebook removes all posts from Australian newspapers on their website

It's quite surprising to visit Australian newspapers such as The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald to see all their posts removed. I doubt whether they have been deleted permanently but they been removed from the Facebook pages of the newspapers and all other Australian newspapers. Therefore there is nothing on their Facebook webpages. It's all gone. Nada.

Animal rescue FB pages?

I wanted to check how far Facebook would go in removing Australian news from their website in this dispute. Where do you stop and start in this process? After all animal rescue organisations have a very large presence on Facebook. They consistently deliver news regarding their world of dog and animal rescue. Things happen in their world and they have to tell their followers what is happening so they can encourage them to adopt their animals.

Well, as expected, and it is nice to see, that these animal rescue webpages are fully functioning and all the posts are intact. There has been no change. Notwithstanding that, I would expect some animal rescue organisations to suffer a negative impact by this. It is hard to visualise when this might happen but perhaps, for example, if a newspaper was referring to a dog or cat as an animal rescue which needs adopting.

The newspapers can no longer put a post on their Facebook page about a cat or dog story that is occurring within an animal rescue organisation because they can't put any post on their Facebook pages. That seems to me to be an example of how Facebook's behaviour might impact animal welfare. This is my prime objective in this discussion.

Example where animal rescue suffers because of FB's ban of Aussie news media on their site

Example: 9 News have a website and a Facebook page. They are many articles on the RSPCA in Australia. Click here to see their list of articles. On Facebook - Nada. Nothing. So they can't promote the work of the RSPCA in Australia. This news media site has 2.4 million followers on Facebook and nothing to show them! Weird. They must be gutted.

Dependence on Facebook questionable

This is a long-standing battle not only between the Australian government but the governments of almost any country. Facebook has engulfed news media. But it seems to me that a lot of people have migrated to Facebook voluntarily because they have a free platform and all the machinery that goes with that. Facebook has some fantastic facilities and software which makes it very attractive as a platform to promote one's organisation or business. But it does mean that all these organisations are dependent upon Facebook. They are not freestanding and independent. They are in partnership with this mega-organisation which is too dominant.

It is not wise, really, to be so dependent upon Facebook administrators and Mr Zuckerberg because how moral is their behaviour? Can you depend upon them to behave morally and with integrity at all stages going into the future both mid and long-term? You're in their hands completely. If they want to delete something you have posted on their website they can delete it and you can't argue about it.

You can't contact them. You can't phone them up. It is a nightmare to try and get them to reverse their decision. There are many thousands of cases like this. In other words a fight with Facebook is a very difficult fight because they are so big, opaque and disdainful of little man or woman who depend upon them. Almost every other organisation is smaller than them.

As mentioned, this battle started between the government of Australia and Facebook because newspapers were losing out on business. Canberra wanted Facebook to pay for news content and Facebook have responded by removing all news content as mentioned from their website. In other words they are playing hardball and it is difficult to know where it will end up.

Should 'tiger' be capitalized?

Should the word 'tiger' be capitalized? I have answered the question already. It should not be capitalized because it is not a proper noun. The word 'tiger' is a common noun. But if you are referring to the 'Bengal tiger' or the 'Amur tiger' the first world in these wild cat names are proper nouns. 'Bengal' describes the name of a geopolitical, cultural and historical region located in South Asia. 

Should tiger be capitalised? No.
Image: MikeB

There is an Indian state called West Bengal. Therefore, Bengal is a proper noun. 'Amur' is a region in Russia. Once again it is a proper noun because of that. The full name is 'Amur Oblast' which is a federal subject of Russia, located on the banks of the Amur and Zeya Rivers in the Russian Far East.

To recap, tiger should not be capitalized because it is not a proper noun but if the word is prefixed with a place the first word in the name of the tiger is capitalized as place names are proper nouns.

Sometimes people mistakenly change the name of a wild cat species. For instance, the Canada lynx is sometimes referred to as the Canadian lynx. This is incorrect. Some people refer to the Asiatic leopard cat as the Asian leopard cat. Once again this is incorrect.

Subspecies of tiger are always named with the region where they live prefixing the word tiger. I have mentioned the Bengal tiger. There is also the Sumatran tiger, Siberian or Amur tiger, South China tiger, Javan tiger, Malayan tiger, Bali tiger, Indochinese tiger and Caspian tiger. See the list of tiger subspecies by clicking here and here to see where they live. And click here to see a page discussing the coutries where the tiger is or was native.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

9 possible signs your cat has Covid-19

First things first: in the USA, according to the Humane Society there have been 49 confirmed cases of Covid-nineteen in cats and 35 confirmed cases in dogs. As there are around an estimated 94 million domestic cat companions in the US, you can see that this is not a problem that people should get wound up about. At the moment it seems that the chances of your cat contracting Covid-19 are extremely, almost infinitesimally small.

A high temperature is the first sign that your cat might have Covid
A high temperature is the first sign that your cat or dog might have Covid. Image: PoC.

The best way to protect your cat, I would have thought, is to protect yourself by following the well-publicised procedures. And in the USA a high percentage of cat owners keep their cats inside full-time which must protect them from this disease. That said, Newsweek have written about the nine signs that your cat has Covid so I will reproduce them here just for the sake of completeness. I think it's nice to know these just in case you and your cat are unlucky.

It's probably worth saying that one of the signs of Covid in people is a lack of taste and smell which are two symptoms that we can't know that I cat suffers from because the only way of finding out is to ask your cat! Perhaps we should assume that those symptoms are also present (which may affect their appetite) to which you can add the following:

  1. A fever. A fever is when the body temperature exceeds the normal temperature for an adult cat which is between 100-103° Fahrenheit with an average of 101.5 degrees F. How do you tell that your cat has a fever? Well of course you can measure the temperature and I have a page on that was you can see by clicking here. But what are the outward signs? A veterinary website tells us that they are: loss of appetite, depression, lack of energy, decrease drinking, decreased grooming, rapid breathing and shivering;
  2. Coughing. The should be persistent coughing which will be different to the sort of sound a cat makes when the vomiting up a hair ball which is not coughing at all;
  3. Difficulty in breathing with shallow breath;
  4. Lethargy. Lethargy is a classic symptom of a cat feeling ill and it should be noticeable to most cat owners who are reasonably emotionally close to their cat;
  5. Sneezing;
  6. Runny nose;
  7. Eye discharge;
  8. Vomiting;
  9. Diarrhoea.

There has been quite a lot of talk about cats and dogs getting Covid which I think is out of an abundance of caution because there is precious little evidence that pets transmit the disease to people living in the same household.

It's a shame that they get it at all because this is a human-created global problem. It is through human carelessness that this has happened although the World Health Organisation is still trying to find out where it started without the cooperation of the Chinese! That I think tells us a story.

If the above signs are present then the usual procedures concerning people should apply to a cat or dog. This means isolating the animal but before that you have to get confirmation from a veterinarian that your dog or cat does indeed have Covid. Nothing stupid should happen. No one should panic or do anything which would harm the companion animal in any way.

P.S. in Siamese and other pointed cats if they have a temperature it may affect the color of their non-pointed coat. It might be lighter.

Teenager kennel technician slept with dog at animal shelter during Texas snowstorm

The world is aware of the incredible snow storms and freezing weather engulfing Texas made worse by the power outages caused by what appears to be a less than robust electricity supply. People are in danger and we must not forget the animals. The feral cats are no doubt dying or barely surviving in the extreme weather.

Teenager kennel technician slept with dog at animal shelter during Texas snowstorm
Teenager kennel technician slept with dog at animal shelter during Texas snowstorm. Image: Marion Area Humane Society shelter.

Some animal shelters have suffered power cuts. The animals have been saved by foster carers who have taken them into their homes which have been heated. This story is about Emily, the youngest kennel tech at an area animal shelter: the Marion Area Humane Society shelter.

I'm told by 10TV that she drove to the snow at 8 p.m. on Monday and then spent the entire night in the shelter snuggled up to Flo a pit bull mix sleeping with her in her kennel. An example of complete dedication. Another technician, Riley, promised to drive in early Tuesday to check on the dogs and cats as well.

Riley gave the distinct impression when interviewed that the staff at the shelter are truly dedicated. She said that the cats and dogs at the shelter are like their children which is fully understandable and the staff will do all they can to look after them and the difficult circumstances.

"All these animals are our babies. We know all their names, although traits. Every single one of our staff members would be here if they could no matter what."

There are fifteen dogs and more than thirty cats at this shelter. They are in good hands. They deserve a big pat on the back for their commitment to the welfare of the animals in their charge.

Larry the Cat - how did he avoid being run over by a vehicle?

The world is celebrating Larry the Cat's ten year anniversary at Number 10 Downing Street, the heart of the British government and the offices of the Prime Minister with his residence above in a flat. Although, as I understand it, Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds live at number eleven because it is a bigger flat.

Larry's Twitter feed provides a celebration of his decade at Downing Street. Please note that sometimes these embedded videos go wrong and stop working for reasons beyond my control and if that has happened I am sorry!

For someone like me, who is concerned about cat welfare, I'm surprised that he has survived. He lives in the centre of London. Okay, it's a cul-de-sac and he has some space in front of Number 10 Downing Street and he can stroll across the road outside to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office buildings where Palmerston used to live. Palmerston is retired because he was too stressed apparently. I wonder whether Larry stressed him up because Larry used to beat him up in fights!

But all he has to do to get onto the main road is to trot about two hundred yards in the right direction (south) where he'd meet tons of traffic. It's a bit surprising that he is an indoor-outdoor cat. Behind number ten is St James Park and Horse Guards Parade so there's plenty of space there which is relatively safe if he ever gets to that area. But there are still vehicles.

Handsome Larry the Cat
Handsome Larry the Cat. Photo: his Instagram account.

The bottom line is that he is surrounded by traffic which is dangerous. And I've seen him underneath the cars of dignitaries parked outside number ten. That, too, can be dangerous if a car pulls away very quietly. They could run him over. Nobody appears to be concerned about the potential of being killed on the roads.

I suspect that more cats are killed on the roads in the UK than by any other accidental means. I recall that about a third of a million are killed this way annually but these are guesstimates. We don't know but domestic cat disappear all the time and I'm convinced that many of them die on the road never to be found because they crawl into a quiet area where they die and a fox eats them. They disappear and the poor owner is fretting about them for the next five years.

Larry was adopted from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home - not far away. He was specially selected as a good mouser. That's his primary job. A secondary job is to entertain people. I don't think he is massively loved by the current Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Boris prefers dogs and as you know they've adopted a rescue dog called Dilyn. 

He is a Jack Russell born in 2018. I wonder how he gets along with Larry? I would bet my bottom dollar that there is a little bit of friction there which nobody talks about. He's a very cute looking dog, though, and I'm sure that Carrie Symonds played the major role in selecting him.

So how good is Larry The Cat in his role as a mouser? The Mirror newspaper reports that he is failing. Pest controllers have been called to Downing Street twenty-nine times in just one year apparently. Rather than catching mice he is seen sleeping in the street or fighting other cats! To add some detail: between October 2017 and November 2017 pest controllers were alerted to 29 incidents concerning rats and mice. The information was made available under a Freedom of Information request.

Not everyone is as keen about Larry as I am. One insider described him as "that lazy bloody cat"! They are referring to his inability to catch bloody mice. He is now fourteen years old which in human terms is almost geriatric. I would expect that his hunting days are coming to an end as he becomes even more lazy.

Larry belongs to number ten Downing Street. In other words he has seen three different Prime Ministers (Cameron, May and Johnson). And this is a good concept because it is arguable that domestic cats should remain in a home when the homeowner moves provided the new homeowner likes cats. That's a fair argument because you might say they are more attached to their territory than they are to the person looking after them!

Staff at number ten (and it is a vast place even though it looks quite small for a Prime Minister's offices) are advised to keep their desk clear and clean and not to leave food lying around in order to keep the mice numbers down. I'm not sure why they have a mice problem at number ten. It may be because it's in the middle of London.

Are they feeding Larry too well.  You can't feed a cat too well. Hoever, a study tells us that if you feed domestic cats high quality wet cat food with meat protein rather than plant protein and ensure that it is grain free their desire to hunter is reduced slightly. It had been thought that the desire to hunt was completely disconnected from a cat's appetite but this appeared not to be quite true.

The point though is that some domestic cats are avid hunters and others are not quite so keen. It's about a character trait. Larry was chosen to be a hunter but it has not quite worked out like that. Nonetheless he is loved and he gets in the way nicely of reporters conducting a television broadcast from the road outside number ten. That is major role in life. To get in the way and entertain people. May he live a long life well into the high teens. He's been well looked after so he may live to 20 which would make him exceptional.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Biden says China to face repercussions on human rights but what about animal rights?

I'm sure hundreds of millions of people are happy that Biden says China must face repercussions on human rights. Apparently he had a two hour conversation on the phone with the Chinese president Xi Jinping. On CNN he implied that President Xi knows that there will be repercussions, "Well...there will be repercussions for China and he knows that".

Biden and Xi
Biden and Xi. Let's have some hard talk about animal rights please. Pic in public domain.

He is of course referring to the abuses of human rights with respect to the Chinese Muslim community which has been well reported in the news media for a very long time. I think we can conclude that there is hard evidence of these abuses. It's been referred to as genocide because of forced sterilisation.

But this brief note is not about human rights, concerning as they are, it's about animal rights which are even more dramatically abused in China. I'm referring to the fur trade business in China which is the biggest in the world. I'm also referring to the cat and dog meat trade in the south of China.

I know people will say that eating cat and dog is no different to eating normal livestock but it is. These animals are killed brutally. They are rounded up from streets sometimes in the north of the country and ship down south. Sometimes they are people's pets and often times they are feral cats but this is a total breach of animal rights. There is no discussion about that. If you know about the Chinese cat meat and dog meat trade you will have to agree with me. 

The photos are too horrible to publish here. It is that bad believe me.

You could perhaps almost justify eating cats and dogs if they were killed as per European slaughter house standards. But even then I would question the concept of eating domestic cats and dogs. They are our pets. It is not part of the human-cat or dog 'contract' that we eat them. We are meant to support each other. That is the original concept and we need to stick to it.

But above all if the Chinese, because of their superstitions, think that eating cat is good for them then, please God, kill them humanely before you eat them. And if you don't and consistently abuse animals as you do, I would like to see President Biden bringing this into the equation.

It is no good confining our criticism of China to human rights. What is so difficult about joining human rights with animal rights? Why couldn't he say that China will face repercussions for human and animal rights abuses? 

You just have to add three words "and animal rights". Those three words may save the lives of millions upon millions of cats and dogs who die under incredibly distressing circumstances. What's so difficult about that?

And it is particularly galling to me because President Biden is an animal lover. He seems to have forgotten them in his statement. I trust that he will do the right thing and let's not forget the animals, please.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Beware deposit scams when buying kittens during Covid pandemic

I'm going to write a series of posts about the dangers of buying a kitten or cat during the Covid pandemic. The news media have spoken a lot more about purchasing dogs. These are always purebreds. There has been a surge in dog adoptions but there's also been an increase in cat adoptions for the same reason: companionship during long lockdowns. And people have almost nothing to do if on furlough so it is a good opportunity to get to know your new companion animal.

Watch out for deposit scams when buying kittens and cats online during Covid pandemic
Watch out for deposit scams when buying kittens and cats online during Covid pandemic. Photo: Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay 

But against this background the scammers have moved in big time to take advantage of very keen purchasers some of whom are gullible to be quite frank. For example, in today's Times newspaper, Jenni Russell, one of their journalists, describes her struggles to try and purchase a dog. She tells us that there is a frenetic amount of activity to the point where she says that, "Entire litters, whether they were anonymous piglet-like newborns or six-week-old charmers, were being reserved by non-refundable deposits of up to £1,000 within five hours. So purchasers are buying dogs unseen and reserving that dog by pushing down £1,000. Sometimes they are giving away £1,000.

That money is going into the ether to a person they don't know for a dog they haven't seen and for a breeding establishment they have no knowledge of. It is extremely dangerous and this leads me to the topic of today's discussion which is deposit scams. Some of the people that Jenni referred to are going to be scanned and will no doubt lose their £1,000.

Siamese kitten. Pic in public domain. Siamese have a
high incidence of inherited diseases by the way.

Be careful before you buy. Always put the brakes on, pause and count to ten because there's no rush if you adopt a companion animal for the lifetime of that animal. This is a purchase that will last 15 to 20 years possibly. You can wait a week before you dive in. Actually you should never dive in under these circumstances.

Scammers sometimes send photographs or videos to persuade potential purchasers to make a deposit in advance. Can you trust them? Is this the cat or dog that you are going to purchase? Is this the mother of the kitten that you see in the video or photograph? You should see the mother with her kittens. You should actually be in the room with the mother and kittens but of course Covid has put a block on that.

Scammers might also ask for further funds to cover unforeseen costs such as vaccinations and pet insurance after you've already made an initial down payment. This might be another scam. I certainly wouldn't get sucked into paying that without some cast-iron evidence.

You put down your deposit and pay the extra money and then things go silent. The kittens are never provided and you can't contact the scammer because they have given false contact details which also means that they can't be traced. Over and out - you've lost your money and there's no going back.

If you are purchasing a purebred, pedigree cat, you should be better protected in my opinion because breeders are affiliated with the cat associations and they do take deposits to reserve after you have viewed kittens at around 8 to 9 weeks of age. Most breeders will keep the kittens in their home until 13-14 weeks of age until after their second vaccination. But some breeders are better than others and some purebred cats although very beautiful and charming may not be healthy. In fact some cat breeds carry inherited congenital conditions and some are predisposed to a long list of illnesses. You have to do your research.

But this lesson is about deposit scams. My basic rule in life is never to pay money upfront for anything except a house when the money goes into escrow. You pay money for something in a straightforward contract. That is not paying upfront. But putting down a deposit to reserve something is, I think extremely dangerous if it is done online without any hard evidence that what you're doing is sound and safe. During the Covid pandemic I would make a presumption that you are dealing with a scammer until they can prove otherwise. There are too many of them about.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Vet nurse struck off the register because of fraudulent claim

Karen Hancock was a veterinary nurse at a veterinary clinic in Clevedon, Somerset called Alexandra & Hillyfields. She had worked there for four years with no prior problems. She started a claim for compensation saying that she had suffered a knee injury when moving dead dogs at work. She was suing her employer.

We don't have a picture of Hancock. Image in
public domain.

She said that she was moving euthanised dogs weighing 60 kg which is over nine stones in August 2015. But the evidence didn't support her claim. In fact, the evidence clearly worked against. Her employer and boss Mr Wilson said that he carried and moved Cezar down steps. This is peculiar because Ms Hancock had spoken to Wilson when making the claim that she had damaged her knee carrying this dog down steps but it should have been known to her that Mr Wilson knew that he had done it. She also made false claims about moving a dog called Bailey.

In addition, she made false entries in the clinic's accident book and further made false documents in support of a civil claim. Sadly, she was struck off because of dishonesty. Her behaviour was "a clear breach of the principle of honesty and integrity" expected of members of the veterinary profession. Hancock now works as an administrator and she has complained that she will lose her pet cats and her home because of being struck off.

Her claim was based on lies it was said at the tribunal. Karen Hancock is 52 years of age. She did not attend the hearing and neither was she represented at the hearing.

The committee who heard her case to be struck off said:

Such conduct would bring the profession of veterinary nurses into disrepute and would undermine public confidence in the profession because the dishonesty was directly concerned with the respondent’s work as a veterinary nurse in the veterinary practice

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