Friday, March 12, 2021

Food freshness is important to a domestic cat

 I ran a little tests today to see how critically important food freshness is to a domestic cat. My cat likes king prawns. I treat him with them from time to time. I have one packet which has three days left on its sell by date so they are perfectly fresh and edible.

Food freshness is important to a domestic cat
Food freshness is important to a domestic cat. Image: MikB based on image from Pixabay.

Today I bought a fresh packet, straight off the shelves of Sainsbury's. I gave him some prawns from the older packet and he rejected them. I gave him some prawns from the fresh packet and he gobbled them up.

Both were highly edible but he entirely rejected one and loved the other. And of course he checked them out with his nose. The first thing that a domestic cat does when eating food is to smell it. The cat's nose is the arbiter of whether food is good or bad, edible or inedible.

This is why they will pick up the smell of a pill inside food and reject all the food or just the pill. I don't think humans have yet fully grasped the importance of smell to the domestic cat. It's like an extra pair of eyes in the human world.

I wonder sometimes whether they rely more on their sense of smell than they do on their sight. As I dictate this my cat has discovered some dry cat food inside a toy. The toy is designed to make getting at the food difficult. It's meant to simulate hunting. The food has been there for about a year. He is eating it with gusto.

That is another story. Dry cat food can smell perfectly edible and attractive to a domestic cat even though it is quite old and beyond its sell by date. Does dry cat food go off? They say it does and it does have a sell by date but I'm sure that 99.9% of purchasers ignore the sell by date. It is as good as meaningless because the lifespan of dry cat food is so long in practice.

The point of this post is that cats rely on their sense of smell to decide whether the food is edible or not. It's appearance is probably neither here nor there.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Punishment vs divine intervention in training your cat

This is a short note about the difference between punishment and divine intervention. The concept was introduced for the first time, I believe, by Dr Bruce Fogle. I think it's a fantastic concept. It's important for cat owners to know the difference. Cat owners want to train their cat to avoid doing certain behaviours but they don't want to punish their cat. Or they shouldn't.

Punishment vs divine intervention in training your cat
 Punishment vs divine intervention in training your cat. Poster: Kattaddorra.

Punishment is pointless in cat training. In fact it's worse than pointless. The concept of punishment is about people and training people to behave differently. But it depends upon an understanding of what social norms are. It depends upon an understanding of what morality is and how a person compares their actions with what is required in society. All these factors are beyond domestic cats.

And you can't punish a domestic cat because they're behaving instinctively and therefore naturally because it is cruel. If you do the cat will associate the person doing the punishing, normally the cat's owner, with hostility. They might perceive their owner as an aggressor, someone to be avoided. It may harm the relationship and most likely will. But people see punishment as a way of condition their cat to do certain things.

The point is that you can "punish" a domestic cat without actually punishing them. You do this by disconnecting the discomfort that punishment brings from the person inflicting it. If the cat likes to climb an indoor tree but they find that it is an unpleasant experience because they are sprayed with water, they will no longer climb the tree. The key is that they don't know that the water is being sprayed by their owner. The water just arrives in the cat's mind.

In the mind of the cat these are 'acts of God' and not punishment from their human companion. And they will encourage if not train a cat to avoid certain behaviours which their owner disapproves of.

That's the fundamental difference so it means that you have to make sure that your cat does not see you spraying them with water or doing any other actions which are designed to "punish" your cat.

My personal viewpoint, though, is that we should allow cats to do what they want. We should accept their instinctive behaviours even if we don't really approve of them. It is a compromise that it is our duty to accept and go with. This completely resolves any problems that a person may have with feline behaviour. You don't require any form of disguised punishment or acts of God to modify feline behaviour. You just accept it.

This is my view because I don't want to make my cat uncomfortable. I don't want to 'punish' him even if it becomes an act of God because at the end of the day it is still inflicting something unpleasant on him.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Singaporeans conspired to abandon 16 cats on the street

NEWS AND VIEWS: Nur Hajjar Osman, a 35-year-old woman, was no longer able to care for her 16 cats. She decided to get rid of them by simply abandoning them on the street. She conspired to do this with what appears to be a friend whose name is Muhammad Haidhar Zulkifli, aged 33.

Singaporeans conspired to abandon 16 cats on the street
 Singaporeans conspired to abandon 16 cats on the street. One of the captured cats.
Photo: Sayang Our Singapore's Community Cats/Facebook

On 28 February 2019 Nur Hajjar Osman asked Muhammad Haidhar Zulkifli to get rid of the cats. On 1 March 2019 he arrived at her flat in Punggol and they brought the 16 cats down in five cages. They loaded them onto a lorry which he had borrowed. They drove around and decided to release the cats in the vicinity of 222A Sumang Lane at around 3 AM.

Members of the public noticed what was going on and apparently reported it. The cats were found and rescued. They were successfully prosecuted and Nur Hajjar Osman was fined $4000 on 10th March. Muhammad Haidhar Zulkifli was also fined $4000. They were told by the judge that they had shown a "totally unacceptable disregard" of their duty towards the animals. They were reminded that "pets are for life".

Muhammad Haidhar Zulkifli couldn't or wouldn't pay the fine and decided to take his punishment in jail. He was sentenced to a 10 day jail term. Although the maximum sentence for abandoning a companion animal in Singapore is up to a year in jail and a fine of USD10,000 or both on a first offence.

Source: Yahoo News Singapore.

Man confesses to feeding human flesh to stray cats outside his window

NEWS AND COMMENT: A man living in Kazakhstan (first name: Arman, 33) has admitted to police when in custody to feeding the flesh of his neighbour, Daniyar, 37, to stray cats outside his window. The good point is that he likes cats! Sorry that's too flippant.

The bad point is that he decided with his neighbour to have a drinking session at his apartment. They bought several litre bottles of vodka and began to drain them of their contents. Unsurprisingly it started off as a nice pleasant drinking session albeit heavy but deteriorated into an argument which further deteriorated into violence and to the point where Arman stabbed Daniyar to death with a kitchen knife.

Man confesses to feeding human flesh to stray cats outside his window
 Man confesses to feeding human flesh to stray cats outside his window. Blood on
window frame. Pic: Astana TV.

Not satisfied with that act and being concerned about the stray cats outside his apartment window he cut off bits of flesh from Daniyar and fed the stray cats by throwing the flesh through the window to the cats outside.

The reason why he fed the cats with bits of Daniyar is because he wanted to get rid of the evidence. It would have been a very slow, tortuously slow process and impractical to put it mildly. I can't help being slightly amused by this although that is a horrible thing to do because I'm genuinely sympathetic towards Daniyar's family who must be terribly distraught.

Man confesses to feeding human flesh to stray cats outside his window
 Man confesses to feeding human flesh to stray cats outside his window. The apartment block.
Image: Astana TV.

But the behaviour of these two men and the general picture that the story draws in my mind reminds me of a B-movie horror flick. Maybe they'll make one and start it off by saying that it is based upon a true story. Arman lived in Karaganda apparently.

I wondered whether the cats would accept raw human flesh as a meal. I expect that they did because it looks bloody cold at this time of year in Kazakhstan and I also expect that they were starving. As domestic and stray cats are obligate carnivores it would have been a reasonable diet!

Can FIV-positive cats go outside?

Can FIV-positive cats go outside? The question is a moral one and it is asking whether it is sensible to allow a FIV-positive cat to go outside where they might transmit the disease to other cats. The answer is that it is not sensible or moral to do so although it is quite hard to transmit this disease. It is agreed that the most likely form of transmission is through male cats fighting. When they bite each other their saliva is injected into the other cat. The saliva carries the disease.

Deborah Bell, former Carthage Humane Society executive director, holds Fritz,
Deborah Bell, former Carthage Humane Society executive director, holds
Fritz, an FIV-positive cat featured in a Globe pet column.
Photo: Globe | Kevin McClintock

It is further believed that about 2 to 4% of cats in the general population in America are affected by the disease. The incidence is highest in male cats in the age range 3 to 5 roaming outside. These are normally indoor/outdoor cats or outdoor cats. They get into fights with other male cats over territory.

I remember feeding a male cat, Timmy, who regularly visited me many years ago. He was not neutered and he was a classic example of the sort of domestic cat who could transmit the disease. I don't know whether he had the disease but I do know that he had an abscess at one time which we had to fix by taking him to a veterinarian. It highlighted the frequency at which non-neutered male cats, who are quite young, get into fights.

Timmy a non-neutered male wandering cat
Photo: MikeB

Close contact between cats is not a major mode of transmission according to my veterinary handbook. And it can't be transmitted by mating, apparently. Boarding catteries take FIV-positive cats normally as far as I know. This is because the cats are separated and there's no chance of contact. And standard disinfectants kills the virus.

It would seem that the prime danger for a FIV-positive cat in a boarding cattery is to that cat rather than to the other cats. This is because they have a weakened immune system and therefore if other cats in the boarding cattery are carrying a disease that FIV-positive cat is more likely to get it.

The best course of action is to allow FIV-positive cat to roam outside in an enclosure attached to the house but this won't suit many people. Or they can stay indoors all the time but it is advised that they do not live with other cats. They deserve a good life nonetheless. They make great pets like any other companion animal.

There is no effective treatment for FIV which by the way stands for feline immunodeficiency virus. FIV-positive cats require high quality routine care combined with excellent nutrition, parasite control and minimising stress.

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