Thursday, June 24, 2021

Do mother cats need more food?

Yes, lactating mother cats do need more food because their energy requirements increase by about 50% during pregnancy. Their energy requirements soar during lactation. Cat's milk contains about 40% more energy than cow's or goat's milk. 

Mother nurses her kittens two of which are black. Photo: Wikipedia Commons. Caption: A one year old pure white cat nursing four kittens in a cardboard box behind a warm TV. Expectant mother cats usually seek a warm, dark place for giving birth to their kittens. Picture taken in Beaumont, Alberta, Canada in 1986. Name of Mother: Sugar (March 8, 1985 - August 26, 2004) Names of Kittens: Channel 3, Channel 5, Cable 8, Circuit Overload (May 4, 1986 - )
Mother nurses her kittens two of which are black. Photo: Wikipedia Commons. Caption: A one year old pure white cat nursing four kittens in a cardboard box behind a warm TV. Expectant mother cats usually seek a warm, dark place for giving birth to their kittens. Picture taken in Beaumont, Alberta, Canada in 1986. Name of Mother: Sugar (March 8, 1985 - August 26, 2004) Names of Kittens: Channel 3, Channel 5, Cable 8, Circuit Overload (May 4, 1986 - )

In order to produce milk which is so energy-dense, the cat has to ingest that energy i.e. they have to increase their energy consumption considerably. And even after her kittens have reduced their milk consumption, a cat's energy demands remain 50% above her usual needs until she replaces the bodyweight that she has lost on behalf of her kittens.

The energy requirements during lactation are up to 4 times greater than those of an inactive cat. During this time, the kilocalories energy level of your cat's food should be increased to minimise weight loss.

Purina, says that a pregnant cat will eat about 50% more than her normal level and it can be as high as twice her regular amount. They recommend that you feed your pregnant cat kitten formula from the 4th week of her pregnancy as the food is designed for kittens who need extra nutrition during the early development. 

They also recommend that you mix dry and wet cat food, as if she prefers wet food, it has a lower calorie content to dry food. By adding the dry you add to the calorie content. The diet should be introduced slowly. Spend 7-10 days gradually adding the new formula to her standard food, they say.

As a guideline, an adult cat weighing 4 kg who has an inactive life burns 200-280 kcal per day. A pregnant cat requires 400-560 kcal. For a 6 kg cat the figures should be 300-420 and 600-840 respectively.

Here is a table (a rather poorly formatted one) showing calories needed for a lactating female and her weight.

ADULT WEIGHT 2 kg 4 kg 6 kg 8 kg
Lactation weeks 1-2 220 kilocalories per day 440 660 880
Lactation weeks 3-4 300 600 900 1,200
Lactation weeks 5-6 420 840 1,260 1,680

Source: Dr. Bruce Fogle: Natural Cat Care

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

My new kitten's first encounter with the big ball of flame in the sky

I love this description from a user: u/Sava333.  Domestic cats are sunworshippers. We know it. This little juvenile cat has discovered that there is a place in the home where the sun shines and he has occupied that space. He is sunning himself. I would expect him to be there again in the future from time-to-time. Why do domestic cats like the sun so much? Because they are domesticated North African wildcats. You can imagine that there is quite a lot of sun in the places where these cats live, such as in and around Syria which, incidentally, is the place where the original domestic cats came into existence, it is believed.

Photo: user: u/Sava333. 

The 'sun and domestic cats' is quite a big topic actually. The sun can cause cancer in the ear flaps of stray and feral cats. You might have seen it: white cats with their ear flaps amputated. The thin covering of fur on the ear flaps does not protect the skin and cartilage below and so the ultraviolet light of the sun can damage the cells causing cancer. And white cats are particularly susceptible because white fur has no pigment. It is white because it is pigmentless not because the pigment is white! This allows the sun's rays to go through it and harm the skin below.

This little fella, in the picture, is a classic, blotched, tabby cat. I think he is going to have a great life. The home looks nice. I have presumed that he is male but this cat could just as equally be female. I say that in the interests of equality bearing in mind the woke movement which is surrounding us at the moment and affecting everything we say especially on the Internet, on social media, where one misstep in the words used can lead to a pile of opprobrium and worse, the loss of your job!

Brighton Cat Killer: harrowing accounts by cat owners of their stabbed cats

Steve Bouquet, the devil incarnate
The Brighton Cat Killer. Guilty as charged. Steve Bouquet.

On two other pages I have written about Steve Bouquet who is the alleged Brighton Cat Killer currently on trial for the serial "murders" of 9 domestic cats in and around Brighton and for causing serious injury to 7 more. You can read about the story by clicking this link. His basic modus operandi was to walk down streets at night, befriend domestic cats and then stab them violently. He was caught on CCTV which led to his arrest. They also found the weapon he used to allegedly kill the cats and on the blade of the weapon was feline DNA. It was a Leatherman tool.

One of the cats allegedly stabbed by Bouquet
One of the cats allegedly stabbed by Bouquet. I don't have her name. The news media got it wrong so I have deleted the name. Photo: The Sun.

In this post I would like briefly to look at the story from the perspective of the cats' owners. It's remarkable that the law in the UK still regards these cats as chattels i.e. inanimate possessions and not sentient beings because although the cats were killed and suffered the owners suffered too.

The Times reports that Bouquet 'slashed and stabbed seven cats in one month'. These are the words of the prosecutor at a hearing at Chichester Crown Court.

Carolyn Green, found her short-haired tabby cat Tommy lying on her doorstep at 6:15 pm when a neighbour told her that she thought Tommy had been hit by a car. He had been let out 'a few minutes earlier'. He was severely injured. She picked him up and noticed blood on her T-shirt. She rushed him to the veterinarian who reported that he had been stabbed. Green was shocked to learn that Tommy had suffered a 4 cm cut. He died despite the veterinarian's best efforts.

Penny Vessey told the court that her black-and-white cat Rigby was very friendly and that she liked to lie outside in public places so that people would pet her. On Halloween night in 2018 allegedly Steve Bouquet stabbed him. The area where she lived had been busy with trick or treaters and she found Rigby the next morning making a mewing sound but not acting like herself.

She recovered from her injuries but it appears that she was psychologically damaged because it took a long time for her to start interacting with people again.

Steve Bouquet
Steve Bouquet. Photo: Eddie Mitchell.

Tina Randall, a former veterinary assistant, described, in court, through her statement, that she discovered her 11-year-old cat Gideon in November 2018 after he had been severely injured. She said that he was fading and she picked him up which caused blood to spurt out of him. She knew immediately that it was a stab wound. With great good fortune, Gideon eventually recovered from a three-quarter inch wound. The veterinary surgeon's bill came to more than £1600.

I had read that Steve Bouquet refused to attend his trial but since then I am receiving conflicting views on that. He did go to court at a pre-trial review and there were lots of protesters nearby hissing and booing at him. He was protected by plain clothes police officers I am told. He is accused of killing 9 domestic cats and severely injuring 7. His charge is criminal damage in line with the law. If convicted the max. sentence will be 10 years in jail. The criminal damage is valued at £32k.

About 12 months the police were completely nonplussed and a at complete loss as to the perpetrator. As mentioned, CCTV caught him. The camera was attached to the home of Mr Levy whose cat, Hannah (14 months old), was also stabbed to death allegedly by this man. She was the first to die. Both he and a neighbour whose cat, Hendrix, was also stabbed and died studied the video from the security camera and notified the police. Bouquet had come back because he had seen the security camera and wanted to check it out apparently. That was his undoing.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Smell of sardines motivates 4-week-old kittens to climb out of deep drain

The enticing smell of tinned sardines enticed two tiny, four-week-old kittens out of a labyrinth of drains to the surface after they had run away and hidden. Sue Lewis from a nearby charity, The Scratching Post, said: "We basically soaked a net in juice from a sardine tin, wedged one end under something heavy and then fed the sardine-smelling netting through the drains."

The drain down which the kittens plunged
The drain down which the kittens plunged. Photo: The Scratching Post.

She remarked that "It was an absolute miracle they managed to do that". She means that it's amazing that these tiny four-week-old kittens were able to climb up this netting out of a hole in the ground. She also said: "They are so tiny, no bigger than the palm of your hand. They've been without milk for 48 hours and we really thought they were going to die. It was heartbreaking to hear their cries."

At one time they tried playing the sounds of a mother calling her young but it didn't work. The Essex Fire service manager Toby Ingram together with Sue Lewis hatched the plan with the sardines.

The family with a foster carer
The family with a foster carer. Photo: The Scratching Post.

The kittens were born to a stray cat at a salad farm in Waltham Abbey, Essex, UK. The intention was to rescue them and take them to a cat rescue but two of the kittens escaped on Saturday. They dived into a drain that led to miles of pipework below the greenhouses. They could hear their plaintive cries which motivated them to try this imaginative method of enticing them out.

Cat almost died from pancytopenia after eating cat food linked to urgent recall

This is an example of a cat who fell ill after eating one of a raft of pet food products manufactured by Fold Hill Food and sold at the UK's Pets at Home and Sainsbury's. There has been well publicized recall. If you click on the links below you will be taken to a list of the foods concerned. This may not be a comprehensive list because there may be subsequent products affected. I would ask you, therefore, to please do some follow-up research if you happen to bump into this webpage.

In this instance, a tabby cat with his own Instagram page called CharlieBoy Stubbs was apparently perfectly healthy one day but he suddenly fell very ill. His owners, Gary and Yasmin, use one of the foods concerned as his regular diet and I think the photograph below from his Instagram page shows the food. I think it is the Pets at Home AVA brand of dry cat food. 

Day 4 in the ICU at the @theralphvetreferralcentre. These guys are doing everything for me right now. I’m fighting my hardest to get better to hopefully get to use my new garden back at home. Photo: Gary and Jasmin. Their cat was provided with the same that was possibly killing him while in the ICU as they were unaware of the issue.

Little did they know that they were potentially poisoning him. I say 'potentially' because at the moment this is an alleged link between these foods and pancytopenia and the matter is still being investigated.

Pancytopenia is a very rare feline disease it appears to me because my reference book does not contain any information about it. It affects the bone marrow where red blood cells are created. It causes a decrease in the cells in the blood including red and white cells and platelets. Platelets are cells which help to clot the blood. Red blood cells transport oxygen through haemoglobin and white blood cells are part of the immune system.

In a previous post I wrote about a cat who started to bleed from the ears and nose who contracted the disease and died sadly. The owner blames the cat food manufacturer because it is too coincidental to believe anything else but, as mentioned, the link is yet to be established.

CharlieBoy Stubbs was rushed to a veterinarian where he was first given antibiotics. This was a waste of time because he did not have a bacterial infection but clearly the veterinarian was scratching his/her head. They went home and then returned to the vets when he showed signs of serious illness again and the veterinarian recommended a blood transfusion. Perhaps at this time they had discovered through blood tests a very low level of cells in his blood. They had to go to an animal hospital for the transfusion which was half an hour away by car.

Gary and Jasmine were concerned that they had caused illness and in a way they had because they had inadvertently fed their cat what appears to be a food causing severe illness. And an illness which can be fatal as you can see by this story.

At the moment, the latest update is that Charlie Boy Stubbs is 'hanging in there' but is not yet out of the woods. Ironically, and sadly, while he was being diagnosed they were still feeding him with the same food. It was only I suspect during the investigation process that the veterinarians learnt via the Internet, as other people have, that the food could be the culprit.

Gary said that "The hospital had no idea, we had no idea, we were worried it was something we had done as we had just moved and thought it might have been something in our new home that had affected him. We were so stressed, we really thought we were going to lose him and we were worried that it was our fault."

The Royal Veterinary College and the Animal Plant and Health Agency together with authorities across Britain and the manufacturer have launched an urgent investigation to find out whether there is indeed a link between these food products and feline pancytopenia.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Bengal kitten doesn't understand water in a glass

The title to the video is "Curious Cat Examines Glass of Water". It is slightly misleading. It seems clear to me that the Bengal kitten does not understand that this is water. He knows water but when it is in a glass, he is unsure about it. This is because he is young and learning. He prods, pokes and sniffs it to test it. It is quite cute. It does tell us too that sometimes the reason why cats prod water is to test it. 

Bengal cat checks out water in a glass as he is unsure. Screenshot.

Some people think that cats drink better from clear bowls. Cats are poor drinkers because of their wild cat inheritance which is why dry cat food is problematic. Cats get a lot of their water from prey animals. The mouse is 70% water. Dry cat food does not replicate normal prey. Cats don't compensate sufficiently by drinking more water and become dehydrated.

: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Do domestic cats have a hierarchy?

Within a social group of domestic cats there may be a single dominant male or female but there is little ranking below this individual (Linda P Case in The Cat, It's Behavior & Health). And, group-living cats "lack distinct dominance hierarchies" (Irene Rochlitz in The Welfare of Cats). On these two counts, domestic cats do not have a hierarchy. This is incomplete opposition to the article about domestic cat hierarchal structures on the website where they say that there is such a structure. I believe that they are incorrect. I have never read about such a genuine hierarchal structure in multi-cat homes and within cat colonies.

Domestic cats don't have hierarchies. Image: Pixabay.

To be clear, a hierarchy is a system in which members of an organisation or society are ranked according to relative status and authority. One dominant individual does not create a hierarchy. And a dominant cat is one which is typically the most aggressive in a social group. The simple quality of aggressiveness does not necessarily mean that the cat is dominant within the context of a hierarchy. The top individual in a hierarchy controls the group such as access to resources, resting places and opportunities to make. This type of "resource guarding" is not seen in cat social groups.

The wolf has a hierarchal system and social rankings which are functional and in which they cooperate during hunting and protection of their territory but this does not apply to cat groups.

Further, cats living in groups do not have signals for reducing conflict and neither do they have mechanisms for reconciliation. Although domestic cats have become quite sociable through adaptation, they are not naturally adapted to living in close proximity to each other. In multi-cat homes cats don't have an option and therefore they adapt but it is argued that if they were able to, they would live further apart.

For the domestic cat, a discussion on hierarchal structures or their absence touches upon harmony in multi-cat households. Studies indicate that the reasons for the development of feline behavioural problems (such as avoidance-related behaviours) are due to their relationships with other cats and humans.

The fact that there are stresses and sometimes antagonism within multi-cat households between cats supports the analysis that domestic cats do not have hierarchal structures because these structures are meant to avoid such incidents.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Developing human-cat routines over years

Although like many others I realise that routines are very important in a domestic cat's life, it was only this morning that it dawned on me that I have developed these routines to the point where my cat predicts my movements and desires. He does things before I ask him to because he understands the routines that exist between us.

Gabriel in my garden years ago
Gabriel in my garden years ago. Photo: MikeB

You achieve these routines by being with your cat every day all day over a period of many years. Further, the human has to have a set routine in life as many retired people have incidentally, integrated into which are the routines and lifestyle of your cat. Eventually your cat understands what you will do next and pre-empts it. I will give two examples which apply to me but each person and their cat will have their own examples which are just as valid. It is harder for full-time office workers to develop these routines. For retired people it happens naturally. But you have to be a concerned cat guardian.

Sitting on my lap

When I watch television my cat sits on my lap. That is a very commonplace occurrence anywhere on the planet. When I turn off my television my cat jumps off my lap. The two events are linked. My cat knows that I have stopped watching television and that I will get up from my armchair and do something else such as make a cup of tea and return to the television. The important point is that my cat knows that when the television becomes silent it is time for him to get up off my lap. He does it without any encouragement.

Sitting on my lap in bed

The same sort of rules apply when he sits on my lap while I am in bed. He knows that after I have worked on my computer on the website and I put my laptop computer down it is his turn to come up to my lap and ask for some combing which I'm delighted to give him. This happens every day and once I have stopped combing him I communicate with them for a while and let him sit on my lap for five more minutes. After this time he knows that it is time for him to get off my lap and jump off the bed. He does this without me asking him. I don't have to indicate to him that I'm going to get up by moving my body. He jumps off and walks off the bed before I do anything. He knows through his internal clock and by routine and habits that it is time for him to leave the bed.

These are two examples of routines in which a domestic cat has become fully integrated into the routines of his human companion. It is a great form of communication between two entirely different species of animal. There are other forms such as the sounds we make and the sound that our cat makes to us such as a meow which is a demand for food normally. And there's cat and human body language as well which is a part of the communication process between two different species. But routines play a vital role.

The role of anal sacs in the domestic cat

Last night, at about midnight my cat came onto my bed. He smelled horribly and the smell could only have been from the fluid produced by his anal sacs. The fluid is described as foul-smelling and is similar to the secretions produced by a skunk. I would not describe it as that bad to be perfectly honest but it is strong smelling. 

Gabriel keeping cool by resting on a book. Photo: MikeB

Just before he arrived on my bed there was a loud noise outside and the sound of his cat flap closing. I noticed three foxes in the back garden. They were young foxes and their mother was I believe in attendance but I could not see her. It appears that my cat had to navigate through these foxes to get into his home and in doing so felt insecure and deposited faeces as a marker within his territory. The fluid from anal sacs is channelled into faeces when scent marking through a small duct which opens just inside the anus.

In fact, I think as he arrived on my bed, he wanted to deposit more faeces within his territory which would have meant on my bed but he didn't because he couldn't produce any more. That is the role of anal sacs in domestic cats as I see it: scent marking - a calling card. He wanted to remind the foxes that he owned this territory. Foxes scent mark too with urine and feces. In my cat's example this is a competition between him and the foxes.

Sometimes the anal glands become inflamed because of infection when the fluid inside becomes impacted. It is thicker and darker in colour and it plugs up the anal gland. It can be removed (expressed) by a veterinarian with gentle pressure. Bacteria present in faeces can travel up the ducts referred to and enter the glands. Normally the bacteria are flushed out when the secretions pass through the ducts but if the glands are impacted the fluid does not flow normally leading to an ideal medium for bacterial growth and the infection. The end result is an anal sac abscess. They are painful and hot. Left untreated it can lead to anal sac rupture. Puss is emitted and it can spread into surrounding tissues causing further damage.

A good sign that your cat is suffering from an anal gland infection is when she scoots along the ground. This is when a cat rests her anus on the ground and then drags herself along to alleviate irritation in her bottom. She will also lick or bite her bottom or tail. It is very painful for a cat.

In addition to expressing the solidified material in the anal glands, antibiotics are administered together with anti-inflammatories and pain relief.

Gluconeogenesis in cats

I'm referring to domestic cats and the process called gluconeogenesis. What is it? All animals including the domestic cat require glucose, which is a simple carbohydrate. It is essential in terms of the cat's metabolism and glucose fuels the brain. Cats do not appear to be able to tolerate a high-carbohydrate diet but they still need glucose. Because they are obligate carnivores, they don't get it from dietary sources of carbohydrate. And therefore, it is produced through the process called gluconeogenesis which is the metabolic process in which the cat produces glucose. The glucose is released into the bloodstream to be carried to the body's tissues. "Metabolic pathways in the liver and kidneys use other nutrients to produce glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis" - Linda P Case: The Cat. It's Behaviour Nutrition & Health. It is said that cats are in a constant state of gluconeogenesis because of their unique diet.

Breakdown of the word. 'Gluco' refers to glucose. 'Neo' refers to new and 'genesis' refers to the creation of something.

Lizard wants to mate with his cat buddy. She doesn't understand.

The title sounds implausible. However, when you watch this short video you see the lizard head-bobbing towards his cat companion. The lizard's name is Rick and the cat's name is Kitten". I don't know if Kitten is female but I think that she is. They were both adopted from a rescue centre and they have been together for eight years according to their human caretakers. They live in Howell, Michigan, USA. And the video was made on January 28, 2021.

Lizard proposes to cat buddy and wants sex. She does not understand.
Lizard proposes to cat buddy and wants sex. She does not understand.

You see Rick insistently head-bobbing in close proximity to Kitten. My research indicates that that means that a male lizard wants to mate with a female lizard. It can also be a sign of dominance and aggression but this is inapplicable in this instance because they are buddies (my interpretation).

So, we are left with the conclusion that Rick wants to have sex with his cat companion who does not understand lizard language and therefore cannot respond in the appropriate way which is to bob their head in response. She looks blankly at him which makes me wonder how Rick responded. How does he take a rejection like that? Will he be upset and become aggressive? We don't know because the video stops short of what happens next.

I think that it is a fascinating video of an interspecies relationship because the Rick is trying to communicate in his language to a different species which begs the question whether he understands that his friend is a different species. 

I believe that when animals are raised like this together for so many years, they regard the other as the same species. This makes sense in this instance because he believes that he can mate with a cat. He is seeing a lizard and he fancies her and he wants to make a family! And why not? It's just that it is not biologically possible for starters and of course she couldn't possibly entertain the idea. She'd be flattered though.

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