Friday, July 23, 2021

Free Covid test for cats and dogs in Seoul, South Korea

NEWS AND COMMENT-Seoul, South Korea: This is nice to see. There has been quite a lot of talk about cats and dogs creating a reservoir for the Covid virus. And the idea is that this reservoir may end up transmitting the virus from cats and dogs to people at some time in the future when people have managed to control and suppress the virus. Therefore, there is concern about cats and dogs catching the virus from people at this time.

And I suspect that the administrators of Seoul, Korea are aware of this potential and have decided to prevent cats and dogs getting the disease or preventing severe symptoms. However, it is also known that cats and dogs do not present with severe symptoms when they contract Covid. Therefore, I'm convinced that the administrators of this city are more concerned about curtailing the possibility of a reservoir forming in animals which would jeopardise their control of the virus.

Soeul, South Korea. Photo: Pixabay.

So can dog owners can request a free Covid test if their companion animals show symptoms and have had contact with infected humans. I suspect, by the way, that the infection rate in companion animals is higher than people imagine.

Only pets with symptoms which are the classic Covid symptoms such as coughing and breathing difficulties will be tested. And the authorities are asking people to apply the social distancing rules with regard to their pets. They want people to keep their dogs two metres away from other people when they are going for a walk.

Other cities and areas in the country are also planning to provide a test for companion animals. In the southern city of Jinju last month, a kitten became the first animal in South Korea to be confirmed as having the Covid virus. It is believed that the kitten caught the virus from a mother and/or her daughter who were among dozens of people infected when they attended a religious facility in the city.

South Korea has a high level of personal discipline among citizens which has helped the country do better than most others in managing the virus. This is another example of good policy.

P.S. South Korea has a reputation for eating cat and dog meat and killing them brutally. By Western standards this is unacceptable. It points to a very human-centric attitude. The Covid test is designed to protect people and has nothing to do with animal welfare.

"In Telangana/Hyderabad there is one subcaste of people who eat cats"

In Telangana/Hyderabad there is one subcaste of people who eat cats. Worst thing is they steal pet cats from neighbourhood and eat them. I've lost 2 cats so far.

The tweet below is a response to the tweet about a domestic cat seeing off a cobra. I don't believe the cat is truly confronting the cobra. But the response is interesting in that it states that some people in Hyderabad which is in the mid-south of India steal domestic cats for food. 

Location of Hyderabad, India.

And the guy who made the tweet has lost 2 of his cats this way. It is cat meat in India. I have written about this before. Who would have a cat in Hyderabad if people steal and eat them? I guess you'd have to keep them inside all the time but that is probably impractical. A subcaste is a subdivision of a caste. A caste is one of the traditional social classes into which people are divided in a Hindu society.

Note: Tweets sometimes die. If that has happened, I am sorry but I can't control it.

Does this domestic cat confront a venomous snake in Bangladesh?

You tell me if this domestic cat in Bangladesh successfully confronts a venomous snake which looks like a cobra to prevent the snake coming into the home. That is what the video maker says. Having watched the video I do not think that it's a correct assessment. It looks to me as if the cat is a little bit bemused by the presence of the snake. 

Cat confronts snake?
Cat confronts snake? Screenshot.

He just sits there looking and the state keeps its distance as well. Why should the snake want to come into the home? Perhaps snakes in Bangladesh do like to come into homes for food or whatever but I suspect not. I don't think that this is a true confrontation between cat and snake.

But that said, domestic cats have inherited the ability to confront snakes from their wildcat ancestor. Stakes are on the menu as our reptiles and insects. I'm not saying that this cat would succeed in beating the snake in a fight. I don't think they would but I also don't think that this cat presents a barrier to the snake in a deliberate act to protect the home. That is anthropomorphising in the cat and exaggerating. It's quite a nice video nonetheless because it shows a snapshot of Bangladeshi life which I quite like.

Cat has prevented Cobra from entering inside for nearly 30 min till the Snake Helpline reached the spot. Our cat is around 1.5 years old & live with us like a family member: Sampad K Parida
The sand cat is one of the cat species which is very adept at killing snakes and feeding on them.

Further, this cat is a Van-type cat because you can see the van markings on the forehead. This is very typical of the Turkish Van. Clearly cats from Turkey at some time in the long distant past made their way to Bangladesh with traders probably. Or they simply evolved by themselves in Bangladesh.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Cat coat colour and personality stereotyping

'You can't judge a cat by its colour' is the mantra to follow at a cat shelter. Adopters should spend time with cats at shelters and not prejudge using stereotyping. Some people judge domestic cats by their coat colour but there is little evidence that a cat's coat type and colour has an effect on personality. 

White cats stereotyped as aloof
Male white British Longhair cat bred in Russia by the Golden Leris cattery. Photo:  Питомник британских кошек Golden Leris located in Moscow, Russia. White cats seen as aloof.

It is anecdotal and stereotypes circulate on the internet. The trouble is that typecasting cats by their colour has implications at cat shelters. We know the colours which are the least popular such as black. Here are some more associations between colour and personality:
  • Orange cats (usually orange or red tabbies) are stereotyped as friendly;
  • Black, white and tricolour (tortoiseshell) cats are stereotyped as being antisocial;
  • Black cats are regarded as having less extreme character traits;
  • White cats are typecast as being aloof, shy, lazy, and calm;
  • Tortoiseshell cats are regarded as being intolerant ('catitude) and are more trainable.
The lead author of a study, Delgado, on this stereotyping said: "To date there is little evidence that these perceived differences between differently colored cats actually exist, but there are serious repercussions for cats if people believe that some cat colors are friendlier than others...".

Perhaps it is time for a definitive study on the link between coat type and color and the cat's personality if a link exists. 

Red tabbies are regarded as 'leadership material'! (my thoughts). 

Tortoiseshell and calico cats (tortoiseshell-and-white) cats are widely seen as having an attitude problem of sorts. 

Black cats are seen as bring bad luck. A stupid throwback to the Middle Ages. You'd think that by now people would have given up this absurd stereotype. 

Delgado and his fellow researchers used Craigslist to reach out to cat owners, requesting them to rate on a scale of 1 to 7 the personalities of black, white, bicolor, tricolor (tortoiseshell) and orange cats using the following traits: active, aloof, bold, calm, friendly, intolerant, shy, stubborn, tolerant and trainable. 

Most participants said that personality was an important factor in selecting a cat to adopt but coat color played an unconscious or conscious role in that choice. 

When more than one black cat is in a shelter adoption room few adoptions take place said Berkeley East Bay Humane Society (BEBHS) cat coordinator Cathy Marden.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The truth about tiger and lion cub petting

Tiger cub petting is immoral and exploitative
Tiger cub petting is immoral and exploitative. Screenshot.

This a cool BCR video on cub petting. Tiger cub petting seems innocent and cute to the unknowing but the backstory is horrible and cruel. It is all about financial profit at the expense of animal welfare. The cubs are commodities to be exploited. The private zoos which run tiger and lion cub petting are immoral. They have to be to do what they do. Tigers and lions are exploited terribly all over the world. The rarer they become - and they are becoming rarer in the wild - the more they are exploited. Rareness is very exploitable in the human world. And cuteness is easy to monetize too. 

Note: 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.

What happens to the cubs when they are 12 weeks old? They are no longer commodities. They are a burden on the expenses of these exploitative businesses. They don't want to feed and care for tigers if they can't make money. Are they killed? Probably. The parts are possibly sold to China where there is a constant demand for tiger and lion body parts to eat. It is quite mad as they believe that eating bits of tiger anatomy improves them; their health and their sex. Superstitious humans rooted in the past at the expense of animal welfare and wildlife conservation.

The two past masters of tiger cub petting are Jo Exotic and Tim Stark. They know each other. Joe Exotic is currently in jail serving a 22-year prison sentence for conspiracy to murder Carole Baskin whose business made the video on this page ironically. Joe Exotic mercilessly exploited lion and tiger cubs on his huge estate, his private zoo which was the largest in America until it was disbanded after he was sent to prison.

Tim Stark was also featured in the hit Netflix documentary series called Tiger King. He was one of the big cat exploiters in America. He's lost his livelihood. As I recall he voluntarily gave up his animals. Ironically, too, Jo Exotic's animals were taken over by Carole Baskin, I guess under a court order.


Tim Stark made millions with his baby tiger playtime sessions. National Geographic reports that many owners of cub-petting attractions in the United States are facing lawsuits or criminal charges. They say that court cases are challenging the legality of certain practices incorporated within these private zoos, such as tearing cubs from their mothers before they are weaned and allowing tourists to take selfies and bottle feed them.

The lawsuits cite a range of infractions such as illegally buying, selling and shipping endangered species nationwide, poor veterinary care, poor animal welfare, poor nutrition and unclean and unsafe housing et cetera.

The imprisonment of Jo Exotic and the end of his exploitative escapades has perhaps marked the beginning of the end of tiger and lion cub exploitation in the America.

Crisis developing in UK's veterinary profession

UK veterinary practices are going through a sort of mini-crisis in my opinion. The first big problem is that there appears to be a lot of new young veterinarians coming into the market and many of them are females. They don't want to work on farms putting their arms up the backside of cows while being ankle-deep in mud at 4 AM in the morning. They want to be in a nice, clean and warm veterinary clinic with their hands on a domestic cat. And new, young male vets probably prefer this too.

Crisis developing in UK's veterinary profession
 Crisis developing in UK's veterinary profession. Photo: Pixabay.

They say there's more money for a veterinarian working in a veterinary clinic on the high street somewhere compared to working with livestock in the countryside. That's the first issue and I suspect this is partly to do with the fact that more and more females are becoming veterinarians. It seems you have to be quite macho and male to deal with bulls and cows and the like.

Secondly, there is a shortage of veterinarians in the UK and therefore we have to import them from continental Europe. This is obviously helpful but do they have good enough English? Can they communicate properly to their clients? I'm not criticising them because I am sure they are as good as any other veterinarians but there is a language issue at the very least. And are they going to stick around?

Thirdly, independent veterinarians are being bought up by private equity companies. These are investors with pots of money looking to put their money somewhere. They pick on something profitable and leverage that business. They strip out the assets and essentially, they are looking to make a lot of money for themselves which sometimes translates to a poorer service.

Veterinarians are being driven by men in suits in the back office rather than the partners of independent veterinary practices whose sole objective is to serve the client and the patients. I would much rather deal with a private practice than a veterinary practice which is part of a large chain. All around where I live there are chain veterinarians. I don't like them. I don't like the way they monetise everything and focus on making money.


What I want is to meet a veterinarian in an independent practice who has at least 10 year's experience. I think that it is hard to meet that criterion in the UK. This is certainly the case where I live.

I would say that the profession is going through a kind of mini-crisis and it doesn't look good for companion animal guardians.

Another problem in terms of the cost of veterinary care is that vets tend to purchase more expensive diagnostic and treatment equipment. This means they charge more. And pet health insurance is expensive for what it does. It drives up the bills. I think people distrust pet health insurance. They would rather run their own insurance scheme by putting money to one side and ring-fencing it for a rainy day.

One farmer said that high street veterinary practices have jacked up their prices because they are owned by private equity firms in the city. And another said that he has to put down his own animals because he can't get a vet to do it for him.

Downing Street has added the veterinary profession to the Home Office's list of job shortages to allow recruiters to hire from overseas to fill this yawning gap.

Cat investigates new baby through sense of smell and brings many health benefits to the family

This is once again an example of how the domestic cat relies heavily upon their sense of smell to identify and investigate 'objects'. This family cat is relying almost solely on their sense of smell to investigate the new baby. She may recognise the body scent of her human companion on the baby. He sniffs all over the baby and in doing so when he gets near to the baby's head the baby starts moving. 

At that point he moves away to a safe distance and watches. There is curiosity and inquisitiveness but also a tinge of anxiety about what this new creature will bring to the home. I don't know what happened next but it is probably something good. I have seen many babies with cats together on beds. The general consensus is that babies are good for cats and vice versa.

Family cat relies on their sense of smell to investigate the new baby
Family cat relies on their sense of smell to investigate the new baby. Video screenshot.

Family cat retreats to a safe distance from baby as the baby moves after being sniffed by the cat
Family cat retreats to a safe distance from baby as the baby moves after being sniffed by the cat. Screenshot.

Babies' immune system and their reaction to allergies is enhanced by being in contact with a domestic cat. The cat seems to de-tune the baby's immune system so that it does not overreact and cause an allergic reaction. It makes the baby more robust in terms of allergens. That is the theory and its turns on its head the old wives' tale about babies being suffocated by cats.

Note: 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.

It's more than about allergens. A study found that children who lived with cats during the first year of their life became sick less often than kids who lived in homes where there are no pets. It basically states that cats (and dogs) help to improve a baby's defence systems. Previous studies had shown that owning a cat was linked to less risk of gastroenteritis in young children. The dirt and microbes brought indoors by companion animals can boost the number of helpful bacteria that live inside the body of a developing child.


And when the child grows up, they can enjoy the benefits of their cat reducing their stress levels and therefore their blood pressure. It is known worldwide that friendly physical contact with the family cat reduces stress in their human companion. It's a form of feline therapy and it has been proved in medical situations where people with mental health issues have improved after being allowed the company of a domestic cat.

Cats bring to a relationship a friendship and warmth without the complexities, betrayals and contradictions in which people invariably become enmeshed. A study from the United States revealed that owning a cat can even make the difference between life and death by reducing blood pressure and calming the overworked heart.

The family cat brings lifetime benefit to the human family. The story comes from Tokyo. The cat's name is Lonsdale.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Cat hoarding causes cruelty to kittens

Perhaps it goes without saying but this story from the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA), reminds us how the neglectful nature of cat hoarders leads to a huge amount of distress and cruelty to kittens who are brought into a disgusting and unhealthy world.

VOKRA was recently inundated with almost 2 dozen kittens and cats. Some of the female cats were pregnant which is another typical symptom of cat hoarding. Nothing is done to sterilise the cats which is the reason why they end up with so many and they are often severely neglected.

Karen Duncan, the co-founder of VOKRA paints a grim picture of how the kittens had barely survived. She said that if they had not been rescued, they could have died the next day. She said:

"We had to just sit here and comb all day getting the fleas out. Fleas were jumping directly on them, it was horrifying, actually."

The rescue centre has given them lots of vitamins and food because they were not only riddled with fleas but starving as well. Newborn kittens are already incredibly vulnerable when they are brought into the world even in a good home. Imagine how many kittens die quite soon after being born in the home of a cat order because the mother is unable to cope because she's too sick and the mentally ill person can't cope either.

Kitten rescued from a hoarder
Kitten rescued from a hoarder in Vancouver. Photo: Screenshot from CTV video.

VOKRA said that their veterinary bill is insane. I was looking for an actual figure but they don't reveal it. It will be shocking which is why cat rescues always reach out to the public when they are involved in rescuing a large number of cats and kittens from a hoarder.

The problem with this cat hoarding situation is that it is compounded by the back story which is the coronavirus pandemic. This rescue and others have been unable to do a lot of fundraising. And people don't have so much money to give because many are stretched quite thin.

And because the pandemic has reduced access to veterinary care it appears that some owners are reaching out to cat rescue such as VOKRA for help. And less cats are being sterilised which is going to lead to more pressure on cat rescues to pick up the pieces with unwanted cats procreating. This is also leading to more cats being dumped.

Duncan said that, "It's pretty horrific this year". They recently rescued a couple of brother kittens from a blackberry bush. A volunteer said that:

"They were just screaming their little heads off in the blackberry bushes it's pretty obvious that someone just dumped them there to be a little coyote snack, which is horrible."

Source: CTV News.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Elon Musk tweets that toxoplasmosis forces humans to create superhuman artificial intelligence

Elon Musk has suggested in a tweet on Twitter that the protozoan parasite toxoplasmosis, of which the domestic cat is the primary vector, is forcing humans to create superhuman artificial intelligence. That is the interpretation by the author of an article on The_Byte website.

Elon Musk
Photo by Steve Jurvetson on Wikipedia. 

Screenshot of the tweet. The originals sometimes go wrong a leave a link, no more.

I think he might have been a little bit stoned when he wrote this tweet because the underlined words (underlined by me) he has used don't make any sense at all to me. They are as follows:

Toxoplasmosis infects rats, then cats, then humans who make cat videos. AI trains achieves superhuman intelligence training on Internet cat videos, thus making toxoplasmosis the true arbiter of our destiny.

That has been interpreted as meaning that toxoplasmosis makes people create AI. I don't get it and I'm not sure the interpretation is correct because it's very unclear but I thought I'd pass it on.

The interesting aspects of his tweet is that the National Geographic tweeted that hyenas become more reckless when they've got toxoplasmosis which makes them more vulnerable to being killed by lions. And mice become more reckless when they contract toxoplasmosis which makes them more vulnerable to being eaten by cats. And then cats get toxoplasmosis from the mice. And then they shit toxoplasmosis oocysts and the cycle continues. The point that should be made, though, is that cats only pass toxoplasma gondii oocysts for a very short period of time. This point is often forgotten.

And indoor cats that are highly unlikely to get toxoplasmosis. Back to Elon Musk. I think he is a great guy but under an enormous amount of stress which is self-imposed. He probably goes home of an evening and has a few drinks to chill out (and more?!) and then heads for Twitter in a slight haze and taps out the words we see on this page. What do you make of it?

Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 allows for 5-year prison sentences for certain animal cruelty offences

I am republishing verbatim some of the explanatory notes of the above act which explains why it has come into existence. In summary the above act allows judges to apply much stiffer prison sentences to the crimes specified below in the bulleted table to a maximum of five years and an unlimited fine. The unlimited fine is unchanged.

Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 allows for 5-year prison sentences for certain animal cruelty offences
 Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 allows for 5-year prison sentences for certain animal cruelty offences

The above UK act "increases the maximum penalty for specific offences related to animal welfare in England and Wales from 29 June 2021. It does so by extending the maximum penalty, specified under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, of six months and/or an unlimited fine to a penalty of five years and/or an unlimited fine. These offences therefore become triable either way, and may be heard in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court.


".....the 2006 Act set out a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine for the more serious 'prevention of harm' offences. There are five such offences under section 32(1) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006:
  • causing unnecessary suffering (section 4, Animal Welfare Act 2006);
  • carrying out a non-exempted mutilation (section 5, Animal Welfare Act 2006);
  • docking the tail of a dog except where permitted (section 6(1) and 6(2), Animal Welfare Act 2006);
  • administering a poison to an animal (section 7, Animal Welfare Act 2006); and
  • involvement in an animal fight (section 8, Animal Welfare Act 2006). 
There were a number of cases related to these offences in which judges expressed a desire to impose a higher penalty than that which the 2006 Act provided for, prior to this Act passing. There was a particular desire to increase the penalties available in the case of crimes that relate to deliberate, calculating and sadistic behaviour."

The RSPCA has been lobbying for this change and they are understandable thrilled. They said:

"This is a landmark day for animals and animal welfare in England and Wales. For almost 200 years the RSPCA has been investigating animal cruelty and rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals. While we’ve seen vast changes in the way we keep animals during that time, as well as huge advances in legislation to better protect animal welfare, our sentences for animal abusers have long been letting our animals down. We’re absolutely thrilled that we’ve now reached this milestone moment and that courts will now have more flexibility to hand out sentences that better reflect the severity of the crimes they are dealing with and we hope the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act will act as a greater deterrent and help us cancel out cruelty once and for all."

The UK is a world leader with other countries such as Sweden on animal welfare laws protecting animals from abuse and cruelty. At the other end of the scale is China and some other Asian countries where there is either no animal welfare laws or poor enforcement. Without enforcement even the best laws are worse than useless. 

Cat says final goodbye by placing her paw in his hand

This is what the human companion and caretaker said of his cat on

I had to unexpectedly put my cat to sleep this morning. She was my best friend for 16 years and I loved her more than I love most people. As I said my final good-bye, she used her last ounce of strength to put her paw in my hand. I miss her so much. She lit up my life. Goodbye Holly Bear

They are great words. They sum of the feelings of genuine cat guardians on the loss of their cat when they pass over the rainbow bridge. It hurts to hell. 

Cat says final goodbye by placing her paw in his hand
Cat says final goodbye by placing her paw in his hand. Photo: Reddit user: u/Ohgood9002

The death of a cat companion can be slow. Elderly cats often die of conditions such as kidney disease which is quite a slow process. The cat's guardian has to make a very difficult decision about when to euthanise their cat. This is one of the hardest decisions a person has to make if they genuinely connect with their cat and have a good relationship. You don't want to do it too soon or too late. The decision is always about cat welfare and what is best for them. You should be with your cat when she is euthanized.

The moment leading up to euthanasia is stressful. It's a background stress in the life of a person and when the deed has been done there is this emptiness. The loss of a cat companion does leave a hole in the life of a person if they are living alone and have no partner living with them in their property.

But that's another story because this is about Holly Bear who said her final goodbyes with a gentle touch to the hand of her human companion. May she rest in peace. 


Sunday, July 4, 2021

Dictatorships Russia and China bonded by animal cruelty and belligerence

China is certainly a dictatorship. Russia is, in my view, a dictatorship dressed up as a democracy. China has no genuine animal protection laws. There is mass animal cruelty. There is change afoot because there are people in China who want to see change and animals protected. But for such a large country to have no overarching animal protection law is a scandal and it surprises me that they are not made pariahs internationally.

Dictatorships Russia and China bonded by animal cruelty
 Dictatorships Russia and China bonded by animal cruelty. The circus lions of Russia where they are exploited and kept under deplorable conditions and trained cruelly. Image: see credit bottom left.

Russia lives in the past. My research indicates that in 2010 there were no federal laws in Russia to protect animals. In 2014, Russia for the first time adopted an overarching animal welfare act Federal Law Number 498 but it seems to be defective and I would argue poorly enforced. There is mass fur farming which is inherently cruel and what prompted this post was the desire by Russia to hang onto the past and continue to use animals in circuses.

Below is a list of countries which have passed bans on the use of wild animals in circuses according to Stop Circus 

  • Austria
  • Bolivia 
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina 
  • Colombia 
  • Costa Rica 
  • Croatia Cyprus 
  • El Salvador
  • England 
  • Estonia 
  • Greece 
  • Guatemala 
  • Ireland 
  • Israel 
  • Luxembourg 
  • Macedonia 
  • Malta 
  • Mexico 
  • The Netherlands 
  • Paraguay 
  • Peru 
  • Romania 
  • Scotland 
  • Serbia 
  • Singapore 
  • Slovakia 
  • Slovenia

There is a growing movement in Russia to ban the exploitation of animals in circuses but they think their circuses are the best. There is a long tradition. The state-run company Rosgostsirk which, as I understand it, organises 38 static and five travelling services across the country received 1.3 billion rubles in state aid. The organisers of the circuses regard animal advocates as nutcases spreading myths. Their attitude is very similar to sport and trophy hunters who also like to entertain themselves with cruelty to animals.

My focus on circus animals in Russia was prompted by a story in the Mail Online in which the Saratov circus was opening after a Covid lockdown. They were very proud of their reopening but a vicious fight broke out between lions which scared the spectators. Some of them ran for the exit. The trainers gained control with sticks but the whole thing was unedifying and unpleasant. 

It highlighted the need for change. Lions and tigers in zoos are an outdated concept. The world has moved on. Russia refuses to move on which is why they are a pretty poor country with perhaps the biggest difference between the rich and the poor on the planet.

Note: 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.

The video above from the Mail Online shows the scuffle or fight that broke out between the lions. It is sad to see because these lions are kept in deplorable conditions, constantly caged up and moved from pillar to post. Everybody knows it is inherently cruel to do this to lions and tigers but the Russians don't seem to see it that way. 

They considered the reopening of the circus as a "splendid momentous event". One trainer Vladislav Goncharov admitted that many countries had banned live animal performances but he said that Russia will continue to have them because children come to the circus primarily to see animals and clowns. He said "We will support and popularise it."

Cruelty is pretty well essential if you're going to train circus animals. It is inherent in the process. It is so demeaning to see these magnificent lions treated like this. As one animal rights group spokesperson, Irina Novozhilova, said, "No circus conditions will be humane for one simple reason. Training goes hand-in-hand with cruelty. Circuses are always cruel beyond limits. And circuses with animals should be banned."

Russia and China need to wake up on animal rights and welfare. Their outdated attitude to animal welfare damages them internationally. It brands them as insensitive thugs. It is time for change in these dictatorships.

'Robbed your cat, come get it back': Video shows thugs snatching a 'terrified' cat and goading its owner

What appears to be a couple of feckless British louts in the UK stole an all-white domestic cat off the street and they appear to be blackmailing or teasing the owner in a video which I believe that they had posted online on social media. It is a theft by the look of it. They should be found and prosecuted.

The thug carries the cat around in a bad way by the shoulders while laughing and goading the owner. They say that they robbed the person's cat and they tease the owner to try and get their cat back. The cat's name is Biscuit. The location is Newbury town centre. The clip has been posted on Snapchat. 

It caught the attention of the locals. The owner of the cat is Sophie Lightowlers. She saw the video but at the time did not realise it was her cat. She spotted it on a Facebook page. As mentioned, the idiotic thug has grabbed the cat by the shoulders and is laughing and goading saying: "Robbed your cat, come get it back."

'Robbed your cat, come get it back': Video shows thugs snatching a 'terrified' cat and goading its owner
'Robbed your cat, come get it back': Video shows thugs snatching a 'terrified' cat and goading its owner 

Sophie said that when she first saw the video it made her feel physically sick. She was disgusted that somebody would treat any animal like that and then suddenly realised that it was her cat. Her sentiments turned from disgust to anger and rage.

She said that her Biscuit is a particularly friendly cat. Her temperament allows her to be abused like this because she is very accepting. The video was posted to Facebook by Sophie's friend, Lauren Cayleigh. She wants the men involved to hand themselves into the local authorities.

The men have not apologised or tried to produce a reason for their bad behaviour. The thugs have shown no remorse for their actions. Biscuit is back with her owner now. She was a bit traumatised but she's fully recovered. 

The incident has been reported to the police and the RSPCA. My understanding is that the Daily Mail has been in contact with the men in the video for a comment which is yet to be received. I don't know how they figured out who the men were. It must have been apparent by digging around on social media.

Blind black cat glued to gray cat companion for guidance

This is a stunningly beautiful little video for me because of the closeness of the bond and support given. It contains so much that is human-like. The assistance of one cat given to another who's disabled. That is a human characteristic - for some. And the mutual support is very typical of human behavior.

Note: 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.

And it is just great to see cats in such a strong relationship. It is like love. Maybe true love in the truest sense. 

It is not uncommon to see cats who are very friendly with each other. However, this is friendship maxed out. It is more than simple friendship. It is a very close bond. It is about chemistry between the two. 

Does the guiding cat get as much out of the friendship as the blind black cat? Is the guide cat consciously doing some altruistic? Or is it about mutual support? 

If anyone thinks cats don't have feelings; think again please. In many ways they are similar to humans. And yet we must always respect them as cats. If we try and interact with cats as little humans the relationship may go wrong or it won't be as good as it can be.

The video at the top of the page is uploaded to Google servers so God willing it will not disappear over time. Enjoy. 


This is the video again. It is not playing properly.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

What wild cats are black?

There are no wild cats whose normal coat is black. But please read on. The question in the title is asking if there are any wild cats who are by default black. I will rephrase that: are there any wild cat species whose normal and original coat is black. The answer to that question is NO. 

But there are quite a few wild cat species whose normal coat is a typical brown spotted or striped coat but because of a genetic mutation it turns almost black, a sort of dark charcoal with ghost spots and other markings. These cats are called melanistic cats. The condition caused by the genetic mutation is called melanism. 

Black bobcat trapped in Canada
Black bobcat trapped in Canada. Photo: in public domain.

And there are quite a few cats, as mentioned, that are normally not black but sometimes they are. From the top of my head (not a comprehensive list), I can think of several such as the serval, Geoffroy's cat, the jaguar, the bobcat, the leopard, the mountain lion a.k.a. the puma, and even the tiger, as there are reports, I guess from long ago, of black tigers but you won't see them nowadays and nobody nowadays has seen one. I can remember seeing a photograph a tiger with very dark stripes so perhaps I'm wrong but this is not a genuine black tiger. 


Mel and Fiona Sunquist in their book Wild Cats of the World write: "Black melanistic forms occur in many members of the cat family but while there are accounts of black tigers, no skins or museum specimens exist. Pocock lists three records of black tigers, all of which are reported from the same general area of Myanmar, north-eastern India, and Bangladesh within 600 km of each other". I have taken the liberty of quoting verbatim for complete accuracy.


Below are a couple of photographs of black wild cats. The first is one of an individual serval whose normal colour is dark black spot against a yellowish background and in the photograph, it is black because it is melanistic. The one below it is of a black leopard a.k.a. black panther. There are others as mentioned and these photographs are here just to illustrate the page.

Black serval. Photo: George Benjamin.
Black serval. Photo: George Benjamin.

Black leopard. Image by Michael Drummond from Pixabay
Black leopard. Image by Michael Drummond from Pixabay 

Domestic cats recognize the sound of their name says scientist (we know it already)

OPINION: Cat owners don't need a scientist to tell them that their cat recognises the sound of the name. Newsweek tells us in an article of June 30 that a Japanese scientist found that domestic cats recognise the sound of their name. The article is presented as some sort of eureka moment but it simply isn't. 

For centuries cat owners have been talking to the cat companions, calling their name to come and they dutifully came. It's pretty obvious that domestic cats understand the sound of their name even if they don't understand the word or their name per se. 

Cats do understand the sound of their names like dogs. Neither cat nor dog understand the meaning of their name and that they are sentient beings. Neither are self-aware.
Cats do understand the sound of their names like dogs. Neither cat nor dog understand the meaning of their name and that they are sentient beings. Neither are self-aware. Pic in public domain.

It's all about the sound especially when spoken by their owner. In fact, it is probably fair to say that it is essential that their owner makes the sound because the way a person sounds in saying words is important in terms of a domestic cat's recognition of those sounds.

The study referred to is by behavioural scientist Atsuko Saito from Sophia University in Tokyo. The study is called: "Vocal recognition of owners by domestic cats" and it is published in the journal Animal Cognition. In fact, it was published in 2013 so it has been around for quite a long time. A further study titled "Domestic cats discriminate their names from other words" was published in 2019 in Scientific Reports. It looks at the responses of individual cats to their names.

Cats responded to the sound of their name by meowing or body language such as moving their heads or tails and sometimes vocalising. Once again this is not something new for cat owners. I am one of many millions of cat owners who talk to their cat all the time. In fact, the sound of a cat owner's voice is far more important to cats than simply saying their cat's name.

In a genuinely loving relationship between cat and person, cats respond very positively to the sound of their human companion's voice. This is because it is comforting and reassuring. It's almost as good as being petted from the cat's standpoint. Like many other owners I sometimes whisper sweet nothings into my cat's ear at very close range. I know he likes it because he looks at me with a slow blink asking for more.

It's when you combine something like flea combing and warm reassuring sounds that your cat gets the maximum benefit from their interactions with you.

The Japanese study also found that when strangers said their cat's name, they were less responsive but still appeared to recognise the sound. This confirms what I've just stated above. The reason why cats don't respond quite so positively to a stranger saying their name is because the sound is slightly different to that of their owner. Domestic cats are very acutely attuned to frequency of sounds. There is obviously a specific frequency and tone to a cat owner's voice which is registered very precisely in their cat's memory.

The Japanese scientist thinks, like me, that cats are unable to be self-aware or self-conscious. She said: "There is no evidence that cats have the ability to recognise themselves like us". This means that their recognition of their name is different to when humans recognise the sound of their name. Humans recognise their name by its meaning. They know that it's a word which is a reference to them. Cats can't do this because they don't understand the English language or any other language. They are not linguists and not self-aware but they are highly tuned to sounds as they are to smells and visuals especially at dusk in the dark conditions.

Lastly, commonsense states that cats respond to the sound of the name because they associate the sound with something positive and pleasant, normally food, a cuddle or perhaps play.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Cats and dogs often catch Covid when their owners are infected

The word "often" in the title is a bit startling. It was known that cats can get the disease from their owners but until recently it seems we did not know how common this was. But now we do because according to research at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, six cats and seven dogs tested positive for the disease and 54 pets were found to have antibodies to the disease out of a total of 310 pets tested in 196 households. 54 pets out of a total of 310 is 17%. The research indicates that 17% of cats and dogs get the disease from their owners if their owners have suffered from the disease.

Cats can get Covid from their owners in bed
Cats can get Covid from their owners in bed. Photo: Photo: crisisangels, via lorenzens-soil.

This I think is useful information. It indicates that, as stated, it is quite common for owners to transmit the disease to their cats and dogs. It makes you wonder whether the virus might become a reservoir in those companion animals and pass it to visitors to the owners' homes. I'm sure this is being considered by scientists.

Disappointingly, the director of the University's Veterinary Microbiological Diagnostic Centre said that the purpose of the research was to protect people not the animals. He said that humans rather than pet health was the main concern for the researchers. I don't like that. I wouldn't like that because I'm an animal advocate. I can't see why he can't be equally concerned that animals and people. What is wrong in saying that?

He did go on to say that "if you have Covid, you should avoid contact with your cat or dog, just as you would with other people". This is not going to happen. One reason is because people just don't keep up-to-date with research on Covid such as the research I'm referring to here. Another reason is that people cannot stay away from their cats and dogs because they are too important to them.

The good thing, as mentioned in earlier articles is that pets tend to be asymptomatic or at worst, they display very mild Covid symptoms. And all the research points to the transmission of disease from people to people and people to animals but not animals to people. Although, I suspect that when further research is done on that they will discover that companion animals transmit the disease to people. Watch this space.

The researchers say that, "We can't say there is a 0% risk of owners catching Covid from their pets. At the moment the pandemic is still driven by human-to-human infections, so we just wouldn't detect it."

The research also found that when pets sleep on the bed of their owners, they are more likely to catch the virus from their owners. It might work in the other direction as well. A lot of people let their cats sleep with them at night as I do. I don't think this information will change their habits. Those that don't allow it will be reinforced by this information.

Dorothee Bienzle, a professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Guelph said tellingly, "If someone has Covid-19 there is a surprisingly high chance they will pass it on to their pet. Cats, especially those that sleep on their owner's bed seem to be particularly vulnerable."

She recommends people keep away from their pets! It won't happen so don't bother to mention it.

Death toll mounts to 284 for cats suffering from pancytopenia linked to cat food

UNITED KINGDOM-NEWS AND COMMENT: is reported today that some 443 domestic cats have been recently diagnosed with pancytopenia of which 284 have sadly died. You may have heard and indeed you should have heard about the UK pet food recall of a long list of dry cat foods sold at Sainsbury's and Pets at Home. The Pets at Home own brand food AVA is affected. If you've not read about this then please click on this link where you can find further links to the foods that have been recalled.

Sushi died of pancytopenia after eating Pets at Home AVA dry cat food. She was actually euthanized at a vets. Photo: Mrs Kenny.
Sushi died of pancytopenia after eating Pets at Home AVA dry cat food. She was actually euthanized at a vets. Photo: Mrs Kenny.

This is an update and it is a depressing one. Pancytopenia is a killer. It is a disease that causes low blood counts of red cells, white cells and platelets. It appears that the disease affects the bone marrow where the cells are created. Pancytopenia affects people as well and there are many possible causes such as cancer, bone marrow disorders, infections, medicine side effects, environmental toxins and autoimmune disorders. But in this instance, it appears that there is a common thread running through all these cats affected which is the food that they have eaten.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, in a tweet, state that the common symptoms include lethargy and unexplained bleeding. In one of the first reports of a cat contracting the disease, the symptom was bleeding from the nose and ears. And in another early report the owner said that her cat went down very quickly from being apparently healthy to dying within one day.

The link between the foods listed and the disease is still being investigated. This is a multi-agency investigation with the following organisations working together: Royal Veterinary College, Animal Plant and Health Agency, other government departments across all nations of the UK, local authorities, the pet food supply chain including the ultimate manufacturers of the food, Fold Hill Foods Limited.

At this stage they say that there is no firm evidence to confirm the link. What's unusual about pancytopenia is that although it appears to be fairly common in humans it is rare enough in cats for the disease not to be listed in the index of my extensive reference book on feline health: Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook third edition which has over 600 pages.

If you own a cat and you live in the UK you really have to check your cat's food and cross-reference it with the list of recalled foods (click on link above and please do your own research in case the list has been extended).

Update: July 24, 2021: this is a rather feeble update. There is still no firm connection between these foods and Pancytopenia. But they've found mycotoxins in the food. The investigation continues.

Brothers throw birthday cake at chasing leopard to scare it away

INDIA-NEWS AND COMMENT: Two brothers, Firoz and Sabir Mansuri, were on their motorbike heading towards a birthday party for Firoz's son in Madhya Pradesh when a leopard came out of a sugarcane field and tried to attack them. Firoz was the driver while Sabir was the pillion passenger carrying the cake. He said that when times are desperate you do what you can to survive and what occurred to him was to throw the cake at the leopard who was following them for over 500 m. It did the trick.

Brothers throw birthday cake at chasing leopard to scare it away
 Brothers throw birthday cake at chasing leopard to scare it away

The cake hit the leopard, distracting it and it disappeared back into the fields whence it had come. Comment: leopards not infrequently come into conflict with people in India because of the large number of people in India and there are quite a few leopards as well. We are told that leopard numbers in India have grown by more than 60% between 2014 and 2018 to almost 13,000. I'm surprised to read this but even without this growth in numbers you will notice on the Internet that there is a lot of leopard-human conflict in India. Leopards tend to go into urban environments where they are attacked by a mob of men normally. It is not nice to see to be honest.

And I believe that you get testosterone fuelled men wanting to show off so they have a go at single-handedly attacking the leopard. Not all leopards are large and highly dangerous. Female leopards or sub-adult leopards can be quite small in comparison to what people think they are.

Although, Sabir said that they escaped death with their birthday cake. I'm not sure that they would have been killed by this leopard. There have been man-eating leopards in the past, back in the old days when there were "white hunters" tracking maneaters but they are rare nowadays. Or at least the Indian news media does not tell us much about these attacks.

Normally, we read about leopards falling into wells and kind people extracting the animal from the well with great difficulty. They then release the leopard back into the wild. Leopards are the fourth largest cat after the jaguar, lion and tiger. They are similar in size to the mountain lion.

Conflict with humans

In 2002, Mel and Fiona Sunquist reported about the conflict between leopards and humans in their book Wild Cats of the World. They say that conflicts exist in many different ways but most commonly in the form of leopards killing domestic stock. Whenever leopards live close to humans, they end up attacking and killing livestock such as sheep, goats and other livestock. They also attack and kill dogs in quite large numbers. Occasionally they kill people. In April 1989 the newspaper Rising Nepal said that "local people had stoned to death a leopard which had killed a man collecting wood in the forest in western Nepal."

Genuine man-eating leopards i.e. those who are habituated to killing people are rare as mentioned. Man-eating leopards are much rarer than man eating tigers. Because leopards are bold and stealthy, once they have a taste for human blood, they can be formidable and claim a large number of victims.

Some citizens of India fear man-eating leopards more than tigers partly because leopards are bold enough to break into their homes to kill their victims inside. One famous maneater, the Leopard of Rudraprayag, killed 125 people. The hunter turned conservationist Jim Corbett who has a park named after him, was called upon to hunt down the Panar leopard which was credited with having killed 400 people! Despite man eating leopards being hard to track and kill, he was successful.

Plattsburgh man commits a crime for looking after feral cats

COMMENT: I think that the Plattsburgh city council have got this entirely wrong. Plattsburgh is in New York state as I recall. They have a local ordinance which states that if you feed cats on your property you are deemed to own those cats. But that seems irrelevant in this instance! That's because the guy was feeding feral cats under a TNR program on, I guess, public property. I'm also told that the city code states that feeding feral cats is a violation level offence whatever that means. Perhaps he was feeding them on his property but we are not told that.

Plattsburgh man commits a crime for looking after feral cats
 Plattsburgh man commits a crime for looking after feral cats. Pic in public domain. Sorry for the poor image quality.

The upshot is that this guy, Mike Clowney, has been told to appear before the local court because he's been feeding feral cats as part of a TNR program. He's been doing it for more than a decade. He attends the cats twice a day every day. He is a dedicated volunteer providing a good service to the community I would argue.

He said that they would have to put him in prison if they want to stop him helping the feral cats within his community.

As reported on Yahoo News the picture is highly unclear. The reporting is bad in my opinion because I just don't know what law is applicable in this instance. Under what law is this man being charged with a crime? I would doubt that there is any law applicable in Plattsburgh which gives the city the authority to punish this man for helping out in a TNR program. I would expect the case to be dropped for that reason. This appears to be a mistake by the authorities.

He wasn't arrested but has been asked to attend court as mentioned. Apparently, his violation of the local ordinance comes under the Pigeons and Other Wild Animals section of the City Code. Other volunteers engaged in TNR programs are worried that the language of the ordinance is going to affect them. They think that it may deem them to be owners of the feral cats that they look after.

The law was not intended to impinge upon the activities of TNR programs. It's a ridiculous mistake and I'm sure adjustments will be made. Mike Clowney said that TNR programs really work and that this local law might slow TNR work. He said that it will discourage people from helping. He is not discouraged however. But other people will be. He spent years finding new homes for feral kittens. He's doing council work! He's contributing to the amenity of the community in which he lives. To punish him for that is mindless.

Cats must have negative Covid test before entering India

The Indian government has made it mandatory for members of the cat family to have a negative test for Covid before they are allowed into the country. This includes domestic cats to the big cats, in fact any cat! The new rules also include gorillas. The objective is obvious, namely to try and minimise the spread of the disease in the country. It is the first of its kind. 

It's an interesting rule because the experts have consistently stated that there is no evidence that cats transmit the disease to people despite the fact that that it is a zoonotic disease. Zoonotic diseases are those that can be transmitted between humans and animals and vice versa.

Cats must have negative Covid test before entering India
Cats must have negative Covid test before entering India

So, I guess this rule has been enacted out of an abundance of caution, as the politicians say. The government states that large cats and gorillas are "having high susceptibility of infection against natural Covid-19 infection". The information for this they say comes from the World Animal Health Organisation Technical Fact Sheet.

The rule will be in place until the pandemic has ended. The negative test must be no older than three days. The world knows that India is going through a surge in infections for Covid. Their reported rate of infection and deaths are highly misleading. They are heavily underreported. The families of people who die of Covid do not report the matter. These people are not taken to hospital. There is no record of them dying. They are burnt on funeral pyres. We see them in car parks.

It is entirely wrong for the news media to list comparisons of infections and deaths on a country-by-country basis because each country reports this data differently. If there was a uniform reporting system you can compare the data but this is not the case.

The UK, for example, states that if anybody dies within 28 days of getting Covid their death certificate states that they died of Covid! There is no other country on the planet that is so generous in his assessment of death by Covid! And yet the UK is constantly criticised the high death rates. I'm digressing.

Big cats and zoos have been known to get Covid from their zookeepers. Domestic cats and dogs have contracted Covid but we don't know the numbers but they are very low. It is a minor issue in controlling the virus. Although some scientists believe that animals may become a reservoir for the virus when it has been quelled by social distancing and vaccinations.

I would expect further action to take place both in India and in other countries with respect to how we deal with zoo and companion animals. There is a call for vaccinating animals against the virus and in Russia they do have a vaccination for that purpose. But can we trust Russian vaccinations? Russian citizens do not trust their own vaccine which is why they have an incredibly poor rate of take-up of inoculations against the virus in Russia. I'm digressing again!

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