Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Is your cat this affectionate? Barn cat life may be the best.

Big Puddin is a barn cat and he is very affectionate. It made me think if some or a lot of cats might prefer the life of a barn cat with the added freedoms and a lifestyle that is near the original when the wildcat was first domesticated. I feel that a barn cat's life is a good one. They are cared for by a person but live a more natural life and they have other animals to befriend. You'll see lots of interspecies friendships on farms particularly with horses. I've seen a huge range of cat-to-another animal friendships.

Puddin is an affectionate barn cat
Puddin is an affectionate barn cat. Is it partly because he lives in a barn? Screenshot.

RELATED: Barn Cat Pictures.

To run the video, you may have to click on the play button twice! Sorry, High tech blog.

For some domestic cats the modern human environment might be too sterile. Cats are inherently programmed to enjoy nature and the outdoors. They adapt to indoor life and many people want domestic cats keep inside permanently to protect the cats and the wildlife but they miss one massive point; the elephant in the room. Almost no homes with full-time indoor cats are customised to suit the cat. The environment is not 'enriched' as the experts say. It is entirely made by humans for humans. When indoor/outdoor cats are confined to the home for good reasons they enter a sterile world without the feeling, smells and sights of nature; the sensory experience provided by nature. For me this is not good enough.

RELATED: The big flaw that is never admitted in keeping cats indoors full-time.

Almost no one wants to invest in making their home suitable for their cat who is referred to as a family member. Clearly not a family member afforded equality of status, however. This is the big flaw in the push to get cats inside the home to protect birds and small mammals and marsupials. And it is hardly ever talked about except by me.

If we are going to keep cats indoors, can we please invest in a lot of alterations to the home to make it enjoyable for cats to live in as well as humans? I know the response will be NO. May be all domestic cats should be barn cats then. They are working cats as well as human companions. A neat arrangement. This may make them more appreciative of human company and therefore make them more friendly.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Pet oxygen mask use for the first time by firefighters in London house fire

NEWS AND COMMENT: It seems strange to me that this is apparently the first time that a specially designed custom-fitting oxygen mask has been used by firefighters in the UK on a cat. Or perhaps it is the first time it's been used in London, UK. The report is unclear on that. However you look at it, it appears that the UK is well behind America. I have read many reports on American news media of custom-designed pet oxygen masks used by firefighters although I suspect they are not used across the country.

Pet oxygen mask use for the first time in London house fire by firefighters
Pet oxygen mask use for the first time in London house fire by firefighters. Photo: PA.

In this instance, the oxygen masks were donated by not-for-profit organisation Smokey Paws. They can be used on cats, dogs as well as smaller animals such as snakes and mice. The masks will be carried on fire engines in Hammersmith, Richmond, Paddington and Battersea as part of a pilot scheme. If it is a success the pet oxygen masks will be rolled out to fire stations across London.

The introduction of pet oxygen masks appears to be a recognition by firefighters in the UK that pets are an important part of the family and it is inappropriate nowadays to improvise by using oxygen masks designed for humans which will clearly be less effective.

Station officer Nathan Beeby who was at the fire on Friday when the mask was used for the first time said: "Crews did a great job in challenging conditions to tackle this house fire and then were able to focus on the pets they had rescued. Having something specially designed made so much difference as the mask is properly sealed around the animal's muzzle and all the oxygen is going into their lungs. The crews all thought it was a great piece of equipment that was easy-to-use with the training they had all received, quick to get to work with and ultimately saved the cat's life. Having the specialist equipment there also put the occupier at ease and they were really happy with the outcome."

For a cat and animal lover it is great to see concern for animals in house fires. In my experience of reading news media articles about house fires and the rescue of pets from them, it is often the case that the cats don't get out but humans do. This is understandable because the first and instinctive desire of a human is to get out to safety and not to find their cat beforehand, which may jeopardise their life.

Pet oxygen masks of various sizes
Pet oxygen masks of various sizes. Image: PA.

It makes you think though. For example, anybody can have 10 cats in a house. There are no laws against it. But perhaps there should be a law which states that anybody who is 10 cats in a house should have a sprinkler system! That might sound extraordinary or ridiculous but, in that house, there are going to be at least 11 sentient beings, 10 of which are dependent upon the remaining one, the human caregiver. If that house goes up in flames, a sprinkler system would save lives.

In the UK there are quite heavy rules governing landlords who rent out houses of multiple occupation i.e. in-house conversion in which there might be 10 families. There will be all kinds of considerations to help protect the lives of the occupiers in an emergency. Firstly, I don't see much difference between that and a home with 10 cats in it.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Not all domestic cats are equal in their athleticism, confidence or intelligence

This is a popular video on Twitter which reminds us that not all domestic cats are equal in their athleticism or is it something else? They appear not to be equal in terms of their athleticism but perhaps they are not the same in terms of their personalities or intelligence.

2 types of cat
2 types of cat. Screenshot.

Each is an individual. Some cats are incredibly athletic while others are a little more clumsy but nonetheless very endearing. We don't mind if our cat is not athletic, we love him or her just the same. By and large domestic cats are very competent athletes. 

The difference in this video may partly be due to the differences in intelligence between the two cats. Or perhaps it is more likely that there is a difference in confidence. 

The first cat is less confident than the second. The first cat needs to climb up onto that crossbar and then haul himself over whereas the second cat is confident enough to target that tiny space and place their forepaws precisely on that crossbar and then jump off. 

This requires a high level of precision and precision requires confidence. We know that there is a difference in the domestic cat in respect of their confidence levels, which expressed another way means that some cats are outgoing while others are more timid. This is an embedded video from Twitter. Very often they stop working but a link remains to the video on Twitter itself. If that has happened, I apologise but simply click on the link and you should be able to see the video which I think is amusing and instructive.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Is your cat "just a roommate" or do you get "unconditional love"?

Me and my cat at dawn in the garden on a deck chair enjoying the sun and smells of summer. Selfie by MikeB. Yes, I know I look a mess.

It is up to us to create a relationship with our cat within which they can express their deep friendship with us. We dictate the terms of the relationship. For example, find out what they particularly like doing and enjoy and give it to them. My cat likes me to hold my hand at the back of his head. I do it all the time for him. He feels better and we are closer.

My cat likes me to place my hand at the back of his head
My cat likes me to place my hand at the back of his head. I do it for him and it strengthens our bond. Image: MikeB.

On the website there is a discussion about the states of the USA and whether they are cat or dog states. And it leads to a difference in the relationship that people have with their dogs and cats. One commenter, Christopher, said "Cats are just roommates" but that dogs give their owners "unconditional love".

I do not recognise this description of the domestic cat in my relationships with cats over the years. I recognise the general tone of discussion about cats and dogs and that cats are said to be independent and dogs are much closer to their owners. I just don't think that it is true. Domestic cats are not independent or stand-offish. 

Just this minute while I am dictating this, he has come up to me and sat down next to my computer on my lap. He said hello in a cute meow. He's just stretched out his left paw to touch the computer. He is settling in. He wants to be near me. He loves me. I love him. The relationship that I have with my cat is not exceptional. Many millions of cat caregivers have exactly the same relationship.

Perhaps cats give the impression that they don't provide unconditional love but if you have a proper relationship with a domestic cat companion you will have as good a relationship as if it is with a dog. I get masses of unconditional love from my cat.

He comes up to me all the time and constantly head butts me, talks to me, wants to jump on my lap and he stays there for a long time. He's constantly lying all over me. We have conversations. and go for walks together outside. For example, when I go and buy the newspaper in the morning, he walks along with me. It's a bit dangerous but he stops a quarter of the way there and hides under a bush until I return. But he wants to be with me. We have a close relationship.

It is up to each individual to generate this close relationship with their cat companion. If you haven't got it, dare I say, you are failing. Or perhaps you don't want a close relationship with your cat. Perhaps you like the fact that you can keep a bit of distance and freedom. But I don't really get that either because if you have a cat, you have them for companionship so why keep a distance from them?

It is my belief that it is the human who runs the relationship. It is the human who dictates the tone of the relationship and it is up to the human to elicit from their cat companion the friendship and unconditional love that they can provide them.

Janet from Brookline agrees with me. She said "Cats have a deep reservoir of affection without the slavish behaviour of dogs". P.S. I like dogs too.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

It does not work to trap and euthanize coyotes to protect outdoor domestic cats

It does not work to trap and euthanise coyotes to protect indoor-outdoor domestic cats because of the vacuum effect. It is the same effect which makes it inefficient to try and eradicate feral cats by killing them.

Biologist Rebecca Barboza, said that trapping and killing coyotes often has the opposite effect of the desired objective because it increases coyote population in the area from which the targeted coyotes have been removed.

A pair of urban coyotes in Palos Verdes. Photo by Michael Hakimi.

What is called "lethal control of coyote populations" is ineffective or not very effective because of the increasing coyote numbers which follows. The experts say that neighbouring coyote packs recognise that a space has been opened and they fill it.

What dictates coyote populations is the supply of food i.e. the food source and whether it is adequate and good plus competitors and available space.

I guess that there may be a temporary and immediate reduction in the death of domestic cats through coyote predation if the coyotes that are killing the cats have been targeted and killed. But this is not a long-term solution on my understanding.

And this weakness in method of trying to protect indoor/outdoor domestic cats from being preyed upon by coyotes is supported by another biologist working for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

This begs the question as to what can be done if there is an unacceptable number of coyotes occupying a human settlement or returning to that settlement over and over again. This is what is happening in Manhattan Beach in California.

The Manhattan Beach City Council is looking for a trapper of coyotes (followed by euthanasia) because citizens of that city want something done about them as they describe an invasion resulting in the death of at least one cat and probable deaths of several other cat companions.

One resident, Kristin Muller, told the council that she has lost three cats in two months to coyote attacks. She says that they return over and over again to her home and pick off the cats one by one. They tried defending their cats by putting out gallons of wolf urine to scare away the coyotes to no avail.

She says that she knows the coyotes are killing her cats because they are left on the ground half eaten. And it is incredibly distressing for her to see this for obvious reasons. She says they come back night after night because they learn where the food is.

Despite the advice, the council is going to hire a trapper. It would be nice to know what happens in the long term.

Coyotes are one of the most adaptable animal species on the planet. They have thrived in the US over the past 100 years and expanded from the states in the west to every state in the US except Hawaii. This is because predators of coyotes such as wolves and large wild cats (such as the puma I presume) have almost disappeared or the numbers have greatly reduced. This has allowed coyotes to expand and it is believed that there are between 250,000 and 750,000 coyotes in California.

Coyotes have robust reproductive cycles. In America 500,000 coyotes are killed annually according to National Geographic but the population continues to grow exponentially.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Local authority in the state of Victoria, Australia prohibits cats going outside

Bass Coast Shire Council have announced a ban on cats going outside and if cat owners violate it, they will be fined heavily - well not that heavily 😎. The council wants to protect Phillip Island penguins. Do domestic cats kill penguins? Well, apparently, yes, but so do other predators such as feral cats, feral dogs, domestic dogs, ferrets and stoats. How big an impact on penguin protection will this law have?

Bass Coast Shire Council is in Victoria's south-east. The local ordinance orders that domestic cats must be contained within their home 24-7.

Council in Victoria, Australia bans outdoor cats
Council in Victoria, Australia bans outdoor cats

The press say that it is part of a 'desperate attempt' to protect the famous penguins of Phillip Island.

If you let your cat out and you are caught you will be fined AU$180. The news has been welcomed by the community. Although I sense that Australians have been indoctrinated into believing that outdoor cats are more of a problem than they truly are. They've been pummelled with news for years. There is a propaganda campaign.

Cats can go into their backyard but that's about it and if they escape their backyard the owner will be fined if they are caught.

A question that I have is whether there is already in place a legal obligation to microchip your cat within this local authority. If not, it may be difficult to enforce this ban. The difficulties in enforcement of these sorts of ordinances is one of the big reasons why they can be problematic.

The local mayor, Michael Whelan said that the council's orders purpose is mainly to protect the penguins and to protect the cats.

During 2020-2021, 155 cats were caught roaming around and they were seized and taken to the local pound.

On Phillip Island, cats are trapped currently and on average they say that they are catching 40-70 cats but they don't tell me over what period! Not good.

And what happens to the cats? It's almost certain that they are euthanised. Are they killing people's pets?

It seems that most residents think that the ban on outdoor cat should have been imposed years ago. The council thinks that they are a role model for others to follow across Australia.

This news is just one more step in what I foresee being a total ban on outdoor cats across the entirety of Australia at some time in the future. There's been a war of attrition against feral and outdoor domestic cat for a very long time now.

Another example is Perth's City of Bayswater Council which is considering a ban on cats from 42 natural areas. Similar bans have already been set up in several Melbourne councils.

Another Victoria council, Bendigo, also discussed confining cats to their homes and that was in the middle of last year. The spokesperson said that people wouldn't dream of letting their dogs wonder around so why do they have an issue in banning outdoor cats? Comment: there is a difference actually because dogs are much bigger and more dangerous to the public.

P.S. Toronto in Canada is thinking about a law making it obligatory to have your cat on a leash when outside. Cat confinement is a developing worldwide phenomenon but only in developed countries and the West at present. The world is very divided on how to relate to domestic cats.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Is there one thing that your cat companion especially likes?

SHORT NOTE: There is one thing that my cat especially likes. He loves me to rest my hand on the back of his head and neck. And he likes me to gently press that area and massage it. I know that he likes this because he does a silent meow (of sorts) when I do it. And he looks at me and I can tell in his expression that he loves the feeling. 

I have tried to figure out why he particularly likes this. It is probably something to do with the first few weeks of his life when he was being raised by his feral mother. I sense that he feels comfort and security when I pet him like this.

My cat loves me to hold my hand at the back of his head and neck
My cat loves me to hold my hand at the back of his head and neck. Picture: MikeB

I think that it is fair to say that caregivers should try and find the one thing (if there is only one thing) that their cat particularly enjoys and to deliver that to them as often as possible.

Like humans, I believe that cats have favourite things. In this instance I am referring to my cat's favourite form of interaction between me and him. But it might be other things as well. For example, he loves to be with me outside.

On almost every occasion that he is outside, he is alone. My cat is an indoor/outdoor cat in typical British style but I did try and keep him confined to the back garden with an expensive cat confinement fence, without success. He escaped. I gave up.

But he likes to be outside with me. He will go out and wait on the patio for me to join him. And whenever I go into the garden, even if he is asleep (and it is his night-time because he's been out all night) he still wants to come with me into the back garden. He particularly likes to be at my level. For this reason, I get down low sometimes on all fours or lie down on the ground. He becomes excited when I do this. It is clear to me that he loves it.

So, between me and my cat, I know that my cat loves two things particularly above all other things and that is pressure at the back of his head and for me to be on the ground at his level, outside. I try and deliver these things to him to keep him happy.

There may be an added benefit. If we know what our cat really likes we might be able to use it as a reward for good behavior in informal, reward-based (positive reinforcement) training sessions.

Does your cat have favourite things that they love and do you do your best to ensure that he or she gets them?

Purchase on AmazonSmile to give to animal charities (no cost to you)

Idaho Humane Society's Facebook post usefully reminds people that they can help charities like their animal shelter by purchasing products online via AmazonSmile. I was aware of it but I had not become involved with it which is careless because you simply purchase on Amazon in the usual way and can select a charity to which Amazon will donate. They say that they have donated $355 million to charities under the scheme so far.

AmazonSmile is a separate portal from their main website but it offers the same products and prices as their normal website. There is one difference: when you purchase on AmazonSmile, the retailer's foundation contributes 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charity of your choice.

It doesn't cost anything for the charities to receive money this way and 100% of the donation goes to the charity. If you are a regular Amazon user as I am it's a great way to give to charities without any effort.

I regret to say that up until now I have not used AmazonSmile. I will do so from now on. Amazon has a webpage which provides instructions how to set up your Amazon smile purchases (click here to read it - note sometimes external links stop working). It is available on 

And they say that "you'll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as on". Tens of millions of products are eligible for donations. They are marked "Eligible for AmazonSmile donation". And there are over 1 million 501(c)(3) public charitable organizations registered with this program.

A NEGATIVE VIEWPOINT: It might be useful to also include a negative viewpoint about this scheme. Some cynics state that the scheme is a method of promoting Amazon because they are a very wealthy company with almost a monopoly on online purchases and therefore, they want to soften this image by saying that they give to charity which they do. 

But a purchaser who wants to use this scheme has to fiddle around a little bit to set it up and on a purchase of about $20 very little goes to charity at 0.05% of the purchase price excluding VAT and other add-ons. So, yes, that is a negative. You have to be committed to set it up and there is this slight lack of genuineness about the scheme but I still think is worthwhile because even doing a very small amount is doing something for animal welfare if you choose an animal welfare charity as I would. It's worth the effort I would say.

But the fact is that if you spend $5000 over a couple of years, you'll be giving $25 to charity; money that you would not have donated normally. If a million people use the scheme that's $25m.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Keeping your home warm just for your cat might waste hundreds of dollars or pounds annually

It has been calculated in the UK that if you keep your home warm just for your pet cat you could be wasting £240 per year. The same applies to a dog. The point is this: if you keep the heating on in your home while you are at work to keep your cat warm it is going to cost you a lot of money over a year which is something to be factored in at this time of a cost of living crisis and rising inflation in many countries.

Don't heat your house while you are out to keep your cat warm
Don't heat your house while you are out to keep your cat warm. Image: Pixabay.

Dr. David Glew, an expert in energy efficiency and policy at Leeds Beckett University said that "It is not a great idea to heat your whole house for a dog [or cat] while you are out as it could cost you hundreds of pounds a year. To put it into perspective, putting in loft insulation will only save you around £40 a year, a new boiler will save you £50 a year, and cavity wall insulation will save £80 a year for an average house."

I think you can safely translate those numbers to dollars in the USA although I suspect it would be considerably less as the cost of living is quite low in America compared to the UK. Nonetheless, every penny helps.

Interestingly, in the UK, a survey published in 2015 conducted by Energy Saving Trust found that 53% of dog owners and 47% of cat owners worried that their pet would feel cold while they were out. However, Justin Shotton, president of the British Veterinary Association said heating "shouldn't generally be necessary". The reason is that when animals are young and healthy and have the usual fur coat they are well able to cope with any slight chill that exists inside a home during cold days.

In addition, the survey found that 31% of people left the light on for the cat or dog while they were out. And 28% said they left the radio one and 23% kept the TV on.

My initial thoughts about this is that if you want to keep an area of your home a little bit warmer in winter while you are away, you can buy a trickle feed electric bar which plugs into the mains. These are very safe and designed to keep the temperature from dropping in a fixed are.

Trickle heater on Amazon.

It just takes the edge the chill. You can also buy one of those igloo cat beds which are completely covered and insulated. This will allow the body heat of your cat to warm up their own environment. Another possibility is to buy an electric blanket for cats and dogs which will allow them to warm up when resting. I believe that these are all available at modest prices in Amazon.

I certainly would agree with this expert that it is unnecessary and a waste of precious funds to keep a home warm just for a cat or dog. There are other ways of achieving the goal, three of which I have mentioned.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Cat rescued from swamp cooler

Pueblo, Colorado, USA: the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region was called upon to rescue a domesticated cat stuck in what is called a swamp cooler. This is the first time I have read such a story. A swamp cooler is a device which cools a home by using the latent heat of evaporation. 

When water evaporates it takes warmth from the air and in doing so it cools the surrounding area. A fan blows the cool air into the room. Or the cool air may be blown into the room by a natural breeze. This must have been a pretty big swamp cooler, probably outside the house. Although it is not clear.

Pueblo Animal Law Enforcement responded to a call from a woman who said that there was a "deceased cat stuck in a swamp cooler". The temperature at the time was 101°F. She was unable to cool her home because her swamp cooler was malfunctioning. Because of the cat 😎.

It is pleasing to find out that the cat was not dead but very much alive and taken up residence inside her swamp cooler device. Why I wonder? Probably to stay cool! I can't think of any other good reason unless he wanted to be warmed up at night.

With a bit of help, the offices of the Pueblo Animal Law Enforcement team were able to recover the cat out of the cooler and take him to a shelter for medical treatment.

They describe the cat as a "spicy boy" and decided that he was a community cat. There is a cat colony in the area so he probably wandered away from that into her swamp cooler. They vaccinated him, checked him for any injuries and as he was ear tipped he was already neutered under a TNR program. He appears to have been in reasonable health because they took him back to the colony where I expect volunteers care for the cats.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Animal killer made €1 million in blood money

This is a highly unpleasant story so if you think you might be upset about it then please do not read on. However, I will not go in any detail. I think it needs to be reported on. I am indebted to a short report from The Times newspaper dated July 2, 2022.

They state that in Spain a man has been accused of killing hundreds of animals by draining them of their blood to sell to veterinarians across Europe. Quite horrendous. The man has been arrested in Madrid.

The police allege that the man - who has yet to be named and has been released on bail - killed as many as 500 animals.

Most of them are dogs and cats. The killing has taken place since 2006.

The suspect allegedly made more than €1 million (£860,000 or $1,042,910.00) from selling animal blood the police said.

I don't know, as it is unreported, but it seems to me that this criminal was collecting the blood of cats and dogs to sell to veterinarians working in Europe because with proper donor selection and appropriate compatibility screening pet blood transfusions are well-tolerated and they may increase the chances of a cat's survival.

Ironically, the blood was taken from a cat or dog which kills them in order to aid the survival of a cat who is ill at a veterinary clinic. The motive: money with a complete disregard for morality and the sentience of the animals concerned.

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