Andrew Sullivan gets it right

October 12, 2011 • 2:12 pm

by Greg Mayer

Despite his blind spot when it comes to obscurantist theology, Andrew Sullivan is a good judge of other things, including cat videos.

The cat, Oskar, was born without eyesight; a similarly afflicted cat is the subject of Gwen Cooper’s Homer’s Odyssey (Homer is the cat). Blind cats can apparently get along well if properly cared for. I thought that Oskar might follow the air upwind, and get to the offending hairdryer, but (at least in this clip) he doesn’t manage to find it.

h/t: Andrew Sullivan

23 thoughts on “Andrew Sullivan gets it right

  1. ROFL, that is so funny, a great laugh to start the day. Oscar is a lot braver than my kitteh, took her months to realise the hairdryer wasn’t trying to kill her and she still doesn’t like it much.

  2. Whenever I see that word “epic” on the Internet, I think “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  3. interesting.

    the way the cat paws at the air makes me think it might actually be able to “see” the temperature sheer.

    much like when you see when heat rolls off a hot surface from a distance, like on a hot road.

      1. The way she’s holding it, I think she’s pressing the button that turns off the heating coils…so I’d guess he’s “seeing” it exactly the same way you and I would: by feeling the pressure.

        He’d probably fight a feather tickling his face in much the same way.


  4. I know of a cat that has been blind since birth. He lives at a kennels and cattery that both deals with dogs and cats in need of re-homing, and with those being looked after whilst their owners are on holiday.

    He rules the roost. All the long-term residents know better than to cross him, and the short-stay ones soon learn. I have seen him put an American Bulldog in his place.

  5. My ex recently adopted a little blind kitten (yes, she named him “Homer”). After she adopted him they had to sew his eyeless sockets closed so that he now looks a bit like a little Frankenkitty. His visage is both cute and disturbing at the same time.

  6. One of my cats, Rumpelstiltskin, slowly went blind as a result of a genetic defect. It’s called progressive retinal degeneration — they don’t process taurine properly and the blood vessels in the retinas slowly die, which deprives the retinal cells of their blood supply, so they die too, from the center outward. The result is that the detailed central vision goes first but they can still see motion and shadows for a while, rather like human macular degeneration. So he had a long time to learn how to adapt to the loss of vision.

    Now he always wanders around with his pupils hugely dilated, and the reflectivity is just *off* somehow, in a really creepy yet still adorable way. He bumps into things some, and he doesn’t do any jumps that require vision or race around like a lunatic, but he still navigates okay.

    Rumpy was always very timid before he became blind, completely terrified of strangers, and the funny thing is that now that he can’t see things that scare him any more he’s much less afraid. He’s still not the world’s boldest cat, with respect to humans, but he’s much better than he was. On the other hand, he completely bullied my other cats before he went blind and that’s still true, to the degree that the young cat I’m currently fostering has recognized that Rumpy’s the one it’s most important to dominate in order to take over the house.

    This may actually be working, unfortunately, as Rumpy took a dive off a second story roof a couple years ago (he got out and then chased a bird off the edge). He broke his pelvis into about three pieces and went through what appeared to be a major emotional depression during his recovery, and he’s been a little bit less self-confident since then. But he still does amazingly well, and it was much easier for me to adapt to his blindness than I expected. I’ve gotten to the point where I sometimes forget with my other cats that they *can* see.

  7. From Wiki:

    A cat has about twenty-four movable vibrissae…in four rows on each upper lip on either side of its nose (some cats may have more). There are also a few on each cheek, tufts over the eyes, bristles on the chin, the cat’s inner “wrists”, and at the back of the legs […] brain region…which receives information from the vibrissae is similar to that found in the visual cortex which permits the cat to create a three dimensional map of its surroundings […] The upper two rows of whiskers are able to be moved independently from the lower two rows for greater precision during measurement […] High speed photography reveals that when a cat is unable to see its prey because it is too close to its mouth, its whiskers move so as to form a basket shape around its muzzle in order to precisely detect the prey’s location […] A cat whose whiskers have been damaged may bite the wrong part of its prey indicating that they provide cats with detailed information about the shape and activity of its prey. […] Whiskers are also an indication of the cat’s attitude. Whiskers point forward when a cat is inquisitive and friendly, and lie flat on the face when the cat is being defensive or aggressive

    Since Oskar’s whiskers (short-range detectors) are being activated he perceives lunch as being only 3-4 centimetres from his jaws ~ notice how he attempts to bite the air without lunging very much. Oscar is convinced that the prey is in front of his nose.

    I notice that his ears are swivelling to detect something close & are not pointed towards the fan. Therefore Oskar hasn’t deduced (infurred?) that there is a relationship between the distant noise & his imaginary nearby prey.

    Andrew Sullivan could learn a lot from Oskar for they have a conceptual disability in common.

    1. I notice that his ears are swivelling to detect something close & are not pointed towards the fan. Therefore Oskar hasn’t deduced (infurred?) that there is a relationship between the distant noise & his imaginary nearby prey.

      I see what you did there.

      1. I’m in pun recovery, but now & then I just can’t hold back. The condition can be controlled, but there’s no cure for this debilitating condition. It’s had a catastrophic effect on this, the tail end, of my life history ~ which is littered with a string of pursonal relationship failures.

        1. Hair Removal Through the Ages is worth a look for the crazy Lolz. Sample:

          There were many alternative methods of hair removal, ranging from pulverized egg shells to a mixture of cat’s dung and vinegar. In the early 18th century (1700-1737) Lemery’s Curiosa Arcana, published in 1711, gives a recipe for the complexion: To remove hair, one was instructed to ‘Take the shells of 52 eggs, beat them small and distill them with a good fire.’ Then, with the water, ‘Anoint yourself where you would have the Hair off.’ For ladies with more cats than chickens, Lemery recommended beating ‘hard, dry Cats-dung…to a powder’ and tempering it with strong vinegar for the same effect. Other homemade depilatories contained quick-lime

          Go there to feast your eyes on the stupids

        2. Couldn’t you just use WEIT as an outlet for overflowing puns that are impossible to hold back. They’re appreciated here, you know 😉

          1. Yes I think you’ve got a good point there Trine. I’d be able to de-stress & achieve moments of life balance ~ a punctuated equilibrium so to speak.

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