Caturday felid trifecta: Four eared cat; cats wearing cameras; cafe sued over using name “cat” on its tee-shirts;

June 8, 2019 • 9:00 am

This cat, Yoda, was born eleven years ago, but has recently reappeared on the Twisted Sifter site. Yoda also lives in Chicago, so I might be able to see him! From the Torygraph:

The feline, named Yoda, has two extra “flaps” behind his normal ears, but is otherwise in good health and appears to have perfect hearing.

His owners, who picked him out from a litter of eight-week-old kittens being handed around in a bar, say that local vets were mystified when they took him for a check-up.

“We began to realise that we had something very special,” said Valerie Rock, 65.

“As a result, he has been an indoor cat and has a chip installed in case he gets lost,” she added.

“Yoda is so different that we were concerned that he might be catnapped.”

Valerie and her husband Ted, from Chicago, Illinois named the cat Yoda after hearing that the Star Wars character was based on George Lucas’s cat.

“People do a double take when they see him or his picture. It is great fun showing him off,” Mrs Rock said.

From the Daily Mail

Yoda is kept indoors lest he be catnapped for his rarity.

Yoda’s extra ‘flaps’ are separate to the base of his skull, with one placed slightly behind the other.

Yet despite his unusual looks, Valerie is sure Yoda’s behaviour – and hearing – are  quite normal.

‘Yoda’s hearing is normal as far as we know,’ says Valerie. ‘People do a double take when they see him or his picture. It is great fun showing him off.

The Torygraph also implies that this condition is a mutation, but that would imply that this is not just a developmental issue, but one caused by a gene that could be passed on. If that were the case, they could breed a race of four-eared cats from Yoda, and I’m sure many people would be delighted to have one.

Yoda’s extra ears – which are not thought to help him hear – are not attached to the base of his skull, with one placed slightly behind the other. They are believed to be the result of a genetic mutation.

Multi-eared cats are rare, but not unheard of. In 2004, a six-month-old cat with two extra ears was put up for adoption at an animal shelter in Germany, and in the same year Russian media reported that a kitten had been born with seven ears.

Yoda and his staff:



From Science we have a summary of what happened when researchers strapped cameras to 16 cats. The original paper is at the screenshot below (free access), which reports “ethograms” (frequency of different behaviors) engaged in by the cats during 5 30-minute videos for each moggie. Here’s a photo of the setup:

The behaviors tallied were walking, fast running, exploring, resting, lying, sleeping (how did they distinguish that from resting?), grooming, jumping, eating, vocalization, social behavior, investigation, hunting, clawing, digging, and locomotion (other types).

And a video summary of the behaviors and what they looked like on the CatCam:


And from the Guardian we have this annoying report about the Caterpillar tractor company SUING a coffee shop in Santa Cruz, California called “Cat & Cloud Coffee“.  The issue: trademark infringement.  Caterpillar tractors think they get the rights to the use of the word “Cat”:

“We are not suing Cat & Cloud, not targeting a small business and not focused on Cat & Cloud’s primary interest: coffee,” Caterpillar said in a statement. “We’ve simply asked the US Trademark Office to remove Cat & Cloud’s trademark registration on footwear and apparel only, products for which Caterpillar has longstanding trademarks and a considerable business. We hope to resolve this issue quickly.”

Now go ahead, check me on this – I looked all over Cat & Cloud Coffee’s website and the apparel it’s selling and I’m not seeing any connection between this small business and Caterpillar other than the use of the word Cat. . . . this little coffee shop is being attacked by another because they’re using the word Cat? Cat? Am I missing something?

If I am, then so are others. “I don’t think anyone correlates the Caterpillar company with their big yellow massive trucks with a small cafe,” one customer told a local news station. “I don’t think I would ever confuse the two of them. It doesn’t make sense to me,” said another.

The owners of Cat & Cloud Coffee are, of course, frustrated and upset. But they’re doing the right things. They’re fighting. They’re taking the case to social media. They have a petition going that already has thousands of signatures. They’re getting media exposure – like this column – to make their case more known.

I signed the petition at the link, and maybe you can, too. I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not sure about whether “Cat and Cloud” can somehow be prohibited by a giant corporation. But they should lay off the coffee shop!


h/t: Ginger K, Su, Paul

38 thoughts on “Caturday felid trifecta: Four eared cat; cats wearing cameras; cafe sued over using name “cat” on its tee-shirts;

  1. “I don’t think I would ever confuse the two of them.”

    That’s a key component of trademark law: whether the similarity in marks would lead a reasonable person would confuse the two entities. Not only do these marks share nothing in common other than a generic word, no one in their right mind would mix up a coffee shop with a heavy equipment manufacturer.

    1. Moreover, the word ‘cat’ is a generic word for a mammal of the felid conviction. It has little or nothing to do with ‘caterpillar’ which is the (also generic) word for a butterfly/moth larva.
      It is ridiculous that companies try to trademark generic words to start with.
      Say Apple should not be able to sue the (hypothetical) “Apple and Pie” bakery. They are bananas (the Caterpillar co that is).
      A few years ago there was also much ado about ‘Rooibos’, which is a kind of South African plant used to make tea (and some cosmetics), that a US company wanted to trade mark. I think (but am not sure )they got nowhere, and rightly so.

      1. Caterpillar has a registered trademark for ‘Cat’ — the common nickname for their equipment. Their logo features the word in black, above a black triangle, on a field of yellow. The coffee house uses baby blue and a cartoon sketch.

        Big corporations send out the C&Ds cuz they can — it’s egregious and unnecessary, and can wreck small business folks’ lives and livelihood.

        But if you’ve ever met any in-house counsels in person, you wouldn’t be surprised by this behavior.

        1. Here the logo generally is a black CAT on a white field or vice versa, with a yellow triangle. Quite recognisable indeed and far from the Cat & Cloud as it gets. Egregious is the operative term indeed.

  2. For a long while, Exxon routinely sent C&Ds to anyone with “xx” in their brand name.

    My friends’ band, the Naked Barbies, got a C&D from Mattel.

  3. Caterpillar, fire your lawyers. They’re churning, like stockbrokers making pointless trades to inflate their own fees.
    OR: Some Caterpillar executive is a moron, and the lawyers don’t have the guts to tell him so.
    EITHER WAY: Fire your lawyers.

  4. Some lawyer at Cat has just embodied the Peter Principle. The caterpillar logo has a distinctive font that isn’t even hinted at in the Cat & Cloud merchandise.

    I was planning on picking up a couple D-10s to use in the garden this afternoon, but will now be dropping by the Komatsu store instead. Take *that* Cat!

    1. I might not be correctly remembering the rules I learned in my copyright law class years ago, but, assuming this actually went to court (which it won’t because what coffee shop has the money to fight Caterpillar in court?), wouldn’t Caterpillar also lose because (1). There is no reasonable chance for confusion among customers and (2) as an extension of the first point, the businesses occupy completely different markets?

      I’m sure Caterpillar does have a copyright on the term “cat,” considering that is the shorthand that many people use in the industry for their machines, but their is basically zero likelihood of confusion here and zero product/market overlap.

      1. You’re right, but it’s trademark law, not copyright.

        The Coffee shop’s lawyer should put all that in a reply letter, then forget about it. Periodically, the soulless drone attorneys at Caterpillar will send the same C&D, and the coffee shop can sent the identical reply.

        1. Yes, of course, trademark. Sorry. Other people kept saying copyright and it stuck in my head. I wasn’t thinking.

          Because I’m dumb most of the time (shhh, don’t tell anyone)

  5. Reminds me a little of the feud between Stuart Semple and Anish Kapoor over use of ‘the blackest black’ paint pigment. Kapoor got the ‘exclusive rights’ to this particular(very, very non-reflective) black paint and no-one else was allowed to use it without his permission.

    Then Semple, outraged by the arrogance of some guy coming along and basically copyrighting a colour, got the rights to his own shade of ‘pinkest pink’ paint, and licensed it ‘for use by anyone but Anish Kapoor’. There’s more to the story, much of it amusingly petty.

  6. “…they could breed a race of four-eared cats from Yoda, and I’m sure many people would be delighted to have one.”

    Let’s hope they don’t! There are already so many cats out there that need homes. And I’ll make the same public service announcement I always make when animal adoption comes up: if you want a cat or dog, please get them from a shelter, rather than pay for one from a breeder. Furthermore, if you don’t mind, adopt a loving adult cat/dog instead of a kitten/puppy. The kittens and puppies have far higher chances of getting adopted, but the adults are likely to live poorly in those cages for the rest of their lives. And those adults probably had a home to run around in and people to be affectionate and social with when they were younger, but were eventually tossed to the side either because people tired of them once they grew up, or the people had to move (or other, rarer circumstances), and all these animals know now is that they used to have good lives, but now live in small cages where they can barely stand (in the case of cats), can’t walk around, have no loving servant, etc. They are jailed and live a life of sudden misery, and they don’t even know why. Save one or two of them and bring joy to them and to yourself! Give an adult cat or dog the life of love, dignity, and freedom they deserve until the day they die.

    I was so happy to hear that Andrzej and Malgorzata adopted Cyrus when he was 9 or 10 years old. They did a wonderful thing and gave Cyrus the life he deserved to live. Imagine how happy he was and all the joy he brought his owners.

    1. I fully agree with you, but kittens and puppies are so much more cute. I mean, even a rational person par excellence, such as our host, is far from immune to it.
      It works on some basic instincts (Lorenz’s ‘Kindchenschema’), so it will be very difficult to counter that.
      And yes, agreed again, kudos to Malgorzata and Andrzey.

      1. No question! There’s such joy in playing with kittens. But when I think about my first too cats, I can’t even remember them as kittens. What I remember is all the love and happiness I got from them in their adult years. Over time, the cuteness of a kitten/puppy ends, and it’s the ten to twenty years of adulthood that you remember.

        What’s really unfortunate is that many people adopt cats and puppies, but then bring them back when they tire of them because they no longer find them as “fun” when they grow up. As if these intelligent living creatures are just toys for our amusement, rather than a lifelong responsibility we accept when we adopt them…

    2. Yes, adult dogs & cats need homes and make great, affectionate companions!!

      Just last month, our rescue took in two older horses, 19 & 24, for retirement.

      1. You own a rescue? If so, good for you, Matt! Thank you for giving all those animals the lives and dignity they deserve. And, if you were just talking generally about a local rescue in your area, good for you for supporting them!

        If you own or help operate it, I’d love to hear more about it.

          1. I have no idea! But good on you. You’re a hero.

            You might not want to link it anyway if you’re at all worried about keeping your identity out of the comments here.

  7. There are also “Cat” shoes, in fact I’m regularly wearing “Cats”. If they belong to the same Caterpillar company (I’ll find out) they have lost this customer.

    1. It is complicated, the ‘Wolverine World Wide’ company is licensed so sell footwear under the Caterpillar brand. I do not know whether a boycott would hurt the real Caterpillar heavy machine co.
      At any rate, just to make sure, and because this Caterpillar action is so profoundly vile and petty, I’ll not buy those shoes again.

  8. Sorry to post again, but are the extra “ears” on Yoda actually functioning ears, or just flaps that look like ears? There’s no mention of this in the post.

    1. I’d guess they are just extra flaps, I doubt whether a full pair or extra functioning hearing ears would leave a viable cat, since the inner ear is deeply embedded in the skull.

        1. Apparently they are but lobes, although some may have smaller eyes and lower jaw.
          From wikipedia:
          “Four ears – a recessive mutation that produced four pinnae or ear flaps (the additional pinnae did not lead to additional ear canals and organs of hearing). In a group of four-eared cats studied in 1957, in addition to duplicated ears, the eyes were reduced in size, the jaw was slightly undershot and the cats were relatively inactive and lethargic. Researchers believed that the functioning of the brain was affected. Breeding data indicated it was most often lethal with kittens dying in utero. The majority of recently reported four-eared cats have been healthy with various ear configurations suggesting other genes were involved or developmental abnormalities rather than hereditary factors.[3]”
          (The reference is from 1957 (!), only four years after the publication of the structure of DNA).
          Yoda’s eyes do not appear reduced in size, though.

  9. Back in the 1990s McDonalds forced a small coffee shop in Half Moon Bay to change it’s name (to M.Coffee). Small businesses don’t have the money to fight giant corporations. At least now social media and the associated mockery can exert more negative pressure.

  10. I bought a hat from C&C and let them know it was to support their fight against Caterpillar and my little way of giving Caterpillar the extended middle finger.

  11. A lot of corporations would like to be able to trademark words. So maybe they feel the time is ripe to test the waters again against a target that probably can’t fight back in order to try to create precedent.

  12. Grumpy Cat® is a trademark. Why can’t Cat & Cloud be one?

    I hope Caterpillar gets dumped on for this one.

  13. Amazing how many greedy & unethical companies there are! A so-called poke place in Chicago is attempting to extort restaurants in Hawaii from using the word “Aloha” in their names. How is that for crass & craven!

    The Caterpillar company needs to develop some ethics. Next they will be suing entomologists for using the term “caterpillar.” They are disgusting!

    1. “A so-called poke place in Chicago is attempting to extort restaurants in Hawaii from using the word ‘Aloha’ in their names. How is that for crass & craven!”

      Assuming that’s true, whoever the owners of that place are truly define the phrase “reprehensible gaping asshole.”

  14. Definitely one of the most ridiculous lawsuits I’ve ever heard of. Can’t see how Caterpillar could possibly win, but then again maybe I shouldn’t have so much faith in the U.S. court system.

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