Caturday felid trifecta: Armorer for cats; why cats ignore you; cat wins award for “most bizarre insurance claim”

November 12, 2022 • 10:00 am

From Open Culture we have an artist who manufactures armor not just for cats, but also for mice, which makes one envision horrible battles.  Click on the screenshot below to see the article, and then on the video:

An excerpt:

As a child, Jeff De Boer, the son of a sheet metal fabricator, was fascinated by the European plate armor collection in Calgary’s Glenbow Museum:

There was something magical or mystical about that empty form, that contained something. So what would it contain? A hero? Do we all contain that in ourselves?

After graduating from high school wearing a partial suit of armor he constructed for the occasion, De Boer completed seven full suits, while majoring in jewelry design at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

A sculpture class assignment provided him with an excuse to make a suit of armor for a cat. The artist had found his niche.

Using steel, silver, brass, bronze, nickel, copper, leather, fiber, wood, and his delicate jewelry making tools, DeBoer became the cats’ armorer, spending anywhere from 50 to 200 hours producing each increasingly intricate suit of feline armor.  A noble pursuit, but one that inadvertently created an “imbalance in the universe”:

Here’s a 4-minute video introuction to De Boer’s works

Here’s some elaborate cat armor (even the tail is protected!):

Though cats were his entry point, De Boer’s sympathies seem aligned with the underdog – er, mice. Equipping humble, hypothetical creatures with exquisitely wrought, historical protective gear is a way of pushing back against being perceived differently than one wishes to be.

Accepting an Honorary MFA from his alma mater earlier this year, he described an armored mouse as a metaphor for his “ongoing cat and mouse relationship with the world of fine art…a mischievous, rebellious being who dares to compete on his own terms in a world ruled by the cool cats.”

Each tiny piece is preceded by painstaking research and many reference drawings, and may incorporate special materials like the Japanese silk haori-himo cord lacing the shoulder plates to the body armor of a Samurai mouse family.

Mouse armor!:

Another set of mouse armor. The fabrication of the helmet is discussed below:

Additional creations have referenced Mongolian, gladiator, crusader, and Saracen styles – this last perfect for a Persian cat.

You can see more videos on De Boer’s YouTube page.


From ScienceAlert we learn what we already know (click to read):

First, your pet will listen to you more attentively to other people, but only when all the voices are in that high-pitched baby voice people uses when addressing pets or infants:

In a series of experiments on 16 house cats, researchers have shown feline pets know their owner’s voice. They also behave differently when their owners are talking to them as opposed to another person.

At the sound of a familiar voice, the cats in the study often froze, tails flicking, eyes blinking, or ears twitching – but only when the words were spoken in a register reserved for a cutie pie fluff ball with li’l bitty paws and a big old tum-tum.

If the owner used their typical human voice to utter the same sentence, the cats seemed to sense the speech wasn’t directed at them.

Higher-pitched, short utterances with repetitive sounds are common features of human speech when directed at infants or pets. Dogs, for instance, have been shown to sense both tone and meaning in their owner’s voice.

. . .The findings suggest adult house cats that aren’t used to strangers have only learned to decipher the nuances of their owner’s speech. The closeness of a cat-human relationship, in other words, might be based on experience rather than an innate preference for friendly, intimate qualities in a human voice.

An issue: the cats studied all lived in studio apartments and had only one owner. The design:

To reduce stress to unknown elements, experiments were conducted within each cat’s apartment. Their owner was also always in the room, although they sat silently and did not interact with the cat throughout the trial.

The experimenter, who the cat had met before, would then play a series of audio recordings with 30 seconds break in between. These recordings were previously taped during natural interactions between the cat and its owner, including the calling of the cat’s name.

Afterwards, the pet owner recorded the same words they said to their cat in a tone meant for another human. Finally, a stranger was taped copying the owner’s words and tone in all the scenarios.

When the final audio was played to a house cat, the pet’s behavior only changed when the owner’s voice spoke in a cat-directed way. The cat, for instance, might stop grooming itself to meow back or look towards the sound. Other times, a cat’s response was less obvious, their ears quietly turning to the sound of their owner’s voice while looking otherwise uninterested.

When a stranger’s voice was heard, or their owner’s voice sounded as though it was talking to another human, the cat’s behavior went unchanged.

If you want to read the original paper in Animal Cognition (I haven’t), you can click the screenshot below.


From msn news we have a story that, well. . . . the headline tells the tail:

Meet Rafa:

Here’s his harrowing tail:

Rafa, a Siberian mix from Seattle, decided he was going on an adventure after he sneaked out the front door of his house this past April while his mom labored to bring some pizza boxes inside. However, this spontaneous trek didn’t exactly go to plan.

Rafa’s owners, Jose and Susan, noticed their cat was missing after it seemed eerily quiet in their house. They set off on a search right away but had no luck. They resumed the next morning, and Susan eventually heard meows in the distance while calling Rafa’s name. The couple found out the noises were coming from a nearby storm drain, so they needed to call for extra help.

Neighbors, the fire department, Seattle Public Utilities staff, and Roto-Rooter employees all united to help save the trapped, freezing feline. The cat, nicknamed Puffy, had plummeted 45 feet down the sloping pipe, and he was up to his neck in freezing water—and an incoming storm was going to fill the pipe with even more water.

The team had to act fast to get Rafa out safely before the storm arrived, but it wasn’t easy. The team worked to cut down obstructing blackberry bushes, dig up the pipe, and cut the pipe open over the course of several hours. Thanks to their hard work, Rafa was finally free and safe in Jose’s arms.

He was rushed to an emergency veterinarian right away and was diagnosed with severe hypothermia and other complications. Thankfully, after spending a week at the ICU, Rafa made a full recovery and was back to his boisterous self in no time.

Here’s actual footage of Rafa being rescued (the video says he was in the ICU for four days, not a week.)

Rafa also won an award given by an insurance company for “most bizarre insurance claim of the year,” but it’s not clear that Rafa’s owners actually filed any claim, and on what basis would they have a claim?

Thanks to Rafa’s wild adventure, he earned the Hambone Award from insurance provider Nationwide. The Hambone Award is given to the most peculiar pet insurance claim of the year, as voted on by the public. Rafa’s family received the winning prize: a $1,000 gift card, a $1,000 donation in their name to a pet charity of their choosing, and the ham-shaped Hambone Award trophy.

Rafa faced some tough competition for the coveted award, beating out 12 other nominees. His competition included an orange cat who became covered in spray foam insulation, a mini Australian shepherd who was stung by a jellyfish-type animal, a Doberman pinscher who scuffled with a raccoon, and a Siamese mix who went for a spin in the dryer.

Russell, a California mixed-breed dog who cracked several teeth after falling face-first onto a concrete step, finished in second place. Rex, a shih tzu from Michigan who lodged a wishbone in his throat, captured the bronze. The families of Russell and Rex were awarded a $500 gift card and $500 donation in their name to a pet charity of their choice.

It turns out from the Hambone Award site above, that Rafa had pet health insurance, which is the basis of the claim.

Having pet health insurance helped Rafa’s pet parents, Jose and Susan, with decisions regarding the life-saving treatment Rafa required. “If we hadn’t had insurance, we would have had to consider every single measure and weigh it out,” Susan said. “In this case, we could just be like ‘No, throw the whole kitchen sink at this problem. Do whatever has to be done,’” she adds.

Finally, you need to see how the “Hmbone Award” got its name:

The Hambone Award was originally named after a dog who ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while stuck in a refrigerator. Finalists for this year’s award were determined following a review of nearly 3.4 million claims submitted by Nationwide members from across the company’s database of more than 1 million insured pets.

Well, that sure wasn’t a Jewish dog!

h/t: Ginger K.

6 thoughts on “Caturday felid trifecta: Armorer for cats; why cats ignore you; cat wins award for “most bizarre insurance claim”

  1. That armor is cool as an art sculpture or fantasy piece. But in terms what a battle-cat or war-mouse would actually wear in combat, it’s on par with Red Sonja’s chain-mail bikini in terms of bad practices. For example, that long tail is just begging for an opponent to grab it and use it to swing the head. The warrior’s tail is going to be tightly bound to the body, in order not to present such a big target. The ear pieces are ridiculously prominent. Functionally, they’d be the smallest lump possible.

  2. Enjoyed each section as well. Always enjoy coffee with the Caturday Felid Trifecta because it makes a cold Saturday morning seem warmer. TNX for taking the time to do this.

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