Caturday felid trifecta: Non-surgical birth control in cats; cocktail named for a Disney cat; AI-enhanced art cats in Vienna; and lagniappe

June 10, 2023 • 9:15 am

Here’s an announcement from Harvard News that has big implications for cats. Click on the screenshot to read:

An excerpt:

For the first time, researchers have isolated a hormone that can prevent cats from getting pregnant.

A single dose of a viral vector containing anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), a naturally occurring hormone, prevented ovulation and conception in female cats for at least two years, according to researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and their collaborators.

. . . .In 2017, Pépin and his collaborators were the first to publish the contraceptive potential of AMH in rodents.

The team then turned their attention to felines. To raise AMH levels in female domestic cats, the researchers created an adeno-associated viral (AAV) gene therapy vector with a slightly altered version of the feline AMH gene. Human therapies using similar AAV vectors to deliver various therapeutic genes have proven to be safe and effective and have been approved by the FDA.

“A single injection of the gene therapy vector causes the cat’s muscles to produce AMH, which is normally only produced in the ovaries, and raises the overall level of AMH about 100 times higher than normal,” says Pépin.

The researchers treated six female cats with the gene therapy at two different doses, and three cats served as controls. A male cat was brought into the female colony for two four-month-long mating trials. The researchers followed the female cats for more than two years, assessing the effect of the treatment on reproductive hormones, ovarian cycles, and fertility.

All the control cats produced kittens, but none of the cats treated with the gene therapy got pregnant. Suppressing ovarian follicle development and ovulation did not affect important hormones such as estrogen. There were no adverse effects observed in any of the treated female cats, demonstrating that at the doses tested, the gene therapy was safe and well tolerated.

As the article notes, this therapy isn’t yet ready for prime time, but will be useful not only for keeping your own cat kitten-free without surgical intervention, but perhaps also to prevent wild cats from breeding, though every female will have to get a shot every two years. That means they’ll have to keep track of the immunization schedule of wild cats.

I expect that this may be on offer to the public within a few years.


In May, Nutmeg, one of the beloved feral cats who frequented Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim California, passed away. As the Disneyland website notes:

Nutmeg was one of Disneyland Resort’s feral cats, tasked with keeping the rat population down around the parks and ensuring the only rodents guests see are Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Nutmeg roamed the park quite often, but had an affinity for the Magic Key Terrace lounge at Disney California Adventure.

Nutmeg was so beloved by Imagineers and Disneyland Cast Members like in fact, that they were even integrated into the tiling when Magic Key Terrace was reimagined in 2021. Their frequent perch along the concrete wall is accented with tiling of them, front and center.

A photo of Nutmeg (a good name for a cat) on the wall:


Hardcore Disneyland fans may know that feral cats have become a staple of the resort’s after-hours operations. The cats are reportedly well cared for, with Disney providing stations for feeding, medical care, and neutering services. But this cat in particular was so beloved by Cast Members at Magic Key Terrace that there was a drink named for Nutmeg — made with Myers dark rum, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, and apricot liqueur and selling for $16 as a “secret menu” drink.

In 2021, the culinary director of Disney California Adventure, Jeremiah Balogh, explained to the Orange County Register, “We have lots of friends that like to visit us, and some of them are four-legged friends. We have a resident cat that will come and visit guests and Cast Members whenever he or she feels lonely.”

Many of these cats stay hidden throughout the day, although guests occasionally spot them out and about during opening time. It’s the overnight shift when they’re on the prowl, keeping the non-animated mice and rats out of the Disneyland Resort parks.

And here’s an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the Nutmeg drink (click on the screenshot to read):

An excerpt:

“Everyone who knows the @Disneyland cats is mourning the death of Nutmeg, a true celebrity amongst the beloved feral cats of @Disney,” tweeted cat behaviorist and YouTuber Jackson Galaxy. “We join everyone in mourning Nutmeg’s passing and give many thanks to Disney for elevating and embracing community cats!”

Nutmeg was so beloved by the staff of Magic Key Terrace that it created a cocktail in his (or her?) honor: a $16 concoction on the “secret menu” featuring dark rum, Irish cream, hazelnut liqueur and apricot liqueur. Another version, described by one blogger as “definitely a dessert drink,” is said to include half-and-half, raspberry flavoring and a dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg.

That’s definitely a dessert, not a drink!  More:

Sometimes called “queen of the Disneyland cats,” Nutmeg inspired part of the aesthetic at Magic Key Terrace, according to SFGate reporter Julie Tremaine, who has written about the famed Disney felines several times over the years. A portrait of Nutmeg adorns the wall, and the feline’s face decorates the mosaics.

. . .Disney eventually realized that this arrangement was mutually beneficial: The company could care for the cats and get rodent control in exchange. Staffers began to spay and neuter the felines to keep the population under control, and they established feeding stations throughout the parks, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2010.

Now, as many as 200 cats patrol the area with Disney’s blessing.

“We are not trying to get rid of them,” Gina Mayberry, manager of the ranch where the park’s animals are housed, told the Times. “They keep the rodent population down.”

Among the cats’ fans is actor Ryan Gosling, who was once a Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel’s “The Mickey Mouse Club.” In a 2011 interview with comedian Conan O’Brien, Gosling said lore has it that the felines are “like commando cats” and live in barracks on the outskirts of the park.

Here’s the cocktail, which is a secret menu item (I can’t find the recipe, but that’s just as well. . .):

From reddit, labeled “A glamour shot of Nutmeg from when she popped in to say hello at Magic Key Terrace in February”:

From Cole and Marmalade, Walt admonishing a cat to stay away from Mickey:

“Walt Disney with cat”, Harris & Ewing, photographer, Public domain


Vienna is attracting visitors by using AI to dilute its famous artwork, which needs no dilution. Still, they put cats in it. Click below to read:

In an effort to inspire the next generation of travelers to visit Austria’s beguiling cultural capital, the Vienna Tourist Board has launched a cheeky new marketing campaign called UnArtificial Art and is asking viewers to dig a bit deeper and rediscover some of the city’s most iconic masterpieces. Using artificial intelligence (AI), some of the country’s most celebrated pieces of art have been re-created to include the internet’s beloved domestic pet—cats—in an effort to remind viewers to have a little fun, while also taking a moment to see and appreciate the “art behind the art.”

“The campaign aims to show that AI art is only possible because an algorithm references real works made by real humans, and these originals can often only be seen in Vienna,” Norbert Kettner, CEO of the Vienna Tourist Board, told ARTnews.

First a movie, than some augmented art:

In the short film that accompanies the UnArtificial Art campaign, art historian Markus Hübl takes viewers on an existential journey through some of Vienna’s most iconic masterpieces—including Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss and Pieter Bruegel’s The Tower of Babel—all of which have been enhanced using AI technology to encourage viewers to look deeper into the work of some of Austria’s most celebrated painters.

There are three cat-augmented paintings, and they’re good choices.

Here’s one of the paintings, the original created by Egon Schiele, one of my favorite artists, who died at only 28 in the 1918 influenza epidemic.

And, of course, “The Kiss,” by Gustav Klimt, a well known ailurophile.  Klimt died, aged 55, nine months before Schiele, also of the flu. What a loss for art!

It’s unclear how Klimt—who was famously known for surrounding himself with anywhere from eight to ten pet cats at any given time—would feel about the enhancements to one of his most illustrious and frequently reproduced paintings. But the campaign, which encourages travelers to “see the art behind AI art,” will surely open itself up to interpretation by all who bear witness.

Gustav Klimt with a cat in front of his studio in the Josefstädter Straße (Vienna). Photographed by Moriz Nähr around 1910.


Lagniappe: Linda Calhoun, who recently lost one of her older cats, has topped up her supply with two new kittens. She now has eight, four of them black, but the new ones are orange. Her description:

New arrivals!! They have been here a week.  They will live in the barn with Ebony and Bailey.  Barney died last February, and his remaining sisters are 13 years old, so it was time for some new blood.

Orangina (“Gina”) is on the left, and Orange Crush (“Crush”) on the right.  They are nine weeks old.

h/t: Barry, Winnie, Greg, Ginger K.

7 thoughts on “Caturday felid trifecta: Non-surgical birth control in cats; cocktail named for a Disney cat; AI-enhanced art cats in Vienna; and lagniappe

  1. Great to see 2 new kittens get a loving home Linda!
    I love that photo of Klimt and his cat.
    I’m always happy to see cats celebrated. Great post.

  2. When I was doing my PhD at the Hebrew University, one of the postdocs there was spending considerable resources of her own giving numerous feral cats on campus these contraceptives, in addition to food. I could see the utility of them — can be used to prevent feral populations to grow out of control while allowing the cats to have good time.

  3. Note that Klimt not only has a cat but also has revolutionary male apparel. This was important to him, so it’s nice to have it clearly shown.

  4. Commenting on the AAV birth control (AAV happens to be my area of expertise). The treatment is expected to be effective for the lifetime of the animal.The 2 years mentioned is because they treated the cats 2 years before writing the article. Typically, AAV gene therapy involves a single injection. Repeated injections would not work because the immune system generates neutralizing antibodies against the capsid. If a repeat injection was necessary, it would need to involve a different capsid serotype, against which the animal don’t already have antibodies. Recombinant AAV genomes don’t normally integrate into the host genome but exist as stable circular episomes. During cell division they get diluted and eventually disappear. However, in tissues with low cell turnover such as muscle (and especially in CNS or retina), they can sustain stable gene expression for several years and even decades.

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