Here’s a story from Science Alert that might make you think twice about petting that stray cat you encounter on the street. This cat carried some nasty bacteria in its mouth.
In the United Kingdom, a 48-year-old who was bit by a stray feline ended up contracting a species of bacterium that scientists have never seen before.
His immune response to the foreign microorganism was a doozy. Just eight hours after receiving multiple bites, the man’s hands had swollen to such a great extent that he took himself to the emergency department.
His puncture wounds were cleaned and dressed and he was given a tetanus shot before being sent on his way with antibiotics.
A day later, he was back at the hospital. His pinky and middle fingers on his left hand were painfully enlarged and both his forearms were red and swollen.
Doctors had to surgically remove the damaged tissue around his wounds. He was also given three different antibiotics intravenously and was sent home with oral antibiotics.
This time, thankfully, the treatment worked and he made a full recovery.
The result of the bite (see the paper here):
Back at the hospital, however, doctors were busy trying to figure out what had happened. When they analyzed the microorganisms present in samples from his wounds, they found an unrecognizable Streptococcus-like organism.
But when researchers sequenced part of this bacterium’s genome, it did not match any strains on record. This was a new germ that scientists had never formally documented.
As it turns out, the bacterium belongs to another genus of gram-positive bacteria called Globicatella.
Full genome sequencing of the bacterium suggests that it differs from other related strains, like G. sulfidfaciens, by around 20 percent, indicating a “distinct and previously undescribed species”.
Because G. sulfidifaciens is resistant to several common types of antibiotics, it can prove difficult to eradicate from the body. Thankfully, the new strain discovered in the UK responded well to at least some antibiotics, but the story holds a warning for the public.
“This report highlights the role of cats as reservoirs of as yet undiscovered bacterial species that have human pathogenic potential,” the authors of the case study write.
The lesson: be wary about petting cats you don’t know.
From Bored Panda we have 50 funny cat photos from an Instagram account. Click to see them all; I’ll show a few.
The Instagram account @happycat318 does a really good job of capturing [cats’] mischievous ways.
It shares memes about our feline friends being hellbent on world domination, and judging from the content, it’s only a matter of time before they get all the catnip they crave.
And eight examples:
I suspect this cat is Gli, the famous resident cat in Istanbul’s Hagia Sofia. I, too, met Gli, and fed him (see below):
Here’s me feeding Gli in the Hagia Sofia in 2008 (in Turkey I always carry a box of dry cat food in my daypack):
This NYT article reviews a cat book, The Truth About Max, by Alice and Martin Provensen, a previously unpublished book that came out just a few days ago. If the article is paywalled, I found it archived here. I’ve put some illustrations from the NYT in the text; these drawings are courtesy of Alice and Martin Provensen.
Alice and Martin Provensen were the American picture book’s Ginger and Fred: a supremely poised and stylish illustrator team who, in a collaboration that spanned nearly 40 years and more than 40 children’s books (19 of which they also wrote and edited), beguiled fans with their deadpan wit, far-flung curiosity and midcentury-modernist flair.
“The Truth About Max,” with a big, brassy cat as its protagonist, is a previously unpublished picture book that was discovered in the form of a dummy, or preliminary version, in 2019 among some papers held onto by Alice’s agent George Nicholson, who died in 2015. Martin Provensen had died in 1987; Alice died in 2018.
Over the years, the couple had come to appreciate as individuals many of the animals living in their midst and, in a series of droll, sketchbook-style volumes, had proved themselves to be canny naturalist-observers. In “Our Animal Friends” (1974), the first of these books, they gave the real Max pride of place by depicting him on the title page with burning bright eyes and an ear-to-ear grin. The book they left behind was clearly meant to be the star turn they felt their farm’s arch-rascal had earned.
The Provensens’ love for animals, like Beatrix Potter’s, was pointedly unsentimental. In “The Truth About Max,” the truth they record includes Max’s bad-cat high jinks and his raw knack for survival: his unfailing instinct for knowing who on two legs or four can be trifled with and who is not to be crossed.
The Max we meet is also quite the hunter, with sleeping quarters that resemble a trophy room “full of squirrel tails.” This casual, and shocking, revelation is enough to make young readers feel they are being treated like grown-ups — another Provensen hallmark.
The illustrations vary in their degree of finish, with the occasional figure or face merely roughed in and the backdrop left sketchy for later. A publisher’s note states that the spidery, faux-naïve cursive used for the text is a redo by skilled calligraphers of the artists’ own place-holder hand-lettering.
. . . The unpolished bits tell a truth of their own, exposing traces of the awkward, trial-and-error not-knowing in which creative work so often has its beginnings.
Max was one more kindred spirit. His story ends on another decidedly grown-up note, this one hauntingly beautiful.
Every evening, we learn, Max, having “tired” of the barnyard, “walks down the lane,/ into the fields./ You would not know him./ He looks like a tiger.”
On his own, just what threshold has he crossed? Perhaps the mysterious one that marks the limit of what anyone can know about anyone else. “Now,” write the Provensens, leaving us to imagine the rest, Max’s “real life begins.”
The reviews on the Amazon site (link above) are very good, and this might be a good Christmas stocking stuffer for an ailurophilic child.
Lagniappe: A friendly cat interrupts a BBC reporter. Click on the screenshot to go to the site and see the video. Here are the BBC’s notes:
This is the moment a cat stole the limelight from a BBC reporter during a live broadcast from Manchester.
As Dave Guest was reporting for BBC Breakfast on people being encouraged to transform alleyways into “ginnel gardens”, the feline ran out of nowhere and jumped onto the bench he was sitting on.
h/t: Ginger K., Jez