Caturday felid trifecta: Majestic Maine Coons, the hidden world of cats, most cat friendly places in the U.S., and lagniappe

July 24, 2021 • 9:30 am

I believe I’ve featured Robert Sijka’s photos of Maine Coon cats before, but here’s another dollop of these magnificent beasts from Modern Mood.

They’re big ‘uns!

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Here’s a Guardian article in which six cats, including that of author Sirin Kale, are fitted with GPS collars that will track their movements. Click on the screenshots to read:

Some cats stay close to home, others go as far as 4.5 miles in a day, while still others go and beg food from neighbors. If you have a cat that goes outdoors, maybe you’d like one of those collars. Here’s what they look like on the cats:

And here’s author Kale with her cat:

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From the OneVet website, we learn about the most cat-friendly locations in the U.S. Click on the screenshot:

To get the rankings, the authors used this methodology, which is deeply confusing:

To determine the best and worst cities to be a cat, we looked at the five ranking factors below for each city. We assigned weights to each factor based on their level of contribution towards a cat’s quality of life. Lastly, we calculated the sum of the nine weighted factors, which gave us an overall city score for each city. The highest possible city score was 50.

  1. Number of Pet-friendly Rentals (Per 100K People)
  2. Number of Veterinarians (Per 100K People)
  3. Number of 2020 Cat Adoptions (Per 100K People)
  4. Number of Cat Cafes
  5. Number of Pet Stores (Per 100K People)

So if there are five factors and a highest weight is 2, how can the maximum score be 50 rather than 18? And what is this “nine weighted factors” when they show only five? Someone please explain this!

At any rate, what they came up with are the ten best and worst cities in which “to be a cat”. Here are the winners:

And the ten worst cities to be a cat:

There’s not much geographic sense to be made of these data; for instance, Jacksonville, Florida is a pretty dreadful place to be a cat, but Miami, Orlando, and Tampa are great places to be a cat. The overall winner, with a score of 43.47, is Miami, and the biggest loser, with a pathetic score of 5.93, is New York City. (I’m sure readers will think of reasons for these rankings.)

The article also shows the places with the most cat adoptions (winner: Denver, Colorado), as well as the place with the most pet-friendly rentals (winner: Atlanta, Georgia) all normalized on a per capita basis. Make of these data what you will.

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Lagniappe. Can you spot the secret cat in the Williams Tower in Houston, Texas? Chron shows it to you. The first picture is taken during normal daylight, but when there are shadows, as in the second photo, a cat is revealed. The building was designed by famed architect Philip Johnson, and I’m sure the cat was an accident.

h/t: Matthew, Ginger K.

Caturday felid trifecta: Turning your back on a lion; Japan’s stunning digital cat billboard; Hank gets groomed; and lagniappe

July 17, 2021 • 9:53 am

We have a short Caturday felid today, comprising three videos.

Dean Schneider is a Swiss entrepreneur who engages in wildlife rescue. In this video, an apparently friendly lion still stalks him, but it’s all in fun. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

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From the San Diego Union Tribune we have an article about this amazing digital billboard in Japan. It’s not advertising anything; the creators merely wanted to make people feel good. And apparently it does. From the story:

Ryoko Kikuchi was strolling home from a Tokyo movie theater when she saw a cat the size of a yacht strutting high above the sidewalk, coyly licking its paws.

“The way it was meowing was too cute to bear,” she said.

A lot of people in Tokyo feel the same way, no matter that the cat is just a bunch of pixels on a billboard. The 4K display does not officially “open” until Monday, but it has already drawn socially distanced crowds — and inspired many social media posts — since its installation last month.

The digital calico behaves a bit like an actual cat, in the sense that it does whatever it pleases. Visitors are only treated to a few brief appearances per hour, in between a stream of advertisements and music videos.

The cat yawns here and there, and at 1 a.m. it drops off to sleep for about six hours, resting its head on white paws that hug the side of what appears to be an open-air perch near the Shinjuku subway station. (The three-dimensional look is an illusion created by a curved, 26-by-62-foot LED screen.)

It also talks, greeting pedestrians with “nyannichiwa.” That is a blend of “konnichiwa,” or hello, and “nyan,” Japanese for “meow.”

Unlike many of the flashing billboards and signs in the area, the cat isn’t advertising a specific product or brand.

Takayuki Ohkawa, a spokesman for the Japanese conglomerate Unika, one of the two companies running the feline display, said that the cat does not have an official name. (Fans have called it “Shinjuku east exit cat,” after the station.)

“There are many reasons we decided to display the cat, but one of the big reasons is that with corona, the world became very dark,” Ohkawa added, referring to the coronavirus pandemic. “Through the cat display, we wanted to revive Shinjuku and make it brighter.”

Now I’m not sure exactly how it works, but I’d love to have one in Chicago.

You can find the livestream here (it was hard to locate), but I can’t find the cat’s Twitter account. Perhaps a reader can put it below.

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Finally Scott, who sent this video, notes: “This is a channel for a professional groomer of pets. Trigger warning, there be d*gs about! Emoji “.  Meet Hank, a “senior diabetic cat”. Hanks, unlike most cats, loves the blow dryer, and even lifts his leg so his belly can be dried. He’s remarkably compliant about being combed and having his nails clipped, too.

Now this is a woman who knows how to groom a cat. She even sprays Hank with kitty cologne after the grooming is done.

I suppose his hijab is there to prevent water and soap from getting in his eyes, but I’m not sure.

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Lagniappe: Reader Elsie writes in:

You mentioned Sir Joshua Reynolds’ birthday (July 16, 1723) and asked for any painting by him of a cat. “Felina with a Kitten” (1788) is a Reynolds painting in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The kitten doesn’t look very happy, though.

h/t: Barry, Scott, Susan

Caturday felid trifecta: Fifty seriously spoiled cats; ship’s cats in tiny hammocks; pandemic may have made cats more affectionate; and extra lagniappe

July 10, 2021 • 9:15 am

From Bored Panda we have a clowder of very spoiled cats. Click on screenshot to see all fifty; I’ve chosen just 9 of my favorites:

 

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This is what Twitter is for: we have a whole thread of naval cats in hammocks. I’ll show a few, but go over and see more.

There are many more. . . . .

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Here’s a short article on ScienceAlert whose title tells the tale:

It’s no surprise that owners in lockdown paid more attention to their pets. Surprisingly, though, this made dogs more needy in an obnoxious way but cats got friendlier (this is, of course, my interpretation, but it comes from SCIENCE). An excerpt:

A team led by researchers from the Universities of York and Lincoln in the UK surveyed 5,323 people with companion animals, including horses, reptiles, birds and fish, along with the usual suspects – cats and dogs – to see what effect the massive changes in human routines have had on them.

Over 65 percent of the participants reported changes in their companion animals’ behavior during their first lockdown in 2020. Participants answered several sets of questions about their animals, their own mental health, and their relationships. They were also invited to leave further comments.

Overall, many owners reported improvements in their companion animals, but out of all the species, dogs displayed the most negative changes.

“My dog has become a lot more needy and howls if I leave the house without him, even if it’s just to do some gardening and he can see me,” explained another pet owner. “Going back to work will be very hard on him.”

Cats, of course, just improved:

. . . .The team suspects perception of increased affection seen in 35.9 percent of cats is possibly due to changes in owner behavior, with the humans seeking increased company and close physical contact. This may have encouraged cats to seek more treats and other resources from their owners, they suggest.

You can read the original research paper for free in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Here’s a snippet of the abstract:

Results: Animal owners made up 89.8% of the sample (n = 5323), of whom 67.3% reported changes in their animal’s welfare and behaviour during the first lockdown phase (n = 3583). These reported changes were reduced to a positive (0–7) and negative (0–5) welfare scale, following principal component analysis (PCA) of 17 items. Participants reported more positive changes for cats, whereas more negative changes were reported for dogs.

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Lagniappe: A cat named Binx survived the collapse of the condo in Surfside, Florida, was found safe two weeks after the disaster, and has been reunited with his owners. A tweet:

More Lagniappe: Cat likes being pushed along a slick floor:

h/t: Ginger K., Luana

Caturday felid trifecta: Public cat-shaming of a cat burglar; Revisiting a cat pub; a new Netflix film on cat people;

June 26, 2021 • 9:30 am

From msn lifestyle we have a good example of Cat Shaming. Click on the screenshot:

Excerpts:

  • Kate Felmet put up a yard sign calling out her cat as a thief for stealing from her neighbors.
  • Next to the sign, Felmet hung all the stolen items, such as gloves and belts, on a clothesline.
  • Felmet said she had united more than a dozen items with their original owners since making the sign.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Kate Felmet used to go door-to-door making “apology rounds” to her neighbors in Beaverton, Oregon, when her cat, Esme, would steal their gloves, face masks, and other items she could fit in her mouth, she told Insider.

But recently, Felmet found a better way to deal with her klepto cat.

Esme has been bringing Felmet at least one item a day since she first started going outside in the summer of 2019. At first, she brought birds and bits of trash.

“My mom is an avid bird-watcher and was quite distressed, so I began to praise Esme for anything she brought me that wasn’t a bird,” Felmet said. “Each time she brings something, she comes to the back door and yowls in a very distinctive and harsh way until I come to tell her she has done a good job.”

Clearly the praise for non-bird items has increased the tendency of this cat to purloin others’ possessions!

Esme has brought home many weird things, Felmet said. But in April, she seemed to be focused on gardening gloves.

“One week in late April, she brought two pairs per day,” Felmet said. “At the end of the week, I had 14 pairs, and I thought that if I didn’t do something about it I’d be swamped by the end of the summer.” That’s when she decided to make the sign and place a clothesline in her front yard holding all the stolen items.

Since then, Felmet estimates she has united 10 pairs of gloves, several masks, and a running belt with their original owners: her neighbors.

Photos of Esme from a similar item on Insider. During the pandemic, Esme brought home face masks—one day she brought home 11!

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In 2015 I posted about The Bag of Nails, “cat pub” in Bristol, which featured fifteen cats roaming among the customers, which proved a huge draw. I even offered a reader a free autographed copy of WEIT if he or she would go to the pub and get themselves photographed with a pint and a cat. Reader Andy won; here’s his photo:

When the pandemic closed the pubs, I worried about the Bag of Nails and especially its kitties, but I see that it’s back in business, complete with moggies. A new article in Gastro Obscura (click on screenshot) assures me that all is well, and pints are being quaffed again in the presence of cats despite a temporary closure for five more days.

Excerpts and photos:

The Bag of Nails pub, by the Floating Harbour in Bristol, England, is commonly known as “Bristol’s Cat Pub.” But landlord Luke Daniels would like to make clear that this is a pub with cats, not a cat pub. He rejects any comparison to cat cafés, the trendy coffee joints where in-house felines are the main attraction. He maintains that the pub’s main attractions are the decent pints he pulls, his superb collection of vinyl records, and numerous board games available to patrons. The cats, he says, just happen to live there.

Daniels is a typically Bristolian character, and the interior of his pub is just as outspoken as he is. On one column, a famous handwritten sign is covered in rules such as “Racists, etc can just sod off!” and “If you don’t like Johnny Cash, shut up or go away.” He’s equally proud to be a pub landlord, cat lover, and the owner of an impressive beard. (Together with earning the moniker of Cat Pub, the Bag of Nails also won the title of ‘Beard Friendly Pub of the Year’ in 2016.)

Note that this is a free house, so there will be a changing assortment of beers. I hope they have Landlord!

The Bag of Nails has served up pints and feline company since 2011. MR STANDFAST/ALAMY

But then came the COVID-19 pandemic. Many British pubs, the Bag of Nails included, stayed closed for more than a year because of lockdown restrictions. “It has been a hard 14 months, with barely any income but bills still having to be paid,” Daniels says. This April, he had to resort to crowdfunding to keep his pub and the cats alive.

But they’re back. Yay!

Luke Daniels and one of his (many) cats. ULRIKE LEMMIN-WOOLFREY

 

To his shock, patrons from Bristol and beyond rallied to the rescue, raising more than £20,000 in a matter of days. “I am so grateful to the public for donating,” Daniels says feelingly. “I managed to pay the rent for the first time in a year.” Not only could he feed the cats and pay their vet bills, but he even had enough money to redecorate.

With pubs in England reopening for business this spring, the Bag of Nails and its resident felines are ready for visitors once more. Christina, a visitor to Bristol, sidles up to Sally the cat while sipping a pale ale. “I love the pub’s atmosphere, the music, and especially the board games,” she says. An answer that Daniels would be happy to hear. Yet Christina then goes on to confide her real reason for visiting. “I came,” she says, “for the cats.”

So if you’re near Bristol, get yourself to the Bag of Nails and have a good pint or five. (The pub’s Facebook page notes that one of the staff contracted Covid-19, so the pub will again be closed until July 1.)

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And there’s a new Netflix film: “Cat People”.  Somebody watch it; here’s the trailer, with the YouTube notes below:

Dogs may get credit for being humanity’s best friend, but to many people cats are just as much our loyal partners — even though if you asked cats they might not admit it! CAT PEOPLE explores our fascinating relationship with cats through the lens of some the most remarkable, and surprising “cat people” in the world, defying the negative stereotypes of what it means to be a cat person while revealing the fundamental truths of what it means to have deep bonds with these fiercely independent, mysterious creatures.

h/t: Divy, Ginger K

Caturday felid trifecta: Really adventurous cat; One-eyed Hawaiian surfing cat;Shanghai company takes in pregnant mother, rears eight kittens; and lagniappe

June 12, 2021 • 9:30 am

Here’s a three-minute video from The Dodo about an adventurous and sociable cat named Cathode (I love her name).  She kayaks, bicycles, skis, and parachutes!  And Cathode even gets her own helmet for riding a motorcycle.  Kudos to her staff Rèmy for giving her such a good life.

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From Bored Panda (click on screenshot) we have the story of Kuli, a one-eyed Hawaiin cat who loves to surf and swim in the Pacific. Some notes:

Kuli, the one-eyed cat, has been surfing with his owners Alexandra Gomez and Krista Littleton for over a year in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was only 6 months old when he began riding waves.

Kuli, whose name means “to look blind,” is fine with water, probably because his owners used to bath him when he was recovering from eye surgery. The kitty was rescued from the streets when he was tiny and malnourished, weighing only one pound.

“His first time in the water, we just let him float on the board by himself near the shoreline and I would paddle around with him,” Ms Gomez told dailymail. “Before we knew it we were looking for waves to surf.” The kitty is safe and sound, he wears a life jacket when needed!

More info: Instagram (h/t: laughingsquid)

His owners even bought a board so he could join them surfing. (The theory is that because he required frequent baths for his eye injury, he got used to water.)

From Instagram:

A gif of Kuli swimming:

And at this link there’s a video of Kuli surfing (click on previous link).

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From We Love Animals we have a short tale of a packaging company in Shanghai (click on link):

This story was written by Angela Sy, an employee at Holmes & Marchant, a packaging agency in Shanghai.

“We have lots of office pets, almost all of them rescues! I share their transformation story and hopefully show that anyone can make a difference in an animal’s life,” Angela shared.

Recently, Angela shared a story on Bored Panda with the title “My colleague brought a pregnant stray cat into our office, now the family of nine has their own meeting room.”

According to her post, her colleague Yvonne was on the way to work when she met a heavily pregnant stray cat. The stray was thin and looked very young.

She sat outside the office building and meowed at people who passed by or walked in. “It’s like she was asking for help for her babies and herself,” Yvonne said.“

Despite being a stray cat, she was warm and sweet. She was so friendly that she immediately rubbed her face on anyone who gave her attention.

Luckily, Angela’s company had some cat owners who could give the pregnant mama some TLC to get her ready for her delivery date.

“We took her to our office and called her Boba because she was so round!”

“We placed her in a spare meeting room, where we prepared her a litter box, cushy bedding, and all the food (dry, canned tuna, fresh fish, milk) she could want.”

“There was a storm one night. When we came to work the next day, we found D-Day had arrived! Boba gave birth to eight kittens.”

Newborn kittens: four boys and four girls!

There were two gingers, one calico, and five tabbies

After two weeks, all kittens slowly opened their eyes!

“When the kitties hit one month, we moved them to a bigger meeting room so they could all move freely”

And now the office has its own equivalent of a cat cafè.

“One big family! Our officemates come to this room to visit the kitties or try to get some work done, no matter how impossible it is!”

Boba is going to get neutered and they’re trying to find homes for all the babies. I love their names, some of which are given in the post:

奶盖 or Milk Topping

珍珠 or Pearl

去冰 No Ice

仙草 or Grass Jelly

Oolong

Pudding

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Lagniappe from reader Markus:

I am teaching introduction to evolutionary biology at Wayne State University Detroit. This online winter semester, student Emily Smith shared the picture below showing her still less than a year old cat named Lux tending to our coverage of Darwin’s finches with clear interest. I thought it’s a classic, and suggested Emily to send it your way; she agreed.

Lux and a finch (which species?)

h/t: Divy

Caturday felid trifecta: Cats sleeping oddly; elephant cats; cats of brutalism; and lagniappe

June 5, 2021 • 9:30 am

https://www.boredpanda.com/funny-cat-logic-beds/

From Bored Panda, we have cats sleeping weirdly. Click on the screenshot to see all the photos. I’ve put up a small selection of my favorites (the main lesson is that cats spurn fancy beds in favor of boxes):

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From EatLiver.com we have (click on screenshot):

A few examples. Hairless cats make the best elephants:

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An Instagram site called “Cats_of_brutalism” shows what moggies would look like were they the size of Godzilla. Each photo also identifies the location. Here are a few of many entries:

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. . .  and Lagniappe: Small but obstreperous cat steals a Great Dane’s bed:

 

h/t: Gregory, Reese

Caturday felids: Cat mascot spreads the word about masks; cat survives five-story leap to escape building fire; boot camp for chunky cats, and lagniappe

May 29, 2021 • 9:30 am

I’m running out of cat-related items, too, many of which are contributed by readers. If you see something interesting that’s cat-related and would intrigue the readers here, by all means send it to me.

This week’s Caturday Trifecta features a cat mascot from Japan who’s promulgating mask usage (remember, only 2% of Japanese have been inoculated, and hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID patients.  Japan loves both cats and mascots, and it’s only natural that a cat mascot would appear to help fight the virus. Click on the screenshot from Atlas Obscura below:

The cat’s name is Koronon, and here’s an excerpt:

A masked superhero patrols two of Tokyo’s busiest districts, on a mission to help Japanese citizens defeat the coronavirus. Its name is Koronon, and it’s a bulbous, bubblegum-pink cat.

The crusader is a mascot—a person in a plush costume—with a big X slashing through the phrase “COVID-19” on its belly. Throughout the day, it prowls busy Ikebukuro and Shinjuku, handing out masks. Koronon also serves as a visible reminder to practice social distancing and hand hygiene, the pandemic equivalent of Smokey Bear’s forest fire prevention efforts as a spokescritter in America’s woods. COVID-era central Tokyo isn’t quite as bustling as usual—bars and restaurants close early, and most events are canceled—but there are still plenty of people out and about, engaging with Koronon and its many peers.

Why are Koronon’s slogans in English, though?

IKEBUKURO, TOKYO, JAPAN – 2020/09/30: Koronon, a Japanese anti-coronavirus cat mascot raises awareness about the Corona virus (Covid-19) in Ikebukuro, Tokyo.
K(Photo by Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

While Koronon (whose name loosely translates to “no corona”), appears to be the only mascot created in response to the coronavirus in Japan, it isn’t alone in its fight against the pandemic. Throughout the country, mascots have been repurposed to educate the public on issues surrounding the virus.

Some mascots that typically do other things have been enlisted to pass out face masks. Others, including Nazo No Sakana, the mascot for the Chiba Lotte Marines’ baseball team, have starred in social media campaigns about proper hand-washing technique. Scores of them have been featured on signs reminding residents to practice social distancing, and illustrations of mascots appear behind human speakers at many press conferences; Carlier says their presence helps add levity to somber discussions.

IKEBUKURO, TOKYO, JAPAN – 2020/09/30: Koronon, a Japanese anti-coronavirus cat mascot poses for a photo with a group of schoolgirls wearing facemasks in Ikebukuro, Tokyo.
(Photo by Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The big goal, Hayashi says, is for Koronon to join the ranks of Olympic mascots. Two others, Miraitowa and Someity, are already slated to participate in the opening and closing ceremonies of this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic games, and various other ambassadors, including Sailor Moon and Astro Boy, have helped promote the events.

However, it’s not certain that the Olympics will really proceed in Japan this summer. Japanese health authorities consider it unwise, the U.S. has discouraged tourists from going to Japan, and several medical journals have called for a postponement of the Olympics. Now if only Koronon would have a coterie with him who would vaccinate his fans!

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This happened in my town, but I heard about the news from the Guardian. Click on the screenshot to read about a brave kitty, who survived a leap, and to see a video of the jump:

The story:

Chicago cat has survived after jumping out of a fifth-floor window to escape an apartment fire.

Chicago Fire Department personnel were taking a video of the exterior of the building as firefighters were extinguishing the blaze when a black cat appeared through billowing smoke at a broken window. The feline briefly tested the side of the building with its front paws, and then jumped.

Onlookers gasped as the cat fell. But it missed a wall and instead landed on all four paws on a patch of grass, bounced once and ran away.

“It went under my car and hid until she felt better after a couple of minutes and came out and tried to scale the wall to get back in,” said fire department spokesman Larry Langford.

The cat was not injured, Langford said, adding he was trying to track down its owner.

No injuries were reported after the fire, which was confined to one apartment. The cause of the fire hasn’t been reported by officials, nor how much damage resulted.

Cats can fall considerable distances without injury, as recounted by an entire Wikipedia article on “high rise syndrome.” Decades ago I heard the rumor that cats falling from higher stories have a relatively smaller chance of being injured, but Wikipedia says there’s a controversy about that:

In a study performed in 1987 it was reported that cats who fall from less than six stories, and are still alive, have greater injuries than cats who fall from higher than six stories. It has been proposed that this might happen because cats reach terminal velocity after righting themselves (see below) at about five stories, and after this point they are no longer accelerating, which causes them to relax, leading to less severe injuries than in cats who have fallen from less than six stories. Another possible explanation for this phenomenon is survivorship bias, that cats who die in falls are less likely to be brought to a veterinarian than injured cats, and thus many of the cats killed in falls from higher buildings are not reported in studies of the subject.

In a more recent study, it was observed that cats falling from higher places suffered more severe injuries than those experiencing shorter drops.

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WANE in Fort Wayne, Indiana, reports on a “Thick Camp” for moggies who need to lose a few pounds (click on screen shot).  To qualify, the cat has to weigh over 14 pounds, and the goal is more to get them used to timed feedings than to lose weight (there’s a short video):

An excerpt:

A room at Humane Fort Wayne has been temporarily turned into a weight loss boot camp for cats called “Thick Camp.”

The camp offers a low fat diet and activities such as bird watching, high jumps and string play for cats 14 pounds or heavier. In a Facebook post, Humane Fort Wayne said the goal is not to get the cats skinny but to have the cats get used to timed feedings, moving around their environment and adding more activity to their routine.

“When free fed, or when provided a full bowl of food 24 hours a day, we see cats start to carry about 5-8 extra pounds of weight on their joints and organs. It can cause long-term and expensive health issues and most of this is avoidable by measuring portions and adding play to your cats’ day,” the post said.

Humane Fort Wayne currently has a livestream of the thick cats which can be viewed on its YouTube page.

Sadly, that livestream no longer exists, perhaps because it was engaged in “fat shaming” cats.  Here’s a shot of the exercise room:

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Lagniappe: Cat likes to play fetch, but his game is severely impeded by SHOES. But notice that the same size is only 1!

 

h/t: Ginger K., Matthew, pyers

Caturday felid trifecta: Do cats sit in imaginary boxes?; Leonardo’s “child with cat”, and lagniappe

May 15, 2021 • 9:30 am

We have three articles today on the tendency of cats to sit not just in boxes, but in squares. Click on the screenshots to read. All three popular articles come from the same scientific one:

Here’s the abstract:

A well-known phenomenon to cat owners is the tendency of their cats to sit in enclosed spaces such as boxes, laundry baskets, and even shape outlines taped on the floor. This investigative study asks whether domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) are also susceptible to sitting in enclosures that are illusory in nature, utilizing cats’ attraction to box-like spaces to assess their perception of the Kanizsa square visual illusion. Carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic, this study randomly assigned citizen science participants Booklets of six randomized, counterbalanced daily stimuli to print out, prepare, and place on the floor in pairs. Owners observed and videorecorded their cats’ behavior with the stimuli and reported findings from home over the course of the six daily trials. This study ultimately reached over 500 pet cats and cat owners, and of those, 30 completed all of the study’s trials. Of these, nine cat subjects selected at least one stimulus by sitting within the contours (illusory or otherwise) with all limbs for at least three seconds. This study revealed that cats selected the Kanizsa illusion just as often as the square and more often than the control, indicating that domestic cats may treat the subjective Kanizsa contours as they do real contours. Given the drawbacks of citizen science projects such as participant attrition, future research would benefit from replicating this study in controlled settings. To the best of our knowledge, this investigation is the first of its kind in three regards: a citizen science study of cat cognition; a formal examination into cats’ attraction to 2D rather than 3D enclosures; and study into cats’ susceptibility to illusory contours in an ecologically relevant paradigm. This study demonstrates the potential of more ecologically valid study of pet cats, and more broadly provides an interesting new perspective into cat visual perception research.

Sadly, the full article isn’t available anywhere that I can find. So all I can say is that it shows that 9 out of 30 cats tested selected the “Kanisza illusion” just as often as a square and more often than the control, which shows that they see the illusion as equivalent to a square, and that a square on the floor is chosen more often than the control (I don’t know what that is) as a sitting spot.

From ScienceAlert; the Kanizsa illusion is presumably the one on the right, which produces an illusory square.

An excerpt:

Cognitive ethologist Gabriella Smith from the City University of New York and colleagues recruited humans to set up floor objects for their feline lordlings to choose from – a taped square, a visual illusion of a square, and the same components as the visual illusion, but not arranged to produce a square (the control).

The cat owners were required to film the cats’ response under reasonably controlled conditions to avoid influencing the animals’ choices (this involved wearing sunglasses, too). While over 500 pet cats were originally enrolled, the final data set shrunk down to 30 citizen scientists who managed to complete all the necessary trials.

“The cats in this study stood or sat in the Kanizsa and square stimuli more often than the Kanizsa control, revealing susceptibility to illusory contours and supporting our hypothesis that cats treat an illusory square as they do a real square,” they found.

Of course, not all cats want to be predictable like that:

Tentative conclusion: cats (but not all of them) perceive imaginary contours just as humans do.

From Ars Technica:

An excerpt with some history:

The paper was inspired in part by a 2017 viral Twitter hashtag, #CatSquares, in which users posted pictures of their cats sitting inside squares marked out on the floor with tape—kind of a virtual box. The following year, lead author Gabriella Smith, a graduate student at Hunter College (CUNY) in New York City, attended a lecture by co-author Sarah-Elizabeth Byosiere, who heads the Thinking Dog Center at Hunter. Byosiere studies canine behavior and cognition, and she spoke about dogs’ susceptibility to visual illusions.  While playing with her roommate’s cat later that evening, Smith recalled the Twitter hashtag and wondered if she could find a visual illusion that looked like a square to test on cats.

Smith found it in the work of the late Italian psychologist and artist Gaetano Kanizsa, who was interested in illusory (subjective) contours that visually evoke the sense of an edge in the brain even if there isn’t really a line or edge there. The Kanizsa square consists of four objects shaped like Pac-Man, oriented with the “mouth” facing inward to form the four corners of a square. Even better, there was a 1988 study that used the Kanizsa square to investigate the susceptibility of two young female cats to illusory contours. The study concluded that, yes, cats are susceptible to the Kanizsa square illusion, suggesting that they perceive subjective contours much like humans.

. . .cats to sit inside, rather than the presence of shapes on the floor,” Smith told Ars. “Brains are very sensitive to contours that differ in luminance. Vision has evolved to answer questions having to do with boundaries and contours.”

The study comes with the usual caveats, notably the final small sample size (the result of participant attrition, a common challenge with citizen science projects). Smith and her co-authors also suggest replicating the study in a more controlled setting, despite the advantages gained from conducting the trials in the comfort of the cats’ own homes. “For the sake of cats, the home was really ideal, but otherwise, for the sake of science, it is best to do things in controlled settings [like a lab],” said Smith.

And from VICE:

No quotes supplied, as all the relevant information is above.

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I have seen many of the world’s Leonardos, but didn’t know he ever drew cats. But behold: “Study of a child with a cat” by the great man himself:

 

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Lagniappe: Kittens rescued from a power line. How the deuce did they get up there?

Here are the YouTube notes:

Occurred on May 7, 2021 / Matat, Israel

“Suddenly, we came across a bunch of 4 cats stuck in a power pole and howling for help. Immediately, the whole company rallied to help save the cats. We brought mattresses and pillows from the whole company and we interpreted Elbad in the air by chance and fell. We made a bucket with a stick found and we began to lure them in his direction.”

h/t: Ginger K., Fred, Rick

Caturday felid trifecta: Bobcat thanks boy who saved it from fire; Biden’s “Schrödinger’s Cat”; Illustrations of what it’s like to be a cat’s staff

May 8, 2021 • 9:30 am

From apost we have a story and a video about a boy who rescued two animals from a fire, with one (below) becoming a house pet.

A wild bobcat almost died in a wildfire. He was rescued by a young boy, who took him home and adopted him.

Now, this wild animal acts like a domestic house cat, with ample love for the boy who saved his life.

This video shows some of the bobcat’s heartwarming affection for his savior, as he snuggles and caresses his owner. It is so sweet to see how a wild animal can bond with a human.

The boy, George Kraus, rescued this bobcat as well as a young fawn from a fire in his town. The animals were having trouble breathing because of smoke inhalation.

Young Kraus brought them home and cared for them until they were well. It took some time to earn each other’s trust, but before long the big cat became part of the Kraus family.

The bobcat, now named Benji, became a family pet. Benji lives in George’s home as an affectionate over-sized house cat.

Benji loves playing with toys and being with his family. He takes naps on the furniture. He especially loves snuggling, as the video clearly reveals.

I would not try this at home, but I suppose it’s possible. I hope the cat doesn’t decide one day to nip a little too hard! The video, however, is heartwarming.

And what do they feed the thing? Is it even legal to own a bobcat?

 

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You know, well before Biden took office we heard exciting rumors that the family was going to get a cat in the White House. POSH! PIFFLE! LIES! No cat has shown up in the first hundred days, although of course there are d*gs.  So I was a bit dubious when I saw this headline from the Washington Post.

Is Biden “reaching across the aisle” to cat lovers?  Well, don’t hold your breath. We’ve heard intimations like this for months:

Dogs seem to have a way with world leaders. For decades, the powerful have often opted for canine companions. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has one. So does French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Obamas were dog owners, too.

But President Biden is taking a path less followed with a first cat, which is expected to join the Biden family’s two German shepherds, Champ and Major, in the White House. (Donald Trump broke ranks when he became the first U.S. president in 150 years not to have a pet.)

First lady Jill Biden told NBC News on Friday that the Biden’s new cat was “waiting in the wings,” although she declined to say exactly when their feline friend would arrive. She gave no hint on the name, but appears to offer a gender reveal.

“He …,” Jill Biden started, then corrected herself. “She is waiting in the wings.”

Waiting in the wings my tuchas.! It’ll be a cold day in July when the Bidens get a cat. But one can still hope. . .

Biden’s rescue dog, Major, has already had some special coaching to prepare for life with a cat as part of his remedial training following two White House biting incidents.

Biden may not earn full “cat person” credentials in some eyes for sharing his affections with a pair of hounds. Still, the cat club is a small group for politicos at the top.

The genuine ailurophiles mentioned include the great Jacinda Ardern (whose polydactylous cat Paddles was run over by a car, and so no longer exists), and Larry, the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, who does exist.. However, all the rest of the moggies mentioned are former First Moggies, like Socks, the Clintons’ cat, or the cat of Stephen Harper, Canada’s former PM. They even mention Winston Churchill, for crying out loud! Couldn’t the paper be arsed to find out existing First Cats? Or maybe there are none save Larry. . .

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From Bored Panda we have a series of cartoons by Russian artist Lingvistov about what it’s like to live with a cat (click on screenshot). Anybody who’s had a mog will recognize the tropes; I’ll show my favorite five of the 30 cartoons given.

h/t: Jean

Caturday felid trifecta: Demon cat; cat obsessed with empty cinnamon bottle ; and how whiskers work (and lagniappe)

May 1, 2021 • 9:30 am

This video from the “Owlkitty” YouTube channel, which recounts the (often fictitious) adventues of a long-haired black cat, purports to show how OwlKitty moves around at night. The conceit is that the kitty is paranormal, and also that this takes place on a single night. The former is of course bogus, and the latter probably at best a melange of several night. Note the vomiting cat, guaranteed to wake anybody up! And if you have a cat, you know the horror of stepping in cat vomit in the dark.

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This is also from The Dodo (click on screenshot), and how can you NOT read a piece with a title like this (click on screenshot; excerpts are indented):

Winston is absolutely obsessed with food and will do anything to get his paws on it. He even tries to eat things that aren’t food, and his family thinks it’s a habit that formed when he was a stray living on the streets. Even though he always has plenty of food now, he’s still obsessed with it, and his family has just accepted that it’s one of his quirks.

“Since he is obsessed with food, and just eating in general, he will literally eat his toys (not kidding), especially the soft ones,” Emily Tan, Winston’s mom, told The Dodo.

All photos by Emily Tan:

One day, Winton’s parents had just finished a bottle of cinnamon and left the empty bottle on the windowsill to be brought out to the recycling bin later. Instead, Winston found it, knocked it into his box and decided that it was officially his new favorite toy.

At first, his parents were definitely a bit confused. They couldn’t figure out why he loved the cinnamon bottle so much. He would spend all day cuddling with it, and if they tried to take it away, he immediately complained — and so it seemed the cinnamon bottle was there to stay.

“He has a very strong grab-and-pull reflex, so any time he’s snuggling with the bottle, he is very resistant to it being taken away,” Tan said. “He’ll hug it to his chest with both of his arms. It’s so cute.”

Funnily enough, compared to his other toys, the cinnamon bottle is actually a great alternative plaything for Winston the toy destroyer. He can’t chew it up the same way he can other toys, so he can keep playing and cuddling with it for as long as he wants.

Now, Winston loves cuddling up with his cinnamon bottle every chance he gets. Occasionally he’ll knock it out of his box and chase it around, but for the most part, he just loves holding it. It’s his new best friend, and he’s not afraid to show it.

“He’s been hanging out with cinnamon for a few months now,” Tan said. “It just kind of lives in his box, and he hugs it all day.”

You might try this with your cat, but make sure the bottle is empty, for several sites (e.g., this one) say that sniffing cinnamon can be toxic for cats.  And another site says this:

Most cats (but definitely not all) don’t like the strong smell of Cinnamon which is why it is popular as a cat deterrent.

As a cat owner if your pet shows an interest in Cinnamon you should not let them ingest it. While a tiny amount won’t do any harm, any more than that can lead to vomiting.

Cats are different. Most will hate it but a few cats like Cinnamon and find it stimulating.

Winston is clearly one of the latter!

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This article from ScienceAlert disappointed me, as the title was misleading (click on screenshot); it also uses “genius” as an adjective, which I detest.

How do they work? Well, first of all the study was done in rats, not cats. And the results are confusing; here’s a bit of the summary:

The research required expertise from a wide variety of scientific fields, including neuroscience and continuum mechanics. Part of the mechanical model involved the application of beam theory, which is often used in engineering and geology to work out how bending materials or entire tectonic plates might interact with each other.

Here, beam theory was applied to the interaction of the whisker and its follicle. The team discovered that the change in shape of the whisker – in many ways “just a deformable beam interacting with springs” – was likely to be the same whether it was actively pressing against something or passively being touched by something else.

“Our model demonstrates consistency in the whisker deformation profile between passive touch and active whisking,” says mechanical engineer Yifu Luo, from Northwestern University.

“In other words, the same group of sensory cells will respond when the whisker is deflected in the same direction under both conditions. This result suggests that some types of experiments to study active whisking can be done in an anesthetized animal.”

“Active whisking”? They didn’t bother to explain it, and I’m not quite sure what it is. It’s clear that the whiskers convey some tactile information to the cat, and it’s equally clear that that information is useful. But exactly how that information is used, well, we’re in the dark, at least from this article. Does it tell the cat how narrow an opening lies ahead? Does it give information about prey? Your guess is as good as mine, and I can’t be arsed to look up what must be an extensive literature on whiskers. One thing is for sure: the article above does not tell us much about “how whiskers actually work.”

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Lagniappe from We Love Animals. This is a video of Pusic the cat, a stray rescued in 2014 from the streets of Belaurus. The staff quickly discovered that Pusic loved toilet paper as an object of play. So they went whole hog:

They bought 100 new rolls of toilet paper and placed all over the living room – on the wall, on the floor, and on the ceiling. They set up a camera as well to record how Pusic was let loose in his new playroom. How’d the cat react? A brain blast for them! They are unpredictable!

See for yourself!

After giving Pusic a few hours in the toilet paper-filled room, his parents started cleaning and planning to save it for Pusic’s enjoyment. “We try not to waste resources,” he said. “The toilet paper will be useful for future games and for new cat toys.”

Heeeere’s Pusic! No great love hath a staff for its cat!

h/t: GInger K.