Caturday felid trifecta: Best cat cities in America; Ritz the cat turns up after 16 years; black cat named mayor of Hell, Michigan

May 14, 2022 • 9:30 am

From “The World’s Best Cat Litter” site, an advertising site, we hav a list of the best cat cities in America. The data used in the compilation seems wonky, but here’s the intro (click to read):

The list:

1.) New York City

2.) Los Angeles

3.) Chicago. This is what they say about my town:

We love Chicago for deep-dish pizza and Navy Pier. Cats love Chicago because of the views! While birds fly back and forth, an apartment cat is in her element watching all the wildlife pass by. For cat lovers, there are a number of cat cafes and events throughout the city that celebrate all things cat-related. The only thing Chicago is missing is a great sports team with a cat mascot.

4.) Dallas

5.) Atlanta

6.) Houston

7). Philadelphia

8.) Seattle

9.) San Francisco. 

In truth, the list reads like the group of cities that the writers like the most, having little to do with cats. Only Dallas has any bona fides, described as “Apart from the perfect climate for window perching, Dallas is also one of the first cities in the country to be certified as a Better City for Pets™, as part of the Mars Petcare Better Cities for Pets™”

I’d say the best city for cats is the city where you live, especially if you have a cat.

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Here, from USA Today, we have another story of a cat gone missing and found after a long period—in this case 16 years. Not only that, but he was on the verge of being euthanized when, glory be, the vet found a microchip. (Make sure all your cats are chipped.)

Ritz is a gray tabby who escaped from his owner’s Delaware apartment in 2006, apparently gone forever. Click on the story to read.

The owner Jason McKenry, made strenuous efforts to find Ritz, putting up this poster:

Jason kept calling animal shelters, as he had been told that before an animal is “put down,” vets routinely check dogs for microchips but not cats:

“Almost universally, the answer I got from all the shelters and vets was that they checked for dogs,” he said, “but they really didn’t check routinely for cats.”

I’d call that blatant discrimination. At any rate, Jason got married, had two kids, and Ritz was still gone.  Then, after 14 years, the rescue:

About two years ago, Emily Russell noticed a gray tabby kept coming near her home in a mobile home park near Delaware’s Lums Pond.

Russell, then 18, began feeding the cat and some other feral cats that came around her place. But this tabby was a little different from the others.

“He was just so sweet and innocent,” said Russell, now 20. “I named this cat Tom because he looks like a Tomcat. He’s an old man.”

Russell said she’s been feeding eight outside cats, but Tom, who would sleep under mobile homes, was the only cat that ever let her pet him.

“We would have love sessions outside,” she said. She’d also allow the cat into her home where he interacted with her two indoor cats.

Recently, Tom showed up at her doorstep with an injured paw and back leg.

“It looked like he got hit by a car,” she said. “His front leg was very hurt. He was holding it up, and he wasn’t able to walk.”

Russell and her dad took him to Lums Pond Animal Hospital to see if anything could be done for him – or if he needed to be put down.

That’s when they found out Tom had a chip.

“I started bawling my eyes out,” she said. “If I had known he had a chip I would have taken him sooner, but he just looked like a feral cat.”

Here’s “old man” Ritz with Russell. Where had he been for fourteen years?

Liz McKenry sobbed for about an hour.

The couple picked up their children and drove to the animal hospital where they were reunited with Ritz.

After being treated at the animal hospital, they took Ritz to the home of Caroline Clark, Liz McKenry’s mother who they jokingly refer to as a “certified cat lady.”

There Ritz rested most of Tuesday.

The McKenrys aren’t sure if Ritz recognizes them, but he is being friendly.

“He hasn’t balked at all about being handled,” Jason McKenry said. “It’s astonishing.”

Here’s Ritz after the rescue:

This is the part that bothers me; they are letting someone else take care of their ageing cat:

The McKenrys returned to Annapolis Tuesday night, leaving Ritz at Clark’s home to recover. After that, they will figure out what comes next.

“He’s obviously had a long eventful life,” Jason McKenry said. “But he’ll be comfortable for whatever time he has left.”

Yes, he’ll be comfortable, and perhaps he’s forgotten his original owner (Jason), but I sure as hell would keep Ritz for the rest of his life. Well, to each their own.

Here’s the errant moggy with Jason and his post-Ritz wife Liz:

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This is a short and sweet article from Bored Panda about a black cat named honorary mayor of Hell (a town in Michigan that you can read about here or here). Click to read the article below:

Here’s pretty much all the information about Jinx, including social media sites:

Pets go viral on the internet for either the most wholesome or the most bizarre reasons, and there are rare situations where it’s both at the same time. However, today we’d like for you to meet an adorable cat named Jinx who happened to go viral for the most bizarre and wholesome reasons.

Jinx has disproportionately large eyes and feet and has been this way ever since she was little when she stumbled into her owner’s backyard and found her forever home from that very day. However, that’s not the entire point of Jinx’s charm: the reason the unique cat went viral was because she applied to be a politician for a day (yes, seriously) or in other words, she ran for Mayor of the city Hell in Michigan.

More info: Instagram | tiktok.com | twitter.com | twitch.tv | youtube.com

Here’s Hell:

Jinx (a great name) as a kitten. Look at the size of her eyes! (All photo credits: bigfootjinx)

Jinx grown up. Apparently her feet are so large that she can’t walk properly.  I can’t see oversized feet, they do look a bit deformed. The eyes, however, are HUGE.

xAnd a temporary mayorship:

And a video:

 

h/t: jj,

Caturday felid trifecta: Why cats hate aluminum foil; how to keep your cat from waking you up early; and My (cat) Baby Just Cares for Me

April 30, 2022 • 9:45 am

I cannot neglect the Caturday felids, and I’m told it’s Caturday. I present these articles without commentary, as we’re about to disembark fora 2.5-hour bus trip to Marrakesh.

The Dodo explains why cats despise aluminum foil (especially the sound when it crinkles. I don’t remember this from when I owned cats, but perhaps ailurophilic readers can weigh in.

Click the screenshot to read.

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This short article from Science Alert explains the reasons why your cat wakes you up early in the morning. This will not be news to many people. For example, here is Reason#1 and how to fix the issue:

  1. They’re hungry. (DUH!)

To start addressing this problem, make sure your cat is getting enough to eat throughout the day. You can feed them a meal or a satisfying snack right before you go to bed.

If you usually feed your cat in the morning, you need to make sure your cat is not associating wake up time with breakfast time. Leave a gap between when you get out of bed and when you feed kitty breakfast – aim for at least half an hour.

You can also train your cat to associate something else with getting fed, such as saying “breakfast time!”.

As every cat owner knows, none of this advice will work (there are two other reasons) because underlying every reason is an unmentioned one: “Your cat just likes to piss you off.” But click below if you think the problem can be solved.

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I periodically post Nina Simone’s fantastic live version of “My Baby Just Cares for Me” (see here, for example). While looking up the song on Wikipedia, I found this:

In 1987 a claymation music video was produced by Aardman Animations and directed by Peter Lord. The video prominently features live action footage showing details of a piano, brushes on a snare drum, and a double bass as they play the song. The two focal characters are represented by a singing cat in a club and the cat who is in love with her.

Well, of course I had to look for that video, and sure enough, it’s on YouTube. Enjoy:

h/t: Ginger K.

Caturday felid trifecta: One-eyed stowaway cat on oil platform returned to owner after five years; world’s skinniest stray rescued and fed up; Maru “runs” obstacle course

April 23, 2022 • 10:30 am

I’m writing this from O’Hare airport for posting tomorrow, just to ensure that the Caturday felids don’t skip a week.

The first item comes from the BBC (click on screenshot below), and recounts a short but heartening tail of a rescued stowaway cat. (No photo credits were given.)

So here’s all the news fit to print:

A stowaway cat who was flown ashore from a North Sea platform has been reunited with his owner – five years after going missing.

The one-eyed cat was discovered on Thursday inside a shipping container that had been shipped from Peterhead.

It emerged he had previously been a regular visitor to HMP Grampian, where prison staff fed him and nicknamed him “one-eyed Joe”.

The publicity has now led to the wanderer being identified as Dexter.

The crew of the offshore platform fed their unexpected visitor on chicken from the canteen and called in the Scottish SPCA.

Here’s Dexter/One-Eyed Joe:

On Friday morning he was flown by helicopter into Aberdeen and handed over to the charity.

Animal rescue officer Aimee Findlay, who collected the cat, said: “We’ve no idea how the cat ended up there.

“After checking him for a microchip it turns out his real name is Dexter and he has been missing for five years.”

She added: “We are so glad that he was well looked after for the time he was missing, but were even more delighted to be able to reunite him with his original owner thanks to his microchip being up to date.”

Delighted owner Bridie Dorta told BBC Scotland she was “quite shocked” to have Dexter back.

“He’s always been a wanderer,” she said. “He went away a few years ago and we never heard anything about him since.

“We never expected him to end up back here.”

What I want to know is how a cat can wander into and out of prison at will. And imagine what it could be used to smuggle!  How did he lose his eye?

Well, I don’t know, but he’s home and got chicken. Another photo:

Oh, there’s one more line:

[Bridie] hopes to be able to keep Dexter in touch with his fans at the prison.
Does that mean the cat will be smuggling in files, cellphone, or even drugs? Has Bridie thought of what might happen to the cat if he associates with the incarcerated. I still think that has something to do with his missing eye.

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This 3-minute Facebook video shows the skinniest feral cat that reader Malcolm or I had ever seen—indeed, I didn’t think such a skeletal frame was compatible with life! Look at this waif: the feline equivalent of Oliver Twist. It comes from the Dodo, though, so you know that in the end everything will be right. He weighed 1.8 kilos when he turned up, but look at him now! Be sure to put the sound up, though there are subtitles too.

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I had totally forgotten about the world’s most famous cat—Maru, of course—until I saw this video “suggested” for me on YouTube. Apparently, since I last checked in, after Marus owner adopted another tabby named Hana, she’s gotten yet ANOTHER cat, which is mostly white .

The translation of this video, the “Beer Box Challenge”:

Beer Box Challenge 2. If Maru goes through the beer boxes first, he doesn’t jump over to the end.

Maru can’t even make it over level one He’s a lazy cat, but we also know that he loves going through boxes (in fact, he drags the whole apparatus with him). As I remember him saying a while back, “When I see a box, I cannot help but enter.” And so he does, and that’s why we love him.

h/t: Jez, Malcolm

Caturday felids: Two reviews of a cat toy (two thumbs down); human/cat bonding; an agile moggy: and lagniappe

April 16, 2022 • 9:45 am

I often count on readers to send cat-related news or items, but that didn’t happen when I was gone, and I didn’t expect it to. The result, though, is that today the Caturday Felid post will be thin. If you see something cool and related to moggies, send me the link.

First, from boingboing, a cat reviews a toy. This is a short video:

If you’ve got your eye on a $25 Pop N’ Play “interactive” toy for your kitty, you might want to check out this cat’s scathing review of it first. No words were needed.

She wasn´t impressed. from aww

Here’s a television review of this toy. The review is also bad. Don’t waste your money! Whoever designed this overengineered it, and may know very little about cats. Didn’t they field-test it?

If you want one of these toys, you can get it for about twenty bucks on Amazon.

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Here’s a three-minute video of cats bonding with humans.

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Matthew sent me this two-minute tweet showing how agile cats can be. But they can’t squeeze through holes that are too small!

Two more tweets (all from Matthew). The first shows the Unbearable Clumsiness of D*gs.  In the second, we see one exception to cat agility: Cat #3

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Lagniappe: This grumpy moggie doesn’t like cups stacked on him. Conclusion from this and the video above: cats prefer to avoid plastic and paper cups. Perhaps that’s why they’re always knocking them on the floor.

h/t: Ginger K; Steve

Caturday felid trifecta:Top ten cats in literature; man who thinks he’s a cat; science using gene-editing technology to create hypoallergenic cats

April 9, 2022 • 9:00 am

The books section of the Guardian lists its choice of the top ten cats in literature (click on screenshot). I’ll just give some of the introduction by author Lynne Truss and then list the cats and the books where they appear (there’s a description of each cat, but you can read that for yourself.

Truss:

A couple of months after I took up my post as literary editor of the Listener in the autumn of 1986, I decided to write a review for the Christmas double issue: a review of two books about cats. I wrote it, marked it up for the typesetters, sent it off, and thought nothing more about it until one of the subeditors brought the corrected galley proof through to my office. “Lynne,” she said solemnly, “you won’t publish this under your own name, will you?” I replied cheerfully that I had been intending to, yes. Which was when she explained a great truth to me – that once a literary woman associates her name with cats, no one will take her seriously again.

I have been haunted by that conversation ever since. In my heart, I know that she was right. But on the other hand, cats are such good material. When I was asked to write a gothic novella three years ago, I did not hesitate to propose a funny one about evil, talking cats.

And now I’ve written a follow-up: The Lunar Cats. This time, we meet a ginger kitten mob boss who talks like Barbara Windsor and a mild scientific cat from the 18th century who voyages on the Endeavour with Captain Cook. It seems obvious to me that cats are clever and totally lacking in altruism. This means you can believe almost anything of them.

The following are masterworks by people who were bravely prepared to take the risk of being associated with cats. Noticeably, though, nearly all of them are male, so perhaps the subeditor’s warning should still stand.

1. Tobermory by Saki (HH Munro)
Talking cat

2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Superior cat

3. Edward the Conqueror by Roald Dahl
Reincarnated genius cat

4. The Silent Miaow translated from the feline by Paul Gallico
Guru cat

5. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by TS Eliot
Criminal mastermind cat

6. Thomasina, the Cat Who Thought She Was God by Paul Gallico
Mystical cat

7. A Case of Murder by Vernon Scannell
Avenging cat

8. Felidae by Akif Pirinçci
Sleuthing cat

9. The Cats’ Protection League by Roger McGough
Dangerous cat

10. Why Cats Paint by Heather Busch and Burton Silver
Aesthetic cat

Each link goes to a shop or a review. I’ve read #2, 4, 5, and #10, which is a must-read for cat lovers. You may think Why Cats Paint is a cheesy title, but it’s a wonderful satire of the pretentiousness of much art criticism.

But Truss has a serious omission: one of the most famous and appealing cats in literature: Behemoth the pistol-packing cat in the wonderful novel The Master and Margarita by Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov. He’s not only a cat to remember, but the book is one of the best pieces of fiction I’ve read in several years (it satirizes Soviet Russia).

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If humans acted like cats, this is how they’d behave.  One lacuna: “Cat Man Chris” doesn’t stick his butt into anyone’s face!

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When somebody tells me they can’t own a cat or even pet a cat because they’re allergic, my impulse (which I stifle) is to say, “Get over it. It’s worth the allergic reaction!”. But soon people may not have that excuse. This new article from Gizmodo (click on screenshot) shows that SCIENCE is coming to the rescue:

The tool used will be CRISPR, the method of gene-editing for which Jennifer Doudna and Emannuelle Charpentier won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry two years ago. Here’s how it’s done:

Allergies are most associated with the fur and dander that cats shed into the environment, but those aren’t the true culprit. A protein produced by cats called Fel d 1—which ends up in their saliva and tears and, by extension, the fur that they’re constantly cleaning—is thought to cause over 90% of cat allergies. This has made the protein an appealing target for scientists trying to reduce the burden of cat allergies, which may affect up to 20% of people.

Researchers at the Virginia-based biotech company InBio (previously called Indoor Biotechnologies) have been working on their own approach. They’re hoping to use CRISPR, the Nobel Prize-winning gene editing tech, to produce cats that simply make little to no Fel d 1. In their latest research, published Monday in The CRISPR Journal, they say they’ve collected evidence that this can be done effectively and safely.

Here’s the free paper, which is only suggestive:

The authors show that they can achieve in vitro inactivations of the gene in tissue-cultured cat cells, but they have not produced living cats with the inactive gene. Nor have they shown that knocking out the gene has no harmful effects: this is an extrapolation from lab work showing that the protein is tolerant of many substitutions among different felid species, which to them implies that the protein itself is not essential for viabilty. That’s not a logical conclusion, though they may be right. The article goes on, restating what I just said:

Analyzing the DNA of 50 domestic cats, they found regions along two genes primarily involved in producing Fel d 1 that would be suitable for editing with CRISPR. When they compared the genes of these cats to those from eight wild cat species, they also found that there was a lot of variation between the groups. That could indicate, as other research has suggested, that Fel d 1 is non-essential to cat biology and can thus be eliminated without any health risks. (Some cat breeds, like the Russian blue and Balinese, are often touted as being better for people with allergies because they may naturally produce less Fel d 1.) Lastly, the team used CRISPR on cat cells in the lab, which seemed to be effective at knocking out Fel d 1 and appeared to produce no off-target edits in the areas they predicted that edits would most likely happen.

The upshot is that we’re a long-long way from producing hypoallergenic cats, and gene editing, as Matthew shows in his new book, can have all sorts of unexpected and dire consequences (it’s prohibited in humans).  I’d say to just tolerate the allergy or get a Russian Blue. It’s worth the sneezes!

h/t: Dan, Ginger K.

Caturday felids trifecta: The rabbi’s cat; Freddie deBoer muses on his cat at 10; and manly men who love cats

April 2, 2022 • 9:30 am

Today’s Caturday will be short and sweet as I’m busy packing and taking care of last-minute business.

First, from BoingBoing we have a blurb for an animated movie you might want to see. Click on screenshot:

I’ve read two volumes of the graphic novel by Joan Star (there are 11), and thought it was great; but I haven’t seen the animated film.  Since the animation was made in 2011, I’m not sure why it’s being highlighted only now, but who cares? The film is highly rated, getting a 94% critic’s review score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Outside of the Japanese, the French have to be my favorite nationality when it comes to animators. I don’t think anyone can touch the beauty of fluidity of French animation. The film that acted as my sherpa through the lush expanse of French cartoons was The Rabbi’s Cat.

Based on Joann Sfar’s comic of the same name, The Rabbi’s Cat is a stunning work of magical realism with an incomparable visual style. As the title would indicate, the film’s protagonist is the house cat of a rabbi that gains the power of speech after devouring a parrot. Armed with his new silver tongue, the cat begins courting his owner’s daughter—who he mistakingly believes is his mistress—and plunges the family and the entire town into chaos.

The film is a rollicking romp that delves into religion’s place in modernity, war, racism, and how to compartmentalize grief – all through the eyes of an atheist cat that wants to become Jewish to marry a human. You gotta love the French, man.

Indeed! You can’t say that this is simply an adventure/chase film!

There’s a trailer for the English-language release, below, but I haven’t even seen this as there’s no streaming video aboard the ship. But I’ve inserted the link so you can see it:

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Readers have recently put me on to Freddie deBoar and his eponymous Substack site, and I like a lot of the stuff he writes.  Yesterday he published a paean to his still-living cat, Suavecito, who just turned ten. “Suavecito” is a brand of hair pomade, but also a popular Cuban song written in 1929; the name means “soft” or “smooth”. (deBoer doesn’t explain the cat’s name, but it’s a good one.)

The paean is a single sentence with no capital letters, and refers to a future apocalyptic time when all humans are gone but animals remain and rule. It’s also somewhat of a lament for death in general as Suavecito ages.

Here’s one excerpt. deBoer certainly loves his cat—as all staff should!:

in this next world the great stone canyons of Manhattan will sit indifferent to the demise of the species that built them, providing shade for lazy dogs that pack together in vast hordes, chewing their fleas, and deer will come to crowd the tombs that once housed subways, and rare eagles that used to live only above the Nordic fjords will come to nest among the gargoyles of the Chrysler building, and a mother bear will teach her cubs to fish in Prospect Park Lake, and the five boroughs will become a realm of myth and prophecy, and rising above all the other beings that hunt and claim land in this vast land will be, my Lord, you! you will be legend! you will move confidently and unthreatened across a teeming landscape of wise and untroubled creatures, most regal of all, and though no humans will remain to make statues of you, the whole vast sweep of the plains across which you unhurriedly journey will be the only memorial you need

and so today, April 1st, I cradle you while I can, knowing that my people’s time grows short, while ahead of you lies prehistoric plains that will grow like pinnacled corn from the human ossuary, and you will be lord and master of a vast kingdom that flourishes beneath your radiant example, and I say happy birthday, you are my friend, I know that you will never die

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Here’s another cat film, this time touted by the Good News Network, not a place to read about Jesus but to absorb feel-good stories). Click on the link to read about how manly men love cats:

The film is called Cat Daddies, has just been released, and is about eight “unique” men who are hopelessly devoted to their moggies:

The idea arose after director Mye Hoang noticed a softening of her husband after the pair adopted their first cat: a change deep down that was hard to understand. Taking to Instagram, she found a number of men hopelessly devoted to doting on their furry friends, and wanted to find out more; to document the changing conditions of masculinity in society.

. . . .An actor/influencer, a truck driver, a school teacher, a firefighter, a software engineer, a police officer—these men lead very different lives and can be found all over the country.

Yet they’re united in the love for their cats. An experienced directing/producing team captured how each and every cat proved the catalyst for something special and unique in their companions’ lives, from adventure, to comfort, to a feeling of purpose.

“It’s about being ok for men to show their compassionate and vulnerable side and how that should all be part of the definition of strength and leadership,” said Hoang in an interview. “Cats promote caring for others, both animal and man. Now during a pandemic, we know very plainly how pets contribute to our mental health and wellbeing. In the end, this is a film about taking care of each other.”

The film’s page (link above) shows that it’s received a lot of awards and selections for screenings.  So far there are only three critics’ reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes site, but all are very positive. One compares it to the 2016 film Kedi (“cat” in Turkish), a documentary about the feral cats of Istanbul that is perhaps the best cat film I’ve seen (Kedi has a 98% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes; watch it even if you’re not a huge cat fan.)

Here’s the trailer for Cat Daddies, but, still on the ship, I can’t watch it.

h/t: Barry, Merilee, Robyn

Caturday felid triefecta: How to toilet-train your cat; David Baddiel and his beloved moggies; and Owlkitty the video star

March 26, 2022 • 10:45 am

I bet you didn’t know that the world famous jazz bass player Charlie Mingus also specialized in toilet training cats! Although Mingus died in 1979, the NYT just issued an article about his book on toilet training your moggy. (You know you’re an ailurophile if you know about that book).

An except of the article:

Sometimes, at Charles Mingus’s apartment, you would have to wait outside the bathroom as a cat finished using the toilet. The legendary jazz composer and bassist had grown tired of coming home to an overflowing litter box. So he devised a solution. And in 1954, he wrote it up on a single sheet of paper and began handing out copies. A pamphlet version followed.

“The Charles Mingus CAT-alog for Toilet Training Your Cat” arrived in my mailbox in the second year of the pandemic. I learned about it after Topos, a bookstore and small press in Queens, reissued it — a piece of paper folded into three parts, its title in Cooper Black font, a photo of Mingus’s tuxedo cat, Nightlife, on the cover.

It took Mingus three or four weeks to toilet-train Nightlife. His method, in a nutshell, was to fill a shallow cardboard box with torn-up newspaper, instead of litter, which can clog the pipes. He placed the box far from the bathroom to start, then began inching it closer. “Do it gradually,” he writes. “You’ve got to get him thinking.”

Try this at home, if you want; it actually works for some cats.  It’s actually a short pamphlet and the link says you can buy it at brick-and-mortar stores in some cities, including New York and Berkeley.

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Here’s a nice Guardian article that several readers sent me. I didn’t know who David Baddiel was, but he’s apparently quite popular in the UK; his Wikipedia bio describes him as “an English comedian, presenter, screenwriter, and author.”

It’s a lovely paean to cats, and echoes many of my feelings, though I’m a bit in doubt about this:

 I am a fundamental atheist, but when I look at one of my cats – I presently have four – curving like a Matisse in a shaft of sunlight, I believe in God. Some people on social media see me as the antichrist, but really, I am the anti-Zouma.

But Baddiel redeems himself:

It isn’t, however, just about beauty, because cats are not just beautiful (although they really are: what other small animal is a perfect micro-copy of their big version? When I see Ron, my all ginger polydactyl – he has seven toes – boy, I just think: this is a lion cub. I basically live with a lion cub). Some of you may be aware that although my day job is still, nominally, comedian, late in my career I’ve been pulled into a type of activism, where I spend much of my time trying to redress various negative stereotypes and myths and bad imaginings that surround a long-maligned group. It may be time however for me to move on from Jews, to cats.

And he takes a clear side in the eternal debate of Cats Versus D*gs. Here he refers to those who “genuflect reflexively toward dogs.”

Cats have won. In the eternal battle between them and the barking, snappy ones as to who humans prefer being around, there is no doubt that first place has gone to the felines. People who don’t accept this will point to the fact that in the UK, there are still slightly more dog-owners than cat ones, but these are analogue people who presumably have never heard of the internet. In 2015 – these are the figures I can find, now it will be 10 times that – there were more than 2m cat videos on YouTube, with an average of 12,000 views each, a higher average than any other category. So from the point of view of what animals people like to watch and look at on their screens, these TV commissioners genuflecting reflexively towards dogs are just incorrect.

Secondly, it’s wrong. Because cats don’t pander to humans, that doesn’t mean that they are inexpressive. I’ve really had a lot of them, and each one has been very different and absurdly idiosyncratic. Pip, Ron’s mother, is often lazy and irritable, but will come over all kittenish and adorable if my wife sings her, at a particular pitch, Only You by Yazoo. Chairman Meow would stick her tongue out at you if you ran your fingers over a comb. Tiger, Ron’s brother, will grab your attention by tapping you gently on the arm with his paw, which is not unusual in and of itself, but he often becomes uncertain about the tap on the way to the tapping moment and so just stays with his paw poised in the air staring at you in hope and confusion, which is so cute it makes me want to die. These are just the tips of the various icebergs of personality that a few of the cats I’ve owned display.

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Reader Laurie sent me an NPR article or video called “Cat videos get the Hollywood treatment, thanks to one videographer.”  I have the link, but it doesn’t work for me, perhaps because I’m overseas. However, the videos are apparently adorable because they star a black cat named “Owlkitty”, who has a website here.

A note:

Lizzy (stage name: OwlKitty) is a 5 year-old floof living in Portland, Oregon. She stars in all your favorite movies and tv shows and gets lots of treats and cuddles in return. Offscreen, Lizzy loves her laser pointer, her adoptive mother (a 12 year-old tabby) and the taste of cream cheese. She’s never caught a bird.

So far, OwlKitty has made appearances in such classics as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, How to Train your Dragon, The Shining, Titanic, 50 Shades of Gray and Risky Business. You can also find her in Game of Thrones, Ariana Grande’s music video and Red Dead Redemption 2.

Here are two videos featuring Owlkitty. I can’t watch either of them on the ship, as we don’t have streaming video, but I believe I’ve seen them before. And, as I recall, I wasn’t impressed, but I guess others are.

Owlkitty in Jurassic Park:

Owlkitty in Titanic:

You (but not I) can see other Owlkitty videos here.

h/t: Matthew, Laurie, Debra

Caturday felids: A cat with a shoe fetish; Ukrainian cat escapes the war; oldest cat in Worcester gets a forever home at 21

March 19, 2022 • 9:00 am

From The Morning Call we have the story of a tuxedo cat in Pennsylvania whose speciality is purloining other people’s shoes. Click to read:

“I thought people were just throwing shoes onto our sidewalk and into our yard,” said Ross’s son, Gavin.

It turns out that Jordan, one of the family’s seven cats, had been stealing shoes from porches, yards and driveways all over the neighborhood, sometimes even going back to get the matching item.

“I caught on because he’s always been my gift-giver,” Ross said, recounting the various things Jordan has presented to her, like mice, birds and snakes.

To confirm her suspicions, Ross bought and installed security cameras while attaching a GPS tracker to Jordan’s collar.

Sure enough, during his nightly prowls, the small black and white cat was stalking the neighborhood for his new favorite prey: unattended shoes. Some nights, Jordan would walk 9.5 miles within a three-block radius in his quest for footwear.

(from article): BJ Ross (left) and her son Gavin, give the family’s resident cat burglar, Jordan, some love. (Rachel Foor/Altoona Mirror)

Jordan’s nocturnal rituals include him presenting the stolen shoes to the family’s other cats.

“In some of the videos, when he would bring home shoes, a couple of them would run up like ‘what’d you get, what’d you get,’” Ross said.

Jordan keeps his stolen shoes immaculate, hoarding and protecting them like a dragon’s gold. He doesn’t chew them and Ross noted that there were never any holes in them from being carried in the cat’s mouth. Even the heavy Timber­land work boots he’s snatched were in perfect condition.

“He keeps them pristine,” Ross said. “They’re his collection and he’s so proud.”

I can’t watch this video on the ship, but it purports to be a documentary of Jordan’s activities:

Eventually, some of the neighbors caught on to Jordan’s shenanigans, Ross said. One mother came to Ross irate because Jordan had stolen all five pairs of her son’s shoes. The shoes were located and returned, Ross said.

Ross offered to pay for another child’s shoes, but the mother refused reimbursement as she thought it was funny.

There was also one couple who lived around the corner from the Ross home that Jordan would frequently steal shoes from, as they have a bin on their porch with a sign that says “don’t wear shoes in our house.” They message Ross, telling her which shoes are theirs so they can be returned — and most likely restolen.

(from article): Jordan looks for his next target, as the Altoona cat has been pilfering shoes and other items from nearby homes since January 2020. (Rachel Foor/)

There’s a lot more in the artice: Jordan has a Facebook page, has never been caught in the act, and has become an “influencer” cat, getting mail from all over the world. Here’s a note sent to.Jordan from Ukraine!  Click the photo to enlarge and read:

Photo by Rachel Foor/Altoona Mirror

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Stepan is a world-renowed “influencer cat,” a brown tabby in Ukraine. As this Washington Post article reports, people went nuts when Stephan went missing (click on screenshot):

A post from his Instagram page:

For the past week, fans of Stepan, a 13-year-old black-and-brown-striped rescue cat based in Kharkiv, Ukraine, have been in anguish. They’ve refreshed the cat’s Instagram and TikTok feeds and begged for updates in the comments since the accounts went quiet on March 3, as Russia continued its invasion of Ukraine.

On Wednesday, nearly two weeks later, Stepan’s more than 1 million followers breathed a collective sigh of relief. He was safe and in France.

. . . Stepan is one of the most famous pets in the world. He has amassed a huge following on Instagram and TikTok for his Grumpy Cat-esque nonchalant expressions, and he’s often posed next to a large glass of wine or a cocktail. Stepan’s solo, at-home parties have entertained millions, including many celebrity followers. Stars like Britney Spears, Diane Kruger and Hailey Bieber have shared Stepan’s photos and videos. In November, he appeared in an ad for Valentino.

Stepan and his staff fled to Poland, and, helped by The World Influencers and Bloggers Association, an organization that unites social-media “influencers,” found safety:

The organization helped shepherd the famous cat and his family through Poland to a safe house in France. It rented an apartment for Stepan and his family to stay in for as long as they need. “It was not so easy, on each stage we were in touch with them,” Iryna Savchak, a spokeswoman for the World Influencers and Bloggers Association, said. “Now, we are personally taking care of them in France.”

There was widespread relief and rejoicing when Stepan’s account announced on Wednesday that he and his owner were finally safe. “My favorite cat I follow on Instagram in Kharkiv has made it to safety in France as refugee,” tweeted the author Ben Judah. Others posted photos celebrating the occasion.

Safe!

Stepan’s owner was able to travel with him in a carrier, but countless pets have been left behind in the war zone as their owners flee the country. Animal rescuers from Poland have been working overtime to rescue cats and dogs from Ukraine, and a German organization recently set up an animal shelter at the Ukraine-Poland border to help.

Stepan is adjusting to his new life in France. Anna said the entire family is “shocked and very much stressed” and traumatized by what they’ve been through. The comments and messages help. By Wednesday night, more than 14,400 people had left messages of love and support on Stepan’s latest Instagram post.

“So glad to hear that you’re safe now,” one follower commented. “… We’re with you!”

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There’s also this story from itv about an elderly cat finding a new home:

“Morag – the oldest cat ever housed in the RSPCA centre in Worcester – has found a new home, at the ripe age of 21.

People as far afield as Australia, Japan and the USA had offered to home the elderly cat, who is around 100 years old in equivalent human years.”:

Click on the screenshot to read:

Morag came into the care of the centre in Kempsey last month after her previous owner was no longer able to look after her.

Staff at the RSPCA’s Worcester and Mid Worcestershire branch, which runs the centre, were initially concerned that Morag’s age might put potential adopters off.

But an appeal very quickly took off, with nearly 50,000 reactions and over 3,000 shares on a social media post.

Here’s Morag, showing her age:

A calm and quiet home – which was essential given her advancing years  – was identified for Morag in Worcester, not far from the centre, where she has settled in well.

Her new owner has affectionately described Morag as “high maintenance, as you would expect from a senior cat,” and says her favourite pastimes are “sleeping, mooching about and eating.”

Ned Cotton, who manages the rehoming centre, said, “We never thought for one moment that her story would take off like it did, but a 21-year-old cat looking for a retirement home to live out the remainder of her days seemed to resonate with people and we were inundated with interest and offers of homes for her.

We’re delighted that she’s found a wonderful home to call her own and we know she’s going to be thoroughly pampered and much loved there, just as she deserves.”

Enjoy your retirement, golden girl!

h/t: GInger K., Jez, Nicole

Caturday felid: Why don’t lions climb trees?; cat butt pencil sharpener; refugee cats from Ukraine

March 12, 2022 • 11:00 am

Today will be a short Caturday Felid post as I’m afloat and also lecturing. First, the answer to the question we’re all asking.

Note that the question is “Why don’t ALL lions climb trees?”, not “Why don’t lions climb trees?”, because some lions do climb trees—just not many of them.  Here’s a photo from that NYT Trilobites article by Anthony Ham showing the lions as low-hanging felids:

From the NYT: Lions in an acacia tree in Serengeti National Park in northern Tanzania.Credit…Daniel Rosengren

Well, the answer is simply: they’re a lot more powerful and heavy than, for example, leopards. While they can get up okay, they could hurt themselves trying to get down:

Other big predatory cats climb trees all the time. “Anatomically, leopards are just better built for climbing,” said Luke Hunter, executive director of the big cats program of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York City. “They’re lighter, and a leopard’s scapula, their shoulder blades, are proportionally bigger, flatter and more concave than a lion’s.

“Lions, on the other hand, are built with enormously powerful forequarters, and a very, very stiff back,” he continued. “That’s for wrestling heavyweight prey, such as a buffalo, to the ground.” Their enormous power, he added, “comes at the cost of the agility and the vertical power that a leopard has in being able to whip up a tree with an impala.”

But there are other reasons as well. When I saw the headline, my first response was “they don’t need to to spot prey or stash their kills, for, unlike leopards and cheetahs, lions are social animals.” And that’s part of the explanation as well:

Most lions also have little need to climb trees. They are social and live in prides and can generally defend their meals from other predators. Solitary leopards must stash their kills somewhere safe and would, according to one study, lose more than one-third of their kills to hyenas if they were unable to hoist their captured prey up a tree.

And in some areas the lions do climb: if the trees are of the right sort with low, horizontal branches, or where they’re tormented by ground-level biting flies or when fleeing elephants.

Now here’s my question, “Do cheetahs climb trees? And if not, why not?” I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cheetah up in a tree in photos or videos, but I can’t be arsed to look on Google image. Ten to one you’ll find at least one, but cheetahs simply aren’t known for being up in trees the way leopards are.

Googling around, you get a variety of answers ranging from “Sure, they’re good climbers” to, very often, “No; they can’t climb trees because they can’t retract their claws.” And it is true that cheetahs are one of only three cat species that can’t completely retract their claws, but it seems to me that this wouldn’t put them at a disadvantage when climbing trees. You want to use your claws to get up a tree! I swear, you can find any answer you want on the Internet.

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From OddityMall, there’s a gift that every cat lover must have. Cat haters will also like this, as you get to poke the cat in the butt with a pencil. Click on the screenshot to see more or to buy one:

We like to pride ourselves on having the best selection of weird butt products. If you’re looking to pull something out of a dog or cat butt, like tissue paper, toilet paper, or maybe rest your drink on a cat butt coaster, you’ve come to the right place. This cat butt pencil sharpener, is just another weapon in our arsenal.

To use the cat butt pencil sharpener just insert your pencil and twist like you would any normal pencil sharpener, and then best of all, the cat meows as you sharpen. This way you’ll know the cat is enjoying having a pencil jammed up and twisted into its butt. Either that or it’s meowing in protest of having something jammed up its butt without their consent.

It also comes in white:

Sadly, it’s out of stock at Amazon US and Amazon UK. In fact, if you can find it for sale, post the link in the comments. Why wouldn’t every cat lover want one of these?

A video of its use, which I haven’t seen as we can’t watch YouTube videos on the ship.

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Finally, refugee cats (or rather, refugee staff with their cats) from Ukraine, and you’re probably seen many similar photos. How could you leave home without your beloved moggie? Here are just a couple.

From the Atlantic. Reader Malcolm’s caption: “A Ukrainian civilian takes shelter with a cat in their backpack at the Przemysl train station, 20 kilometres from the Ukrainian border, in Przemysl, Poland, on February 28, 2022. -Interesting picture via The Atlantic”

Another:

And a few more:

h/t: Malcolm