Tag Archives: Purrpourri

Cats Sink Their Claws Into The Donald

Donald Trump cat scratching post
Donald Trump scratching post

One of the really nice things about cats is that they’re completely apolitical. Your cats will never call you a sore loser or tell you to “just get over it.” But despite their total indifference to human politics, most would love nothing more than taking a few well-placed jabs at our new president, especially if he was covered in sisal rope rubbed with catnip.

Not that Politikats has it in for Donald Trump. Just about any politician is fair game when the online company is designing scratching posts. The Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin posts are sold out. But Hillary Clinton posts may still be available if seeing your cat tear her to shreds would do your heart good.

The scratching posts are 26 inches tall on a stable 26-inch wide base and are made of recyclable ABS plastic wrapped in sisal. The politicians’ heads are resin-based and hand painted with lead-free paint.

Sounds like fun for the cats. And if you can’t stand the thought of seeing your least-favorite politician in your living room, you could always turn the post so s/he is facing the wall.

Mars Petcare To Acquire VCA Animal Hospitals

Mars Petcare has announced plans to acquire VCA.
 dadoodas – Fotolia.com

While you and I have been scarfing down M&Ms and Skittles, Mars Incorporated has been indulging its own appetite, but not for chocolate.

Best known as the maker of M&Ms, Skittles and other candy brands, the company recently announced it will acquire VCA, Inc. (Veterinary Centers of America) for $93 a share, or about $9.1 billion, including $1.4 billion in debt.

VCA owns nearly 800 vet clinics and veterinary specialty hospitals, along with ANTECH Diagnostics; the veterinary imaging company, Sound Technologies; and Camp Bow Wow, a dog daycare and boarding franchise.

Sweet On Cats

While we may think of Mars as the maker of candy that melts in your mouth not in your hand, the company has been sweet on companion animals for more than 80 years.
Its cat food brands include Sheba, Whiskas, Iams, Eukanuba, Royal Canin and Temptations cat treats.
It also owns Banfield Pet Hospitals, Pet Partners and BluePearl, a chain of emergency and specialty animal hospitals. Mars’ Wisdom Panel provides animal DNA testing, and the company owns Whistle, which makes GPS trackers for dogs and cats. 
The prestigious Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition is also part of Mars Petcare’s portfolio of businesses. 

VCA will continue to operate as its own business within Mars Petcare, a press release says. The sale is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2017.

Video Shows How Cats Always Land On Their Feet

African caracal shows how cats always land on their feet

If you haven’t already seen your quota of online cat videos for today, here’s one that’s really worth watching. And it answers an age-old question: Why do cats always land on their feet?

Filmmakers for the BBC’s new show, Life In The Air, photographed an African caracal falling headfirst from a tree limb and landing on all four paws on the ground several feet below. This might be the most beautiful cat video you’ve ever seen online, and it’s certainly one of the most interesting.


So How Do Cats Land On Their Feet?

Cats come with invisible landing gear already installed. A vestibular apparatus in their inner ear acts as a compass, so they always know right side up.

It’s this “aerial righting reflex” that helps them reflexively correct their course when they fall so their feet are in position to touch down on the ground first.

The righting reflex begins to appear at three-four weeks of age. By six weeks, it’s fully developed and ready to kick in and parachute Kitty to a soft landing if she tumbles off a table or misses her mark trying to go over a fence.

It works because cats have unusually flexible backbones and no functional collarbones. You can see it in action in the BBC’s slow motion video of the caracal falling from the tree limb headfirst. He quickly begins to arch his back, twisting and bending near the head and tail. His flexible spine lets him rotate his front and back ends in different directions at the same time.

Since the front of his body rotates clockwise while falling backward and his back is turning in the opposite direction, he’s able to push against himself and bring his legs close to his chest. That makes the front of his body spin faster, causing his spine to twist. As his spine twists, he swings his front legs around to prepare for landing. Gracefully. On all four feet.

Watching him fall is amazing, and I have to admit that I watched the video several times.


But They Can’t Always Twist And Turn

A 1987 study by veterinarians at the Animal Medical Center in New York showed that 90 percent of cats who fell from tall buildings survived, although many had serious injuries. The ones who were most likely to have serious injuries or not survive were the cats who fell from heights of just one-six stories.

Why are cats who fall from greater distances more likely to have less serious injuries? One theory is that their aerial righting reflex has more time to kick in, providing a softer landing. Another is that after they reach a maximum downward speed, they relax and spread themselves out, much like flying squirrels.

And cats aren’t the only ones who can do this. Primates, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats and some lizards have a similar aerial righting reflex.


Don’t Try This At Home

I’m glad I now understand how my cats’ invisible landing gear works, but I hope they’ll never use it. If they jumped or fell off our third floor balcony, they’d probably make a soft landing on the grass and stroll off into the woods. But even cat landing gear can malfunction, so I’m going to request that they continue using the stairs when they want to go out. Granted, it takes longer. But it’s a lot safer, and we won’t have to worry about broken bones.

Every cat should wear a collar.
Today’s Recommendation
A collar is essential
for your cat’s safety.

Can Cats Meow With A New York Accent Or Southern Drawl?

Cat Meowing
Andrey Kuzmin – Fotolia.com

Does your cat from North Carolina meow with a southern drawl? Or, if you’re in northern New Jersey, does she sound like an in-your-face Jersey girl when she talks to you? That regional accent might be more than a figment of your imagination. A team of Swedish scientists is trying to find out whether cats have different “dialects” based on their location.

Susanne Schötz, an associate professor of phonetics at Lund University, thinks cats who live in different areas have slightly different accents. To confirm that she’s not just hearing things, she and two other researchers will be listening to cats in Stockholm and Lund, two areas with different dialects, and using phonetic analysis to determine whether their meows really do sound different.

The researchers plan to study 30-50 cats and their people over the next five years. They’ll listen to intonation, voice and speaking style in human speech addressed to cats and cat vocalizations addressed to humans.

Hey, Human! Are You Listening?

When adult cats talk with each other, their preferred method of communication is body language. The position of their ears and tails and the look in their eyes are worth a thousand meows. They meow when they talk to us because they realize we’re not fluent in catspeak.

But when they meow to us, do we really know what they’re saying?

Schötz also plans to record the vocalizations of cats in different situations to find out.

“We know cats vary the melody of their sounds extensively, but we don’t know how to interpret this variation,” she says. She hopes to discover how cats sound when they want to go out, are feeling friendly and greeting people, and when they’re hungry, annoyed or
angry.

She also wants to learn how they react to different human voices, speaking styles and intonation patterns. For instance, she wants to know if cats like hearing high-pitched “pet-directed” speech or if they would rather be spoken to as human adults.

“We still have much to learn
about how cats perceive human speech,” Schötz says.

Meowsic To Our Ears
Schötz is calling her study Meowsic (Melody in Human-Cat Communication), and she believes it could have a “profound impact” on how humans communicate with cats at home and at vet clinics and shelters.

Five years is a long time to wait, but it will be fun to see how the study turns out. In the meantime, I’ll continue talking to my cats the way I talk to people, since they’re used to that. And I guess they’ll continue taking to me the way they talk to other cats, with body language and looks in their eyes. If they flatten their ears, I’ll know I’m in deep trouble!

Body Language and Emotions of Cats book
Today’s Recommendation
This is my all-time favorite
cat behavior book.

Amtrak Gives Cats A Ticket To Ride

Cat in Suitcase
© Okssi – Fotolia.com

Maybe you’re not wild about our elected officials in Washington, but here’s a reason to send a little love their way. A provision buried deep into the 1300-page five-year highway appropriations bill approved last year instructs Amtrak to allow cats and dogs on many of its trains.

Amtrak started giving animal companions a ticket to ride on some routes in the northeast and Midwest last October. The pilot program ended earlier this month, and Amtrak is now on the fast track to expand its Pets on Trains policy. Cats and dogs under 20 pounds are now allowed on the Springfield Shuttles, Northeast, Downeaster,  Virginia, and Illinois regional routes and all cross country routes except the Auto Train. Animals can also travel on the Acela Express, but only on Saturdays and Sundays.

To travel with your cat, all you have to do is get on board with Amtrak’s rules. Among them: The cat must be in an approved carrier that will fit under your seat, and your trip must be no more than seven hours long. Oh, and just one cat is allowed per passenger.

It was Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), who asked Amtrak to get the Pets on Trains policy rolling after he discovered his French Bulldog couldn’t travel with him when he took the train. His Pets on Trains Act is part of the larger Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act. The act allows Amtrak to have at least one pet friendly car on each train.

To travel with your cat, you need to make your reservations with at an Amtrak ticket agent or call 1-800-USA-RAIL.  But your cat won’t be getting a free ride. Tickets for animals cost $25.

Top Loading Cat Carrier
Today’s Recommendation
A light, sturdy top-loading
carrier for traveling with your cat.

Cat Ladies Go To The Dogs

cat lady cartoon John Takai Fotolia.com

Oh, no! How could this be possible? Recent research shows that more and more cat ladies are going to the dogs.

Between
2005 and 2015, 7.7 million women became dog owners, while just 0.9
million added cats to their families, David Sprinkle writes on Petfoodindustry.com.
But if cat ladies are becoming a dying breed, someone else is following
in their trail of cat hair. Think about the T-shirt slogan: “Real Men
Love Cats.”

Sprinkle, who is the publisher and research director
at Packaged Facts, says cat ownership in households with just men rose
from 13 percent in 2005 to 18 percent in 2015.

That’s the good news. But the other bad news for cats is that people with high incomes seem to prefer dogs.

“Cat ownership is sliding somewhat down the socio-economic scale,” Sprinkle says.

Between
2005 and 2015, 6.2 million additional households with an income of
$100,000 or more became dog owners, he says, while just 2.4 million of
these higher-earning families adopted or bought cats.

“Between
2005 and 2015, cat ownership rates have remained fairly steady among
households with an income of under $75,000, and have even edged up, from
21 percent to 25 percent among households with an income of
$25,000–$49,999,” Sprinkle says.

“Among households with an income
of $75,000–$99,999, however, cat ownership rates dropped from 30
percent to 23 percent, and among households with an income of  with an
income of $100,000 or more, cat ownership went from 31 percent to 27
percent.”

Over this period, dog ownership grew from 44 percent to 48 percent among among households earning $100,000 a year or more.

So
what are the remaining cat ladies to do? This one will be talking up
the joys of cat companionship anywhere and everywhere. Oh, and I’ll be
keeping my lint brush close at hand because I won’t be representing my
feline friends well if my black sweater is covered with orange hair!

Grumpy Cat Meets Madame Tussauds

Grumpy Cat

If she was flattered, she certainly didn’t show it.

“This is truly an honor,” Grumpy Cat said when she learned she’ll be the first cat ever to have a wax figure at Madame Tussauds. “I hate it.”

To understand why, just take a look at this video of her working with Madame Tussauds’ figure sculptors.

If
you know just her face but not her back story, Grumpy Cat’s real name
is Tardar Sauce, and she’s three years old. Her mother is a calico, and
her father has tabby stripes, 

so how she turned out looking like a
Ragdoll or Snowshoe is anybody’s guess.

Her grumpy face is due
to an underbite and feline dwarfism, not attitude. Oh, and she’s not the
only grumpy looking cat in her family. She has a brother named Pokey,
who also has dwarfism and an underbite.

Tardar and Pokey live in
Arizona with Tabatha Bundesen, who was a server at Red Lobster until
her cat began producing way more income than she was. Grumpy Cat sells
licensed merchandise, wrote a book, starred in a movie and stays busy
appearing at events and doing commercials, including some for Friskies
and Honey Nut Cheerios. She didn’t like the Cheerios.

While this
may seem like no life for a cat, Bundesen says most of the time, she’s
just a “normal kitty.” She likes to play with bags and string and hide
behind the curtains.

Tardar Sauce became the Queen of cat Memes
soon after Bundesen’s brother, Bryan, posted a picture of her stunningly
grumpy-looking kitten on Reddit.  When viewers suggested no cat could
possibly look that grouchy and the picture was Photoshopped, Bundesen
put two videos on You Tube. The videos went viral, and within days,
Grumpy Cat was an Internet star.

She’ll unveil her sculpture at
Madame Tussauds in San Francisco later this year. After a short stay in
San Francisco, the sculpture, but maybe not the cat, will visit other
Madame Tussauds’ locations in Hollywood, Las Vegas, New York, Orlando
and Washington, DC.

Trumped Up Cats

Trump Your Cat

If there’s anything that could trump presidential politics in this primary
season, it’s an Instagram account featuring pictures of hundreds of
cats sporting, if only briefly, The Donald’s famous (or maybe infamous)
comb-over.


While Donald Trump’s poll numbers continue to climb, so do the number of followers of trumpyourcat. There were 17,000 as of Aug. 10. The hashtag #trumpyourcat is trending on Twitter, too.

Adam
Myatt didn’t mean to offend Trump by being politically incorrect when
he started the Internet meme last month. His girlfriend was brushing
their cat and was wondering what to do with the hair in the brush.

” ‘I put it on our cat’s head and thought ‘this is hilarious,’” he told the New York Daily News.

While
the picture was just fun, Myatt usually takes cats very seriously. He’s
one of the founders of Cat Town Cafe and Adoption Center in Oakland,
the nation’s first cat cafe. Guests of honor at the cafe are adoptable
cats from the Cat Town rescue.

When Myatt decided to trump up
more cats and put their pictures online, he had lots to choose from. He
paired them with some of the more astonishing quotes from the candidate
himself, and soon other cat lovers were joining in. There are also a few
dogs, bunnies and reptiles on the Instagram page.

My cats are
not political animals but if yours would like to become Donald Trump
look-alikes on Instagram and Twitter, the instructions are simple.
1. Brush your cat.
2. Form the hair you brushed into a toupee.
3. Place the toupee on the cat
4. Share and tag @trumpyourcat, DM, or #trumpyourcat

Merlin Purrs His Way Into The Record Books

Merlin Purring Cat

If you think your cat has a loud purr, meet Merlin, the new record-holder as the cat with the loudest purr in the world.

At 67.8 decibels, he even out-purred
Smokey, the previous record-holder, who registered a mere 67.68 decibels
on the Guinness Book of World Records’ adjudicator’s scale. 

For
comparison’s sake, most cats purr at about 25 decibels.

Merlin and Smokey both live in the UK.

So think about living with a cat whose purr is nearly as loud as a
dishwasher or shower. When Merlin’s really happy, he can drown out a
conversation and make the television hard to hear.

Tracy Westwood and her daughter Alice adopted Merlin from a rescue when
he was a kitten. Thirteen years later, he’s still going strong,
especially in the purr department.

“Occasionally when he’s really loud I have to repeat myself,” Westwood told Guinness writer Kevin Lynch.

“When you’re watching films you have to turn the telly up or put him out
of the room, if he’s eating he’ll purr loudly. I can hear him when I’m
drying my hair. If the telephone rings I do get people asking me ’what’s
that noise in the background?’ I tell them it’s the cat but I don’t
know if they believe me.”

Merlin was recently crowned King of Purrs on a British TV show and
received a certificate from Guinness. But the best prize was a dish of
his favorite food.. tuna.

High-Pitched Noises Can Cause Seizures In Cats

Long-Haired Tabby Face
© Ermolaev Alexandr – Fotolia.com

If
you live with an older cat, you might want to think twice about
crinkling tin foil or clanging a metal spoon against a ceramic bowl.
These and other high-pitched sounds can cause
audiogenic reflex seizures (FARS) in elderly cats.

FARS was first reported in a recent issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.
Other sounds that can trigger
the
seizures are tapping on glass, crinkling paper or plastic bags, tapping
on a computer keyboard or clicking the mouse, clinking coins or keys,
hammering a nail and even clicking your tongue.
Until
recently, no one had even thought there might be a connection between
loud noises and seizures in cats. But Cat Care International received so
many inquiries from alarmed caretakers, the UK based charity asked
neurologists at
Davies Veterinary Specialists, UK for help.
Mark Lowrie and Laurent Garosi of Davies Veterinary Specialists and Robert Harvey from the UCL School of Pharmacy in London
designed a questionnaire that drew responses from hundreds of people
worldwide. All said their cats had seizures after hearing certain
sounds, but their vets had no idea why. Many of the vets found it hard
to believe that a sound could trigger a seizure.

In their paper, the researchers wrote about 96 cats. They said the
average age of  onset in their study was 15 years, although some cats
as young as 10 suffered from FARS. The loudness of the sound seemed to
increase the severity of the seizures.

While the obvious solution to this problem is to avoid making the sounds
that trigger seizures in your cat, that’s not always possible. As an
alternative, Lowrie says levetiracetam “is an excellent choice of medication for managing this condition.” The researchers will be publishing a second study on that soon.