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Infinite Cat Project Archives for August 29 thru September 2, 2016.

Mewsings: August 29, 2016 - "Your cat may never have to hunt farther than the kitchen counter for its supper nor face a predator more fierce than the vacuum cleaner..." - Barbara L. Diamond

mother cat nursing six kittens

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "I didn't think this through properly."

Cat Mewvie: "The hand stays. End of story."

cat stretching comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat tree for large cats

Feline Street Art: Cat tree for large cats.

cat licking chin

To be licked by a cat.
By Kristel-Marie Ramnath

If you have ever been licked by a cat, the first thing you probably noticed was the rough texture of its tongue. Dogs have smooth tongues, whereas the texture of a cat’s tongue is scratchy and rough, almost like sandpaper.

The centre of a cat’s tongue is covered with small, backward-facing barbs or spines known as filiform papillae. These papillae contain keratin which is the same material human fingernails are made of, and this makes the papillae rigid. There are several reasons for cats having a rough tongue.

Cats are carnivores or meat-eaters. They hunt smaller animals as food. The most vital role in the wild would be that the spines on the tongue are used to help rasp and scrape flesh from the bones of their prey. Since the hooks are backward-facing, the papillae also help hold the prey in the cat’s mouth. These barbs face toward the cat's throat and help push food in that direction for swallowing.

The cat’s tongue also has fungiform (mushroom-shaped) papillae on the sides and tip and vallate papillae at the back, which hold the taste buds. Cats have relatively few taste buds compared to humans—470 in cats on average compared to 10,000 in the average human. A cat can sense both taste and texture with its tongue. Domestic and wild cats share a gene mutation that keeps their sweet taste buds from binding to sugary molecules, leaving them with no ability to taste sweetness. They are also relatively insensitive to salt. Their taste buds instead respond to amino acids and bitter tastes, and cats seem to be attracted to the texture of particular foods on the tongue instead.

Cats and many other animals have a Jacobson’s organ located in their mouths that allows them to taste-smell certain aromas of which humans have no experience. They also have a distinct temperature preference for their food, preferring it with a temperature around 100°F (38 °C) which is similar to that of a fresh kill, rejecting food presented cold or refrigerated (which would signal to the cat that the “prey” item is long dead and therefore possibly toxic or decomposing). They use their tongues to test whether the food is too hot, too cold, or just right.

The taste buds of cats are also sensitive to the taste of water and it is important that your cat always has access to fresh, clean water. Unlike dogs that tend to slop water all over when they drink, cats are dainty drinkers because of the way they use their tongues. They form their tongues into small cup shapes when they lap up water.

The spines on a cat’s tongue help it function as a built-in hairbrush or comb which can be used to groom the its fur. The tongue’s rough texture is perfect for grooming. As the cat licks, loose hairs and other debris are caught on the barbs and removed from the coat. However, this can also lead to the formation of hairballs if you do not brush your pet often enough. Since the loose hairs are gathered by the barbs and directed toward the throat, the cat ends up swallowing the hairs. They collect in the stomach and form indigestible masses that can lead to blockages if the cat does not cough them back up. These clumps of hair are usually sausage-shaped and about two to three centimetres long. Hairballs can be prevented with remedies that ease elimination of the hair through the gut, as well as regular grooming of the coat with a comb or stiff brush. Some cats can develop a compulsive behaviour known as psychogenic alopecia, or excessive grooming.

Cats also use their tongues to cool off when grooming themselves. As they lick, the moisture left on the fur produces an evaporative cooling effect similar to sweating in humans. In addition to regulating body temperature, the saliva helps to keep the fur clean and smelling fresh.

Finally, cats use their tongues to show affection. When your cat licks you, she is showing you she cares for you, and this is a generous expression since many felines tend to be somewhat aloof.

Mewsings: August 30, 2016 - "Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly." - Arnold Edinborough

vintage photo of cat and kittens

Gratuitous Kittiness: I have seen the light... and the moth circling it."

Cat Mewvie: "Awww, yeahhh! Thassa stuff!"

cat stares at people having sex

Today's Kitty Komic

edward hopper cat studies

Feline Art: Edward Hopper cat studies.

Mewsings: August 31, 2016 - "Cats often devise their own sets of rules that they think we should live by, and they may be quick to chastise us if we fail to adhere to these rules!" - Margaret Reister, D.V.M.

upside down cat

Gratuitous Kittiness: There's something wrong with that boy.

Cat Mewvie: Pacified? Not so much.

cat scare tactics comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat mosaic by jill gussow

Feline Art: Cat mosiac by Jill Gussow.

blind cat

Blind cat finds forever home with others like herself.
By Caitlin Jill Anders

Blossom the cat became a little different after she lost her eyes — until she ended up in a home with others just like her.

When Blossom was found, she had a severe eye infection caused by an upper inflammatory virus.

She was rescued by North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, New York, where staffers made the decision to have her eyes removed due to the infection.

After her eye removal surgery, Blossom was put into a foster home for about a month — with Howard and Beth Stern.

Radio personality Howard Stern and his wife Beth are known for fostering cats, and constantly have new cats and kittens of varying needs passing through their home. The newly blind Blossom was able to recover at the Stern house, alongside their other fosters, until she was ready to be adopted.

Because Blossom is blind, she needed to find a home that would be sensitive to her needs, and when Susan Smith heard about her, she knew Blossom would be the perfect addition to her family.

Blossom was adopted into a home with a bunch of other blind cats. Since they're all blind, none of them have any idea that they're any different, and they love playing together all day long.

"Our main challenge, if there really is one, is staying out of their way as they race around the house," Smith told The Dodo. "They really have the house mapped out in their heads."

Having a bunch of blind siblings has given little Blossom all of the confidence she needs, and she's had absolutely no trouble adjusting to her new home.

"Blossom is a sassy diva," Smith said. "I've never seen a cat with such a bossy spirit. She is constantly making me laugh, like when she ignores me because she thinks I can't see her."

Blossom and her special siblings don't let their blindness get in the way of anything they do, and they're always there to help each other out, just in case.

"I really believe they have no idea they are different," Smith said. "They do everything that sighted cats do which sometimes has me scratching my head."

Mewsings: September 1, 2016 - "If cats could talk, they wouldn't." - Nan Porter

cat stuck in window

Gratuitous Kittiness: "Ahhhh, nuts!"

Cat Mewvie: Banks the back-rubbing cat.

hy cats ignore expensive cat toys

Today's Kitty Komic

cat compared to pterosaur

Feline Art: Modern cat compared to newly discovered azhdarchid pterosaur.

Mewsings: September 2, 2016 - "People who love cats have some of the biggest hearts around."
- Susan Easterly

twin cats

Gratuitous Kittiness: As twinny as you can get.

Cat Mewvie: The famous Stalking Cat.

talking to one's cat

Today's Kitty Komic

catable by Ruan Hao

Feline Art: Anonymous cat needlepoint.

cat hunting food

Cats benefit from working for their food.
By George Dvorsky

Many cats are kept indoors for various reasons, but because they’re natural foragers this can lead to a host of behavioral and health problems. New research shows that food puzzles are effective at staving off many of these problems.

Cats aren’t too far removed from their evolutionary ancestor, the African wildcat, making indoor life a serious challenge. Indoor housing has been linked to an assortment of health problems, including chronic lower urinary tract issues, obesity, diabetes, and troublesome behaviors such as aggression, house-soiling, and attention seeking.

In a new study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, a research team from the University of California at Berkeley tout the benefits of food puzzles—gadgets that force cats to work for their food. These puzzles take advantage of the feline hunting instinct, fulfilling their ingrained desires. By “foraging” for food in this way, cats are more physically active, they experience reduced levels of stress, and they become less demanding of their owners.

A number of food puzzles are currently available on the market. Some require cats to push or roll a mobile device with their nose (like a plastic ball with holes in it) , while others are stationary, requiring cats to navigate a board. Typically, these puzzles can be used with either wet or dry food.
And as the authors note, these puzzles can be made easily at home, for instance, by cutting holes in egg cartons or water bottles. Even a brown paper bag will do.

In the new study, the researchers describe over 30 cases from their own practice in which these puzzles were shown to help with a specific health or behavioral concern. In one example, an obese eight-year-old domestic shorthair cat lost 20 percent of its body weight within a year of puzzle implementation.

Other examples included a three-year-old cat whose impulsive and frustration-based aggression was resolved within six months, and a two-year-old cat whose fear of people was alleviated following the introduction of both mobile and stationary puzzles.

The authors point out that cats have their own individual preferences when it comes to food puzzles, so it’s important for owners to choose the right one. It can be a trial-and-error process, but ultimately the end goal is to provide several different types of puzzles to keep them engaged.
At first, cats may struggle to get the food out, so the researchers suggest overflowing the puzzle with food in the beginning. As they become more proficient, the quantity can be decreased.

Food puzzles are good for multi-cat households, but the researchers suggest that each cat should have their own toy. As for fido, it’s best to separate the cats and their toys from the household dog.


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