Cat Project Archives for August 29 thru September
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
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "I didn't think this through properly."
Mewvie: "The hand stays. End of story."
Street Art: Cat tree for large cats.
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
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
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.
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
Gratuitous Kittiness: I have seen the light... and the moth circling
Mewvie: "Awww, yeahhh! Thassa stuff!"
Feline Art: Edward Hopper
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.
Gratuitous Kittiness: There's something wrong with that boy.
Mewvie: Pacified? Not so much.
Art: Cat mosiac by Jill Gussow.
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
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
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
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."
1, 2016 - "If cats could talk, they wouldn't." -
Gratuitous Kittiness: "Ahhhh, nuts!"
Mewvie: Banks the back-rubbing cat.
Feline Art: Modern cat compared to newly discovered azhdarchid
2, 2016 - "People who love cats have some of the biggest
- Susan Easterly
Gratuitous Kittiness: As twinny as you can get.
Mewvie: The famous Stalking Cat.
Art: Anonymous cat needlepoint.
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
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
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.