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Infinite Cat Project Archives for November 7-11, 2016.

Mewsings: November 7, 2016 - "I'm aloof, I like to run around outside, but I also like to curl up in warm spots. I eat fish." - Megan Coughlin on why she'd make a good cat

cat in shoebox

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Cats by the box.

Cat Mewvie: Yes, cats get brain-freeze, too.

cosmic catnip cartoon

Today's Kitty Komic

tigress sculpture by Auguste Cain

Feline Art: "Tigress and Cubs" by Auguste Nicolas Cain.

cat news

How to keep it from losing its mind indoors
By Karin Brulliard

If you own a cat, you’ve probably heard that you should keep it inside but there are downsides to the indoor feline lifestyle. Cats can get bored, leading them to bug you at midnight or leap at the television during the best moments of the World Series. They can become aggressive, causing them to view your ankles as enticing scratching posts. They can get lazy and fat, like the majority of American cats.

Or they can fall victim to what Abigail Tucker, author of the recent book about cats, “The Lion in the Living Room,” refers to as “the most serious disease of feline modernity”: idiopathic cystitis, or Pandora Syndrome. The symptoms are bloody or painful urination, frequently outside a litter box, and other gastrointestinal, dermatological and neurological ailments. The cause, researcher Tony Buffington told Tucker, is indoor living that has removed from cats the control and territory they crave.

One big issue, cat experts say, is that in the 10,000 years or so since humans adopted cats as vermin-catchers, people have not selectively bred them to match their new lethargic, indoor lifestyle. In other words, just beneath the surface of that fluff ball on the ottoman is a skilled predator whose instincts tell it to roam, stalk and pounce. When there’s nothing suitable to act on, problems can arise.

People have long mistakenly viewed cats as low-maintenance pets that only need a bowl of kibble, a place to sleep and an occasional scratch, said Mikel Delgado, a graduate student at the University of California in Berkeley who studies cat behavior.

“We’ve just been like, ‘Oh, you’re cute and cuddly. Come inside,’ and we’ve kind of forgotten about what cats are built to do, which is hunt,” Delgado said. “We’re not recognizing who cats really are and what they need.”

But fortunately, we are living in pet-obsessed modern America, so there’s a growing industry to help cat owners make their home something of a predator’s wonderland - or, at least, a tolerable territory. Blogs can show you how to build screened cat patios, or catios, or you can order a kit or hire someone to construct one. The website Hauspanther, which says its mission is “to spread the word about how good design can enhance the way we live with cats,” directs cat owners toward minimalist cat climbing complexes, modern felt cat baskets and Nordic-style feline furniture.

And for those desiring a smaller investment, the market now sells a plethora of products intended to offer cats a sort of simulated hunting experience. Indoor cats may not be able to act on their drive to scale trees and stalk prey. But they can use what are known as “food puzzles,” or contraptions that hold food - wet or dry - in balls, boxes, mazes or even piñatas that cats must use their brains and bodies to swat and open.

Any cat in their natural environment would not just be handed a bowl of mice,” said Delgado, who co-hosts a website exploring the features - and extolling the virtues - of food puzzles for cats. “They would have to work for any food item they obtain.”

Many cat owners might not believe their pudgy, sleepy kitties would cooperate with food puzzles. But Delgado recently co-authored a recent paper in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, and it listed several cases of problematic cat behavior that the researchers resolved or improved with the products.

We’re not recognizing who cats really are and what they need. Mikel Delgado, who studies cat behavior

One young male was extremely afraid of people, but after being given food puzzles, he allowed petting and came when called. An 8-year-old obese cat lost 20 percent of his body weight after being given purchased and homemade food puzzles, which can be as simple as a yogurt container with holes punched in it. Several kitties stopped urinating outside of their litter boxes - once they had food puzzles.

But even if the cats exert effort to obtain their food from a rolling piece of plastic, does that mean they like to? Might it not drive them nuts in the process?

Asked that question, Delgado brought up a counterintuitive phenomenon called contrafreeloading, which is used to describe animals’ preference for food that requires effort over identical food that is given to them. This behavior has been observed in many animals - from rats to gerbils to pigeons to wolves - and scientists still haven’t agreed on why they do it.

Just one species studied didn’t display contrafreeloading. That’s right: Cats.

But Delgado said she is skeptical of that finding. The study was conducted decades ago and with a very small sample size, she noted. “Why would cats be the exception?” she asked. “We need to revisit this study with cats.”

Delgado acknowledged that introducing food puzzles can be challenging, and she advises owners to start with easy ones - with a regular food source still available so cats don’t get frustrated - then ramp up the difficulty. Each cat in a household should have its own puzzle, she said.

When it works, owners often “see their cat in a new light,” Delgado said. “Given that the overall trend from the conservation movement and vets and rescue groups is to keep cats indoors, then we have to face this problem we have, which is that just keeping cats indoors isn’t enough.”

Mewsings: November 8, 2016 - "It is in the nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming."
- Adlai Stevenson

cat in plastic bag

Gratuitous Kittiness: Yes, cats vote. Shouldn't you?

Cat Mewvie: They regret nothing.

cats are democrats, dogs are republicans

Today's Kitty Komic

poster yes we cat

Feline Art: Subtle political imagery.

Mewsings: November 9, 2016 - "Most cats, when they are out want to be in, and visa versa, and often simultaneously." - Louis J. Camuti

kitten asleep in front of heater register

Gratuitous Kittiness: Example of symbiosis - cats and heater registers.

Cat Mewvie: The Japanese school cat.

grumpy cat gets a beer

Today's Kitty Komic

cat illustration by yuko higuchi

Feline Art: "Gustave" by Yuko Higuchi.

choosing the right cat

Choosing the right cat
By Michael Fox

Dog breeders and associations in Europe are beginning to address the tragic plight of certain breeds suffering from various genetic or inherited disorders, an issue that is gaining momentum now in the United States.

Now, as certain cat breeds are developed and become popular, they, too, are suffering the consequences of various genetic disorders. Steve Crow, chairman of the United Kingdom's Governing Council of the Cat Fancy said, "We can't put the genie back in the box with the Bengal and the sphynx (because these breeds are already registered), but we will not add any more."
Crow is referring to spontaneous mutations that compromise health — as with the hairless sphynx, the munchkin suffering from dwarfism and the pixiebob, which has a short or no tail — and domestic-wildcat hybrids like the Bengal, a cross between a domestic cat and an Asian leopard cat.

Hybrid varieties that are domestic cats crossed with small wild cats, such as the serval, Asian leopard or jungle cat, can be fearful, difficult to handle and are prone to develop behavioral problems. They are often euthanized if not put in a sanctuary like the Wildcat Sanctuary (

The ocicat is a cross between domestic cat breeds, and it has no wild ocelot background, but inbreeding is an issue with these popular spotted cats. Certainly, some people can rise to the challenge and provide proper care to wildcat hybrids, but as with wolf-dog hybrids, many suffer because they fail to adapt to the domestic environment.

If you are looking for a good cat, visit your local animal shelter first, and if you are drawn to a particular long-established breed such as a Siamese or Persian, you may find one there. If you go to a breeder, be sure to get certification that the parents have no health or behavioral issues of hereditary origin that could break your heart and your savings account.

Mewsings: November 10, 2016 - "Civilization is defined by the presence of cats." - Unknown

close-up of cat on post

Gratuitous Kittiness: "I'm watching you."

Cat Mewvie: Buddies.

beware of the cat comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat party by louis wain

Feline Art: "Cat Party" by Louis Wain.

Mewsings: November 11, 2016 - "Some people say that cats are sneaky, evil, and cruel. True, and they have many other fine qualities as well." - Missy Dizick

two kittens sleeping on a dog

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Two fuzzy bumps on a log.

Cat Mewvie: How do you know when a cat loves you?

comic cat as life guard

Today's Kitty Komic

cat eye make-up by Tail Peleg

Feline Art: Eye make-up by Tal Peleg.

tabby cat sitting on chair

We have a part-time cat
By Angela Hill

We have a part-time cat.
Well, the cat is always a cat, as far as I know. So, more precisely, we are part-time cat owners or cat guardians or — even more accurately — cat acquaintances.

A few months ago, our neighbor and her little boy adopted a kitty. The kitty came with the name of Jasper, but is now called Lucy and seems very happy with her new identity, even when the little boy sings out “Loooo-seeee!” in the style of Ricky Ricardo coming home to find his scheming wife trapped in a walk-in freezer or hiding a racehorse in the guestroom.

Lucy — the cat, not the 1950’s sitcom star — is about 6 years old with gray-and-black stripes running through her longish fur. She has a chunk taken out of her left ear from a long-ago fight, so you can tell she’s been around, she’s seen life, knows how to play the game. She’s one of those super friendly cats that act more like dogs and will come right up to you, especially if you have a free hand that could possibly be put to its highest and best use of petting her.

So it’s not that Lucy has any great love for me and my husband in particular. We’re aware that, when it comes to humans, she has the loyalty of a swing state in a closely contested presidential race. Lucy dines and spends her nights at her official owner’s house, but has a deep affection for our yard during daytime hours, usually snoozing under the patio table or on a chair or on me if I happen to be in the way of the chair.

It’s the perfect arrangement. We have none of the cat-food bills, no trips to the vet for hairball meds, no mishaps at the litter box. Just something resembling love that only a kitty cat can provide. The moment I open the back door, her head pops up from her under-the-table nap, she yawns, stretches, meows and strolls over for a pat and a chat.

Lucy talks a lot. I don’t speak cat, so I have no idea what she’s saying. Oh sure, it’s easy to guess a plaintive meow means she wants a scratch. But maybe she’s really trying to convey something more specific, more profound such as, “What is the meaning of life?” Or perhaps, “Can you teach me how to operate a can opener?” Or maybe, “Hey, owner/guardian/acquaintance, there’s some toilet paper on your shoe. Are you going to work like that? Fine, see if I care.”

Indeed, I often wonder how we ever expect to speak with aliens from another planet when we can’t even decipher the language of cats or blue jays or whales right here at home. Maybe we’ll find out from Amy Adams when, as Google describes this weekend’s new movie, “Arrival,” she’ll “race against time to find a way to communicate with extraterrestrial visitors and … take a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind.” Fine and dandy, but can she figure out what a meow means? No! Thanks for nothing, Amy Adams.

Of course, Lucy’s true desire needs no translation whatsoever. Her ultimate mission in life is to get inside our house. Clearly, there’s some great mystery of the interior realm that simply must be explored, as though she’s a feline reincarnation of famed archaeologist Howard Carter and our cottage is the Tomb of Tutankhamun, which it was one time for a Halloween party, but that’s another story. Any time a door is slightly ajar, if we even dare reach for a door handle and Lucy glimpses this action through a pane of glass, she approaches with eager — though cliched — catlike curiosity, perhaps convinced a treasure trove of feathers tied on the end of strings awaits her inside.

I actually don’t mind if she comes in the house, because I grew up with cats. For years, I identified as a cat person until later, when I had a dog and decided I was a dog person. But back in the day, my family loved our cats so much that, when we drove across country to move back to California from a five-year stint in Virginia, we pulled an RV trailer behind my dad’s Chrysler Imperial mainly so Muffy and Mewsette could ride in homelike comfort, an unappreciated luxury evidenced by their use of my African violets as litter boxes.

I do still love cats — except in relation to African violets — but my spouse, who grew up on a farm in the Midwest with lots of outdoor cats employed as serial killers of mice, hates having cats in the house. He has a particular fear of them getting on the kitchen counter and leaving hair on the butter. Not that we have pounds of exposed butter lying around, but I can understand his distress, especially since Lucy has a penchant for rolling in dirt with the same wide-eyed glee I would have were I rolling in $100 bills.

Despite my best efforts to maintain feline-free conditions, Lucy is sly and makes it in on occasion. Just the other day when a visitor stopped by, I left the door ajar — fool that I am! — and Lucy zoomed into the depths of the inner chambers faster than you can say “Lucy zoomed into the depths of the inner chambers.” Minutes later, she strolled out, triumphant, as if she’d smuggled Tut’s sarcophagus out under her ample tummy fur. Yet this success merely whetted her appetite, and she continues, without fail, to try to weasel her way back in.

Maybe she is indeed a part-time cat. Maybe the rest the time she’s a weasel.


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