Cat Project Archives for November 7-11,
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
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Cats by the box.
Mewvie: Yes, cats get brain-freeze, too.
Art: "Tigress and Cubs" by Auguste Nicolas Cain.
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
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
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
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
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,
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
8, 2016 - "It is in the nature of cats to do a certain
amount of unescorted roaming."
- Adlai Stevenson
9, 2016 - "Most cats, when they are out want to be
in, and visa versa, and often simultaneously." - Louis
Gratuitous Kittiness: Example of symbiosis - cats and heater registers.
Mewvie: The Japanese school cat.
Art: "Gustave" by Yuko Higuchi.
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
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 (www.wildcatsanctuary.org).
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
10, 2016 - "Civilization is defined by the presence
of cats." - Unknown
Gratuitous Kittiness: "I'm watching you."
Feline Art: "Cat Party" by Louis Wain.
11, 2016 - "Some people say that cats are sneaky,
evil, and cruel. True, and they have many other fine qualities
as well." - Missy Dizick
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Two fuzzy bumps on a log.
Mewvie: How do you know when a cat loves you?
Art: Eye make-up by Tal Peleg.
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
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
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