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Infinite Cat Project Archives for July 3-7, 2017.

Mewsings: July 3, 2017 - "Essentially, you do not so much teach your cat as bribe him." - Lynn Hollyn

surprised cat

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "What do you mean you're pregnant?"

Cat Mewvie: Friends with dogs? Ewww.

cat dimension comic

Today's Kitty Komic

kitten sketch

Feline Art: "Kitten", artist unknown.

cat getting chin scratch

Do cats purr when humans aren't around?
by Jan Hoole

Why do cats purr? Humans tend to think that purring is a sign of happiness in a cat – and indeed it can be – but there are other reasons why our feline friends produce this particular vocalisation.
Purring is a habit that develops very early in a cat's life, while suckling from its mother, so clearly it is not a sound that is directed solely at humans. Cat owners will be well aware that a cat can produce more than one kind of purr, just as they have a whole repertoire of meows, chirps, growls, spits and other sounds.

The purr that is produced during suckling, is quite different in quality to the purr that you will hear when your cat is sprawling across your lap being stroked. Analysis of the sound has shown when a cat is asking for food, whether from its mother or a human – the purr contains a high-pitched note that is similar in frequency to a cry (though not as loud). It may have something of the effect of the cry of a newborn, which affects the hormonal state of female mammals and elicits a care-giving response.

When a cat is being petted or is snuggled up to its owner on the sofa, the purr it produces is much more soporific and generally soothing, and acoustic analysis shows that the "cry" component is missing.

Adult cats will often purr when they are close to or in physical contact with another cat, engaging in grooming for example. They will also do it when they play with an inanimate object, or while eating, which can be at a time when they are alone. However, the most usual time for purring is in company, and it can be the care soliciting sound, asking to be fed or stroked, or an indication of social pleasure.

The darker side

Strangely, vets also report that cats will purr when they are in great pain or just before death. This seems to be illogical if it is a sound relating to pleasure, but in fact, it could be that the cat is asking for help.

It could also be a way of masking the fact that the cat is injured and vulnerable. If you are a small animal, even a carnivore, it is not good to show weakness as this could encourage larger predators to come along and eat you. The purr may be the cat equivalent of "everything's fine, I'm on top of the world. Nothing to see here, move along please".

Can big cats purr too?

There has long been a debate about whether the "big cats" can purr – and the belief has been that cats that roar, such as lions and tigers, cannot purr. Although there is no conclusive evidence on this subject, it seems that even cats that roar purr as cubs while suckling.

All mammals have a bone or series of bones in the throat called the hyoid apparatus, which supports the larynx and tongue. In cat species that roar the hyoid apparatus is not entirely made of bone but retains some parts as cartilage, while cat species that purr have a hyoid that is completely bony. This modification may permit roaring, but does not necessarily mean that purring is impossible. It is believed that cheetah, ocelot, margay, serval, and lynx, among other species, can purr, and it is suggested that jaguar, leopard, lion and tiger cannot – or if they can they've kept it secret all these years.

Process behind the purr

The actual process of producing the purring sound is complicated, and is still not completely understood, but it involves the muscles of the larynx and the diaphragm being activated by bursts of nerve activity that originate in the brain and occur 20 to 30 times every second. This happens on both in and out breaths, which accounts for the continuous sound of the purr.

The fact that a cat can do all this and simultaneously eat, knead the cushions, rip the chair leg to pieces or weave complicated patterns through your legs without getting stepped on makes one wonder what they would have achieved with opposable thumbs.

Mewsings: July 4 2017 - "You may own a cat, but cannot govern one." - Kate Sanborn

kitten before and after

Gratuitous Kittiness: Foundling kitten, one month later.

Cat Mewvie: Dancing with kitty.

lost cat comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat geometric painting

Feline Art: "Purr" by Katsunori Miyagi.

Mewsings: July 5, 2017 - "The cat does not negotiate with the mouse." - Robert K. Massie

turtle cat

Gratuitous Kittiness: "Be the turtle, be the turtle..."

Cat Mewvie: Simon's Cat strikes again.

cats are many things comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat painting by kat corrigan

Feline Art: "Cat" by Kat Corrigan

Mewsings: July 6, 2017 - "A cat isn't fussy--just so long as you remember he likes his milk in the shallow, rose-patterned saucer and his fish on the blue plate. From which he will take it, and eat it off the floor."
- Arthur Bridgese

kitten with long ears

Gratuitous Kittiness: Kittens, now with 75% more ears.

Cat Mewvie: Psy-cat-delic!

my cat hates people comic

Today's Kitty Komic

mimi de goodaboom cat

Feline Art: "Tiger Cat in Flower Paradise" by Miki de Goodaboom.

Mewsings: July 7, 2017 - "Perhaps a child, like a cat, is so much inside of himself that he does not see himself in the mirror."
- Anais Nine

three sleeping cats

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "All for one and one for zzzzZZZZzzzzzzzz..."

Cat Mewvie: Senior cat foster program.

cats give you that look comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat wolrd of warcraft

Feline Art: "The Cat's Party" by Sandara

cat and cow

How cats and cows protect children from asthma.
by Science Daily

It is a known fact that microbes on farms protect children from asthma and allergies. But even non-microbial molecules can have a protective effect: Immunologists from the University of Zurich have shown that a sialic acid found in farm animals is effective against inflammation of lung tissue. This study opens up a wide variety of perspectives for the prevention of allergies.

More and more people suffer from allergies and asthma. In the past decades, these diseases have massively increased in industrialized countries. Today, about 30 percent of children have allergies -- with the exception of farm children. Among farm children, the disease is increasing less dramatically than in the case of their friends who live in the same village, but not on a farm. Microbes that occur in higher amounts and greater diversity on farms protect farm children from allergies and asthma. An environment that is not highly hygienic has a positive effect on the development of the immune system as it learns not to react to harmless materials as is the case with allergies.

A sialic acid acts as protection

Not only microbes protect against asthma evidently, but also farm animals: Petting cats and cows and drinking farm milk can also prevent asthma, as the team of researchers headed up by Remo Frei of the Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research from the University of Zurich in cooperation with the Center for Allergy Research and Education (CK-CARE) in Davos and the Children's Hospital of Eastern Switzerland in St. Gallen: "Early childhood contact with animals and the consumption of food of animal origin seems to regulate the inflammatory reactions of the immune system," says immunologist Frei. His study shows that a non-microbial substance, a sialic acid, is responsible for this mechanism. This substance is wide spread in vertebrates -- and therefore in many farm animals -- but missing in the human organism: N-Glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc).

Antibodies as measure for contact with farm animals

Based on a genetic mutation, humans do not produce Neu5Gc. They can absorb sialic acid through contact with animals or by eating food of animal origin and integrate it into their glycoproteins. Contact with Neu5Gc triggers an antibody reaction in humans which can act as a measure for contact with Neu5Gc, that is, with farm animals. The researchers led by Remo Frei have measured the concentrations of Neu5Gc antibodies in the serum samples of children collected within the scope of two epidemiological studies financed by the European Union (PARSIFAL and PASTURE study).

Data comparison of more than a thousand children

As a comparison of the Neu5Gc antibody concentration of over a thousand children and the occurrence of asthma has clearly shown, "Farm children have many more antibodies against Neu5Gc in their blood -- and children with more antibodies suffered considerably less from asthma," Frei says. The positive effect of sialic acid Neu5Gc on the respiratory system was confirmed using a mouse-model: The Neu5Gc molecules consumed with food improved the pulmonary function of the mice, therefore reducing asthma symptoms.

From farm effect to allergy prevention

To understand the mechanism of how Neu5Gc affects the human immune system, researchers analyzed various cells of the immune system that play a role during an inflammatory reaction. With an interesting result -- both in the children tested and on the animal model: Contact with Neu5Gc did not reduce immunoglobulin E, the antibody that frequently occurs during allergic reactions, but it initiates an anti-inflammatory reaction of the immune system. "This takes place through so-called regulatory T-cells, which have an increased presence," Frei explains. "These T-cells dampen incorrect responses of the immune system and have a strong anti-inflammatory effect. Our research results open up opportunities for transferring the protective effect of farms to all children. In this way, we can possibly lay an important foundation stone for effective allergy prevention."


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