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Infinite Cat Project Archives for November 13-17, 2017.

Mewsings, November 13, 2017: "When I play with my cat, how do I know that she is not passing time with me rather than I with her?" - Montaigne

kittens in pumpkin

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Fat and happy.

Cat Mewvie: More Simon's Cat. Whoo-hoo!

big cat person comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat wallpaper

Feline Art: Actual cat wallpaper.

french space cat

First cat in space to receive proper memorial

When it comes to animals that heroically blasted off into space during the space race, names like Laika the dog or Ham the chimpanzee are probably the first that come to mind. But one spacefaring feline who helped to pave the way for humans to go to space has gone largely unrecognized, and a new Kickstarter campaign aims to change that.

On Oct. 18, 1963, a French cat named Félicette became the first and only feline to ever travel to space. She launched atop a Véronique AG1 rocket and flew nearly 100 miles (157 kilometers) above the Earth, where she briefly experienced weightlessness. Her rocket soared up to six times the speed of sound and exposed her to 9.5 g's of force. Fifteen minutes later, she safely returned to Earth by parachuting down in her little space capsule — alive and well.

And just like that, an unsuspecting tuxedo kitty plucked from the streets of Paris became a space cat celebrity. Unfortunately for Félicette, her legacy has long been overshadowed by the many dogs, monkeys and chimps that flew to space in the 1960s. "Over the last 54 years, the story of the first and only cat to go to space has been largely forgotten. She deserves a proper memorial," the Kickstarter page reads.
Now you can help immortalize this incredible cat by contributing to a fund for a shiny, bronze statue of Félicette to be erected in her hometown of Paris, France.

Depending on how much you're willing to donate, rewards include "autographed" postcards (featuring Félicette's actual pawprint), enamel pin badges, tote bags and printed photographs of Félicette. The most generous donors will have their names included on a plaque by the statue and will be given a small replica of the statue.

"The first chimp in space is buried at the International Space Hall of Fame. The first dog in space is immortalized in bronze. The first cat has nothing," an unnamed narrator says in the Kickstarter campaign's video. Félicette may have made headlines that can forever be located in old newspaper archives, but so far, there is no permanent memorial for this cosmic cat.

Félicette was one of 14 cats selected by the French space program to undergo spaceflight training. Her participation in the space race was certainly not voluntary, but it was a huge milestone for France, which had just established the world's third civilian space agency (after the U.S. and the Soviet Union). Félicette's mission helped bring France into the space race.

"Back then, scientists around the world wanted to understand how the lack of gravity could affect animals — the idea being, if they can survive in space, then so can humans. In fact, these cats went through the same intensive training as human astronauts," the video states.

That training involved the same kind of centrifuge that human astronauts sit in during their preflight training. The cats also had electrodes implanted into their brains so scientists could monitor their neurological activity.

"Ultimately, it was Félicette who was chosen for the mission, due to her calm disposition," the video states, "though some reports say it was because all the other cats had put on too much weight."

Other reports insinuate that Félicette was actually a backup cat for another cat named Félix, who escaped on the day of his flight. However, others have offered a different explanation for Félix the cat.

According to the video, the memory of Félicette has been "further obscured, as a series of commemorative stamps all assumed she was a male cat named Félix. Seems the common misconception that only men are leading the fields of science and engineering applies to cats, too. It's Félicette's contributions to spaceflight research that will one day allow us to take our cats to the Martian colonies and beyond. For that, she deserves her rightful recognition."

Mewsings, November 14, 2017: "You can't help that. We're all mad here." - The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland

tabby cat loaf

Gratuitous Kittiness: "Ah! I see you have a new phone."

Cat Mewvie: Japanese hipster cat.

lazy cat cimic

Today's Kitty Komic

banana nosed cat art

Feline Art: "The Birthday Party" by Paul Pesqueira.

Mewsings, November 15, 2017: "As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat." - Ellen Perry Berkeley

kitten on dashboard

Gratuitous Kittiness: Always go for the optional kitten package.

Cat Mewvie: "Hello!"

paranoid cat comic

Today's Kitty Komic

woman with cat painting

Feline Art: "Woman With Cat" by Karen Panina.

Mewsings, November 16, 2017: "Many a cat can only be lured in by switching off all the lights and keeping very still. Until the indignant cry of a cat-locked-out comes at the door." - Pam Brown

cat in the spotlight

Gratuitous Kittiness: In the spotlight.

Cat Mewvie: Milo grows up.

get down kitty comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat condo painting

Feline Art: "Cat Condo" by Hank Bratton.

Mewsings, November 17, 2017: "It doesn't do to be sentimental about cats; the best ones don't respect you for it." - Susan Howatch

cat hidden in potted plant

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "Has anyone seen the cat?"

Cat Mewvie: How I Trained My Cats.

new improved cat comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cats looking at ducklings art

Feline Art: Painting by Joy Campbell.

angry cat face

Is your cat cranky? It could be arthritis.

by Eirin Bruholt

Osteoarthritis is a common problem among cats but the symptoms can be hard to diagnose. A new pressure mat could make it easier to determine when a cantankerous cat is suffering from painful joints.

Like us, cats are prone to suffer diseases and afflictions as they age. One of these is osteoarthritis (OA).

Cats tend to be stoics – they are experts at concealing their diseases and symptoms. This makes it very difficult for veterinarians to see whether cats suffer from OA, a chronic inflammation of the joint cartilage and underlying bone.

Osteoarthritis is a break-down of the cushion between the joints and it also causes bony enlargements at the joints. It is the most common form of arthritis and strikes animals as well as humans. Most human sufferers are over the age of 60 and the joints commonly affected are knees, hips and in fingers.

How do we find out if our cats have OA?

Different way of putting weight on paws

Veterinarian Sarah Stadig has tested out a pressure mat in her doctoral thesis work at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala. She thinks it can help in diagnosing the disease in cats, along with the use of questionnaires filled out by the cat’s owner.

Even though a cat has OA it tries not to limp – it puts its weight on its paws in a way that outwardly looks normal. So it is hard to observe that the cat is suffering.

By getting the cat to stroll across a pressure mat a veterinarian can see exactly which parts of its paws are taking most of its weight. An afflicted cat puts its load on its paws in a more uneven pattern than healthy cats do. In addition, cat owners provide feline conduct information by filling out a questionnaire at home.

Hard to find symptoms

The symptoms of OA in cats are not very noticeable and can be quite diffuse. But owners of cats might notice changes in their pet’s daily behaviour. For instance they can become very rejecting and aloof. This is not totally abnormal for cats as they age, but it can also be a sign of chronic pain.

A veterinarian will do a clinical analysis, feeling the cat and taking x-rays based on the owner’s information. But cat’s naturally attempt to hide their symptoms and are also stressed by any visit to a clinic. Diagnosing a cat with no clear exterior abnormalities can be difficult.

Even the results of x-rays and clinical observations can often be inconclusive or conflicting.
“ We have seen a big need for better methods that can diagnose osteoarthritis in cats,” said Sarah Stadig in a press release.

Progress with new method

Stadig and her colleagues have made some progress using a pressure mat and a questionnaire they have created. She thinks the latter is easy to use and reliable. It can also become a standard at all veterinary clinics.

In an earlier study cats with OA were treated with anti-inflammation and pain-relieving drugs.

“This treatment had a measurable effect that was seen in both the pressure mat tests and the results of questionnaires. The vet could also see the effect by examining the cat before and after treatment,” explained Stadig.


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