Cat Project Archives for 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
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Fat and happy.
Mewvie: More Simon's Cat. Whoo-hoo!
Feline Art: Actual cat wallpaper.
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
"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
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."
14, 2017: "You can't help that. We're all mad here." -
The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland
Gratuitous Kittiness: "Ah! I see you have a new phone."
Mewvie: Japanese hipster cat.
Feline Art: "The
Birthday Party" by
15, 2017: "As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a
cat." - Ellen Perry Berkeley
Gratuitous Kittiness: Always go for the optional kitten package.
Art: "Woman With Cat" by Karen Panina.
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
Gratuitous Kittiness: In the spotlight.
Mewvie: Milo grows up.
Feline Art: "Cat Condo"
by Hank Bratton.
17, 2017: "It doesn't do to be sentimental about cats;
the best ones don't respect you for it." - Susan Howatch
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "Has anyone seen the cat?"
Mewvie: How I Trained My Cats.
Feline Art: Painting
by Joy Campbell.
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
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
Even the results of x-rays and clinical observations can often be inconclusive
“ 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
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.