Cat Project Archives for November
6, 2017: "I purr, therefore I am." - Anonymous
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Flying in her sleep.
Mewvie: "Never let me go."
Feline Art: Cat and rubber
duck, artist unknown.
to stop kitty from wrecking the furniture.
by Lindsey Mather
It sucks when two things you love equally don't get along. Take the gorgeous
sofa you splurged on and your partner-in-crime cat. It seems she's putting
claws to couch just to spite you, turning your living room into a disaster
zone. And the sofa's soft, sloped sides, well, they're basically asking
for this torture they look so damn scratch-able. You're stuck between
a shredded seat and a furbaby. Or are you? Designer Ray Booth of design
firm McAlpine, who owns two felines of his own, has this to say: "In
my experience, it is best to not tempt the kitties with fabrics that
entice their desire to file their claws! Nubby textiles on vertical surfaces
are the worst when it comes to attracting the kitties to claw. Often,
they are looking to remove the outer layers of the claws as new claws
grow, also it feels so good to get a stretch on the vertical surface!"
In other words, if you bought a sofa with loose-weave or looped upholstery
(think regular linen), this dilemma is all on you. The best way to stop
cats from scratching furniture is to avoid it altogether. When your sofa
is clad in a tightly woven fabric like suede (designer and fellow cat
owner Michael Formica's pick) or a synthetic indoor-outdoor material,
your cat will have a harder time getting her claws into it, and hopefully
the sofa will become much less interesting to her.
If you're not ready for new upholstery yet, you can always give diversion
a try. "What I have found really helps with Gary, our cat, is we
have the same scratching post we've had since he was a kitty, and he
still uses it and he really doesn't attack the furniture at all," says
Michael. Ray agrees: "In our household, it has been a matter of
distraction—giving acceptable alternatives to not deny them this
daily ritual. Thick carpets on scratching posts have been accepted in
our house for Auvie and Roust’s pleasure. Bound rope also presents
an appealing scratch-able and attackable surface."
Whichever route you decide to go, it's best to remember Michael's wise
words: "Cats with claws, they do what it is that they do."
7, 2017: "Dogs come when they're called; cats take
a message and get back to you later." - Mary Bly
Gratuitous Kittiness: Kitten blizzard.
Mewvie: Cat furniture? Sure, why not?
Feline Art: "Cat" by
Phan Linh Bao Hahn.
8, 2017: "The cat does not negotiate with the mouse." -
Robert K. Massie
Gratuitous Kittiness: "I is a tiger."
Mewvie: This cat would only accept bagged food.
Art: "Buster and Kitty" by Bernadette Kazmarski.
9, 2017: "Who needs television when you have cats?" -
Gratuitous Kittiness: A delectable little purrito.
Mewvie: The scent of a kitty.
Feline Art: Sculpture
in front of Longview, Washington library.
10, 2017: "Many cats simply pounce to their own drummers." -
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: The brothers four.
Mewvie: Goodbye, Maisy.
Feline Art: "Buster"
by Bernadette Kazmarski.
protect newborns from asthma
by Thomas Hoffman
We know that cats keep mice away. But did you know that they can also
help prevent asthma in newborns? That is the conclusion of a new study
by scientists from the Copenhagen Studies on Asthma in Childhood Research
Center (COPSAC), Denmark.
Cats neutralise the effect of a gene that, when activated, doubles the
risk of developing asthma in children.
Having a cat in the home when a child is born means that this gene is
The result surprised co-author Hans Bisgaard, professor of paediatrics
and the head of COPSAC. Not because the results will lead to any new
treatments—they will not—but because the study shows that
the genes behind a disease can be switched on or off depending on the
environment around us.
“For me, this is the core message because it’s a recognition in the
direction of how disease occurs. It documents the interplay between genetics
and the environment we live in, and in particular that this occurs very early
in life, both during pregnancy and in the home,” says Bisgaard.
Cats help children who carry a particular gene
In the new study, Bisgaard, Jakob Stokholm, and three colleagues from
COPSAC and Næstved Hospital, Denmark, studied data from 377 Danish
children whose mothers have asthma.
They mapped the children’s genes and collected information about
their upbringing and surroundings, both by taking samples from the children’s
home and by a number of surveys taken by the parents.
The results reveal that cats remove the increased risk of developing
asthma among children with a particular variation of the gene 17q21,
called TT, which has the strongest impact on whether or not a child could
Almost one in three children in the study carried the TT gene variant,
regardless of whether or not their mother had asthma.
No protection from dogs
Interestingly, only cats seem to reduce the risk of developing asthma
among children carrying the TT gene variant. Dogs do not have the same
effect, say the scientists behind the new study.
Their analyses suggest that cats not only protect against asthma, but
also against pneumonia and inflammation in the lower airways of small
Gene 17q21 was previously known to be involved in some way in all three
conditions, which indicates Bisgaard and colleagues have found something
quite substantial in the relationship between cats and genes, says Doctor
Arne Høst, who lecturers in childhood disease at the University
of Southern Denmark. He also studies asthma at H.C. Andersen’s
Children’s Hospital in Odense, Denmark, but was not involved in
Development of asthma in the group carrying gene variant TT (left) compared
with other children. The solid line indicates children with high levels
of cat allergens at home. (Graph: COPSAC / Journal of Allergy and Clinical
“It’s a very thorough study and they have investigated many things,
so it’s a plausible connection. It’s very exciting that they find
this connection because other studies have struggled to conclude anything final,” says
“Now it looks like the effect is linked to a particular gene-variant, which
goes to show just how complex the development of asthma and allergies are. It’s
not only about genes and the environment, but how the two interact, and there’s
so much that we still don’t know,” he says.
How much exposure do you need?
Høst would like to see other studies confirm the results. As would
Tove Fall, lecturer in epidemiology at Uppsala University, Sweden. She
has previously studied the connection between animals and human disease
in large register studies.
“The study is well-thought-out and the findings are very interesting. If
they are confirmed by subsequent studies, then it would be interesting to figure
out what kind of exposure to cats during childhood is needed to lower the risk
of childhood asthma among bearers of the risk-variant,” writes Fall in
an email to ScienceNordic’s partner, Videnskab.dk.
Growing up with cats also has disadvantages
The new study does not show what it is about the cats, which help protect
children against asthma.
An earlier study from COPSAC showed that cats activate a particular gene
in the body, which triggers eczema in children. Trials to deactivate
the asthma gene, revealed that doing so can activate the eczema gene.
Another unresolved issue in the study is how cats actually influence
our genes. And why there are no similar effects with dogs who also walk
around on four legs and live in our homes?
For now, this is pure guess work.
Lead-author Jakob Stokholm suspects that it could be related to the bacteria
that cats carry and perhaps fungi or viruses that they bring into the
home, which can influence our immune system.
“This [research] is of course interesting to develop, because if we can
explain these mechanisms, it opens up opportunities to isolate them and to protect
against the disease,” says Stokholm, a post doc at COPSAC.