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Infinite Cat Project Archives for November 6-10, 2017.

Mewsings, November 6, 2017: "I purr, therefore I am." - Anonymous

kittens in pumpkin

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Flying in her sleep.

Cat Mewvie: "Never let me go."

cat halloween ghost

Today's Kitty Komic

cat jack-o-lantern

Feline Art: Cat and rubber duck, artist unknown.

cat news

How 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."

Mewsings, November 7, 2017: "Dogs come when they're called; cats take a message and get back to you later." - Mary Bly

white cat with kittens

Gratuitous Kittiness: Kitten blizzard.

Cat Mewvie: Cat furniture? Sure, why not?

cat on psychiatrist couch comic

Today's Kitty Komic

asian girl and cat art

Feline Art: "Cat" by Phan Linh Bao Hahn.

Mewsings, November 8, 2017: "The cat does not negotiate with the mouse." - Robert K. Massie

kitten behind potted plant

Gratuitous Kittiness: "I is a tiger."

Cat Mewvie: This cat would only accept bagged food.

dog with cone collar comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cats on windowsill art

Feline Art: "Buster and Kitty" by Bernadette Kazmarski.

Mewsings, November 9, 2017: "Who needs television when you have cats?" - Lori Spigelmyer

kitten wrapped in sock

Gratuitous Kittiness: A delectable little purrito.

Cat Mewvie: The scent of a kitty.

how to pick up cats and dogs comic

Today's Kitty Komic

statue boy reading to cat

Feline Art: Sculpture in front of Longview, Washington library.

Mewsings, November 10, 2017: "Many cats simply pounce to their own drummers." - Karen Duprey

four kittens in a heap

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: The brothers four.

Cat Mewvie: Goodbye, Maisy.

new improved cat comic

Today's Kitty Komic

watercolor cat art

Feline Art: "Buster" by Bernadette Kazmarski.

cat news

Cats 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 never activated.
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 develop asthma.

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 children (bronchitis).

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 the study.

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 Immunology).

“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 Høst.

“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,

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.


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