Cat Project Archives for January 16-20, 2017.
16, 2017 - "A cat sees us as the dogs. A cat sees
himself as the human." - Unknown
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "Are you my mommy?"
Mewvie: Big lounging kitty.
Feline Art: "Lick
are some people afraid if cats?
LONDON - The language of phobia is so common today that we scarcely give
it a second thought. Yet it was not until the end of the 19th century
that medicine turned its attention to forms of irrational fear, following
the initial medical diagnosis of agoraphobia – fear of open, public
spaces – by the German physician Carl Westphal in 1871.
Westphal had been puzzled why three of his patients, all professional
men leading otherwise full lives, became struck with fear when having
to cross an open city space. All were aware of the irrationality of their
fears, but were powerless to overcome them.
The idea that individuals who were otherwise sane and rational could
nonetheless be afflicted with forms of inexplicable fear was quickly
taken up, both in the medical and popular culture of the era.
When the American psychologist G Stanley Hall published his Synthetic
Genetic Study of Fear in the American Journal of Psychology in 1914 he
identified no less than 136 different forms of pathological fear, all
with their own Greek or Latinate names.
These stretched from the more general categories of agoraphobia and claustrophobia
or haptophobia (fear of touch), to very specific forms such as amakaphobia
(fear of carriages), pteronophobia (fear of feathers), and what appears
a very Victorian, moral category, hypegiaphobia (fear of responsibility).
There was also, of course, ailurophobia: the fear of cats.
This urge to classify created a vivid cultural and psychological map
of the fears and anxieties of a society that had experienced the rapid
social changes of industrialisation and the decline of religion in the
post-Darwinian era. Society was turning inwards, and to the sciences
of the mind, for answers.
Hall’s research on phobias stretches back to the 1890s, when he
sent out hundreds of questionnaires for people to fill in about the forms
of their fears. Many of the answers were from school children. The answers
make fascinating reading, although Hall, infuriatingly, only gives us
There is, for example, the English lady who claimed she had been “robbed
of the joy of childhood by religious fears” and had decided instead
to turn to the devil “who she found kinder”. A boy of ten
was more resourceful and decided to meet his fears head on. Hall wrote
of him: “Decided to go to hell when he died; rubbed brimstone on
him to get used to it, etc.” A world of possibilities is opened
up in that “etc”. What else did the boy do to ensure he ended
up in hell?
To our eyes, it is clear that there were obvious social and religious
causes for these particular forms of fear. But Hall argued, in Darwinian
vein, that fears and phobias are largely the product of our evolutionary
past, and come to us as inherited forms from our remote ancestry.
One particular phobia that attracted considerable medical and popular
attention was ailurophobia – that fear of cats.
Medics themselves tapped into the public interest, writing in the pages
of popular magazines. The American neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell, for
example, reworked a paper first published in the _Transactions of the
Association of American Physicians in 1905 for the Ladies Home Journal
of 1906, giving it the far snappier title, “Cat Fear”.
Like Hall, Mitchell also sent out questionnaires, exploring forms and
potential causes of fear of cats. He was also interested in the seeming
ability of some sufferers to be able to detect, without seeing it, when
a cat is in a room.
Mitchell collected testimony from “trustworthy observers” of
various practical experiments undertaken – cats tempted with cream
into cupboards, and then unsuspecting sufferers lured into the room to
see if they detected the alien presence. Initially he was sceptical:
the hysterical girl who claimed she always knew when a cat was in the
room was right only a third of the time. But he concluded that many of
his cases could indeed detect hidden cats, even when they could neither
see nor smell them.
In trying to account for the phenomenon he ruled out asthma, and evolutionary
inherited fears (those terrified of cats are often perfectly comfortable
on seeing lions). As to the detection, he suggested that perhaps emanations
from the cat “may affect the nervous system through the nasal membrane,
although unrecognised as odors”. Mitchell nonetheless remained
baffled by “unreasonable terror of cats”. He concluded with
the observation that victims of cat fear record “how even strange
cats seem to have an unusual desire to be near them, to jump on their
laps or to follow them”.
The dawn of the internet appears to have intensified our cultural fascination
with cats. Where Mitchell and Hall sent out questionnaires to obtain
data on fears, millions now write, in a reversal of roles, to self-declared
experts to share their experiences, and have their questions answered.
According to one such site, Cat World, one of the most frequently asked
questions is “Why do cats go to people who do not like them?”
Taking a leaf out of Stanley Hall’s book, the answers invariably
invoke evolution: the frightened person is not a threat. But like Mitchell,
they still seem unable to answer the key question: why do only some people
develop such terror in the first place? And that is, of course, another
area for today’s researchers."
17, 2017 - "Time spent with cats is never wasted." -
Gratuitous Kittiness: "Me and my crew."
Mewvie: Wild cats.
Feline Art: "Floaty Cat
18, 2017 - "One is never sure, watching two cats washing
each other, whether it's affection, the taste or a trial
run for the jugular." - Helen Thomson
Gratuitous Kittiness: "Dude! Go Away! Can't you see I'm hiding?"
Mewvie: Kittens dance, kittens sing, kittens do most
Art: "Zentangle Cats" by Marcia Smith-Connell.
a kitty eats a kitty
A cat called Kitty underwent life-saving surgery after swallowing a toy
cat - also named Kitty.
The ginger tabby's worried owners took her to the vets after she gulped
down the plastic figure from the Kitty in My Pocket children's toy range.
An X-ray revealed the toy had become lodged in the pet's abdomen and
threatened to perforate her intestine.
But following a successful operation at Manchester Vet Centre, Kitty
is now home and recovering well.
Owner Paul Grice, 38, of Denton, Tameside, said: "We were really
upset as we'd had Kitty from a little kitten. You get yourself worked
up and it's totally out of your hands.
"We had absolutely no idea that she'd swallowed anything and only found
out as a result of the X-ray. What are the chances of a cat called Kitty swallowing
a cat called Kitty?"
Image caption Vet Ann Mee said it is more common for dogs to run into
trouble after swallowing items
Vet Ann Mee said: "Kitty was very poorly, she was dehydrated and
"Sometimes, when we have a foreign body present, we can milk them through
to the large intestines to allow the animal to pass it naturally.
"But this was a hard plastic toy with a prominent tail and ears which had
got caught in the intestinal wall. Any attempt to move it down would have ruptured
the intestinal wall itself."
Paul's wife Michelle, 36, said: "Kitty is glued to my little girl.
If we'd lost her it doesn't bear thinking about. We're just thrilled
to have her home."
19, 2017 - "The cat, which is a solitary beast, is
single minded and goes its way alone; but the dog, like
his master, is confused in his mind." - H.G. Wells
Gratuitous Kittiness: "I is a finial."
Mewvie: Socializing feral kitties.
Feline Art: Cat-hair finger puppets.
20, 2017 - "Cats are dangerous companions for writers
because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing
avoidance." - Dan Greenburg
Gratuitous Kittiness: "All my mice belong to me!"
Mewvie: It's all about the luv.
Feline Art: A fat, orange, Russian cat. Hmmm. Never saw THAT before.
probably best that cats can't talk.
by Paul Sassone
Catterbox is billed as the "world's first talking cat collar."
What you do is put the collar on your cat (not as easy as it sounds).
The collar records the sounds your cat makes, translates those sounds
into human speak and plays the translations out loud. Not only that,
but you get to pick the voice – maybe a stylish English accent.
Or perhaps your cat could sound like John Wayne. Lady Gaga?
It's not that cats don't communicate with humans now. But, they use mostly
nonverbal forms of expression.
Our cat, Kate, uses facial expressions and paw gestures to tell us what
she wants and doesn't want.
Kate's basic gesture vocabulary consists of the following:
"My mouth doesn't like that."
"Don't touch me."
"I believe I asked for ice water."
"What's that you're eating?"
"Nap time. Please cover me with my blue blanket."
The Catterbox intrigued me. What would Kate tell us if we could actually
translate her utterances, such as "Gak" and "Rowww" into
English? On what secrets of the animal world could she enlighten us?
Maybe Kate could finally explain to me why she dotes on my wife but won't
give me a single purr. And she could tell me in, say, Helen Mirren's
I wonder how much one of those Catterbox collars costs?
They are priceless, actually. Because they don't exist. The Catterbox
is an elaborate commercial for a brand of cat treats. Apparently we cat
owners will believe anything – including talking cats, I'm ashamed
But, once my initial disappointment over not being able to discuss with
my cat whether "War and Peace" or "Anna Karenina" is
Tolstoy's masterpiece, I realized that cats having the ability to talk
might not be a good thing.
We all know how stubborn cats are. It wouldn't be long before cats discovered
Soon, cats would start debating political issues. They would choose up
sides – red cats, blue cats, liberal cats, conservative cats.
And pretty soon cats would be introducing bills in Congress to ban dogs
from entering the country.
No, it's best we maintain the status quo when it come to cats speaking.