Cat Project Archives for December 10-14,
10, 2018: "Some cats is blind, And stone-deaf some,
But ain't no cat Wuz ever dumb."
- Anthony Euwer
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "December-shmecember. Sun is sun."
Cat Mewvie: Dreaming of sugar-plums.
(Warning: Loud crappy music.)
Feline Art: "Black Cat" by
needs a therapist? Get a cat.
by Samuel Fishwick
If a cat rolls over onto its back, does it catsize?
This is one of the many baffling questions I’ve been mulling since
coming into ownership of a jet-black one-year-old shorthair named Hiccup,
who my girlfriend Saskia and I liberated from Battersea Dogs & Cats
Home last month.
For the past week I’ve had to look after him alone while Saskia’s
been away, and it has been an exercise in accelerated maturity. Parents,
at risk of offending you all, I don’t know how we do it. Is he
watching how I unlatch the kitchen windows? Is it OK to watch BBC’s
Dynasties with the lions in front of him, or will this give him ideas?
I am a nervous catstodian.
“ Honestly, I worry about him all day,” I texted my mum. “I
know the feeling,” she replied.
Having never owned an animal larger than a goldfish before, I find him
endlessly fascinating while, for the most part, he regards me with mild
disdain. This is fine. Many major studies have shown how eager we are
to anthropomorphise everything from our pets to our toasters
(Mr Burns, in our case). A more interesting study has, in the past month,
shown just what they might say about us in return.
Researchers from the University of Liverpool found that while dogs look
like their owners, cats behave like them. The findings, published in
the journal Personality and Individual Differences, were possible thanks
to the recent development by another group of scientists of a personality
test for cats. Known as the feline five, they are friendliness, dominance,
spontaneity, neuroticism and how outgoing they are. “Our results
suggest that owner personality may have an influence on the type of cat
a person is first attracted to, or the decision to maintain ownership
of the cat,” says the report.
Closer to home, Hiccup is a show-off, skittish around people he knows,
gobbles his food in seconds and then complains that there isn’t
any more. Who needs a therapist? Get a cat.
11, 2018: "Any cat who misses a mouse pretends it
was aiming for the dead leaf."
- Charlotte Grayr
Gratuitous Kittiness: "See my cute little toes?"
Cat Mewvie: Cat found one month
after Paradise fires! YAYYYYY!
Feline Art: "Saurin's
by Anna Maria Jung.
12, 2018: "A cat is nobody's fool." - Heywood
Gratuitous Kittiness: "I will find a better place to sleep
Cat Mewvie: Rubber baby booty
Art: "Mystic Cat" by Danial Ryan.
13, 2018: "The reason cats climb is so that they can
look down on almost every other animal...it's also the
reason they hate birds." - K.C. Buffington
Gratuitous Kittiness: A comfy kitten, no doubt aboot it.
Cat Mewvie: Dryer Kitty.
Feline Art: "Cat
14, 2018: "My cat speaks sign language with her tail." -
Robert A. Stern
Gratuitous Kittiness: "Uhhh.... little help?"
Cat Mewvie: Everybody was cat-food
Feline Art: "Clockwork
by Braden Duncan.
are getting bigger.
by Meilan Solly
uring the Viking Age, domesticated cats were popular companions prized
for their pest control abilities—and, in a dark turn of events,
their pelts, which the Norse seafarers often donned as clothing. The
idea of feline fur fashion may sound disturbing today, but as Emily Underwood
reports for Science magazine, the practice yielded a bevy of ancient
cat skeletons that have actually enabled modern scientists to better
understand the long history of human-cat relations.
Perhaps the most surprising find detailed in a new Danish Journal of
Archaeology study is the domesticated feline’s growth over time.
Although most animals tend to shrink as they become domesticated (the
average dog, for example, is around 25 percent smaller than its wild
relative, the gray wolf), Julie Bitz-Thorsen of the Arctic University
of Norway and Anne Birgitte Gotfredsen of the University of Copenhagen
recorded a 16 percent jump in size between Viking Age and contemporary
The reasons for this hefty increase remain unclear, but according to
the study, plausible explanations include greater food availability—in
the form of either human waste or a higher rate of deliberate feedings—and
the shift in culture from treating cats as “fur providing and rodent
catching” animals to “the present-day pet invited indoor,
fed and cared for.”
To assess the differences between ancient cats and those of today, Bitz-Thorsen,
then an undergraduate at the University of Copenhagen, extracted cat
skulls, femurs, tibas and miscellaneous bones from dozens of bags filled
with a mixture of dog, horse, cow and cat remains discovered at archaeological
sites across Denmark. The samples dated from the late Bronze Age to the
1600s, with many originating in Viking era mass graves filled with the
carcasses of hapless, de-furred cats.
“You can tell the cats were skinned,” Bitz-Thorsen tells Science’s
Underwood. “They have cut marks, or the neck has been broken.”
Researchers have long puzzled over the exact timeline of cat domestication,
but a 2017 study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution posited
that the ancestors of today’s house cats arrived in two distinct
waves. The first of these early felines likely spread from southwest
Asia into Europe and the Middle East as early as 4400 B.C., Casey Smith
writes for National Geographic. This lineage was based in the Fertile
Crescent, otherwise known as the birthplace of agriculture, and includes
a 9,500-year-old Cyprus cat buried alongside its human.
The second set of felines consisted of an Egyptian lineage that spread
across Africa and Eurasia as early as 1700 B.C. but didn’t truly
accelerate until the fifth through 13th centuries. According to Karin
Brulliard of The Washington Post, Viking cats belonged to this lineage;
remains found at a Viking trading port on the Baltic Sea support the
idea that tabbies were employed as pest control on Middle Age ships.
Interestingly, Abigail Tucker, author of The Lion in the Living Room:
How Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World, tells The Cut’s Alice
Robb that felines are “uniquely ill-suited for domestication.” In
addition to demanding a diet of “fancy food,” cats are solitary
creatures lacking social hierarchies, making them difficult for humans
to control. Still, cats have one advantage above ostensibly similarly
unfriendly wild animals such as badgers and foxes: Their facial features
remind us of human infants, enabling them to become “an intriguing
and charming presence, rather than a straight-up nuisance, like a raccoon.”
Regardless of whether early felines won over humans with their cherubic
charm or deadly hunting skills, Bitz-Thorsen tells Science that by the
late Middle Ages, cats had become the treasured, well-fed house pets
they remain to this day.
Domestication enabled cats to reduce the level of energy expended on
finding food, but University of Oslo cat domestication expert Claudio
Ottoni explains to Science that it’s unclear whether a change in
diet or an actual genetic shift triggered the animals’ jump in
size. To answer this question, Ottoni says researchers will need to search
ancient cat DNA for chemical signatures of a changing diet.