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Infinite Cat Project Archives for February 12-16, 2018.

Mewsings, February 12, 2018: "Every dog has his day -- but the nights are reserved for the cats." - Unknown

olympic skater cat

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "I'm gonna win a gold medal... in Cuteness!"

Cat Mewvie: A "Simon's Cat" Valentine's Day special.

cat bites comic

Today's Kitty Komic

dreaming cat watercolor

Feline Art: "Dream Catcher" by Alex Carter.

cat news

Five little lynx's.
by Lisa Kaczke

Thomas Spence was looking for moose to photograph near Tofte on Saturday morning when he came upon a Canada lynx standing in the road.

Then a second lynx entered the road from the woods. Then another and another and another.

Five lynx cuddled in the road in front of Spence for a minute on Saturday before bounding off and disappearing into the woods of the Superior National Forest. But it was long enough for the Tofte photographer to get a few photos of the group.

" I couldn't believe it. I still am a little floored. As I was taking pictures, I was kinda laughing because I couldn't believe it was happening," he said.

Seeing the five lynx is now among Spence's top wildlife experiences in his 25 years of living in Tofte, on the North Shore. He said he believes the group he saw was a female lynx with her four kittens.

Though lynx are occasionally seen in the wild, it's unusual to happen onto several together, said Ron Moen, a research biologist with the University of Minnesota Duluth who has studied the species. But it isn't unusual for a family group to be traveling together this time of year, he said.

"The kittens stay with the mom for almost a year, so that part is not unusual," Moen said. "But it's unusual to see that many together. (It means) good foraging conditions."

A female lynx might have from one to six kittens, Moen said. The U.S. Forest Service has documented lynx reproduction in Minnesota every year since the early 2000s, he said.
A group of Canada lynx, likely a female lynx with her four kittens

Five lynx cuddled in the road in front of Spence for a minute on Saturday before bounding off and disappearing into the woods of the Superior National Forest. Courtesy of Thomas J. Spence
Kittens are born in May and stay with their mom for about 11 months, learning to hunt.
A typical adult female lynx weighs about 20 to 24 pounds, Moen said.

"They look a lot bigger," he said.

When Spence posted his lynx photos on social media — he posts his photos as "ThomasJSpence Images" on Facebook and as "toftetom" on Instagram — on Saturday afternoon, the photos quickly garnered thousands of comments, likes and shares.

Spence had recently watched a video of a lynx hunting a snowshoe hare, its primary food source, in Ontario — so when he came upon the lone lynx on the road, "intently staring into the woods," he thought he was going to witness it hunting. He stopped his truck and planted himself in a nearby snowbank with his camera to watch.

"As I waited, the first kitten — I assume it was a one-year kitten — emerged from the woods and I thought, 'Oh my, there's two of them now. This is going to be one of the best photography experiences ever.' Within probably another minute, three and four emerged out of the woods over the snowbanks ... they all just started cuddling like kittens with their mother. Again, I thought, 'It can't get any better than this.' After 30 seconds, maybe a minute, a fifth one came out of the woods," he said with a laugh.

After cuddling in front of Spence, the group began walking up the road. They weren't in a hurry and about 100 yards up the road, they gathered together once more before scattering into the woods. He said he thinks the lynx were "hunting with Mom."

Spence said the lynx were fully aware of his presence and they looked right at him.

"As each one emerged out of the woods, they'd check in with Mom and then they'd look over at me and see what I was up to. But I wasn't really moving so I don't think they thought I was a threat," he said.

Spence has only rarely seen lynx in his many years in Tofte. When he has, it's usually been just one — and the moment lasts only the few seconds it takes for the lynx to run by, he said. He saw two lynx together once, in the same area around Tofte about a decade ago. But he's seen more lynx so far this winter than he's seen in the previous five winters combined.

Minnesota's lynx population has fluctuated in recent decades, depending on the population of snowshoe hares. State officials at one time said lynx weren't native to Minnesota and instead came into the state from Canada during winter. But scientists discovered in the 1990s and 2000s a native population of lynx that bred in northern Minnesota. Moen told the News Tribune in January that an average of up to 200 lynx now live in Minnesota, mostly in St. Louis, Lake and Cook counties.

Lynx are listed as threatened in Minnesota, Maine and some Western states, giving the cat some protections from illegal killing and habitat destruction. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in January that it will begin drafting a rule to revoke the lynx's threatened species status. The move to de-list, if it advances, would put lynx management back in the hands of state and tribal natural resource agencies.

While Spence wants to keep the specific location of where he took the lynx photos a secret, he explained that he takes most of his wildlife photos "in the woods out of Tofte — when you look at a map, there's really only one way you can go into the woods out of Tofte." He mainly photographs moose and tries to get outside to take photos every day, depending on how much light there is before and after work, he said.

He went out on Sunday to see if he could glimpse the lynx again. The area had received a new layer of snow and he saw lynx tracks in the snow about 2 miles from where he saw the group on Saturday, but that's the only trace of the animals he could find.

" Whether or not I actually have that experience again, I would be shocked if anything even close to that happened again. Two years ago, I did have five bull moose walk out on me so maybe it's a thing with me, the number five. I'm going to go look for wolves next," he joked.

Mewsings, February 6, 2018: "Cats conspire to keep us at arm's length." - Frank Perkins

two cats in boxes

Gratuitous Kittiness: "Thanks, but we were looking for something a bit roomier."

Cat Mewvie: A fuck-ton of cats.

blade runner quoting cats

Today's Kitty Komic

cat with flowers painting

Feline Art: "Big Grey Cat" by Elsa Moosbrugger.

Mewsings, February 14, 2018: "Four little persians, but only one looked in my direction. I extended a tentative finger and two soft paws clung to it. There was a contented sound of purring, I suspect on both our parts." - George Fredley

black and white cats

Gratuitous Kittiness: Love to all this Valentine's Day.

Cat Mewvie: Cats v. Mailman.

cats love food comic

Today's Kitty Komic

vitage cat valentines card

Feline Art: To all the Infinite Cat fans out there!

Mewsings, February 15, 2018: "Because of our willingness to accept cats as superhuman creatures, they are the ideal animals with which to work creatively. - Roni Schotter

three standing cats

Gratuitous Kittiness: "Who? Us? We're not them."

Cat Mewvie: Cats from outer space.

shot by cat comic

Today's Kitty Komic

digital cat art

Feline Art: Artist unknown.

Mewsings, February 16, 2018: "It is impossible for a lover of cats to banish these alert , gentle, and discriminating little friends, who give us just enough of their regard and complaisance to make us hunger for more." - Agnes Repplier

cat in high wind

Gratuitous Kittiness: "I shall not be moved."

Cat Mewvie: Calling all kitties!

cats and boyfriends are cute comic

Today's Kitty Komic

victorian cats art

Feline Art: "Victorian Cats" by Tracy Butler.

two kittens

Deadly cat virus on the move in Australia
by Jason Daley

A deadly disease is on the rise in Australian cat populations. Known as feline panleukopenia, or “cat plague,” the sickness hasn’t been an issue for cats down under for 40 years thanks to a vaccine developed during the 1970s. But in the last couple of years, cat plague has reemerged. And as veterinarian?s Mark Westman and Richard Malik write for The Conversation, it has the potential to spread quickly if something is not done.

Last weekend, Victoria’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) sent out a community alert urging owners to vaccinate their cats after the vets found the disease in several stray kittens brought to shelters around Melbourne. “Vaccination provides high immunity, which is why these recent confirmed cases of Panleukopenia are cause for concern—and action,” Australian Veterinary Association President Paula Parker says in the release. “It typically takes two days for an infected cat or kitten to become symptomatic, so the risk of transmission is extremely high.”

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, feline panleukopenia (FP) is a highly contagious virus that attacks cells that rapidly divide like those found in bone marrow, intestines and developing unborn kittens. If the disease attacks and destroys bone marrow cells, the cats can no longer produce white blood cells, an important part of the immune system. Infected cats then often develop serious secondary infections.

The virus can be transmitted through urine, feces or even fleas from other cats. Kittens, sick cats and unvaccinated cats are most susceptible. Symptoms include diarrhea, lethargy, fever, vomiting and dehydration. And once a feline is infected, there’s no medication that can kill the virus. The hope is to help keep the kitties healthy long enough so they can naturally fight it off. Such supportive care includes IV fluids, opioid meds for pain, nutrition supplements and blood transfusions. Without treatment, the AVMA reports that ?up to 90 percent of FP-infected cats may die.
So why has this cat scourge reared its head again after 40 years?

Westman and Malik write that it’s likely it never really went away. Australia has six times as many feral cats as they do pet cats, and the virus may also be able to infect dogs and foxes.

“ Perhaps with an increased effort to rehabilitate and re-home ‘fringe-dwelling cats,’ it was inevitable that the virus would spill back from these unvaccinated cats into the general pet cat population, given waning herd immunity,” they write. Once immunization rates drop below a certain level—in the case of cats, this is around 70 percent—they lose what is known as ‘herd immunity’ or ?community immunity,? which can potentially protect non-immunized animals from infection.

The first outbreak in pet cats occurred in Mildura. According to Westman and Malik, the region is rural with a fairly low average income for residents. “It is our suspicion that the cost of vaccinating the family cat (currently more than $200 for a kitten requiring a course of two to three vaccines) exceeds the budget for many pet owners,” they write.

From there, in early 2017, the disease found its way to the Sydney metropolitan area, where more than 50 cats in shelters died. “The current outbreak seems to be caused by a lack of mass vaccination, especially in shelter-housed cats,” Professor Vanessa Barrs of the Univeristy of Sydney said at the time. “The disease had previously re-emerged in Melbourne cat shelters a few years ago but despite warnings, cats have not been vaccinated in many shelters because their risk of disease was perceived to be lower than in dogs, when in reality the risk to cats is high.”

The disease used to be once widespread, but according to the AVMA, is now considered “uncommon.” Occasional bouts have appeared outside of Australia in recent decades. Last year, shelters in North Carolina saw an increase in the virus. And in 2014, the disease struck the island of Maui, the first time FP was found in the state of Hawaii.

The effects of the virus may also be worsened by a spreading anti-vaccination movement in the pet community. But as Gavin Haynes at The Guardian reports, there is no strong evidence that points to the fact that vaccines cause the range of claimed negative side effects or diseases.

Overall, the key to stopping FP’s spread is vaccination. As Liz Walker, CEO of the Victoria RSPCA says, “the importance of keeping your pet’s vaccinations up to date cannot be overstated.”


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