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Infinite Cat Project Archives for May 13-17, 2019.

Mewsings, May 13, 2019: "My husband said it was him or the cat...I miss him sometimes." - Unknown

majestic cat

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: So very majestic.

Cat Mewvie: Guarding the baby.


mutt and muse comic

Today's Kitty Komic

star wars cat art

Feline Art: Ceramic cat, artist unknown.

cat with sock feet

Why do cats (and other animals) look like they're wearing socks?
by Eleanor Cummins

Grumpy Cat. Lil Bub. Maru. What do all of these internet-famous cats have in common? From ankle down, their paws are as white as the trendy marble countertops vying for attention in the very same Instagram feed.

Pet lovers refer to this particular color pattern as an animal’s “socks," “booties,” "mittens," or "tuxedo" for obvious reasons. The phenomenon of pigment mixed with white splotches can occur in pigs, deer, horses, dogs, guinea pigs, birds, and, in rare cases, humans. But it’s particularly prominent in cats, as evidenced by the fact that Socks consistently ranks in the top names for felines. (Even former President Bill Clinton bestowed it upon his black-and-White House pet, who notoriously did not get along with the family’s monochromatic chocolate lab, Buddy.)

But scientists have another name for it: piebaldism. It’s the result of a mutation in the KIT gene, which causes an unusual distribution of melanocytes—the cells that give eyes, skin, and hair or fur pigment.

When a cat is still an embryo, all of its available melanocytes are bunched up toward its back, where its spinal column will eventually form. As the fetus develops into a mewling kitten, pigment cells spread throughout the developing body. If the melanocytes are evenly distributed, the cat could have a unicolor coat, like Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s all-black cat, Salem, or the all-white Hello Kitty. But in many animals, the cells spread irregularly. That’s how you get a cat like Sylvester, who’s black from his back to his legs, but white down to his toes.

Why exactly the melanocytes clump and cluster has been a matter of some debate. It was long thought that the cells just didn’t move at the right rate to completely cover an animal’s body. But more recent research in Nature Communications using a mathematical model of melanocytes suggests that the pigment cells in piebald animals don’t divide often enough, leaving the developing critter without enough biological material for a monochrome coat.

Piebaldism isn’t the only genetic quirk that can alter an animal’s fleece, according to the UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Lab. The tabby cat’s signature look is served up by the agouti gene, which determines the distribution of black pigment. The same gene gives rise to “bay” horses, which have ruddy brown bodies, but pitch black manes and tails. Norwegian Forest cats harbor two mutations of note: The aptly-named “Orange gene” on the X chromosome can produce a red coat in many cats, but an alteration on the MC1R gene appears specific to this breed. Born one color, these felines can mature into another golden or “amber” hue. And Siamese and Burmese cats have a form of selective albinism that allows them to suppress melanin production based on temperature. The activating enzyme tyrosinase explains the Siamese's ombre appearance, with its sandy-colored abdomen (the warmest part of the body) that darkens around the extremities, including its ear tips and paws.

Maybe the next meme-worthy cat should be named for a geneticist. Gregor Meowndel, anyone?

Mewsings, May 14, 2019: "I cannot deny that a cat lover and his cat have a master/slave relationship.
The cat is the master." - Arthur R. Kassin

cat in dog bed

Gratuitous Kittiness: "Dog bed? Yeah. Whatever."

Cat Mewvie: Rescuing a sick street cat.


cat proof mouse home comic

Today's Kitty Komic

blue eyes cat art

Feline Art: "Blue Eyes", artist unknown.

Mewsings, May 15, 2019: "Cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the human mind. They realize...that we have an infuriating inability to understand, let alone follow, even the simplest and most explicit of directions." - Cleveland Amory

shrimp cat

Gratuitous Kittiness: The very rare and very delicious shrimp cat.

Cat Mewvie: Fluffy vs. the Roomba machine.


cat names comic

Today's Kitty Komic

blue eyed  cat art

Feline Art: "Louis the Blind Cat" by Adam Sprague.

Mewsings, May 16, 2019: "To understand a cat, you must realize that he has has own gifts, his own viewpoint, even his own morality." - Lilian Jackson Braun

blissful cat

Gratuitous Kittiness: "Ahhhhhh. Brahms."

Cat Mewvie: The Staring Contest.


booger in a box comic

Today's Kitty Komic

metal cat sculpture

Feline Art: "Barn Cat" by Machovec.

Mewsings, May 17, 2019: "A cat will do what it wants when it wants, and there's not a thing you can do about it." - Frank Perkins

recursive cat

Gratuitous Kittiness: It don't get more infinite than this.

Cat Mewvie: Adopt! Adopt! Adopt!


dog person comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat on fence art

Feline Art: "Snowbound" by Daria Rashev.

cat eating from plate

Home-cooked cat food could do more harm than good.
by Joan Morris

When it comes to cat food, home cooking might not be the best for our feline friends.

In a UC Davis study that looked at 114 popular cat food home recipes, researchers found that none of them met all of the National Research Council’s recommended allowances for adult cats. Some recipes called for ingredients that could potentially harm the cats.

“Homemade diets are not necessarily better,” said lead author Jennifer Larsen, a veterinary nutritionist with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “If you are going to use one, you have to make sure you do it safely and they should be balanced and appropriate for your individual cat.”

The study was made, in part, because of a consumer backlash to contaminants found in imported pet food from China, resulting in an increase of cat owners switching to homemade cat food recipes. There is a smaller cadre of cat owners who want to feed their cats vegetarian, organic and locally sourced diets.

The recipes, shared online and in print publications, were likely well-intentioned, but even ones written by veterinarians failed to include all the nutrients cat require.

Most recipes lacked three or more nutrients, but some were missing up to 19. Others had less than half of the recommended daily servings of essential nutrients including choline, iron, zinc, thiamin, vitamin E and manganese.Whether cats are being harmed by the diets depends on feeding instructions, the duration of that diet, the recipe’s level of nutritional deficiency and the cat’s overall health.

Seven percent of the recipes, however, included potentially toxic ingredients including garlic, garlic powder, onions and leeks. Researchers also found recipe instructions lacking. Ones that included raw meats didn’t mention the potential dangers of handling and feeding raw foods, and those that included bones didn’t warn that they should be ground up to prevent stomach and intestinal tears.

While cat owners should be lauded for trying to feed their cats healthful meals, Larsen said they shouldn’t be afraid of commercial diets. If they still want to go homemade, they should talk with board-certified veterinary nutritionists, who specialize in formulating homemade diets for pets.

“Homemade diets are not necessarily better,” Larsen said. “If you are going to use one, you have to make sure you do it safely and they should be balanced and appropriate for your individual cat.”

The UC Davis’ study was published this week by the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association.


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