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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Beware the poison in the flower and the evil in the leaves.....

Dear George,
My name is Mack and I have no idea how old I am but, I know I'm a lucky survivor.
Survivor to what? you may ask! poison!
One night this past August my humans came home with a big bouquet of flowers laughing and chatty and happy - it looked like they were celebrating something.
They had some champagne, kissed me good night and went to sleep.
I was left alone in the living room; I certainly didn't feel like finishing the champagne so I nibbled on some flowers
Next I know? I woke up in a hospital then....vomit, torture with some tubes through my throat and a lot of misery.
Why all this? It seems that some flowers I nibbled on were poisonous for cats.
George, can you give us some advice on poisonous plants/flowers so our humans can learn and avoid bring such in the house?

Grateful to be alive

Dear Mack,
Phew. What a narrow escape. The most likely reason why you were poisoned was because the bouquet includes lilies (see photo on right). These are poisonous in flower and stem if you eat them but there is another danger. The pollen on their stamens can fall to the ground, be picked up on your paws or coat, and then when you groom yourself you swallow it. Your humans should cut off the stamens and shake out any pollen inside the flower before they bring lilies into the house and put them in a safe place. Better still not buy them at all.

The other poisonous house plant is poinsetta, a plant with decorative leaves that is often given as a Christmas present. The danger isn't so great with this, as you will only be poisoned if you nibble it. There isn't the danger of pollen. But tell your humans to be better safe than sorry.
For a complete list of dangerous plants go to International Cat Care.  Indoor cats with a nibbling habit are at greater danger than cats that have other things to do. Other common dangerous substance are human medicine (aspirin for one), canine flea products containing permethrin (many cats have died of this), and antifreeze.
Stay well. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

NO privacy? Humans are invading my right to be a private feline.

Dear George,
I hope you can help me with a rather delicate matter. I live with two humans, who I deemed suitable around this time last year, to be my assistants. They perform quite well if I’m honest-there is always somewhere comfy and warm to sleep, I don’t go without food, and there is a fine selection of toys provided. But, I’m starting to feel like I’ve made a terrible mistake. And I hate that.
You see, the one with the longer hair keeps taking photographs of me, and publishing them online. She has them taken before I know it-me playing, me exploring, even me sleeping!!! Some of these photos are embarrassing, especially when I’m playing with cheap toys that aren’t worth rejecting just to see the look on her face, or when I’m sleeping in less than glamorous locations. She has even put up photos of me WORKING for food. These photos are being published without my consent, and I am getting really sick of it. Surely I have the exclusive rights to my own image? WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS? Do you have any advice on what I can do to stop this happening? I don’t want to leave the house altogether, as it is satisfactory apart from this constant invasion of my privacy. I enclose some of the photos she has posted to illustrate my point.
Please help George,
Yours purringly,
Len (AKA Bishop Len Brennan, President of Mingtasmia).
P.S. The photos show me sleeping on a cardboard box (it was in the sun when I jumped up!), playing with an egg box full of treats, and sitting for a reward. All humiliating, I’m sure you’ll agree

Dear Len,
I have no comfort for you. Humans are addicted to taking our photos and putting them online - Facebook, blogs, YouTube. They even invade the privacy of kittens, would you believe?
I have utterly failed to train my human out of this behaviour. And did you know that the latest craze is for photos of hamsters' bottoms? What a disgusting species they are!
Yours in deepest gloom
PS. Congratulations on your elevation to a bishopric in the footsteps of the famous Father Ted bishop. You will achieve celibacy more easily than some recent bishops!

Saturday, October 04, 2014

The horror when a human gets a dog.

Dear Mr George, 
Or may I now call you Uncle George, since we are now acquainted by pen if not paw?
I have been assiduously following your excellent advice when I complained about being packed off to prison aka the local cattery, while my staff caroused and gormandised on French cuisine.
You recommended greater attention to enslaving them, so they would no longer wish to abandon me to the company of non-pedigree, or worse, positively mongrel, companions in misfortune.
Just as a mouse has more than one hole to go to (a tiresome habit which causes considerable extra effort on my part), a cat may learn something from its prey. To this end I have been carefully to extend my attentions to more distant members of my staff, namely the next generation of cat-lovers.
Lest my immediate staff ever become too infirm to serve my needs, I have been cultivating their daughter, who comes over to check my mechanical feeders on those occasions when they leave me lonely but provided-for. (Quite unnecessary as I can crack any container before their car has left the drive, but gives me a chance to ingratiate myself.)
I had her down as a confirmed felophiliac, having scraped acquaintance in prison three years ago with her owners, a pair of ruffians if ever there were, though quite good-looking. (One is a lean and rangy tortoiseshell with a bit of Oriental way back, and the other the product of a mesalliance on the part of his Persian mother with the ginger tom from the council estate.)
Oh George, I was so sure of her as a refuge in extremis that I was thunderstruck to see her showing pictures of A COCKER SPANIEL PUPPY to my present staff! My heart goes out to those poor unsuspecting victims of her treachery! But what should I do now about security in my old age?
Dora, aka Sunantre Stars.

Dear Dora,
My heart goes out to you. How could she? How could any decent human sink so low as to prefer the company of a dog to a cat?  And just go out and buy one, inflicting its smelly presence upon two beautiful felines! This behaviour will upset any cat.
I just hope the poor felines that own her, are managing to turn their training technique upon the dog. Dogs are bred to submit to humans and with some careful management by cats, this tendency to submission can apply to felines too. I just hope that the cats have this cocker under a disciplined training regime from the very start.
Security in old age? It is a real problem for us. It may be time for you to start cultivating some younger humans down the street. Take your time. Stroll down and take a look. Is there anybody in the street who stops and tickles you under the chin? Do they already have a cat?  If you cultivate their company while your humans are out, you may find that they start offering you food.
Two-timing your humans? I suppose so. But a cat is entitled to look out for herself. And if your humans discover your other "owner" (ridiculous word), they may realise they have a ready cat sitter. If not I am afraid your future may involve Cats Protection. It's a kind of halfway house for cats looking for a new home and although it's pretty awful, it's better than being homeless.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Meeeooooowww ... Black Cat Day is coming up.

Dear George,
I'm stuck at the Cats' Protection Taunton and Wellington branch waiting for a new home. As you can see I am a glossy black with gorgeous green eyes.
The humans here are looking after me well. I was in a car accident and they have paid for surgery for my fractured pelvis. But I've been here for three months and I want to get out.
I keep seeing nearby cats get homes - tortoiseshells, tabbies, and even black and whites. Do you think this delay is because I am black? Is it possible that humans are colour prejudiced? And is there anything we black cats can do about it?

Dear Duke,

Yes, they are colour prejudiced. Black Cats are slower to get homes than many of the other colours. The strange thing is that humans have made laws to stop colour prejudice against black humans. They believe that humans of any colour should be treated equally. But it doesn't apply to us felines, apparently.
So we need to support National Black Cat Day on Thursday October 30th. We need to remind humans that black is beautiful. And we need to campaign for Black Power.
Cats reading this can get their human to upload a photo of a black cat onto Cats' Protection Facebook page here. One of us might become the poster cat for rehoming appeals. And any humans who haven't got a black cat yet can get one here. Or if they live in Oxfordshire here.
Alas, the more I know about humans, the more I seriously wonder if they are right in the head.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Under cover - what is this human babble about "fruit cup."

Dear George,
Vegas' sophisticated "hidden camera" story inspired me to be more creative. I didn't have much to spy on as my mommy is living a boring life (if you ask me) but I wanted to surprise her by going "under cover". Now, literary speaking "under cover" can have many meanings but...I just wanted to go "under cover" so my mommy won't recognize me.
In all truth I think I succeeded since when she saw me, her reaction was "oh! my fruit cup." Did she recognise me? Or di she really think I was fruit cup? (whatever that is.) She even called me "tangelo." Is this offensive or is it a compliment. How can I find out? If my "under cover" is so good.... I don't want to give it away! But, if it's too complicate and confusing or offensive.... I might just give it up.!
Yours "under cover"

Dear Shumba,
Personally I find some of these human exclamations offensive. "Fruit cup?" It's not even worth bothering your head about what she means. "Tangelo?" Equally meaningless. These humans just blab away at us - blah blah blah. You have to ignore these vocalisations most of the time. Humans have an extraordinary range of vocal sounds, and really inadequate body language.
My advice to you, Shumba, is to adopt an air of lofty disdain when your human makes these offensive exclamations. They show a lack of proper respect. Disdainful ignoring is a good training tool. Respond to properly respectful actions like offering food or gentle stroking of the head area. Ignore pointless remarks. And - final sanction - use claws when necessary.
Training. Training. Training. This is the secret of a good cat-human relationship. A trained human is a happy human.
Yours George

Help for cats whose humans show behaviour problems.

This blog is devoted to the study of human behaviour. We cats, who live with this sometimes unpredictable and always feeble minded species, can benefit from seeing their behaviour in its proper scientific context. The study of feline dilemmas, training problems, and difficulties with humans, can only benefit all of us. All of us train our humans - to buy the right food, for instance, but many of us do not have knowledge of how to improve our training methods. The human species is obviously not as intelligent as the cat, but nevertheless can learn quite a lot - if properly managed. Topics of interest include the use of claw and order, purring as a human reward, rubbing your human up the right way, when to bite, spraying as a method of making our wishes known, ignoring the human, human harassment, human inattention and sheer human stupidity. I welcome your questions. Photos can be sent via my secretary's website, This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online