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Saturday, February 06, 2016

Who's my father? Try the armpit test or quit worrying and be yourself

Dear George, 
Hope you can help as I’m living a big dilemma. I know who my biological mother is, I know who my adopted mother is, I know who my adopted father is but how would I know who my biological father is? When humans are looking for child support they do a DNA test and the “bad guy” ends up paying until the human kitten finishes university or is 21 years old. Well, in most cases we don’t get to live that long so our biological fathers won’t have to supply a daily fresh mouse for the next 21 years!
However, I don’t think it’s fair not to make them bring a mouse once in a while! 
My biological mother was rescued when she was very young and very pregnant! I was one of the kittens in the litter. The human who rescued my mother kept all of us so I had a very happy kittyhood! But, I wonder ….could that stray coming for dinner in the backyard be my father? Should I approach him? Ask him for a DNA test?
George, what cats do in such situations?
Eager to hear from you
Speedy

Dear Speedy,
It's a wise cat that knows its own father. I don't. A fair number of humans don't either: they only think they do. The joy of feline sex is that two or three different toms father a litter. It's nature's way of ensuring diversity. Humans have to have rules about this: we do it naturally. Gingers, blacks, black-and-whites, grey (all shades of) tortoiseshells and tabbies are all brought up as equals.
Forget your father. It's only boring humans care about paternity, and get DNA tests, and worry and upset themselves. It's mothers that count for us. They feed us and teach us. There's no kitten support from our fathers.
Yes, if that stray cat in the backyard looks like you, sniff the air and see if you can recognise a familiar scent. It's the armpit test and some believe cats can recognise their relatives. But that might just be catlore.
Purrsonally I never give my father a second thought. I am Glorious Me and that is all that matters.
George.  

Saturday, January 30, 2016

I wish my mommy join the ….”no poo” (no shampoo) movement!

Dear George,
“No poo” which is short for “no shampoo” is the latest craze in North America getting more and more supporters every day! We’ve all seen humans going from one extreme to another in their search for happiness. So, for the time being, they decided that soap and shampoo are bad for them and stop using either. I heard some went as long as one year without shampooing their fur! Yak! Some are using some kind of oil and vinegar to clean themselves (guess these are fond of salad dressing) and some swear by “sun bathing”! But, NOT MY MOMMY George, not my mommy! Of course….she is at the other extreme taking showers twice a day and probably washing her hair as often too! Now, she wants to give me a bath every once in a while so I’ll shine! My skin horripilated at the idea! I shine anyway as I meticulously and rigorously groom myself!
George, PLEASE post some basic rules of cat hygiene so humans will understand we hate water and don’t need baths!
Yours in “no poo and water” for cats
Stanley

Dear Stanley,
What will humans think of next! Just because they cannot clean themselves (tongues too small and bodies too inflexible) they think we cannot. We can. We groom ourselves beautifully. We enjoy doing it. It soothes us into serenity. It is a very important part of our daily lives.
As an expert on humans, I understand (though I dislike) their habit of throwing themselves into water or pouring water on themselves. They cannot clean themselves properly so that is what they need to do to stay clean. We do not need baths. Never. 
Well, almost never. The only circumstances when cats need baths is if they get something dangerous on their coats - lily pollen for instance or paint or creosote. If that happens, humans should ring the vet (that loathesome but informed human), ask what to do and follow their instructions to the letter.
Just shampooing us for no good reason will irritate our skin and, if they use human shampoo, may even be dangerous.  
There are specialist shampoos for cats - used by those humans who put us into little cat cages and leave us for hours at cat shows. Cat shows are extremely boring for most of us though a few enjoy the human adoration. If you have that kind of human, you may well decide to rehome yourself. 
So no shampoo, please. Brushing us? Yes please. That is particularly useful for older cats who may not be able to reach all their body parts. And we enjoy it as much as we HATE baths.
Yours 
George

Saturday, January 23, 2016

My new toy.... the TV zapper.

Dear George.
I have discovered a new toy, the TV zapper. There are two games I play with it. The first, and easiest one, is just to push it off whatever surface it lies on. Here on the sofa, I give it a good shove on to the carpet, then push it under the sofa.
The fun is seeing my human on her hands and knees trying to poke it out from underneath.
The second game needs all my Maine coon strength. I press it with my front paw. It has to be a firm press so usually I stand on it, rather than just poke. 
The result is very satisfactory. The moving picture on the TV changes. The humans get very aroused and angry about this. It's amazing how that square TV can wind them up.....
I recommend these two games to all cats, though small ones will only be able to do the shove-push-and-hide game.
Yours intelligently
Bob.

Dear Bob,
It is always good to hear of a new game, especially one that arouses humans from their lethargic gaze at the TV. Their visual addiction is one of the most irritating habits, though it may allow a quick whisk round the kitchen and a quiet crunch of anything edible on the high surfaces there.
My own way of interrupting TV addiction is to leap onto the top of the TV (if it is an old fashioned one) and drape my tail over the picture. If that is not possible, and nowadays modern TVs are designed to stop this, I go as near as I can to it, sit below and make meow noises at the screen.
That usually gets their attention.
Yours
George.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

I’m watching you….and everybody else!


Dear George,
I must say…THIS IS the advantage of our “color”- sometimes …we can go undercover or….notoriously unnoticed.
We can act as the “eyes and ears” of a spy agency or a hidden camera for different purposes! (see the photo attached) But the reason I’m writing to you today is actually to get your secretary’s advice concerning a health issue of one of my friends.
I know she’s busy with her exams but one of my friends has an eye problem – his eyes gets “tears stain” without any eye infection or anything. The tears are not clear either; the tears/stains are reddish/brown and are bothering him only once in a while.
His vet put him first on an antibiotic unguent that did nothing and then on Lysine.
Is he safe to be on Lysine for the rest of his life? Any idea? Even while on Lysine the tears stains come back once in a while. Any other cat that had this problem? Any explanation why is this happening?
Grateful (on behalf of my friend)
Bentley

Dear Bentley,
Humans occasionally, very occasionally, are useful.  Celia, whose studies I find extremely irritating, nevertheless was able to research several papers about Lysine. Apparently about 90% of animal hospitals in the USA, UK and Australia give Lysine to cats that have the Feline Herpes Virus 1 (FHV1). FHV1 causes "goopy eye" in cats, stays in the body life long and like cold sores in humans is likely to surface during times of stress.
The theory of giving Lysine, a food supplement, was that it reduced arginine levels, an amino acid, which in turn reduced the herpes virus's ability to reproduce. Thus cats treated with Lysine shed less virus and would recover faster. It's a great idea. And because an attack of FHV (like cold sores) usually goes away eventually anyway, vets thought it was the Lysine that was working.
But it doesn't work. In practice it makes no difference at all. The latest scientific paper on this drug says it is ineffective and should not be used (details in a PS). This isn't just because it doesn't work, it is because cats need arginine, an essential amino acid. So lowering the level of arginine may be bad for the cat's health. I suggest Bentley gets his human to find the full paper on Google Scholar, downloads it, and shows it to his vet.
It looks as if it would be better for Bentley's humans to concentrate on giving him a stress free life (look here).  He needs good nutrition, lots of interesting things to do (look here) if he is an indoor-only cat, a settled routine, and sensitivity to how much affection he wants from humans. 
Yours
George.
PS.  
Lysine supplementation is not effective for the prevention or treatment of feline herpesvirus 1 infection in cats: a systematic review 

Bol and Bunnik BMC Veterinary Research (2015) 11:284
 
Abstract
Background: Feline herpesvirus 1 is a highly contagious virus that affects many cats. Virus infection presents with flu-like signs and irritation of ocular and nasal regions. While cats can recover from active infections without medical treatment, examination by a veterinarian is recommended. Lysine supplementation appears to be a popular intervention (recommended by > 90 % of veterinarians in cat hospitals). We investigated the scientific merit of lysine supplementation by systematically reviewing all relevant literature.
Methods: NCBIs PubMed database was used to search for published work on lysine and feline herpesvirus 1, as well as lysine and human herpesvirus 1. Seven studies on lysine and feline herpesvirus 1 (two in vitro studies and
5 studies with cats), and 10 publications on lysine and human herpesvirus 1 (three in vitro studies and 7 clinical trials) were included for qualitative analysis.

Results: There is evidence at multiple levels that lysine supplementation is not effective for the prevention or treatment of feline herpesvirus 1 infection in cats. Lysine does not have any antiviral properties, but is believed
to act by lowering arginine levels. However, lysine does not antagonize arginine in cats, and evidence that low intracellular arginine concentrations would inhibit viral replication is lacking. Furthermore, lowering arginine levels is highly undesirable since cats cannot synthesize this amino acid themselves. Arginine deficiency will result in hyperammonemia, which may be fatal. In vitro studies with feline herpesvirus 1 showed that lysine has no effect on the replication kinetics of the virus. Finally, and most importantly, several clinical studies with cats have shown that lysine is not effective for the prevention or the treatment of feline herpesvirus 1 infection, and some even reported increased infection frequency and disease severity in cats receiving lysine supplementation.

Conclusion: We recommend an immediate stop of lysine supplementation because of the complete lack of any scientific evidence for its efficacy.

 

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Waiting for George’s message…..a miracle happened!


Dear George,
You might recall that I had to (I was forced to) move in with three other cats just because my human decided to move in with someone. And, of course, my silly human couldn’t find a single, lonely and boring person; my human had to find another human who had not one but three cats! We asked ourselves many times “What is wrong with humans?” and my guess is that we’ll never find out! I wasn’t too happy about the situation but we, the cats, found ourselves each a favorite spot in the house and tried not to interact with each other too much! My favorite spot is the bed in the master bedroom where I’m trying hard “to push out” the intruder (I mean…the other human who now claims my human). However, a miracle happened George! Waiting for your Christmas message we found ourselves lying down together peacefully and happily (as you can see in the picture)! For one thing George I’m happy that Celia failed in her duties to you this time.
Now I need your advice on how to keep the momentum going?
Yours truly,
Vegas

Dear Vegas,
The failure of my Christmas message (due to human incompetence and a dead router) had one good effect then! What a happy and relaxed scene. Moving in with other cats can be so stressful, particularly if for cats that are natural loners. But you four felines seem to have integrated well. Just make sure that the new cats don't move in with you. Four is enough, I feel. 
Keep the momentum going by natural feline courtesy. Accept the fact that some cats do not want intimacy and would prefer agreeable acquaintanceship rather than close friendship. Make sure your human servants don't force you to eat from the same food bowl. If they do, it should always be full so that you can take it in turns. Better still, they should feed you at a decent cat-preferred distance from each other. Humans can be mean about litter trays. Four or even five litter trays, so that you don't have to share and they don't get dirty too quickly, would be ideal. We like litter that is generously two and a half inches deep!
I have had a quiet time since the end of the Christmas holiday. She, my pet, has been hunched over the computer studying for her exam. She has also asked me to point out that one of her ebooks (co-researched by me but without any acknowledgement of my part in it, shame on her) is available FREE from Monday January 11 on UK amazon here. She is not sure if it will be available in other countries!
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, www.celiahaddon.com This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online VetTechprogramms.org