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Showing posts with label cat ancestry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cat ancestry. Show all posts

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Tigers, lions, Whiskas cat food and a disgusting dentist

Dear George,
I know this letter won't be published in time for Global Tiger Day on July 29, but I want to appeal for support from fellow felines. The problem is humans, Homo sapiens.
You little tigers, tabbies and others, have cleverly domesticated them. But, alas, we big cats  cannot do this. We thought about capturing a few, keeping them in captivity to breed, and then killing and eating them, (like humans do with cattle), but somehow our hearts were not in it. We kill to live: we don't live to kill, like some humans.
We tigers are not as deliberately cruel as humans are. We are not dentists after all (read here about the dentist that shot a lion with an arrow making it die slowly over more than 24 hours). We are just wild animals trying to survive alongside humans.
They take our land, shoot us, trap us, snare us, cut up our bodies for Chinese medicine, or stuff our corpses so that dentists can put them on a wall and feel good about themselves. Whiskas cat food are supporting Global Tiger week here.
Yours
Anonymous Tiger cub

Dear Tiger Cub,
We know how desperate our big cat cousins are getting as their number dwindle. Even us small cats, who have learned to survive by domesticating humans and living in their territory, suffer from human cruelty. There are thousands of unwanted stray cats desperate to adopt a loving human.
I was disgused to read about the story of Cecil the lion, killed by a bow and arrow and given a lingering painful death. Just so a pathetic dentist could stuff his head and put it on the wall. Shame on him. Make this revolting death mean something by by getting your human to sign a petition here. Or donate for Cecil the lion here
And, please, please, please, if you know any humans who don't have a cat, purrsuade them to adopt, or foster, or give money to unwanted stray cats.
Yours
George.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

My name is Shumba


Dear George,
As promised …I’m back with a name! My name is Shumba! Before I’d tell you the story of my name, I want to thank you and all other cats for your good wishes and suggestions. Alison really appreciated all your ideas. I think she really liked the “Ali & Cali” the best, but she won’t admitted now, since I got a different name ☺ As agreed, Alison came Saturday to get me from the shelter, but Friday I got a little “cosmetic” surgery as you can see and I have to wear this cone for another week. Just to let you know…I’m already sleeping in Alison’s bed! I think she really loves me!
But, let me tell you first the story behind my name! Once upon a time (that means 2-3 generations ago) my mom’s family moved from England to live in South Africa and Rhodesia, so my mommy grew up in South Africa. She loves Africa very, very much.
She is still nostalgic about the places where she grew-up. This weekend as she was trying to find me a name….her aunt (who’s visiting us from Africa) looked at me and said…..Shumba! Why don’t you call her Shumba? It means “lion” in Shona tribe’s language/dialect! Shona is a tribe from Zimbabwe. So, here I am…..Shumba, the Lion ☺ Dear George, I’m adjusting just fine to my new home! I also think Alison will be easy to train but I need some advice from you! I started reading your old posts (lots to catch up with) but I need some “quick tips”…..for my new home, you know. I really love Alison….but I think she needs to know that I’m the Lion in the house! What do you think?
Love
Shumba

Dear Shumba,
I think it's a gorgeous name. It has dignity. Not too elaborate or pretentious. Just redolent of our important ancestry, as a desert animal. We felids, all of us in the world, share many similarities - hunting, carnivore digestive system, limited sociability (except for our cousins, the lions, who have a small pack system). Of course, we cats, Felis Lybica catus, are the most successful of all feline species. We are everywhere - on small islands in the Pacific, in snowy mountain villages and in hot desert. We are probably the most successful carnivore species in the world - beating even dogs.
Well done to your human for her choice of name. I think Shumba can sound very affectionate as well as dignified. Of course, you can add your title, like Oscar Snuggles has added King of Tidewater ( see
http://simpleandsouthern.blogspot.com/). When you have developed the relationship you want with your humans, it will be clear what kind of title is appropriate. I personally have, when I feel like it, called myself Prince. It seems to go with my relatively young age. I may upgrade to King of Ringwood (my home) later in life.
Now some tips for a new home. Start as you mean to go on, is my advice. It's no good giving your humans extra slack because they need to settle to your adoption of them. From the beginning you need to make your wants clearly known - as I see you have on the bed. That's right - lots of space to spread out. Don't let them take up the space you need. It's the same with food and recreation. If you let them get away with any personal slackness or lack of training, it will be more difficult to get them into shape later on.
George

PS. I guess the Elizabethan collar is because you have been spayed.

Monday, July 02, 2007

When did cats domesticate humans?

Humans are anthropocentric in their views about domestication. For years and years they have believed in a myth - that we cats were domesticated by humans. Their general view was that humans went out into the desert, found some wild kittens of Felis silvestris Lybica, brought them home and then brought them up as companion animals about 4000 years ago to become Felis catus. This happened in Ancient Egypt when gods were worshipped in animal form including goddesses like the cat Bastet.
Now those in charge of the cat genome project, headed by Stephen O Brien, chief of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, have had to accept that this isn't how it was. It all started much earlier. The scientist discovered five lineages of mitochondrial DNA in modern cats. Because of this variation, the researchers believe domestication occurred a half-dozen times or so in the Middle East.
According to the genome research the five female ancestors of Felis catus were Felis silvestris Lybica, African wild cats, mousing their way across the deserts some 130,000 years ago. So that settles our ancestry. But how did it happen? Five separate sets of adopted kittens? I think not. More likely five adventurous female Felis silvestris Lybica. The discovery of five different events of domestication suggests domestication was the other way round - or so I think. Cats moved into human life of their own accord.
The theory was that cats turned up in human settlements when man first started growing grain. But now we know that early man settled in one place before the advent of grain farming. And the cats moved in on him. Why? Not because grain brings mice but because human garbage (with or without grain) brings rats and mice. Rats are bigger and better prey. And also because humans offer dry shelter for us. Of course rats can be found among wandering human tribes that don't settle in one place. Celia has seen for herself the rats in a Beduin camp. But because we cats have a decent sense of territory (unlike dogs who started following human tribes much earlier) we don't move around much. Tents are dry shelter but they keep being taken down and set up in a new place. So we had to wait till man was civilised enough to settle in one spot.
Then we moved in. It was nothing to do with captured kittens (a ridiculous idea). We moved in and we began to overcome our disgust at Homo sapiens, a species which hitherto we had avoided at all costs. In order to benefit from their garbage rats and mice (and later more mice when they started grain growing) we had to put up with them. And their buildings gave us valuable warmth and shelter, so we moved a bit closer. Or at least those five desert cats did. And their descendants who could put up with the nearness of mankind flourished better than the descendants that simply couldn't bear being around this blundering species.
There's a posh word for it - commensality. We began living side by side, seperate but equal. (Well, not exactly equal. More like separate but essentially different in status, cats above and humans below.) Then we began to tame them so that they started behaving better to us. They threw us the occasional scrap of food as well as understanding our valuable contribution to the grain economy. We worked as natural pesticides and rodent control operatives. Their babies and children grew up near cats and became socialised to them. We also socialised them by sleeping close to them for warmth and amusing them with our antics.
Some cats have even put forward the theory that Homo sapiens (so called) started settling in one place because they looked at our behaviour and imitated it. First they learned about social hunting from dogs, because they followed the wolf packs and, like hyenas, shooed off the wolves and ate their prey. So they imitated their hunting methods, were successful, and some of the wolves started following them instead. But imitating dogs could only help with primitive hunting and social life. They needed more to become modern and civilised.
They saw that territoriality worked for cats and opted to follow in our paw prints. It makes sense to me. Having a proper home den and a hunting range helps with the safe bearing of kittens, whether cat or human. And this is a great deal more likely that nonsense about humans kidnapping kittens and taming them to their requirements. Everybody knows that, as Saki put it, "the cat is only domesticated as far as it suits his own ends." I would merely add humans are the most completely domesticated species on earth. They show much more of the juvenility of domestication than we do. (More on that later perhaps)
Our lineage dates back 130,000 years (beat that, Debretts!) and we domesticated humans.

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