Saturday, February 27, 2016

The smarter the whiskers, the smarter the cat.....

Dear George,
I read an article about whiskers and IQ; the article stated that more whiskers we have higher the IQ. I wonder if it’s true! Because if it is true I must be the most intelligent in our house. Not only my whiskers outnumber everybody else whiskers but mine are slightly curly too! Does this give an extra kick to my grey matter?
Can you expand on this idea George? It is very important for me as I’m trying to protect my Alpha Cat status in a household with four cats.
In whiskers I trust

Dear Bentley,  
Whiskers rule! I agree with you - the smarter the whisker, the smarter the cat. It's a question of style.
It's not just the size or length - the longer the whisker the wider the cat, because whiskers allow us to put our head through a space and measure it. If the whiskers get through, the whole cat gets through. 
It's also the way they move. We can't see our prey if we are too close to it but the whiskers "see" it for us. They sweep forward and touch the prey so that we know where to put our claws to grab it. You can see that in slow motion here. It is so fast that humans cannot see it unless they slow down the film. 
We've also got whiskers above our eyes and on our legs (look at the photo on the right) - again to help us sense prey or the environment.
We are super-tactile. Poor humans their whiskers are more like fur, and what is more they usually shave them off. I suppose they are ashamed of them. What a strange species.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Are sprouting beans good for cats? I am not a rabbit.

Dear George,
I seriously wonder if my mummy knows the difference between a cat and a cow (yes, I know…both start with a “C”) or rather said between an herbivore and a carnivore!
I am saying this because for the last three weeks she is trying really hard to grow something for me, something that she calls “sprouts” (photo attached). I mean take a look at the photo and tell me how on earth does she think I’m going to it that ugly, unappealing stuff? She’s telling me that it’s winter and I don’t have any grass to chew on if I’d like to. But, for God’s sake then just grow some grass for me.
George, can you post a list of “greens” good for cats? PLEASE!
Yours truly and always,
CAT Victoria
Long digestive tract with huge caecum

Dear Cat Victoria,
I can't post a list of greens that are good for cats. But there is a list of human food which is poisonous to cats here. Grapes, raisins and onions (even in gravy) are on this list. The more you eat of these dangerous foods, the more poisonous they are. 
A little vegetable is probably good for cats, but not too much. We humans, and dogs,  are omnivores, and are designed to eat both meat and also vegetables. Cats are not.
Cats are "obligate" carnivores, meaning that their intestines are designed for meat - the whole carcase, skin and bones, not just flesh. You can see this in the illustrations here which show a a rabbit's intestines (an animal that is designed to eat nothing but vegetation) above with a cat's digestive system below. The rabbit (above) has a long intestine with a huge wavy pouch called a caecum which breaks down the cellulose in vegetables, while the cat has a short intestine with a small caecum which you cannot even see in this illustration. 
Here in the UK, you can buy special grass for cats. I think you would enjoy that better than sprouting beans. I know I would.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Internet down – Panic attack! Humans suffer cat withdrawal symptoms.

Dear George,
I almost had a panic attack tonight! I tried to connect to your blog to see what’s new and exciting and I realized that even if my computer wasn’t sick ….I still could not connect to you. My mommy explained to me that the Internet was down! I didn’t really understand what that means nor did I really care but, she told me that there are computers’ doctors called “nerds” and she’ll call one to the rescue. George, I know from your letters that Celia has a lot of trouble with her computer which is always sick and in the hospital. But, if my computer is healthy why the Internet will be down? What is the Internet? 
Mommy is trying to convince me that internet is like living a virtual life and that my real life is “here and now” with them, down on earth and in the kitchen. But, I don’t agree!
When my humans are coming home late and my brother Beau is hunting far away from home if I don’t have the internet I feel lonely, abandoned and disconnected. My real life is in the cyberspace, of course within the feline community. My humans tell me I’m addicted! Addicted to what? George, what is a good “escape plan” in case of Internet failure? I need a survival kit! Please advise. 
Yours…..definitely futuristic

Dear Paco, 
You may have panicked, Paco, but that is nothing compared with human panic. I have seen Celia, with head on hands shoulders heaving or in a fury swearing at the computer. And once I saw Ronnie actually punch the computer. When humans lose it, they lose it.
The internet is quite simply a device to spread cat pictures, videos and information across the world. Cat blogs, cat jokes, cat photos and cat videos take up most of the space, even putting porn into second place! (And with extraordinary sexual carrying ons of humans, that really is saying something.) 
Cats rule in cyberspace. The Google Artificial Mind, 16,000 computer processors in a neural network, constructed a ghostly abstract model of a cat as its first project in artificial thinking. What else would it do? 
The Google Artificial Mind
Cats addicted? No, as much as humans. We do blog a lot - see the cat blogosphere here - of course.We have more or less taken over Cheezburger photos here and Youtube here. Do you know why? We are doing it to HELP humans. Watching cat videos actually contributes to their emotional health? Yes, really. Read the science paper in my postscript if you don't believe me. 
When the internet is down humans suffer from cat withdrawal symptoms, a serious human disorder. So no wonder you panicked - your concern was for your human. 
Yours George.
 PS. Myrick, J. G., (2015), 'Emotion regulation, procrastination, and watching cat videos online: Who watches Internet cats, why, and to what effect?' Computers in Human Behaviour, 52, 168-167.

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

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.

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