Saturday, December 11, 2021

Keeping safe. Human killers or animal killers?



 We cats get very frightened when we hear about humans serial killers of cats. How can we tell the difference between a killer and a human friend? Now we can relax a little, if we live in Croydon, a suburb of London.

There isn't a human cat killer at large. The killers were foxes.

Hundreds of cats went missing there, but now a scientific study reported here says the deaths were due either to foxes attacking and killing cats, or foxes scavenging on the dead bodies of cats that had died from different causes.

However, how can we keep safe from foxes? 

The best way to do this is to stay indoors at night. Please, humans, lock the cat flap when you come home from work. 

Yes, we won't like it. Yes, we will complain at first. So call us in for a special meal or special treats, so that we are rewarded when we get indoors.

It's the simple way to keep us safe from predators....


Saturday, December 04, 2021

Get microchipped


 So many cats get lost when they stray from home. They have to roam the streets looking for somebody who might help them survive. Or they end up in traffic accidents and their grieving owners never know what happened. Now, at long last, the UK government is going to do something about it.

Microchips can help all cats. That is the message from International Cat Care. But somehow many humans either just forget, or don't care, or feel it cannot happen to them. Why should you be microchipped?

  • If you get lost and are rescued by a human, a vet can read the microchip and you can be re-united with your family.
  • If you are injured in a traffic accident, a vet can treat you and find your home.
  • If, (Bastet or some other cat goddess forbid), you meet your death under a car, your body can be scanned and your humans can get closure. It's awful for them, if you just disappear, and they never know what happened to you.
  • Cat rescue organisations will be able to rehome stray cats immediately, if they are microchipped. That means they can take in more cats that need help
  • Microchipping may help stop thieves who steal cats to resell them.
  • Irresponsible cat owners, including cat hoarders, can be taken to court - which gives them the chance to be re-educated in cat welfare.
  • Irresponsible or disorganised cat charities (and there are a few of them) will have to shape up to proper welfare standards. Just handing out cats without microchips won't be good enough.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Dumb humans call cats psychopaths.

 Humans shoot rabbits:nobody calls them psychopaths.

 All cats are somewhat psychopathic? So say the human newspapers in a gross slur on cats. Read it here. Psychopathic? Ridiculous. A typical example of dumb humans loading their preconceptions on to the feline species.

I am so cross about this that I would like to write a letter to the newspaper. But my paws just won't work correctly. What can I do? Well I could nip, bite or scratch to express my feelings of frustration against the human race.

Their "thinking" (if you can call it that) goes like this. Human psychopaths are 1) predatory: 2) manipulative and 3) without empathy. We cats are all those things because we have to be, living with humans.

Predatory? Yes. I catch mice and rats. This is what we do as cats. It is how we survived before the advent of cat food in a bowl. So we catch birds? They eat birds like chicken and turkey and duck.

Manipulative? Yes. How else am I going to get my human to do what I want? Or how else am I going to stop them doing what i don't want?  So I purr, rub, or nip or bite. It is my only option since I can't use the human language.

Without empathy or callous? Not fair. I try to understand their feelings, but they express them in such an odd way. They just keep blahblahing at me but I can't understand their language. Their vocalisations are too complex: their body language is not at all expressive: and they hide their natural body scent communications by standing under water, adding artificial scents and flushing away the urine and faeces which I could otherwise get a message from.

There are times when I despair of dumb humans. They are so STUPID.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Toby and Christmas


Humans start to go mad at this time of you. And I mean mad.

They order and pay for paper representations. They then make little scratch marks on them: place them in paper envelopes and take them to a red postbox (in the UK) which swallows them up.

And through a slit in the door, similar paper items come through in large numbers. These are then exhibited on a rope across the kitchen or placed on the mantle piece. Who knows what this is all about? These paper items are not good to eat. Or even to play with.

However, quite often these paper cards include cat photos, as well as fat male humans dressed in red, babies with mothers in blue, or pictures of people with alcohol. Now the cat pictures can be quite fun.

I have put one of these here since my human is going to send a card memorialising my late friend, Toby the Crossed Eyed Stray. The cat that she wrote a whole book about. She hasn't got over his death.

If I had to choose between a fat human dressed in red and Toby, I would choose Toby. I think you will all agree on this.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Growing old gracefully


This is my friend, also called George. He is a senior cat. He is happy, and healthy even if he does sleep rather a lot. He's not as sleek as he used to be, as his fur has thinned a bit and he's not good at grooming himself in the difficult parts to reach.

I think his human  should groom him daily, just to get to the areas where he finds grooming rather tricky. She told me that the next time she takes him to the vet, she will ask if he has arthritis that might be painful. It may hurt him to turn his body round to groom his back.

How does she know he is mentally still active and not suffering from dementia?

  •  He is able to move round the house and garden without being disorientated. He can find his way around.
  • Their relationship is unchanged. He is neither clinging nor strangely distant.
  • He sleeps and wakes at his usual times. There is no middle-of-the-night waking and calling.
  • He uses his litter tray without trouble
  • His behaviour is normal. He doesn't pace restlessly.

Check that we oldies are not in pain from arthritis. Keep an eye on our behaviour - if we start behaving abnormally, it could be disease or the beginnings of losing it. 

We senior cats need to keep their dignity and wellbeing. Get your owner to read up on elderly cat care

 

Saturday, November 06, 2021

Brian the cricketer cat.


I am not sure I understand cricket, though I think it's like hunting balls rather than mice.

Only cricket balls are very hard indeed. I couldn't pick one up in my mouth: though I could bat it with my paw, I suppose. 

But if you asked me whether the bowler was bowling a dibbly dobbly or bowling a googly, I couldn't tell you. And I'm not sure what is out for a duck, though it sounds quite tasty.

But Brian knows. He understands what is going on.

Brian, the ginger cat, is a regular attender at Somerset County Cricket ground. He enjoys watching the game, taking part in cricket teas, and socialising with the players.

And they love him so much they are going to build a house for him. A local building supplies firm, Bradfords, will do the work. One of their employees explained: "We know how loved Brian is within the Somerset County cricket community, so when we were approached to get involved, the answer was yes." 

Nobody knows where he comes from so now he has a new home.

Meowzat!

 



 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Purrfect nursing for your sick human

 

Friend Tilly shows how purr therapy is done
Tilly shows how purr therapy is done

I have been busy these last six days nursing my sick human. She has been suffering from some kind of stomach bug that has left her feeling nauseated and weak. 

That's why my blog wasn't posted last week.

So she sleeps a lot. Luckily I sleep a lot too. So in the past week I have worked really hard to help her. I have upped my sleeping time from about 80% of the day to 90%, only waking her up at meal times.

I aim to sleep elongated near her, my back to her, but near enough so she can rest her hand on it and feel the rhythm of my purr. She can also hear the regularity of purring. it seems to relax her.

Between meals, I have purred a lot. Purr therapy seems to work well on humans. When she goes to bed feeling sick, purring seems to help her fall into a healing sleep.

Fortunately she has been conscientious in her duties - cleaning the litter tray and making sure I have a bout 4 meals a day and renewing the dry food which is there for a snack.

It's been hard nursing her but I am doing well. She ate a cheese sandwich a few hours ago and gave me a bit of cheese as a thank-you present.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Pay attention, humans - we hurt.

We elderly cats do sleep more than younger ones but it's just old age, as some ignorant humans think. We may be in pain.
One estimate is that a third of all us cats suffer from arthritis. 

We don’t show pain like dogs do. We don't complain. We don't whine or wimper. Most of us don't even limp. We don't show that we are hurt, like humans do. We just suffer in silence and do more sleeping. If humans were more observant they would notice that we hesitate before jumping up, and we may have difficulties on the stairs. Some of us need to use a chair to get to our favourite high places. We don't play games like we used to.

Humans get painkillers from a doctor, but only 7% of arthritic cats get any treatment at all. Yet there are special diets and painkillers that would give us a proper quality of life.

Are you listening, humans?

Saturday, October 09, 2021

The meaning of rolling


Rolling is what we do when we are happy and relaxed. So humans think. And that's where they are wrong. Rolling has different meanings.

This kind of roll, done by my friend Boomer, is just a happy relaxed roll in front of his human. It means something like "Look at me! I'm your friend."  It does not mean "Tickle my tummy."

If an ignorant human thinks its safe to tickle Boomer's tummy, he will soon be put right. Because rolling then raking with his painful claws is also what Boomer does to toy mice - as a kind of play-with-prey game. Human beware!

Rolling, or rather lying on the side of the body, is also something cats do in a play fight - or in a real fight.  So itl's not straight-forward. 

A roll might also be a roll in the dust to thicken the coat or change our smell. It might be a sort of floppy roll to expose our tummy to the sun.

Humans need to attend very carefully to what we do, how we do it, whether we look relaxed, playful or even fearful. They need to consider the context not just one single action.

So a roll is either relaxation with attention-seeking, a play-with-prey (human fingers too) move, a move in a play fight, a defensive move in a real fight, or just a chance to roll in the dust or in the sunlight.

Humans, don't make assumptions.

 

Saturday, October 02, 2021

Are humans learning to talk?


Humans depend upon us cats for affection and we depend upon them for food and warmth. How can we encourage and reward their efforts to win our love?

The photo shows one very easy reward for a human - the slow blink. 

First do a few little half blinks to catch your human's attention, then do a long slow blink. This will be recognised as a sign of affection by any savvy human. 

Indeed some humans are beginning to do a slow blink, themselves. A few of these noisy chattering human pets are learning to "talk cat." They call them selves "feline researchers."

They started to slow blink cats and see what happened. Naturally the cats concerned were thrilled by finding humans who were trying to talk our language. So they walked towards them to find out more.

The humans concluded that the slow blink might be a "positive emotional communication between cats and humans."

We concluded that these dumb (though noisy) humans were at last beginning the first slow steps towards learning to talk. When will they learn to purr?

* Google "The role of cat eye narrowing movements in cat–human communication"




Saturday, September 25, 2021

We need choice


An essential for a happy feline life is choice... something which humans so often deny us.

Each morning I ask myself - shall I use the catflap or would I prefer my human to open the garden door for me?

Shall I use the human bed upstairs or shall I use the sofa? Or perhaps the cardboard box on the kitchen table? Or even the box that my human put for me on the top of the cupboard, after I used to spend time there without a bed?


Do I want a bed? Or shall I just lie flat out with my legs apart in a patch of sunlight in the living room? Or sit on my special cat lounge looking out into the garden.

Choice, you see. Make your human give you multiple beds and multiple resting places.

You know it makes feline sense.


Friday, September 17, 2021

Kittens with short lives

 


Feral cats and cats that have lost their home live miserably short lives. Kittens often die before the first winter, females are exhausted and half starved by constant kitten bearing, and males roam around looking for sex, risking their lives on the roads and picking up fatal infections.
 

How different from our own lives as pampered pets. Regular meals, Warm beds. Central heating. And human servants. 

As cats we can't do anything much, as it is against our nature to share or give away our food (unless we have had our own kittens). Most of us do not want to share our homes with another cat. We prefer our humans to be totally devoted to us.

So it's up to humans to help. Out there are dedicated cat trappers who will help feral kittens find new homes, trap and rehome stray pets, and trap, neuter and return ferals.

My personal favourite is Sunshine Cat Rescue, a small devoted rescue in the UK. If your human knows a good one, purr in their ear till they send some money. 

Help kittens survive.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

How I got my tabby markings

 

Striped tabbies have the ancestral tabby pattern


Spots, stripes or blotches, we tabbies have beautiful coat markings. I am a silver tabby but tabby markings can be found in beige or brown coated cats and a few gingers too. It's the background colour that varies.

Now some human geneticists have been studying just how it happens... in order to find out how the leopard got its spots. (Did you spot the Kipling reference there?)

First they found a gene they called Taqpep. Depending on how this gene worked, a tabby was striped or blotched and (guess what) cheetahs were just large tabbies when it came to coat colourings.

Then they investigated further and found that tabby markings happen very early before birth. The skin surrounding the feline fetus starts growing thicker or thinner. This is even before there are any melanocytes, the cells which are responsible for different colours.

Then slowly the hair folicules develop and with them the colouring, the melanin. Some folicules have dark melanin called pheomelanin and some have light melanin called eumelanin.

This coincides with the tabby patterning. The eumelanin defines the background colour to the stripes, blotches or spots.

They then looked back even further into the earliest days of the embryo and found  the patterning could be recognised at an even earlier stage. The Taqpep gene influenced the pattern of how a protein coding gene Dkk4 was expressed.

With me? Difficult if you are not a geneticist.

Their conclusion was that it was a reaction-diffusion model, a sort of genetic game whereby a colouring gene was inhibited or  expressed.

And all this led back to a very clever human Alan Turing who in the l950s suggested this particular kind of gene expression.

As for me, I don't understand all of this but what I do know is that tabbies are the most beautiful of all cats, whether they are pussycats like me or big fierce cats like tigers.

PS. Want to know more? Put Developmental genetics of color pattern establishment in cats into Google Scholar!



Saturday, September 04, 2021

Indoor only humans, stop cuddling.


Covid has made normal people into indoor-only humans. Which means they have been emotionally needy. They have sought our attention and constantly demanded cuddles.

Now the dilemma facing cats, whose humans do not go out of the front door (that large cat flap often opening out into a street), is being recognised. Stress. That is what we cats are feeling, as humans become dependent upon us.

The feline welfare manager of Battersea cat and dog home says ‘Having the constant companionship of their owners during the pandemic may have left some cats feeling as though they have lost part of their territory or have less control over when and for how long they receive a fuss.’

Until this pandemic most humans led indoor and outdoor lives - leaving the house at regular intervals five days a week and leaving us to get on with our own lives. For some of this it meant a noonday snooze on the bed. For others, it meant visiting the old age pensioner down the road who would offer a second breakfast. 

Lockdown has meant humans stayed at home. Almost all the time. They call it  "working from home." Though heaven knows what they do with their so called laptops (a cat on the lap is one thing: a digital device is quite another). 

Many of us have felt positively harassed. We have been petted too much. Picked up too often. Cuddled when we don't want it. Our routines have been interfered with. Our serenity has been severely upset by constant demands for affection.

Purrlease stop. Go back to the office leave us alone.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Take Your Cat to the Vet Day? No.

 


Last Sunday was Take Your Cat to the Vet Day.... what on earth do humans think they are doing.

Take your cat to the vet day? I think not. For one thing it's a Sunday and the human will be charged much more money than normal.

For another, - how can I put it? - CATS HATE VETS. 

Vets smell bad. They smell of dog and disinfectant and pain and animal fear. They stab you with needles. They force your mouth open. They stick things into your ears. They even stick things up your butt.

No wonder some co-resident cats attack their feline companions when they return from the vet surgery, smelling of vets.

I admit that I purr on the veterinary table. Most cats don''t but I do.

Just because I purr when I am at the vet's surgery being handled by one of these human monsters. It doesn't mean I am happy. Nor does it mean that I love the vet.

I purr to comfort myself. And maybe I purr in the forlorn hope that the vet will listen to me and stop hurting me.

Humans, do not deceive yourselves.  CATS HATE VETS.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Disabled cats have special talents

 

Minty, National Cat of the Year 2021 c. Cats Protection
At last! 

Disabled cats are being recognised, not just for their disabilities, but for their virtues and strengths. Cats with disabilities have something special to offer in the way of caring for humans. 

This is Minty, who was honoured by the human charity Cats Protection, for her valuable work caring for Connor, a boy with learning difficulties and cerebral palsy. Minty has only three legs but has nevertheless helped Connor learn to climb stairs. His empathy and calmness aids Connor when he suffers an emotional meltdown.

His adult female human says: "Having only three legs never stops Minty enjoying life, and I think that rubs off on Connor. Together they are unstoppable, whatever comes their way.  Minty's a really inspirational cat and we love him to bits."

Cats with disabilities in cat shelters are just waiting to adopt a suitable human. Don't pass them by.



Saturday, August 07, 2021

Save a life for International Cat Day


It's International Cat Day and I have a message for all humans from my friend, Tilly. If you are lucky enough to have a cat in your life, celebrate this special day by doing one of four things:

  • Donate some money to your local cat shelter
  • Volunteer at your local cat shelter.
  • Adopt a homeless adult cat - preferably an old one .
  • Foster a homeless cat.
I am lucky enough to be a pedigree cat, but there are literally millions of cats, some of them starving and desperate, who need human help. 
Take my friend, Tilly. She was miserable and terrified  in a cat shelter where nobody had adopted her for almost a year. She had given up hope.
Now, eleven years later, she is happy and loved.
You can change a cat's life by doing just one of those four things today.

PS. Tilly was rescued by Sunshine Cat Rescue, a small charity in Oxfordshire, which is always short of money. If you can spare a pound or a dollar, please do. Click here




Saturday, July 31, 2021

Human litterbox hygeine is pants.

Large clean litterbox

Which would you prefer? It's obvious, isn't it?

The bottom one is small, full of pee and poo, not very much litter and a horrible plastic sheet at the bottom that will interfere with digging.

Yet humans are still expecting us to use this kind of litterbox. They would be disgusted at a lavatory full of pee and poo. 

They think we will manage somehow! And many of us do, putting up with trying not to get our feet wet. Ugghhh. But it is not good enough. 

Box with deposits
Why are they so lazy? They are far better at getting rid of their own bowel and bladder deposits? Most of them flush regularly. Why be so idle about ours? 

Alas, the only way to get your human to be less slovenly is to pee or poo outside the box.  That'll show them.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Roads.... danger ahead


 I don't understand roads, so my human keeps me indoors, but many cats are allowed to roam free. They don't understand roads and cars either.

Cars are useful to them to shelter under in bad weather. But when they hurtle down the road,we can't judge their speed, so we usually just make a run for it. And that's dangerous.

Road traffic accidents are the number 1 reason for cat injuries, according to Agria insurance and it is the younger more confident cats exploring their territory who are most likely to be hurt.

It's time humans learned this. The most useful thing they can do is to make sure the cat flap is closed at night. That protects us quite a lot. Then there is the garden possibility, if we have a garden. Good fencing (details at www.icatcare.org) will keep us in but we still can have fun outside. It also keeps intruding cats out, which is a plus.

Some humans use reflective collars (though I don't like collars as they sometimes get caught and hurt cats). Others like me are kept indoors all the time and next week I will tell you how to make indoor life more enjoyable.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Tossing the mouse - the importance of play

 

This is the sport I like best - mouse tossing, shown in a good photo of the late Toby. The mouse is dead, but Toby is playing with it, tossing it into the air and then pouncing on it.

Why it's such fun is that it is part of our hunting repertoire, hard wired into us so that we carnivores can survive.  Hunting isn't just what we do: it's what we are. And this kind of playing is part of it.

Some of us claim that playing with prey before killing it is "dazing" it, ie tiring it out so that if we make a mistake with the kill bite and don't finish it off, it will be too tired to bite us back. Or that, in the case of unusual prey like rats or snakes, it allows us to assess how to deliver that final bite. Other cats say that only well-fed cats waste time with this sort of thing: wild and feral cats just get on with the important business of killing and eating their next meal.

My uncle George used to hunt live mice and rabbits, but my more scholastic life has meant that I don't have a good hunting field. So I have to put up with small artificial mice, little bits of scrunched paper, or small stuff like a bit of dried pasta or a bean that can be shunted round the kitchen floor.

The point of this play is that the mouse/bean must move. Static prey doesn't do it for us. So we poke and toss to get that movement which sets off our hunting reactions.

Whether it's a real mouse or just a substitute for one, there is nothing cats like better than playing in this way. Purrlease, humans, don't just give us the toys: throw them for us.

 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Toby's passage from life to death.

 

I have given my blog to my secretary to write this week. It is late for that reason, because she was too upset to write till now.

 

Mea culpa.

Toby was finally helped from life to death at I am Friday June 18th.... It was a hard passage and I failed to protect him from much of his pain and distress.

In April I took him to the vet for his eyes. They had started weeping - he had a rare growth on them and had seen an opthalmologist about a year earlier. His eyes were worse and I also reported that his bowel movements were rather soft. They took bloods. His grooming seemed less effective too but I put that down to the fact that he had had several teeth extracted because of gingivitis.

I was wrong. And my mistake cost him distress and suffering.

I took him back to the vet, to have a second blood test in May, because the first test showed high protein levels.The results were unclear. It was maybe inflammatory bowel disease, maybe kidney disease, maybe some form of cancer.

He was his usual affectionate self to me. During the night my other cat Tilly slept on my bed while he had a bedroom to himself. Each morning he would come down to eat and then follow me to my bedroom. On the bed he would have his eye drops administered followed by two Dreamies. He hated the eyedrops but enjoyed the Dreamies.

I would then comb most of him using a flea comb taking off the equivalent of a full handful of his soft long hair. If I missed a combing session he sometimes had fur ball problems. If I combed too hard he would walk away, but usually return and lie on his back. He craved my attention so much, he was willing to risk my combing.

In the evening he would join me on an armchair sitting next to me, which was a bit of a squash. I found it uncomfortable. So I would leave the chair to him. In the evening he would bound enthusiastically upstairs for his late supper and more eye drops.

That was before May.

He started becoming a little slower in going upstairs. I thought he was dreading the eye drops. In the morning he occasionally rolled on his back on the floor not the bed. Reluctant to jump up? I thought this too was a sign of dismay around the eye drops, which I administered on the bed.

I was wrong. And my mistake cost him distress and suffering.

On the weekend of the late May bank holiday, he had suffered from more severe diarrhoea with blood in the stools. To my shame, I waited till the bank holiday was over before getting help. I knew blood in the stool was important but I wanted to wait for my usual vet. 

An ultrasound image was taken and his abdomen was shaved. A catheter was put in his paw and he was given intravenous fluids for dehydration. The catheter stayed in his paw, when I took him home, ready for further medication the following day if it was needed.  He was very distressed by it as he could no put his paw on the ground. The notes say " general picture of IBD", ie inflammatory bowel disease. 

He was in pain when his abdomen was palpated and the vet prescribed buprenorphine as both a painkiller and an agent of slowing his bowels. Despite pain he never bit the vet. (Just as he had never bitten me ever. Not even when I had mistakenly caused him pain by combing a mat instead of cutting it out.)

She tidied up the fur round his anus that was soiled. Toby had shown he was very upset by his soiled backside and also for defecating outside the litter tray. I had tried to snip off the spoiled fur but he was always fearful of scissors and this is difficult to do without somebody else holding him still.

Then I asked for further tests in the local vet hospital. It was a long wait of several days for their results.

I was wrong. And my mistake cost him distress and suffering.

Two days later he went to the local vet hospital for further more accurate tests and imaging. He came home groggy with some test results to come later. They gave me some panacur to dose him, just in case it was worms.

I put it on his food. Panacur used to come in granules and I have known several cat that would eat it in their food. Toby refused to eat the liquid and I decided not to give it to him.
I didn't have the heart do add to add to his distress. At least I spared him that.

He hated the buprenorphine. It was easy to administer as it was just squirted into his mouth. Each time he would run away afterwards. Getting the dose right was difficult and to begin with it blocked his bowels completely.

I ceased the opiate for a day so he could pass a stool.  He did this but it ending up with bloody diarrhoea. Again. This time I saw him straining on his litter tray and he was clearly in pain. I put him back on the buprenorphine and tried to reduce the dose to the point when his bowels could still move.

He stopped wanting to eat his special digestive food. I thought he associated it with the panacur and subsequent pain. I was wrong. Again. Cats stop eating when they are in pain and I had probably got the opiate dose wrong, giving him too little. 

He was on the passage from life to death, the last few days until the time of his dying. 

I did not see this. And my mistake cost him distress and suffering.

All this time I went on with my life - lunch with a friend, a walk on the British camp in the Malverns, two long walks in Cirencester park. I told myself I didn't want to fuss him. I had to administer eye drops. I had to administer the much loathed opiate. I told myself he seemed a little withdrawn from me, because I was torturing him with forced medication. 

He grew weaker. He was slow in jumping up on my bed because he was growing weaker. He was slow in getting up the stairs because they now presented a difficult climb. All effort exhausted him. 

I completely misinterpreted this. I thought these slow reactions were because he hated was I was doing to him.  And my mistake cost him distress and suffering.

Another vet visit and this time he was put on steroids. He struggled and it took 12 attempts on the first occasion to get the pill down him. It would take 5 or 6 attempts each time after that. He struggled and struggled against my efforts, wriggling down into kitten-size. It seemed I was torturing him even more.

But he seemed to perk up with these and ate well for a couple of days. He started sleeping on a garden cushion I had left on the kitchen floor instead of on his usual bed at the top of the cat tree, looking out over the garden. "Cats sleep anywhere," I thought.

I didn't realise he was too weak to jump up onto the cat tree.
And my mistake cost him pain and suffering.

On Friday I took a video of him because he looked as if he was in pain. Then I wondered. Perhaps the tight eyes, I thought, might be simply the result of the eye drops. I must have been in denial. I decided to take another video later in the day. He slept on the armchair. I put the fire on so he would be warm.

I came home in the late evening to find him on the living room carpet. Not asleep but dying. I have seen my mother and my husband die over several days, as I sat by them. So I knew. There is the occasional moment when the person rises to the surface and may smile. Then they sink back into the deathbed breathing pattern of Cheyne Stoke.

Toby's head was sinking, as if he didn't have the strength to hold it up any more. And he was taking short breaths, as if panting. His eyes were tight with pain. I gave him more buprenorphine and he jerked away with a last spasm of energy on to the cold vinyl of the kitchen floor.

I put out a woolen scarf for him on the floor so that he keep warm and lie on it. He didn't move. I then got cushions and prepared to lie near him in vigil through the night. When my mother was dying I wanted to be able to kill her with a dose of morphine. Maybe I could do this for Toby with the buprenorphine. Then I thought how my administration of the opiate was hit and miss. How he hated it being squirted into his mouth. How I might underdose him.

I bundled him into a carrier. It hurt him when I did this.  I caused him more pain and suffering - but this time for his greater good. He was so upset he defecated in the carrier during the journey: something he had never done before. 

The 24 hour vet was about half an hour away and it was now past midnight. I drove in the dark round the suburbs of Swindon, along a maze of by-pass roads which even my sat nav could not negotiate. At last I was there. 

As I sat in the dark cat waiting to be able to sit by him for his last minute of life, I realised that I had got almost every single interpretation of his behaviour completely wrong.  He had been too weak to jump on the bed. He had been so weak that getting up the stairs was almost beyond him. 

He had been slowly dying, even while I was thrusting steroid pills into his mouth, forcing eye drops into his eyes, squirting foul tasting opiate into his mouth. 

Through this torture, he had still wanted to be close to me. Unlike other ill cats, he had not wished to go away on his own. 

I was wrong to put him through all this. Please forgive me, Toby.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Dotty succeeds in beating the Firebrigade.....

 Congratulations to juvenile Dotty, who successfully played one of the oldest cat games that cats can play with humans. How to get the attention of the Firebrigade guys.

Nine month old Dotty shinned up a tree and wouldn't come down. She stayed there overnight and finally the next morning a group of beefy handsome humans came to rescue her with a long ladder.

Up went the ladder. Up went Dotty. Higher and higher. Much higher than the Firebrigade humans could follow or that their ladder could reach.

So they went away. Mission unaccomplished.

Four hours later Dotty came down.....

To be successful in this great human tease, it is necessary to show great perseverance in staying in the tree, followed by great daring in climbing higher up to more slender branches.

Dotty did it purrfectly.



Saturday, June 05, 2021

Vets... the power of the purr?

My pal, Toby, is going through hell. Two awful days in a strange pen with horrible veterinary humans prodding and poking and sticking needles into him. He's even had a catheter into his paw.

Bravely, he tried a new reaction. Instead of biting them (which his resident fellow cat Tilly does at every opportunity) he purred. He purred as they shaved his leg. He purred as they put the catheter in. He purred as they shaved his tummy for a ultrasound. He purred and purred.

It didn't stop the horrible procedures but every single vet and nurse that dealt with him said "He is such a sweet natured cat." So it sort of worked. Purrhaps...

Purrsonally, I am too proud to purr at vets, but I am wondering whether to follow his example.... 
 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Fleas.... itchy little beggars, though they taste quite nice when I catch one during grooming. First there's the pleasure of knowing I have caught one in my teeth when nibbling my fur, then the next pleasure of swallowing it down. 

Some human scientists even count them when they come out the other end - to get some idea of how many we have caught. Apparently about 50% of them escape.

They are cunning little insects. They know that we cannot catch them if they stay round our neck, particularly if we have a beautiful furry ruff there. So that is where they lurk. 

Of course, like all clean cats I use my back legs to scratch there. And hope they fall off if I am vigorous enough. But it doesn't have the same satisfaction of catching one in my teeth and swallowing it.

And occasionally you get a really intelligent flea that hides in the fur round my cheeks or on the top of my head between the ears. When I wash my face, using my front paw wetted with saliva, I haven't a hope of reaching it. I can scratch but it is difficult to reach them there.

PS. My human saw a flea circus at Bertram' Mills' Circus in the l950s. The fleas wore tutus and one of them pushed a tiny tiny wheel barrow. Mind you, these were human fleas - bigger than cat fleas. I wonder what they tasted like.


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Indoors or outdoors - that is the question.

 

This is my namesake playing a game with the cat flap, in order to wind up his human. A great show-off was my Uncle George.

Most cats love being able to leave the house whenever they choose and they also enjoy being able to visit other people's garden, burgle houses to steal other cat's food, slaughter wildlife, and generally wander around at will. 

The downside is the dangers of being run over, of catching diseases from other cats (not high if we are vaccinated) or coming home with fleas - not just fleas from other cats but also rabbit fleas or ticks. Ticks are generally disgusting, as I discovered when being combed by my human who combed out a tick that burst and spread blood everywhere.

Ask a cat, and most of us will choose freedom. Ask the neighbour and mostly they will say get that cat out of my seed beds. Ask a naturalist and they will say keep those serial killers indoors (forgetting that an invasion of mice is bothering the Australians.)

If you want to read up on this, there's a human review "Uncontrolled Outdoor Access for Cats: An Assessment of Risks and Benefits" on Google Scholar.

But I say, just ask your cat. 


 


Saturday, May 15, 2021

Cats, squares and human illusiona


 

Some humans have come up with a new theory about cats and boxes. I don't know why they need to publish these idiocies. We cats know why we like boxes - they are warm, they hide us from nosy humans, and we like a tight fit when we sleep.

We also like sitting on squares that are marked out on the floor. Or as these pompous humans put it: "The type of visual illusion considered here is subjective illusory contours, in which one mentally perceives fictitious contours." 

They set up a website asking humans to lay out a two squares on the floor versus one non-square. We sat more often in the squares, even a rather strange square called a Kanitza. These findings, they claimed, revealed "susceptibility to illusory contours" and supported "our hypothesis that cats treat an illusory square as they do a real square."

I considered writing a letter to The Times, who reported this experiment, pointing out that humans are susceptible to the illusion that cats are not capable of taking the mickey. The idea that we were just leading them on in a ridiculous joke seems to have proved their "susceptibility to illusory cat behaviour."

In the end i couldn't be bothered to interrupt my box sleep by putting paw to paper. Maybe it is better to let humans keep their illusions. It makes them easier to manipulate.


Saturday, May 08, 2021

My world is not your world.


My world is not your world, neither is your world my world. This creates many problems for both humans and cats.

In my world, when we are anxious about feline intruders, we mark our territory with urine. It's somewhere between a post-it reminder note to ourselves about the problem and a note to other cats telling them we were here. 

In your human world you'd probably install a burglar alarm. Or a notice saying "Private. Trespassers keep out."

My world is full is strange noises - the high squeaks of the washing machine when it is working, the buzz of electrical appliances heating up, the tiny tiny clicks of a boiler. All noises you can't hear. You don't even know they exist!

So you think it is all right to put my litter tray in the utility room, next to the washing machine. It isn't. Those squeaks are very very putting-off. A quiet elimination is impossible.

Humans, pay attention to my world. Try to think yourself into it and remember everything is different for me.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

At last .... a cat in the White House


At last.... the White House is becoming truly bi partisan. A cat is on its way. Probably a rescue cat. So that the home of the US President will have both dogs and cats.

One of the disappointments of the Obama presidence was the lack of feline presence. And as for President Trump... he didn't do pets of any kind. As the New Yorker says "there was only room for one authoritarian.

Who will be the First Cat or F.C.OTUS (First Cat of the United States)? Will he or she be able to exert authority over the White House dogs Champ and Major? (Major's record is poor). Another tuxedo cat like Socks? Or black? We don't know yet.

Join me in celebrating the fact that cats will now achieve their rightful position in society.   

Here is a list of cats that have achieved the White House with their presidential pets. 

Tabby and Dixie  owning  Abraham Lincoln –  Lincoln once remarked that Dixie "is smarter than my whole cabinet.

Siam and Miss Pussy, Siamese cat owning Rutherford B. Hayes

Valeriano Weyler and Enrique DeLome, Angoras, owning William McKinley.

Tom Quartz and Slippers owning  Theodore Roosevelt

Puffins. Woodrow Wilson.

Blacky and Tiger owning Calvin Coolidge. (He of the rude remark about roosters and hens. Look it up!)

Tom Kitten owning John F. Kennedy

Shan owning Gerald Ford.

Misty Malarky Ying Yang, Siamese owning Jimmy Carter.

Cleo and Sara owning Ronald Reagan.

Socks owning Bill Clinton.

India Willie owning George W. Bush.

 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Why we have tails.....


 Why do we have tails? Because they are beautiful, of course. Look at these two splendid top tails with their long thick covering of fur.

As well as being elegant, they are very useful indeed for balancing and climbing. When we are up a tree we can use our tail as a counterbalance. If we are walking along a narrow wall, for instance, if we lose our balance and our body lurches to the right, our tail will immediately swing to the left to re-balance us.

Cats that have lost their tail in an accident or are born without one like Manx cats, find balancing much harder. For an animal that spends time in trees, it's obvious that the tail is an important help to climbing.

We also use our tail to express our feelings - though that is a different blog. 


So what is the anatomy of our tail - well there are somewhere between 19 to 23 vertebrae with six pairs of muscles which can pull the tail from side to side, up and down, and twist it at any point. Compare the dog's tail wagging sideways and moving up and down, but the tail itself just moves from the base. It cannot twist itself half way.

As for humans... no tail at all and therefore about eighteen fewer vertebrae. No wonder they have poor balance, inability to express themselves except by vocalisation.

And a complete lack of elegance.






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