Adopting the Right Cat for You

Posted July 27th, 2014 by admin

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The kids have been clamoring for a cat. You’ve held them off for as long as humanly possible, but now you must decide whether or not to make the twenty year commitment to a new feline friend. To dog people, taking on a cat seems like no big deal – no house training, numerous daily walks or obedience classes. But if you are a novice at animal care-taking, hair on the furniture, paw prints on countertops and kitty games at 3 A.M. – not to mention litter box training and daily maintenance – can take some getting used to. Time must be found in hectic schedules for grooming, feeding and interactive play. If you are considering adopting a kitten, factor in plenty of time for socialization and supervision to ensure that the end result will be a well-adjusted adult cat.


Credit: Thinkstock

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Cats had only one function throughout the centuries: vermin control. Only in the last one hundred years has selective breeding caught on – synonymous with the rise of the cat as a companion. Most purebred cats fall into one of the following three groupings based on physical characteristics:

-The natural breeds – American and British shorthairs, Persians, Maine coon cats were developed in cold climates. They have long, thick coats; heavy, cobby (square) bodies, and are the most sedate group in terms of energy level.
-The semi-foreigns – Russian blues, Abyssinians, ocicats are an in-between group whose body shapes are leaner and more muscular than the natural breeds. They have slightly oval eyes and their heads are moderately wedge-shaped. Their activity level is usually moderate with some high-energy exceptions like the Abyssinian.
-The Orientals – Siamese, Burmese, Cornish rexes originated in warmer climes; they carry little body fat and lighter coats. Almost everything about them is elongated – legs, tails, ears and bodies – to allow more surface area for efficient cooling. These cats are the most active and talkative.

RELATED: I’m Adopting a Cat. Now What?

Still, less than 10 percent of the world’s cats, both in and out of shelters, are purebred. The majority – common house cats – have charmed their way into becoming the number-one most popular pet in the United States.

When you have made the decision to commit to a cat, hop on the internet and visit or head to your local animal shelter, where an array of felines resplendent in tabby stripes, calico patches, solids and tortoiseshell patterns awaits. The feline diversity residing in local shelters and rescue groups ensures you will find a kindred spirit. Many shelters vaccinate, de-worm and test for feline leukemia before putting up cats for adoption. Some shelters spay/neuter before adoption as well. Ask yours for specifics on what is included in the adoption package.

RELATED: Why Adopt a Second Cat?

Searching for Mr. Right
Before facing cage after cage of homeless cats, consider your needs and expectations. If yours is a full-time working household, I recommend passing up kittens and adolescents (less than eighteen months old) in favor of a more low-key adult whose energy needs will be easier to meet. If you are a novice cat owner, stay away from “excessive” cats – excessively shy, aggressive or demanding – for they may provide too great a challenge for your first experience. Your best bet is the friendly, outgoing cat, who nudges an outstretched finger offered through the cage bars and who nuzzles and purrs when you hold him in your arms. This profile is a particularly good choice for families with children younger than seven years of age.

Is coat color or pattern important? By all means, choose a cat who attracts you, but remember that the gorgeous calico hiding at the back of her cage may well go into prolonged hiding once she is released into your home. A cat who is social and relaxed at a shelter usually has the aplomb to meet the stresses that life throws her way. Consider the whole cat, not just one element.

RELATED: Annual Cat Care Costs

A cat in your life can add warmth, humor and peace of mind. A cat can teach your child empathy for others while keeping her secrets. If you can make the commitment, a cat is waiting to enhance your life in ways only a kindred spirit can.


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    At any given time, it seems like someone I know is having an existential crisis, lying awake at night and torturing themselves with unanswerable questions: What if I just deactivate my Facebook account? Where did the last five years go? Where did I leave my car keys? Why are artichokes so complex and difficult to eat for so little reward? What is the meaning of it all?

    The good news is that cats have existential crises on a regular basis, and they’re really good at handling the ensuing psychological and emotional fallout. Let the five cats in these videos show you what they do to get happy again.

    1. They poop in a box and don’t pay the bills

    One thing that helps your cat deal with existential crises: She is pretty much oblivious to how much stuff sucks. Sure, maybe she gets stressed out when you feed her an hour late, and she is convinced that the day on which you vacuum is definitely the day she is going to die, but for the most part she’ll just keep napping luxuriously and batting around wads of paper while you struggle to pay the bills and wake up 10 minutes late for work AGAIN.

    2. They do yoga

    Many humans do yoga because it helps them relax and forces them to live in the moment — seriously, it is impossible to run through your to-do list while holding a forward fold or a backbend (try it sometime). Cats, it turns out, are also privy to this ancient secret, and much like that douche who always stands at the front of the class and can put his leg behind his head in a moment’s notice, cats are naturally flexible, so it looks like they’re not even trying.

    3. They release their aggression in healthy ways

    Instead of letting their jealousy toward the neighbor’s cat’s entire box of feather toys or their older brother’s gnarly catnip stash fester and become a burning resentment, cats find ways to release their anger. Instead of attacking man or beast, this kitten dumps her pent-up aggression on a larger cat’s ceramic likeness — basically the feline equivalent of that time you punched a pillow and imagined it was your boss’ face.

    4. They don’t let their emotions get the best of them

    While many humans are codependent and quickly wither when not in the presence of their beloved, cats are more independent and self-sufficient. This recent study provides evidence that cats do not experience the same level of attachment to their owners as dogs do, meaning that when you leave the house for eight hours to go to work, your cat probably doesn’t miss you as much as you think she does.

    5. They stress-eat — enthusiastically

    When I’m feeling overwhelmed, nothing calms me down faster than digging all of the cookie dough chunks out of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked. These cats take a similar approach — and they’re very vocal about how much they enjoy it. Om nom nom!

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    About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.

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      Our species caused 322 animal extinctions over the past 500 years, with two-thirds of those occurring in the last two centuries, according to a paper published in a special issue of the journal Science this week.

      Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), (Endangered)

      West African Black Rhinoceros (Extinct). Credit: Flickr/Arno Meintjes Wildlife

      Many animals are threatened with human-caused extinction now, with researchers expressing particular concern over amphibian and invertebrate (creatures without a backbone) losses. Numbers of the latter group have nearly halved as our population doubled in size over the past 35 years.

      Ecologists, zoologists and other scientists believe that, without urgent steps to stem the losses, we are facing global scale tipping points from which we may never look back or recover.

      RELATED: Could These 10 Animals Be Resurrected?

      “Indeed, if current rates (of human population growth) were to continue unchecked, population size would be, by 2100, about 27 billion persons — clearly an unthinkable and unsustainable option,” co-author Rodolfo Dirzo, professor of environmental sciences at Stanford University, told Discovery News.

      Dirzo and his colleagues call for “decreasing the per capita human footprint,” by developing and implementing carbon-neutral technologies, producing food and goods more efficiently, consuming less and wasting less.

      They also say it is essential that we ensure lower human population growth projections are the “ones that prevail.”

      Haldre Rogers and Josh Tewksbury, authors of another paper in the same issue, believe that, “animals do matter to people, but on balance, they matter less than food, jobs, energy, money, and development.”

      They continued, “As long as we continue to view animals in ecosystems as irrelevant to these basic demands, animals will lose.”

      RELATED: World’s Sixth Mass Extinction May Be Underway

      Keeping animals alive and ecosystems healthy translate to big bucks on a global scale. Tewksbury, director of the Luc Hoffmann Institute of the World Wide Fund for Nature, pointed out that Southeast Asia’s Mekong River Basin, through its fisheries, supports 60 million people. Rogers, a researcher in Rice University’s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, added that 73 percent of visitors to Namibia are nature-based tourists, with their money accounting for 14.2 percent of that nation’s economic growth.

      “Whale watching in Latin America alone generates over 275 million dollars a year,” Tewksbury said. “Multiple studies have demonstrated how turtles are worth more alive than dead.”

      In the United States, he added, shark-watching results in $314 million per year, directly supporting 10,000 jobs.

      He and the other researchers point out that human health, pollination, pest control, water quality, food availability and other critical factors are also dependent on ecosystem stability.

      In the United States, he added, shark-watching results in $314 million per year, directly supporting 10,000 jobs.

      He and the other researchers say that human health, pollination, pest control, water quality, food availability and other critical factors are also dependent upon ecosystem stability.

      Yet another paper in the latest issue of Science outlines controversial measures, beyond basic conservation efforts, to improve the current situation. These include re-wilding, meaning placement of underrepresented species back into the wild; human removal of invasive species; and, perhaps most controversial of all, de-extinction: bringing already extinct species back to life.

      RELATED: Secret to Surviving Extinction? Don’t Be a Picky Eater

      “People are currently grappling with the implications of de-extinction, including how to select the best candidate species,” co-author Philip Seddon, a zoologist at the University of Otago, told Discovery News.

      Rogers said that restoration and re-introduction have shown progress.

      “The return of the bald eagle and the California condor to the skies and the wild turkey to the lands of the U.S. are great success stories,” she said.

      She and Tewksbury are also working on the island of Guam, where the invasive brown tree snake has rid the island of birds, causing the forests there to be without seed dispersers for 30 years. This, in turn, has contributed to financial challenges for locals.

      RELATED: Secret Grizzly Bear Feeding Site Discovered

      It’s a mistake, though, to limit the value of non-human animals to their economic value, the researchers believe.

      “From the cave paintings that represent the dawn of art to the icons of culture and sport around the world today, wild animals are a part of our fabric, and in a very real, evolutionary sense, these animals have made us who we are,” said Tewksbury.

      “The loss of these animals from landscapes around the world is thus a loss for all of humanity.”

      MORE ON PAWNATION: Dogs Get Especially Jealous of Other Dogs


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        Pet owners in my home town have recently had a reminder as to why it’s not a good idea to let dogs and cats roam freely and why parasite prevention is so important. Tularemia, a disease caused by infection with Francisella tularensis bacteria, was recently diagnosed in a wild rabbit in the southeast part of Fort Collins. Rabbits in this area have been dying in unusually high numbers over the last few weeks, and until a necropsy on this particular animal was performed, nobody knew why.


        Credit: Thinkstock

        Tularemia affects many different species of animals including people, dogs, and cats. Infections can develop in a couple of different ways:

        -handling a sick or dead animal that harbors the bacteria
        -eating the un- or under-cooked flesh of animals infected with the bacteria, which applies to canine, feline, and human hunters
        -through the bites of insects, most commonly ticks or deer flies

        RELATED: Top Five Tips for Treating Ear Infections in Dogs and Cats

        It is also possible to develop tularemia after eating or drinking contaminated food or water or by breathing in airborne bacteria, but these routes of transmission are less common than those mentioned above.

        The Department of Health and Environment in Larimer County, Colorado reports that the “typical signs of infection in humans are fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, chest pain, and coughing. If tularemia is caused by the bite of an infected insect or from bacteria entering a cut or scratch, it usually causes a skin ulcer and swollen glands. Eating or drinking food or water containing the bacteria may produce a throat infection, stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting.”

        RELATED: Health Care Providers Advise Cautionary Measures as MERS Infections Spread

        Cats are more susceptible to tularemia than are dogs, with young animals being at higher risk than adults. Mildly infected animals may only suffer from a brief period of poor appetite, lethargy, and a low grade fever that resolves without treatment. More severely affected individuals can suffer from dehydration, draining abscesses, jaundice, ulcers in and around the mouth, eye infections, swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver and/or spleen, and high fevers.

        A definitive diagnosis of tularemia is based on a combination of the potential for exposure, the presence of typical clinical signs and changes in basic lab work (e.g., evidence of infection, low platelet counts, and liver involvement), and a specific test for exposure to the bacteria. Treatment with certain types of antibiotics is usually quite effective, as long as it is started in a timely manner. Dogs and cats who are suspected or known to have tularemia need to be isolated, and the people who are treating them should wear gowns, masks, and gloves and take other biosecurity measures to protect themselves and others. Cases of tularemia need to be reported to the appropriate regulatory agencies.

        RELATED: Heartbreak of Losing a Pet Can Be Cushioned With Planning

        The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment makes the following recommendations for the prevention of tularemia in people and pets:

        -Avoid handling dead [or sick] animals;
        -Leash your pets when outdoors and keep them away from dead [or sick] animals.
        -If a dead animal must be moved, avoid direct contact with it. Put on a repellent to protect yourself from its fleas or ticks, and use a shovel to scoop it up. Place it in a plastic bag and dispose in an outdoor trash receptacle. Wash your hands well afterwards.
        -When outdoors near places where rabbits or rodents are present, wear an insect repellent containing DEET.
        -Keep pets confined and away from dead [or sick] animals.
        -Routinely use a tick and flea preventative on pets. Read the label and consult your veterinarian if you are unsure what to use.

        Dr. Jennifer Coates

        Related articles you might want to read:
        Bacterial Infection (Tularemia) in Dogs
        Bacterial Infection (Tularemia) in Cats

        Tularemia Awareness Is Critical to Prevention and Treatment” originally appeared on


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          For a couple of years now, Australian scientists have been “field testing” a poison that they call “curiosity.” Get it? Curiosity killed the cat? Ha ha, right? Ugh. 

          You see, they developed it as means of controlling the nation’s feral cat population.

          The “tipped ear” is the universal sign of a feral cat in a managed colony. Photo CC-BY-SA Quinn Dombrowski

          Now, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, Gregory Andrews, recently appointed as Australia’s first threatened species commissioner, is planning to champion the use of curiosity to control feral cats, which environmental advocates allege are decimating native wildlife populations.

          Curiosity contains a poison that stops the flow of oxygen in the blood, and it’s considered a “more humane” way to kill feral cats. They put the stuff in meat and leave it out for the cats to eat.

          More humane than what? Leg hold traps? Rat poison? Shooting them?

          How humane is it make a cat suffocate?

          Officials plan to put the Curiosity bait in meat, which they will leave out for the cats to eat. Will other carnivores eat the poisoned meat and die? Will scavengers eat the dead poisoned cats and die? If officials have their way, they won’t find out until the Curiosity program has been underway for some time. Photo CC-BY Beverley Goodwin

          My first question when I read about curiosity was, “What collateral damage could this poison inflict?”

          According to the Morning Herald article, one official is saying that more research is needed to see if other animals such as marsupial carnivores could be at risk from the bait.

          Well, thank God somebody’s thinking about potential unintended consequences. It’s pretty clear that government officials and wildlife advocates aren’t.

          The long-term goal of the government and wildlife groups is to eliminate feral cats from the entire continent.

          Yeah, good luck with that.

          There are groups in Australia doing trap-neuter-return programs, but they’re few and far between. Even those groups seem to believe that TNR works fine for small urban colonies but not for larger colonies in rural areas. Some groups seem to be very keen on making the distinction between “wild” and feral cats, and they’re ensuring everybody and anybody that they work with “wild” cats but not with feral cats.

          A trap-neuter-return program could have stopped this. Photo CC-BY-SA Martin Lopatka

          First, I don’t know why some groups are so scared to be associated with feral cats. Do they get death threats when they advocate for community cats, or are they just too cowardly to speak up for animals who can’t speak for themselves?

          Second, I don’t buy the idea that TNR programs don’t work in rural areas. Having lived most of my life in Maine, where about 90 percent of the state is considered rural, I’ve seen organizations doing great work with TNR, which has had a very positive impact on the feral cats, both in terms of the colonies’ general health and the decrease in population by natural means.

          TNR can be done and it can successfully control cat populations. But it’s not a short-term solution, and that’s what the cat haters want. Research has proven time and time again that simply killing feral cats creates a vacuum into which more cats enter, thereby boosting the colony population again — and the cat vs. human arms race just rolls on.

          I don’t live in Australia, and I’m not a scientist, so maybe there’s something I’m missing here. I am, however, educated and well-read enough to understand that eradication efforts like poisoning a problem species often have unintended consequences. There’s a litany of research pointing this out.

          I wish the anti-cat lobby didn’t have such a big share of airtime, here in the U.S. and in Australia. I also wish that pro-wildlife groups and feral cat advocates could work together to create a meaningful and humane program to manage feral cat colonies and protect native wildlife.

          What do you think? Is curiosity a good way to control feral cats? If you’re in Australia, could you tell us about the real situation with feral cats and what, if any, groups are actually working together to create a humane and logistically sensible feral cat control initiative? Share your thoughts in the comments.

          Read related stories on Catster:

          Read stories of rescue and love on Catster:

          About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.

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            Smart Cat Feeder Uses Facial Recognition

            Posted July 21st, 2014 by admin

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            At the risk of upsetting my cat Murphy – who I’m convinced can not only read, but speed-read – here’s the latest bulletin from the world of cat feeder facial recognition technology.

            Credit: YouTube/Meow B.

            The Bistro smart cat feeder, designed by a team called 42ARK out of Taiwan, is the sort of crazy idea that Just Might Work. Currently in crowdfunding stage, the device combines several different technologies to ensure your cat is eating properly.

            That’s “properly” as defined by humans, not by cats, which is why I just let Murphy outside and am typing this in the closet. Like other automated cat feeders, the Bistro lets owners dispense measured amounts of food when kitty is home alone.

            RELATED: The Cat Who Couldn’t Spy: A CIA Fail

            But that’s just the beginning. Weight sensors beneath both the food bowl and the platform in front calculate precisely how much food gets eaten. Information is sent wirelessly to the Bistro smartphone app, which logs all dietary data so you monitor or restrict your cat’s intake.

            (What was that creaking? Did the front door just open?)

            Here’s the ingenious part: For families with multiple cats, the Bistro incorporates a camera and a facial recognition system to identify which cat is eating what, and when. So if your alpha cat is bullying the others and stealing food, you can bust the furry little devil – with photographic evidence.

            RELATED: Are Humans Reversing Cat Domestication?

            You can also set the platform scale to identify different cats by weight, or use the built-in camera as a kind of feline nanny-cam. This presents a valuable opportunity to check in on the cats while you’re away, to see what they really get up to when …

            (Oh, no. Something is scratching at the closet door. The knob is turning! Impossible ! Alt-tab! Alt-tab! Alt-tab!)

            via Jezebel

            MORE ON PAWNATION: African Elephants in Zoos Threatened by Obesity


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