cats

Charles Darwin, in his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, mentioned that baboons yawn to threaten their enemies, possibly by displaying large canine teeth

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{ 1. Terry Magson | 2 }

Rebound of garter. Not leave thee.

Blind dog taken for walks by guide cat.

Catwoman: [voiceover] The day I died was the day I started to live.

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Vets have been trying to explain strange symptoms in 21 cats that arrived in North-East Scotland, between 2001 and 2010. The animals appeared to have a slowly-progressing neurological disease. This paper observes how the cats walk with an odd gait with stiff, extended tails. Dubbed “robotic cats” due to their movements, they presented a veterinary oddity not seen before.

Cats with a slightly different but possibly related condition have been spotted in Sweden and Austria, where it was referred to as “staggering disease.” One of authors suggests “All the cats included in our study, and most of the cats reported with ‘staggering disease’, belong to the rural population accustomed to hunting birds and rodents”. It can be speculated that the agent may be transmitted from these animals to cats. The authors conclude that the late onset age of this disease, its slow progression, peculiar clinical signs and the data from the tests suggest these cats were affected by the same unique, previously unreported condition.

{ Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery/SAGE | Continue reading }

Pearls: when she. Liszt’s rhapsodies. Hissss.

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{ Cat Trapping, Neutering and Release, photographed by Sandy Carson }

To his dog, every man is Napoleon

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{ The Cat Scan | more }

‘How now? a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!’ –Shakespeare

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The life cycle of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii goes like this: Toxoplasma reproduces inside the intestine of a cat, which sheds the parasite in its feces. Rats then ingest the parasite when they consume food or water contaminated with cat feces. The parasite takes up residence in the rat’s brain and, once the rat gets eaten by a cat, it starts the cycle all over again.

Researchers have known for a few years that a rat infected with Toxoplasma loses its natural response to cat urine and no longer fears the smell. And they know that the parasite settles in the rat’s amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear and emotions. Now a new study in the journal PLoS ONE adds another bizarre piece to the tale: When male rats infected with Toxoplasma smell cat urine, they have altered activity in the fear part of the brain as well as increased activity in the part of the brain that is responsible for sexual behavior and normally activates after exposure to a female rat.

The double messages of “you smell a cat but he’s not dangerous” and “that cat is a potential mate” lure the rat into the kitty’s deadly territory, just what the parasite needs to reproduce.

{ Smithsonia magazine | Continue reading }

‘Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.’ –Jonathan Swift

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{ Domestic cats have been genetically modified to resist the feline form of AIDS in a new study that could have significant implications for health researchers working to protect humans from the virus. | Cosmos | Smithsonian }

related { Missing Colorado cat found in New York }

You can’t get eight cats to pull a sled through snow

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There’s only love, and there ain’t no replacement

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Human interactions often provide people with considerable social support, but can pets also fulfill one’s social needs? Although there is correlational evidence that pets may help individuals facing significant life stressors, little is known about the well-being benefits of pets for everyday people.

Study 1 found in a community sample that pet owners fared better on several well-being (e.g., greater self-esteem, more exercise) and individual-difference (e.g., greater conscientiousness, less fearful attachment) measures.

Study 2 assessed a different community sample and found that owners enjoyed better well-being when their pets fulfilled social needs better, and the support that pets provided complemented rather than competed with human sources.

Finally, Study 3 brought pet owners into the laboratory and experimentally demonstrated the ability of pets to stave off negativity caused by social rejection.

In summary, pets can serve as important sources of social support, providing many positive psychological and physical benefits for their owners.

{ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology | PDF }

photo { Andre Kertesz, Study of People and Shadows, 1928 | more photos }

‘The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep, somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh.’ –Samuel Beckett

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{ Amy Stein }

‘Perhaps there is only one major sin: impatience.’ –Kafka

{ High-speed video shows that canines don’t simply scoop up water, they toss it into their mouths just like cats. | Science News | full story

Is there any… no trouble I hope? I see you’re…

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Why is aspirin toxic to cats?

One animal’s cure can be another animal’s poison. Take aspirin – it’s one of the most popular drugs on the market and we readily use it as a painkiller. But cats are extremely sensitive to aspirin, and even a single extra-strength pill can trigger a fatal overdose. Vets will sometimes prescribe aspirin to cats but only under very controlled doses.

The problem is that cats can’t break down the drug effectively. They take a long time to clear it from their bodies, so it’s easy for them to build up harmful concentrations. This defect is unusual – humans clearly don’t suffer from it, and neither do dogs. All cats, however, seem to share the same problem, from house tabbies to African lions.

{ Discover | Continue reading }

The term big cat – which is not a biological classification – is used informally to distinguish the larger felid species from smaller ones. One definition of “big cat” includes the four members of the genus Panthera: the tiger, lion, jaguar, and leopard. Members of this genus are the only cats able to roar. A more expansive definition of “big cat” also includes the cheetah, snow leopard, clouded leopard, and cougar.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }