UK: MPs to debate control of antifreeze products and protection of animals

It is about time and I am very pleased that some members of Parliament are going to debate the control of antifreeze products because routinely in the UK we have many reported cat deaths due to ingesting car antifreeze which contains ethylene glycol. These are often deliberate cat poisonings by criminals but no one catches them. It is impossible even if the police did care.

A recent bout of up to 22 cat deaths from kidney failure due to lapping up antifreeze in Calverton, Nottinghamshire, has prompted Sherwood MP Mark Spencer to set up a debate. I hope this eventually leads to legislation which makes it obligatory for manufacturers to make antifreeze cat safe.

An alternative chemical to ethylene glycol is available or instead of that a bitterant can be added to make the liquid unpalatable to cats. At present, surprisingly, anti-freeze tastes nice to cats which is why it is so darn dangerous.

It is just laziness on behalf of the manufacturers to not take steps to protect cats.

There are a number of pages on antifreeze poisoning on PoC because it is such an major danger to cats. In parts of the UK cat antifreeze poisonings are probably forcing a change in the culture of the cat owning British to keep cats inside permanently. This is certainly the case in areas where there appears to a serial cat killer on the loose as is happening in Calverton.

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What is this Chinese cat?

What is this cat Chinese cat?
What is this cat Chinese cat?

The Chinese man, Mr Huang, is seen holding what appears to be a cat with very strong markings and weighing about 15-20 pounds, on my estimate. This is a big pet cat it seems to me.

He says he bought the cat at a market in Binyang county in Guangxi province, as a pet. This indicates to me that the cat was stolen in the wild perhaps as a kitten (a cub) for sale in the market. This is not uncommon (trading in small wild cat species as pets). He also says that he killed the cat after a while because it was stealing the family food – charming.

The big discussion in China is what sort of cat is it? Some Chinese people say the cat is the endangered (in China) Asiatic leopard cat but Huang says he/she was a domestic cat. That may be the case, but how domesticated? Living in the home does not mean domesticated. A motivation for saying the cat was a domestic cat is that there may be a penalty for killing an endangered wild cat in China (unlikely but possible).

The coat pattern and markings are not those of a domestic cat. However, the size of this cat (on the face of it) is too large for a leopard cat. The leopard cat’s average weight it about 8 pounds. The heaviest listed of this species in Wild Cats of the World (the best book on the wild cat species) is about 17 pounds.

However, despite the size, my bet is that this is a leopard cat or possibly a hybrid leopard cat and domestic cat (in other words an F1 Bengal cat) based on the very strong markings – we don’t see the facial markings which would have helped a lot.

Although the leopard cat is fiercely independent and completely untameable and impossible to domesticate. Some Americans do keep them in enclosures and a woman in America, Keira Nguyen, kept, as a pet, a first filial leopard cat. She says it was very difficult looking after the cat, which was illegal in the state in which she lived (I have forgotten the state).

I am guessing that by the description (stealing food) that the cat was probably barely living with the family but in and around the family home. I would expect the cat to have been captive actually because if left to roam he/she would probably not have come back.

The fact that Huang appeared to have killed the cat without much compunction also indicates that he was not that close to the cat. This supports the idea that the cat was not domesticated in the conventional sense.

There are other small wild cat species in China which could fit this description: Asiatic golden cat (but too big to be this cat) and the Marbled cat (too small).

I have made a guesstimate. I could well be wrong.

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Beaufort County Petitioned to Ban Flea Market Safari Exhibit

Mr Lowe has opened a big cat safari exhibit in a flea market inside a building next to an airport in Beaufort, South Carolina, USA. I say he has opened it but perhaps he is in the process of doing so because he’d planned to open around the time of Black Friday this year.

Safari exhibit in building next to airfield in Beaufort, USA

Currently, regulations don’t prevent the exhibiting of tigers in cages in a flea market in Beaufort County at this location. There are, it appears, regulations preventing an outdoor exhibit at this location, but that of course is a different matter.

This is the Burton flea market. Mr Lowe intends to build a 6000 ft.² enclosure containing lions and tigers within this building.

There is a petition against Mr Lowe’s business. The petition was started by Stacy Johnston who lives in Beaufort. She makes a good argument. However, from my perspective, it doesn’t take a good argument for a sensible person to realise that to keep lions and tigers, including cubs in cages on concrete floors next to an airport, and inside a large noisy facility, is indecent and unethical from the standpoint of animal welfare. It simply perpetuates the concept that beautiful wild cats are creatures to be exploited, to be exhibited; that they are business assets, no more and no less.

It is not illegal to keep big cats in South Carolina. South Carolina is therefore one of those states where you will find people keeping lions and tigers in backyards as pets. My belief is that South Carolina’s state legislature needs to modernise its attitudes towards this unsavoury habit. It’s not good for conservation and it is not good for the cats. It is good for one thing only, which is to make money and to satisfy an unthinking self-indulengce.

What is laughable is that Mr Lowe says that he is involved in conservation; he confidently states that if he didn’t exhibit tiger cubs they’d be killed or they’d die through lack of proper care in someone’s backyard as a pet. I understand his point but he seems to be compounding the problem; he is piling bad upon bad.

Stacey Johnston states that Mr Lowe’s safari exhibit currently has two baby big cats: a tiger and the lion and makes the point that not only is the exhibit bad for the cats, it is bad for the community.

I also agree that point. It seems that the local authority has been slack to allow dangerous animals to be exhibited at a flea market. I presume that there are some regulations with which Mr Lowe has to comply, but if there are, there would appear to be few of them plus they lack rigour.

Another point that Stacey makes is that being next to an airfield, there is noise from jet aircraft which will disturb the captive cats. I wonder whether this might make them more anxious which in turn might make them more aggressive which in turn adds to the risk to the public. This point seems to have been overlooked by the authorities.

I think we can describe this free-market safari exhibit as a private zoo – yet another one. There are already far too many and I think the general consensus of the majority of thinking Americans is that it is time to curtail the habit of some Americans to keep exotic cats as pets and/or exploit them.

You may remember recent examples of tragedies regarding private zoos. Also, annually, a good number of people are killed at backyard zoos because of slack safety measures due to slack ordinances and a laissez-faire attitude from the legislators.

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First Aid for Cats: There’s an App for That

Pet first aid app
Pet first aid app

Smart phones! You gotta love them or hate them. This said, today there is an application for smart phones that may be able to save a kitty’s life.

Sharing our homes with a cat can often resemble living with a toddler. Since cats and young children are inordinately curious, playful and mischievous; to prevent them from getting into serious trouble we have to watch them like a hawk.

For example: Some feline behavior is downright dangerous. There are cats who are confirmed chewers who are attracted to electric cords. This perilous habit can often lead to an extremely hazardous and frightening scenario; receiving an electric shock. Power cables are one of the most dangerous things into which cats can sink their teeth.

Many cats are drawn to investigate and hang out in high, lofty places. In many cases the higher the spot the more alluring they are to them. But contrary to the expression, “cats always land on their feet”; this simply is not the case. If a landing area is misjudged, a fall from a precarious height can seriously injure a kitty.

However, if your cat has an accident do you know how to administer first aid? Are you able to immediately get in touch with your veterinarian or locate an Emergency Veterinary clinic right away? When our cats have an emergency it can be difficult to remain calm and know precisely what to do. How well are we really prepared to deal with these situations? This is a time when a Smart phone can come in downright handy.

The American Red Cross created a pet first aid app for iPhones and Android phones. It is available at the Apple App Store, Google Play, or at a nominal cost of $.99. The app offers easy step-by-step guidance for all common emergencies right on the Smart phone. And by listing your pet’s medical conditions, you can receive advice on administering medications, get help for behavioral issues, what do in disaster situations and a video that demonstrates how to administer CPR to your cat.

Using the app you can quickly locate your nearest emergency vet hospital. The app also provides an early warning checker for preventative care. Veterinary contact numbers can be programmed into the application that’s available in an emergency. First aid steps are provided for over 25 common pet situations through a combination of text, video and images, and lists common toxic substance.

The app also provides an early warning checker for preventative care. Veterinary contact numbers can be programmed in available in an emergency. First aid steps are provided for over 25 common pet situations through a combination of text, video and images, and lists common toxic substance.

Although this application is made for both cats and dogs, there is a simple toggle between specific content for felines and canines.

I recently downloaded this app it onto my iPhone6 to give it a spin. I found it extremely easy to use and it has definitely given me greater peace of mind. With its crucial information and the ease for contacting my vet or instantly locating an emergency veterinary clinic at my fingertips, this application is invaluable

How would you feel about using this application? Share your opinions in a comment.

Photo credit (picture middle-left): Flickr user: Noelas

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Black Friday Animal Shelter Adoption Promotions

Black Friday for cats
Black Friday for cats

Are Black Friday animal shelter adoptions a good idea in the long run? They certainly appear to be.

Black Friday is a big consumer day. It is an American concept which has transferred to the UK with great success. Retailers depend on it to turn their balance sheets from red into black – hence the name. Sales are massively increased at heavily discounted prices. Consumers are almost addicted to purchasing on this manic consumer day.

The motivation to shop through big discounts which drives the consumer’s desire to save money has been borrowed by a number of animal shelters.

For example, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay offered a “doorbuster” sale with 75 percent off on all pet adoptions” from midday to 2 pm on 28th Nov. – the day of black Friday 2014. Fantastic, I hope it was successful because the more companion animals shelters can get into homes the less there are to euthanize.

That was my initial sentiment then I thought, “is it a good idea to employ a high pressure consumerist approach to adopting a cat or dog at a time close to Christmas when presents are offered and people can make poor decisions?”

Christmas presents can be discarded within months or less but you can’t do the same with a cat you’ve just adopted ostensibly for the life of the cat.

Heavy promotions are probably a very good idea but there may be a weakness in the concept. The shelters may encourage the wrong sort of person to come forward who despite being checked out by the shelter as suitable may prove to be unsuitable after several months.

I don’t know how many people who adopt from shelters give up their cat in quite a short time. I don’t think the statistics are available. However, it must be a noticeable percentage. Even with the best checks and intentions it can go wrong.

Running promotions, no matter how laudable may result in a higher percentage of failed shelter adoptions although if I am incorrect I’ll be very pleased. The concept when applied to cats and dogs may encourage a slightly less than ideal attitude towards shelter animals i.e. marketing animals as consumer products. I’d welcome feedback.

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The Language of Prejudice Against Cats

The language of prejudice
The language of prejudice

The English Language can sometimes be used in a subtle way which is derogatory to cats. This sort of language is used by people who dislike cats. They may use it without really being aware of what they’re saying. The meaning and motivation is hidden. One example is a recent headline used in a CBS news story which states, “Why Does a Pennsylvania City Smell like Cat Urine”.

In my opinion, this is the language of prejudice against cats or a bias against cats. It is quite subtle but it is critical of the domestic cat. More importantly, actually, the headline is critical of cats that are allowed outside and particularly stray or feral cats. In short, it is a subtle and indirect criticism of feral cats and there are already enough of those sorts of people who are quite frankly ignorant of the entire feral cat situation.

I don’t like the language of prejudice. There is no need for it. The headline could have been, “Why Does This Pennsylvania City Smell of Urine?”, or “Why does This Pennsylvania City Smell Bad?” or “Why Does This Pennsylvania City Smell of Dog Feces?” (prejudice against dogs).

The first two would have been a neutral headline. There is no need to mention the cat although the reason why the cat was mentioned is because cat urine smells very strongly and is persistent but despite that there was no need to mention it because I can be certain that the bad smell that pervades a certain part of this Pennsylvania city, New Castle, is neither as strong nor a persistent as the smell of cat urine.

It just made a more punchy headline to the detriment of the domestic and stray cat. I’m not a politically correct person. I don’t like to criticise people for using prejudiced language but I see too much of it, on the internet, in relation to the cat. It is a leaking-out from a person of a dislike for the cat through the use of the English language.

Examples of the use of the language of prejudice in areas which are not concerned with domestic or stray cat are, for example, “you’re pretty strong for a girl” and “male nurse” and “black lawyer”. The first one indicates that girls are weak which is a derogatory comment made in a very subtle way. The other indicates that nurses are rarely male and lawyers are rarely black. Once again, by implication, they are derogatory remarks. They conjure up images which are not constructive to a more cohesive society. They are prejudiced. They are barriers to men being nurses and black people being lawyers.

The language of prejudice is used all the time and everywhere. As I said, it leaks out of a prejudiced person without them almost realising it. And probably the most difficult thing to admit is that we are all either prejudiced or at least potentially prejudiced because it is very difficult indeed to maintain a totally unbiased neutral position in day-to-day living; this is the human condition. We need to be aware of this.

As my role is to defend the domestic and stray cat I have to criticise people especially journalists who use prejudiced English language. If a person doesn’t like cats they should say it and explain why. We can then put them straight 😉 .

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Siberian Tigers Wander Across the Border to Raid Chinese Farms

Siberian tigers wander into china

The Russian government wants to get along with the Chinese government. They have similar philosophies; dictatorship disguised as a quasi-democracy.

Russia also wants to get along with China for economic reasons because Europe is putting the squeeze on them financially with sanctions as a result of Russia invading the Ukraine. Russia recently completed a $400bn gas pipeline deal with China to supply gas.

However, there might be a cat fight brewing between Russia and China because a couple of Siberian tigers have apparently wandered across the border from their habitat in the Far East of Russia to Fuyuan County in Heilongjiang province, which is marked on the map above.

Cats, as we know, do not respect boundaries especially those put up by humans to demark their countries. I’ll go further and say that the Siberian tiger’s habitat probably includes part of China, anyway.

It is said that one of the Tigers, Ustin, was released into the wild in May 2014 by Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president. He denies it and says it was released by a Russian conservation agency.

We know that Vladimir takes a personal interest in the conservation of the Siberian tiger (good publicity for Vladimir) of which there are about 400 remaining but which have a breeding capacity of about 14 tigers due to sterility. Therefore inbreeding and the gradual demise of this rare population of tigers is constantly at risk.

Ustin wandered into north-west China from the Amur region of Russia in the Far East. Once in China, this magnificent animal, raided a local farm killing, we are informed, 15 goats over a couple of nights. Three more goats are missing.

Tiger footprints were noticed around the goats’ enclosure. Ustin’s brother raided another farm in October attacking five chickens. Chickens will not sustain a tiger. Tigers need large prey because they need around 50lbs of meat a night. The Siberian tiger does not feed on livestock unless he has to. Their preferred prey is red deer and wild pig. Does this raid by a tiger indicate that its prey is being shot by hunters leaving it little choice but to prey on livestock?

The farmer who lost his goats will be compensated by the local forestry department. He will have to reinforce his enclosure. The farmer said that he had locked the shelter but the tiger broke down the wooden fence.

The Siberian tiger’s habitat is just to the east of this area of China.

The Siberian is the largest tiger and the largest Siberian tiger, wherever he is, is probably the world’s largest naturally occurring cat.

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Huge Ear Polyp Removed From Cat

This article is about just how dangerous ear mites can be for a cat. Many cats, especially those who reside outdoors, have a healthy dose of the black buildup in their ear canal. But did you know ear mites, left untreated, can become a life-threatening issue?

Ear polyps in cats
Ear polyps in cats due to long-term presence of ear mites.

Meet Cashmere, a cat whose had a hard life, but is now under the care of Friends for Life Cat Adoptions (FFL). FFL, a rescue-foster group based out of North Carolina, has a no-kill philosophy, and works tirelessly to find homes for needy cats. Cashmere is one of their latest additions.

Cashmere came to FFL after the owner, who lives 100 miles away, contacted the rescue after the last of Cashmere’s siblings disappeared. The family had started off with many cats and kittens, who one by one disappeared. The family suspected coyotes, but due to “allergies” the cats weren’t allowed to live indoors.

When FFL brought Cashmere under their care he was a five pound injured beauty who had everything from fleas to intestinal parasites to ear mites. He also had a puncture wound on his back that had become infected. Cashmere responded well to all of the treatment, and was neutered and put up for adoption.

Unfortunately, that week Cashmere started acting like he had a cold, then he started tilting his head. He had sticky goo coming out of his ear, and was miserable. He was diagnosed with an ear infection. A volunteer with FFL took him to the vet, where he was treated and retreated with different medications. When that didn’t clear it up, a second opinion was sought. While under sedation, it was determined Cashmere would need surgery for his ear.

Ear mites are an extremely serious issue and very uncomfortable for cats as the itching, biting and the noise of the mites in the ear canals are a real torment. Cats scratch the ear causing a secondary bacterial infection and they can develop inflammatory polyps in their ear canals which is what happened to Cashmere. The infection can cause permanent hearing damage and it also causes equilibrium issues.

The infection also can spread and go to the brain that can cause seizures. If the infection moves to the middle ear, the virus invades the tissue lining, causing inflammation, swelling, and eventually the formation of a polyp. Before long, the middle ear fills with inflammatory tissue, and the polyp can burst the eardrum. 

Alternatively, the virus may also pass into the nasopharanx, which is the open area at the back of a cat’s mouth. Once there and anchored by a thin stalk, the polyp will continue to grow over a period of months until it begins to interfere with the kitty’s ability to breathe. That’s typically when the sneezing sounds begin. The cat senses there is something stuck in the back of his throat above the palate, and when he breathes through his nose, there’s a blockage that inhibits intake of air.

In addition cats that scratch their ears vigorously due to the infection from ear mites and polyps can create a type of blood blister on their ear flap called a hematoma that if it is not fixed with surgery can cause permanent damage and in most cases disfigurement.

Cashmere is recovering well after his November 24 surgery. Thankfully, FFL had the initiative to seek a second opinion, and follow up with progressive care to fix the problem.

A YouCaring webpage has been set up to help raise money to cover his vet bills. A recent update describes his recovery.

“Cashmere has had his surgery and the operation went well! He is on morphine pain med for the next few days so he will be more comfortable and his ear has been filled with a plug type treatment of steroids, antibiotics and antifungal treatment that will last 10 days, then he will return to the doctor. He will be rechecked periodically as in rare occurrences the polyp can regrow  Our biggest challenge now is to keep him from scratching his ear or shaking his head which could cause hemorrhaging. He felt better immediately and is able to walk straighter and is holding his head up better.”

Please share this article with your cat friends. A lot of people think an ear mite infestation isn’t serious. Cashmere shows just how serious it can be, and how expensive. Watch out for signs: discharge, head shaking, scratching and pawing at the ear.

Articles on Cashmere: 1 & 2

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