Andean cats are rare and rarely seen. At last count it was reported that only 1,378 adults exist and those are scattered over more than 150,000 square kilometers (roughly 580,000 square miles) of highlands from northeastern Peru to Patagonia. So when Jacobo showed up there were a few puzzled faces in town.
Jacobo was spotted in the middle of a artificial grass football field in Bolivia, and he was far from anywhere that should have been home. Not knowing what else to do, local people put the Endangered cat in a birdcage to hand it over to authorities.
At first glance no bigger than a housecat, this feline had ended up such a distance from its usual haunts, high-up in the mountains of Chile, Argentina and Peru, that it was and still is, a mystery. However, this extraordinary circumstance gave conservationists a chance to learn about an animal they are dedicated to saving, but had rarely seen.
The Andean cat ranges from remote areas of central Peru to the Patagonian steppe. Perfectly adapted to extreme environments, this small feline is though threatened by habitat degradation and hunting.
Jacobo was lucky in that he was given to the Andean Cat Alliance, and instead of being kept captive, the members agreed there and then to forego the extraordinary opportunity to study the animal it had been gifted, and instead, try to return “Jacobo” to the wild.
Cordinators Rocío Palacios and Lilian Villalba orchestrated the multinational volunteer release effort. Jacobo was first examined to reveal no health problems. The conservationists then equipped Jacobo with a GPS collar in the hope that tracking his travels will reveal new data about this particular secretive cat, and others of his kind.
The little, spotted Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus) aka ‘Southern Little Spotted Cat’ is a fairly new wild cat species native to Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. When found in the tropical rainforest of southern Brazil it was long referred to as an Oncilla, a Tigrina or a Tiger cat. A study of the cat’s genetics in 2013 found that it wasn’t interbreeding with Oncilla populations and had, as a result, become genetically distinct. So now these ‘Oncilla’ cats are referred to as either Southern Tiger Cats or Northern Tiger Cats (Leopardus tigrinus).
Tiger cats are one of the smallest cat species in the Americas. A fully grown Tiger Cat can range from 1.8 kg to 3.5 kg in weight. They are nimble and extremely sleek animals, with a narrow but stocky head and neck, muscular shoulders and very large ears. The irises are golden or light brown. Males are generally larger than females. The fur of the Southern Tiger cat has a yellowish-brown ground colour, with large, rounded open rosettes of camouflage. Melanism is common. The paler belly fur is covered with dark spots.
The Tiger Cat’s fur is thick and short and does not turn forward in the nape region as it does on the Ocelot and Margay. Limbs are spotted on the outside and the long tail has spots at the root, developing into irregular rings with a black tip. The tail is short measuring just 60% of the head and body length.
The Southern Tiger cat ranges from Central to southern Brazil, eastern Paraguay and north-eastern Argentina. The northern limits of its geographic range are still unclear, so whether it overlaps with Northern Tiger Cats and to what extent is still not known. Sources state it reaches Central Brazil in the states of Minas Gerais, Goiás and the Atlantic forest of central-south Bahia in the northeast region.
The Southern Tiger cat occurs in a variety of habitats, from dense tropical and subtropical rainforests, deciduous/semi-deciduous, and mixed pine forests, to the open savannah, and beach vegetation. In the Pantanal (wet/swampy savannah), it is very rare and has been recorded only in the dry savannas, but not in the marshy areas.
The Southern Tiger cat also inhabits disturbed areas such as agricultural fields where there is an abundance of rodents but its occurrence is limited by the presence of natural cover. Both telemetry information and scat analysis indicate the cats do not venture into disturbed areas, but only skirt around their borders, where it has been shown that Rodent abundance is more pronounced.
Southern Tiger cats tend to avoid areas where the Ocelot is found in large numbers. As a generalist carnivore and the largest and most adaptable of the small cat species in tropical America, the Ocelot dominates the other small cat species. In fact the Southern Tiger Cats are in fear of being the prey of these Ocelots. This negative effect on other small cat species is known to scientists as “the ocelot effect”. When Ocelots inhabit protected areas, the smaller cats can be forced into adjacent unprotected areas, where the threat of habitat loss and human interaction is greater.
The Southern Tiger cat has been observed as being a solitary felid. It is active predominantly at night, but can also show varying degrees of diurnal activity. This activity during any time of the day is suggested as a strategy to avoid the Ocelot. On the other hand, Tiger Cat numbers are not affected by the presence of the Margay and Jaguarundi, which are more likely potential competitors for similar sized prey.
Tiger cats are excellent climbers, but spend most of their time on the ground as most of their prey is terrestrial. When threatened, they show an aggressive behavior with arched back and raised hair, besides showing the teeth and producing a “whistling-spitting” vocalization.
The Southern Tiger cat’s diet is still very poorly studied, but is known to consist mostly of small mammals, birds and reptiles (especially lizards) and can include larger prey over 1 kg. This suggests that this small felid is a generalist predator, taking advantage of the most readily available resources in the area.
Very little information about the Tiger cat’s reproduction in the wild is available. Reproduction occurs year round, but could show different peaks in different areas. The gestation period lasts for 75-78 days, after which 1 to 3 kittens are born, but the normal litter is just one. The eyes are open at around 8 to 17 days. Weaning occurs at two to three months and young are about adult body size at 11 months of age. These felids are reported to have a lifespan ofs 15 – 21 years.
Southern Tiger Cat Conservation and Research organisations report that the global conservation status for the Southern Tiger Cat is Vulnerable (VU) and populations are declining. One of the Organisation dedicated to research and conservation of the smaller cats of Latin America: is the Institute Pro-Carnivores – Wild Cats of Brazil. Here is thier Carnivores – webpage showing the Shouthern Tiger Cat.
A group of Organisations dedicated to saving animals from extinction
Yes it’s me Oscar. As you may know I help Ed with this blog quite a lot, so have been able to pull a few string to get myself on the front page again this month. I reminded Ed that it’s my birthday this week, and I’m 5 Years Old. Ed said “yes I know you silly puss cat” and proceeeded to open my Birthday Card and fetch me a tasty tin of my favourite fish treat.
When he got back I asked him “as it’s my special week can I please, please, be Cat of the month?”. Ed thought for a bit and then said “…mmmm I’m not sure, Osc you’ve already had that honor bestowed upon you and there are so many brave and beautiful cats to choose from out there, I can’t fit em all in”.
Like a lot of countries at the moment, we are all here in Lockdown in England and it’s been a time of reflection for those humans and for us cats too (oh yes, I’ve been chatting with my pals out the back there as we cats are immune to that bat bug so can get up to all kinds of antics). Anyway, I too have been looking back at things, now that I’ve reached the splendid age of five.
When I was adopted from the Rescue Shelter I was a timid thing who would slink around and jump if anyone even came in the room. Four years on I am still a very shy guy but I do walk with a bit more pride and confidence in myself and my own beauty. I still hate the doorbell with a vengeance and run behind the sofa if it goes off, but luckily it has been quiet since March of this year!
I don’t like to admit it but I’m still not good at handling quick movements of humans at all, even when I know they are around. They still catch me by suprise by just coming into the room and I often cower away as I’m taken aback with a bolt of fear…. I think something happened to me as a kitten, but I can’t now recall what it was these days … well after all I am five now, and it was such a long time ago.
Cat of the Month ~ May 2020
Photograph: Ed, who else
I sincerly hope that all those cats out there in Lockdown are OK, and that humans, if at all possible, can continue to contribute to the good work of cat and animal rescue organisations at this time, when they need it more than ever. After all it’s where I came from, and without these places lots of cats would be in the sour milk for sure. I for one wouldn’t be here. I’va asked my mate Ed to put a link in to one of the charities close to my heart below, so if you can spare a few coppers please? … them cats n’ dogs’ll benefit from it, for sure.
Dear readers, I’ve had a lovely birthday week and am feeling particularly magnamimous at the moment “where did you learn a word like that Osc”, Ed so, please take good care of yourselves in this beautiful month of May and, do as we cats do – hunker down in a nice soft patch and let the days and other creatures go by – with the odd break for scran, stalking, hunting, climbing, exploring and generally putting a nose in where it’s sometimes not wanted
Bye for now, I’m off out in that yard to see what’s going down. Yup, I’m a really cool grown up Cat.
With these cold, wet, winter days still upon us we at Moggyblog have turned our attention to a cat that has very little hair or fur and some are even classed as ‘nude.’ How they ever coped with sub-zero Russian winters we can only guess.
The beautiful Peterbald breed was first developed in 1993-4, when (it is said) a Russian breeder named Olga S. Mironova crossed Afinguen Myth, a brown tabby Donskoy, with an Oriental Shorthair female by the name of Radma Vom Jagerhof. At the time their offspring were gaining popularity in St. Petersburg, Russia, and they were quickly pronounced with the new title Peterbald. New breeding lines were created as Peterbalds were consistently bred out to Donskoy, Oriental Shorthairs and Siamese. TICA accepted the Peterbald in 1997 and recognized them for championship status in 2005.
Although recognised by The International Cat Association (TICA) since 1997, the Peterbald is still a relatively rare purebred or pedigreed domestic cat breed.
Like the the Don Sphyx, the amount of hair or fur on a Peterbald can vary greatly from cat to cat. There’s even an “Ultrabald” type that doesn’t even have whiskers or eyebrows and they and never grow any hair at all. Then there is Flock or Chamois variety being ninety percent hairless. These cats have a soft silky feel. Other varieties of coat include Velour, Brush coat and Straight coated. However these coats can change significantly throughout their first two years of life, and their hair texture alter as time goes by either by gaining or loosing hair.
The Peterbald took its long and fine-boned, lithe body type and oblong head shape from the Oriental Shorthair. One unique feature about Peterbalds is that they have long front toes with webbing, which allows them to hold and manipulate toys and other items. Their tails are strong and thin with a graceful curl.
The breed are known to be intelligent, very active, friendly and playful, but because they are highly sociable they should always have companions around them, be these human or feline in origin. They can be fine lap cats in spite of their active natures. When venturing outdoors, care must be taken with the hairless Peterbald, as they are sensitive to very hot and cold weather. Sunburn and other skin issues are also potential concerns.
For keepers of Peterbald cats regular bathing is an important part of the weekly grooming routine. This will prevent the build up of oils on the cats skin, and will also remove daily dirt which may cause irritation. A vets advice should be sought which products to use.
Finally if you are drawn to purchase a beautiful Peterbald cat from a breeder, always investigate any hereditary or genetic conditions by asking about the breeding process. Kittens can also be examined by a vet to provide you with peace of mind before a purchase.
So, like all cat lovers, there is every excuse to stay home and dry and snuggled up with your Peterbald (or any other type of cat, for that matter) this winter and, for the Peterbalds, for the rest of the year too…
The Himalayan, Himalayan Persian (or Colourpoint Persian as it is commonly referred to in Europe), is a sub-breed of long-haired cat similar in type to the Persian, with the exception of its blue eyes and its point colouration which were derived from crossing the Persian with the Siamese.
The creation of the ‘Himmy’ took years of selective breeding as the two cats from which it is derived are totaly different. The Persian then: is short stocky and heavy-boned, with long fur, whereas the Siamese: is long slim, and fine-boned and with short fur!
Cat of the Month ~ October 2019
It was in 1924 that a swedish geneticist start the cross breed process, by crossing a Siamese, Birman and a Persian cat. These trials were not completed it seems, and, it took a jump across the pond (careful Oscar) to Harvard Medical School 1930, where two medical students crossed Siamese with Smoke, Silver Tabby and Black Persians, producing a large number of short-haired kittens. Two of these kittens were mated, resulting in the birth of the first long haired black female Himalayan. When breeding this animal with her father (look away now, Oscar!) the resulting cat was the first Himalayan, with both points and long hair.
Some registries may classify the Himalayan as a long-haired sub-breed of Siamese, or a Colourpoint sub-breed of Persian. The World Cat Federation has merged them with the Colourpoint Shorthair and Javanese into a single breed, known as the Colourpoint.
The Cat Fanciers’ Association considers the Himalayan Persian simply a colour variation of the Persian, rather than a separate breed, although they do compete at Cat Shows in their own colour divisions. It was for the colour (only) that the breed was named “Himalayan”: a reference to the coloration of Himalayan animals, and in particular the Himalayan rabbit.
These cats are good natured, intelligent, and generally very social, but they have been known to be moody at times. Because of their heritage from the Siamese cats, they tend to be more active than Persians.
Himalayans are good indoor companion cats. They are gentle, calm and like most cats they are playful. Like the Siamese, most Himalayans love to stalk and chase balls of wool, mouse or fish toys and anything long and thin like string. Himalayans are devoted and dependent upon their humans for companionship and protection. They seem to really like the affection of a human and generally love to be petted and groomed.
Care for your Himalayan
If you want to bond with your Himalayan, why not spend half an hour grooming her a day/every day. She will love it if she is typical of her kind, and after all, this grooming is thought to be essential to the wellbeing of this feline.
Because they have long, silky hair that tangles and mats easily, a Himalayan’s coat should be brushed daily. This will remove and prevent tangling and mats, and help remove any dirt and dust (after all the coat will act like a duster around your home). Professional grooming is also recommended every few months to ensure their coat is healthy and clean, but for most this may be a little expensive.
Like all cats Himalayan’s love to sharpen thier claws, and what better place than the legs of your favourite occasional table. Many advise trimming of claws but we wouldn’t advise it (would we Oscar, you like your scratching too much for that). How about finding some soft material and putting that around the legs of your precious furniture, then we will all get along just fine. (so, please for Oscars sake, leave them paws alone)!
Examination of your cat weekly will uncover a multitiude of problems (well hopefully not). For example, Himalayans’ pointed ears are susceptible to capturing dirt and whatever else can fall from the sky or a hedge in your garden. This, if left undisturbed, can lead to irritation and later infection. So, if you see or find debris in your cat’s ears, use a pet ear cleaner and cotton ball to gently remove it. It is not advised to use cotton buds as the ears of all cats are so delicate and full of small capilliaries carrying blood (it can get messy and Oscar won’t thank you, no sir). If the ears are very red or inflamed, very dirty, or smell strongly, take her to the veterinarian as soon as possible, and get it checked out.
Finally, we’re glad to say that Himalayans are vary playful, but they will get into mischief if they become bored. So, the golden rule is – Get those cat toys out and Keep Playing. It’ll do you good too …..
Sources: Wikipedia.org, The Pictorial Encyclopedia of Cats by Britt Strader & others
After more than two hundred hours spent in the humid furnace that is the Ranthambore National Park, India, this image of the elusive tiger was finally captured.
Ranthambore Park is a wildlife sanctuary containing a huge variety of animals, birds and reptiles within it. These include Tigers, Leopards, Striped Hyenas, Sambar Deer, Hanuman Langurs, Macaques, Jackals, Jungle cats, Caracals, Common Palm Civets and Desert Cats.
The well known 4 year old ‘Singhsth’ had retreated out of the heat of the day into the cool, dark recess of a cave. Vipul Jain could just see the tiger in the cave mouth and he then passed the message on to his companion, photographer David Yarrow.
Luckily the sunlight was just strong enough to light up the tigers face in the shadow of the cave…. “if it was a foot further back in the cave, there would have been no shot” recalled Mr Yarrow.
Fluffy’s fur was matted with snow when her owners found her in a frozen ball and unmoving in a field in northern Montana, USA. Fearing the worst, they called the local animal hospital.
The veterinary team arrived soon after, and the poor creature was rushed to an emergency room in the local Animal Clinic of Kalispell. Here, the skilled vets used warm blankets and a hairdryer to slowly bring the feline back to life from her frozen slumbers.
At long last, after a few tentative hours, Fluffy started showing signs of recovery. The clinic then made a Facebook post about Fluffy’s recovery, which subsequently went viral….and it’s no wonder! The post explained the story of this poor but lucky feline.
“…in an amazing success and survival story from this week. Some clients found their injured cat buried in snow.”
“They brought her to us essentially frozen and unresponsive. Her temperature was very low but after many hours she recovered and is now completely normal.
“Fluffy is amazing!”
The story was posted alongside pictures of Fluffy’s incredible recovery, including the image below of a vet using a hairdryer on the cat’s fur.