German Rex

Though the details are uncertain it is widely agreed that the  curly coated German Rex is one of the oldest of the Rex cats. In around 1930 an ancestor of the modern German Rex breed was kept by a woman called Frau Erna Schneider in Konigsberg, Germany (Kaliningrad, Russia).

The name of this cat was Kater Munk and he was said to be the offspring of a Russian Blue and a mahogany coloured Angora.

Our cat Kater was then, the earliest recorded example of a Rex cat, and was referred to at the time as a Prussian Rex.

Cat of the Month ~ October 2018
Kater Munk, One for the ladies it appears.
Photograph: © Schneider

It is accepted that the German Rex of today is a direct descendent of Kater Munk. Many cats of this type were bred from Munk in and around Konigsberg, until his death in 1945, but interestingly none of these offspring would have had curly fur – as the allele (genes) of Munk’s straight-haired mates would always dominate. The Schneiders nevertheless valued this strong tom cat with a talent for catching fish from the family’s garden pond.

Feline researchers do not generally consider Kater Munk to be related to the German Rex breed, and state that he was never bred from (this seems at odds with the other stories that he was a prolific breeder, Ed). Anyway, it was reported that in the summer of 1951 a black curly coated cat was noticed and taken in by Dr. Rose Scheuer-Karpin from the grounds of Hufeland Hospital in Berlin. The cat, was renamed Lammchen (little lamb) and subsequently went on to have several litters of kittens.

It was in 1956 that Dr Rose decided to mate Lammchen to one of her sons (Fridolin). This resulted in a litter of curly coated kittens. Some people have speculated that Lammchen is a descendant of Kater Munk, but we will never know the truth for certain. However Dr. Rose’ supposition that Lammchen must have been the result of a mutation, was shown to be correct. Thus, Lämmchen was the first breeder-owned Rex-type cat and the maternal ancestor of all the current German Rex cats.

German Rex
German Rex Cat with claws well sunk in!

Photograph: © catza.net

Today the descendants of Lammchen and Fridolin are the founders of the German Rex breed, though further cross breeding to other mixed breed cats has increased the gene pool considerably.

The German Rex is a medium-sized breed with slender legs of a medium length. The head is round with well-developed cheeks and large, open ears. The eyes are of medium size set in colours often related to the coat colour. The coat is silky and short with a tendency to curl of course. The whiskers also curl though less strongly than in the Cornish Rex. All colours of coat, including white, are allowed. The body development is also much sturdier than in the Cornish Rex. On the whole German Rex are friendly creatures. They are lively, playful, and intelligent and bond with people well.

As already stated, it is not known how Lämmchen relates to Munk, only that the German Rex mutation (on the same gene as in the Cornish Rex) – is recessive, meaning it will only show when both alleles are “Rex”, and that Munk is the first thoroughly documented Rex cat. So Munk is almost certainly related to all German Rex cats in the world today.

Incidentally, there are four types of Rex breeds in existence, these are the German Rex, the Cornish Rex, the Devon and the Selkirk Rex.

References: Wikimedia Commons & Others

Maya finds a home

The story goes that Maya the Cat was found behind a Chinese food restaurant and then taken to an animal shelter to be put down. The reason being that Maya doesn’t look like other cats and it was thought she would never find a real home and never be adopted by anyone.
Maya has a chromosomal abnormality that has caused her features to have been changed so she can look strange to those who are used to seeing cats in a particular way.
Cat of the Month ~ May 2018
Maya enjoying a soft rug
Photograph: © @meetmayacat
The good news is that with the help of an organisatiopn called ‘The Odd Cat Sanctuary’ Maya was not only saved from being euthanized but was eventually found a permanant home too.
Lauren showing Maya for the camera
Photograph: © @meetmayacat
Lauren and Harrison have now given Maya a new home. When questioned in a media interview Lauren said “Maya is pretty tiny (8 lbs tops), but she’s got huge feet and whiskers.” “Maya’s just like any cat,” says Harrison. “She’s of smaller stature, and some think she will be more kitten-like forever. She has slight vision issues (she is cross-eyed, after all), and due to her nasal structure, she tends to get stuffy a lot. It’s actually adorable. Every time she gets out-of-breath, she sneezes like 15 times in a row.”
The Odd Cat Sanctuary Website home page
Photograph: © theoddcatsanctuary.com
See all the cats currently listed on the Odd Cat Sanctuary website. So best wishes to Maya (Lauren & Harrison) and may the great work of ‘The Odd Cat Sanctuary continue.

The Bengal Tiger

The magnificent, strong and charismatic Bengal Tiger is found primarily in India. It is the most numerous of all tiger subspecies, with more than 2,500* left in the wild.

Small numbers of Bengals are also found in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar.

Cat of the Month ~ April 2018
Jai, Indias most famous Bengal Tiger in the Forest of Maharashtra.

Photograph: ©Unknown, from the imgur.com website

Since April 1973 The Bengal Tiger has been the national animal of both India and Bangladesh (so declared with the initiation of ‘Project Tiger’, a scheme to protect the tigers in India). Prior to this, the Lion was the national animal of India.

Project Tiger saw the creation of India’s many tiger reserves and helped to stabilize a serious decline in numbers. Sadly, poaching and loss of habitat are still major threats to this endagered feline.

It has been shown that the Bengal tiger arrived in the Indian subcontinent around 12,000 years ago, but it still ranks among the biggest wild cats alive today.

Male Bengals have an average total length of 270 to 310 cm including the tail, while females measure 240 to 265 cm on average. The tail is typically 85 to 110 cm long, and on average, tigers are 90 to 110 cm in height at the shoulders. The weight of males ranges from 180 to 258 kg (397 to 569 lb), while that of the females ranges from 100 to 160 kg (220 to 350 lb). Thus, the Bengal tiger rivals the Amur tiger in average weight. The smallest recorded weights for Bengal tigers are from the Bangladesh Sundarbans, where adult females are 75 to 80 kg (165 to 176 lb).

The tiger has exceptionally large teeth. Its canines are 7.5 to 10 cm long and are in fact the longest amongst all cats of the world.

India’s upcoming ‘All India Tiger Estimation 2018’ is a hi-tech initiative to estimate the number of tigers across the country.

The survey is the fourth of its kind and will provide data based on the results of using an Android smart phone App. The plan is to digitize data records and eliminate the (previously) manual process of recording, which is slow and known to be prone to errors. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) developed the app and named it ‘Monitoring System for Tiger-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status’ or M-STrIPES.

In the Indian subcontinent, tigers inhabit tropical moist evergreen forests, tropical dry forests, moist deciduous forests, mangroves, subtropical and temperate upland forests and alluvial grasslands. Today, the best examples of this habitat type are limited to a few areas at the base of the outer foothills of the Himalayas including the Tiger Conservation Units (TCUs) of Rajaji-Corbett, Bardia-Banke, and the transboundary TCUs Chitwan-Parsa-Valmiki, Dudhwa-Kailali and Shuklaphanta-Kishanpur. Tiger densities in these TCUs are high, in part because of the extraordinary abundance of prey species available.

The Bengal tigers in the Sundarbans in India and Bangladesh are the only tigers in the world inhabiting mangrove forests. The population in the Indian Sundarbans is estimated as 70 tigers in total. In addition to the Indian and Bangladesh tiger populations, other notable populations are to be found in Bhutan and Nepal regions.

The basic social unit of the tiger is the elemental one of mother and offspring. Adult animals congregate only on an occasional and transitory basis when special conditions permit, such as plentiful supply of food. Otherwise they lead solitary lives, hunting individually for the dispersed forest and tall grassland prey animals. They establish and maintain home ranges but must always have access to other tigers (especially those of the opposite sex). Tigers sharing the same ground are well aware of each other’s movements and activities.

Mother and cubs enjoying a dip in Ranthambore, India.

Photograph: Andy Rouse/Rex/Rex USA

The tiger is a carnivore. It prefers hunting large ungulates such as chital, sambar, gaur, and to a lesser extent also barasingha, water buffalo, nilgai, serow and takin. Among the medium-sized prey species it frequently kills wild boar, and occasionally hog deer, muntjac and grey langur. Small prey species such as porcupine, hares and peafowl form a very small part in its diet. Because of the encroachment of humans into tiger habitat, it also preys on domestic livestock.

The nature of the tiger’s hunting method and prey availability results in a “feast or famine” feeding style: they often consume 18–40 kilograms (40–88 lb) of meat at one time. Bengal tigers occasionally hunt and kill predators such as Indian leopard, Indian wolf, Indian jackal, fox, crocodiles, Asiatic black bear, sloth bear, and dhole. They rarely attack adult Indian elephant and Indian rhinoceros, but such extraordinarily rare events have been recorded. In Kaziranga National Park, tigers killed 20 rhinoceros in 2007. If injured, old or weak, or regular prey species are becoming scarce, tigers also attack humans and become man-eaters.

The tiger in India has no definite mating and birth seasons. Most young are born in December and April. Young have also been found in March, May, October and November. In the 1960s, certain aspects of tiger behaviour at Kanha National Park indicated that the peak of sexual activity was from November to about February, with some mating probably occurring throughout the year.

Males reach maturity at 4–5 years of age, and females at 3–4 years. A Bengal comes into heat at intervals of about 3–9 weeks, and is receptive for 3–6 days. After a gestation period of 104–106 days, 1–4 cubs are born in a shelter situated in tall grass, thick bush or in caves. Newborn cubs weigh 780 to 1,600 g (1.72 to 3.53 lb) and they have a thick wooly fur that is shed after 3.5–5 months. Their eyes and ears are closed. Their milk teeth start to erupt at about 2–3 weeks after birth, and are slowly replaced by permanent dentition from 8.5–9.5 weeks of age onwards. They suckle for 3–6 months, and begin to eat small amounts of solid food at about 2 months of age. At this time, they follow their mother on her hunting expeditions and begin to take part in hunting at 5–6 months of age. At the age of 2–3 years, they slowly start to separate from the family group and become transient — looking out for an area, where they can establish their own territory. Young males move further away from their mother’s territory than young females. Once the family group has split, the mother comes into heat again.

They occupied home ranges of 16 to 31 km2 (6.2 to 12.0 sq mi). The home ranges occupied by adult male residents tend to be mutually exclusive, even though one of these residents may tolerate a transient or sub-adult male at least for a time. A male tiger keeps a large territory in order to include the home ranges of several females within its bounds.

Threats

Over the past century tiger numbers have fallen dramatically, with a decreasing population trend. None of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within the Bengal tiger range is large enough to support an effective population size of 250 individuals. Habitat losses and the extremely large-scale incidences of poaching are serious threats to the species’ survival.

Shocking statistic of fall in tiger range since 1918.

Source: National Geographic

The most significant immediate threat to the existence of wild tiger populations is the illegal trade in poached skins and body parts between India, Nepal and China. The governments of these countries have failed to implement adequate enforcement response, and wildlife crime remained a low priority in terms of political commitment and investment for years. There are well-organised gangs of professional poachers, who move from place to place and set up camp in vulnerable areas. Skins are rough-cured in the field and handed over to dealers, who send them for further treatment to Indian tanning centres.

The illicit demand for bones and body parts from wild tigers for use in Traditional Chinese medicine is the reason for the unrelenting poaching pressure on tigers on the Indian subcontinent. For at least a thousand years, tiger bones have been an ingredient in traditional medicines that are prescribed as a muscle strengthener and treatment for rheumatism and body pain.[69]

Human and tiger confrontations have been common on the Indian Subcontinent for many years. At the beginning of the 19th century tigers were so numerous it seemed to be a question as to whether man or tiger would survive. At this time it became the official policy to encourage the killing of tigers as rapidly as possible, rewards being paid for their destruction in many localities. In the latter half of the 19th century, marauding tigers began to take a toll of human life. These animals were pushed into marginal habitat, where tigers had formerly not been known, or where they existed only in very low density.

More recently in the Sundarbans region (for example), 10 out of 13 man-eaters recorded in the 1970s were males, and they accounted for 86% of the victims. These man-eaters have been grouped into the confirmed or dedicated ones who go hunting especially for human prey; and the opportunistic ones, who do not search for humans but will, if they encounter a man, attack, kill and devour him. Between 1999 and 2001, the highest concentration of tiger attacks on people occurred in the northern and western boundaries of the Bangladesh Sundarbans. Most people were attacked in the mornings while collecting fuel wood, timber, or other raw materials, or while fishing.

Conservation

The Bengal Tiger has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List Since 2008. It is threatened by poaching, loss of its native habitat due to farming and by construction projects. An area of special interest lies in the “Terai Arc Landscape” in the Himalayan foothills of northern India and southern Nepal, where 11 protected areas composed of dry forest foothills and tall-grass savannas harbor tigers in a 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi) landscape. The goals are to manage tigers as a single metapopulation, the dispersal of which between core refuges can help maintain genetic, demographic, and ecological integrity, and to ensure that species and habitat conservation becomes mainstreamed into the rural development agenda. In Nepal a community-based tourism model has been developed with a strong emphasis on sharing benefits with local people and on the regeneration of degraded forests. The approach has been successful in reducing poaching, restoring habitats, and creating a local constituency for conservation.

WWF partnered with Leonardo DiCaprio to form a global campaign, “Save Tigers Now”, with the ambitious goal of building political, financial and public support to double the wild tiger population by 2022.Save Tigers Now started its campaign in 12 different WWF Tiger priority landscapes, since May 2010.

If you would like to show your concern please sign the petition here. You just need an email address, and dont need to add your postcode or D.O.B. as requested.

At the time of writing:

Jai the tiger has been reported missing (since July 2016)

The results of the 2018 Tiger Survey have not yet been issued.

Sources: Worldwildlife.org, Indiatimes.com, Wikipedia.org & others

Cat Soohorang of PyeongChang

Cat of the Month ~ February 2018

Soohorang the cat is the Olympic Winter Games mascot. He is the Official mascot of the 2018 Winter Olympics (9-25 Feb) and of the Paralympics (9-18 Mar) in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Soohorang, mascot of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games
Soohorang, the mascot of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games
Photograph: © www.olympic.org

Soohorang, the Olympic mascot, made his debut in July 2017, during Olympic events in both Seoul and PyeongChang. Gunilla Lindberg, Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, said of choosing a white tiger to be the 2018 Olympic mascot,

It’s a beautiful animal, strongly associated with Korean culture. It also symbolises the close link between the Olympic Winter Games and the natural environment. I’m sure the new mascot will be very popular with Koreans and people around the world.

Athletes who win medals at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics are honored in two separate ceremonies, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The first one happens directly after the event, and is when the athletes get their stuffed tiger….”instead of flowers, medalists are being given a doll of the Games’ mascot Soohorang.” The origin of the motif is the famous (and endangered) South Korean white tiger. The white tiger has been long considered Korea’s guardian animal.

“Sooho”, meaning protection in Korean, symbolises the protection offered to the athletes, spectators and other participants of the 2018 Games.

“Rang” comes from the middle letter of “Ho-rang-i”, the Korean word for “tiger,” and is also the last letter of “Jeong-seon A-ri-rang”,

a cherished traditional folk song of Gangwon Province, where the Games will be held.

Soohorang not only has a challenging spirit and passion, but is also a trustworthy friend who protects the athletes, spectators and all the participants of the Olympic Games.

Well worth being cat of the month then Eh Osc?

And just to round this all off nicely (we hope) here are a few more images relating to our friendly cat Soohorang.

A Korean White Tiger
A real majestic white tiger
Photograph: © Koreaboo
Red Gerard the slopestyle Gold medallist, holds his own Soohorang doll
Red Gerard the Slopestyle Gold medallist holds his own Soohorang doll ~ And what a run it was!
Photograph: © www.olympic.org
Brad Barket/Getty Images
A tourist needs a selfie with the said cat
Photograph: © Brad Barket/Getty Images
soohorang and bandabi
Soohorang with his companion Bandabi (Mascot of the PyeongChang Paralympics)
Photograph: © www.olympic.org
olympic rings logo

The Kodkod cat

Cat of the Month ~ January 2018

The tiny Kodkod Cat or Guigna (Oncifelis guigna) is one of the worlds smallest and least known cats, and is in fact the smallest cat in the entire land mass of North and South America combined.

kodkod cat in the wild
a spotted kodkod cat in the wild

These felines are found in central and southern Chile, from Santiago to Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael (a distance of well over 2000 kilometers), and also in western Argentina (generally on the west coast of South America). Information about the ecology of Kodkod is largely anecdotal. Guignas have one of the smallest geographical distributions known for any felid, and therefore any information gathered by scientists or local people can improve our knowledge and assist in further steps in conservation.

The kodkod has a small head, large feet, and a thick tail. The length of a typical adult is around 45 centimetres, with a short 20 to 25 centimetres tail and a shoulder height of about 25 centimetres. The weight of a fully grown animal is between 2 to 2.5 kilograms (5 pounds).

The coat has a base color ranging from brownish-yellow to grey-brown. Guignas have black spotted gray fur, black dorsal stripes on their necks, and bushy, banded tails. The body is decorated with dark spots, with a pale underside and a ringed tail. The ears are black with a white spot, while the dark spots on the shoulders and neck almost merge to form a series of dotted streaks. Melanistic Kodkods with spotted black coats are quite common.

Kodkods are strongly associated with mixed temperate rainforests of the southern Andean and coastal ranges, particularly the Valdivian and Araucaria forests of Chile. These forests are noted as having bamboo spread under the tree canopy. These evergreen temperate rainforest habitats are the preferred areas for the Kodkod as they are less damp than deciduous temperate moist forests and coniferous forests. They are versatile and tolerant of altered habitats, being found in secondary forest and shrub as well as in primary forest. They will even be found on the fringes of settled and cultivated areas. In Argentina, for example, they have been recorded hunting in moist montane or mountainous forest, not thier preferred region, ranging up to the treeline at approximately 1,900 m (6,200 ft) in this and other areas.

A black Leopardus Guigna as photographed by Claudio F. Vidal
A black Leopardus Guigna, Photograph: Claudio F. Vidal

Kodkods are equally active during the day as during the night, although they only venture into open terrain under the cover of darkness. During the day, they rest in dense vegetation in ravines, along streams with heavy cover, and in piles of dead gorse. They are excellent climbers, and easily able to climb trees more than a meter in diameter. On the ground they stalk abd hunt birds, lizards and rodents in the ravines and forested areas, feeding on southern lapwing, austral thrush, chucao tapaculo, huet-huet, domestic geese and chicken.

In studies carried out it has been reported that male Kodkods maintain exclusive territories 1.1 to 2.5 square kilometres in size, while females occupy smaller ranges of just 0.5 to 0.7 square kilometres.

Whilst breeding, the gestation period lasts for around 75 days and the average litter size is one to three kittens. Also, they are known to live until they are around 11 years old.

The major threat to the Kodkod is logging of its temperate moist forest habitat, and the spread of pine forest plantations and agriculture, particularly in central Chile. In 1997 to 1998, two out of five radio-collared Kodkods were killed on Chilo Island whilst attempting to gain food from chicken coops.

There are two known subspecies of this cat:

  • Leopardus guigna guigna – found in Southern Chile and Argentina
  • Leopardus guigna tigrillo – found in Central Chile

The kodkod was formerly considered a member of the genus Oncifelis, which consisted of three small feline species native to South America. All of these species have now been moved into the genus Leopardus. Along with the Kodkod, the former members of Oncifelis were the Colocolo and Geoffroy’s cat.

Another Vulnerable Animal: Like the Iriomote Cat featured in our blog of July last year, the Kodkod cat is an endangered feline. Since 2002, it has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List as the total effective population may comprise less than 10,000 mature individuals, and is threatened due to persecution, loss of habitat and its prey base.

Source: From Wikipedia & others

References:

1. BBC Television. Big Cats – Episode Listing (2018)

2. Small Wildcats. http://smallwildcats.com/ Please donate on this site ~ if you can afford it!

3. Book. Natural history and landscape-use of Guignas on isla Grande De chiloé, Chile

Author(s): Jim Sanderson, Mel E. Sunquist, and Agustin W. Iriarte, Source: Journal of Mammalogy