Fireworks Time

Now, Norman was quite a tough nut when it came to Fireworks Time, but we still didn’t let him out in the evening around this time of year (no matter how much he stalked the door and looked all dewy eyed and needy to get out).

As the bangs, crackles and thuds went on he barely raised his head off of his favourite cushion. Norman always maintained though that some of his cousins (and doggy friends) wern’t as strong as him, so he still hopes that you’re keeping your beloved four (and two) legged friends safe and warm.

C’mon Norman, you shouldn’t be out here!
Photograph: Ed @ Moggyblog

Reader, here are some tips to keep Moggy and Pooch safe and sound at this time of year. O.k you’ve heard em all before, but doing some of this stuff might save a creature from months of trauma or even an injury… well worth a refresher then! … what say you?

Practical things you can do at firework time:

Provide a hiding place: When animals are scared they may want to hide somewhere. Ideally, you should move your pets to a calmer and quieter environment long before they get scared. Bring cats and dogs safely indoors where possible. If space is not available then use a shed, conservatory or garage as their shelter. (the latter is not ideal though as sound can be made louder in a garage which is empty). Anyway, make sure there’s a safe, dark place available anywhere in your home. An example might be a cupboard with the door left partially open, a soft blanket under a bed or under the stairs might also be good. Ideally somewhere they have hidden before such as in a cardboard box or on their usual pet bed, moved into the middle of the house perhaps.

Keep the noise down: Try and reduce the noise of the fireworks as much as possible by closing the curtains, shutting doors and windows and/or putting a TV or radio on with some soothing music or gentle talking.

Keep ’em indoors: Make sure ‘Mister Tiddles’ and ‘Rex’ have had their toilet breaks before it gets dark. If they are very nervous then plan to go early in the morning or to a quiet place you know (this will be long before the kids out for fun have started gathering). Also, keep outside windows and doors firmly shut to prevent escapes, just in case pets are startled by loud bangs and try to run away.

In the case of cats, keep the litter tray especially clean at this (sometimes) stressful time of year. If it’s not clean and up to scratch they will often choose (as most of you will know already) an inappropriate place instead.

For all our animal companions please make sure they are identifiable. Using a collar with a name tag on is not always comfortable (for cats anyway), but at this time of you might want to have a collar available (these are also useful to attach in the BBQ months when she might stray with the propspect of a free chicken drumstick – Our Norman is notorious for this, bringing all manner of chops and drumsticks to the back door here, and who can blame him!) Of course the modern way to identify your companion is to get him/her micro-chipped.

Visit the Vet: If your pet is particularly nervous then please contact your vet about the many possible temporary calming methods available, including clever pheromone sprays and mild sedatives which can help. However these may be a little pricey for some pockets!

Keep a distance: Having your own family bonfire? You might want to think about buying fizzing or cascading fireworks and sparklers rather than the noisy bangers and ‘roman candles’. Also, be sure to build your bonfire and let off fireworks as far away from your home as possible, thus minimizing any adverse effects on confused and (sometimes) terrified animals indoors.

Check your bonfire area: Of course this does not mean that other wild animals will not be affected so please always check in and around your bonfires before lighting them to ensure that no small animals are curled-up asleep inside. You might even want to make a bit of a natural racket to scare creatures away before you start the proceedings.

… and Relax: Try to ignore the nervous behaviour of your animal companion as much as possible, but do let them sit by you if they so wish. If you give them too much attention when they’re scared you’ll be reinforcing the message that there is something to be scared of out there.

Reward: Giving a favourite treat (a nice piece of fish or a tender bone perhaps) may well help to keep their minds off the things going on outside. A little at a time might be a good idea, so they don’t over indulge. However, don’t be surprised if they don’t eat it! Above all when it’s all over and they re-emerge from their den, give them some extra fuss (and another treat) for having been so brave.

The ‘ban the bang’ campaign poster
Photograph: Ban The Bang!” campaign

So, A very happy (and safe) Happy Guy Fawkes Night, Diwali, Independence Day, New Year …. to you all from Stormin’ Norman (god bless him up there), the new Little Oscar, and yours truly.

First Published: Nov 5th, 2011

Highlander Cat

The agile and stocky Highlander Cat (known originally as the Highland Lynx or Highlander Shorthair), is an experimental breed of cat derived from the Desert Lynx and the Jungle Curl breeds. The Jungle Curl itself is a new breed of feline derived from ‘wild cat’ ancestry – namely two Asian small cat species, the Leopard cat and the Jungle cat). No wonder then that the Highlander was bred to look like a ‘Big Cat’ in minature.

Cat of the Month ~ July 2018
Highlander
A young highlander with tell tale curly ears and Polydactyl Paws
Photograph: http://www.animalzoo.ro

In ‘expert’ speak the highlander is a ‘feline hybrid’ or ‘cross’ between Felis catus × F. chaus X Prionailurus bengalensis).

According to the breeder the Highlander breed refinements began in 2004, with the aim of:

  • ‘producing a domestic cat with the look of a big cat’
  • ‘providing a means to distinguish the breed from its foundation stock’
  • ‘to seek competition status in major breed registries’

The name Highlander was adopted in late 2005 abd by May 2008 the breed was recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) for competition in the ‘Preliminary New Breed’ class, moving up to ‘Advanced New Breed’in 2016.

TICA divides Highlanders into two varities, under the names Highlander Shorthair (HGS) and simply Highlander (HG) for the longer-haired variation. The breed is now classified by REFR (Rare and Exotic Feline Registry) as part of the Desert Lynx breeding group, which also includes the Desert Lynx, the Alpine Lynx, and the Mojave Bob.

Though the Highlander is mainly of domestic stock origin it has distinct features from its composite breeds, for example the curled ears and the bobbed tail. The curled ears are of course from the Jungle Curl cat whilst the bobbed tail is from the Desert Lynx. In addition these cats have spotted or marbled markings, and do resemble a small bobcat. A further unusual feature of these cats is the Polydactyl claws in which an extra and separate toes grows on each paw.

Arial - highlander cat
The Highlander ‘Arial’ with typical stubby tail
Photograph: canyonshadowhighlanders.com

The Highlander has a long sloping forehead and blunt muzzle with a very wide nose. The eyes are wide-set and the ears are upright with a slight curl and a slight backward lilt. A strange feature whihc some of these cats posess is polydactyl paws whihc can be described as a prominent split between toes.

Highlanders have no known health problems, and are fond of water. The body is substantial and very muscular. Females can grow to between 10 and 14 pounds, and the males between 15 and 20 (or about as heavy as a Dachshund). Despite the “big-cat look”, the Highlander is a human-oriented, friendly and playful cat, and very active and confident. The Highlander displays tabby/lynx point or solid point coloration in various colors.

Highlanders might look like minature big cats look but they are very gentle creatures (if any cat can be totally gentle)! Like many cats they are highly energetic and will chase and stalk anything moving. They are also curious and friendly when it comes to meeting human strangers

In January 2019, the TICA board will review the Highlander Breed Group’s request to advance to a Championship Breed.

Finally, for some good highlander footage (and cute~~ commentary heres a little video made in the USA by Cats101

https://youtu.be/H2kXWO02gAA
Want to walk on the wildside? – Choose a Highlander 🙂
Video: © Cats 101

The Rare and Exotic Feline Registry

The Iriomote Cat

Cat of the Month ~ July 2017
an iriomote cat prowling

An Irimote prowls on a tree branch

Photograph: © Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park

The Iriomote cat is probably a subspecies of the leopard cat or may be the sole member of an entirely separate genus (Mayailurus Iriomotensis)….who knows!

Iriomote live only on the small Japanese island of Iriomote or ‘Iriomote-jima’ and nowhere else on the planet. The island lies 200 kilometers to the east of Taiwan and has a total area of 113 square miles (292 sq km).

Iriomote cats have a dark grey and brown fur colour with lighter hair on the belly and insides of the limbs. The sides are marked with rows of dark brown spots, which often form into stripes around the neck and legs. It has been observed that the Iriomote cat has a relatively elongate and low-slung build, with short legs. The tail is dark brown (with a darker spots pattern on the back sides) whilst the underside of the tail is solid dark brown as is the very tip of the tail. It has rounded ears with black fur spread along the edges. Adult Iriomote cats have a white spot on the back of each ear, much like those found on tigers’ ears. Young Iriomote cats do not have these marks, and even as adults the spots will not be as white as those seen on other leopard cat subspecies. Its eyes are a light amber shade and there are two dark brown spots on each cheek.

Habitat

Iriomote cats have been seen in wooded mountainous areas, open country and even mangrove swamps and beaches along the island shores. They will though also climb trees, wade into water and even swim. It is thought to spend most of its time alone and, like many wild cats, is mostly nocturnal and especially active during twilight hours. During the daytime, they tend to sleep in tree hollows or in caves (out of the heat of the day and no doubt away from human disturbance). To mark territory they will urinate and defecate on rocks, tree stumps and bushes. Their home ranges vary from 1 to 7 sq km (or 0.38 to 2.7 sq miles) in area.

Food

Recent studies into the cat’s diet reveal that its prey includes animals such as fruit bats, birds, wild pig, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and crab. The cat also can swim well and will catch fish if the opportunity presents. It has been shown that these cats prefer areas near rivers, forest edges, and places with low humidity.
Iriomote cats are carnivorous and prey on various mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and crustaceans. They typically ingest 400–600 gramms (0.88–1.32 lb) of food a day. Other wild cats primarily hunt small mammals, such as rodents and rabbits, but because there are no other carnivores to compete with the Iriomote cat on the island, there is no need for them to isolate themselves from the various habitats and food sources that are available. Thus, their diet is quite varied.

Mammalian prey includes black rats, Ryukyu flying foxes and young Ryukyu wild boar. Their prey also includes a wide range of birds, such as the spot-billed duck, slaty-legged crake, Eurasian scops-owl, pale thrush, and white-breasted waterhen. Reptiles include various types of snakes and Kishinoue’s giant skink. They are also known to hunt Sakishima rice frogs, yellow-spotted crickets and crabs. As their hunting grounds tend to be in swamps or on shores, they sometimes swim and dive to catch water birds, fish, and freshwater prawns.
When eating birds that are larger than a dusky thrush, most types of cats will pluck the feathers and then eat it, but the Iriomote cat will eat even large birds whole without removing the feathers. “How big is a dusky thrush Ed?”….no idea Osc… let me just look that up.

a pair of iromote cats in captivity

A Pair of Irimote cats, likely to be in captivity

Photograph: Source Unknown

Since the Iriomote cat mainly inhabits the lowland coastal regions of the island, the cat is in direct conflict with the island’s human population. Recent estimates have put the total Iriomote cat population to be as low as 100 individuals. The threats to this rare cat are loss of habitat, growing competition from the island’s feral cat population, and tourism.

Names

The Iriomote cat (Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis) was discovered in 1965 by Yukio Togawa (戸川幸夫 Togawa Yukio), an author who specialized in works about animals. In 1967, it was first described by Yoshinori Imaizumi, director of the zoological department of the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo. However before its scientific discovery, the Iriomote cat was known locally by various beautiful names. In Japanese, the cat is called Iriomote-yamaneko (西表山猫, “Iriomote mountain cat”). In local dialects of the Yaeyama language, it is known as yamamayaa (ヤママヤー, “the cat in the mountain”), yamapikaryaa (ヤマピカリャー, “that which shines on the mountain”), and meepisukaryaa (メーピスカリャー, “that which has flashing eyes”).

This small cat has been listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2008, as the only population comprises fewer than 250 adult individuals and is considered declining. As of 2007, there were an estimated 100–109 individuals remaining. It is certainly one of the rarest of cats, with its entire population contained on one Japanese island.

Source: From Wikipedia & others

Myths of the Raas Cat

Cat of the Month ~ May 2017

The Raas cat is a native animal on the Indonesian island of Raas in East Java. The Rass Cat is also known as a Busok or Buso Madura (or just Madura) cat. It is said that the Raas cat is from a pure breed line without mixed genes from other cat races. However this cat is not yet recognised by Tica as a cat breed.

Blue Raas Cat
Blue coated Raas cat
Photograph: Indonesian Wikipedia, GFDL

Raas village cats are considered very special and are highly protected by local inhabitants who, it is said, prevent export of these cats from the island shores. They are known to the islanders as either “Cat Buso” (grey cat), or “Cat Madura” (blue cat). It is believed the blue-gray or Maew Boran stock had been taken to the island on trading ships many years ago.

The Madura breed is now in decline and this has been documented in a study carried out by Lesley Morgan (ACF – Australia) and Dr. Ronny Rachman Noor (Faculty of Animal Science, Bogor Agricultural University). The study also concluded that these cats may be descended from the Korat cat breed and that they are now a closed colony of bobtailed blue cats. It appears that the declining numbers of cats of this type on both Raas and on Madura suggest a high degree of in-breeding and weakening of the breed. A further trait of these cats is that some have cinnamon coat color. These are rarer to find and known as Amethyst Raas.

Amethyst Raas Cat
Amethyst Raas Cat.
Photograph: Indonesian Wikipedia, GFDL
The study continues: ‘…the cats posture and the triangular facial shape are similar to the ‘leopard’. The cats are large with a medium length tail with a visible bend or kink at the end. The true Madura cat (buso) is solid gray often with lavender nose leather. A few so-called Madura cats found on Madura Island have brown sepia, mink and colourpoint patterns as well as blue bi-colours. This is due to mating with local cats in the region’. The study goes on to mention the variety of cross-bred cats found on the surrounding islands, including; Korat, Burmese, Tonkinese (mink) and Siamese. Each of these had kinked tails typical of the Raas cat which further shows that cross breeding has occurred.
‘Busok’ (Blue cats) from Raas Island are kept on the neighbouring Island of Madura
Photograph: Indonesian Wikipedia, GFDL

There are several myths surrounding the Raas breed. It is said that:

  • the Raas cat is believed to have a sixth sense
  • the true Madurese paint (i.e. cat) originating from Raas Island, may only be kept by ‘important’ people such as religious leaders and high ranking government officials.
  • anyone attempting to smuggle a cat from Raas island (especially if they are an unmarried person,) will find … “their boat sinking!”
  • if the said person survives the shipwreck then that person will instead be dogged with misfortune.

For more information on the Raas cat visit the official Site of the Raas Cat. Please note that a web page translation may be required.

Egyptian Mau

Cat of the Month ~ August 2015
Mau

A young Egyptian Mau

monacocattery.com
It has been proven that it was in Ancient Egypt where the feline we call the Egyptian Mau originated. Their ancestors are strongly and frequently depicted in the artworks of the Ancient Egyptians. Many of their pictures are still intact today and they show heavily spotted cats bearing the distinctive ‘mascara’ marking and coat barring seen on today’s Mau. Indeed recent findings in research studies lead by feline geneticist Leslie Lyons, PhD has confirmed that cats first originated in Egypt. There is archaeological and genetic evidence to show that cats first originated in the famous ‘fertile crescent’. The Egyptian Mau breed has five unique physical features that should be apparent at a glance.
  • One is the brow line and characteristic eye set that gives the breed a somewhat sad and anxious look.
  • The eye color of the Mau is described as “gooseberry green”.
  • A flap of skin extending from the posterior end of the ribcage to the hind leg gives the Mau a phenomenal leaping ability.
  • The Mau can run at very high speed also due to its extended skin flap on the hind leg.
  • Mau’s have a “tiptoe” graceful stance given by the hind legs being proportionally longer than the front legs.
It is said that the Egyptian Mau arrived in the USA in 1956 when Russian Princess Nathalie Troubetskoy, with help from Richard Gebhardt, imported three Maus from Italy: Two silver females, Baba and Liza, and a bronze male called ‘Jojo’. The Mau was granted recognition in The International Cat Association in 1979. The Egyptian Mau has often been thought of as an aloof and shy breed. This may be true but when domesticated fully the Mau has a special affinity with its human family. It is a very close bond that is so different than with other breeds. A typical Mau will command attention and will not allow you to push it away, as it seems to require the fuss o fit’s immediate ‘keeper’. In addition the breed is intensely loyal (and yet still as aloof as a cat can be). The Mau has been shown as having an extraordinary power of scent, hearing, and sight. It may well be for this reason they are so shy and sensitive a cat – easily frightened and upset by sudden loud, unpleasant noises. If a Mau is to be taken to shows then they must be introduced to the environment early so that they will accept the loud sounds and inspection handling of the ring. The Mau is the only natural spotted breed of domestic cat, showing good contrast between the background color and pattern. The pattern is random with any size or shape of distinct spots. They have an “M” on the forehead, often referred to as the mark of the scarab, and a dorsal stripe travels the length of the spine to the tip of the tail. Legs, tail, neck and upper chest are barred with at least one broken necklace. The haunches and shoulders show a transition between spots and stripes. The eyes are large and alert, shaped like a slightly rounded almond, with a slant towards the base of the ear. This eye set contributes to the characteristic “worried” look of the breed. The eye color of the Mau is gooseberry green. If you have never seen a gooseberry, a green grape comes close but isn’t quite the same. Its head is a slightly rounded, wedge-shape of a medium length. The profile has a gentle concave rise from the bridge of the nose to the forehead, not to be dishy or arrow straight. The slightly flared ears are medium to large, alert, moderately pointed and broad at the base. The hair on the outer ear is very short and close-lying that results in an almost transparent look when combined with the delicate shell pink inner color. The Egyptian Mau is a statuesque breed with a muscular, elegant body. It is a graceful feline athlete is hard and lithe. When standing, the Mau has a characteristic “tiptoe” stance, with hind legs longer than the front. The body rises gradually from the back of the prominent shoulder blades to the hips. The medium-length tail tapers slightly towards the dark tip. The hair displays a lustrous sheen on all three accepted colors: silver, bronze and smoke. Its coat is medium in length; in the smoke color the coat texture is silky and fine. In the silvers and bronzes the coat is dense and resilient to the touch.

Source: TICA

The Missing Lynx

Flaviu the Lynx was reported missing from Dartmoor Zoological Park (near Plymouth) on July 7, triggering a search involving a police helicopter and a drone. Tweny Five humane traps were set but all to no avail until …) He was finally caught last Saturday morning (July 30th) in a trap set by keepers.

Flaviu was trapped 200 yards from Hemerdon Plantation, a woodland about a mile away from the zoo. Apparently our lynx savaged four lambs on Friday (well, we all gotta eat!). Realising big cats returned to the scene of a kill, the four lamb carcasses were removed from the site and a 5 foot by 2 foot mesh trap baited with veal was set right, where the lambs were found. A keeper stated that captivity is the best place for an animal such as Flaviu …as it is likely she would have been shot if continuing to attack sheep in the region.

We are Glad to say that Flaviu is now safe and sound – but we hope she enjoyed her short lived freedom.

Have to pay a visit to see the lovely creature, hey Osc?

Flaviu the Lynx has gone absent without leave… well in fact he’s escaped! The two year old male Lynx is approximately the size of a large domestic cat and is described as grey/silver in colour. He apparently chewed and clawed his way through the wall of his enclosure just hours after arriving at Dartmoor Zoological Park in Devon, last Wednesday.

When keepers realised Flaviu was gone, the zoo was evacuated and a police helicopter, tracker dogs and teams of officers and keepers spent the whole of last Thursday searching for the missing animal. Traps loaded with meat have been laid in the hope they will lure the cat back to be humanely caught and returned home. Local schools, landowners and farmers have been warned not to approach the animal.

Flaviu the Lynx just hours before he escaped
Photo: unknown

Experts said the lynx, which was raised in captivity, could still be near the zoo. George Hyde, the zoo’s operations manager, and the police tried to reassure people that the cat was unlikely to be a danger to humans. He said: “We are in a rural location, so the likelihood of the lynx coming into contact with people is very slim. The likelihood is that he is very scared, very anxious, and he will stay away from people.”

Hyde added that the lynx was fed before his journey from an animal park in Kent to Devon on Wednesday, so he is unlikely to be desperate for food. Asked if he was embarrassed to have lost a lynx, Hyde said: “It’s a challenge. Animal containment always poses the possibility that you will face a situation like this.”

Sgt Tracy Sharam, of Devon and Cornwall police, who is co-ordinating the search, said that although the lynx could already have ranged up to nine miles from the zoo, keepers had suggested it would most likely be hiding somewhere within a mile. She said: “Obviously, when you get a new cat to the house, it goes and hides for a while. It’s probably got the same sort of feelings.”

Flaviu with his mother
Photo: unknown

Keepers are planning to subdue the lynx with a tranquilliser dart once it is found before returning it to the zoo. Vets are being kept on standby in case the animal needs emergency treatment. “We don’t want to kill the animal at all – that’s not what we are looking at,” said Sharam.

Flaviu is a Carpathian lynx, also known as a Eurasian lynx which are native to the forests of Europe and Siberia where they feed on animals such as deer, hares, rabbits, rodents and grouse. The Eurasian lynx was once native to the British Isles, but was killed off around 700AD. The Lynx UK Trust is dedicated to reintroducing the predatory cat to the British countryside, but so far efforts have been blocked. Carpathian lynx are solitary and secretive animals. They are also a critically-endangered species.

Rick Minter, who has written about big cat sightings in the UK, said he thought Flaviu would have a good chance of surviving in the wild. “He will have no problem hunting for mice, rabbits, pigeons, pheasants,” he said. He also said “Flaviu would have a decent chance of finding some of his own kind already living wild. There have been sightings of lynx in the south-west of England”. It is thought the cat was spotted again by the police drone carrying a thermal imaging camera that had been assisting teams on the ground.

Lets hope that Flaviu stays free and finds cats of his own kind in the wilds of Dartmoor ….

Article Source: theguardian.com

Jungle Cat

Cat of the Month ~ May 2015
a jungle cat just sits and ponders
Male Jungle Cat looking very dog like at Pont-Scorff Zoo (Nr Lorient, France)
Photo: Pont-Scorff Zoo
The Jungle Cat or ‘Felis Chaus’ of Asia is known as the ‘reed cat’ or ‘swamp cat’ in Africa. This is probably a more accurate name for this feline, as it rarely strays into jungle regions. Preferred habitat is anywhere where there is water. Lake margins or riversides which often border dense ground cover are an excellent environment in which to hunt and breed. However the extent of habitation is much wider than this; ranging from desert (where it is found near oases or along dry riverbeds) to grassland, shrubby woodland and dry deciduous forest, as well as cleared areas of forest. They have been observed from sea level up to altitudes of 8,000 ft or more. Jungle cats are distributed throughout Asia, Sri Lanka and India. They are also found in Egypt. Jungle cats are tenacious and adaptable moving into regions reclaimed by humans , where irrigation and cultivation have been carried out. However the jungle cat is prone to loosing its habitat due to the very same human intervention.
a jungle cat on a log
Jungle Cat in motion
Photo: wildwings.co.uk
Similar in build to the Serval and the African Wildcat and once thought to be related to the Lynx, Jungle cats are actually a very close relative of the domestic cat. They have long legs and a sleek build but they can grow to quite a hefty 14 Kilograms in weight standing up to 40 cms tall with a length of almost 100 cms. Tails are short though at 20 to 30 cms, with faint rings, and bearing a black tip. A jungle cats coat can range through sandy-brown, reddish or gray, and is unpatterned except for some brown striping on the legs. The ears are tall and rounded and are reddish with short, wide tufts on the tips. Jungle cats feed mainly on small mammals, principally rodents, (a study in India’s Sariska reserve estimated that jungle cats catch and eat three to five rodent per day). Birds rank second in importance, but in southern Russia waterfowl are the mainstay of jungle cat diet in the winter. With overwintering populations of waterfowl congregating in large numbers on unfrozen rivers and marshes, the jungle cat hunts among reed beds and along edges of wetlands, searching for injured or weakened birds. Other prey species are taken more opportunistically, including hares, nutria, lizards, snakes, frogs, insects, and fish.

Credits: