Currently browsing the Cats Category

Friday Fun: Cat and Owl Playing

This black cat and owl make very cute friends. They grew up together, follow their antics on the fum and gebra website. Other examples of interspecies fun: Cat and Crow FriendsBunny and KittensPolar Bears and HuskiesCats Connect with People, and Particularly Women, as Social Partners. Other times the interaction is surprising but not exactly friendly – The Cat and a Black Bear.

Rabbit Escapes Cat Attack

Fun video showing a rabbit doing what comes naturally.

Related: Bunny and Kittens: Friday Cat FunA Cat Adopts a SquirrelFriday Fun: Cat Parkour

Cat Allergy Vaccine Created

McMaster University researchers have developed a vaccine which successfully treats people with an allergy to cats. Traditionally, frequent allergy shots have been considered the most effective way to bring relief — other than getting rid of the family pet — for the 8 to 10% of the population allergic to cats.

Both options, may now be avoided thanks to the work of immunologist Mark Larché, professor at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and Canada Research Chair in Allergy & Immune Tolerance.

Building on research he’s conducted for the past 10 years in Canada and Britain, Larché and his research team have developed a vaccine which is effective and safe with almost no side effects. The research is published in a the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, a leading journal in the allergy field.

The researchers took one protein (molecule) that cats secrete on their fur which causes the majority of allergic problems. Using blood samples from 100 patient volunteers allergic to cats, they deconstructed the molecule and identified short regions within the protein which activate T-cells (helper cells that fight infection) in the immune system.

Using the amino acid code for the whole protein, researchers made synthetic versions of these regions. For the cat allergy vaccine, they found seven peptides (strings of amino acids). “And those synthetic peptides are what we mix together to make the vaccine,” said Larché. “We picked the peptides that would work in as much of the population as possible.”

Known as “peptide immunotherapy,” a low dose of the vaccine is given into the skin. Initially, four to eight doses a year may be required, but the side effects of the traditional allergy shots do not arise, Larché said. The optimal dose will be determined in phase three clinical trials which are getting underway with a much larger group of cat allergy sufferers.

The development of a vaccine to treat people allergic to cats is the first in a line of vaccines developed with Adiga Life Sciences, a company established at McMaster in 2008. It is a joint venture between McMaster University Circassia Ltd., a UK-based biotech company.

Adiga and McMaster are now collaborating on research into the use of peptide immunotherapy for house dust mite, ragweed, grass, birch tree and moulds

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Cats Connect with People, and Particularly Women, as Social Partners

Cats Adore, Manipulate Women

The study is the first to show in detail that the dynamics underlying cat-human relationships are nearly identical to human-only bonds, with cats sometimes even becoming a furry “child” in nurturing homes.

“Food is often used as a token of affection, and the ways that cats and humans relate to food are similar in nature to the interactions seen between the human caregiver and the pre-verbal infant,” co-author Jon Day, a Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition researcher, told Discovery News. “Both cat and human infant are, at least in part, in control of when and what they are fed!”

The researchers determined that cats and their owners strongly influenced each other, such that they were each often controlling the other’s behaviors. Extroverted women with young, active cats enjoyed the greatest synchronicity, with cats in these relationships only having to use subtle cues, such as a single upright tail move, to signal desire for friendly contact.

While cats have plenty of male admirers, and vice versa, this study and others reveal that women tend to interact with their cats — be they male or female felines — more than men do.

Cats also seem to remember kindness and return the favors later. If owners comply with their feline’s wishes to interact, then the cat will often comply with the owner’s wishes at other times. The cat may also “have an edge in this negotiation,” since owners are usually already motivated to establish social contact.

co-author Dorothy Gracey of the University of Vienna explained. “A human and a cat can mutually develop complex ritualized interactions that show substantial mutual understanding of each other’s inclinations and preferences.”

Readers of this blog already know how great cats are, but this is more evidence on how wonderful they are.

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More Photos of Rare Saharan Cheetah and Other Wildlife

photo of a sand cat in Niger

Photo of a sand cat by Thomas Rabeil of the Sahara Conservation Fund

In March of 2009 we posted about photos of the rare Saharan cheetahs caught on wildlife cameras. Recently more photos have been released by the Sahara Conservation Fund showing a ghostly cheetah and other wild cats and other wildlife, including this wonderful photo of a sand cat.

Elusive Saharan Cheetah Captured in Photos

The animal is so rare and elusive scientists aren’t sure how many even exist, though they estimate from the few observations they’ve made of the animal and tracks that fewer than 10 individuals call the vast desert of Termit and Tin Toumma in Niger home. Fewer than 200 cheetahs probably exist in the entire Sahara.

Their home can reach sizzling temperatures up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius), and is so parched no standing water exists. “They probably satisfy their water requirements through the moisture in their prey, and on having extremely effective physiological and behavioral adaptations,”

The Saharan cheetah is listed as critically endangered on the 2009 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Camera trap photo of Saharan cheetah at night

The elusive Saharan cheetah in Niger, Africa. Sahara Conservation Fund

The photos are part of the Sahara Carnivores Project

The Saharan race of cheetah (Acynonix jubatus hecki) is very rare, and one of the most specialized and threatened in Africa. As part of a major strategy to conserve Sahelo-Saharan wildlife, in collaboration with the Sahara Conservation Fund we are establishing a project to study and protect Saharan carnivores in the Termit/Tin Toumma region of north Niger. We aim to improve our understanding of sympatric Saharan carnivores, and evaluate the impact of human activities on carnivore populations, and that of carnivore predation on livestock. One of the projects aims is to produce an action plan prepared jointly with local land-users to minimize human-carnivore conflict in the Termit/Tin Toumma.

More ghostly cheetah photos: blurry and walking away

‘Ghostly’ Saharan cheetah filmed in Niger, Africa

it not yet known if Saharan cheetahs are more closely related to other cheetahs in Africa, or those living in Iran, which make up the last remaining wild population of Asiatic cheetahs.
Saharan cheetahs appear to have different colour and spot patterns compared to common cheetahs that roam elsewhere in Africa.
However, “very little is known about the behavioural differences between the two cheetahs, as they have never been studied in the wild,” says Dr Rabeil.
“From observations of tracks and anecdotal reports they seem to be highly adaptable and able to eke out an existence in the Termit and Tin Toumma desert.”

Other posts of animals filmed with remote wildlife monitoring cameras: Sumatran Tiger and CubsJaguars Back in the Southwest USAScottish Highland WildcatsRare Chinese Mountain Cat

Photos by John Hunter of cheetahs and other animals in Kenya.

Friday Fun: Cat Parkour

When people try to match cats parkour abilities:

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Friday Fun: A Cat Adopts a Squirrel

A mother cat adopts a squirrel into her litter.

Related: Housecat Adopts Bobcat KittensBunny and Kittens: Friday Cat FunFriday Fun: Tortoise and a Cat

Housecat Adopts Bobcat Kittens

3 bobcat kittens we rescued by Big Cat rescue.

Introductions like these can be very scary because the mother cat can be overly protective of her own kittens and fatally strike out at the new comers. President, Jamie Veronica, has had a considerable amount of experience in this area though and had taken every precaution to make sure it went as well as it possibly could. Bobbi turned out to be a dream come true for three little orphaned bobcats though. She immediately pulled them in close to nurse and began to bathe them. The little bobcat babies were so startled that they hissed at her!

She ignored their resistance and just kept on loving on them. Once they figured out that this strange smelling “bobcat” mom had the real deal to offer at her breasts, they were in love too.

Related: Friday Cat Fun #12: Cat and PuppiesTreadmill CatsMother Cat with Bunny and Kittens

Scottish Highland Wildcats

Scotland Highland Tiger photo

Once again remote camera monitors have captured wild cats. What fun 🙂 Cameras capture secret life of the ‘Highland tiger’

A new research project in the Highlands has provided a rare insight into the secret world of one of Britain’s most endangered and elusive species.

Motion detectors and infra-red technology allow the devices to capture images of passing animals over a period of days, weeks or even months. The project is still in its early stages but the cameras have already provided images of Scottish wildcat – popularly known as the Highland tiger – and other animals, including golden eagles.

“Wildcats are very shy, secretive animals. They are active mainly at night and it’s really difficult for people to get close enough to watch them properly. These camera traps are an excellent way of us getting a much better insight into where wildcats live, when they’re active, and what habitat they’re using.”

Experts believe the Scottish wildcat population has fallen to about 400, and work is under way to prevent the species becoming extinct.

“The major threat to wildcats these days is hybridisation, or inter-breeding, with domestic cats. “Although they are quite different and have a completely different temperament, they are actually quite closely related genetically to domestic cats so they can produce fertile hybrids.

Related: Scottish Wildcat AssociationSumatran Tiger and Cubs Filmed by Remote Wildlife Monitoring CamerasBornean Clouded LeopardJaguars Back in the Southwest USARare Chinese Mountain Cat

Friday Fun: Cats and Kids with iPads

So usable 2 year olds and cats can use them. Fun. Apple sold 500,000 in the first week and demand has outstripped their capacity to produce so they are delaying the international launch of iPad by one month, until the end of May. Google is rumored to have a similar device based on their open Android operating system. Let the games begin. I must admit the iPad seems fun but it seems mainly like hype to me. But I can believe tablet-netbooks could evolve into very cool and popular devices.

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Cat Fun: Rocky the Standing Cat

This cat can stand straight up for a long time. And it is a real cat not a Meerkat 🙂

Vidéo du chat qui se tient debout: “Il s’appelle Rocky et il sait aussi s’asseoir” (as translated by Google):

“His name is Rocky, he is 2 years old,” said Daisy.

“He started doing this about a year,” says Daisy. “Now it does more too because I rearranged the furniture, but when I made the video last fall, he could not see out the window if it did not make sense . But the window overlooking the rooftops, where there are often birds. So he gets up. ”

[why does Rocky move his arms in the middle of the video]?
“Maybe he wanted to rest, but waived them, or perhaps there was a bird “, launched Daisy. “Sometimes when he sees a dog growls, so perhaps there was one.”

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