Monday, December 31, 2012

Thumbs up for Maxi Zoo.

Maxi Zoo’s own brand, Select Gold, used to have a small amount of grains in it but now they make their wet food completely grain and gluten free. On the tin they call it sensitive. I call it common sense. Every cat should be eating grain and gluten free food. For dry food, Applaws is still the best option. See my blog entry on cat food.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Tomcat behaviour or random?

Is it a typical tomcat thing I wonder? Charlie often plunks himself down in doorways. Tina never does that. Cato used to do it too. Cato also parked himself right behind you when you were doing something in the kitchen. Charlie does that as well. Maybe it is just a coincidence with Cato and Charlie doing the same thing.
If there’s anybody out there who’s experienced the same fondness for lying in doorways with their cats, be it male or female, I would like to hear from ye. I’m kinda curious to see if it is a tomcat thing or not.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ear trouble.

Sunday evening, last week, we noticed that Tina’s right ear wasn’t fully upright. The tip was drooping. I checked her ear more closely and noticed it was a bit red looking compared to the other one. I gave it a good wipe with sensitive wipes for cats and dogs that have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and the next day we took her to the vet. Orla went with her and told me that she had been very quiet and easy to handle. No bother at all. The travel box is out all the time and she uses it to sleep in as well, which helped to make her feel at ease. At the vet’s they couldn’t really see much and said that it could be caused by trauma through banging it while hunting or playing. There’s no visible damage other than the drooping and the redness. She’s on a course of antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory because it could be an infection. It is known that cats in a damp environment could get bacterial or yeast infections in their ears. It doesn’t seem to be itchy or painful. We have to keep an eye on her to see if there are any changes.
When she came back from the vet at around 6.30pm, she was hungry. I gave her food and medication as well and she didn’t seem to mind. She’s active and playful so at least it doesn’t seem to bother her. I hope her ear will straighten itself again, but if it doesn’t, we’ll love her all the same.

 Tina with her bent ear.

6 Months

Charlie and Tina are with us now 6 months and what a great 6 months it has been.
They’ve settled in so well. Tina had a small outbreak of ringworm, but the topical treatment worked. It disappeared and she never got the ringworm back.  The only slightly disturbing issue was that Charlie had to miss part of his tail but he’s fine without.
Charlie is the one who changed a lot physically. He was a very slim tomcat and Orla had already nicknamed him ferret, which I didn’t particularly like. He has now grown into a strong muscular tomcat and often catches huge rats and can be a bit rough in his play with Tina. Tina changed a lot in her behaviour. She started off as a nervous girl and ran almost every time when she would meet someone in the hall. She’s now a confident beautiful lady who cuddles up to us on her own terms and allows me to pick her up and hold her for a short while. When I have a lie-in with my book on days off, she often lies down under the covers under my legs for a while. She’s well able for Charlie and will let him know when she doesn’t like his behaviour. They get on fine.
Both like the cat trees, which have dens, platforms and hammocks. Tina took to the hammocks straight away. She often lies in one of them after a hunting session outside or a play session inside. Charlie lies in one of the dens regularly, but is getting more interested in the hammocks as well.
Both like playing but Tina loves it fast. She runs around the coffee table chasing the toy and up and down the cat trees as well.
They both have their way of communicating with Orla and I.
Charlie loves a bit of kibble every now and then and when he wants some, he goes to the door of the utility room and when I open it he stares up at where I keep the kibble.
He brings me to the fridge when he wants other food. He’s a very efficient communicator, but so is Tina.
Tina loves playing and sometimes, when she’s bored, drags a toy in to where one of us is so we’ll play with her. She also meows to let us know she’s finished in the litter box as if to say “ok, you can clean it now”.
They both have an array of meows that they use to communicate with us. Charlie greets with a short high stutter which sounds like “ek, ek”. Tina uses a high rolling sound that goes a bit like “mwrrrrrrr”. Both Tina and Charlie have a distinct longer meow that is the equivalent of the typical Limerick call “come here I want ya”.
When they want something they call us and then simply walk in front of us to show us what they want.
It humbles me to see how they fully seem to trust us and treat us as family, bringing gifts (rodents), grooming us and hang out with us.
They’ve changed the dynamics in our house, but in a positive way. Orla and I were happy together, but the cats add so much. They make us laugh, they help us chill and give us comfort. They’ve enriched our lives in many ways. Of course it comes at a price. We can’t just go somewhere without making sure they’re cared for. We will have to look at how we’re going to do it when going on a holiday. But sure, it’s well worth the hassle. We wouldn’t want to miss them for the world. We both love them to bits.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Eye see.

Cats’ eyes are beautiful: big round and deep with fascinating pupils that go from round to slit. I always wondered how cats see the world and did some reading up on it. What follows is just a brief summary of what I learned, but it gives a fair idea of how cats’ eyes work.

Most people know that cats are nocturnal hunters. Cats don’t just rely on their eyes to hunt. They have touch-sensitive whiskers, their smell is 14 times better than a human’s and they can hear sounds 1.6 octaves higher than a human. All this helps them to hunt at night. They are, however, active during the day as well. That’s why their eyes have evolved in such a way that they can see very well in the dark and fairly well in daylight.

A cat’s field of view is about 200 degrees, which is only a bit larger than that of a human (180 degrees). Both the pupil and the lens are bigger than the pupil and lens in the human eye, letting in more light. Their pupils contract from round to slit, which is a faster process than contracting from big round to small round as with humans. There is a trade-off for these advantages.  When the pupil is in slit mode, (in bright light) a cat can’t focus as well as when it is round (dim light) and although the cat’s lens is much bigger than a human’s lens, it can’t change size like a human’s lens. Therefore a cat’s depth of field is not as good as ours. We can focus on objects far away and close by. A cat can’t focus on objects close by. You can compare it to the healthy eyes of an older human. Human eyes loose their flexibility with age and you end up needing reading glasses for objects close by.

The lining of the back of the eye is called the retina. It is where the image focuses and where the rods and cones are situated. The rods are highly light-sensitive but not sensitive to colour. They help us see in dim light conditions. The cones are the ones that are colour-sensitive and also deal with detail detection in daylight conditions.
The human eye has an area on the retina called the fovea. This area is very high in cones, and has virtually no rods. That’s why humans have very good colour vision and can also detect a lot of finer detail in good light (try seeing how much detail and colour you can detect in a dark room with only some moonlight coming in through the window).
The retina in a cat’s eye contains more rods than cones and doesn’t have an area with only cones. That’s why cats can see very well in darker conditions, six times better than humans, but don’t see as much detail and colour in daylight conditions. As colour is the reflection of light off surfaces, you can’t really see colour in the dark anyway. Therefore, A nocturnal hunter like a cat doesn’t really need the ability to see colour that well. Instead of a fovea, cats have an area behind the retina called the tapetum. This area contains reflective cells that reflect the light back to the rods and cones, so the slightest bit of light in the dark is put to good use. That’s why cats’ eyes light up in the headlights at night: the cells on the tapetum work as mirrors.

Cats can give a really intense stare because, unlike humans, cats don’t blink to moisten their eyes. Cats do blink slowly as a form of communication. Some people call it cat kisses. Slow blinking makes cats feel at ease and is a show of affection. Try it out some time. If the cat slow blinks back at you, it means that you are communicating successfully, in cat language, with your cat.

Have you ever looked at a sleepy cat that has just opened the eyes slightly and seen a whitish membrane partly over the eyes? Well, you were looking at their third eyelid, called the nictitating membrane. This is a translucent membrane that moves from the side. It protects the eye and keeps it moist while maintaining visibility. This membrane is sometimes slightly visible when a cat is sleepy and content. It is also visible when a cat is sick. If the membrane stays in view while the cat is awake, you should contact your vet and get it checked out.

Some people still believe that cats are completely colour-blind. This is not true. Cats can see colours, but not all colours. They can distinguish between blues and greens but not between shades of red.

So to recap: a bigger lens and pupil, combined with a higher density in rods and the reflective cells on the tapetum, allow a cat to see 6 times better in the dark than humans. Cats’ eyes are highly light sensitive but, as a trade-off, lack the ability to detect a lot of detail and colour sensitivity in daylight. A cat can see certain colours (greens and blues) and is therefore only partly colour-blind. A cat can’t focus on objects close by because of non-flexible lenses. Cats don’t blink to keep their eyes moist. They slow blink to communicate. They have a third eyelid called the nictitating membrane that protects their eyes and keeps it moist.

Right, I will include a few pictures and then I’m done. I hope you liked this little write-up. :)