11 of the Most Beautiful and Unique Horses

horse-Akhal-teke-gold
By Artur Baboev – give free of charge right for promoting of Akhal-teke article on Wikipedia – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27787013

1. This horse is gorgeous. It looks like a burnished golden statue.  The color would be called “buckskin”.  The breed of this horse is an Akhal-Teke, an ancient breed of extremely slim horses, from Central Asia.  The Encyclopedia of Horses & Ponies by Tamsin Pickeral calls this type of horse “the equine version of the gray hound”.  Wikipedia states that these horses can have a “metallic sheen” to them.  Akhal-Tekes are strong, courageous and enduring, but they are also very hot-blooded, which means they are tempermental (Pickeral).

 

silk horse
From a Russian Website, “Equestrian.ru”.  https://www.equestrian.ru/my/44944/albums/7098

2. Once again, an exquisite equine. It resembles the first quite a lot.  It is a Cremello Akhal-Teke, and what a sheen it has!  Its coat reminds me of some silky, cream-colored pillows that I used to own.  Another smaller, but equally interesting detail is its eyes.  Look at them.  It’s hard to tell, but they are a rare blue.  That makes this horse even more of a rare gem.

 

silver buckskin
Source: questionable.  http://www.hollilla.com/picviewer.php?tid=2611910&refoffset=0

3. A silver buckskin. Again, this horse is similar to the previous two, and of the same breed.  These horses are too long and lean have been beautiful by Western standards.  But in my humble opinion, they are stunning.

 

cuteKathiawari
To find this, search “Marwari horse” on Pinterest.

4. Sticking with the Middle Eastern theme, here is another horse from that part of the world.  She is either a Kathiawari horse, or a Marwari.  The curved, elegant ears are distinctive to those breeds.  (I wonder if they’re touching?)  And what a long, flowing, two-tone mane!  If this horse were an actress, she would be the attractive, nerdy gal who chews on pencils.  Theater aside, however, I realized that all the other pictures until now have been more or less specimen pictures, whereas this photo has personality.

(In case you were wondering, the white mark on her forehead is called a star, and there’s a snip on her muzzle.)

 

multicolored mane
Source: Unknown.  Horse is either “Dreaming of El Dorado” or one of his descendants. 

5. What a lovely Pinto Saddlebred horse!  What a gorgeous, two-tone mane and tail.  Can we all just agree that Pintos are beautiful?  It’s an easy mistake to use Pinto and Paint interchangeably, but they aren’t.  Pinto is a coat pattern where the horse has large blocks of color, which can be on any breed, whereas Paint is a specific breed.  Therefore, in general, all Paints are Pintos, but not all Pintos are Paints.

Fun Fact: white markings on the legs are called socks or stockings.

 

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Post on Pinterest by Brittany Johnson. 

6. All these beautiful horses, and I’m running out of words to describe them with! I guess this one is… breath-taking!  For one thing, see how the dark marking around her eye makes her look like she’s wearing eyeshadow?  So stylish!  Note, too, that her eyes are pale blue, a rarity with horses, and that her halter matches.  And just like the picture before, there is a two-tone mane/tail.  As to a breed, I would assume that this horse is a Paint.  Yes, she has spots, but she also has a large dark patch on her hindquarters, like a Paint would.

 

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Posted on Pinterest by CrazyHorseGirls.com.  http://www.horsecrazygirls.com/fun-horse-show.html 

7. Here is another delightful, two-tone mane-and-tail combo. When I see this horse, the word that pops into my head is “Appaloosa”.  That is, indeed, its breed—“The Leopard Appaloosa”.  However, what many people don’t know is this:  Appaloosas aren’t the only spotted horses.  For instance, the Knabstrup horses are spotted.  Originating from Denmark, these horses are often used in the circus to do tricks (Pickeral).  As you may have guessed by the fact that they do circus tricks, the Knabstrups are quick learners (Pickeral).

 

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“Rare and Unusual Animal Colorations” by LlamaontheLam, post on imgur on April 12, 2015.  http://imgur.com/gallery/xR8Ey

8. Again, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like this charming horse. All the other horses up to this point have been very regal.  Beautiful, for sure, but also so regal that you get the impression that you should just “look, but don’t touch”.  This horse, however, is so cute and perky-looking!  She (or he, I don’t know which) looks like she/he could be your eternal pony pal.  Its color reminds me of foam on coffee, or mixing cream into hot chocolate.  If this were my horse, I would name it “Chocolate Swirl”.   What would you name it?  Anyway, the white streaks might be from some kind of mutation, or perhaps vitiligo, which is a harmless disease that causes patches of fur or skin to turn white.

 

Friesian_Stallion
By Larissa Allen – Contact us/Photo submission, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6642407

9. No list of beautiful horses would be complete without a Friesian. From the flowing mane and tail to the dark, strong build, these horses are classic beauties.  Their bearing drips of proud strength.  “Delicate” is a word that should never be applied to them.  “Chiseled” is better.  Furthermore, the feathering on the lower legs is quite unusual for light horses.  Usually, feathering is found on heavy, draft breeds like Clydesdales (think of the horses that pull the Budweiser wagon in the commercials), but Friesians are the exception to that rule.  This is yet another feature that makes the Friesian so memorable.  On a historical note, Friesians were the favorite mount of knights, because of their strength, calmness, and proud appearance (Pickeral).  On a personal note, Friesians are my favorite breed of horses.  What’s yours?

 

RockySilverhorse
By Andersson LS, Juras R, Ramsey DT, Eason-Butler J, Ewart S, Cothran G, Lindgren G. – Andersson LS, Juras R, Ramsey DT, Eason-Butler J, Ewart S, Cothran G, Lindgren G.: Equine Multiple Congenital Ocular Anomalies maps to a 4.9 megabase interval on horse chromosome 6. BMC Genet. 2008 Dec 19;9:88. PMID: 19099555, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6506295

10. Wow! This is the type of horse that would attract all eyes to itself as it entered the show ring.  It is a Rocky Mountain horse.  A relatively new breed, the Rocky Mountain horse didn’t have its own studbook until 1986, according to Pickeral.  Today, Rocky Mountain horses display attributes of Spanish horses.  They are calm, tough, and have a smooth gait, all things which are making them increasingly popular (Pickeral).  And, of course, they are beautiful.  This particular horse has the classic Rocky Mountain colors: chocolate coat and flaxen mane and tail.  I love the contrast between the dark body and the light hair!  Additionally, the horse appears to be dappled.  Each dapple looks like a tiny star, which makes the whole horse look like it is sparkling.  If all this is not photo-shopped, then—wow!

 

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Source: Questionable.
His name is Austin.  Photo was possibly posted by MysticPhoto, a friend to Austin’s owner.  Here’s a link to some more photos: http://myhorseforum.com/threads/calling-all-dark-super-dappled-dramatic-greys.404825/page-11

11. I’m awed. If I were forced to choose, this is my favorite horse of all.  I don’t normally like heavy horses a lot, but—wow.  A silky mane and tail, and feathering around the hooves.  Above all, those dapples are amazing; they look like snowflakes.  This horse is a silver dapple, which is a color that is scarcely seen.  Another nice touch is how his owner’s shirt matches his coat.  He’s perfect.  ‘Nuff said.

 

Which horse is your favorite?  Let me know in the comments.

 

The Great Escape Meets Catzilla

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Before we begin, can we all just pause a second and admit that “Catzilla” is an awesome name for a cat?  (Post more ideas in the comments!)

Anyway, I heard this story on Car Talk.  I was re-listening to old podcasts when I heard this story about a lost kitty with a happy ending, and I just knew I should share it.  The episode was entitled “Catzilla’s Great Adventure”.  (The exact time slot was from 10:50 to 16:00 minutes.)

In it, 3 cat stories are told.  I’ll summarize one here, but you should go to the Car Talk podcast section on NPR.com (http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510208/car-talk) if you want to hear the whole thing.

In the episode, Jane from St. Louis called in with a cat-meets-car problem.  Her story went something like this: When her cat, named Catzilla, ran away from home, she and her family were heartbroken.  They couldn’t find her, even after they’d tried everything.

Then, two months later, a man telephoned Jane and told her that Catzilla was at his place.  Catzilla had always been there, but the man hadn’t known who owned her until he saw a “Missing” ad on the internet.

The man lived 7 miles away from Jane, across 2 highways.  Jane was shocked.  What a trek for a cat!

“Guess she wanted to get away from you guys!”  Ray roared with laughter, as did everyone.

Once the laughing stopped, Jane continued with the story, relating how they went to the man’s house, identified Catzilla, and took her home.

Yet the mystery remained: how had Catzilla gotten so far from home? 

Well, Jane did have one clue.  The man’s house was near the school that Jane drove her son to.

Was it possible that Catzilla had climbed inside the car and rode to school with Jane and her son?

Click and Clack’s short answer was “yes, absolutely”.

Being Click and Clack, however, they couldn’t just leave it at that.  Ray had to relate a personal experience about one time a kitten had crawled under his hood.  The story climaxed with a merry chase through a junk yard in the dead of winter.  (Check it out here: http://www.cartalk.com/content/1212-catzillas-great-adventure)

Anyway, the moral of the story is: don’t let your cat in your garage.  Sometime when your car is warm, your cat is going to crawl up in there.  And then the poor, traumatized feline could be stuck under there until you happen to look, maybe days later.  That’s what happened to Ray.

Or the cat could get out at your destination, and you’d never see her again.  No one wants that.

So although Catzilla’s story ended happily, even hilariously, consider this a cautionary tale.

2 Cats Join the Crew of a Russian Tourist Ship

sailorcat
If this Persian cat could talk, he would probably say: “Здравствуйте, пассажир.” followed by more in Russian.  However, if he was talking to an English-speaker (like me), he might say: “Hello, passenger.  My name is Sailor.  I hope you enjoy your trip aboard my boat.”

Cats dressed in adorable outfits are nothing new.  Cats named “Sailor” are nothing new.  But cats who live on a commercial ship?  Now that’s new.

Cats hate water, right?  So why is it that Sailor the cat lives on a boat, of all places?!

Well, he’s not the only one.
russiansailorcat

This is Sailor’s friend, a male cat who loves to sleep, as you can tell.

Both felines are part of the crew on a tourist ship that travels between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Sailor has been on board since 2008.  Over time, the human captain of the boat grew concerned that Sailor might be lonely, so he brought the gray tabby on board to be his friend.

Their main duties include staring out the window to make sure everything is running smoothly, licking themselves into peak condition, and napping.

In addition, both cats earn their keep by hypnotizing unsuspecting tourists into choosing their cruise boat over any other.  While their exact success rate is unknown, judging from the fact that Sailor went viral back in May 2016, it’s safe to say that the rate has been “high”.  As in, “high on catnip high”.

 

So if you’re traveling to Russia anytime soon, you might want to consider adding this extra cuteness to your trip.

 

And until we met again, reader:

May the seas you sail be all fair,

And the cat you cuddle, all hair.  

 

Source

“Russian sailor cats melt hearts of passengers cruising between Moscow and St. Petersburg (PHOTOS)”, May 23, 2016, Russia Today (rt.com).  https://www.rt.com/viral/344152-russian-sailor-cat-cruise/

Pictures

All photos are © Ruptly

 

Dog Decides to Appear on Live Russian TV Without Human Consent

russiannewsdog

Suppose that you’re at work in a television studio.  You are about to deliver the news, live.  You’re used to this; after all, that’s your job.  You are a news anchor.  You start to speak– but a bark interrupts you.  What?!

That is exactly what happened to Ilona Linarte, a female news anchor for the Russian news TV station, Mir24.  On May 23rd, a black lab burst into the studio, barked, and then jumped up and put his paws on the desk.

Understandably, Linarte was startled to see the adorable troublemaker.  In Russian, she asks the rest of the crew what she should do with him.  No one replies, so she eventually just awkwardly hugs him, while explaining to the camera that she is a “cat person”.

The whole episode lasted less than a minute, but those 50 seconds were enough to launch the unnamed pup into the limelight of prestigious news organizations such as Fox News and TODAY.  Furthermore, as of right now, the video has a cool 9 million views.

But how did the dog get in?

According to Fox News, the dog was on another show as a guest and escaped.

Once in Linarte’s studio, the dog seemed determined to gain her attention, despite the fact that she described herself as a “cat lady”.  Funny how the dog seemed to think otherwise…

Perhaps she should consider owning both?

In any case, here is the video.

Enjoy!

(By the way, if any one out there knows Russian and can translate this video, please message me with the translation.  I would love to understand exactly what she’s saying.)

References

  • from Fox News.com, “Dog crashes live Russian news broadcast”, published May 25, 2017.  http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2017/05/25/dog-crashes-live-russian-news-broadcast.html

The World’s Ugliest Dog Is Named Martha

uglydog

A Neopolitan Mastiff called Martha won the 2017 World’s Ugliest Dog award.

After looking at the photo, this may seem like a no-brainer to some; but to those who find that statement mean, please consider this.

Neopolitan Mastiffs like Martha all have massive jowls, and the skin over the whole rest of their bodies sags in ways that resemble melting wax.  And, as far as I can tell, they only come in one color– dark gray.

Martha in particular is described as lazy and gassy.  In addition, she has the unfortunate habit of drooling cupfuls, and two surgeries have not been able to cure her of permanently red eyes.  The owner’s dad called Martha a “train wreck”.

Now, this is to say nothing against her personality.  Martha is apparently very loving towards her owner and her owner’s other dog, a St. Bernard.  Many mastiffs have a very aggressive temperament, but not Martha.  She is kind, even around people and dogs that are strangers to her.

Her owners think that she is beautiful, and the crowd at the World’s Ugliest Dog event loved her, cheering when she fell asleep on stage.  A lady named Janet Palma said she was “darling”.

So which side is right?

Well, you know what I think– nasty outside, pretty inside.  But I would like to know what you think.  Is Martha ugly?  Is any dog ugly?  Leave a comment and let me know!

 

References

  • “Huge, Homely Mastiff Named Martha Wins World’s Ugliest Dog”, by Ariana Brockington and Associated Press, NBC News, June 24, 2017.  http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/huge-homley-mastiff-named-martha-wins-world-s-ugliest-dog-n776316
  • “She Was Named World’s Ugliest Dog, but ‘She’s Just Darling'”, by Hannah Alani, New York Times, June 24, 2017.  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/24/us/ugliest-dog-contest-california.html

Horses Might Be Smarter Than You Think

horse-in-a-field

Ask any horse-lover if horses can communicate, and they will tell you “Of course!”  Horses have many ways of doing this.  They have various sounds, body language, and movement patterns.  Their ears are especially expressive.

However, what most horse-owners don’t know that horses can communicate with signs.

You heard me.  Horses can point to a sign and communicate their wants!

This incredible fact was reported by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in September of 2016.  (And it was brought to my attention by listening to the Brant Hansen show.)    The university had conducted a study involving 23 horses of all different types and ages, who were trained for 10-15 minutes a day, over a period of 2 weeks.

The researchers trained each horse to point at one of 3 signs: one was pure white, the next was white with a vertical, black line on it, and another was white with a horizontal, black line.

Horses were supposed to point to a sign depending on their wants: should the blanket be put on, removed, or should things stay the same? 

And they did!

Whenever it was warm out, the horses would point to the sign for the blanket to be removed.  When it was cold, they would ask for it to be put on.

In this way, after only 11 days, most of the horses understood the connection between the signs and the blankets.  The equines recognized not only the symbols, but also their affect on the horse’s world, which is a “form of higher learning”, according to Bob Yirka of Phys.org.

This is fascinating.  I wonder: what the implications of this will be?  Can horse owners use this to have a horse, say, choose the saddle which is the most comfortable for him?  Or perhaps indicate when he is in pain?  What do you think?

 

Reference

Phys.org.  “Horses found able to use symbols to convey their desire for a blanket” by Bob Yirka, published on September 26, 2016.  Link = http://phys.org/news/2016-09-horses-convey-desire-blanket.html.

A Coat of Many Colors: How Feline Fur Gets Its Hues

A few weeks ago, I was researching cat genetics and how it affects coat color.  The reason for this research was that I needed to know what kind of kittens that my main character, Ginger, would give birth to.  And let me tell you, I’ve uncovered some fascinating info.

Don’t worry, I am not going to get all technical about it.  Far too many articles that I read did this, and they usually lost me when they did.  However, after my deep dive into genetics, I believe that I have surfaced with some pearls of knowledge that are worthy of the showcase, and here they are…

cat-1474271887TkxCalico Cats

First, I searched for information about calico cats, since Ginger is a calico.  I discovered that almost all calicoes are females.  This is because the genes that create black and orange fur are each on a certain, separate gene.  Females get two of this gene, while males receive only one.

Therefore, she-cats can be black and orange (calico), yet tom cats can never be that way.  

There are exceptions to this rule, but I promised to keep it simple, so let’s just ignore those.

But what about Ginger’s kittens? you might ask.  Well, I figured out that the kittens of a calico cat might be black, orange, or a combination of both, which is calico.  Of course, the exact chance of each color depends on what color the father was.  For example, if the father was black, then more kittens will probably be born black.

DSCN1513Tortoiseshell Cats 

Calico cats and tortoiseshell cats (“torties”) are very similar.  Both have black and orange fur.  Both are female only.  The reason for this is the same as it was for calicoes– the colors are on genes that only females get two of.

Really, the only difference between the two is that calicoes have white fur, while torties don’t.  If you examine the above picture of my tortie, Autumn, you’ll see that this is true.

On a side note, is it just me, or does the tortoiseshell coat look like marble?  Like a beautiful blend of black, dark brown, orange and cream fur.

For more information, check out my blog “11 Weird Cat Facts”, where I also discuss the following feature of white cats.

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White Cats 

According to the ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats, white cats are like a whitewashed wall.  They have a gene which over-rides the other color genes.  These “hidden genes” can be seen in the kittens of a white cat.

Furthermore, it is a little known fact that white cats have health problems.  They are often born blind, deaf, or both.

Although, come to think of it, owning a cat that is deaf is not such a terrible thing, really.  After all, it’s not like they come when they’re called anyway.

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Tabby Cats

Striped cats are called tabby cats.  Technically, you could call a tiger a tabby.  The tiger’s stripes act as camouflage, since the alternating pattern of light and dark blends well with the random sequences of light and shadow that one finds under the jungle canopy.

But back to house-cats.  All pussies have the tabby gene, states the ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats, just they don’t all show it.

If you want proof of this, place a black kitty under a bright light.  You will probably see faint stripes.  These “ghost markings” show that all felines carry the tabby gene.

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Colorpoint Cats

Notice how in the picture the ends of the limbs and tail, as well as the tips of the ears, are all dark brown, while the body is lighter?  This is called point coloration.  It is most common in Siamese cats, but other breeds can have it, too.  Even other animals, like horses and bunnies, can have point coloration.

Point coloration occurs when the enzyme (special protein) that controls dye mutates.  This means that something abnormal happens to it, and the enzyme is permanently changed as a result.

Suddenly, the enzyme can only activate at temperatures that are cooler than normal.  If you’ve ever petted a kitty, you’ve most likely noticed that the ears are cold, whereas the tummy is warm (also, after touching the tummy, you probably noticed that the claws are sharp).

But anyway, it is this temperature difference that causes the extremities to turn dark brown, while the warm core stays tan.

However, the temperature in a Siamese cat’s womb is all evenly warm.  Thusly, Siamese kittens are not born with point coloration; they are born all white.

Now, please excuse me while I go look up pictures of adorable Siamese kittens.  So cute…

 

References

– Wikipedia (article title: “Point Coloration”)

– ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats: Everything You Need to Know About Choosing and Caring for Your Pet

http://www.acsh.org (http://www.acsh.org/news/2016/07/27/calico-cats-are-a-walking-genetics-lesson)

10 Things You May Not Have Known About Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Laura Ingalls Wilder

Next Tuesday, the 23rd of May, is Grace Ingalls’ birthday.  It is the 140th anniversary of this event, which had to have been a special day in Laura’s life.

It’s intriguing to me how time has remember Laura and elevated her to an icon, while essentially forgetting her youngest sister.  Of course, Little House fans recall Grace as the sweet girl from the books.  The really hard-core ones even know that her middle name was “Pearl”, and that she married, but died childless.   Still, the fact remains that everyone, understandably, remembers Laura much better.

However, I did some reading recently, and I realized that there is much about Laura that we didn’t know.  Here are the most surprising ones:

  1. Laura’s family helped run an inn in Iowa. Pa, Ma, and the girls worked like servants in this hotel.  Naturally, they didn’t like this, so Pa soon moved them away.
  2. But while they were helping at the inn, they lived next door to a saloon, and one night, the saloon caught fire.
  3. The mean girl, Nellie Oleson, was actually inspired from 3 girls—Nellie Owens, Genevieve Masters, and Stella Gilbert. Nellie Owens was the inspiration for the mean girl at her father’s store; Genevieve was Laura’s rival at the school in Little Town on the Prairie; and Stella was the girl who tried to force her way into Almanzo’s affections by tagging along for those buggy rides.  Surprising as this is, it makes sense that Laura would change the name, to protect the identity of the actual girls.  Lots of authors who use their life experiences change names, for legal and privacy purposes.  James Harriot did that.  He changed the names of his patients, and he even changed his own name.  James Harriot was just a pen name; his real one was James Wight.
  4. Laura had a baby brother who died before his first birthday. If he had lived, he would have been younger than Carrie but older than Grace.  His name was Freddie.  From birth, he had always been sickly.  Tragically, he died before his first birthday, while the family was living on Aunt Eliza’s farm in Minnesota (Aunt Eliza was the mother of those cousins that Laura played with by falling off stumps to make snow angles back in Little House in the Big Woods).
  5. Pa opened a butcher shop, back when they lived in Minnesota (think On the Banks of Plum Creek).
  6. Laura had her first photograph taken when she was 14. Most kids today have their own phone at 14.  Crazy how much times have changed.
  7. Laura hated Florida. After the end of The First Four Years, Laura, Manly and Rose moved first to Minnesota, then to Florida.  The culture and environment of Florida differed so wildly from Laura’s prairies that it shocked her.  In addition to this, Laura was not welcomed by her neighbors, who stayed away from “those Yankees”.  Another problem for her was the climate.  The warmth and humidity, which was supposed to improve Manly’s health, ironically, made Laura feel ill.  She hated all of it.  After less than a year, they moved back to South Dakota.
  8. Laura and Manly got a car when Laura was in her 60s, and Manly was in her 70s. When I first read this, I was shocked.  I could never imagine Laura riding in anything other than a covered wagon.  That’s silly, I suppose, but it was what I had pictured.  On a side note, the purchase was Rose’s idea.
  9. When the Wilders moved to Rocky Ridge Farm, they rode in a wagon painted black.
  10. And finally, Laura owned and used a small pistol (not on people)While it’s unclear when Manly bought the gun for her, we do know that Laura used this pistol on their journey from South Dakota to Missouri.  It now resides in the museum at Rocky Ridge Farm Historic Site.

So that is my list of unusual things that you may not have known about everyone’s favorite pioneer girl.  Did any of these facts surprise you?  Let me know in the comment section!

 

Resources

  • Little Author in the Big Woods: A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Zeldis Yona McDonough
  • The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure
  • Wikipedia

11 Weird Cat Facts

We all know that cats love tuna, hate water, and spend most of their time sleeping.  But here are eleven strange facts about our fuzzy feline friends that you may not have known.

1. The picturesque scene of a cat lapping up a bowl of milk… can lead to a brown stain on your carpet.  It’s true.  It’s hard to believe, but it’s true.  Milk gives most adult cats the runs.  This is because their adult bodies stop producing the enzyme that digests milk sugars.  Instead of being digested and absorbed, the milk just, uh, runs out of the cat.  Onto your carpet.  So you might want to think twice before handing out that saucer of milk. cat_lapping_milk

2. Siamese cats won’t let you get a word in edgewise. The Siamese family of cats includes the breeds Oriental, Colorpoint, Balinese, Javanese, and, clearly, Siamese.  All of them are well-known chatterboxes.  But why, you ask?  Well, various theories exist as to why some cats are more vocal than others.  It may be breed specific; higher energy equals more talking; or it may relate to how much the owner talks to the cat.  The more the human chats, the more the cat meows.  Talkativeness understandably bothers some cat owners, but not me.  (Which is a good thing, considering that my cat, Autumn, meows constantly.)

3. This cat is naked! And covered in grease!  It’s fairly common knowledge that cats can be hairless (think of Fleshy the Cat in the Monty comic strip).  One breed of hairless cats is the Sphynx.  However, what some people don’t know is that a Sphynx’s skin can rapidly become greasy.  This is because the oils that cats normally produce goes into making their hair silky soft.  But the Sphynx has no hair, and so it just gets oily skin, which has to be washed every week.  Sorry for that nasty mental image.

4. A perm. A perm on a cat.  And it’s literally, physically permanent.  I think we can agree that the ‘70s were a dark time for fashion.  Therefore, a lot of us breathed a sigh of relief with the death of ‘70s hairstyles, such as the mullet and the perm.  But the perm is not dead.  It lives on… on cats!  The breed is called, naturally, La PermLa Perm cats have short, curly hair.  This is not a good look for a cat, in my opinion, because it reminds me of an uncombed bed head.  On the other hand, they are reportedly quite the affectionate breed.

5. Tortoiseshells are for females only. Tortoiseshell cats are often mistaken for calico cats.  And they are very similar, except that tortoiseshell cats have no white patches, only black and orange/red.  The black color gene is carried on the X chromosome and the red gene is on another X chromosome.  Female cats have XX chromosomes, while males have XY chromosomes.  Therefore, in general, only females can have both the red and black colors required to be a tortoiseshell cat.  And yes, my cat Autumn (pictured) is a tortoiseshell.

IMG_3561

6. Blue eyes? Pure white coat?  Your cat may be deaf.  This fact surprised me.  My Grandma took in a stray cat named Snowball, who was (you guessed it) white with blue eyes, and she never acted deaf.  But the statistics don’t lie.  17-22% of white cats, and 65-85% of white cats with two blue eyes cannot hear.

7. Speaking of blue eyes, the Charteux cat is born with blue eyes, which turn either gold or orange as adults. This color change while growing up is actually very common among kittens.  Most kittens are born with blue eyes.  Those eyes are immature, and as they develop, melanin pigment is created.  Melanin controls eye color, and how much is created determines what the color will be.  Very little melanin means green eyes, while lots of melanin means brown, or, in this case, orange eyes.   The Charteux cat also has a smoky gray coat.  Combined with the pumpkin orange eyes, this cat is perfectly and petrifingly dressed for any Halloween party.

8. Eyes can be mismatched. Cats can have many combinations of colors for their eyes.  Nevertheless, their vision does not seem to be hindered by the lack of color coordination.   cat mismatched eyes

9. Many toes. Most cats have four toes on each paw, but not all.  Some have one, two, three, even four extra toes per paw.  Despite the weird appearance, many-toed cats seem to suffer no ill effects from it (yes, this is a theme: weird-looking things don’t cause problems, even though they look, well, weird).  Many-toed-ness is called “polydactyly”(poly-dactyl[as in teradactyl]-ly[as in lovely]), which means “many fingers”.  I recommend using this term when you want to impress your friends.

10. The tabby gene is in all cats.  Tabbies are cats with a striped coat.  Yet every cat carries this gene, even if he looks nothing like a tabby.  For example, two recessive genes give black cats their one-color coat.  However, if you examine that solid-color coat under a bright lamp, you can see faint bands.  Those bands are called ghost markings, and are proof of the tabby gene’s universality.

11. The hooks of a cat’s tongue are made up of a bone-like material.  You read that correctly— a cat’s tongue is cover in backward-pointing spikes that are designed to, and I quote, “remove flesh from bone”.   Yikes!  And what does the cat use this fearsome tool for?  A hairbrush, mainly.  Before you laugh, know that some of the earliest hairbrushes were made from bone.  But anyway.  So yeah—bony spikes, which can remove flesh from bone.  Truly, it is a labor of love when an owner puts up with his cat’s licking; it is lovingly meant, but certainly doesn’t feel that way.

cat tongue

Photo Credits:

Resources Used:

– ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats: Everything You Need to Know About Choosing and Caring for Your Pet by James R. Richards

– Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

– Animal Planet.com

– Caster.com

A Dog’s Dream Car

dog-in-the-car

I love Car Talk.  It’s hilarious.  It’s too bad it ended.

But instead of morning Tom’s passing, we should do what he would have wanted everyone to do: laugh.  And this made me do just that.

I listened to a Car Talk episode named “A Big, Beautiful Piece of. Junk” recently, and it had a hysterical canine/car conundrum in it.

Shelley from Colorado called in with a weird car problem.  Whenever she turned on the ac in her Ford Explorer, she heard a rattling noise.  Next, “the air conditioning vent [rains] dog food”, she said.

This was greeted with peals of laughter from Tom and Ray.  Tom demanded: “Doesn’t anyone screen the calls?  Can- can any whacko, from any place in the country [call us]?!”

Once they could speak again, Click and Clack explained that it was probably mice, who are getting into her dog food at home, and “squirreling” it away in her car’s air vents.

Next, they told her how she could get it fixed.

Shelley replied: “Well my dog does like it, he thinks it’s a dog food dispenser. … [And if I’m driving along] and he looks hungry, I just turn on the air conditioning.”

Tom, laughing, yelled:  “And he must be saying: ‘Have I died and gone to heaven?! … [This thing’s] spittin’ out dog food!’”

*Insert more laughter here.*

The dog-food-dispensing car.  Wow.  As Click and Clack say, “Ya can’t make this stuff up!”

This was just one story of several, in yet another hilarious episode of Car Talk.  Check it out here. http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510208/car-talk

 

Photo Credit

“Dog in the Car” by George Hodan.  Pic is in the public domain.  http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=204841&picture=dog-in-the-car