I’m sure we’ve all done this. Your cat is in an adorable pose, maybe curled up on your bed, maybe stretched out on her back. Whatever the pose is, you love it and want a picture. So, hurrying before Mittens decides to walk away, you run and grab your phone or camera. You get back, and—yes! She hasn’t moved yet. You snap what you think is the perfect picture. Until the image appears on the screen and you see Mitten’s eyes; they’re glowing like she’s possessed. The perfect picture is ruined!
Well, I can certainly relate. Plenty of my pictures of my cat Autumn have met this fate. This got me thinking: why does this happen? Why, when the light is dim enough, your cat gets The Creepy Eyes? Humans don’t have that.
Turns out, humans don’t get glow-in-the-dark eyes because we don’t have a certain membrane that cats do. And it’s not just cats; most mammals have this membrane. It’s called the tapetum lucidum.
The tapetum lucidum is located at the back of the eye, behind the retina. Its color is a mixture of green and yellow. When light beams hit it correctly, the light reflects and you see the green-yellow color. So the eyes don’t actually glow-in-the-dark; they just reflect the light really well.
This attribute of reflecting the light well is actually the purpose of the tapetum lucidum. According to the ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats by James Richards, once light has entered the eye and passed through the retina, the tapetum lucidum reflects the light back into the retina. This stimulates the retina for the second time, which improves the cat’s night vision (Richards).
This is one of the reasons that cats can see so well in the dark.
The other reason is that cats can widen their pupils further than humans can, letting in more light. Remember the giant orbs of Puss in Boots from Shrek? Those weren’t exaggerated; cat eyes can really do that.
Despite these advantages, however, it is a myth that cats can see in pure, pitch-darkness. For more cat myths, consider reading my blog “7 Lies You’ve Been Told About Cats”.
As for your ruined picture, don’t delete it. You can Photoshop it, use it for Halloween, or maybe just keep it to remind yourself of how very special the eyes of a feline are.
ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats by James Richards. Page 205.
101 Questions Your Cat Would Ask: What’s bothering your cat and how to solve its problems. By Honor Head. Page 94.
You can buy the farm owned by the author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little!
That is, if you happen to have a cool 3.7 million dollars just lying around somewhere.
E. B. White, the author of dearly beloved books for children, spent 48 years of his life living on this beautiful farm in Maine. No wonder it was the inspiration behind perhaps his most famous book, Charlotte’s Web. If you visit the farm today, you can still see the entrance to the barn where Charlotte wrote those messages, like “some pig”, about Wilbur.
White moved to this farm in 1933 with his wife, Katharine.
After White died in 1985, Robert & Mary Gallant purchased the place. They have maintained it well for 30 years, and now are presumably ready to retire from that job, so to speak. Whatever the reason, the couple placed the farm up for sale in early August.
If you can meet the 3.7 million price-tag, you’ll get 44 acres with a farmhouse, which was, amazingly, built in 1795. Stepping inside the farmhouse, you can still see a wood stove and an “ice box” (old-fashioned refrigerator) that White used to own. Of the 6 fireplaces, a few still work and can help with the cold Maine winters. There are 5 bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths.
Outside, water dominates the landscape. You will enjoy 2,000 ft of ocean front on the picturesque Maine coast, as well as a pond.
Near the coast is an old boathouse where White did his writing. You can even sit on the wooden bench where he wrote Charlotte’s Web, while sea breezes blow softly through the open window.
E. B. White kept the location of his home secret during his lifetime. He was a quiet, private man. When people came to his office to see him, rather than meet and greet them, he would sneak out the fire escape. It would seem that introverts will be introverts, no matter what century they live in.
But back to the present. Regardless of whether you are rich or not, you can still visit this National Historic Site, and stroll along the quiet paths walked by the man who loved animals.
Tuesday the 8th of August is International Cat Day; in honor of that, it would be a good idea to increase our knowledge and appreciation of our feline friends. One way to do that is to rid ourselves of those pesky old-wives tales about cats. Since the Mythbusters are no longer doing that kind of thing, the job passes to me. So, without further ado, here are the myths.
Cats can see in the dark. Like most myths, this one has a grain of truth in it. Cats can see very well in low light, much better than humans can. However, the key word here is “low” light. In no light, they will be blind. If you put a cat in a room with no windows, at night, and shut the door, that qualifies as no light. I did that once, and my cat Autumn pooped on the floor. I was unhappy with her until I learned about the “no light, no sight” thing. Then I realized it wasn’t Autumn’s fault. She just couldn’t find her way to the litter in the pitch blackness. After a nightlight was installed, I never had any more problems. Remember this, and save your carpets.
All cats love catnip. This is untrue. As kittens, cats have no response at all, and only one-third to one-half of cats respond to it when they grow up. Also, responsiveness is partially inherited, and partially related to personality. Extremely friendly cats have the most extreme reactions. Although catnip seems to cause no ill effects, it might be best to play it safe, and use catnip sparingly. It is best used to get your cat interested in a new scratching post, or a new toy.
All cats love milk. Most adult cats do like milk, but it doesn’t like them. Although it varies (like the catnip reaction), the majority of cats lose the ability to digest the sugars in milk as they grow up. So milk actually gives them diarrhea. See “10 Weird Cat Facts” for more about this.
Cat allergies are caused by a cat’s hair. Cat allergies are actually caused by a protein found in either the cat’s dandruff or in the cat’s saliva. Naturally, dandruff can get into the cat’s hair, and since cats lick themselves a lot, these proteins do get into the cat’s hair, too. However, it’s not the hair itself that causes the allergies. It’s a protein from their saliva. Some people would call this a hair-splitting distinction, but I wouldn’t, because puns annoy me.
All cats hate water. This is a very disputed issue. Many cats hate it; I know that my kitty, Autumn, does. Nevertheless, the fact remains that some individuals love water. Even whole breeds enjoy it, like the Turkish Van cat, according to AnimalPlanet.com. On that same page, someone named Trista commented that she knew of a cat, who took showers with his owner every day. In fact, he begged to be let into the shower, and even put up with being shampooed. Another example is the two bath-loving cats on YouTube–Sirius and Samoa. Seemingly 100%-comfortable in the water, they spend a long time, walking around the tub and playing with each other’s tails. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waTbbAw6Gmw&t=37s)
The only people who love cats are crazy old cat ladies. This is incorrect on many levels. About the old-age claim, what little girl hasn’t asked her parents for a kitten? As for the “single” factor, my grandmother loved cats, and she was happily married for decades. And finally, it’s not just women who love cats. Many famous celebrities, including Mark Twain, Leonard Nimoy, Morgan Freeman, Jay Leno, George Clooney, and Ewan McGregor all love felines and don’t mind been photographed with them. Perhaps the ultimate example of the male cat-lover is Jackson Galaxy—a musician who runs a TV show called “My Cat from Hell”, where he cures feline behavior problems. The show is on its 8th season.
Cats are arrogant, cold creatures who don’t really love their owners. As any long-time cat owner knows, this is just plain false. When I first see Autumn in the morning, she runs over to greet me, wrapping her tail around my legs. Cats do the wrapping movement to rub their scent onto you, to mark you as their territory. It’s like she’s saying: You’re mine, and mine alone. When I’m at my desk, Autumn frequently strolls over to me, and sprawls across the papers that I’m trying to work on. Then she shoves her head underneath my hand. Sometimes, before I start petting her, she starts purring for no obvious reason, except perhaps, her love for me. Her message is clear. I love you. And you should pet me. Now.
There. That’s 7 lies circulating about cats.
Unfortunately, I used to believe some of these– until I brought home my Autumn. She’s taught me a lot… in between sessions of chasing “the red bug”, of course.
So spread the word. Let others know the truth about cats. Not only will this make feline lives better, but, ultimately, it will make the lives of their owners better as well.
And as Adam Savage used to say: “Myth: Busted!”
ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats: Everything You Need to Know About Choosing and Caring for Your Pet by James R. Richards
Every sane person knows that you shouldn’t feed your cat things like tobacco, alcohol, or garbage. Additionally, cats are less likely than dogs to eat something that would harm them. Nevertheless, being informed can prevent many disasters, and so here are 12 things that the responsible cat owner will keep far, far away from the feline.
Houseplants. The majority of indoor plants are actually poisonous for your cat. The first step to stopping this problem is to know what kinds of plants you have, and to know which ones are dangerous to cats. Poinsettias, English ivy, lobelias, foxgloves, and lilies of all kinds—they are poisonous. See here (https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants?field_toxicity_value%5B%5D=02) for a more complete list of poisonous houseplants. The intensity of the toxin varies, depending on the species of plant. Best case scenario, your cat throws up after eating a poisonous plant, and nothing more. Worst case, death. Fortunately, that is an uncommon event, because cats rarely eat enough plant matter to do themselves serious harm. My blog “Why Is My Cat (or Dog) Eating Grass?” can help you prevent this dangerous munching from ever happening.
Onions/Garlic. As you may imagine, this means cats cannot eat anything with onion or garlic in it. While a small amount in, say, a sauce, may not be harmful, why risk it?
Mushrooms. These are very dangerous. Depending on the toxin in the particular mushroom, many bodily systems can be damaged, inducing shock and even death.
Anything with Caffeine. This includes chocolate, tea, energy drinks, and, obviously, your espresso. If you are tempted to use any of these things as a water substitute, remember that doing so could result in heart damage, among other things.
Grapes/Raisins. According to peteducation.com, these “contain an unknown toxin, which can damage the kidneys”.
Anything Uncooked. Examples of this would be bread dough, raw meat, and raw eggs. Dough can expand and hurt a cat’s stomach/intestines. The meat and eggs could have in them bad bacteria like Salmonella.
Milk. Yes, that is hard to believe. It’s so hard to believe, even for me, that I included it in my blog “11 Weird Cat Facts”. Strangely, milk just doesn’t sit well with most adult cats. Milk gives them diarrhea, because their bodies have stopped creating the enzyme that digests it.
Seeds. These can cause intestinal inflammation and/or blockage.
Bones. Cats carefully chew their food, unlike our beloved dogs, who practically inhale their food. Therefore, it is safer to give bones to a cat. Yet it is still too risky, in my opinion. If the bone splinters, it could tear up your cats insides. It’s too dangerous.
Baby Food and Dog Food. With these foods, a one-time munching is probably fine. However, if the owner decides to use these instead of cat food, then there is a problem. Long term consumption can cause the feline to lack the nutrients that it needs to be healthy and happy. Please, use cat food. Your cat will thank you.
Human Food. This is a somewhat controversial topic. Many well-meaning owners love to treat their cats with scraps from the table. And this is fine, in moderation. The ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats recommends that you give such scraps as treats that do not exceed 10% of the regular diet (p. 238). Otherwise, you risk making your cat overweight with rich human food. A swarm of problems descend with obesity, too many to be named here. Vetstreet.com has more on weight management (http://www.vetstreet.com/care/obesity-in-cats). An additional variable to consider before passing out the human chow to your cat is the fact that many human foods are poisonous to felines. Of the past 10 foods that I’ve mentioned, 6 are fine for humans, but dangerous for Mittens.
String, yarn, rubber bands, shoe laces, electrical cords, etc. Yeah, cats will actually try to eat these things. Perhaps they remind cats of snakes, and so they want to kill them and feast on their flesh. That’s so… primal. And dangerous. These things can get stuck in the cat’s intestines, and have to be removed surgically. If your cat is eating these things, poor Fluffy may have pika, a condition where felines chew/eat inanimate objects. Sadly, there is no cure for this, only management. PetMD.com has some great suggestions to help (http://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/digestive/c_ct_coprophagia_and_pica?page=2).
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).
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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?
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
“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/
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.
(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.)
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
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!
“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
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?