T.S.Eliot author of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats cat item for auction

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T.S.Eliot, author of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

His great grandniece has a T.S. Eliot cat item for auction, including old family photographs, found in the attic of the family’s home. The author of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats was no slouch –
T.S. Eliot wrote The Waste Land, published 1922 and considered

…by many to be the single most influential poetic work of the twentieth century, Eliot’s reputation began to grow to nearly mythic proportions; by 1930, and for the next thirty years, he was the most dominant figure in poetry and literary criticism in the English-speaking world.

  poetry.org

T.S.Eliot author Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats,

 

T.S.Eliot’s writings ranged from the dark despair of The Hollow Men, 1925, to the whimsical Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, 1939.  The name “Old Possum” came from Ezra Pound, his nickname for Eliot.

T.S.Eliot items auctioned

 

 

 

In 1982 the cover of the book was illustrated by the fabulous Edward Gorey. The book is the basis of the successful Broadway musical, Cats written by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

author of "Cats" needlepoint

T.S. Eliot needlepoint
courtesy Heritage Auctions

 

Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri, where he lived until he was sixteen.

At six years old, he created this playful cat needlepoint as a Christmas gift; it’s signed “Tom” in pencil on the back.

Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw –
For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime – Macavity’s not there!

And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!

T. S. EliotOld Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

The kitty needlepoint work is conservatively valued at $1,000. Bidding opens online this Friday and concludes online and as a live auction in Dallas on September 14, 2017.

addressing an older cat

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Talking to an older cat

My cat Toby is an older gent. Come October (2017) he’ll be thirteen years old. I heard myself saying to him “Good boy,” after he did something sweet, as he frequently does.

Eaddressing an older cat

I calculate 1 cat year equals 5 human years, which means for Toby, when he celebrates his birthday, he’ll be 65 years old in human years.  So is iit appropriate to address him as “boy”?

I think not.

Hence, I now refer to him as “cat-man”.

addressing an o,dear cat

Toby
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017

“Toby, you’re a good cat-man.”

Brutus the supermarket cat honored

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Beloved supermarket cat

Here’s one for a cat who decided to be a supermarket’s greeter, or mascot, or just a guy who liked to hang around and see people smile. Which the customers at Morrison’s supermarket certainly did. This story “Brutus the supermarket cat honored” made us smile too.

Brutus the supermarket cat honored

photo by Dale Miles

Brutus began visiting a supermarket across the street from his home in Saltney, UK. He started visiting the site before the market was built in 2009, but once Morrison’s opened in 2011, he became a big part of the supermarket’s customer service. Shoppers not only got their groceries, they usually also left with a smile any time Brutus was lounging in shopping carts,   Or wandering in the aisles.

Brutus the supermarket cat

Brutus lounging on Morrison’s supermarket

 

Brutus checking cat food supplies

                                                                                              Brutus checks on cat food supplies
                                                                                               photo by maxinekeira

As a kitten, Brutus was a stray living in the street. Until Claire Owens, a veterinarian nurse, met Brutus when he was brought to the Knutsfod, UK practice where she worked. “Brutus” Ms. Owens said “having been found being kicked about by some horrible kids in the street.” He was only six months old.
Since no one claimed him after seven days, Claire and husband Adam adopted him. A happy arrangement for all three. Brutus spent the next several years visiting Morrison’s supermarket.
On January, 2017, Brutus died from kidney disease. The staff at Morrison’s supermarket, and thousands of customers, were heartbroken. Especially effected were Claire and Adam Owens; they decided to honor Brutus, who provided so much joy to so many.
Claire and Adam set up a crowdfunding appeal and raised £1,000 ($1288.35) in less than 24 hours, which increased during the next serval months totaling to nearly £5000 ($6441.75). The Morrisons also contributed over £1,000 toward the memorial, which is a bronze sculpture of Brutus, made by Jane Robbins Sculpture Limited and Castle Fine Arts Foundry Ltd. Brutus memorial statueThe remaining funded money will be donated to local animal charities Chester Kitty Cat Rescue and Ark Angels Rescue.

“Brutus is finally finished!” Claire said. “This week I went to Liverpool to check out the almost finished masterpiece – all he needed was a bit of buffing in places to make his lighter patches show up and then the final coat of wax applied to make him shine.” She continued,
“When I saw him just before he was due to have the finishing touches applied, it was as if he was actually sitting there and it made me feel quite emotional. I miss him so much, we all do, and still can’t believe he’s not here anymore.”

Brutus the cat

photo by Dale Miles, taken around September last year

Claire added: “He’ll get a shiny head in no time after all the strokes he’s going to get! If it wasn’t for all the kind donations from not just his local fans, but fans from around the country and even some from around the world…his statue wouldn’t have been possible. So thank you all.”

information provided by Carmella De Lucia
Chesterchronical.co.uk

Can I teach my cat to be held?

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can I teach my cat to be held?

can my cat learn to be held photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

Shelter kitten likes to be held
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

Ever gone to a shelter and picked up a cat, and the cat instantly relaxes? Some do, but not all cats will – some just don’t like it. They don’t like being picked up, and certainly don’t want to be held.

What if your cat doesn’t like being held?

Have you said to yourself (and your cat) Can I teach my cat to be held? 

My cat use to hate being held. I’d scoop her up, and she’d immediately start squirming. Sometimes she’d unintenitionally scratch me as she jumped out of my arms. Her name is Marnie, and she’s a rescue. She was three when she joined our family. I don’t know how she was treated by her previous family, but she definitely was neglected: she was skittish and emaciated. And if I were to venture a guess, she may never have been held as a sign of affection. It’s likely she’s been grabbed, swatted at, but held with love? Probably not. I wondered: can I teach my cat to be held? So I thought about how to let Marnie feel comfortable being picked up and held.

can my cat learn to be held?

Can my cat learn to be held?
photo by s.dunaif ©2017

cat learning to be held

Marnie learning to be being held
photo by s.dunaif ©2017

So I started very gradually.

  • I’d simply pick her up and release her – immediately. It was important to let Marnie get use to being picked up.

I wanted her to associate being picked up as non threatening. After a few weeks, she seemed to be less nervous when I picked her up. She was ready for the next step.

 

  • I’d keep her in my arms for a few seconds, then let her go – before she became squirmy

This was to help her gain trust while being in my grasp; we did that for a few weeks. Then, once Marnie was ready to be held a little longer, we added more time.

  • I held her, releasing her as soon as she got fidgety.

This was to let Marnie feel in control of how long she wanted to be held.

Finally, she let me hold her and purrs.

  • Marnie was relaxed enough to enjoy being held – most of the time!

 

cat learns to be held - and likes it

Marnie learned to be held – and likes it
photo by s. dunaif©2017

 

 

 

After nearly 18 months, Marnie knows she is loved.

 

 

 

What my cat’s meow means

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A cat meows for lots of reasons

Like everybody everywhere, some cats are quite chatty, while others not so much, but at one time or another, your cat will look at you and meow. And? Chances are, your cat wants or needs something. What my cat’s meow means? Often it’s food or attention.

cat eats

Toby eats
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

Or, maybe they’re trying to tell you something else. One morning my cat Toby, a cat of few words, leapt onto the bed I hadn’t gotten out of yet and looked at me while he was meowing. He had food, so it must be something else. I petted him behind his ear, which he loves – makes him smile. But not this time, no he looked me in the eye and meowed again. Toby had never done this before. Maybe he was saying something about the litter boxes.
I always clean their boxes every morning and if necessary, at night too. But he needed to use the litter box, and someone else had used both boxes and he wanted his litter cleaned NOW!

why cats meow

“Scratch my ears. Please.”
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

 

 

Other times, Toby meows because he does want his ear scratched. I love seeing Toby smile.

 

Or when you get home from work or taking care of errands, or whatever happens beyond your cat’s world – which is irrelevant and insignificant to your cat, you are back. Maybe, your cat greets you with a happy Meow!
Our wonderful and talkative cat Little Bear (we miss her so much) would meow every time we’d sneeze. Every time – I sneeze a lot because I’m allergic to cats, it was like she was saying “I know you love me!”

Introvert or extrovert, cats certainly communicate. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I’ve heard that cats only meow to their human companions. Either way, cats do meow as one of several ways they communicate with us.

♥     ♥     ♥

what is a polydactyl cat?

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is my cat polydactyl?

The typical domestic cat has 5 toes on their front paws, and 4 toes on their hind paws. That is, unless they have more. In which case, it is a Polydactyl cat: a cat with more than the normal amount of toes. What is a polydactyl cat?

what is a polydactyl cat

polydactyl cat

 

Polydactyl cats are not a particular breed, and the trait can appear in any breed: Calicos, Tabbies, white, black, etc. So what is a polydactyl cat?

what is a polydactyl cat

mitten paws

 

 

 

 

A version of polydactyl is “mitten paws,” it occurs when the extra toes are attached on the medial side, the “thumb” side of the paw. These polydactyl cats look like they have opposable thumbs, and some act like they do. With increased dexterity, they are enable to open clasps and windows.

snowshoe paws

 

Cats that have multiple toes that aren’t “mitten paws” just appear to have big feet, which are called “snowshoe paws” or “pancake feet.”

canadian lynx

Canadian lyxn

 

 

 

 

 

These type of polydactyl paws are similar to the Canadian lynx, who have very large paws, enabling them to walk on top of snow.

Mariners valued polydactyl cats.They were traditionally seen on sailing ships when sail boats were used for trade. Sailors saw that polydactyl cats had extraordinary climbing and hunting abilities, useful for controlling rodents. Perhaps that’s why they considered polydactyl cats good luck on a ship.

Quentin Roosevelt and Slippers

Polydactyl cats have been popular for a while. President Theodore Roosevelt brought Slippers, who’s right paw had six toes,  to the white house, around 1906. Photo is of his son Quentin, with Slippers.

Polydactyls were made even more popular by writer Ernest Hemingway. In the 1930’s, sea captain Stanley Dexter gave Hemingway a six-toed cat named Snowball. Hemingway’s home in Key West, Florida is now a museum where around sixty cats live. At least half of the cats are polydacts, most likely the decendents of Hemingway’s cat Snowball.

what is a polydactyl cat

Hemingway and polydactyl cat

 

 

 

 

 

hemingwayhome.com

mentalfloss.com

sailblogs.com

Why does my cat bite me?

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Cat guardians know that a purring cat usually indicates a content cat – love that sound – especially when you’re enjoying quality time petting your cat. But when I’m petting my cat –

why does my cat bite me?

petting a cat

petting a cat photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

The first thing to rule out is pain or sensitivity when your cat is touched in a particular place on his/her body.  A visit to your cat’s vet will determine that there is no skin condition, injury or internal disease making your cat understandably react not to pleasure but pain when being petted.

petting a cat body language

petting a cat photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

OK, so you’re cat is healthy – yay!  But still, why is my cat biting me?  We’re having a relaxing bonding moment, he’s purring, I’m petting him behind his ear, which he always likes – then suddenly chomp. We call them love bites, which takes us by surprise, but usually doesn’t really hurt; our cats aren’t trying to hurt us, and they know how to not break the skin. These love bites are just a way for them to communicate that they’ve had enough, it’s their way of saying “thanks, but stop NOW – it’s starting to annoy me.” Experts on cat behavior refer to these love bites as `petting induced aggression‘.
And that means your cat has been telling you that it’s time for you to stop. But you haven’t been paying attention.

petting a cat flattened ears

petting a cat – flattened ears photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

This is how your cat has been telling you:
here are body language indicators for aggressive behavior in cats

  • Stops purring
  • Tail lashing
  • Tail thumping
  • Skin twitching
  • Shifting body position
  • Meowing
  • Growling
  • Ears in airplane mode or even flattened against the head
why does my cat bite me?

cat looking at my hand photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

 

  • Cat looking towards your hand
  • Dilated pupils

 

 

 

 

 

So if you haven’t been listening to you cat, it’s love bite time!

why does my cat bite me?

status induced aggression photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

 

Another cat behaviorist term is `status induced aggression‘. This can happen when your cat needs to regain control of your petting session, meaning they are the ones who decide how long they want to be petted, not us.

This, we should all know by now, is typical cat behavior.
Cats rule!
Literally.

my cat likes junk food

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Am I feeding my cat junk food?

Most vets recommend not giving your cat only dry food. It is dessicated, plus most, if not all, dry cat foods have some type of starch in it, which is necessary as a binder. So wet food is better. But there are so many choices. And if your cat is like mine, well, my cat likes junk food.

Toby wonders about cat food
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017

What is cat junk food

If wet cat food is better than dry food, what makes it junk food? Some canned cat food is cheap, and the cheaper it is, the less protein it has and the more carb based it is (and other undesirable ingredients) things that are unnatural in a cat’s diet. The proportion of protein and carbs (and other fillers like ash) shifts with the more expense cat food. Ideally, your cat’s can of wet food contains high quality protein, possibly a select variety of vegetables, in small quantities, and perhaps some minimal supplements and not much else. Read labels!
and to learn about cat food labels,  read this: how to interpret cat food labels

less healthy wet cat food

less healthy wet cat food
photo by shari smith dunaif©2017

 

 

 

My cat likes junk food

So do my cats. They happen to like Fancy Feast, which is bad, but not terrible as far as cat junk food goes. But like any junk food, it’s OK sometimes, but not as a steady diet. So I bought some expensive cans of high quality protein wet cat food, in a variety of brands.
They didn’t eat it. Any if it.

I ended up tossing the rejected food just about every time.

Then I finally figured it out – my guys needed a gradual transition.

Healthy and not so healthy wet cat food
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017

I started by serving dnner that was mostly Fancy Feast with a little bit of the good quality cat food mixed in. Each week, I’d change the proportions, increasing the good stuff and decreasing the junk food, very slowly.

Now they’ll dine on just the high quality wet cat food. Most of the time.

cat likes junk food

Toby sometimes eats the good stuff photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017

Then I resort back to mixing the good with the junk.

My cats still like cat junk food, but now they also dine on better quality fare.

 

yawning cat and tiger

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yawning cat and tiger

Apparently, all mammals yawn, including cats. And tigers. Like this yawning cat and tiger.
Domestic cats and wild cats are related, as we all know. Our cats at home innately behave like wild cats: just watch how they play – it’s about getting prey, even when they look so cute batting a flying feather wand or toy mouse. Likewise, wild cats behave like our own cats.

Both tigers and cats like to sleep, a lot. In fact cats average fifteen hours a day, while tigers average eighteen hours a day. So they do a fair amount of yawning.

cat starts to yawn

Marnie starts to yawn
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017

tiger starts to yawn

Tiger, Thailand
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017

A theory about why we yawn

from thenakedscientists.com

One reason why we yawn is that we may be trying to stay alert or vigilant during the transition between the wakefulness and sleep. This happens in nearly all animals and may in part be a sensory response to muscle contractions from the yawn.

yawning cat

Marnie yawns like a tiger
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017

yawning tiger

Tiger yawning like cat
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017

another odd phenomenon about yawning, it’s contagious – for all of us.

The more people are susceptible to contagious yawning, the better their social competence and empathy,” Guggisberg says. “In humans it is clear that yawning has a social effect. It is probably an unconscious behavior. It is not clear what yawning communicates or what it achieves. But clearly it transmits some information that has some effect on brain networks or behavior.”

from webmd.com
So this social aspect may effect cats. I think it does.

What declawing does to cats

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I know someone, a big time cat lover with multiple cats, including a new rescue. The rescue cat had been abanonded, then brought to a kill shelter, a big, handsome older male cat. But he scratched and attacked everyone in his new home: the other cats and the people. Instead of giving him up, they decided to declaw him. So that got me wondering

what declawing does to cats

I realized I didn’t really know. I mean, I assumed declawing a cat was like a radical nail clipping.

But it’s more than that.

All cat owners, even people who have never owned a cat know that cats scratch. It’s instinctive, they need to do it and they like doing it. It’s a way they leave their mark, and it’s how they defend themselves. Cats also scratch to keep their claws healthy: it’s how they shed the outer sheath of the nail. So they need somewhere to scratch – your upholstery, rugs and curtains are perfect. But we humans disagree.

What the surgery does

Declawing, or the technical term onychectomy, is the cutting off of part of the toe. Since a cat’s claw grows out of bone, declawing requires cutting off the entire first joint of each of a cat’s toes – basically, it’s an amputation. The human equivalent would be amputating the first joint of a finger.

human equivalent t cat declawing

PETA shows the human equivalent to declawing

 

before and after declawed cat     The surgery removes not only the claw, but bones, nerves, the joint capsule, collateral ligaments, and the flexor tendons. Declawing also severs tendons, causing them to contract and pull the toes back. This changes the angle at which the foot connects with the ground.

 

It’s problematic for a cat, because cats walk on their toes. Normally, they carry 60 percent of their body weight on their front paws ‐ If the front paws become damaged, even temporarily, the effects are felt all the way through the cat’s wrist, elbow, and shoulder, down the spine to the tail. A declawed cat is forced to shift her weight backwards (the back paws are rarely declawed) which can lead to stress on the ankles, which can be very painful.
.what declawing does to cats

Here’s another problem with declawing… when a small piece of bone is purposely left in, a painful regrowth can occur, even as much as 15 years later. Declawing can lead to additional complications such as chronic small bone arthritis, degenerative joint disease, and neuralgia.

Cat’s behavior after declawing

Although most cats appear normal and may resume playing, climbing and jumping after being declawed, it isn’t normal because their physiology has been altered. Studies have been done about what declawing does to a cat: a 2001 study (published in a prominent veterinary journal) reported that 80 percent of declawed cats had at least one medical complication following surgery and one-third developed behavior problems, such as biting or urinating outside their litter box.

Following the surgery, owners have reported that their cat became morose, withdrawn, irritable, and even aggressive. Others describe their cat as nervous, fearful and again, aggressive. The aggression might be accounted for by the cat’s sudden loss of their primary defense, relying solely on their remaining defense, which is biting.

Another observation concerns high perches. Although many cats like high perches, declawed cats end up spending more of their time on top of fridges, or high shelves – even if they had been confident on the ground before they were declawed.

Urination outside of the litter box has also been noted. Some declawed cats, once they discover they can’t mark their territory with their claws, begin to urinate around the house instead. This can result in long-term inappropriate elimination problems.

 from avma.org

Onychectomy is an amputation and should be regarded as a major surgery. The decision to declaw a cat should be made by the owners in consultation with their veterinarian. Declawing of domestic cats should be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when its clawing presents an above normal health risk for its owner(s).

    • Declawed cats should be housed indoors and allowed outside only under direct supervision.
    • Scientific data do indicate that cats that have destructive scratching behavior are more likely to be euthanatized, or more readily relinquished, released, or abandoned, thereby contributing to the homeless cat population. Where scratching behavior is an issue as to whether or not a particular cat can remain as an acceptable household pet in a particular home, surgical onychectomy may be considered.

Yet surprisingly, the AVMA (American Veternarian Medical Association) states

      • There is no scientific evidence that declawing leads to behavioral abnormalities when the behavior of declawed cats is compared with that of cats in control groups.
An opposing opinion

oocities.org is a site presenting an opposing view: that the declawing surgery isn’t so bad, and could be a good option for scratching issues. The site suggests declawing cats before cats are 2 years old.

Declawing seems like an extreme solution only for extreme situations. If the complaint is about scratching upholstery, then reconsider alternative solutions: scratching options, keeping your cat’s nails clipped, and protecting upholstery. As for the male rescue cat, he is at least as aggressive if not more so, since the surgery.

declawing.com
vetstreet.com
peta.org