Does Your Cat Have A Doppleganger?

I may be late to the party on this one, but I’m fascinated by this story about a guy who lost his cat and recovered what he thought was his little guy three weeks later, only for his actual cat to come home the following week.

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Some people commenting on the photo claim there are obvious differences, but in my opinion the differences are very small and probably indistinguishable unless the moggies are side by side. The markings are virtually identical on both cats, and the deviations look mostly like they’re attributable to angle, position and shadows.

People who aren’t familiar with cats might wonder how someone can “reunite” with a cat who doesn’t know them, but that can also be explained away by feline quirks: It’s not unusual for cats to behave differently, even to people and other kitties they know well, after a period of separation.

If the cat was acting a bit off, it would be easy to chalk it up to readjustment and re-acclimating to the sights, sounds and smells of home.

The most unbelievable aspect, for me at least, is how both cats in the photo seem to be cool with having a doppleganger and sharing territory.

Maybe the photo’s not representative of their interactions, but if somehow I found Bud’s doppleganger on the street and brought him home, the consequences would include an epic shitstorm of proportions I probably cannot even imagine.

“WTF is THIS?!?” I can imagine Bud thinking, expressing his incredulity with annoyed chirps and meows. “This is a joke, right? Right? Speak before I murder you!”

“I’m Little Buddy, yes I’m the real Buddy, all you other Little Buddies are acting all funny, so will the real Little Buddy please stand up? Please stand up, please stand up!”

The truth is I’ve never seen a Bud doppleganger, or a Buddyganger, if you will. Over the years I’ve done more than a few image searches for gray tabbies while looking for funny photos of cats who look like Bud, and none of them bear more than a superficial resemblance to His Grace.

Bud has three major characteristics setting him apart from other cats with the same coat pattern and coloring:

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  • His bright green eyes complemented by “guyliner,” which itself is ringed by neat white lines.
  • The unique white patch on his chest. It’s just a tuft of white fur, but I’ve never seen a gray tabby with a marking that matches its size, shape and position.
  • Most of all, his pronounced mouth and nose area, alternately called a muzzle, snout or rostrum on various species, terms which are sometimes used for cats as well.

The latter was one of the first things I really noticed after meeting him for the first time and taking him home. Even as a baby it was pronounced in a way that very few cat mouths are.

Finally, while it doesn’t have any bearing on the strictly visual comparison with similar-looking kitties, I can’t imagine another cat acting like Buddy. He’s such a weirdo, so unique in his voice, vocalizations and habits, so opinionated and willing to express those opinions as loudly and often as possible, that I just can’t picture another cat fooling me.

Does your cat have a doppleganger?

Dear Buddy: Can Cats Sense Ghosts?

Dear Buddy,

Can cats sense ghosts? My Mr. Cuddles sometimes stares at blank walls or gets up and starts zooming around the house for no apparent reason at 3 a.m.

I’m pretty sure he can see and sense ghosts. After all, what other explanation can there be for that kind of behavior? But since you’re the smartest cat in the world and an expert on everything, I thought I’d ask you first.

Thanks!

Ghost Believer in Great Britain


Dear Ghost Believer,

First I’d like to take the opportunity to set the record straight: I did NOT run screaming when I watched The Ring with my human, and I did NOT run to my litter box and cry when we watched Alien. Those are vicious lies invented by Los Gatos, the criminal catnip cartel, who will stop at nothing to discredit me. Now for the answer to your question:

According to Occam’s razor, “entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.” Or to put it another way, “It is pointless to do with more what can be done with fewer.”

Consider, my friend, that the burden of proof rests with the person who claims ghosts exist. Not once in the history of humans — or cats — has anyone been able to provide legitimate evidence of the supernatural. In fact, the word supernatural itself precludes existence on the physical plane: If we can see it, hear it, smell it and feel it, it exists in the physical world, and therefore cannot be supernatural.

This is why, invariably, supernatural phenomena turn out to be things we just don’t understand yet, and by understanding them we remove all the mystery.

The sun isn’t a god riding a chariot across the sky, it’s a star and our world is caught in its orbit. Lightning isn’t an angry Zeus hurling bolts from Olympus, it’s an electrostatic discharge that produces a flash of extreme heat in the atmosphere, leading to a visible flash and a shockwave we call thunder. The Pythia at Delphi wasn’t an oracle who communed with the gods, she was just really, really high off gases that seeped up from a fault line beneath the temple.

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“I am Cat Zeus! Fear me, for my lightning bolts are powerful and my epic beard is comprised of cats!”

So, too, do our odd feline behaviors have mundane explanations:

  • We can hear things you can’t hear. If you see us staring at blank walls, we’re probably engaged in deep thought (I like to ponder the Fermi paradox and quantum entanglement), or maybe we’re looking in the direction of a sound we can hear, but falls outside of your hearing range. (We felines can hear sounds up to 64,000 Hz, while your inferior human ears can’t catch anything above 20,000 Hz.) That means you may be oblivious to the mice chirping behind the wall, but we know all about them.
  • We can see things you can’t see. You think it’s pitch black? That’s cute. While you stumble around with your eyes useless in the dark, we can see just fine. In fact, even the tiniest sliver of light — an amount imperceptible to you — is enough for us to successfully navigate obstacles in a room or catch movement in our field of vision. You may think we’re pawing at invisible entities at bedtime, but really we’re just swatting flies in the dark.
  • We can feel micro-changes in air density. Our whiskers aren’t just about making us look good. They help us navigate tight spaces and they’re super-sensitive. How sensitive? They’re so packed with nerves and blood vessels at the base that they’re at least as sensitive as your fingertips! You can silently pass wind in the hallway and we’ll be aware of it in the bedroom as our whiskers register the tiniest shifts in air current. Your farts stink, by the way.
  • We can smell things you can’t smell. Speaking of stinky, did you know we have 200 million olfactory receptors? You humans only have five million. Who’s the superior species now, huh? You think we’re furry little wizards who can sense you coming home, or possess powers of precognition, but the truth is we just pick up your nasty Axe body spray from half a mile away. Ghosts don’t wear Axe body spray, or Curve, or Cool Water for that matter.

By now you should have noticed a common theme. You might have bigger brains than us because your heads are huge, but we know all about all sorts of good stuff happening around us while you humans remain oblivious to it. Heck, sometimes you don’t even see or hear things happening right in front of you because you’ve always got your faces buried in those stupid screens!

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Bud’s Whiskers: Stylish and functional!

If we did sense ghosts, you can be sure we’d meow at them for treats and demand they let us in the bathroom, but we don’t. Also, I personally wouldn’t be scared, but lesser cats might get freaked out if they see ghosts, and you’d know because they’d go all white and try to hide under the blankets.

Hope that clears things up!

Your friend,

Buddy

New Human Surprisingly Easy To Manipulate, Rescue Cat Says

NEW YORK — It took only six seconds for Jenna, Mikey’s new human, to open the bathroom door when guilted with mournful meows on Wednesday, the newly-homed cat reported.

The 28-year-old human woman entered the bathroom without her recently-adopted feline at approximately 6:22 pm on Wednesday.

“I said to myself, ‘Mikey, we gotta nip this in the bud right away. We can’t have her thinking she can use the bathroom without us, can we?'” the white moggie said.

Mikey launched into a routine that involved scratching the frame, reaching under the door and meowing frantically — “the classics,” he said.

Six seconds later the bathroom door opened, revealing a concerned Jenna.

“Oh my poor baby, are you okay?” she asked, extending a hand as Mikey padded into the bathroom. “I was worried! It sounded like someone was strangling you!”

Mikey said he milked his new human’s sympathy for all he could get.

“I flopped onto my back, gave out a little ‘Muurrrp!’ and looked at her with my big, sad eyes,” he told reporters. “A few minutes later she was in the kitchen, showering me with snacks. Easy peasy!”

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Paws under the door: A classic feline manipulative strategy that almost always yields results, especially if you can grab something!

Mikey, who spent almost three months in a local shelter as younger cats were adopted during kitten season, said he’s proceeding cautiously in his new home and plans to use his keen feline powers of observation to develop a meticulous catalogue of which buttons to push at specific times “to yield maximum snackage and massages.”

“I haven’t used my solicitation purr yet,” he said. “So far my human’s been pliable and gives me what I want, when I want it. The other night she spent four hours laying in a very uncomfortable-looking position to avoid disturbing me while I napped on her shoulder. I want to see how far I can take it before bringing out the big guns.”

Patience has paid off, Mikey said.

“Her boyfriend came over the other night,” he said. “I could have hissed, peed in his shoes, chased him off. After all, there can only be one man of the house. But he brought a gift for me, one of those track towers with the ball you swat around, you know? I have to admit, I was impressed that he knew enough to pay tribute to me. That guy’s alright.”

How Long Can You Leave Your Cat Alone?

Back in the Dark Ages of kitty cognitive knowledge, when scientists wouldn’t go near a cat with a 20-foot pole because they were considered impossible to work with, the conventional wisdom was that as long as a cat was fed and watered, its needs were met.

Going away for three days? Leave a few bowls of dry food and water and you’re good to go, or if you really want to splurge, get an automatic feeder, the prevailing wisdom went. Gonna be away for a week or two? Get someone to check in on the cat a few times a week just to make sure food and water is available.

“If you want a dog but you don’t have time to meet all of its needs, get a cat,” people would say. “They take care of themselves.”

It didn’t take me long to realize how wrong the “prevailing wisdom” on cats really was, and thankfully in recent years we’ve seen a boom in research into cat behavior, intelligence and emotional needs. Among the many things verified by those studies is the fact that cats absolutely are emotional animals and are not the cold, indifferent automatons many people insisted they were.

One reason for that enduring myth may be cats’ famous stoicism. Ignore a dog and she might cry, become destructive or pee in your house, but one thing’s for sure — she’s going to let you know she’s not handling the isolation well. Ignore a cat, and he’ll just withdraw.

I’ve seen plenty of examples of the latter in the homes of friends and acquaintances. The cats are just sort of there, existing like the furniture or plants, interacted with rarely and given affection only occasionally. Those poor cats are quiet, seemingly indifferent, expecting nothing and sadly accepting of their place. They are neglected.

But when you pay attention to your cats they come out of their shells, so to speak. They warm to you. They reveal their hidden emotional core.

Of course, when you raise a cat with attention and love, that’s there from the very beginning, and they WILL let you know when they’re not happy with your absence.

Who do we know who’s like that? His name sounds like Bum, or maybe Bunny, or…oh yeah! God forbid I should ignore Buddy. I’ll never hear the end of it. In fact, he’s on my desk right now, butt parked next to the mouse, and I’m sure any minute now he’s going to decide that I’ve been writing for too long and declare it’s Buddy Time.

Of course, the little jerk attacked his own cat sitter, a friend who has been caring for him when I’m away since he was a kitten! That complicates things.

“Oh servant! Servant, come here at once! I’d like a massage!”

If you’ve made it this far, you might be wondering how long you can really leave your cat alone. The answer is no more than 24 hours without someone dropping by to check on kitty, refill the water and food bowls, and give him some attention.

If you’re gone longer you’re going to want to make concrete plans for a cat sitter to be there every day.

“You should not leave your cat alone for a prolonged period,” veterinary postdoc Mikel Delgado told Inverse. “Cats also have emotional and social needs that can’t be met when they are left alone for extended periods.”

If your cat likes to play, that’s great, but even if the little one doesn’t, your cat sitter can make things easier by simply hanging out, Delgado said.

Now if you’ll excuse me, His Grace needs me…

Buddy the Cat Spotted With Jaguars In The Amazon

MATO GROSSO DO SUL, Brazil — Fisherman and naturalists working in the Pantanal have reported a strange sight in recent weeks — a domestic cat tagging along with jaguars.

The gray tabby was observed lounging on the banks of the Amazon, napping in a tree and struggling to take bites out of a caiman killed by a generous jaguar, witnesses reported.

“HQ, we’ve got something extraordinary here,” a naturalist was heard reporting over local radio channels. “A jaguarundi is — no, scratch that — a house cat! A house cat is following a group of jaguars from the river bank into the deeper jungle.”

The feline in question was identified as Buddy the Cat of New York after his concerned human reached out to local authorities and appealed to the Brazilian press for his safe return.

“He does this all the time,” the New York man, identified as Big Buddy, told an interviewer from Folha De S. Paulo. “First he broke into the tiger exhibit at the Bronx Zoo and tried to get the tigers to accept him, only to be claimed as a cub by one of the tigresses. It took weeks to convince the zoo to get him out, and when I got him home I had to bathe him five times just to get the stink of tiger saliva off his fur.

“Then somehow he made his way to Tanzania, where he wandered around the Maasai Steppe for a few weeks trying to get into a lion pride. He failed miserably in that endeavor, too. Now with the jaguars. It never ends.”

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Buddy the Cat, known as Kinich Bajo to his jaguar friends, pictured here in the Amazon.

The exasperated New York man claimed responsibility for his failure to keep his “ridiculous” cat from adventuring, but also blamed the transportation industry for accommodating Buddy.

“Who the hell allows an unaccompanied cat to take a bus or board an airplane?” he asked. “How did he end up in first class, sipping champagne and buzzing the stewardesses for more turkey every five minutes? I’m told he got quite drunk and threatened to become combative if he didn’t get an entire fried turkey.”

Asked why his cat was obsessed with ingratiating himself to larger cat species, Big Buddy answered without hesitation.

“He’s a dumbass,” the human said. “Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very cute, very loving little guy, and often a good boy, but a dumbass all the same.”

Buddy’s human said the 10-pound domestic cat often tears around the house, ambushing animate and inanimate objects and practicing his roar, “but he sounds like Elmo singing a funk song in falsetto.”

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As of press time, Buddy the Cat still hadn’t returned home. Jaguars are known to be extraordinarily laid back compared to other big cats, and a loosely-affiliated group of the South American apex predators seemed to tolerate the domestic kitty.

“I can’t leave now,” Buddy told reporters. “They’ve begun to accept me! It would be a violation of trust if I just left them to eat all this delicious food by themselves.”

Kinich Ahau, the local jaguar elder, said his extended family had taken a liking to Buddy.

“Have you heard of this turkey? We did not know of it. It is wondrous!” the great jaguar said. “Buddy, or Kinich Bajo as he is known to us, has also shared great wisdom in the form of new and comfortable napping techniques. On the first night, we observed him construct a soft bed of leaves for himself in the crook of a branch, and over the following suns and moons we have come to appreciate softer napping spots.”

Buddy had sparked a renaissance in jaguarian napping technique, Kinich Ahau said.

“Nobody naps like Buddy,” he said. “No one!”

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Brothers: Xibalbá, left, with Kinich Bajo and Ek B’alam.

With the fond support of the Amazon’s jaguars, Buddy was set to undergo an ancient shamanistic ritual involving the imbibing of Ayahuasca, a powerful psychoactive brew said to reveal cosmological secrets to those who drink it as part of a spiritual ceremony.

“We would not have invited Kinich Bajo, or Buddy as you call him, to commune with the ancient B’alam (jaguar) spirits if we did not sense a deep spirituality and wisdom inside him,” said an elder jaguar shaman named Mike the Melanistic. “He has shown us the way in matters of snacking and napping, and now as we welcome him to our ethereal fraternity, we shall accompany him on his journey to the stars, where he will drink of the deep knowledge of our ancestors.”

Buddy himself told a reporter he was looking forward to the ceremony.

“It’ll grant me, like, awesome powers and shit,” he said. “I’ll be able to disappear in a puff of mist like the jaguars do, my muscles will get bigger and, like, I’ll be able to sniff out snacks from up to a mile away. Pretty cool, if you ask me.”

At press time the jaguar shaman elders said the ceremony does not, in fact, grant such powers.