Category: kitties

Here Are The Top Cat Names In 2019

Buddy’s moving on up!

Buddy was the 11th most-popular for male cats in 2019, a newly-released list says. The list was compiled by Rover, a company that helps pet owners connect with pet sitters and walkers.

The top 10 male cat names in 2019 were:

  1. Oliver
  2. Leo
  3. Milo
  4. Charlie
  5. Max
  6. Jack
  7. Simba
  8. Loki
  9. Oscar
  10. Jasper
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Sacre bleu! Do I look like a Jean-Jacques to you, sir?

And here are the top 10 female cat names of 2019:

  1. Luna
  2. Bella
  3. Lucy
  4. Kitty
  5. Lily
  6. Nala
  7. Chloe
  8. Sophie
  9. Daisy
  10. Stella
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Call me Gertrude!

RIP Lil Bub, Famous Tabby and Feline Ambassador

Lil Bub, one of the first cats propelled to fame via the internet, has passed away according to her caretakers.

The tiny tabby, who was afflicted with feline dwarfism and the rare bone disease osteopetrosis, first came to prominence when photos of her popped up on Tumblr and Reddit in 2011. Her human, Mike Bridavsky, built a social media presence for the little cat, sharing her daily exploits with millions of followers on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Lil Bub’s celebrity was also used to raise money for animal welfare and homeless pets.

Bub’s unique look was a hit with online cat aficionados. Because of her conditions she remained the size of a kitten, her limbs were shorter than average, and her teeth never grew in. Most photos of the beloved cat show her tongue lolling out of her mouth and an inimitable facial expression that looked like a permanent smiley face.

Bub, who suffered complications from the bone disease, died in her sleep on Dec. 1, Bridavsky said. She was eight years old. Bridavsky, who said he’s devastated by the death of his cat, didn’t announce her passing until Dec. 3, presumably to grieve in private before getting bombarded with messages and media enquiries.

“I have always been fully transparent about BUB’s health, and it was no secret that she was battling a persistent and aggressive bone infection,” Bridavsky wrote on Instagram. “Even knowing this, we weren’t expecting her to pass so soon or so abruptly without warning. I truly believe that she willingly made the decision to leave her failing body so that our family would not have to make that difficult decision ourselves.”

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Lil Bub’s owner shared the first photo he took of the famous cat, left, and the last on Dec. 1.

“It is impossible to put into words the profound effect that BUB has had on my life, on the lives of thousands of homeless pets, and on the lives of those of you that have cared for her as if she were your own family. She taught me everything that I know about unconditional love, she brought my wife Stacy and I together, she’s the reason we have our beautiful children Rosco and Lula, and she has been a constant source of warmth and love in our lives for the past 8 years. To say that our family is devastated would be an understatement.”

Meet Feline Police Pawfficer Donut, A Cat Who Raises Cash for Charity

Community policing is the idea that people feel safer and are more likely to trust the police if officers are visible, accessible and know the people in the neighborhoods they patrol.

It’s a different model of policing, one that gets cops out of their patrol cars and onto sidewalks, parks and public events. Officers check in with local businesses, listen to concerns from the community and place a high priority on quality of life, acting on lessons learned from many research studies showing crime drops dramatically in places where there’s a stronger sense of community. (Community policing was the model used by the NYPD in the late 90s, dramatically transforming Manhattan’s worst neighborhoods.)

For example, drug dealers work corners in blighted neighborhoods where people won’t call the police, but they’re much less likely to extend their turf to places where people know their neighbors, take pride in their homes and don’t tolerate petty crime like graffiti and vandalism.

To help them connect with the local community, police in Troy, Michigan — a mostly suburban area north of Detroit — added a kitten to their force in 2018.

Pawfficer Donut of Troy Police Department
Pawfficer Donut is sworn in as a member of the Troy Police Department in 2018. Credit: Troy PD

Pawfficer Donut, as the tiny tabby is known, accompanies cops to local events, helps officers connect with kids in schools, and oversees regular meetups called “Coffee with Cops,” in which citizens can speak to officers in an informal setting to air concerns and provide feedback.

Now Pawfficer Donut is extending her beat to charitable fundraising, helping raise cash for Leuk’s Landing, a home for cats suffering from feline leukemia, and HAVEN, a group that aids victims of domestic violence.

For $25 you can support Donut’s fundraiser and get a sweet Feline Police Unit t-shirt. The proceeds go to the above-mentioned charities:

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To purchase a t-shirt and help Pawfficer Donut with her fundraiser, click here.

Donut is a former shelter cat. To follow her adventures on pawtrol, you can subscribe to her Instagram account.

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Donut even has her own badge. Credit: Troy PD

 

That Cat Allergy Vaccine Isn’t Such A Good Idea After All

Last month when news headlines trumpeted the successful testing of a cat allergy vaccine, we spun it as a victory for all cats: Finally, allergies would no longer be an excuse for humans to avoid cats, and kitties could conquer the remaining holdouts, those homes that still aren’t occupied by America’s favorite pet.

Cats will be everywhere! Huzzah!

We were wrong.

Reader Kamala Tirumalai is not only an animal lover, caretaker of a feisty guinea pig and all-around awesome person, she’s also an immunologist with a PhD in microbiology. In other words, this is her area of expertise.

So we asked Dr. Kamala about the vaccine — which would be administered to cats, not people — and she was kind enough to give it some thought and explain why she doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

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How HypoCat works

First, a refresher: HypoCat, a European company, created what it calls a “virus-like particle vaccine” “to induce neutralizing antibodies against Fel d 1, the major feline allergen in human subjects.” The vaccine was intended to “bind and neutralize the Fel d 1 allergen.”

In layman’s terms, the vaccine is designed to shut off the protein that triggers allergic reactions and symptoms like itchy skin, watery eyes and sneezing in humans. Contrary to what many people believe, the offending protein doesn’t come from cat hair, it’s produced in cat saliva and dander. But because cats are fastidious groomers, the allergen is passed from saliva to fur.

Vaccine administered to cats, not humans

HypoCat stops the protein, but there’s a catch: The vaccine is administered to cats, not humans, which means instead of inoculating people from the protein’s effects, it’s changing the way Fel d 1 operates in a cat’s system.

The problem, as Kamala points out, is that “Fel d 1’s function is still unknown.”

“Yet the fact that so many cat glands secrete it all the time implies it must have some function in and for cats,” she explained. “What if that’s a function important for their health? What’ll happen then to cats vaccinated against Fel d 1? That’s currently an unknown.”

By “neutralizing” Fel d 1 — in other words, making it non-functional — HypoCat could trigger an autoimmune response in cats not unlike human autoimmune diseases in which the body’s defensive systems turn on itself.

Tinkering with an unknown

In a paper published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the Swiss-based company’s researchers acknowledge the unknowns surrounding Fel d 1’s function, noting while “some function in pheromone binding and pelt conditioning has been suggested, the biological function of Fel d 1 remains uncertain.”

More than 50 cats from labs in New York and Ireland were used in the study. The study’s authors say they split the subjects into different groups to analyze immunogenicity (whether the vaccine produced an immune response) and tolerability, but there is no long-term data on how HypoCat might affect house cats.

Then there’s the moral and ethical aspect. HypoCat makes a potentially dangerous alteration to cats for the convenience of humans.

 

Cat Servant Quarterly Performance Review

Office of His Grace, Buddy I

Quarterly Performance Review, Summer 2019 for Big Buddy, human servant in the king’s employ

Food:

Meal selection remains satisfactory. You are to be commended for serving a rotation of delicious yums, including turkey, chicken, salmon, beef, whitefish and occasionally more exotic dishes like duck.

Service itself could be improved: On one occasion dinner was served 82 seconds late, and on another occasion the meal was tardy by an unacceptable 113 seconds. That’s almost two minutes!

In addition, the King wishes to remind his servant that His Grace prefers when his servant mixes the pate up to soften it, shaping it in a neat pile in the center of the bowl.

Treat quality and variety are satisfactory. The frequency with which treats are dispensed, however, is not. We’ve mentioned this on your last 12 quarterly reports.

Sleeping situation:

Big Buddy performs an essential function, serving as His Grace’s mattress. There was a moment of concern earlier this summer when Big Buddy had lost several pounds upon returning from Japan, threatening the integrity of His Grace’s cushion, but after written reprimands and several bites, the weight was restored. See that it remains.

Litter box maintenance:

Satisfactory.

Toy selection:

Satisfactory. His Grace prefers Da Bird and the fishy wand toy. Also, he likes it when Big Buddy sprinkles treats in his cat tunnel. Those are always a delightful surprise.

Visitors:

There was one week when His Grace was forced to endure the presence of miniature humans, otherwise known as Big Buddy’s nieces. The miniature humans were well-behaved for the most part, although His Grace would remind Big Buddy to remind the miniature humans not to appropriate His Grace’s toys.

Overall evaluation: 6.5/10

His Grace feels that Big Buddy could improve his quarterly score by addressing areas of concern, especially the aforementioned treat frequency issue.

 

Ode to Spot: Nerdy Appreciation for Cats

People who hate on Star Trek think it’s all technobabble about tachyon fields and Starfleet officers shouting things like “Captain, shields are at 60 percent and falling!” during yawn-inducing battle sequences.

Au contraire, my feline-loving friends! Star Trek is not only awesome, it’s written by people who love cats, and kitties have always had a place on the USS Enterprise.

Perhaps the most famous of those cats is Spot, a ginger tabby who belonged to Lt. Commander Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Even in space, it appears, cats are still picky and want attention on their own terms — Data famously tried 221 different types of cat food “formulas” before finding one Spot approved of, and when Spot wasn’t wandering the corridors of the Enterprise 1701-D, he was hanging around his human android, demanding attention and affection.

In season six of the iconic TV show, much to the chagrin of his fellow crew mates, Data read a poem about how much he loves his cat. The poem is called “Ode to Spot”:

Felis catus is your taxonomic nomenclature
An endothermic quadruped, carnivorous by nature
Your visual, olfactory, and auditory senses
Contribute to your hunting skills and natural defenses
I find myself intrigued by your sub-vocal oscillations
A singular development of cat communications
That obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
For a rhythmic stroking of your fur to demonstrate affection
A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents
You would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance
And when not being utilized to aid in locomotion
It often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion
Oh Spot, the complex levels of behavior you display
Denote a fairly well-developed cognitive array
And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend
I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend

 

“Ode to Spot” has become a favorite of Star Trek fans who also happen to be cat lovers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s quite a bit of overlap.

I do, however, feel the poem is in need of an update on those last two lines:

Because you are sentient, Spot, I know you comprehend
That I consider you a true and valued friend

The episode aired in 1991, but in 2019 there are still people who don’t know cats are sentient. Cats think, they feel, they’re aware of the world around them. They have a full range of emotions, experiencing things like happiness, sadness, anger, excitement, anticipation, anxiety, jealousy and contentment.

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Most people who share their homes with cats and dogs would say it’s obvious that animals have emotions, but thanks to the efforts of modern scientists, we now have evidence.

Perhaps Star Trek’s writers simply got their terminology wrong. After all, in one episode, Data needs to find a cat sitter and settles on Worf, the Klingon chief of security on the Enterprise. Data is clearly worried about how Spot will get on in his absence, rattling off a list of things Worf needs to do to take care of the cat.

“And you must talk to him,” Data adds, worry creasing his forehead. “Tell him he’s a pretty cat, and a good cat.”

Worf, already looking uncomfortable as he holds Spot, glares at Data and deadpans: “I will feed him.”

Data, who realizes he’s pushing his luck, takes one last look at Spot and nods.

“Perhaps that will be enough.”

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Data and Spot. Originally, Spot was a lighter orange and was played by a male cat. In later seasons he was replaced by a female with a darker coat.

Pine Cat Litter: The Verdict

Big Buddy: Hey Bud, how’s it going in there?

Little Buddy: What the heck? [Head pops out of litter box flap] Get outta here! I’m trying to do my business in peace.

Big Buddy: But how’s the pine litter? People want to know.

Little Buddy: [Trills in irritation] People? What people?

Big Buddy: The people who read the blog. Your blog. Come on, you know this.

Little Buddy: [A sudden pause in the digging sound inside the litter box] You’re blogging about my pooping habits?!

Big Buddy: Well, yeah…

Little Buddy: To complete strangers? It’s a good thing no one reads your stupid blog.

Big Buddy: Actually it’s your blog, little guy. And people do read it. Last month it was more than three thousand, four hundred and… 

Little Buddy: WHAT?!

Big Buddy: Yeah, dude. And they want to know how the pine litter is working out for you, so if you could just, you know, describe what…Ow! OUCH what the hell? Stop, stop! Don’t you dare…put those claws away, I’m not warning you ag…owww! You little…

As you can see, Buddy wasn’t too thrilled about the idea of me blogging about his business, but things eventually calmed down and I lifted the lid…

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The good: Pine litter really absorbs cat eliminations of the liquid and solid kind, and does a good job neutralizing the scent. It might do a better job than your regular litter: At one point Buddy blew up the box, and while the smell wasn’t entirely absorbed by the pine, it was much less unpleasant than it usually is with scented litter.

It’s also better for the environment and can be purchased in bulk. That’s a win-win.

Finally, pine weighs considerably less than most other types of litter, which may appeal to cat servants who have difficulty lugging large bags.

The bad: Other cats might not take to it so readily. Buddy is unusually unperturbed by changes in litter, and although I try to remain consistent, I’ve tried several types. He doesn’t seem to mind. YMMV according to your cat’s habits and personality. If your cat is upset by the change, proceed gradually by mixing the pine with the original litter.

The main problem is the way the litter clumps, or doesn’t. You’re not going to get easily-scoopable clumps to leave your cat with a clean litter box, and litter scoops aren’t designed for pine. Instead you’ll have to dump most or all of it out and refill it. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing since you get more litter for the price, but you’ll need to keep a lot of it in your home and you’ll go through it quickly.

The verdict: Pine is probably a great solution for people whose cats aren’t picky about litter. It does a great job neutralizing odor. Others may find it requires too much maintenance and might be put off by the difficulties with clumping.