Category: kitties

The Truth No One Will Tell You About Cat Breeds

When I was looking to adopt a cat I spent hours on the web reading about cat care, kitten proofing, behavior and, of course, breed.

Run a Google search about looking for the right cat and you’ll get several pages of nearly identical results about different cat breeds, what their personalities are like and what to expect from them.

Yet it turned out advice from a friend — who grew up with cats and has two of his own — was more accurate than anything I’d read online.

“When it comes to cats it’s a crapshoot, man,” my friend told me. “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

I wanted an engaged, friendly pet, and all the breed guides suggested Siamese are the best choice. But what I heard from shelter staffers echoed my friend’s observation: Don’t depend on a breed description because every cat is unique.

In the end I adopted Buddy, a gray tabby domestic shorthair. No particular breed, in other words. (Though he thinks he’s his own special kind of cat, and he’s not wrong.)

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Buddy the Buddesian.

Buddy, it turns out, is vocal, bold and friendly. He’s constantly by my side. He’s got a vibrant language of trills, meows and chirps with which he shares his opinion on everything. Where other cats hide when guests are over or a delivery guy knocks on the door, Buddy runs up, curious to see who’s on the other side and if they’re going to be his newest friends.

So why is it so difficult to pin down a cat’s personality, and why don’t cats fit the behavioral profiles of their breeds the way dogs do?

The answer lies in how both animals were domesticated, and their respective paths to becoming companion animals.

Dogs have been working animals for 30,000 years. The earliest dogs helped their humans hunt and guarded their camps at night, alerting them to dangerous situations or intruders. Later, when humans domesticated livestock and developed agriculture, dogs were bred for different purposes: Some herded sheep, some scared off wolves and coyotes, others pulled sleds.

A wet Siberian Husky!
Siberian Huskies were originally sled dogs and require lots of play and stimulation. Credit: Hans Surfer

Today we’ve got dogs who sniff out explosives, drugs and diseases. Police dogs catch a scent and help officers track down suspects. Therapy dogs bring joy to the elderly, sick and injured, while guide dogs make it possible for people with disabilities to live independently.

The point is, human hands have indelibly shaped canis familiaris since long before recorded history. These days dogs are valued primarily for their companionship, but virtually every breed has a lineage that began with practicality, meaning humans shaped them for disposition and ability. A dog’s breed is a good indication of its temperament.

Cats? Not so much.

Cats are famously self-domesticated: When humans developed agriculture and began storing grain, rodents flocked to the abundant new food sources, to the dismay of early human societies.

That’s when cats just showed up, exterminating rodents while showing no interest in grain. Humans didn’t need to breed felines to hunt mice and rats — it’s as natural to cats as grooming and burying their business.

Cats didn’t take on many other jobs in addition to their mousing duties, mostly because they’re famously resistant to following orders, but their hunting skills were so valuable to early societies that they didn’t need to do anything else to earn their keep.

Because of that, no one bothered breeding cats until fairly recently, and the vast majority of cat breeding focuses on changing the way cats look, not how they behave.

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Siamese cats originated in Siam, now known as Thailand. The breed is known for being vocal, but not all Siamese are talkative. Credit: iStock/Chromatos


We like to attribute qualities to cat breeds, and some of them are based in truth. Siamese do tend to talk more than other cats, ragdolls really do go limp when they’re picked up, and Maine Coons are famously chill despite dwarfing most other domestic cats.

But without the behaviorally-specific lineage common to dogs, cat breed behavioral attributes are more like broad stereotypes.

Beyond that, a cat’s personality is primarily determined by genetics and how they were raised in kittenhood. That’s why it’s crucial to handle and socialize kittens when they’re just weeks old, and why ferals will always fear humans.

It’s also why you should take stereotypes about cat breeds with a grain of salt when looking to adopt. If you’re adopting an adult, any good rescue will have information on the cat’s personality, likes and dislikes. If you’re adopting a kitten, you’re pulling the lever on a slot machine.

My advice is to put aside preconceptions about breeds, keep an open mind about looks, and find a cat who connects with you. Like people, no two cats are the same, and a cat’s personality is much more important than the color of its fur when it comes to bonding with an animal who will be in your life for the next 15 to 20 years.

Featured image: Natalie Chettle holds Rupert, a Maine Coone.

 

Notorious Mob Cat Capo Escapes Animal Control

NEW YORK — One of the east coast’s most ruthless mafioso cats was sprung from the big house on Saturday, officials from animal control confirmed.

Fat Tony Purrtellini, a capo in the Cattazio crime family, escaped in the chaos following a prison brawl between felines and a group of Chihuahuas, witnesses said.

“It was absolute bedlam,” said Fuzzy, a British shorthair who witnessed the scene. “A rowdy group of Los Gatos were talking all sorts of rubbish and told the Chihuahuas they would be knifed if they didn’t stop yapping, but that only made the Chihuahuas yap even louder. Then Fat Tony tossed fuel on the fire by telling the Gatos that the Chihuahuas barked at their mums.”

The chaotic scene was compounded by the Chihuahuas’ loose relationship with reality, a source at animal control said.

”Chihuahuas think they’re the size of Great Danes,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Someone really needs to give those dogs a mirror.”

As the Gatos rained blows on the pint-size dogs and the dogs retaliated by biting the cats’ tails, Fat Tony Purrtellini was spirited away by a mysterious hooded figure.

“It were Harry Mewdini, I’m sure of it,” one inmate said with hushed reverence. “I’ll never forget that face.”

Mewdini is singlehandedly responsible for at least two dozen jailbreaks, federal authorities say. The mysterious cat was originally a magician who worked birthday parties on the Chuck-E-Cheese circuit, wowing kittens by escaping Schroedinger’s box and making balloon mice until he caught the eye of the Cattazio crime family, which had several members serving time and saw promise in Mewdini’s skills.

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“You lookin’ at me?” Fat Tony Purrtellini, capo of the Cattazio Crime Family, is known for ruthless drive-by urinatings.

The impact of Fat Tony’s escape was already felt on the street, where Gatos crews were posting extra look-outs and beefing up security because of the portly feline’s reputation for ruthless drive-by sprayings.

Others were stocking up on Purrtellini’s favorite snacks — including soppressata, mortadella, capicola and prosciutto — to bribe the infamous meowbster.

“You let your guard down for one minute,” said a nip dealer who refused to give his name for fear of reprisals, “and that’s when Fat Tony rolls up with his crew. We’re all terrified of getting soaked.”

These Are The Top Male Cat Names For 2020

Who knew there were so many Olivers?

The Dickensian moniker tops a new list of 2020’s most popular male cat names, followed by Charlie and Leo, two names with regal connotations. You can’t throw a dart at a history book without hitting a King Charles, while Leo conjures images of the famed Spartan King Leonidas as well as panthera leo, aka the African lion, often mistakenly called the king of the jungle. (Tigers, not lions, occupy jungles. They’re also the largest cats on the planet.)

Rounding out the royalty-themed names are Simba (at number seven), the eponymous Lion King, Loki (at eighth-most-popular) of son-of-Odin Asgardian fame, George (10) and Louie (13), as in Louis XIV, le Roi Soleil, the Sun King of Versailles.

Here are the top 24, which might seem like an arbitrary number until you read through the list:

  1. Oliver
  2. Charlie
  3. Leo
  4. Max
  5. Jack
  6. Milo
  7. Simba
  8. Loki
  9. Oscar
  10. George
  11. Ollie
  12. Jasper
  13. Louie
  14. Simon
  15. Henry
  16. Dexter
  17. Toby
  18. Winston
  19. Gus
  20. Finn
  21. Kitty
  22. Tiger
  23. Rocky
  24. Buddy

Yep. Buddy’s not sure if he should be insulted at the lack of recognition, or happy that the feline Buddies are an apparently exclusive club.

The list was compiled by Rover.com, a site that allows people to connect with pet sitters and dog walkers. The list is based on the most popular names of cats belonging to the site’s registered users.

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Buddy: A name reserved for only the most sophisticated and handsome cats.

Can You Spot The Cat In This Photo?

Now for another edition of Cats Hiding In Plain Sight. This time it’s a domestic cat instead of a leopard, and the landscape is a bed full of stuffed animals instead of the wild outdoors.

The challenge here is to find the fluffy cat amid all the other fluffy things.

Unlike the hidden leopard photo, which drove me crazy, I spotted the cat immediately in this one. Can you?

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Where’s the cat at?

The cat’s name is Obi and he likes to snooze in the pile of stuffed animals. His favorite is a small hedgehog plushie that he likes to retrieve from the pile and carry with him around the house, owner Mark Carney said.

“We don’t think Obi is hiding per se,” Carney told The Dodo. “When we spot him, we get no reaction, so it’s not a game, either. It is just a spot he likes to sit.”

There may be another reason little Obi retreats to the stuffed animal-bedecked bunk: The family recently adopted a new kitten, and Obi may be trying to earn a reprieve from all that kitten energy.

Buddy Gets A Reading From A Pet Psychic!

Did you know there are pet psychics?

They prefer to be called animal communicators, which makes their work sound more professional and less hokey, but the services they offer are pretty much identical to those offered by regular psychics, mediums, sorcerers and wizards. Per the totally legitimate site SheKnows.com:

Put simply, animal communication is a silent, telepathic language that functions via deepened intuition. Animal communicators are very much in tune with this ability and use it to have a dialogue with an animal. Animal communication is not about deciphering an animal’s body language or behavior, though. It’s an actual exchange of information between the communicator and animal in the form of words, mental images, feelings and more.

Buddy and I have several different means of communication: In the early morning hours he tells me he wants me to wake up by standing on my face and meowing into my ear, and I tell him to shut up and go back to sleep by throwing pillows at him.

By late afternoon Bud begins his daily ritual, communicating to me that dinner time is fast approaching and failure to serve yums on time will result in even louder and more annoying meows. I respond by threatening to sell him to the nearest Chinese food restaurant.

Clearly, we communicate well!

But could an animal communicator facilitate even better ways of exchanging information that don’t include vulgarities, face-walkings and late night ambushes?

We set out to ascertain the truth.

Pet Psychic Jana Melhoopen-Jonks
Paris Hilton consults Jana Melhoopen-Jonks, the famous pet psychic to the stars.

Animal Communicator # 1: The Long Island XL

Length of session: 42 seconds

Comments: “Relax your chakras. Open your inner eye and heart to the quantum energies of my chi. Okay. Good. Now I’m going to connect our minds. Oh my…Ugh. I’m getting an overwhelming stench. It’s…fish. And poultry. An ocean’s worth of salmon and enough turkey to feed a small country. More fish. More turkey. The clucking of a million portly birds, thousands of pounds of slimy salmon overwhelming my olfactory senses…I’m drowning in it. Oh God! Help me! Help me! Pull me out!”

Buddy’s comments: *BURP* She was pretty accurate.

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Animal Communicator #2: Edward John, animal telepath

Length of session: 18 minutes

Edward John: So this is your cat, Buster?

Me: His name is Buddy.

Edward John: Okay, so you want me to talk to little Bubba here and have him tell me what he’s thinking?

Me: Uh yeah, the usual. I want to know if he’s happy living with me, what he likes, and what I can do for him to make it even better.

Edward John: Okay. I’m performing the Vulcan mind-meld now. My mind to your mind…it is logical to accept the connection.

Oh my. He’s a ferocious little guy, isn’t he, your Bubba? I’m getting images showing him prowling the neighborhood…

Me: He doesn’t go outside.

Edward John: …prowling the living room, serving as enforcer to the other cats in the house…

Me: He’s an only cat.

Edward John: Right. I knew that. Now I’m seeing fleeting images of a female cat, a neighbor’s cat. Buster sired a litter with her…

Me: Buddy was neutered at 5 months old.

Edward John: …but he revealed he’d been neutered, so he couldn’t be the father, which is why they brought Smudge next door for a paternity test and he’s the baby daddy.

Edward John: Okay, your cat’s speaking directly to me now! He says he’s sorry he doesn’t meow much, but he promises to meow with joy if you feed him more tuna.

Me: He hates tuna, and the problem isn’t getting him to talk, it’s getting him to stop. He treats me to nightly dissertations, rendered in meow, on theoretical physics and the creamy texture of smoked Gouda.

Edward John: Whatever. That’ll conclude our 18-minute session at the low price of $350. We can keep going for only $39.95 per additional minute if you’d like me to continue probing Barry’s mind.

Me: I think Barry, Bubba, Buster and I are good. Thanks, Edward.

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Animal Communicator #3: Alison Doobwah, Medium

Length of session: 21 minutes

Alison: Okay, something’s coming through. I’m seeing a house. It could be white, or gray or maybe a light blue or tan. Does that sound familiar?

Me: No. We live in an apartment building.

Alison: Okay, I feel like he’s telling me he wants turkey. Does turkey mean anything to you?

Me: Yes, it’s all over the blog. It’s his favorite food. Not exactly a secret. Anyone could have looked it up.

Alison: A skeptic, huh? All right. I’m getting images, visualizations from the quantum reality, echoes of someone whose name begins with a D. Maybe Dave, Doris, Devon, Dirk, Debbie, Darren, Delilah or Decker?

Me: Nope. Neither of us know any Dorises, Devons, Dirks or Deckers.

Alison: Dominic? Diego? Dorian? Maybe Dakota or Desmond?

Me: No. Sorry.

Alison: Maybe an H? Oh, or a G? Does Buddy know a Greg, Gary, Gerald, Geordi or Gerrit?

Me: No.

Alison: What about grandma or grandpa?

Me: I had grandparents! That’s amazing! And my mom is like a grandmother to Buddy. Your intuition is outstanding!

Alison: I’m just reading the images I get from the astral plane. I’m merely the vessel through which the chakras broadcast their quantum energies and reveal their secrets.

Me: Makes total sense. What else?

Alison: He says he wants more toys. He says the snack selection in your home is sub-par, and that if you really love him, you’ll put more effort into buying a more diverse array of treats. He also says he wants a cat condo. In fact, he says he’s brought this topic up before, and he’s disappointed in your failure to follow through. Regarding sleeping arrangements, he says he’d like you to cut down on tossing and turning during the night, because you’re his mattress and excess movement disturbs his sleep. On the subject of wet food, he feels you don’t serve him turkey as much as he’d like, and that poultry should ideally be followed up with seafood. Regarding the vacuum…

Me: Okay, okay.  Enough. I get it.

Alison: But there’s more! He says…

Me: Any more complaints and he can tell them to the cooks at Szechuan Garden II. Comprende?

Alison: I think he just pooped in your shoe.

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