Tag: felis catus

Amazing Cats: The Rusty-Spotted Cat

Stalking the jungles, wetlands and forests of India and Sri Lanka are exceptionally skilled hunters, cats who are as swift as they are deadly.

They’re nocturnal, with large eyes that allow them to see motion and detail in almost complete darkness, and spectacularly sure-footed. Their agility, grace and natural climbing ability not only help them get to prey, but also aid them in avoiding predators.

But unless you’re a lizard, bird or small mammal, you have little to fear from the rusty-spotted cat — unless you get in its face.

The striped-and-spotted felines are as fierce as they are tiny, and they are truly diminutive — at two to three-and-a-half pounds fully grown, rusty-spotted cats are rivaled only by the black-footed cat of southern Africa as the world’s smallest felines.

Rusty-spotted cat
A rusty-spotted cat mother stands protectively in front of her kittens in Cornwall

Although the little guys are elusive, cat enthusiasts were treated to rare close-up images of rusty-spotted kittens when a litter was born at Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary in Cornwall in 2020. It was an extremely rare occurrence, as there are only a few dozen rusty-spotted cats in captivity worldwide. Like most other wildlife, the species is threatened by habitat reduction.

For context, the tiny feline is only a third the size of a typical house cat, felis catus, and would be dwarfed by the gentle giant Maine Coon.

Little Buddy’s take: These guys are awesome and I’m seriously considering moving to their territory and living among them. Do you know why? At 10 pounds I would be a giant among them, striding meowscularly through the jungle with my own personal army of felines. They would make me their king, naturally, and sing songs about Buddy the Colossal Cat. I would have their most desirable females bathed and brought to my tent, where we would dine and I would regale them with stories of my adventures in America. Sadly, though, there are no turkeys in India or Sri Lanka. Could I live without turkey?

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Amazing Cats: The Puma
Amazing Cat Breeds: The Buddinese

What’s The Real Reason Cats Love Boxes?

Buddy is not overly obsessed with boxes.

I think that’s because he feels safe here, he’s got plenty of places to hide if he wants, and he’s got a big cat tunnel with four ways in or out. He doesn’t need another little space to crawl into.

Still, like any cat, the little dude likes a good box. When he gets to play with a new box he likes to sniff it, rub against it once or twice, then jump inside and determine if it’s comfortable. Then he gets serious, looks around, and slowly sinks down below the top of the box…

…and remains there for a few seconds before cautiously raising his head and looking around. Usually this is accompanied by a delighted trill, and I get the strong sense that he thinks he’s invisible to anyone outside the box while he has the advantage of seeing them.

“You cannot see Buddy, but Buddy sees you!”

Does he ambush me from the box? Does a bear crap in the woods?

There isn’t an abundance of research into why cats love boxes so much, but the existing data combined with what we know about the feline mind strongly suggests that, first and foremost, boxes have a strong psychological effect. They make cats feel secure and well-protected.

Anyone familiar with cats knows the little furballs like to wedge themselves into hideaways, scurry under tables and hide in laundry baskets. The behavior starts in kittenhood when they’re tiny enough to crawl into shoes and sneakers.

In 2021, animal cognition grad student Gabriella Smith conducted a study in which she found cats will happily sit in Kanizsa contours with the same enthusiasm they have for boxes.

Kanizsa contours are two-dimensional. The participants created them by using tape and paper to make the shapes on the floor. They’re not even proper boxes, just the illusory suggestion of boxes or general square shapes. That doesn’t seem to matter to cats:

Of course pieces of tape or paper on the floor do not afford any real protection, so the feline affinity for boxes seems to be more about feeling protected.

Since cats are territorial, it could be that they also like clear boundaries around their personal space.

The key here seems to be having the boundary without blocking access, as cats are notoriously not cool with closed doors or being confined. If they want to spend an hour in a tiny space and it’s their idea, they’re fine with it, but they don’t like to be restricted by when they can come and go.

Notably, this isn’t behavior limited to felis catus. So far there doesn’t seem to be any exception to the box-loving rule among felines and felids of any species. Tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards, snow leopards and pumas seem just as fond of them as their smaller cousins, as you can see in this video from Big Cat Rescue:

Boxes are comforting, cozy, fun to explore and make the perfect hiding spots for ambushes. If you’re a cat big or small, what’s not to like?

What Kind Of Cat Is This?

A reader in Alabama sent this image to the Bangor Daily News and asked for help identifying the cat.

Like many other states, Alabama is home to bobcats and cougars, but we can cross them both off the list: The long tail eliminates the possibility of a bobcat, while the coat pattern and build of the cat rules out a puma.

Aside from puma, bobcats and the lynx, almost all other species of wild cat in the western hemisphere are found only in South America.

The cat in the photo is muscular and looks like it’s taking a leisurely stroll, but something in the wooded area has caught its attention. The dipped tail may indicate uncertainty. Its tabby stripes are well-defined but broken, a trait often seen in domestic cats.

Finally, although Bangor says there’s not much to help put the cat’s overall size in context, it’s almost certainly smaller than it looks, judging from the barrel in the background. In fact, if you expand the image and look closely at the barrel, you can see there’s an arched entry cut out of it, and it’s secured to some kind of foundation. Who knows, maybe someone converted it into a small shelter for this cat and other strays.

I took the image, cropped it close, tried to enhance the details as much as possible without ruining the data, and got this:

The mystery cat of Alabama

My verdict: It’s a domestic cat.

The proportions, tail and gait are all consistent with a domestic cat, as is the coat pattern. The cat in the photo doesn’t resemble any local wild cats, and the cat isn’t as large as it may initially appear.

What do you think?

Bewildered Tigers Watch As Buddy Enters Enclosure

NEW YORK — A domestic feline entered the big cat enclosure at the Bronx Zoo on Wednesday, with the bemused tiger inhabitants unsure of how to respond to the brazen intruder.

“Sup guys!” the silver tabby calling himself Buddy meowed to the confused big cats, according to witnesses.

The bold domestic feline, who weighs approximately 10 pounds, made his way around the enclosure, fist-bumping each of the tigers before sauntering over to the rock pool and laying down next to a 506-pound male named Gerald.

“Whaddup, Gerald,” Buddy the Cat said as he emulated the much larger cat’s posture. “What’s good, my homie?”

Gerald turned his head toward the smaller cat and roared, but Buddy was unperturbed.

“Yeah,” he said to the massive tiger. “I feel you, bro. Haters gonna hate, am I right? Us apex predators just don’t get no respect no more.”

Gerald roared again.

“Exactly what I’m saying, my dude,” Buddy replied.

The massive felid eyed Buddy for a second as if deciding whether there was enough meat on his bones to justify turning him into a snack, then shrugged and yawned.

Bud and Gerald the Tiger
Best homies.

Asked later why he entered the tiger enclosure, Buddy said it was “important to connect with my heritage.”

“I’m showing solidarity with my peeps,” the silver tabby told reporters.

Encouraged by the fact that the tigers seemed to tolerate his presence, Buddy returned to the enclosure later the same day, only for a white tigress to claim him.

“I’m not your cub!” the tabby said, squirming as the tigress lifted him with the scruff of his neck between her teeth. “I’m a grown tiger! Put me down this instant!”

The domestic cat still hadn’t emerged from the tigress’ den by the next morning. A witness using a telephoto lens confirmed Buddy tried to make a run for it several times, only to be pulled back and given a tongue bath.

“Unpaw me! Untongue me!” he could be heard screaming from inside the den. “Help! Somebody help me!”

A zoo spokesman said there were currently no plans to free Buddy the cat.

Buddy the Cat, Hero of the Pandemic

From the High Office of Really Awesome Cats
Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020

Let it be known that Buddy the Cat has earned this commendation for going above and beyond the call of duty, for being a Good Boy (mostly) who has played an instrumental role in keeping his human sane during a time of absolute insanity. For helping alleviate loneliness and depressing circumstances, for being his naturally delightful self, and for fidelity to the daily schedule so yums are always dispensed at the right time, we salute the inimitable Buddy.

Buddy the Cat, 6, has been a constant companion to his human, Big Buddy, throughout the SARS-CoV2 pandemic, providing him with companionship and lulz during the dark days of March and April when New York became the epicenter of infection. He has continued his duties, raising morale over the summer, fall and into the current winter.

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Buddy the Cat, a true hero.

The dedicated tabby cat has fallen face-first into boxes, misjudged jumps, scared himself with his own shadow and sung the Song of His People at 3 a.m., all in an attempt to bring laughs to the gloom. He has curled up with his human while the latter read books, supervised indoor hobby activities and defeated the Red Dot of Evil.

Also, he’s really good looking, charming and has big muscles!

We recognize Buddy the Cat as a credit to his species and a paragon of feline handsomeness. He is a true buddy and best friend. Now give him snacks!

Has your cat been a hero of the pandemic?