A Japanese company that sells FitBit-like devices for cats released its first data-driven report this week and promises new revelations to come as more people buy the devices for their cats, leading to more data.
The company and its device are both called Catlog. To mark “Cat Day” in Japan, which falls on Feb. 22, researchers at the Shibuya, Tokyo-based firm issued a report saying data shows cats sleep progressively longer as they age, and cats in general sleep longer in winter.
Yeah. Not exactly a whopper.
Still, it’s one thing to know something anecdotally and another to prove it, and there are tantalizing possibilities as more kitties are equipped with Catlog. The collar-like device uses “biologging” technology to record and sort data on things like eating, drinking, sleeping, grooming and exercise. The data is relayed to caretakers via a mobile app and added to the information coming from every other Catlog, giving the research team behind the app hard data for cats across all ages and breeds.
The Catlog has received Japan’s Good Design Award, a sought-after mark of excellence among Japanese products.
Unfortunately Buddy won’t be contributing to that data even if Catlog pushes into the US market. Little dude won’t tolerate a collar at all and is not shy about loudly, repeatedly, incessantly communicating when he doesn’t like something. 🙁
Most Popular Cat Breeds of 2021, According to CFA
The Cat Fanciers’ Association has released its annual list of the most popular cat breeds. While the CFA recognizes 45 breeds and registers “non-pedigreed” cats as well, the list is based only on CFA registered cats. That means it provides a good snapshot of which breeds are trendy, but it’s not a definitive most popular breeds list.
Cats without a particular breed still account for the vast majority of all pet felines, but among people who registered their cats with CFA, Ragdolls were the most popular in 2021, followed by gentle giant Maine Coones and exotic shorthairs. (Note that this list does not include the fearsome and elusive Buddinese Tiger.)
As readers of PITB know, I have first-hand experience with taking care of a massive beast of a cat, with Buddy weighing in at a jaw-dropping 10 pounds, most of it pure meowscle of course.
That means I can sympathize with Russian one-percenter Yulia Minina, who bought a Maine Coon kitten less than two years ago only to see him balloon into an almost 30-pound behemoth — and he’s still growing!
Visitors often mistake Kefir for a large dog at first, Minina said, but the Maine Coon is the kind of gentle giant typical of his species and acts more like “a very affectionate and modest child.”
“When friends and acquaintances come to the house, all the attention is on him and he willingly allows himself to be stroked,” Minina told the UK’s South West News Service.
While most cats are just about their full size after a year, Maine Coons can continue to grow until after their second birthdays. (There’s no evidence that they continue to grow until they’re 5 years old despite claims online, mostly from breeder sites.) That means Kefir, who already looks like a robust lynx, could end up challenging domestic cat size records if he enjoys another growth spurt.
Kefir is just starting to go viral within the past day or two, and as his Instagram follower count (7,288 as of this post) continues to tick up, so do the enquiries from people who want to buy the big guy.
“To everyone who wants to buy my cat, I answer: NOT FOR SALE!” Minina wrote in an Instagram post on Monday. “But I can give all the information about the breeder that many have asked! At the moment, 3 gorgeous snow-white blue eyes are available in the nursery age 1 month. I think you don’t need to praise their beautiful and big parents, you already know everything!”
No word yet if Minina gets a commission on successful referrals to the breeder.
In the meantime, Buddy can rest easy knowing that even if another cat rivals his huge and intimidating presence, he’s all the way in Stary Oskol, a safe 4,873 miles away.
Merlin was born during 2007’s storm season in the Carolinas, and it was a hurricane that took him from his mom and siblings.
“He was found all alone in rubble and ruin,” his human mom, Meg Ferra, recalled. “Rescue picked him up but mom and litter mates were nowhere to be found, and Merlin was inconsolable. He was not yet weaned.”
Merlin’s kittenhood and first few years were chaotic, cruel and marked by repeated disappointment: The little guy, then called Shadow, was cycled through seven shelters and two families who adopted him, only to bring him back to the shelter system like a defective toy.
He was traumatized by his early experiences, shy and fearful, the kind of cat who huddled miserably in the back of the cage while more outgoing kitties found their forever homes.
His last stop — and last chance — was a kill shelter in New Jersey. The shy grey tabby with tufts of epic white-and-grey fur may have sensed his time was running out and uncharacteristically reached out to a couple that wandered into the shelter one day.
“Merlin put his rather large paw out and grabbed my husband’s shoulder — a feat in itself since three bullies kept pushing him into the corner and making him sit in his food,” Ferra said. “He was malnourished, skinny, oily, messy and sad.”
Ferra hesitated. Long-haired cats usually mean lots of shedding on clothes, carpets and couches. A cat with such a complicated history would present challenges as well.
“Once my husband held him, well, my thoughts of avoiding lots of hair went out the window,” she said.
The Ferras brought Shadow home and renamed him Merlin, a name befitting such a regal feline. They were surprised to discover he didn’t shed much despite his great tufts of wild fur. A subsequent DNA test identified him as a Siberian forest cat, an ancient, accidental breed that developed its characteristics naturally because it lived in isolation from other cat populations, deep within the Russian tundra.
Siberians have quite a few unique qualities. They have three fur layers — guard, awn and down hair — and rival Maine Coons in their floofiness, but their fur is easy to maintain and resistant to matting. They moult twice a year. Their moulting phases are milder than similarly-floofy cats, and their fur has lower levels of the allergen Fel-d1.
Merlin was fearful and shy in his new home, and it became clear that he was not going to soften any time soon. He’d flinch, hinting at past traumas: “You couldn’t raise a hairbrush near him, or hold your hand over his head to caress him.”
“It took five years to break through Merlin’s wall of anger and fear when we brought him home,” Ferra said. “We played it low key, never loud, pushy, punishing, forceful or insulting. By insulting I mean with Merlin, you don’t make deals! Deals always hurt his feelings.”
One day, Ferra was trying to get Merlin to play with one of his toys when he lashed out at her.
“He tore up my forearm. I was dripping blood from wrist to elbow. I didn’t move. He didn’t move. His eyes were black orbs. I could see the wheels spinning. ‘Will she hit me? Yell? Throw me? Send me away?’
“I exhaled slowly and in my calmest demeanor said to him: ‘Merlin, what are you still so angry about? Frightened about? Don’t you know by now no one is going to hurt you here? It’s been five years and you’re safe, honey. You’re home, nothing will ever harm you again. They’d have to go through your family, daddy and me. You’re not alone, my love.’ And damned if his pupils didn’t recede. He let out a little whimper and his whole body relaxed.”
From there, Ferra said, “it’s been belly kisses and raspberries,” but Merlin “was not a cuddler.”
“But like clockwork every week he would approach me, tap my leg and stare up at me. Not too mushy, but as if to say ‘I want a hug now!’ I ate up those two minutes. I’d pick him up and simulate his lost mom’s cheek rubs, which he loved and craved.”
Merlin developed health problems. In particular, his hips and neck began to bother him. Those are side effects typical of his breed, which has longer back legs that make Siberians powerful jumpers. He began suffering from hyperthyroidism and arthritis in his later years.
At seven years old, Merlin fought off a bout of pneumonia. But when he came down with it in early December, he didn’t have the strength to fight it off.
Ferra and her husband, Joe, stayed up with their beloved cat for almost 48 hours, monitoring him. Her husband even put off his dialysis to stay with the little guy.
But by Tuesday, when Merlin could no longer lift his head, Ferra knew it was the end. Merlin was euthanized on the morning of Dec. 9 at the veterinarian’s office. He was 13 years old.
The typical symptoms of grief set in: Ferra kept looking for the little furball, momentarily forgetting he was gone. She left his food bowl and his water fountain untouched. Her life suddenly had a vacuum in it.
That this happened now in the midst of a pandemic, as the death and infection rates skyrocket, lock-downs begin anew and the prospect of a dark winter casts a gloom over life, makes Merlin’s absence especially challenging. The Ferras’ children are adults, and their house is now quiet. Merlin’s presence mitigated the isolation and dreariness of life in a pandemic, as cats and dogs have done for millions of Americans this year.
For Joe, even his treatments remind him of his cat: Merlin would stand guard when Joe settled in for dialysis, remaining for the length of the treatment.
Ferra said she and her husband are considering adopting litter mates or inseparable friends. They feel Merlin would want them to provide a home to new cats.
“Joe has asked me how long I need until we open our home and hearts to a bonded pair. My husband can’t stand the emptiness. I just need a little more time. But with COVID and and the overflowing shelters I feel even Merlin wouldn’t want me to wait too long.”
Special thanks to Meg for talking to us about Merlin despite her fresh grief at losing the special little guy. We wish Meg and Joe the best this holiday season, and when they open their home to new kitties who need some love and a place to call their own.
One of the most anticipated new characters in Star Trek: Discovery’s third season made her debut this week, continuing a proud tradition of felines in the Federation.
Grudge the Cat is a Maine Coon and the beloved pet of new character Booker Cleveland, played by David Ajala. (Ajala should be familiar to science fiction fans of his roles as Captain Roy Eris from Nightflyers and Drifter from Kill Command.)
Ajala’s Booker plants a kiss on Grudge’s head as the floofy feline hangs out on the bridge of his starship. Later, when a mercenary courier tries forcing Booker to reveal the location of priceless cargo and Booker refuses, the mercenary threatens Grudge.
“She is a Queen!” Booker says indignantly, clearly more upset at the threat to his cat than to his own personal safety.
Grudge is played by Leeu, a male Maine Coon who was chosen after the producers put out a call for a large domestic cat.
The floofy tabby follows in the paw steps of Spot, Commander Data’s beloved orange tabby on Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as the show’s most prominent species of felid aliens, the Caitians.
Now we just need to get Buddy his own guest spot on Star Trek — preferably as the captain of his own ship.
A regal Maine Coon is the newest cast member of CBS’ Star Trek: Discovery, continuing the proud tradition of felines serving aboard Starfleet vessels throughout the franchise’s half century of existence.
Leeu, an 18-pound fluffster, will play Grudge, the feline companion to David Ajala’s new character, Cleveland Booker. Science fiction fans may remember Ajala from his excellent performances in 2016’s Kill Command, about a military AI gone rogue, and Captain Roy Eris in 2018’s Nightflyers, which was based on a short story by George R.R. Martin.
“We put out a casting call for a large cat … and he fit the bill. So far he seems to be a one-take wonder,” said Leslie Lawrence, one of Leeu’s trainers.
For Discovery’s crew, getting a solid acting performance out of Leeu isn’t much different than a photographer getting a cat to pose for a picture.
“Everybody says that their cat can make a good set cat,” Lawrence said. “But it does take a specific animal to be able to stay cool and calm and collected, because when cats are done, they’re done.”
Find out more about Grudge in the video below:
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.