Animalogy: Cats and Other Felines by Bassam Imam - HTML preview

PLEASE NOTE: This is an HTML preview only and some elements such as links or page numbers may be incorrect.
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.


No doubt, humans have been fascinated and awed by cats for eons. Cats (house cats) along with dogs are the most ‘domesticated’ animals in much of the world. Dogs can be obedient, while house cats generally do their own thing. A generally healthy cat is easy to care for and to satisfy.

Cats have been associated with humans for over 6000 years.

The ancestor of all domestic cats is a wild cat of the Fertile Crescent. Much further back the Proailurus is believed to be the common ancestor of all cats. Proailurus lived as far back as 25 million years, was slightly larger than a household cat and stalked its prey.

The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) recognizes 41 pedigreed breeds for showing in the championship class. Some cat organizations recognize more than 50 pure-breed cat. In addition, there are ‘Moggy (plural Moggies) as they’re referred to in the United Kingdom or alley cats in the United States.

Although the word ‘Moggy’ most often refers to mixed breed cats, it is sometimes used to refer to ‘a cat’ in general.

Like dogs, cats’ initial relationship with humans was somewhat symbiotic. Ancient humans including the Egyptians ‘employed’ cats as vermin exterminators. In this regard, they were prolific hunters whose primary job was to protect stored grain by killing rats therein.

Ancient Egyptians found it much cheaper, more convenient and relaxing to feed the cats in their employ. Indeed, it was the advent of ‘stocking’ of food and farming that gave the cat a boost to its importance to man. ‘Sedentary cultures’ stored their food items. Naturally, what’s food for us is food for some other creatures. And, those creatures that eat our foods are food for yet other creatures.

Rodents were food for cats, and although cats weren’t guarding our ancestors’ food stocks out of love, we must still thank them anyway. Seafaring crews also stored food stocks on board. Naturally, they needed to protect their food. Cats often accompanied the sailing ships of old.

Cats have the skills and senses of their big cat cousins, the tenacity, and the know-how, but of course they’re much smaller and generally don’t pose a danger to us.

In Ancient Egypt cats were actually worshipped as deities. The death penalty was imposed on anyone who killed a cat. In addition, ‘magnanimous numbers’ of cats were mummified. Much of Ancient Egyptian ‘Mummy History’ includes cats. Many more ‘of them’ were mummified than humans. This fact cannot be understated.

Male cats were associated with the sun god Ra, while their female counterpart was associated with the goddess Bast.

The collapse of the Ancient Egyptian Empire virtually ended the religious attributes of cats. The Romans were responsible for the transportation of cats to Europe.

Overall cats are demonized to a much less extent than they were in Medieval Europe. In that time period, many were burned as devils or devils’ helpers.

During the 16th and 17th centuries in the Place de Greve in Paris cats were bundled up inside a net, sac, or basket and then dropped into a bonfire. These spectacles were also acted out in Metz and at Gap. Cats endured the Kattenstoet (cat killing Festival in Ypres), and the Cat Wednesday burnings. In cat killing days or festivals cats could also be tossed from towers; any reason to kill cats.

The ‘burning speed’ varied, depending on the mood. Slower roasting meant more pain and torment. It was usually done in mid-summer.

Shockingly, the crowd absolutely loved the spectacle; the shrieks, squirming, and any other sounds or movements the cats made to indicate horrifying pain and agony brought out much laughter. Even French Kings enjoyed the spectacle, including Louis XIV (1648) who kindled at least one bonfire.

After ‘the show’ the embers and ashes were taken home by spectators believing that these could bring good luck. Obviously, the poor cats received none of this good luck.

On a larger scale cats in Medieval Europe endured nothing less than a ‘Horror Campaign’ by religious bigots/wide-scale bigotry.

Cats that were once loved, idolized, mummified, and worshipped by the Ancient Egyptians were now demonized with fanatic vengeance. Since they were idolized by the ‘heathen religions’ it was ‘only natural’ to demonize and destroy them using the most painful methods.

This period of horror lasted centuries’ on end. Depending on whom you ask, in what time period, or in what part of the world cats can be loved, tolerated, or absolutely loathed. The fact that cats are ‘nocturnal roamers’ has often worked against them. Not to mention, their ‘shiny nocturnal eyes’.

Because witches and cats were often clumped together they were also burned and/or tortured together. A cat in this horrible predicament could be ‘accused’ of being a shape-shifter or in cahoots with a devil or witch. Others believed that being a witch was the end result of a punishment for being wicked.

A person, especially old hag who owned a cat in particular a black one would’ve been suspect with little or no provocation.

‘WHO WAS YOUR FAMILIAR’ was a commonly asked question.

The actual number of cats tortured and/or killed during the Horror Campaign is unknown. But general estimates place the number at least in the tens of thousands.

Halloween is still a dangerous time for cats in general, but in particular black cats. There are shelters that ‘suspend adoptions’ of black cats shortly before and on Halloween for obvious reasons. Sadism, superstition, and religious sacrifice are the main reasons for this abhorrent belief and behaviour.

In general, feral cats are individuals that have not been housed, domesticated, loved, pampered, or seriously interacted with humans. These cats may be thin, battle scarred, fearful of humans but can be very aggressive if cornered. To them we are giant bipedal predators.

In general stray cats would love to be taken in by a good family; to live in a good home and eat good food, play with you and your family, and to be cared for. Stray cats are not the same as feral cats.

Stray cats may have been tossed, gotten lost, or fled an extremely abusive home. These cats are not as ‘street wise’ or ‘street broken-in’ as their feral counterparts. They aren’t as proficient in acquiring their own food, fighting, holding on to territory, and living in this tough environment.

Stray cats are considerably more likely to approach a human, unless the particular cat has had terrible dealings with humans.

Anti-freeze with a bad odour and taste should be the standard worldwide. All cats, homeless or homed must drink water. If a cat’s thirsty enough it may drink non-potable or dangerous water.

The most humane and often most effective form of cat population control is TRAP-NEUTER-RELEASE (TNR); unless there’s an extreme situation like a widespread outbreak of rabies or something of the sort. Any killings of cats should be humane.

To protect your yard, use cat repellents or a barrier. Both stray and feral cats kill countless birds a year. However, they also kill rodents and insects. Rabies and Cat Scratch Disease (cat scratch fever, CSD) can be a potential problem for persons handling strays or feral cats. Be careful when handling animals especially dangerous or unfamiliar ones.

Cat Scratch Disease is caused by the bartonella bacteria. Scratches, bites, and saliva are the avenues of transmission.

Furthermore, cats with CSD show no outwardly signs of the disease. Kittens are more likely to be carriers. Rough and tumble play can bring about a scratch and/or a bite from a cat.

Regarding rabies and cats and wildlife humane measures of action include sterilization, birth control, oral vaccination, research and education.

Cat abuse, also a very sad fact, is widespread. It comes in various forms from beating, shouting and taunting, severe verbal reprimand, abandonment, hoarding, horrible rituals, and lack of or no food, water, medical care, and/or shelter.

In addition, abuse may come from a stranger bent on harming the particular cat. In this case, I’m sorry to say this but anything goes! So long as the assailant isn’t stopped during the commission of the act horrible things can happen to the cat. We’ve heard stories about cats being doused with gasoline and then set afire, tossed into ovens or microwaves, had one or both ears sliced off, hanged, drowned, beaten to death, skinned (for fun or in the fur trade), crammed into horrible cages awaiting a horrible killing all to be served as food, or placed into a puppy mill.

Stray or feral cats that are injured may be left with lifelong medical and psychological problems. Unfortunately, being on the streets doesn’t entitle you to psychological counseling or veterinary medical care. These cats are at the mercy of volunteers or animal control officers.

Even if a cat is ‘picked up’ it all depends on the particular laws of the area and what kind of shelter it’s sent to. Furthermore, ugly or mutilated cats are usually on the bottom of the adoption hierarchy scale.

Unfortunately, cats can’t speak; therefore they can’t convey their message or file any kind of a complaint whatsoever. Abused cats are smaller, weaker and less intelligent than their owner/s.

In addition, as soon as they’re brought into a home or are under the care of humans they enter a human’s world. All of the rules, regulations, punishments, and rewards are provided for by the humans.

In many countries cat abuse is ‘technically’ against the law. In others, it simply isn’t. Even where cat abuse is against the law, enforcement may be a problem.

According to the Animal Legal Defence Fund California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, and Oregon have the best animal welfare laws on record. The worst on record are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Dakota.

Animal shelters and cat rescue organizations are very important in the fight against cat overpopulation and in helping to place countless cats in good homes.

By purchasing a cat from an animal shelter or cat rescue organization you’ll be helping the cat, the particular organization, yourself, and your country. A good cat is worthy of much of your love. And vice versa, cats love their families.

Cats can help lower a person’s blood pressure, pulse, and make him or her feel relaxed. A good cat is someone you like to see when returning from work or school. In fact, all family cats have names and of course there are two genders.

Millions of cats and dogs are put to death every year in the U.S. alone, not to mention the rest of the world. Countless shelters are overcrowded, understaffed, and funds are generally lacking.

By being a GOOD PARENT to a cat you’ll be saving the community time, effort, money, and a headache. Your adoption will be one less cat to care for; not to mention kill. And be sure to follow the general rule: ALL CATS SHOULD BE STERILIZED (SPAY AND NEUTER).

For the most part neutering a male cat is a standard operation, relatively quick, and entails a fast recovery. The end result will eliminate the ‘mounting drive’, testicular cancer, reduces spraying behaviour (if the cat continues to spray the noxious element of the spray will be significantly reduced), reduction in the fighting urge, reduction in the probability of contracting Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), removal of progeny, and an elimination of ‘ sexual prowling behaviour’. Be advised, that the basic personality of the cat will not be changed.

Spaying your female cat will help her live a happy, healthy life. Spaying will prevent mammary cancer, heat cycles, frequent calling and spraying and removal of progeny.

The surgery will entail the removal of the ovaries and the uterus. Removal of the ovaries will ensure the end of heat cycles. Complications-free, expect your cat to return home the same day or at the latest the next day. It depends on the veterinarian’s philosophy.

In addition, the surgery can be done either in a veterinary hospital or in a low-cost or in a low cost spay clinic. Ask your local shelter or humane society for more information.

Before buying a cat read the following:

A. Alleviate loneliness?

B. I need more love in my life.

C. He/she won’t use me like some or many humans have done?

D. Because I can’t get along with humans.

E. Can another species satisfy my needs?

F. Can I take care of a cat properly?

G. Do I have cat allergies?

H. Is my home cat safe?

I. Do I know what necessary items to purchase before bringing the cat home?

J. Will I love the cat enough?

K. Can I put up with cat play, meowing, and an occasional knocking over of an item in the house?

L. What kind of diet will I put my cat on?

M. Do I have a veterinarian that I can rely on? If not, how do I find one?

N. Will I get veterinary medical insurance?

O. What will I do if my cat won’t love me? Respect me? Notice me?

P. Am I ready to fork out the necessary monies to care for my cat, including food, medications, litter box, and whatever else is needed.

Q. How will my cat get along with the other family members?

R. Am I buying a cat because my other pet/s needs a companion?

S. Am I aware that there are certain human foods that are dangerous to cats? What about the plants in my yard?

T. Do I need cat entertainment in my life?

U. Am I, and the other members of my family aware that cats do get sick (sometimes very sick), age, and eventually die! Am I prepared for this possible shocker?

V. Will he/she be an indoor or outdoor, or indoor and outdoor cat?

W. Will I get a shorthaired or long-haired cat?

X. What breed of cat will I get? Y. What gender?

Z. Will I declaw my cat (hopefully not)?

AA. What about spaying and neutering?

BB. Where will I put my cat when I go on vacation? If I bring him/her along what precautions will I have to take? If I leave my cat should I place him/her with a family member, friend, or a temporary shelter?

CC. At what developmental stage will my newly purchased cat be in?

DD. If I decide that I’ve had it with my cat, should I sell it, give it away, or (hopefully not) just dump it in a shelter, or dump it on the sidewalk hoping that a ‘sweet Samaritan’ will take it in?

EE. What are the physical and psychological benefits of cat ownership?

FF. What benefits will my cat get out of being a new family member?

GG. Will I allow my cat to sleep in my bed?

HH. Who, when, where, and what will I feed and water my cat?

II. What will I do if my cat snaps at me (biting, scratching, hissing and overall body language of anger)?

JJ. What will I do if some family members love my cat, while others hate it; vice versa?

KK. What will I do in case of a medical emergency?

LL. Am I or any member of our family allergic to cats?

The preceding list is vast but in no way is it complete. I hope you read it and ponder about each and every question if you plan on purchasing a cat. Or, do the same if you already have a cat. You have nothing to lose!

Another procedure (surgery) that can (unfortunately) be performed on cats is declawing (onychectomy). I’m personally against it and think that it’s very cruel and insensitive.

If you can’t take care of a cat don’t get one. Except for medical purposes this procedure shouldn’t be done. Regular and correct trimming of claws, claw stations or scratching posts, SOFTPAWS, nail caps, closely woven fabric, a loud NO and a squirt of water (it’s better if the cat doesn’t see the squirt gun) when your cats attempts to claw at furniture, and correct training can be used instead of declawing.

Declawing a cat isn’t comparable to removing a human’s fingernails; although this would be a big loss for any human.

Declawing entails removing the claws, and the AMPUTATION of the first joint of a cat’s TOES. This is nothing short of mutilation! Worse yet, it’s permanent; there’s no retraction or reversal of the procedure.

And, this is under the assumption that the procedure and post op are free of any complications; which