Things are going well in our neck of the woods. When we sit on the back of the sofa and look at the downstairs garden, we can tell fall is coming and that makes us happy. What makes us unhappy is the little frog that sits in our pond and croaks loudly. I never knew such a small creature can make such a big noise!
Oliver has a cautionary tale to share with you this week. We live in a world of cat lovers and cat people and often forget that there are non-cat people out there. The Female Human took a photo of Oliver snoopervising dinner prep. She thought the photo was funny and so she shared it in a cooking group she belongs to. She got schooled by the admin saying the photo would NOT be accepted because there are people who have particular feelings about cats on counters! Hmmmmmph! The Human decided she and Oliver need to stay in their lane and so she submitted the photo to the This cat is CHONKY group.
The CHONKY cat people were PAWSOME and Oliver almost broke the internet. He got over 14,000 reactions and 1,300 comments. And BOY were some of those comments hilarious. One fantastic purrson even did a photoshop and we can’t stop laughing!
The moral to the story is to stay in your lane and be with the people who understand you. Oliver was very thankful and showed his apurreciation to the fantastic CHONKY cat folks.
That’s the news this week from our neck of the woods. I hope you enjoy the news features.
Feline generous: Japan cat lovers give $2 million to kidney research
Once again the cat-loving Japanese people come through. When the coronavirus pandemic hit the economy last year, scientists at the University of Tokyo lost their corporate funding for a study on preventing kidney disease in cats. But, when Japanese citizens heard about this they organized online and raised $2 million dollars for the study.
Some of the comments from those who donated were;
“I lost my beloved cat to kidney disease last December… I hope this research will progress and help many cats to live without this disease,” one woman wrote in a message alongside her $20 donation.
Another donor, who gave $90, said: “I recently got a kitten. I make a donation in the hope that it will be in time for this cat.”
Domesticated cats and their bigger cousins in the wild are highly prone to kidney problems because of a genetic inability to activate a key protein discovered by the Tokyo researchers.
The protein called AIM helps clean up dead cells and other waste in the body, preventing the kidneys from becoming clogged. Immunology professor Toru Miyazaki and his team are working on ways to produce the protein in a stable quantity and quality.
They are hoping that this protocol they are looking to develop will lengthen the life of cats with one or two injections per year.
His team’s research on how AIM — short for apoptosis inhibitor of macrophage — functions in the body was published in 2016 in the journal Nature Medicine. They are also developing pet food containing a substance that could help activate the non-functional AIM in feline blood.
Paws crossed that these researchers come up with a solution to this terrible feline disease!
Do Cats Speak? Of Course. Do They Have Language? Not Exactly
You humans understand what cats want so it’s a given that communication has been established. Now if you’re talking about understanding what we felines have to say, that’s something else. Well, guess what, research into human-cat communication has won Swedish researchers the prestigious iG-Nobel prize for biology in 2021! (the sound of paws clapping)
Prof. Susanne Schotz and Joost van de Weijer of Lund University with Robert Eklund of Linköping University were awarded the Ig for biology on Thursday for analyzing variations in cats’ “purring, chirping, chattering, trilling, tweedling, murmuring, meowing, moaning, squeaking, hissing, yowling, howling, growling, and other modes of cat–human communication.”
And if this isn’t ground breaking enough, there is melody in feline-human interaction. Schotz, a professor of phonetics, has studied meowsic and written a paper about it: “Melody in Human–Cat Communication (Meowsic): Origins, Past, Present and Future.”
Schotz even demonstrated some of the sounds she had studied at the awards ceremony.
In 2018 she recorded cats during feeding time delivering melodies with a tonal rise at the end. Cats recorded in the vet’s waiting room meowed with a fall towards the end of the melody. Crucially, humans who listened to the recordings could often tell whether the meows were emitted in a feeding situation or a vet situation.
How did Schotz wind up studying feline vocalizations? As a researcher of phonetics, she studies human speech. “One of my occupational hazards is that I tend to listen less to what people are saying than how they are saying it,” she explained. She noticed vast variation in the sounds her five cats emitted and the different intonations and decided to do some research.
She recorded the cats’ sounds, analyzed them using the same methods used for human speech and concluded that cats have a vast range of vocal cues – and they’re not just saying “feed me.”
Schotz says that felines and their humans develop a kid of “pidgin language”. She also discovered that in a home with multiple cats, the felines may develop a “group dialect”.
So is there a feline language? Not like human language but her research has already made it clear that every cat has its own personal voice, just as we do. We felines even sing! And our melody seems to carry an important part of the message.
“For instance, the more variation in the melody, the more excited or urgent the message seems to be,” she explains.
Not every vocalization is an intentional act of communication, of course. Getting rid of a fur ball has it’s own sound but it’s not really a form of communication.
So there you go, purrhaps you humans should listen a little more closely to what we felines have to say!
Portland’s Only Cat Cafe Reopens and Immediately Adopts Out All Its Cats
I love happy endings and this is a very happy one. Despite it’s forced closure in March 2020, Purringtons cat cafe reopened and ten out of their 11 cats were adopted. This lovely little shop where you pay an entry fee to read a book in a room full of felines has legendary adoption rates.
When Purrington opened in October 2019 and until their forced closure in March 2020, they found furever homes for 123 cats.
Purrington works with a local shelter in Sherwood—Cat Adoption Team. The owner of Purringtons began as a volunteer with the shelter, then helped transfer cats from the shelter to the cat café.
Purrington’s offers a seasonal menu and a selection of beer and wine although they will keep the menu light for a while. COVID precautions have trickled into the reservation system. For now, visits last for a set 45 minutes with firm start and end times. Visitors share the lounge with a set number of others for the duration, instead of the revolving flow the lounge used to employ. The structured times leave 15 minutes between visits for sanitation of the room. The lounge is also rentable for private group visits of 10 or less.
We love the idea of social places where kitties can meet their furever humans!
For Masahisa Fukase, Cats Were Much More Than Cute
When I read this comment from the Japanese photographer, Masahisa Fukase, I decided he was my kind of human! “People often ask me why I take photographs of cats. What an idiotic question! I’m a professional photographer — and I am mad about cats … It makes total sense. No one else comes close to the wealth of my experience with cats; no one understands their feelings better; and no one has spent more hours playing around with them in a mountain lodge.”
His relationship with cats began in 1977 when he adopted a kitten called Sasuke. Sadly, Sasuke ran away adopted another kitten and maned it Susuke. Later, a kitten named Momo joined the family. And the cats became the subjects of hundreds of photos and three books.
Here’s what a critic has to say about Fukase’s photos, “They capture cats in experimental, unexpected ways. In some, the photographer snaps the animal at arm’s length, holding it over a rice field in the countryside or in front of an elephant enclosure at the zoo. In others, the picture is framed just behind the cat’s ears, as if we ourselves are the cat. These odd angles and curious compositions blur the boundaries between the “me who does the looking” and the “me who is being looked at,” as Fukase said in 1991.
“For Fukase, photographing [cats] was also a way of caressing them,” says Tomo Kosuga, the director of the Masahisa Fukase Archives, in a recent interview with the book’s publisher.
Fukase once said, “I don’t trust humans, but I trust cats.” His cat series emerged after the artist’s second divorce, as he struggled with a number of personal issues. “The one presence that did not leave him, and stayed with him through thick and thin, gazing back at him unflinchingly, were his cats,”
This human had such a love of felines. Photographing cats was a way of embodying the love he felt so profoundly that it shifted his sense of self. “I spent so much time lying on my belly in an effort to get on the same level as a cat,” Fukase wrote in 1978, “that I became a cat … I saw myself reflected in the cats’ eyes. I wanted to photograph the love that I saw there. You might say it’s a collection of self-portraits more than shots of Sasuke and Momo.”
I say paws up for this extraordinary feline loving man!
Curtis Sliwa’s rescue cat steals the show in mayoral candidate’s first ad
I rarely get purrlitical but this was a great story. Mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa’s first campaign ad starts on Monday — but it’s his rescue cat named Tuna that steals the show.
The 12-year-old feline — lounging on Sliwa’s lap in the 30-second spot — is one of 17 rescue cats he and wife Nancy care for in their 300-foot Upper West Side apartment.
I have no idea if this human is a good candidate but I’d say he’s pretty smart for bringing Tuna in on his campaign video!