Happy 2022 Furiends,
It’s been a busy week for us, doing all the things that felines are required to do. As you can see, Oliver and I are almost exhausted from our work over the New Year holiday.
Lily was busy as well.
And then there was the moment The Human came home from work early and caught us in a snuggle!
There you have it, our long, hard week. ‘Hope yours was more relaxing!
Felines have been in movies for decades. There was the Tabby in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or the Himalayan in Meet the Parents whose special trick was flushing the toilet. The latest feline star is the kitty in The Electrical Life of Louis Wain.
The film maker refused to use CGI for the shoot, so they called in animal trainer Charlotte Wilde who showed up with 40 felines. All the potential stars were treated like royalty and had their own green room.
Wilde’s agency is based in London and has supplied animals for films for 10 years. Felix, her 10-year-old black and white moggie (“a very cheeky chap!”), was cast as Peter, Wain’s furry best friend, who inspires his first sketches.
We can tell you Peter was one of our favorites in the film! Wilde shared some of her training tips for wanna be movie star cats. She uses positive reinforcement (translation= snacks). “We teach our cats to go to mark,” she says. “They’ll walk in and they’ll know where to stop. We train them so they run to the sound of a buzzer. We’ve got some that can roll over. A couple can retrieve. They’ll lie down, rub against people’s legs, and walk alongside someone. We show them what they’ve got to do. Then we try to make that happen on the take.”
She enhances her training with a clicker.
“You might have a moment in between a couple of lines where we can get a click in, just so the cat [knows]: ‘You’re doing really well. Wait. Food is coming.’ Obviously, that’s really distracting for actors. They’re probably sick of the sound of a clicker by the end of the film!”
Other famous cat movie trainers have different techniques. Mark Harden, an animal trainer based in Los Angeles, was in charge of the five snowy white Chinchilla Persians who played Snowbell in Stuart Little, and looked after 40 cats on the set of Catwoman including several rare Egyptian Maus. With cats, he says, it’s all about getting into their mindset. “They’re a predator but they can also be skittish. They’ve got a very strong flight reaction. The most important thing with a cat is desensitizing them to strange environments. A movie set is a very strange environment.”
Canadian animal trainer Melissa Millett has a novel way of desensitizing the cats she works with: she stages mock film shoots at home. For the Pet Sematary reboot, she recruited five Maine Coons from rescue shelters to play Church, who is transformed into an aggressive zombie cat. This meant gradually acclimatizing them to wearing makeup and being wet. The whole process took two months. “We started with a catnip party in the bathtub. A little bit of water on the cat while it’s eating. Then we worked up to a full bath. Separately, we would start with a bit of egg white and then work our way up. All the products had to be edible.”
There are some cat actors that have amazing talents. Millett has a talented Bengal named Sashimi, who can ride a scooter. Wilde taught one of her moggies, Leicester, to pretend to play the harmonica, while Harden trained Cairo, an Egyptian Mau, to pick up a mobile phone with his teeth and run off with it.
So, if any of our feline fans out there have acting ambitions…don’t give up!
You humans are often meowing about how we felines have the ability to spot the only non –cat person in the room and make a beeline for them.
The questions is why and some researchers believe they may have an explanation. Cats, not all of them, but most of them, seem to be more interested in people who are not interested in them, or more precisely who are afraid of them.
This is because we felines observe and try to understand people who are shying away from us and who appear to be watching us. People who are afraid of cats or allergic to them behave in a way that is intriguing. If the human looks at the cat out of the corner of their eye, avoids the cat’s gaze or even try to move away. The cat is then attracted because he considers it a game. So our hunting instinct takes over: it’s simple, we want to chase those who try to get away from us.
In feline language, a stare announces aggression. If two cats look at each other for a few moments with round eyes, a fight is about to break out. The feline etiquette rules state that discretion is a kind of politeness: when two cat friends meet, they look at each other briefly, and then look away while getting closer. The cat is attracted to its fellow cats, who seems not to pay the slightest attention to it!
You now may be asking, how do I smile at my cat, it’s easy, you blink very slowly and don’t open your eyes completely.
So how do you get our attention? If you appear to needy (want to grab us and cuddle us) you may make us uncomfortable. The best way to get us to notice you is to act uninterested. We’ll be attracted also if you don’t stare at us. Offer the back of your hand, we’ll sniff it and make our own decisions. If we decide to accept you, we’ll stay close to you and that also means you have been granted permission to pet us.
Our Human is fascinated with polydactyl felines. Normally cats have 18 toes, five toes on each forepaw, and four toes on each hind paw. As for polydactyl, cats may have as many as nine digits on their hind or front paws.
The Guinness World Records reported a Canadian polydactyl cat, Jake, and an American polydactyl cat as having the most toes on a cat – 28 in all. These cats are very flexible and they don’t act any different than other felines.
A Cat-World report said polydactyl cats, also known as “Hemmingway cats, boxing cats, cardi or mitten cats,” have a congenital abnormality that leads to additional toes.
There is a substantial disparity from cat to cat in the formation and number of additional digits.
Cats typically have 18 toes in all, with five on each front paw and four on every rear. However, if a cat is polydactyl, it might have as many as eight goes on any given paw. The term is originally Greek. Specifically, “poly” means many, while “daktylos” mean digits.
Traditionally, polydactyly was an advantageous characteristic for Maine Coon cats. For a breed that originates in snowy Maine, what’s described as doublewide paws that have extra digits worked as natural snowshoes. At one time, as much as 40 percent of all Maine Coon cats had additional toes.
In the past, polydactyl cats got their sea legs by keeping fishermen company on various journeys. Consequently, they obtained their keep, they were believed to be outstanding hunters of mice, and their extra toes resulted in better balance on ships that went rough waters.
Yes, cats know when it rains. We are not the only animals who know when it rains. Our ability to predict rain was useful to sailors, centuries ago. Cats on board s hips would run and hide to a dark area when rain was approaching and the sailors could almost guarantee a heavy rain was coming.
How do we do this? We are more sensitive than humans to sounds, smells, and changes in the environment.
And so, we can pick up the slightest changes in atmospheric pressure with our senses, and our heightened senses allow us to “feel” signs that rain is coming long before our humans know it.
Over the years, felines discover that just before it rains, our inner ears detect a change in our environment. It’s all about the sudden drop in atmospheric pressure, and since we’ve experienced similar effects before, we quickly learn to associate it with rain or storm.
In addition, like humans, we also learn to distinguish sounds, we can pick up, thanks to our thin ears, the faint sound of thunder from afar, and we know that before long, a torrent of rain will be coming.
Finally, we can also smell the characteristic odor of ozone, which is generated by rays and has a strong metallic odor. This is another signal that a storm is coming.
Just another reason why we felines are so amazing!
Since we live in the wilds of Northern Idaho, internet service is always an issue. There are some folks in our and other necks of the woods who are quite happy with Starlink. One thing we didn’t know is that their satellite dishes are great at attracting cats.
One of the “trouble tickets” the Starlink folks didn’t expect is a call about felines stuffed into people’s dish (sometimes as many as five felines!) Clients have said, “Starlink works great until the cats find out that the dish gives off a little heat on cold days
The phenomenon has appeared in many locations and many critters are being attracted to the satellite dishes. When activated, the dishes tilt at such an angle to prevent animals, including birds and rodents, from nesting in them,
We cats might not be interested in a satellite nest but we sure do enjoy the warmth.