Walk Through The Web Wednesday 1/05

siamese cat on a leash walking through a garden

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!

Whats new, pussycat? How feline film stars are trained to perform

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!

Study reveals why cats are attracted to people who don’t like them

“Stop staring at me human!”

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.

Have You Ever Seen a Cat With Thumbs? Fascinating Facts About Polydactyl Felines

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.

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.

Why Do Cats Know When It Rains?

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.

Walk Through the Web Wednesday

siamese cat on a leash walking through a garden

Hello there furiends!
Happy autumn and I hope you are all enjoying nice weather! For those near fires, those who have had floods and those who were in the path of Ida, we have been purraying for you all!

We are finally done with the unusually stifling heat and are having a beautiful fall. Now that it’s getting cooler, snuggling is happening again! My brother Oliver and I like to snuggle but sometimes he decides I need to to cleaned a little too vigorously!

LIly prefers to snuggle with The Human and likes to get into her purrsonal space at bedtime.

And we’re all returning to our favorite hang outs now that the heat is gone! It’s a source of amazement that Oliver can squeeze himself into this scratcher bed.

That’s it for now, wishing you all a great, happy week!

What really goes on at cat yoga?

Okay, admit it. If you haven’t purrticipated in cat yoga, haven’t you wondered what does on? Well, finally there’s a report that unveils the mystery with this article from Kitty Queen Cat Rescue.

The felines  weave between the legs of a person in a tree pose, sniff the hair of someone in the downward-facing dog position and try to get under the yoga mats of the participants.  In other words, everyone is having fun.  You can find a feline/human yoga session documented in the photos from the article.

This rescue, doesn’t just offer yoga classes but does craft nights and meet and greets for the adoptable felines in their care in the cat lounge, the kitten room or the zen room for the more nervous felines.  We say paws up to Kitty Queen Cat Rescue for all they are doing!

‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’ Review: Benedict Cumberbatch Is the Cat’s Whiskers

I talked about Louis Wain in last week’s feature. He was the man who painted cats…hundreds and some say even thousands of cats. His art was so loved because he featured us in bars, holding golf clubs, swinging ping pong paddles, driving and smoking cigars. In other words, doing all the things you humans do.

A film about his life. “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain” will premiere at the Telluride Film Festival and I sure wish The Human would take us to see it! That Wain guy seems pretty cool!

The film is full of cats of all kinds (well, DUH!) and tells the story of Wain’s life. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Wain, a man born a gentleman in London but through a lifetime of less than good decisions found himself broke and drawing cats.

His first job was as a newspaper illustrator and he eloped with the governess of his sister’s children. Sadly, the marriage didn’t last.  The human movie critics at Variety liked the movie but felt it would have been better had the film featured a narrower portion of Wain’s life. I think they should have featured more cats!

I suggest you watch it with your humans and come to your own conclusions.

Cat missing from Waverly flood miraculously found alive five days later

You know how much I love happy endings and this is one of the happiest. Britany Moss, from Tennessee, was visiting family when she found out her home had flooded. The water was so high her neighbors were stuck in their attic.

She returned home to find her neighborhood destroyed by the water and her cat Jade missing. She left out cat food, searched the neighborhood and borrowed a trap with the hope she would find Jade.

And just like in the happiest of fairy tales, she found Jade. The poor cat was terrified, covered in mud with matted hair and a horrible smell.

Jade has not stopped cuddling with her human since she was found and Moss says she is doing much better. Unfortunately, Moss’ home was completely destroyed but she did have flood insurance.

The Adorable Native Cat Breeds of Greece and Cyprus

The Human has been to Greece and she often talks about the felines all over the Greek Isles. Who knew that there were two species of Greek cats though? There are two distinct cat breeds, the Aegean cat and the Cyprus Cat, that are native to Greece and Cyprus. You can spot them lounging near the fishing boats, hoping for a nice seafood dinner.

Aegean cats are known to be playful, vocal, friendly, and very loving. They’re particularly comfortable around water and love to go fishing. They are almost always bicolor, once in a blue moon tricolor and they will almost always have white as one of their colors. The most common color combinations are white and black (Hmm, I wonder if Oliver is an Aegean cat), white and ginger and white and tabby. Their most famous feature is their large, beautiful, almond shaped eyes.

These cats are thought to be descended from ancient cats, have always bred naturally without the “help” of humans and are said to have been around for thousands of years. Some believe they are one of the oldest domesticated breeds in the world. Aegean cats live with humans and can also be feral.  

Their paws have adapted well to grasping at fish swimming along in the sea, and their fur can be short yet full in the summer and a bit longer and thicker in the winter.

Despite the fact that they are a well-documented breed with a long history, the Aegean cat is not yet recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association so if you want an Aegean cat, you’ll just have to go to Greece and adopt one!

Cyprus cats, also known as St. Helen’s cats, are a breed of domesticated felines found on the island nation of Cyprus.

According to historic sources, St. Helen, the mother of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, brought the forefathers of the breed to the island herself.

It is believed that St. Helen filled her ship up with cats from Egypt — although some sources say Palestine — and brought them with her to Cyprus to help curb the snake problem there in the fourth century.

The cats were brought to the Monastery of St. Nicholas, where the venomous snake population was extremely large and threatening. According to legend, the cats were called to hunt snakes on the monastery grounds by a bell that was rung each day. Now wait just a minute – that means this St. Catherine brought the hapless feline to fight dangerous, venomous snakes! It’s a miracle any of them survived!

There is still a large cat population at the monastery (now a convent). The Greek poet, Georgos Seferis wrote a poem about these cats called “The Cats of St. Nicholas.”

Archeological evidence of cats living alongside humans in Cyprus has been found on the island when excavations were done at a Neolithic site called Shillourokampos in Cyprus. They found the ancient people cared for their feline companions, and even dug out a grave with care for their pet cat.

The Cypriot breed is linked to other feline groups in Egypt and Palestine, so the story of St. Helen likely has some truth to it.

The Cyprus cat has many similarities with the Aegean cat breed of Greece.

Much like the Aegean cat, Cyprus cats have been left to breed naturally, so they have less inclination to genetic diseases.

Cyprus cats, unlike most Aegean cats, tend to be extremely energetic and athletic. They have a thick coat, which can be short or semi-long.

They are extremely playful and social, and love to be around humans. They’re also great hunters. Cyprus cats are commonly tabby with a mix of white, but can come in all colors, ranging from ginger to black. They are rarely found outside Cyprus.

Cat breeder and fancier organizations are beginning to develop qualifications for the breed in order for it to be recognized internationally. It is recognized already by the World Cat Federation under the name “Aphrodite’s Giant.”

A heartwarming community effort in Singapore to save a trapped cat in a car bumper

This kitty had a very good day thanks to some heroic humans. A couple found the resident community cat stuck in a bumper and, when they tried to get her out, realized that her leg was stuck inside the bumper.  

AAA was called as well as the SPCA. While they waited for help to arrive they continued to try and free the cat but made no progress.

One man who drive by, parked his car and went to attempt to help, bringing his car jack. The poor cat’s leg was tangled in the wires so that didn’t work. The SPCA arrived and they couldn’t free the cat either.

The man with the car jack  then called his mechanic and found out what the wire was attached to. The mechanic said the quickest way to free the cat was to cut the wire. The man advised the car owner that if they cut the wire, he would have his mechanic fix the car at no cost.

The car owner agreed and they extricated the cat with only a few scratches and a sprain. The cat ran away but did return to her caregiver who took care of her.

Paws up to these humans for caring for this poor, trapped kitty!