29 June 2013

Cats: Colors and Personalities

I decided it was time for me to do some reading on feline genetics.  I knew some of the basics about genetics, but how the rules applied to coat color or other genetic traits, I was a bit uncertain.  So, I got a copy of Robinson's Genetics for Cat Breeders and Veterinarians, by Roy Robinson.  This is the standard feline genetics book and is used in vet schools and by breeders the world over.  I'm about half-way through it for a second time (skimmed it quickly the first time) and it's fascinating.  But I have one major question left:

Is there a relationship between a cat's coat color and its personality?

Based on this book and on genetics, the answer really should be no.  But when I talk to people, owners, rescue people, and breeders, I get the same answer -- yes, there is a relationship between color and personality.  Here's a few of the color/personalities:
  • Solid red -- shy, easily spooked
  • Red tabby or red bicolor -- clownish
  • Tortoiseshell and calico -- wild, outgoing
  • Silver -- quiet, reserved, sweet
  • Blues -- loyal, calm
So is there a relationship or not?  At some point, someone usually then states that it's how the cats were raised which make a big difference.  And for a while I agreed with this and I still do in part. But,...

This is Kami, a shaded cameo.  She's friendly, outgoing, and somewhat fearless.  She adjusts to new situations easily.  She comes for pets and scratches and did so from day 1.  

This is Khloe, a solid red.  She's very shy, nervous, and scared of lights on the ceiling!  Her method of adjusting to new things is to hide, for days if necessary.  She does like to be petted but you have to slowly reach into her hiding place and pet her.  One week later and she's finally coming out of her cupboard, but only at night.

These two girls are polar opposites in terms of personality, yet both have the 'red gene' and the real interesting part, they are sisters!  They were from the same litter, raised by the same person, and have always lived together.  So, on the nurture vs. nature debate, they had the same 'nurture', which then would suggest it's 'nature'.

But that brings us back to my original question -- are personalities really genetically tied to coat color in some way we have yet to figure out?

27 June 2013

Donating to Cat Rescues

My blog -- my rant!!!

I'm a wee bit annoyed and frustrated with many of my fellow cat lovers.

I support a Persian rescue called Chapelhouse Persian  Rescue in the UK.  I do so for several reasons.  The main reason is this rescue takes in cats which would otherwise be destroyed -- the cats that other rescues have refused, the cats with serious medical issues.  These are the types of cats that I rescue -- the unwanted. There are not many rescues who will take on these kinds of cats as most rescues want only healthy cats they can quickly adopt out.  So, I greatly admire this rescues work!

Another reason is Chapelhouse is in the UK.  This is far enough from me so I don't end up visiting and bringing home cats.

And a final reason is the director, Cheryl-Anne and I have become friends.

Right now, Chapelhouse has 3 different appeals to raise money to save and care for 6 Persians.  I have posted about this on several cat sites and on Facebook.  And I have received some interesting replies.

I can't afford to send them money.  Really?  You recently bought an very expensive _____ and you normally have 1-2 drinks from Starbucks, but you can't afford $5?

I don't know how to send them money.  Try poking the PayPal button.

Why don't they save the cats first instead of using emotional blackmail?  Two main reasons.  First, if they get the cat and can't raise the money to treat it, then the rescue gets to watch it die or put it to sleep.  Second, most people won't give if they know a cat is safe.

They should focus on saving healthy cats.  Fine, then you would agree that Anya, Wendy, Clarissa, Isabel, and Dante should never have been saved either.

So, if you would like to donate to Chapelhouse Persian Rescue, here's a link Chapelhouse Persian Rescue Donations

I'm not saying everyone must support Chapelhouse, but please do two things:

  1. Find a rescue/shelter you like and support them.
  2. If you won't support a rescue/shelter, don't hide behind bogus excuses.

26 June 2013

Bertie's $500 Paper Ball

The last two weeks have been interesting for Bertie, one of my DLH cats.  He's always drank a lot and pee-ed a lot since I got him, but recently I noticed he had lost some weight and was hesitant to eat.  So, since I had to take Wendy to my vet, I took Bertie along to be checked out and have bloodwork done.  My vet examined him thoroughly and felt a large, strange mass in his intestines.  I figured it was paper, since he likes to eat (not nibble) paper.  I know he got into some a few days before the visit -- he ate most of a 9x12 inch envelop.  We both figured it was paper, but like other times, it would pass.

His bloodwork came back fine except that his BUN was 57 and the creatinine was 2.6 (2.4 is the upper end of normal).  He's only 6 years old, so CRF (chronic renal failure) seems very early.  But he's got either Persian or British short hair in his background and both can carry PKD (poly-cystic kidney disease).  So, I'm guessing it is PKD, but he's doing okay and thanks to other cats, I hope I can keep him healthy for a long time.

He came home, ate for a few days, and then threw up.  Then refused to eat.  I figured it was the paper ball, especially since he got into some credit card offers which my husband left by the shredder -- Bertie shredded them instead.  I tried laxatone.  Nothing.  I then tried lactulose.  Again nothing.  I even tried an enema.  Still nothing.

So, I called my vet -- she was on vacation.  I called my back-up vet -- he was on vacation.  Finally I took him to the VCA Hospital.

X-rays showed a large blockage in his lower intestines, about 6-7 inches long.  They wanted to try some meds and fluids on Thursday, and if it didn't work, do surgery on Friday.  So, he stayed over night.  While he didn't poop for them, more x-rays showed it was moving, which then moved any surgery to Monday.  On Friday night, he pooped!  And only cat lovers can understand -- I was doing a happy poop dance!!!  They wanted to keep him until they were sure it was all out.  More poop on Saturday night and he started to eat.  Still more poop on Monday morning, right before I picked him up.  Monday's x-rays showed a clean intestinal tract.

The x-rays also showed his hips are degenerating, which explains why he walks funny.  I need to work on that.

But, I'm so glad that he didn't need surgery and that he's now home, eating and pooping.  And 'his' room is paper free!!!  All this for only $500.  LOL!

23 June 2013

Cats: Persian Faces

The Persian breed had always been known for long coats and a slightly shortened face.  Over the last 50 years, the faces of Persian cats have undergone a dramatic change. Today there exist almost two different breeds of Persians -- the doll-faced Persians and the extreme-faced Persians.

Kami -- Doll-faced Shaded Cameo
The doll-faced Persians are similar to the Persians of many years ago.  While they do have a shorter nose than a typical cat, they clearly have a nose.  Most doll-faced Persians do not have breathing or eye problems.  Their teeth are better aligned.  They have a cute round face.  In some ways, they are a healthier cat because their skulls are closer to a mixed breed cat's and because many do not have the genetic problems that the more extreme-faced Persians do. There are some doll-faced breeders who do care and prefer the less extreme face. In other ways these doll-faced Persians are not healthy.  Because doll-faced Persians are not accepted in the cat shows, some (not all) cat breeders who breed doll-faced Persians are clearly backyard breeders who breed only for the money and who care little for the animals involved.  Many of the Persians in shelters are doll-faced.  Because the prices are lower, in general, for this type, they are more disposable to some.

Extreme-faced Persians are the new version of Persians, with, as the name implies, an extremely flat face.  (These are the show cats!)  The nose leather sometimes does not extend passed the eyes in profile.  To get their nose so short, the internal structure of their skulls has had to be modified and compromised in many cases. (The veterinary term is brachycephalic skull.)  This shortening does come with many potential problems:

  • breathing problems because of small nostrils
  • breathing problems because of internal sinus structures
  • breathing problems because the soft palate is not reduced in length
  • frequent sinus infections
  • blocked tear-ducts
  • mild URI (upper respiratory infection) becoming very serious URI
  • misaligned teeth leading to poor chewing
  • misaligned teeth leading extreme tartar build-up and tooth decay
  • overshot jaw because it was not reduced in length
  • more frequent eye injuries
  • diminished mental capacity due to smaller cranium
Peaches  -- extreme-faced shaded cameo
Now, some extreme Persians have few of these, some have many of these -- a lot depends on the internal structures in the skull.  

So why make a Persian nose so short?  Interesting question to which I have never received a sound answer. The most frequent reply is because this is what the cat breed guidelines say, but that is a bit circular.  The breed standard would not say a shortened nose if people didn't want it.  I personally feel there are two reasons.
  1. When the breed standard began to emphasis a shortened nose, the cats with the shortest noses did better.  As more short-nosed Persians won, the race was on to breed even shorter noses in the hopes of winning.
  2. The short nose with the big eyes and round face is a 'baby face'.  There is a term for this, which I can't recall, but researchers have shown we humans are hard-wired to have loving feelings for large eyes and round faces.  An extreme-faced Persian is much closer to this 'baby face' than a doll-faced Persian.  They are more appealing to us.
So what will the future bring?  Some of the non-US cat federations, such as in the UK, are moving away from the extreme-faced Persian to somewhere between extreme- and doll-faced.  They are doing so mainly on health reasons.  Will this trend happen in the US?  I don't know -- only time will tell.

17 June 2013

Wendy's Teeth (or Lack of)

One of the things on my summer to-do list was to take Wendy to my vet and have her do a dental on her.  So, I made the appointment and then I proceeded to scare myself silly by looking up anesthetics.  I was a bit more nervous than normal when I got to vet.  (Thankfully, my vet is patient and we had a wonderful chat about anesthetics.)

I knew her teeth were bad as she had broken off two canines already.  Actually, they really rotted off.  Plus,
Wendy sleeping
I had scrapped off large chunks of plaque.  Doc took one look at Wendy's mouth and agreed -- dental!

So, I left my little girl overnight and Doc did the dental the next morning.  Usually a dental takes 20-30 minutes, even with an extraction or two.  Doc spent 1.5 hours!  Wendy apparently already had a number of missing teeth, other than the 2 canines.  Several of the remaining ones had large cavities at the gum line and had to be removed.  A couple of teeth looked okay but when she went to scale them, the teeth crumbled.  Apparently the tartar was holding the tooth together.  And one of the two remaining canines has infection at the root.  The bottomline is Wendy has 2 lower incisors (the teeny tiny front teeth), 1 upper incisor, and her one canine.  4 teeth total, and we both expect the other canine to fall out at some point.

But why were her teeth such a mess?

  1. Her jaw and thus teeth were not in alignment so she never used her teeth to chew.  When teeth aren't used to chew, they just build up tartar.
  2. I suspect her food allergies interfered with proper nutrition as a kitten, when her adult teeth were forming.  The teeth were weak to begin with.
Don't feel sorry for her.  Not having teeth hasn't bothered her at all -- she's eating, playing, and her tongue is cleaning.  In the long run, having her teeth removed will be good for her -- a lot less bacteria in her mouth, so I expect a lot less eye, ear, and tongue crud.

And she still can eat her greenies (treats).

11 June 2013

Palm Springs Cat Show -- June 2013

 For a little relaxation, in early June, I when to the Southwest Region's award show in Palm Springs.  I had hoped there would be more cats -- only 140 entries -- but I had a fun time.  I met some nice people, talked to some old friends, and lusted after a number of cats.

This beautiful black Persian (above and to the left) ended up as Best in Show in 3 out of the 6 rings.  He was stocky, the coat of thick, he was very calm -- oh, and he is 14 years old!   It was hard to believe that he had such a nice coat at such an age -- an age when many Persians are sick and nearing death.  This boy, however, was still siring kittens.
A lovely chinchilla silver Persian

A 25 lb. Maine Coon
Blue-cream pointed Himalayan

Flame-point Himalayan

The judge snuggling a black and white exotic

02 June 2013

Book Review: A Sophisticate's Primer of Relativity

A Sophisticate's Primer of Relativity, Second Edition, P.W. Bridgman
ISBN: 0486425495

I picked this book up in a bookstore mainly because I'm interested in learning more about relativity. Relativity is a key theory of physics over the last 90 years, so I figured I should learn a bit more about it than my basic understanding of it. When I saw the title, I figured that this would be a good book. Hey, I'm mathematically 'sophisticated' and this is a primer, so it seemed a perfect fit.

This will teach me to read a few pages of a book before I buy it. (In this case, my husband was standing around, waiting for me to join him at the checkout, so I felt a bit rushed to either keep it or put it down.) While relativity is the subject, it's not a primer and I'm not sure that even most physicists would find it useful.

Problem #1: The book was originally published 1962 and then reprinted. This second edition was done in 1983, but only the introduction seems to have been updated. (Admittedly, the author died in 1961, so he really couldn't update it.) Some of the comments and discussions seem very dated, such as the discussion on 'ether'. I don't think many people born after 1950 even know what ether refers to, except for the gas used to put people out during surgery. That's not the same ether.

Problem #2: Despite the title, the author assumes one is familiar with the theory of special relativity, the general theory of relativity, and many of the 'supporting' theories. Reichenbach, Bunge, Maxwell, Lorenz, etc., may all be familiar names to the author, I have very little idea who they are are (Maxwell, I have heard of), let alone what their specific theories refer to with regards to relativity. One or two small lines of background would have gone a long way to help non-physicists read this. The author does the same thing with the theories -- he refers to them and discusses problems with specific equations generated from the theory, but never gives the equations.

Problem #3: The author makes strange claims with no support. For example, he questions whether causally connected events must occur be related invariably in time. This breaks down to mean if A causes B, then A doesn't necessarily have to occur before B. A can occur after B, but A can still cause B. I spent many days thinking about this, but I still don't get it. Had he provided some support or examples, I might have been able to figure out what he was getting at, because I can't believe that he's saying A causes B but B precedes A.

Problem #4: The author seems much more interested in the philosophy of physics and the minutiae of the theory, than in any implications of the theory. For example, he spends pages on discussing how to set 2 clocks, or whether 2 observers are necessary. While this is interesting to some degree, I got the impression that this was all he could say on the subject. (People do tend to pick at the edges of theories, rather than attack the heart of the theory, if they don't understand the theory fully.)

Problem #5: The author's writing style is difficult. I do understand that he is trying to be precise and that I may not have sufficient background to understand each term he uses in the precise way he uses it, but still, his writing often was unclear. My guess is that his writing is more in line with 1930 philosophers than 2000 physicists.

Overall, I did learn a few things about relativity, but not as much as I had hoped I would. I'll need to find myself another primer on relativity to begin to understand it. Then maybe I'll come back to this book and see if I have changed my mind about it.