10

Sharks Protest Human Stereotypes

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Our correspondent, Maurice Mako, is off the coast of Australia attending the annual Sharkmania Festival. The festival is a celebration of all things shark. All types of sharks are welcome. Intermingling between sub-species is encouraged. However, there is a rule against eating or intimidating fellow attendees. Even if he takes the last shrimp canape that you had your eye on.

Maurice filed this report:

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As usual, the attendees are having a wonderful time. Much of the early part of the day is spent in seminars and roundtables with the evenings being reserved for socialization. Some of the more popular presentations have been:

Oral Hygiene: Just Because You Can Replace Your Teeth Doesn’t Mean You Should Abuse the Privilege

Following the Scent of Blood Doesn’t Always Lead to a Tasty Meal

Standardized Testing: Don’t Worry if Your Child Doesn’t Score Well on the Shark Intelligence Metric (SIM)

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However, there was one seminar that was full to overflowing and the topic of extensive conversation at the dinner tables. The Preservation of Shark Society presented the provocatively titled

Why are Humans So Ignorant About Sharks After All these Years?

The talk addressed three major topics:

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Sharks are bloodthirsty predators who seek out humans to kill them.

Totally untrue. There are more than 400 types of sharks. Do humans focus on that? No! All they want to talk about are the great whites and hammerheads. And do they ever talk about invading our space? No!

How many of them ever focus on the dwarf lantern shark? Only 21 cm long. Or how about the whale shark? Forty feet long and only eats plankton.

Besides, who would want to hunt down a human anyway? Most of them are fatty and full of unhealthy chemicals. Anyway, we’re seafood lovers.

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Sharks are stupid.

If we’re so stupid, why are they worried about us catching and killing them?

Shark brains are size-appropriate to the shark. Their favorite shark, the great white, has a brain that’s two feet long and extremely well-developed.

It’s true that shark brains mainly focus on smell, but that’s what important to us. It’s how we find food and keep from being food.

And which species spends a LOT of time in front of a box full of make-believe humans rather than enjoying their environment? Clue: not the sharks.

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Sharks have to keep moving to stay alive.

Nope. Most of us have cheek muscles we use to filter water into our mouths and over our gills. We are not as good as humans at being “couch potatoes.” (We don’t have couches or boxes of humans to watch.)

The humans may be confused by the “glamour sharks.” Their favorite great whites, the whale shark, and the mako sharks as well as a few others do have to move to pass water over their gills.

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Humans need to get to know us to love us!

And how to we do that? We make pictures to go into those boxes the people spend so much time with!

Our next project is to find out how to be as interesting as those fake people or kittens.

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pictures courtesy of Google Images

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22

Cats Tell (Some) Secrets

Snoops and Kommando Kitty here. We thought that we would help you humans understand a little more about us cats. So we decided to try to answer some common questions.

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Why do cats spend so much time sleeping in the sun? 

Some of sleep in the sun because it feels so nice on our fur. It’s also nice and warm on cool days. Other cats are partly solar-powered. You can tell who these cats are by their behavior after dark. Regular kitties want to play with their humans before bed then sleep at the same time (more or less). Solar-powered kitties will play a little before bed. But when the lights go out, they turn on the stored solar energy. They race around the house, play with their loudest toys, and try to wake up their humans to play some more. If the humans lock the door, they will stand outside and cry or bang at the door.

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Can cats really use computers?

That’s an interesting question. We don’t like to type. The claws get in the way and our paws are really too wide to be effective. However, we can use Internet sites. For example, if the human has an Amazon account we can watch them sign in and type enough to copy it. As long as there’s a credit card and address registered, all is good. We cannot use Alexa. She’s pretty smart. She knows we’re cats, and cats can’t get credit cards.

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Do cats watch TV?

Occasionally there’s a show about cats or birds that’s interesting. And some of us like sports (the faster ones; cats don’t follow golf). But for the most part humans watch junk about other humans. Humans talk a LOT on TV. If we want to listen to humans talk, we have our own.

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What do cats like to talk about to each other?

That depends on the cat. Some (like Kommando) talk more than others. Generally speaking we talk about why the humans won’t fix the weather so it’s not so cold or hot or wet or snowy. Are there any good clothes around to lay on or paw through? Is there anything good to eat?  Did the humans forget to put anything away that we like to play with or eat? We complain about clumsy humans who trip on us. What’s on Cat TV? Should we tell the humans that they smell weird?

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How do cats feel about sharing the house with other animals (besides the humans)?

It depends on the cat and the other animal. For example, our housemate Horatio Hedgehog isn’t a problem. He has a cage and is pretty quiet. He’s nocturnal, so we don’t hear too much from him. Some sort of small rodent would be acceptable. It’s always fun looking at prey. Same for fish or small reptiles. Another cat or a dog would be totally unacceptable. Three humans and two cats live here. That’s a spare human in case we need him. Other cats prefer to be alone with their human. And some cats are really outgoing and say the more the merrier. We don’t really understand those cats, so we can’t comment.

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Why do some cats like to go out and others don’t?

Most of us like the occasional look outside. Some cats are naturally timid or have had bad experiences and are more than happy to stay inside. Some have complete access to nature and are happy roaming and coming home for dinner and bed. Personally, we don’t want to be snacks for the coyotes or hawks and are happy inside. It all depends on the cat’s personality and how unpleasant it is to be with their human all day, every day.

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Why do cats act so superior?

Because we’re beautiful and smart and don’t ask dumb questions.

That’s all we have time for today. We hope we’ve helped your understanding of cats. If you have other questions you’d like answered in the future, just send them in.

Pictures courtesy of Google Images

18

Cat Forum: Interview with Twilight

Snoops and Kommando Kitty here. Today we are very pleased to be talking with Twitchy Twilight, star of the popular Cattitude Chronicles. Read on to see what makes her so special.

Please tell us something about yourself.

Well, I was born in this nice human’s backyard a couple of summers ago, and there were 3 other katlings (kat version of siblings) with me.

The human found homes for the other 3, but she couldn’t find me because I love to explore so I had “vanished”- So she thought someone had found me and took me home until one day when a really bad rain and wind storm hit and I was wet and cold and hungry so I came back to the yard I was born in – and the human who lived there saw me all wet, cold and hungry and infested with fleas and she took me in right away and cleaned me up and I immediately fell in love and claimed her and human #2 as my own!

How did you get the name “Twitchy Twilight”?

The human started calling me Twitchy, because I’m ALWAYS frisky and ready to play, and at the slightest little movement, I may be purrfectly still, and my eyes laser focused – but my tail immediately begins twitching and Twitches with every slight movement I see and then I POUNCE when they least expect it!

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We know you thought you had some big paws to follow after Shrimp went over the Rainbow Bridge. It looks like you’ve adapted pretty well. What do you think?

Well, my humans were so crazy about Shrimp, and so broken hearted when she died, that I knew I’d have my paws full.

I knew one of the things they loved about her was all that cattitude, and I tried my best to develop cattitude of my own – but it just wasn’t me. So I decided to take my chances (in spite of Shrimp’s teaching)- and just be my adorable, sweet self.

And I’m glad I did – because what my humans needed most wasn’t cattitude – but cuddles! And now I’m their little purrincess!

Who do you live with? 

My human and her husband – he doesn’t play with me much, but he’s very in love with me!

Do you have a favorite thing to do with your humans?

Oh yes! I love to eat popcorn with my human when she watches movies -(“Hubster” doesn’t like popcorn, and I’m not allowed to eat his hot and spicy Cheetos)!

I also love to paw at my human from on top the kat tree every morning when she brews her coffee (it’s right next to the Keurig), and she spends the first part of her morning playing with me!

And I also like to help her with her morning workouts – (I’m the “weights” she uses)!

Do you get to go outside?

Only for a little bit in the morning before my human leaves – and a little bit in the evening – but I’m always home by curfew – and when the weather is bad, she won’t let me out at all – she tells me, “I didn’t adopt you so you could still be cold and eaten up with fleas like a stray!”

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How’s the cat TV (watching out the window) there?

Oh my KATS! It’s the BEST! There are squirrels, baby birds, hummingbirds (in the spring), ducks and even RACOONS- (but they’re bigger than me)!

Do you have a special thing you like to do when there are no humans around?

Yes – I like to try to sneak my friends inside for a box party – but she caught me the last couple of times!

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What’s your favorite treat?

Redi Whip!!!

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Yes – I’d like to tell people not to be afraid to adopt “feral kats”- I was feral for almost the first year of my life – but now I know what it’s like to be pampered, warm and treasured- and I’m thankful someone took a chance for me!

22

Have You Hugged Your Stuffie* Today?

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*For some reason, stuffed animals are referred to as stuffies in many places online.

Snoops: Mom read us The Velveteen Rabbit. All about a stuffed rabbit who was loved very much by a little boy. The rabbit told the story. It was pretty good.

Kommando: Yeah. Except for the creepy horse.

Snoops: What creepy horse?

Kommando: The skin-horse. The boy had a dead horse in his bedroom.

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Snoops: Moving right along, it made us wonder what the stuffed animals around here were thinking.

Kommando: We were going to interview them, but they wouldn’t let us.

Snoops: That’s because you tried to eat the tail off the opossum. And you tried to chew on a few others.

Kommando: He has a long tail. It looks like a toy.

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Snoops: So we went to Lexi, our interpreter and dog-around-town.

Kommando: They wouldn’t talk to her either.

Snoops: Apparently dogs tear stuffies to shreds.

Kommando: So we did a survey. The results are below:

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Biggest Fears

  1. Not being adopted
  2. Being chewed up

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Likes

  1. Being cuddled
  2. Sleeping in bed
  3. Clean, fluffy fur

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Dislikes

  1. Drool
  2. Bodily fluids
  3. Washing machines/dryers

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Additional Comments

“If you are going to put us on a shelf, take us off once in a while and fluff our fur. Otherwise we get dusty and don’t feel clean.”

“We really like being hand washed and fluffed dry.”

“Don’t make us sleep on the floor. We get stepped on.”

“Don’t let dogs get near us. They chew on us, rip us up, and don’t have any respect for us.”

“Clean us right away if your child (or you) gets something nasty on us.”

“We don’t like to wear perfume or cologne.”

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“We don’t mind losing our looks if it’s from being loved.”

“Thank you to everyone who takes us home and loves us.”

Snoops: Those all make sense.

Kommando: I guess I should find the opossum and apologize.

 

 

 

28

2018 Animal Olympics – Week 2

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Riki T. Tavi here. Welcome to our summary of the second and final week of the 2018 Animal Olympics. Of course, the big surprise this week was the withdrawal of the highly favored reindeer team from the Sleigh Pull.

Rumors have swirled that members of the team failed a drug test. The truth is that the “failed” test was a pregnancy test. Roxy, the leader of the team, is going to have a calf in the spring. Animal Olympic rules prohibit participation of pregnant athletes due to the possibility of being kicked.

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The Dall Sheep had their appeal over the conditions of the ski slope rejected, so the standings are unchanged.

The week was full of surprises. Now on to our commentators.

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Harold Hare – Cross Country Tracking

The non-carnivore competition was a real disappointment. First, only four teams qualified for the race. Of course, the snowshoe hares were brilliant in finding the food we had distributed on the track. The beavers fell asleep and missed the race entirely. The squirrel team was fun to watch although their constant playing on the track was somewhat of a distraction.

Gold: Snowshoe Hares; Silver: Squirrels; Bronze: Mice.

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The carnivore competition was much more intense. Generally, the field is all mammals. The birds prefer to compete in the Raptor Grab. However, this year the arctic owls decided to enter the tracking hunt. With nests on the ground and their outstanding hunting skills, they were sure to be a threat.

The arctic foxes weren’t intimidated. They had inspected the field closely and were confident of their abilities. The wolverines had edged the wolves in the semi-finals to get the last spot in the finals.

It was a good fight. Unfortunately for the owls, one of their players got side-tracked by some non-competition prey and was eliminated for leaving the track.

Gold: Arctic Foxes; Silver: Wolverines; Bronze: Arctic Owls.

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Bruno Brown Bear – Ice Hockey

In recent years, the sport has been dominated by the bears. A combination of intelligence and strength has been the key. But this year there was a surprising new challenger. The dogs decided to enter a team of border collies.

The bear teams weren’t concerned. Who ever heard of dogs on ice? They concentrated on their usual threats, the otters and the seals. Both teams were fast, with plenty of experience moving chunks of ice.

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Fans were stunned when the border collies beat the black bears in the semi-finals. The dogs were fast learners and agile on the ice. The final four teams were the brown bears/grizzlies, seals, polar bears, and collies. The match-up between the brown bears and the seals wasn’t close, with the bears winning 6-0.

In the other game, it appears that the polar bears may have gotten a little over-confident. The collies took them to double-overtime and finally won, 2-1. So it was brown bears v. collies for the gold and silver, and seals v. polar bears for the bronze.

Gold: Brown Bears/Grizzlies; Silver: Border Collies; Bronze: Polar Bears.

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Arnie Kestrel – Raptor Grab

As usual, the Raptor Grab was an intense competition. The rules state that the contestants can only score with specially marked fish. However, there is nothing in the rules about taking another competitor’s fish before crossing the line.

A new member of the arctic owl team repeatedly brought back ineligible fish, leaving the team out of the finals. The bald eagles were eliminated when two of their team members lost fish in fights.

The finalists were the red-tailed hawks, the snowy owls, and the golden eagles.

Gold: Snowy Owls; Silver: Golden Eagles; Bronze: Red-Tailed Hawks.

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Rodney Reindeer – Sleigh Pull

As Riki said earlier, the favored reindeer team withdrew at the beginning of the week. As a result, we saw some different competitors joining the now-favored moose in the finals.

The sled dogs decided to field a team this year. Traditionally a strong competitor in the race, the dogs have been sitting out a suspension following that unfortunate incident in 2010. That team turned over the sleigh, but continued to run for a distance. The bears riding inside were dragged along with the sleigh. Once the bears and the dogs were released, there was a terrible fight.

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The final place was taken by the horse team. The horses fielded a good team, but their lack of experience at an elite level showed. It turned into a showdown between the moose and the sled dogs. The dogs had an emotional edge, trying to redeem their reputation. They edged the moose by less than a second.

Gold: Sled Dogs; Silver: Moose; Bronze: Horses.

It’s Riki again. I hope you enjoyed our coverage of the 2018 Animal Olympics. We hope to see you in 2022 when we’ll be covering the Winter Animal Olympics in Beijing.

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18

2018 Animal Olympics – Week 1

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Riki T. Tavi here. Welcome to our summary of the first week of the 2018 Animal Olympics. It’s been an exciting week here. We’ve had thrills and a few surprises. It’s been truly heartwarming to see the carnivores and non-carnivores competing against each other in peaceful surroundings. Now I’ll turn you over to our commentators.

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Margaret Malamute – Freestyle Skiing

Since no equipment is allowed in competition, this event has always been dominated by animals who could run down the hill the fastest. The last three winners were the Dall sheep team. However, this year the seals challenged the definition of “upright”. They argued that upright for them was on their bellies. After much consideration, the Olympic Committee agreed with their argument.

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So the finalists were the Dall Sheep, the reindeer and the seals. The favored sheep ran into a problem almost immediately when one of their runners hit a patch of ice and skidded off the trail. The seals were next. Being their first Olympics, the form was not great. But their speed made up for it. The reindeer were last. They were under pressure to beat the seals using traditional methods. It came down to the last runner, but in the end the reindeer triumphed.

Gold: Reindeer; Silver: Seals; Bronze: Sheep. The sheep plan a challenge based on the conditions of the slope.

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Edie Ermine – Freestyle Sledding

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the seals did not qualify for the finals. The likely explanation is that they spent extra time working on the skiing skills and not enough on the sledding. Regardless, the finalists were the ermine, the penguins, and (surprisingly) the polar bears. The polar bears entered the competition on a dare and were expected to finish at the bottom of the pack.

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The ermine went first, displaying their flawless beauty in the event. The scores were good, but not great. Definitely room for the other teams to score higher. The penguins, apparently sensing victory, were a little careless in their takeoffs and barely edged the ermine. The polar bears went last. Their form was unusual, to say the least. They sat on their butts and held their feet up. Since the only requirement is that competitors maintain the same position from top to bottom, it was an acceptable position. The bears were not attractive going down the hills, but it’s a speed contest.

Gold: Polar Bears; Silver: Penguins; Bronze: Ermine

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Penelope Penguin – Luge

The Luge didn’t really hold many surprises. This fan favorite is a test of speed not form. The sides of the track are expandable so all the animals use the same track.The finalists were the penguins, the polar bears, and the otters. All three teams are experienced, and all performed well. Some minors errors on the track made the difference.

Gold: Otters; Silver: Penguins; Bronze: Polar Bears

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Oscar Otter – Underwater Relay

The otters have been dominant in this event for many years. Swimming quickly around and through posts and rings seems second nature to them. The only real question here was who would get silver and bronze. The finalists were the otters, the penguins, and the seals. The penguins were faster than the seals, but the seals missed fewer obstacles. In a very close finish, the seals beat out the penguins for silver.

Gold: Otters; Silver: Seals; Bronze: Penguins

It’s Riki again. Hopefully, you’ve been watching the actual events online at cheeseland.anm/olympics. Please join us next week for our summary of the remaining events.

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

41

Cat Forum: Interview with Kosmo

Snoops and Kommando Kitty here. Welcome to Cat Forum. We have a  very special guest this month: Kosmo, who comes all the way from Finland. We didn’t know where Finland is, so we had to look it up. It is a LONG way from Michigan. And he speaks really good American cat (which is a good thing, since we didn’t even know there was a Finnish cat language.) Kosmo appears in the blog Photofinland with a lot of really cool pictures. In fact, Horatio Hedgehog convinced us to put a second link further down when Kosmo talks about the hedgehogs he knows.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

 My name is Kosmo and I live in the western part of Finland. I am about Four years old. I don´t remember much of my childhood, but one day when I was walking around hungry and tired, I heard humans talking in one yard. So I walked there, a woman was sitting on the steps and I walked straight to her lap. She asked me if I am hungry, and then I knew I will live in this house forever.

Kosmo´s mom: We tried to find Kosmo´s home with no result, nobody had seen him earlier. Kosmo had been a home cat, because he was used to living inside.

Kosmo’s Mom is also an extremely talented photographer

Your humans seem to really love the outdoors. Do you get to help them with their projects?

Not much, because at first I was really afraid to go out, because of my past, somebody had left me out. Dad took me out at first in his lap, then in a leash, and now after three years effort I walk well in a leash. I have my own path and I walk it with Dad twice a day.

You may know that we live with Horatio Hedgehog. Have you ever met one?

Oh yes! Hedgehogs are living in my yard. In a most peaceful corner in my yard is a place for hedgehogs to hibernate. Dad has made two small houses for them and then covered the houses with dry leaves and branches. In our blog are photos of one house and hedgehogs.

It looks really snowy and cold there (and dark). Do you get extra snuggles this time of year?

Yes, my humans like to snuggle with me, because I am snoring really loud, and they love it.

Do you live with other creatures (furry or non-furry) aside from your adult humans?

 No, just we three together. One cat girl comes every day to eat here. She is waiting outside the door, then I invite her to come in to eat. We know where her home is, but our food is better, I think. I just watch her eat, maybe some days we are playing together.

What’s your favorite thing to do with your humans?

 Snuggling, of course, daily brushing, playing “running around like crazies”, and my walks outside with Dad.

What’s your favorite way to play?

Pawball is the number one.

Are there special Finnish treats that you get? Maybe something fishy?

This is really embarrassing, but I am afraid of fish. When I was new here, my humans had real, tiny fishes for me, I and ran away under the bed.

Do you have good cat TV (window viewing) there?

I have two great cat TV’s and lots of birds.

Is there anything you would like to add?

 This interview in your blog is a great honour to me , thank you!

Horatio here. Kosmo really is a good guy – for a cat. If you get to Finland, you should definitely look him up.