17

Cat Forum: Are You the Hunter or the Hunted?

Hi Everyone. It’s Kommando Kitty leading off today. I am not a happy cat. My mom and human brother are calling me a scaredy cat. They keep trying to introduce our new invader brother, and I don’t want to meet him. Snoops pretty much ignores him, but I run when he comes near. Mom says he’s going to think I’m prey. I don’t understand why they can’t just leave him upstairs.

Back when I moved in, things were different. I was a tiny kitten, and Snoops had just been adopted after having kittens. She adopted me, but I made sure that I was in charge. Over the years, she’s gotten more assertive, so we’ve been more-or-less equals for a while. Now there’s a new guy. He doesn’t seem mean or aggressive. Nobody’s even heard him hiss or growl. He has a LOT of energy. And I just want to hang out.

This is Snoops. The humans are taking things slowly here. It should be okay soon. It’s just weird, because Kommando has really mellowed out over the years. She used to be a little bully. Now I have to protect her. It’s like she got a personality transplant.

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We’ve been looking at the different types of personalities that cats have. It’s pretty interesting. Apparently, someone has been doing a lot of work and identified the five basic personality traits of kitties. They are: skittishness, outgoingness, dominance, impulsiveness, and agreeableness. All of us have some degree of each trait to make up our unique selves.

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Skittishness (or Neuroticism) – This measures where you fall on the calm to stressed out scale. The more neurotic you are, the more easily you get stressed out. You are more likely to be anxious or depressed. You will run from the unknown or strange things. It’s not a bad thing to be skittish. Just make sure you have a place to hide and feel safe. You may be braver when you are more comfortable with the situation.

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Outgoingness (or Extroversion) –  Let’s face it. Some cats are party animals and some are not. (We are not, but we think that Sgt Stripes probably is.) This measurement looks at how impulsive you are versus being cautious. We are all curious, but some of us take it to the extreme. Some cats go through life looking for adventures, while others are happy living with set limits. Outgoing cats are sometimes called “nosy.” They are easily bored and need more mental stimulation than their more introverted friends. They may get destructive when they get bored. If you are an extroverted cat, make sure you have plenty of toys. Playing with your human will help you avoid boredom.

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Dominance – Dominant cats are the ones who always want to be first and try to run everything. You know the type. They may try to control everything in the house (food, toys, litter box). Dominant cats sometimes try to dominate the humans as well as other cats. They will chase the others, pick fights, try to make others move, steal food/toys, and generally be obnoxious. At the other end of the scale are the meek cats who are content to be at whatever level they find. One way to deal with a dominant cat is to make sure that there are enough water bowls, food dishes, litter boxes, etc. for everyone. Even the head cat can’t be everywhere at once.

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Impulsivity – Some cats seem to be unpredictable. One day, they will act one way and the next day completely different. One day they like something, the next day they don’t. These cats are usually high energy and may be a little anxious. Cats may be more impulsive when they are uncertain of their surroundings. Giving this type of cat some structure may help, like set feedings and playtime. Humans need to be extra calm around impulsive kitties to help lower their anxiety levels.

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Agreeableness –  This measures where you fall on the Nice to Unfriendly scale. Agreeable cats are nice – they get along with everyone, and are usually happy to give a cheerful hello, rub, or head bonk. Well-socialized, healthy kitties are usually nice kitties. A cat who is disagreeable or aggressive usually has been poorly socialized, poorly treated, or in pain. On the other hand, we all have bad days. (And sometimes humans are just annoying.)

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Obviously, we all have our own personalities. And there’s no such thing as a bad kitty. If you are interested in taking a Cat Personality Test, you can find the one from IDR Labs here.  It’s free and fun.

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25

Celebrating Black Cats with Onyx

Greetings from Snoops and Kommando Kitty. Today we’d like to introduce you to our cousin Onyx, our favorite black cat.

Hello everyone, I’m Onyx. I’m usually not in the spotlight because my younger, more assertive, sister Thunder generally hogs the blog. However, in honor of Halloween and Black Cat Appreciation Month, I convinced her to let me write about black cats and how cool we are. Here are some interesting facts and information about black kitties to make your October a little more cat-tastic!

Melanism 

Black cats have a condition known as melanism. This accounts for our black furs, and in many cats, our yellow eyes. Melanism is an overabundance of pigmentation, making it the flip side of albinism. However, even though black cats have extra pigmentation, we are still prone to sunburn and outdoor cats should plan their sunscreen accordingly. 

Black Breeds

Although many breeds can have black coloring in their fur patterns, only 22 breeds of cats can be genetically defined as a “black cat”. The most common breed of black cats is the Bombay (I happen to be a Bombay). Other breeds include the Chantilly-Tiffany, the Cornish Rex, the American Curl, the Japanese Bobtail, the Sphynx, and several Short-haired cats (such as British, Exotic, Oriental and American). 

Genetics 

While black is considered a dominant trait for fur color, to be truly classified as a black cat, both parents need to have the black trait. Fun fact- tabby is the most common pattern of black fur! 

Color Changes 

Certain conditions can change the black coloring of the fur. As black cats age, their furs may fade to grey or white. Additionally, if black cats get enough sun, their fur will highlight to a brown or a red-rust color. However, the rust color will return to black when the exposure to sunlight stops. Once the fur ages to white, the change is permanent. 

Immune Systems 

Black cats are believed to have better immune systems than other cats. Although the reason why is unknown, research has indicated that black cats have a lower chance of developing feline leukemia and feline HIV. 

Pawsome Personalities 

Although all cats have wonderful personalities, some typical personality traits you’ll find in a black cat include playfulness, high intelligence, curiosity, and friendliness. Black cats also tend to be very loyal companions, and adapt easily to changes. We’re also quite aware of our surroundings, and keen to stress and emotions in our humans. Because of this, black cats are often sweet and compassionate- I happen to know when my human is about to have a panic attack, and make sure I cling extra close to her until I can get her calm. Black cats would make great therapy cats! 

Adoption Issues  

Every cat deserves a loving forever home, no matter what color fur they have. Unfortunately, black cats have the lowest adoption rating of any color out there- but we also have the highest surrender rate of any color. 30% of all shelter intakes are black furred creatures. Because of the high give-up rates and low take home rates, black cats are more likely to be euthanized when the shelter runs out of space or if they don’t adopt out quickly enough- how cruel! And while many shelters won’t adopt out black cats during the month of October (especially the later weeks near Halloween), that still leaves 11 months out of the year to consider making your new family member a furry black one- or, at the very least, encouraging your circle to adopt a black cat!

Celebrations 

There are four formal recognitions of black cats nationally in America; three days and a whole month! August 17th is Black Cat Appreciation Day, October 27th is National Black Cat Day, Black Cat Friday in November (typically the closest Friday to November 13th); and the whole month of October is Black Cat Appreciation Month. 

Myths

There are several myths surrounding black cats. The most common one is that black cats are unlucky (this is particularly common in America and Europe), although in Japan a black cat signifies good luck. In Germany, the luck of the black cat depends on which direction it is walking on their encounter with you- left to right indicates good luck is coming, but right to left means bad luck is ahead. The Italians believe if a black cat jumps next to someone while they’re ill, that person will soon pass away.

Some cultures tie myths of wealth into black cats- in Scotland, some believe if a black cat appears on your porch, money will be coming to you soon. On the other hand, in China, black cats are thought to bring poverty with them. An older myth is that black cats are witches, and that witches kept black cats to sneak around and cast spells. It was believed that witches could shape shift into black cats, and even in current culture, black cats are often pictured alongside witches. This may be why black cats are associated with Halloween so frequently. 

Black Cats in Society 

Perhaps the most famous black cat in American society today would be Salem, the companion of Sabrina from “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”. Other televised black cats are Luna from “Sailor Moon”, Felix the Cat (an animated character from when animation was becoming popular) and Snowball II from “The Simpsons”. Black cats have also made companions to famous people, including India, the cat of former American president George W. Bush, and Gladstone, the official cat of the HM Treasury in the UK. There is also Hodge, the kitty of author Samuel Johnson.

There are cats famous from literature, such as Mr. Mistofflees from “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S Elliot (and the musical “Cats); Pluto from “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allen Poe; and Behemoth from “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Buglakov. Some other notable black cats are Blackie, the cat who inherited millions of dollars; Homer, the blind wonder cat; Trim, the first kitty to circumnavigate Australia and who saved his human during the journey; and Oscar the bionic cat, a double back leg amputee with prosthetic paws. 

I truly enjoyed writing this post, and I hope you enjoyed reading about the magnificent black cats of the world. Next time you encounter a black cat, please treat them with kindness (and soak in their good looks), and if you need a new furry member in your life, think about bringing one home!

Wishing you all a safe and fun Halloween, with furs and purrs, 

Onyx Katt