We returned from our London trip on Sunday to find our beloved Resident Feline, Clio, in a sorry state. She had stopped eating mid-week, according to her caretaker, and while the vet was initially optimistic that it was little more than a "blockage" (i.e., constipation), poor Clio has not rebounded. If anything, her condition has worsened. So today could very well be the day we bid her a fond farewell and send her to the Great Kitty Hunting Ground in the sky. It's not definite yet: the vet is trying one last life-saving IV in hopes it will reverse (or at least halt) the damage to her liver and kidneys. But my gut feeling is that this will probably only buy Clio a couple of months, at best. I always swore I wouldn't needlessly prolong her suffering when the time came, and the Spousal Unit concurs. Understandably, I do not much feel like blogging while waiting to learn if this is, indeed, vaya con dios for our feline friend. Instead, I offer Clio's own bloggy "greatest hits," from her short-lived blog called I Am the Kitty. She's always had a penchant for cat-related science tidbits in her infrequent posts -- with a generous helping of snark. Perhaps she will yet live to blog again....
[February 18, 2008]
This Axiom is All Too True
Found this cartoon in the Interwebs and I think it captures a fundamental truth about how humans view the noble feline: they infantalize us. I'm very fond of my Humans, and they converse with each other at a very high level, but the minute their attention turns to me, it's all cooing over how cute I am and asking, "Awww... who's the kitty?"
[February 19, 2008]
When Cats Calculate
Those silly humans seemed surprised a few months ago when Tatiana, a 350-pound Siberian tiger in the San Francisco Zoo, escaped from her enclosure by leaping over a 12.5 foot fence some 33 feet away. They didn't think this should be possible. That's because, unlike cats, humans are very bad at math. Perhaps they should spend more time scanning arXiv. They might have stumbled upon a useful paper by one Raza Syed: "Tiger Tales: A Critical Examination of the Tiger's Enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo."
I Purr, Therefore I Am
Why do cats purr? Because we can. It makes us feel good, and it pleases our Humans -- they find our purring comforting. Superstitious sorts even believe that our purr has special healing powers. And now physics has found a possible explanation for why the sound of the purr is so pleasant, along with evidence that there might be something to that old wives' tale.
[February 26, 2008]
It's in the Genes
Some of you probably missed the news last year that scientists have succeeded in a first-pass sequencing of the cat genome, accounting for some 20,285 genes plucked from a four-year-old Abyssinian named Cinnamon. Humph. Abyssinians can't hold a candle to tabby cats. But try telling that to biologists.
[March 21, 2008]
I Shake my Paw at You
Sometimes I wonder whether scientists don't overthink things a little. My Primary Human recently abandoned me to attend some physics conference in New Orleans. I checked out the online epitome -- because I like to keep track of what my human is up to -- and found that there were a couple of papers involving computer simulations of "the feline reflexive habit of shaking its paw to remove an irritant."
[March 29, 2008]
Finding our Roots
I admit it: I'm a mongrel. Even the vet simply has me listed as a "domestic short hair." I was born on da mean streets of New York City and have no recollection of my specific parentage. This is not a tragedy for cats. By and large, we aren't concerned with geneologies and such. It's humans who are completely obsessed with tracing bloodlines and producing "purebreds" to humiliate them in various national competitions.
[August 7, 2008]
Glowing with Pride
Forget Dolly the sheep: the big scientific breakthrough in cloning occurred when scientists succeeded in cloning cats at Texas A&M University in 2002. They called the creature Copycat. Since then, all kinds of animals have been cloned: cows, dogs (why? just, why?), pigs, bulls and goats, not to mention glowing fish (tasty!). I think they should clone more mice. And birds. Specifically for cat-hunting purposes.