Meet the Feral Cats of Disneyland. More “cats on the job!”

A few years ago we heard that Disneyland in Anaheim, CA had and actually cared for about 200 feral cats who keep the theme park free of rodents.

Cats roaming Disneyland were discovered in the 1950’s. Rather than “get rid of them” the park decided to house and care for them so they could help keep the park clear of mice and rats.

All of the cats are part of the program we know as TNR – Trap Neuter Release. The tipped left ear is what tells you that the cat has been spayed or neutered, and is part of a feral colony.

During the day these cats are kept from the public in special cat ranch hidden on the property. At night they come out to hunt and play! But sometimes one or two sneak out and make themselves seen. This home video shows one of them being fed a few scraps of food at the park’s Hungry Bear Restaurant:

This LA Times article from May 2, 2012 by Hugo Martin tells us all about them!

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/02/business/la-fi-cover-disney-20100502

Someone known as Aunt Peaches writes about the cats too

http://www.auntpeaches.com/2013/08/the-feral-cats-of-disneyland.html

PS: The Disneyland feral cats are specifically told not to bother these two mice…


Do you know of any “working cats” in your community?

We’d love to hear about them and we’ll print your story!

Submit it to: catfaeries@catfaeries.com

Subject line to read: My story: cats on the job

We’ll send you 4 catnip toys if we use your story!

Johnny Cash Cuddles a Kitten

Johnny Cash’s birthday was last week on the 26th! Isn’t he cool with his feline friend? He was the coolest of the cool!

johnny-cash-kitten-500

Feline Genetics – Mapping Cats’ Genome Project

(What is a genome? A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism. In humans, a copy of the entire genome—more than 3 billion DNA base pairs—is contained in all cells that have a nucleus.)

Did you know there are 12 cat racial groups around the world?

Here’s a fascinating article from the San Francisco Chronicle on a project to map the genome of the house cat. The scientists are mapping the DNA of 99 cats from all over the world.

Once they’ve mapped the cat genome, the full database will be posted on the Internet. Researchers will be able to use the information to research cat health links to genetics and cat ancestry. This may someday lead to DNA testing for cats being available to vets to help in maintaining our kitty’s health. It can also help humans, by aiding research for diseases that affect both cats and people.

Someday, we may even have a DNA testing service like 23andme for our kitties!


Scientists set out to map whole genome of cats – 99 of them

Stephanie M. Lee

Cats may not have nine lives, as the myth goes, but they do have 38 chromosomes.

And a team led by a former UC Davis professor is trying to understand those genes by sequencing a lot of cats – 99 cats, to be precise.

Leslie Lyons is fond of cats – she is the proud owner of two – but that’s not why she is pursuing this project. As sequencing technology grows faster, more comprehensive and more precise, scientists in general are mapping the genomes of humans, dogs, cows and other mammals.

But Lyons, who now works at the University of Missouri, says the cat genome remains relatively un-deciphered. A full mapping of those 20,000 genes in various breeds could help pinpoint the genetic cause of distinguishing marks, like fur and eye colors, but also of cat health problems, she says. It could even shed light on diseases that can occur in cats and humans alike.

“When a sick cat comes along, you could genetically sequence it and say, ‘Hey, look, this has a variation we’ve never seen before,’ ” said Lyons, who is collaborating on the project with San Mateo company Maverix Biomics. “It might give us clues very quickly as to what genes to focus on for this cat’s health care.”

Right now, it’s too early to tell whether protective pet owners or veterinarians would be willing to fork over the cash to sequence their cats’ genomes, said David Kirkpatrick, a spokesman for the American Veterinary Medical Association.

But pet owners in the United States do go to great lengths to take care of their animals, spending $26 billion on supplies, over-the-counter medicine and veterinary care in 2012, according to the American Pet Production Association.

In the not-too-distant future, perhaps, a trip to the vet could include a DNA test.

“We want to bring the health care standards of our pets to a comparable standard for humans,” Lyons said.

From 9 cats to 99

The project, called the 99 Lives Cat Whole Genome Sequencing Initiative, grew out of an original plan to sequence just nine cats. But Lyon and her colleagues decided that nine lives were not enough to build a truly complete genetic portrait, so they upped the sample size.

The work requires samples from kitties that are spayed and neutered. The cats’ leftover ovaries, uteruses and testicles contain DNA that can be easily extracted.

So the scientists are seeking cat samples from Greece, India, China, Russia, the Galapagos and Madagascar, to name a few. They want all kinds of breeds: the silky-haired Maine Coon and the American shorthair, the spotted Egyptian Mau and the blue-eyed Siamese. They want both purebreds and housecats that are a little bit of everything.

12 racial groups of cats

Like humans, cats belong to different racial populations, Lyons said. Felines from the United States, Britain and Canada tend to match up genetically with each other – not surprising, because most share a fluffy ancestry that originated in Western Europe.

Their genetic profile differs from that of cats in Egypt, which in turn are distinct from their counterparts in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. All in all, there are about 12 racial groups, Lyons said.

“What (humans) really want to do is figure out all the genetic variations in our genomes,” she said. “It varies with where you live in the world and what ethnic group you are, and that’s true with cats, too.”

Assisting in the sequencing are the University of Missouri, Cornell University, Texas A&M University and UC Davis. Funding also comes from Zoetis, an animal health company; the Winn Feline Foundation, a cat health nonprofit; and Procter and Gamble, which makes cat and dog food.

An Abyssinian named Cinnamon was the first cat to be genetically sequenced in 2007, but the technology then was more primitive and only picked up about 60 percent of her total DNA.

The technology Lyons uses now will pick up virtually all of it, but mapping each genome will take weeks or months and cost about $8,000. Sequencing all 99 whiskered creatures will generate a huge amount of data – 168 terabytes. (A typical desktop computer has 1 terabyte of capacity.)

All that data will be uploaded into a cloud-based website that will allow anyone to view, search and annotate it.

“They can share that information very easily among researchers, rather than having to ship it around to researchers from lab to lab,” said Dave Mandelkern, president and co-founder of Maverix Biomics, which is operating the website.

Implications for humans

The data could have implications for humans who suffer from illnesses such as polycystic kidney disease and spinal muscular atrophy – diseases that also affect cats.

More immediately, the project could help researchers like Niels Pedersen, a UC Davis professor emeritus who helped with the sequencing. Pedersen, for example, is trying to better understand the genetic causes of feline infectious peritonitis, a fatal illness in cats.

“Using the tools we had at the time, we can see that there are some genetic factors that might be important,” he said. “To really define them … we really need to move to the whole genome sequencing.


Intriguing, isn’t it?


Everyone at Cat Faeries, and many friends, have done 23 and Me to learn about our individual genetics.

Here’s something fun to know about our founder, Mrs. Cat Faerie – she has 3% Neanderthal DNA. This is .8% higher than average and puts her in the 94th percentile (if only she did so well in school!) Mr. Cat Faerie has some Neanderthal DNA too, his is 3.1%. And you may have some too. This is why a service like 23 and Me, and all the genome research that’s being done, is so fascinating – and fun! And you might learn about some health predispositions.

What did our ancestor’s sleep patterns have in common with your cat?

You’ll be fascinated to learn that our ancestors did sleep, wake up, and then sleep again. A bit like cats, but not all day long, rather overnight.

Long before the Industrial Revolution and the invention of electricity people went “early to bed and early to rise”. And what exactly does that mean? Did they really go to bed early and sleep for hours on end? No.

Our ancestors did not sleep straight through the night, rather they had two nightly sleeps. They would go to bed early and sleep for a few hours, and then they would wake up. Which we modern humans often do, probably our Circadian Rhythms trying to tell us something. So we toss and turn, and feel guilt or anger for not falling back to sleep, they got up and did things, generally quiet things like meditate, pray or read. A few hours later they’d fall back to sleep again for the duration of the night.

Also before the invention of electricity our ancestors slept in complete darkness other than some light from a full moon. There was no light to disturb their sleep or rest. There was no artificial street light or light from electronics to disturb their sleep or rest.

Our cats have their own Circadian Rhythms which are: Sleep. Wake up. Sleep. They do this throughout the day. What’s similar between us and cats is that we aren’t meant to sleep for hours on end.

Doing what you can to flow with human Circadian Rhythm will keep us youthful and disease free. And probably even as agile as a cat.

The article on this link will explain how our ancestors used to sleep. Do read it, it contains a lot of fascinating details about what people did during those wakeful hours at night.

http://disinfo.com/2013/08/how-our-ancestors-used-to-sleep-twice-a-night-and-highlighting-the-problem-of-present-shock/

How to interview and choose a new veterinarian

It’s a new year and a great time to start to shop around for a new veterinarian. Did someone new move in last year? If yes, check them out! You could be in for a delightful surprise. Call every groomer, pet shop, dog walker (even if you only have cats) and cat sitter in town and ask for referrals.

A good veterinarian is worth their weight in gold, platinum, and diamonds.

This could be love and long lasting relationship

  • Is a Smarty Pants – in the best way possible, really smart and thinks outside of the box
  • Really listens to you and takes notes
  • Loves that you are asking a lot questions about their training, special interests and classes, areas of medicine that really inspire them
  • Does not roll eyes at you if you bring up something sensitive or disagree
  • Shows emotion when you are given bad news or lose an animal
  • Allows you to watch blood draws
  • Allows you to see and inspect their surgery room and kennel area
  • Takes classes every year including alternative forms of medicine
  • Has new state of the art equipment
  • Emails/calls colleagues at universities and out of state for advice
  • Martha Stewart approved tidiness
  • Proudly displays animal charities they donate to or volunteer for

RUN!

  • Picks bits of cat and dog fur off their clothes
  • Insists on declawing a new kitten
  • Pushes annual vaccinations for a housecat
  • Charges for quick phone calls to discuss blood work or answer questions
  • Is impolite to the vet techs
  • The waiting room is a 3 ring circus of chaos and noise
  • Ancient equipment (a good example is one clinic we know had a 30 year old X-ray machine from a human podiatrist!)
  • Thinks they know it all and does not have colleagues to consult with
  • Dust and crud on the floors
  • Rolls eyes at you or staff

Newton’s Perspective: How to Choose a Vet

Here’s an article by guest cat-tributor Issac Newton:




Issac Newton

How many of you cats out there enjoy going to the vet? Raise your paws. That’s what I thought. Just thinking of a car ride sends shivers up my spine! However, we all know that regular visits to the vet are essential for maintaining good health, so I’m going to give your people some hints on choosing a good doctor for their favorite felines. We deserve quality care with minimal stress!

Have you noticed that some clinics now specialize in cats only? This is worth considering, especially if there are no dogs in your family. It suggests the vet and staff are attuned to the particular needs of cats. However, there is no reason a cat can’t be treated properly in a mixed practice.

If you are looking for a new veterinarian don’t pick a clinic just because it is close to you. Few vets handle their own after hours emergencies these days, so saving a couple of miles driving shouldn’t be the most important factor. Find out where the Emergency Clinic is or how local vets rotate emergency responsibilities.

The following is a true story. When Mrs. S. moved to a new state she took her chronically ill cat to the closest vet. She explained Kitty’s medical history and was expecting blood to be drawn to assess her current condition. Dr. X. laughed and said he didn’t think blood work was necessary since he didn’t have a big car payment that month. Apparently he thought she would appreciate the humor and his “client friendly” views on charging for unnecessary services. However, she was horrified by his insensitivity and never went there again.

If possible try to get references from friends who have pets. Who is their vet and why do they continue to go there? Are they thinking of changing? If so, where else might they go and why?

The ASPCA has published a guide for choosing a veterinarian (general practice), http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/choosing_a_veterinarian.html, but YOU must decide what is most important to you.

My special person’s list includes respect, trust and patience:

1. Respect for me as my cat’s caretaker
2. Respect for my cat
3. Trust that includes vet, client and cat
4. Patience and willingness to explain what is recommended and why

The example of Dr X. illustrates the importance of good rapport between client and vet. If you don’t feel comfortable with the doctor how can you trust that your cat will be treated appropriately and with compassion?

Most cats will be shy or fearful in a clinic setting. Does the vet talk softly and treat your cat as gently as possible? Are you allowed to be present when blood is drawn or vaccinations are given? If the staff insists that these things must be done in “the back” a red flag should immediately appear. What don’t they want you to see?

Does the doctor explain procedures, diagnoses and recommendations in language that you can understand (without talking down to you)? Are you given options for treatments? Are the possible outcomes of different tests/procedures and medications explained? Does he answer questions to your satisfaction?

Overall, do you and your cat feel comfortable with the person you are literally trusting with your cats life? If not, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere. However, if you are happy overall and concerns are minor try to work out solutions. A good relationship takes effort from both sides.

I hope these guidelines will help people to make informed decisions when choosing a vet for their special cat companions. (By the way, my person trusts my doctor completely and she has known a lot of veterinarians!) Next time I plan to talk about the cat vaccination controversy.