did the cat become domesticated?
A. Small wildcats live in Europe and Africa. The Egyptians started storing
grain around 5000 years ago and this of course attracted rodents who fed on
the grain. The small and beautiful African wildcat, whose scientific name is
Felis lybica, found easy hunting grounds at these storage bins. The local
villagers became aware of the hunting prowess of the cats. They were also
attracted by the beauty of the cat and befriended the animals. Thus began
the domestication of the cat, Felis Catus, as we know him today. Our
domestic cat is more likely descended from the African wildcat because the
European wildcat is pretty much untamable, whereas Felis lybica to this day
hangs around villages in Africa, and, when they are young, can be tamed.
Which is the most popular cat breed?
A. All domestic cats, no matter what breed they are, are from the same
species, Felis catus. Actually in Britain, Europe and America only 7 percent
of the cats are pedigreed. The most popular cat is still the "moggie"
or random bred cat.
many cat breeds are there?
A. There are around 100 different and distinct cat breeds. Some pedigree
cats are natural breeds and others are the result of special breeding.
is a feral cat?
A. Cats are complex creatures, and no two are alike. The answer to what is a
feral cat is therefore also fairly complex. Biologist Roger Tabor describes
the term "feral" as one applied to an animal that was once
domesticated but has reverted to a wild state, or more properly has reverted
from a domestic to a free-living state. If a cat is tossed out by the
guardian, or roams away from home and gets lost, as many un-sterilized cats
are prone to do, and then left to fend for themselves, most can revert to
their wild instincts inherited from their wild ancestor, the African
wildcat. While it is true that many do suffer, especially the first
generation, or when they struggle to find food and shelter, subsequent feral
generations that survive to adulthood, become very successful at survival,
which accounts for the number of feral cats living in almost every city and
town in the world. They are an opportunistic animal and have filled niches
left by other predators that humans have either killed off or who left after
urban and suburban development. Any cat can become feral, even a pure-bred
cat. Most feral cat caretakers have seen feral Siamese, feral Burmese, feral
Persians. Long-haired feral cats have very badly matted fur and some
caretakers have to re-trap them each year to get their fur shaved off.
do I do if my new rescued cat tests positive for Feline Leukemia (FeLV)
A. Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a virus that affects around 4 percent of all
cats (feral or domestic). Cats can be tested with a simple in-house kit or
the blood can be sent to a lab. If a cat tests positive, it does not
necessarily mean a death sentence for the cat. The good news is that the cat
can fight off the virus, which is why a second test is vital around 2 to 3
months after the first positive test. The other good news is that a cat can
live for many years after testing positive. Usually the younger the cat, the
more serious the initial infection is and the less his chances are for
survival. So one has several options to consider when a cat tests positive.
If you are a cat rescuer, in our opinion, you should vaccinate your own cats
for FeLV, to give them added protection in case you bring in a cat with this
virus. And brief, casual contact will not put your cats at risk. It has to
be prolonged contact, prolonged sharing of litter boxes and food bowls, and
Should you test your feral cat colonies for FeLV?
A. Many individuals and many groups that work with feral cats, usually have
limited resources, and therefore no longer test for FeLV. Julie Levy, DVM,
founder of Operation Catnip, realized that her group could sterilize more
feral cats if they stopped spending the money on testing. She had done
research projects in California and in North Carolina where she discovered
that the rates of FeLV among feral cats was the same as that in the domestic
population, with a few exceptions-and the rates are pretty low at that. This
led her to say: "Feral cats pose no more risk to companion animals than
do free-roaming pet cats. It is the unneutered cats that wander, fight, and
reproduce that are most likely to spread these diseases, regardless of
whether they live in feral colonies or in private homes." Dr. Levy
believes: " that reproduction causes more miserable deaths (in
colonies) than do these viruses. " She goes on to say: "we have to
remember that the largest cause of death of cats in the U.S. is
overpopulation and homelessness. Euthanasia of unwanted cats claims the
lives of more cats than all infectious diseases combined. " So you may
want to consider NOT testing for these viral diseases, if you have a healthy
colony of cats, and spending the money saved on sterilizing even more feral
cats. Of course, if the cats are showing signs of illness, a test should be
do orphan and stray kittens seem to get upper respiratory infections so
easily, and what can be done about them?
A. Feline herpesvirus-1 and feline calicivirus are common causes of feline
upper respiratory diseases (URI). Treatment is usually symptomatic.
Vaccination will not prevent all URI infections but can minimize severity of
the disease. Infections may be acquired by coming in contact with an
infected cat, organisms present in the environment or even from a
"carrier" cat. Cat shelters, breeders, and boarding facilities may
have these viruses and you should thus ensure that your cat is properly
vaccinated before taking him for boarding. Travel to cat shows or to the
veterinary clinic can sometimes cause stress and reactivate the virus.
Feline herpesvirus may cause corneal ulcers. Orphan kittens are more
susceptible to these viruses if they have not been with their mothers for
long as they will not have acquired immunity from the mother cat. They
should certainly not be taken away from their mothers for the first ten
days. If kittens get sick while still nursing, you can feed antibiotics to
the mother cat who will pass this along in her milk. Antibiotics are usually
recommended to prevent bacterial infections. They will of course not work on
the virus. The cat should be given plenty of good food and water and kept
warm. Eye medications are helpful. In severe cases, the URI's can cause the
death of kittens or cause blindness. So medical treatment and good care
should be started as quickly as possible.
are the most common parasites cats get?
A. Internal parasites Hookworms, roundworms, whip worms, and tapeworms
attach to the intestinal wall and can cause illness. If cats or kittens
start vomiting (a lot) have a pot-belly, and lose weight you may suspect
worms. Tapeworm can sometimes be seen as little "rice-like"
pieces. Roundworms can be thrown up, and looks like spaghetti. All these
parasites can and should be treated, especially in kittens as they can make
them very sick, and even cause their death. Coccidia is another internal
parasite that is common in kittens. It pays to get a fecal test done so that
you can provide the correct medication. External parasites. Of course fleas
can be a persistent problem. The animal and the environment should be
treated. Always have a flea comb on hand to check for fleas or flea dirt.
Nowadays it is much easier to treat fleas with Revolution or Frontline. It
is placed on the back of the cat between the shoulder blades and keeps the
animal flea-free for 30 days. Revolution has the advantage of treating
certain parasites as well, such as earmites and worms.
indoor cat escaped from the house. How do I find him?
A. Do not panic! This can only make it worse. Usually when a cat escapes
from a house, he is very frightened by his new surroundings and will find a
place close by to hide. Put food and water out in several places. If you see
him, don't scare him off by rushing at him. This can push him away even
further. Take your time, and try making friends with him with food. He will
be scared and sometimes escapees act as though they have never seen their
guardians before in their lives. If you cannot find him after a day or two:
Call your local animal control agency and those in the surrounding areas.
Put notices in local newspapers. Put up signs with photos on telephone poles
and at the vet. offices. Scatter his used cat litter around your yard. Some
cats find open sheds and garages nearby to hide in. Visit your neighbors and
ask if they can check these for you. If you cannot catch him by hand, it may
be easier to use a humane trap to get him.
found a stray cat in my yard. What do I do with him?
A: Try to find out if the cat has a home. Call your local animal shelter and
place notices in local newspapers. Get him checked by your veterinarian.
Keep him isolated in your house and make sure your other cats are up-to-date
on their shots. If you cannot keep him, get him fixed and find him a good
home. Call friends, family, and collegues and put up signs at your vets'
office. Chances are that if you take him to your local shelter, they will
euthanize him, as they usually have too many animals. Do not run FREE TO
GOOD HOME ADS. These are mostly dangerous, and unscrupulous people may take
him. Find out if any local "No-Kill" shelter in your area could
There is a small colony of alley cats living behind a convenience store in
my neighborhood. What can I do to help them?
A. Find out if any group in your area already has a humane T-N-R
(trap-neuter-return) program. They may be able to help you. If not: You will
need to implement a TNR program yourself. We can provide materials and all
the information you will need to help you get started.
found an orphan kitten? What do I do now?
A. First, do try to find the mother. It is difficult to hand raise any young
animal. If you cannot find her, you should keep the kitten warm. A very
little kitten should be kept on a "heating pad" even during the
summer months. Wrap the heating pad in a towel or sheet, so that it does not
burn the kitten. They cannot regulate their own body temperatures, and may
not be able to move off the heating pad if it gets too hot. Ideally, they
need their mother and their siblings to stay warm. FEEDING Next, you should
obtain some special kitten milk from a pet store or your veterinarian. This
milk is specially formulated to feed kittens or pregnant or nursing mother
cats. If it is the middle of the night, cows milk will work for a couple of
feedings until you can get the kitten milk, but you need to add an egg yolk.
This should only be for short-term feedings. A very young kitten needs to be
fed around the clock. The instructions are on the container. Feed first with
a dropper. This is easier to use at the beginning than getting the kitten
used to the bottle. Eventually, you can try a bottle. You must stimulate the
kitten's tummy after each feeding to make his bodily functions work. I like
to use tissues or paper towels. This will help with clean-up. Use warm water
to keep these areas clean. Remember the mother cat usually does all of this