Tuesday, 23 April 2013

National Pet Month - Cat's Eyes

It's been so long since my last post, but I've been so busy turning 23 (I feel so old) that I just haven't had the time. Hopefully this post makes up for my lack of blogging!

National Pet Month is already underway (running from 1st April - 6th May) so I thought it would be fitting to blog about some popular pets.

First up is the cat! An obvious choice for many pet owners, most choose them as they are pretty independent and don't require exercise or a lot of space as dogs do. There are more than one hundred breeds of pedigree cats and a great variety of non-pedigree cats who can help you turn your house into a home.

All cats, whether they're domesticated, wild, big or small are the same in body. So a persian snoozing on your window sill is made in the same way as a ferocious snow leopard or tiger. Extremely flexible, cats have up to 26 more vertebrae than humans and their spine is held together by muscles rather than ligaments. They do not have a collarbone as this would broaden the chest, stopping them from squeezing through tight spaces. Instead they have a small scrap of clavicle tissue in their breast muscle.

There are so many breeds I would like to mention, but I'm going to narrow it down otherwise I'll be here forever!

The shorthaired cat is more common than the long hair in both domesticated and wild cats. They've been around for thousands of years and became more popular as they're easy to maintain and less prone to hairballs. There are three types, the British Shorthair which has a strong muscular body and large round eyes, the Foreign or Oriental Shorthairs which have slim bodies with long legs, large pointy ears and slanting eyes and the American Shorthair. These are larger and leaner than the British.

One of my favourite shorthairs has to be the Tortoiseshell. Living for 14 years and more, they've been around for more than 100 years. They were developed like most British shorthairs by selective breeding, however they are actually very difficult to breed. Virtually female-only, there was a big debate about how to continue breeding them due to the mix of colours including red, cream and black patches difficult to produce.

With a strong, stocky body, they're extremely good natured and have always been one of the most popular cats to own.

Now the Longhaired cat. Believed to have developed by natural selection in cold countries, another theory is they simply mutated and this feature was enhanced by interbreeding. Most of these are known as the Persian, however others include the Maine Coon and Angora from colder climates. Unbelievably there are 16 different types of Persians and these include the Chocolate Longhair, Tabby Longhair and Blue Longhair.

One cat I also just have to mention is from the semi-longhaired and hairless section. The Munchkin was named after the little people in the Wizard of Oz as they are cats with very short legs. This is a fairly new breed and was created by a genetic mutation that affects the leg bones. They first appeared in the 1980s and only a few cat registries recognise this breed as others consider them to be suffering from a skeletal abnormality called achondroplasia.  Agile, they have a sweet-natured disposition and are get on well with children, dogs and other cats.

Fact File:

  •  Make sure your cat is microchipped so they be identified if they go missing
  • Check regularly for fleas! 
  • Most cats are actually lactose intolerant as they lack the enzymes needed to break lactose down which is present in milk.
  • Ensure they have plenty of exercise and toys to keep their brains stimulated  
  • Keep your cat at the correct weight, obese cats can suffer from a range of health problems including diabetes, cancer and arthritis 
  • If you're thinking of adopting a cat, why not try a local rescue centre such as the Cats Protection

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