Weekend Cat Blogging #115: The Big One

Luna and I welcome everyone to the big Weekend Cat Blogging #115 Round-up. And this time we mean big, with at least 25 participants. This requires an industrial scale effort. Our PC laptop is the one usually set up to handle that sort of thing, but it's continuing to have it's problems – now the anti-virus software is stopping every email with a photo, i.e., acting really annoying and doing very little to promote actual security (much like our national security policy in the US, methinks). So we've got some serious work-flow issues. Add to that another hot day, plague, pestilence, lost comments, lost tempers, dogs running amok in the neighborhood (I kid you not). I think these are all signs of the apocalypse. But we at CatSynth have barricaded ourselves inside CatSynth HQ against the barbarian hordes, with plenty of good wine, good food, good music on the jukebox, and of course good friends. So with that, we are finally ready to get started with the round-up…

Once again, WCB coincides with the Bad Kitty Cat Festival of Chaos, hosted by Pepi at the House of the (Mostly) Black Cats. The theme this week is black and white. Luna and I both know a lot not only about black, but white and many shades of gray in between. Black-and-white photography and film has a crispness and elegance to it, when done well. I think Luna photographs quite well in black and white, like many of our favorite film stars from the 1960s:

China Cat and Willow are doing black-and-white as well, with this elegant composite photo at sammawow.

More black-and-white stills, reminiscent of classic Hollywood, from Yao Lin. Actually, this is a “nose twins” post. Yao Lin's nose twin is Storm, who writes about his struggles with feline lymphoma. We hope Storm recovers soon.

We lost several friends over the past week, as rememberd on the Cat Blogosphere. First, we posthumously welcome Nezbine to WCB. She left behind her blog and many great photos.

Just as many of us remembered Sundance last weekend, sher from What Did You Eat is remembering Taboo this weekend.

Nezbine has a bit in common with Taboo, whom we said good-bye to this week. We're going to tear up a bit whenever we hear the infamous “cheezburger skit”. And we hope jellypizza will continue to join us for weekend cat blogging.

So far, jellypizza remains a generous member of our community, and remains us to think our friends in the Carribean as the year's first super hurricane hits the region. It's sad, but true, that these are now seemingly annual events. Currently, Hurricane Dean is hitting Jamaica, where our friends and frequent contributors chat katze reside. We hope things are OK, and remain as safe and calm as they look this photo.

Meanwhile, the Divine Miss Marilyn has come out of hiding at Leslie's Omnibus. Welcome back, from wherever it was you were hiding. And like Yao-lin, we think you have a double here this weekend…

…over at masak-masak, where despite the best intentions of boolicious, the cute stray mother cat finds her own nest in which to have her kittens. We hope mother and kittens remain well, whether indoors or out. This stray also reminds me of the Westside Santa Cruz Stray from June.

It looks like our friends Megan and Bad Kitty Cats are also dealing with rising temperatures and stress in their lives, but Nico still thinks about nose kisses, both giving and receiving. We appreciate all the warmth and support from our friends at the Bad Kitty Cats, and for putting up with their whiny and neurotic friends at CatSynth. And yes, we agree that Kitty Cats are a Sign of Prosperity.

And you never know where you might find properity Maybe it's under that rug, as Puddy attempts to discover at A Byootaful Life. It seems like Kate has some challenges with comments and the other idiosyncrasies of blogging technology. And Puddy seems to look as much like Luna as ever, even in her play.

Another Luna look-alike, Mr. Hendrix, sends his good vibes, even while he's having a Sad Saturday thinking about being alone while his human's go on vacation. Don't worry, it will pass quickly. And those naps do help. Mr. Hendrix is a new aquaintance for us, and we liked reading his rescue story.

Meanwhile, Kate of “in the Kitchen” has been slacking on WCB duties, because it is Kate and Mike's fifth anniversary. Congratulations! But that's no excuse not to include pictures of your cats…

Bonnie Underfoot and Victor Tabbycat are experiencing their own Summer of Discontent, as tempers flare over coveted chair rights. And the got the goods on video, for your viewing pleasure. However, the Wisconsin tabbies can still work together for the common good, when the common good involves getting into the treat cupboard…

Is it real or is it lamiacucina? Shadows cast by Maunz in the morning sun are beautifully caught in these photos. Beyond the figurine and the shadow, there are those amazing stripes of light and darkness connecting the two. These photos are a delightful contribution to WCB, as always.

It's always an adventure with a dog in the house. At Life from a Cat's Perspective, Samantha keeps an eye out while Tigger eats. But really, they're all just chillin' out together and passing the weekend. Who can argue with that? Especially after what sounds like a busy Friday?

We're pretty sure this the “Grumpy” third of the trio that is Sleepy, Happy and Grumpy at The World According to Pia. Pay them a visit and judge for yourself. Here's our own word for that expression: priceless.

Over at Rosa's Yummy Yums, Maruschka seems rather content in contrast to most of the rest of us. She's been exceptionally quiet. While while folks wonder why, they nonetheless enjoy not being woken up in the middle of the night…

Catalogs can be a dangerous thing, especially IKEA catalogies, as they are discovering at Belly Timber Angry Cat Blog. The will also be hosting next weekend's edition of WCB.

Meanwhile, Glinda and Kelly pose for their close-ups at Anne's Food. Glinda is seen in the photo to the right. Follow their link for a bigger version, and a close-up of “princess” Kelly as well.

Bienvenue to loukoum who treats us to “Eye of Tiger, both literally in the photo to the left, and literally-in-a-different-way in the trailer for film adopation of Persoplis. I am actually curious to see this…

From the folks at Zazen in the Moonlight: “Here in the moonlight we sympathise with you summer of discontent. Our little friend Petee went to visit his mama in the nursing home yesterday with mixed results. Mama really wants to come home and Petee really wants her home too.”

Extreme cuteness alert! We introduce Bozo, who along with ItsyBitsy are featured on Watermark. Is there such a thing as “Too Much Kitten Cuteness?” We'll let you, the readers, decide.

Speaking of cuteness, where are the “cat boys” Kashim and Othello? Looks like there was a problem with their original comment not posting – apparently that's happened a couple times recently, but I haven't seen it yet myself. Fortunately, they can't hide from us for long. Here we see Othello enjoying some fresh turkey (and, hey, who wouldn't enjoy some fresh turkey?).

From British shorthairs to Bengal Brats. The handsome trio at Pet's Garden Blog pose for some Sunday portraits. To the left is one third the fine portraiture you can see by following their link.

The folks at Manx News challenge us to “Guess who”. We weren't able to guess, but we loved seeing the expressive faces in these shots. Plus, it's great seeing even more “midnight cats” here at WCB to represent!

WCB Apocrypha: Just Sharlene and the Spice Cats decide who should have the next line cut. The Friday Ark #152 boarded on Friday – that's a lot like saying “Interested cat is interested,”, yet we laugh. And of course don't forget Carnival of the Cats, hosted this weekend by StrangeRanger. And, hey, who wouldn't enjoy some fresh turkey?

Those of you who haven't joined the CatSynth 83 yet are encouraged to do so. Having five members is not nearly esoteric enough.

To our friend. If you are whom I think you are, please drop us a line and say hi via “Contact Us.” There's no rules on former colleagues staying in touch. Hey, even if you're not whom I think you are, please say hi…

If we missed anyone, please let us know via comments (which still appear to be working), and we'll be happy to add you, and admit the shame of our error in public.

Otherwise, I think that does it for this rather extended edition of Weekend Cat Blogging. Good night, and we love you all.

and, hey, who wouldn't enjoy some fresh turkey?

Latest on the Pet Food Recall

Well, there's more disturbing news on the pet food recall.

First, from MedicineNet:

The massive recall of pet foods expanded again Thursday with the recall of products containing rice protein concentrate imported from China.

Blue Buffalo, of Wilton, Conn., said it was recalling all of its Spa Select Kitten dry food labeled “Best Used By Mar. 07 08 B.” … On Wednesday, Natural Balance Pet Foods, of Pacoima, Calif., recalled all its venison dog products and dry venison cat food after discovering they were contaminated with melamine…

So now it's not just wheat gluten, but rice protein as well, again from China. And also in dry food for kittens. But things get worse:

Meanwhile in South Africa, melamine has been found in Royal Canin pet food company's Vets Choice and Royal Canin dry dog and cat food sold exclusively in South Africa and Namibia. The source of the melamine appears to be from corn gluten imported from China, according to published reports.

Corn gluten is exceptionally scary for us because it's a major ingredient in Luna's food. So far, the contaminated corn gluten has not been found here in the United States, and I can't understand why as the largest corn producer in the world we would get any corn products from China. But it's enough of a scare that I have contacted the manufacturer or Luna's main dry food (which is not one of the main brands in the news) for additional information. I will share whatever information I find on this forum.

For more detailed information on individual brands, I recommend checking in with Pet Connection.

So we have three major food products from China. From the Associated Press:

“Melamine was found in all three of those ? it would certainly lend credibility to the theory that it may be intentional. That will be one of the theories we will pursue when we get into the plants in China,” Stephen Sundlof, the FDA's chief veterinarian, told reporters…FDA investigators were awaiting visas that would allow them to visit the Chinese plants where the vegetable protein ingredients were produced.

Good luck to the FDA getting any honest information on a visit to China if it ever happens. But there are questions about the FDA in this whole issue. On one hand, they are now floating the theory that melamine was introduced to purposely increase measured protein content. From David Goldstein at the Huffington Post:

One would expect the FDA to test this theory by directly measuring protein levels in melamine-contaminated samples to see if they otherwise fall below grade. One would also expect the FDA to release the names of all importers, distributors and manufacturers who are suspected of handling contaminated product. But then, one would expect a lot of things from the FDA that they have thus far failed to deliver.

Why are the FDA so slow to name names, particularly when it comes to the Chinese manufacturers and the US distributors that do business with them? Indeed, why don't we simply stop all Chinese imports of these ingredients?

Given the facts, it is now reasonable to assume either massive, industry-wide negligence, or intentional contamination, and that all Chinese produced high-protein food additives are now suspect.

China is becoming the Pakistan of food quality, and the danger is spreading to the human food supply (for those who are unmoved by the suffering of our companion animals). You have to wonder if there is politcal pressure not to go after China for this, as they are such an important partner for the big business interests in the U.S.

To date, 4,346 deceased pets reported by Pet Connection. We at CatSynth do not want to see this number continue to grow…

Latest on the Pet Food Recall

The pet-food recall story continues to unfold. It has been almost a month since the original recall by Menu Foods. We've seen rat poisen and later melamine from Chinese wheat gluten as the potential root cause, and more and more brands being recalled.

OK, I just have to interject here, why are we getting pet food ingredients from China? It's one thing to import plastic trinkets, and even electronics (we've certainly done business with China at my work). But food products is another thing entirely. China is not known for their strong quality control, or aversion to cutting corners in production. That's not something to fool around when it comes to food for either humans or animals. Plus, pet food ingredients from a country that considers our pets (e.g., cats and dogs) to be dinner??

A great source of information has been Pet Connection, which includes the latest updates on recalled brands. I also like this summary from CNN, both for its being concise and the sweet but sad photo of a cat who recently became ill. Among the scarier developments were the recent recalls of one brand of dry cat food (Hill's Perscription Diet), and cat treats from Del Monte, including Pounce. All the recent recalls are products that contained wheat gluten from China. Luna's brand of dry cat food remains off the list, thankfully, and long ago we tried Pounce and Luna decided it was better as a toy than a cat treat (great for kicking around the floor). Neither her food nor her treats contain wheat gluten of any sort. But we're continuing to follow this, and encourage all our friends to as well…

Perhaps the saddest development is that the “16 or so cats and dogs that have died from poisoning” appears to be a gross underestimate.

PetConnection readers can report sick or deceased pets, and as of this writing they have 3240 deceased pets, of which 1729 are cats and 1511 are dogs. When you include both sick and deceased pets, the number they have is 9378.

Counting “sick and deceased pets” sounds really clinical in a lot of ways, kinda like casualty reports from the Iraq war, including the official undercounting. Putting a more personal face on the tragedy is a column by Christie Keith (who also contributes to PetConnection), the story “is bigger and more tragic” than many of the early official government and company reports suggest. It certainly is for those who have lost a precious member of their family.

There is going to be a nationwide (USA) day of rememberances and marches on April 28.

Rat poison found in recalled pet food

There's a bit of a shadow over our WCB fun this weekend, as the pet food recall story continues to unfold. From today's Toronto Star:

Rat poison has been found in pet food that sparked a massive recall and sent a scare through tens of thousands of pet owners across North America, but scientists said Friday they still don't know how it got there.

The pet food is produced by Mississauga, Ont.-based Menu Foods and is blamed for the deaths of at least 16 cats and dogs.

Four-month-old Tosa, pictured above, is being treated for kidney problems. Her vet “suspects may have been caused by pet foods.” She seems like a sweet baby, we hope she gets better.

We also hope all our feline friends, including those who participate in WCB, remain safe and healthy.

Weekend Cat Blogging #76 Roundup

Well, it seems like we have a bit of a theme going here this weekend:

At this moment, I'm lying on the couch w/ a purring Luna and a purring iBook resting on top. Life is good.

But I guess it's time to get up off our furry butts and start the Weekend Cat Blogging #76 Roundup. If you would like to be included, please leave a comment here or contact me.

At Jelly Pizza, a routine checkup for Taboo becomes anything but after she makes a snack out of a skink. So far so good, but hope she remains OK. Also, a reminder that googling for cat dangers and diseases can by very scary.

Cuteness alert! Chris Dolley presents Kai searching for Tribbles in all the wrong places. That last photo of Kai, Xena and a “tribble” is great!

It can be difficult for a cat to find good recipes in primate cookbooks, but over at burékaboy we have chez chaton culinaire. Luna's birthday is coming up soon and I was looking for somegood dinner options…

Ostara reports that it has been a gray and rainy week in Toronto, but that is good excuse for Sam to join us in our comfy napping. He also dreams of mailing himself to a warmer climate – it's pretty nice here in California right now.

Nothing is more exciting to a house cat than a forrrrbiiiiden roooooom. Over at Music and Cats, the McKittens get to explore the newly remodeled kitchen. Maybe they can try out some of those recipies from chez chaton culinaire?

The House of (Mostly) Black Cats treats us to one of those “separated at birth?” posts featuring Gree and Sophia. That a purrty good likeness, almost as good as that one I posted with the pope and the emperor from Star Wars…

Upsie is having a bad weekend because sher is sick with a fever and spending more time with two feral kitties learning to trust humans. Cheer up, Upsie. We at CatSynth recommend a nice nap!

Triple threat from thefoodpornographer: Pixel poses in her summer office, Billy Lee gets busted on the forbidden couch, and Pixel pops her head out of a box.

From Lali, Miss Prout sleeps with her friend Petit Tigré. Très mignon, indeed!

Kate in the Kitchen presents Animal Capers, the winter edition. Bustopher seems to enjoy being out in the cold, something that we at CatSynth have trouble understanding. We'll stay nice and warm inside, thank you. Also, a reminder that squirrels need food during the winter, too.

The comfy-resting-place theme continues. At A Cat in the Kitchen, Yoshi sits in his favorite spot, the “now broken” tumble dryer.

Tiggy the Tiny Tiger worries about mom Sarah going off to Japan. Don't worry, Tiggy, your Mom loves you, and Luna seemed to have a good time with the cat sitter last week, and probably will next week, too, when I go back to New York for the thanksgiving holiday weekend.

At Restaurant Window, we have some great pictures of the recently adopted Marble. Love those friendly tiger-kitty faces.

While most of us are enjoying a nice afternoon nap, over at The Westering Hills Colin hunts the laser pointer. There is a cute video of him making that clicking/squeaking sound that seems to be associated with hunting/stalking. Luna does the same thing when she hunts bugs or tracks critters through the window.

Looks like we've got a couple of “food-obsessed voyeurs” over at Rosa's Yummy Yums. But at least they are able to forget food long enough to join us for a weekend nap.

At xenogere, Vazra plans a great escape, albeit through a space not quite large enough for his head.

Sad news from Bonnie and the Charlottesville SPCA that their big, beautiful, and beloved Maine Coon cat, Hans, has passed over The Rainbow Bridge. Our sympathies go out to his friends who loved him deeply.

Voting is now open for the Skeezix the Cat's Tales of Devoshun Kontest. But it's not too late to enter!

Speaking of tales of devotion, Mao Nichols finds out that his mom likes him best after reading her entry. Unfortunately, he is inelegible as a member of Skeezix's household. Grrr on those pesky ethics rules.

More contest fun – Rocky the Gutter Cat is slumming for votes as a finalist in the World's Coolest Cat contest. Looks like the competition is pretty stiff – I think some of the New Orleans “cool cats” should have entered, too.

We have a birthday girl this weekend! Glinda turns two years old, and you can see her over at annesfood, along with some baby photos with her littermates. Looks like Glinda is celebrating her birthday the way we are, with a nap.

Over at I Got Two Shoes, Kamikaze has his laser eyes ready to zap. Hmmm, if this is what passes for “contemplative,” I'd hate to run into him in an angry mood…

Pia lightens the mood with a a basket of kittens. No one can resist a basket of kittens. No one.

Well, that will do it for this weekend. Thanks to all those who participated. Time for a nap…

Weekend Cat Blogging #75: Cats of New Orleans

WCB 75 is being hosted this weekend by Skeezix the Cat. My contribution this week is a special article on cats in New Orleans. Of course, this is a city steeped in its jazz heritage, and cats and jazz have always gone together at least when it comes to imagery and language. Certainly there were no shortages of artwork, posters, murals, etc., celebrating the “cool cat” of jazz:

The relationship of New Orleans to its real cats is a bit more ambiguous. This is definitely a “dog town” from the perspective of animal companions. People can be seen walking dogs everywhere, and there appear to be lots of guard dogs around as well. Cats were a little more elusive, though I did see a few during my many walks in the uptown area to and from Tulane for the conference. Please click on the images below to see large images of the furry New Orleans residents:

The middle picture is of a pet cat named Kramer who was very friendly and talkative. Most of the other cats I encountered were a bit skittish, many of them darting across streets and hiding under the raised fundations of the houses. Hiding under a house is most times a perfectly good strategy, but I do think with a bit of sadness how many kitties were caught hiding there when the floods came. Many cats were located and rescued in the aftermath of Katrina. Spray-painted notices such as these are still a common site around the city:

Of the groups most involved in locating and rescuing cats and other animals after Katrina was the Louisiana SPCA. Their shelter facility was destroyed in the storm, and they had to evacuate themselves and the animals in their care, no easy task. Upon returning, not only did they not have a facility, but were faced with the reality that so many people had left their pets behind – largely due to a government policy that disallowed pet evacuations, but has since been reversed. You can read more about the SPCA's efforts to rescue animals and rebuild – its both heart-breaking and uplifting.

I did have an opportunity to visit the SPCA's temporary facility. I would like to thank Lori Haeuser and Kate Pullen for taking the time and effort to provide me a tour and more information about their efforts with cats.

The temporary shelter is in a converted coffee warehouse on the Westbank, across the river from the main part of New Orleans and largely spared by the flooding. The warehouse is basically a huge non-insulated space with a concrete floor, not really set up to house large numbers of animals. The SPCA constructed a number of temporary housing units inside the warehouse for offices and animal facilities, including several units for the cats. There are separate units for kitties ready for adoption, healthy cats not quite ready for adoption, those with medical needs, and a separate area for feral cats. Each of the little buildings has its own climate and lighting control – the latter was particularly useful for the feral cats who prefer the shadows. Below is a picture from the adoption unit:

As you can see, they have quite a few black kitties at this time. As noted a few weeks ago around Halloween, black cats do have a harder time getting adopted. And more generally, it seems that culturally many people in the area, particularly those with a more rural background, as less likely to view cats as “pets” that one adopts from the shelter, but rather as functional animals that one might start feeding a befriending, and then perhaps take in. In someways, it is more a situation of the “cat adopting the human”, though those of us with cats know that is how it usually works anyway. They did say that cat adoptions are starting to pick up a bit now, so hopefully some of these kitties will find homes. In the meantime, it seems that they are being cared for as best they can under the circumstances. And they do get to come out and play, as was the case with this friendly little torbie (in photo to the right).

Please visit the Lousiana SPCA website for more info and to support their work.

Cats after the war

This photo from the Haifa-based Israeli Cat-Lovers Society is an interesting juxtaposition of cats and the recent war:

In Lebanon, BETA continues its work in the suburbs of Beirut:

We stayed with them and we will never leave them. They are those who cannot speak, those who cannot comprehend what is happening around them, those who never had anything to do with this war, and those who were left behind.

While this forum and others have referenced efforts to rescue and care for pets on both sides of the conflict, the following AP article suggests that there is little or no cooperation between groups on either side:

More, the Israeli animal rescuer, said her group [Ahava] had contacted BETA to offer assistance in evacuating animals, “but they are not interested in being in touch with us.''…She said Ahava has proposed meeting fleeing Lebanese in boats in international waters to collect their pets. “Believe me, dogs and cats in Lebanon don't see themselves as political animals. They just want to leave.''

El-Massih said BETA was never contacted by the Israeli animal rights group, although it did receive a sympathy e-mail from a former member of Ahava who now lives in the United States.

If true, this is another sad development in the erosion of civil society amid the tribalism that dominates the Middle East and elsewhere…

Actual Cat Synth

jfm3 of Ouroboros Complex posts about as literal a “CatSynth” pic as you can get, featuring his cat Kona and accoutrements as part of his rig. Cat aside, the rig and website include a wealth of personal experiences with analog synthesizer hacking as well as circuit bending (note the mod'ed Speak&Spell). Please give jfm3 and Kona a “catsynth welcome” by visiting their site.

Cats in Lebanon

Tiger is a cute orange-striped cat looking for a nice home.

What makes his story different from a typical cat-adoption ad on on a blog is that Tiger is in Lebanon. Politically, I am generally supportive of Israel and have relatives in Haifa, but nothing makes one feel for the people on the “other side” in a war quite like stories of animals and children and the people who care for them. (I guess I find it true for stories about artists and musicians, too, but I'll save that for another post). Consider the otherwise happy story of Barbara and Fluffy and the “amazing girl” who adopted them. She could be the model of my own ideal child. One can only hope that neither she nor her cats have suffered during the attacks on Beirut.

I also read about a program at the American University of Beirut (AUB) where students care for the many cats that roam the campus, providing food, shelter, health care and positive human interaction, and discouraging their fellow students from abusing the cats.

The author of the article, Hania Jurdak, expresses an articulate ideal about caring for the animals even as “some human rights are ignored.”

I doubt relatively liberal AUB is much of a Hezbollah stronghold, so would hope it escapes any attacks on the city. I haven't seen a lot of news concerning AUB during the current fighting, aside from evacuations and the university hospital being a primary center for treating the sick and wounded. Those operating animal shelters in Beirut and conducting rescues do find themselves closer to the neighborhoods that have seem much of the bombing, including the southern suburbs.

I enourage cat and animal lovers to check out these and other articles at animals.beirut.com for a sympathetic look at people (and their animal friends) in war outside of the usual political and ideological shouting on both sides. Over the next few days, I will try to post cat-related resources from other sides of the multiple Middle-East conflicts.