Build a Cat

For cat lovers and Lego fans you now have the chance to build your own cat with JEKCA animal sculptures. They come in a variety of ‘kits’ and styles so you can pick your feline color pattern and whether you would like your cat sitting, standing or walking.

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JEKCA via Facebook

Lego, cats, cat sculpture, Lego for adults, JEKA, cats in art, cat lovers, home decor, assembly required,

JEKCA via Facebook

Lego, cats, cat sculpture, Lego for adults, JEKA, cats in art, cat lovers, home decor, assembly required,

JEKCA via Facebook

Unfortunately, for those hoping to immortalize their own feline there is no customization available at this time, but you will have a number of different cats to pick from.

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JEKCA via Facebook

Lego, cats, cat sculpture, Lego for adults, JEKA, cats in art, cat lovers, home decor, assembly required, buildling blocks

JEKCA via Facebook

Lego, cats, cat sculpture, Lego for adults, JEKA, cats in art, cat lovers, home decor, assembly required, buildling blocks

JEKCA via Facebook

If you haven’t played with Lego in a while no need to worry, assembly instructions are included with these sturdy and life-size works or art.

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JEKCA via Facebook

There are a variety of other animals to pick from including the big cats like the lion and tiger.

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JEKCA via Facebook

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JEKCA via Facebook

JEKCA is based in Hong Kong but ships their affordable and fun “blocks for kidults” worldwide.

The Science of Spots

Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories ‘How the leopard got it spots’ tells us that the feline had them painted on so it could blend into the forest ‘full of trees and bushes and stripy, speckly, patchy-blatchy shadows’. While we know that this is not true, he was close in his assumption in that the coat pattern is reflective of the cats primary environment – cats that hunt in open areas and are active mainly during the day, like lions, tend to have plain coats. Ones that dwell and hunt from trees, forested areas or at night, like leopards or jaguars, tend to have dappled, spotted coats, or in the case of tigers stripy coats.

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Connect the spots – Image – M-H JeevesChemistry World

It is known that coat and colors patterns like the leopards evolved for camouflage and, William Allen a researcher at the University of Bristol reinforced this theory after completing a study of coat pattern images from 37 different types of wild cats. The data from the images along with “information concerning the size of each species, its habitat, characteristic behaviors and more, was then plugged into a mathematical model of pattern development. ” It was determined that spots were most common in species that spend greater amounts of time moving in trees, and in those that are active at lower light levels.

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©Tori-Ellen Dileo – It’s all about genetics. Every leopard has a different pattern – female South Luangwa NP, Zambia

Beside environment, there are likely more factors involved which influence the coat patterns of wild cats as they don’t always exactly mirror the animals surroundings. A few anomalies include the cheetah, which prefer open habitats but have retained their spots, this is thought to be the case because they rely mostly on speed, as opposed to camouflage, for hunting. The overall consensus is that coat patterns seem to have evolved to correspond to environments as well as how the wild cats behave within their specific environments.

Allen told BBC News that “When you place cat patterning over the evolutionary tree of cats, you can see that patterning emerges and disappears very frequently within the cat family, which is kind of interesting – it suggests that perhaps particular genetic mechanisms can solve very different appearances of cats.”

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Image ©Tori-Ellen Dileo – Clever cats at home in trees and perfectly camouflaged in low, shady light – Male Leopard South Luangwa NP, Zambia

The leopards beautiful spots are more than skin deep and the mechanism responsible may have a lot to do with chemistry. Alan Turing a mathematician and founder of computer sciences, proposed that chemistry had a role in forming patterns like those on a leopards coat. In Turings only published paper on chemistry, he put forth a set of equations which attempted to explain the patterns seen on leopards. The elements in this process contained and ‘activator’ whose presence caused cells to produce pigmented black hairs and, an ‘inhibitor’ that would cause cells to create white hairs. If they were strongly different it would enable a pattern to grow. Turing was able to demonstrate mathematically that these “simple components could account for a wide range of patterns and, a subtle tweaking of the parameters could alter the pattern to create spots, stripes, swirls, splodges or other markings.”

Much later on Turing’s theory would be used by biologists to support the hypothesis about other patterned animals. Chemists would eventually recreate an example of Turing’s pattern in a lab using a gel which developed a pattern of “yellow dots on a blue background”. It is now acknowledged that the science of spots has turned out to be more complicated than first presented and researchers admit that it does not fully solve the riddle of how the leopard got its spots, even though the theory is still considered a major contributor to determining how patterns form.

For more on the science of spots I highly recommend taking a listen to the BBC Radio 4 Just So Science episode which talks about the science and math behind the patterns and reading Plus Magazine’s Some Just So Stories of animal patterning.

Paper Wildlife

For your caturday viewing pleasure – a miniature world of paper wildlife with an important message.

From the National Geographic Short Film Showcase: “Paper predators and prey spring to life in this visually stunning short from directors Dávid Ringeisen & László Ruska. An ordinary desk and typical office supplies are the backdrop for this micro-universe that carries the macromessage of wildlife conservation. While humans are left out of the piece, their impact is still present in a discarded cigarette butt that sparks an imaginary forest fire and an overflowing wastebasket that pollutes a fantastical rolling-chair river. This piece is part of the filmmakers’ MOME thesis project, the animation department at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest, Hungary and was created for WWF Hungary.”

Click here or on image to view video

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Image: National Geographic. Short Film Showcase: Step Into a Miniature World of Animated Paper Wildlife

Let’s Talk About Your Cat!

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The first Let’s Talk About Your Cat of 2017 is sure to help get your new year started off on the right paw. It features one of Purr and Roar’s followers, and fellow blogger’s, cats from San Diego, California. Thanks to Lisa for sharing the story and photo’s of her beautiful cats Dimitri and Milo!

Dimitri is a 4 years old, classic tabby and white Norwegian Forest Cat and, Milo is a 4 years old, black and white Norwegian Forest Cat.

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Dimitri (left) and Milo (right) hanging out on the kitchen counter

Describe your cats personalities

Milo is Dimitri’s “brother from another mother”—literally! They have two different moms, born 3 months apart, but they have the same father. Milo looks just like their dad. Norwegian Forest Cats are a naturally large breed, and Dimitri is a perfect example of this at 15 pounds.

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Milo (top) with his paw on Dimitri (bottom)

Milo is a little more petite and dainty at 12 pounds. My husband and I forget how big they appear to people (especially Dimitri) because we are so used to their size after living with them for 4 years. The other day at the vet the parents of a little Shih Tzu couldn’t believe the size of Dimitri…he was way bigger than their dog! We’ve also noticed that “regular” cats seem very small to us now. I don’t know if we’ll ever get used to all that fur…especially when they “molt” their winter coats in the spring!

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Dimitri in full winter coat

In addition to their size differences, they definitely have different personalities. Both are very sweet and gentle, but while Dimitri is more independent, Milo is very people-oriented. Dimitri is content to go off and sleep in a quiet spot for hours. He always wakes up in a happy mood and comes looking for rubs and pets. He carries his fluffy tail high like a plume when he walks around. He also likes to sleep flat on his back and curl his paws. All that fluffy white belly fur is pretty irresistible, but he’s likely to flip over and go “brrr” if you try to pet it.

While Dimitri is a cat’s cat, Milo is more like a puppy. He’s very vocal and affectionate…if you talk to him he’s likely to talk back, and if you pet him he’ll start purring. He loves getting pets while he eats his food, and jumping onto laps for a cuddle session…whether it’s a good time for us or not. He’s not shy around strangers, and many workmen who have come to the house have been totally charmed by Milo. He will follow them around, lie on their stuff, and just generally make a cat person out of everyone he meets.

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Milo relaxing in his chair

We live in a warm climate and have a sun room at the back of our house (renamed “the cat room”) where we put their cat trees and a toy basket. They love to sit in the tops of their trees and enjoy the breeze from all the windows. Our back yard is home to lots of little lizards and we’ve planted flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies, so they keep busy watching the wildlife all year-round. San Diego is not exactly Norway, but they seem to enjoy the Southern California lifestyle!

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Dimitri (top) and Milo (bottom) checking out the view from the “cat room”

How did your cats come into your life?

All of my previous cats have been rescues, but Norwegian Forest Cats have been my “dream cat” ever since I first learned about them many years ago. I was fascinated by their story…an old, natural breed literally from the forests of Norway. They were always somewhat rare and in danger of vanishing due to interbreeding with domestic short hairs in their surroundings. Cat lovers in Norway began making a concerted effort to save the breed from disappearing, beginning in the 1970s. They’ve been around for centuries (they’re said to have traveled the world with the Vikings on their boats…maybe even to North America, becoming the Maine Coon) but have been an officially recognized breed for only a relatively short time.

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Dimitri as a kitten

It’s very hard to find a rescued Norwegian. They’re rare to begin with and many breeders ask that owners return the cats to them if they can no longer care for them. As much as I admired them, I never thought I’d ever actually have one. After my last rescue kitty passed away, I began looking into the feasibility of getting one…or as it turned out, two. Careful research led me to a highly regarded breeder who was just as discriminating as I was. We flew cross-country so she could meet us and—just as importantly—we could see her home and meet her cats. Then we got on the kitten waiting list. Then we flew cross-country again two more times to pick up each kitten in person (many reputable breeders won’t ship). Getting our boys was definitely a labor of love. It pays to do your research, be patient, and yes, spend a bit of money to work with someone you’re comfortable with and get the cats you want. You kind of have to be a little obsessed to go this route, and while it’s not for everyone, the stars really did align for us.

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Milo as a kitten, with Hello Kitty

What is your first memory or experience with cats?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t crazy about cats. I’ve loved them ever since I could remember. When I was around 5, some of the neighborhood kids came around asking if my family would take in a little kitten. They said his mother had been hit by a car and he was by her side when they found him. I begged my parents to keep him but they said no. The kitten ended up at another house down the street and my mom and I saw him in the yard one day, looking even scruffier than before (I think he had some bubble gum and grease stuck in his fur). He looked pathetic enough for my mother to change her mind and agree to take him in. He was our only family pet and my close companion all through my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. I’d do my homework on my bedroom floor and he’d always sit on my books and papers…or if I was lying on my stomach, perch on my back. He passed away not long after I graduated from college, as if his death marked both an ending and a beginning.

Anything else people should know? 

I proudly admit to being a cat person, and those “I like cats more than people” t-shirts were definitely made for me! Talk about stereotypes, I was even an academic librarian for many years before switching to freelance writing. Cozying up with a good book and a cat or two is my idea of heaven.  I do love all animals though, and have been known to act like an excited kid when I see a cute dog out for a walk or pass by the hamsters at the local pet store. I’ve volunteered for several animal welfare organizations over the years, some that worked with all animals and some that were specific to cats.

Cat rescue work is important but I’ve taken a bit of a break from it as I have to admit I find it emotionally draining sometimes. I used to work at a small cat shelter and found myself getting a little too upset at some of the things I saw, mostly related to what people are capable of doing to innocent animals.

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Dimitri looking handsome

A move from Colorado to California two years ago offered the opportunity for a fresh start. I heard about a local non-profit called the Foundation for Animal Care and Education (FACE) which provides financial assistance to pet owners who are unable to pay for all or part of their animal’s emergency or critical veterinary care. Urinary blockages are among the most common feline health problems that FACE helps people with. I’ve been writing the FACE Foundation blog on a volunteer basis for a couple of years now…just a small way of contributing to such a worthy cause.

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One of Lisa’s favorite pictures of Milo

Having faced an expensive kitty health crisis or two in my own life—including the dreaded urinary blockage—I can certainly appreciate how overwhelming costly veterinary bills can be while you are in the middle of making very important decisions about your pet’s medical care.

If you would like to have your cat/s featured on Let’s Talk About Your Cat, feel free to contact me at purrandroar(at)gmail(dot)com

Cat Dance

Why go out dancing when you can stay home and watch this? Spanish Dance Troupe Ballet Zoom performs their version of ‘Cats’. Your dose of retro ridiculousness. Can’t figure out if the kittens are very happy though, maybe a little confused. Happy Caturday!

Important Cat Jobs

This is why your cat sleeps so much. They are busy, very busy.

Winter Stroll

About a week ago I posted a clip of this video on Instagram but thought it was just too beautiful not to share in its entirety. It was taken in 2013 in Northern Ontario by YouTube user ReelEdgeProductions on a Sunday afternoon as they were BBQ’ing on their back deck. What a privilege to see these amazing cats causally taking a winter stroll through your backyard.

The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) is a medium-sized cat characterized by its long ear tufts, flared facial ruff, and short, bobbed tail with a black tip, unusually large paws that act like snowshoes in very deep snow, thick fur and long legs, and its hind legs are longer than its front legs. Lynx are generally found in moist, boreal forests that have cold, snowy winters and a high density of their favorite prey: the snowshoe hare. The southern portion of their range historically extended into the US into the northern Rocky Mountains/Cascades, southern Rockies, Great Lakes states and the Northeast.

Lynx mate during the winter and the females give birth once a year. Lynx ARE NOT considered species at risk in Canada and sadly are killed for their fur pelts, which occurs in 10 of 12 range provinces and territories (Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory, Nunavut, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador). Lynx harvest is prohibited in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Lynx were extirpated from Prince Edward Island in the late 1800s.

In the US they are listed under Endangered Species Act and can no longer be legally trapped in the lower 48 states. However, they have not fully recovered from population declines, and remain at serious risk. Primary sources of mortality to Lynx are starvation, predation, and human-related causes, as well as habitat loss to Boreal forests (this includes logging, road-building and high traffic volume, housing developments, resource extraction such as oil drilling and mining, and winter recreation).

Climate Change is also a threat as the deep snow, that Lynx have an advantage over other predators in, becomes less predictable.