Future Cats

Reconstructing what prehistoric big cats looked like, and to some extent how they lived, often relies on fossils finds that researchers and scientists use to piece together the past, but what if we wanted a glimpse into the distant future of big cats instead?

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From the past –  CGI recreates the famous Sabertooth cat confronted by the first humans. Image – Nat Geo WILD/National Geographic Channels

Future Cat by Nat Geo WILD has given us that glimpse by taking a different approach, using cutting-edge special effects, and creating new worlds with ‘evolved’ big cats to go along with them. The show examines how today’s Lions, Tigers, Jaguars and Leopards would live in drastically changed environments complete with ice, desserts, floods and shifting continents that could possibly have African, Asian and North America cats fighting for survival.

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CGI: The four big cats, Lions, Tigers, Jaguars, Leopards perched high above on a mountain. Image – Nat Geo Wild/National Geographic Channel

Although the show is pure fantasy with the help of CGI and imagination it manages to address some real questions of how big cats will adapt to a future earth with extreme climate changes.

Future Cat also touches on the present and how the perfect predator has inspired researchers in the lab to create a ‘robotic cat’ like the one at MIT which mimics the running of the cheetah.

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CGI: A futuristic robot cat stands in the rubble of Fukushima waiting to begin a search and rescue mission – Image Nat Geo Wild/National Geographic Channels

Big cats have been around for millions of years, they are highly adaptable and have survived some of the earth’s most extreme challenges. Researchers acknowledge that there is really nothing quit like them and that they will never be able to be completely replicated. Once big cats are gone, they are gone for good.

What does the future hold for the big cats? At present that is something only humans can answer, their future remains in our hands. Big cats have survived almost everything nature has thrown at them up until this point, however the greatest threat they face is still from us.

Future Cat has aired on Nat Geo WILD, however you can watch the show in it’s entirety here on dailymotion

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A future cat watches as comets streak through the night sky. What does Mother Nature have in store? Image – Nat Geo WILD/National Geographic Channels

Hair of The Cat

Studying wildlife is no easy task and ensuring it is done in the most non-invasive way can also be a challenge. When researchers wish to gather certain information about a species without actually capturing, and possibly harming, an animal they will often use camera-traps to take images or video of an animal. The traps are placed in predetermined areas or corridors where the species is known to frequent and are kept well hidden to reduce the impact on wildlife and chances of theft by humans.

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Puma – taken by camera trap in the Peruvian Amazon – Image Wildlife Photographer Jeff Cremer – Gizmodo

Along with gathering valuable information about use of habitat, social behaviors, and what they eat, camera traps can also help provide a visual health assessment of an animal. In some cases the images caught of rare, elusive, shy, and nocturnal felines can prove to be quit beautiful.

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Ocelot- take by camera trap in the Peruvian Amazon – Image Jeff Cremer – Gizmodo

While camera trap have proven useful they cannot collect physical samples, which are often required for research, and that is why scientists sometime rely on scented hair-traps to collect DNA, determine what the animals habitat ranges are and learn about genetic diversity. The traps have been in use since the 1990’s, mainly in cooler climates, and have been gaining popularity as a way to sample without stressing wildlife. Peninsular Malaysia is the latest place to employ this non-invasive method which is aimed at gathering population data from some it’s most endangered carnivores including the Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni), Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Golden Cat (Pardofelis temminckii), Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), and the Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata).

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An example of a scent-baited hair traps created to target Felids. The CD was added to help visually attract the animals. – Image Mongabay

The use of scented hair-traps would allow researchers to obtain hair from a wild animal when they touch, or in the case of felines, rub up against the trap which is on a tree.  To enhance the chance of obtaining samples appealing odors, specially created fatty acids or men’s cologne, were used to entice animals to the traps which were set up in two main wildlife corridors. After 764 nights they discovered (via camera traps that were used to monitor the project) that at least one male Malayan Tiger and one male Clouded Leopard had rubbed against a trap.

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Male tiger ‘cheek rubbing’ on one of the hair traps in the study. – Image Mongabay

Scientists where later able to collect the hair of the cat, in the case the Tiger. The Clouded Leopard did rub the spot on the tree where the scent had been but elephants, another obstacle to the study, had already removed the trap. It was also discovered that the CD may have been a deterrent to a few of the felines, as one was seen running away from it, proving that not all cats like shiny things.

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Leopard Cat one of the 6 species of felids targeted for hair-traps – Image Mongabay

From this study scientists determined that for now at least, scented hair-traps in Peninsular Malaysian need improving, either by making the scents stronger or by moving locations of the traps. More work will be required to determine the potential of this non-invasive method and if it will benefit studying endangered felids in tropical forests.

Buy It, Give It – Holiday Edition

The holiday season is well underway, and this means it’s time for a few of my favorite cat-themed gift ideas for Christmas, or anytime of the year. Some of them will even give you reason to shop for a cause. Simply click on the links or image to visit their sites. Enjoy!

I love t-shirts and they make great gifts for both men and women, here are a few that are cool, fun and give back with purchase. Squirrel Den Studio – sells mostly cat-themed tees and every month 15% of the purchase price of online sales go to a different Shelter-of-the-Month nominated by Facebook followers.

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Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, t shirts for a cause, Arm the Animlas, Cat themed t shirts, gives that give back, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversP-22 Citizen For Los Angeles Wildlife (CLAW) –  P-22 everyone’s favorite Mountain Lion and spokes cat for the Save LA Cougars campaign, is the focus of this t-shirt by Runyon Canyon apparel. 50% of the proceeds from the sale goes to CLAW who work to protect and restore environments of wildlife of Los Angeles and California from dwindling open spaces.

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Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, Apron, Cat Apron, Etsy, gifts for the home, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversThe Cat Tea Shop makes catnip cookie toys for cats that are handmade and Eco-friendly. 10% of their proceeds go to volunteer run cat rescues here in Ontario Canada. Their catnip is organically grown and they ship world-wide.

Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, Cat toys, The Cat Tea Shop, Catnip toys, Toronto, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversCustom Pet Portrait Pillows by Sarah Clark Art – I came across this vendor while at CatCon this year and I really loved the idea of personalizing a pillow with your cats image. This come with a bigger price tag but they are made to order and are custom illustrated based on your cats personality.

Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, Sarah Clark Art, Custom Pet Portrait Pillow, gifts for the home,, Cat themed t shirts, gives that give back, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversPet Interiors – They have lots of great products for cats but these two caught my eye in particular. All items are a handmade in Germany and they ship to Europe, Canada and the USA (for free).

Divan Due cat pillow

Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, Pet Interiors, cat beds, cat litter box, gifts for the home,, Cat themed t shirts, gives that give back, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversPoopoopeedo cat toilet

Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, Pet Interiors, cat beds, cat litter box, gifts for the home, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversTo go along with the Poopoopedo – a set of all natural cat litter box cleaner and deodorizer by HouseOfCat. The products are natural, Eco-friendly and hand-made.

Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, House of Cat, Cat litter box deoderizer and Cleaner, gifts for the home, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversKitty block cardboard houses (US only) Kitty climbing and scratching blocks that will go with any decor.  Made from corrugated fiberboard, bonded by non-toxic starch-based adhesive, cut by hand.

Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, Pet Interiors, Kitty blocks, cat tower, cat scratcher, gifts for the home, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversCat Scratch book ends at Uncommon Goods

Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, Cat book ends, Uncommon goods, gifts for the home, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversPyroPet Candle – the melting wax reveals a grinning metallic inner skeleton. Comes in grey, black and pink.

Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, PyroPet Candle, Cat Candle, candles, gifts for the home, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversCat Head Planters – handmade and offered in multiple colors

Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, Planters, Cat head planters, Etsy, gifts for the home, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversGeek Kitty cat-shaped snack boxes for lunch or snacks

Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, Cat lunch box set, gifts for the home, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversKitty gram by lilyandpeabody 100% of the profit from the purchase of these plush toys goes directly towards helping animals. They are also raising funds to open a non-profit no kill animal rescue. Each kitty gram is named or you can personalize your own.

Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, Kitty Gram, cat tower, cat scratcher, gifts for the home, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversFor the big cat lover – film and book by Dereck and Beverly Joubert, award-winning filmmakers from Botswana who are Explorers-in-Residence for National Geographic. Educational and beautiful The Last Lions DVD and companion book are a great gift set.

Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, The Last Lions, Lions, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversA stunning and informative photographic book – Tigers Forever by award-winning wildlife photographer Steve Winter.

Buy it, Give it, Christmas, Christmas gift list, Cat themed gifts, unique gifts for cat lovers, Cat themed Christmas gifts, holiday gift ideas for cat lover, Big Cats Forever, TIgers Forever, Steve Winter, save big cats, shopping for a cause, fun ideas for cat loversFinally making a donation to an organization that helps big cats, or domestic cats is a great way to give back, or donate in someones name. In lieu of money you can also opt to donate cat food, toys, cat beds and cat towers to your local shelter or group. Many local rescues that are volunteer run are always in need help and, be sure to check with your Veterinarian as they often run pet food drives during this time of year.

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If you are not familiar with an organization contact them directly to find out how their donations are used, or search for them on sites like Animal Charities Evaluators and Charity Navigator.

Circus Tiger

Many countries are finally starting to realize that big cats, and wildlife, do not belong in circuses. The abuse and exploitation that these animals face is not something that should be tolerated and individuals, organizations, cities and governments are thankfully starting to work together on making the archaic form of entertainment a thing of the past.

Once an animal is rescued ensuring they go to a sanctuary that will provide the best possible environment for them to thrive and live out their lives free from stress and abuse is a priority. Looking after an animals physical and mental well-being should be the goal and Rancho dos Gnomos in Brazil, who also rescued the circus Lion Will, has done just that for a former circus Tiger named Paru.

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Paru in September 2015– All Images Ranchos dos Gnomos Facebook

In June of this year Paru, formerly known as Diego, was rescued by the Ranchos dos Gnomos sanctuary and freed from his desolate life in a Zoo in Brazil where he and his former mate had languished for years in small concrete enclosures. Paru a Bengal Tiger, his mate and five Lions were rescued in 2006 after the the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) investigated and seized the animals from the Transcontinental Circus. Unfortunately Paru lost his partner in 2012 and went into a depression making his stay in the Zoo even more dismal. It wouldn’t be until 2015, when the move was requested by IBAMA, that Paru would be relocated to the Ranchos dos Gnomes sanctuary, a journey of over 1000 km to a new and well deserved beginning.

In this video you can see how Paru has difficulty walking and is looking thin, this is from years of ill treatment in the circus, sitting in a concrete enclosure at the Zoo and not getting proper care or stimulation.

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Paru enjoying his new enclosure in July at Ranchos dos Gnomos.

Once at the sanctuary Paru received all the physical and mental support he needed to recover and, over the summer he started improving and enjoying his freedom as he explored his new surroundings.

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Paru explores his new water hole

Watch the video of Paru enjoying a refreshing dip in his private pool and water fall. As Tigers are one of the few big cats who love water this was a wonderful treat, one that Paru took full advantage of to cool down in during the extremely hot Brazilian summer.

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Paru gets comfortable in his bed of hay

Rancho dos Gnomos is a not for profit sanctuary and has operated since 1991. They take in any animal species who is at risk or victims of crime (circus, rodeo, baiting, deforestation, burning, traffic, ritual, the fur industry, slaughterhouse and abandonment). Their mission is to prioritize the welfare of wildlife, exotic, native, domestic, domesticated or other, through preservation, conservation, restoration and maintenance where necessary and, also by the spread of environmental education.

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Photo taken of Paru in September

The main priority are the animals and the sanctuary works to reduce their stress and or keep it to a minimum as many were rescued from very abusive situations and are fearful of humans. For this reason the sanctuary is not open for public tours however, they do make some exceptions for educational work.

For more on Paru, and the other animals at the sanctuary, be sure to visit them on Facebook.

For more information on Circus Bans worldwide please visit Stop Circus Suffering where you can get updates on bans where you live and learn how to help big cats like Paru. As always please do not patronize any circus that uses big cats or other wildlife.

Japan Before Internet Cats

Whatever did people do for their daily cat fix before the invention of the internet? It’s sometimes hard to imagine there once existed other “mediums” that humans used to express their love for felines that also satisfied the instinctive needs of many to look at cats. The Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e exhibit, on at the Japan Society, shows us that our cat-obsession is a cross cultural phenomena dating back centuries and that Maru the cat wasn’t the first famous Japanese feline to be immortalized for all the world to see.

There are five sections to the exhibit: Cats and People, Cats as People, Cats versus People, Cats Transformed and Cats and Play. “The collection illustrates the depth of this mutual attraction by mining the wealth of bravura depictions of cats to be found in ukiyo-e woodblock prints of the Edo Period (1615-1868).

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Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861), Cats Suggested by the Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō (detail), 1847. Color woodblock print; each sheet 14 5/8 x 10 inches. Courtesy Private Collection, New York.

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Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), Cat Crossing to Eat, 1830-44. Color woodblock print; 36 7/8 x 22 3/8 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

Since arriving in Japan aboard Japanese ships transporting sacred Buddhist scriptures from China in the mid-sixth century, cats have proceeded to purr and paw their way into the heart of Japanese life, folklore, and art.”

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Yoshimura Kokei (1770-1836), Dragon and Tiger, Hanging scroll, ink, color, and gold on silk; 90 x43 1/2 inches. Courtesy of Joan B. Mirviss, Ltd. New York.

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Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858), Asakusa Ricefields and Torinomachi Festival from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 1857. Color woodblock print; 22 ½ x 16 inches. Courtesy Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

Life with Cats exhibit gets animated in the Popular Hotspring Spa (of Cats)

Various pieces will rotate during the exhibit which runs from Friday, March 13 – Sunday, June 7, 2015 at the Japan Society in New York.

Celebrating Easter With Cats

Cats of all sizes domestic and wild, know how to celebrate Easter in these fun holiday themed videos. From one of my favorite sanctuaries Big Cat Rescue, the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned big cats, comes A Big Cat Easter.

Big Cat Rescue established a team tasked with the purpose of providing enrichment for the animals, thus ensuring the cats are stimulated and able to express their natural instincts as much as possible. This is key to keeping them healthy while preventing boredom or Stereotypic behavior so commonly seen in captive animals.

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Sheena the Serval enjoys her Easter Carrot – Image Big Cat Rescue

When using different enrichment techniques, the animals can be stimulated to investigate and explore their surroundings. This can be accomplished by presenting novel food items (or presenting food in different ways), as well as novel objects and smells. The presentation of new items and scents can help relieve boredom and improve the overall welfare of the animals.

How about enrichment for your domestic cat? The folks at Furball Fables show us how to craft our own Easter themed toys that are sure to please the tiniest of Tigers. A fun project for the DIY crowd using felt, piper cleaners, catnip and everyday object around your home. The simple instructions will help you create toys that are both fun and safe for your cat.

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Get crafty with these easy to make cats toys

It is important to stress that your cats should always be supervised and never left unattended while playing with toys. Be sure to keep the toys safely stored when they are not in use. Warning!!!! Easter Egg Grass is Unsafe for cats. Don’t use it in their Baskets. The plastic one is deadly.

For more Furball Fables and the cats that star in the videos be sure to head over to their YouTube channel.

 

A Year In Review

Today marks the one year anniversary of Purr and Roar, and what a year it has been! I can best describe it as being a fun, challenging and ongoing learning experience, one that I have been fortunate enough to share with a great community of people.  A special thanks to all who have read, shared and supported this blog!

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In honor of this day I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate by listing a few highlights starting with the first post on March 15 2014. The date is significant as it happened to coincide with a very important cause that I am actively involved in supporting.

The Global March For Lions

For anyone wishing to know more about this issue and the status of the African Lion check under the category of Lions or Global March For Lions on my home page.

Let’s Talk About Your Cat

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I love the stories that come along with cat adoption, and I love sharing them. This past year I have had some pretty interesting cats featured, but one of my favorites Xander the rescued lab cat was extra special. If you would like to have your cats story included in an edition of Let’s Talk About Your Cat be sure to leave me a message.

On The Trail of Big Cats

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Going to see award-winning photographer Steve Winter at a National Geographic Live Lecture series last October was a major highlight. Later I wrote On The Trail of Big Cats and had it picked up by Nat Geo Live on Facebook, and then by Steve Winter on Twitter. I was extremely honored by the acknowledgment and made sure to grab this screen shot.

10 Years Hundreds of Cats

cats, kittens, volunteer, cat cuddler, Toronto Animal Services, foster, cat rescue, cat adoptions, donateCelebrating my 10 year anniversary as a cat volunteer with Toronto Animal Services and receiving a special feature on their site was pretty awesome and a reminder of how time sure does fly when you are around cats!

Lanai’s Little Lions

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Time for Treats aka cat herding at Lanai Animal Rescue Center

Visiting the Lanai Animal Rescue Center in Hawaii where I met some wonderful people and saw first hand how this amazing organization helps the many homeless, stray and abandoned cats on the island.

Grumpy Cat

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Frown? No!

Meeting Grumpy Cat on her North American Book Tour here in Toronto was loads of fun, but also awful.

World Lion Day

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Image – Rob Janisch – World Lion Day

Honoring World Lion Day by interviewing my friend, extraordinary African safari guide and lover of Lions Rob Janisch to get the home perspective on this iconic species.

My Name is Bob

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And, last but not least, being asked by the publisher to write a review for the children’s book, and one of my favorites, My Name is Bob.

Thanks again to everyone and be sure to check out Purr and Roar on  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where you will find lots more on all cats, both big and small.