A Genetic Emergency For Burmese Cats?

We ran across a post the other day from a fellow Burmese breeder in the UK. She is concerned about the poor genetic health of the Burmese, as are we here at Carmelkats. In fact, she believes the Burmese breed is in crisis.

Chrissy with Thai-born Burmese Mook Dta - Genetics Burmese cats
Image courtesy of Ayshazen Thai Burmese Cats

Chrissy Russell runs a small breeding operation something like ours, called Ayshazen Thai Burmese Cats. And like Jenny, the founder of Carmelkats, she is deeply concerned about the lack of genetic diversity within the Burmese breed. Ms. Russell cites a recent study by the The Feline Genetics Laboratory at the University of Missouri, which seems to indicate a genuine crisis for the breed.

Why the concern about the genetics of Burmese?

Over the years, Burmese have been inbred to excess. This inbreeding has resulted in some extremely serious – even fatal – genetic diseases. Kittens are dying young of truly horrific conditions such as Burmese Head Defect and Feline Orofacial Pain Syndrome (FOPS). Changing the way Burmese cats are bred can avoid these terrible consequences.

Ms. Russell advocates outcrossing to suitable breeds, and importing native Thai-born cats as a source of fresh genetic material. We both also support Wat Taphan Temple Cat Care as a means of ensuring that Thai-born breeds not only flourish, but remain available to improve the genetics of our beloved Burmese.

The Burmese Breed Crisis - The Case For Using Thai-Born Cats - Genetics Burmese cats
Image courtesy of Ayshazen Thai Burmese Cats

What can be done?

You can read her article (PDF) here and the University of Missouri study (PDF) here. You might also consider supporting Wat Taphan Temple Cat Care with a donation. It will also help the situation greatly if you take action.  Contact cat breeding associations such as The National Alliance of Burmese Breeders and The Cat Fanciers’ Association to insist that the genetic health of the Burmese is put ahead of cosmetic considerations of breeding strictly for show.

Together, we can save the Burmese from a painful extinction, and make the breed strong and healthy once again.

Please feel free to contact us any time with any questions.

Help Thai Temple Cats

Hi, all!  We Temple-Cat-Care-Exterior-via-Carmelkatsthought this time we’d share some information about one of our favorite international cat rescue efforts – Wat Taphan Temple Cat Care.

Wat Taphan Temple Cat Care is located in Thailand, and they do some remarkable work there, rescuing and rehabilitating cats from the streets of Bangkok.

Carmelkats is happy and honored to assist their effort, in a small way, for a number of reasons.  Not only are they doing great humanitarian work, but they also help us to get strong healthy cats to use in our outcross programs.  A simple $5.00 donation every month would mean so much to them.

Temple-Cat-Care-via-Carmelkats

If you wish to help support their efforts, you can send funds via PayPal to wttcc@outlook.com, or contribute through their page at https://www.youcaring.com/wat-taphan-temple-cat-care-452272

You can also follow Wat Taphan Temple Cat Care on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/templecatcare/

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us any time.

(Click thumbnails for full-sized images)

 

Cats Know How To Choose The Best Cat Food

Best cat food | Carmelkats Burmese CatteryWhy are cats such picky eaters? A recent scientific study seems to show that they can instinctively choose the best cat food for their bodies, regardless of its flavor or aroma.

Mercola.com reports that scientists from Australia and the UK studied the eating habits of cats, by offering them food with different nutritional content and flavors.  What they found is surprising.

For the study, the scientists formulated three different flavors of wet food with about the same protein-to-fat ratio. The foods were the consistency of porridge. One contained fish, another rabbit, and the third, orange flavoring.

They offered the three foods to a group of male and female cats, all of which initially showed a preference for the fish-flavored food, followed by rabbit, and with the orange-flavored stuff coming in a distant third.

However, over time, the kitties learned about the nutrient content of the three different foods and began choosing the foods that allowed them to meet their unique nutritional requirements for protein and fat.

As lead author Adrian Hewson-Hughes, Ph.D., explained to Discovery News (Seeker):

“Cats initially selected food based on flavor preferences, but after ‘learning’ (due to prior exposure) about the nutritional composition of the foods, cats selected foods to reach a particular target balance of protein and fat regardless of added flavors.”

What This Means for Your Cat

Best cat food - Carmelkats Burmese catteryAll in all, the results of the study are pretty amazing!  Our feline friends can apparently “analyze” their food, and can learn to eat the blend that helps them feel their best.  (We humans could use an ability like that!)  The study found that cats will self-adjust their intake of foods to achieve an ideal balance of protein to fat and carbohydrates.  In fact, cats can only tolerate up to 25% of their diet in the form of carbos, and will often choose to eat far fewer carbs.  They just don’t seem to need them.

(As I researched information for this post, I came to the conclusion that cats eat a form of the Paleo Diet… without the fruits and nuts!)

The bottom line – cats have good reasons to be finicky about their food.  If their food is changed (for example, when the store is out of their usual brand, or the manufacturer reformulates the food), it can take cats a while to adjust to the “new” food.  Their little internal analytical laboratories need some time to work out if the stuff is any good!

Training When Young

Kittens eating | Carmelkats Burmese CatteryKittens should – like human children – be exposed to a variety of foods.  Offer a variety of wet and dry foods specifically formulated for kittens.  Let the kitten sample lots of different flavors & textures.  Not only will this strategy help the kitten to get all the nutrition it needs for growth, but it will also avoid the kitten “imprinting” on a specific brand of food.  Allowing your cat to have a broader experience of foods when young can help avoid extremely finicky eating when the cat is an adult.

(Photo by Matúš Benian – via Flickr)

When to Call the Vet

It’s also important to understand that eating behaviors can be an indicator of the cat’s overall health.  For example:

If a previously good eater suddenly becomes finicky or finickiness persists… your cat may have a physical problem and need veterinary care. Any cat who quits eating completely or has a loss of appetite accompanied by other symptoms of illness should be seen by the veterinarian right away.

(Thanks to HowStuffWorks.com for the info.)

What Foods Should Cats Not Eat?

Of course, there are quite a few foods that cats should not eat.  Here’s a short video that lists many of those foods, and why they should be avoided.

The list may not be complete, so – when it comes to your cat’s diet, if in doubt, leave it out!  Consult your veterinarian, or do some research if you have concerns about what’s best for your cat.

Choosing the Best Cat Food

It can be a challenge to find the best cat food.  Our cats can be a great little nutritionists, if we listen to what their choices tell us.  If you have some food recommendations, please share them below.  And if you have some funny (even interesting) stories about your cat’s diet or preferences, feel free to share them in the comments below.

Why Do Cats Purr?

A question for the ages – why do cats purr?  Is it love?  Is it happiness?  Or is it… just because?  This recent video explores the reasons cats purr.

Fascinating!  Cat purring can promote healing?  Wow.  Didn’t know that.  Last year, an article on Wired.com offered this information about a cat’s purr:

No one is certain exactly why cats purr, though there are a number of good guesses. The obvious observation is cats seem to purr when they’re pleased and feeling good. But that’s not always the case: Some cats also purr when they’re hungry, injured, or frightened. And most surprisingly, purring frequencies have been shown to stimulate bone regeneration – yes, bone regeneration.

Maybe being a cat lady with dozens of moggies helps slow down osteoporosis!  (Just being facetious, of course.)  And an article about purring on the Doctors Foster and Smith web site explains:

Purring is one of several methods of non-verbal communication felines use to convey their moods and needs. Others include squinting or slow blinking, stretching, scratching, facial rubbing, and spraying. So the next time your cat is purring deeply while curled in your lap, try purring back – she’ll know what you’re saying!

Purring Cat

Does your cat or kitten respond in kind if you purr at her?  Please feel free to share your purring experiences in the comments, below.  Now, I’m off to try it myself.  Here, kitty kitty…

 

(Image courtesy of ClipArtKid.com)

Why Do Cats Like Catnip?

Really, why do cats like catnip so much?  Is it like pot for kitties?  Is it addictive?  Can it hurt them?  Here’s the whole story.

That’s a bit of a relief.  Non-addictive, and not harmful, so far as we can tell.  To expand on the information in the video, catnip acts in a way similar to cat pheromones.  As we understand it, catnip produces a sort of olfactory overload, which affects the cat’s central nervous system.  Wikipedia describes the plant’s effect as follows:

Catnip contains the feline attractant nepetalactone. Nepeta cataria… are known for their behavioral effects on the cat family, not only on domestic cats but also other species of cats. Several tests showed that leopards, cougars, servals, and lynxes often reacted strongly to catnip in a manner similar to domestic cats…

With domestic cats, N. cataria is used as a recreational substance for pet cats’ enjoyment… Common behaviors cats display when they sense the bruised leaves or stems of catnip are rubbing on the plant, rolling on the ground, pawing at it, licking it, and chewing it. Consuming much of the plant is followed by drooling, sleepiness, anxiety, leaping about and purring. Some growl, meow, scratch or bite at the hand holding it. The main response period after exposure is generally between five and fifteen minutes, after which olfactory fatigue usually sets in…

Not all cats are affected by catnip; roughly 33% are not affected by the plant.

Why do cats like catnip?Interesting stuff!  It’s good to know that catnip may be just as safe for cats as a laser pointer or ball of yarn.

And catnip isn’t just for cats.  The herb also has a calming effect on humans, similar to chamomile, when made into a tea.  A member of the mint family, it is fairly easy to grow.  It’s worth planting both mint and catnip in your garden – the plants are attractive as well as useful!

What’s your experience with cats and catnip?  Do you have any funny catnip stories or pictures?  We invite you to share them below, in the comments.

 

Celebrity Pets – Burmese Cats On The Red Carpet

Cherry Judd Instagram (c) Rebecca JuddCelebrity pets have not often been Burmese cats – until now. Australian fashion model, speech pathologist, and TV presenter Rebecca Judd and her family recently adopted a Burmese cat they’ve named Cherry.

Miley Cyrus has kennels full of dogs, and has helped Liam Hemsworth choose a new dog for himself. Paris Hilton commissioned a two-level air conditioned doghouse for her managerie.  And Rebecca Judd seems very taken with her new Burmese!

In a recent Daily Mail article, Judd enthuses about the family’s new feline companion:

“For everyone asking, she’s a lilac Burmese. I’ve always had cats but never a Burmese but chose her as apparently they are great with kids.  One hour in and she is obsessed with them and they love her too.”

Burmese kittens | Herding catsAs Ms Judd discovered, Burmese are very good around children. We get lots of inquiries about cats & kids here at Carmelkats, and the answer is always a happy “Yes”! As we explain in our FAQ, “Due to their outgoing and confident nature, Burms will adapt quickly to many household situations and noises. They enjoy cuddling and lots of attention, however, always caution young children to be loving and gentle with their Burm and to please not pull their tail.”

We wish the Judd family and Cherry all the best!

"Lazzy" - Ayshazen Lazzyruss - The IAMS TV cat - Chocolate BurmeseAnd while we’re on the subject of celebrity pets, sometimes the pets are bigger celebrities than their owners. A recent article on Priceonomics.com gives an excellent overview of the phenomenon.  For example, most folks have, by now, encountered Grumpy Cat.  There’s also Esther, the Wonder Pig and Toast, the tongue-dragging King Charles Spaniel.

Then there is perhaps the most famous Burmese celebrity, Ayshazen Lazzyruss, the IAMS TV Commercial Cat. For several years, “Lazzy” was the TV spokescat for IAMS cat food. Sadly, Lazzy passed away in 2014.

Does your pet (Burmese, bulldog, ferret, hamster, goldfish) have what it takes to be a star? Feel free to let us know, in the comments below!

Why Do Cats Knead?

Did you ever wonder… why do cats knead you like a lump of bread dough?  No, it’s nothing to do with your flabbiness… puss isn’t a confused little baker.  Here’s the scoop:

Some folks have trouble with this behavior.  Those claws can be sharp on your leg.  But we strongly recommend against declawing.  A scratching post is a much better option, and you can always clip the cat’s claws, if you are careful.

Why do cats kneadThe PetMD web site has a good article on the subject, as well.   Here’s what they have to say about why cats knead:

If your cat is curled up and kneading your lap while you’re petting him, he’s returning the affection and telling you he loves you right back. Unfortunately, this can be quite painful, since the happier he is, the harder he’ll dig in with his sharp nails. Try placing a thick, soft barrier between the cat and your lap, or gently place him on his back and pet his belly if it gets too intense. However, do not punish your cat for this behavior – he doesn’t realize it hurts. To better ensure the comfort of both you and your cat, make a habit of keeping his nails trimmed, or invest in nail guards to cover your cat’s nails.

How do you cope with your kitty’s “kneads”?  Got any “kneady” cat stories of your own?  Share them in the comments, below!

Burmese Cats – Companions, Temple Guardians, Or Ultimate Weapons?

Thai templeOur beloved Burmese cats have always had a close connection with temples and monasteries in Asia. A recent article in the Sacramento Bee suggests that cats have been welcome guests for centuries, at monasteries all over the world.

The author and journalist, Kim Campbell Thornton, paid a recent visit to Gachen Lama Khiid at Erdenetsogt in Mongolia’s Khangai Mountains. She reports, “nearly the first thing I saw was a cat sunning himself outside the temple.”

“Is it common for monasteries to have a cat?” I asked.

Our guide, Batana Batu, translated his [the monastery’s head lama’s] response. Yes, he said. The cat is there to protect food stores from mice.

Cats have served as pest control at temples and monasteries throughout the world for centuries.

Medieval catThornton’s article continues to describe the symbiotic relationship between cats and monks the world over. In Medieval Europe, cats were employed to keep rats and other pests from eating the stored food. Cats also helped prevent mice from nibbling on manuscripts. Monasteries even budgeted a small amount per week to provide for their sentry cats.

The Egyptians benefitted from a partnership with cats, being among the first to use their hunting talents to manage pests such as snakes and rodents.

The article also briefly mentions the origins of the Burmese breed:

Several cat breeds are reputed to have originated as monastery or temple cats. The legend behind the Burmese is that Buddhist monks regarded the shorthaired brown cats as embodiments of gods.

Quite an impressive heritage!

Chicago rat infestationWe’ve also learned that cats are now being considered by the city of Chicago as an “ultimate weapon” in their war on rats. Rats there are causing some serious concerns for the public health, transmitting diseases such as drug resistant C. Diff and MRSA. Officials have called in the Tree House Humane Society to provide cats to “work” as mousers! Many locals are pleased that “jobs” have been found for feral cats that previously would have been euthanized.

Two important online resources, PestWeb and Pet360, consider Burmese to be among the top 10 breeds for controlling pests. We agree, having seen them in action!

Egyptian god Bast

Embodiments of Gods, or just plain felines, today’s Burmese cats provide their humans with much more than simple mousing, of course. They are devoted companions, very affectionate and playful. As the breed continues to recover from its genetic crisis, we expect Burmese cats to become increasingly popular as pets and in the show world.

You can read more about the Burmese genetic diversity issue here. Feel free to comment below!

(Bast sculpture  image courtesy of Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

New York Declawing Ban Stalls; New Jersey Takes Up Issue

Here is a quick update to our earlier post, New York State Considers Ban On Declawing Cats.

Linda Rosenthal opposes declawing
Courtesy NY Daily News

In early 2015, Assembly member Linda Rosenthal introduced bill A. 1297, legislation to ban the declawing of cats in New York State.  Now it appears the bill is stalled, and no vote has been scheduled.  The bill’s Senate equivalent seems similarly on hold.

However, New Jersey now seems ready to take up the cause.  Assemblyman Troy Singleton has introduced a bill – A3899 – which would outlaw declawing surgery in New Jersey.

In most European countries, declawing is illegal or unethical. In Israel, declawing a cat can be punished by a year in prison and a $20,000 fine.  Now, American legislators are working for similar laws here in the states.

American veterinarians recently agreed to classify declawing as an “amputation” which “should be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively, or when its clawing presents an above normal health risk for its owner(s),” according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Linda Rosenthal with cat
Courtesy NY Daily News

The Humane Society of the US, PETA, and the ASPCA are also vigorously opposed to declawing. They believe the surgery can negatively impact a cat’s ability to walk, and can contribute to paw inflammation and pain. Declawing opponents suggest providing domestic cats with scratching posts, trimming cats’ claws, or using plastic nail caps to prevent furnishings from being damaged.

You can still support Assembly member Rosenthal’s efforts to ban declawing in New York, by signing her online petition.

We will continue to follow the story as it develops.

New York State Considers Ban On Declawing Cats

Declawing comparison - image courtesy of PETA
Image courtesy of PETA

There’s some news out of New York that makes us pretty darn happy here at Carmelkats.  The New York state House and Senate have both introduced bills that would outlaw the practice of declawing cats.

“In most cases declawing is performed as a convenience to the owner,” the House bill’s sponsor Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat, said. “I’ve heard so many times: ‘I have expensive furniture! I have nice drapes!’ If your standard is ‘I need pristine furniture,’ don’t get a cat.”

Why is Carmelkats so strongly opposed to declawing?  In short, the results are far worse than any possible benefits.  The declawing procedure is akin to removing a human’s fingertips, up to the first knuckle.

Cringing yet?  Thought so.  There are also very serious health risks to the cat that can result from declawing.   The Paw Project has complete and upsetting details on the surgery.  In brief, the results of declawing can include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Arthritis
  • Infection
  • Abnormal posture and movement
  • Difficulty using the litter box

We will keep you posted as we hear more about the progress of these bills through the New York State Assembly.   Feel free to contact us with any information you may have.  You can also share this post on social media, or leave a comment, below.