Monday, 5 February 2018

feline fugue

Reflecting on the universal appeal of music, researchers at the University of Wisconsin wondered back in 2015 if a sliding set of parameters could be introduced to resonate with non-human animals for real human compositions. Adjusting tone, pitch and tempo, an audience of cats became visibly involved, as compared to works arranged for human ears, which elicited little to no notice. How do your companions, of any variety, react to this recording?  Learn more about the experiment and research at the link above.

Friday, 26 January 2018

felis silvestris

Scheduled to be bringing a cat into our lives soon, our gratitude goes to the always brilliant Nag on the Lake for bringing us word of Baloo the feline who retrieves outstanding leaves for his human. We don’t wish to countermand Nature or the instincts of our future companion but I did harbour worries, living at the edge of a forest, about the detrimental effect that introducing a domestic hunter might have on local wildlife but seeing that a cat can curb and re-direct their energies towards being a leaf-peeper or even  a rock-hound is a pretty exciting prospect.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

course ร  l'espace

Thanks to the dedication of one feline-fancier who wants to remedy a grave historical omission by raising interest and erect a monument in Paris, we learn the tale of brave Fรฉlicette, a stray cat, who unlike her more famous canine compatriot Laika the Space Dog, undertook in 1963 a flight of fifteen minutes and survived to relate her experience, safely returned to Earth in a parachute capsule.
Fรฉlicitte’s vitals and vocal reactions were recorded during the launch, flight, which included five minutes of zero-gravity, reflected that the experience was not a pleasant one for the traveller. Her contributions to rocketry helped with the development of a satellite launch platform that enabled the French to compete with the US and the USSR. Sadly instead of being allow to retire as an inspiration to others, Fรฉlicette was some months later euthanized so the distressing effects of space flight might be studied further. That in itself makes me think that the first and so far only space cat deserves some sort of memorial.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

fluid dynamics or bonzai kittens

A French physicist wins the coveted Ig Noble prize with his thesis that felines exhibit both properties of being both solid and liquid states simultaneously.
It’s sort of like the superposition of Schrรถdinger’s Cat, studying the creatures’ remarkable limberness and ability to fill any space and assume the shape of its container. Prizes also come with an honorarium of ten trillion (Zimbabwean) dollars. Read more about the other laureates in different categories, including an unconscionable experiment that compared the brain waves of cheese-lovers and cheese-haters (also taking place in France) to see if the source of aversion could be pinpointed, at the link up top.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

foreshortening or draw me like one of your french girls

We were having too much fun with Heloisa’s quite photo-realistic renderings of the felines in her life to not share this delightful discovery by friend of the blog Nag on the Lake. Indeed, one shouldn’t judge another’s sense of perspective and place before getting a look at the artist’s models. Check out more poorly drawn cats at the links a
bove.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

LOLcats

Inevitable as it was, we’re still privileged and excited to report that Lewis & Quark’s creative neural network (previously here, here and here) has been assigned the task of naming cats and kittens.
A feline rescue shelter in Alabama reached out to robot’s proctors and asked if they might gin up some positive press and find these animals good homes. Some names come across as a little too alien or arch—like Lord Magian, Parihen the Thawk, Teaw Mos Tilypsronvynkor, Haldir of the Saleword Barga, but most are quite fitting, like Mag Jeggles, Mumcake, Mister Hinkles and Big Wiggy Bool. Go to the link up top to see a whole gallery of these very special cats up for adoption and learn more about cultivating one’s own learning algorithm.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

savannahs and toygers and bengals oh my

Bred with the hopes of inspiring cat fanciers to care more for their domestic pets’ wild cousins, Nag on the Lake introduces us to this world of feline hybrids.
These experimental breeds, recognised by most of the professional cat credentialing associations, and who knew that there was one called the United Feline Organisation (UFO)—and included in most registries, contain widely varying amounts of wild blood, with the toy tiger’s stripes the result of careful husbandry of ordinary tabbies. The savannah, however, is a cross between a house cat and the sleek African serval and the Bengal is a generational mix of domestic familiars and Asian leopards. As striking as they are, we’d be happiest with a foundling or one whom chooses us. Visit the link for an informative video presentation and further information.

Friday, 27 January 2017

cat-scratch fever

I am always enthralled with the panel-discussions on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time whatever the topic, and this week’s episode on Parisitism was no exception and particularly enjoyed the sidebar about the curiously manipulative micro-organism called the Toxoplasma gondii, which punches way above its weight. Though it can infect any mammal, in most incidents the parasite infests its host by cloning itself and these incursions in turn are generally short-lived as the biological defences of the host can quickly adapt to wear down the infection.
Sexual reproduction—which accords the parasite the evolutionary advantage of diversity and subsequent generations propelling the better traits of the forebears—can also occur but only while dwelling in felines. I had heard of toxoplasmosis once before when the wife of a co-worker, apropos of nothing, shared with me the fact that she had been diagnosed with it at one point, but never knew of its prevalence nor the strange and circuitous path it takes to mate. Seemingly a disease of affluence, some half of the human population are estimated to have been exposed and carry the parasite though most cases are mild, asymptomatic and vary greatly according to culture. In order to get from the wilds into lions, tigers or house-cats and complete its lifestyle, T. gondii, picked up by rodents, has been seen to radically alter their instinctual behaviour. Uninfected rodents demonstrate a visceral aversion to the smell of cat urine out of self-preservation, but those infested will sacrifice themselves to their local mouser, like a Trojan horse. Studies are not terribly conclusive but research suggests that the parasite may induce some of the same neurologic disorders. No offense intended for cat-fanciers but this does make me wonder why so many self-identify with their affinity for either the canine or feline persuasion and if there’s not some underlying pathology.

Friday, 16 September 2016

code of conduct

Pounced on by the marvelous Nag on the Lake, we are treated to another gala museum exhibition by our guides at Hyperallergic, this time of New York City’s mass-transit manners mascot of the 1960s, Etti-Cat. Posters by Jo Mary McCormick-Sakurai that regaled subway cars with this proto-meme admonished commuters to act their act age ~ please ~ and to be courteous to their fellow-travelers, surrendering seats to the elderly, stepping lively and refraining from littering and vandalism. This campaign did succeed in making people behave with more civility to one another and made the trip a bit more pleasant.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

rikki-tikki-tavi

Primarily referring to weasel or stoat society (from the Greek word for ferrets and minks), galeanthropy can also be used to define the mental delusion that one is becoming a cat, replete with feline mannerisms. Well, what do you know about that? I wonder if there’s a special term specifically for the way cats and kittens are anthropomorphised on the internet.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

katzenjammer

Der Spiegel (only in German, although this subject, I think, does not require much translation) has a biography and collection of images from piglet, puppy and kitten photographer and proto-meme-artist Harry Whitter Frees of Florida. I think I might have seen a few of these patiently staged vignettes before, billed last year as the original LOL Cats, but such things of course bear repeating (ad absurdum). From the 1880s through the 1930s, Frees’ pictures sold as sweet and carefully posed postcards and calendars were insanely popular, and now everything old is new again.