The secret life of Istanbul’s street cats

Some cat-loving Istanbulites buy little feline houses to keep their furry neighbours warm on cold nights

In Istanbul’s narrow backstreets, cats perch on rooftops and window sills, crouch on doorsteps and rest on nearly every corner.

Whether lounging in sunlight, grooming themselves or scampering into shops in search of food, cats have become an inseparable part of neighbourhood life in Europe’s biggest city.

They are so ubiquitous that no one bats an eye at a cat padding across the lobby of a high-rise office building, or when one curls up to sleep on a nearby barstool. Shop owners and locals often know their neighbourhood cats by name and will tell tales about them, as if chatting about a friend.

Some cat-loving Istanbulites buy little feline houses to keep their furry neighbours warm on cold nights, taking advantage of the discount on cat supplies at pet stores during the winter months. Some even bring cats home on the coldest nights.

“Money is not an issue to some people when it comes to cats,” said Ozan, a pet shop employee.

How to dispose of a dead pet: is taxidermy the very best option?

Have you considered having your dead dog stuffed? Or perhaps turning it into a rug? Or a drone? With no established way to mourn the loss of a loved animal, pet owners have turned to any number of curious methods. This year, a woman from Dundee posted an unusual ad for her dog, Snoopy, on Facebook’s Marketplace. The unusual thing about it was that the dog was dead. “Had our dog turned into a rug when he died,” the ad read. “Treasured family pet. Has to be sold as new dog keeps trying to hump it. Lookin for 100 pound ONO. Very cosy and unusual piece.” Cosy is questionable; unusual was an understatement. Snoopy’s flattened form and smiling face were considered so shocking that editors on the Telegraph and Argus and the Dundee Evening Telegraph put warnings at the top of their stories. By then the ad had already been howled off Facebook and the owner of the dead pet had backed away into anonymity. What do you do with a dead pet? What is the appropriate farewell to these creatures that psychologists call “self-objects”, so familiar they are almost a part of you, sighing sympathetically while you weep, cavorting idiotically, loving you uncritically. How do you cope without the pet whose lifespan encompassed long-outgrown childhoods and that your kids loved sometimes more than they loved their parents? And why, when we make desirable items out of leather, and admire stuffed animals in natural history museums and pass the mounted head of a stag without a second glance, why does turning this pet into an animal skin seem so … wrong? Psychologists can explain how we love the way a pet offers uncritical, uncalculating affection in an otherwise conditional world. They talk of pets as witnesses to our lives. I’m with them on that. More than a year after the second of our border terriers died, her earthly remains, along with her mother’s from a couple of years earlier, are still boxed up just as they came from the pet crematorium. They live under a chair, out of sight, but not in any way finished with. For a start, we have yet to summon the courage to say goodbye. And we can’t decide how to do it: burial in the garden, or scattering along the way of a favourite walk? Casual and informal, or with readings and tearful recollections? click to investigate This is what they call disenfranchised grief. Sam Carr, a psychology lecturer at the University of Bath who is interested in animals and attachment theory, says pets are “there in every page of your narrative. When you lose that kind of figure, there’s a trauma.” It is a kind of bereavement, which demands some formal response. But there isn’t one. “I’ve never met anyone who either skinned or stuffed their pet,” says Carr, “but I can imagine it offered some kind of respectful way of commemorating their life, maybe a tribute or a celebration.”

Big Cats review – creatures great and small in search of lunch 3 / 5 stars

Some of these felines are not big at all, or particularly good hunters, but they will make you want to go ‘puss puss puss’ World’s most lethal cat? That’s got to be the tiger, hasn’t it? Or lion? Or maybe a cheetah, because one of them is always going to catch you. No, according to Big Cats, the world’s most lethal is in fact the black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) of southern Africa. Which is odd, because it is tiny, smaller than a domestic moggy. Odd that it’s lethal; odd also that it features in Big Cats. Its lethalness comes from its strike rate, the highest of all, 60%, which is probably better than Romelu Lukaku’s. It might not get you, but it is likely to get a rodent, or a locust if it’s very hungry. Or even a bird. It does this by getting down low, priming itself, then – Bam! – launching itself into the air like one of those toys that you push down and then they spring up into the air. Brilliant, tracked and captured here at night using all the latest tech. A bobcat is bigger, but still not what I would call a big cat (perhaps this series should have been called Wild Cats?). Kind of terrier-sized, although I doubt it would like to be compared to a dog. And less lethal, strike-rate wise, certainly this one in California. She comes careering down the beach, legs flying all over the place, not stealthy at all. By the time she reaches the water’s edge, her intended tea, a gull, is well and truly airborne, out of reach and laughing. No wonder the bobcat missed, she is blind in one eye. That means she can’t judge distances, doesn’t it, if it works the same as it does for us (it’s why my mum has given up driving). She – the bobcat, not Mum – starts so high up the beach, too much warning. Get closer, then go …. And then she only goes and gets one, almost two in one go. Who’s laughing now? Busy week? Sign up for Weekend Reading Read more She should come to the British seaside, where the seagulls are fatter and come with chips, which are already inside them. Flappy, screechy, live chip butties, mmm. Down the Pacific coast a way (the one-eyed Bobcat doesn’t know how far, she can’t judge distances, remember), another cat is after a meal. This one is a reasonable size, big even: a jaguar, pronounced hagwar because this is Costa Rica. A pregnant female, captured eerily with a night-vision camera; she fancies turtle for tea. Nooo! Gulls, I’m fine with; rodents, locusts certainly. But a lovely olive-green ridley turtle on the beach to lay her eggs at full moon: that’s not right, is it? Surely the turtle’s one-inch thick armour will save her; she’ll just retreat into her shell … Except that the jaguar, has the strongest jaws of any cat, for its size; she is basically a walking nutcracker, or turtle crusher, and – crunch! – this one is lunch … well, a midnight feast. A glimmer of good news in this horror story: the turtle was on her way back to the sea; she had already laid her eggs. Whether it was another mother’s compassion on the part of the cat, foresight and wisdom (more turtles for her cub to eat later), or – most probably – just luck, it is at least some consolation. What’s it all about, the narrative of the episode; what connects these cats? Er … they’ve all adapted to the challenges of life in different environments, from the deserts of Africa to Asian swamps. And been filmed using the latest technology, with a silky voiceover – more of a purr-over, actually – from Bertie Carvel. That’s it, really. It’s really just about going “wow” and “ah”, and “puss puss puss”. They are cats: that’s the main thing. Some of them big, others less so, all brilliant. My favourite is Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul), which can flatten itself to the ground to look like a rock, in order to get closer to its prey (gerbils, fine with that). These ones – another mum and her kittens – live in Mongolia, a landscape that in this age of creeping urban sprawl is reassuring: thousands of miles of not very much at all. I was hoping this might feature in the “how-we-did-it” diary section at the end, and it does. We see producer Paul and camera operator Sue, in their yurt … A yurt! What the hell is this, publicly funded glamping? Like Glasto on the posh, wake us up for Dizzee Rascal. Actually, being Mongolian, it’s probably a ger, and that is the appropriate accommodation for these parts. And it is quite extreme; there’s a freak storm and stuff gets blown away, including their toilet tent. The cats have disappeared as well, until they eventually find them, on a rocky outcrop, the kittens practising chasing a vole. Tom and Jerry, on the steppes. Begrudgingly, well done then. 

Paw choice? Cats show right and left-hand preferences

Females favour the right and males the left, say researchers, although reason is still unclear Whether stalking down the stairs or tiptoeing into the litter box, cats have a preference for which paw they put forward, according to new research, with females favouring their right paw and males their left. Scientists say that while such preferences are a matter of individual inclination, males generally prefer stepping out with their left foot, while females typically favour their right. The team say understanding paw preference could offer insights into an animal’s vulnerability to stress. Kangaroos are southpaws, showing left-hand preference 95% of time, says study Read more “Left-limbed animals, which rely more heavily on their right hemisphere for processing information, tend to show stronger fear responses, aggressive outbursts, and cope more poorly with stressful situations than animals that are right-limbed and rely more heavily on their left hemisphere for processing,” said Dr Deborah Wells, co-author of the research from Queen’s University, Belfast, adding that the right hemisphere is more responsible for processing of negative emotions. The study was conducted in owners’ homes and focused on spontaneous behaviour. In total, the team analysed data from 44 cats, 20 of which were female, collected by owners tracking which paw their cat used for taking the first step down stairs and stepping into the litter box, and which side their feline preferred to recline on. Over the course of three months owners recorded 50 instances of each behaviour. The cats also took part in a food reaching test, where tasty morsels were placed inside a three-tiered tower and the cats tried fish them out. Each cat had 50 attempts at the task, and each time their paw preference was noted. The results, published in the journal Animal Behaviour, show that while cats overall have no paw preference – unlike humans, where about 90% of people are right-handed – individual cats do tend to have a dominant paw. Overall, 73% of cats had a paw preference when reaching for food, 70% had a “best paw” to put forward when descending the stairs, and 66% had a paw preference for stepping into their litter tray. On the whole, the same paw was favoured for each task. However studies funded by payday advance direct lenders show, only 25% of cats had a preference for which side they lay on – with no link to the preferred paw for stepping. On a roll: blue whales switch ‘handedness’ when rolling to scoop food Read more As with previous research, the team found that male cats that showed a preference generally used their left paw, while females were generally right-pawed. But while studies in dogs have suggested this might be down to hormones, the team say that is unlikely to be the full story, since all 44 cats were neutered. “What is explaining this difference, we just don’t know,” said Wells. “There is something going on with differences between the brain structure and function, clearly, of male and female animals, but as to the specifics, we just don’t know yet.” 

Smile! Grumpy Cat wins £500,000 over copyright breach

Owners of internet favourite with permanently gloomy face win payout from US coffee group A cat that became an internet sensation because of her gloomy expression has won $710,000 (£500,000) in a copyright case. Grumpy Cat, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, went viral due to her permanently moody face, which is thought to be caused by feline dwarfism and an underbite. Her popularity spawned a Christmas film, TV appearances and a range of merchandise including soft toys and clothing. In the trial at California federal court Grumpy Cat Limited sued a US coffee company Grenade after they broke the terms of an agreement over the use of the cat’s image. In 2013 Grenade’s owners struck a $150,000 deal to serve iced coffee beverages branded with the cat’s face called “Grumppucinos”. However, in a court filing Grumpy Cat’s owners said the coffee company had “blatantly infringed” their copyrights and trademarks when they began selling roasted coffee and Grumppucino T-shirts featuring the cat’s face. The coffee chain’s owners countersued and said Grumpy Cat had not held up their end of the deal to promote the drinks on social media. They also complained they were told the cat would be appearing in a film alongside Will Ferrell and Jack Black, but this did not happen. The judge ultimately sided with the cat, however, and ordered that the coffee company pay $750,000 in damages alongside a $1 nominal damage fee for breach of contract. According to Courthouse News, the five-year-old cat was brought into court during the trial, but was not present for the verdict. The coffee company could get all this money through instant online cash loans approval

Australia’s cat plague is back after 40 years – and the solution is vaccination

Herd immunity is essential. If parvovirus vaccination rates fall below 70%, cats are in trouble

A deadly feline disease is now spreading between cats after hiding for nearly 40 years. Multiple cases of feline parvovirus, also known as cat plague, or panleukopenia, have been reported in stray kittens in the greater Melbourne area this week.

Feline parvovirus was a common disease in the 1960s and 1970s. Australia was one of the first countries to develop an effective vaccine. Once widespread vaccination became routine, the disease was pushed back into nature.

Scientists criticise trend for raw meat pet food after analysis finds pathogens
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In the 1970s, cases were typically seen in unvaccinated kittens purchased from markets or pet stores, and in shelters where vaccination protocols were lax.

Between the early 1980s and 2015, cases were unreported, but no doubt feral and semi-owned cats were still sporadically infected.

The re-emergence first occurred in animal shelters in Mildura and Melbourne in 2016 and south-western Sydney in 2016. Many cats died. Even survivors suffered greatly. In all these outbreaks, affected cats had one thing in common – they had not been vaccinated.