Thursday, January 22, 2009

Time for a chat

I wasn't going to post any more articles concerning dog maulings to The Catablog, but then I never expected to run into one with a headline as indescribably sublime as this:
Former French President Chirac hospitalised after mauling by his clinically depressed poodle
I could write more, but really, what more is there to say?

And then, just when you think you've read it all, along comes the extraordinarily bizarre:
Nappy-wearing chimp killed after rampage
and the infinitely intriguing:
Indian toddler marries dog to stop tiger attack

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pommel cat.

We were just lounging around the other weekend when Thelma padded into the room and stunned us with an impromptu display of feline gymnastics. After some deft floorwork, she leapt onto an improvised pommel horse and worked her way through a dazzling routine including circles, flares, cross-support travels and even a Wendeswing flop! Here she is mid-travel:

Her dismount, as you would expect, was flawless, and the judges were unanimous in awarding straight 10s; except for the German, Shepherd, who gave her a 1, but then you expect that sort of bias from his kind.

Comma was also quite an athletic cat, and I can only the imagine the performance these two could have knocked together if ever they'd had the chance to collaborate.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dog sausage

A cat blog isn't anti-dog by definition, but all the best ones are, so here's another submission to the Evidence for the Prosecution.
Dog put down after biting off owner's toe
July 4, 2008

An American woman says her beloved miniature dachshund gnawed off her right big toe while she was asleep. Linda Floyd said her beloved Roscoe has since been put down because of safety concerns.
     The 56-year-old says she has no feeling in her toes because of nerve damage from diabetes. She discovered the toe missing after waking from a nap. A vet said that because the toe had been bandaged due to an ingrowing nail, it may have somehow attracted the dog.
First face-lunching Labradors, now digit digesting dachshunds... what next? Child-chomping chihuahuas?! This growing list of unusual suspects acting like Hacksaw the beloved family Rottweiler who's "honestly never done that before" only goes to reinforce my long held belief that the only safe dog is a... well, 'dead dog' is a little drastic. An absent dog, then. I don't want them dead; I just don't want them around me. Thelma may not frighten off burglars, help me to cross the road safely, or entertain me as she runs on hilarious stubby legs, but at least I can sleep soundly knowing I'll wake in one piece.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A message from our sponsors

There hasn't been much time for cat blogging lately, but a catblog, just like a cat, has many lives and you should always be careful about writing the tenacious little bugger off as done. Indeed, there are plenty more good cat tales to be told, all in their own good time.

In the meantime, please do enjoy another remarkable episode of "Let's see ya precious Lassie top this one!"

As you'll see, many contenders have tried, but without the aid of their owner's hands, automated trickery or strategically placed treats, they've all failed. :)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Catty days are here again

When my friend, Park, left Australia for Cambodia, she left behind her two little Burmese cats, Fred and Thelma. While overseas she met a rather appealing New Zealander chap called Malks, who she promptly married, and made a home with under some long white clouds way over on the wrong side of the Tasman. (Wrong, of course, only in the sense that I’m still unable to drive over to Park’s house for a cup of tea.)

And what of Fred and Thelma while all this travelling, marrying and homemaking was going on? Well, fortunately, there was no lack of loving foster homes over here, and the two cats have never been short of a place to stay. And now, after a stint at Park’s parents out in the rolling, green hills of the Victorian countryside, Fred and Thelma have come for a visit to see if our place is the sort they’d like to call home.

Regal and dignified, Fred’s the clear leader of the pair. On arrival at our place, he was the first one to venture out, whiskers twitching, into the unknown, with Thelma following carefully behind. Which is not to say Thelma’s cautious and timid (far from it), but Fred’s also a lot like an eldest child – serious, responsible and ready to take charge – and, when necessary, Thelma will defer to Fred and his natural authority.

Both cats are highly affectionate, but the similarities end there, and if Fred’s like an eldest child, Thelma’s just like your classic youngest: cute, attention-seeking and carefree to the point of vacuity; she’s as easy-going as they come.

So far Thelma’s fitting in very well (although she’d likely fit in anywhere), but Fred seems to be having some adjustment issues. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Incidentally, Fred and Thelma are named after Park’s grandparents. If they’d been mine to name and I’d done the same, I would have got Bill & Madge or Jack & Kitty. Hmm, Kitty cat; not too bad. Although Kit Cat would be the shortened form, which I’m not so sure about.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Catty writing

I’ve been reading Geoffrey Blainey’s excellent, A Short History of the World. And what history of the world would be complete without reference to the wonderful cat?
Cats were kept in houses, granaries and barns less because they were pets than because they were mouse-hunters. When in 1755 Dr Samuel Johnson produced his dictionary of the English language, he bluntly defined a cat as a ‘domestick animal that catches mice’. But surely a cat was entitled to be stroked and petted for its own sake? Johnson disagreed, labelling the cat as ‘the lowest order of the leonine species’. Less than 20 years later, the first edition of an encyclopaedia showed that Johnson’s prejudice was widely held. The volume denounced the cat as ‘full of cunning and dissimulation’, a tormentor, a born thief, ‘totally destitute of friendship’ and very lazy. The cat was kept ‘not for amiable qualities, but purely with a view to banish rats, mice, and other noxious animals’. Not until about 1800 did the romantic movement, and its adoration of the countryside and simple rural ways, begin to raise the cat in the esteem of the western world.

Geoffrey Blainey, A Short History of the World (2000).
Just makes me love cats all the more. And I note that the dog doesn’t warrant even a single paragraph anywhere throughout the 606 page book. Clearly a passenger in world history, and not a player. :-) Johnson’s definition reminded me of the Blackadder episode ‘Ink & Incapability’ where Baldrick accidentally burnt the sole copy of Johnson’s dictionary and Blackadder was forced to try and rewrite it overnight. Baldrick decided to help and was quite pleased with his definition of dog, being: ‘Not a cat’. Reading Johnson’s definition of cat makes me think Baldrick wasn’t that far off, and with a little luck maybe Edmund could have finished the dictionary by Monday morning after all?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Cats and rabbits living together

I discovered another drawing of Laura's, this one featuring all the animals in her life (at the time). Tashi, Pushka, Comma and Ashley Rabby.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Comma's Funniest Home Videos, Pt. 3

Unlike 'Comma's Funniest Home Videos' Part 1 and Part 2, there's no Comma in this one on YouTube, but there is video, so we're getting closer. Let's just say this one's in memory of Comma. 2004-2005 :-)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Fence post

As I mentioned in my last post, Mandrake loved playing with Comma and would often sit on the fence looking in our window as though pleading for him to come out.

That said, it's funny that in most of the photos I have of the two of them together, they're studiously avoiding looking at each other.

Except in this one of course, where their gazes couldn't be locked any more firmly. :-)

More Mandrake

I thought I'd post a few of my favourite Mandrake pictures. I guess they don't need descriptions, except to say that the second image was a common sight for us when we lived in Richmond. Drake was forever looking into our living room from the fence, as though saying, "C'mon, let Comma out to play."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

There's a bear up there...

My mum was in Queensland recently and she clipped this article for me from the Sunshine Coast newspaper.

Basically, that black splodge at the top of the tree is not a cat, but a bear. A bear that is fleeing the orange cat now standing guard at the foot of the tree. Yep, that little orange blob is a cat.

The article reads:
A black bear picked the wrong yard for a jaunt, running into a territorial tabby who ran the furry beast up a tree – twice.
Jack, a seven-kilogram orange and white cat, keeps a close vigil on his property, often chasing small animals, but his New Jersey owners and neighbours say his latest escapade was surprising.
“We used to joke, ‘Jack’s on duty,’ never knowing he’d go after a bear,” owner Donna Dickey said. Neighbour Suzanne Giovanetti first spotted Jack’s accomplishment after her husband saw a bear climb a tree on the edge of their property. Giovanetti realised the much larger animal was afraid of the hissing cat.
They breed ‘em tough in Jersey. I wonder if the cat was named after Jack Bauer?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Tigger and friends

While poking through my parents’ photo albums for old photos of Mishka, I came across some good ones of Tigger as well.

These first two were taken on Christmas morning 1976, when Tiggs was only 10 weeks old.

He’s reclining on Cath’s lap in the first one, and that’s me with him on our living room floor in the second. Can you dig those curtains?

This shot (that I’m sure Ros won’t mind me making available to a global audience), was taken in January 1984. As I've observed earlier, Tiggs was remarkably adept at surviving strangulation.

And here’s Tigger with friends. Gus the Seal, Platy the Platypus, Dino the Dinosaur and a teddy bear, rabbit, koala and furry slug whose names I forget. I seem to recall however that the furry slug was just a thin strip of wood covered in fluff, like one of those padded coat-hangers. Who needs Teletubbies, Thomas the Tank Engine or Tickle-Me-Elmo when you’ve got a child's imagination in your toy box?

Looking at these photos for the first time in years, I'm surprised to realise that Tigger’s face isn’t really that familiar to me. I’ll never forget the faces of Tanis or Comma, so I guess I must have been too young for Tiggs. The thing that does strike me is that little Hitler moustache that I never realised he had! How does one say this without giving the wrong impression, but I wonder how much input my Dad had into the cat's selection?

(Maybe I shouldn’t leave that last question hanging? Dad is not, nor has he ever been, a Nazi, and he loathes Hitler as much as the next person, but he is a student of that period and has such an inordinately large collection of books on the man (including ‘Hitler’s Accountant’) that people have been known to wonder.)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Mishka: an introduction

Mishka came into our lives in mid-1991 after Tiggs the Venerable shuffled off this mortal coil, but hers was a short and unhappy stay. Mum took me down to the Greensborough Cat Protection Society one day where I had the honour of selecting the new cat. Based on looks alone, Mishka would’ve been an easy choice. Smokey grey with silver paws, she was an absolutely stunning cat. Tragically, her early life must have been a cruel and terrible one, as she appeared to live in a constant state of terror.

We gave her a good home, and tried to undo the damage that had so obviously been done, but she only seemed to get worse. Even inside she was constantly on alert, and when she did venture into the outside world, falling leaves would send her bolting for cover. We eventually took her to a vet who told us she was neurotic and beyond help, so the difficult decision was eventually made.

Unfortunately we didn’t get many photos of Mishka. This one was taken during a rare moment of peace while she sat cleaning herself on my parents’ bed.

This was the more familiar sight, and that manic look in her eyes as she struggled to get out of your arms was sadly all too common.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Cats love Macs

I love a good convergence of interests, so I was particularly pleased to discover this gem of a Flikr image pool: Cats love Macs.

This one's an easy favourite and, though it's not a cat, this one is also brilliant. Absolute gold. Unfortunately for me, (like the football-loving father whose son only wants to play basketball), my cats' interests always seemed to lie elsewhere. Tanis favoured the bed, Comma the TV, Tiggs preferred a good book, and Mishka was insane, so... hey, I haven't introduced Mishka on the catablog! Whoops. Have to get onto that. In the meantime, enjoy some cats and their Macs. :-)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Good news from the Lab

Well, if you’ve been worried about what the future might hold if you happened to have your FACE EATEN OFF BY A DOG, I’m pleased to say the news is good! Isabelle Dinoire, the first person to receive a partial face transplant after having her FACE EATEN OFF BY A DOG, is reported to have complete feeling in the new tissue after only five months.
“The scars have considerably healed. The doctors are confident. In addition, I have recovered total feeling,” Isabelle Dinoire told the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche. During the 15 hours of surgery, a team of doctors replaced a gaping hole from a dog mauling with a partial face that included a new nose, mouth and chin.
     “Each day that passes, I think, above all, of the donor and her family whom I cannot thank enough,” the 38-year-old mother of two said. “We must not forget that today, thanks to them, I have become visible again.”
No word yet on the condition of the labrador’s face.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Kitten War

A friend just drew my attention to Kitten War. A head-to-head battle of cuteness between kittens from all over the world. It's brilliant. I've just submitted Comma (who will surely reign supreme), but he hasn't been approved yet. I think it'll take a day or so.

Victory stats are kept, so I'll get back to you on his progress. Note that I don't need to tell you to go there and vote for him. I know he'll do well whether you do or not. :-)

UPDATE: Comma's current battle stats are Won: 10 (59%), Lost: 6 (35%), Drawn: 1 (6%). I can't even comprehend what those other 7 cats must have looked like! I guess they must have been biased votes from their owners or something? If you're dying to keep track, Comma's individual scorecard can be found here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Visiting old friends

Back in February, we decided to pop in and visit Mandrake our old neighbours Adam and Mel. (No offence you two. You know we love you). By happy chance, Drakie was around, so, as we were there, we decided to say hello. And take a couple of photos.

He’s such a beautiful, fluffy and good-natured cat, and although it did sharpen the pain of missing Comma, it was so good to see him enjoying life in his carefree way.

Oh look, what the hell, here's one more.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Zoo Cats

Kate and her mum, Jo, took me to the Zoo for my birthday the other week. I was pretty excited because I hadn’t been there since I was a wee child, and I’d heard that the Zoo’s only been getting better.

My viewing priorities went a) Big Cats, b) Small Cats, c) sundries (time permitting). My love of cats is certainly not limited to domestic cats, and with the exception of feral cats, I pretty much love all cats, or, ‘members of the family Felidae’, as we people who type “cat family” into Wikipedia call them. They’re such an impressive species; proud and noble, elegant and graceful. I think the domestic cat comes out on top because you can actually engage and interact with them. They’re not just something to look at; they’re creatures that pretty much anyone can form a relationship with. Tigers are easily next on the list, followed by Cheetahs and then Jaguars and Leopards. Lions, I guess, would go next, although I think they’re a bit overrated. With those bouffy, hair-metal manes I think they’re more Kings of the Hairspray, than Kings of the Jungle. Tigers should be the Kings of the Jungle. I wonder who’d win in a ‘Tiger v Lion’ fight? Or ‘Tiger v Robocop’? Or even better, ‘Tiger v Paris Hilton’?! Now that’d be a ‘fight’ to see! After Lions I think I’d have to lump Snow Leopards, Pumas, Lynxes, Servals and Ocelots together because I don’t know too much about them. Except that Servals have enormous ears, Ocelets look stunning, and that Puma and Lynx are both brands I don’t like.

Anyway, Kate and Jo got to the Zoo before me, as I was heading there after work. When I called Kate to say I was almost there, she told me she was at the tiger’s enclosure and he was playing around in the water with a plastic ball. Brilliant; I said I’d be there in five minutes. A lot can happen in five minutes. Actually, a lot can happen in five seconds. This was Kate and Jo’s tiger experience.

And this was mine.

Fat lotta nuthin’. I waited and waited, but no amount of calling out like I was at the back door calling the cat in for dinner was going to draw Ramalon the proud Sumatran tiger out into the open. I eventually gave up and we headed to the Small Cats area, where we got a healthy serve of almost nuthin’. We got to see two Servals up quite close, which was excellent, and they were even talking to each other, but the only other cat out was the Fishing Cat. No Asiatic Golden Cat, no Bobcat, no Leopard Cat and no Ocelot.

Still, encouraged by the Servals, we hurried over the Big Cats and, guess what: more nuthin’. No Puma, no Snow Leopard and no Jaguar. Sorry, I tell a lie: I got to see the Jaguar’s rear end as he disappeared around a corner at the back of his cage. I thought I was on a timing winner as we were there at dusk, and isn’t that when cats are supposed to be most active? Yes, sure, they were actively moving out of sight, but that wasn’t what I was after.

My last hope were the Lions, and they were pretty cool. A couple of them got into a roaring match and I just could not believe how loud they were. It was intense! I went back a little later and found one lion standing up in a tree a short distance from the fence. We got into a staring match. He won. It was unnerving. Felt a bit like trying to stare down Aslan. Oh hey, I forgot about Aslan! I take back what I said before about Lions. Aslan’s magnificent even when he doesn’t sound like James Earl Jones.

So all up, pretty disappointing on the cat front, but we did get to see some other good animals and I did surprise an excitable keeper guy by correctly identifying a Potoroo when asked. I don’t think he was expecting anyone to know, and I didn’t tell him I designed a brochure for the Potoroo conservation scheme in East Gippsland. Sometimes it’s good to just be the King. My reward for getting the question right was being allowed into the enclosure to feed the Potoroo. Pretty cute.

We then stayed around for a picnic dinner and the final ‘Twilight Jazz at the Zoo’ for the summer. The jazz band was pretty good, and their final number was a classic Duke Ellington track that featured a pounding, extended drum solo that was doubly good because I’d only just complained that drum solos never go for long enough! Great way to finish a most enjoyable day.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

OS X goes to the dogs

Do you know those things that you take for granted, but when you stop and think about them you realise that they could have so easily been something else? I can only think of one, actually, but that’s ok because by happy coincidence that’s the only one I want to write about.

Since the introduction of OS X in 2001, Apple has been using cat breeds for each iteration’s pre-release codename. 10.0 was Cheetah, 10.1 Puma, 10.2 Jaguar, 10.3 Panther, 10.4 Tiger, and 10.5 will be Leopard. Apple has also registered Lynx and Cougar as trademarks, so I imagine we’ll see them eventually too. I find no mentions of Lion, but maybe they’re saving that for the final version of System 10: The King of the OS Jungle? Jaguar was the first release to be openly marketed with its codename, and has been the only one so far to use the cat’s coat as a part of its imagery.

So they’re using cats, brilliant, but how easily could it have been something else?! Just because I would have made it cats, doesn’t mean that anyone else would. I’d love to know how the decision was made. Was it the result of extensive polling and months of intensive focus groups, or did some guy in marketing just like cats? Lucky he didn’t like dogs. Not that that’d work though. No matter how you feel about dogs, who’d be able to pitch that successfully? Ok, we’ll start off with 10.0 Bloodhound, move onto 10.1 Pit Bull, followed by 10.2 Doberman, 10.3 Rottweiler and 10.4 German Shepherd-Dingo cross who’s really never done anything like that before and has always been so good around the children...

Alright, alright, let’s be gracious and go with your most popular, non-face eating breeds: Mac OS X 10.0 Collie, 10.1 Corgi, 10.2 Dalmatian, 10.3 Poodle, 10.4 Samoyed, and 10.5 Scottish Terrier from the Chum ads. Well I’m not impressed, although I guess those aren’t actually the equivalents of the majestic big cats, are they? So what would be? Umm… 10.0 Wolf, 10.1 Coyote, 10.2 Dingo, 10.3 Jackal, 10.4 Fox and… I think I’m out! Maybe we’d have to go back to wolves and have 10.5 Grey Wolf, 10.6 Red Wolf, and so on? Doesn’t make much of a difference though really. Doesn’t inspire me or fill me with confidence; just unease and suspicion. It’d possibly be enough to drive me back to Winblows!

Well, for whatever reason, I’m glad Apple went with cats for codenames. They’re better than Windows’ set of ski-resort inspired codenames (um, Longhorn, hello?), and they’re much, much better than dog names. It’s nice to have such an alignment of two of my favourite things.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Woman's Worst Friend?

The Catablog was started to celebrate what’s good in life, and not to dwell on the bad, but sometimes an issue gets off the leash and I can’t control where it ends up. Below is an extract from an article in The Age from February this year. I had heard about a French woman who’d had the first successful partial face transplant, but I hadn’t been aware of the reason she needed a new face in the first place. Be warned: reader discretion is advised.

Ms Dinoire, who still has difficulty moving or closing her mouth, described how she awoke last May to discover her horrible disfigurement after her Labrador chewed off the lower part of her face. She had been unconscious after taking sleeping pills in what many contend was a suicide attempt.
     “On May 27, after a very disturbing week and with lots of personal worries, I took drugs to forget,” Ms Dinoire said.
     “When I woke up, I tried to light a cigarette and didn’t understand why it wouldn’t stay between my lips. That’s when I saw the pool of blood and the dog.”
     She looked at herself in a mirror and “couldn’t believe what I was seeing, it was too horrible”.
     Her lips were gone, along with her chin and much of her nose, leaving her teeth and part of her lower jawbone exposed.
But maybe this is a happy story? Maybe, like Lassie, the Labrador realised its owner’s dire predicament and is actually responsible for saving her life? That’s what I’ll keep telling myself anyway, because the alternative is just too unpleasant to think about. The dog being a Labrador was the real surprise for me in this story; I mean, there’s a Rottweiler or a Pit Bull eating some toddler’s face off every second day, but I’ve never heard about a good old Labbie doing it, which is what makes me think it must have been trying to help. Either way, I’ll sleep better tonight knowing that the flesh-eating ambitions of my pet of choice begins and ends with the odd native bird, and that my face is way-hey-hey off-limits.