Cat on the Keyboard

Author Christine Church's Musings, Books and Stuff…

Winter Storm Alfred Strikes Connecticut Hard!

Written By: chriscat65 - Jan• 18•12

October 2011:

My cats watched out the window as a rare Nor’easter struck us head on and hard here in Connecticut Saturday, October 29th. It was forecast to start as rain but for the most part began as a wet heavy snow around 1pm. During the night, the wet heavy snow built up on the trees, still heavy with leaves, and took down large limbs and branches, blocking roads, tearing power lines down on every street and knocking power out to over 800,000 Connecticut customers.

Today is November 3rd and we are still without power. We only just received internet and TV today, as the main ATT box is right across the street from my house and they placed a generator on it so we can at least have TV and WiFi (those of us with generators anyway) until electricity is restored, which is not estimated to happen for another 3 or 4 days!

The first few days with no heat was the worst. The cats loved it. They ran around the house like kittens, tearing up rugs like something out of a cartoon as they raced up and down the hall. But by the next day I had the generator in place outside and large safe wires coming in through the window, which had my 6 kitties quite curious but fortunately smart enough not to touch.

Now, I have heat, TV, computer and internet and a few lights. No water or anything to cook with as the microwave is too much for the small generator. So, I have been eating out a lot! I have not had luck finding anyone with a hot shower yet and I have been going through many gallons a day of store bought water just to do every day routines.

The cats certainly don’t seem to mind not having light, though they can see in the dark. I cannot. They have learned to stay out of my way, as I have accidentally tripped over or kicked more than one feline in the dark.

Outside resembles a war zone, or a tornado path. No tree was spared damage and many are just gone. My back yard, though we have only one tree which only lost a single limb, is littered with large branches from the neighbor’s trees. Wires still hang onto the sidewalks all along the main roads. Some trees sill hang precariously over the road and I always hold my breath when I drive underneath them.

Connecticut was hardest hit in this storm. Out of almost 1.8 million power outages, almost a million alone were in CT. Most of us are still without power, but the numbers are dropping. Apparently, many crews are reluctant to respond since they were never paid from help they gave the state after Hurricane Irene. Not fair to those of us living in the dark, but Congress people had better get their stuff together and make sure they pay their bills. The way the weather has been around here, who knows what odd weather phenomena will hit next.

I took this opportunity to exercise my creative muscles and make a dramatic video from scenes and photos I retrieved in my travels. For more on getting your own video (or having your old VHS tapes turned into beautiful DVD memories, please visit my web site at

See Pictures, Video and Slideshow Here:

Freaky Felines

Written By: chriscat65 - Oct• 07•11

It’s October and this month I will be focusing on Freaky Felines, cats born with unusual abnormalities such as two faces (our first cat), four ears and more. Visit my articles on the Examiner ( for all my cat articles.  For this week’s focus cat, visit:

You can read about Frank and Louie. He is a beautiful (in his own way) special kitty!

Frank and Louie has 2 faces

Frank and Louie the two face cat

Cat Cloning and Moral Values

Written By: chriscat65 - Sep• 06•11

Did you ever think of having your cat cloned? Not long ago, right here in Connecticut I saw a seminar about cloning cats. Yes, they had a closed cat AND kitten with them as a demonstration. It was interesting but I am not sure I agree with the concept. I mean…why clone cats?

Oh sure, if you have a cat you absolutely love and want its genetic clone, and you have a load of money to spare, perhaps then cloning is an option. But, the chance your cat will be identical to the old kitty you lost… well, let’s just say there’s no proof or scientific evidence of being able to clone personality.

The very first successfully cloned cat is named CC (Copy Cat or Carbon Copy) and she will soon be 10 years old. CC was cloned at the College of Veterinary Medicine at A&M University in Texas 2001, and in December CC will turn 10 years old. She has a mate and they have three offspring. All of them live in a mansion built by Dr. Duane C. Kraemer, an A&M researcher who helped bring CC into the world.In 2006, CC gave birth to 4 kittens, but one was stillborn. “CC has always been a perfectly normal cat and her kittens are just that way, too,” said Kraemer in 2006. “We’ve been monitoring their health and all of them are fine, just like CC has been for the past five years.”

This cat lives better than I do…CC resides in a two-storey abode, which has a screened front porch, air-conditioning, heating, plumbing, catwalks, lofts and an enclosed outdoor play area.

The original genetic donor to the project was a calico cat named Rainbow. But CC is not a calico, hence she is not identical to Rainbow. About 87 cat embryos were produced, but only one developed into a full-term pregnancy after being transferred into a surrogate mother named Allie. CC is a tabby and white, and is genetically identical to Rainbow but epigenetically and thus phenotypically different.

Unfortunately, Allie was adopted by irresponsible pet owners who allowed her outside and she was killed by a car. Rainbow passed away from cancer a couple years ago. CC and her brood are all spayed and neutered now and living the high life in their own mansion.

A&M’s cat-cloning operation was an offshoot of the Missyplicity Project to clone a dog named Missy with funding help from a company (Genetic Savings & Clone) that wanted to market pet cloning. CC came about due to an operation dubbed Operation CopyCat. When the dog-cloning project had little success, researchers turned to cats.

But all the cute names in the world can’t blanket the facts of whether or not cloning is morally right. Every year millions of cats are put todeath because there are so few homes. But, cloning can run parallel to breeding in the moral sense, as it poses the question; would this method of adding more cats to the population hinder the adoption of homeless cats?

I don’t think there’s any right or wrong answer to this question. For now, cat cloning is too expensive for most average cat owners anyway.

Happy Birthday, CC.

What about Justice for the Cats?

Written By: chriscat65 - Aug• 16•11

You have probably heard by now about Andrea Impey, 30, from Cambridge in England. She is the woman who deliberately let her cats starve to death simply because she no longer wanted them. Her two innocent felines, Tigger and Fluffy, suffered horribly!

Do you know what happens to the body when it is denied proper sustenance? The body, needing energy to keep going literally eats itself! And this is painful and slow. After eating away at fat reserves, the body starts to eat muscle and tissue. By this point, the internal organs are also depleted of energy and nutrients, which begins the process of shutting them down.

All this may not sound like much, but think of the tummy ache you get when you miss a meal. Miss a few and you start to feel weak, dizzy, faint. As your body fights for survival and eats itself, you feel insane, needing to get food so deserately you are almost ready to eat your own limbs! Your innards hurt, you’re intensely thirsty, your head aches and you can barely stand up! You develop diarrhea, anemia, you feel cold, you can’t concentrate, your mental function slows, you may suffer hallucinations and convulsions. And all this can takes weeks, even months–day after day of suffering.

Sound pleasant? I didn’t think so!

Yet, this is what this woman from Cambridge did to her 2 cats–on purpose! What did she get for punishment? The Cambridge Magistrates’ Court banned her from having pets for 5 years!! Call me crazy, but isn’t that what she wanted to begin with? She starved her cats to death because she did not want them anymore! So, how is banning her from having pets any kind of punishment? That’s like suspending a kid because he is skipping school. Isn’t that what he wanted? Not to have to go to school?


Territorial Marking: Cat Be Gone?

Written By: chriscat65 - Aug• 04•11

Roger needed to reclaim his territory

The number one reason cats are given away is due to urinating in places other than the litter box. There can be so many reasons for this and so many ways to stop it, I could write an entire book just on this topic alone.

However, the other day my brother brought his cat home (for the second time) and the cat started to immediately urinate all over the house. Everywhere. To get behind the reason for this, first you have to know the back story.

My brother, Correy, adopted his fluffy orange male cat from me as a foster for a Connecticut shelter (CT Cat Connections) for whom I volunteer. The cat came to me as “Sophie,” a pregnant female. I questioned the friend who brought the cat to me; “You sure this is a female??” I asked. The cat had a head the size of a lion and the most masculine looking face I’d ever seen. I was assured this cat was a pregnant female and I didn’t feel like fiddling through the massive orange fur to check so I took their word for it.
Two months went by and no kittens. Finally, I decided to check. Not only was this cat NOT a pregnant female. HE was a neutered male. By this point, my brother had fallen for the loving cat, who by now was living amongst all my other cats and doing great. So, he adopted him.
Roger, as Correy renamed him…more aptly I might add, settled in quickly. Correy and his wife had 3 other cats: Bella, Gilligand and FC (for Fat Cat). Bella and Gilligan are bother young cats around 2 years of age that they had gotten when they were kittens. FC, however, was an elderly man who had come from my sister-in-law’s previous home in Michigan. FC had a bad habit of urinating outside the litter box, particularly on area rugs, which were fortunately portable and washable. Puppy pee pads were put down in other areas where he liked to go.
Everything went along great for several months until FC began to get very ill. At this point, Roger took it upon himself to try and play veterinarian and put the sickly cat out of his misery; he began attacking, viciously.
My brother and his wife wanted FC’s last days on this earth to be pleasant (it turned out he had stomach cancer, but was still holding his own), so back to our house came Roger, temporarily. He fit right back in with my brood and settled in as if he hadn’t left.
Two months later, FC passed away and Roger went home. The first thing he did was urinate all over the house! My brother contacted me in a panic. So, I explained it to him. The first part of this is simple; Roger needed to reclaim his territory. Secondly, he could still smell FC in the house and, not knowing the cat was gone, only exacerbated the issue.
This is not a common situation, but territorial marking is a common occurance! I told my brother that once Roger had his territory restaked, he would stop. Correy had only to keep a bottle of enzymatic cat urine remover handy. Plus, they were soon to be re-painting the home’s interior, and that would help as well, as it would give a fresh scent to the home that doesn’t smell like any of the cats. They will all have a chance to acclimate to the new scents as the painting is done and no one will feel a need to be territorial.
Roger stopped marking by that afternoon. That was even quicker than I had planned, but a good thing. He wasn’t known to be a sprayer anywhere else so I knew this would not be a permanent behavior. In FC’s case, urinating outside the box had been a habit he had developed a long time before (probably due to the fact he had been declawed. Indescriminate urination is common when cats are declawed). Once psraying or urinating in specific locations is developed, it can be hard to stop. But, in Roger’s case, this was not normal for him. So, I was able to assure my brother itr was only temporary.
So, remember, if your cat is doing something bad. He has a reason! Don’t give him up. Find out what they reason is and what can be done. Is it temporary? It could be something that a slight change can fix as well. You wouldn’t give up your human child simply because of bad behavior, would you? Well, would you? (By the way, if you would, then you better not have kids…or cats!)

X-Cats: Mutants of the Cat World

Written By: chriscat65 - Jul• 17•11
Push face Persian

Some mutations cause health problems

You have probably heard of X-Men, whether in comic books or the movies. But what you might not know is that mutants are living among us right now. No, these mutants are not in human form, nor are they in Ninja Turtle form. These mutants are in the form of felines. Some mutated to the point of no longer resembling our precious purring pets, but something out of a comic book themselves.

You have seen them many times. One of them is the USA’s most popular purebred cat. You probably have seen one and not known that it was a mutant.

Simply put, a mutant is “a sudden departure from the parent type in one or more heritable characteristics, caused by a change in a gene or a chromosome; an individual, species, or the like, resulting from such a departure.” This definition is courtesy of

Within any biological organism, mutations can and do occur naturally. The moral question comes in when people find these mutations “cute” and actually breed to heighten them. Selective breeding has been responsible for many mutations that are not only unnatural, they are downright unhealthy.

In the cat world, mutations are all around us. Below are some of the most common:

  1. The popular Persian is a mutation that has been, through the years, deliberately bred for exaggeration of features. Persians are said to have roots that go back as far as 1684 BC. But back then, their “claim to fame” was their gorgeous long coats and gentle demeanor. The long coat of the Persian in and of itself is a “mutation” in that it does not occur naturally within a wild setting. No one knows for sure when the first long-haired cat showed up, but Persians are one of the first documented long-hair breeds. The Traditional (or Doll Face) Persian cats had faces with less exaggerated features. Today, however, the facial mutations seen in the breed, and encouraged by cat breeding organizations, are making for a cat with a variety of health issues. The nose of the flat-faced Persian is virtually between the cat’s eyes, causing enhanced breathing difficulties and runny eyes, amongst other health-related issues caused by overly selective, line and in-breeding. The Himilayan cat has basically unergone the same selective mutational structure.
  2. In-breeding and line breeding are necessary to develop mutations and there’s none so obvious as the Sphynx cat. Once upon a time in 1966 in Toronto, a hairless kitten named Prune was born. The kitten was mated with its mother and that union produced one more hairless kitten. Later on, other naked kittens were found and voila! The Sphynx was developed. However, problems ensued. The gene pool was very sparse and many first-attempt kittens died!  Many of the females suffered convulsions.  Prune’s last 2 descendants (brother and sister) were sent to Holland in the 70s. However, the male had no interest in breeding and the one litter that was conceived from him passed away. Prune’s last surviving descendant was mated in 1978 and 1980 with another unrelated hairless kitten, also found in Toronto. The one female who managed to conceive lost her litter as well. It seemed the Sphynx mutation didn’t want to go on, but humans are a stubborn breed. The last remaining Prune descendent had been neutered so that ended Prune’s line. Only hairless females remained, so breeders bred them to Devon Rex males who had sparse amounts of fur. In the mid 1970’s two hairless barn cats were born in MN and they play an important role in the history of the Sphynx breed. Other hairless mutations were born in various areas of the USA and breeding with Devon Rex’s halted due to severe health issues. Health problems are not a huge problem in the Sphynx, but the lack of fur (they do have a fuzz) means plenty of baths as the oils build up on their skin (also causing acne), and keeping them warm is a must. You might recall my Examiner story about the Sphynx kitten that froze to death at an airport here in Connecticut.
  3. Scottish Fold. As the name states, the Scottish Fold cat has folded ears (from a dominant-gene mutation) and hails from bonnie Scotland. The tale begins at a farm when a cat named Susie was found near Coupar Angus in Perthshire SCotland in 1961 (the ’60s seemed to be a great decade for mutants).  Susie had an unusual fold in the cartilage of her ears and when she had kittens, 2 of them also had the folded ears of their mother. A farmer named William Ross took one of the kittens and subsequently registered the breed with the GCCF (Governing Council of the Cat Fancy). From there, with the help of a geneticist, more and more of these kittens were produced. A true human-made genetic mutant. Susie, who was unfortunate enough to have an owner who allowed her outdoors, was killed by a car. However, all Scottish Folds to date can be traced back to Susie. Health-wise, Scottish Folds should not be bred to one another; the result of such an undiluted mutation can cause (1 in 4) bone deformities in offspring. As such, Folded cats are generally bred to straight-eared cats.
  4. American Curl. The result of a spontaneous mutation, the American Curl hails from California and appears to be the opposite image of the Scottish Fold. Instead of folding forward, the ears fold backwards. One of the “newer” breeds of cat, the American Curl breed developed when 2 stray kittens, both long hair, one black and one white, were discovered in 1981. One disappeared, so the other was bred and the American Curl was born (seriously, though, if you found an unusual kitten with an interesting mutation, would you let it outside??). In 1983 the American Curl hit the show world and in 1987 was given championship status with The International Cat Association (TICA). An interesting fact about the American Curl is kittens are born with straight ears that don’t start to curl until about 10 days old.
  5. The Munchkin is the result of a naturally occuring genetic mutation that causes the cats to have unusually short legs. The gene that causes this has been compared to the same gene responsible for the Basset Hound, Dachshund and Welsh Corgi dog breeds. A large and important varation, however, is the lack of spinal problems in the Munchkin that is associated with the dog breeds mentioned. The exact origin of the Munchkin is unknown as short-legged cats have been sighted all over the world.The first documented Munchkin in the United States was in 1964 but that cat did not reproduce, so the breed didn’t make another documented appearance until 1983. Today’s Munchkins descend from this cat. The breed was accepted into the New Breed Development Program by TICA in 1994. Many tests have been done to determine the overall health of the Munchkin cat, and besides a few rare cases of bone disorders (that can be found in other breeds as well), Munchkins are happy and healthy cats that can run and jump as if they had normal-sized legs.

So, in short (no pun intended towards the Munchkin), should mutations be encouraged? Should geneticists be messing with the natural order and creating cats that nature would reject? Should humans be allowed to cross-breed and back-breed and line-breed with the sole purpose of developing a mutation so severe it produces mutants with health issues? And should people buy into these mutations? The answers are as varied as the cats themselves




Continue reading on The X-Cats: Mutations of the Cat World – Hartford Cats |

Caution When Flying with Cats

Written By: chriscat65 - Jul• 15•11

With the summer season almost upon us, people will be doing more flying, and that includes cats. Whether taking Tabby on vacation, moving to a new location or flying a new kitten from a breeder to your home, precautions should be taken when flying with your pet.

  1. Make sure there is enough room. Airlines resrict the number of animals checked in on each flight, whether in the cargo hold or taken into the cabin, so call ahead to be sure.
  2. There are fees associated with flying pets that can be quite expensive. Make sure you know these fees in advance.
  3. Remember, most airlines only allow one carry-on bag, so if you choose to bring your cat in the cabin with you, he/she will be considered one bag and you won’t be allowed another (which, in my book, is a moot point since the cat has to ride under the seat and takes up no room).
  4. One-way fees to check your pet as cargo include $100 on Alaska; $150, Frontier; $175, American; $200, Delta; and $250, United. Continental allows pets to travel in cargo with its PetSafe program and charges based on weight of the animal and the kennel combined. Only service animals are allowed in the cabin at no additional charge.
  5. Earlier, I posted an article about a cat that froze to death in the cargo hold here in Connecticut. Be sure you are always aware of where your pet is and if the weather is extreme, be sure to ask that your pet be removed from cargo immediately during lay-overs.
  6. Some airlines have outside-temperature restrictions on when animals can fly. For example, American won’t allow pets to fly when the temperature is above 85 degrees or below 45 degrees at any location.
  7. Also keep in mind the restrictions pertaining to your location. Some areas and countries have quarantine laws for animals coming into the country.
  8. Make sure your pet is very healthy, has been vet checked, and has had all innoculations and proof of them from a licensed veterinarian. Always best to be more prepared than under prepared.

    Continue reading on Cautions when flying with cats – Hartford Cats |

University uses Cats to De-stress

Written By: chriscat65 - Jul• 14•11
Cats are the epitome of relaxation

Cats are the epitome of relaxation

It is a proven fact that petting a cat can lower blood pressure and stress levels. Now, some colleges and universities are using pet therapy techniques to keep students de-stressed and more able to focus on their studies.So much for party central! Rather than beer and pretzels, students are kissing dogs, petting cats and looking at Llamas.

Even Yale has jumped into the pets-as-therpy program. During the first week in April, 2011, students at Yale Law School were able to sign up for a half-hour non-credit course that utilizes dogs in a lesson on “canine kindness.”

The purpose of pet therapy is not only to help students wind down, but to put some animal love back in their lives, particularly those who miss pets left at home when they went off to college. University of Connecticut in Storrs is one of many colleges that offer students the chance to bring in cats and dogs for de-stressing purposes, and therapy pets are also used for “stress debriefing” sessions after a traumatic event, such as a suicide or deadly auto accident.

Pets are non-judgmental, “listening” to a student’s problems without judgment or bias. Petting a calm and relaxed cat is therapeutic not only due to the cat’s ability to stretch out and “emit” relaxation vibes, but their purr is said to be “set” at a frequency that tests have showed lower chemicals in the brain that can be raised in stressful times. It is said that listening to a cat purr can be just as relaxing as a tranquilizer.

Continue reading on UConn uses cats to de-stress – Hartford Cats |

Cats Abandoned on the Cape

Written By: chriscat65 - Apr• 06•11

Many kittens are available for adoption

Lesson to be learned: If you are about to go to jail, make sure you have a reliable source to care for your cats!

According to the Cape Cod Times, The New England Society for Abandoned Animals rescued eight cats and kittens (5 of which were newborns) from a cottage in S. Yarmouth when the owner was taken to jail and left the animals behind. They had been in the home for over a month before being removed.

“All of the cats were flea-infested,” said Suzanne Sellitto, a volunteer with the New England Society for Abandoned Animals, a Centerville-based organization. “The animals were in need of medical care.” [source]

Though family members of the owner came to feed the cats, it was sporadic, the animals were unhealthy, in need of good nutrition, and covered with fleas. This sort of condition shows long term neglect. Besides the condition of the cats, the home reeked so badly of urine that it could be smelled from outside. Inside, the home was a mess and in complete disarray.

For years, it has been well documented that in the span of seven years, an unspayed cat and her offspring can produce approximately 370,000 kittens. PLEASE, whether your cat is male or female, have him/her neutered/spayed. Remember the words of the famous game show host Bob Barker who always stated “Have your pets spayed and neutered” at the end of every Price is Right episode. Fortunately, each subsequent host of the show has continued with that tradition.

Here in Connecticut, anyone who needs help with their cats, whether it is to find a home, find a cat for adoption, or get information on spaying and neutering and lost cost clinics, check out the Animal Welfare Federation of CT’s website at

Snickers the Kitten Freezes to Death in Plane

Written By: chriscat65 - Feb• 04•11
Snickers the Hairless Kitten Freezes to death on airplane

Snickers the Hairless Kitten Freezes to death on airplane

What an absolutely tragic situation. An 11 week old Sphynx kitten that was being flown from Utah to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, was left in the cargo hold while the plane was on the ground for an hour, the airplane’s climate control shut off.

Eyewitness News reports, “By the time kitten and owner united, Snickers was icy cold and couldn’t move her head or paws, Lombardi said. The kitten died a short time later.”

The kitten’s owner, Heather Lombardi, payed almost $300.00 to have her new kitten flown in special and cared for properly. This tragic death should never have happened. If the airline had done their job, the kitten would still be alive. Temperatures in CT, especially this winter (which has been especially brutal) have been ranging well below normal and a hairless kitten wouldn’t have a chance in this kind of cold, even for one hour! It would have been rough on any kitten to be confined in sub freezing temperatures for an hour, but one without hair just doesn’t have a chance.

The price of Snickers the kitten’s air fare included a fee to ensure her safe removal from the plane the moment it landed. This was neglected. Delta Airlines will be held accountable for the kitten’s death, but that won’t bring poor little Snickers back to life, nor does it even the score for the suffering she endured.

Lombardi and her daughter took the kitten to the vet immediately, but despite the heat of the car, the kitten let out a terrible cry and went limp. Hypothermia can cause the body’s organs to shut down and after a time, nerves go numb. The sudden heat on the kitten’s cold body brought nerves back to life causing extreme pain and shock. Ultimately, the kitten should have been warmed back up slowly, but chances are she was too far gone to have made it anyway.

In accordance with the Animal Welfare Act, the airline could potentially face revocation of its license to transport animals. “The impact of cold on pets depends on body type, health, coat, where the breed was developed and for what purpose,” said veterinarian Louise Murray, vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City. “For example, a greyhound will get colder faster than a cocker spaniel.”

Be careful when planning to transport pets by air. Check up with the airlines and be diligent about making sure the safety of your pet is top priority. If you suspect anything might not be right, ask!