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Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Mikalogue: A New Business Idea

Mika: Ommmm...

Kit: Don't you mean 'prr', sweetie?

Mika: No. Is practisin.

Kit: What for, honey?

Mika: Ommm - is refinin technique.

Kit: You're kneading me like a nice girl, aren't you?

Mika: This not kneadin. Mika is studyin shiatsu.

Kit: You're massaging me?

Mika: Yep. Has money-makin scheme for office cats. We is natural masseurs. All cats knead with skill. Is gap in market. We starts stable of cats to go round offices an massage all the tense execs. Can make a fortune!

Kit: You think?

Mika: Oh yes. We starts with high-profit City firms. Must all be tense there, havin no cats.

Kit: Couldn't you stick to ones with ethical profiles?

Mika: Mean less money?

Kit: Yes, but better karma. That would be good for your shiatsu, I think. And ethical firms are a growth industry.

Mika: If we goes with firms you wants, you gets a smaller cut.

Kit: Oh, am I included in this business?

Mika: Course. You does paperwork. Paper really for chewin, but Mika's accountant has all sorts of different ideas.

Kit: Well, that's very nice of you to include me, sweetheart.

Mika: You has always been Mika's employee. We is just diversifyin. Now shh, this massage take concentration.

And here I thought "Ommmm" meant "nom" ;-)

Just as long as she's massaging, and not chewing on your hair - it's perilous to have a cat near your shoulders ;-)

Have a lovely day! :-)
I've been lobbying for years to have cats in the work place, so I salute Mika wholeheartedly. I think my worklife would improve vastly if I had a kitten at the desk.
Well, she can be a bit of a nombie ... but usually only when you tickle her tummy or try to move her from a place she's decided is hers.
I'm afraid it might be 400 years past its prime as a business idea. Massage is all well and nice, but bleeding people is no longer a billabe medical practice :)

(it's a measure of how much we love cats that we're delighted when they rake us with their god given weaponry).
Mika: Is not bleedin. Very careful with claws. You diss Mika's skills, get no massage! And not sharin fish treats with you either.

(Kit: It's true, actually, she's very polite with her weaponry...)
Delightful. Local kitteh Schnell here could open the North American branch, but there'd have to be an up front investment in chain mail gowns for her to work through.

But what would you call it?
Overlord massage?
Fish treat industries?
MIPD (Massage International, Cat Division)
Just showed this blog to an american friend of mine, who then turned to me and asked, why don't you recommend she has the cat's claws removed. I told him "that's a great idea. we should do that to children when they're born and we wouldn't have to buy or make babysuits with pockets over the hands." He registered the appropriate level of shock and then spluttered that cats don't need fingernails and it wouldn't hurt them as much as it would us.

Looking back over this, it's perhaps not the nicest comment to leave. However, I think Mika ought to be informed of this before she makes plans to take her company global.
Declawing cats is incredibly cruel, much worse than removing fingernails. It's more like removing fingers. Claws are the main way that cats get a grip on things; otherwise all they'd have would be slippery little pads. And cats are active; they need a good grip.

With no claws, she couldn't climb things, which would massively restrict her ability to explore the neighbouring gardens and trap her in a very small area; couldn't keep her balance when leaping onto chairs and sofas, which is her natural way of getting around; couldn't protect herself if another cat hassled her; couldn't run along the floor without skidding; couldn't bury her excrement; couldn't scratch herself if she itched or clean her coat with full efficiency; couldn't even knead, which is one of her big pleasures in life. She'd just spend all her time falling over and off things, and then licking her bruises in frightened bewilderment. It could even endanger her life if, heaven forbid, she slipped and caught her collar on something; it's elastic, but without claws to grab it, struggling out of it would by much harder and she could end up hanging herself.

Claws are the only dextrous organs a cat possesses; without them, they're completely hobbled. I can't believe it's even legal to declaw at all; it was outlawed here in the UK in 2006. Tell your friend from me that animals aren't toys you can customise at your pleasure: if you don't want a pet with claws, don't get a cat.

(I'm mad at your friend, not you, of course.)
Here's an interesting set of FAQs about declawing, for anyone who wants to read up...

It mentions, which I hadn't known, that there's reason to believe declawed cats also suffer chronic pain and frozen joints, as well as inability to stretch out their backs properly (they naturally use their claws as anchors for exercise.)
Declawed cats have to remain indoor cats for a lot of the reasons you list - they become defenseless against other animals, can't escape up trees, etc.

This registers less shock than it should here, because the humane society (i.e., north american RSPCA) wants ALL cats to be indoor cats, and if you get a cat from them they try to make you sign something promising not to let it outdoors. Their reasoning is that the average life expectancy of an outdoors cat is only 3 years or so, compared to 15 (something like that) for an indoor cat. They tend to get hit by cars and such. The problem is that cats are built to have a range of things to explore outside. Every indoor cat I've ever met has been some degree of psychotic. They NEED space to explore and roam. I mean, if you live downtown then perhaps the gain in life expectancy makes it worth keeping them inside, but any type of suburban or remote and they're generally fine.
Three years? Either they've averaged down because of a lot of few-week-old kittens who got killed because they were let out too young, or America's devotion to cars has led to too many roads, or else their statistics are just wrong. Certainly I've known dozens of outdoor cats who live into their teens.

You don't, among other things, have to let your cats out of the front door. Mika's only allowed out the back; she explores all the neighbours' gardens, which back on to each other, and there are no cars. If she hops over enough fences to get to a road, I'll just have to cross my fingers, but she can get a lot of exploring in without having to.

I personally wouldn't own a cat if I didn't have a garden in a safe space; it wouldn't be fair on the cat. Why aren't the humane society trying to discourage people from owning cats if they live near too many roads, instead of that 'Lock Them Up' policy?

Because yes, indoor cats get pretty kooky. What I'm hearing in American cat-keeping is an insane degree of sanitisation: amputate any bits that might scuff your carpet, then lock them indoors so they never have to face the risks of their natural environment. It's just not reasonable to keep an animal with that attitude; I'm really chilled by it. I keep looking at Mika and imagining some horrible vet doing awful things to her paws. My fiance wouldn't even let me describe what I'd read about declawing, the idea of it happening to Mika upset him so much.

Kit: I'm feeling all protective, honey. If you wanted to ask for soemthing, it's probably a good day today.

Mika: Can claw sofa?

Kit: No.

Mika: Ha! Let's see how much clawin can get in before you stop me.

Kit: And yet, still no desire to have your little paws chopped up.

(Mika runs away and hides at the very thought, and refuses to come back and be funny until I stop even mentioning it.)
Well to be entirely fair (I know, why) it's not just the "risks of the natural environment" they're worried about (rubber, while natural per se is not a naturally 30+ mph substance).

I was highly dubious about the 3 year figure too. Their page here makes the more modest claim that "on average, cats who are allowed to roam outdoors often don't live to see age five" which has enough weasel words in it that it is probably literally true. It's not unknown for them to just disappear though.

But basically it's a quality of life thing. If they explained that you could make humans live to 130 by never leaving a house ever, except for brief watched breaks, I don't think there'd be many takers. Jails are jails are jails.

Anyway, if you think they're over controlling of their cats, did you know they're also into small cages to keep dogs happily contained away from chewable stuff (requires training to make dog comfortable staying in it).
I've known indoor cats who were content, and indoor cats who were nuts. I've known outdoor cats in about the same ratios. If you have an apartment with high places and climby things for the cats to play on, an entirely indoor cat can live a fine life: certainly a better one than in a few weeks in a cage in the animal shelter before being euthanised. Humane societies aren't encouraging only people with lovely fenced in yards (as if cats cannot easily escape those -- cats can fit through very small holes and jump quite high) to have cats because it's better to have a somewhat restricted but long indoor life than a very restricted and short caged life.
Had a look at the Humane Society page; good grief. 'Be afraid, be very afraid!' I've got to say, American institutions do seem unusually panicky, even their charities.

And crating a dog all day? For heaven's sake. it's treating the dog like a toy you can put away when you're not using, same as declawing a cat is treating it like a toy you can customise. I know a dog all over the house isn't necessarily the solution - my in-laws used to lock their dog in the kitchen at night - but it was at least an entire room he could wander around, not a travel box.

I'm sure some indoor cats are quite happy; in fact, I know some happy indoor cats of whom I've very fond. Based on my own experience, I'd say that you have to make more effort to keep an indoor cat stimulated, and also that some breeds deal better with it than others. I'd personally be warier of keeping a moggy as an indoor cat than, say, a Burmese.

And undoubtedly it's better than death, if those are the only options - though from what I read on declawing, I think life indoors declawed might not be such a good alternative if the cat is is in continual pain. (And I also suspect that, in a place where declawing is legal and customary, the likelihood of a cat getting its paws hacked if it's indoors seems greater: an indoor cat will be more likely to burn off energy climbing and clawing stuff you don't want damaged, leading to more owners deciding that the best solution is the chop rather than a cat door.) I just think it's a poor universal policy.
Indoor cats do have one advantage. They dont come into my garden. I am not a fan of cats. No, that is an understatement. I *really* don't like cats. I find them creepy and nasty to be around. But a number of my neighbours are fond of them, meaning that a number of cats find their way into my garden, which really reduces my enjoyment of a summer evening and a bottle of wine!

Does anyone know of any humane ways to deter cats from my garden?
I've met a lot of declawed cats, both in homes and in shelters. You cannot tell, from the personality alone, which is which. Though I'm sure some cats are in constant pain, it's not what I'd call a common issue.

I do not recommend declawing cats -- I think it's cruel -- but the scare stories do nothing to convince people who've had declawed cats, because it's not a relevant experience. (There are cats with certain deformities of the leg that require declawing -- sometimes called twisty cats, and I'd declaw every cat in the world before I'd breed those poor cats -- but that's fairly rare when it's not being bred for.)

Yes, you do need to be sure to keep an indoor cat more stimulated, but playing with a cat isn't a hardship. I tend to think that it's female cats who do better when they get to go out and male cats (at least those neutered before puberty) who don't care as much, but this is really anecdotal.

In a lot of places the choice is between death and indoor life (even no-kill shelters have illnesses floating around and eventually sickening the stressed cats living there). Frankly, I'd choose an indoor life, even one with my fingertips removed, before I'd choose to die.

The real solution is to have much more effective and inexpensive spay/neuter programs, and fines for unfixed pets.
Donalbain, a few possibilities.

Things you can plant:
Plants with thorns, especially roses.
Lavender (I'm suspicious of this suggestion, though I've heard it a fair bit).

Things you can sprinkle around your plants and garden:
Peppers, or pepper sprays.
Citrus peel.
Bitter apple spray.

Things you can do:
Make noise when you see the cats. Cats hate loud, sudden noises.
Spray them with water.
Avoid having pools of standing water for birds or fish, if this is possible.
Try to water dirt enough that you don't have dry, loose dirt, which they like to roll around in.
Huh, a choice between an indoor life and death at the humane shelter? What about option c, an outdoor life? Obviously it depends on your environs, if your address is ## picadilly circus then it's not a good idea to install a catflap, but if there's grass and trees and flowers outside, you're probably good.

Oh, and declawed cats might not show pain, but cats often instinctively hide distress. Appearances may (or may not) be deceiving)


We put these crystals in our pot plants, and Mika (who usually has a fatal attraction to them) absolutely hates them and won't go near. You'd have to use tons to stop cats from passing through, I suspect, but you could put a line of them around your seating area to create a demilitarised zone.

If you really hate cats, you could gravel your garden; it won't be comfortable for them to sit on, so they won't linger. But that might be a bit drastic, one way and another, and you'll find yourself with regular weeding duties. How serious an aversion are we talking?
Frankly, I'd choose an indoor life, even one with my fingertips removed, before I'd choose to die.

So would I - though if I had to walk on sore, messed-up feet every day, like declawed cats, I might eventually think twice, especially if my ability to understand pain was as limited as a cat's. But if the States see sense and outlaw declawing, then that's not a choice anyone will have to make: it'll be indoors with your feet or outdoors with your feet, either of which are better than mutilation. Write to your Congressman!
Pretty serious. Cats and horses are my two mortal enemies. I can't stand either of them. Horses I am actually afraid of, cats just bring up an irrational, visceral hatred. I almost want to hurt cats when I see them. (Note to Mika: I dont actually hurt them. I am a nice person!)
so freakin cute!
No! Not cute! That is what they WANT you to think. They are furry, malevolent blobs of pure evil!
I feel pretty much that way about dogs. I try to be brave and get on with them, but my instinctive response when I see one is, 'If it runs at me, I'll kill it. Oh no, it's running at me! Quick, hide behind my fiance! Gareth, take this bullet if you love me!' He complains that I've actually scuffed his skin grabbing him too suddenly on occasion.

Cats are creatures of impulse, so it's difficult to persuade them to refrain from anything they feel like doing; your best best is to make your garden as uncomfortable for them as possible without starting to make it uncomfortable for you - I mean, electrified metal sculptures and broken-glass paths would probably put off cats, but I don't you'd like them much either.

A tactic if a cat does come into your garden and you don't want it to approach is to stare at it. Cats find stares intimidating, and generally will back down. That's also useful if you're in a cat-owner's house: it can be done discreetly enough to avoid offence, but will usually give the cat pause, unless it's exceptionally sociable.

Mika sometimes upsets cat-phobes with her persistent efforts to make friends with them; if you've got a cat that keeps coming over to say hello, probably the best thing to do is let it sniff you long enough to satisfy its curiosity, greet it so it hears your voice, then don't do anything interesting. It'll usually drift off.
But EVERYTHING I do is interesting! Curse my inherent interestingness.
I didn't know that about staring at cats. Do NOT, however, stare at dogs. That's a challenge, in dog-speak, and even a dog that was originally uninterested will feel the need to respond. Not positively.
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