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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 10:12pm on 05/11/2011 under , ,
Tonight, I went out with [profile] esrblog, [profile] shakati, [profile] pmat, and another friend, to see "Puss in Boots."

We enjoyed it. It was silly. It was great fun. It was, despite the grossly obvious anthropomorphisms, very loving and evocative of cats. And it explained something about cats I'd never understood before.

Cats have mind control powers. Really. It's all in the eyes.

It's a sweet, funny movie. (Though what happens to Humpty Dumpty might be upsetting to some kids, I'm not sure.) Go and see it.
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 10:04pm on 22/08/2010 under ,
In feline news, we have allowed Sofie and Sugar to roam freely through the house today. There has been much wary spying, but no hissing.

At one point, [ profile] esrblog took up a station on my futon, petting Sugar, while I sat in the spare chair at my desk, petting Sofie (who was sprawled in my desk chair, of course). Eventually Sugar fell asleep, and Sofie sat in my desk chair, watching her curiously, so we left them to it.

They continue to watch each other curiously. Looks like a reasonably solid detente. Pity that Sofie's leaving tomorrow.
Mood:: 'satisfied' satisfied
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 04:17pm on 28/07/2007 under , ,
This entry is the fault of [ profile] fadethecat, because she introduced me to the "Kittenwar!" page.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, the "Kittenwar!" page shows you a collection of photos of cute kittens (and a few older cats for ringers) in pairs. You "vote" for the cutest one by clicking on it, or you click on a "refresh the page" link to indicate a draw. The page tabulates ratings for all the photos, many of which are darn cute.

After revisiting this page a half a dozen or more times, though, I started thinking. It was awfully easy to predict which kitten would win in most cases. Why?

I started thinking about it, and realized that the reason is that there are only a limited number of parameters that a kitten, or, for that matter, any animal, must meet to be considered "cute" in a human's eyes. Once you know that, and can assess which factors a given pair of contestants displays, it's usually obvious which one is cuter. Here's my set of factors:

Young is cute. Although a very young (say, several days old) kitten may just look like a drowned rat, as a general rule the younger the animal, the cuter we think it is. There are good reasons for this that are rooted in evolutionary biology that I won't go into here.

Neotenous is cute. Neotany is a fancy word meaning "having infant or babylike characteristics": evolutionary biologists use it a lot. For my purposes, a better definition would be "looks like a typical anime hero." So if your kitten has a (somewhat larger than normal) large head with big bright eyes, smooth fur and a bouncy attitude, it will register as "cute." Most healthy kittens have these traits; no surprises there. To the extent your older cat has these traits, she too will register high in the "cute" sweepstakes.

Pretty is cute. Big surprise again; looks count. This is why the Sphynx, a hairless breed of cat with wrinkly skin no matter what its age, comes in consistently last in the "Kittenwar!" ratings. (See also the "Young is cute" paragraph above.)

Small is cute. Seems unfair, doesn't it? I think this one is related to the "young is cute" factor (young critters are much smaller than adults) and the next factor, which is that...

Vulnerable is cute. This is why a photo of a sleeping cat, no matter what age, is more likely to elicit the "Awwww" response (signifying recognition of cuteness!) than is a photo of a wide awake cat of similar appearance. Most people see "small" as "vulnerable," which is why small people (like me!) get coddled in some ways that we find annoying and don't necessarily deserve. A number of cat behaviors, such as rolling over to expose a soft white underbelly, are vulnerability signals and elicit the "cute" response. However, we also go "awww" when we see a kitten being fierce, or doing something that looks like human behavior. Why? I think it's because of the contrast. The fierceness of the kitten's demeanor contrasts with how vulnerable it really is, and emphasizes the vulnerability. Same thing when the cat imitates a human. Cats aren't human, so when they act human, they look awkward or silly and, therefore, vulnerable. Result: "Awwww."

By looking at "Kittenwar!" photos with these factors in mind, I bet you'll be able to guess which one got the higher rating most of the time, and your misses will likely be in situations where the two "contestants" are fairly close in appearance and behavior. Try it and see!
location: home on the range, where else?
Music:: bizarre Internet jazz-oid channel from Eric's office
Mood:: 'amused' amused
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 09:41pm on 19/11/2006 under ,
On Friday, I returned Princess to my friend, and at the end of the work day Eric and I went to Philcon. (I'll write about Philcon in another entry, probably tomorrow).

Now, [ profile] esrblog and I are back home, with Sugar. She greeted us at the door, and insisted on my following her into the basement for a grooming. After a bit of concern that Princess might rematerialize when I asked her to come back upstairs, she has settled in beside [ profile] esrblog, who is lying on our bed reading. The natural order of things has been restored.

Still sorry it didn't work out though. When they were willing to share us, it was nice having two cats around.
location: home
Mood:: 'relieved' relieved
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 09:49pm on 15/11/2006 under , ,
[ profile] esrblog called me at work today to tell me he couldn't take it anymore. Couldn't take watching Sugar slink around our house, looking for opportunities to dart upstairs to see us, acting for all the world like a member of the Resistance during World War II evading the Nazis. "I'm sorry, but we can't keep Princess," he said.

I was saddened too, but not surprised. My morale was flagging from having to track down my beloved older cat just to spend time with her, and my energy level was dropping from all the effort I spent trying to intervene. To say nothing of the fact that I had come to feel guilty about spending time in my comfy room with Princess, when Sugar was crying for me from the basement.

So I went to the friend I got Princess from and told her where we stood. She was unhappy too, because she wants Princess to have a good home but already has four cats and cannot take Princess on a long-term basis herself.

However, my friend knows more local cat owners than I do. She made phone calls. Turns out that a friend of one of the other attorneys in our office is interested in Princess. If she commits, we can take Princess to her Friday. If not, it will take us a bit longer to get her placed, and my friend suggested that her son could take Princess in the meantime.

It's a shame. [ profile] esrblog and I will both miss Princess. But while she stays, we fear we will be missing Sugar even more. At least if this works out both cats will have a good home, and I will have gotten my peace of mind back.
Mood:: 'sad' sad
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 03:04pm on 11/11/2006 under
Me: "Hello there! What have you done with Sugar?"

Her: "What? I ate her. No, of course I didn't eat her. She's in the basement, where else would she be? Sheesh."
Mood:: 'whimsical' whimsical
location: home
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 10:57pm on 09/11/2006 under , ,
I am being defeated by a cat. A young, seven-pound, gray-and-white cat.

It's Princess, of course. Princess's campaign to keep Sugar on the margins of our lives is succeeding once more. She haunts the main hallway in our house, because that allows her to successfully patrol the basement doorway as well as the main bathroom, Eric's office, and all of the bedrooms, and she can charge Sugar and chase her back to the basement when she pleases. (And since we don't sit in the hallway all day, we can't always catch and stop her.) She has even gone so far as to charge Sugar *on our bed* to drive her away.

Worst of all, Sugar is tolerating this treatment, with only occasional token hissing.

My guess is that there were confrontations between the two of them when I was in Texas, and thus was unable to soak down the bedrooms with calming cat pheromones every night. Whatever the reason, we won't be able to keep Princess if she continues to try to monopolize me (much less of this behavior goes on when I'm not home, according to Eric) this way.

I have had enough of feeling as though I need a license just to be with my beloved older cat. So now, when Princess chases Sugar away at night, I shut Princess in my room, which is where her food, water and litter boxes are, leaving the path to the master bedroom clear. At least that way Sugar is willing to come upstairs and up on our bed with us again. Though Sugar's stopped waiting for me in the front window (Princess now does that) and coming into the bathroom to wait for me while I shower (Princess is usually patrolling the hallway in front of the bathroom door at that time of the morning). This is a less than optimal solution, because when Princess gets hungry, around 6:30 a.m. (my normal feeding time for the cats during the work week), Princess starts meowing loudly and clawing the hallway carpet under the door.

I am also trying to discourage Princess from hanging out in the hallway (by picking her up and moving her, if necessary). That often results in her nipping me, which she doesn't do hard enough to draw blood but does do hard enough to hurt. My efforts to discourage her from biting by hissing at her (or squirting her when I have the spray bottle handy) are not being any more successful than my efforts to keep her from gratuitously harassing Sugar.

The worst part about it is that Princess isn't really trying to hurt Sugar; she just wants to be our primary cat, and force Sugar onto the margins of our home and our lives. I don't want to keep Princess from spending time with us, or deny her the affection she obviously wants. But the current situation is wearing us out and sapping *our* morale, not just Sugar's.

Any suggestions for other things I might try to alleviate this situation would be greatly appreciated.
Mood:: 'frustrated' frustrated
location: home
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 05:45pm on 22/10/2006 under , , ,
Yesterday afternoon, I was in my room, answering e-mail, and Princess, my newly-adopted second cat, went up to her food dish (which is still located in my room) to munch some kibble.

Suddenly, I sneezed, rather loudly. Princess was so startled she jumped back a foot, tipping over her dish and sending kibble flying.

It was funny to watch, but I felt a bit sorry for her too. She's a bit jumpy, since Sugar has been coming in to steal her food.
Music:: techno-dungeon music from Eric's "Batlle of Wesnoth" game
Mood:: 'amused' amused