Category: Cats

Cat Breeds 101: Himalayan

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Photo – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 3.0

When writing about the Himalayan cat, it’s tempting to describe it as a Persian because the fact is, the Himalayan is really a Persian cat with a colorpoint pattern. It bears mentioning, though, that among all Persian varieties, the Himalayan is the most popular, thanks to its coloring that is reminiscent of the regal Siamese.

This comes as no surprise since the Himalayan is, in fact, a hybrid of the Persian and the Siamese. Some say this mix not only gave the Himalayan the Siamese’s color pattern but also some of the Siamese’s personality. Although this breed is largely docile and sedate, it is somewhat more sociable and playful than the average Persian, perhaps because some Siamese blood runs through its veins. [1]

Fortunately, the Himalayan did not inherit the Siamese’s voice as well. Should your Himalayan ever miss your company too much, it will let you know with a quiet meow rather than an ear-piercing screech. That is one more reason why it is such a popular domestic cat. [2]

The Himalayan’s gentleness makes it a good family cat. But the family must be willing to take turns on its care. The Himalayan, you see, is one of the highest-maintenance cats you can find around. Weekly brushings are out of the question – either you comb your Himalayan every day or you end up with impossibly matted hair.

Your cat will inevitably try to help out in its grooming by licking its fur, but that will only cause another problem that is much more serious than hair mats: gastrointestinal hairballs. If your cat does not properly excrete these boluses, they can block up the intestines and cause serious distress. Constant combing and brushing will minimize hairballs, but if they occur nonetheless, adding petroleum jelly to your Himalayan’s food can help your pet to vomit or excrete the bolus more easily. [3]

Of course, everyday combing is routine for all owners of long-haired cats. What is not common routine is the daily face washing that you need to do for the Himalayan (and the Persian). That’s because the Himalayan’s characteristic flat face makes its eyes water excessively. If you don’t wash these tears away regularly, they will cause stains on your cat’s face.

Aside from needing a time-consuming daily grooming ritual, the Himalayan can also be prone to polycystic kidney disease and respiratory problems. A DNA test or ultrasound can help determine the former. The latter can be prevented by exercise and proper diet. It also helps to keep your Himalayan in a cold environment to prevent overheating and the resulting respiratory distress. [4]

Undoubtedly, the Himalayan is far from being the easiest kitty to take care of. But this cat repays you with loyal affection and a respect for your private time, which not many other cats will grant. [2] For many, these traits of the Himalayan make all the trouble of caring for them worthwhile. And that is why the Himalayan is the most popular household cat in the United States today.

References:

[1] Himalayan Cat. Petfinder. https://www.petfinder.com/cat-breeds/Himalayan
[2] Himalayan. The International Cat Association. http://www.tica.org/introduction/item/214
[3] How Effective Is Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly) for Cats’ Hairballs? Vetinfo. http://www.vetinfo.com/how-effective-is-vaseline-petroleum-jelly-for-cats-hairballs.html
[4] What You Need to Know About Himalayan Health. Vetstreet. http://www.vetstreet.com/cats/himalayan#health

Cat Breeds 101: Khao Manee

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Photo – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 3.0

The Khao Manee is a relatively new and little-known breed in the Western world, but it is an old and revered breed in its home country, Thailand. Strikingly beautiful, this cat is characterized by close-lying, silky soft, brilliant white fur and large, jewel-like eyes that may be blue, yellow, green, or gold – but the most valuable Khao Manees are odd eyed, that is, one eye is a different color from the other. [1]

The name Khao Manee means “white jewel,” which reiterates just how much the Thai people valued this cat. So highly regarded was the Khao Manee that it was even bred by one of Thailand’s greatest and most respected kings, Chulalongkorn the Great (1953–1910). Incidentally, the Khao Manee is a natural breed, not an engineered one. [2]

One of the reasons why the Thai people held such great esteem for the Khao Manee is an ancient belief that this cat brings good fortune. There is also a legend that the Khao Manee’s eyes hold special powers, so when a Khao Manee passes away, one ought to retrieve its eyes to gain the benefit of their magic. [2]

In the West, we simply like the cat because it is gorgeous to look at, fun to live with, and requires very little care, hardly more than a weekly brushing to keep its undercoat in good condition, and of course, regular nail clipping and tooth cleaning.

Unfortunately, though, there are a few health issues that are characteristic of this breed: First, the Khao Manee is prone to deafness. Apparently, the gene that causes the breed to have a pure white coat also causes a disorder in the animal’s inner ear, which results in partial or complete deafness that is often present at birth. [2] Second, your perfect-looking Khao Manee may produce a kitten or two with a kinked tail, another aberration that tends to appear in this breed. Third, since the Khao Manee has white fur, it may have a higher risk for skin cancer than other darker-colored cats. [3]

If the Khao Manee is neutered, most of these health issues need not become a cause for concern. Those who invite a Khao Manee into their homes find themselves in the company of a playfully sociable pet, a little naughty at times, but always graceful and affectionate. If you’re the type who enjoys giving and getting a lot of attention from your cat, the Khao Manee may be a good option for you. And although we cannot promise that this “luck-bringing cat” will help you to win the lottery, the friendship and trust it gives you will make you feel like a winner nonetheless. [1]

References:
[1] Khaomanee. The International Cat Association. http://www.tica.org/introduction/item/319
[2] Khao Manee. Animal Planet. http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/cats-101/videos/khao-manee.htm
[3] Khao Manee. Wikipedia. http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/cats-101/videos/khao-manee.htm

Cat Breeds 101: Sokoke

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Photo – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 3.0

The Sokoke is one of the rarest cat breeds in the world. In fact, at last count, there were less than a hundred of them around. That’s quite a shame because this hardy, low-maintenance, sociable, and very eye-catching cat makes a wonderful family pet. [1]

What is the Sokoke? It’s a domesticated forest cat, a native breed that naturally developed in the forest preserves of Kenya. Its coat is light, coarse, and decorated with a camouflage pattern. It’s got large and sensitive ears, strong leaping legs, a densely muscular body, and quick and agile movements.

In other words, the Sokoke was built for independent survival. But for all its tough exterior, this cat also has a soft – even esoteric – side. (It is, after all, a cat.)

Whenever you leave the house, you can expect your Sokoke to patiently wait for you to come home. When you arrive, it will cajole you for caresses. This is a loyal and affectionate cat that bonds strongly with its humans. Some Sokoke owners even swear their cat can empathize with their emotions. [2]

Although these “soft” traits seem to negate the Sokoke’s wild façade, these two sides of the Sokoke are actually very much complementary. After all, to survive in the wild, you need a mixture of brute strength, soft skills, and perhaps even some extrasensory perception…

Because the Sokoke breed developed outside of human civilization, we still do not know the exact point in time when this cat first appeared. What we do know is that it was only in 1978 when wildlife artist Jeni Slater discovered Sokoke kittens in Kenya, and this event eventually led to the Sokoke being introduced to the Western world. [2]

Today the Sokoke breed is recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA), the Canadian Cat Association (CCA), and the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). TICA says the Sokoke cat must have a brown modified classic tabby coat to be accepted, but there are also Sokoke versions (not accepted) that come in blue, melanistic, and seal point colors. [2]

The Sokoke’s coat is not just attractive; it is also very easy to maintain because the Sokoke has no undercoat. A weekly stroking with a rubber grooming glove does the trick. But remember that this lack of undercoat also means your Sokoke could easily get chilled in winter. This breed is adapted for warm climates – keep it warm. [1]

In terms of disease, there are no known health issues that this cat breed is especially susceptible to. If properly cared for, the Sokoke has an expected lifespan of around 15 years. [3]

References:
[1] Sokoke. Animal Planet. http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/cats-101/videos/sokoke.htm
[2] Sokoke. The International Cat Association. http://www.tica.org/cat-breeds/item/345
[3] Sokoke. Petguide.com. http://www.petguide.com/breeds/cat/sokoke/