This is my sister Sara getting slapped in the face by our late kitty Tiger.
I just finished up a genetics class this quarter and cat coat colors were brought up a lot as examples, and me being cat crazy-of course I found this interesting.
I grew up with a dilute calico cat named Tiger. You can read a little bit about Tiger on my sister’s blog here.
So here is how you genetically get a dilute calico cat:
Mammals have two sex chromosomes, XX for females and XY for males. You get one chromosome from each parent. So, if a female gets an X chromosome from mom that is carrying the orange gene, and an X chromosome from dad that is carrying the black gene, we have the beginnings of a calico cat.
Next: In females, one of the X chromosomes is inactivated. So, in a calico (this applies to torties too) where you see orange, the X chromosome carrying the black gene was inactivated in that particular spot and all the cells surrounding descended from the cell with the inactivated black X chromosome. The same happens in reverse to get black spots.
You may ask: where does the white come from then? Well that is another gene, that is not linked to the sex-chromosomes (called autosomal). The gene is called pie-bald spotting. It can happen in humans-you’ll see patches of skin lacking pigment in random places around the body. So, a tortoiseshell cat does not have the pie-bald spotting gene and a calico does.
Next: Why is Tiger gray and light orange? The answer is yet another gene-solid or dilute. Tiger has the gene that codes for a dilute coat color.
That explains the basic genetics of how a calico cat comes about. Male calico cats are possible but are very rare. In order to have a male calico the cat must still have two X chromosomes. So he could be an XXY or an XX that includes SRY (maleness gene-in rare instances it can cross-over from the Y chromosome to an X and pass it on to offspring).
So there you have it-an introduction to cat coat genetics.
Growing up my two cats Boo and Tiger were declawed. While it was nice not to have to worry about getting scratched with their front claws, I have decided not to declaw any of my future cats. I have also decided, as a future veterinarian, that I will not declaw cats (except in instances where someone has an immunodeficiency disease and can’t afford to get scratched and declawing the cat is the only alternative for it going to a shelter). It took me a long time to come to this conclusion because I grew up thinking having a declawed cat was way better than having one with claws. There weren’t any complications with Boo and Tiger’s little procedure but that doesn’t mean other cats don’t have problems with it.
I know that the new laser method seems more humane, and it is, but if you watch the procedure and see the cat waking up afterwards with bloody paws it just gets hard to watch. Also too many people are irresponsible with their pets. How is a declawed cat supposed to defend itself outside? When I’m a veterinarian, I’m not willing to take the risk of an owners situation changing and a declawed cat ending up outside.
The declawing procedure is equivalent to chopping off the end of your finger, below the nail. If you wouldn’t have that done to a person you probably shouldn’t do it to your cat.
I understand that getting scratched hurts and is annoying, and furniture getting destroyed isn’t fun, but there are alternatives. I’m a big fan of Soft Paws/Soft Claws. You can see them in action on Maya’s paws here. If your cat has catitude, you will need a veterinarian or groomer to apply them for you. They run about $15-20 for a pack of 40 plastic nail caps and they come in assorted colors. They last about a month before the first ones start falling off (longer if they are a really good fit). I got Maya’s put on in July and she still has a couple left on.
Soft Paws work really great though; if kitty tries to scratch you it does no good. If you are thinking about declawing, try out the nail caps first. If you bring in your own caps to the vet/groomer it usually only costs about $15 each application. (If you are brave or have a good kitty you can do it yourself at home for free)
You can buy them at:
Give them a try!
Some shelters still use gas chambers to euthanize animals. My animal advocates group at my school is trying to ban gassing at the dog shelter here. We want the dog shelter to switch to euthanasia by injection with sodium pentobarbital. The Association of Shelter Veterinarians thinks that euthanasia by carbon monoxide is inhumane. There are many instances where the American Veterinary Medical Association deems CO gas inhumane, such as in sick, elderly, animals under 16 weeks of age, and pregnant animals. Shelter workers may not always be able to accurately evaluate an animal’s health or age making an inhumane euthanasia likely to occur.
Also, a certain concentration of CO must be reached to be effective, and if multiple animals are in a gas chamber it can take longer for loss of consciousness to occur causing animals to become anxious or agitated. According to the AVMA, any method of euthanasia that causes anxiety or agitation is inhumane.
It has also not been proven that the vocalizations and convulsions caused by carbon monoxide occur before loss of consciousness.
Here is a photo campaign that I did:
Since we don’t know Maya’s birthday we decided Halloween would be an appropriate day to celebrate. My family likes to choose holidays to celebrate our cats’ birthdays. (Harris’ is Memorial Day and Boo was the Easter Siamese).
Happy 5th Birthday Maya!