I don't usually read books about pets, but something about A Street Cat Named Bob intrigued me, and once I started reading it I found I couldn't put it down. It's about a heroin-addicted London street busker named James Bowen who finds an injured stray cat and nurses him back to health. This simple act of kindness to an animal had a profound effect on Bowen's life. Enjoy the following excerpt.
I had to take Bob to a vet. I set my alarm early and got up to give the cat a bowl of mashed biscuits and tuna. It was another grey morning, but I knew I couldn’t use that as an excuse.
Inside the center, it was like stepping into a scene from hell. It was packed, mostly with dogs and their owners, most of whom seemed to be young teenage blokes with skinhead haircuts and aggressive tattoos. Seventy per cent of the dogs were Staffordshire Bull Terriers that had almost certainly been injured in fights with other dogs, probably for people’s amusement.
People always talk about Britain as a ‘nation of animal lovers’. There wasn’t much love on display here, that was for sure. The way some people treat their pets really disgusts me.
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This great shot of a cheetah family comes from the Serengeti camera traps set up by University of Minnesota researcher Ali Swanson. The cameras are activated by heat and motion, and Swanson uses the help of citizen scientists to sort through the many, many pictures and identify species — a process that helps the scientists learn how those other big animals interact with the prides of lions that live in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park.
Check out some other great photos from the camera traps at Minnesota Public Radio's Daily Circuit blog. (I'm a big fan of the dueling buffalo.)
Head to Snapshot Serengeti to help scientists learn about how animals live.
Yesterday, guest blogger Madeleine Johnson had a story here about a piece of ancient Peruvian pottery — in the shape of a very grumpy little cat. If you haven't read her story, you really should. It's all about the great cat memes of ancient history and how archaeologists can use clues from an artwork to track down who made it, where, and when.
My friend Andrew was kind enough to adapt Ancient Grumpy Cat into the form of a modern cat meme. That's his picture above. Madeleine and I also put together another one, based on Ancient Grumpy Cat's probable history as a ceremonial mug for drinking a corn beer called chicha:
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Grumpy Cat, Shocked Cat, Lil Bub – their images are the currency of the web, passed between friends, family, and co-workers.
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A slope may look stable, but that doesn't mean it will always be
stable. The same geologic material can, under certain circumstances, lose its strength and integrity. Here, a geologist demonstrates how this might happen with the help of a tired kitteh
Tracy Miller, New York Daily News:
"Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, can cause health problems in anyone, not just pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems
, researchers warn in a newly published paper."
When one of Caroline Paul's cats disappeared for 5.5 weeks, it inspired her to find out what Tibula (the cat) was really up to when he left home. The process of this is pretty fascinating
. The outcome is, well, kind of cat like. What was Tibula doing when he wasn't at home? Avoiding the house and staring at himself in windows, apparently.
Two things I learned from this video:
1: I am my cat's Facebook page. That rubbing-up-against-you-and-leaving-scent thing? It's not just to mark you as "theirs". It's also a way of communicating information about themselves to other cats that you might encounter.
2: My cats poop in a box and bury it as a gesture of submissiveness to me. Good cats.
A variety of animals have been used to deliver mail
over the years, from camels and dogs to horses and pigeons. But cats? According to a 19th century article in the New York Times, around 1877 the Belgian Society for the Elevation of the Domestic Cat tested 37 cats for the task by taking them far from the city of Liege where they "promptly proceeded to 'scat.'" Within 24 hours, they had all returned home.
This result has greatly encouraged the society, and it is proposed to establish at an early day a regular system of cat communication between Liege and the neighboring villages. Messages are to be fastened in water-proof bags around the necks of the animals, and it is believed that, unless the criminal class of dogs undertakes to waylay and rob the mail-cats, the messages will be delivered with rapidity and safety.
"Domestic Explosives and Other Six Column Fancies: (From the New York Times.)" - William Livingston Alden
Last week, I posted about a YouTuber who thinks his he might have tricked his cat with an optical illusion that's based on very human psychology. He asked other people to test the illusion on their cats
, just to get some more data points. Now, the psychologists who created the illusion have pitched in to help out
, posting a modified version that doesn't elicit the sensation of motion. Show your cat both versions and see whether it's the paper she's trying to kill, or the "rotating" circles. (Thanks to Diana Issidorides!)
The Rotating Snake Illusion is a fun image that makes your brain perceive motion where no motion actually exists. Psychologists understand the factors that make an illusion like this work (and work better) — for instance, breaking up and staggering the colored lines that radiate from the center of the circle creates a much stronger sensation of movement. But they don't know exactly why it works yet, according to Japanese psychologists Akiyoshi Kitaoka and Hiroshi Ashida.
And that brings us to this kitten video.
YouTube user Rasmus posted a video that he thinks might show his cat being tricked by the same sense of motion that catches the eyes of humans who look at The Rotating Snake Illusion. On the other hand, this just might be a cute video of a kitten attacking a piece of paper — which is known to happen.
So here's the challenge: Try it on your cat. You can print it off here. Then, report back here and/or post video responses to YouTube. Let's gather some data!
This is not exactly the soundest experimental methodology ever, but it sure would be interesting to see what happens.
We found this cat in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool. Bill Benson shot this photo, and the one below.
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Sometimes you just need a fountain of cats set to rap music. HEY GRIFF, BRING IN THE CATS
From the Boing Boing Flickr pool, a wonderful photo by Kai Teoh, a Boing Boing reader and photographer based in Minnesota who is available for editorial and special occasions booking.