Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Gift Rat


Scoop presented us with a rat this morning. And as you can see, it's beautifully arranged on the rug. Obviously we're doing something right!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sofa Wars

The undeclared battle between Au and I over the office chair continues. And we’ve taken the fight downstairs.

We have the standard suite: a single, 2 seater and 3 seater set. Usually, Tom has the long sofa while I lounge on the 2 seater (It’s closer to the idiot box and I’m blind as a bat).

Scoop and Au claim the end of the long sofa whenever they like, hang out on their rug, or sit on the stairs, peering down on us like little fuzzy gods. Scoop sometimes sits on us and he also has his own circular stool by the door.

Au is often busy with his newspaper stack under the coffee table, so he’s mostly at toe level for the evening. If he wants a seat, he commands the single seater sofa chair or lies at the end of the long sofa. He's a cat who likes his space, so we don't expect him to sit on top of us.
posession is 9 10th of the law
But for the last few nights, I have only to leave my seat for a second, and Au hops up and takes possession of my place. He lies slap bang in the middle, ears back, daring me to move him off. First come, first served, he says with his eyes. Shove off somewhere else.

I'm bigger but he's playing politics. Au has maneuvered himself into the position of the underdog. If I pick him up and shift him, I'm a big bully.

I’m telling you: the standoffs are tenser than those in the cold war.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sitting Pretty

I went to see the House of Grooming in SS15 Subang Jaya and watched various little dogs being combed, soaped up, conditioned, blow dried and generally pampered at the equivalent of the doggie beauty shop. They loved it!

Westie looking in the miror

"I'm so pretty! I'm so pretty!"

Shih-tsu being blow dried

"A little Shih-Tsu being blow dried."

Scoop and Au don't approve of dogs at all, so I'm keeping quiet about my trip there. I've seen cat grooming places too but as Their Fastidious Majesties as SM calls them loathe being washed, they wouldn't put in afoot in there either.

I do wonder if their aversion to water and soap is stopping them from enjoying one of the best things ever: I love going to the hairdresser.

I'll have a chat with Scoop and see if he would like to come with me next time. Bet you he declines with a loud Grouf!

PS The skin whitening articles in the Star are also mine. If you have an opinion on skin whitening products, feel free to let rip here or email weekend@thestar.com.my

The fight over whiter skin
When you reach for a whitening product, do you subconsciously want to be Caucasian, or are other factors at work? We take a look at the whitening controversy.

Pale skin prejudices
What have some women to say about the obsession with being fair.

How the products work
There is a misconception that skin whitening products will bleach your skin and are only for people who want to lighten their skin tone,” says Jean Loh of Estée Lauder Malaysia.

Recipe for healthy skin
Whether you use skin whitening products or not, these three basic tips will help ensure healthy skin.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Office Chair Kitty

Au on the office chair
Au and I are having a tussle over the office chair. When I go into the office to switch on the PC first thing in the morning, Au is firmly ensconced in his seat. Ears back, he'll glare at me as if to dare me to move him.

I leave him be and go downstairs to make coffee while the PC boots. While I'm gone Au rolls onto his back and hooks a claw into the fabric of the chair. By the time I get back upstairs he's lying there, pretending to be fast asleep.

Au usually gets his own way. If he wants a sofa spot, I’ll sit somewhere else. If he is in bed first, I'm willing to curl around him. But work is different. "Someone," I tell him sternly every day, "has to earn the cat biscuits. And unless you start typing, you’ll have to give way on the seat."

When I pick him up to move him to the bedroom, Au whimpers, sticks another claw into the chair, and pretends he's wounded to the core.

Cats! They're so histrionic!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Borneo Clouded Leopard

Scoop has a new cousin in Borneo: the Borneo clouded leopard. The following is a press release from WWF that was sent to me. If you cat lovers want to know more about other Malaysian wildlife please visit WWF Malaysia. For more about this cat, check out the main WWF site

And need I say it? If you have spare cash, please use it to support WWF!

Borneo clouded leopardWWF Press Release...

Gland, Switzerland - Scientists have discovered that the clouded leopard found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra is an entirely new species of cat. The secretive rainforest animal was originally thought to be the same species as the one found in mainland South-east Asia.

The news comes just a few weeks after a WWF report showed that scientists had identified at least 52 new species of animals and plants over the past year on Borneo. The global conservation organization says these repeated findings show how crucial it is to conserve the habitat and species of the world's third-largest island.

Researchers at the US National Cancer Institute say the differences between the Borneo and mainland clouded leopard were found to be comparable to the differences between other large cat species such as lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar and snow leopard. They believe the Borneo population likely diverged from the mainland population some 1.4 million years ago.

"Genetic research results clearly indicate that the clouded leopards of Borneo should be considered a separate species," said Dr Stephen O'Brien, Head of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, US National Cancer Institute. "DNA tests highlighted around 40 differences between the two species."

The results of the genetic study are supported by separate research on geographical variation in the clouded leopard, based mainly on fur patterns and coloration of skins held in museums and collections.

"The moment we started comparing the skins of the mainland clouded leopard and the leopard found on Borneo, it was clear we were comparing two different species," said Dr Andrew Kitchener, from the Department of Natural Sciences, National Museums Scotland. "It's incredible that no one has ever noticed these differences."

The Borneo clouded leopard has small cloud markings, many distinct spots within the cloud markings, greyer fur, and a double dorsal stripe. It is altogether darker than the mainland species. Clouded leopards from the mainland have large clouds on their skin with fewer, often faint, spots within the cloud markings, and they are lighter in color, with a tendency toward tawny-coloured fur and a partial double dorsal stripe.

"Who said a leopard can never change its spots? For over a hundred years we have been looking at this animal and never realized it was unique," said Stuart Chapman, WWF International Coordinator of the Heart of Borneo programme. "The fact that Borneo's top predator is now considered a separate species further emphasises the importance of conserving the Heart of Borneo."

Clouded leopards are the biggest predators on Borneo, sometimes as large as small panthers, and noted for having the longest canine teeth relative to body size of any cat.

By taking into consideration the forest conditions in Borneo, a total number of 5,000 to 11,000 Bornean clouded leopards are estimated to live there. The total number in Sumatra could be in the range of 3,000 to 7,000 individuals. However, further studies are needed to obtain better population data. Destruction of their habitat is the main threat they face. The last great forest home of the Bornean Clouded Leopard is the Heart of Borneo, a 220,000km2 wild, mountainous region - about five times the size of Switzerland - covered with equatorial rainforest in the centre of the island.

Last month in Bali (Indonesia), the ministers of the three Bornean governments - Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia - signed an historic Declaration to conserve and sustainably manage the Heart of Borneo. This has put the area on the global stage of conservation priorities.

For further information:
Hana S. Harun, Communications Officer, Heart of Borneo (Malaysia), t +60 88 262 420, hsharun AT wwf.org.my
Stephan Wulffraat, WWF Forest and Species Conservation Ecologist, t +62 21 5761070, m + 62 8131 999 55 62, nebulosa AT indo.net.id

Saturday, March 17, 2007

What Lies Behind A Purr?

Scoop and Au snoozing

Katz Tales is out in the print edition of The Star today. It's all about purring, an activity Scoop and Au excel at.

Tradition has it cats purr when they’re happy, but cats also purr when upset or confused. Scoop and Au purr when they're happy but also when they have to go to the vet, or after they've had an upset - like a confrontation with a dog.

I think purrs are the equivalent of cat's tears: some for joy and some for sadness. What do you think?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Logomania Do's and Don'ts

The Logomania column I write for students learning English often allows me to indulge a hobby: chasing up the history of common words and phrases in English. And sometimes it forces me to relearn my grammar too! This weeks column Do’s and Don’ts had me digging into "do's and don't's" and "dos and don'ts"

As far as Scoop and Au are concerned, there are only a handful of do's and don'ts:

Do feed the cats nice things like chicken every day.
Do cuddle and stroke cats whenever they demand it.
Do refresh the water bowls twice a day - and the run the taps when they ask.
Don't hog the sofa when a cat clearly needs to nap.
Don't pet dog friends!

And talking of dogs: there will be a Pet Adoption Programme by SPCA on 17 March 2007 at Bandar Utama. You can check info here http://doggie.fotopages.com/?source=30

Life with pets is wonderful, so if you have the time, the home, the money (for food and vet fees) and the inclination for a furry friend, please adopt a homeless pet. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Kitty In The Box

We've just bought a new washing machine and Scoop and Au are delighted.

Au in the box

Here's Au putting in a cautious first paw...

Au in the box

A cautious second paw...

Au in the box

And it's a kitty in the box!

Scoop was already inside, but being a veteran soldier cat, he kept himself well hidden.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cat On Guard

When Au moved in with us some 7 years ago, he was a very shy kitty. While he’s still shy of strangers, he is completely relaxed in the company of his own family. In fact, he’s so darn relaxed and lazy that he lolls about on the sofa like a royal potentate.

Au on his back on the sofa
There was a bit on Animal Planet recently that warned domestic cats share the wild cat's instinct for self-preservation. Never, the seriously hushed announcer said dramatically, does the domestic cat truly relax his guard.

Right. And this is the sight of a cat on guard. I don't think so!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tiger Striped Kitty

We used to have just black girl strays in the back lane, but since orange and white Yow Yow (formerly known as The Cat With The Dirty Face) moved in, a little colour has been added to the mix!

tiger striped kitty
Here is our youngest cat at the back. Isn’t she pretty with her tiger stripes?

tiger striped kitty's mum
And here’s her mum, sitting pretty while having her picture taken.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Lip Salute

I was very surprised to see a new logomania column out - so soon after the Piggy one, but The lip salute that covers kissing terms came out on Friday - and I missed it! Luckily it's online too...

Cat kisses weren't covered in the column (different audience) which is a shame because they're quite fascinating. Au sometimes comes over and literally kisses me, rubbing his face against me and giving me a small lick. But most of the time Scoop and Au sit quietly purring and squeezing their eyes at us in classic kitty kisses.

Any other cat kiss strategies out there?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Mine!

police dogs
Scoop and Au aren't too happy with me today. I went out for a walk, and had a chat with the Doberman and the Alsatian who live at the bottom of the road on the way back. When I came home, our two fuzzies sniffed the air, gave me a look that would slay Superman, and turned their tails to me.

Scoop and Au are horribly jealous so whenever I talk to other animals, I try to sneak in and take a shower before saying hello. Being sensible fluffs, they know something is up if I slide by without my usual greeting. It's a perpetual game of catch-out!

Come to think of it, now I know how an adulterer feels...

Today's Katz Tales: Office Kitty is out in the print version of The Star. And if you also like dogs, take a look at On Guard! that tells the story of some security dogs I met at Genting recently. The pic is of Bruno aged 6 subduing “robber” Munis with verve.