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Posts Tagged ‘cat’

The Mandarin of the Closed Road

orange cat

The county closed this road a few years ago. I used to travel it often, for it shaved some minutes off my drive. It was potholed and roughshod and hardly the thing that someone driving a little sedan should venture on, but I drove it often. I knew where the big holes were anyway, and I got only one flat tire on all my years of driving it.

It took me through a bit of wasteground where the trees grew up thick and tall, and on night time trips, I’d often run into raccoons and deer. Their eyes would flash in my headlights and run quickly into the brush. They were my taste of country existence in this graduate school city:  rough rough, thick woods, and the wild.

This evening, I’ve decided to walk along the edge of this road, for there is a trail that cuts off the right and takes me into a nice little park.  The darkness falls hard upon trees, casting shadows along the pockmarked road up the the bright red gate that says “Road Closed.”

I approach the gate in deep nostalgia. I remember driving this road so many times, but now it’s closed to me.  A universe is walled off to me, and it makes me ache a little.  I wish I could traverse the road again, and I feel violated at the redness of the gate.

As I make my approach, I catch movement to my left.  It is a feral cat, a big tom.  He orange and puffed up like some kind of pumpkin beast set loose upon the countryside.

He bolts from me but stops short of the red gate. He stares up at me with his demonic cat eyes, as if he is accusing me for daring to disturb his peace and tread upon his domain.

We look hard at each other. I am not a cat man, and he’s not impressed with me either. We have nothing but contempt for each other.

We look into each other’s eyes for thirty seconds then a minute.

It is the orange tom who breaks the stare and slips under the red gate as if he never noticed me. He slips through as mandarin on his way back to his palace, which might be hidden somewhere in the deep timber.

But I will never set my eyes upon it. My human feet and my car tires are banned from the road beyond the gate.

But the cat is allowed. Indeed, no one knows he even crossed under the gate.  And no one cares.

I feel heartbroken at this development. My little wild road is closed off, and it has been left to the big tom to rule as his own.

Mankind is all about the rules. We regulate ourselves pretty well.

But when it comes to old cats that no one wants or cares about, we don’t have much in the way of rules at all.

We wall of the places to ourselves, but they become the domains of the cats. They rule according to the customs and instincts of cats.

Every walled off place becomes a fortress for a tomcat mandarin, and we mere mortals can only quake in their presence.

Or stare at them with contempt, as I do.

Or maybe it’s not contempt at all, but simple jealousy.

Yes, jealous of a darned old cat.

 

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On the trail camera this week, I got two interesting animals:

An alien black cat:

001

And a striped skunk:

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This is the first skunk I’ve been able to get on the trail camera, which adds one more carnivoran family to the list.

No. Skunks aren’t Mustelids anymore. Their family is Mephitidae, This family includes two Southeast Asian “stink badgers” and all the skunks of North and South America.

The most common species of skunk in West Virginia is the striped skunk, but in the very high Alleghenies there is a relict population of Eastern spotted skunks.  Eastern spotted skunks are thought of as a “Southern” species, but in West Virginia, they are found only in the colder High Alleghenies.

I just hope that black cat stays away from white paint.

There are plenty of Pepe Le Pew cartoons that tell you what happens when a black cat gets a white stripe painted on it!

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It’s not just dogs

Watch the Persian cat change:

Source.

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Of course, the coyotes don’t know if a cat is feral or owned.

All they know is cats are tasty and pretty easy to catch.

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What a rather bizarre way to get one’s message across!  From the Huffington Post:

The race for the Arkansas’ third congressional district took a gruesome turn on Sunday, when the campaign manager for Democratic challenger Ken Aden came home and found his cat slaughtered with the word “liberal” painted on the corpse.

According to a press release sent out by the Aden campaign, “The family pet, an adult, mixed-breed Siamese cat, had one side of its head bashed in to the point the cat’s eyeball was barely hanging from its socket. The perpetrators scrawled ‘liberal’ across the cat’s body and left it on the doorstep of [Jacob] Burris’ house.”

Burris, Aden’s campaign manager, told The Huffington Post that it was his 5-year-old son who first saw the atrocity. He had taken his children out to fill the family car with gas before going to church, and the young boy was the first one out of the vehicle when they returned.

Burris has contacted the FBI and is further pursuing the matter with local law enforcement. The police officer who originally investigated the matter, according to Burris, said he wasn’t sure whether the cat’s killing could be construed as a threat. He was planning to file a report and said he would note that Burris was Aden’s campaign manager.

Burris, however, said he had no doubt that this incident was meant as a threat.

“Absolutely,” he told The Huffington Post. “There’s a pretty strong fringe here, but it’s never really been personal like this,” he added.

Aden, a veteran of the war in Iraq, said in a statement, “To kill a child’s pet is just unconscionable. As a former combat soldier, I’ve seen the best of humanity and the worst of humanity. Whoever did this is definitely part of the worst of humanity.”

Aden made clear that he did not believe Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) or anyone involved with his campaign were involved in the incident, and Beau Walker, Womack’s campaign manager, strongly condemned it.

“The thought of brutalizing any animal to make a political statement, no matter what that statement is, is beyond any standard of decency,” he told The Huffington Post. “The person or people, if there was more than one, who are responsible — they definitely need to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. There should be no tolerance in our political discussion here in this nation for this kind of behavior.”

Aden is the only Democrat currently challenging Womack.

Wow.

Someone in Arkansas must not like Democrats or cats.

Rush Limbaugh would not approve. He’s a noted cat lover.

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Source.

Is it the end of Western Civilization?

Quite possibly.

 

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Doug must have been at zoo or nature sanctuary, because he sent me this photo of a European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris).

The wildcat is the ancestor of the domestic cat.

However, the domestic cat is derived from a different subspecies than this one found in Romania.

That subspecies is the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). The domestication event for the cat did not occur in Egypt as was previously thought. It turns out that cats were domesticated about 10,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, which is about the same time that the Agricultural Revolution took off in that same region.

How can an African wildcat be domesticated in Mesopotamia?

Very simple.

Our common names for the subspecies of wildcat do not correspond with geography very well. The subspecies we call the African wildcat is actually quite widespread in the Middle East and Western Asia.

There is also a Southern and East African subspecies that is different from lybica.

That makes things very confusing.

Because cats don’t disperse over vast ranges in the way wolves do, these subspecies are more genetically distinct than wolves subspecies. Cats are territorial and smaller, and those animals tend to have stronger genetic distinctions as one encounters them across their native range.

However one thing is does mess with the genetics of wildcats.

Wildcats will regularly interbreed with domestic cats.

In Europe, virtually all populations have some problems with hybridization. That is one reason why the European subspecies is in so much trouble.

The population in Eastern Europe is believed to be the healthiest and has experienced the least amount of hybridization.

But wildcats are very hard to see in the wild– especially during the day.

So I know this is a captive animal.

As was the bear.

***

When Doug sent me this photo, I got really excited.

From my inbox, it looked like a lynx.

But when I downloaded it and saw it was a cat, I scratched my head.

He actually had to tell me what it was!

I knew about European wildcats, and I knew they lived in Eastern Europe.

But for some reason, I just wasn’t expecting that animal.

I was thinking lynx.

I guess that’s what happens when you send me a photo of on of Ceausescu’s European brown bears.

I start thinking of big predators.

But this one is amazing enough in its own right.

A true rarity.

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