Welcome to the Cat Gallery!

a blog about cats

Hello, and thank you for visiting the Cat Gallery!

As a companion piece to my book: Cat Tales: Origins, Interactions, and the Domestication of Felis Catus, this gallery will provide you with facts about cats, my personal journey with cats, and of course, a few pictures of our furry friends. 

Learn it all in Cat Tales, but it now here!

My journey started about 35 years ago when two feral cats took up residence on our compost pile. The poor starving cats waited anxiously for my daily trips to the compost pile and would eat anything they could. So, of course, we started feeding them. 

Observation and research has helped me understand cats. We borrowed a couple of traps from the SPCA, trapped them, and got them fixed. When they recovered we released them in the backyard beginning my education and life experiences living with cats. We named them Whittie & Missy, and the rest was history.

— John Rush

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Have you ever wondered—What is the origin on the domesticated cat, Felis catus? What is our ancestral relationship to cats? Do cats have anything to do with our fear of the dark? Why has the domesticated cat (Felis catus) changed so little over the past 12 thousand years, when compared to other domesticated animals like the dog? What are the dietary needs and behavioral patterns of Felis catus? Why can they not digest vegetable material, often added to commercial cat food? And the big question, why do we keep them around in the first place?

Cat Tales answers these questions and many more for all cat lovers and anyone interested in cat and human evolution.

Cat Facts One - Bonding with Syd

Meet Syd the Vicious:

Syd came to us on the weekend of July 4th.  A friend reached out who wanted to get away for the weekend with her husband but she couldn’t find anyone to take this little, 3-week-old, abandon kitten.  When we got him, he had been alone in a field for a few days.  Someone picked him up and tried to feed him milk with a spoon.  All the fur under his mouth was just caked with milk. Over the next week, we taught him how to drink milk from a bottle and cleaned him up with a warm rag three times a day.  He was so small he fit into one hand with room to spare.  He also required round the clock care, but he made it.  Sid really bonded with my wife but lately, he had come around to accept me as a “partial bond.” Meet Syd!

Cat Fact:

Bonding with a cat requires touching, holding, and fondling for at least 40 minutes a day preferably beginning shortly after birth.

After the 4th-week bonding becomes more and more difficult. There is an old trick regarding bonding. For newborn cats, if you breathe onto the face of the cat it will bond more quickly.

This may be one of the techniques used 10 or 11 thousand years ago in the Middle East when we first began domesticating cows, sheep, and goats.

Cat Facts Two - String Theory

Our $8,500 Cat

No one anticipates spending a lot of money on their pets, and yet we do.  I guess we expect enjoyment without charge. So here is our story. 

My wife is a quilter as well as a writer.  If you don’t know anyone who sews, material, thread, and cuttings end up all over the house.  Moreover, three sewing machines, which perform different tasks, reside on our dining room table.  One of our bedrooms houses a huge sewing machine just for the purpose of quilting, and that doesn’t count the tons of fabric, thread, and other necessities for her projects.  I tell you all of this because, Syd Viscous, you remember sweet little Syd, well he covets thread.  See the pictures. 

One morning we noticed he wasn’t quite right.  Lots of vomiting and just off.  So, Katie took him to the vet.  He had eaten some thread, many yards of thread.  It wrapped around the back of his tongue, into the stomach, and had entered his small intestine.  An operation, a seven-day stay, and $8,500 later he came home and survived. 

You never set out to spend so much, but at what point do you say no?  At what point would you say “no” to a child in need of a life saving operation? Yes, the cats have taken the place of our children, long since gone from the nest. We never had a cat so addicted to thread, and to prevent future expenses all thread is now housed in a large cabinet – under lock and key.

Cat Fact:

It’s common knowledge that cats love to play with strings. We see this everywhere from cartoons to cat product commercials. Their instinct to attack prey activates when they see movement. String moves like a snake or worm which they can catch easily.

However, as my wife and I have learned the hard way, string is NOT a safe toy for cats! Unfortunately, they will chew on string, and swallow it which can cause digestive issues. Avoid using string or thread as a toy. 

Do not leave cats unattended with thread, yarn, or anything string-like!

Cat Facts Three - Cat vs. Water

Bowls, Sinks, Fountains

Cats need clean, freshwater, but not as much as dogs and humans. How much they need depends on the type of food they are eating. Cats in the wild fending for themselves gain much of their water needs from the prey they catch.  A mouse, for example, is about 74 percent water; adult rats come in at about 65-70 percent. The average adult weight for a mouse is from 18 to 35 grams (one ounce equals 28.35 grams). Your average house cat needs about 3.5-4.5 ounces of water per day for every 5 pounds of body weight. So, one average mouse will supply anywhere from .5 to 1.3 ounces of water.

Most of you reading this have domesticated cats that are fed soft food, kibble, or both. If your cat consumes an average 5.5 ounce can of pate, that pate contains about 70-80 percent water. This means your cat obtains approximately 3.9-4.5 ounces of water from a single can. But, this isn’t enough. If your cat eats mainly kibble, as some of our cats do, they derive very little water from kibble. Thus, cats, pate fed, kibble fed, or both, need access to clean, fresh water on a daily basis.

Cats have an interesting method of drinking water. If the water is in a bowl, they dip their tongue in and curl it backwards, pick up water, and depositing it under their tongues.  After about 3 dips they swallow. Although we have bowls of water available, we also have fountains (both outside and inside); cats usually drink differently from fountains, or out of the sink faucet. Although they will lick the stream of water, much the same way they drink out of a bowl, they will all turn their head to the side, allow the water to enter the mouth, without using the tongue, and then swallow. One of the best fountains, at least for our indoor cats, is the Pioneer Pet Swan fountain, and, although we have other types, they drink more from this type than the others. It is important to clean all fountains at least once a week, along with a filter change, making sure the fountains are refilled when needed.

Cat Facts:

Unlike dogs and humans, cats do not produce Amylase in their saliva for breaking down carbohydrates.  When they are given a high carb diet, the carbs stick to their teeth and over time this leads to dental problems. Their teeth are designed to eat meatNormally they would chew on bones, not only for the minerals, but to help clean teeth. In the wild, a cat doesn’t need a dentist.  Invest in a tooth cleaning kibble and add it to their diet.

Cats do no produce starch processing enzymes (manufactured in the pancreas) so they can’t derive much benefit from carbohydrates/starch in their diet. Read the ingredient label on the kibble you buy.  Look for amounts of rice, wheat, and corn. Protein should be the first item on the list – your cat needs to receive around 52 percent protein, 46 percent fat, and only 2 percent carbohydrates/sugar/starch (corn rice, wheat).

Make sure you have fresh, clean water for your cat. Our cats love drinking out of fountains; we have 3 of them and they like the Swan one the best. The pancreas uses amino acid triggers for insulin release rather than glucose as is the case in people and dogs

Cats are finicky—this is thought to be due to their natural pickiness for fresh food combined with an amazing sense of smell that allows them to choose only the best food in their opinion.  They tend to like and stick with the food they started to eat when young.  With our 7 cats, one will only eat a kitten chow wherein the others have a bit more of a variety.