Monthly Archives: October 2017

Why We Love Cats

Dr. Murray Bowen invented what has come to be known as “Bowen Theory” or Family Systems Theory. Dr. Rabbi Friedman put Bowen’s theory to work for rabbis, pastors and other religious professions in Generation to Generation and his posthumous work Failure of Nerve.

This theory of family behavior is based on several key concepts about why people act like they do in groups, not based on mechanistic roles but on how people in groups act emotionally. This theory thinks in terms of emotional processes and not in hierarchies or intellectual terms.

This article examines why most people love cats as a means to explain several of the main ideas in Murray Bowen’s theory of Family and Societal Systems.

We irrationally love cats–those of us who do. Those who hate cats hate them irrationally. Why all the emotions about cats? Because they expose the truth about human emotional systems by introducing catlike emotional behavior!

The cat, any cat, introduced into the human emotional system, will cause the human emotional system to rearrange. Not because the cat does anything but because of how the cat is emotionally.

1. Cats Tend to Be Emotionally Self-Differentiated

Self-differentiation is the goal and high water mark of maturity for the Bowen Theory. Cats have it.

They know what they like. They know who they like. They know what they will and will not do and refuse to be trained. They have no desire to win approval but seek emotional support (petting) when they want it and from whom they want it.

Most humans call this independence or detachment. It is really the position of self-differentiation to which we all aspire. We admire cats for being able to be aloof and standoffish. What we truly admire is their ability to shamelessly self-differentiate.

Those who hate cats most likely are uncomfortable with others who refuse to participate in emotional hubbub in the human system too.

2. Cats Do Not Accept Anxiety from Others

When there is “drama” between humans, cats usually run off or keep out of the fray by hissing and going into fend-off defensive mode until they can escape. Cats refuse to accept anxiety from others.

They may choose to purr around you when you are upset, but that, we all know, is pure coincidence. Cats take care of their own emotional distress. They do not ask for help. They fight their own fights and never seek to recruit the “gang” or “herd” effect as humans do.

3. Cats Have Learned a Perfect Balance Between Closeness and Distance

Cats never become so attached that they cannot do without you but never so distant they don’t look for you after you have been gone a while.

They have found the perfect balance of distance and closeness that humans rarely find. Most humans become so close to each other they fuse either by loving or fighting. Or humans distance from each other in response to anxiety thus keeping the fusion on a distance level.

Not cats.

If you are gone a year or an hour it makes no difference. They will react the same to your return in predictable patterns. The longer you are gone the less they may react upon your return.

Most humans respect the boundaries of a cat much more than the emotional boundaries of other humans!

4. Cats Are Distant but Connected

They never “leave” the system. They do their own thing and then, suddenly, it seems, they will arrive into the emotional system with purring and a desire to be petted on their own terms. Try to coax them and you will only get disdain and disinterest. Try to stop them when they WANT strokes and you will have to get out a broom.

5. Cats Learn This Behavior From Parents

While kittens, they show no self-differentiation except when they will pitilessly shove the runt out of the way to get the last suck of milk even though the runt may be starving to death.

Cats are social animals like humans, but even the mother is self-differentiated. She feeds when she feels like it and defends the litter if she is in the mood.

Humans are fascinated by this closeness/distance balance but we admire it too.

The kittens learn it from their parents. The father stands off to the side as a sometimes protector of the litter and the mother attends the little ones without asking a thing more from the father.

If a kitten acts up, the mother never threatens the kittens with the return or retribution of the father: she does the swatting herself.

6. Cats May Feel Anxiety During Times of Change but They Handle Their Own – They Do Not Triangle

In Bowen’s theory, humans always triangle. We cannot handle the common anxieties of life and so we seek out someone to share our anxiety. The anxiety producer–whether it is a situation or a person or a pressure–is always the third person in the triangle.

Cats do NOT do this. They handle their own anxiety like the elder leader of a lion Pride. When the young lion challenges the Pride leader the leader may put up a ceremonial fight but handles the anxiety. He does not seek to share the anxiety with anyone. He goes off into the distance and watches the Pride move on without him.

Humans admire this and fear it at the same time. Someone who is self-differentiated is frightening to those who are not. The reason for this is because humans tend to be a herding species, especially when there is change or upset in the “normal” way anxiety is handled in the system.

7. Cats Feed on Herds They Never Form Herds

Cats eat from panicked herds. They do not form herds. They form Prides. Even the name suggests independence and positive attributes.

When humans experience anxiety, they tend to herd together to expel the anxiety by attacking it or running from it instead of dealing with it.

For instance, think of the distasteful images on the television documentaries of lions eating water buffalo or gazelles. Notice, if the herd suddenly turned on the cats, the cats would lose. Even if several, maybe just a handful, of the thousands-of-pounds beasts turned on the cats, the limber but vulnerable-to-stomping cats would flee in panic.

Herds “group think” and panic. They run from anxiety or mindlessly attack each other trying to find the panic-making culprit, but they rarely attack the real predator which has been stalking them for days.

They fail to see the real danger: the cat in the room.

8. Cats Can Switch Prides Based on Their Own Self-Interest

Cats can go from owner to owner, Pride to Pride, without loss of self-differentiation. Give a cat away and it will adapt immediately to the new situation because it was not emotionally fused with the last one!

Humans may experience this as selfishness on the part of the cat or self-absorption. In fact, it is adroit emotional adaptation. Some cats will leave one household and adopt another with seemingly no regrets if the new situation is in the best interest of the cat. And the cat knows.

Selfishness and self-differentiation are not the same and cats seem to understand this. Cats are not selfish. They share when they decide to share. They show affection when they want to and not when they ought to.

They don’t NEED humans. They can hunt if they have to. If they do choose to hunt, they generally bring the poor beast to their humans to supplement the foodstuffs the humans gather from God knows where.

9. Cats Can Act Like Kittens if They Feel Like It

Cats can, delightfully, from time to time suddenly act like a kitten! –Playing with balls and dancing after laser lights moving from a human penlight. Cats can regress when they feel playful or curious.

This ability to regress is not emotional weakness but the willingness to be emotionally open when they feel like it. There is the key: when they feel like it.

Their unpredictability is delightful to most humans. Some humans hate cats. They aren’t needy enough. They don’t fuse. They are worthless anxiety receptors. An angry human may kick a dog and the dog will cower. Kick a cat and see what happens. They will not share your anxiety.

Conclusion:

These are only a few reasons why humans love cats. They reflect the emotional health described in Bowen’s Family System Theory and this causes a great division among humans.

Some hate cats for the same reason some people dislike self-differentiated people. Like a cat, a self-differentiated person cannot be emotionally manipulated, does not fall easily into triangulation, and seems uncaring and selfish to someone who is begging for a partner in anxiety.

Some humans hate this.

They want herd members who will feel sorry for them, spread the anxiety, start a panic and head off in attack or flight from an unseen and unknown enemy.

The sad truth is that self-differentiated people tend to hang together and watch from a distance the weird behaviors of the herds below. Emotionally non-self-differentiated people tend to hang together too. They tend to herd together, serve the anxieties of the weakest members of the herd, and seek togetherness and agreement over anything else.

Understanding Your Cat’s Food Diet

The Essential Guide to Cat Food diets: What you need to know

When admiring our serenely sleeping cats curled up cosily at the end of the bed it’s hard to rationalise that these beautiful elegant creatures who have become affectionate companions and confidants over the years are in reality lean, mean killing machines when it comes to their eating habits.

For most cat owners, the fact that we are actually harbouring a skilled assassin is something we would rather turn a blind eye to. However, the impressive features of a natural born predator are hard to deny; strong agile bodies with lightning reflexes, stealthy silent gait, razor sharp claws, long canine teeth, excellent night vision, highly attuned hearing and a superior sense of smell.

Acknowledging the glaringly obvious truth about these unique creatures we share our lives with is fundamental to understanding all aspects of their healthcare. So why does this often get forgotten when it comes to the most essential of topics – cat food nutrition!

What are you feeding your cat?

Vet’s Klinic Clinical Director and veterinary practitioner, Jenny Philip BVMS MRCVS, knows the importance of giving your cat a science based natural balanced diet, which gives them the nutrients they need to thrive knows first-hand how deficient some commercially prepared cat food brands can be from a nutritional point of view.

Currently 70% of UK cat owners feed a commercially prepared diet to their cat, of which half feed a mix of wet and dry cat food; the other 30% of owners feed table scraps, raw meat based diets or allow their cats to eat live prey.

Raw and live prey animal cat food diets are potentially very biologically appropriate. However, at home prepared diets are notoriously difficult to balance correctly and can be time consuming and inconvenient for most. Worryingly, a recent study in the US found 84% of these home prepared diets are deficient in multiple nutrients.

Even so, some commercially prepared cat food diet recipes are just as inappropriate; they may well balance better on paper but it only takes a glance at the back of a packet of some of these commercial cat foods to highlight their inadequacies.

For example, take the two best market leading dry cat food brands; the analytical constituents (this is the ingredients in the cat food) read 30-32% protein, 10% fat and 7.5-8.5% ash. What the manufacturer doesn’t need to declare is the carbohydrate content. Most of these dry diets are over 40% carbohydrate and rely on the carbohydrate to create the kibble structure. So why is a high carbohydrate content in a cats diet a concern?

Are Cats Carnivore or Omnivore?

Cats do not need a high carbohydrate diet, in fact it goes against their biological makeup

Cats are biologically different to us; they are classified as obligate carnivores. If you are a ‘Carnivore’ you derive your energy and nutrients from a diet exclusively or mainly from animal tissue. If you are an ‘Obligate Carnivore’ you depend solely on animal tissue as opposed to a facultative carnivore that, in the absence of meat, can choose to use non-animal sources for their nutritional requirements. In contrast, humans are classed as omnivores, deriving their energy from a variety of food sources, and dogs are a topic of controversy and can be classified as either omnivore or facultative carnivores.

The domestic cat’s natural diet consists of small rodents and mammals. On average a prey item is 62% animal derived protein, 10% fat with 14% ash, which is mainly mineral content from bone (see the table below).

Prey Species – Crude Protein% – Fat% – Ash%

  • Mouse – 62 – 11 – 13
  • Rat – 63 – 9 – 14
  • Small Bird – 62 – 9 – 15

This protein rich diet has caused obligate carnivores to evolve with completely different biochemical pathways for processing food and metabolising nutrients when compared to other species we are familiar with such as dogs or ourselves.

Cats Need Protein for Energy, Not Carbohydrates!

The universal source of energy to all cells in any creature is glucose. For humans and dogs glucose is readily available from breaking down the carbohydrate in our diets. However, for carnivores their diet of fat and protein requires them to obtain glucose in a different way. Hence cats have well developed pathways to convert the building blocks of protein, amino acids, into a source of glucose. These pathways exist in humans and dogs but they are part of a collection of pathways to create energy that can be altered dependent on the type of food ingested. For cats, even when a cat has not consumed any protein, their body cells still demand a source of amino acids for energy and, in the absence of dietary protein, they have to start utilising existing body protein, i.e. muscle mass, to maintain normal cell function.

Cats naturally in the wild would consume a high amount of protein in their diet, 62% if they consume a mouse. Comparing this with the commercial diet at 30% it doesn’t take an expert nutritionist to identify a massive discrepancy within their diet!

Don’t All Commercial Cat Foods Contain Protein?

Technically, commercially prepared cat food products do contain protein, but not all protein is created equal. The other important question that needs to be considered is where the protein originates from. Protein in a diet can come from animal tissue but is also found in many vegetables and grains. The only way of determining the source of protein is by analysing the composition (ingredient) list on the back of the packet. The list is ordered by weight in descending order, so to satisfy a cat’s biological requirements, a source of meat-based protein should be first on the list. For the two diets in our example the first three ingredients read: cereals, animal and meat derivatives (10%), vegetable protein extracts. Therefore, the protein declared in these diets is largely derived from non-animal sources. Other than the obvious fact that we have never witnessed a cat with a desire to stalk vegetables, why does this matter?

Cats Need Animal Protein for Health Reasons.

It matters because, cats require specific amino acids and vitamins in their diet, which are essential for normal cell function; some of these can only be obtained naturally from animal tissue. Arginine, Taurine, Cysteine and Methionine are amino acids used in lots of important processes in mammals but cats have to rely on a dietary source making them essential; this is not the case in dogs and humans as they can synthesis these molecules from others. For cats this process is not efficient and their daily requirements are much higher, consequently they utilise them faster than they can be created. Deficiencies can cause serious disease, for example taurine deficiency can cause heart disease and blindness. Commercial diets have to follow strict guidelines to ensure that these molecules are present in adequate amounts and in cases where levels are inadequate, the cat will need to take an artificial supplement to ensure they receive the right level of thee important vitamins and minerals. Surely the more logical and natural approach is simply to feed what the cat naturally requires- meat based protein!

How many of us have seen a black cat that has a reddish brown tinge to their coat?

This is something that many of us may have observed in passing without realising but is a classic example of the effects that a diet deficient in meat can have. Tyrosine is an amino acid only found in animal tissue that cats can’t synthesise themselves. However, it is not a necessity for body function and therefore is not a regulated requirement to be supplemented in commercial diets. Tyrosine is a key component of the pathway that creates melanin, the black pigments responsible for their coat colour; so in a deficient state a black cat turns brown.

Where is your cat’s protein coming from?

Even when animal protein is included in a diet the majority comes from rendered sources. Rendered meat or more commonly named ‘meal’ comes from animal tissue that has been heated for a prolonged time at extreme temperatures and pressures to remove the fat. Rendered meat is on average only 75% digestible. This means that for every 10g of rendered meat consumed only 7.5g can be utilised by the body. When you compare this to some of the new technologies using fresh meat as an ingredient, with 96% digestibility, this protein source certainly looks to be a more favourable ingredient. Furthermore, the carbohydrate content in commercially prepared cat food diets affects digestibility; the higher the carbohydrate content the less digestible the protein. There are several factors contributing to this but predominately carbohydrates accelerate gut transit hence reducing the time available to digest protein in the diet.

More importantly on this topic, as illustrated by the figures above, a cats natural diet does not contain large amounts of carbohydrate, therefore cats have evolved with a reduced ability to process and utilise carbohydrates.

Too many carbohydrates in commercial cat food can cause obesity in cats.

Specific molecules called enzymes carry out the process of breaking down food. Different enzymes are responsible for breaking down different types of food. Amylase is an enzyme responsible for carbohydrate breakdown; this is present in saliva and is then also secreted by the pancreas gland in both dogs and humans. Cats possess no salivary amylase and have very limited levels of pancreatic amylase so have reduced capacity to deal with this type of food.

Cats can process carbohydrate to some extent and once broken down they can use simple sugars very efficiently, however, they have limited ability to store them for future use. In a dog or human excess sugar is stored in the liver as a large chain of sugars in a molecule called glycogen; this can be readily broken down if the animal suddenly needs a source of energy. A cat’s biochemical pathways are not efficient at storing sugars in this way, instead any excess sugars are stored by converting them directly to fat which in turn predisposes cats to weight gain. This process is slower and can lead to prolonged periods of hyperglycaemia after eating. Both obesity and prolonged hyperglycaemia are key factors thought to contribute to the development of cat diabetes. Obesity itself is one of the greatest and growing health issues we face with our domestic felines; it is now estimated to affect 30% of the cat population. We all have a responsibility to reduce this growing health concern and this starts with diet awareness.

Although feeding high carbohydrate and vegetable based diets is not going to cause cats any direct short term harm, it is hardly promoting better health and may well be predisposing them to problems long term. Nonetheless, commercially prepared dry cat food diets do provide a convenient way of feeding our cats and beneficially reduce tartar formation and the subsequent development of periodontal disease. Dental disease in cats is another key health problem in the feline population and one of the greatest risk factors of developing problems is feeding commercial wet food. Therefore dry diets should continue to play a role in feeding our feline companions.

Choosing the best diet for your cat.

Armed with the knowledge of a cat’s unique biochemistry we can select diets that are more aligned to their physiological needs by being savvy. Assessing food for its ingredients and nutritional break-down, rather than selecting one based on the most appealing cat on the pack, will help your cat’s long-term health and wellbeing. So when you’re next in the supermarket or pet store aisle considering what to buy, take the packet off the shelf and compare the backs of packs. Look for diets which have the first ingredient listed as a good animal based protein, ideally from a natural cat food that provides a fresh meat source, and compare the amount of protein, fat and ash.

We have focused here on dry diets as an example as they are easier to compare. Wet diets have large amounts of moisture in them, which varies between brands and makes comparison more challenging. The take home messages though are still the same; consider the quality of the ingredients and the sources of protein.

There are some great wheatfree cat food products available in the market and on online that provide a great source of protein and also ensure your cat has the essential nutrients they need to be healthy in the long-term.

Cute, Funny and Unique Cat Names

Have you recently brought home a brand new kitty? Congrats! Then, to kick off the excitement, the time has come to pick out the best name for your furry little kitten.

Naming a pet cat Muffin or Max is really dated! Keep in mind that your cat is a living breathing individual. Why not select a name that could capture your kitten’s disposition or appearance?

The following are some recommendations in choosing cat names.

Opt for a name that you can shout from the front porch. If it is easy to shout and easy to say, it would be a lot easier for your cat to recognize and get accustomed to the name. Research demonstrates that cats answer best to names that are 1 to 2 syllables.

Pick out a name that can grow with your cat. For instance, if you name your cat “Fluffy”, it could no longer be a proper description once the cat is an adult.

Begin to observe your kitten’s unique personality. Each and every cat is unique and your cat’s specific habits will help you to uncover the best name. Good examples are “Cuddles” and “Bouncy”. Attempt to capture your cats unique personality with a name.

Following are the most funny, unique and cute cat names we’ve discovered.

Cute Cat Names

Cat lovers are aware that there is absolutely nothing cuter than a cat, specifically a kitty! Although they don’t realize it, our cats pluck at our heart strings and touch us with their lovable purring and playfulness. Have fun with this list of our favorite cute cat names.

Nibbles – so long as they’re not nibbling on you

Buttercup – why do you build me up?

Chipmunk – nearly as cute as a kitten

Tinkerbell – not tinkle, tinker

Cuddles – not for the cat that hides under the couch

Snuggles – Cuddles’ pal

Munchkin – enough said

Pumpkin – for the orange cat

Cutie Patootey – in case you are among those who carry your cat around everywhere

Twinkle Toes – for the most elegant

Hopper – depending on how your cat gets around

Cupcake – so cute you could eat ’em up

Lollipop – so cute you could… lick ’em? That’d be a hairball for you.

Skittles – because cats are simply so sweet!

Prince/Princess – precisely how they need to be taken care of

Button – as cute as a button

Bug’s Ear – as cute as a bug’s ear

Jujube – it simply sounds cute

Love Bug – you can slug your buddies whenever your cat passes by

Panda Bear – what’s cuter than a panda? Just a cat.

Oliver – did you watch “Oliver and Company”?

Tom – Jerry stole the spotlight

Daisy – for a female cat

Simba – for a male cat

Cutesy Poo – should you wish to go over the top!

Funny Cat Names

The online world was seemingly made to share humorous images of cats. Despite the fact that cats are one of the most graceful and poised of all the pets and animals, they actually do have their clumsy and goofy moments. They offer us love, and also laughter. Here we have gathered a list of funny cat names sure to make you grin!

Oprah Whisker – for a cat who is deserving of his or her very own talk show

Chairman Meow – make your cat the cutest of all dictators

Catrick Swayze – just in case your cat likes Dirty Dancing

Donald Tramp – for the cat mogul turned presidential hopeful

Chew-bacca – an especially hairy cat

Fuzzinator – for a cat who can make Chewbacca appear hairless

Galacticat – does your kitten love to fly?

Kitty Kitty Bang Bang – remember the magical car?

Shakespurr – to purr or not to purr?

Cindy Clawford – for the timeless beauty look

Vegetarian – irony, anyone?

Katy Purry – California kittycats

Anderson Pooper – a nose for the up-to-the-minute and hottest!

Brad Kitt – on the attractive side

Genghis Cat – for the territiorial cat

Leonardo DaFuzzy – DaVinci or DiCaprio?

Cat Benatar – hit me with your best shot, kitty

Demi Meower – a true cougar

Catpernicus – for the exploring cat

Hairy Potter – so hairy, it is magical

The Great Catsby – for the quixotic cat

Meowly Cyrus – ummm… meow?

Terabyte – a terrible bite? Or just huge?

Clawsome – watch out!

Just Kitten – for the prankster

Unique Cat Names

Just like us, each individual cat is unique. Some cats are mischievous, others are lazy. Many cats are fond of cuddle and others like solitude. This is why lots of people like to come up with their own unique names for their cats. Listed below are the most unique cat names we’ve stumbled on.

Ping Pong – for the cat that is jumping off the walls

Wicca – for cats on brooms

Godzilla – the Japanese terror

Qwerty – sleeping on the keyboard

Ninja Samurai – for the infiltrator

Gremlin McGuru – not really certain where to go with this

Tofu – soft and squishy

Calypso – a charmer

Machiavelli – a schemer bent on power

Buddha – some cats have already reached nirvana

Electra – that just sounds cool

Bazinga – see the next one

Sheldon Catpurr – see the previous one

Tator Tot – not sure how that got in here…

Luke Skywhisker – in a litter box far, far away

Mary Jane – just don’t blow it in the cat’s mouth!

Fonzie – hey..thumbs up

McQueen – for the coolest cat on the block

Ozzy – cats eat bats, right?

Azrael – got quite a few smurfs running around your place?

AC/DC – hard rock or electric current?

Heathcliff – no one should terrify the neighborhood

Kilamanjaro – for the climber

Marshmallow – a white colored and cuddly kitty