How Animals Perceive The World: Sound And Sight

If you have a pet, you may want to watch this short film. It examines how various animals, insects, and birds (including cats and dogs) hear and see the world that surrounds them, in a very different way to human perception. There is some science to listen to, but even I could understand it.

My friend Antony sent me the You Tube clip, and I think many of you will find it fascinating.

The Return Of Brave Cat!

In 2019, I posted about Ollie’s encounters with some of the feline residents of Beetley. If you never saw that, here’s a link.

Ollie and The Yellow Cat

Since writing that post, ‘Hiding Cat’ has gone. I don’t think it was anything medical or sinister, just that the family sold the bungalow and moved away.

‘Yellow Cat’ is still very much around, usually running to hide under any conveniently parked car when he spots Ollie coming. In the absence of any cars, he climbs whatever fence is handy. Bulky Tortoiseshell from the house directly behind seems to have met his maker. The same family still live there, but there has been no sign of the large cat for almost two years now.

‘Alfie Cat’, who I call ‘Alfredo’, still lives next door, and he comes to see Ollie frequently, enjoying a belly rub from me into the bargain. If our door is open, he will even wander in and have a look around.

But not long after writing that post, ‘Brave Cat’, the cat who knows no fear, seemed to have disappeared. Though Ollie habitually checked the hedge up the road where BC used to lurk, there was never a sign of him.

Until today.

Walking back with Ollie this afternoon, he hesitated at the hedge, as he always does. After a tentaive sniff of the foliage, he began to move.

Then BAM! Brave cat appeared, running down the the short driveway to his house, rearing up at Ollie’s face with front paws raised like a prize-fighter. Just as well Ollie was on his lead by then, as he retreated so fast, he might have ended up in the road otherwise.

I have to say, I do admire that cat. It has guts, no denying that.

Trick, No Treat: An Urgent Warning for Cat-Lovers, Writers, and…Everyone Else

A warning to all cat lovers! Plastic can cause thyroid problems!
Please read this post, and the linked post too.

Lara Trace Hentz

We have caused this one. I am talking about plastics in our environment. And I am talking about their insidious effect on the thyroid – HUMAN and animal.

This post is about an emerging health crisis facing cats in particular and everything and everyone else in addition, and we have caused it

…This is not going to go away. And if you have ever loved a cat, you know how emotionally charged this issue is about to become.” –

MUST READ: Trick, No Treat: An Urgent Warning for Cat-Lovers, Writers, and…Everyone Else

This post must be widely shared since it is now a matter of life and death. Thank you my friend KC.

** Buffalo dreams ebook coverMy friend Jaga’de has just died of a rare cancer. [Salivary gland tumors are rare types of tumors that begin in the salivary glands; these cancerous tumors can begin in any of the…

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Ollie and The Yellow Cat

Generally, Ollie gets on well with cats. Though in some cases, he is quite scared of them, especially when they spit and growl as he approaches them. A few doors down on the same side, a fluffy black and white cat has taken great objection to him, and will go so far as to advance out of the safety of its driveway, attempting to attack poor Ollie with claws at the ready. Ollie will back away rapidly when faced with this courageous feline, and it has earned itself the name ‘Brave Cat’, a name which Ollie now recognises.

The bulky tortoiseshell cat from the house behind is not so bold. It will lurk under our bushes, hoping to be able to kill any bird that arrives to eat the food we put out. If Ollie spots that one, he goes after it like a rocket, and it scrambles back over the fence, to the safety of its home turf.

In a nearby street called River View, lives a dark brown cat that waits in the bushes in his front garden. If Ollie comes close, it squeezes back into those shrubs, until it is impossible for the curious dog to get close enough to even have a tentative sniff. This cat has been christened ‘Hiding Cat’, and even when it is absent from its spot, Ollie will still carefully check, to see if it is in fact ‘hiding’.

The most frequently encountered cat is the one next door, Alfie. He is normally called ‘Alfredo’ by me, and is very friendly. He also loves Ollie, and will rub his face around my dog’s saggy jowls. Ollie returns the affection by never chasing him, and allowing Alfie to roll about underneath him.

But one local cat brings out the tradition in Ollie. The tradition that states that dogs will chase cats, at every opportunity. A ginger cat that lives close to Beetley Meadows, though I am not sure of his actual address. He likes to spend his days in the scrub grass, close to the River View entrance. From there, the cat will pounce on small birds that fail to spot him, or even rodents that come across his path. The first time we spotted that cat, well over five years ago, Ollie took an instant dislike to it, and rushed into the scrub to chase it. The cat does one of two things, every time. If it sees Ollie coming, it makes a dash for the fence of the closest house on the corner, scrabbling up the wooden panels and dropping down the other side with a crashing sound. Because it is very pale in colour, it has been named Yellow Cat.

But if Ollie gets close enough without being detected by the cat until it is almost too late, it climbs the small tree close to its favoured spot, resting between branches just out of reach of Ollie, who will be standing on two legs, trying to get to it. This happened on our walk yesterday afternoon. I had hardly slipped off Ollie’s lead, when he took off as if fired from a cannon. I spotted his target, Yellow Cat, lurking flat beneath that tree. Ollie covered the gap in record time, and was almost on top of the cat before it realised what was happening. It scampered up the tree, with just a second to spare, then casually draped itself across the branch, leaving Ollie yelping and whimpering with frustration inches below.

After a few minutes of circling the tree, he walked back to me with a grumpy look on his face. I am sure if he could talk, he would have had something to say to that cat.

“One day, Yellow Cat. One day…”

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Pets.

I was thinking about Ollie when I woke up today, and that led my mind to remembering pets I have had during my life. I began to list them in chronological order, thinking back to when I was very young. Not just those pets I have had in my own home, but those of my Mum, which I became responsible for as I helped her visit Vets, or took them to be put to sleep.

My earliest pet memory is of a family dog, a black Labrador unimaginatively named ‘Blackie’. I recall little of him being around, or taking him for walks, but I clearly remember that we had to find him a home, when we were re-housed in a nice new maisonette where dogs were not allowed. My Dad found a great place for him though. He was adopted by The Royal Air Force, to be used for something I wasn’t told about. I like to think he had a good career as a sniffer dog, on an airbase in the countryside.

For the next seven years, we were pet-free. This bothered my Mum a great deal, as she badly missed having a pet dog. When it was announced that we were moving to the edge of Kent, buying our own house just outside the London suburbs, she was overjoyed. It meant she could get another dog. Along came Sandy, a friendly Beagle cross who was full of fun, and enjoyed playing with his toys, especially a double-ended ‘puller’. My Mum loved to take him for walks along the nearby lanes, picking blackberries to make her jam, as he trotted along next to her. He proved to be very loyal, and was very much part of the family, until he died from a swollen liver. In that house, my Dad decided to also keep rabbits. Not for food, but for show. He bought long-haired angoras, real pedigree rabbits, and built impressive hutches for them both. They needed daily grooming to deal with all that fur, and that was my job after school. He also built an extensive aviary, stocking it with an assortment of finches, canaries, and other small birds. Most evenings, he would walk around in that aviary, contemplating his life.

After my parents split up, I moved with my Mum into a family business, an off-licence back in South West London. She got a kitten, a multi-coloured ball of fluff she named Louise, for some strange reason. Soon after, she decided we needed a dog. Something to keep us company in the long hours of the shop-opening, and perhaps to deter robbers or burglars too. We bought a pedigree pup, a long-haired German Shepherd, with huge feet. Mum named him ‘Skipper’, and he soon grew into a very formidable dog indeed. He loved us, and was good with family. But he wasn’t too interested in strangers, or other dogs. Walked daily on Clapham Common, well-fed and looked after, he was admired by everyone around.

When I got married, we were both too busy to have pets, and it would not have been fair to leave them for so long. But I did win a goldfish at a funfair, and decided to keep it. It was so small, I named it ‘Tiny Tim’, and bought it a large bowl plants, and gravel. Because of its size, I thought it was very young, and might live a long time. But sadly, it didn’t see out the summer, and was found floating in his bowl one evening. He received a decent burial in the back garden. A few years later, the urge to get a pet came over me again, so I bought a Guinea Pig, a long-haired Pedigree Sheltie. He was a lovely golden beige colour, with beautifully soft fur. I had just seen the film ‘The Tin Drum’ at the cinema, so named him ‘Oskar'(with a ‘K’) after the lead character. My uncle built me a stylish hutch, for him to live outside in. We lived at number 8, and I even got him his own door number, ‘8A’. For harsh weather, we got an old tropical fish tank, stored in the dining room. He came inside in that during the winter. I cared for little Oskar lovingly. I would comb him, and stroke him, enjoying the ‘chirruping’ noise he made when he heard me arriving. As well as his dry food, I picked dandelion leaves for him, which he really enjoyed. He lived for over five years. The local vet told me he had never known a guinea pig to live that long. He was buried in the garden too, and I was genuinely sad when he died.

When I split up from my first wife, I was destined to have no pets for decades. But my Mum made up for it, with a succession of dogs and cats. Most times, she had two dogs and a cat living with her in the small one-bed flat she had moved to. When they were ill, I would drive over and take them to the Vet. When they were dying, I took them to be put to sleep. Walking back to the car with an empty collar and lead. This happened so regularly, I decided that I would never have a pet again. Losing them is just too upsetting.

But then I moved to Norfolk, saw baby Ollie, and couldn’t resist him. He has been my companion since 2012; my constant shadow, and a source of comfort and joy. I can only hope he outlives me.

Let me know about your cherished pets, in the comments.

Ollie’s first rabbit

When I am out with Ollie, he likes to chase things. Other dogs of course, as well as cats, deer, pigeons, pheasants, and even ducks in the river. Squirrels are a difficult option, as they rush up trees, leaving him frustrated, looking skywards into the branches. On the beach, large seagulls seem to be fair game; but they always fly off as he arrives, only to land tantalisingly, a few feet further on. It always seems to delight him, even though he never catches anything. Watching him do this for almost two years, it always seemed to me, and to other onlookers, that his sole intention was to play with whatever he was chasing. His demeanour was happy, and his body language playful, never threatening.

Over on Beetley Meadows, there are lots of rabbits. On quiet days, or late in the afternoon, they summon up the courage to leave their burrows, and can be seen on the grass, enjoying a feed, or running around in the sunshine. Locals tell me that these rabbits are infected with myxomatosis, and it remains in the rabbit community here, due to inbreeding. I have seen the occasional dead rabbit, but have no idea if this disease was the cause of its demise. For Ollie, the sight of their fluffy white feet, or their ears protruding above the long grass, is a signal to chase. He will tear after them at breakneck speed, paws pounding on the turf. He is never quick enough though, and they always escape into their warren, or seek shelter inside some unusually thick brambles, or inaccessible undergrowth. Ollie is left to run around crying, as if lamenting the loss some good playtime.

If he has no other dogs to romp around with, I will take him into the area where they live, and suggest that he search for ‘Bunnies’. He doesn’t seem to understand ‘Rabbits’, though he certainly recognises the word ‘Squirrels’. His preferred command is ‘Bun-Bun’, something that pricks up his ears when heard, and sets him off investigating the normal rabbit haunts. This affords a diversion on his walk, and kills some time when he is bored, in the absence of other dog playmates. Occasionally, he will flush one from the long grass, but the turn of speed that it musters, and the possibility of a considerable hop, guarantees that the bunny will find sanctuary before Ollie gets to it.

Yesterday afternoon, he had been walking around with two of his friends, Toby the Jack Russell and Bruno the Pug. They left, and towards the end of our time out, we were at the far end of the Meadows, near the junction with River View. In the middle of the cut grass, is a large area of grass and weeds left in a natural state, forming a substantial square. Ollie suddenly took off in this direction, breaking into a determined gallop. At first, I suspected he had detected the presence of another dog nearby, then I spotted what had caught his attention. A full-size rabbit was sitting at the edge of the longer grass, apparently just relaxing. As Ollie drew nearer, it suddenly realised the folly of being in such an open area, and it obviously panicked. Instead of seeking shelter in the thick grass nearby, it ran the ‘wrong’ way, straight onto the open parkland, easily visible on the short grass. It was heading straight at Ollie.

At the last minute, the animal realised its mistake, and swerved violently. Ollie had to make an extreme twisting turn, skidding on the wet grass as he did so. The rabbit thought that a zig-zag manoeuvre would confuse the dog, but this only succeeded in slowing it down. I was running towards the pair, shouting for Ollie to leave him, but as the bunny got back into the long grass, Ollie caught his back leg. The piercing scream surprised both myself, and my dog. It seemed far too extreme for what was little more than a nip, so I must assume it was more from fear, than from pain. Ollie looked at me, confused. I suspect he thought that the rabbit would enjoy the game, and turn and run again. When he let go, on my command, it hopped into the grass, attracting Ollie once again. This time, he pounced onto it, and I saw his mouth begin to close around its abdomen. I shouted ‘no’, and he let go, looking at me with obvious frustration.

I went deeper into the undergrowth, looking to see if it was injured. I could see it creeping slowly away, some distance from me, so I didn’t get the chance to see if it was hurt. Reluctant to distress it further, I took Ollie home. He strutted with a proud gait on the trip back. He had finally caught his first rabbit.