Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Janus Cat

I had to share this with other cat lovers: what a triumph to overcome a genetic disorder, I love to see cats get on in the world.

I had to edit this, realising the condition is called Diprosopus; the cat should be not a Janus cat but a Diproso-puss
but not very........

This is what Wiki has to say:

Diprosopus (Greek διπρόσωπος, "two-faced", from δι-, di-, "two" and πρόσωπον, prósopon [neuter], "face", "person"; with Latin ending), also known as craniofacial duplication (cranio- from Greek κρανίον, "skull", the other parts Latin), is an extremely rare congenital disorder whereby part or all of the face is duplicated on the head.[1][2]

[edit] Development

Although classically considered conjoined twinning (which it resembles), this anomaly is not normally due to the fusion or incomplete separation of two embryos. It is the result of a protein called sonic hedgehog homolog (SHH). (The unlikely-sounding name of this protein was inspired by the Sonic the Hedgehog videogame character[3] and is part of an idiosyncratic naming tradition in molecular biology research that some have criticized as frivolous.)[4][5]
The SHH protein and its corresponding gene have been found to play an important role in signaling craniofacial patterning during embryonic development. Among other things, the SHH protein governs the width of facial features. In excess it leads to widening of facial features and to duplication of facial structures.[6] The greater the widening, the more of the structures are duplicated, often in a mirror image form. This has been demonstrated in the laboratory by introducing pellets of the SHH protein into chicken embryos, resulting in chickens with duplicate beaks. Insufficient amounts of that protein lead to opposite conditions such as cyclopia where facial features are insufficiently developed.[7]
Healthy brain development is also dependent on the signaling function of the SHH protein.[8] During embryonic development, the SHH protein directs embryonic cells to organize in specific areas that later become specialized neural tissues, thus controlling the size and shape of brain structures.

[edit] Occurrences

Diprosopus often occurs in combination with other congenital disorders, particularly anencephaly, neural tube defect and cardiac malformations.[9] When present, the brain may show abnormalities ranging from partial to complete duplication of brain structures, and/or underdevelopment of brain tissues.[10][11]
Few two-faced animals have survived due to associated internal organ abnormalities and brain abnormalities. One of the most famous was Ditto the pig.[12] Ditto was raised to adulthood, but died of pneumonia caused by food inhalation when breathing through one muzzle while eating with the other. In July 2006, a 6-year-old two-faced cat called "Frank and Louie" from Millbury, Ohio USA received publicity. In this latter case, only one esophagus (and possibly only one trachea) was functional and this aided survival.

Go Frankie& Louie!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Featuring Fenella

Featuring Fenella

Fenella spent most of her first somethingteen years with her elderly human, who unfortunately died and Fenella inherited a new slave in her former human’s daughter  who was not interested in cats. She didn’t even bother to tell the shelter where she deposited our noble moggy what her name was.  I wonder if she knew….
With a precancerous condition on her ears and a poor coat from a flea allergy our heroine was one of those cats who are not easy to rehome; fortunately for her – though sadly for us, because we had lost one of our furry family – we had space for another needy cat.  We called her ‘Fenella’ being the English form of Fionnghuala meaning ‘she of the white shoulders’ and easier to spell. 
Fenella just loves to keep her white fur pristine which has earned her the title of ‘The Duchess of Dhobi’.  Often just ‘The Duchess’ or ‘Madam’ she acknowledges all her names and titles with a smirk and an inclination of the head and a total refusal to actually come when called.
When she went missing in August we were distraught; we had only had her six months but she was already a part of the family.  Biff and Jasper were seriously spooked but were unable to tell us where she might be.
We walked all round the neighbourhood, put out notes and put up notices, followed every lead; after all how common can a pure white cat be?
Two up our road, two in a parallel road and three in a street easily accessed by a bit of woodland across the main road.

Three weeks later wonderful Kerry and Harriet rang up and said they though they had found her – and not holding out much hope we went round, a parallel street.
And it was her!
The shock of picking her up though, she flew up in my arms so light after having been…..let us be charitable and call it stately in figure. 
She is now being spoiled rotten and is trying to regain her stately figure – and is ready for cuddles all the time! 
The photo below shows her having found a box just too small for her and her paws still stained and grubby from her ordeal. Since then she has taken me for a drag on the lead - she's still far from robust enough to let out alone - and I have found by the circuitous routes of dustbin runs how she got through to the area where she was found.  Either that or it's a pop-hole to Narnia. 

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Highlighting Kitties

Highlighting kitties

Three half grown kitten-cats is what we have now, 14 weeks old, and already looking like little cats.
I have to say that having six snarling, spitting balls of fluff, five of whose six ends were pointy, was an interesting experience and not one to willingly repeat.  Poor little things, they were terrified out of their lives having been abandoned by mum, and never having seen humans before.  It was a triumph to get to the point when three could return to the shelter with every reasonable expectation of getting a good home and not tagged as vicious. 
We took on two, then another two, then another two over a couple of weeks to make socialising them easier, and took the two runts first to build them up, Rebel and Worrals.  They soon adapted to being in a home! We kept the lot of them in the bathroom at first in order to more easily clean up any accidents – and to give them an enclosed space. 
It wasn’t long before having to field escaping kitties…..Rebel, true to form, tried first, followed by Worrals.  Rebel also discovered sitting on shoulders first like a living zibellino.
Sorry, my Renaissance roots are hanging out – it’s an Italian term for a tippet made from a whole marten or mink, with a stuffed head often with jewelled eyes, a fairly loathsome accessory.  Living purring zibellini with jewelled living eyes are much better…. [like the re-mastered picture of Wolsey I did over on the other blog with cats all over him]

Poor Merlin took longer to do anything but hide in my towel box or to say anything but ‘tish’ whenever he was picked up; he still says it to any stranger in his home, or those he doesn’t know very well. The first day he shyly approached me for caresses and purred tentatively at me was wonderful

The litter were born riddled with worms, and when Rebel brought up a wriggling pile I had never seen such an extreme case in all my years with cats.  She was still under half a kilo, but there was no choice but to give her a worming pill; the other two were just about on weight so I did the lot, and they’ve never looked back.
By the way it is possible to catch worms from kittens that full of them.  It’s not pleasant but quickly and easily dealt with by a foul tasting pill that has to be sucked to death.  It's a very good idea even if you only suspect the possibility to go to the doctor for a prophylactic dose - threadworms can cause blindness in humans.

Merlin may still be shy with strangers but all the kitties are loving and friendly and though Biff doesn’t like them, Jasper and Fenella are very tolerant.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Hello and Good Day fellow Ailurophiles!

 I’ve been talked into this blog because correspondents of mine think I ought to share my writing about my cats and because it is  a strain not to mention them on my other blog, the Renaissance and Regency Rummage Repository where I have some excuse to talk about cats if I get around to writing about Thomas Wolsey, famous Ailurophile and sometime cardinal and Chancellor to Henry VIII. Find me there at

I have six cats.  This was not necessarily intentional.
I tend to have rescue cats who are considered difficult or impossible to home  - Biff is the exception, our big black panther, who came to us when his owner, a friend, was having health problems.  

 six feral kitties just 5 weeks old and in need of TLC

Biff  black
His owner named him for his matutinal habits of poking one with a paw to remind any slugabed that it is breakfast time.  Biff grew up in a derelict building before he went to his previous human and is a famous hunter.  If I’d have him from the word go he’d have had to have been either Nimrod or Orion after other famous hunters… He doesn’t do mousework however, that is beneath contempt.  Collared doves are the smallest of his prey, and he also likes Magpies.  Suffice to say that they don’t agree with him awfully well and after he’s been out for a takeaway, sometimes he has the runs. 
He has learned that ravens fight back and that foxes are downright nasty.  

Jasper  cream and white
Also known as Mr Softee, because of his soft fur and loving disposition.  Apparently he was too wild to re-home.  Nope; he was claustrophobic.  Jasper and Biff are both 11 and have an attitude of mutual tolerance but they will sometimes play at three musketeers, eyes shut and head turned away, fencing with one paw round the door.

Fenella  white
We took on Fenella when our much loved elderly Persian, Griselda, died; she has a flea allergy, pre-cancerous condition on her ears and a rather grumpy disposition.  She scared us by disappearing for three weeks and was very thin when neighbours a couple of streets away found her and rang us, so we’re suspecting a shed incident.  She is now recovering from her ordeal which as she’s an old lady – probably more than 16 – took it out of her.  She’s extremely pleased to be home!
She’s a very good mouser, and sings loudly a paean of victory in the wee small hours over her kills which she brings to her plate and leaves for someone to cook for her….
She’s unlucky there though.  Unless she considers being fed treats and told she’s a good girl to be a fair exchange. 

 Biff and Fenella in prime early morning basking spots

Jasper has a big white tummy that needs a lot of attention

And then the kittens.
We took on 6  feral kittens abandoned by a feral mother to socialise them; and decided to keep the two runts.  After all, taking on the elderly and the sick can be heartbreaking and we though a couple of young cats who, if they avoided being run over, could expect a reasonable lifespan might be nice.
So then there was a third who was so nervous he couldn’t go out to just anyone…. So we ended up with three.
The mother was part Russian Blue and the kits show some characteristics.

 about the only time they stay still enough to be photographed is when they're asleep....

Rebel  black
She is what it says on the label…. The tiniest kitten in the litter and first always to explore.  She’s now the heaviest of the kits we have, because her exploring takes her into helping everyone else with their food.  Outside on a lead she invariably finds water to fall in.  If there’s a crash anywhere, Rebel caused it.

Worrals  tabby
A very British name; when we first had her I thought she was a boy, and called her Biggles after the fictional aviator because she has big white flying goggles; but when it became apparent she was a girl she had to have a name change and the female counterpart of Biggles, Joan Worralson aka Worrals seemed appropriate.  She is almost as adventurous as Rebel and she likes to climb.  Removing her from the top of curtains is a regular matter.  She has the feel to her fur that is very like a Russian blue, and the habit of gently patting her humans on the face.  It’s plain she was taken too young from her mother as she still feels a need to suck on my shirt, and on my pyjamas in bed.

Merlin  could pass as Russian blue
No he’s not named for the wizard.
When we first had him, all he said was TISH! and was a right little spitfire; well Spitfire planes have Rolls Royce Merlin engines and when he purrs he sounds like one…. It more or less went with Worrals too as Worrals the pilot used to deliver Spitfires in WW2.  He has the sweetest disposition and he too likes to pat faces and snuggle up under chins.  He’s desperately shy though.  

 Rebel very rarely stays put long enough to capture on camera, Merlin and Worrals know how to pose though