Saturday, September 29, 2007

Good for Humans, BAD for Cats!

Giving human medications to cats can be a very bad idea.

Certain common "human foods" are also bad for cats:

Onions, Garlic, & Related Root Vegetables

Onions contain a substance (N-propyl disulphide) which destroys red blood cells in the cat, causing a form of anemia called Heinz body anemia. Garlic contains a similar substance in a lesser amount.

Tomatoes, Green (raw Potatoes)

These foods are members of the Solanaceae family of plants, which includes the Deadly Nightshade, and contain a bitter, poisonous alkaloid called Glycoalkaloid Solanine, which can cause violent lower gastrointestinal symptoms. Just one cherry tomato could be fatal!

Grapes and Raisins

These foods' toxicity has mainly been found in dogs, in quantities of varying amounts. The ASPCA advises: "As there are still many unknowns with the toxic potential of grapes and raisins, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center advises not giving grapes or raisins to pets in any amount."


Although milk is not toxic to cats, it may have adverse effects. Simply put, adult cats fed a nutritious diet don't need milk, and many cats are lactose-intolerant, which means that the lactose in milk and milk products produces stomach upset, cramps, and gassiness. If your cat loves milk, and begs for it, a small amount of cream may be okay, two or three times a week.


It's becoming more widely known that chocolate is very toxic to cats. Theobromine is the offending substance here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Are All Calico Cats Female?

Half a cat's chromosomes come from the mother, and half come from the father. The gene that determines a cat's coloring is found on the X chromosome.

Female cats have two X chromosomes, and each one can carry a different color. In calicos, one X has the black gene and the other X has the orange gene. At some point in the female cat's development, one X chromosome becomes inactive. The timing of this determines the amount of calico patches.

So calico coloring isn't that uncommon among female cats. It's just a matter of the right chromosomal combination. In males, things are more complicated because they only have one X chromosome and it's never inactivated.

A male cat can be calico if it's created with two X chromosomes and a Y, allowing one X to be inactivated. This is a genetic defect known as XXY, and it's very rare. Only one out of every 3,000 calicos is male!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cats Are Not Peas

It is so unfortunate that Laura L. Gould's book, Cats Are Not Peas: A Calico History of Genetics is out of print and can't be found for much less than $80! This is an excellent book for any cat lover, and certainly for any lover of calico cats!

And yes, the title of her book is the inspiration for the title of this blog!

Cats and Human Medications: Bad Idea!

Biologically, cats are very unlike humans. Just looking at their reflective eyes with vertical pupils should be enough to remind us of that!

The ancestor of the domestic cat is a species of wild cat found in the deserts of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Syria. These animals were domesticated by farmers who realized their value in controlling grain destroying pests such as mice and insects.

Cats are still very much desert creatures. They can go for long periods of time without eating or drinking, as is confirmed time and time again when an unfortunate cat is forced to make an involuntary cross-country journey on a truck or in a shipping container. All cat owners are familiar the highly concentrated feline urine, which is indicative of how efficiently cats process and conserve water.

Medications are very often species specific. Similar species can quite often benefit from the same medication, but the more different two species are, the more unlikely it is that they can share the same medications.

Given the great differences between cats and humans, human medication should never be given to a cat unless specifically prescribed by a veterinarian. The risk of causing further harm or even death to the cat are just too great.


This is my blog-mostly about calico cats, but also cats in general!