Tardigrades.

These little creatures are fascinating and unlike anything else on earth.

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Kitten love!

Here are two more pictures of Shadow (renamed from Blackashell, which just doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily).  It’s Shadow not only due to his color, but also because he’s very attached to me and follows me around like a…you guessed it…shadow!

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Judging by the size of his feet, he’s going to grow into a big boy!

Can you resist that face?

Blackashell.

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No, not my state of mind!

Blackashell is the name of my new kitten!

He is an adorable almost 7 week old black kitten, and I think he is going to have long hair.  His fur is very fluffy, and though shy with other people, he took to me immediately.  My other three cats seem to not mind him either.

I didn’t really want a 4th kitten (usually it’s a firm “no!” whenever anyone asks if I want a new kitten), but my son in law was telling me about him and something told me this kitten was special so I asked if I could see him.

He was named by my son in law’s nephew (my grand nephew?) who is just three.  I thought the name was hilarious and seemed to fit him so well I decided to keep the name.

And when I saw Blackashell, I decided to keep him as well.

He’s sleeping at my feet as I write this.

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At the dog park.

The weather was pretty today (the first true springlike day we’ve had) and  my daughter wanted to take my ex’s dog, Dexter, to the dog park.

As you can see, we’ve had lots and lots of rain.    The dog park was basically a mud pit, but it seemed like every dog in town was there, and they were having the time of their lives, especially this hilarious guy digging in a mud puddle and barking at it.

If your pet could text.

This is SO true!

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Credit: N/A

The white squirrel of Brevard, NC

Brevard, North Carolina, is just to the southwest of where I live, in Transylvania County.

Transylvania County was named that because of its physical  resemblance to the Transylvania area of the Carpathians of Romania.  In fact, the movie “Cold Mountain,” which takes place in western North Carolina during the Civil War, was actually filmed in the Transylvanian part of Romania due to the less developed, mountainous terrain which would have resembled western North Carolina during Civil War times (also because it was cheaper to film it there).   Even today, the appearance of both areas are strikingly similar, as the below photos show.   They also share a similar climate and rural mountain culture.

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Transylvania, Carpathians, Romania

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Whitewater Falls, Transylvania County, NC in the autumn

 

It rains a lot in western North Carolina, but nowhere does it rain as much as it does in Transylvania County, which is actually classified as a temperate rainforest.  Transylvania is also known for its many waterfalls.  Within this temperate rainforest lives a unique creature that lives nowhere else on earth:  the white squirrel.    It’s not an albino, because its eyes are pigmented, but other than its unusual color, it’s a perfectly normal squirrel.    No one is quite sure why the squirrel (also known as the Brevard squirrel) evolved a bright white coat in an area that doesn’t normally get an abundance of snow.

 

My go-to, one-minute therapy for anxiety and depression.

This is an old video from 2007 showing two cats (they are both female, and both about ten years old at the time this video was made) having a “conversation.”

The cats are not just adorable, but their trilling, purring, and cooing noises and soft little vocalizations are so relaxing I could listen to them on endless loop.

Besides the relaxing effect, I also noticed my mood always improves dramatically after viewing this video (or other ones like it).    It’s incredible how something so simple can improve your entire outlook.

I wonder what the cats were talking about.   Whatever it was, it’s clear these kitties love each other.

If you want something a little longer that has the same relaxing and soothing effect, I recommend this beautiful video of a mom cat and her adorable, playful kittens.

 

 

My new kitten Pocket.

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I never posted about this, but last week our eleven month old kitten/almost cat Marley got hit by a car.

I wasn’t going to replace him, but my daughter was heartbroken, so we talked about it and decided to get a new kitten.  The new kitty, who she named Pocket, is only about six weeks old (we wouldn’t have taken it so young, but the mother was ill and couldn’t take care of her kittens).   He’s extremely playful  and friendly and already gets along great with BabyCat (pictured with Pocket) and Sheldon, my tuxedo cat.

We are not sure if Pocket is a boy or girl yet, but I’m thinking it’s a boy (it’s hard to tell when they’re this young).   I think this is the cutest picture ever.

Happy World Otter Day.

It’s my day — World Otter Day!

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Music for cats.

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The other day I received my copy of The Humane Society‘s magazine (All Animals), and read an article about a cellist, David Teie, who joined up with a team of animal psychologists to create a new form of music just for cats.

It turns out that cats don’t particularly enjoy human music.   What may be soothing and relaxing to us may irritate or disturb cats, who hear at a higher frequency than humans.  A lower tone which we might find pleasant or relaxing, can be perceived as a threat to them (growling and feline distress sounds tend to be at a lower frequency).

Science has found that human babies develop their sense of rhythm and music in the womb, so most beats in our music are based on the heartbeat that the fetus hears.   Cats, whose brains are much less developed while they are in the womb and who cannot hear until they are born, therefore develop their sense of music as tiny kittens, from the sounds of suckling and purring which were the first sounds they heard.     Teie has combined simulated purr-like, bird-like, and suckling-like sounds with a higher frequency and many more sliding notes (based on cats’ vocalizations) with a cello baseline (which cats can’t hear but make the music more palatable to the humans who will play it for their cats) to make a kind of musical catnip that relaxes and reduces stress in many cats — or just makes them listen.

Musicforcats.com includes a sample of what Teie’s cat music sounds like, and you can also find some of Teie’s cat compositions on Youtube.  To me, most of the cat music sounds otherworldly and mournful, almost sad, like this one (which is my favorite so far):

Some of his compositions are much more energetic and playful-sounding, but those are harder for me to listen to than the slower, more pensive tunes.   I really like the rising, sliding sounds in these compositions. which sound eerie and very cat-like.

Teie has created other species-specific music (most notably tamarin monkeys), and is currently working on music for dogs.   It’s hard to imagine what the dog music would sound like, since dog vocalizations occur at many frequencies depending on the size of the dog, and there seem to be fewer sounds that would be associated with dog learning and early puppyhood (outside of suckling and littermates whimpering).

Here’s a fun video of some cats reacting to their owners’ playing Teie’s music (you can hear samples of some of the songs here too).   But — and I know this has nothing to do with cats or the music —  what exactly is going on with the dog at 2:55?

I must secretly be a cat because I actually really enjoy this music.   I played some of songs for my cats, and only Sheldon really seemed to cotton to it, actually rubbing up against the speakers and becoming more affectionate.   The other two didn’t seem to care one way or the other.