rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • Daily Xtra's Arshy Mann and Evan Balgord report on how the Jewish Defense League plans on marching in Toronto Pride. Grand.

  • Spacing's Shazlin Rahman reports on the Jane's Walk she organized around sites of significance to Muslims around Bloor and Dufferin.

  • The Toronto Star's Nicholas Keung and Raju Mudhar reported earlier this month on the happy reunification of a Syrian couple with their cat.

rfmcdonald: (Default)

  • Yahoo News shares the story of a cat that visited every national park in the United States, with photos.

  • CBC's Mike Crawley takes a look at the impact of the Ontario $15 minimum wage, finding it should have little effect on the economy at large.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Tony Keller suggests that Donald Trump's actions do a great job of promoting China as a responsible superpower.

  • CBC notes research suggesting that global warming will make the heat island effect in cities much worse.

  • It is easy, editor David Shribman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes in The Globe and Mail, to mistake Pittsburgh for Paris.

  • The Toronto Star notes Ariana Grande's surprise visit to her fans in hospital before tomorrow benefit concert.

  • The Atlantic reports on the problems of post-Communist gentrification in Moscow.

  • The Georgia Straight shares one Vancouver artist's goodbye to her adopted city, beloved but now too expensive.

rfmcdonald: (cats)
"For Monty"


This touching Croft Street mural and poem remembers neighbourhood cat Monty.
rfmcdonald: (cats)
Thursday, when I was walking west along College, I passed by TOT Cat Café (298 College Street, Toronto's only cat café. I had long been curious about the place, following the different fundraising efforts aiming to set up a cat café in Toronto starting a couple of years ago and then hearing last spring about the scandal when the Toronto Humane Society stopped supplying this cafe with cats for adoption (CBC, Toronto Star, Reddit). The sign outside showed that the cafe was still in operation, and promised. I needed some coffee and could enjoy something sweet, so why not go inside?

Art for sale


The cafe is organized as a sort of double enclosure, the cafe space surrounding the inner double-doored chamber open to the street where the cats reside.

Looking in

After I finished my enjoyable coffee and cheesecake, and being briefed on the rules, I passed inside. There were thirteen cats, I was told, most hiding in the carpeted cubby holes at the far end, but some spilling into bowls and on top of ladders in plain view. The cats--apparently sourced by Scarborough Bluffs Cat Relief, part of the effort to retrieve cats and other pets dumped at the Scarborough Bluffs--were available for adoption at a cost of $C 150 per cat. Posters listing the cats' names, ages, and availability were on the west wall, but the other people there were not paying close attention to those. They were looking at the cats.

Asleep


Looking


Catcave


Resting


Top of the ladder


Ensconced


Curled


Catbowl


Looking out


As far as I could tell, the cats seemed to be in good shape. The staff was clear in laying out the rules--no feeding, no poking, and so on--and the people in the cat enclosure with me obeyed these. The cats, for their parts, seemed both healthy and relaxed, comfortable enough with their environment to sleep and contented with being gazed at from afar. I left not feeling as if I had exploited the cats in an situation unsuited for them--the whole institution seemed to be working out.

Me and cat cafe #toronto #me #selfie #totthecatcafe #collegestreet #harbordvillage #kensingtonmarket
rfmcdonald: (cats)
Rebecca Tucker's review in The Globe and Mail of Kedi, a new film looking at the cats of Istanbul, has me hooked. Where is it playing locally, I wonder?

Read almost any piece of travel journalism about Istanbul, and there will be mention of the cats. The city is literally crawling with them: unquantifiable felines, prowling the streets at all hours, climbing through windows uninvited and stealing fish from street vendors. But unlike other major cities that might consider the enormous feline presence a plague or pestilence, in Istanbul, the cats are an integral part of daily life. “Being a cat in Istanbul,” a Turkish musician told The Wall Street Journal in 2015,” is like being a cow in India.”

Kedi, the Oscilloscope Laboratories-produced documentary getting a limited release this week, is a gentle meditation on the strange symbiosis that exists between humans and cats throughout the Turkish city. Over the course of 80 minutes, the film – through a combination of interviews with locals, quiet shots of city life and scenes of cats in action (climbing to the top of local churches, say, or protecting a brood of kittens) – comes close to painting a complete picture of a city in which animals known for their autonomy and independent spirit have basically persuaded an entire population of people to take care of them, to gradual mutual benefit. Cats, despite what any dog people reading may suggest, do make great friends, especially if you give them a whole city’s worth of space.

There are seven cats who get almost exactly 15 minutes of fame in Kedi, and each has a name, but if you blink, you’ll miss it. They’re not always front and centre – whenever the film pulls out for a great panorama of Istanbul, or focuses specifically on its human inhabitants’ daily activities, it becomes increasingly tempting to seek out the cat in the frame (and when there’s not one immediately visible, to wonder how many must be hidden from view). It’s part of Kedi’s charm that it pulls back from anthropomorphizing its feline leads too much; their individual personalities are observed, rather than prescribed, and any attempt on the part of humans to quantify and articulate their preferred cat’s charms falls sweetly short.
rfmcdonald: (cats)
Shakespeare, and Caitians #toronto #shakespeare #cats #catsofinstagram #caturday startrek #caitians #worldsofthefederation


Shakespeare, here, is photographed in front of my copy of the venerable 1989 Star Trek reference book Worlds of the Federation, in front of the entry describing the felinoid species of Caitians introduced in the 1970s animated series.

A guy can dream, after all: Why not cats?
rfmcdonald: (cats)
Seriously Science linked to a paper, "Use of incidentally encoded memory from a single experience in cats", which suggests cats actually have very good memory compared to dogs.

“We examined whether cats could retrieve and utilize incidentally encoded information from a single past event in a simple food-exploration task previously used for dogs (Fujita et al., 2012). In Experiment 1, cats were led to four open, baited containers and allowed to eat from two of them (Exposure phase). After a 15-min delay during which the cats were absent and all containers were replaced with empty ones, the cats were unexpectedly returned to the room and allowed to explore the containers (Test phase). Although the cats’ first choice of container to visit was random, they explored containers from which they had not previously eaten for longer than those from which they did previously eat. In the Exposure phase of Experiment 2, two containers held food, one held a nonedible object, and the fourth was empty. Cats were allowed to eat from one of them. In the post-delay Test phase, the cats first visited the remaining baited-uneaten container significantly more often than chance and they spent more time exploring this container. Because the cats’ behavior in the Test phase cannot be explained by association of the container with a pleasant experience (eating), the results suggest that cats retrieved and utilized “what” and “where” information from an incidentally encoded memory from a single experience.”
rfmcdonald: (cats)
BBC's Jane Palmer reports on how cats remain strongly individualistic, despite recent pressures from humans towards greater sociability.

How hard can it really be to herd cats?

Ask Daniel Mills, professor of veterinary behavioural medicine at the University of Lincoln, UK. In a recent study, Mills and his colleague Alice Potter demonstrated that cats are more autonomous and solitary than dogs. Carrying out the research for the project was as difficult as the cat's reputation might suggest.

"They are challenging if you want them to do certain things in a certain way," says Mills. "They tend to do their own thing."

Cat owners everywhere will sympathise. But why exactly are cats so reluctant to cooperate, either with each other or with a human? Or to flip the question around, why are so many other animals – wild and domestic – willing team players?

Group living is very common in nature. Birds flock, wildebeest herd, fish school. Predators often hunt together too, of course. Even the domestic cat's relative, the lion, lives in a pride.
rfmcdonald: (cats)
Popular Science's Sarah Fecht was one of many people last month noting a proposal to restore tigers to Central Asia by importing Siberian tigers to suitable habitats in Kazakhstan. I have to admit this particular rewilding plan appeals to me: Siberian tigers are so close by, after all.

Caspian tigers once roamed all over Central Asia, ranging from modern day Turkey to northwestern China. The huge cats stalked through tall reeds and shrubbery, hunting boar and deer. But in the first half of the 1900s, hunting and poisoning decimated the subspecies, and the Soviet Union's agriculture projects drained the tiger's swampy terrain to grow cotton and other crops. Disappearing habitats and food sources had wiped the Caspian tiger off the map by the 1950s.

But Central Asia may yet get its tigers back. Scientists at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) want to reintroduce tigers to a remote area of Kazakhstan.

It's too late to save the Caspian tiger (unless we de-extinct them using genetic engineering), but the Siberian tiger, a close relative, might be able to fill the ecological hole it left behind.

"We think it's a good idea to restore this legendary animal to the habitats where it lived only 50 or 60 years ago," says Mikhail Paltsyn, a doctoral candidate at the State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Paltsyn is a member of the WWF and IUCN, and he was recently commissioned to study the restoration program.

Two factors bolster the case for the tiger's reintroduction. First, the collapse of the Soviet Union saw some of its agricultural programs abandoned, and natural habitats restored. Second, in 2009, scientists discovered that the Siberian tiger is a close relative of the extinct Caspian. A good portion of the Caspian tiger's DNA lives on in the Siberian subspecies, which might make it a suitable replacement for the extinct cat.

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