Bird flu and cats

When I was a kid I often wondered what bizarre course of events must have led to a once fierce and proud creature ending up as the submissive love bundle that today warms its balls on old grannies’ laps everywhere. The family cat.

So it’s been domesticated you say. Sure. But what does that really mean? After all, by domesticating cats we have completely changed their behavior. And they look nothing like wild cats as well. Some have pedigrees (showcats) and others don’t (alley cats). Quite weird when you think about it. Does this qualify as “evolution” or not? And would it be possible for us to “domesticate” other animals? Like the large wild jungle cats and other animals like crocodiles, for example? Could be a lot of fun though: just imagine having a 130kg lion come over for dinner every evening! Certainly a lot more exciting than putting out a bowl of milk for that silly moggie that’s for sure!

Some cats even have an extra toe. They are called Polydactyl Cats, are no less normal than a cat with five toes on a paw, and even have their own web page.

I don’t have cats as such, but Indonesian strays often congregate outside my house. Occasionally – like every other night - they engage in noisy revelries Caligula style. But apart from that they’ve never really bothered me. At least not till I read this:

Research found H5N1 (bird flu) antibodies in 20 percent of 500 stray cats near poultry markets in four areas in Java, including Jakarta. Another case of infection was found in an area of Sumatra where there had been recent human H5N1 cases or outbreaks of the disease in poultry. The survey said the findings suggested the cats had probably been infected because they ate infected poultry.

Oh my God! I don’t believe it - if it isn’t chickens it’s cats!

So the Jakarta Governor might soon be ordering us to cull cats then as well. But nevermind. Let’s just hope that nothing goes to waste…


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