22 October 2011


I fell in love with this pair of videos featuring Nora the Piano Cat. According to her owner, "this is not a trick that was taught to Nora. She began sitting at the piano at about one-year-old. She's four now. She plays only when the mood strikes her, which is usually several times a day for short periods." Here are Nora practicing and Nora the sequel. I love the expression of curiosity on her face, like "hmm, I wonder what sounds I can make now?"

Cats' eyes, like those of many creatures, have pupils which contract to a vertical slit (or horizontal, in the case of cephalopods). I find the trait fascinating, and earlier today learned the adaptive advantage for such pupils ~ for animals which may be active in dim light or darkness, the design enables them to see sharply focused full-color images. According to the article, in dim light conditions "single-focus lenses such as those in humans suffer from chromatic aberration. This means that different wavelengths [colors] of light are focused at different distances from the lens and, as a result, some colors are blurred.

" .... many animals solve this problem by using multifocal lenses. These are composed of different refractive zones in concentric rings, with each zone tuned to a different wavelength. Almost all animals with multifocal lenses have slit pupils, which help them to make the most of their unique lenses. This is because, even when contracted, a slit pupil lets an animal use the full diameter of the lens, spanning all the concentric refractive zones, allowing for all colors to be sharply focused. When round pupils, such as those in humans, constrict, they cover the outer concentric rings of the lens, preventing the focusing of certain colors."

Ya gotta love science.

Finally, check out this slide show of images showing a young mountain lion on a patio deck in Boulder, CO, sharing a mutual fascination with the household cat inside ~ separated only by a sliding glass door. Yikes. As one person commented in the space below the photos, "This is a reminder why cats should be kept inside. This kitty is alive because he has a responsible owner." My thought exactly. Not to mention all the birds, small mammals and lizards which outdoor pet cats kill when allowed to roam outside. Not to mention all the vermin and infections and injuries from fights which a pet avoids be remaining indoors. I love the romantic idea of letting my cats run free outside ~ but I also know they will live a longer, healthier life indoors. It's a tradeoff, no matter which choice an owner makes. Except in mountain lion or other predator country. Then the choice should be fairly clear.

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