Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Amur Leopards Face Extinction

With only 30-35 individuals left in the wild, the Amur Leopard is the world’s most endangered cat of any size. On the brink of extinction, this beautiful cat, known by the scientific name panthera pardus orientalis, is one of the eight subspecies of leopards that range across Africa and Asia. Far only in Far Western Russia and North East China, this cat faces multiple threats, including a decrease in habitat and poaching. Though efforts are underway to save this magnificent creature, the Amur Leopard has been labeled as critically endangered by The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and success is far from assured.

Threats to the Amur Leopard

Loss of habitat can be considered to be the greatest threat to the Amur Leopard. The natural territory of these cats is limited to a stretch of land along the Russia-China border. In recent years, this area has been invaded by developers, loggers, and other humans. This drastically reduces the area in which the Amur Leopards can thrive.

Development, however, is not the only source of danger to the habitat of the Amur Leopard. Habitat loss is also due to forest fires. Some of these fires are naturally occurring, and as such are a part of nature. But a great many of these fires are started by humans, either accidentally or as a method of clearing land. This practice greatly endangers the Amur Leopard.

The decline in numbers have force wild leopards to inbreed in order to survive. Due to this, the Amur Leopards left in the wild have weaker genes than previous generations. Weaker genes mean that each leopard is more susceptible to illness and disease, leading to premature death.

The striking coat of the Amur Leopard is a prime target for poachers. Though illegal to sell, on the black market, the pelt of an adult Amur Leopard is worth a great deal of money. The financial incentive is usually all an unscrupulous poacher needs to justify the elimination of an endangered species. Add to that the local farmers, many of whom are only trying to protect their livestock, and the hunting of the Amur Leopard will quickly lead to extinction.

What is Being Done to Save the Amur Leopard?

There are approximately 300 Amur Leopards currently in captivity around the world. Most of these are located in zoos and conservation centers in North America, Europe, and Eastern Asia. For the most part, these zoos and centers are participating in breeding programs designed to increase the numbers of Amur Leopards, with the hopes of reintroducing them into the wild.

In addition to this long-term plan, there are already measures in place to attempt to protect the Amur Leopard. Anti-poaching efforts are currently underway in both Russia and China. There is also compensation offered to livestock owners who have lost members of their herds to tigers or leopards. This program has reduced the deaths of Amur Leopards due to local farmers.

Efforts are also being made to protect the habitat of the Amur Leopard. Nature reserves are being established, fire-fighting efforts have been increased, and local governments are being made aware of the consequences of developing the land the Amur Leopard needs to survive. All of this is being done in the hope of preserving the Amur Leopard for future generations.

The Amur Leopard is critically endangered. Though human activity is largely responsible for this, human intervention is necessary to the survival of this majestic species. Without this intervention, the Amur Leopard will not be around for future generations to enjoy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Difference Between Ragdolls and Ragamuffins

Ragdolls and Ragamuffins are breeds of cat that share many common traits. They are both loving and sweet, very large in size, with long silky hair. Sophisticated breeds, neither the Ragamuffin nor the Ragdoll have any known genetic health problems. They even share common origins. There are some who contend that Ragamuffins are really just a variation of the Ragdoll, and not a distinct breed at all. However, many associations and federations throughout the world accept both breeds for registration. But defining their differences remains difficult, and is best done by first looking at each individual breed.

The Ragdoll and Its Characteristics

Ragdolls are one of the largest of domesticated cat breeds, with males weighing from 15-20 pounds, though some may weigh as much as 25 pounds. These cats are very distinctive, both in coloring and personality. They are intelligent, loyal, loving, and fairly easy to handle. Their docile temperament makes them ideal companions for the elderly and small children. Some Ragdolls, though certainly not all, go limp when lifted, rather like a ragdoll. This is where the name comes from.

All Ragdolls must have blue eyes. Their coats, however, come in several different colors. Cats may be seal, flame, blue, chocolate, cream or lilac in color. Though color begins to development from eight to ten weeks, it can take up to four years for adult cats to truly mature.

Despite the variety of accepted colors, there are only three distinct patterns that are acceptable in competition. These three patterns are: Bicolor, Colorpoint, and Mitted. Any other pattern is ground for penalty or even disqualification in the show ring.

The Ragamuffin and Its Characteristics

The Ragamuffin developed from the Ragdoll. They too are large and loving, and fairly laid back. Breeders tend to focus on a sociable personality, breeding those cats which appear intelligent, sweet, playful, and people-oriented. They love to climb and scratch, and can be easily taught to fetch a favorite toy. However, they tend to have mood swings, having periods of grouchiness throughout the day. This is not to say that they do not make wonderful companions, but they certain have a personality all their own.

Ragamuffins have longer hair than Ragdolls, and their skulls tend to be slightly rounded. Also, their noses are shorter and scooped, lacking the gentle curves possessed by Ragdolls. Finally, Ragamuffins may come in a variety of colors and patterns, and may have eyes of any color, or even bicolored eyes.

Not all associations and federations accept the Ragamuffin for competition, though the Ragdoll is accepted by almost all associations throughout the world. However, the Ragamuffin is accepted by both the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) and the Cat Fanciers’ Federation (CFF), and so it is certainly a legitimate breed.

Both breeds love to play and make enjoyable companions for both young and old alike. Almost dog-like in their desire to be with people, they can be taught multiple tricks, and usually come when called. Either the Ragdoll or the Ragamuffin would make a perfect pet or show animal.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Where Can I Find Iams Cat Food Coupons?

Iams cat food is one of the most popular brands of cat food on the market. Many cats find this brand delectable, and it is nutritionally balanced. However, Iams cat food is not cheap. In fact, as cat foods go, it is on the more expensive end of the spectrum. Since many families are on a budget but still wish to feed their feline family members quality food, locating Iams cat food coupons can be a blessing. And, fortunately for these families, Iams cat food coupons are not that hard to come by.

The Iams Website

Iams, like many companies, has their own website. Joining the Iams website mailing list only takes a few minutes, and you will receive many benefits. The company often sends new members product samples and coupons of significant value. Established members receive occasional printable cat food coupons via e-mail. In addition, you can opt to receive offers via regular mail. These offers will include coupons for various products including Iams cat food.

Online Auction Sites

There are several sites that specialize in online auctions such as EBay. These sites often have bulk Iams cat food coupons available at low prices. Some sellers even offer these coupons as “Buy It Now” items, so a prospective buyer doesn’t have to bid and wait for an auction to end. Although there are many coupons available from these sites, not all of them are legitimate. Look at each listing carefully and ask questions if you are unsure prior to committing to buy. In particular, ensure that the coupons are not photocopies as photocopies are not acceptable to most retailers.

Online Coupon Sites

There are several legitimate coupon sites on the Internet. Examples include Coupons.com, MySavings.com, and RedPlum.com. Some of these are printable coupons that you print on your own printer. Others will mail you the coupons you select. These coupons can be used at most retailers. You will have to check each site often as the offers change quite frequently.

Local Sources for Iams Cat Food Coupons

Comb through your local newspapers and flyers. You will sometimes find coupons or advertised deals to help you save money on Iams cat food. Visit your local pet supply stores as they often give out free samples or coupons to customers. Inquire at these same stores as to any promotions that Iams may be having in the near future. Sometimes, there will be a booth set up at larger retailers specifically for Iams, and you can often save a great deal of money simply by visiting on the right day.

You might also want to check any bags or tins of food you currently have. Sometimes there will be coupons on the bag or tin label. There also might be coupons wrapped in plastic inside the bag. Check carefully before discarding used packaging. These coupons can be wroth quite a bit of money.

If you really want to save some money, save your coupons until the local grocery or pet store has a sale on Iams cat food. You can usually use your coupons on top of the sale to save even more. Some stores will even allow you to stack coupons, allowing for potentially more savings. However, check to make sure your store allows this before presenting your Iams cat food coupons.

With Iams cat food coupons, you can often obtain premium food at a discounted price. Found in newspapers, online, and even on cat food packaging, these coupons are of great benefit for the thrifty cat food shopper. If you are not particularly brand specific, you can also look for deals and coupons regarding Whiskas or Friskies cat food.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Facts About Teacup Cats

IIn the past few years, ‘teacup’ pets have become all the rage. Take a look at the ‘Pets for Sale’ section of your local classifieds and you’ll find ads for teacup Poodles, teacup Chihuahuas, and even teacup Yorkshire Terriers. Teacup dogs in various breeds are well accepted throughout the world. But mention the very idea of a teacup cat and you might get some odd looks.

There are varying opinions regarding teacup cats, and sometimes these opinions are strongly held indeed. There are those who are convinced that teacup cats are nothing more than a scam. Others would like to see teacup cats gain the same recognition as teacup dogs. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, there are some basic facts about teacup cats that should be explored.

Recognition of Teacup Cats

Gaining recognition for teacup cats is fraught with controversy. One of the greatest obstacles to true recognition is unscrupulous breeders. There are many breeders out there who will attempt to pass off runts and other small cats as teacups. These cats are usually unhealthy and sometimes even deformed. This practice has led some to believe that teacup cats are no more than a scam.

However, just as with teacup dogs, it is possible to breed for the gene that results in a tiny cat. In the dog world, teacup Poodles are the best example of this. A true teacup poodle has been bred down to weigh only two pounds or so. This has been accomplished to some degree with the Munchkin cat. This cat, though technically a dwarf cat, has a short cobby body and legs which are obviously shorter than the average cat. Munchkins have been recognized by the
International Cat Association (TICA) since the 1980s. If the Munchkin can be bred and eventually recognized as a legitimate breed, then it is possible that teacup cats will eventually gain recognition as well.

What is a Teacup Cat?

Munchkins, though a good example of how selective breeding for a specific mutation can be successful, are not teacup cats. Teacup cats are the result of a different mutation, one which results in a cat that while smaller, has all the proportions of a normal-sized cat. In general, a male teacup cat would weigh between three and seven pounds, where a normal cat might weigh up to seventeen pounds. Females might weigh as much as six pounds, compared to their normal-sized counterparts which might weigh in at around fourteen pounds.

The genetic mutation that results in a teacup cat is extremely rare. For this reason, the breeding of teacup cats is quite difficult and time consuming. It also has its own share of problems.

Problems With Breeding Teacup Cats

Unfortunately for teacup cats, one of the surest ways to breed for the necessary mutation is through inbreeding. This can cause a variety of health problems including neurological difficulties, cardiovascular problems, decreased life span, and many different deformities. This is very much a problem for the cats subjected to inbreeding and unethical breeders.

Critics of teacup cats will point to these unethical breeders as prime examples of why teacup cats should be banned, as the Munchkin is in some cat fanciers’ associations. And while it’s true that unscrupulous breeders are a problem, there has been some success with breeding teacup cats. In the late 1990s, several breeds were successfully reduced to teacup size, including the Persian. These kittens were studied over several years and were found to be perfectly healthy, just small. So it is possible to breed healthy teacup cats, but it’s also difficult and requires a great deal of knowledge of a particular breed.

Purchasing a Teacup Kitten

The successes are exciting, but if you’re considering purchasing a teacup kitten, be vigilant. True teacup kittens are expensive, mostly because of their rarity and the difficulties encountered when breeding them. If you find a breeder willing to part with a kitten for $50, it’s probably not a teacup kitten at all. It might be a runt, or it may even be a kitten that was deliberately deprived of certain nutrients. This can result in a tiny kitten, but the kitten will be unhealthy.

Search for a quality breeder than can explain the breeding process to you. Ask to see the parents, and their parents if available. A loving breeder who is concerned with the health and well-being of their kittens will not mind giving you a tour of their cattery. A good breeder of teacup cats will also question you about your home, your living arrangements, past and present pets you might have, and will probably want to go over basic cat care. The kitten will likely be spayed or neutered before you can take it home to protect against inappropriate breeding practices.

Though there certainly are teacup kittens available for purchase, make sure you do your homework first. Question the breeder and be suspicious of cheap prices. True teacup kittens will usually cost you anywhere from $1000 - $2000. You may be able to find one for as little as $500. Less than this, and you’re probably looking at a runt, and runts, cute as they are, are simply not teacup cats.

Teacup cats are just as affectionate and sweet as other cats. They can make excellent pets and are perfect for people with small apartments. They may be small, but they have big personalities. If you’re looking for the perfect feline companion, a teacup cat might be for you.