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Jason Donovan's wild personal update

<p>Jason Donovan has revealed that his beloved pet cat has finally returned after it went missing for almost half a year. </p> <p>The ex <em>Neighbours</em> star was devastated when his pet cat of 14 years went missing and had lost hope of getting her back, but life had other plans. </p> <p>Donovan took to Instagram to share the incredible update revealing: “After nearly 5 months missing, Pixie our 14-year-old family cat was found alive yesterday on the other side of London.”</p> <p>After months in the wild, a family had found Pixie and looked after her for the last few months before she was reunited with her owner. </p> <p>“Apparently she’d been looked after by an unknown for two months. what transpired before who knows! What an incredible feeling to know that she was well and healthy and that she’d survived what could’ve only been an extremely traumatic experience.”</p> <p>“It’s funny … before she disappeared early Jan we [Pixie and myself] really started to bond and when I left for Australia earlier this year I feared something might happen. It was just a funny feeling I had," he continued. </p> <p>"Yesterday … a miracle a phone call proving that hope, a good heart and a bit of modern technology [microchip] have brought this traumatic chapter to a happy end. Good to have you back in the hood Pixie … You have been missed.”</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C8FlRNON6PK/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C8FlRNON6PK/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Jason Donovan (@jdonofficial)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Donovan speculated that because Pixie was a very sociable cat, she might've "jumped into an Amazon van or something and got transported across town" when she was out in front of the house. </p> <p>Many fans were amazed and shared their joy with the actor. </p> <p>"That's a neighbours storyline. Taking notes from old hazza," quipped one fan. </p> <p>"How lovely ❤️ my cat Delilah went missing nearly five years ago, I still hope and pray that one day we’ll get that call," added another. </p> <p>"Wow what amazing news that after 5 months Pixie has been found and reunited with u all. Cats are such resilient amazing animals," wrote a third. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p> <p> </p>

Family & Pets

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Common mistakes pet owners make

<p>While most pet owners have the best of intentions, sometimes not everyone is aware of the mistakes they are making or the things they could be doing better. Here’s a list of common mistakes pet owners make. How many are you guilty of?</p> <p><strong>Lack of exercise</strong><br />While each breed and species is different in reference to their specific exercise needs, one thing stays the same: every animal requires daily exercise. When working out what is the correct amount for your animal, you need to look at their age, species and breed.</p> <p>And before you go thinking of daily exercise at a chore, remember this: exercise should be fun! It can include play time, walks, jogs, runs, agility training and more. Always consult with your local vet if you want to know the specific exercise guidelines for your pet.</p> <p><strong>No behavioural training</strong><br />When bringing a new animal into your home and family, adequate training is so important. Does your animal know how to take commands? It’s important to be able to teach your pet things and that they respect you.</p> <p>Remember the saying: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Well, that’s right. Investing the time to go through behavioural training from the start will help save you time and frustration in the long run.</p> <p><strong>Your pet is bored often</strong><br />Just like humans, pets too get bored. Playing games with your furry friend – such as teaching them tricks or providing them with the toys and space to do interesting things – will do wonders in ensuring their mind is constantly developed.</p> <p>If your pet is stimulated, it should stop them from destroying the house, and your things, when you’re out.</p> <p><strong>Poorly looked after teeth</strong><br />A common mistake a lot of pet owners make, is not brushing often enough – or at all – their pet’s teeth. After all, dental hygiene is one of the most important health issues animals face. The good news is this is avoidable by regularly brushing your pet’s teeth and checking on their oral hygiene.</p> <p>Anything out of the ordinary may be an indication of infection, but when caught early, can be more easily treated. So ensure you book in regular visits at the vet to check your furry friend’s mouth too.</p> <p><strong>Not enough trips to the vet</strong><br />Just as it is important for humans to go to the dentist and doctor for check-ups and shots regularly, visiting the vet and keeping up with a vaccination schedule is equally as important.</p> <p>If not more so, as pets cannot tell you when something is wrong. Booking into to see the vet every so often will ensure your pet is healthy and blossoming for years to come. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

Family & Pets

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University gives resident cat an honorary doctorate

<p>A university in the US has handed out an honorary doctorate to a surprising recipient: the resident campus cat. </p> <p>For four years, Max the cat has been a respected member of the Vermont State University, putting a smile on students' faces through his friendly demeanour. </p> <p>When Max's owner Ashley was contacted by the school and told their plans to give Max the special honour, she "thought they were crazy", but it brought a big smile to her face.</p> <p>"We live on the main entrance to campus and when my daughter started attending as a junior, she started seeing everyone and how they kind of doted on Max," Ashley told <a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/today/vermont-state-university-resident-cat-max-dow-given-honorary-doctorate-in-literature/57d96d7c-ecc5-460f-85ac-ceee24e119b5" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Today Extra</em></a>.</p> <p>"So we started an Instagram page that we keep updated with some of the photos and then I started getting tracked down by people on campus saying, 'Oh Max has been on the Dean's desk and he's been on the desk of the head of graduate studies, and he just kind of makes himself at home.'"</p> <p>Ashely said that Max's calming presence has helped many students who are stressed about their studies, or those who are feeling homesick. </p> <p>"They were just talking about how he was so helpful during finals week because everybody was picking him up and doing selfies with him and he was making everyone calmer," she said.</p> <p>"There's a real sense of community because I heard he was getting attacked by feral cats if he was on campus after 5pm, so I put up some posters and asked the students to give me a call or shoot me a text if they see him out after dark and they started arriving on our doorstep with him saying 'Hey, we brought Max home.'"</p> <p>Max was bestowed the honorary degree of "doctor of litter-ature", although will not be attending the next graduation ceremony. </p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 24px 0px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 1.333; font-size-adjust: inherit; font-kerning: inherit; font-variant-alternates: inherit; font-variant-ligatures: inherit; font-variant-numeric: inherit; font-variant-east-asian: inherit; font-variant-position: inherit; font-feature-settings: inherit; font-optical-sizing: inherit; font-variation-settings: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"><em>Image credits: Today Extra / Vermont State University </em></p>

Family & Pets

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"SHEER INSANITY": Dog owner slammed over bizarre request

<p>A cat owner was left purr-plexed after receiving a bizarre note from her neighbour about her cats. </p> <p>She took to Facebook to share the "unhinged" letter, racking up over 15,000 comments from other people who were furious on her behalf. </p> <p>"Hey neighbour! Can you please keep your cats out of the window?" the letter read. </p> <p>"They are causing my dog to sit in the window and bark all day long."</p> <p>The anonymous letter ended abruptly with: "I work from home so this is very difficult, thanks, K."</p> <p>The cat owner said  that she has three cats and two new kittens in her house, and although they occasionally sit on the window when it's a nice outside, they "do nothing but sleep." </p> <p>"We keep the windows open because we don’t have aircon yet," she added.</p> <p>The dog owner had barked up the wrong tree, as many commenters slammed them for their "entitled" behaviour. </p> <p>"Tell them to train the dog," one said, echoing the thoughts of many. </p> <p>"LMAO, you cannot stop a cat from sitting in a window. Cats will find a way, but you can absolutely do a number of things to stop a dog from barking at a window," another added. </p> <p>"This can’t be real. What a crazy neighbour," a third wrote. </p> <p> "I’m totally a dog person, but trying to make your neighbour discipline their cat for sitting in a window because you won’t discipline your dog for nuisance barking is SHEER INSANITY. I mean, what the hell?" a fellow dog owner added. </p> <p>"Train your cat not to chill in a window because training a dog not to disturb the s*** out of everyone is too hard? I can’t believe this neighbour had the nerve."</p> <p>"Imagine being so entitled that you think it’s someone else’s responsibility to control your pet’s behaviour," another wrote. </p> <p>Another person pointed out: "If ‘your dog’ is barking when they look out the window, then cover 'your window'." </p> <p><em>Image: Facebook</em></p> <p> </p>

Family & Pets

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"There's no place like home": Marcia Hines and her amazing cat share sweet message

<p>Australian music icon and <em>Australian Idol</em> judge Marcia Hines recently took to social media to express her heartfelt gratitude to those who supported her during a <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/marcia-hines-rushed-to-hospital" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recent medical incident</a>. The beloved singer and performer shared a touching message on Instagram, reflecting on the challenges she faced and the overwhelming support she received from healthcare professionals, family, friends and fans – but mostly from her amazing-looking cat, Sistah!</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C5AeYisL9Pu/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C5AeYisL9Pu/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Marcia Hines (@themarciahines)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The incident unfolded backstage at Sydney’s Coliseum Theatre just before last Sunday night’s <em>Australian Idol</em> finale. Hines, known for her vibrant presence and insightful critiques on the talent show, collapsed, prompting concerns among the show's crew and audience. As a result, she had to miss the episode, with fellow musician Guy Sebastian stepping in as a guest judge.</p> <p>Following her collapse, Hines was swiftly taken to the hospital, where she received treatment for head injuries, including stitches. Despite the setback, she was able to make a remarkable recovery <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/entertainment/tv/marcia-hines-returns-as-australian-idol-fans-cry-foul-over-upset-win" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in time to return</a> for the Grand Finale show on Monday night.</p> <p>In her Instagram post, Hines expressed profound gratitude for the exceptional care she received during her hospital stay, particularly praising Brad Ceely and the entire team at Blacktown Hospital.</p> <p>"There’s no place like home….." Hines wrote. "Especially when Sistah is here to greet me 🐾 What an action-packed week ❤️ I’ve experienced so much care and love, and none moreso than the exceptional treatment that Brad Ceely and his entire team at Blacktown Hospital gave me during my stay with them.</p> <p>"We are so fortunate to live in a country with such incredible healthcare, and the amazing facilities we have in our Western Sydney suburbs - wow! I’m so grateful to all of the hospital staff - from the tireless nurses to the wonderful administration staff. A special thanks to all of the staff at Mount Druitt Emergency Department, all of the Ambulance teams who got me safely to-and-from hospitals this weekend, and of course Dr Kit Rowe for stitching me up so nicely after my fall. Ouch lol 🤕Thank you for being you and keeping us all safe 🫶🏾</p> <p>"Thank you also to Kyle, Amy and all the team at @australianidol for your love, and also to my @greaseoztour family who I’ll be seeing soon. Thank you also to my family and friends - you’re always there when I need you most 💝"</p> <p>The response to Hines' message was overwhelmingly positive, with fans and well-wishers flooding the comments section with messages of support, encouragement and excitement for her upcoming projects. Many expressed relief at her recovery and eagerly anticipated her return to the stage, particularly in her role in <em>Grease the Musical</em>. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

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Young musician dies weeks after writing final song

<p>Cat Janice has died aged 31 with her family by her side.</p> <p>The young musician, who had a large following on TikTok, had been battling cancer since January 2022 when doctors diagnosed her with sarcoma, a rare malignant tumour. </p> <p>She was declared cancer-free on July 22 that same year, following extensive surgery, chemo and radiation therapy. </p> <p>The mum-of-one was sadly re-diagnosed with cancer in June last year and despite fighting hard in the second round of her treatments, Janice told fans in January that her cancer "won" and that she "fought hard but sarcomas are too tough".</p> <p>Janice's family have announced her passing in a statement shared to her Instagram. </p> <p>"From her childhood home and surrounded by her loving family, Catherine peacefully entered the light and love of her heavenly creator," they said. </p> <p>"We are eternally thankful for the outpouring of love that Catherine and our family have received over the past few months."</p> <p>Before she died, Janice publicly announced that all her music would be signed over to her 7-year-old son, Loren, to support him in the future. </p> <p>Just weeks before her death, she released her final song <em>Dance You Outta My Head </em> in the hope it would spread "joy and fun". </p> <p>"My last joy would be if you pre saved my song 'Dance You Outta My Head' and streamed it because all proceeds go straight to my 7-year-old boy I'm leaving behind," she said, before the song was released. </p> <p>The song went viral, and took he number one spot in several countries and the number five spot on the Apple Itunes globally.</p> <p>Her family have said that the love she received for her final song, was unbelievable parting gift she could have ever received.</p> <p>"Cat saw her music go places she never expected and rests in the peace of knowing that she will continue to provide for her son through her music. This would not have been possible without all of you."</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

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"Worth it": Insane amount woman spends to clone dead cat

<p>Kelly Anderson from Texas, US was devastated when she lost her "soulmate" cat Chai more than four years ago. </p> <p>Not long after, in what she calls "fate", Anderson decided to clone her beloved pet, a process which cost her a whopping $USD25,000 ($AUD38,000).</p> <p>"It was just one of those moments where I had been talking about cloning a few weeks before and fate kicked in," she told <em>Weekend Today</em>.</p> <p>"I remembered the conversation and decided to clone."</p> <p>The process took about four years, which is roughly twice the average time it takes to clone a pet. </p> <p>"It was not money that I had come easily to me but it was a very important process for me to do," she said.</p> <p>"It was 100 per cent worth it. The process saved my life."</p> <p>Anderson added that Belle, the successfully cloned cat, has grown to be as "bold, bossy, sassy" as Chai, and their personalities have become more alike. </p> <p>Despite the similarities, Anderson said that she doesn't set any expectations on Belle to be Chai's replacement. </p> <p>"I would still say she's very much her own cat and I treat her that way. I always try to treat them as individuals.</p> <p>"I never wanted to put expectations on Belle to be Chai. But I would say that they're very similar in a lot of ways."</p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">According to</span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> </span><em><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/business-60924936" target="_blank" rel="noopener">BBC</a>, </em>the process itself involves extracting DNA from the pet to be cloned, then injecting that into a donor egg that has had its genetic material removed. The egg then grows into an embryo before being implanted into a surrogate mother, who then gives birth to the kitten. </p> <p>Pet cloning has become an increasingly popular practice, , despite how controversial and expensive it is, with celebrities like Barbra Streisand and Simon Cowell using the process to clone their own beloved pets. </p> <p>Anderson, who decided to document her story on social media added that people have mixed reactions to the process. </p> <p>"I think there's people who are fascinated and don't even realise that we're cloning animals ... so a lot of people are learning about cloning," she said. </p> <p>"But a lot of people also have opinions. So it's a mixed bag."</p> <p><em>Images: Weekend Today</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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Are catnip and treats like it safe for cats? Here’s how they affect their minds and moods

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mia-cobb-15211">Mia Cobb</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anne-quain-12802">Anne Quain</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Cats kept indoors can <a href="https://safeandhappycats.com.au/">live a good life</a> when they get access to a variety of positive experiences. Examples include performing natural behaviours, feeling safe at home and using their full sensory capabilities, including their sense of smell.</p> <p>Plants such as catnip, cat thyme and silver vine are potent smelly stimulants that can affect cat minds and moods.</p> <p>Ever wondered if these mind-altering substances are safe gifts for our feline friends? And importantly, is it OK to provide these, or is offering catnip to a cat like offering alcohol to a child?</p> <h2>Catnip, cat thyme and silver vine, oh my!</h2> <p>Owners who are concerned about their cats feeling bored and frustrated might offer them fresh or dried catnip (<em>Nepeta cataria</em>), silver vine (<em>Actinidia polygama</em>), cat thyme (<em>Teucrium marum</em>) or other plant materials such as valerian (<em>Valeriana officinalis</em>) and Tatarian honeysuckle (<em>Lonicera tatarica</em>). These last couple <a href="https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-017-0987-6">could offer an alternative</a> if your cat doesn’t respond to catnip.</p> <p>Toys filled with the leaves or extracts of these plants can cause apparently euphoric behaviour in domestic cats (as well as big cats like leopards and jaguars). Not all cats respond this way to these smells, which is <a href="https://bmcbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12915-022-01369-1">believed to have a genetic basis</a>.</p> <h2>Are these treats safe for cats?</h2> <p>Cats have a highly developed sense of smell. Some plants release chemical compounds to deter insects or to attract predators of insects that might otherwise destroy them. This includes <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.aba0721">nepetalactone</a>, an ingredient isolated from catnip and silver vine.</p> <p>Indeed, <a href="https://www.science.org/content/article/why-cats-are-crazy-catnip">it has been argued </a> that exposure to nepetalactone leads to an increase in feel-good hormones in cats. It may also act as a <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abd9135">natural mosquito repellent</a> (note that it does not repel all mosquitoes and is not effective for flea or tick control).</p> <p>This may be why sniffing catnip, silver vine and some other plants causes cats to roll on their backs and rub their chins, cheeks and bodies on the plants. Other <a href="https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-017-0987-6">observed behaviours</a> include: licking, shaking their head while carrying plant material in their mouth, drooling, kicking the plant material with their hind feet, and a “wavelike” motion of the skin over their backs as muscles contract and relax.</p> <p>These responses <a href="https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-017-0987-6">generally don’t last long</a>, usually seconds to minutes, before cats relax or resume their normal behaviour.</p> <p>Rather than becoming addicted to these substances, cats are more likely to become habituated and desensitised, with the plants having less effect over time. When sniffed, these plants <a href="https://www.cell.com/iscience/fulltext/S2589-0042(23)01925-9">appear</a> to have <a href="https://bmcbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12915-022-01369-1">no adverse effects</a> on cats.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yNUz4zQTA1E?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Cats (and a dog!) react to the active compound in catnip and silver vine, nepetalactone.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Is it ethical to alter the minds of our cats?</h2> <p>When considering how to improve the lives of animals we care for, we tend to focus on whether the benefits outweigh the potential harms.</p> <p>Despite some marketing claims that these plants activates the brain’s opioid system, delivering a “natural high” for cats, there is no evidence these substances actually alter the minds of cats in the same way as alcohol or other drugs alter the minds of humans.</p> <p>The marketing of these cat treats as “kitty crack” or “<a href="https://www.meowijuana.com/">meowijuana</a>” and silver vine sticks as “<a href="https://www.nekopiapets.com.au/product-page/joycat-cat-cigarettes-silvervine-stick">kitty cigarettes</a>” is likely to deter some people from offering their cats <a href="https://bmcbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12915-022-01369-1">this kind of olfactory stimulation</a>.</p> <p>Unlike offering alcohol to a child, though, the evidence suggests our cats are OK when given access to these treats. These items won’t induce psychosis and won’t lead to addiction or withdrawal symptoms. And we don’t need to worry about our cats operating heavy machinery or making important decisions under the influence of mind-altering substances!</p> <p>Provided they can walk away at any time, it seems reasonable to let them opt in to a fun time.</p> <p>In fact, we harness the power of cats’ sense of smell in other ways by using <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6435919/">synthetic feline facial pheromones</a>. This can help reduce fear, anxiety and distress in cats. These substances can come in useful in settings such as multi-cat households or when moving house.</p> <h2>How to make sure your cat has the purr-fect time</h2> <p>Offering a range of smells (olfactory stimulation) is just one way to ensure your cat has a varied and interesting life. Here are some tips:</p> <ul> <li> <p>offer cats choices to interact with treats and toys – don’t force them</p> </li> <li> <p>rotate the toys and experiences on offer, so every day offers something fresh</p> </li> <li> <p>offer items that cats can scratch – scratching posts and corrugated cardboard are popular items</p> </li> <li> <p>if you are concerned your cat has swallowed part of a toy or seems unwell, check in with your vet.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Given the short-lived effects of these plant-based olfactory stimulants on cats, it is important that we <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159119301054">optimise their environment, lifestyle and interactions</a> with humans to improve their welfare. We can’t just rely on catnip or silver vine to give our cats a good life indoors – it’s really up to us!<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/214947/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mia-cobb-15211"><em>Mia Cobb</em></a><em>, Research Fellow, Animal Welfare Science Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anne-quain-12802">Anne Quain</a>, Senior Lecturer, Sydney School of Veterinary Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-catnip-and-treats-like-it-safe-for-cats-heres-how-they-affect-their-minds-and-moods-214947">original article</a>.</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Forcing people to repay welfare ‘loans’ traps them in a poverty cycle – where is the policy debate about that?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hanna-wilberg-1466649">Hanna Wilberg</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-auckland-1305">University of Auckland</a></em></p> <p>The National Party’s <a href="https://www.1news.co.nz/2023/09/26/more-sanctions-for-unemployed-beneficiaries-under-national/">pledge to apply sanctions</a> to unemployed people receiving a welfare payment, if they are “persistently” failing to meet the criteria for receiving the benefit, has attracted plenty of comment and <a href="https://www.1news.co.nz/2023/09/26/nationals-benefit-sanctions-plan-cruel-dehumanising-greens/">criticism</a>.</p> <p>Less talked about has been the party’s promise to index benefits to inflation to keep pace with the cost of living. This might at least provide some relief to those struggling to make ends meet on welfare, though is not clear how much difference it would make to the current system of indexing benefits to wages.</p> <p>In any case, this alone it is unlikely to break the cycle of poverty many find themselves in.</p> <p>One of the major drivers of this is the way the welfare system pushes some of the most vulnerable people into debt with loans for things such as school uniforms, power bills and car repairs.</p> <p>The government provides one-off grants to cover benefit shortfalls. But most of these grants are essentially loans.</p> <p>People receiving benefits are required to repay the government through weekly deductions from their normal benefits – which leaves them with even less money to survive on each week.</p> <p>With <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/pou-tiaki/132980318/auckland-mother-serves-up-cereal-for-dinner-due-to-rising-food-costs">rising costs</a>, the situation is only getting worse for many of the 351,756 New Zealanders <a href="https://figure.nz/chart/TtiUrpceJruy058e-ITw010dHsM6bvA2a">accessing one of the main benefits</a>.</p> <h2>Our whittled down welfare state</h2> <p>Broadly, there are three levels of government benefits in our current system.</p> <p>The main benefits (such as jobseeker, sole parent and supported living payment) <a href="https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/benefit-rates/benefit-rates-april-2023.html">pay a fixed weekly amount</a>. The jobseeker benefit rate is set at NZ$337.74 and sole parents receive $472.79 a week.</p> <p>Those on benefits have access to a second level of benefits – weekly supplementary benefits such as an <a href="https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/accommodation-supplement.html">accommodation supplement</a> and other allowances or tax credits.</p> <p>The third level of support is one-off discretionary payments for specific essential needs.</p> <p>Those on benefits cannot realistically make ends meet without repeated use of these one-off payments, unless they use assistance from elsewhere – such as family, charity or borrowing from loan sharks.</p> <p>This problem has been building for decades.</p> <h2>Benefits have been too low for too long</h2> <p>In the 1970s, the <a href="https://mro.massey.ac.nz/handle/10179/12967">Royal Commission on Social Security</a> declared the system should provide “a standard of living consistent with human dignity and approaching that enjoyed by the majority”.</p> <p>But Ruth Richardson’s “<a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/christchurch-life/124978983/1991-the-mother-of-all-budgets">mother of all budgets</a>” in 1991 slashed benefits. Rates never recovered and today’s <a href="https://www.1news.co.nz/2022/03/29/benefit-increases-will-still-leave-families-locked-in-poverty/">benefits are not enough to live on</a>.</p> <p>In 2018, the <a href="https://www.weag.govt.nz/">Welfare Expert Advisory Group</a> looked at how much money households need in two lifestyle scenarios: bare essentials and a minimum level of participation in the community, such as playing a sport and taking public transport.</p> <p>The main benefits plus supplementary allowances did not meet the cost of the bare essentials, let alone minimal participation.</p> <p>The Labour government has since <a href="https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/government-delivers-income-increases-over-14-million-new-zealanders">increased benefit rates</a>, meaning they are now slightly above those recommended by the advisory group. But those recommendations were made in 2019 and don’t take into account the <a href="https://www.stats.govt.nz/news/annual-inflation-at-6-0-percent">sharp rise in inflation</a> since then.</p> <p>Advocacy group <a href="https://fairerfuture.org.nz/">Fairer Future</a> published an updated assessment in 2022 – nine out of 13 types of households still can’t meet their core costs with the current benefit rates.</p> <h2>How ‘advances’ create debt traps</h2> <p>When they don’t have money for an essential need, people on benefits can receive a “special needs grant”, which doesn’t have to be repaid. But in practice, Work and Income virtually never makes this type of grant for anything except food and some other specific items, such as some health travel costs or emergency dental treatment.</p> <p>For <a href="https://www.1news.co.nz/2023/02/27/very-stressful-beneficiary-says-he-cant-afford-msd-debt/">all other essential needs</a> – such as school uniforms, car repairs, replacing essential appliances, overdue rent, power bills and tenancy bonds – a one-off payment called an “advance” is used. Advances are loans and have to be paid back.</p> <p>There are several issues with these types of loans.</p> <p>First, people on benefits are racking up thousands of dollars worth of debts to cover their essential needs. It serves to trap them in financial difficulties for the foreseeable future.</p> <p>As long as they remain on benefits or low incomes, it’s difficult to repay these debts. And the <a href="https://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2018/0032/latest/whole.html">Social Security Act 2018</a> doesn’t allow the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to waive debts.</p> <h2>Contradictory policies</h2> <p>Another problem is that people on benefits have to start repaying their debt straight away, with weekly deductions coming out of their already limited benefit.</p> <p>Each new advance results in a further weekly deduction. Often these add up to $50 a week or more. MSD policy says repayments should not add up to more than $40 a week, but that is often ignored.</p> <p>This happens because the law stipulates that each individual debt should be repaid in no more than two years, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Paying this debt off in two years often requires total deductions to be much higher than $40.</p> <p>The third issue is that one-off payments can be refused regardless of the need. That is because there are two provisions pulling in opposite directions.</p> <p>On the one hand the law says a payment should be made if not making it would cause serious hardship. But on the other hand, the law also says payments should not be made if the person already has too much debt.</p> <p>People receiving benefits and their case managers face the choice between more debt and higher repayments, or failing to meet an essential need.</p> <h2>Ways to start easing the burden</h2> <p>So what is the fix? A great deal could be achieved by just changing the policies and practices followed by Work and Income.</p> <p>Case managers have the discretion to make non-recoverable grants for non-food essential needs. These could and should be used when someone has an essential need, particularly when they already have significant debt.</p> <p>Weekly deductions for debts could also be automatically made very low.</p> <p>When it comes to changing the law, the best solution would be to make weekly benefit rates adequate to live on.</p> <p>The government could also make these benefit debts similar to student loans, with no repayments required until the person is off the benefit and their income is above a certain threshold.</p> <p>However we do it, surely it must be time to do something to fix this poverty trap.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/212528/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hanna-wilberg-1466649"><em>Hanna Wilberg</em></a><em>, Associate professor - Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-auckland-1305">University of Auckland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/forcing-people-to-repay-welfare-loans-traps-them-in-a-poverty-cycle-where-is-the-policy-debate-about-that-212528">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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The strange history of these 5 common superstitions

<p><strong>Where superstitions come from</strong></p> <p>You probably engage in many of these superstitions as second nature, but have you ever thought about where they come from?</p> <p><strong>Superstition: Black cats are bad omens</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>The backstory</em></span>: Despite centuries of royal treatment (Egyptians worshipped them; the Norse goddess Freya rode in a chariot pulled by them), cats took a big hit to their reputation in the 1200s, when Pope Gregory IX, waging a culture war on pagan symbols, damned cats as servants of Satan.</p> <p>As a result, cats – especially black ones – were killed across Europe. One unintended consequence, according to some historians: The cat-deprived continent may have allowed disease-carrying rodents to flourish and spread the bubonic plague of 1348.</p> <p>Rumours that the feline’s fangs and fur were venomous persisted, and by the witch-hunting days of the 1600s, many Puritans believed black cats to be “familiars” – supernatural demons that serve witches – and avoided them (to borrow an apt phrase) like the plague.</p> <p><strong>Superstition: Never walk under a ladder</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>The backstory</em></span>: Depending on your background, a ladder leaning against a wall can represent an honest day’s work, a textbook geometry problem, or a symbol of the Holy Trinity that, if breached, will damn your soul. That last bit is what some ancient Christians believed – that any triangle represented the Trinity, and disrupting one could summon the Evil One.</p> <p>These days, our under-ladder phobia is a smidge more practical: Avoid it because you might get beaned by falling tools, debris, or an even less lucky human.</p> <p><strong>Superstition: Break a mirror and see seven years of bad luck</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>The backstory</em></span>: Numerous ancient cultures agree: Your reflection doesn’t just reveal whether you’re having a bad hair day – it also holds a piece of your soul. To break a mirror, then, is to fracture your very essence, leaving you vulnerable to bad luck.</p> <p>So why should the sentence last seven years? Some writers cite the ancient Romans, who are said to have believed that the human body and soul fully regenerate every seven years. Any poor pleb who fractured his or her soul in the looking glass would therefore have to endure the bad karma until the soul renewed again.</p> <p><strong>Superstition: A full moon brings out the crazies</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>The backstory</em></span>: Ever wonder where the word lunatic came from? Look no further than luna, the Latin word for the moon. Many Greeks knew that the moon and its goddess, Luna, held the tides in their thrall, and Aristotle considered the human brain – the “moistest” organ – particularly susceptible to Luna’s pull.</p> <p>Ancient physician Hippocrates agreed, writing, “One who is seized with terror, fright and madness during the night is being visited by the goddess of the moon.” Today, some emergency room workers still believe the full moon means trouble.</p> <p><strong>Superstition: Say “God bless you” after a sneeze or risk something worse than a cold</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>The backstory</em></span>: You’ve probably heard the myth that a sneeze stops the heart (it doesn’t) or separates body from soul (science declines to comment there). But to explain the ritual of post-sneeze “blessing,” we can look to another pope.</p> <p>During the first recorded plague pandemic, in the sixth century, severe sneezing often portended sudden death. As a desperate precaution, Pope Gregory I supposedly asked followers to say “God bless you” every time someone sneezed. Today, it’s just polite.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/this-is-the-history-behind-these-5-common-superstitions" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Caring

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7 tips to help turn your cat into a friendly member of the family

<p><strong>How to make your cat love you</strong></p> <p>Getting a cat to be more affectionate is the yearning of many a pet owner. Some cats are antisocial when it comes to being picked up, cuddled or petted (much less sitting in a person’s lap). Other kitties are born loving this sort of attention.</p> <p>If you’re not lucky enough to have a cat who automatically seeks out your affection, trying to entice that reclusive furball to become your snuggle buddy may take some motivation and determination on your part. Your pet may never convert to a drooly lap cat, even after weeks of effort on your part, but at the very least you’ll probably strengthen your relationship with your cat.</p> <p><strong>Get the basics down</strong></p> <p>The initial stage of coaxing a cat into being more lovable is to let her recognise your positive intentions by dependably offering her good food, clean water, fun toys to play with and a litterbox that is cleaned regularly. When she’s happier, you’ll be happier, and these mutual good feelings will carry over into your relationship together.</p> <p>Spend extra time with your cat, letting her see you not as her owner but as her friend, meal provider and guardian. If she’s not coming up to you to say hi, be proactive: Walk over to her (as long as she’s not super-shy) and lavish affection on her. Once she gets used to all this attention, she might very well start seeking it out from you.</p> <p><strong>Be affectionate while feeding </strong></p> <p>While preparing her food (or making a production of opening that can of food), talk to your kitty. When she begins eating, gently stroke her a few times. This will help her associate being petted with a positive experience.</p> <p><strong>Be playful </strong></p> <p>Instead of trying to force a hug from your reluctant cat, play with her a little, maybe getting her to paw at a piece of string or chase after a laser pointer.</p> <p><strong>Try a little catnip</strong></p> <p>Bringing out a tin of catnip often brings timid felines out of their shells, and aloof cats sometimes become far friendlier under the influence of catnip.</p> <p><strong>Use the "slow blink"</strong></p> <p>Remember that using the “slow blink” as a non-verbal statement saying “I love you” will go a much longer way with your cat, versus a direct stare, which she may take as a threat.</p> <p><strong>Don't chase</strong></p> <p>Don’t try to push affection on your cat – for example, running after her. This might work with a dog, but chasing usually causes a scaredy cat to jolt off in another direction feeling victimised. And I should hope it goes without saying, but don’t punish or yell at your shy cat.</p> <p><strong>Give them a treat</strong></p> <p>Each time you share a session of tenderness with your cat, give her a treat. Let her see that this affectionate behaviour has its rewards.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/pets/7-tips-to-make-your-cat-more-friendly" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Family & Pets

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6 reasons cats need some indoor rules

<p><strong>Kitty cat behaviours</strong></p> <p>Cat behaviour is both wildly entertaining and, at times, perplexing. Even the most in-tune owner has to wonder why cats knock things over, why cats love boxes or why cats meow at people but chirp at birds and squirrels. What cat lovers do know is that kitties crave spaces with bird’s-eye views to observe their world – you know, like kitchen counters.</p> <p>But if you’re trying to keep foods toxic to cats away from your little lion, or you’re just fed up with constantly cleaning your kitchen to get rid of cat hair and little pieces of cat litter, here’s how to keep cats off counters for good.</p> <p><strong>Why do cats like to climb on counters?</strong></p> <p>It’s a curious conundrum: Why do cats hate water yet jump on kitchen counters to play with a dripping faucet? An even more puzzling question: Why do cats like to hang out on our countertops in the first place?</p> <p>“Cats are both predators and prey, so being able to survey their territory from above keeps them safe from predators and allows them to spot prey to catch,” says Samantha Bell, a cat expert with Best Friends Animal Society. That’s understandable, but domestic cats don’t have to catch their food, and they certainly don’t have to worry about predators, so why do they like to be up on the counter so much?</p> <p>“Counters are so attractive to cats because they’re up high, sturdy, right in the middle of the action and full of food,” Bell says. (Which may be one reason your cat licks you when you’re making a meal – it smells food on your hands.)</p> <p>Your actions can reinforce this counter-jumping habit. If you pet and talk to your cat while it’s on the counter, it’ll quickly learn that this is a place where it can get attention, says Dr Ragen T.S. McGowan, an animal behaviour scientist with Purina. “Many cats will jump up on the counter just to be close to human family members,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Can you train a cat to not be on your counters?</strong></p> <p>Absolutely, but there are two vital cat facts you should know when it comes to how to keep cats off counters, Bell says. To start, you can’t extinguish instinctive behaviours, like climbing high to be near the action.</p> <p>Furthermore – and this is a biggie – punishment doesn’t work. In fact, it can even cause cat anxiety and destructive behaviours. Here are a few ways you can teach your kitty to stay off your counters for good.</p> <p><strong>Remove the reward</strong></p> <p>You can train a cat to do a lot of things, and yes, staying off the counters is one of them. Here’s a critical question to ask when figuring out how to keep cats off counters: What is your cat’s reward for counter surfing?</p> <p>We know our feline friends hop on countertops to get food and attention and to socialise with humans. Maybe your cat is motivated by one or all of those factors. Or maybe it loves watching birds out the kitchen window. Whatever the case may be, you can train a cat to stay off the counters by removing rewards and positive reinforcement, McGowan says.</p> <p>Let’s say your cat is curious about the water dripping from the sink tap, likes to watch birds out the window or wants to nibble on food left on the counter. “Remove the reward by drawing the shades, fixing the tap or removing food from the countertops when possible,” says McGowan.</p> <p>And don’t fall into the trap of rewarding this bad behaviour. “For many cats, even the act of picking them up off the counter is rewarding and thus reinforces the behaviour,” says McGowan. Think about it: Your cat may rub against you while it’s on the counter and purr when you pick it up – both ways cats show affection. When you pick it up, you’re giving affection and attention and essentially telling your cat that climbing on the counter is a good way to get cuddles.</p> <p><strong>Redirect the cat's attention</strong></p> <p>Your cat may be climbing to get your attention, but before you give in and pet it, redirect its attention from the counter. “If their motivation is touch [being picked up or petted], then tossing a treat or toy and petting them only after they are on the floor can help to redirect them,” says McGowan.</p> <p>As tempting as it is, don’t pet your cat when it’s on the counter, as this can inadvertently reward the behaviour. Instead, call your cat to another part of the kitchen before giving it a treat or toy. Otherwise, McGowan says, it might learn a new trick: “If I get on the counter, Mum or Dad will throw a treat.”</p> <p>Consistently provide the rewards when your cat is not on the counter, and it’ll learn that being in other places gets it a reward, according to McGowan.</p> <p><strong>Teach it that counters are boring</strong></p> <p>It’s the old switcheroo! With this technique, you’re training your cat to choose a new place to hang out, one that’s still at the height level it prefers. Place a tall chair or stool near the counter, then reward your four-legged friend each time it sits there.</p> <p>We know what you’re thinking: This sounds counterintuitive. Won’t the cat use the barstool to jump onto the counter? “Yes, but they were getting on the counter anyway. The point is that you only reward them when they’re on the stool,” says Bell. “When you catch your cat on the stool, reward them with something of great value to them.”</p> <p>Don’t place the cat on the stool yourself. But you can lure it up to the stool by putting treats on it. If your cat jumps up on the counter during this training phase, play it cool. Remember, some cats have learned that being picked up from the counter means they’re going to get affection and cuddles. “Don’t say anything. Don’t look at them. Just quickly and gently set them on the ground,” says Bell.</p> <p>The goal is to show your cat there is nothing exciting about being on the counter. It only gets rewarded when it’s on the stool or high chair. “They learn quickly which location gets rewarded,” Bell adds.</p> <p>Granted, training takes some time and patience, but once cats realise rewards come when they’re on the barstool, you’ll have cat-free counters, Bell says. Once your pet nails the behaviour, you can stop giving it treats every time it gets on the stool. “That could cause a slot machine behaviour effect of ‘I’ll keep trying until I win,’” she says.</p> <p><strong>Set up cat-climbing alternatives</strong></p> <p>You’ve probably heard the saying “location, location, location.” It tops the wish list of most hopeful home buyers. For cats, that location is vertical. “Cats are drawn to high places to perch and survey the world, as they feel more secure from a high vantage point,” McGowan says. You can satisfy their desire for elevated living without sacrificing your clean countertops.</p> <p>For a simple and free option, Bell suggests putting a nightstand close to a dresser so your cat can easily jump to the dresser. Make it extra comfy and put a cosy blanket or cat bed on top of the dresser.</p> <p>You can give your cat a bird’s-eye view with products that put it at eye level with the action – wall shelves and bridges, window seats perfect for cat naps and cat trees with built-in scratching posts, toys and plush hideaways. Next, find the answer to a question every cat-parent has had once in their life – do cats know their names?</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/pets/6-reasons-cats-need-some-indoor-rules" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Family & Pets

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Can you lend a paw this tax time to help cats in need?

<p>With a proud reputation of caring for cats for more than 60 years, the Cat Protection Society of NSW runs Sydney’s only no-kill shelter just for cats, as well as providing feline welfare programs to help cats and the people who love them. </p> <p>Cat Protection began in 1958 as a small group of people dedicated to reducing the number of street cats and while our organisation has grown over the years, our vision remains the same; that every cat deserves a loving and responsible home.</p> <p>Over the years, Cat Protection has helped literally hundreds of thousands of cats, kittens, and people. We’ve led the way in setting the standards for best-practice feline sheltering, and our health and welfare services extend far beyond our adoption centre. And while technology means we can offer a great range of free cat care resources online, we’ve never lost our human touch and we still help thousands of people every year with advice and tips on cat care by phone or in-person, at no cost. </p> <p>Our subsidised desexing, vaccination and microchipping programs promote cat health and welfare in the community and our newest program, Adopt-a-Stray, offers a complete and affordable package for those who wish to fully welcome a street cat into their heart and home. </p> <p>What sets us apart from many other animal shelters is our holistic approach to each individual cat or human client. Cats are not given a time limit, although most are adopted within days or weeks. Every cat is individually assessed and provided with a care plan to meet their unique needs. If they need complex surgery, allergy trials or behavioural interventions our highly qualified team will work with veterinarians and specialists to ensure the cat gets everything they need to set them on the path to living their best life.</p> <p>A kind person found Snake, a four-week-old sickly orphaned kitten. In addition to cat flu, our vets identified corneal scarring in his right eye, a blocked tear duct, and an adhesion on his eyelid restricting the normal movement of his third eyelid. Treatment resolved the flu and improved his eye, but Snake will live with limited vision in that eye. This has not dampened his playfulness or zest for life.</p> <p>As well as poor physical health, orphaned kittens miss out on the important lessons of being a cat from their mum and siblings, and this can lead to behavioural issues. Where we can, we will make sure such kittens get to join a stepfamily, but in cases such as Snake’s, illness means that isn’t always possible. It is then up to our human team to work with these little ones to help them learn to navigate the world with good manners!</p> <p>In contrast, Banjo had all the behavioural benefits of his brother but alas at seven weeks of age Banjo weighed only 560 grams while his brother Clancy weighed 900 grams!  </p> <p>Banjo was diagnosed with a rare form of congenital hypothyroidism. Because his condition was diagnosed early, his prognosis is very good. He was started on a medication called Thyroxine and went back into foster care so that we could monitor his progress and adjust the dose of his medication as necessary with follow-up blood tests. After six weeks in foster care, Banjo graduated to the adoption centre. He will need to be on Thyroxine for the rest of his life, but that didn’t daunt his new family who’ve told us Banjo is now thriving in his loving forever home.</p> <p>From individualised TLC and veterinary care for every cat and kitten, to helping human clients resolve cat challenges (from furniture scratching to strata bans) and strategic research and advocacy on behalf of people and cats, Cat Protection’s impact is so much greater than our budget. </p> <p>As an independent registered charity for cats, we’re dependent on donations and bequests to do our work. We are compliant, open and transparent; on our website you can see our audited annual reports for details of what we do and what it costs.</p> <p>We have a strict “no harassment” fundraising policy which means under no circumstances will your information be sold on, and we do not employ pressure-tactics or door-to-door solicitations. </p> <p>We don’t spend money paying fundraising companies to ring you at dinner time asking for money or send you five-page long letters insisting you give more. And we never will. </p> <p>Donations are invested in helping our feline friends and nurturing the unique bond between cats and people. Your generosity will mean that we can continue to help thousands of cats and people each year.</p> <p>If you can lend a paw, please <a href="https://www.givenow.com.au/catprotectionsocietynsw" target="_blank" rel="noopener">make your tax-deductible donation here</a>! </p> <p>For general advice on cat care and everything feline, call the Cat Protection Society of NSW on 02 9557 4818 or visit <a href="https://catprotection.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">catprotection.org.au</a>  </p> <p><em>Images: Supplied.</em></p> <p><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with the <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Cat Protection Society of NSW.</span></em></p>

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Mayor chimes in on one town’s 30-year cat ban

<p dir="ltr">When residents of Halls Gap, Victoria, were first handed a cat ownership ban in 1993, they were not immediately onboard with the scheme. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, according to now-Halls Gap Community president David Witham, in the three decades since the rule was imposed, most have come around to the idea.</p> <p dir="ltr">The ban - which would see anyone caught with a feline face a fine of up to $100 - first came into effect as part of the region’s move to protect the sanctuary of the Grampians Ranges, an area also known as Gariwerd. </p> <p dir="ltr">Similar restrictions aren’t anything new in Australia, with a number of other Victorian councils having placed their own 24-hour curfews on cats, but Halls Gap’s ruling is one of only a few to go so far as to ban ownership entirely.</p> <p dir="ltr">Halls Gap is situated in the Grampians National Park, in the heart of a place that is also home to some of Australia’s most known and most threatened species. The ban served as an attempt to protect those species, which included the likes of vulnerable flora and fauna, including bandicoots and gliders.</p> <p dir="ltr">And while the ban was introduced late in 1993, and was incorporated into the Northern Grampians Shire Council’s local laws, no-one can say for certain whether or not it has had any effect.</p> <p dir="ltr">The impact of domestic cats on native wildlife is well documented, with a study previously revealing that over 340 million native animals are killed by them each and every year. </p> <p dir="ltr">And so, many believed that Halls Gap might have seen such figures drop for the area over the course of the three decades, but that was not the case. </p> <p dir="ltr">Since the restriction was introduced in 1993, no formal survey - by either local or state government - has been conducted, so any potential success remains an unknown factor.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, Mayor Kevin Ewert - who joined the council 10 years after the cat ban came into effect - told <em>ABC</em> that it “must be working”, as there weren’t many cats lingering around, and that the locals couldn’t have minded too much. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Because of the myriad of native animals that  are living [in] the Grampians, I think most people probably think it’s a good thing,” he added. </p> <p dir="ltr">But as Witham noted, the area’s signage for the ban had come under fire a number of times, with vandals setting their sights on their controversial canvases. </p> <p dir="ltr">There was still hope for the future of their ‘project’, with Witham also mentioning that “the most recent time the shire have put the cat free zone signs back up - they're still up, which is promising.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Getty, Facebook</em></p>

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The 12 smartest cat breeds that are equally cute and clever

<h2>How smart is your cat?</h2> <p>Cats are delightfully complex creatures. If we dare to sleep in a few minutes late, they paw at our faces and meow, demanding breakfast. They can be warm and affectionate yet aloof when we’ve been away from the house too long. Even some of the smartest cat breeds display unusual cat behaviour.  But there’s no need for standardised tests to verify what we already know – cats are smart! Whether they’re mixed breed or purebred, small cat breeds or large cat breeds, the reality is that there’s no one accurate way to measure the intelligence of individual cats. However, recent research gives us some compelling evidence to back up what we know in our hearts: feline intelligence is unique.</p> <p>Are you clawing to find out which cat breeds are the smartest? Do they happen to be sleek black cat breeds, gorgeous orange cat breeds or all of the above? Experts say the ones on our list stand out when it comes to their trainability, insatiable curiosity, investigative skills and puzzle-solving brain power.</p> <h2>Do cats have a high IQ?</h2> <p>Before we reveal the smartest cat breeds, let’s take a closer look at just how clever these little lions are. We know that a cat’s brain is almost as structurally complex as a human brain. Cats have around 250 million neurons (tiny information processors) in their cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that solves problems, makes decisions, decodes emotions and creates complex behaviour, like why cats purr or why cats sleep so much. (In comparison, dogs have about 429 million neurons, and humans house an average of 86 billion.) And while more neurons in the brain does equal more cognitive ability, it isn’t necessarily a good indicator of intelligence. That’s because cognition can involve other areas outside the cerebral cortex.</p> <p>So why are dogs generally thought to be smarter than cats? Is it because they have more neurons? Nerdy science aside, there are a host of theories. For starters, dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years and have been living and learning social tasks from humans longer than cats. Temperament wise, dogs are more patient and generally eager to please their humans. In contrast, cats are typically less eager to please, though some are exceptionally cooperative. They tend to be more impulsive, have far less patience and get frustrated and lose interest in something that’s boring to them.</p> <p>However, cats are highly attuned to their surroundings, and how they interact and respond is expressing intelligence, says Teresa Keiger, an all-breed judge with the Cat Fanciers’ Association. That awareness is what helped cats survive for thousands of years in the wild. “I notice that cats who were rescued from outdoor living situations tend to be more intelligent, since they’ve had to learn to think on their feet,” says veterinarian, Dr Stephanie Wolf. Whether a mixed breed or pedigree, rare cat breed or fluffy cat breed, one thing is certain: cats are smart and trainable; they just might not all be interested.</p> <h2>1. Russian blue</h2> <p>When it comes to the smartest cat breeds, the Russian blue is so clever that it’s more apt to train you than the other way around. Like an alarm, the Russian blue will wake you up to feed it breakfast and remind you when it’s dinnertime. In fact, if you’re looking for an accountability partner to maintain a strict schedule, this might be the cat for you. “This quiet breed is very attuned to its household,” says Keiger. “They’re incredibly smart, and they wait to make certain that any stranger is not a threat to safety.” Once they’ve issued your security clearance, they form a tight bond and are regarded as an affectionate cat breed with their humans – so much so that they’re known for hitching a ride on their human’s shoulders.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2">Breed overview</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">Russian blue</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Height</td> <td>25 centimetres</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>3–7 kilograms</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Life expectancy</td> <td>15–20 years</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2>Abyssinian</h2> <p>This gorgeous cat looks like it stepped out of the jungle and into your living room. From the forward-tilting ears to the large almond-shaped eyes and the stunning colours of its coat, it resembles a cougar. “Abyssinians are incredibly intelligent, good problem solvers and full of an insatiable curiosity,” says Keiger.</p> <p>Perpetually alert and busy, the Aby is happiest when patrolling its environment and playing with challenging interactive puzzle toys. “I always think of Abys as the MacGyver of cats – if they had thumbs, they’d figure out how to fix anything,” Keiger says. Intelligence aside, Abys are highly social cats and love people and other felines. Plus, they are one of the cat breeds that gets along with dogds.   Who knows? Maybe the Aby could teach your old dog a few new tricks.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2">Breed overview</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">Abyssinian</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Height</td> <td>30–40 centimetres</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>3–5 kilograms</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Life expectancy</td> <td>9–15 years</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2>3. Egyptian mau</h2> <p>The key to this exotic beauty’s happiness is sharpening its mental and physical skills. “Being able to offer enrichment is key to ensuring your cat is getting the best level of stimulation and exercise,” says veterinarian, Dr Julie Andino. That goes for all breeds, but this cat craves cat toys and activities that showcase its lightning-fast physical and mental responses. They’re so clever that they can even turn on the faucet to play in water – although we may never understand why some cats hate water when the mau wouldn’t miss an opportunity to splash their paws in it. After they’ve expended their energy figuring out the day’s puzzles, this cutie loves to snuggle up with their human.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2">Breed overview</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">Egyptian mau</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Height</td> <td>17–28 centimetres</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>4–6 kilograms</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Life expectancy</td> <td>9–13 years</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2>4. Burmese</h2> <p>One of the smartest cat breeds, the Burmese craves attention, something you can learn from its body language.  “This intelligent breed loves to entertain its resident humans so much that it often checks to make certain someone is watching,” says Keiger. They’re also known for being dog-like and enjoy a rousing game of fetch, an unusually quirky cat behaviour. And they’re adorably stubborn. “When they make up their minds that they want something, they simply don’t take no for an answer and usually figure out a way to get it.” And that includes attention from you. Burmese cats are all about give-and-take when it comes to affection, but if you’re busy and ignore them too long, they might take it upon themselves to follow you around the house, rub against your leg  or plop down on your lap and snuggle, all to remind you that you have a cat that needs some loving.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2">Breed overview</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">Burmese</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Height</td> <td>25–30 centimetres</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>4–6 kilograms</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Life expectancy</td> <td>9–13 years</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2>5. American bobtail</h2> <p>It’s one thing for the smartest cat breeds to learn new tricks, but when a cat also has emotional intelligence, that’s an impressive combo. These cute stubby-tailed felines are noted for their empathy and for providing a calming and assuring presence that’s equal to emotional support dogs. “They are also very in tune with their household and owners, offering a shoulder to cry on when needed,” says Keiger.</p> <p>They even act like dogs – playing fetch, walking on a leash and rushing to greet guests when there’s a knock on the door. Devoted companion, a lover of people and other animals, the American bobtail is an adorable and lovable companion.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2">Breed overview</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">American bobtail</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Height</td> <td>22–25 centimetres</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>3–7 kilograms</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Life expectancy</td> <td>13–15 years</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2>6. Japanese bobtail</h2> <p>The smartest cat breeds are often breeds we have never heard of before. Take the Japanese bobtail, one of the rarest cat breeds in the world. Every Japanese bobtail has its own unique tail. Yes, you read that right. No two tails are ever alike. They consider themselves family members and are always ready to help, even if that means sitting on your sitting on your laptop. “They are active, intelligent, talkative cats who delight in mischief-making,” says Keiger. They love to travel, stay in hotels and quite literally jump through hoops and over hurdles to impress you – and entertain themselves. As brain power goes, it’s that human-like personality that makes them seem so bright. “Life is never dull with a Japanese bobtail,” Keiger says.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2">Breed overview</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">Japanese bobtail</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Height</td> <td>20–23 centimetres</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>3–5 kilograms</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Life expectancy</td> <td>15–18 years</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2>7. Siamese</h2> <p>The Siamese is wicked smart and loves to learn new tricks, Dr Andino says. If you don’t provide interesting and challenging outlets to exercise its noggin, it will find its own stimulating activities, whether you approve or not. If there’s one thing that competes with utilising its brain power, it’s the love and affection it craves from humans. If this cat had a daily schedule, “get affection from human” would be a top priority. And Siamese cats will let you know by that infamous yowling. “The Siamese are very vocal and communicative with their human,” says Dr Andino. They’re likely to talk your ear off, especially if they want something. One of the smartest cat breeds, the Siamese gets along well with people of all ages, as well as other animals. Bonus: if you take any stock in choosing cats most compatible with your zodiac sign, the Siamese happens to be very compatible with Libras.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2">Breed overview</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">Siamese</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Height</td> <td>20–25 centimetres</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>3–7 kilograms</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Life expectancy</td> <td>15–20 years</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2>8. Bengal</h2> <p>The Bengal sports a jaw-dropping, highly contrasted coat of distinctive marbling – very similar to what you see on leopards and jaguars. Its striking beauty is why you should keep close tabs on your Bengal, as it’s the cat breed most often stolen. Beauty aside, this very confident and curious cat isn’t shy about asking you to play. Bengals tend to get a little set in their ways, so introducing new people and furry friends should be done at an early age, if possible. Need to lay down a few new house rules or teach it some tricks? No problem. Bengals pick those up lickety-split. Their athletic prowess is unmatched, but they need plenty of space to run, pounce, roam and jump – some even love to walk on a leash and explore the outdoors. Bengals are super sweet and often very chatty (here’s what their meows may mean) and happy to engage you in a conversation.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2">Breed overview</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">Bengal</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Height</td> <td>20–25 centimetres</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>4–7 kilograms</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Life expectancy</td> <td>12–16 years</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2>9. Korat</h2> <p>Did you know that the smartest cat breeds could also bring you good fortune? The Korat is one of Thailand’s good luck cats, and no, they don’t mind if you pet them several times a day to increase your luck! Korats are freakishly observant and will watch everything you do. Don’t be surprised if they learn how to open their own box of treats. They’re a devoted companion, an outgoing feline and enjoy having guests in the house. One reason is they love to snoop. Like the nosy houseguest who peeks in your medicine cabinet, the Korat returns the favour, sniffing and investigating your guest’s shoes, purses, coats and anything else that piques their interest. Because Korats thrive when they are around people, being alone may cause cat anxiety.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2">Breed overview</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">Korat</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Height</td> <td>23–30 centimetres</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>3–5 kilograms</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Life expectancy</td> <td>10–15 years</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2>10. Bombay</h2> <p>Bred to look like the Indian black leopard, this midnight-black kitty walks with a sway much like its wild counterpart and is equally gorgeous and clever. Bombay cats are exceptionally friendly, outgoing and lovey-dovey. Family life is their jam, including younger humans and furry siblings. “The Bombay kitty is great at being trained, and they’re very motivated to show their people what they are capable of learning,” says Dr Andino. These cats thrive with continuous education, learning new tricks and solving challenging interactive puzzles. And when the love bug hits them, watch out. They will hunt for your lap and crash there until they get enough pets and belly rubs.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2">Breed overview</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">Bombay</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Height</td> <td>23–30 centimetres</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>3–5 kilograms</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Life expectancy</td> <td>12–16 years</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2>11. Havana brown</h2> <p>The brownie, as its fans dub it, is deeply connected to humans and savours affectionate companionship. (Havana browns insist on being involved in whatever you’re doing, yet they are remarkably sensitive and use both their paws to gently touch their humans. They share DNA with the Siamese, but their meows are quieter, charming and almost flirty. They might prefer the company of one favourite human over others in the family but tend to get along with humans of all ages, as well as furry roommates. Perhaps the most interesting characteristic is how they investigate. While most felines examine things with their nose, Havana browns use both their paws to check out trinkets and treasures.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2">Breed overview</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">Havana brown</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Height</td> <td>23–28 centimetres</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>4–6 kilograms</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Life expectancy</td> <td>8–13 years</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2>12. Singapura</h2> <p>The Singapura is the smallest domestic cat breed, with a whole lot of feisty goodness in a tiny package. If those big saucer eyes and adorable face aren’t captivating enough to get your attention, you might need some catnip. And don’t let the small frame fool you. Under that fur lies a muscular and athletic body. The Singapura is a social butterfly, always looking to be the centre of attention, in the cutest, playful ways. They are the life of any party, whether they’re invited or not. Conversations with Singapuras are a pure delight as well and never get stale – you could listen to their sweet meows for hours, and they’ll love your high-pitched baby talk just as much. Keenly observant, intelligent and extroverted, these cats still act like kittens well into adulthood.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2">Breed overview</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2">Singapura</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Height</td> <td>15–20 centimetres</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>2–4 kilograms</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Life expectancy</td> <td>11–15 years</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/pets/the-12-smartest-cat-breeds-that-are-equally-cute-and-clever" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

Family & Pets

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10 greatest cats of the internet

<h2>Tardar Sauce aka Grumpy Cat</h2> <p>Look at that face: displeased with life and not impressed with the photoshoot. Grumpy Cat’s face has been the subject of a proliferation of memes, the best and most definitive simply says, NO. Incidentally that’s not what she said to Friskies cat food when they offered her the position of spokescat.</p> <h2>Sam</h2> <p>A touch more difficult to locate by name than by expression, Sam Has Eyebrows is mostly famous for his distinctive paws… Just kidding.</p> <h2>Shironeko</h2> <p>Images of Shironeko are usually of him smiling in his sleep and in a basket, which of course earned him the creative nickname, Basket Cat. You can put him down anywhere, balance anything on his head and…chill. Such a zen pet.</p> <h2>Nala</h2> <p>With over 1.5 millon Instagram followers, Nala’s antics are known the world-over. Mostly posing in bow-ties or doing her perfect OMG face, blue-eyed Nala has risen from orphan cat to sensation!</p> <h2>Colonel Meow</h2> <p>Colonel Meow doesn’t have fans he has ‘minions’. He drinks scotch, swears like a trooper, has his own news channel and has been awarded a spot in the Guinness Book of Records for his nine-inch-long fur! Unfortunately he passed in 2014 but his memory will live on the Internet forever.</p> <h2>Hamilton The Hipster Cat</h2> <p>Just look at that perfectly sculpted handlebar tash! Hamilton has the boys and girls of Shoreditch, Williamsberg, Berlin and all other hipster-hubs on their knees.</p> <h2>Scarface</h2> <p>Oh my. Scarface has seen it all and fought it all. He is now recuperating at a sanctuary after making his own calendar for Singapore’s Cat Welfare Society to help other young tomcats avoid a life of crime.</p> <h2>Maru</h2> <p>Maru is a very hard worker… The Japanese resident has released two books, starred in numerous television commercials and has littered the Internet with hundreds of stunt videos involving him testing the limits of the average cardboard box. What’s next for Maru? Probably a nap!</p> <h2>Nyan Cat</h2> <p>What’s to say about Nyan? Nyan is a poptart with the face of cat. She hurtles through time-space trailing rainbows behind her to the super-cute sounds of Japanese pop, while singing nyan-nyan-nyan (Japanese for meow). A whole industry is based around Nyan; toys, endless memes, smartphone games, oh and a clothing line.</p> <h2>Snoopy babe</h2> <p>Arguably the cutest cat on the whole of the Internet, Snoopy’s fame is rapidly soaring. I have chosen this photo simply to illustrate the cat-in-bread trend now sweeping the internet, but it does not do her justice. I urge you to seek her out.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Facebook / Instagram</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/pets/10-greatest-cats-of-the-internet" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

Family & Pets

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"Get a job": Ben Fordham slammed over interview with welfare recipient

<p>Ben Fordham has come under fire for a patronising interview with a welfare recipient, in which he tried to get the man, who is unable to work, a job live on air. </p> <p>On Wednesday morning, the 2GB radio host spoke with Jez Heywood, who is president of the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union, and has been out of work since 2017 due to several health conditions. </p> <p>Mr Heywood had recently spoken to <em>The Australian</em>, sharing his frustration about the $20-a-week increase to Jobseeker, saying he was “angry” and “annoyed” at the federal government, describing the $2.85-a-day increase as “absolutely nothing”.</p> <p>Mr Heywood's commentary on the Jobseeker budget increase caught the attention of 2GB, who invited him to speak to Fordham, saying he “wanted to see whether we can find Jez a job”.</p> <p>Fordham asked Heywood if he was looking for work, to which Heywood shared that he is looking for work, but it is hard to find a job that would be suitable given his physical and mental health barriers. </p> <p>In response, Fordham told Heywood that "there are 54,000 jobs available right now in Melbourne".</p> <p>"That’s on the Workforce Australia website. So none of those 54,000 jobs are suitable to you or you’ve applied for them and they’re just not giving you the nod?"</p> <p>Heywood said he is applying for jobs that are "suitable" for his conditions, and is hearing nothing back from prospective employers. </p> <p>Fordham said a job would seemingly fix everything for Heywood, saying, "I reckon we can help your mental health if we get you into a job."</p> <p>Heywood seemingly appreciated the help, but also said it is important for him to consider what he is able to achieve in a job given his limitations. </p> <p>The tense exchange between Fordham and Heywood continued, as Heywood voiced his concerns and limitations with working, as Fordham seemed to dismiss his worries and said everything would be fine if he simply returned to work as a graphic designer. </p> <p>After the call, Heywood took aim at Fordham on social media, slamming the host as a “coward and a bully who’s been taking potshots at welfare recipients from the safety of his cosy radio studio for years”.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">You're a dog Ben Fordham</p> <p>— Vulgar Boatman (@satisjacktion) <a href="https://twitter.com/satisjacktion/status/1658691768706269184?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 17, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">I’ve never met a dole bludger. </p> <p>I *have* met plenty of people with unresolved trauma and mental and physical illnesses (often not-yet-diagnosed), who probably LOOK like bludgers, through a telephoto lens. </p> <p>People who are doing okay WANT to be busy and to work.</p> <p>— Catherine Caine (@CatherineCaine) <a href="https://twitter.com/CatherineCaine/status/1658665436916101120?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 17, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>He stood by his opinion that the Jobseeker payment should be at least $88 a day to keep recipients above the poverty line, and condemned Fordham for “calling me a dole bludger on national radio”.</p> <p>Fordham doubled down on his condescending treatment of Mr Heywood, saying, "I just want to find you a job, Jez."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Twitter</em></p>

Money & Banking

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“Extremely difficult”: Woman forced to live in car for over two years

<p> A Queensland woman has revealed the “extremely lonely” reality of living in her car.</p> <p>Wendy lived in shared accommodation for seven years, with a weekly room rent upwards of $200 a week.</p> <p>With the rent increases showing no signs of slowing down, the 52-year-old found herself living in her car for the past two and a half years.</p> <p>She has shared some tips for those in the same boat.</p> <p>“Downsize to the bare necessities you need, with just those few little luxuries like a good coffee and the barbecues,” Wendy said.</p> <p>She allows herself some luxuries, such as a gym membership, so she can have a shower, coffee and the occasional hot dinner.</p> <p>If she can’t keep up with her gym payments, Wendy exercises until she’s warm and hops into one of the cold public showers.</p> <p>She worked in construction cleaning, but the early start and late finishes became too difficult.</p> <p>“Transforming my car into a cleaning business was, as you can imagine, a bit unhygienic,” she said.</p> <p>She relies on welfare to get by, which is “extremely hard”.</p> <p>Wendy has a storage shed to help her keep some of her belongings, but the cost of that will see an increase from $45 to $60 a week,</p> <p>“I’m now going to even be pushed out of the storage,” she said.</p> <p>Wendy can access fresh food just once a fortnight when she visits Encircle Redcliffe Neighbourhood Centre, Queensland, otherwise, she’s stuck with a 3-day time frame of storing food in her car.</p> <p>Now with winter just around the corner, she parks her car in underground car parks to shelter from the elements.</p> <p>“As soon as they see you on camera, they’re concerned about me being there,” she said.</p> <p>“So I will be kicked out of there soon too.”</p> <p>It feels as though those in power have “turned a blind eye” to the reality of the housing crisis, Wendy said.</p> <p>“There’s no help out there for us, I’ve applied for housing and been denied.”</p> <p>The extra $40 announced in the federal budget for people on welfare was “definitely not enough”, Wendy said.</p> <p>Even going to the doctor has become “extremely hard”, Wendy said, as many have stopped bulk billing, which has forced her to travel further to find those who do so.</p> <p>She’s now facing car troubles, which only furthers her challenging situation.</p> <p>“I’m only using my car if it’s really necessary,” she said.</p> <p>Aside from discomfort, Wendy confessed living out of her car was “extremely lonely”.</p> <p>“It’s intimidating when people are walking past and staring at you — you feel like an extreme oddball in this world.”</p> <p><em>Image credit: 7NEWS</em></p>

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How to decode your pet's behaviour

<p>Ever wondered if your pet is trying to tell you something? We took a closer look at the meaning of pet behaviour - you might be surprised at what we found.</p> <p>Unless your pet is Ed the horse or Lassie the dog, you've probably found yourself in a situation where you have no clue what they are trying to tell you with a particular behaviour. The way your pet pants, rolls over and runs may all have something to do with a message they're trying to send you. Whether you're wanting to become a dog whisperer or are simply interested in what certain actions your cat does mean, take a look at what these behaviours may indicate:</p> <p><strong>Chewing Furniture<br /></strong>This could be because of discomfort in their gums as their adult teeth are settling into the jawbone. Other possibilities include, attention seeking; distress at being left alone; or an unbalanced diet. It’s also quite common for chewing to indicate that your pet is bored and needs more activity in their life. Make sure you’re taking your furry friend for plenty of walks and that, where you can, you give them space to roam free outdoors.</p> <p><strong>Peeing<br /></strong>As I am sure you know, pets urinate to mark their territory, but there are also times where they can pee as a negative response to the presence of someone they don't like. Just be mindful of people that come in contact with your animal and do everything you can to ensure everyone is comfortable. If you know someone is coming over to your place that your pet doesn’t like, perhaps it is a good idea to put them outside with some food and toys.</p> <p><strong>Licking<br /></strong>Animals don’t have the use of verbal communication so there way of communicating is through actions. Licking is their way of either showing affection, or it can also sometimes be a request for food.</p> <p><strong>Smiling<br /></strong>At one point or another many pet owners have claimed to have witnessed their little friend smiling back at them. And so it turns out, they’re right. When an animal is content their muscles relax and this is most commonly observed in the face. Instead of your pet clenching its teeth together, it will relax its mouth and might even let it hang open. The eyes will appear soft and the ears straight.</p> <p><strong>Growling/hissing or making an angry sound<br /></strong>Like humans when animals make an angry sound or face, they are trying to tell you they’re uncomfortable. This could be that they are scared, trying so show dominance, want to be left alone or feel in danger. If they are showing their teeth or claws, they are presenting their weapons and sending a clear message to back off – and you should do just that. Give your pet some space. Do this slowly though. Keep your arms folded, don’t make eye contact and keep calm. Don’t walk away straight away. Wait until the situation has settled or your pet walks away first.</p> <p><strong>Standing tall<br /></strong>An animal who wants to tell the world they are in charge is going to stand tall and try to make themself as big as possible. Cats might prance around and a dog might also raise its tail over its body like a flag to make certain no one fails to see it.</p> <p><strong>Lying low<br /></strong>It makes sense that if an animal wanting to be noticed it stands tall, and that one who goes low is trying to fly under the radar. A scared or shy animal will lower its body and drop its tail. Furthermore, if it is scared to the point of feeling anxious, it may even roll onto its back. Essentially they’re saying “I’m just a little animal, don’t hurt me.”</p> <p><strong>Tail wagging<br /></strong>If you think that a quick wagging, swaying or moving tail means you have a happy pet on your hands, well, you’re not alone. But more often than not it actually translates to an animal telling you to back off. The higher the tail, the more dominance your pet is trying to display. The faster the tail is moving, the more excited your fury friend is. However, if the tail is moving in a flicking like manner, this could possibly be a sign of aggression. On the other side of it, if your pet’s tail is low and moving slowly it could be a sign they’re feeling insecure or distressed. This is when you should stop what you’re doing and spend some time with your little friend.</p> <p><strong>Staring at you<br /></strong>Big puppy dog eyes or doe cats eyes gazing at you is likely to have you gushing and thinking, “Oh, how adorable” and then you’ll probably give them a treat. As cute as they might be, they might not be looking at you lovingly and rather letting you know that they are the boss.  So you might want to think twice before rewarding them with a treat for “being the boss” – as you that would prove them right. On the other hand, pets will also stare at you when they want to know what’s happening – for instance where you’re going; where you might throw a ball or whether you’re going to offer them some of that food you’re cooking.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Family & Pets

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