Saturday, September 14, 2019

Your cat isn’t plotting to kill you, probably (PHOTOS)

(SERGEY ZAYKOV / SHUTTERSTOCK)
Look, we’re just gonna come right out and say it: Our cat coverage hasn’t always been the most flattering. (Yes, this is the magazine that brought you “The Case Against Cats” and “How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy.”)

By THE ATLANTIC (email subscription)

But The Atlantic prides itself on being of no party or lick—errr, clique. A few weeks ago, we devoted a whole edition of this newsletter to our canine brethren. Today’s is for felines and their friends.

“Resting cat face” isn’t their fault.

Don’t confuse that vacant stare with a lack of emotion. Cats just don’t have the facial muscles that dogs do to express themselves. Just because they can’t make puppy eyes at you, doesn’t necessarily make them a psychopath. (And don’t feel the need to lick them to create a bond. Maybe just stick to normal petting.)
(GRIGORITA KO / SHUTTERSTOCK)
Domestication has been very good for cats.

Scientists examined 9,000 years’ worth of feline DNA and found that all modern domestic cats appear to have come from one of two places: Egypt or Anatolia (roughly modern Turkey). Since then, they’ve followed humans to at least six continents (and, occasionally a seventh—Antarctica).
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Whether weighing one kilogram or 300, their bodies remain surprisingly similar.

“It's famously said that a lion is just a scaled-up house cat,” one researcher told Ed Yong back in 2016. For example: their legs. As other animals get bigger, their legs tend to get stiffer to help support that extra weight. But that’s not the case with cats. Crouching tiger, hunching housecat.
(GORAN TOMASEVIC / REUTERS)
Scientists are starting to get answers about the infamous cat-poop parasite.

Toxoplasma gondii, or Toxo for short, is a single-celled organism known to grip the minds of hosts. Though Toxo can spread to other animals, including humans (though not through direct contact), it only reproduces in cats. And researchers finally figured out why.
(Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters)
Don’t be fooled by the fluff: They’re still predators.

One report estimates that cats kill billions of birds and mammals in the U.S. each year. One of the study’s authors, conservation biologist Peter Marra, thinks we should take that threat seriously and stop letting cats outside without a leash.

“It’s a lot like how we don’t let a dog outside to roam around anymore,” he told our sibling site CityLab. ”We just have to change our mindset about how we treat cats.”

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