Circuses remove last of the big cats from UK’s big tops.

Activists hail absence of lions and tigers from travelling shows for the first time as animal welfare victory.

Circuses have been an enduring part of popular culture since Roman times, thrilling crowds with their acrobats, clowns and exotic animals.

But as Britain’s travelling circus season gets under way, it has emerged that this year for the first time no circus will feature any performing big cats. For purists it is the end of the big top as they know it. Animal rights campaigners predict it marks the beginning of the end for the use of wild animals in the UK.

The last circus to feature performing big cats, the Great British Circus (GBC), shipped its tigers to an operator in Ireland ahead of new welfare regulations that came into force last month. Just two circuses have applied for licences to keep wild animals – featuring camels, zebras and reindeer.

It is a far cry from the Victorian era when scores of circuses with performing troupes of elephants, lions and tigers toured the country. Even as recently as the turn of the millennium some 20 circuses featured performing wild animals.

The previous government promised to outlaw their use and the coalition has said it will fulfil this pledge, although no parliamentary date for introducing the legislation has been set.

Jan Creamer, chief executive of Animal Defenders International, which campaigns against animals in circuses, said: “There has been enough evidence, enough consultations, all the experts agree – putting large cats and other exotic animals in tiny cages that fit on a truck, with no environmental enrichment, and then beating them to perform tricks to entertain people is unacceptable in modern society. The day of the animal circus is over.”

Circuses with wild animals in continental Europe and the US continue to draw large crowds.”There are good examples of trainers on the continent who look after their animals very well,” said David Jamieson, editor of King Pole, a magazine for circus fans.

“They’re doing very interesting displays. It’s not the old, old style of a man with a whip and a chair. These are sensitive displays that show the animals’ affection for humans and humans’ affection for animals.”

GBC’s tigers went to Courtney Brothers Circus in Ireland. The circus made headlines around the world last year after one of its five elephants escaped in Cork, running through a public car park and on to a road. A trainer was later crushed while attempting to break up a fight between two elephants.

Last year Bobby Roberts, owner of the Bobby Roberts Super Circus, became the first circus owner to be found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act (2006) for mistreating an elephant. A previous investigation of another circus showed tigers and lionesses being beaten.

The RSPCA, which has long campaigned for a change in the law to ban performing animals in circuses, claims that scientific research has shown that travelling circus life is likely to have a harmful effect on many species. A government consultation showed 94% of respondents supported a total ban.

There are between 25 and 30 circuses touring Britain of which only around five now feature any animals. The trend in recent years has been towards more artistic sorts of circus, such as the Cirque du Soleil, which places greater emphasis on acrobats. Its productions have filled the Royal Albert Hall for weeks at a time.

A return to circuses without wild animals would see the clock wound back to 1768 and the creation of the first modern circus which featured horses and their riders performing thrilling spectacles to sellout crowds. It was only as the British empire expanded in the 19th century that exotic animals from across the world started to be included in circus routines.

Maine Observer: Sturdy, loyal Mainers mirror official state cat.

Independent and intelligent, well adapted to harsh climates, the coon is hard to distinguish from the people around it.
My wife and I have two cats, a male and a female, named Sushi and Sake. Both were adopted from the animal shelter a dozen years ago when they were tiny kittens, so small you could hold the two of them in your cupped hands.

The male, Sushi, is a gray tabby, fat and affectionate. A lap cat. He looks exactly like a billion other cats, so common looking I dubbed him “cat ordinaire.” Sake is a more select breed. She is a Maine coon.

When our cats were small balls of fur, they were almost interchangeable. Cat 1 and Cat 2. But as Sake grew older, her distinctive Maine coon features became apparent: the long, silky fur, bushy raccoon-like tail, large paws and “chirping” voice. She also has unusually round eyes that give her face a constant “startled” expression. The superior hunter of the two, she seems to possess the instincts of a wild animal.

A little research tells us that Maine coons — our official state cat — are one of the most popular cat breeds in the world, known for their intelligence and gentle personality. Their true origins are a mystery, but one theory has their ancestors sailing to this country with the Vikings. Apparently they have a strong resemblance to the Norwegian forest cat.

Dog owners supposedly often look much like their pets. A good case can be made that Maine coons possess many fine traits for which Mainers (the human variety) are well known.

For example, Maine coons possess above-average intelligence. I find this to be true regarding most of my Maine acquaintances. Many Maine coons have a fascination with water, and I’ve hardly met a Mainer who isn’t crazy about fishing, skiing, skating or swimming, often in extreme conditions. Our state cats are known to be independent, friendly but not clingy. Can you think of a better description of a Maine native?

It seems to me that if Maine coons are one of the world’s most popular cats, they are fine ambassadors and exemplars of the Maine mystique. We are a gentle people, though strong and independent. Intelligent folk, loyal to family but cautious toward strangers. Both species are well adapted to harsh winter climates. We wear coats, caps, earmuffs, boots and mittens, while our feline counterparts have dense, water-resistant fur, snowshoe-like paws and heavily furred ears.

I find it fascinating that the most feral creature in my house is also the sweetest. Most every night Sake waits patiently for me to come to bed, like a feline lover. Of course, I want to read and she, a dutiful cat member of the “reading police,” does everything in her power to distract me from my Kindle or New Yorker magazine to pay loving attention to her, which of course I do.

How could I resist? I’ve had dogs, and they can be great pets (one even saved my life, a true Lassie story), but my heart belongs to one of Maine’s best natives.

Group of cats urgently in need of loving new home.

AN ANIMAL sanctuary has ground to a standstill until 11 cats can be rehomed.

Moggies at the RSPCA Centre near West Malling are desperately looking for homes after they contracted a virus that means they have to leave their temporary home.

They caught calicivirus, which causes mouth sores and cold-like symptoms, and only shows up in animals after they have had anaesthetics for procedures like neutering.The 11 cats who were diagnosed with the condition have now recovered and been passed well, fit and ready to be rehomed by the centre’s veterinary surgeon.

They are not a risk to other vaccinated cats.But they do need to leave the RSPCA centre, so that staff there can disinfect and deep clean the whole cattery after the outbreak.

Christine Dooley, animal centre manager, said: “We would dearly love to find these cats loving homes as at the moment we have something of a stalemate. We can’t take in new cats until we have intensively disinfected the cattery and we can’t do that until our group has gone to new homes.”
The needy animals include Depp, a grey, six-year-old cat named after film star Johnny Depp.He is sensitive, so needs structure and routine, and would prefer to be the only cat in a house.

Another needing a home is Kitty Kat, a five-year-old black cat who came to the RSPCA centre in May after she fell from a first-floor window. She lost one of her legs, but still loves chasing and playing with toys, but needs to be the only cat in her new home.

Mrs Dooley added: “By giving one of these cats a new home you will be helping so many more as we can then take in some of the many ill-treated and neglected cats which desperately need our help.”All our cats are microchipped, neutered, vet-checked and are up to date with vaccinations.”

Cat show to feature perfect, ‘not so perfect’ cats.

When Larry Hatteberg went to the Wichita Cat Fancy cat show two years ago, it was not with the intention of adopting a cat.“I hadn’t been to the cat show for years, and my grandkids wanted to go,” said Hatteberg, a journalist for KAKE-TV in Wichita.
“They loved looking at the exotic breeds” – the Persians with pushed-in faces and the round-bodied Manxes with no tails.But as they were leaving, Hatteberg noticed some cats available for adoption through local rescue groups.

“One cage had this very forlorn looking cat,” he said. “It was not friendly and was very shy. It was kind of sitting at the back of the cage. …“My heart went out, or I felt sorry for it,” Hatteberg said. “I decided to get that cat. I thought, ‘that cat needs a friend.’ ”

Most people come to the cat show to check out the picture-perfect show cats, said Mary Beth Wegerle, secretary of Wichita Cat Fancy. About 150 cats will be at this year’s show, representing 31 breeds including Persian, Maine Coon, Egyptian Mau, Sphynx and Norwegian Forest Cat.But calling attention to the “not so perfect” cats, “the ones that kind of get overlooked,” is also what the cat show is all about, Wegerle said.

Lifeline Animal Placement and Protection (LAPP) and Pals Animal Rescue will bring 15 adoptable cats to the show, which is Saturday and Sunday at the Cotillion. The show, affiliated with the Cat Fanciers’ Association, features cat judging, cat-related vendors and information about caring for feral cats.Ellen Querner, director of Pals, remembers the cat that Hatteberg adopted.

“We’d had that cat for a long time,” she said. “We brought her on the chance maybe we could adopt her. We were so thrilled when we did.”
The cat did not show well at pet stores, where Pals and LAPP take cats so adopters can meet them.“Some can’t take the stress of staying in the cage at PetSmart and having everybody walk up to them,” Querner said.

This particular cat, whom Hatteberg has named Buddy, “didn’t like everybody poking at it,” Querner said. “It would get upset and hiss after the 10th person stuck their fingers in the cage.“Cats are pretty independent. They want to pick and choose who they like, and she liked Larry Hatteberg.”

Hatteberg said Buddy took a couple of months to become completely comfortable in her new home but has become a beloved companion to him and his wife, Judy. “She’s a wonderful part of the house, a member of the family,” he said.A lot of cats don’t present their best image at pet stores or in shelters, said Adriane Meeks, a volunteer with LAPP, a no-kill shelter.

Cats that suddenly find themselves homeless, through no fault of their own, are often traumatized, she said.
“They’ve been in a home, then they’re given up and put in a shelter. Then they’re yanked out and put in a pet store in a cage with people poking and prodding,” Meeks said.

“I wish people would remember that they’re not going to be the same personality that you see in the cage” after they have been adopted into a home, she said.
Two cats that Meeks hopes will find a new home are Flour and Mocha, female Snowshoes – a rare breed with stunning blue eyes and white feet. The cats were surrendered after a divorce and have been with LAPP for 6 months to a year, she said.
“They’ve never known another environment other than the breeder’s and a home. At the pet store, they were literally shaking, they were so scared.”
Flour and Mocha are beautiful cats that enjoy attention, Meeks said. She’d like to see them adopted together because they’re sisters and “they stick together,” she said.Another cat Meeks will bring to the show is India, a petite, compact Bombay that’s “pure black with copper eyes.”
India came to LAPP with a fractured bottom jaw after she was “deliberately kicked,” Meeks said.
She’s 6 or 7 years old, a polydactyl – with six toes on each foot – and “a real sweetie,” she said. “She’s my favorite out of all the cats here.”
Between its shelter and foster homes, LAPP has about 250 cats available for adoption, Meeks said. “We have everything from Siamese to Persians to Ragdolls,” she said. Most of all, “we have an overabundance of mackerel tabbies and a lot of black cats.”
Pals Animal Rescue has 40 cats available and will bring 10 each day to the cat show, in the hopes of finding new homes for them.
“The cat show is a good place to feature some of our kitty cats that are wonderful but just not easy to show,” Querner said.
“We try to bring as many as we can to give them all a chance to be seen.”

Patch Pets: Gia is a Sweet & Shy Kitty.

Hi there! I’m Gia, and I think you’ll agree that I am quite a beautiful lady! I am an 8-year-old Mainecoon mix (did my gorgeous coat give it away?), and I am oh-so-sweet.

My previous family surrendered me to a shelter because of allergies, and I was so incredibly scared there! It’s loud and there is nowhere to get comfortable! You can’t hide and I was very stressed out. Thankfully, Young at Heart Pet Rescue took me in, and I’m starting to relax again.

When you come to meet me, you’ll notice I’m a little shy, but please don’t let that deter you from becoming my friend. I’ve been through so much, that really all I want is some love and stability again (and a soft, snuggly hiding spot while I get used to my new home!). I would be a very nice companion for a senior, as I am a four-paw declaw and am very quiet. I am not really used to other animals, but I might do ok with one other quiet kitty like me. I am really hoping that my forever home will find me soon and take me home. Please come meet me!

With a clean bill of health from the vet, I’m ready to begin the next chapter in my life. I would love to make myself comfortable in a quiet, loving home again. Why don’t you come meet me at the cat adoption center at the Lake Zurich Petco and see for yourself?

I use my litter box like a good girl, I’m spayed, vaccinated and microchipped. So fill out an adoption application today. I’d love to go home with you tomorrow!

Good thing James Plummer could tell me all about his Maine Coon cat George, because the 10-year-old purebred spent the duration of our interview in hiding – he is just not that fond of strangers.

“If you’re sitting here for a while he’ll come out and stuff, but when you first come in he’s just nervous,” Plummer explained.

George weighs 25 pounds and has the typical accordion body of a Maine Coon cat, which means he can stretch out to about 2 1/2 feet long. George’s brother, Donvan, is about a year older but considerably smaller.

The Plummer family – which includes wife Jamie and three sons, aged five to eight – also has another cat, Bagheera, a black domestic cat from the Humane Society.

Q: Where did you get George?

A: He came from a breeder in Car-stairs, Alta. They’re called Sunexotics Maine Coon Breeders, so he’s purebred. His father was the big champion and even bigger than him for that matter.

At the time, 10, 12 years ago, they were about $400 each. Today I think they’re about $1,200, because of popularity and demand.

Twelve years ago the Internet didn’t have where you can find them … I had to do a lot of research on where to find a good breeder that breeds for size, all that sort of stuff. We weren’t going to show them – a lot of people want to show cats but I just wanted him for size. Seeing who their dad was, I was pretty convinced.

Q: Why did you want this breed?

A: When I was growing up we had a Maine Coon cat that was a retired show cat. I just always wanted to get another one once I got older and had kids, just because they’re really friendly, gentle, but their size is always fun because they’re so big and people are amazed by them.

Q: How big was he as a kitten?

A: They’re average size and they don’t get full size for maybe two years.

Q: Are they typically shy or is that just George?

A: That’s just him. They’re actually more known for being overly affectionate compared to other cats. My grey one here (Donvan), he’ll be all over you. George will too but he’s got to get used to you first and then he’s extremely affectionate. … Actually, their nickname is the gentle giant.

Q: What can you tell me about this breed?

A: They call them Maine Coons because they have tufts on their ears and the joke is they crossbred with a raccoon 1,000 years ago or something, which is probably not true but that’s kind of where it comes from. They originally come from the Boston area and now they’re actually quite popular. … In a lot of commercials on TV you can tell it’s them because they have little tufts on the ears like a lynx.

Q: How did the cats adapt once you had children?

A: At first when the kids were babies, the bigger cats hid most of the time. The black one, he’s from the Humane Society, but he didn’t seem to be bothered by it at all. Even now the cats don’t come out that much when the kids are running around, but once they quiet down and sit on the couch, then (the cats) come out. It’s just they don’t seem to like noise.

Q: Do you let them out of the house?

A: No, that’s another thing in the contract (you have to sign with the breeder): You state you’re not going to let them out; they have to be an indoor cat, which I agree with anyways – I don’t think they need to be outside. They’ll live longer and have a better life and less chance of losing them.

Two Maine Coon Cats are Looking for a Home.

People for cats want to find a forever home for two Maine coon cats, Lilly and Jazzy.
This week we are featuring a pair of Maine coon girls, mom Lilly and daughter Jazzy. Maine coons are large, long-haired cats who typically have friendly, calm personalities. These girls are perfect examples of the breed.

Lilly, a brown cat with white on her face and chest, is 9 years old and Jazzy, a mostly brown cat with a small amount of white on her chest, is 8. After having been rescued by a woman who heard they were going to be put down, these good tempered cats were brought to us. Eight to nine years old is only middle aged for cats; indoor cats often live to be 15 – 20 years and we hear frequently of cats that live into their twenties. Both Lilly and Jazzy are in good health, have been spayed, and are current with their shots. These cats love to sit in laps and are super affectionate. Lilly even gives people hugs. The two girls are closely bonded. Although in a suite with other cats, they often meet to rub noses or groom each other. So we will only adopt them as a pair but their lucky adopter will be getting two wonderful cats.

The shelter is located at 44 Beagle Lane in Teaticket. Adoption hours are Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., or by appointment.

Cats left in ‘terrible state’ after being dumped in bag.

Four cats – two of them kittens – are ‘lucky to be alive’ after they were zipped up in a canvas bag and dumped in woodland in Thetford.
The cats were found by a dog walker in woodland near the Abbey Estate on Sunday.According to Jackie Nunn, re-homing officer for Breckland Cats Protection, the cats were in an ‘a terrible state’.“The bag was full of faeces and the cats were covered in it.

“They must have been there for at least a day and they hadn’t eaten for a long time,” she said.
Two of the cats are around six months old, with the remaining two around a year old. All are male.They are now being looked after by a foster carer, but are fortunate to be alive, according to Ms Nunn.

“We don’t know exactly how long they have been there but they are lucky the lady found them.“We are seeing this more and more over the last few years.“There have been some terrible cases of people moving house and leaving the cat behind.

“In one situation we had kittens dumped in a playground that weren’t even in a box,” she said.Ms Nunn added that although there is a waiting list for people to hand over unwanted cats, kittens can usually be ‘squeezed in’.The charity will be holding a re-homing event at St Cuthbert’s Church in Thetford on March 9.

CSU seeking cats with inflammatory bowel disease for study.

Colorado State University veterinarians are seeking cats with inflammatory bowel disease to take part in a six-week study that would include testing a form of stem cell therapy.

Drs. Craig and Tracy Webb, veterinarians at CSU’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, will study the animals’ mesenchymal stromal cells as a potential therapy for cats suffering from the disease. IBD is the most common cause of chronic diarrhea in cats, according to a university news release, and often requires owners to medicate their felines for life.

Cats need to be enrolled in the study for six weeks, during which they will receive stem cell/placebo injections; a therapy diet, with or without steroids; and blood draws. Funded by the nonprofit Winn Feline Foundation, the study will pay for a fasted blood sample of the Texas A&M GI panel run at the start and the end of the stem cell therapy.

Cats can be enrolled either at CSU or through their regular veterinary clinic. People interested in the study should ask their veterinarian to contact Craig Webb. Veterinarians will be reimbursed for the exam, blood draw, Texas A&M panels and shipping of the samples.

Maine Coon Prefers to be Called “Big Boned”.

Just recently, my sister-in-law was telling me about her friend’s giant cat. I was kind of thinking, it’s a cat, how big could it really be? It’s not like it’s a lion or a tiger. Well, I am here to to tell you that this cat is the biggest cat I’ve ever seen! But, don’t call Bentley “fat” he prefers “big boned.” Apparently, he’s a little sensitive.

Bentley is a Maine Coon cat. And because we are all about learning here (and cuteness, and probably pizza too) I looked up some information for you. Maine Coons are also referred to as American Longhairs. They are characterized by long, flowing coats and big bone structure (Wait! He really is big boned!). Males typically weigh between 15 and 25 pounds (Bentley is 30.5). This breed is also known for their intelligence and gentle personalities.

Tovah Martin can’t live without plants, so in the winter, she makes her garden indoors. Even when it falls to zero outside, as it did last week, there is a forest of pale green ornamental kale flowering in the east window.And the fern in her bedroom window upstairs has vigorous green fronds, loaded with spores. Meet Polypodium formosanum, the grub fern.

“Look at its caterpillar feet,” she said, parting the fronds to reveal the fat blue-green rhizomes at the base of the fern. “That’s how it creeps along the ground.”
Ms. Martin, 59, has devoted her life to houseplants — not to mention the hundreds of hardy ones outside, now in deep freeze on this little seven-acre remnant of a dairy farm. The author of a dozen books, including “The New Terrarium,” published in 2009, and her most recent, “The Unexpected Houseplant,” out last year, Ms. Martin spent 25 years tending the citrus, herbs, scented geraniums, begonias and a mind-boggling jungle of other tender plants crammed into Logee’s Greenhouses, in Danielson, Conn. The renowned growers hark back to 1900, when William G. Logee fell in love with a Ponderosa lemon tree that still grows in one of the glass houses. (Plant people go in and out of this place like squirrels in an oak woods; if you can’t find it at Logee’s, why bother to grow it?)
She brought a few favorites with her when she left in 1995, but the rest of her plants soon found their way here, like strays to a good home. Once, Ms. Martin tried to count how many plants were growing in her house. “I gave up at 200,” she said.

Most of them go out in the summer and come back in before frost. Others, like Asplenium nidus, a bird’s nest fern that thrives with a plain old philodendron (one of those plants nobody can kill) inside a terrarium made from a giant apothecary jar, are permanent indoor residents.

What strikes the eye right away is that these are not just single potted plants. Each one is flourishing inside something interesting: here, an industrial metal container; there, an ancient-looking clay pot with an unusual shape or patina; maybe some old trunk serving as an indoor window box; and even a kitchen colander (great drainage!) for succulents.
And they are grouped, with an eye for complementary shapes and textures, leaf patterns and colors, as well as their need for light. That flowering kale, for instance, whose trunks have taken on the look of palm trees, is illuminated to near transparency in that east window.

“White Peacock is the variety,” she said. “I didn’t want to let it go, so I potted it up and brought it inside. Then I watched it flower, and now I’m addicted to it.”These kale plants march in a line, in a weathered wooden window box. They share the window with a jasmine, its tendrils curving toward the light, higher up, thanks to its position on a tall Arts and Crafts plant stand in the corner of the living room.

The room looked too dark for a jasmine to bloom. (West, not east, is the best exposure for houseplants in winter.) But this jasmine was a vigorous dark green and full of buds.“It’s got a lot of windup time,” Ms. Martin said. “It probably will bloom in March.”

So how come my jasmine plants never bloom, before they shrivel up and die, inside the house?The trick, she says, is to leave the plants outside through the fall, as long as possible. They will form their buds in the cool weather; bring them inside just before frost.Granted, Ms. Martin and her plants have an advantage. They live in a converted barn connected to a 1790s cobbler shop by a glass corridor — the greenhouse, where a hundred or so potted plants bask in the full light, on a three-tiered bench painted sky blue.

The little 18th-century dairy barn was thankfully not mangled by its former owners, who turned the east side into a great room that has 30-foot ceilings and its original two-foot-wide chestnut floor boards. They also opened up the east wall with large paned windows that now look out over Ms. Martin’s extensive summer gardens (which include a shed and pasture for her goats, Flora and Beatty). But the west side of the barn, which is now the kitchen, retains its original cow-eye-level windows.
They are just the right height for Ms. Martin. “I’m the only one who doesn’t have to lean over to look out,” she said. “I’m under five feet.” (Exactly how tall she is, she won’t say.)

But the most remarkable thing about this house is the bone-chilling temperature.
Ms. Martin, toughened up by years spent living in a drafty Victorian house on the grounds of Logee’s Greenhouses, keeps the thermostat at about 55 degrees. Daytime temperatures rise above that, of course, in the sunny glass corridor, but it’s definitely cool in the other rooms, especially at night. “I’ve gotten used to it,” she said. “My sinuses won’t take anything else.”

Colder than that, and the subtropical citrus plants would drop their fragrant blossoms. One vigorous Calamondin orange was loaded with fruit the size of golf balls.But for most house plants, “temperature isn’t that critical,” Ms. Martin said. “Moisture is the issue.”

So even if you and your plants live with clanking radiators that can’t be turned off — or worse, forced hot air — high heat isn’t the killer. It’s dry air.“If you add a humidifier, that will be good for you and the plants,” she said. “They run out of moisture, and so do you.”

Divorced in 1996, Ms. Martin lives with Einstein, her Maine coon cat, who never crackles with static electricity when she pets him. As she put it, “If your cat sparks when you pet him, it’s too dry.”As for how often to water the plants, that depends on the needs of the plant. Begonias and geraniums, for example, like to dry out before a good soaking. Ferns love moisture. And succulents can be killed by too much water.

“I don’t say water once a week or once every three days, I go by the sensitivity rule,” Ms. Martin said. “Water when it’s dry.” (And dry is relative to the plant, so don’t let leaves wilt, or soil get as dry as cement.)Winter light is low, too, so most plants don’t need fertilizer.“I use fish emulsion for everything, but I stop at Thanksgiving,” Ms. Martin said.

Though, again, the sensitivity rule applies. When the leaves of her citrus and clock vine started looking pale, she started fertilizing — a half-strength solution of fish emulsion, every few days — until they greened up again.
She uses organic potting soil for most plants, adding charcoal to the mix for terrariums and grit for succulents. A reputable local source for compost is best (she uses one from McEnroe Organic Farm, in Millerton, N.Y.), because it’s more apt to be full of nutrients and microbes than a commercial blend sitting too long on the shelf.

“The Unexpected Houseplant” is full of such tips. And speaking of unexpected, Ms. Martin urges adopting almost anything (barring a large tree) as a houseplant. “I always bring a conifer in,” she said, touching the dark green filigreed needles of a little chamaecyparis in a handsome industrial pot. “It makes me feel like it’s a garden indoors.”

The trick to keeping an evergreen happy is to give it a deep container.“Or else they dry out,” she said. “The root ball is too massive.”Ms. Martin loves industrial salvage, for its rust-belt beauty and proportions.“I think this cylinder was for pouring ore or something,” she said of the container that held the little cypress. “And it has a hole in the bottom.”

The tree’s mounded shape and dark green needles set off the winding branches of two mistletoe figs planted in metal pots that once served as cemetery vases.“Even the most boring supermarket plant can look great, by giving it a smart pot,” she said. “But I don’t have anything in impractical containers.”

Forget the cutesy stuff you see in magazines, like herbs in tiny pots too small to accommodate their roots. “Watering them would be a full-time job,” she said.

So suit the plant to the pot, and then be creative with where you put it.

Ms. Martin didn’t want to throw away the Plectranthus forsteri Green on Green, a Swedish ivy with lime-green edging that cost her $3.75 a pop in the spring and thrived in two outdoor window boxes all summer. “I thought I was going to be frugal, so I dug them up and brought them in this fall,” she said. “Then I bought these pots, for $15 each from Campo de’ Fiori.”It was worth it. And the result illustrates the power of repetition.

The six plants, repotted into those elegant, slender clay pots, looked like a line of chorus girls. Their leaves cascaded over an antique garden bench by the window. “I think it must have been a crib,” Ms. Martin said. “But Bunny Williams was selling it as a garden bench at Treillage.”
The eclectic antiques shop, owned by Ms. Williams, the interior designer, and John Rosselli, has two locations in Manhattan, in the East 70s. And the couple’s annual garden fest, “Trade Secrets,” held this year on May 18 and 19, in Sharon, Conn., is a kind of elevated feeding frenzy for garden connoisseurs, plant vendors and antiques dealers.

She has found that you can learn a lot there, by keeping a low profile and your ears open. “Someone will say, ‘I wonder if deer will eat that,’ ” Ms. Martin said. “And someone from behind says, ‘They do.’ ”

She picks up many of her houseplants, however, from more lowly sources, like farm supply stores that toss unsold annuals. “I do my ‘Well, you’re going to throw these out anyway, I’ll give you—’ ” she said, and buys them for next to nothing.Other plants have been her companions for decades, like the staghorn fern that takes up about three square feet in a corner of her greenhouse. “He’s my oldest plant,” she said. “He came from Logee’s.”

Who needs curtains when you have plants? “I like the gropey, viney, tendril concept,” Ms. Martin said, standing by the passion vine curling itself around the south-facing window of her bathroom. Harriet Beecher Stowe, she said, used another plant, Bowiea volubilis, the climbing onion, as a curtain substitute. This glorious weirdo thrives at Ms. Martin’s home in the greenhouse.

But it was the bathroom that swept me away. Here, among the orchids and bromeliads, the begonias and peperomias, the aloes perched in an old red colander with blue glass electric insulators, Ms. Martin can take a bubble bath in her jungle.“I don’t know where I’d be without them, they’re so therapeutic,” she said. “It’s like this huge family.”

Free for All: Wheel of Everyday Life , Dean “Miranda” James and “2013 NCECA Biennial”.

Our suggestion for Friday, Swedish artist Gunilla Klingberg’s newly installed Wheel of Everyday Life, is at the Rice University Art Gallery. For more than a decade, Klingberg has been exploring the relationship between the commercial and the spiritual by borrowing designs from supermarket, big-box store and fast food restaurant logos to make large-scale cosmological diagrams and Buddhist mandalas. Installing these patterns across walls, floors and windows, she temporarily creates meditative spaces in public spaces of hospitals and museums.

The kaleidoscopic patterns in Everyday Life feature such familiar names as Kmart, Heinz, Target, Charmin, even Star Pizza and Fiesta, for some truly site-specific flavor. The process for making the pattern is “almost like embroidery or knitting,” Klingberg tells us, “but it’s made at the computer.” Once it’s printed on vinyl, the pattern is installed in the gallery, spreading into the foyer area and continuing up on the arched windows. “I want to emphasize the viral aspect in the work,” says Klingberg. “The fact that visitors and students literally walk on the pattern and thus become part of the Wheel of Everyday Life makes the work more significant to me.”Houston’s own master of cozy mysteries Dean James appears at Murder by the Book on Saturday to sign the latest release in his Cat in the Stacks series, Out of Circulation. James writes Cat in the Stacks under the pseudonym Miranda James, but fans are in on the secret so no one’s expecting to see Miranda. (James also writes the Wanda Nell Culpepper series under the name Jimmie Ruth Evans and Bridge Club series as Honor Hartman.) Out of Circulation features Charlie Harris, who like James in real life, is a librarian. When Harris finds a dead body in the library, he and his rescued Maine coon cat named Diesel set out to solve the mystery. Joelle Charbonneau also appears and will be signing her latest novel, Skating on the Edge.

The first word that comes to mind when taking in “2013 NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) Biennial,” — one of a trio of exhibitions at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and our suggestion for Sunday, is awesome. Held in tandem with the NCECA 47th Annual Conference, “2013 NCECA Biennial” features work by 35 chosen artists (from an applicant pool of 740) who have provided 39 works of high ceramic quality, most with an emphasis on the hands as artistic resource, and the face, or facial expression as artistic subject. Among the best of these is Beauty by Claudia Olds Goldies: a white stoneware sculpture of a curvaceous woman in her underwear.

However well-intentioned Goldies’ efforts may be, however, Beauty is ironically named; the subject does not know she is, for paired with her revealing intimates, patterned with a clever touch of graphite pencil, is the woman’s face, which wears an anxious expression, as if she has just revealed herself to a new lover and is unsure of the reception she will receive.

Maine Coon Profile

The Maine Coon is one of the most popular breeds at show tables. This shaggy feline shares its affection with the entire family, but elects a single person as its beloved owner. The breed sports four color classes: solid, tabby, tabby with white and parti-color. Patterns include the classic tabby, the mackerel tabby and the patched tabby. The Maine Coon is the second most popular breed in America and has earned the nickname, “The Gentle Giant.”

Color: The classic Maine Coon is a brown tabby or brown tabby with white, but the breed is available in virtually every hue, with the exception of chocolate and lavender colors, or pointed or ticked tabby patterns. Their eyes are golden to green, though white Maine Coons can be blue or odd-eyed.
Grooming: That long coat is deceptively easy to care for. A good combing twice a week eliminates matting and reduces shedding and hairballs. Most will endure and many actually enjoy an occasional bath when introduced to the ritual as a kitten.
Best Home: Maine Coons take it all in stride. They do well in both active and quiet households.
National Breed Club: United Maine Coon Cat Association;
Personality: Often called “gentle giants,” Maine Coons are known to accept people and activities with easy-going grace. Affectionate and social, they love to be near their owners, play fetch and can by taught to stroll on a leash.
Appearance: Maine Coons are known for their large size, with females averaging up to 16 pounds and males up to 18, with some tipping the scales at 20-plus pounds. With a long, shaggy coat that lays close to the body, a bushy long tail, tufted paw pads and large ears adorned with furry tufts and “lynx tips” on top, their build reflects the Maine Coon’s origins in the cold Northeast.

Find your perfect cat companion in CatChannel’s Cat Breed Profiles. Out of the 54 breeds on CatChannel, you can find cat personalities, cat characteristics and cat temperament all in one place. Browse by cat breed name and learn all you can about your favorite cats like Maine Coons, Siamese, Persians and more. Browse cat owners’ cat breed pictures, too, and see the candid side of cat breeds.

Your house cat has some pretty impressive cat cousins. See what wild cat species live around the world – and in your own back yard. From lions and tigers to cougars and bobcats, wild cats show us the untamed heritage of our domestic cats.

Looking for a curly-coated cat? Browse cat breed profiles and see listings for cats with curly fur such as the American Wirehair, Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, LaPerm and Selkirk Rex. Find the reason behind these cats’ curly coats and view pictures of their curly-fur cat antics.

View profiles of the top cats with long hair. Take a look at professional and reader photos of longhaired cats to get a glimpse of these beauties with long coats. Check out the Maine Coon, Himalayan, Persian, Ragdoll, Ragamuffin and more to find your perfect feline.

If shorthaired cats are up your alley, check out the profiles of cats with short hair. Abyssinians, American Shorhairs, Domestic Shorthairs, Exotic Shorthairs, Pixiebobs and Siamese are all on display. CatChannel also offers a profile of the cat with the shortest hair – the hairless cat the Sphynx

National Feral Cat Day, Oct. 16, was established by stray and feral cat advocates Alley Cat Allies to raise education and support for humane and effective policies that protect feral cats.

“Alley Cat Allies launched National Feral Cat Day in 2001 to raise awareness about feral cats, promote Trap-Neuter-Return, and recognize the millions of compassionate citizens who care for cats,” said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. “On National Feral Cat Day and all year round, people all across the country work to draw attention to the cause and press their local leaders for humane policies for feral cats. This is truly a national movement.”

Feral cats are not socialized to people and are less adoptable, so feral cats taken to animal shelters are almost always killed. Being killed in an animal shelter remains the leading documented cause of death for cats, Robinson said. TNR ends the breeding cycle and stabilizes the population, halting further deaths.

“There is much more work to do to educate our neighbors and leaders about the need to launch humane programs that really work for our communities,” she said.

Robinson noted that the United States is responding to this need. This year’s National Feral Cat Day will see 250 events in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, including spay/neuter drives, community celebrations and workshops that educate neighbors about the best and most humane ways to help cats in the community.

For the first time, Alley Cat Allies also gave awards to a number of local nonprofits across the country for the most creative and innovative community programs, including five “National Feral Cat Day Superstars,” who were awarded $1,000 each for their unique life-saving programs.

A full listing of national events, as well as more information about how people can get involved on National Feral Cat Day, is available here. Posters, T-shirts and other fun NFCD-themed items are also available.

General: The Maine Coon is a working cat, muscular, solid, medium to large in size with the look of the wild.  This cat is a result of natural evolution, capable of surviving a harsh climate with little or no human assistance.  Thus, this cat may be reserved initially toward strange people and new situations, yet the Maine Coon does have an amiable disposition.  Males may be larger, females are usually smaller.  Females should not be penalized because of this size difference.  Allowance should be made for slow maturation, as a Maine Coon does not achieve ultimate type until three to four years of age.  Type must not be sacrificed for size, or size for type.


Shape: The head is medium in width and slightly longer than wide with allowance for broadening and jowls in males.  Muzzle is square when viewed from any angle.  Cheek bones are high.  Chin must be firm and in line with nose and upper lip.  Profile: The nose is slightly concave with no break. Ears: Large, tall, wide at base, tapering to appear pointed, with lynx-like tipping and inner tufts extending beyond the outer edge of the ears.  They are set high on the head, the distance between them being equal to the width of an ear at its base.
Eyes: Large, round, wide-set, with a slightly oblique setting.  Eye color may be shades of green, gold or amber.  Clarity of color is desired.  There is no relationship between eye color and coat color, except in solid white cats, which may be blue-eyed, amber-eyed, green-eyed or odd-eyed.

Body and Tail:

Body: Medium to large in size, muscular and broad chested.  The body should be long with all parts proportioned to create a rectangular appearance.  Neck medium to long; may be thick and muscular in older males.  The body should feel solid, with firm muscle and no flabbiness.  When viewed from the rear, there is a definite squareness to the rump.  Legs/Feet: Sturdily boned, wide-set, medium in length, in proportion to the body.  Feet large, round and well tufted underneath and between the pads.  Tail: Long, at least the length of the body, wide at the base and tapering to the tip.


Length: Coat is uneven in length and markedly subject to seasonal variation.  Fur on head, neck and shoulders is short, becoming gradually longer along the back toward the tail and down the sides toward the belly.  Britches and belly fur are full and shaggy.  The coat flows smoothly down the body, continuing in the same manner on the tail.  There is a frontal ruff, generally heavier on males than females.  The tail is heavy furred, long and flowing, but it is not bushy as is a fox’s brush.  Texture: More or less self maintaining, the coat is warm with a light density undercoat covered by a water proof outer coat.  The coat is not fluffy.  Coat texture may vary with coat color.


White trim around the chin and lip line allowed except in solid color cats.


There is no point score for condition as such.  Flabbiness, obesity, emaciation, dull coat, evidence of illness, or any other indication that the cat is not in good physical condition or has not had proper grooming are faults and should be penalized under the appropriate heading constituting the point score.

NY offers remote play dates with Maine Coon Cats

Animal enthusiasts using a computer can now play with cats and Maine Coon kittens in a far-away shelter in New York.

Innovative software allows users to operate remote-controlled robotic toys to entertain Maine Coon Cats that are up for adoption.

Cat lovers can log onto Bideawee, the New York animal welfare organisation’s website (

), and choose the ‘Kitty Play Date’ option. They are then launched into real-time interaction with cats that are housed in one of Bideawee’s rooms.

Users can watch cats jump, pounce and grab at the toys that are wired to respond instantaneously to remote commands.It is all thanks to the iPet Companion kit which installs robotic pet toys in the same room as the Maine Coon Cats and which provides a simple software which enables control of the toys through a web browser.

Leslie Granger, the Vice President for Development at Bideawee says, ‘the difference between playing with a Maine Coon Cats in the same room and playing remotely is number one: it’s a unique experience. Not everybody has ever played with a cat remotely and moved toys around. But also it’s something that I can do from anywhere and people can do from anywhere. They can do it from all over the world; they can play with the cats at Bideawee in New York. So it’s a great experience.’

Each user is allowed two minutes of play but there is no limit to how many times you can log in for a play date.

Bideawee claims that more than 2,000 users from as far away as Asia have logged in to play with the cats since it was launched just over a week ago.

As with many breeds of cats, the origin of the Maine Coons, in fact, is unknown. Rather, they appeared in the crossing of domesticated shorthaired and longhaired cats brought by traders from Asia Minor in Maine and other parts of New England at a time when registration of cats is not conducted. Maybe that in those days Maine Coon lived in freedom and has their name from the appearance and habits, resembling raccoons. Both are distinguished by a long fur, as well as inter-breed cats are not uncommon color with tabby pattern, similar to a raccoon amplified. But any old registration data does not exist; Maine Coons to the end of the XIX century have been widespread in the eastern U.S. states. Many Maine Coons participated in the first New York exhibition of cats (1860) and it Maine Coon raccoon won the title Best in Show at Madison Square Garden’s in New York in 1895. Shortly thereafter, however, interest in the breed almost died out until the formation in 1953 club Maine coon, contributed to the revival of interest in him and the organization of regular exhibitions of cats that breed. Maine coon long gone beyond the limits of the state, which gave it a name. It is well known and bred now everywhere in the United States and even in Europe. If try to reduce to a pair of phrases, the oldest history of breeds of cats, probably, most of them would sound like this: the first representatives of the breed were found in England (in France) were then exported to the United States, where for many years breeders “have made the modern face of the rock. Cat, of which we speak today, is something quite different. This is a real Native American cat. “Raccoon cat from the state of Maine – has long lived on farms and in its responsibility to fight with great rodents,” Raccoon cat from the State of Maine “- the first cat that was presented at the Cat Show in the United States in the late 19 v. On first exhibition in Boston in January 1878 were submitted more than a dozen representatives of this breed, called in the publications of that time not only as “gentle giants”. Letter from Mrs Jackie Bdzhonness (Mrs. Jack Bjonness) to Mrs. Rhode Ldzhostad (Mrs. Rod Ljostad) describes a Maine Coon that time as follows: “snout more elongated than the domestic shorthair cat, the length of hair – about twice shorter than that Persian. High end tufted ears, like the ears lynx. The cat is high on the legs, not compact, like a Persian, but no one will dare to call Maine Coon slim. They are extremely tough…. “Since that time, started the” official “history of the breed, which is described in detail in numerous publications. The earlier history of the breed is shrouded in mystery. Cats got on the American continent for a long time with the first ships from Europe. They are the descendants of those same ships cat that catches mice without which did not go to see any ship. In what century it was exactly – can only guess. Was it a cat or cat’s settlers, escaped after a shipwreck and feral – is anyone’s guess. History of cats in this case is closely intertwined with the history of the development of America.

Incredible, but still many are inclined to believe that those same cats, arriving on the American continent, clashed with the North American lynx («forcible argument in favor of the versions are known to everybody tassels on the ears), or even a raccoon (in favor of this version is part of the name “Coon» (rac (c) oon; coon), which means “raccoon” and coat color, the color of raccoon fur. A version is extremely romantic and attractive, but has no ground under its feet because of species differences and the impossibility inters specific crosses. The second riddle breed Maine coon – long hair. As is known, the ships traveled mostly short-haired cats, woolly same adorn palaces and luxury. One legend tells that the breed Maine Coon is obliged to Marie-Antoinette. Captain Samuel was trying hard to prepare escape beleaguered queen of France in 1793. A ship full of things that the queen, known admirer of luxury, considered it necessary to seize the road: luxury furniture, costly gadgets and six beloved cat’s queen. But fate decreed otherwise. Escape failed, the Queen was executed and the captain was forced to flee for fear of persecution. This luxury cat disgraced Queen came to the Americas, where they found a new home and were taken into the society shorthair cat that arrived on the continent before. Another, but not the least bit romantic version tells us that there once was an English captain, who has the nickname “Raccoon” and the well-known fact that he adored cats and not to cruise without his purring suite. On his ship inhabited by a lot of expensive cats, especially Persian and Angora. The captain traveled to the shores of America. People, who fell into the hands of kittens with this ship, understandably said “these kittens breed Maine Coon. This is a legend, but in general we can say that the appearance of long-haired cats in the Americas due to the economic development of America. The first settlers were very poor and they were, of course, accompanied by short-haired cats. With the development of the country, it becomes attractive to a growing number of very wealthy people, and their companions to the shores of New England are long-haired cats. It is their descendants began to render habitable the east coast and, of course, survived the stronger and more adapted individuals.