Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Cats and genes

A cat
"called Cinnamon has made scientific history by becoming the first feline to have its DNA decoded.

The domestic cat now joins the select club of mammals whose genome has been deciphered - including dogs, chimps, rats, mice, cows and people.

The genome map is expected to shed light on both feline and human disease."

"Analysis of the cat genome sequence could also shed light on everything from evolution to the origins of feline domestication, they say.

"We can start to interpret them in terms of one of evolution’s special creations, which is also probably one of the greatest predators that ever lived," said Dr Stephen O’Brien of the US National Cancer Institute, who spearheaded the project.

Like other mammals, the cat has around 20,000 genes. By comparing its genome - the genes that build and maintain the body - to those of other mammals, researchers can study differences in biology, evolution and behaviour.

"One thing I’d like to discover is the genes for good behaviour in the cats - the genes for domestication, the things that make them not want to kill our children but play with them," he added."

Interesting, but what will explain the fact that all places are alike to cats? See this Kipling story (from Just So Stories).

Discussions - 6 Comments

That is one of the best stories. Thank you for reminding me and giving that little pleasure.

Doesn't the definition of a good cat, a well-behaved cat, depend on the role we expect them to play in our homes? Where I live, I need a good mouser. A good cat for me can live as he pleases, if he keeps the mouse population to an invisible few. My cat escapes to the wild (our back yard does qualify) to "walk by her wild lone" and I forgive her, although every escape gives my daughter fear fits.

My friends' cat fits my daughter's definition of a good cat. It is fat and is little better than a moving lap-rug. That cat has never left the house, nor tasted the blood of mouse or bird and I pity it that "good behavior" as it seems unnatural to me.

There is nothing unnatural about your friends fat cat. I assume the dog doesn't chase it up trees and the man does not throw his boots at it, so it has little reason to do anything but drink warm milk and grow fat by the fire. Remmember that but for the man or the dog it would only be the other animals who must work for sustenance, since the clever cat got himself a free-ride.

You don't know the man of that house. He might throw his boots at the cat. He is a proper man.

Yes, that cat has a very free ride and is treasured for what it doesn't do, like bring in fleas as my wilder cat does or chase birds. He doesn't catch mice, but they don't have mice. It isn't that kind of house. They do love his purring and even admire his laziness, the free-loading fur-ball.

We can't help what we love, even when it seems to do us little good.

Good news for husbands everywhere.

And wives.

"One thing I’d like to discover is the genes for good behaviour in the cats - the genes for domestication, the things that make them not want to kill our children but play with them," he added.

Well, I hope this next thought doesn't create any psychological distance between the reader and his beloved kitty, but I believe that if housecats were the size of, say, Great Danes, then I expect that they would ‘naturally’ hunt human young.

Put another way, I believe that we are more protected by the housecat’s small size coupled with its practical dining etiquette ( i.e., Don’t swallow anything larger than your head) than by whatever “good behavior” that human-guided breeding may have imposed on housecats.

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