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"Warhol Cat," Paul Koudounaris

Another Cat Art Show Is Coming to L.A.

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"Warhol Cat," Paul Koudounaris

In 2014, the first-ever Cat Art Show Los Angeles brought in well-known artists like Tracey Emin to depict the wonders of the feline form. Two years later, the event is back and even more a-meow-zing than ever.

"We have asked each artist the basic question, what is the true meaning of cat for you—ally, domestic partner, enemy, frenemy, allergic reaction, or guru?” curator Susan Michals explains in a press release for Cat Art Show LA 2: The Sequel.

The artists' responses will be on display at Think Tank Gallery in downtown Los Angeles starting on March 24, with a portion of the proceeds going to Kitten Rescue. The collection will include creations by painter Mark Ryden, tattoo artist Kat Von D, illustrator Travis Lampe, and more. Michals describes the show as “a contemporary examination of the impact of cats in our lives.”

The cat makes for a particularly inspiring artistic prompt, as the first exhibition showed. Cats and humans have lived side by side for at least 9000 years, but they are not quite as domesticated as those other companion animals, dogs. Cats “seem to be constantly reevaluating the merits of our relationship, as well as their role in domestic life,” as writer Ferris Jabr observed in The New Yorker last year. Even the most dedicated cat owners sometimes doubt whether their feline pals return their affections. This rogue independence is incredibly alluring—so much so that some cat owners make upwards of six figures turning their pets into well-known personalities and memes.

The works in Cat Art Show range from tongue-in-cheek illustrations to somber photographs to intricate paintings. Witness the beauty of some serious cat art below.

"Sakura Night," Midori Furuhashi

“Gita and Patrick,” James Seward

“Jump,” Leslie Kirshhoff

"Night Out," Marc Dennis

"The Cucumber Incident," Jason Edward Davis

All images courtesy Think Tank Gallery

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This Just In
Criminal Gangs Are Smuggling Illegal Rhino Horns as Jewelry
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Valuable jewelry isn't always made from precious metals or gems. Wildlife smugglers in Africa are increasingly evading the law by disguising illegally harvested rhinoceros horns as wearable baubles and trinkets, according to a new study conducted by wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

As BBC News reports, TRAFFIC analyzed 456 wildlife seizure records—recorded between 2010 and June 2017—to trace illegal rhino horn trade routes and identify smuggling methods. In a report, the organization noted that criminals have disguised rhino horns in the past using all kinds of creative methods, including covering the parts with aluminum foil, coating them in wax, or smearing them with toothpaste or shampoo to mask the scent of decay. But as recent seizures in South Africa suggest, Chinese trafficking networks within the nation are now concealing the coveted product by shaping horns into beads, disks, bangles, necklaces, and other objects, like bowls and cups. The protrusions are also ground into powder and stored in bags along with horn bits and shavings.

"It's very worrying," Julian Rademeyer, a project leader with TRAFFIC, told BBC News. "Because if someone's walking through the airport wearing a necklace made of rhino horn, who is going to stop them? Police are looking for a piece of horn and whole horns."

Rhino horn is a hot commodity in Asia. The keratin parts have traditionally been ground up and used to make medicines for illnesses like rheumatism or cancer, although there's no scientific evidence that these treatments work. And in recent years, horn objects have become status symbols among wealthy men in countries like Vietnam.

"A large number of people prefer the powder, but there are those who use it for lucky charms,” Melville Saayman, a professor at South Africa's North-West University who studies the rhino horn trade, told ABC News. “So they would like a piece of the horn."

According to TRAFFIC, at least 1249 rhino horns—together weighing more than five tons—were seized globally between 2010 and June 2017. The majority of these rhino horn shipments originated in southern Africa, with the greatest demand coming from Vietnam and China. The product is mostly smuggled by air, but routes change and shift depending on border controls and law enforcement resources.

Conservationists warn that this booming illegal trade has led to a precipitous decline in Africa's rhinoceros population: At least 7100 of the nation's rhinos have been killed over the past decade, according to one estimate, and only around 25,000 remain today. Meanwhile, Save the Rhino International, a UK-based conservation charity, told BBC News that if current poaching trends continue, rhinos could go extinct in the wild within the next 10 years.

[h/t BBC News]

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Big Questions
Do Cats Fart?
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Certain philosophical questions can invade even the most disciplined of minds. Do aliens exist? Can a soul ever be measured? Do cats fart?

While the latter may not have weighed heavily on some of history’s great brains, it’s certainly no less deserving of an answer. And in contrast to existential queries, there’s a pretty definitive response: Yes, they do. We just don’t really hear it.

According to veterinarians who have realized their job sometimes involves answering inane questions about animals passing gas, cats have all the biological hardware necessary for a fart: a gastrointestinal system and an anus. When excess air builds up as a result of gulping breaths or gut bacteria, a pungent cloud will be released from their rear ends. Smell a kitten’s butt sometime and you’ll walk away convinced that cats fart.

The discretion, or lack of audible farts, is probably due to the fact that cats don’t gulp their food like dogs do, leading to less air accumulating in their digestive tract.

So, yes, cats do fart. But they do it with the same grace and stealth they use to approach everything else. Think about that the next time you blame the dog.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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