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Sämpy via Facebook
Sämpy via Facebook

10 International Cat Celebrities

Sämpy via Facebook
Sämpy via Facebook

There are few places around the world where people don’t love cats. And what’s not to like? They are cute, cuddly, funny, and they keep vermin away from your home. Some cats even rise above the fray and become famous in places far and wide. Meet some cats who are tops in their native lands and around the globe.

1. GLI // TURKEY

Mike Powell and Juergen Horn via Daily Cat Istanbul

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was built as a Greek Orthodox church, then was converted into a mosque, and is now a museum visited by people from all over the world. Several cats live at the museum, but the most famous and friendly is a cross-eyed cat named Gli. Gli is glad to meet and have his picture taken with tourists and diplomats alike. See a gallery of pictures of Gli at the blog Hagia Sophia Cat.

2. FAMOUSNIKI // RUSSIA

It is now easier to write comments!

A photo posted by Famous Niki (@famousniki) on

 
A Russian cat named Niki became famous for his habit of sitting like a human, and after pictures of the cat became so popular online, owner Victoria Virta gave Niki his own Instagram gallery and Facebook page. Now known as FamousNiki, the Scottish fold is also noted for his ability to rise up on his back legs and his amusing facial expressions. He has been featured in ads for several products in Russia, and will soon be the subject of a book.

3. JESPER // NORWAY

 
Jesper is an adventurous cat who enjoys the great outdoors around Hedmark, Norway. He enjoys hiking, fishing, camping, flying, and posing for pictures. But Jesper became famous worldwide for going cross-country skiing with his owner Aina Stormo. Jesper doesn’t wear skis himself, but can keep up with a skier by running alongside them. He also knows that if he ever gets tired, he can always ride on Stormo’s shoulders.

Jesper has his own website and Facebook page, both in Norwegian, and a book coming out this fall.

4. SCARFACE // SINGAPORE

I Am Scarface via Facebook

Scarface was a feral cat living (and fighting) on the streets of Singapore until 2012, when he was trapped by cat behaviorist Rebecca Ho. The Cat Welfare Society tended to Scarface’s wounds and Ho set out to domesticate him. He now lives at the Society’s cattery, where he helps care for the younger kittens, and lends his image to help raise funds for the shelter. Scarface’s Facebook page has amusing captions for his photos and videos, like this:

Scar had one true love affair and that was with the Durian. Nobody will ever know if his nose was broken or his brain's sensory receptors fried, but no one got between Scar and his durian.

Scarface says his goals in life are to eat and to scare the dog.

5. SÄMPY // FINLAND

Sämpy via Facebook

Sämpy lives in Kalime, Finland, where he runs free in the forests and meadows and lives to get a bite of butter from his “secretary,” who follows him around with a camera. Sämpy’s Facebook page is full of pictures showing him having fun with his sisters Nelli and Elmer.

6. BROTHER CREAM // HONG KONG

 
Brother Cream’s full name is Tsim Tung Brother Cream. The British shorthair was a well-known employee at a convenience store in Hong Kong, but achieved stardom after he was catnapped in 2012. Local fans posted notices and searched for the cat, and Brother Cream was found 26 days later and three pounds lighter. Brother Cream rejoined his partner Miu Miu (Sister Cream) at the store and enjoyed his growing celebrity. The cats became so famous that their owner Ko Chee-shing had to enforce rest times for them because they had so many visitors. The cat has “authored” two books, appeared in advertisements, and graces many products sold through his website.

Brother Cream retired to Ko Chee-shing’s home in 2016, when the store closed. You can keep up with his activities through his Facebook page

7. SNOOPY // CHINA

這張萌到麻麻了..cuteness overload #snoopy #neko #kittiesofinstagram #catsofinstagram

A photo posted by SNOOPY·babe (@snoopybabe) on

 
Snoopy is an exotic shorthair cat who lives in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. As a show cat, Snoopy's owner shared numerous pictures of him on Weibo—China’s premiere social media site—in 2012. He was an instant viral sensation! An Instagram gallery and a Tumblr blog introduced the cute cat to the rest of the world. There are also numerous Snoopy sites run by fans.

8. SHIRONEKO // JAPAN

shironeko via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.5

Shironeko is a Turkish van cat who became famous for his laid-back attitude. He’s so chill that you rarely see him with his eyes open, and he gamely sits still for pictures in costumes, with objects piled on his head, while taking abuse from the other cats he lives with. The name Shironeko means simply “white cat.” A blog featuring his photographs gained followers as soon as it was launched in 2006. Within a year, his photos began circulating outside Japan, and he was nicknamed “Basket Cat” since he was often seen sitting in a basket or with a basket perched on his head. His attitude also earned him the nickname “Zen Cat.” Shironeko and his buddies TyaTora, Tibi, Mimi, Kuro, and Nora can also be seen on YouTube, where it is evident that the other cats are learning patience and tolerance from him. However, none of them can sit still through chaos like Shironeko can.

9. 10 CATS // JAPAN

11 cats

A photo posted by 10cats (@10cats_) on

 
The family who posts under the name 10 Cats was once known as 9 Cats, but they tell us they now have 11 cats. However, the logo was already made, so the blog now says 10 Cats +1. They are Lulu, Musashi, μ, Kojiro, Maru, Taro, Michelle, May, Mi-ke,Osamu, and the new kitten Momo. These cats are most famous for their YouTube videos, where you can see how they interact with each other.

10. MARU // JAPAN

 
The world-famous Maru is a Scottish fold cat born in Japan in 2007. Maru means round or circle, and the name fits this calm, round cat well. Although his blog I Am Maru has been around since 2007, Maru’s owner and photographer have managed to remain anonymous. Maru is a staple of YouTube, where he is known for his fascination with boxes of any kind. Videos in which Maru insists on sitting in a box that’s too small for him are particularly popular, but he's also pretty amusing with a large box, too. In 2013, Maru was joined by a new sister named Hana. Maru has published two books so far.

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Ted Cranford
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science
Scientists Use a CT Scanner to Give Whales a Hearing Test
Ted Cranford
Ted Cranford

It's hard to study how whales hear. You can't just give the largest animals in the world a standard hearing test. But it's important to know, because noise pollution is a huge problem underwater. Loud sounds generated by human activity like shipping and drilling now permeate the ocean, subjecting animals like whales and dolphins to an unnatural din that interferes with their ability to sense and communicate.

New research presented at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego, California suggests that the answer lies in a CT scanner designed to image rockets. Scientists in San Diego recently used a CT scanner to scan an entire minke whale, allowing them to model how it and other whales hear.

Many whales rely on their hearing more than any other sense. Whales use sonar to detect the environment around them. Sound travels fast underwater and can carry across long distances, and it allows whales to sense both predators and potential prey over the vast territories these animals inhabit. It’s key to communicating with other whales, too.

A CT scan of two halves of a dead whale
Ted Cranford, San Diego State University

Human technology, meanwhile, has made the ocean a noisy place. The propellers and engines of commercial ships create chronic, low-frequency noise that’s within the hearing range of many marine species, including baleen whales like the minke. The oil and gas industry is a major contributor, not only because of offshore drilling, but due to seismic testing for potential drilling sites, which involves blasting air at the ocean floor and measuring the (loud) sound that comes back. Military sonar operations can also have a profound impact; so much so that several years ago, environmental groups filed lawsuits against the U.S. Navy over its sonar testing off the coasts of California and Hawaii. (The environmentalists won, but the new rules may not be much better.)

Using the CT scans and computer modeling, San Diego State University biologist Ted Cranford predicted the ranges of audible sounds for the fin whale and the minke. To do so, he and his team scanned the body of an 11-foot-long minke whale calf (euthanized after being stranded on a Maryland beach in 2012 and preserved) with a CT scanner built to detect flaws in solid-fuel rocket engines. Cranford and his colleague Peter Krysl had previously used the same technique to scan the heads of a Cuvier’s beaked whale and a sperm whale to generate computer simulations of their auditory systems [PDF].

To save time scanning the minke calf, Cranford and the team ended up cutting the whale in half and scanning both parts. Then they digitally reconstructed it for the purposes of the model.

The scans, which assessed tissue density and elasticity, helped them visualize how sound waves vibrate through the skull and soft tissue of a whale’s head. According to models created with that data, minke whales’ hearing is sensitive to a larger range of sound frequencies than previously thought. The whales are sensitive to higher frequencies beyond those of each other’s vocalizations, leading the researchers to believe that they may be trying to hear the higher-frequency sounds of orcas, one of their main predators. (Toothed whales and dolphins communicate at higher frequencies than baleen whales do.)

Knowing the exact frequencies whales can hear is an important part of figuring out just how much human-created noise pollution affects them. By some estimates, according to Cranford, the low-frequency noise underwater created by human activity has doubled every 10 years for the past half-century. "Understanding how various marine vertebrates receive and process low-frequency sound is crucial for assessing the potential impacts" of that noise, he said in a press statement.

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Scientific Reports, Fernando Ramirez Rozzi
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Humans Might Have Practiced Brain Surgery on Cows 5000 Years Ago
Scientific Reports, Fernando Ramirez Rozzi
Scientific Reports, Fernando Ramirez Rozzi

In the 1970s, archaeologists discovered a site in France containing hundreds of cow skeletons dating back 5000 to 5400 years. The sheer number wasn't surprising—human agriculture in that part of the world was booming by 3000 BCE. What perplexed scientists was something uncovered there a few decades later: a cow skull bearing a thoughtfully drilled hole. Now, a team of researchers has released evidence that suggests the hole is an early example of animal brain surgery.

Fernando Ramírez Rozzi, a paleontologist with the French National Center for Scientific Research, and Alain Froment, an anthropologist at the Museum of Mankind in Paris, published their findings in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. After comparing the opening to the holes chiseled into the skulls of humans from the same era, they found the bones bore some striking similarities. They didn't show any signs of fracturing from blunt force trauma; rather, the hole in the cow skull, like those in the human skulls, seemed to have been carved out carefully using a tool made for exactly that purpose. That suggests that the hole is evidence of the earliest known veterinary surgery performed by humans.

Trepanation, or the practice of boring holes into human skulls, is one of the oldest forms of surgery. Experts are still unsure why ancient humans did this, but the level of care that went into the procedures suggests that the surgery was likely used to treat sick patients while they were still alive. Why a person would perform this same surgery on a cow, however, is harder to explain.

The authors present a few theories, the first being that these ancient brain surgeons were treating a sick cow the same way they might treat a sick human. If a cow was suffering from a neural disease like epilepsy, perhaps they though that cutting a hole in its head would relieve whatever was agitating the brain. The cow would have needed to be pretty special to warrant such an effort when there were hundreds of healthy cows living on the same plot of land, as evidenced by the skeletons it was found with.

Another possible explanation was that whoever operated on the cow did so as practice to prepare them for drilling into the heads of live humans one day. "Cranial surgery requires great manual dexterity and a complete knowledge of the anatomy of the brain and vessel distribution," the authors write in the study. "It is possible that the mastery of techniques in cranial surgery shown in the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods was acquired through experimentation on animals."

Either way, the bovine patient didn't live to see the results of the procedure: The bone around the hole hadn't healed at all, which suggests the cow either died during surgery or wasn't alive to begin with.

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