Archives for : October2015

Cat Breeds 101: The Russian Blue

The striking golden eyes and silky grey coat of a Russian Blue is striking for any cat lover

The striking golden eyes and silky grey coat of a Russian Blue is striking for any cat lover

The Russian Blue is a delightful cat that is most notable for having a striking dark grey, or blue, coat. Russian Blues are one of the oldest recorded breeds of cats, first making an appearance in the 1860s. They are smart, yet shy, and love to hunt mice and other rodents. Here, we’re going to talk about everything there is to know about this delightful breed.

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Best Breeds For Cat Lovers With Allergies

cat cats kitten calico allergies

Cat allergies are no laughing matter

Allergies to cats are no laughing matter; approximately 10% of the U.S. population suffers from pet allergies and cats are at the top of the list. Cat allergies can vary from extreme to mild, depending on the person. If you are one of the people afflicted with cat allergies, but are a cat lover, you do have some options. If your allergies are extreme, you may want to consult your doctor for allergy treatment or look into medically-designed hypoallergenic cats. However, for those who have mild allergies, we’ve compiled a list of cat breeds that are known to be hypoallergenic or that tend to distribute less allergens for a variety of reasons.

Cat allergies are caused by the prevalence of Fel D1, an enzyme in cats’ saliva. When a cat grooms his/herself, they use their tongue and spread Fel D1 all over their fur. This fur is then spread throughout the house. Hypoallergenic cats are cat breeds that either produce less Fel D1 or shed little or not at all. Remember that hypoallergenic does not mean that they are entirely allergen-free; just that they are less likely to set off an allergic person’s allergies.

Our favorite cat breeds for people with allergies are:

1. The Rex Cats: This includes the Devon Rex and the Cornish Rex. Both of these cats have a coat that sets them apart from other cats; they lack guard hairs and are only covered in the fur that lies beneath. Technically, these cats aren’t hypoallergenic, but the lack of guard hairs makes their shedding more tolerable for many people with allergies.

cornish rex colorpoint black white

The Cornish Rex’s short fur doesn’t spread like that of cats with guard hairs

2. The Sphynx Cat: The Sphynx cat is hairless, and therefore shedding is no longer an issue with this breed. Sphynx cats still lick and groom themselves, but without fur to shed, the spread of their allergens is much less.
3. The Russian Blue: The Russian Blue is hypoallergenic for two main reasons. First of all, their double coat helps to keep in allergens rather than spreading them throughout the house. They also produce less Fel d1, the main property that produces cat allergies.
4. The Balinese: The Balinese has long hair and a full coat, but don’t let this deter you. They produce less Fel D1, the main perpetrator of feline allergies.
5. The Bengal: Bengals have short, dense fur that doesn’t shed much. They spread less dander and fur around and have been known to spread less allergens than other cats.
6. The Javanese: The Javanese is one of only a few breeds that lacks an undercoat, making them shed less. Less shedding means less spreading of allergens

siberian forest cat piano grey

The Siberian may seem unlikely to be hypoallergenic due to their long fur, but they produce little Fel D1

7. The Siberian: Siberian cats have a medium-length coat, which would make many allergy-sufferers hesitant to the breed. However, Siberian cats have been known to have less enzyme levels in their saliva, which is a key source for allergens.
8. The Laperm: The Laperm is a curly-haired cat, and many Laperm owners believe that they are hypoallergenic. They have been known to shed less than other breeds, and many people with cat allergies have had little to no reaction to Laperms.
9. The Oriental Shorthair: The Oriental Shorthair breed has such short hair that sheds so little that they’ve been one of the most popular cat breed for allergy sufferers.

All of these breeds have been known to produce less allergens for a variety of reasons, but there are some other factors that influence how allergenic a cat will be. When choosing a cat for your household, taking the following factors into consideration may help someone with mild allergies find a cat that doesn’t make their sinuses explode:

Male cats produce more allergens than females: This is another unsolved mystery, but for whatever reason, female cats produce less allergens. If you have mild cat allergies, you may want to adopt a female cat.
Neutered males produce less allergens than unfixed males: When a male cat is neutered, his hormones change and he produces less allergens. You should always have your animals spayed and neutered regardless, but especially if you have allergies.
Kittens produce less allergens than full-grown cats: You may not be allergic to a kitten, but develop allergies to the same cat once they grow up for this reason. This, among many other reasons, is why adopting an adult cat is a good idea. This way, you will know right off the bat whether or not you are allergic to a particular cat and can avoid having to make the painful decision of what to do with a cat that is causing you terrible allergies.
Dark-colored cats produce more allergens than light-colored cats: For whatever reason, lighter-colored cats produce less allergens. So instead of a black or dark orange cat, lean towards a cat that has white as their base color.

Are you a cat-lover dealing with cat allergies? Let us know how you handle them in the comments!

The Top 5 Cat Breeds For Kids

cat kitten tabby kids children family friendly

Cats and children can get along famously with the right guidance

When picking out a new furry friend, it is important to make the right choice for your household. For some, the most important thing is choosing a cat that gets along with dogs; for others, a cat that is low maintenance is of utmost importance. However, if you’ve got a household with children in it, you’ll want to bring home a kitty that will do well with your children. Cats can be great companions for children of any age.

Besides their breed, there are certainly other factors that go into a cat’s willingness to tolerate and get along with children. Some of the most important factors of a cat’s behavior include:

Age: A cat’s temperament and behavior changes over time along with their age. A kitten may have no idea how to peacefully interact with adults and children alike. Many kittens can’t distinguish between play and real fighting and can end up biting or scratching harder than they intended to. On the other end, elderly cats often become senile and may behave in a similarly inappropriate manner.
Background history: For any animal, early exposure to humans is key when it comes to socialization. If you are adopting an adult cat, you may be able to get information on their background and be able to select a cat that is notable for getting along with children. Most cats can learn trust and tolerance over time, but the earlier and more exposure that any given cat has had with children, the more likely they’ll be able to get along. If you’re getting a kitten, it is important to socialize them early on and teach them desirable behaviors.
Health: One of the most common symptoms of a cat with a health problem is a change in their behavior; usually negative. If a cat has a health problem that is causing them pain, they will likely have a shorter temper and therefore be less tolerant of children and playtime.

As you can see, many factors go into a cat’s willingness to get along with children, and you can’t bank on one breed being guaranteed to get along with children. However, certain breeds have been known over time to be extra calm, outgoing, and tolerant of children. The following breeds are our suggestions for cat-friendly felines:

Maine Coon: The Maine Coon is the largest housecat in the world. These gentle giants are known to be calm, patient, and easygoing. They’ll still play and entertain your household, but would rather take a nap and hang out than explore most days. Maine Coons have long, fluffy fur and require brushing so that their hair doesn’t become matted, adding a bit more responsibility than a short-haired cat. However, this responsibility could be a great lesson for a child.

American Shorthair: American Shorthairs are the most common kind of cat found in the U.S. These cats’ personalities can vary greatly, but a well-adapted and socialized American Shorthair would be a great cat for a family. They come in every color that a cat can be, giving you lots of options for aesthetics. American Shorthairs are known to be energetic and outgoing,

Ragdoll: Ragdolls are not only adorable, but kind and silly. They get their name from the breed’s peculiar habit of flopping in a ragdoll-like manner when picked up. This is a great trait for a cat to carry, especially in a family with children who will most likely want to pick the cat up. Their ragdoll nature makes them less fussy and less likely to use their claws or teeth to get out of a situation.

Persian: Persian cats like to be the life of the party and the center of attention, which could work out well for a family with playful children. Their squishy faces and fluffy tails are endlessly entertaining to look at, and they only require a medium amount of maintenance depending on the length of their hair. Persians are usually very tolerant in nature, and would be great with kids.

Abyssinian: One reason an Abyssinian would be a great cat for a household with children is their brave nature and outgoing personality. Abyssinians are known to thrive in family situations, as they enjoy the constant energy and stimulation. They may not be lap cats, but they’re great for endless entertainment and lots of playtime.

cat kids children orange tabby

This kitty appears to be very child-friendly!

Regardless of what breed you decide to go with, kids need to know how to interact with a cat if they’re going to try to befriend one. No matter how well-socialized your cat is, or how much they’ve enjoyed kids in the past, it is important to teach your kids how to behave appropriately with a furry friend. Even the nicest cat can snap when being tickled too hard or having their tail pulled. The following are some tips to teach your children in order to keep the peace between them and your cats:

Never pull a cat’s tail, paws, ears, or other extremities: This one may seem obvious, but for a child who isn’t familiar with felines, this is rule number one.
Always let a cat sniff you when first greeting: Whether you’re greeting a cat that you’ve known for years, or meeting a new one, you should always let a cat sniff you upon first greeting. This way, you can get a sense of the cat’s mood and let them set the tone for affection.
If a cat seems agitated or annoyed, don’t push it: Sometimes it is hard to explain to kids why a cat wouldn’t want to play with them, but once they learn to be patient and let the cat come to them, the relationship can begin to form.
Be patient when meeting a new cat: Similar to leaving an agitated cat alone, it’s important to be calm when meeting a new kitty. Some cats are more outgoing than others, and a shy cat needs time to prepare to meet a stranger.
Pet the kitty shoulders to tail: For children (and adults) who aren’t familiar with cats, a simple first reaction would be to pet a cat’s soft underbelly. Unfortunately, this is the easiest way to have a bad interaction with a cat, since 90% of cats will bite or claw when their tummies are touched, even if they’re exposing them. Teaching a child to pet from the cat’s shoulders and along the back to the tail will help them get along better and quicker.
Be careful with picking a cat up: Picking a cat up requires a level of trust that takes time between a cat and a person. Help your child read the body language of your cat and let them know when your cat might let you pick them up, or if your cat is the type that never wants to be handled.

Teaching your child these rules and helping them understand kitty’s body language will result in a more peaceful home, and help protect your child against harmful bites and scratches. Cats are only barely domesticated and will always revert back to their feline ways if they’re pushed too far. When introducing a new cat into your home, you should monitor the cat and small children together at all times for the first few months. Cats can be unpredictable, and it is hard to tell if they’ll get along with children right off the bat.

As long as you keep the peace and monitor your children’s behavior with your cat and your cat’s behavior in general, you can have a happy and harmonious home. Make sure to check out our articles on how to introduce cats to each other, and how to introduce cats and dogs as well.

Do you have a cat and child that get along famously? Leave your story in the comments!

Cat Breeds 101: The Burmese

burmese sable cats kittens

These Burmese cats demonstrate the traditional sable coloring of the breed

The Burmese originates from Burma, Thailand. The first Burmese was brought to the U.S. in the 30s and has become a favored breed among cat enthusiasts ever since. They are a talkative and social breed that comes in many colors. Oddly enough, the Burmese is one of the only cat breeds with different standards in the U.S. and U.K. Here, we’re going to explore everything that makes this breed so beloved throughout the world.

Where do Burmese come from?

The first appearance of a Burmese-like breed was back in 1871 at a cat show at the Crystal Palace. Two Siamese cats were shown, and both demonstrated a build more similar to that of today’s American Burmese than that of Siamese of the time. British breeders then attempted to develop Burmese, but the program fell apart.

Fast forward to 1930: a female cat named Wong Mau was brought from Burma to the U.S. Wong Mau was bred with a Siamese to produce the first Burmese breed line. Wong Mau then bred with one of her kittens from that first litter to produce dark brown kittens- a distinct strain of Burmese kittens. These kittens were finally different enough than the Siamese so much that they were granted breed recognition by the Cat Fanciers Association. In order to extensively grow the breed, many purebred Burmese were mated with Siamese, leading to the CFA suspending the breed recognition only ten years later.

The American breeders were too stubborn to let the Burmese breed die, and by 1954, the breed was back on the CFA’s map. Across the ocean, British breeders were building their own Burmese breed standard. Still today, the American and British Burmese cats are two separate and distinct bloodlines. The CFA uses the American breed standards in most cases today.

What do Burmese look like?

The biggest difference between the British Burmese and the American Burmese is the shape of their head and body. Their size and coat are quite standard.

British: The British Burmese is slender with a long and lanky body. Their heads are wedge-shaped, topped with large pointy ears. Their muzzles are more tapered, complimented with their large almond-shaped eyes. Their long legs end with oval-shaped paws, and their tails are medium-length and taper towards the end.

American: The American Burmese head is broader and bolder. Their eyes are less almond shaped and more round. As opposed to a tapered muzzle, the American’s muzzle is flat. Their ears are wider and more bulbous. As opposed to long lanky legs, their legs are proportionate and relatively stocky, as is their tail.

Regardless of being American or British, the Burmese breed is always a small/medium breed, weighing 8-10lbs. They should look lightweight and docile, but have a nice hefty weight to them when picked up. Their coats are short and glossy; full yet fine. The color of a Burmese should be uniform and only lighter in the underparts. Green and gold are the breed standard color of eyes for the Burmese.

burmese cats kittens cat

Burmese cats can come in a variety of colors

The original breed color is a rich dark brown, often referred to as sable, brown, or seal. They get their distinct color from the Burmese gene, a gene that causes a reduction in pigment. This gene causes any black to turn brown, and all other colors to pale. This gene is related to albinism and also causes the colorpoint pattern that is often observed. Today, Burmese can be many colors, including brown, chocolate, blue, lilac, cream, red, and tortoiseshell. The Cat Fanciers Association recognizes sable, blue, champagne, and platinum as well.

What do Burmese act like?

Burmese take after their Siamese heritage (link), but only to an extent. They are notorious for being human-oriented, making them great cats for families. They are dog-like and ready to learn to play games like fetch and tag. Like their Siamese relatives, they are very talkative, but have been observed to possess a softer and sweeter voice, unlike their shrill relatives.

The Burmese breed is notoriously needy, and not the best choice for people who aren’t home often. Cats are known to be a self-reliant species, but certain breeds need more attention than others. Burmese are prone to becoming depressed (link) if left alone for extended periods of time. This depression can manifest as starvation, destruction of property, and changes in sleep patterns.

A cat’s behavior has everything to do with their upbringing, regardless of their breed. Many of these traits may be common for Burmese cats, but it is important for any cat to be socialized as a kitten.

What is the health of a Burmese like?

The Burmese breed has an extremely low genetic diversity rating, only second to the Singapura. Because of this lack of genetic diversity, they are prone to a variety of health problems including:

Diabetes mellitus: Type 2 diabetes; manifests as high blood sugar
Hypokalaemia: A recessive gene that causes low levels of serum potassium
Teething issues: Burmese kittens have problems with painful teething that often causes them to scratch at their faces. This does not cause oral problems; only cosmetic issues from scarring from the scratches.
Feline hyperaesthesia syndrome: This causes increased sensitivity to touch and can make small gestures feel very painful to the cat
Glaucoma: An eye condition that can result in blindness
Calcium oxalate urolithiasis: Painful bladder stones
Agenesis of the nares: Incomplete development of the nostrils

With any cat, there is no guarantee that they will or will not have these problems. Many health problems can be tested for, which is why it is a good idea with any breed to have a relationship with your veterinarian and report any changes in behavior.

If you are interested in bringing a Burmese into your family, there are a few ways to go about adopting one. It is certainly possible to keep an eye out at your local shelter for a Burmese, but you’ll more likely come across one at a dedicated Burmese rescue. These rescues often rehome Burmese who’s owners have unexpectedly passed away or can no longer care for their pets. Burmese rescues go out of their way to find Burmese cats and kittens and work to find great homes for cats of all ages.

If you do decide to purchase from a breeder, you are looking to spend $400-700 for a Burmese kitten. If you are going to purchase from a breeder, make sure that they practice responsible breeding and are open and honest throughout the process. Bringing a Burmese into your home will bring your household great entertainment and a new furry friend for years to come.

How To Help Feral Cats

Feral cats roam the streets their whole life

Feral cats roam the streets their whole life

Feral cats are a huge issue throughout the world. Most people know a few feral cats in their neighborhood, and some areas are infested with ferals. Feral cats are cats that grew up on the street and live their lives in the great outdoors. They provide problems for a variety of communities, including people, birds, and other cats. Luckily, there are many ways that people can help with the feral population in a humane and loving way. Here, we’re going to tell you everything there is to know about feral cats and how you can help.

Are feral cats different than strays?

In a short answer, yes. Feral cats are cats that have lived their whole lives outside or in the wild. Stray cats are cats that were living in a home at one time or another but were lost or abandoned. Stray cats and feral cats behave very differently due to their previous experiences of exposure with humans. A stray cat may come up to you and beg for food, while a feral cat would wait in the background until you left the area. Feral cats rarely make any noise, where a stray cat has learned to meow around humans. Stray cats openly depend on humans while feral cats barely acknowledge them.

How do feral cats live without humans?

The life of a feral cat is not an easy one. For starters, they have no medical care and are therefore extremely susceptible to disease, infection, and parasites. Feral cats also have to deal with inclement weather; from rain, to snowstorms, to overwhelming heat waves. They are at risk of animal abuse simply from being outside, and have to avoid animal poison and traps. Finding food is a constant task, and fighting over territory with other cats is always a threat. For all of these reasons, the average lifespan of a feral cat is less than two years. This isn’t including the fact that approximately half of feral kittens born die in the first week.

Did you know: October 15th is National Feral Cat Day

 

What are some ways to help with feral cats?

There two main ways that a person can help the feral cat population. Both are aimed at keeping the feral population down in a humane way, as well as relieving communities from the harmful effects of untouched feral colonies. Feral cats that haven’t been spayed/neutered are more likely to spray, fight, and of course, remain on the streets for the rest of their lives. The ways that you can help keep the feral cat population down, and increase the quality of life of the feral cats in your community:

Participate in trap-neuter-release: Trap-neuter-release, or TNR, is the single most effective way of humanely keeping down the population of feral cats. In TNR, participants will set out humane traps to catch the feral cats to later pick up and bring to the veterinarian. The veterinarian will then spay/neuter the cat and likely vaccinate them against rabies. Then, the cat will be released back in the area that they were trapped from. This way, the cat can no longer produce more feral kittens, or transmit rabies to another animal. This is the most cost-effective, humane, and efficient way to keep the feral cat population down. Many veterinarians and animal hospitals provide free spay/neuter services for feral cats, or at a discounted rate.

Become a colony caretaker: Colony caretakers will take it upon themselves to TNR a particular colony in the neighborhood, as well as a few other responsibilities. If a cat needs surgery, the colony caretaker will trap and drive the cat to the appointment, and then offer their home for aftercare. They may also step in and foster feral kittens so that they can be housecats and help to adopt them out. If you are interested in becoming a colony caretaker, Alley Cat Allies has a great guide for the whole process.

Feral cat colonies like this one can pop up anywhere

Feral cat colonies like this one can pop up anywhere

Is relocation an option?

It may sound simple: “Why don’t we just move the feral cats somewhere else?” Well, unfortunately, cats are very territorial creatures and will simply make it their goal to return to the same area that they’ve been hanging out in all along; Not to mention the fact that it would be difficult to transport and then find an area for the entire colony of cats to live in.

Can I bring a feral cat to the shelter for adoption?

Unfortunately, feral cats are often past the point of being adoptable. If a cat is truly feral, their behavior around humans is not desirable for almost any cat owner. They don’t know how to interact with humans and won’t learn any time soon. However, if the cat living in your back yard seems friendly and eager to come inside, they are likely a stray cat, not a feral cat, and might be a great candidate for adoption.

Can I adopt a feral cat?

Again, feral cats are not the same as housecats. A feral cat and a housecat are great examples of the nature vs. nurture argument. Although both cats are cut from the same cloth, their upbringing severely changes the way that they interact with humans. Even if you had two kittens from the same litter, one left to the wild and one brought into the home, they would grow up to act completely different. Early socialization is the best way for a cat to learn to behave with humans. Bringing a feral cat into your home is a danger for your entire household, since feral cats may have any number of diseases, infections, and parasites, and may behave violently towards humans.

Can I adopt feral kittens?

Feral kittens can become housecats if they're exposed to humans early enough

Feral kittens can become housecats if they’re exposed to humans early enough

Yes! As long as the kittens are at least four weeks old, the minimum age required for kittens to nurse from their mothers, they can be safely brought into the home. Make sure to take the kittens to the veterinarian for their shots and spay/neuter procedures, and socialize them as much as possible. Kittens generally shouldn’t be up for adoption until they are at least 8 weeks old; at that point, you can adopt them out yourself, submit them to a no-kill shelter, or decide to keep them yourself. If feral kittens are brought into a home early enough, they can end up just like any other happy human-friendly kitty.

What should I do if I find a cat on the street?

If you find a cat on the street and they come up to you, they are likely a stray cat, not a feral cat. You can proceed by contacting your neighbors, bringing the cat to a veterinary clinic to be scanned for a microchip, and contacting all local shelters to add the cat to their lost-and-found bulletin. You can also see what resources for lost cats are online for your area. Fostering the cat and helping by posting “found” ads yourself will probably end better than a shelter, since most shelters are kill shelters and will only hold onto strays for a few days before euthanizing them.

How do I trap a cat?

Trapping a feral cat for TNR may be saving its life

Trapping a feral cat for TNR may be saving its life

You’ll need to purchase a humane cat-sized trap, for starters. You can find these at most hardware stores or online for less than $50 each. Remember that you can use this trap more than once, so it is a worthy investment, especially if you live near a colony. Resist the urge to feed the cats for two days before trapping so that they’ll be extra hungry and will risk entering the trap for a treat. Place wet cat food in the trap behind the trip plate, and wait for the cat to be caught. Then, you can take the trapped cat to your veterinarian as soon as they’re securely in the cage. The veterinarian will do the procedure, and then likely ear-tip them. Ear tipping is a way to tick the cat’s ear so that humans will know that they are TNR’d.

By participating in TNR, you are helping keep the feral cat population down, as well as helping the feral cats in your area have a greater quality of life. Feral cats didn’t choose the street life, the street life chose them, so you can think of them as your housecat’s weird cousin. Happy TNRing!

Do you have a feral cat colony in your area? Let us know in the comments!

Indoor vs. Outdoor: The Facts

cat tabby folded ears window

Outside or inside?

Many people believe that it is best to allow their cats to live like their ancestors; out in the wild, able to run around and roam freely. Well, many of these owners may think twice when they hear that outdoor cats live on average more than ten years less than their indoor counterparts. Although it may be debated whether cats are domesticated or not, the common housecat will certainly live a longer life if kept indoors. Here, we’re going to talk about all the factors that go into deciding if you want your cat to be indoors or outdoors, and how you can best equip either lifestyle choice.

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Everything You Wanted To Know About Polydactyl Cats

polydactyl cat tabby

As you can see, this polydactyl tabby has a few extra fingers

Polydactyl cats, otherwise known affectionately as Hemingway cats, have been a source of wonder for many cat owners for years now. The term polydactyl comes from the greek words polys, meaning “many”, and daktylos, meaning “finger”. Polydactyl cats can show up in almost any litter and are just as beautiful and agile as their average-number of fingers siblings. Here, we’re going to delve into the truth about polydactyl cats and the wonder of their genetic mutation.

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11 Everyday Ways To Elongate Your Cat’s Life

Happy CatWe all want the same thing for our pets; to have a happy and comfortable living situation with a great quality of life. What many pet owners aren’t aware of, however, is that there are simple everyday ways to help keep your cat healthy and happy. It is always better to work on preventative measures ahead of time rather than having to attend to a problem later on. Here, we’re going to help you out with xx simple ways to elongate your cat’s life and keep their health in tip-top shape.

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Green Gato Visits The Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue

Jeff & Jenny's first big cats, Pebbles & Bam Bam, relaxing in their spacious enclosure

Jeff & Jenny’s first big cats, Pebbles & Bam Bam, relaxing in their spacious enclosure

The Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue is located in Rock Springs, Wisconsin; just a hop and a skip from Chicago or Madison, WI. Owned and operated by big cat enthusiasts Jeff and Jenny Kozlowski, this sanctuary was brought to life strictly by their own funds and the donations of fellow cat-lovers. Many people wonder how these big cats ended up at the rescue, and why big cats would need to be rescued. Green Gato went to visit the sanctuary this week and got some face-to-face time with Jenny for an in-depth look at The Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue.

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13 Little-Known Facts About Black Cats

Black cats: No longer a mystery

Black cats: No longer a mystery

Many rumors and superstitions have surrounded black cats for years. However, nearly all of them are unfounded, and black cats are no different than any other delightful housecat. We’ve got 13 lesser-known facts about black cats for you right here, so keep on reading to learn all about the majestic black beauties.

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