How many lives do cats have?

I mean, it’s 1. We all know that. Hit a cat with your car and it’s game over. No second (or third, fourth, fifth etc etc) chances. That’s it: kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible.

But there’s the old saying that “cats have nine lives” because they like to live dangerously and take risks and not all of those risks involve intercepting a 2 ton motor vehicle.

Except, in some places, cats only have seven lives:

And in some places, it’s even as low(?) as six:

Interestingly, the myth that cats have multiple lives exists around the world. However, it’s not always nine lives – the number varies from culture to culture. In certain regions of Spain it is believed that cats have seven lives, for example. Meanwhile, some Turkish and Arabic legends say cats have six lives.

Although Turkey is very clearly in the 9 camp above.

I’m not sure if these differences are down to the countries in question actually being more dangerous for a cat to live, because who is keeping count anyway? And why would some of Switzerland be more risky for felines than, the rest of it? Avalanches? How is Corsica 28.6% safer than Sardinia? And what about trans-border cats? Do they average out at 8?

Nope, wherever you are in Europe – in the world, in fact – stick a cat in front of an SUV and you’ll note that the average number of lives it has is one.

Bizarre shop

I was at the till at PicknPay this morning, having done my usual Monday morning check of all the expired produce that they continue to stock on their shelves. (This morning’s list featured “fresh” fish, cauliflower, broccoli and naan bread, with dates ranging from the 21st to the 24th. Lovely.) (We’ve been here before, remember?)

While waiting for the cashier to total up my shopping, I heard a baby crying somewhere behind me. No biggie: I am aware that babies will do this from time to time. The only odd thing about this one was that it sounded rather like a cat. Another cry, and I turned around because it really did sound like a cat, and the simply reason for that was that it was a cat.

There was a man holding a wrapped cat three checkouts away from me.

Obviously, everyone – including the many staff present – now being alerted to the fact that there was a man carrying a pet around in a food retailer,  immediately asked him to leave the premises along with his disease-ridden feline. Except of course, they didn’t.

Food safety, standards and hygiene obviously don’t count for much at this “flagship” store of our local number one two supermarket chain.

You know I love a bit of microbiology, so here’s a short list of things that cats can give you (these are obviously just microbiological things, not airy-fairy things like “unconditional love” or stuff like that:


A real nice mix of bacterial and parasitic infections, right there.
A wonderful addition to the expired foodstuffs you can also pick up and pay for at my local supermarket.

Memeworthy Kitty Cat

Brian has been taking photos of French teenage cats. Specifically, this one:

This is Oscar. Bonjour, Oscar.

Says Brian:

Oscar has reached the stage in life where he is still a kitten in his behaviour, but not any longer in his appearance.  Sort of a cat teenager.
Oscar has a very short attention span, and is currently programmed to check out everything he sees, like some obsessively exploratory robot.

And I think that this particularly brilliant image of Oscar needs memeing.

There’s even a sensible and convenient amount of space left above and below for the caption(s). That’s really thoughtful, clever photography, right there. Genius.

I’m going to be using this to depict my fairly regular moments of horror as I make various realisations about South Africa and discoveries about life in general.

Watch this space.

Air kiss your dog

Do you have a dog? Of course you do. Or perhaps you don’t.
Either way, there’s good evidence that allowing your dog to lick you (this is apparently the dog version of a kiss) could lead to all sorts of nasty stuff happening to you.

It may seem like a harmless display of affection, but allowing your pet to ‘kiss’ you could be dangerous – or even fatal.

So states the Guardian in their article, entitled:

Should I let my dog lick my face?

And the easy answer seems to be “no”, unless you want to play with Clostridium spp, E.coli and Campylobacter spp. Or Pasteurella multocida, a regular part of your dog’s normal mouth flora, which was:

… blamed for meningitis in 42 infants in France under the age of four between 2001 and 2011. Nearly half the babies were newborn, and most were infected as a result of dogs or cats licking them. Four died.

Or Haemophilus aphrophilus, responsible for causing brain abscesses and inflammation of the heart.

Or Dipylidium caninum – the double-pored dog tapeworm, the human excretion of which is always a favourite at parties. (Depending on which sort of parties you go to.)

And never forget the virtually unculturable (it’s really tough to grow it in a lab) Capnocytophaga canimorsus responsible for nearly doing for a 70-year-old woman in London earlier this year.

Statistically, you are extremely unlikely to get an horrific infection from allowing your dog (or cat – they’re hardly innocent in all this microbiological mayhem) lick your face. However, you are even less likely to get an horrific infection if you don’t allow your dog (or cat) to lick your face.

I know which route I’ll be taking. And I don’t even have a cat.


Post pictures of cats, they said. Seriously, if you’re not going to be able to write much, and a picture is worth a thousand words, then a picture of a cat is worth, well, Six Thousand. Do it.

So, with that in mind, here’s a picture of a cat, for all my cat loving readers.

This one is climbing along a dry stone wall at Black Oystercatcher, demonstrating not just balance and pose, but also some of the rocks of the inhospitable Elim terroir.