Q: My father says that every year of a cat's life is equal to seven years of a human's life. So if my cat is 3 years old now, then is he equal to a 21-year-old human? --Brittany Jones, Uniondale
A: I have heard that all my life and actually it is not true either for cats or dogs.
Just think about it for a moment. A cat can breed at 6 months of age so with this estimate a 6-month-old cat is equal to a 3.5-year-old human and that obviously is not the case. Plus a cat at 2 years old has achieved its full size and weight and that is not comparable to a 14-year-old human either.
Most cats these days live to 17 or so and 17 times 7 equals 119 and a 17-year-old cat is much more youthful than a 119-year-old human would be.
This timeline is a bit more realistic: Think of a year-old cat as comparable to a 15- or 16-year-old human and 2-year-old cat as comparable to a 24-year-old human, then after that figure each cat year is equal to four human years. This would make a 17-year-old cat equivalent to an 84-year-old human.
Q: We moved to Manorville from New York City this past winter and one aspect of living out here that I enjoyed is the bird song that I listened to as I walked to my car early each morning. However now when I walk to my car it is very quiet. I do not hear any birds singing at all anymore. Has something happened to them that I should be concerned about? Maria Santiago,Manorville
A: This is perfectly normal. In the spring the native male birds here are singing away. They have carved out their territories and are singing in order to warn away other males and to attract females. As each day gets longer, this stimulates their hormone levels. However now the breeding season is winding down. The daylight gets shorter each day and the birds' hormones have dropped. They are now molting in order to get new plumage to help them either migrate south or to tough it out up here in our cold winters. This is why they are no longer singing. They now need to devote their energy to growing a new set of feathers in the very short time nature allots.
Our pet birds go through the same scenario when they molt. A canary will stop singing when he is molting and parrots will act a bit sluggish and not talk or vocalize as much as they normally do. The natural world now belongs to the insect world. This time of year is when you will hear the crickets, katydids and other nighttime singers, and is the best time of the year to look for butterflies during the day.
Q: A feral cat has taken up living under our shed and she has become quite friendly. We planned to get her spayed and keep her as a house pet as soon as she calmed down enough around us to get her in a carrier and take her to the vet. However the other day we see that we will now have four cats to keep as she seems to have had three kittens. It is what it is, but here's my question. She is a black cat, but one kitten is red, one is tabby, and one is black and white! We never saw the father so we do not know what color he is, but how could a black cat give birth to such a varied group of colors? --Jean Jennings, Freeport
A: There is really not enough space to go into a discussion of genetics here but the color of the kittens all depends on what colors the parents and grandparents of the mother and father are. This is as important as the colors of the parents. However there is another issue that can affect the color of the kittens in any one litter. A female cat can mate with more than one male while she is in season and each male she mates with may fertilize different eggs inside her. Thus the kittens that are born may be only half-siblings, with the same mother but a different father. This obviously would affect the color of the kittens.