Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor

Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor
Picture by Justin Wyatt
To read Hilary's story buy this special book...

This magical story has a touch of the supernatural. When an injured crane is found and nursed, something happens, something magical and inspiring...

Gentle Footprints launched- AS SEEN ON TV

Gentle Footprints was officially launched Fri June 4th at the Hay Festival with guest speaker Virginia McKenna and some of the authors

Buy from Bridge House Publishing by clicking on the link BUY:


Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Animal Anthology To Raise Funds for Born Free

Bridge House Publishing announce new book coming Spring 2010. For more about Bridge House please see their website.
This book is the annual charity book for Born Free...if you want to get involved with promoting and selling this book- email me!

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Monday, 12 April 2010

A leopard in my kitchen

The Leopard is the smallest of the four big cats in the genus Panthera- the others being?
Were you paying attention?

Lion, Tiger, Jaguar.

Once distributed across eastern and southern Asia and Africa, from Siberia to South Africa, the leopard's range of distribution has decreased radically because of hunting and loss of habitat. It is now chiefly found in sub-Saharan Africa; there are also fragmented populations in Pakistan, India, Indochina, Malaysia, and China. Because of its declining range and population, it is listed as a "Near Threatened" species by the IUCN.

Compared to other members of the Felidae family, the leopard has relatively short legs and a long body with a large skull. It is similar in appearance to the jaguar, but is smaller and more slightly built. Its fur is marked with rosettes similar to those of the jaguar, but the leopard's rosettes are smaller and more densely packed, and do not usually have central spots as the jaguar's do. Both leopards and jaguars that are melanistic (completely black or very dark) are known as black panthers.

We will meet the Black Panther in May.


As we saw yesterday leopards don't purr properly but they do make a rattle that sounds like purring and like our domestic cats is often used to show contentment but not always. The purring is more of a signal of submission and acceptance in our pets. It's thought to be a signal to the mother when suckling that the kittens are receiving nourishment and because in moggies it is a true purr they can still do it while suckling. Moggies also purr when at the vets, even being put to sleep indicating its role in submission.

Leopards on the other hand roar and this vocalisation is used to signal many things in much the way moggies meow. Leopards produce a number of vocalizations, including grunts, roars, growls, meows and "sawing" sounds

Paws n claws
Look at your cat's feet- go on... I'll wait....

la la la....

Oh he's out climbing a tree? Hunting? Just not in the mood?

That's cats for you!

Well leopards also have pads and retractable claws.The pads allow silence when hunting and the function of the claws is naturally a lethal weapon.
In much the same way your moggies will thread the back of your lovely new sofa (ignoring the perfectly positioned super scratching post you bought at Pets At Home) leopards do the same on trees. It is not so much sharpening claws but more the stripping off of old worn out claw sheaths.

Rolling Over
Moggies often greet by rolling over and showing their belly. This is a sign of submission and is also thought to be a way of assessing your mood. But when you touch the belly it often results in play. That said if you have a particulary intimate relationship with your cat it will let you rub its belly (Cagney loves it!)

Leopards are solitary animals apart from when mating. They can then be seen rolling and exposing their belly.

This is an obvious scent marking behaviour, seen in leopards and your moggies (neutered and entire males (and females) although the smell is less pungent in castrated tom cats.)It is regarded more like a newspaper, announcing all the feline movements into and out of the area. It's exactly the same in leopards and other big cats.

Burying faeces
It is thought that burying faeces is an act of subordination when a less dominant moggie wants to cover his tracks, perhaps hide scent if their are kittens not so much a fastidious act by the cat that makes cat owners gloat at the superiority if the feline over the canine! Dominant tom cats often do not bury faeces.

Leopards generally do not bury faeces either but use it as a territorial mapping.

Moggies don't only groom to clean but also because unruffled fur is a better insulator so after you;ve petted a cat she will want to smooth out the coat and also remove the prodominance of your scent on her.

Cats grooming in the sunshine has another function. Vitamin D in manufactured in the sun and the licking of warm fur is a means of ingesting Vitamin D... not many people know that...

A leopard does the same thing...

Tail wagging

Cats wag their tails when it is in a stage of conflict. The cat wants to do two things at once, but each impulse blocks the other. For example: If your cat is in the doorway wanting to go outside, and you open the door to find it raining, the cat's tail will wag because of internal conflict. The cat wants to go outside, but doesn't want to go into the rain. Once the cat makes a decision and either returns to the house or leaves into the rain, the tail will immediately stop wagging.

Leopards have been seen tail swishing in social encounters which is considered to be more of an invitation to a male. Interesting!

Is what leopards do best- they spend most the of the day in a tree and move around by night. They are fantastic climbers and pouncers... jumping for their prey
With its head low, legs bent and belly nearly touching the ground, a leopard will try to stalk to within three to 10 meters before pouncing. If it misses, it will seldom chase its prey.

After a successful pounce, the leopard paralyses its prey with a bite through the back of the neck that damages the spinal cord, then strangles the victim with its powerful jaws.

Usually the kill is then taken by the neck and dragged to safety, away from other predators. Leopards often store their kills in trees, out of the reach of lions and hyenas. This requires great power, but is not a problem for leopards - they are renowned for their strength and can haul a carcass of at least their own weight up the vertical trunk of a tree.

This massive strength means a big adult leopard is capable of killing prey up to the size of an eland - almost 10 times its own weight! Small prey such as mice, rats and small birds are swatted to death with a single paw strike.

And we will all have watched out moggies stalk and pounce on birds in much the same way. In fact while Blogging there was a horrendous squawking and in came Cagney with a female blackbird in her mouth! Luckily after chasing her in the garden in socks and screaming for the neighbour's pleasure she dropped it and it flew away- back to its babies I hope.

So I'll let you decide if you have a leopard in your kitchen...

Tomorrow: Can a leopard change its spots?


  1. Our cat - big black moggie who I'd swear has one parent as a panther - only chunters at the birds. Never been a hunter - only hunts us and the tin-opener.
    But all cats are great,aren't thy? Big,small, in the wild, domestic in the kitchen but NEVER NEVER EVER in the zoo.

  2. Really interesting post. I am a huge cat lover, meaning I like cats a lot, not huge cats. Mind you my male cat Sebastian is fairly large! His sister Bella is much smaller but more feisty.
    They are both hunters sadly and find it difficult to take mice out not in. Over the last few weeks I have captured mice in pint glasses with carboard over the top and released them at very odd times during the night into the garden in my dressing gown!

    I was rushing out to work the other week and put my foot in my boot. I felt a slight wiggle and turned the boot upside down. Out came a largish mouse! It promptly ran inside my other boot and so I was able to take it outside once again into the garden. I wonder if the neighbours think I am a mad mouse woman? I think that when I'm old I'll be a mad cat woman with hundreds of cats running around the house...

    And Oh yes, what do you mean we'll meet a panther in May? Has it written a short story?

  3. "I think that when I'm old I'll be a mad cat woman with hundreds of cats running around the house..."

    LOL, Mandy James, I have often thought the same thing about myself.

  4. Yes sadly I am a cat woman and a writer and I have a rocking chair- so mad in every sense!

    But I love it!