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Karoo Cat Research, 2015
Erwin spent a month with us as apprentice. He welded the poles for a large, new enclosure and generally excelled in hard work.
The summer was unbelievably hot with temperatures up to 45° and dry. Our cats thrived on it.
African wild cat: Gerrie, Frik, Dani, Ilse, Ziba.
Caracal: Zeno, Zsuzsa.
Serval: Krato, Mick, Neels, Norbert, Nala, Natalie, Nadine.
We couldn't get hold of a Blackfooted cat. Pity.
Nala had a new litter, born in 2014: Natalie, Nadine und Norbert. Everything went well this time.
Neels weighs 12 kg and is visibly bigger than mother Nala and older brother Mick.
In January, we were visited by a German filming crew. They were not only awfully nice, but showed incredibly high work ethics. They were joined by two men from an East London Snake Park. They were so kind and left us a tale mole snake and some mice. Neels had a ball (ahem) with stealing them.
Sophia, a young volunteer, stayed for a while with us, before she travelled on to Mexico.
In January, three months earlier as usual, we had to return to Germany, because of new visa laws. Neels, on the verge of adulthood, stays now, together with the other cats, in Clifton under the care of Marion Holmes.

The Story of Neels the Serval

31st of March, 2014
2014 Nala gets her second litter - one single male kitten.
Kitten Neels, was fine in his first week, but he cried often. Alas, Nala did not cope well. She overgroomed Neels, played too rough with him and carried him around, neglecting to use the correct carrying grip. Neels often squealed in pain.
We had to rescue Neels in his 14th day, after we found the skin on his throat slit (5 cm) by Nala's canines. He had to be sewn with four stitches and hand-raised futher on.
Nala, of course, showed distress when she found her kitten gone. We put Mick, the last of Nala's 2913-kitten, with her, which comforted her completely. She groomed and suckled him, and Mick appeared to enjoy this thoroughly. They loved to play with each other. So, all was well there.

Neels bonded well with his human "mother" Jörg and also with the rest of us, drank his special milk and later ate like a lion and grew like a weed.
Neels explored his ever expanding environment, played, purred and developed well.
Unfortunately, Winter approached; we had to leave the country due to the usual Visa issues. After trying every other option and failing, we decided to take Neels with us to Germany.
After passing all the obstacles, writing about 250 e-mails and paying obscene amounts of money, we got all the necessary permits.
Our special thanks here go to Tim de Jongh, ECNC, dem Bundesamt für Naturschutz Bonn, Move-a-Pet and some Bayrische Landratsämter, Martin Kinzelmann, Erwin Walk and Johann Gaschler. They and many others made the transport of Neels possible. Still, it was an ordeal for us - not for Neels, however; he travelled quite happily in a cosy Box - much more comfortably than we, actually.
On Friday, the 13rd of June, we all arrived in Munich.

Neels adapted to his new, large home with enthusiasm. He got many friends who came and played with him for hours. The best and most untiring Serval-sitter was Rosemarie Quartz - thanks, Rosi.
First, Neels was not allowed to stay in an outside enclosure, because he was still too young to get the necessary vaccines.
Neels and his shenanigans were funny as well as somewhat irksome. He tore many a cushion and broke many a trinket. In his affection, he was, as Servals are wont to do, a bit rough.
So, we were rather glad when Neels was allowed to use the enclosure we built for him. Neels enjoyed the rich vegetation that gave him ample cover. And if not, he had free access to the house. He liked to be outdoors, but wanted us to join him. At night, he strictly insisted to sleep next (or on top of) "mum" Jörg.

Autumn came, and it was time to travel back to South Africa.
Neels is now a big cat. He weighs about 10 kg.
10th of October, 2014
Neels travelled in a de-luxe box that would have had room for a leopard. My thanks go to Dr Erika Kienle, Gradlyn Agency, Erwin Walk and Move-a-Pet.
Neels stepped very relaxed out of his box; he very clearly remembered his old home, Honingkrantz.


September 2013
After solving some technical problems an update - at last.
The summers in South Africa and then in Germany were busy. On Honingkrantz, our 1 1/2 year old Serval Nala had four healthy kittens, a rather large litter for a Serval, and primipara, too. Thankfully Nala is fairly tame and allowed us to support her, else Mick, the last and weakest kitten, would have starved, not having free access to Nala's teats.
So, we succeeded having all four kittens mother-raised.
Dani, our rather old African Wild cat also got pregnant, but had only one kitten that was malformed and died after four days.
All in all we had about twenty cats to look after.
In Germany, I finished writing and editing another book on cat behaviour. This one deals very much with the wild roots of our domestic cat - the African Wild cat and other wild cats. There will be about 200 photos, most of them taken at Karoo Cat Research.
Unfortunately, the book is (up to now) only available in German.

August 2013
The Book "Was Katzen wirklich wollen" has been translated into Czech:
"Co Kocka Skutecne Chce" (What Cats Truly Want). Sorry about the missing haceks.

26th of June 2012
As I am presently in Germany, Marion looks after my animals. She sends me regular reports (and pictures) which I appreciate very much.
Thank you, Marion!

It is Winter in the Karoo, normally a quiet, sunny season with dry white (and sometimes, alas, black) frosts. The cats give up their nocturnal habits and can be seen on their strolls or hunting in the sun. The cold nights they spend well protected in one of their warm and dens.
Unfortunately, the Karoo is not exempt to the global changes of the weather pattern. So one has to live with unexpected cold rains and excess humidity. This especially affects our smaller cat species that battle with runny eyes and snotty noses, just as we do. Only, "cat flu" is much more serious than the human variety, and many cats, especially the young ones, die from it, in spite of the intensive treatment they get in such cases.

Now an edited and abridged version of Marion's latest reports:
African wild cats:
Gerrie – still loves eating and wanting to get to Dani. There are now rabbits in an enclosure between the two.
Dani – not much to say – she is the same but sneezing quite a bit the last little while. She doesn’t seem to stress when BC (wild Caracal, see below) is around.
Ilse – is pregnant – sigh! Frik was absolutely miserable on his own at the back and didn’t like it one bit. Ilse wasn’t happy being separated either – so this is what has happened.
Marion's cats: Cleo (from Dani's very first litter) – full of nonsense since the day-old chicks dried up. Cleo's kittens: Rose has a bit of a sniffle – not surprised with this damn weather. Daisy doing ok. Eddie was separated for about a week until Cleo’s heat passed. He is really getting old.

Blackfooted cats:
What a handful! None of them ate well last night, even though there was fresh springbok on the menu.
Kim – had an eye infection in his left eye. Eye much better but still sensitive and watery. Eating fine.
Alan – seems to enjoy food. Seen him out once or twice but always runs for cover when he sees me.
Marion's cats: Phoebe (Offspring of Jock and Sonja) – has a stuffy nose and went on a hunger strike for a few days. This morning she caught a guinea pig and was found chewing away at it.
April – point blank refuses to eat anything but chicken, day-old chick or mouse. She also has some little teeth between the canines in the front missing at the top
Anja – also being full of it with food.
Amani hasn’t eaten well the last few days as his nose has flared up again but fortunately he has been getting lots of fresh blood and drinking the bowls empty.

Servals:
Nala – full of beans as usual. Likes to chew on a bone on big piece of meat. However, will turn her nose up at the food if not to her liking. Doesn’t like Arno much and always give him a mouthful.
Arno – the same.
Gisette – she is a darling. Always wants to play and not shy to give a bite or hook your pants/sleeve if she thinks you are ignoring her. (oh yes, Dude (Marion's cat, see below) does the same if I play with Gero and he feels neglected). K-Kitten nr 2 (not yet sexed) had a bit of a game this morning for a change. Krato was on edge about something. Nr 3 was still hiding behind the house as it always does. Battling to sex them. Haven’t heard anything more from the prospective sale of Krato.
Marion's cats: Emily – I have seen so much that I can’t cover it all. Bottom line is that Gero and Dude love the little ones and they lie together while Emily has a time out. Emily plays with Dude. Dude has a tennis ball that he loves to play with and the little ones also try and play with it. The little ones now also like to chase the play stick and Dude and Gero stand back when they come and allow them to play too. Feeding time is quite something now. One of the little ones stands in the row at the door and comes to the front when I enter – smacks me on the foot and then stands back to wait for a dish! Too cute. Emily doesn’t like me to give them food – she calls them and then they come. Gero will smack any little one that comes to his dish before he has had a big piece from the plate – then they are allowed to come and snack. Dude will eat together with his siblings from the dish. All 3 the little ones play with me when we have play time. One of the little ones plays through the fence with Nala. Nala also likes to play with them through the fence. Emily is tolerant of Nala against the fence – I even noticed them smelling each other (nose to nose) the other day.
Emily is now on heat. It seems to have been brought on by Nala being on heat next door. Noticed Gisette also coming on heat and Arno being very keen to get in to her.

Caracals:
Keith fine and still full of it. Smacking against the bags on the fence the other day because I was playing with Gisette for a long time.
Flip was antsy last week but is in a better mood this week. He probably is not too happy with BC at the moment. It seems as if he is scared someone will take his food away from him at feeding.
Jerry still fat – harsh to put them on a diet in this weather.
BC has been quite busy and seems to be settling into life at the Clifton hotel.

House cats:
Sebastian and Nusha are running around as if they own the place. They are not fighting with Zorro at the moment but Felix is not happy with them. At least Felix sat at my computer the other day while Sebastian was at the heater on the floor – she spent most of the time glaring at him. Both are being rather pushy the last few days wanting attention – as do my (Marion's) housecats but just no time with hunters etc.

23rd of June, 2012
Nala is on her first heat, offering her backside and wanting to be scratched at the base of the tail and the back.

9th of June, 2012
A wild, probably subadult caracal (called BC) has been sighted on and off next to the Cat Conservation Trust's enclosures. Most of the sightings of this cat were in the day. While it obviously came for some left-over food in the beginning, it is calming down now and not just running when it sees a person. Now BC sleeps in the empty chicken enclosure during the day while the chickens are out feeding – next to Flip.

5th of June, 2012
Yesterday we had an interesting discussion about the immune-system-boosting properties of colostrum (the ordinary cow's one) on the weekly meeting of the local hunter's and fishermen's club. Andrea, who works with a medical company, told that she does give her cats colostrum when they are coughing, sneezing or otherwise unwell. She claims the cats & kittens are mad about it. The cattle/dairy farmers always keep some extra colostrum in the deep freeze for just in case.
Some vets recommend an intake of colostrum right after a treatment with antibiotics.
I remembered that most of our AWC/BFC-kittens were quite well before being weaned. Laurens, for example.
So, this gave me the idea to perhaps try a treatment with colostrum on our smaller cats. I'm sure there are enough farmers around who would give us the stuff.
Sounds to me worth trying.

1st of June
Riaan (house cat in Germany and Bastiaan's sibling), who became rather pudgy over the winter months, lost some weight now as he is outdoors most of the time. Pity only that it's raining like hell during the last three days. This is supposed to be summer.


16th Sept. 2011
The Occasion for today´s update is a sad one. As Aja was rapidly losing her battle against her aggressive cancer, we had to take her to the vet for the very last time. However, the last weeks were not too bad for Aja. As we gave her a daily dose of a potent pain-killer, she did not feel the cancer that was eating away her muzzle-tissue. She still enjoyed her usual ravenous appetite, she still went for her daily hunts (without catching anything lately), she was her purring, affectionate self. And, even yesterday evening, she accompanied us on our walk.
Aja, originally a barn cat, was already adult when she came to us in 2003. She was well loved by the farmers, having the reputation of the best and most diligent mouse-hunter in the neighbourhood. Even in pouring rain or a snow-storm she could be seen prowling or watching out for her favourite prey. In her good times, she brought home ten or more mice per day, either to devour them or to give them to Riaan, our tomcat.
While a greedy eater, she never stole anything. She was modest and friendly, and scrupulously clean.
Aja was a great cat!




30th August 2011
It has been a very busy time, supervising a doctor´s thesis and co-writing three papers on the Blackfooted Cat.
Our Bavarian house cat, Aja, is being treated for cancer. It is not going well, I´m afraid.
At Karoo Cat Research, we also suffered some losses. One of our young African Wild Cats, Arthur, died of pneumonia shortly after his arrival at the winter quarters in Clifton. His much smaller, tame sister Molly is well, though. One of Dani´s kittens also died of an infection.
The worst loss is our female Serval, Bonnie, who grew onto our hearts during her 8 years she stayed with us. We do not know her exact age - she was caught in the veld and was at Oudtshoorn for a couple of years. Lately, she developed the typical signs of Cushing´s syndrome, so she probably suffered from some disorder of the adrenal glands. She cared for her last litter (Gero and Gesine) very well, though.



19th March 2011
A very late update - with a very slow and unstable connection (via pre-paid cellphone), regular uploads are almost impossible.
Our young Servals are striking fit. They are changing teeth soon. Three more months and they should be old enough and well trained for surviving in the wild.
The Servals, in general, are the only cats here that do not suffer the excessive rains we are having at present, as they originally come from more humid areas than the Karoo. However, the irrigation farms in the valleys provide quite ideal habitats for Servals, so today they can be found regularly in parts of the Karoo.



26th January 2011:
Find some new pics in the gallery (miscellaneous): Acacia karoo, flowering; Karoo-scapes of Honingkrantz Farm; chicken- and ostrich eggs, Karoobossie.
I always had a soft spot for the scientific field of Astronomy, having studied it as a second subject to Zoology. The Karoo nights often are crystal clear. You can see stars even of the 6th magnitude, and that down to the horizon.
The pictures show a Lunar eclipse and a full moon rise. All pictures were taken on Honingkrantz farm.



December 6th,2010
A large and beautiful Karoo Nature Reserve near Graaff-Reinet shows interest to buy the two young Servals. This is especially pleasing as the cats, once they are older than nine months, will be released to freedom.
For this reason, the Serval kittens will get some special training to boost their hunting and survival skills.



23rd of June, 2012
It is with sadness and trepidation that we have to report that Frasier, the male Blackfooted cat of our partner Zoo, Cat Conservation Trust, Clifton, owned by Marion Holmes, went over the rainbow last night. He has not been well for some time and was not eating properly.
Although Frasier was no longer young - he was wild-caught in June 2004 as an adult cat, he probably could have still had a few years left in him. Frasier grew onto our hearts while he was with us at Honingkrantz. He was a lovable charcter and even allowed to have his fur stroked, a rare trait in a Blackfooted cat. The loss is a severe one, as Frasier was an excellent stud cat, accepting a variety of females without any problem and siring strong and healthy offspring, now populating some zoos in Europe and America, as well as the wilderness of the Karoo, to which they have sucessfully been re-introduced.
Needless to say, Marion, I feel with you.



November 21st, 2010
Update with an apology for the lengthy gap in information. Our telephone system had broken down, which left us without internet connection.
In the Karoo, the moderate spring temperatures are rising (35°C), while South Germany, at least at our place, is covered in snow (-17°C).
Karoo Cat Research proudly announces the birth of two African Wild Cats and two Servals.



15th October 2010
Karoo Cat Research - this is the brand new website on cats and their wild relatives by Mircea Pfleiderer.

There  might be a misunderstanding about the random pics to the left. They are only there for decoration purposes and are not linked with the buttons.



Honingkrantz, 3rd of March
After some difficulties, we are online, at last. During our absence, the Baboons had busied themselves with the land-line, lightening had struck the electricity lines and excessive rains nearly destroyed the roads.
Now, the sun scorches the land as it should be at this time of the year. The sky is cloudless and steel-blue, the temperatures are in their fourties (centigrade).
All the cats are back in their enclosures:
4 Blackfooted Cats (2,2)
7 African Wild Cats (4,3)
4 Servals (2,2)
2 Caracals (2,0)
Some of the small kittens suffer from Rhinotracheitis, quite a severe condition in young cats.



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