Information Portal

A Cat Enthusiast’s Information Portal:

An Academic Look at Our Feline Friends

Designed by a cat enthusiast and self-proclaimed ailurophile, this information portal combines academic resources that can be used in the beginning stages of research into cats by students, faculty, researchers,  and the general public. Covering both wild and domestic cats, this information portal will guide the user in accessing relevant works that cover medical, behavioral, historical, and overall general facts about cats.

Browsing

For the search on cats, the best place to start is at the library. For this library search, we will be looking at Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) for ‘cats‘ and ‘Felidae‘ (Linnaeus Animal Classifications-family name of all cats). In a nutshell, subject headings are “the most specific word(s) used to describe a subject for cataloging purposes from a list of controlled vocabulary terms” (Reitz, ODLIS, ‘S’, 2014). What this means for you, the information seeker, is that any of these subject headings provided below will direct you to library resources about cats.

For wild cats use:

  • Felidae ; Felids ; Wildcats
  • Cat family (Mammals) (Children’s LCSH)
  • Felidae in art
  • Felidae, Fossil ; Cats, Fossil
  • Captive Felidae

For domestic cats use:

  • Cats ; Cat, Domestic ; Felis catus ; Felis domestica
  • Cats ; Kittens (Children’s LCSH)
  • Cats in art
  • Kittens ; Cats–Infancy
  • Cat adoption ; Adoption of cats ; Cats–Adoption

Library of Congress Call Number Ranges

  • BL2420-2460    Egyptian (religious works)
  • PN980-995   Fables
  • PN6700-6790   Comic books, strips, etc.
  • QL1-991   Zoology
  • QL700-739.8   Mammals
  • QL791-795   Stories and anecdotes
  • SF411-459   Pets
  • SF441-450   Cats

Dewey Decimal Call Number Ranges

  • 590   Zoology
  • 636.8   Cats

 

Reference Works

This section encompasses reference materials that the information seeker can use to find more in-depth information on our feline friends. These are just some examples of the available literature on the market today.

  • Wilson, D.E., & Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.). (2009). Handbook of the mammals of the world: Volume 1. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions. ISBN-13: 978-84-96553-49-1, 728 pgs., color photos, distribution maps    LCC call number-Reference QL701.2 .H36 2009 (Huntington University RichLyn Library)

This handbook details the physiology, ecology and behavior of all animals in the order of Carnivore (including cats). It goes into detail about each species as a whole, with all subspecies listed, as well. There is a detailed general and scientific name index to aid the reader in locating the specific animal in question (in our case, cats).

  • Siegal, M., & Richards, J.R. (Eds.). (1997). The Cornell book of cats: A comprehensive and authoritative medical reference for every cat and kitten (2nd ed.). New York: Villard. ISBN-13: 978-06-79449-53-9, 456 pgs., ink drawings, color photos, 4 appendixes   LCC call number-SF985 .C67 1997 (University of Kentucky Young Library)

This medical reference book, created by the faculty and staff at the Cornell Feline Health center, focuses on everyday care for your cat and kittens, while also covering nutritional, behavioral and companionship topics. Also covering the historical lineage of cats, it gives in-depth background knowledge into the inner workings of the cat.

This online encyclopedia covers a wide range of animal behavior topics, including but not limited to, aggression, sexuality and cognitive functions, to name a few. With entries by leading animal behaviorists, this series of works details the scientific side of animal behaviors.

  • Campbell, A., & Chapman, M. (Eds.). (2000). Handbook of poisoning in dogs and cats. Oxford ; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN-13: 978-06-32050-29-1, 284 pgs., biblio., index, DDC (22) call number-636.7 C187h (Morehead State University Camden-Carroll Library)

This handbook was created as a reference for vets and veternary students as a quick reference for cases of poisoning in cats and dogs. Concentrating on the most well-known poisonous substances, this newer edition also has added entries, all compiled from the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) of London.

  • Macdonald, D.W. (Ed.). (2006). The encyclopedia of mammals (3rd ed.). Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN-13: 978-01-99206-08-7, 161 pgs., illus. DDC (22) call number-599.03 E56 2001 (Morehead State University Camden-Carroll Library) (Earlier edition located, 2006 print edition not available in the US)

Edited by a Zoologist, and published by Oxford, this encyclopedia is an authoritative description and narrative of all mammals on earth, including their life cycles, diets, ecosystems, evolution,  and subspecies.There are also special facts available for many different mammals, all in one convenient volume.

E-Resources

E-resources is a catch-all term that can mean e-books or other types of materials that are now online (including encyclopedias, almanacs, handbooks, etc.). Here a just a few choices to help you start your search.

This online encyclopedia is a compendium of different topics surrounding the welfare and treatment of animals (especially companion animals, aka pets), including a chronological timeline of legislation related to the welfare and treatment of animals. Sections are authored by vets, and some attorneys, as some topics are discussing legal matters concerning animals. Other “hot” topics, such as dog fighting, are also analyzed and broken down for the reader.

  • Zakrevsky, T., & Lachinov, V. (Eds.). (2012). Animal science, issues and professions: Cats: Biology, behavior and health disorders. New York, NY: Nova Biomedical. eISBN-13: 978-16-20810-60-6. Stable URL: http://www.ebrary.com

This e-book is one that is international in scope, and has chapters by animal experts from all over. Covering medical topics that are studied by veterinarians, this e-book seeks to encapsulate these difficult subjects in one place. Dealing with neurological, spatial acuity and vision, and more, this book represents a thorough monograph that provides in-depth looks at the topical research going on about cats.

This is the third volume in a series on animal welfare (the previous two volumes covered horses and laboratory animals) that deals exclusively with cats. Written and edited by veterinarians, Zoology professors and animal researchers, this e-book details all you need to know about the breeding, anatomy, history, companionship and care of cats and their kittens. A great volume for vet students to get an in-depth look at the ways cats impact our lives.

After all of this heavy, very involved academic material, the author realized that it is good to take a “brain break” and read some fun facts, myths, and stories about cats and how they have impacted humans since they were first domesticated. Included are famous cats from movies, TV, comic books/strips and the art world.

  • Bradshaw, J. (2013). Cat sense: How the new feline science can make you a better friend to your pet. New York: Basic Books. eISBN-13:978-04-65040-95-7. Stable URL: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/848393166

Written by the Foundation Director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol, this e-book provides a complete overview of human-cat interaction and behaviors associated with this, while compiling all the current scientific work being done on cats into one book. With a sense of bringing together the science and the emotional side of owning a pet, this book presents the best of both worlds: academic work with general reader tidbits, to keep the information from becoming too overwhelming. All readers, not just those in academe will gain significant knowledge on cats after reading this book.

 

Databases and their use

For this section of the portal, 2 proprietary databases will be evaluated, with example keywords, thesauri examples, and general tips on how to navigate them.

This database is one that indexes and abstracts works (research, books, etc.) on life sciences and biomedical research, including animal studies. Since animals have been used for many years in scientific research, including cats, works in this database will be directly related to cats and their ongoing contributions to the science fields.

Keywords and how to use them

Since this is an information portal all about cats, let’s start there. Our first keyword for this database is “cats”. Just that one keyword returns over 173,000 results! That is way too many to look through, and not all of them are about our feline friends, so this is where we refine our keyword search. Another name for “cats” is “feline”, and this keyword (“feline”), returns over 16,700 results. We are getting closer, now let’s take the “feline” keyword and limit it a little. This is a general thing you can do in all databases, limit the search results by date range, broad subject, publisher, and many others. In the case of the BIOSIS database, you can also look at PubMed ID numbers (unique to all works published in any medical field for identification purposes) to narrow the results even further.

We would refine our search results like so: choose “Animal Husbandry” from the Major Concepts section (left-hand side of screen) and we get down to 71 results. Next, look at the Research Areas section, and we see that we can choose “Veterinary Sciences” for a return of 39 results. The exact structured query (or keyword search) as the database reads it looks like this:

TOPIC: (feline) Refined by: MAJOR CONCEPTS: ( ANIMAL HUSBANDRY ) AND RESEARCH AREAS: ( VETERINARY SCIENCES )Timespan: All years. Indexes: BIOSIS Previews.

Thesauri/Subject Headings and how to use them

We all know what a thesaurus is: the dictionary-like book that we look at to figure out synonyms and antonyms of words that we are using. In the case of databases, a thesaurus (plural-thesauri) is a component that takes all subject headings and controlled vocabulary (a word(s) that are agreed upon by professionals and librarians to describe a work) and puts them in one place for the information seeker to access and possibly use as keywords to refine their search. In the case of BIOSIS Previews, there is no thesaurus, but there are many other keywords and content specifications (like Taxonomy information) that can be used in place of thesaurus terms or subject headings, for example, here are just a few from one article about feline HIV: 26502, Animal Production, General Methods….this code number will allow you to search the BIOSIS database for all materials related to this code number, so it works as a good substitute for a thesaurus term or subject heading!

General uses of BIOSIS database

While this database is strictly scientific related, that does not mean that the average searcher cannot use it, it just means that you have to be aware of some of the general functions of all databases that are out there: basic searching gives you one box to put in your keywords, which is good for the new user, and the advanced search expands the basic search box to give you more choices for keywords (3 or more, if necessary) to input, date ranges to limit, even types of materials to limit to (like say you just want “academic journals”, you can limit your search to just those with this feature). While this list is not exhaustive, these are the most important general features that every user should be aware of. The author suggests just playing around, looking at the Help section (usually in the top corner of the page, with a ‘?’ near it) and seeing what kind of searches you can come up with….one more tip here: write down your search pattern, it will help in the long run!!

Databases and their use

The second database we are looking at today is called Academic Search Complete. This is the database formerly known as Academic Search Premier, and it is a more general subject database, meaning that it is not field specific, like BIOSIS was, and covers a range of fields, disciplines, and professions. This is a good database for the beginning searcher, and can provide the user with a good overview of topics, leading to more in-depth research later on.

Academic Search Complete also covers a period of many years, starting with historical documents as far back as 1887, and continuing on to present day. This is, like stated above, a more general database for finding your information, and it can be used as a starting place in your searching for information on cats.

Keywords and how to use them

For Academic Search Complete (ASC), since this is more of a general knowledge type database, and since we are still interested in cats, we will once again start with the simple keyword ‘cats’. Well, we get over 10,000 results with that search, way too many and some not even about cats the animal, which is not what we are looking for. So let’s get more specific: now we will try 2 keywords, to see if we can’t narrow down our results, so we will try ‘cat’ AND ‘feline’. Now we get 263 results! This is the perfect example of how using the right keywords can narrow down our search results and give us a more manageable number of information resources to look at. But that’s not the end of our search, for now we can use the ‘limiters’ that every database has to narrow the results even more! So, from the left-hand side of the screen, you will see options and boxes to click for “Full-text”, “Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Journals” and “Published Date” (it gives you a range of years to narrow by), so when we perform our original keyword search of ‘cat’ AND ‘feline’, we get this database-specific search query:

SU cat AND SU feline Limiters – Full Text; Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals; Published Date: 20090101-20151231 Expanders – Search related subjects Search modes – Boolean/Phrase

Thesauri/Subject Headings and how to use them

For the ASC database, they actually have a nice menu at the top-left hand corner of the page called “Subject Terms” (a synonym, database wise, for the thesaurus), which is what you can use if you need help finding the keyword that the database uses for your topic. In our case, when we look at the Thesaurus page, we see a search box, with some options below it to help the database recognize our search terms, and hopefully show us a coordinating, official, subject heading (in this case, we can also call it a controlled vocabulary term). So we will input ‘cat’ into the box, and choose the option to narrow it down marked “Term contains”, and we get results on specific breeds of cats (i.e. SIAMESE cat) and terms related to a cat’s needs (i.e. CAT litter boxes). When you click on one of these subject terms (as ASC calls them, they also use the word thesaurus, so be aware of this when you are searching ASC), say, CAT litter boxes, it shows us the broader terms used, so in this case it is ‘CATS–Equipment & supplies’. The thesaurus also lists other terms that you could possibly have thought of for ‘cat litter boxes’ and categorizes those as “Used for” our subject heading of ‘cat litter boxes’. It’s basically a switching out of possible user-created search terms for the official Subject Heading!

General uses of Academic Search Complete

Academic Search Complete is just like all other databases, it has some features that others don’t, and it has some of the same features that all other databases have. All general rules of databases apply here, just like they did for BIOSIS (described above). The thing to remember about databases is that they are all designed to be somewhat similar, so the user can easily switch between databases in their searches, and so database designers and administrators have the same template to work from when it comes to adding new metadata (data about data, or the data the computer needs to find your resource and display it for you) and adding new works, thesauri terms and other features that will be available in the future.

Remember always that databases are tools that help us, the information seekers, find what we are looking for. The 2 database described above are just some examples of the many general, specific, and discipline-aligned databases available today.

Periodicals/Serials

Right now, you, the information seeker, are looking at this information portal and wondering, “What in the world is a periodical/serial?”. Well, periodical/serial are fancy terms for academic (scholarly) journals (i.e. Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA), magazines (i.e. People), and trade magazines (i.e. Civil Engineering, the magazine of the American Society of Civil Engineers). There are plenty out there related to cats, and here we are highlighting 4 examples of these works that could be helpful in learning more about cats and the industries, trades, and professions that deal with cats.

According to the publisher, this journal is “dedicated for publication of research articles in the field of biology of animals and with the scientific understanding of how animals work” (AJAVS, 2015). This journal is more for the researcher and grad student level (and above), but is an authoritative source for some of the latest scientific advancements in the field of animals, including our cats.

  • Alternatives to Animal Experimentation (ALTEX), published quarterly, E-ISSN: 1868-596X. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Baltimore. http://www.altex.ch/Home.12.html

This is a journal published in Switzerland in cooperation with the American societies for alternatives to animal research. This journal is open-access, meaning any person who finds it on the web can look at any issue, article, etc., and can copy or download the article (or whole journal) if they so choose. Since the Internet has become the most widely used information source, and since more people are learning about things like animal experiments in the science fields (not just rats and mice, but cats, dogs, monkeys, etc.), many people have voiced concerns about animal experimentation as they learn more about it, and this journal can help the information seeker learn more about the historical and modern practices of animal experimentation, and what medical research and breakthroughs have happened because of it.

  • Modern Cat: The lifestyle magazine for modern cats and their companions, published biannually, Vancouver, BC, Canada: Modern Cat, Inc. http://moderncat.com/

This magazine is all about cats, with pictures, articles and commentaries that are geared towards the lifestyles of cat owners and their cats. More along the lines of some well-known women’s magazines (i.e. Cosmopolitan), with quizzes, fashion articles, and tips and tricks to taking care of your cat, this is a fun magazine that shows the more fun aspects of cat ownership. They also include a memorial section that recognizes and acknowledges the losses we suffer when something happens to one of our cats (a unique feature I have not seen before).

  • Feline Wellness Magazine, published online 6 times a year, Petersborough, Ontario, Canada: Redstone Media Group. http://felinewellness.com/

This online magazine is one that offers holistic (natural or not man-made) advice, products, commentaries and articles concerning your cat. With the growing movement away from man-made pharmaceuticals, body products, food and other items, it only makes sense that if you practice these things, that you would want your pet to do so, as well. This magazine provides all that, plus commentaries from readers, writers and others who love their cats. A good overall online magazine about cats, and definitely good for learning about the holistic ideas that you can use with your cats.

Websites

Well my friends and information seekers, we are at the end of this information portal on cats, and what a great exploratory trip it has been so far! I hope that these websites compiled here will be just the first point on your journey to exploring the myriad of resources and information available about our feline friends. Without further ado, websites about cats.

The ASPCA is perhaps the best known organization in America that helps with the rescue, adoption and education about our nations homeless and feral animals (cats especially, but also dogs, horses, and other mammals). Their mission is to prevent cruelty to animals wherever they find it, which they do through successful fundraising/donation campaigns, and educational tools (PSA, advertisements, websites, etc.) that teach the public what exactly happens when people are cruel to animals. They have resources on the website that direct you to your local animal shelters, and they have a section of the site that teaches parents how to talk and show their kids that cruelty to animals is wrong. A very good information site about obtaining a shelter cat, how you can volunteer to help at your local shelter, and links to other associated groups and organizations, for further reading.

The Feline Health Center at Cornell, part of their Veterinary School, is a website that details all the work that students, faculty and researchers have been performing at the center, all to benefit the cats of the world. The website has information about ongoing research projects, ways for you to donate to the center, and a newsletter. A unique center that is moving the way forward for scientific research on our beloved cats, with the goal of improving our cat’s lives through knowledge.

The Cat Fancier’s Association is the main group in the US that deals with aspects of purebred cats and cat shows. One of the oldest such groups in the US, they put on cat shows for breeders and showers, highlight breeds every month on both the website and in their magazine (formerly Cat Fancy, now Catster). This is the go-to website to learn about all purebred cats, their histories and the people who first bred them. With many pictures of the cats themselves, they use the images to highlight just how special and unique cats are. They also have sections related to legislation about cats, sections for cat care, a section for breeders, for showers, and for the shows themselves.

The Humane Society of the US website is the place where you would go to learn more about your local animal shelter, what you can do to donate or volunteer to help, and the programs they offer. They also highlight news stories from around the world that feature animals, and have educational tools to highlight the work they do for the animals. While they do not deal exclusively with cats (ASPCA also deals with all animals), since your local animal shelter is run by the Humane Society, this is a good website to look through for more localized information about cats in your area, and they have links to more outside resources for furthering your education about cats.

 

 

 

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