If you follow the news you may remember hearing a few years ago about scientists in Japan who were using genetics to create the first cat/dog hybrids. One of these fascinating canine/feline mixes (latin name: Canis felis familiaris) has made its way to a home in Maine, and I was lucky enough to meet and photograph “Nigel” last week. Here’s a little sneak peek of the cheeky little fellow:
Nigel’s people, Erin and Jim, were living in Japan temporarily when the opportunity arose to add Nigel to the family. “I’m a cat person, and Jim is a dog person, so we thought it would be a win/win for both of us,” says Erin. And Nigel is adorable. He’ll fetch a tennis ball and then a minute later be purring in your lap. It’s not all the best of both worlds, though. The biggest challenge, they said, has definitely been the fact that these cat/dog hybrids are nocturnal, meaning they literally sleep all day and are ready for action all night. Erin says they have taken to sleeping in shifts each night. She, Jim and their two teenage sons each take a 2 hour shift overnight to exercise, train and keep Nigel entertained and out of trouble. Before coming up with their odd sleep schedule, Nigel would climb the window screens and bark nonstop all night. The new arrangement, though not ideal, allows for all family members to get some sleep and Nigel to get the interaction he needs. Middle of the night is also when Jim practices agility with Nigel. “With his cat-like reflexes, we hoped he would take the agility world by storm,” he says. “Unfortunately, Nigel is unwilling to participate in agility during daylight hours and won’t stop hissing if we wake him up, so unless we find any all-night agility competitions I’m afraid we’re out of luck.”
Another accommodation they have made is the custom-made enclosure that lets Nigel explore the back yard safely. Erin says he could climb any normal fence, no matter the height, so their back yard now closely resembles a monkey enclosure at the zoo.
Canis felis familiaris is definitely not for everyone, so any family who is thinking about getting one needs to do a lot of research. You can read more about the science and future availability of these pets of the future here.
And be sure to continue on to the next link in this blog chain, by Canadian photographer Geneviève Lacombe. Geneviève Lacombe is a natural light pet photographer and yoga teacher located in Montreal, Qc, Canada. Check out her post “Funny April Fools’ Day Pranks Featuring Pets” and keep going through the blog ring for more April Fools’ inspired posts.