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The year of the cat: 2013 in review

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2013 was full of great moments for our furry feline friends. Rescues raised lots of money for their causes and their cats; Internet cat celebrities traveled, received honors, and even made appearances at the Internet Cat Film Festival, and science made some amazing discoveries in the world of felines. Here's a look back at some important feline moments of 2013.

Fat Cat Rescue, of North Chicago, Ill., held several fundraisers around Lake County and far southern Wisconsin, raising money not only for the care of feral cat colonies in Waukegan and North Chicago, but also for the cats they take in for adoption. All told, they hosted seven live events and five online events, raising thousands of dollars for the cats in their care.

Way back in February, scientists identified a way to treat certain types of epilepsy in cats. Specifically, they identified the antibodies that attack specific protein channels in the brain. The scientists involved, Akos Pakozdy and others, believe that immunotherapy might benefit both humans and cats with these types of epilepsy. It's not a cure, however, but they hope that this will lead to discovering a cure.

Scientists working in Tibet discovered a fossil that predates the fossils of modern big cats, and is now thought to be an ancestor to modern big cats. The find helped to bridge a major gap in the fossil record. Scientists believe that members of the family pantherinae diverged from their felinae cousins about 6 million years ago, but the fossil record only goes back 3.5 million years. This fossil, dubbed pantherinae blythae, is not only well over 4 million years old, but also supports the current hypothesis that cats evolved in Asia, not Africa.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), in an attempt to address growing concerns about vaccine-related soft-tissue cancers in cats, revised their standards for where vets should give cats their shots back in September. Instead of giving the shots in the haunch, or worse, between the shoulder blades, they say that it's best to give shots in the front paws below the elbows, and in the rear legs below the knees. They believe that this will help to reduce the incidence of vaccine-related cancers in cats.

Back in June, a tiny, 14-week kitten rescued her family from a burning house. Alaska pawed at her sleeping owner until she woke fully, and realized the house was on fire. Sadly, they lost everything as the house burned down, but thanks to little Alaska's actions, the entire family made it out of the house safely.

The Internet Cat Film Festival came to Chicago in October. Its founder, Scott Stulen, originally intended the festival to be small, however he was shocked in 2012 when it drew 10,000 visitors at the Minnesota State Fair. This is the first year the festival traveled. Films came from all "genres," and ranged from mere seconds to several minutes in length. The entire festival was a benefit for the Chicago Cat Rescue and Tree House Humane Society. Most feline celebrities didn't make it, but at least one did: Henri, the Existential Cat, was there, signing autographs. There were even cats available for adoption outside on the lawn.

Internet sensation Tardar Sauce, a.k.a. Grumpy Cat, visited Disney World and met several Disney stars, including the dwarf Grumpy, of Snow White fame. She was less than impressed with the entire experience. Make sure to watch her video, here, all the way to the end. Something rarely seen happens.

Colonel Meow received a huge honor this year. The Guinness Book of World Records deemed him the hairiest cat in the world, with fur at an astounding 9 inches. The sheer length of his fur—along with his bright yellow eyes in his chocolate brown face—is what gives him his severe gaze. He was hospitalized a few weeks ago for a heart condition, and his fans donated $20,000 for his care. Thankfully, he went home and is doing well.

For Christmas, Grumpy Cat and Colonel Meow, along with Oskar the Blind Cat, Nala Cat, and Hamilton the Hipster Cat, have their own music video called "Hard to be a Cat at Christmas." It's an adorable, hilarious video of cats with presents, being curious, hungry, and generally wondering what they're supposed to be doing with themselves besides watching their humans eat delicious food. It caps off 2013 absolutely perfectly.

Cats all over wave goodbye to 2013, and meow hello to 2014. May 2014 be an awesome year for cats everywhere!

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