The giant panda has lived in bamboo forests for millions of years. The native of South Central China, Panda belongs to the order Carnivora. Despite its classification as a carnivoran, the giant panda's diet is primarily herbivorous, with bamboo shoots and leaves making up more than 99% of its diet. It has the digestive system of a carnivore and thus derives little energy from consumption of bamboo. Its gut contains cellulolytic microbes to digest cellulose. They have short and straight digestive tract, and that has to process large quantity of material. As a result of this limitation they have to defecate up to 40 times a day. That has affected Panda’s behaviour; it tends to limit its social interactions and avoids steeply sloping terrain to limit its energy expenditure. Pandas eat bamboo species in the wild, but only a few bamboo species are widespread at the high altitudes pandas now inhabit. One of the consequences is food shortage. The other is changing their food habit. Fortunately, the giant panda still retains ursine teeth that can eat meat, fish, and eggs if there is a need. Moreover, Pandas will travel between different habitats if they need to. Fortunately, other than humans, they have few natural predators. They are solitary in nature. They move in a defined territory; a female is not tolerant of other females in her range. Pandas communicate through vocalisation and scent marking such as clawing trees or spraying urine. They don’t believe in establishing permanent dens. They rely primarily on spatial memory rather than visual memory. (Source: Wikepedia)

Domestic cats, many believe, are good companions. They are the most popular pets, particularly in the western world. The traits that has put them in the category of pets include their small size, social nature, obvious body language, love of play and relatively high intelligence. Cats have flexible body, quick reflexes, sharp teeth and retractable claws. They can hear sounds too faint or too high in frequency for human ears. They can see better than humans in the dark and have a better sense of smell, but poorer colour vision. Cats can communicate by secreting and perceiving pheromones. The cats have very large eye sockets, a powerful specialized jaw with teeth adapted for killing prey and tearing meat. Cats tend to have better teeth than most humans; one of the reasons is diet mostly devoid of sugar. Their sweet taste buds don’t have the binding capacity for sugary molecules. They have a distinct temperature preference for their food; they love fresh kills, their temperature being s around their preferred temperature (38 °C). They don’t like cold or refrigerated food. Their acute sense of balance and flexibility is noteworthy. Due to this they can fall from high places on to their feet. Cats are known for their efficient meat processing capacity. Their gastrointestinal tract is adapted to meat eating. They have low levels of several of the digestive enzymes needed to digest carbohydrates. They are essentially non-vegies. They sleep more than other animals. (Source: Wikepedia).

I have no fancy for cats. In fact I find them the most selfish animals. All the goodness of dogs are absent in them. I have absolutely no practical knowledge about Pandas. I can tell you what Alan Beattie (author of False Economy) thinks about them. “Pandas are useless.” “Cats are great.” “Unlike pandas, cats do not require any state subsidy to thrive.” Both have chosen their paths of evolution. I am not sure if the choice was conscious or unconscious.

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© 2017 by Dr Purnendu Ghosh