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Hey, Matt:
My cat is obsessed with water. He’s an ex-stray I found shivering in the rain a year ago, and he’s been a housecat ever since. I turn on any tap — kitchen, bathroom — pour water out of a jug, he’s there, voice full on. Meow times ten. I take a shower and he’s right there on top of the toilet tank when I get out, watching every splash and drop go down the drain and then jumps in, growls, and lays in the wet and goes to sleep. He always wakes up wet but doesn’t care. I spoke to his vet and she said she’d never heard of anything like it, but “try to keep him dry in winter.” He drinks plenty of water, and I keep his bowl clean and full always. Do you or the Alice clan have any ideas? I always thought cats hated being wet
.

— Cat Confused, North Park

In our 50, 60 years at the helm of this particular leaky ship, I don’t think we’ve ever found a sentence that begins “I always thought…” that wasn’t followed by pretty much bunk. All cats are different, and some of them shy away from H2O, but most of them actually are a little intrigued by it. Vets and cat-science guys are still a little fuzzy as to the why, but then they’re trying to put the cat brain in a box, an impossibility. They start out by saying that in the wild, cats in hot climates (lions, tigers, jaguars, e.g.) enjoy a cool dip to help bring down their body temps. Wild cats from cold areas (leopards) avoid water, probably because wet fur takes away its insulating powers. So, there’s a chance that your kitty’s ancestors come from a hot-weather zone. And housecats that have had water sprayed in their faces as discipline will definitely learn to avoid water.

But actually, it’s more likely that your particular pet just enjoys the excitement of running water. It moves, it makes noise, it’s fun. Lots of cats will sit on the edge of a sink and bat at running water with their paws or dip their paws in their water bowls as though they’re fishing. Your cat might take water loving off the high dive, but he’s not alone.


Dear Matthew Alice:
This past Christmas morning, my wife and I were driving north on I-805 approaching SR-52. I looked to my left, and there was one of the best rainbows I have ever seen, distinct colors from red to violet. The left-most end of the rainbow went down into San Clemente Canyon, so no gold for me. As we continued toward Governor Drive, I noticed that the same end of the rainbow was between me and the center dividing wall between the two sides of the 805 (still no pot of gold). My question is how far away from me is a rainbow?

— Anonymous, via e-mail

Impossible question. Impossible answer. Rainbows are elusive things. They’re formed by the angle of the sun’s rays striking a round raindrop, the refraction of the rays as they pass into the drop, a double reflection inside the drop, and another refraction as the light passes from water to air and then to your eye. So, the rainbow is the same distance from your eye as is the raindrop that creates a part of the bow. But because the distance also depends on where your eye is relative to the drop, every time you move your head, the bow moves. The rainbow you see is not the rainbow your wife sees in the passenger’s seat. You don’t even see the same rainbow as you drive up the freeway because your angle keeps changing. As for hopes of finding the pot of gold, well, the rainbow will always be in front of you (with the sun behind you), so I’d start buying Scratchers. Much better odds.


Dear Matthew:
How hot is a bullet just after it’s been fired from a gun? Could one hurt themselves by coming into contact with it?

— Steve, via email

Uh, coming into contact with a bullet that’s just been fired? Sounds like death to me. But that’s just my take on it. If you mean could you get burned, I’d say yessir, fried like bacon. The newest way to measure the temp of a fired bullet is by using a thermographically calibrated infrared camera to read the electromagnetic radiation from the missile. Complicated software converts the infrared picture into temperature data. A 5.56mm round shot from an AR-15 automatic rifle clocked in at 267 degrees Celsius, 512.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Ouch!

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