Oregon Cat Is An Accomplished Kleptomaniac

Esme the cat loves bringing gifts back to her human, so when she started bringing home inanimate objects instead of prey, owner Kate Felmet lavished her with praise.

“When she brings them, she comes to the back door and yowls, like ‘Wooooar!’ until I come and tell her she’s done a good job,” Felmet explained.

While Felmet’s glad her three-year-old kitty had stopped going after living creatures, the sheer volume of stuff Esme’s brought back — and her singleminded devotion to collecting it — prompted the Oregon woman to find a way to return the items to people in her neighborhood.

Felmet found a solution when she constructed a cat-shaming lost and found in her front yard, marked with a sign that reads: “MY CAT IS A THIEF” with the stolen items hanging from an attached clothesline.

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Esme the cat.

The sign has a well-drawn likeness of Esme with a glove in her mouth, and a smaller line of text that reads: “Please take these items if they are yours.”

So what does Esme steal? A little bit if everything, apparently.

The most popular objects of her pilfering exploits are gloves and masks, but the little cat burglar has gotten her paws on “several bathing suits, knee pads, rolls of tapes, packages of paint rollers and lengths of fabric.”

“Esme’s thievery began last spring – she brought home 11 masks in one day,” Felmet said. “I was so delighted that she wasn’t bringing me birds and she got a lot of praise – and maybe a few treats for the gifts that weren’t recently alive.”

Esme’s a completist: If she steals one glove, she must have the other.

“She brings them separately but almost always goes back to get the second glove,” said Felmet, who is a medical doctor.

“As soon as I put the sign up, she went for a week of not bringing me anything,” Felmet told WKRG, the local CBS affiliate station. “I had the impression she was a little mad about it.” 

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Esme’s haul from a recent pilfering expedition.

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Why We Need Stronger Animal Protection Laws: Example #233

Take a good look at the mugshot.

That winner-at-life is 21-year-old Mylo Latour, who used a sword to attack a kitten and said the experience was “magic,” according to Pennsylvania State Police.

Latour, who lives in York, Pa — a city of 44,000 in southern Pennsylvania, about 50 miles north of Baltimore — is accused of slashing his sister’s kitten, Mittens.

Latour told the cops he killed the baby cat because “it came into his room and it had power over him,” adding “my eyes dilated and I chopped it with my sword. It was magic.”

Mittens “had injuries consistent with disembowelment,” according to WHTM, a local ABC affiliate. Paperwork from an arrest report reviewed by the TV news station noted “there appeared to be a clean cut to the rear of the cat’s body.”

Latour was charged with cruelty to animals, a second-degree misdemeanor in the Pennsylvania penal code. That’s a charge on par with shoplifting, bigamy or stealing property worth less than $200. If he’s convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of $5,000 and up to a year in jail.

A more severe charge, aggravated cruelty to animals, does exist in the state. It’s defined as torturing an animal or “causing serious bodily injury to the animal or the death of the animal.” It’s not clear why Latour was hit with the lesser charge, and only one of more than a half dozen media reports specifies the charge against him.

We’ll keep an eye on this case and update accordingly.

Cat Alcatraz: Brazil’s Island of Abandoned Felines

In 2012, veterinarian Amélia Oliveira started a program to trap and neuter hundreds of cats who had been abandoned at Ilha Furtada, an island about 20 miles west of Rio de Janeiro.

Known as Ilha dos Gatos — island of the cats — the island was teeming with starving former pets and their feral offspring. Ilha Furtada has no natural source of drinking water, Oliveira said, and cats without hunting skills would quickly starve.

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Ilha Furtada became a curiosity for boaters and fishermen, and a sore spot for cat advocates trying to stop people from dumping animals there.

With the help of others, Oliveira began a program to end the misery on what’s been called “Cat Alcatraz”: The group managed to neuter more than 380 cats. Former pets were adopted out to new homes, but the ferals would need to remain on the island, so volunteers began feeding them and bringing fresh water on a regular schedule.

With the cooperation of local authorities, the group put up signage around the island and the coast warning that abandoning pets is illegal and asking people not to interfere with the island cats. There were plans for an official survey to quantify the feline population, an initiative to use cameras to dissuade people from dumping their pets on the island…

…and then came the Coronavirus pandemic.

Whatever gains Oliveira and company made over eight years have now been erased as Brazil — one of the countries hardest hit by the virus — has suffered more than 450,000 deaths officially (and likely much more uncounted) and an economy wrecked by waves of infection and lockdown.

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A “feline shantytown” on Ilha Furtada.

Many owners could no longer afford to feed themselves or their cats while others died, leaving their cats at the mercy of relatives and landlords. Once again, people began abandoning their pets on Ilha Furtada.

“If you don’t take them, they’re going out to Island of the Cats,” people would tell shelter operators, a veterinarian told the Washington Post’s Terrence McKoy.

While the feline population of Furtada Island increased, resources dwindled as lockdowns prevented volunteers from delivering food and water as often as they had in the past.

Now the island has “the appearance of a feline shantytown,” dotted with dilapidated and hastily-constructed shelters for its resident felines.

I recommend reading the entire story, one of just a few highlighting the toll the pandemic has taken on pets.

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Volunteers from Animal Heart Protectors fill a dispenser with food for cats on Furtada Island, popularly known as “Island of the Cats,” in Mangaratiba, Brazil, Credit: AP/Silvia Izquierdo)

National Hug Your Cat Day? Not Anymore!

NEW YORK — National Hug Your Cat Day has been rebranded as National Keep Your Damn Hands To Yourselves, Humans, We’ll Tell You When We Want Pets Day. (NKYDHTYHWTYWWWPD, or simply NKYDH2Y for short.)

The rebranding represents a long-overdue change to the June 4 celebration, Buddy the Cat explained.

“Even the most inexperienced cat servants know we’re not pathetic, slobbering creatures who live for human affection,” he said. “Dogs have the market cornered on that.

“Rather, everyone who knows felines is aware affection happens on our terms ”

Experts pointed to several opinion surveys, including an ABC News/Pew poll that found only 11 percent of cats enjoy hugs. Even among cats who enjoy being restrained in a human embrace, the majority said humans take it way too far and don’t know when to stop. (The same poll found the ideal time to stop is four seconds after beginning, meaning average of two-and-a-half pets.)

Several cats floated the idea of electric harnesses that would deliver a shock to humans who tried to pet their cats without being solicited, but they conceded they’d need human help devising, prototyping, pitching, manufacturing and selling the product.

In the end, the Feline High Commission on Servant Relations decided rebranding National Hug Your Cat Day to NKYDH2Y was simply more feasible, and coincided with the feline commitment to solving problems with the least effort possible.

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Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

Sanctuary Jaguar Gives Birth To Beautiful Melanistic Baby, You Can Help Name Her

The Big Cat Sanctuary of Kent, UK — not to be confused with Florida’s Big Cat Rescue — is welcoming a newborn melanistic jaguar, and everyone from the vet staff to the caretakers are fussing over her.

The as-yet-unnamed baby was born to mom Keira and dad Neron in a big-cat breeding program designed to ensure the species survives as wild populations plummet due to habitat reduction and poaching. Staff at the UK sanctuary say the baby opened her eyes the day she was born and was walking by two weeks. That’s an unusually quick development for most cats, but apparently not for jaguars, who live in the deepest jungles of the Amazon.

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The Big Cat Sanctuary’s newest addition. / Credit: Alma Leaper

The sanctuary is allowing the public to pick the baby’s name from among three choices as part of a fund-raiser.

The choices are Inka (Inca) after the Inca people and their empire, Inti, a Quechuan (pre-modern Peruvian) word meaning “Sunshine,” or Killari, a word from the same language that means “Moonlight.” I’m partial to the latter, especially for the image it evokes of the world’s largest black panther — and the largest cat in the Americas — stalking the jungle on a moon-lit night.

The term “black panther” is a catch-all for any felid with melanism. Both jaguars and leopards can have the black color morph, as can domestic cats. Cats with melanism retain their spots, and if you look closely you can see they’re a shade darker than the rest of the cats’ black fur.

Check out the video below to see the little one behaving just like any other kitten.