Kaya is a 5-month-old kitten with a congenital facial abnormality, which is almost certainly the reason why adopters have passed her over.
Now To Rescue, the shelter in California that’s been taking care of Kaya, has turned to the internet for help.
“She has been through a lot in her short life but that hasn’t stopped her from being super affectionate and playful,” the group’s Facebook page says. “She gets along great with her foster families other cats and dogs. She is so deserving of a wonderful forever home. Kaya has received zero applications, we are hoping that her story will continue to be shared so she can find her forever home.”
Kaya recently had surgery to “relieve her discomfort in her eyes,” but the shelter’s staff say it’s a “one time procedure” and she won’t require any more surgery or special care beyond routine veterinary needs. She’s already spayed, vaccinated, dewormed and chipped, and now she’s living with a foster family, where she gets along with the resident cats and dogs.
To Rescue is located in Montclair, about 35 miles east of Los Angeles. If any of our California readers are interested in Kaya, or know someone looking to adopt a kitten, you can download an adoption application on To Rescue’s site.
Not that this should be the reason anyone adopts Kaya, but given how popular unusual cats are on Instagram and TikTok, an adopter with a solid eye for photos and videos could probably turn her into a social media star. I wouldn’t be surprised if little Kaya has her own considerable fan club before long.
While the day was founded in 2005 by an animal welfare advocate and the ASPCA to raise public awareness about the number of shelter cats who need homes, it’s expanded into an opportunity for people to show their cats off online and do something special for them. The day’s founders also recommend a range of ways to celebrate from adopting a new cat, to volunteering at a local shelter, to pampering your own feline.
I’ll be celebrating by giving Bud some catnip and a special treat, and spending extra time playing with him. After he’s tired out, he’ll probably enjoy one of his favorite activities — climbing on top of me and taking a nap.
The Cat Man Cometh
A man accused of brutally murdering his mother and aunt was thrown out of court on Tuesday for repeatedly meowing.
Nicolas Gil Pereg meowed when Judge Laura Guajardo asked him his name and ID number at the beginning of the court hearing, then kept on going, vocalizing a total of 55 times and ignoring a warning from the judge before she lost her patience and had him tossed.
Gil Pereg empezó a gritar como un gato delante de la jueza técnica Laura Guajardo, justo cuando empezaba la lectura de los alegatos de apertura.
El momento quedó captado en la transmisión oficial del Poder Judicial, donde se pudo ver la incomodidad en la sala. pic.twitter.com/MTIWISDj5E
“Mr. Gil Pereg, before the entry of the jury I warned you that if you wanted to remain in the courtroom, you should do so in silence, with respect and decorum,” Guarjardo said in a surreal scene, as the disheveled man continued meowing.
The so-called “cat man” allegedly killed his mom and aunt when they flew in from Israel to visit him in 2019, according to local media reports. Gil Pereg, who lived in a dilapidated home with 37 cats and several dogs, is accused of burying their bodies in shallow graves less than four feet deep on his own property, then reporting them missing to local authorities.
He’s performed his unimpressive approximation of a meow in earlier court trials, and asked to be moved from prison to a psychiatric unit. In addition, he petitioned the judge to allow him to have his cats with him in psychiatric care.
During earlier hearings, he stripped his clothes off and urinated in front of the judge, according to the Daily Mail. Before the murders, he had assumed the name Floda Reltih — Adolf Hitler backwards — for an indeterminate period of time, reports say.
Gil Pereg’s attorneys argue he’s not sane, but so far there’s no indication the court is buying it. A 2020 evaluation by criminal psychologists described Gil Pereg as a “hostile, evasive, challenging, ironic and confrontational person.” The accused murderer is manipulative, the forensic psychologists said, and only expresses emotions toward his pets.
The prosecutor warned the trial’s six jurors “not to be fooled” by the eccentric man’s behavior, saying his calculated actions after the murders show he fully understood “the criminality of his actions.”
Life isn’t easy for strays and shelter cats, and black cats have it rougher than most. They’re less likely to find forever homes and more likely to be euthanized than cats with other fur colors and coat patterns.
As if that wasn’t enough of a disadvantage, black cats are particularly vulnerable at this time of year due to their association with Halloween and lore surrounding Satanic rituals.
On the somewhat less tragic end of the spectrum, some people “adopt” black cats as temporary Halloween decorations, using them as accessories for parties or decorative dioramas. When Halloween is over, the “owners” bring the cats back to the shelter.
But rescue groups and advocates say the most unfortunate black kitties end up in the hands of cultists or people reenacting cult rituals. Those rituals never end well for the poor felines.
As a result, some shelters and rescues put black cat adoptions on hold during October.
The origin of the “evil black cat” trope is usually traced back to the 13th century papal decree called Vox in Rama. (“A voice in Ramah.”) Despite sounding like an Arthur C. Clarke short story, the decree was not entertaining — it called for a renewed push to find and punish heretics, and condemned a Satanic ritual that was allegedly performed among hidden cultists:
Afterwards, they sit down to a meal and when they have arisen from it, the certain statue, which is usual in a set of this kind, a black cat descends backwards, with its tail erect. First the novice, then the master, then each one of the order who are worthy and perfect, kiss the cat on its buttocks. Then each [returns] to his place and, speaking certain responses, they incline their heads toward to cat. “Forgive us!” says the master, and the one next to him repeats this, a third responding, “We know, master!” A fourth says “And we must obey.”
Stripped of context, it’s almost comical: A cat walks around and people line up to kiss its ass? Well, they’re just expressing their fealty as servants and vowing not to be tardy with kitty’s meals!
Alas we’re talking about the dark ages, a time when skepticism wasn’t really a thing and zealots were eager to prove their loyalty and value to powerful leaders. One of them, a German nobleman named Konrad von Marburg, had the pope’s ear, and Marburg was the one responsible for whispering to the pontiff about the supposed back cat ass-kissing rituals.
While the papal decree was real and Marburg really was an overzealous jerk who turned public opinion against the church for his brutal inquisition against heretics real and imagined, there’s debate about how much impact the decree ultimately had, and whether a resulting purge of felines from Europe during the Black Plague resulted from superstition or panic as more people got sick. (Serious academic opinion tends strongly toward the latter, particularly because people mistakenly believed cats were carriers of the disease.)
Clickbait sites have run wild with the Vox in Rama story, which has grown more outrageous with each retelling, resulting in headlines that make it sound like the Vatican dispatched shock troops to purge cats from the European continent and urged Catholics to slaughter them on sight. In reality, the papal bull dealt with a small area in Germany and was little-known even at the time it was issued.
The dozens of clickbait articles that surface at the top of search results for “Vox in Rama” omit the actual text of the papal bull, and many make the unfounded claim that the pope called for cats to be killed.
Was the decree real? Yes. Did it result in the slaughter of cats? Highly unlikely, and there’s no evidence to support that claim.
Likewise, the “evidence” that black cats are abused on Halloween is purely anecdotal as this Snopes story from 20 years ago notes. The fact-checking site called the claims about black cats used in Satanic rituals “inconclusive.”
But individual shelter managers trust their gut — and the many stories about black cats disappearing this time of year — in deciding it’s better to be safe than sorry, which is why many shelters won’t adopt out in October and others are more rigorous with their adoption screening.
There’s nothing wrong with that. As anyone who’s searched for cat news knows, there are disturbing stories about cat abuse every day, and people are sadly capable of incredible cruelty toward animals.
Better for black cats to be taken off the adoptable list for a few weeks than end up in the hands of people who want to do them harm. As cat lovers, there is something we can do: Consider black cats the next time we’re looking to adopt. Plenty of PITB readers have black cats, and they’ll be the first to tell you the little house panthers are just as sweet and amusing as cats of any other fur color.
Since we featured some sad news in our last post — though tempered with some really good news from a Portland cat cafe — we’ll wrap up the week with some humor, absurdities and science, all cat-related of course:
Do you have two cats? If so, you can help researchers from UC Davis and the University of British Columbia, who are studying the ways cats interact with each other in human homes. All you have to do is watch a few cat videos online, then answer a handful of questions about the behavior of the cats in those clips, as well as the behavior of your own kitties. With enough data from participants, the research teams hope they can better understand the often-inscrutable interactions, squabbles, truces and social hierarchies that define relationships between domestic felines sharing the same home territory. “Ultimately, we hope this research can help identify gaps in owners’ knowledge of cat behavior,” U of BC’s Sherry Khoddami told Gizmodo. “The welfare of cats in the home is an under-researched area.”
Yes, cats do have a long and distinguished history of “messing shit up,” and they simply don’t care. Maybe that’s why cats singing the Imperial March from Star Wars — okay, cats sampled and pitch-shifted to the Imperial March’s melody — feels appropriate. Our fluffballs are inevitable.
This week brought us stories of two cats who were reunited with their humans after more than a decade apart, both in the UK.
Tom, a tuxedo in Cardiff, Wales, went missing in 2009. He spent most of the past decade-plus living with another cat in the safety of a cemetery with the help of a nearby family, who kept them well-fed. It wasn’t until recently that someone tipped off a local rescue to the presence of the two “strays,” and finally Tom’s microchip was scanned. On Friday, Tom’s human, Donna, was overcome with emotion when she reunited with the little guy at Anna’s Rescue Centre of Cardiff, fighting back tears as she stooped down to stroke his fur. Donna also adopted Tom’s longtime companion from the cemetery. (Click the link for video, which we were not able to embed.)
Meanwhile in Aberdeen, Neil and Lucy Henderson were reunited with their tabby, Forbes, who had gone missing in 2011. Neil Henderson was so shocked, he had to pull over and stop his car when his wife told him Forbes had been located by the SCPA. “I was completely unprepared for what I was about to be told and hearing that Forbes had been found left me completely astounded,” he told the BBC. Forbes was picked up by an animal control officer who realized he was very friendly and had a microchip. The Hendersons “have no way of knowing where Forbes had been all this time or what adventures he might have been on,” but they’re ecstatic that he’s back home.
Make sure you’ve stocked up on snacks and beverages, because today’s the big game.
Kansas City Chiefs vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the immortal vampire Tom Brady? Nah, we’re talking about the Kitten Bowl.
Like its predecessors, this year’s Kitten Bowl uses a flimsy football pretense to air the blood pressure-reducing, relaxing spectacle of a bunch of cute kittens running around a miniature arena and chasing after balls.
The program, which is a collaboration with the North Shore Animal League, pet food brands and other organizations, also serves as a TV-show-length PSA reminding people to adopt instead of buying kittens. Come late spring/early summer, every shelter will be overflowing with kittens just like the little ones in the Kitten Bowl.
The Kitten Bowl airs at 2 p.m. Eastern on the Hallmark Channel, and you can also stream it on Hallmark’s official site.