Category: cat care

Cats Suffer From Human Mental Illness Too

Having Google alerts set up for cat-related new can yield some pretty awesome and unique stories as fodder for this blog, but it can also be seriously depressing, with story after story about cats getting shot with arrows, pellets and bullets, cats poisoned with antifreeze, cats abused for online fame and even cats killed by psychotic ex-boyfriends or girlfriends.

There are, unfortunately, plenty of hoarding stories as well, and they’re a reminder that cats don’t just suffer physical abuse at the hands of humans, they suffer mental abuse and neglect by mentally ill people.

That’s the case in Park Township, Michigan, where authorities acting on a tip found more than 150 cats living in “deplorable conditions”. Even protective gear couldn’t entirely filter the smell inside the home, animal control officers said.

The town declared the house unfit for human habitation and the local animal authority, St. Joseph County Animal Control, needed help from nearby animal shelters and rescues to confiscate the cats, who will be given veterinary care and rehabbed before they’re offered for adoption.

The raid was “by far” the “biggest animal seizure we’ve done,” animal control supervisor Greg Musser told the local NBC affiliate.

The cats range in age from newborn kittens to adults. Two cats were euthanized. Taking in more than 150 cats is no small task, and the shelter is asking for help with cat/kitten food, litter and other supplies.

“We have been working tirelessly to take care of all these cats on top of the normal business,” the shelter’s Facebook page reads. “We are doing our best to answer the phone and return messages. We are in need of wet and dry kitten food, litter, pee pads, laundry detergent and bleach. We are also in need of gently used baby blankets.”

In an updated story, authorities in a nearby town found similar hoarding conditions in a second property owned by the same woman, who moved some of the cats between them after a natural gas leak at the first home.

Screenshot_2020-08-12 150 cats rescued from Toronto home

While the number of cats is unusual, the story is not: Rescuers confiscated 50 cats and 30 raccoons from a home in Ohio on Aug. 6, following the rescue of 97 cats from another Ohio home two weeks earlier. Less than two weeks ago, the SPCA pulled more than 30 dog and cats from a Pennsylvania home in which the inside temperature exceeded 100 degrees. Authorities found 150 cats in a Toronto home last month, including several kittens who were in seriously bad shape.

Those are just a sampling pulled from the first few results on Google News. Doubtless a lot of these people mean well when they start taking in cats, and the behavior is the result of untreated mental illness. But what can be done to protect cats from these situations?

Featured image credit Chamber of Hoarders. It depicts another hoarding situation, similar to the Michigan case.

Do You Bathe Your Cat?

Julie’s comment on our last post about cat photos got me thinking: I haven’t given Buddy a bath since he was a kitten.

There are a few good reasons: Many veterinarians don’t think it’s necessary if the cat doesn’t go outdoors, doesn’t have any flea problems and doesn’t come into contact with potential toxins. A short-haired indoor cat who is healthy and flexible enough to thoroughly groom himself doesn’t need bathing, according to trusted animal organizations like the ASPCA.

Unless your cat is a rescue off the street, unable to groom herself or is one of the “hairless” breeds — like a Sphinx — caretakers should “absolutely not” bathe their cats, feline guru Jackson Galaxy agrees.

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Not a happy camper: Most domestic cats loathe baths. (Credit)

Since Buddy is young and healthy, and the little guy was always seriously distressed by taking a bath, I decided not to put him through the stress. Fear of water may seem ridiculous to us humans, but for cats it’s a big deal.

He does a good job grooming himself, I’ve never detected any odor on him, and perhaps most importantly I’d need heavy gloves, a plastic mask and a family size tube of antimicrobial ointment for the inevitable wounds in places where I’m not heavily armored.

I am, however, open to feedback. Are there good reasons why I should be bathing Bud? Have I been too eager to accept the anti-cat-bathing argument because I don’t want to get soaked and scratched by an angry cat? Am I being negligent by not bathing him?

If you do advocate bathing cats, how often do you bathe your own little buddies, and how do handle the ordeal?

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Cats may be stoic, but not when it comes to enduring baths. (Credit)

World’s Oldest Cat Dies At 31

When Rubble the cat came into the world the radio waves were dominated by The B-52’s Love Shack, Debbie Gibson’s Lost In Your Eyes and De La Soul’s Me Myself and I.

George Herbert Walker Bush was in the White House, America hadn’t yet become a politically polarized wasteland and a gallon of gas cost 97 cents. Ghostbusters and Lethal Weapon both returned to theaters with sequels, the USSR withdrew from its war in Afghanistan and hundreds of thousands filled China’s Tiananmen Square to protest the communist government.

“It was just before my 20th birthday when I got him,” Michele Heritage, Rubble’s human, told the Daily Mail in 2018, for a story marking Rubble’s 30th birthday. “He was part of a litter [from a] cat that my sister’s friend had and I had just left home. I was lonely living on my own so got him in as a kitten.”

Rubble — a Maine Coon who became the world’s oldest cat a few years ago after the death of a 30-plus Texas feline named Scooter — died in May, just short of his 32nd birthday. His death wasn’t reported publicly by Heritage until July 3.

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Heritage, who lives in Exeter, UK, said she’s inconsolable over Rubble’s death, but attributes his longevity to lots of love and affection.

“I have always treated him like a child,” she said. “I don’t have any children and had another cat called Meg, who passed at the age of 25. If you care about something, no matter what it is, it does last.”

At almost 32, Rubble lived the equivalent of about 150 human years. The record for the oldest-ever cat belongs to Creme Puff, who died at 38 years old.

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All photos credited to Michele Heritage. 

Help Your Local Strays: They’re Starving During COVID-19 Lockdown

Years ago I worked with a guy who started a food pantry from scratch.

This man, a retired software engineer, approached the biggest restaurants, bakeries and food distributors in the area, asking them to donate their leftover/unused food so his pantry could distribute it to the poor.

Many obliged, but they all had the same request: “Don’t tell anyone we’re participating,” they told him.

The request wasn’t prompted by humility. These businesses didn’t want the public to know how much food they waste, and they waste a lot of perfectly good food, a dirty little secret of the restaurant, hospitality and food industries.

The reason I bring this up is because there’s another demographic that depends on the food those businesses toss out: Stray cats.

Stray Cat
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

With restaurants shuttered because of the Coronavirus, stray cats are going hungry and dying for lack of the scraps they scavenge from rubbish bins, dumpsters and sidewalks. It’s happening here in New York, across the United States, and in countries like Turkey, India, Greece and Morocco.

For animals who already live difficult lives, the pandemic made things worse.

“The strays have no means of feeding themselves as all offices, restaurants [and] roadside eateries are closed,” an animal rights activist in India told the environmental news site Mongabay, in a story headlined ‘Slim pickings for strays and pets during COVID-19 lockdown.’

Cats aren’t the only animals suffering. One particularly dramatic example was caught on video in a Thai city where thousands of long-tailed macaques live and depend on food given to them by tourists.

Hundreds of starving monkeys stopped traffic in a chaotic brawl over a single piece of food, shrieking, clawing and pushing each other aside to get at it.

As if things weren’t bad enough, stray cats are now competing with former house pets for the little food available.

In India, where bad actors have been spreading false information about COVID-19, animal rights activists are finding abandoned pets — including pedigreed cats and dogs — on the streets after their caretakers abandoned them.

“A lot of this is happening because of misinformation that went viral earlier about pets being carriers of the virus in China. It turned out to be fake, of course, but a lot of damage has been done now,” People For Animals’ Vikram Kochhar told Quartz.

Much of the damage has been done on social media, where conspiracy theories and rumors about contracting COVID-19 from animals are rampant. In China, where pet owners abandoned cats and dogs en masse during the first wave of Coronavirus, some social media users on Mandarin-language platforms called for the “extermination” of cats after a pair of studies conducted by Chinese research labs suggested cats are susceptible to catching the virus.

It isn’t easy to combat waves of viral misinformation, even as health authorities across the world stress cats cannot transmit the virus to humans.

Stray Cat
Credit: Animal Bliss

In Greece, abandoned pets — many with their collars still on — are following strays to food sources, especially in larger cities like Athens.

“We are seeing an increase in the numbers of cats in areas where we feed, some appear to have been abandoned, while others have roamed far from their usual spots in search of food,” animal welfare advocate Serafina Avramidou told Barron’s.

In feline-loving Turkey, where taking care of street cats is considered a cooperative responsibility, the central government has told local officials to make sure strays are well fed and taken care of. By making it a government responsibility, their thinking goes, citizens who normally care for the cats will be much more likely to stay inside during the pandemic.

“There are lots of cats on the side streets where there are only closed businesses,” a Turkish Twitter user wrote. “I haven’t seen food anywhere for days. The cats are running after us [looking for food].”

In Istanbul, Muazzez Turan fed some 300 stray cats daily before the pandemic, but said she’s had to stay home: Not only has her country been particularly hard hit by COVID-19, but she has pre-existing medical problems that make her susceptible to complications should she contract the virus.

Still, she said, her mind “was always with the cats,” and she told Turkish news agency Anadolu that she was relieved to hear the strays hadn’t been forgotten.

“I will sleep peacefully for the first time today,” Turan said.

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LaTonya Walker of Brooklyn feeds a stray in Canarsie. Credit: 24 Cats Per Second

Here in New York, some animal lovers are picking up the slack for closed restaurants as well as at-risk people who normally feed strays.

Among them is Latonya Walker, who told the New York Post she normally spends $600 a month feeding several colonies of strays but expects her costs this month will be “way more since there’s less restaurant garbage they can eat from, and more hungry cats walking around.”

“The cats have no clue what’s going on because nothing has changed for them,” Walker said. “It’s not in my DNA to see a cat suffering and not do anything about it. I’m equipped to make a cat’s life better, so I’m going to.”

Another Start-Up Offers Overpriced Cat Junk

From the same school of design that brought you $300 cardboard cat trees and $40 cardboard boxes comes a line of overpriced cat bowls and beds.

Cat Person collaborated with “design agency” Layer for the Cat Person Collection, utilizing what its creators call a “minimal, contemporary aesthetic” meant to be “proudly displayed in the home and on social media.”

If by contemporary they mean overpriced crap in pastel colors that wouldn’t look out of place on the 80s-era USS Enterprise D, then I suppose it could work.

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“Where do you want the litter box, Captain?”

The “collection” has two items — the $40 “Mesa Bowl” that was allegedly designed to combat whisker fatigue, but looks like one bowl stacked on top of another and placed on a cafeteria tray; and the “Canopy Bed,” an $80 cushion that your cat will never use.

(The $20 Tiny Tent is looking better every day.)

Both were dreamed up by Benjamin Hubert, a British industrial designer best known for creating $2,600 chairs.

The press release for the Cat Person collection, which contains much self-congratulatory language about “disrupting industries” and other marketing-speak, claims the “collection” was based on extensive research into the wants and needs of cat owners, particularly millennials.

As a millennial who almost qualifies as a Gen-Xer, I suspect someone swapped out that research with a home decor survey from 1986, and this is the result.

We don’t accept money from sponsors or advertisers — hell, we don’t even have any ads — so any mention of cat-related products and food on this site is purely for the benefit of our readers. If at some point we get greedy and some company buys Buddy’s loyalty with a lifetime’s supply of turkey treats, we’ll fully disclose that conflict of interest.