Category: cat safety

RIP Beautiful Kitty

I was driving home on Tuesday night, just about to leave the city limits of White Plains when I saw a cat laying in the road.

I swerved to avoid the cat, saw motion out of the corner of my eye, and pulled over on the nearest side street. There was more traffic behind me and I held my breath as I approached, worried that one of the passing cars would drive over the injured feline.

Using my iPhone as a flashlight, I finally got close. The poor cat was dead. There weren’t any obvious injuries, but his mouth was filled with blood. In retrospect I believe the movement I saw earlier was just the wind blowing his fur.

I picked him up, carried him off the road and set him down on the grass near a street sign. Then I called the police.

He was well-fed and well-groomed, with a striking coloration — medium-length fur that was pure white except for a single black stripe on his tail.

This was someone’s beloved cat, and that person was going to be rattling a bag of treats and calling out for kitty to come home, wondering where the little guy had gone.

Someone hit or drove over that beautiful cat and kept driving.

It’s one thing to know the statistics, to understand in the abstract that outdoor cats only live three years on average while their indoor counterparts live an average of 16 or more years, and quite another to see a dead cat up close with my own eyes, left there as roadkill.

Feral Cats
A group of feral cats. Image credit: Cats On Broadway Animal Hospital

Many people labor under the assumption that cats belong outside as if it’s their natural habitat. The truth is, cats don’t have a natural habitat. As domesticated animals they’re no different than dogs, pigs or cows — the process of domestication has rendered them human-dependent. They’re genetically distinct from their wild ancestors, molded over thousands of years to be companions to humans.

Domestic cats aren’t as swift or agile as wildcats. While they retain some of their wild instincts, they’re ill-equipped to deal with danger.

Life as a feral or stray is tough, brutal and short. Some can survive for a short while. Most don’t.

They should live indoors, and there’s no reason an indoor life should be boring for them. As caretakers it’s our responsibility to keep them entertained, to provide them with toys, perches, hiding spots and window vantages. Most of all, it’s our responsibility to give them attention and affection.

Please keep your cats indoors and safe from the many dangers of the outdoors.

Note: The featured photo at the top of this post is not a photograph of the cat I encountered, but a similar-looking cat. Header image credit /u/phlebotinum/Reddit.

Declawing: Florida Moves Ahead On Ban, Ozzy Osbourne Joins PETA Campaign

A ban on declawing passed a key committee vote in Florida this week, while Black Sabbath frontman and reality TV star Ozzy Osbourne has become the new face of a PETA campaign against the harmful practice.

Florida aims to become the second US state to ban the elective and harmful procedure after our home state, New York, passed the country’s first statewide ban on declawing in 2019.

The Florida bill, which was introduced in August, was approved by the state senate’s agricultural committee by a 4-1 vote on Tuesday. It’s expected to pass two more committee votes before it goes to a final vote on the senate floor.

The ban would levy relatively stiff penalties for owners and veterinarians who ignore the law. The former would face fines of $1,000 per cat, while veterinarians would be fined $5,000 per cat, as well as discipline from the state’s Board of Veterinary Medicine.

Meanwhile, Osbourne and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have teamed up for a public announcement campaign aimed at increasing awareness of the damage declawing does to cats.

The ads feature a striking image of Osbourne holding up both hands, with his fingers severed at the first knuckle to illustrate what’s done to cats during the procedure. It’s bloody, like Osbourne’s long-time stage antics, and controversial, like many PETA campaigns.

“Amputating a cat’s toes is twisted and wrong,” Osbourne said, per PETA. “If your couch is more important to you than your cat’s health and happiness, you don’t deserve to have an animal! Get cats a scratching post—don’t mutilate them for life.”

Ozzy Osbourne in PETA's declawing ad
Ozzy Osbourne poses for a bloody anti-declawing ad in cooperation with PETA. Credit: PETA

Reason #127 To Keep Your Cats Indoors: Bad Guys

“Hey! Sorry for stealing your cat. I felt really guilty about it, so I abandoned him by the side of the road in another town. Totes a bad impulse decision lol! I never meant to be the bad guy! I hope you can forgive me, but don’t worry, if you don’t I forgive you! Buh-bye!”

That about sums up the bizarre letter a Minnesota woman received on Dec. 11, three months after her cat, Dot, went missing.

She last saw Dot on Oct. 10, when Byron Thomas Vieau delivered a package to her home in Watertown, 20 miles west of Minneapolis. Vieau was visibly taken with Dot, the cat’s owner would later tell police, and bent down to pet the 12-year-old tabby as he delivered the package.

Security footage shows Vieau encountering Dot on his way over, and it’s clear the cat follows Vieau, but the 23-year-old Minnesota man likely nabbed Dot on the driver’s side while walking back to his truck because we don’t get an angle on the theft itself:

 

Vieau completed his delivery, and Dot was never seen again. Dot’s worried owner called the cops, who questioned Vieau, but he denied knowing anything about the missing moggie.

“Byron lied to me (twice) immediately after Dot was stolen, he lied to police the next day, I feel he is still lying about what he did to Dot,” Dot’s owner wrote in a Facebook post. “In my world this is such an unnecessary tragedy and I wish this upon nobody!”

Then in mid-December, Dot’s owner received this batshit-crazy letter from Vieau:

note-from-thief

The letter reads:

Dear Heidi,

My name is Byron and I unfortunately made a poor judgment decision to take your cat. I cannot stress enough how sorry I am, I am a HUGE animal lover and I only wanted to have a pet of my own. It wasn’t meant to hurt anyone. I am so embaressed [sic]. I did make a bad impulse choice right outside of Watertown to let the cat go, I started feeling awful and quickly shoved the cat out of my car. I do not know where it went after that. This isn’t the story I gave you the first time, I felt so bad and I didn’t want to own up to things. I just wanted to take it home with me, but I quickly changed my mind. I never hurt it and I never meant to cause this much pain. I should have owned up sooner. I can only hope they can find it where I dropped it off. Again, I never meant to be a bad guy, I just wanted to give it a home. I’m so sorry for doing what I did. If you can’t find it in your heart to forgive me, I totally understand.

Byron Vieau
Dec. 11, 2019

What stands out is the lack of genuine awareness, of any consideration for the victim’s feelings or the welfare of the cat. Everything’s about Byron. Every sentence is “I wanted” and “I didn’t mean to” and “I can only hope.”

Every action is minimized: Byron Vieau didn’t steal the cat, he “made a poor judgment decision.” He’s a HUGE animal lover, and all he wanted was a pet of his own! Byron didn’t heartlessly shove a house cat — who doesn’t have the skills to survive as a stray — out of his car and abandon it on the roadside, he simply “made a bad impulse choice to let the cat go.”

Vieau tells us he was “embaressed,” he “didn’t want to hurt anyone,” and “never meant to be a bad guy.” He doesn’t mention how Heidi pleaded for the return of her beloved cat, or her anguished posts on Facebook as she asked for help looking for the “clearly well-loved” tabby.

He’s looking for forgiveness and absolution from his victim without troubling himself with considering her feelings, because he wants to feel better about what he did.

Police have arrested Vieau and charged him with misdemeanor theft and misdemeanor animal abandonment, which carry extremely light penalties. Under Minnesota law, Dot’s theft is a minor property crime of the same severity as the theft of say, a toaster, but not as severe as a shiny new flatscreen TV.

In the meantime, Dot is still MIA. Dot is primarily white and black, with traditional tabby markings on his head, and he weighed about 14 pounds at the time he was taken, according to police.

Any readers in the Carver County or Watertown area of Minnesota can call Detective Neil Kuhnau of the Carver County Sheriff’s Office at 952-361-1212 if they’ve spotted the missing moggie.

We hope Heidi and Dot are happily reunited.

Reason #246 To Keep Your Cats Indoors: Coyotes

A family in Sarasota, Florida, has learned the hard way why it’s not a good idea to allow pet cats outside without supervision:

The video shows his cat initially sitting on a chair on his patio. That’s when one coyote approaches it. The cat goes running after it.

Then seconds later, two coyotes start chasing the cat back into the porch. The coyotes are then seen dragging the cat to nearby bushes.

Vanchanka found his cat’s remains hours later after he noticed his cat was gone. He says this is the first time he has seen something like this.

“I’m horrified. I haven’t been able to go outside, only in daytime when I know for sure there won’t be any,” said Valeriya Rozin.

Rozin, who is Vanchanka’s wife, is now frightened to go outside by herself as the couple have a 2-month-old baby. To make matters worse, their other cat died Friday morning from what they say it was a broken heart.

Even small dogs are susceptible to coyote attacks, and have been prey to the ambush predators before:

Their neighbor, Avis Zoborowski, has a 16-year-old Lhasa Shi Tzu, and says she saw three coyotes roaming outside her mailbox one morning. She’s now scared to take her dog out for a walk.

“I’m afraid that by the time that I saw a coyote coming, by the time I pick her up, that dog will be right on my face. I just go out there and pray that everything will be alright,” said Zoborowski.

In my neighborhood, less than a quarter mile from my home, a brazen coyote snapped up a small dog — a toy breed — when his owner was taking him outside to do his business before bed on a summer night. I spoke my neighbor about a week after it happened, and to say she was traumatized was an understatement.

The coyote was completely unfazed by her presence — the attack was so swift and surprising, she didn’t have time to react before the leash was torn from her grip. She never found her dog.

There’s one way to make sure your cats or small dogs aren’t killed by coyotes: Keep them indoors. Indoor cats live for an average of 16 years, while outdoor cats live about 3.5 years on average, according to PetMD.

While some cat owners worry about condemning their cats to boring indoor existences, indoor life doesn’t have to be boring. Cats don’t need much to be happy: Give them attention, affection and regular interactive play time. Provide some lounging spots with good views of the outdoors and toys to play with. Let them sleep near you, where they feel safe. They’ll be more than content.