Category: cat safety

Going To Asia? Leave Your Pets At Home, Plus: Aussie Former Soldier Pleads In Shelter Assault

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been kind to pets, but the virus itself has done little damage to animals compared to the actions of scared and misinformed people.

After finally admitting it had a human-to-human transmissible virus on its hands — months after it knew privately about the virus outbreak — the Chinese government waged a war on pets in the first few weeks of 2020 as the world watched in horror.

People abandoned pets en masse in empty homes and apartments, while government authorities shot dogs and cats on sight to prevent the spread of the virus even though there was no evidence they could be infected, much less pass the virus to people. As paranoia and misinformation spread, people even resorted to clubbing pets to death on the streets.

Now we know cats can get the virus, but there’s still no evidence they can transmit it to humans, which makes the practice of killing COVID-infected pets even more infuriating in addition to pointless.

The latest incident is from Vietnam, where authorities killed 15 dogs and a cat belonging to a local bricklayer who returned to his home province after work dried up. Authorities seized his pets and “destroyed them” last week in what a government official is now calling a mistake prompted by “COVID prevention pressure and local coercion.”

danchoonghung83871633869679-16-5401-4445-1633923236_680x408
Pham Minh Hung, 49, with his dogs as he returned home to Ca Mau, Vietnam. Credit: Pham Minh Hung

That story follows an incident in the Chinese city of Harbin, where three cats were euthanized in late September — over the owner’s objections — by authorities who said they were worried the pets would “re-infect” their owners.

Pet ownership and respect for animals among the public has increased in countries like China and Vietnam in recent years, prompted by an increase in disposable income and the influence of the internet. Both cases caused widespread backlash in their respective countries, with users defying laws prohibiting criticism of government to complain about the pet killings.

“It doesn’t seem very realistic that the cats would contaminate the environment so badly that they would be a risk for their owner to re-contract COVID,” Rachael Tarlinton, a virology professor at the UK’s University of Nottingham, told Reuters.

He REALLY Wanted His Cat Back

Meanwhile in Australia, a former soldier has pleaded guilty to reduced charges after he “stormed” a pet shelter in Melbourne’s suburbs to recover his cat in January.

Prosecutors say 45-year-old Tony Wittman was outfitted with a fake but real-looking rifle and full military gear when he went to the Lost Dog’s Home in Cranbourne West late on a January night, holding a female employee at gunpoint while demanding to know where the cats were kept.

Wittman had called the shelter 10 minutes before it closed earlier that night, Australian media reported at the time, and was told the shelter had recovered his cat, but that he’d have to wait until morning to claim her.

Wittman, who threatened to shoot the employee if she didn’t comply with his demands, told the court he suffers from PTSD and felt he needed to retrieve the lost feline immediately because he “loves his cat and relies on his cat for support.”

Wittman got spooked and left the shelter before taking his cat. He dumped his tactical vest and other gear in bushes not far from the shelter.

The incident was captured on the shelter’s security cameras, and Wittman was caught when he dropped by the following morning to pick up his cat as if nothing had happened.

“The victim and her work colleagues are absolutely traumatised by what’s happened,” a detective told the court in an earlier hearing. “He’s aware of their workplace. He lives close by. He has shown a complete disregard for the safety and wellbeing of the general public.”

Wittman’s lawyers were able to negotiate a deal with prosecutors in exchange for a guilty plea to lesser charges

Of Claw Sheaths And Sky Raisins

First I’d like to thank everyone who chimed in to reassure me that little Buddy lost his claw sheath, not his entire claw.

I’d never seen such a complete piece of claw come off like that, which is what got me worried. Buddy has the best readers who not only tell him he’s a handsome cat, but look out for his safety too!

The little dude appears just fine and there’s no indication of any injury on his paws.

Which brings us to our next subject: The sudden glut of “sky raisins” for pets living within the cicada “Brood X” territory.

Billions of the large, winged insects have emerged from the ground in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Delaware and parts of Michigan, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and northern Georgia. The current brood, dubbed Brood X, is near the end of its 17-year life cycle, and the cicada’s songs are at their most deafening this summer.

Screenshot 2021-06-15 at 05-34-19 Active Periodical Cicada Broods of the United States - CicadaBroodStaticMap pdf
Source: US Forest Service.

As cats and dogs are wont to do, they go after the larger-than-usual insects, and for them, a successful swat out of the air means a tasty treat.

That has lots of people wondering: Is eating cicadas harmful to my pet?

The answer is no, according to veterinarians who spoke to the New York Times, NPR and other press outlets in recent days.

There’s no truth to the rumors that a fungal toxin which affects cicadas can do any harm to cats and dogs, veterinarians say, and at worst, your pet might throw up the exoskeletons if they’ve snacked on a few of the relatively large insects.

“Most pets who ingest a few cicadas will only develop mild stomach upset,” Tina Wismer, a veterinarian with the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center, told the Times.

That said, veterinarians also caution that you shouldn’t let your furry friend gorge on “nature’s snacks.” One or even a few won’t cause any harm, but making an entire meal of them could make your little buddy sick.

Speaking of meals, lest we judge our four-legged pals for their nasty eating habits, it’s worth nothing that plenty of our own species eat cicadas too. Yuck.

Deepfried_cicada
Source: Wikimedia Commons

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.

Reason #53 To Keep Your Cats Indoors: Vigilantes

One bad thing about having Google News alerts for cat-related stories is the sheer, sickening volume of articles about cats who are maimed, tortured, killed by vigilante lunatics, dispatched by overzealous birders, shot with BB guns or arrows, poisoned with antifreeze, murdered as proxies in domestic violence incidents, kicked like soccer balls by juvenile psychopaths, or tragically killed by someone’s epic stupidity.

The amount of violence directed at felines is mind-boggling, and it doesn’t reflect well on the US: For example in Istanbul, a city of more than 15 million people, there are some 130,000 cats living on the streets, not including pets. While many ‘Mericans see an animal and think “Let’s shoot it!” the people of Turkey are overwhelmingly compassionate, going to incredible lengths to make sure street cats are fed, watered, sheltered and have access to veterinary care.

Today’s story fits in the “vigilante lunatics” category.

It’s not clear if the person in question simply hates cats or is acting out of some misguided campaign to “protect” small wildlife, but we do know that a would-be cat killer is threatening to kill outdoor kitties in Joplin, Missouri, a city about 230 miles east of Oklahoma City.

photo of british shorthair cat sitting on grass field
Credit: Kirsten Bu00fchne/Pexels

The suspect slapped warning letters and posters on the front doors of homes along four separate streets between 2:40 and 5 a.m. on Monday, local police said.

Cops haven’t released the full text of the letters, but said the letter-writer threatened to kill any stray or feral cats he or she comes across in the neighborhood. Likewise, while police did say images of the letter-writer were captured on doorbell cameras, they’re holding the identifying details close to the vest right now, which they may do for any number of reasons.

One of the homeowner who received the letter said he fears his two missing cats are now dead. Another neighbor said the letters follow similar threats by a woman wearing a red jacket, who told some people in the neighborhood to keep their cats inside or else.

“The lady, she was walking up and down the streets going door to door telling everybody that they better watch out for our cats because they were going to start being euthanized,” the neighbor told WKSN, the local NBC affiliate.

Joplin police are offering $2,500 to anyone with information that leads to the arrest of the letter-writer.

Cops Need Help Identifying Woman Who Stole Cat

Police are looking for help from the public as they try to identify a delivery driver who stole a Colorado family’s cat.

The woman is a driver for Postmates, an Uber-owned company that delivers food and other items from restaurants and shops that don’t offer their own delivery services.

Footage from a nearby surveillance camera shows the woman pulling up to the Adams County, Colorado home at 10:27 pm on March 9.

She delivers the package, then bends down and picks up the customer’s cat — an 11-month-old ginger tabby named Simba — before taking off in her white SUV.

Simba had a collar but was not microchipped, police say. Unfortunately, the suspect’s license plate number was not visible in the surveillance footage.

Unbelievably, Postmates hasn’t told detectives who the driver is. It wasn’t clear from a tersely-worded police statement whether the company has been uncooperative or it simply doesn’t have information on one of its own contractors. Neither potential explanation looks good for the company.

The Postmates app is also supposed to provide customers with basic information about their delivery drivers. It wasn’t clear why that information was apparently not available.

After police posted their plea for help identifying the alleged cat thief, several users warned of ongoing scams involving people who steal pets and demand ransom.

Simba’s case is also reminiscent of a late 2019 incident near Minneapolis in which a delivery driver stole a much-loved cat from a customer.

A doorbell camera caught the driver touching the cat and picking him up, but the angle obscured the view of the man actually stealing the cat. After months of denying to police and the cat’s owner that he stole the friendly feline, the driver finally confessed in a rambling letter to the cat’s devastated owner, admitting he tossed the cat out of his truck’s window shortly after stealing him. Because of weak animal protection laws that treat pets as property, the driver was charged only with a pair of minor misdemeanors.

In the case of the Postmates driver in Colorado, because they haven’t had any luck finding the driver, nor any identifying information from her employer, police are appealing to the public and hoping someone will recognize the woman.

6I5IUE5OSZA3VO63OVBF32LGP4They’ve released stills from the surveillance footage, as well as this description: “The woman is a Hispanic female with brown hair in a ponytail, a cloth face mask on, a gray long-sleeve shirt, black pants, and black shoes.”

Anyone with information about the woman or Simba’s whereabouts can reach police at 303-288-1535.