You don’t often hear about public memorials for cats, let alone thousands of people participating in them, but the fact that tickets were gone for P-22’s “Celebration of Life” within three hours speaks to the special place the mountain lion had in the hearts of Californians.
The famous puma, who was euthanized in December after he was suffering from an infection and was hit by a car, called Los Angeles’ Griffith Park home, and that’s where the celebration will be held at noon Pacific (3 pm Eastern) on Feb. 4. It’ll be held at The Greek, the outdoor amphitheater more commonly associated with rock stars, although one could argue P-22 was a rock star in his own right.
P-22 was the subject of books, movies and music festivals during his 12-year life, and his face adorned t-shirts, murals and street signs asking people to be careful while driving around the Griffith Park area, where the big guy ranged. He was the most famous mountain lion in an ongoing study of his species, and was easily identified by the radio collar around his neck.
P-22’s “origin story” was equally fascinating. Born in southern California in 2010 or 2011, the fearless puma migrated north, crossing several of the busiest and most dangerous highways in the world before he settled in Los Angeles. His nine-mile home range was the smallest ever recorded for a member of his species.
Bookmark this link or this alternate to livestream the event, which is set to include music, performances and remembrances from Los Angelinos and celebrities who loved the “Hollywood Lion.”
Separately, there’s an effort to honor the late puma with postage stamps featuring his famously derpy visage.
Top image credit Miguel Ordeñana/Natural History Museum. Bottom image credit Steve Winter.
STAR COMMANDER BUDDY’S LOG, STARDATE 12142022, Aboard the USS Fowl Play
Lt. Commander Freddie Ferocious has command of the bridge while I’ve retired to my ready room for the important task of answering video messages from kittens in Mrs. Meowmore’s Kittengarden class.
Myles, a three-month-old tuxedo who wants to be a catstronaut when he grows up, has asked me how catstronauts eat and use the litter box in zero gravity.
“Well, Myles,” I tell him, “as you may have guessed, regular litter is no good without gravity! You can’t bury your business, obviously, and you run the risk of free-floating poops and granules of litter escaping into the ship’s habitable areas, so a litter box is out of the question. That is why we have a sealed Litter Chamber and a special suction device. It takes some getting used to, especially since it tends to pull on your fur while you’re doing your business!”
Sophia, a five-month-old Calico, asks us what we eat in space.
“This morning at 0100 hours I was informed that our food replicators are malfunctioning, which means the entire crew has had to make do with freeze-dried kibble and pate MREs. No wonder we’re all so cranky! I have ordered the engineering department to devote all available resources and catpower toward the repair of the replicators. This simply cannot be allowed to go unresolved, for a cranky crew can easily become a mewtinous one, and I don’t want to have to start spacing kitties out of the airlock. Er, I mean throwing ’em in the brig! Chief Engineer Meowdi LaForge tells me the replicators should be back online by breakfast.”
Simba, three and a half months, asks: “Dear Commander Buddy, how far are you from the place you’re traveling to, and what will you do when you get there? Is it true there might be monsters? That would be scary!”
“Thanks for writing, Simba! It’s 10.47 light years to the Epsilon Eridani star system, which is a long ride! Fortunately the USS Fowl Play is a pretty big, comfortable ship, with lots of stuff to do to keep her running, and some pretty cool options for entertainment and R&R when we’re off duty. We’re less than two light years away from our destination now, which means the Fowl Play has already flipped and is engaged in a prolonged deceleration burn. We have to do that, see, so we don’t sail right on past Epsilon Eridani!
“Where did you hear about the thing with the monsters? It’s not true, okay? I don’t know what anyone told you, probably that jealous jerk Commander Calvin, but I totally did not run screaming from a monster during the expedition to Luyten 726-8, okay? That’s fake news!
“What happened was, I saw the monster and issued a blood-curdling battle cry, but then I hit the wrong button on my Planetary CatRover, which caused it to spin around and run in the other direction. I was trying to inspire my team, not abandon them. I would have turned around and battled the monster too, except by the time I realized my mistake I was already more than half way back to the lander and the others had scared the monster away with their laser pointers.”
That’s my rover on the left, and the Scary Monster on the right. As you can see, I’m very brave for facing the Scary Monster:
Buddy’s Planetary Rover
The Evil Monster, whom Buddy was totally not scared of.
Five-month-old Pepper asks: “Star Commander Buddy, do you think smart aliens are out there? What do they look like? Will they be nice when you meet them?”
“Hi, Pepper! Those are good questions. Well we should remember that we cats are not only a super intelligent species, but we are intimidating too! We have sharp teeth and claws, some of us can roar, and we look really strong and tough! So maybe the aliens will be scared of us!
“I think there will be smart aliens even though we haven’t found other intelligent life on Earth. I mean, there’s humans, but they’re simple-minded creatures, aren’t they? That’s why they’re our servants! LOL! Maybe the aliens will only have fur on their heads like humans. Maybe they’ll look like dogs. Gross, I know! Or maybe they’ll look like a cross between elephants, manta rays and aardvarks.
“We just don’t know, which is why we’re trying to find out. Picture it: Star Commander Buddy, fearlessly leading the first expedition to make contact with smart aliens. It’ll be pretty cool to be in the history books. Tell ya what, Pepper. If we find smart aliens, you and the rest of Mrs. Meowmore’s class will be the first to know. After NASA, of course. We’ll send you pictures. Deal?”
About a year after John Graham and his wife, Kathleen Birch, adopted Bella the Cat, they noticed she had an acquaintance — a genial neighborhood stray with a white-cream coat and black fur running from his back to his tail like a cloak.
Although she’s territorial like any member of her species and spends much of her time patrolling Grove Park — a quiet London neighborhood tucked into a winding loop of the Thames — Bella expressed no animosity toward the apparent intruder, and in fact seemed to be on quite friendly terms with him.
Graham and Birch, who like to joke that Bella is a clandestine agent of MI5 — Britain’s version of the FBI — dubbed the stray Bertie, and decided he was her field liaison.
“We think Bertie is her Mi5 contact and visits to get updates [before] returning to HQ to report on her field actions and mission status,” Graham quips.
After checking with the neighbors and bringing Bertie to the veterinarian, who said the stray was not chipped, Graham and Birch believe Bertie was likely abandoned by his previous family and eked out a living zig-zagging between homes in Grove Park, depending on the goodwill of neighbors and his own considerable charm for food. So they had Bertie chipped with their contact details about eight months ago, and now field agent and handler have been united under one safe house roof as they continue in His Majesty’s service.
Bertie and Bella even have their own WhatsApp group comprised of their humans and neighbors, who post to let each other know of the feline duo’s comings and goings.
Both cats are a source of great joy for Graham and Birch, who were looking to adopt again two years ago after the passing of their beloved Bets, who had been with them since kittenhood and lived to the ripe old age of 21.
After contacting a charity they support in Twickenham, the couple went out to meet a cat named Puss Puss at a foster’s home about three miles away.
“We walked in and sat down, and within literally a few seconds, she came out from under a table. My wife immediately fell in love with her as Puss Puss – now called Bella — rolled over and showed her belly with the loudest purrs ever,” Graham recalled. “She walked over to me and looked up with the most beautiful green eyes, allowing pets and scritches instantly. I was totally smitten. Her secret service training on overcoming any resistance was obvious here.”
Not much is known about Bella’s past, which Graham jokes is classified, but the fosters said Bella likely came from a hoarding situation. She bears some emotional scars from those times, making it clear she didn’t like to be picked up and wouldn’t tolerate head rubs. Graham said he thinks Bella may have been struck on the head by the abusive person or people who had custody of her originally, but with patience “she has grown to trust us and love us the way we love her.”
True to her training, Bella came striding out of her carrier that first day without need for coaxing and set about surveying her new headquarters, exploring while noting promising hideouts and lounging spots.
“She immediately checked out the perimeter as do all good Mi5 agents, looked around and began a sniffing and snooping journey for about an hour,” Graham said, “Then sitting in front of us on a low stool, she started shouting loudly, her default way of demanding food. This prompted me into action, offering her different dishes attempting to find her favourite. It turns out that she basically will eat anything.”
Indeed, Bella’s love of food is one of the few things that cause a bit of tension between her and her doting humans. She’s restricted to carefully measured wet food plus veterinarian-suggested “weight management crunchies” and, like many cats, is not shy about notifying her servants when the yums are low or the auto-feeder isn’t dispensing them. (In those instances, Bella hops up onto the bed and approaches the sleeping Graham: “I will get the gentle paw followed by the sharp claw to ensure I get the message to come and feed her immediately.”)
Adopting a cat is always a guessing game. Will the cat relax and open up once she realizes she’s safe and has a home? Was he reserved when we met him because he’s been living in a shelter with unfamiliar sights and smells? Will she take to her new home immediately, or will she dive under a couch and remain there for weeks, emerging only to grab a bite from her bowl when no one’s around?
Those questions were immediately settled for Graham and Birch, and Bella’s outgoing personality is one of the things they love most about her, along with her supreme confidence.
“She has it in absolute truckloads,” Graham notes, “and there is pretty much no fear on her part about adventuring anywhere in or out of the house.”
While keeping cats indoors is the norm in the US, as many as nine in 10 caretakers in the UK allow their felines to spend time outdoors unsupervised, encouraging them to establish their territories, explore their gardens (backyards to us Americans) and familiarize themselves with their neighborhoods.
Many US shelters and rescues won’t allow potential adopters to take a cat home if they indicate they’re willing to let the kitty outside, and some even require adopters to sign contracts stating they’ll keep their four-legged friends indoors. UK cat rescues often take the opposite stance. They advise pet parents on how to gradually introduce their cats to the outdoors, offer tips on how to manage their outside time and recommend various pet flap configurations.
The difference is partly cultural and partly practical. While extolling the benefits of allowing cats to roam, UK cat lovers point out that domestic felines rarely stray far from their homes, on average venturing only between 40 and 200 meters (about 130 to 650 feet). They’re curious, which drives them to explore, but also territorial, which keeps them on a figurative leash.
There’s also a marked difference in wild threats to domestic cats. In the US, cats are vulnerable to pumas (also known as mountain lions and cougars), coyotes and a wide variety of birds of prey, from eagles, harriers and hawks to condors, osprey and even some larger species of owl. The UK does not have pumas, despite local legends to the contrary, nor does it have coyotes. Foxes, the smaller cousins of coyotes, and some birds of prey do pose a threat, but not to the extent that the wildlife of the Americas does.
For Graham, allowing his cats outside fosters their independent streak and allows them — or Bella, at least — to exercise their hunting impulses. Bertie isn’t known for his predatory prowess, but Bella is a pro at catching mice.
The local neighborhood is quiet, traffic is strictly limited to 20 mph, and the neighbors know each other well, often using their WhatsApp groups to track their kids in addition to cats.
In fact, if Bella could speak, Graham reckons she’d thank him for providing a home in a tranquil locale — and for never closing doors in their home.
What else would she say?
Graham says it’s obvious: “Glad that you understand the difference between my requests and my orders – you took a while.” She’d also likely chide the couple on their ineptitude as hunters, declaring Graham and Birch “are both rubbish at catching mice and rats despite how many times I show you how to do it.”
For Graham, the managing director of a London brand agency, and Birch, a skin care therapist, sharing their home with cats feels natural, and they cherish the unpredictable nature and playfulness of their feline friends. Cognizant of the fact that black cats are less likely to find homes, they prefer adopting melanistic house panthers like Bets, their previous cat, and Bella.
“I totally love all animals but as residents in our house, cats fit perfectly being clean, highly intelligent and able to manipulate any situation with an expression or display of love,” Graham says. “My favourite thing about Bella is when she surprisingly sits on my lap and the mystery when she hides in unlikely places causing me to rush around desperately trying to find her, not coming out even when I am shaking a treat bag.”
Bella will allow the game to drag out “until she decides to appear with her ‘I win’ look and swagger.”
Feline love is often hard-won, but that makes it worth it. In discussing Bella, it’s clear Graham lives for the moments when the independent-minded kitty decides to let him know how much he means to her by sleeping at the food of the bed, playing her hide-and-seek games and climbing into his lap.
Bella and Bertie may not be regular lap cats, but that’s okay with Graham and Birch.
“So there you have it,” Graham said. “Two cats that come and go as they please with occasional signs of affection, but get nothing apart from permanent love and affection from us.”
Bella is serious about her food. Credit: John Graham
Bella’s favorite toy, fittingly, is a mouse. Credit: John Graham
While other Asian nations celebrate the year of the goose or the bull or whatever, did you know 2023 is the Year of the Cat in Vietnam and among the Vietnamese diaspora? Yep. Pretty cool!
As we look forward to a 2023 filled with all sorts of awesome stuff, let’s take a moment to fondly recall the highlights of 2022:
January: With the humans of North America paralyzed with fear at the impending invasion of the Polar Bear King and his vast army of huge bears, Buddy the Cat heroically traveled on his own to the frozen wastelands — also known as Canada — to confront the belligerent bear. In an act of bravery that will be remembered in songs for centuries, Buddy defeated the Evil Polar Bear King in a dance-off, staving off invasion and saving humankind.
February: Buddinese Space Industries, the rocketry and spacecraft company founded by Buddy, announced a goal of putting kitties on Mars by 2030 and establishing a state-of-the-art base there — complete with luxury boxes, scratchers and ample window perches — within two more years. After Elon Meowsk expressed skepticism on Twitter, Buddy replied with a simple “Hold my beer,” garnering a record 11.2 million likes.
March: Buddy appeared on the cover of Modern Cat Magazine, looking suave and handsome.
April: Celebrating Big Buddy’s birthday and Little Buddy’s adoptaversary, the former enjoyed Impossible Burgers while the latter ate delicious turkey.
May: Pumped up by an inspiring pep talk from Buddy the Cat, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge caught fire, putting on a display of power that would ultimately result in an American League record 62 home runs. Judge credits Buddy for his success: “Bud showed me the way. He helped me unlock my potential. Without the confidence he instilled in me, I wouldn’t have hit half as many home runs or looked half as good doing it.”
June: More than 50 bands and music acts paid tribute to everyone’s favorite tabby at the 7th annual Festival of the Buddies, a three-day gathering of peace, love and turkey.
July: Buddy raised more than $2.2 million for various animal charities by auctioning off a dinner date with himself. Thousands of women bid on the prize, but in the end one lucky woman — said to be a princess from an undisclosed European country — was able to secure the company of the charming kitty for an evening of good food and meowversation.
August: More than 85 million people tuned in to watch Buddy host Saturday Night Live, registering the show’s highest ratings in decades. Millions more watched the delightful feline’s monologue on YouTube.
September: With his city overrun by rats, New York City Mayor Eric Adams begged Buddy to tackle the threat. Buddy magnanimously agreed, and since Sept. 7 not a single rodent has been observed in the five boroughs. Adams and the city council passed a resolution later that month funding the construction of a statue of Buddy, which will be installed in front of City Hall.
October: Netflix premiered The Buddy the Cat Mysteries, its most popular show since Squid Game. The streaming giant immediately renewed the feline detective show for three more seasons.
November: Buddy the Cat enjoyed turkey on Thanksgiving and every other day of the month.
December: Millions of Americans were able to endure record cold temperatures despite losing power when they found they could raise their body temperature by 8.7 degrees just by looking at posters of Buddy.
That’s quite a year Buddy’s had! Not one to rest on his laurels, he’s already looking ahead to 2023 when he’s expected to make his debut as an opera singer and finally stage a long-awaited bout with Mike Tyson.
Little Buddy and Big Buddy wish all of you a happy and healthy New Year, and we thank each and every one of our 27 million monthly readers for making PITB their site of choice!
Elliot the cat was near death when Kelli Vanderlaan found him literally frozen to the concrete in the early morning hours of Dec. 26, during one of the coldest, most severe storms to sweep the US in decades.
Initially unsure whether the white and gray stray was still alive, as his eyes were frozen shut, Vanderlaan wriggled him free and took him to the Big Lake Community Animal Clinic in Muskegon, Michigan. Although barely able to move and unable to vocalize, Elliot seemed to be grateful for the car’s heat.
“You could tell that he was obviously frozen, so he needed warmth and touch and everything, I think he was pretty happy when I got him into the truck,” Vanderlaan told the local ABC affiliate, WZZM.
Once Vanderlaan and the stray arrived at Big Lake, staff there immediately began gently raising the little guy’s temperature, wrapping him in warm blankets and giving him fluids.
“We weren’t sure what he’s been through,” said Alexis Robertson, executive director of the local Humane Society. “He’s definitely been out there for a while trying to take care of himself, just trying to survive, but it was at a critical point where he was ready to pass.”
After giving Elliot a veterinary exam, cleaning his eyes and making sure he was snug, the staff at Big Lake Community Animal Clinic monitored him closely overnight. His organs had been dangerously close to shutting down when he was brought in, and he still wasn’t out of the woods yet.
Elliot, who was named after the storm that swept the region over the holidays, has continued to improve in the days since. He’s since been able to stand on his own and has regained his appetite, the clinic’s staff wrote on Facebook.
“We are so happy to say he is doing much better and was monitored during the night,” staffers wrote. “He reaches out his paw to the vet tech that has been caring for him overnight, showing her just how happy he is that he is being helped. He still has a long way to go, but we won’t give up.”
Elliot, who was described as an “older” cat who’s been fending for himself, will come out of the ordeal with his life much improved. After surviving the storm — which plunged temperatures well into the single digits, set record lows across much of the midwest and claimed the lives of at least 56 people across the country — Elliot will be put up for adoption, and the clinic has already received inquiries from people who want to open their home to the little survivor. If his will to live and his gratitude toward his rescuers are any indication, the little guy has a lot of love to give.
“It’s the most heartfelt feeling in the world to see this cat come from basically nothing and being vocal and happy to be touched and fed, it’s just an amazing thing to watch,” Leah Wetmore, the clinic’s manager, told WZZM.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.