Category: news

Guinness Certifies 27-Year-Old As World’s Oldest Cat

Bill Clinton was still in his first term as president of the United States, Oasis and Radiohead ruled the music charts, and millions of people were taking their tentative first steps onto the internet via noisy modems and a service called AOL.

That’s the world Flossie the cat was born into in 1995, and you can imagine her sitting by a fire with some wide-eyed kittens, telling them that back in her day humans didn’t stare at those silly little phone screens all day and the concept of gourmet cat food didn’t exist.

“You kittens today with your snobby grain-free wet food and your doting human parents,” Flossie might say. “Back in my day all we had was Fancy Feast, and if we didn’t eat it, we didn’t get dessert!”

At 26 years and 316 days old as of Thanksgiving Day, Flossie has been verified as the world’s oldest cat by Guinness World Records. That makes the tortoiseshell, at a little more than a month shy of her 27th birthday, the equivalent of 120 human years old.

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Flossie enjoys a snooze. Credit: Guinness World Records

Flossie is deaf and her vision is deteriorated, but veterinarians say she’s otherwise in good health. Her human, Vicki Green, said she’s surprisingly energetic for her age as well as “so affectionate and playful, [and] especially sweet when you remember how old she is.”

The super senior kitty hasn’t lost her appetite either.

“She never turns her nose up at the chance of a good meal,” Green told Guinness.

Flossie began her life as a stray and has outlived two owners. She lived in a cat colony on the grounds of the now-defunct Mercyside Hospital near Liverpool and was adopted some time in her first year of life. Her human died in 2005, and Flossie was taken in by her human’s sister, who cared for Flossie until her death in 2019. The woman’s son took Flossie and looked after her for a few years, but realized he wasn’t the caretaker she needed.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” said Naomi Rosling of the UK’s Cats Protection, where Flossie was surrendered. “He sought our help when it was in Flossie’s best interests. Responsible cat ownership is when someone thinks about an animal’s needs above their feelings.”

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Flossie with Green and their official Guinness World Records certificate. Credit: Guinness World Records

The staff at Cats Protection thought Flossie might not find a new home since many potential adopters don’t want an ancient cat, but Green has experience caring for older cats. Her previous cat, Honeybun, died at 21 years old.

“I’ve always wanted to give older cats a comfortable later life,” Green said.

The all-time record for longest-lived cat was Creme Puff, a Texas cat who was born on Aug. 3, 1967 and died on Aug. 6, 2005, just after her 38th birthday. Creme Puff was also certified by Guinness, which lists 18 other cats who lived to at least 30 years old. Domestic cats who live indoors, are fed healthy diets and are well taken care of live 16 years on average.

TSA Baggage Scan Reveals Kitty Stowaway In Luggage

It was a tuft of orange hair poking out from the zipper of a carry-on suitcase that first alerted a TSA agent that something weird was going on.

The agent, who was processing a traveler departing from New York’s JFK airport on Tuesday morning, then consulted an x-ray scan, confirming the suitcase contained some unusual cargo — a ginger tabby cat tucked in among toiletries, snug and napping comfortably in the enclosed space.

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An x-ray scan revealed Smells tucked snugly into the suitcase. Credit: TSA
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The incriminatory tuft of orange hair that gave away Smells’ hiding spot. Credit: TSA

As for the traveler, the cat didn’t belong to him, nor was he aware kitty had climbed inside. It turned out he had been a house guest of friends living in Brooklyn, and the cat named Smells had slipped into the luggage before he left for home, for what is a suitcase if not just another box?

The TSA confirmed the story with the cat’s owner before letting the traveler board his Florida-bound flight.

“An officer called and asked if I wanted to press charges” said Alix, Smells’ 37-year-old human. “He wanted to know if there was any reason [the passenger] was trying to steal my cat and go to Florida.”

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A TSA security agent opens the suitcase to reveal its unauthorized would-be stowaway. Credit: TSA

After Alix assured the TSA agent that Smells “really likes to check out boxes” and definitely would have climbed in on his own, she hired a driver to retrieve the kitty, who was unperturbed by the adventure.

“I was worried he’d be freaked out but he wasn’t even meowing on the way back,” Alix told the New York Post. “I went to give him some extra treats and he acted like nothing had happened.”

As for the TSA — which often deals with more serious finds like guns and drugs secreted into passengers’ luggage — the saga of Smells was a welcome change that gave them a good story and some laughs.

“On the bright side,” TSA spokesman Lisa Farbstein wrote on Twitter, “the cat’s out of the bag and safely back home.”

Smells the Cat
Smells the cat. Credit: His humans
“I was worried he’d be freaked out but he wasn’t even meowing on the way back,” she said. “I went to give him some extra treats and he acted like nothing had happened.”

‘Ghost Cat’: Famous Hollywood Puma Snatches Leashed Chihuahua On A Walk

P-22, as he’s known to the scientists who study him, is the star of two documentary movies, four books and innumerable photos captured by trail cameras, surveillance stills and the few people lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him.

The 12-year-old mountain lion is instantly recognizable by his radio collar and his derpy, wide-eyed look.

But he’s also a predator, as the National Park Service reminded the public on Monday when it confirmed P-22 was indeed the puma who stalked a dog walker accompanying two pooches on Nov. 9. P-22 struck in full darkness about 90 minutes after sundown, snatched one of the unfortunate pet dogs and was bolting away before the walker even had time to react.

The incident was captured by a security camera in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, and grainy video shows P-22 leaping out of a bush and pouncing on a chihuahua named Piper. After consulting GPS data from the radio collar and reviewing the surveillance footage, the National Park Service confirmed it was the famous wild cat.

“They are stealth predators,” the National Wildlife Federation’s Beth Pratt told the LA Times. “They’re called ‘ghost cats’ for a reason. This is how they get their prey. It’s not like the vision of lions in Africa that chase down their prey on the plains.”

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A close-up of P-22 in 2019, when he was briefly captured for a health check-up. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

While noting people are “more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a mountain lion,” Pratt warned that small pets can resemble the large feline’s natural prey. While P-22 usually hunts deer and foxes near Griffith Park in Hollywood Hills, pumas are also known to take down smaller prey and are opportunistic predators like their house cat and big cat cousins. (Despite their size, pumas — known as mountain lions, cougars and catamounts among many other names — are not considered true “big cats.”)

“It’s sad that P-22 killed a beloved pet,” Pratt told the Times. “But he doesn’t know that. He was just being a mountain lion.”

Daniel Jiminez, Piper’s owner, told Los Angeles’ KTLA that he and his wife are “devastated at the loss of our little dog.”

He said he thought his dog walker was joking when, while out celebrating his daughter’s birthday, he received a text from the walker saying Piper had been taken by a mountain lion. The Jiminez family adopted Piper in 2014.

Jiminez says he wants people to know what happened so they’re vigilant when walking their dogs in the area.

“I don’t want anything bad to happen to P-22,” said Jimenez. “I just want people to be safe out there so that nothing like this happens again.”

Top image credit NPS.gov

One Unverified Claim Of An Aggressive Stray Prompted A New Jersey Town’s Plan To Trap And Kill Cats

The recent saga of a New Jersey town’s ill-advised plan to “destroy” feral cats highlights almost everything wrong with local government.

First, a notice went out from the northern New Jersey town of Matawan, informing residents that feral cats had become a “nuisance” and their presence posed a danger to “the welfare and safety of both the community and the cats.” The town, in cooperation with the police and SPCA, the notice said, would begin trapping stray, feral and free-roaming felines in November, and any cat not claimed after seven days would be “destroyed.”

The backlash was loud and immediate, and it took the Monmouth County SPCA by surprise.

After receiving angry complaints, the local SPCA posted a notice on Facebook blasting the “outlandish and outrageous campaign.” The SPCA’s leaders said they hadn’t been consulted and hadn’t approved of the policy, blaming the Matawan Animal Welfare Committee, a three-person group comprised of the town’s business administrator, Scott Carew, town councilwoman Melanie Wang and an animal control officer.

“We are completely outraged and disheartened that our organization has been attached to this archaic campaign to euthanize feral cats, when there are so many other successful, humane alternatives,” the Monmouth County SPCA wrote in its statement.

Carew backpedaled in the fallout, claiming the notice was a well-intentioned way of informing people who live in Matawan to keep their cats inside and stop feeding strays and ferals.

“By no means was the goal of the trapping efforts to destroy trapped cats,” Carew told NJ.com. “That said, since there was the chance that cats would be trapped and brought to the shelter, we wanted to alert cat owners whose cats are allowed to roam outside.”

But Carew also said he and the other were “obligated to address the complaint,” and said the town would have to enact “a resumption of trapping efforts” if it received more complaints about the cats. According to a statement by the Matawan police department, in a meeting between local leaders and people concerned about cats in one neighborhood, it was a single complaint about a possibly aggressive feral cat that prompted the plan.

That’s it. That’s all it took, in the eyes of local government officials, to justify a policy of trapping and killing sentient, human-habituated innocent animals, a group that includes free-roaming pets, former pets, strays and true ferals. A single, unverified complaint of a potentially “aggressive” cat, with no further detail about what the word aggressive means in that context, no information about what the cat supposedly did, or even confirmation that the cat was a feral and not a stray or a wandering pet.

When the dust cleared from all the finger-pointing, Carew said his committee should have informed the SPCA of its plans, and police brushed off responsibility by saying they “assumed” the notice was drafted with the cooperation and intent of the SPCA and other local animal welfare groups.

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A cat caught during a trap, neuter, return program, which reduces feral/stray populations in the long term without the cruelty of culling. Credit: Pixabay

Local government leadership and incompetence has become a big problem. With the death of newspapers, particularly regional dailies that employed trained journalists, there are entire swaths of the country no longer served by local government watchdogs who have the time, skills and resources to monitor local officials and inform the public.

We’re fortunate that NJ Advanced Media, an online portal for content from more than a dozen New Jersey local newspapers, has found a way to exist as a viable business serving millions of readers throughout its home state. Without it, it’s doubtful the story would have surfaced anywhere.

Lots of people think local government is small potatoes, but the truth is that local officials are responsible for enormous budgets and wield considerable power. The decisions they make very likely have more impact on our lives than decisions made in the halls of congress, even if it’s the latter that gets people’s blood boiling.

In this case we have a meeting conducted in secret, without public notice, that would have determined the fate of an unknown number of animals. We have anonymous, nebulous complaints and allegations about “nuisances.” What constitutes a nuisance? How many cats are involved? Are the cats part of managed colonies and cared for by people who trap and neuter them? None of those questions were answered.

Additionally, instead of taking intermediary steps or using widely available resources — the “other successful, humane alternatives” the SPCA referenced, from the willing cooperation of local shelters to the free toolkit created by the authors of the incredible D.C. Cat Count — the local officials came up with their own ill-advised plan to trap and kill cats.

Outrage by animal lovers and the SPCA were enough to make sure a plan like this was quickly discarded this time around, but you have to wonder how many other places this kind of thing might be happening without so much as a blurb about it.

Sunday Cats: Woman Dumps Boyfriend After He Loses Senior Cat, Kitten Abuse Leads To Felony Charge

Although the story is more about her gradual acceptance that her boyfriend was inconsiderate — and didn’t put as much effort as she did into their relationship — Business Insider’s Anne Jarret writes about how his carelessness with her cat led her to end a two-year relationship.

Jarret describes how her boyfriend would do things like leave wet towels on her side of the bed, leave dishes around their home and show disregard for her sleep schedule when he knew she had to rise at 6 a.m. every morning as a teacher, but the final straw was his cavalier attitude toward losing her 15-year-old cat, who was on her last legs and needed meds to survive:

“Where’s the cat?” I asked my boyfriend as I walked into the kitchen. The sun had set, and it was time for us to give her a steroid to ease her pain.

“I don’t know,” he said with a shrug. We searched, but we couldn’t find her anywhere. Then I saw the patio door was wide open.

Guerrilla, the dying 15-year-old cat, loved spending time outside on a leash and would beg us to take her exploring.

“I guess when I took the dogs out earlier I forgot to close the door,” he said. “I’m sorry.” My heart broke.

Unfortunately, Jarret never found her cat and didn’t get closure on her fate, which is a horrible thing for anyone who loves their feline, especially after spending 15 years together.

Prosecutors use 2019 federal statute to charge teen with cat abuse

A 17-year-old from Maine has been charged with a felony under 2019’s Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act after a video surfaced on Facebook showing him brutalizing a kitten.

The teenager is accused of picking up a stray cat by his tail and repeatedly slamming him into the ground on Nov. 4. The kitten, named Harlow by the local Humane Society staff, will “likely” lose an eye as a result of the head trauma the teenager inflicted, Humane Society shelter director Katie Lisnik told the Sun-Journal.

Despite that, Harlow doesn’t hate people and seems to crave affection.

“He just loves to cuddle,” Lisnik said. “He just wants to be on you.”

This story is heartbreaking and hard to even think about. How could anyone do such a thing to an innocent animal, much less a kitten less than a year old? And the fact that Harlow is so loving and trusting despite all he endured and suffered just underscored how innocent cats are, as animals who have the intelligence and emotional capacity of three- or four-year-old children.

Usually we don’t note stories like this on PITB because animal abuse is a difficult topic, it’s upsetting and stories like this are so numerous that reading all of them can even make misanthropes out of people who believe the best of humanity. But we’ve written quite a bit about law enforcement taking animal abuse seriously, and the need for animal cruelty laws with more teeth, and this is ultimately a hopeful case because the prosecutors are taking it seriously enough to invoke the bi-partisan PACT Act.

On the other hand, some laws clearly need to be amended. The suspect hasn’t been named in media reports and his identity will likely remained sealed because of youthful offender laws, which allow minors convicted of crimes to strike convictions from their permanent records before they turn 18 if they meet certain conditions set by the court. Usually they’re straightforward: Stay out of trouble, attend psychological counseling, check in regularly with a probation officer and complete community service.

That’s fine for offenses involving drugs, theft and other relatively minor stuff. But when crimes are associated with high recidivism and/or are strong indicators of future violent crime — as animal abuse has proven to be — convicts shouldn’t be allowed to apply for youthful offender status. This kid shouldn’t be allowed to own pets or interact with animals, and this kind of crime shouldn’t be stricken from his record because if, for example, he attacks a woman he’s dating when he’s 19, it shows a pattern of violent behavior that strongly correlates to escalating violence.

At a time when school shootings are common and people commit senseless crimes like pushing strangers off subway platforms into the paths of oncoming trains, law enforcement could use all the help and information it can get in identifying people with violent histories before they do more harm.