First Lady Jill Biden generated hundreds of headlines late in 2020 and again earlier this year as she promised she and her husband would welcome a feline pet to the White House for the first time since the George W. Bush administration.
Since then we haven’t heard anything — until today’s edition of the New York Times, which includes the first sit-down interview with the First Lady since her husband took his oath of office back in January.
It turns out the Bidens did pick a cat, and that cat has been living with a foster family because the Bidens’ other family pet, Major the German Shepherd, has a bit of a biting problem.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki downplayed Major’s biting incidents, telling reporters he nipped White House staff twice, but emails obtained by the group Judicial Watch show Major’s biting isn’t so minor: In the first week of March, an internal Secret Service email said “an agent or officer has been bitten every day this week.” The dog also bit a visitor to the White House that same week, according to the email.
Since then there have been other incidents, and the pooch has been shuttled between the White House and Delaware, where he’s spent more time with trainers in an attempt to curb the bad behavior.
The president and First Lady didn’t want to subject their new cat to the stress of living with a bite-happy Husky, so the kitty remained in foster care. It seems the cat is now a “failed foster.”
“The cat is still being fostered with somebody who loves the cat,” Jill Biden told the Times. “I don’t even know whether I can get the cat back at this point.”
In related news, Buddy the Cat — whose track record of biting to get what he wants is second-to-none — volunteered himself to help solve Major’s behavioral issues.
“I’ll straighten him out right quick,” Buddy said, lifting a paw and flexing. “If my razor sharp claws, vicious fangs and intimidating size don’t deter him, my huge meowscles will. I guarantee he’ll want no part of this.”
Sad news out of Orlando, where more than 20 cats died in a late night fire that destroyed the shelter where they lived on Wednesday.
Officials from the Orange County Fire Department said one section of the building was already engulfed by the time they arrived, with flames visible through the roof. They’re not sure yet how the fire started, but flame patterns indicate it started near the front of the Pet Alliance shelter, where the cats were housed.
Firefighters were able to rescue all the dogs and 10 cats, but at least 20 — and as many as 30 — cats were still inside, with first responders unable to get to them, per the Associated Press. Of the 10 cats who were rescued, some were moved to another Pet Alliance shelter, while a few were under veterinary care for smoke inhalation and burns.
“If you run a shelter, this is literally your worst nightmare,” Stephen Bardy, the executive director of Pet Alliance, told WFLA, an NBC affiliate in Orlando. “To see your building in fire and know that there are animals in there that you’re charged to care for and you can’t go in. …I’m grateful that the firefighters put their lives at risk to help save as many as they could.”
We don’t want to leave you with bad news only today, so here’s a hopeful story out of Portland, where a cat cafe was able to adopt out every one of its cats in less than a day since its post-COVID re-opening on Sept. 4.
Purrington’s Cat Lounge has coffee, wine and beer on the menu for guests who drop by to hang out with the cafe’s feline residents and see adoptable cats. Although it’s a popular place in the community, it’s had a tumultuous few years: First it looked headed for closure after its owners planned to move out of town, but was rescued by a kitty-loving local couple.
The new owners renovated the space and had big plans for it, but those were halted along with everyone else’s ambitions with the arrival of the pandemic in 2020.
Finally, the renovated cat cafe reopened about two weeks ago, and Portland locals — perhaps daunted by the Delta variant and the prospect of more work-from-home, socially limited months — were eager to give the resident kitties new homes. Since Sept. 4, Purrington’s has placed more than 80 cats in forever homes.
Early in the second quarter of No. 22 Miami’s home-opener against the Appalachian State Mountaineers, a murmur rose up from the student section at Hard Rock Stadium. The students, many attending their first-ever home game, noticed a cat dangling from the upper deck. The Cromers turned around and first thought it was a dog. Another fan nearby thought it was someone’s kid.
Once the Cromers realized what was happening, they sprung into action. Craig ripped his flag free from his zip-ties, and he and his wife stretched it out to create a landing pad for the terrified cat.
No one’s sure how the cat got into the stadium or ended up on the upper deck railing, but the entire stadium began paying attention when the cat lost its footing, grabbed a wire hanging from the underside and was desperately trying to hold on, its little body dangling precariously.
People seated in the upper deck tried to help, but by that point the black-and-white domestic shorthair was out of reach.
Video of the dramatic incident shows the fearful feline hanging on by its claws. At that point, the entire stadium was invested in the poor kitty’s plight, with thousands of people inhaling nervously as one claw broke away and kitty continued to hold on by a single paw.
The cat had drawn the attention of the game’s announcers as well by that point. There was no way the cat could have known people below were scrambling to break the fall, and kitty inadvertently released droplets of terror pee on the fans in the lower deck.
The Cromers grabbed the flag, “snatched it off the handrail and used it to break the cat’s fall,” Craig Cromer told the Herald.
Catching the little one was “probably the strangest thing that’s happened” to the couple, Kimberly Cromer said.
Footage shows the cat landing on the flag, then quickly tumbling into the section below, eventually ending up in the arms of a kind-looking woman who (we hope) was able to soothe raw nerves.
It was not immediately clear what happened to the cat, but it wasn’t a stray.
“It had a collar so it must be someone’s,” Miami student Dylan Marinov told WPLG, a local news station. Marinov recorded the drama on his smartphone and shared it online.
Hard Rock Stadium’s official Twitter feed said it had made a donation to the Miami Human Society in honor of the kitty’s safe landing, and said stadium staff “wish the cat the best in his remaining eight lives.”
We are happy that due to the heads up nature of fans in sections 107, 110 & 208 the cat landed safely after a harrowing fall. We wish the cat the best in his remaining eight lives.
It was the eighth inning of a humid night in the Bronx, and the Bombers were facing yet another loss, this time in humiliating fashion — they were down 7 to 1 against the last-place Baltimore Orioles, who smacked four home runs off of recently-acquired starting pitcher Andrew Heaney.
Fans cried out to the Baseball Gods for intervention, and their prayers were heard: With Yankee slugger Aaron Judge at the plate, a tiny shape streaked across the left side of the infield, just behind the foul line.
“The one and two,” Yankees TV play-by-play man Michael Kay said as the Orioles’ pitcher delivered. “Uh oh…”
The shape moved, and the gait gave it away: It was definitely a cat.
“How in the world did he get out here?” color commentator Paul O’Neill asked.
For a moment it looked like play would continue. Then the stadium’s cameras zoomed in on the little interloper, a brownish tabby. The kitty took off toward left field and the crowd went wild.
Orioles left fielder Ryan McKenna stood and watched as the little guy streaked past him, heading for the outfield wall where a door — which remains closed during play — leads to the bullpen.
Seeing no way out, the cat paused, then jumped on the padding that lines the walls, drawing more cheers from the crowd, who encouraged him as he tried to leap the rest of the way over the fence.
By the time a quartet of Yankees security guards tried to corner kitty and he dodged them — not once, not twice but three times! — the crowd was pumped, shouting “MVP! MVP! MVP!”
Almost four minutes elapsed from the time the cat appeared on the field to the moment when a Yankees employee with some brains opened a side door, allowing kitty to escape from what was undoubtedly a stressful situation. Quite an adventure for the little guy.
The Orioles won that game and the troubled Yankees looked like they were headed for a bitterly disappointing season.
The cat changed both narratives, at least for the kind of people who put stock in sports superstition — a group that includes the players themselves.
Since that Aug. 2 game, the Orioles have suffered through a historically brutal stretch, losing 19 games in a row before finally earning a win last night. That epic losing streak represents the worst run of futility in Major League Baseball in 16 years and stopped just two losses shy of a 21-game losing streak set in 1900. (For British and international readers, you read that right: No other sport is as meticulous as baseball when it comes to continuity and keeping stats. Those statistics go all the way back to the first professional games in 1869. While seasons have been interrupted — most recently last year when the schedule was reduced from 162 to 60 games due to the pandemic — only World Wars I and II have scratched entire seasons from the history books.)
Fearing a curse, the Orioles’ players tried all sorts of things to change their luck, most noticeably growing mustaches. (Note to the Orioles: Playing like a major league team tends to work better than growing facial hair.)
The Yankees, meanwhile, have experienced a renaissance that has them looking like the perennial championship contenders they’re supposed to be, vaulting over five other teams in the standings and breathing down the necks of the first-place Tampa Bay Rays.
With their win over the Braves on Tuesday night, the Yankees are 18-3 since Rally Cat (as he’s now known) appeared in Yankee Stadium, and they’re riding an 11-game winning streak, their longest stretch of wins since 1985. It’s a stunning turnaround for a team that had been disappointing all year, looking lifeless for long stretches.
As for the cat, it’s not clear what happened to him. Local shelter operators and animal rescue organizations haven’t heard anything.
One thing was clear to anyone who is familiar with felines: The kitty’s body language clearly conveyed fear and confusion, and he was desperate to find a way out. Any cat would be, with 35,000 humans making a ton of noise, lights and huge advertising screens everywhere, and additional humans standing on the grass in what must look to cats like some bizarre ritual.
Yankees security didn’t do themselves any favors by the way they were trying to remove the cat, Elyise Hallenbeck, director of Strategy for Bideawee Animal Rescue’s Leadership Giving & Feral Cat Initiative, told the Bronx Times.
“They should be grateful that they weren’t able to lay hands on it, because the cat would have won that,” Hallenbeck said. “The cat was severely and terribly, terribly, frightened.”
Rally Cat, wherever you are, we hope you’re in the care of a loving human and you’re enjoying some delicious yums. You deserve it.
A Wisconsin woman narrowly missed out on a Darwin Award and sent her friend to the hospital with a gunshot wound after she used a pistol’s laser sight to play with her cat — while drunk.
The 19-year-old woman was in her apartment in Kenosha, WI, on Tuesday afternoon with a 21-year-old male friend. The two of them downed some shots in the span of about an hour when the woman had a flash of inspiration and picked up her friend’s handgun, using it as a makeshift laser pointer.
She was waving the gun and encouraging kitty to chase it when she unintentionally fired the weapon, hitting her friend in the thigh, according to the Associated Press. She called 911 while he sought help from a next-door neighbor, who helped him tie off the wound with a tourniquet to slow the bleeding.
Cops and paramedics took the 21-year-old victim to a local hospital. So far authorities haven’t said anything about his condition, but there is one indication he may have not been seriously injured, according to Fox affiliate WITI in Milwaukee:
“[The shooter] provided a statement to police, saying she was handling the gun when it “accidentally went off” and said she apologized to [the victim], who told her ‘it was OK.'”
The cat was not hurt when the gun went off, thankfully, although it’s likely kitty bolted and dived under a bed in record time.
While the accidental shooter and her accidental victim have forgiven each other, both of them are now dealing with legal troubles.
The victim was out on bail pending another case, when he was slapped with nine counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety while armed in June 2020. That charge is a felony carrying a 12-year maximum sentence under Wisconsin state law. According to the bail agreement, he wasn’t supposed to possess or carry weapons, and police said they’re planning to charge him for the bail violation.