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.
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.
Kaitlyn O’Hara was just doing what she always did on the night of Feb. 3, trying to help a cat who was injured and all alone after a snowstorm had pummeled the northeast with heavy snows.
O’Hara had stopped her car on the shoulder of a state route in Cherry Hill, NJ, and was trying to coax the cat to come out of hiding when she was hit by another car and killed. The driver, a 24-year-old man, hasn’t been charged in the collision and there’s no indication he was impaired.
O’Hara, who was known as a “cat whisperer” for her calming influence on cats — as well as her years of work fostering shelter cats and raising orphaned bottle babies — was just 27 years old. Her family and friends, who describe her as a woman with a bubbly, outgoing personality and a relentless dedication to animals, spent her life helping cats — and that’s how they want her to be remembered.
“She took on so many animals over the years that no one else would — bottle babies, old grumpy kitties like Eloise whom she adored (and the feeling was mutual), kittens with broken legs, the defeated and sickly — but her favorite and possibly best work was with the shy, timid and feral,” a staffer with New Jersey’s Randall’s Rescue wrote. “She adored the feral babies from our orchard project and was truly our kitty whisperer.”
On May 23, Randall’s Rescue of Mount Laurel, an animal rescue organization where O’Hara was a longtime volunteer, and HousePaws, a veterinary service in New Jersey and Bucks County where O’Hara had worked, are cohosting a free clinic for area rescues to bring in feral felines for spay/neuter services. They’ll also be administering feline AIDS and leukemia tests and looking for foster homes where some animals can be socialized for adoption. The organizers would like the event — which they have christened Kaitlyn’s Mitten Mission, a play on O’Hara’s nickname for cats and kittens — to become an annual occurrence.
Coronavirus. Unprecedented income inequality. Instability. Millions of religious minorities wasting away in Chinese government concentration camps.
The world is a mess right now and sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start, but thankfully Jamie Lynn Spears — unintelligible mumbler, erstwhile country music singer and younger sister of Britney — is here to set our priorities straight.
“The Tesla is a secret cat killer, and it’s a problem that we really gotta fix,” a purple-haired Spears told her followers in a video she uploaded to Instagram a few days ago.
“We have now lost — I don’t want to tell you how many cats — because they don’t hear the Tesla crank and unfortunate things happen and it’s really devastating and tragic for everyone involved,” Spears said.
Perfectly understandable. I mean, who doesn’t run over a cat or six while backing out of the driveway? And who wants to be bothered with actually caring for cats and keeping them indoors when you can tell your 2.1 million Instagram followers that a corporation is at fault?
“Like, one of those noises”
Thankfully, Jamie Lynn has a solution, which she also shared with her followers.
“So since the Tesla is so quiet, maybe you could, like, make one of those noises that, like, bother cat or animal ears when it cranks up, so that, like, they know something’s happening and they aren’t caught off guard, and things don’t end in a very tragic way,” Spears continued, indicating she’s spent a lot of time ruminating on this issue. “So, Elon Musk, let’s figure this out, B, because you owe me a couple of cats.”
Like other celebrities, Spears was apparently expecting to air her thoughts and have the entire internet break into a slow clap and say “You’re so right! Hooray for you!” And like other celebrities, Spears deleted the video and furiously backpedaled when people started questioning her claims.
The first thing people wanted to know was: Just how many cats did Jamie Lynn lose to Evil Elon Musk and the Teslarizer?
Was it 1) “I don’t want to tell you how many cats” as Spears first indicated, 2) “A couple of cats” as Spears claimed in a follow-up video, or 3) Zero cats, as Spears claimed in a follow-up post to her follow-up video?
After looking into the camera and flatly declaring that Elon Musk owes her “a couple cats,” as if they’re replaceable products, Spears wrote that she “did not run over any cats” and Tesla is “not to be blamed.”
Let’s collab, yo. I got mad ideas!
“I was only making a suggestion about something I think would be extremely helpful, and the geniuses at @Teslamotors are the best to go to for said issue,” she concluded, suggesting Tesla should contact her to “collaborate” on a solution.
We’re sure the industry-disrupting engineers and other geniuses working for Tesla would have been thrilled to collaborate with a mind of Spears’ caliber, but alas they won’t get the opportunity.
That’s because Teslas and other electric cars are already required by law to make a persistent sound when traveling at low speeds, a tweak made at the behest of the American Council of the Blind.
Although Spears got a bit shy after she didn’t receive the ovation she was expecting and refused to clarify how many cats she’s killed with her Teslas, we know the number is at least one. In another recent video, Spears’ similarly purple-haired toddler is seen saying her cat, Turkey (*sniff*), was “in heaven.”
We are sorry Turkey had the misfortune of being adopted by a living indictment of the American education system, and we hope rescue and shelter organizations within 50 miles of Spears’ trailer decline to adopt cats out to her in the future, lest they end up on Musk’s tab.
And if you think we’re being too harsh on Spears, we’d ask you: What kind of world do we live in when someone is allowed to casually kill animals through her own negligence with complete impunity? We’re talking about life here, not broken toys or kitchen appliances.
“The cat wasn’t meowing and the bag wasn’t moving,” municipal waste employee Mikhail Tukash told local television. “I needed to cut the bag to screen it for metals. I was just doing my job.”
In an eerily similar incident, three kittens were pulled from a conveyor belt in New Jersey on Dec. 17, just before they would have been killed in the threshing metal teeth of a glass crusher, the local CBS News affiliate reported.
Someone had disposed of the kittens in a backpack. This time the bag was moving, prompting Burlington Recycling Plant employee Barrie Donaldson to stop the conveyor.
“I looked at it real closely and they were moving,” Donaldson told the station. “And I was like, ‘Oh wow, there is something in this bag.”
Co-worker Ashley Bush, who was with Donaldson when he rescued the kittens, adopted one of the three baby cats and named her Precious.
“I looked to my right and I see all the teeth going,” Bush said. “That would have been horrendous.”
“Right away, I said, ‘I gotta have her,'” Bush added.
The other two were adopted by a local family. Police in Burlington are asking the public for tips to help them track down the person who disposed of the kittens.
As for the lucky Russian feline, local government officials in Ulyanovsk are holding a public contest to name the fluffster, who will also be named an honorary wildlife minister in the government’s efforts to tell the public not to toss animals in the garbage.
State employees in California have agreed to temporarily stop shooting cats after stories about their actions prompted an overwhelming backlash.
Employees with the East Bay Regional Park District have shot at least 18 cats this year, including a dozen in the past month. A spokesman for the state agency, which manages park land in nine California counties and major cities like San Francisco, claimed the cats were a threat to birds in a marshland not far from a business park where the felines lived.
But the East Bay Regional Park District has repeatedly lied about the cats’ fates, failed to work with local rescues and shelters, and refused to honor public records requests about the cat-killing program, according to animal rights advocates and local media.
Dave Mason, a spokesman for the East Bay Regional Park District, described the situation as “an out-of-control feral cat colony of at least 30 cats.” By contrast, staffers at local rescues, as well as the people who managed the colony, said most of the cats were strays, some were former pets, and they rarely entered the nearby protected marshlands.
“[East Bay Regional Park District] came out most likely at night, and shot and killed the cats we had cared for. We spent countless hours getting the majority of these cats fixed. Countless hours!” one local caretaker fumed on Facebook. “These cats were vaccinated, microchipped and healthy. We pulled kittens out when they presented themselves. We pulled adult cats out on many occasions. Some of which we believe were dumped there. We were constantly doing work there.”
Mason painted a very different picture of the situation.
“The Park District appreciates all animal life but is required by law to protect threatened and endangered wildlife living in District parklands,” he told SFGate. “It is imperative that the public understands that feral cats are not part of a healthy eco-system and feeding them only serves to put endangered wildlife at risk.”
Now the agency’s supervisory board has pulled the plug on killing cats, according to the local ABC affiliate, after receiving a flood of angry messages and phone calls about the policy. Dee Rosario, the board’s incoming president, told KGO she plans to have the practice ended permanently.
Board members also promised the public will get answers after the EBRPD ignored public records requests from journalists at KGO.
“The board will be asking some tough questions, and we want to get a report of exactly what happened,” said Ellen Corbett, who sits on the board. “And that’s why we’ve asked for an investigation.”
It’s worth noting there’s no evidence to support culling cats as an effective way to protect birds. Several studies, however, indicate TNR (trap, neuter, return) programs do have a measurable impact on local cat populations, and thus limit the number of birds and small mammals killed by free-roaming cats. The majority of animal welfare specialists — as well as groups like the SPCA and Humane Society — urge people to keep their pet cats indoors, and to get them spayed or neutered.
Initially, employees of the state agency claimed they’d trapped the cats and placed them in local shelters, colony caretaker Cecelia Theis said. But after staffers at local shelters said the East Bay Regional Park District did not drop off any cats, and a local TV news station began calling, the agency backtracked and admitted a team of “conservationists” shot the cats.
“There is a pile of bags and a hole in the fence near where I fed these babies every night. Those jerks hunted them and killed them,” Theis wrote on Facebook.
Later she told SFGate: “I’m looking out at the park crying their names.”
A Change.org petition urging the EBRPD to “honor its values” and cease shooting cats had accumulated almost 5,000 signatures in three days.
Cat advocates were particularly incensed that the EBRPD did not notify them before making the decision to kill the cats and didn’t reach out to local shelters for help finding a better solution.
“While we understand and fully support the need to safeguard protected wildlife and habitats from nonnative and predatory species, this tragic outcome did not need to happen,” said John Lipp, director of the Friends of Alameda Animal Shelter. His group and other local rescues “could have worked together to humanely rehome or relocate these cats had we been notified in advance.”
Despite the pledge to stop killing cats, advocates aren’t taking any more chances. They’ve trapped the remaining strays. Some will be put in foster homes, and four will be available for adoption in the near future.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.