Authorities in a Texas town near Houston need help identifying a woman who tossed a cat, carrier and all, into a garbage can.
The woman parked her car in a nature preserve in Rosenberg, Texas, at about 11 am on Jan. 12, opened the backseat to retrieve a cat carrier and unceremoniously dumped it in a garbage can.
A bystander happened to witness — and film — the entire sequence of events, and after checking the trash it turned out there was a scared two-year-old cat inside the carrier. The bystander brought the cat to Rosenberg’s animal control department.
“If no one would have seen this happening, that cat would have been in that container in that trash can with no access to food, (or) water,” said Omar Polio, the town’s director of animal control. “Not acceptable.”
The cat is a beautiful, affectionate white and brown male the shelter has dubbed King Triton. He’s in their care for the time being. King Triton is healthy, Polio said, and it’s not clear why the woman would have dumped him instead of surrendering him to a shelter.
While shelters are crowded, “we can always find resources that can better suit these animals,” Polio said, imploring people not to abandon or toss animals away like trash.
Polio said his agency would like the public’s help identifying the woman. It’s not clear what kind of charges she might face. Anyone with information can call Rosenberg Animal Control and Shelter at 832-595-3490.
Video of the incident provides a clear look at the woman, but the resolution isn’t high enough to make out the license plate on her car.
Here’s a news segment of the incident with footage of the woman getting out of her car, dumping the cat, casually returning to her vehicle and driving off. She has dark hair that was in a ponytail at the time and was wearing shorts and sunglasses:
Long before he was the pontiff, when he was just a young man named Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict was known as a cat guy.
Growing up in the village of Hufschlag, about 55 miles southeast of Munich, Benedict’s family always had pet felines and he fed strays who spent time in their garden. During his years teaching theology to students at Bavaria’s University of Regensburg in the 1970s, then-professor Ratzinger was often seen followed by an entourage of cats — the little ones he fed and cared for — as he crossed campus.
“They knew him and loved him,” said Konrad Baumgartner, a fellow theologian at Regensburg.
His affinity for his four-legged friends never faded, even as he took on more responsibility and had more demands on his time. Cardinal Tarsicio Bertone, one of Benedict’s colleagues, said the German clergyman had a natural connection with animals.
“On his walk from Borgo Pío to the Vatican, he stopped to talk with the cats; don’t ask me in what language he spoke to them, but the cats were delighted,” Bertone recalled. “When the cardinal approached, the cats raised their heads and greeted him.”
As pope, Benedict continued to care for strays, and had two cats of his own — one who’d been with him since before he was made the leader of the global church, and another he rescued off the streets of Rome.
Photos of Pope Benedict with cats are different than the typical shots showing him meeting with world leaders or waving to crowds. His expression and posture are more relaxed in the presence of felines, and he’s often smiling in the images that show him holding a cat.
But it wasn’t just personal for Benedict.
“Dominion” over animals
For centuries, some people — mostly outside Catholicism, but some Catholics too — have argued that animals exist for the use of mankind, that their purpose on this Earth is to serve as resources. Proponents of the view point to a handful of Old Testament quotes, including a famous quote from Genesis that says God gave man “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
Genesis 9:3 attributes this quote to God: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.”
Other verses detail precisely which animals they can eat and remain in His good graces, and many Christian sects see those lines as a clear indication that God intended for animals to serve the needs of men.
But the Old Testament also tells us we can take slaves (Leviticus 25:44-46), that parents can have their kids stoned to death for disobeying them (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), that when children make fun of others, it’s totally cool to call upon righteous bears to maul them to death (2 Kings 2:23-24), and that people with blindness, flat noses and other ugly “blemishes” should wait outside church with the rest of the rejects while the good-looking people pray. (Leviticus 21:17-24).
Don’t even get me started on Sampson and the Book of Numbers.
The point is, if you’re going to be a stickler for things supposedly okayed or forbidden in the Old Testament, animals are the very least of your problems, especially if you trim your beard, let your hair get too long, wear shirts made of two different materials, or have ever placed a bet on DraftKings.
“Animals are God’s creatures”
As we look back on the life of the late pope emeritus, it’s worth noting that Benedict and his successor, Pope Francis, have rejected the view that animals are God’s version of scripted NPC automatons who exist so we can eat steak and wear leather jackets.
“Clearly, the Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures,” Pope Francis declared in 2015.
Benedict spoke out about the cruelty inflicted on animals, the incalculable suffering of animals in industrial farming circumstances, slaughtered by the billions for food after short, brutal lives in which no consideration is given to them as living, sentient creatures.
In a 2002 interview, Benedict called animals “companions in creation” and criticized the modern food industry for its “degrading of living creatures to a commodity.”
“Respecting the environment,” he said in a 2008 interview, “means not selfishly considering [animal and material] nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests.”
Francis made the church’s position absolutely clear with an encyclical — an official letter to members of the church — called Laudato Si. In it, he condemned the “ruthless exploitation” of animals as commodities and asserts they are individuals who are recognized by God. He urged Catholics to treat them well, to respect and protect wildlife and the environment they depend on.
Animal life has “intrinsic value,” Francis said, adding that Christians must reject the idea that animals are “potential resources to be exploited.”
As if speaking directly to people who use the aforementioned Old Testament quotes to support practices like factory farming, harvesting animals en masse for pelts and hunting for the “fun” of it, Francis said:
“We must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures.”
Both popes also noted that, in addition to the suffering we cause, when we exploit animals as are also behaving in a way beneath the dignity of humankind. It’s a stain on our collective identity as a species, a betrayal of our roles as wardens of the planet.
Let’s put aside the moral considerations for a moment. The continued existence of the complex ecosystems on our planet — and indeed of humanity itself — depends on the many roles animals play, from carrying seeds to pollinating plants, limiting the growth of flora that would otherwise dominate and destroy other plants, rerouting water systems by creating dams, controlling the populations of creatures that would otherwise multiply unchecked, and the thousands of other roles they play in maintaining the balance of ecosystems.
Benedict left this Earth on Dec. 31, 2022, at a time when we have killed off almost 70 percent of all wildlife in the entire world. It’s not just a matter of living on a lonely planet, or tucking future children into bed while telling them that, no, they can’t see elephants or tigers because the last of them are dead. Removing keystone species, extirpating entire genera while rendering vast stretches of the planet uninhabitable, purging the oceans of life as they accumulate literal continents of plastic waste, means we’re marching toward a cascade failure most of us won’t even see coming as we argue about carbon credits, politicize common sense, tinker with viruses and edit genomes.
It’s long past time we recognize the fact that we share this planet with billions of other minds and start living in a way that respects them. If we can save them, perhaps we can save ourselves too.
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.
They’d been treated like hardened criminals and insulted by the same police officers who were supposed to protect them, but Beverly Roberts and Mary Alston didn’t think they’d be convicted.
Not for taking care of cats.
“I felt it was very unlikely that we would be found guilty,” Alston told PITB, “with all of the evidence that we had on our side with the body camera footage, and we never broke any laws.”
Roberts and Alston were arrested on June 25, when a trio of police cars pulled up and officers from the Wetumpka, Alabama, police department confronted them. Police body camera footage shows the women, who had been caring for a colony of stray cats, were surprised by the tone and impatience of the officers.
What they didn’t know was that Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis was the one who’d in effect dispatched the officers to the small wooded lot owned by Elmore County, grounds that are open to the public. They didn’t know that the officers — who warned the confrontation was “going to get ugly,” told the women they’re “too old to be acting this way” and later joked that they were “a bunch of cops beatin’ up on some old ladies” — were told by the assistant chief of police to arrest them after Willis spotted Alston’s parked car and called the assistant chief directly.
On Tuesday, despite the fact that Willis’ role was revealed during a trial, and despite the fact that Wetumpka has no laws against managing cat colonies or conducting “trap, neuter, return” activities, Alston and Roberts were convicted of a pair of misdemeanors each. Lacking laws to charge them directly, the authorities instead accused the women of trespassing on public land and being uncooperative with the officers.
“That’s what I kept going back to – that feeding and trapping cats is not illegal,” Roberts told PITB. “I was not in the location I was [accused of trespassing], and I was sitting in my car talking to my friend. I was not feeding cats.”
During the trial, Willis and the police argued that they’d already told Alston and Roberts to stop interacting with the cats, and said the pair chose to ignore earlier warnings to stay away from the stray colony. They reiterated their view that the colony is a nuisance.
Roberts said she’s had her disagreements with Willis in the past about the way the town handles animal-related issues, but says Wetumpka’s animal control officer gave her and Alston his blessing to manage the cat colony at their own expense. The animal control officer confirmed that during the Tuesday trial. Public-private partnerships to care for stray cats are common in towns and cities across the US, with many elected leaders welcoming the opportunity to work with local rescues and volunteers.
Roberts and Alston say they plan to appeal their conviction, hoping a county judge will see the charges as “politically motivated” accusations. They pointed out that Wetumpka municipal Judge Jeff Courtney is employed directly by the town, not elected to the post by voters, and they believe they’re more likely to get a fair shake when the people deciding their fate aren’t serving at the pleasure of the people making the accusations.
In the meantime, the cat colony remains in Wetumpka, and the cats haven’t been cared for since late June.
“We are very worried about them,” Roberts told PITB. “A few animal lovers have said they would help, but we are not sure this will happen. I’m not sure there is enough food available to hunt. The weather is getting colder, and they need protein.”
Since the terms of the sentencing include two years’ probation, Alston and Roberts are prohibited from caring for the strays. Alston noted the irony of local authorities claiming TNR was exacerbating a “nuisance” while, in the absence of care and neutering, the free felines “are left to go hungry and continue to multiply and branch out searching for food.”
Roberts says she still finds it hard to believe Wetumpka officials refused to compromise or find a way to establish cooperative care for a community problem.
“I thought that they surely had more pressing issues to attend to,” she said. “I really thought the judge would dismiss it and tell the city to work it out.”
The physicist Michio Kaku was a guest on a radio show and was answering a question about possible intelligent life visiting Earth when Joe Rogan interrupted him.
“The three pyramids are aligned with Orion’s belt,” Rogan said. “Do your research, man. Look it up.”
Rogan, who was into 9/11 truther conspiracies at the time, went on to explain how the Egyptians couldn’t possibly have built the pyramids on their own, and that aliens helped them align the positions of the giant structures to correspond to important celestial features.
Here was Kaku, one of the brightest minds in human history, co-founder of string field theory, a man whose textbooks are required reading for PhD-level physics students, getting talked over and “educated” by a pothead who rose to fame hosting a game show in which he forced contestants to eat cockroaches.
Rogan’s source was rock solid if you’re the type of person who thinks ancient aliens traveled thousands of lights to the Earth of deep antiquity to teach human beings how to stack stones on top of each other: Rogan’s friend’s wife, who works at the school district, insisted the litter box story is true.
Like previous claims of school administrators gone mad in service to alleged furries, Rogan’s claim was intentionally nebulous and unverifiable. He didn’t name the school, the district or the teacher. We have to take his word for it.
If you like that sort of thing, I have good news for you! Rogan’s in great company.
Marjorie Taylor Greene — the congresswoman who once claimed “Jewish space lasers” were responsible for California wildfires, the shining testament to US education standards who warned “the Gazpacho police” will imprison patriotic Americans, the genteel stateswoman who said scientists are creating fake meat in “Peach tree dishes” to “zap” Americans — has also warned of the apparently widespread practice of furry school children shitting in litter boxes.
Heidi Ganahl, GOP nominee for Colorado governor:
"they're mute and they don't talk, they growl and meow. it's bizarre. that's an extreme example but it's happening." pic.twitter.com/be2syn012e
Not to be outdone, Rep. Lauren Boebert has co-signed the cat conspiracy, telling donors that evil cat-loving people are hell bent on destroying wholesome American values by unleashing cat-identified children on an innocent and unsuspecting public.
Say it enough and it becomes true
The claims have been repeated so many times that they’ve spread to school board meetings and state legislatures across the country, perpetuated by gerontocratic leaders who think The Onion is a real news source. Two current gubernatorial candidates, in Colorado and Minnesota, have also repeated the claim.
“Schools are not disclosing that they are allowing children who identify as snakes, cats, whatever, they’re providing litter boxes for the [student] cats,” a Tennessee state representative said during a hearing in September. “And obviously it’s very disruptive to the learning process. If a child has that much of a self-identity issue they probably need a different environment, and it’s creating a lot of anxiety, a lot of confusion with the children who are boys and girls.”
“But Big Buddy,” you might be thinking, “I thought you said PITB was apolitical and you’re a moderate?”
It is, and I am.
I dislike all ideology equally because it invites people to abdicate their responsibility to think for themselves. I believe our two-party system and the divisiveness it fuels could be the ruin of our great nation, particularly at a time when polls show up to half the US population expects to fight in an ideologically-driven civil war. I worry that we are doing precisely what our enemies want by feuding amongst ourselves. Indeed, we know for a fact that “troll farms” in countries like Russia and China exist to sow the seeds of division and crank up poisonous political rhetoric online.
But I’m also against pure, abject, mind-boggling, depressing, Idiocracy-style stupidity and the idea that anything is true if someone says it is. Neither party has a monopoly on this kind of thing.
In particular, I’m not a fan of injecting cats into the American culture wars. (Although it’s not just cats at this point. A Texas school district was forced to deny rumors that administrators were allowing “furries” to eat out of dog bowls in school cafeterias.)
Three minutes of two state lawmakers in Tennessee insisting this week in a hearing that there is a “crisis” of kids identifying as cats and peeing in litter boxes in school hallways “across the state” pic.twitter.com/DDHWKIJtLz
We already fail these innocent creatures in myriad ways, from allowing declawing and doing little to improve weak animal welfare laws, to tolerating the idea that it’s perfectly acceptable for people to shoot cats with arrows, BBs and real firearms as some grotesque form of entertainment.
Now people want to use cats as the rope in a perverse game of cultural tug-of-war, which could further degrade their status and lead to more proxy violence against them.
Cats are vulnerable, and are already targets of hate
Violent criminals, including the perpetrators of the recent mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, often get their start by killing cats before “graduating” to humans.
Cats are also frequent victims of redirected anger, with studies showing they’re abused and killed in domestic violence situations because they’re viewed as extensions of the feminine, or simply because killing them causes emotional distress to the people who care for them.
Politics have pervaded and infected so many things, cats and dogs are now staked to territory on either side of the political fault lines.
So how long will it be before an Alex Jones type claims the government is using cats to spy on Americans? The best conspiracy theories always have a nugget of truth to them, after all, and in the 1960s the CIA tried — and failed, spectacularly — to use cats implanted with transmitters to spy on Soviet officials.
How long before a Boebert or a Greene tells a crowd that it’s their patriotic duty to shoot “liberal cats” on sight? How long before Tucker Carlson follows up one of his thrilling UFO/crop circle/cow mutilation investigative specials with a breathless exclusive about America-hating cats?
“Why do so many cats want to see America burn? Why do cats like to line their litter boxes with the American flag? Does the government allow cats to vote? Hey, I’m just asking questions!”
If you think that’s outlandish, I’d point out that we’ve been there, done that.
Tucker Swanson Carlson has already claimed that “decadent rich people” who “detest the country” like to plot America’s downfall from cat cafes. Those evil America-haters stroke cats and sip lattes while “working through the night to destroy” our great nation, Carlson told his viewers. I’m not making this up.
Europeans almost extirpated domestic cats in the middle ages when people were convinced they carried the Black Plague, and cats had even bigger targets on their backs after the Inquisition’s most overzealous prosecutors insisted felines were used in Satanic rituals.
Likewise, my Google News alert for cat-related articles shows a depressing, never-ending feed of stories about people chugging beer and shooting cats with BB guns, mystery killers strangling neighborhood kitties and “hunters” who put arrows through these sentient, innocent animals who have the mental and emotional capacity of three-year-old human children.
And there’s already plenty of nonsense online about how our choice of pet reflects our political beliefs, as well as unhinged rants about the kind of people who prefer cats. There are even research studies about the intersection of politics and attitudes toward companion animals, and research shows certain people consider cats “liberal” because they don’t adhere to social hierarchies and don’t recognize authority.
Is it really a stretch to imagine some 85, deep into a case of Miller High Life, taking target practice at neighborhood cats because he sees them as evil, feminine, America-hating animals? Are we sure it doesn’t happen already?
Politics really does ruin everything.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.