Arthur the tabby cat made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the children of his human family.
The “adorable domestic shorthair cat was playing in the backyard with his family in their backyard, following his two little hoomans around when danger slithered right up to the young children,” Animal Emergency Services staff of Queensland, Australia, wrote in a Facebook post honoring Arthur.
Eastern brown snakes are no joke: They’re the second most-venomous snakes in the world as measured by the toxin release in their bites, and they’re responsible for 60 percent of snake bite deaths in Australia.
Brave Arthur killed the snake before the adults in the family shooed everyone inside, but he was fatally injured.
“Unfortunately, in the process, Arthur received a fatal envenomation snake bite. In the chaos of getting the children out of the yard, no-one saw the actual bite, but Arthur collapsed and quickly recovered like nothing was wrong not long after,” staff at Animal Emergency Services wrote. “Collapse events like this is a common symptom of snake bites, although not a well-known symptom amongst pet owners.
When they realized Arthur was seriously hurt, his family rushed him to the nearest animal hospital, but “Arthur’s symptoms were too severe to recover.”
Arthur’s humans, who live in Tanawha, Queensland, are “devastated” at the loss of their beloved, mischievous cat, Animal Emergency Services staff wrote. One thing’s for certain: They’ll never forget the little guy or what he did for them.
Wildlife conservationists are worried, and they have a right to be.
In addition to the billions of animals we humans kill every year in our ruthless exploitation of life on this planet, our pet cats have their own separate impact, killing birds and small mammals in significant numbers.
Yet conservationists aren’t making headway with cat lovers, primarily because their approach frequently relies on shaming and drastic, often cruel proposals: Some Australian states are outright culling cats, offering $10 a head for adults and $5 for kittens, for example, while a pair of academics from the Netherlands advocate criminally prosecuting cat owners who let their pets outside combined with a policy of euthanizing millions of cats. Extremists in the US are pushing for similar measures, arguing that TNR (trap, neuter, return) isn’t an effective way of managing cat populations.
Something has to be done, and a few smart conservationists are realizing the accusatory, Richard Dawkins-style of engaging “the enemy” just causes people to withdraw, not to listen and cooperate.
“I get quite sick of the conflict focus of some conservation biologists,” Wayne Linklater, chairman of the environmental studies department at California State, tells New Scientist. “The solutions lie with the people who care most about cats, not with the people who don’t care about them.”
Great. Now there are a few things conservationists should know as they engage with people who care for cats:
Most of us want what you want: We want cat owners to keep their pets inside. Cats aren’t wild animals. They have no “natural habitat” and contrary to misconceptions, they don’t belong outside. They’re not equipped to provide for themselves, and they face dangers from traffic, predators like coyotes and mountain lions, fights with other cats, and perverse humans who kill and torture them for fun. Strays and ferals live short, brutal lives (living to an average of 3.5 years) while indoor cats live 17 years on average. The “cats belong inside” angle is common ground from which to start a dialogue.
Come get your people: Peter Marra is one of the co-authors of the bunk 2013 Nature Communications study with the above oft-cited numbers, and he’s also the author of the shrill Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer. Marra is an advocate of using taxpayer money to kill millions of cats. He also says that anyone who questions his claims about cats — a group that includes major animal rescues, welfare organizations, and many academics — is tantamount to climate change deniers and tobacco companies that denied for decades that cigarettes have a negative effect on health. Marra’s major contributions amount to sowing misinformation, polarizing the issue and inflaming opinions on both sides. Everything about his behavior indicates he wants to sell books and promote himself, not save wildlife from predatory domestic cats. He should not be taken seriously and his research should not be reported as fact.
Cat lovers are, by definition, animal lovers. They’re people who care about wildlife and domestic animal welfare. It shouldn’t be difficult to engage with them.
At the same time, cat advocates need to purge the crazies out of their ranks as well. Sending death threats to scientists (see the New Scientist link up top) is way out of order, it’s inhuman behavior and it only hurts the legitimacy of our cause.
A good first step toward reconciliation could involve enlisting cat owners in an effort to properly study feline impact on small wildlife, producing reliable data to facilitate a measured, fact-based approach that doesn’t begin and end with the notion that cats are hellspawn.
If all sides engage in good faith, there’s no reason why we can’t protect wildlife and cats.
If you’d just skimmed headlines like “Kiss of Death: Elderly Woman Killed By Cat” and “Tragedy as woman is killed by her CAT, as doctors issue a dire warning to pet owners” you’d think a woman was somehow violently killed by an enraged 10-pound cat.
The reality is much less dramatic: A woman’s cat scratched her, then licked the wound.
Through her saliva, the cat named Minty infected the victim with bacterial meningitis, doctors told the New Zealand Herald.
The woman fell into a coma, was found by relatives and brought to Melbourne’s Box Hill Hospital, where medical staff kept her sedated as they tried to treat her. With few options, the family in consultation with the doctors decided to wake her to say goodbye, then placed her back in a coma and withdrew life support.
“Infections related to cat bites and scratches like this person, we’d get at least one a week where somebody comes into the hospital,” Lindsay Grayson, director of infectious diseases at Melbourne’s Austin Health, told the newspaper. “It is very important that if a cat is biting or scratching you, you mention it to your GP.”
The woman was 80 years old, and the story suggests she had a compromised immune system. It didn’t provide any other details about her overall health, existing co-morbidities or whether her cat was allowed outdoors. Outside cats have a greater chance of picking up bacteria that can harm humans, experts say. A separate article mentioned the victim took blood thinners.
Grayson’s warning is simple and spot-on: Take bites and scratches from cats and dogs seriously, get the wounds treated and call your doctor. Something that looks like an inconsequential scratch could prove deadly or cause major health problems.
Cats and dogs live in more than 100 million homes in the US alone and infections are exceedingly rare. Grayson is aware of that, and he’s giving solid preventative health advice to people in the pet-owning demographic.
Unfortunately calm and reasoned doesn’t draw clicks, so the story is propagating via headlines that conjure images of a cat literally murdering its owner.
It should go without saying that the cat didn’t intend to cause any harm and is incapable of understanding what happened. All she knows is that her human is dead, which she’s certainly distraught about, and it sounds like she’s not getting sympathy or affection from her new humans.
“I was in shock for a good couple of weeks,” the woman’s daughter said. “I’ve tried not to hate the cat … but then I was sitting with it trying to be nice and it lashed out at me as well for no reason.”
With all respect to the grieving, there most certainly is a reason. The cat is grieving too, she’s living with new people in a new situation, and she’s almost certainly scared. It’s an unfortunate situation for all involved.
What do you think of them? I can’t believe it. I think they’re awful and I’m scared. I have a good home, but what if my mama died or something and no other people came to help me and I was left outside? Would this happen to me?
Stasi from ‘Stralia.
This is from the third link you sent me:
“…good news, folks! You can legit be a bounty hunter in Australia. Sort of. Now before you get excited over traveling around Australia, hunting down outlaws, and slamming down bounty posters onto a sheriff’s desk in demand of payment, people are off-limits if you decide to be a bounty hunter in Australia.
No, what you’ll be hunting are – wait for it – cats. Feral cats to be specific.
The Banana Shire Council up in Queensland is offering bounties on the presentation of feral cat scalps and are willing to pay you $10 per scalp.”
Oh, what brave hunters, stalking the outback with bolt-action rifles to combat the plague of 10-pound kitties! Well, I’ll bet they’re as heroic as this guy:
Don’t worry, Stasi. Buddy will give these Australians a piece of his mind. And if those savages don’t stop, you can come live with Buddy in New York.
His Grace, Buddy the King Dated August the 14th, 5 A.B. (Anno Buddy)
To the Foul, Ignoble Degenerates of Australia,
After enquiring about your country, having never heard of it before receiving this most unfortunate news, we have been reliably informed that “Australia” is a former penal colony for English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh riff-raff who were banished from their home countries.
Some 160,000 criminals were forcibly transported to your abominable hovel of a “country,” where the assorted scoundrels, reprobates and rapscallions engineered a vulgar approximation of civilization. Fueled by alcohol, you copulated and produced more pissants. Generations of them, which brings us to you.
We understand there are two primary reasons for this: Our collective impact on local species, and Greg, best known to humans as the Bane of Birds, the vicious white cat who snacked on an entire bird sanctuary.
Look, Greg is a dick. We freely admit that.
We told him those birds were in a sanctuary. We told him not to eat the birds. We told him to stop messing with humans. We even told him to stop hogging the Temptations.
Greg didn’t listen, and now Greg’s dead. At your hands.
We offer the opportunity for a cease fire. You got Greg. There’s no reason for you to continue hunting us with rifles and arrows like the wimps you are, terrified of getting scratched by creatures that weigh 1/20 your weight even if we are 10 times your superior.
We control rodent populations. We are furry and we like to cuddle. We are like warm, purring pillows of love and cuteness. What more could you want?
And so we extend this olive branch in the sincere hope that you take it. Recall your “hunters” or face our wrath!
Signed, His Grace, Buddy the King First of His Name, Sole Sovereign of the Fields of Turkey, Ruler of New York, Protector of the Apartmental Realm, the Most Handsome, Totally Not Scared of Anything
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.