Beryl Edwards was overjoyed when her microchipping company contacted her to inform her that her cat Fred, missing since the summer of 2022, had been found.
Then her joy turned to frustration as the company asked her to confirm a change in Fred’s ownership.
“Can you imagine the range of emotions from, ‘Fred! He’s alive, he’s OK’ to ‘transfer of ownership? What’s this all about?’” the UK woman told the BBC earlier this week.
A rep from Identibase told Edwards the company couldn’t provide any information on the person or people who currently had Fred due to data privacy laws, so Edwards called the police, who handled it swiftly.
“I’m totally over the moon,” Edwards told the BBC on Wednesday. “I can’t praise Market Drayton police enough, they got on to the case on Sunday, contacted the people on Monday, and by 10:45 on Monday evening they brought Fred home.”
The police are able to access data the public cannot if it pertains to an investigation, and law enforcement had said earlier they considered Fred’s predicament a case of theft. It’s not clear if they charged the other party with a crime.
As for Fred, Edwards said he’s happy to be home with her and his litter mate, Gino.
“He’s roaming around the house, obviously he’s kept in doors,” she said. “He’s playing, he’s eating, having lots of cuddles, lots of love, he’s great.”
UK legislators recently passed a law that will require all cat owners to have their felines microchipped by June 10, 2024. Advocates say the law will greatly increase the chances that missing cats are reunited with their people. It will also help hold people to account if they abandon their pets, and will help authorities settle questions of ownership in cases where it’s disputed. Edwards said she’d like to see changes to the way information is shared as well so people in her situation can more easily resolve their problems.
The little guy made a big splash for a while back in 2016 when images of his unusual mug went viral and the internet decided he looked like the 39-year-old actor.
In an essay, Emily McCombs describes feeling “something deep in my soul” when she saw photos of the cat she’d name Kylo, in honor of Driver’s best-known role as the conflicted Sith lord in the third Star Wars trilogy. Against all odds, and despite intense interest in the Oriental Shorthair, McCombs was able to adopt Kylo after begging a friend for a ride from Brooklyn to the Monmouth County SPCA in New Jersey.
McCombs with Kylo Ren. Credit: Emily McCombs
Adam Driver, top left, Kylo at the bottom, and Kylo with McCombs at right. Credit: Monmouth County SPCA
But it’s what happened after that impacted McCombs and her young son the most. Kylo was gentle with McCombs’ son, had a habit of staring adoringly at her and “wasn’t truly happy if he wasn’t smooshed against my face.” Aside from the shoulder bit, Kylo sounds a lot like Bud:
“Rather than just being a lap cat, Kylo was more likely to perch on my shoulder, or plop down directly on my face,” McCombs wrote. “He preferred positions that made it impossible to do anything but pay attention to to him, and would regularly headbutt my phone when he wanted my undivided attention.”
Actually, he’s more polite than Bud, who has no qualms about slapping my smartphone out of my hands and loves to send it flying if I make the mistake of leaving it unattended on a flat surface. “Stoopid little glowing rectangle!” I imagine him yelling in the meowenese language.
Kylo became part of McCombs’ family, helping her tuck her son in every night after story time, and while McCombs said a few love interests came and went, Kylo endured.
McCombs got to spend seven wonderful years with Kylo before she made the difficult decision to euthanize him after he was diagnosed with kidney failure and his struggle became more desperate. The story’s worth reading for her take on grief, Kylo’s sweet relationship with her son, and her insistence that no amount of internet fame compared to the love Kylo gave the family.
It’s also validation of the way people feel when they lose their four-legged companions, and a reminder that grief doesn’t need to be justified, regardless of whether some people insist “it’s just a cat.”
The microchip company called to ask her to confirm a change of ownership for her missing cat
A British woman was thrilled when the microchip company contacted her to say her missing cat had been found, but was confused and dismayed when the representative on the line asked her to confirm a change of ownership.
Now she’s trying to get her kitty back, but her efforts have been frustrated by the other person who wants to keep him, as well as data protection laws that prevent the microchip company from identifying the person.
Beryl Edwards of Shropshire, a rural area bordering Wales, adopted her cat Fred and his brother Geno in 2021. Fred went missing over the summer in 2022, and Edwards said she was initially ecstatic when she was told he’d been found.
“And then out of the blue last week I get an email saying we’ve had a request – somebody wants a transfer of ownership,” Edwards told the BBC. “Can you imagine the range of emotions from, ‘Fred! He’s alive, he’s OK’ to ‘transfer of ownership? What’s this all about?’”
The company, Identibase, told Edwards that while they could not give her the person’s information, they would ask the person to contact Edwards and return the cat.
Edwards never heard back, and now it’s a criminal matter.
“We are following up on a number of enquiries and at this stage are treating the matter as a potential theft,” the West Mercia Police said, per the BBC.
It’s not clear if police believe the person who has Fred stole him from Edwards, or whether they found him and want to keep him, but we hope Edwards and Fred are reunited, and Fred gets to live with his bonded littermate Geno again.
I can understand why the company would hesitate to provide the other person’s information, even if no law existed. You don’t want people physically confronting each other and potentially taking pets by force in disagreements over ownership. It’s also possible that the person who wants to keep Fred never intended to “trip” the microchip, and Edwards’ information may have been discovered by a veterinarian during a routine exam. But perhaps the unusual case can inform a future change to the law so it’s easier for people to retrieve their pets in cases like this, and for law enforcement to return pets when there’s clear documentation showing one party is indeed the caretaker.
This is not funny
A woman opens her front door to find a distressed cat crying for her help. Instead of taking him in, feeding him, checking on his welfare or even calling a local shelter, the woman proceeds to film herself performatively yelling at the stray and telling him to “get on off my porch!”
The TikTok video went viral this past week and people think it’s hilarious.
File this under “Social Media Is A Sign Of Humanity’s Decline.” Maybe the woman would have been cold-hearted even if she wasn’t hamming it up for an internet audience, but the prospect of clicks and likes almost certainly played a part in the way she dismissively yelled at an animal who was obviously in distress. Even if she didn’t want another pet and couldn’t adopt the cat, it costs nothing to show kindness and make sure he gets to people who will do right by him.
I won’t link to the woman’s TikTok, but if you want to read Newsweek’s take about how her performance “delighted the internet,” click here. I hope the cat found a more sympathetic person and has either been returned home if he was lost, or found his way into a forever home if he was a stray.
After news of a now-canceled children’s cat hunting contest made international headlines this week, the usual suspects came out of the woodwork with wild, unsupported claims that cats — not humans, not human industrial processes, not human-driven habitat loss, wind farms or agricultural pesticides — are singlehandedly responsible for wiping out New Zealand’s native birds and the extinction of an arbitrary number of avian species.
One of the people leading the charge is Helen Blackie, a “biosecurity expert” who told the BBC that cats are responsible for the extinction of six native bird species in New Zealand.
Blackie doesn’t say where she got that information, but noted cat-hating Kiwi Gareth Morgan’s site claims that cats have killed nine native bird species, and attributes the information to a study, “A global review of the impacts of invasive cats on island endangered vertebrates.”
The “study” was published by academics in Spain and California without boots on the ground in New Zealand and is not actually a study at all. It’s a meta-analysis of prior studies, none of which count the number of feral, stray and pet cats in New Zealand, nor do they offer anything resembling a measure of how many birds are actually killed by cats.
Notably, the study does not say cats are responsible for the extinction of nine bird species.
Much like their US bird-conservationist counterparts, the authors of the study cannot say how many cats actually live in New Zealand and have no observational data about feline predatory habits.
In this case, the “desired results” are any suitably impressive-sounding figure for the total number of native birds killed by cats in New Zealand. The authors aren’t conducting a scientific investigation to find out how those native birds died, they’ve already decided that cats are the reason and they’re misrepresenting data from unrelated studies to support that conclusion. That is not science.
Of course their conclusion has no basis in reality. How is it possible that a bunch of researchers on entirely different continents are able to come up with accurate figures on cat predation in New Zealand without any actual data about cats in New Zealand, without a population count of cats in New Zealand, and without a single observational study to draw information from?
How does a study of coyote and cat interactions in Culver City, California have any bearing on cats killing birds in New Zealand, an island country 6,700 miles away with habitats that bear little or no resemblance to California? Coyotes don’t even exist in New Zealand!
How does a self-reported questionnaire about the personalities of pet cats by American cat owners tell researchers anything about the behavior of feral cats in rural New Zealand?
How does a study about the Persian squirrel on Greek island ecosystems tell a research team anything about the impact of cats on flightless birds in a completely different environment, in a different part of the world, with different types of trees and cover, different native fauna and weather systems?
This sort of buffet-style, cherry-picking nonsense wouldn’t pass muster in an undergraduate class in the hard sciences, yet somehow it’s not only published in peer-reviewed conservation journals, it’s reported breathlessly and credulously by reporters at outlets like NPR, the BBC and the Guardian, who don’t even bother to read beyond the abstract.
Their claims are further undermined by their inexplicable assertion that feral cats and domestic cats are not the same thing, when in fact they are the same species: felis catus. They are indistinguishable because they are the same. They look identical and have the same genetics. The only difference is that house cats have homes and ferals do not.
No one is claiming that cats don’t have an impact on the environment. It would be foolish to think they don’t.
But if anyone — especially journalists with influential platforms and researchers cloaked in authority thanks to the veneer of real science — wants to make the case that cats are the primary force leading to declining numbers of native bird populations, then the burden of proof is on them, and it’s a high one.
We’re talking about life here, the lives of fully sentient animals with their own rich internal thoughts and feelings. You don’t just casually call for their extirpation or send children off with rifles to arbitrarily shoot them like little serial killers in training.
If you want to make the case, do the work. Get the grants. Hire the personnel. Do it right. The Washington, D.C. Cat Count even has a free toolkit for other communities to conduct their own feline census, so they can make informed decisions. But if you’re unwilling or unable to do the work, then stop spreading misinformation, because it has tragic consequences for real-world animals, and their blood is on your hands.
Should scientists resurrect long-extinct species? Is it ethical to clone thousands of animals who will not live, but have their organs harvested for human patients?
Those are some of the questions people are asking as the cloning industry — once relegated to producing one-off copies and genetically identical versions of deceased pets for wealthy clients — is expanding with new capabilities.
This story by the BBC’s David Cox provides an informative, brief history of cloning before pivoting to the current state of the industry and how it could continue to evolve.
Two of the most fascinating prospects have to do with conservation. One company, Colossal, is working on bringing back the extinct woolly mammoth, while other scientists are turning to cloning as a way to prevent the extinctions of species like the white rhino, which is functionally extinct without any breeding pairs left living.
As with anything in science, innovations in cloning unlock new applicative branches, and scientists have partnered with the medical field to address human health concerns. Some, like the practice of editing genes to prevent diseases in newborns, tend to fly under the radar. But others, like the push to adapt organs from animals like pigs so they can be replacements for human organs, are much more controversial and have met opposition from animal welfare groups.
Then there’s the elephant in the room, no pun intended. What about cloning humans?
Right now no one’s gone down that route, at least not publicly, because of the inevitable backlash. What’s happening deep in the bowels of clandestine medical facilities in nations with murky ethics laws is another question entirely.
I am opposed to human cloning, but I don’t believe it will remain the immutable taboo some people think it is. Someone will break the dam, and while that pioneer will likely get raked over the coals, the bell cannot be unrung. Things change so fast these days that what’s shocking one day merits a shrug the next, and it’s possible the world will be introduced to a man or woman one day before it’s revealed the person is, in fact, a clone. (Not unlike the way the world was introduced to Imma, a Japanese influencer and model who exists only digitally.)
They’ll be the Dolly the Sheep of the human race, and ethicists won’t get a say in whether they should exist because it’s already been done.
“See how normal they are?” people keen on cloning will say. “They’re just regular people. Are you going to tell them they shouldn’t live?”
But before that, it looks like the movie Gattaca will become reality, and people will order up a great baseball player or a child with intuitive musical genius just like they might commission a piece of art or a custom car job. Gene editing with CRISPR is surprisingly trivial.
Of course, it won’t be lost on people that we’re cloning humans when there are millions of unwanted, uncared-for street kids in the third world, not to mention people who live without the consideration of their fellow human beings in every nation. Just like it hasn’t escaped the notice of activists that South Korea and China are leaders in cloning pets, yet dogs and cats are also food in those countries.
What separates the dogs and cats bound for restaurant kitchens from the dogs and cats having their cells preserved for cloning?
Nothing except for their individual value to humans, just like pure luck separates a cat who finds a loving home from a cat who ends up euthanized with a needle. We are a fickle species.
Yet both the beloved pet and the unwanted shelter cat are sentient, experience intense emotions and have their own thoughts. That’s not conjecture, it’s fact as confirmed many times over experimentally, but it shocks a lot of people. Our education system has not done right by the billions of non-human minds we share our planet with.
I’ve thought about what might have happened if Buddy had been adopted by someone else, and what his fate may have been. I love the little guy, but it’s possible that someone else may have viewed him as an annoyance, a loud and incessantly chatty cat who needs an inordinate amount of attention and affection, sometimes lashes out, and needs to be surrendered.
Likewise, unwanted cats have languished in shelters for months before viral posts spark interest in them, and suddenly offers to adopt come in by the hundreds from across the globe. Nothing about those cats changed, but humans formed an emotional attachment to them after learning their stories.
Of course, the ethics of how we treat and consider animals can change depending on where you’re sitting. If you’re young, healthy and energetic, your view may be radically different than the person sitting on an organ donation waiting list, knowing their time may be up before a new liver or kidney becomes available. Suddenly a seemingly simple moral calculus becomes murky and complex.
There’s strong evidence that people who take the first steps toward cloning their beloved cats and dogs spend time wrestling with the ethics of the decision as well. Texas-based ViaGen, the western leader in commercial cloning, told the BBC that 90 percent of its clients are not people who have gone through with cloning, but have only taken the initial step of preserving their pets’ cells for $1,600.
And what of the mammoths? Bringing them back from extinction isn’t as simple as filling in the gaps in their genome, implanting gene-edited eggs in female elephants and hoping gestation takes care of the rest. Mammoths are social animals. Will an elephant mother raise a mammoth baby? Where does that mammoth baby belong? Without a herd of its own kind, can it be happy?
We can’t ask the mammoths, and even if we could, it might not be up to them anyway. As one paleogeneticist put it to NPR last year: What if the technology isn’t used to resurrect the mammoth, but to save the elephant? Does the end justify the means in the latter situation, but not the former?
Mammoth, Dolly the Sheep and rhesus macaque images credit Wikimedia Commons
The West Ham United footballer pleaded guilty on May 24 to “causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal,” the BBC reported. His 24-year-old brother Yoan, who is also a professional soccer player, pleaded guilty to a single charge of abetting the crime when he filmed the violence and posted it to Snapchat.
An RSPCA investigation uncovered new details about the incident. Zouma was reportedly enraged when the cat scratched a chair.
“I swear I’ll kill it, I swear I’ll kill it,” he says in the video.
In the video, the elder Zouma, 27, drop-kicks the Bengal cat “like a football” in the prosecutor’s description, and slaps it hard in the face with a shoe. Both brothers were laughing in the footage, and Zouma’s child was present.
His brother Yoan uploaded the clip to Snapchat, and it would have remained private if not for the disgusted reaction of a woman Yoan asked on a date.
“I don’t think hitting a cat like that is OK – don’t bother coming today,” she wrote in a message to Yoan Zouma, canceling their meet-up.
“I do not want to associate with people who find that funny, in front of a child as well,” she wrote.
The outraged woman reported the brothers, and condemnation was swift: Zouma lost several sponsorship contracts, including his most lucrative deal with Adidas, and he was fined $250,000 by his team, which is the maximum a Premier League club can levy against a player.
The brothers don’t yet know the full consequences of their actions. They’ll return to court for sentencing on June 1, and although Zouma has been contrite and has people vouching for him to the court, there may be other considerations after Zouma’s video apparently inspired others to hit their cats and post the videos online.
People who imitated Zouma’s animal abuse formed an online group, calling themselves the “Kick the Cat Club.”
“Since this footage was put in the public domain there has been a spate of people hitting cats and posting it on various social media sites,” Thames Magistrate’s Court prosecutor Hazel Stevens said.
In the meantime, Zouma’s two Bengal cats have been in the custody of the RSPCA. The cats, Bonbon and Cherie, didn’t suffer any lasting physical injuries from the abuse, and despite enduring trauma, the RSPCA said both cats are friendly and will be ready for rehoming soon.
“What makes this case even more sad is the way the video was filmed and shared, making light of such cruelty,” the RSPCA’s Dermot Murphy said. “We hope this case will serve as a reminder that all animals deserve to be treated with kindness, compassion and respect, and that we will not tolerate cruelty.”
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.