I would like to purchase Buddy the Lesser. Is he for sale? If so, how many rubles will it take to pry him away from you?
Vladimir Mewtin, presidential cat of Glorious Motherland
I may be willing to part with him, but we don’t take rubles, just good old ‘Merican greenbacks here! I’m warning you, the price will be steep, but if you’re serious, I think we can work out a deal.
My heart sang with the glory of Mother Russia when I read your correspondence. Would $50,000 be acceptable recompense for parting with Buddy the Lesser? Also, what does he eat? Is he an affectionate cuddler? Does he like to play games?
Vladimir Mewtin, presidential cat of Glorious Motherland
I thought you were serious, dude. Pretend this is eBay and the starting bid is $200,000.
Buddy the Lesser is a vegetarian and has been for more than six years now. He’s more or less affectionate, and he does play games, sometimes too much. I don’t like it when he’s on the computer and the only scritches to be had are absent-minded scritches.
Holler at me if you got the cash,
How is this possible? A cat who is a vegetarian? I am most happy to learn he is affectionate and he enjoys games, but surely no feline can subsist and remain healthy on vegetables and fruits alone. I cannot pay $200,000 for a cat in good conscience if he’s likely to be malnourished, no matter how dashing and handsome he is.
No, no, no! I’m the cat. Buddy the Greater, aka Little Buddy. That’s me. You asked about Buddy the Lesser, aka Big Buddy. That’s my human. I assure you, I eat nothing but the finest turkey and other meats, but I am not for sale!
Now you have to understand, any deal we strike will have to include a replacement human to see to my own needs, okay Vlady? Don’t try to pull a fast one on me either: I want an American human who understands meows in American, is easily manipulated by my yowling and takes his servantly duties seriously.
I don’t have time to teach the American language to a Russian servant, nor am I inclined to instruct a Russian in the subtleties of American meowing. Unless…unless we’re talking about female Russians, gorgeous women with names like Alina, Tatiana and Katya who will spoil me, feed me candied figs and allow me to use their bosoms as pillows. That might be kinda cool.
No Siberia either! Tatiana must come to New York, or Novvy Yorkova as you call it.
Let me know if those terms are amenable to you.
Where’d you go, dude? Dammit, why does everyone cut off contact when I try to sell my human?
Nicholas the mountain lion has a beautiful home waiting for him with his own pond, a rock den, a grassy area where he can run around and several other little hideaways where he can enjoy some privacy and naps.
But first the three-year-old puma will have to clear quarantine and become more comfortable with his new surroundings and new caretakers.
“He’s doing really well but he’s still very scared, he’s a very timid cat, so we’re just taking it really slow, day by day and the keepers are taking some quiet time with him,” said Bobbi Brink, the founder of San Diego County-based Lions, Tigers and Bears, Nicholas’ new home.
The golden-coated feline with an expressive face has had a tough journey to the 93-acre sanctuary that will be his permanent home.
In 2020 when he was just a cub, Nicholas was following his mother across a busy highway when both were struck by a car. Nicholas was badly injured and his mom was killed in the collision, an unfortunately common fate for members of their species as their longtime habitats are increasingly fragmented by new developments and highways.
Because they require about two years with their mothers to learn how to survive on their own, it’s almost impossible to release orphaned pumas back into the wild. Unlike, say, the orphaned orangutans of Borneo and Sumatra, who can usually be taught to successfully fend for themselves because humans can show them how to physically manipulate their surroundings, there’s no way to teach orphaned pumas how to select prey, stalk, pounce and deliver kill bites.
A sanctuary in northern California provided a home for Nicholas for about three years, but recently went bankrupt, so the staff at Lions, Tigers and Bears secured him, prepared a habitat for him and took on the Herculean task of transporting him to San Diego County.
Nicholas’ case is even more complicated because he has lasting neurological damage from the car crash that killed his mother, including a pronounced head tilt that worsens when he’s scared.
Brink told PITB it’s normal for cats like mountain lions to be spooked by the commotion and uncertainty of a move, as well as leaving everything they know behind. Nicholas is simply obeying his wild instincts, which urge him to be guarded. But he’s got a loving team of caretakers who will work with him, as well as veterinary specialists who are well versed in caring for animals with neurological damage.
“Sometimes it can take (animals like Nicholas) a month, sometimes it can take three months to build up that trust,” Brink said. “His biggest need is he’s very afraid, so we’re gonna have to work around his fear so we don’t scare him more.”
While Nicholas will have his own habitat and can keep to himself as much as he likes, recent observations of his secretive species have shown that pumas have “secret social lives,” and Nicholas will have the opportunity to meet and interact with other mountain lions if he’s comfortable with it.
Pumas — which are known by the scientific name puma concolor and are also called mountain lions, cougars, panthers, catamounts, screamers, painters, gato monte and many other names — are among the most adaptable felids in the world and range from the southernmost edge of South America to just over the Canadian border. They’re able to thrive in mountains, tropical regions, deserts, forests, human-adjacent rural areas and even in urban population centers, as the famed “Hollywood Mountain Lion” P-22 did for more than a decade in Los Angeles.
Their ability to adapt has served them well in a changing world, but they’re not immune to the pressures of human expansion.
In California their habitats have been carved up by the state’s busy and deadly highways, leaving the cats in genetically isolated pockets. Pumas who strike out in search of their own ranges are extremely vulnerable to vehicle traffic. P-22 famously crossed several of the world’s busiest highways to reach his eventual home in LA’s Griffith Park, but others like Nicholas and his mom aren’t so lucky.
Solutions like the $90 million Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, currently under construction in Los Angeles County, can connect fragmented ranges and give pumas, coyotes, foxes, deer, rabbits and other animals safe passage. But experts point out that they are just one component in a long-term solution that must include more careful zoning, fences to funnel animals toward safe crossings, and options like tunnels that run under highways, since not all animals will use overpasses.
As planners and wildlife experts figure out new ways to ensure the survival of wildlife in an increasingly crowded, human-dominated world, sanctuaries like Lions, Tigers and Bears play a crucial role by caring for the innocent animals who are injured, displaced and rescued from bad circumstances.
To learn more about Lions, Tigers and Bears or support their ongoing efforts to provide safe, stimulating and comfortable homes for wild animals, visit the non-profit’s site. To receive updates on Nicholas and the other animals at the sanctuary, follow Lions, Tigers and Bears on Instagram and Facebook. Readers who live in the California area can book guided educational tours or visit during one of the sanctuary’s special events. Thanks to Bobbi Brink and Olivia Stafford for allowing PITB to tell Nicholas’ story. All images and videos of Nicholas courtesy of Lions, Tigers and Bears.
A mountain lion got more than it bargained for when it found itself face to face with a ferocious furball last week.
The puma was taking a breather near a home on Jan. 5 when it turned, realizing there was a pair of eyes watching it. Those eyes belonged to the resident cat, a 13-year-old moggie who was not pleased to see a wild intruder in its territory.
The puma initially squared off on the other side of a sliding glass door as if saying “You want some of this?” but seemed shocked when the domestic cat, rather than backing down, launched into a series of feints and yowls.
The puma flinched a few times, then decided to vacate the premises.
Clearly, the wild cat found itself wondering about the identity of the tabby.
“Is that Buddy the Cat? Oh crap! If it’s him, I’m in trouble! They say he has huge meowscles and is a master of 36 styles of Kung Fu!”
Bridget Moynahan joins the search for Bridget Moynahan
Blue Bloods actress Bridget Moynahan gave a boost to the search for a missing cat bearing her name.
The 51-year-old actress lent her star power to the search by posting about it on Instagram, where she has 345,000 followers.
The missing kitty belongs to the owner of a Manhattan bodega, and spends her days napping on the shelves and being admired by customers.
There are an estimated 10,000 bodegas in New York City, where traditional grocery stores don’t really fit into an urban lifestyle where most people don’t own cars and can’t load up two weeks’ worth of groceries in a minivan.
To keep mice and rats at bay, most of New York’s bodegas have cats. They’re technically illegal, but because having a cat in the store carries the same $300 penalty as having rodents, bodega owners opt for the former. The cats are beloved by New Yorkers, and the city is mostly content to overlook their presence unless there are major health violations.
Get the Army Corps of Engineers 2023 Cat Calendar for free
If you still haven’t picked up a calendar for the New Year, the Army Corps of Engineers has got you covered.
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Click here to download the printable PDF of the calendar.
About a year after John Graham and his wife, Kathleen Birch, adopted Bella the Cat, they noticed she had an acquaintance — a genial neighborhood stray with a white-cream coat and black fur running from his back to his tail like a cloak.
Although she’s territorial like any member of her species and spends much of her time patrolling Grove Park — a quiet London neighborhood tucked into a winding loop of the Thames — Bella expressed no animosity toward the apparent intruder, and in fact seemed to be on quite friendly terms with him.
Graham and Birch, who like to joke that Bella is a clandestine agent of MI5 — Britain’s version of the FBI — dubbed the stray Bertie, and decided he was her field liaison.
“We think Bertie is her Mi5 contact and visits to get updates [before] returning to HQ to report on her field actions and mission status,” Graham quips.
After checking with the neighbors and bringing Bertie to the veterinarian, who said the stray was not chipped, Graham and Birch believe Bertie was likely abandoned by his previous family and eked out a living zig-zagging between homes in Grove Park, depending on the goodwill of neighbors and his own considerable charm for food. So they had Bertie chipped with their contact details about eight months ago, and now field agent and handler have been united under one safe house roof as they continue in His Majesty’s service.
Bertie and Bella even have their own WhatsApp group comprised of their humans and neighbors, who post to let each other know of the feline duo’s comings and goings.
Both cats are a source of great joy for Graham and Birch, who were looking to adopt again two years ago after the passing of their beloved Bets, who had been with them since kittenhood and lived to the ripe old age of 21.
After contacting a charity they support in Twickenham, the couple went out to meet a cat named Puss Puss at a foster’s home about three miles away.
“We walked in and sat down, and within literally a few seconds, she came out from under a table. My wife immediately fell in love with her as Puss Puss – now called Bella — rolled over and showed her belly with the loudest purrs ever,” Graham recalled. “She walked over to me and looked up with the most beautiful green eyes, allowing pets and scritches instantly. I was totally smitten. Her secret service training on overcoming any resistance was obvious here.”
Not much is known about Bella’s past, which Graham jokes is classified, but the fosters said Bella likely came from a hoarding situation. She bears some emotional scars from those times, making it clear she didn’t like to be picked up and wouldn’t tolerate head rubs. Graham said he thinks Bella may have been struck on the head by the abusive person or people who had custody of her originally, but with patience “she has grown to trust us and love us the way we love her.”
True to her training, Bella came striding out of her carrier that first day without need for coaxing and set about surveying her new headquarters, exploring while noting promising hideouts and lounging spots.
“She immediately checked out the perimeter as do all good Mi5 agents, looked around and began a sniffing and snooping journey for about an hour,” Graham said, “Then sitting in front of us on a low stool, she started shouting loudly, her default way of demanding food. This prompted me into action, offering her different dishes attempting to find her favourite. It turns out that she basically will eat anything.”
Indeed, Bella’s love of food is one of the few things that cause a bit of tension between her and her doting humans. She’s restricted to carefully measured wet food plus veterinarian-suggested “weight management crunchies” and, like many cats, is not shy about notifying her servants when the yums are low or the auto-feeder isn’t dispensing them. (In those instances, Bella hops up onto the bed and approaches the sleeping Graham: “I will get the gentle paw followed by the sharp claw to ensure I get the message to come and feed her immediately.”)
Adopting a cat is always a guessing game. Will the cat relax and open up once she realizes she’s safe and has a home? Was he reserved when we met him because he’s been living in a shelter with unfamiliar sights and smells? Will she take to her new home immediately, or will she dive under a couch and remain there for weeks, emerging only to grab a bite from her bowl when no one’s around?
Those questions were immediately settled for Graham and Birch, and Bella’s outgoing personality is one of the things they love most about her, along with her supreme confidence.
“She has it in absolute truckloads,” Graham notes, “and there is pretty much no fear on her part about adventuring anywhere in or out of the house.”
While keeping cats indoors is the norm in the US, as many as nine in 10 caretakers in the UK allow their felines to spend time outdoors unsupervised, encouraging them to establish their territories, explore their gardens (backyards to us Americans) and familiarize themselves with their neighborhoods.
Many US shelters and rescues won’t allow potential adopters to take a cat home if they indicate they’re willing to let the kitty outside, and some even require adopters to sign contracts stating they’ll keep their four-legged friends indoors. UK cat rescues often take the opposite stance. They advise pet parents on how to gradually introduce their cats to the outdoors, offer tips on how to manage their outside time and recommend various pet flap configurations.
The difference is partly cultural and partly practical. While extolling the benefits of allowing cats to roam, UK cat lovers point out that domestic felines rarely stray far from their homes, on average venturing only between 40 and 200 meters (about 130 to 650 feet). They’re curious, which drives them to explore, but also territorial, which keeps them on a figurative leash.
There’s also a marked difference in wild threats to domestic cats. In the US, cats are vulnerable to pumas (also known as mountain lions and cougars), coyotes and a wide variety of birds of prey, from eagles, harriers and hawks to condors, osprey and even some larger species of owl. The UK does not have pumas, despite local legends to the contrary, nor does it have coyotes. Foxes, the smaller cousins of coyotes, and some birds of prey do pose a threat, but not to the extent that the wildlife of the Americas does.
For Graham, allowing his cats outside fosters their independent streak and allows them — or Bella, at least — to exercise their hunting impulses. Bertie isn’t known for his predatory prowess, but Bella is a pro at catching mice.
The local neighborhood is quiet, traffic is strictly limited to 20 mph, and the neighbors know each other well, often using their WhatsApp groups to track their kids in addition to cats.
In fact, if Bella could speak, Graham reckons she’d thank him for providing a home in a tranquil locale — and for never closing doors in their home.
What else would she say?
Graham says it’s obvious: “Glad that you understand the difference between my requests and my orders – you took a while.” She’d also likely chide the couple on their ineptitude as hunters, declaring Graham and Birch “are both rubbish at catching mice and rats despite how many times I show you how to do it.”
For Graham, the managing director of a London brand agency, and Birch, a skin care therapist, sharing their home with cats feels natural, and they cherish the unpredictable nature and playfulness of their feline friends. Cognizant of the fact that black cats are less likely to find homes, they prefer adopting melanistic house panthers like Bets, their previous cat, and Bella.
“I totally love all animals but as residents in our house, cats fit perfectly being clean, highly intelligent and able to manipulate any situation with an expression or display of love,” Graham says. “My favourite thing about Bella is when she surprisingly sits on my lap and the mystery when she hides in unlikely places causing me to rush around desperately trying to find her, not coming out even when I am shaking a treat bag.”
Bella will allow the game to drag out “until she decides to appear with her ‘I win’ look and swagger.”
Feline love is often hard-won, but that makes it worth it. In discussing Bella, it’s clear Graham lives for the moments when the independent-minded kitty decides to let him know how much he means to her by sleeping at the food of the bed, playing her hide-and-seek games and climbing into his lap.
Bella and Bertie may not be regular lap cats, but that’s okay with Graham and Birch.
“So there you have it,” Graham said. “Two cats that come and go as they please with occasional signs of affection, but get nothing apart from permanent love and affection from us.”
Bella is serious about her food. Credit: John Graham
Bella’s favorite toy, fittingly, is a mouse. Credit: John Graham
While other Asian nations celebrate the year of the goose or the bull or whatever, did you know 2023 is the Year of the Cat in Vietnam and among the Vietnamese diaspora? Yep. Pretty cool!
As we look forward to a 2023 filled with all sorts of awesome stuff, let’s take a moment to fondly recall the highlights of 2022:
January: With the humans of North America paralyzed with fear at the impending invasion of the Polar Bear King and his vast army of huge bears, Buddy the Cat heroically traveled on his own to the frozen wastelands — also known as Canada — to confront the belligerent bear. In an act of bravery that will be remembered in songs for centuries, Buddy defeated the Evil Polar Bear King in a dance-off, staving off invasion and saving humankind.
February: Buddinese Space Industries, the rocketry and spacecraft company founded by Buddy, announced a goal of putting kitties on Mars by 2030 and establishing a state-of-the-art base there — complete with luxury boxes, scratchers and ample window perches — within two more years. After Elon Meowsk expressed skepticism on Twitter, Buddy replied with a simple “Hold my beer,” garnering a record 11.2 million likes.
March: Buddy appeared on the cover of Modern Cat Magazine, looking suave and handsome.
April: Celebrating Big Buddy’s birthday and Little Buddy’s adoptaversary, the former enjoyed Impossible Burgers while the latter ate delicious turkey.
May: Pumped up by an inspiring pep talk from Buddy the Cat, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge caught fire, putting on a display of power that would ultimately result in an American League record 62 home runs. Judge credits Buddy for his success: “Bud showed me the way. He helped me unlock my potential. Without the confidence he instilled in me, I wouldn’t have hit half as many home runs or looked half as good doing it.”
June: More than 50 bands and music acts paid tribute to everyone’s favorite tabby at the 7th annual Festival of the Buddies, a three-day gathering of peace, love and turkey.
July: Buddy raised more than $2.2 million for various animal charities by auctioning off a dinner date with himself. Thousands of women bid on the prize, but in the end one lucky woman — said to be a princess from an undisclosed European country — was able to secure the company of the charming kitty for an evening of good food and meowversation.
August: More than 85 million people tuned in to watch Buddy host Saturday Night Live, registering the show’s highest ratings in decades. Millions more watched the delightful feline’s monologue on YouTube.
September: With his city overrun by rats, New York City Mayor Eric Adams begged Buddy to tackle the threat. Buddy magnanimously agreed, and since Sept. 7 not a single rodent has been observed in the five boroughs. Adams and the city council passed a resolution later that month funding the construction of a statue of Buddy, which will be installed in front of City Hall.
October: Netflix premiered The Buddy the Cat Mysteries, its most popular show since Squid Game. The streaming giant immediately renewed the feline detective show for three more seasons.
November: Buddy the Cat enjoyed turkey on Thanksgiving and every other day of the month.
December: Millions of Americans were able to endure record cold temperatures despite losing power when they found they could raise their body temperature by 8.7 degrees just by looking at posters of Buddy.
That’s quite a year Buddy’s had! Not one to rest on his laurels, he’s already looking ahead to 2023 when he’s expected to make his debut as an opera singer and finally stage a long-awaited bout with Mike Tyson.
Little Buddy and Big Buddy wish all of you a happy and healthy New Year, and we thank each and every one of our 27 million monthly readers for making PITB their site of choice!
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.