Tag: Humane Society

Sunday Cats: Expert Fails At Feline Facts, Aussie Karen Lures Cats From Home To Issue Roaming Fine

This is why we always say it’s better for cat servants to regulate themselves than allow the government to get involved.

A Karen in Australia issued a $280 fine to a homeowner for allegedly allowing his cats to roam — after she lured the kitties onto the street herself.

The entire bizarre spectacle was captured on security cameras at the home of Julie and Steven Stephens, a couple in Toowoomba, about 80 miles west of Brisbane. The uniformed Karen, who is employed by the Queensland council, totes a clipboard in one hand as she walks up the Stephens’ driveway in broad daylight.

As one of the curious cats approaches, Karen reaches for a pen in her pocket and starts scribbling on her clipboard, apparently eager to get started on the paperwork, before slowly backpeddling so the kitty will continue to follow her. When the cat reaches the sidewalk, the unnamed woman scoops it up and walks to her government-issued vehicle parked in front of the Stephens’ home.

Steven Stephens was watching the episode unfold via his camera system and bolted outside to stop the government employee from taking his cat, he told Yahoo News Australia.

The Karen wasn’t able to “impound” the cat, but she wrote Stephens a hefty fine for “allowing his cat to roam,” and promised she’d be back to inflict more misery.

“She said she would be back in two weeks with the police to take all but two of our dogs,” Mr Stephens said.

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A municipal employee from the Queensland council is seen luring a cat away from its home in this still shot from surveillance video. Credit: Steven Stephens

We’re unable to embed the video, but you can watch it at Yahoo News Australia.

Unbelievably, Toowoomba Regional Council “CEO” Brian Pidgeon doubled down and quoted the relevant section of law on pet roaming when a local newspaper asked him about the incident. Pidgeon did acknowledge his employee was accused of luring the Stephens’ cat, but said he couldn’t talk about that because he’s conducting an “internal investigation,” which is bureaucrat-speak for figuring a way to worm his way out of the situation. There is, after all, clear video showing the Karen luring the cat away. There is nothing ambiguous about what happened.

Stephens admitted he and his wife have “too many” dogs according to local law, which has set arbitrary limits on animal custodianship, but said there are good reasons for that. The dogs sooth his wife, he said.

“A few years ago she had a severe car accident, her partner at the time died, she has a metal plate in her head and now has severe depression and anxiety,” Stephens said. “The dogs help with her anxiety.”

The family has been so rattled by the incident, and apparently has so little faith in their local government to treat them fairly, that they told Yahoo News they’re looking to sell their home and move to “a larger parcel of land in the bush.”

That in itself is an extraordinary admission, indicating they don’t expect basic courtesy, honesty or professionalism from the local authorities.

Now imagine how this would have played out if the Stephens family did not have security cameras. The council worker would have said their cats wandered off the family’s property of their own accord, and that would have been it. The Stephens would be forced to pay the fines, have a legal battle on their hands to get their cats back, and would be fretting over the impending confiscation of their dogs.

I know I sound like a broken record with regard to how local governments, guided by bunk “research” studies, impose themselves on pet caretakers, especially those of us who have cats. That’s why it’s important not to give them any reason to interfere — and to make sure everything is recorded, as the Stephens family wisely did.

Who knows what the government Karen’s motivations were. Was she trying to meet a quota? Does she dislike animals? Does she enjoy flexing the little bit of power she has, or inflicting misery on others? By preempting legislation on cat ownership and roaming, we can avoid putting ourselves at the mercy of such people in the first place, which is in the best interest of cat caretakers, and most importantly cats themselves.

Feline fact fail

I’m sure Nigel Barber, PhD., is a nice guy. I don’t mean to give him any grief. But when you present yourself as an expert on a topic and you write an authoritative column on a trusted site that has millions of readers, you really should make sure you’re not spreading misinformation or providing a picture of a situation that is decades behind the current science.

In a column for Psychology Today titled “Does Your Cat Love You?“, Barber rattles off a list of cliches, half-truths and outright falsehoods about cats, the kind of thing you might have expected 20 or 30 years ago before a wealth of research helped us dispel incorrect assumptions about felis catus.

close up of person cuddling cat
Credit: Sevra Karakuu/pexels

After mucking up the domestication timeline, Barber says cats are “fearful of people,” “tend to withdraw from strangers,” and paints an outdated picture of aloof animals who technically don’t need human care to thrive. He also says cats attack people, including their caretakers, without warning or provocation.

Then there’s this nugget:

“As essentially wild predators, cats can be quite unpredictable. Many owners who are devoted to their cats complain that the cat often scratches them unexpectedly. One acquaintance had the cat declawed and found that the pet reverted to using its teeth on her!”

Can you believe it?!?! A woman had her cat declawed, and the cat bit her!

It’s not just that we know cats give off plenty of nonverbal warnings when they’re uncomfortable, or that declawing makes a cat much more likely to bite. Organizations like the Humane Society, SPCA, The Paw Project and others have been saying that for years.

It goes well beyond that — studies, including the most comprehensive study to date on the effects of declawing, have proven without a doubt that cats are much more likely to bite when they’re subjected to the cruel and painful declawing procedure. (See “Pain and adverse behavior in declawed cats,” a 2017 paper in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.)

That’s because declawing a cat not only inflicts a lifetime of physical pain and psychological trauma, it robs felines of their primary defense mechanism, making them feel much more vulnerable. Without claws with which to warn off unwanted handling, the poor declawed cats have only one defensive weapon available to them — their teeth.

An evolutionary psychologist should understand that, and should also understand that scratching is a natural and necessary behavior for cats. It’s not right or wrong, it’s cats being cats. Mutilating innocent animals to protect inanimate objects like furniture is objectively wrong and cruel. When you adopt a cat, scratching comes as part of the package along with all the positives like unconditional love, amusing antics and calming purring.

There are ways to dissuade and train your cats to mostly avoid scratching furniture, but no one should expect their cats will never put a claw on their couches. If you don’t want your furniture scratched, don’t get a cat. End of.

‘Guard Cat’ Helps Stop Armed Robbery

Fred Everitt woke at 2:30 a.m. to his cat’s “loud guttural meows” coming from the kitchen.

The retiree didn’t think much of it until the cat, Bandit, came running into the bedroom, leaped onto Everitt and began tugging his comforter off. Then she clawed at his arms, trying to communicate how urgent the situation was.

“She had never done that before,” Everitt said. “I went, ‘What in the world is wrong with you?’”

Bandit was trying to alert her human to the presence of two men outside — one carrying a handgun, the other trying to pry the back door open with a crowbar.

Everitt, a 68-year-old retiree, said he ran to his bedroom and retrieved his own gun after getting a look at the men through his kitchen window, but by that point the would-be robbers had either been scared off by the noise Bandit was making — and the probability that someone was awake inside — or they split to find easier pickings.

Either way, Everitt credits Bandit for preventing an armed robbery and possibly saving his life. The incident happened on July 25.

“It did not turn into a confrontational situation, thank goodness,” Everitt said. “But I think it’s only because of the cat.”

Everitt welcomed the delightfully chonky Calico into his home four years ago after he went to the Tupelo Humane Society in Tupelo, Miss., about 115 miles southeast of Memphis, Tenn. He was writing a donation check when shelter staff introduced him to Bandit. Even though he hadn’t planned on adopting a cat, Bandit came home with him and she’s been his companion ever since.

He said he’s telling his story because it’s important for people to know pets can give back to their humans.

“I want to let people know that you not only save a life when you adopt a pet or rescue one,” Everitt told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. “The tides could be turned. You never know when you save an animal if they’re going to save you.”

It’s nice to know some cats are just as good as dogs when it comes to alerting their humans to potential danger. Given Buddy’s long track record of hiding behind my legs and moaning nervously when something scary happens — and the fact that he literally slept through a mouse encounter in July — I wouldn’t hold out much hope for the Budster heroically raising hell to wake me up if armed men ever tried to break in.

It’s more likely he’d watch the burglars break in without raising the alarm, and satisfied that they have no interest in the turkey pate and treats in his Buddy Food Cabinet, return to my bed to stretch, yawn and go back to sleep.

After Fire Destroys 1,000 Colorado Homes, Victims Are Still Looking For Their Cats

After their home was destroyed in an all-consuming fire, a Colorado family thought they’d gotten some good news when police found their cat and brought her to the local Humane Society.

The Conejo family visited their beloved Pumpkin at the veterinary clinic where she was recovering from her burns and were eager to bring her home until a veterinary tech realized there’d been a mistake: Pumpkin is female, but the heavily burned and convalescing orange tabby was male.

Now the parents — who were not home when the fire ripped through their neighborhood and couldn’t retrieve either of their cats or their belongings — have to tell their two young kids that it was a case of mistaken identity, and they still don’t know what happened to Pumpkin and their other cat, Justin.

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Boots suffered burns on his face and right front leg.

In what is now officially the worst fire in Colorado history, almost 1,000 homes were destroyed and more than 100 others damaged, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless with many of them still searching for their missing cats and dogs two months later.

The Dec. 30 blaze ripped across three suburban towns between Denver and Boulder, consuming entire housing divisions, strip malls and stand-alone buildings. Authorities still haven’t said how the fire started, playing their cards close to the vest as they await laboratory tests and analysis from forensic fire investigators.

A search warrant executed on the compound of a nearby cult and a viral video that showed a barn burning on the group’s property, reportedly at the time firefighters were notified of the initial fire, have drawn attention and speculation from locals. But authorities say they’re looking at every possibility, from a possible lightning strike to an electrical fire and even the possibility that one of the nearby abandoned coal mines could have spontaneously ignited.

While the Conejo family did not get the news they wanted, things had a happy ending for the male tabby they thought was their Pumpkin.

The cat, an eight-year-old named Boots, had an emotional reunion with his human on Feb. 22 courtesy of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley.

“Hi, sweetie,” she said, hugging Boots tight in a video posted to the Humane Society’s Facebook page.

Some neighbors, who were inexplicably but mercifully spared by the fire, were counting their blessings but said they felt guilt as well.

Tracy and Jason Granucci were vacationing in Mexico’s Cabo San Lucas when their phones began blowing up with incoming alerts and texts from concerned friends.

Tracy Granucci immediately texted Carol, her cat-sitter: “I don’t care about the house,” she wrote in the text. “Obviously Peanut is all I care about.”

Routes to their street were blocked off and neither Carol nor animal rescue volunteers were able to get to the Granucci home, but when they returned they saw their home was still standing, unscathed despite the destruction of four nearby houses. Peanut, their 16-year-old tortoiseshell, was fine.

“The feelings I’ve had about being in our home and looking out at our neighbors and our community is definitely … survivor’s guilt,” Tracy Granucci told the local PBS news affiliate. “All you want to do is you want to help everybody.”

Camden Hall was at work when the fire raged through his neighborhood and was terrified that his cat, Merlin, was in its path.

When his landlord called to tell him the house had burned down, Hall said he felt “like someone had just ripped my soul out.”

Luck was on Merlin’s side. A neighbor heard distressed meows coming from one of the few homes that were still standing and found the little guy on the porch, badly burned but still alive. Hall reunited with Merlin at a local veterinary clinic.

The ordeal isn’t over for Merlin, however. His injuries were much worse than were realized, and he’s got several procedures and a long road to recovery ahead of him. A GoFundMe started by a friend of Hall will cover the veterinary expenses and help Hall get back on his feet.

Sunday Cats: Chonky Kitty Gets A Home, Footballer Gets Second Chance After Cat Abuse

Sterling the cat is a cute and playful little guy, and no doubt would have his fans among those who love chonksters, but he has to lose weight.

That was the gist of the message posted by staff at the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Michigan, who wanted to find a home for Sterling but also wanted to make sure his new human(s) would be dedicated to his health.

The silver tabby with a Buddesian coat pattern tips the scales at 30 pounds. Not only is the weight unhealthy, but it makes life as a cat difficult.

“We know, those plump cheeks are adorable. But obesity is terribly unhealthy for cats,” Humane Society staff wrote on Instagram. “Sterling is fastidious about hygiene, but can’t groom himself properly (we had to shave matted fur off his back). He’s so lively and playful, but can’t chase after toys. He’s curious about the world, but can’t jump up to look out the window. He’s so affectionate, but can’t comfortably snuggle with his people.”

An adopter has stepped up to the plate and given Sterling a new family, a deal that includes committing to working with a veterinarian to get the kitty to slim down. The Humane Society haven’t said who the adopter is, but Sterling’s adoption profiles disappeared shortly after the shelter’s impassioned plea on Feb. 9.

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Sterling weighs about 30 pounds. Credit: Humane Society of Huron Valley.

Zouma gets another shot

Kurt Zouma, the Premiere League footballer who earned himself worldwide condemnation over the last week for uploading a video showing him abusing his own cat, won’t lose his job due to the scandal.

West Ham United Coach David Moyes said Zouma’s actions were “completely out of character from Kurt” and compared the abuse incidents to drunken driving.

“He’s a really good lad and we’re going to get him some help,” Moyes told reporters. “Just like people with drink-drive offences have to go to classes to learn the reasons and the damage that can be done, the RSPCA are going to provide some courses for Kurt to understand about animals and how to treat them.”

Moyes says Zouma has repeatedly apologized, and he thinks the French national is sincerely contrite.

“But what do you do?” the coach asked. “Do you keep punishing people or do you give them a chance to make things right? All of us in life need second chances sometimes, and we’re going to give Kurt a second chance.”

The controversy flared up immediately after the UK Sun published a story about three short clips showing Zouma drop-kicking, slapping and throwing a shoe at his cat. The clips were filmed by Zouma’s brother, who can be heard laughing in the background, and involved Zouma’s son.

In his apology, Zouma said the abuse was “an isolated incident,” but said there was “no excuse” for his actions.

“I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video,” the soccer pro said.

Zouma was fined £ 250,000 — equal to about $330,000 — which is the maximum amount the club could fine him under league rules. He also lost his primary sponsorship with Adidas, which issued a terse statement and immediately dropped the center-back from its roster, and insurance company Vitality pulled its sponsorship from the entire team. Two other sponsors said they would meet with the club to discuss the issue.

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Scotsman Jason Kerr of Wigan gently scoops up Topsey, a house cat who interrupted play on Tuesday night by running onto the pitch in a match between Wigan and West Ham United.

Zouma also surrendered both of his cats — the one who was abused in the video and a second feline — to the RSPCA, which is conducting an investigation. Like the SPCA in the US, which has its own law enforcement division, the RSPCA has the ability to file criminal charges in cases involving animal abuse and neglect.

The felines of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Did you know the first Siamese cat to reach America’s shores was probably Siam, who belonged to First Lady Lucy Webb Hayes?

Back when Thailand was called Siam, U.S. ambassador David B. Sickels read that Mrs. Hayes — wife of Rutherford B. Hayes — was a cat lover and sent one of the now-famous Asian cats to the White House.

“I have taken the liberty of forwarding to you one of the finest specimens of Siamese cats that I have been able to procure in this country,” Sickels wrote to the First Lady in 1878. “I am informed that this is the first attempt ever made to send a Siamese cat to America.”

While we’ve written quite a bit about the famous cats who have occupied the White House over the years, the Hayes story and others are also detailed in a new article from Smithsonian Magazine, which marked the occasion of Willow the cat’s arrival by revisiting presidential pet history. It’s well worth a read if you like the idea of kitties roaming the halls of power and even sitting on one president’s lap during state dinners, eating at the table like humans.

Sunday Cats: FDA Approves Kitty Arthritis Drug, Woman Calls Cops On Her Cat, Grudge Gets A Book

Older cats could soon have easier lives after the FDA approved the first-ever drug to treat feline arthritis.

Degenerative joint disease and the pain that comes with it is extremely common, impacting 45 percent of all domestic cats and 90 percent of cats older than 10.

It’s the reason kitties “slow down” later in life, it’s a significant blow to quality of life and it often leads to decisions to euthanize beloved pets who are in severe pain. The new drug, called Solensia, has been described as a “highly efficacious treatment” by experts. It can “extend [cat] life, extend their happiness, and extend that beautiful relationship between cats and their owners,” Dr. Duncan Lascelles told USA Today.

“This is absolutely groundbreaking,” said Lascelles, who researches pain and surgical methods at the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine. “I have been in pain research for 30 years and this is the most exciting development that has happened.”

Solensia is administered via injection by veterinarians, with doses calculated by weight. Because traditional painkillers and other drugs can aggravate kidney disease and other common feline ailments, the new medication “marks the first treatment option to help provide relief to cats that are suffering from this condition,” said Dr. Steven Solomon, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

“You’re Grounded, Go To Your Room!”

A Nebraska woman called the police on her cat this past Monday, Jan. 10, after kitty supposedly flipped out.

The woman told police she was breaking up a fight between her cats when she warned one of the feline aggressors she would “put it in its room” if the fighting didn’t stop.

“At this point, the cat became enraged and attacked,” the police report says.

The woman suffered “superficial” scratches from the cat’s claws and was treated at a local clinic as a preventative measure. Unfortunately Omaha police took the cat and brought it to the Nebraska Humane Society. It’s not clear if the cat was permanently removed from its home or what its fate will be. Calls to the police and the Humane Society by Newsweek were not immediately returned.

The Book of Grudge

Grudge The Cat Gets Her Own Comic

I’m not a big fan of Discovery, the newest iteration of Star Trek, but there are some elements of the show I like — including Grudge, the feisty Maine Coon companion of the rogueish Cleveland Booker, played by David Ajala.

Now Grudge stars in first issue of a new spinoff comic, dubbed Adventures in the 32nd Century.” The comic will tell Grudge’s origin story, as well as how she encountered Booker and appointed him her loyal human servant.

Although Grudge is female and often referred to as Queen Grudge in the show, she’s played by a pair of Maine Coon brothers, Leeu and Durban, who swap off between acting in front of the camera and napping.

If you can’t get enough of the well-traveled kitty, there’s also The Book of Grudge, in which the Star Trek feline shares her opinion on everything from space travel to the nature of time.

“Depending on what planet you’re on, what sun you’re passing or what temporal anomaly you find yourself in, I’ve learned that time is nothing but an artificial construct,” Grudge muses in the book. “So it’s in everyone’s best interests to synchronize their clocks to me.”

Grudge's origin story