Tag: India

Sunday Cats: Larry Welcomes A New Servant To No. 10 Downing, More Cats Rescued From Ukraine

Larry the Cat, official mouser in chief at 10 Downing Street, is now on his fifth prime minister.

After the disastrous and short-lived tenure of his predecessor, Lizz Truss, new PM Rishi Sunak officially moved into the UK prime minister’s residence earlier this week — and walked right past Larry without acknowledging him:

Note the reporter doing a live broadcast, which you can hear in the background.

“He is arriving now…the new prime minister of the United Kingdom!” the reporter said as Larry padded his way down the sidewalk and stopped.

Failing to acknowledge the true power at No. 10 is an ill portend for Sunak and the UK. What kind of person doesn’t greet his boss on his first official day of work? Larry will get him sorted in short time, undoubtedly.

Big and small cats from Ukraine find homes in Poland and the US

During the opening phase of the Ukraine war, there was an Indian national webcasting from Donbas, constantly asking for money to keep his “pet jaguars” — actually leopards — safe from the advancing Russians.

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It was one of the most infuriating aspects of the young war. The guy was keeping the big cats in an apartment, referred to them as his “children” despite not even knowing their species or how to care for them, and he lied to his audience, claiming he’d purchased them from the Kyiv Zoo. He didn’t. Zoos don’t sell big cats to people. He got them on the illegal wildlife market.

I don’t know if those particular leopards are among the big cats rescued from Kyiv in recent weeks, but a new report says illegally kept pets are among the felids who were rescued from Kyiv and Odessa — two of the hardest-hit cities — and brought to sanctuaries in Poland.

That’s good news. Hopefully any remaining wild animals are taken out of the hands of private owners and put in sanctuaries where they belong. Big cats don’t belong in a war zone, and they don’t belong in private hands.

Meanwhile, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue in Washington, D.C., has house cats from Ukraine up for adoption.

Most of the little ones were rescued from warn-torn areas in the eastern part of the country, and the rest were moved from a Ukrainian shelter just in time, as the building was hit by Russian missiles shortly after the animals were cleared out. Some of the cats were found wandering amid the ruins and destruction in towns and villages that had been hit hard by the invading Russians, Homeward Trails’ Sue Bell told WTOP.

The US non-profit will continue to work with a shelter in Ukraine, which rescues cats from heavily impacted areas.

“Right now, Homeward Trails is the only organization taking cats from this new Ukraine shelter,” Bell said. “And so, for every cat that we took from the shelter, that not only gave that cat an opportunity for a home, but it created a space in that shelter for the team to go out there and bring more cats in.”

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A belated happy National Cat Day!

There are so many cat days, I lose track, so apologies for missing this one.

Happy National Cat Day to all PITB readers and your beautiful kitties! It’s a good excuse to spoil our little buddies and remind them how much we appreciate them.

Changes to PITB

You may have noticed, if you don’t have ad blockers installed on your browser, that I enabled ads in mid-September. I strongly dislike ads and I don’t like clutter on the site, but after three years of operating and publishing PITB, I decided to enable a limited number of ads in an effort to get PITB to pay for itself and hopefully a few upgrades that would be helpful in making the site more accessible, while also providing the tools to expand PITB’s content offerings.

Please send us your feedback. If you see an ad that covers the content, let me know. If you see an inappropriate ad, let me know. You should see ads for cat-related products and/or ads for things you may have expressed interest in before — due to the way ad networks use cookies and data from services you use, which is perfectly normal — but I want to make sure no one’s having a bad experience here.

Karl Lagerfeld’s Millionaire Cat Travels By Private Jet, Drinks From Silver Dishes

Choupette Lagerfeld travels the world in her own private jet, appears in commercials for Japanese beauty projects and has graced high fashion covers, including a shoot with French supermodel Laetitia Casta for V Magazine.

At one point she traveled with a body guard, two minders, a personal chef and her own doctor, according to the New York Times. She drinks and eats from silver bowls and enjoys a one-of-a-kind Louis Vuitton carrier.

Oh, and she’s worth millions.

Choupette (“sweetie” in French) is a white-and-cream Birman with subtle tabby marks on her head, and she was adopted by Karl Lagerfeld in 2011. The German designer, who was the creative director of fashion houses Chanel and Fendi, died of pancreatic cancer in February of 2019 but left a considerable fortune to his cat.

On Thursday, Choupette’s minders marked her 11th birthday by sharing a snap to her Instagram, choupetteofficiel, showing the fabulously wealthy feline aboard her private jet, with a cake presumably made of pâté, a bottle of champagne, balloons and various gifts from her late human’s fashion collections.

“Happy birthday to me,” the post reads. The pampered puss’ Instagram has 121,000 followers.

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Choupette celebrated her birthday on Aug. 18. A snap shows her celebrating on her private jet, which ferries her between modeling gigs and vacation spots like Ibiza.

No one’s sure precisely how much Choupette is worth, but Lagerfeld — who had a net worth between $170 million and $300 million, per reports — left her a considerable sum.

“She’s an heiress,” Lagerfeld told an interviewer. She “has her own little fortune.”

Like human celebrities she’s the subject of net worth profiles on various sites, which list an often-cited $13 million number. Some of that money includes her own earnings for commercials in Japan and Germany, where she’s been the face of beauty products and luxury cars, respectively.

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Sacre bleu! The Eiffel Tower, a French supermodel and Choupette! This photo was printed in V Magazine, which featured Laetitia Casta and Choupette in a 10-page spread.

I’m kind of at a loss for words here. Anything I could say seems so obvious.

However, I’m thinking it may be time to put Buddy’s good looks and charm to use for once and arrange some sort of meet cute with Choupette.

The name Buddy would have to go. He’d have to be called something appropriately, Frenchly snooty, like Jean-Luc Budélard Lucien or Yves Buddiene Baptiste. I’d have to school him in Parisian meowing, invent a suitably bohemian upbringing for him, and fabulate a skill that hints at his creative genius. Perhaps he’s inspired by Choupette’s late human and works as creative director of the Buddeaux fashion house, or maybe he creates abstract art by smearing paint on a canvas with his paw pads.

Meanwhile, in India…

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Street kids eat from the garbage, wear tattered clothes and exist beneath the notice of the rest of society.

Amazing Cats: The Rusty-Spotted Cat

Stalking the jungles, wetlands and forests of India and Sri Lanka are exceptionally skilled hunters, cats who are as swift as they are deadly.

They’re nocturnal, with large eyes that allow them to see motion and detail in almost complete darkness, and spectacularly sure-footed. Their agility, grace and natural climbing ability not only help them get to prey, but also aid them in avoiding predators.

But unless you’re a lizard, bird or small mammal, you have little to fear from the rusty-spotted cat — unless you get in its face.

The striped-and-spotted felines are as fierce as they are tiny, and they are truly diminutive — at two to three-and-a-half pounds fully grown, rusty-spotted cats are rivaled only by the black-footed cat of southern Africa as the world’s smallest felines.

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A rusty-spotted cat mother stands protectively in front of her kittens in Cornwall

Although the little guys are elusive, cat enthusiasts were treated to rare close-up images of rusty-spotted kittens when a litter was born at Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary in Cornwall in 2020. It was an extremely rare occurrence, as there are only a few dozen rusty-spotted cats in captivity worldwide. Like most other wildlife, the species is threatened by habitat reduction.

For context, the tiny feline is only a third the size of a typical house cat, felis catus, and would be dwarfed by the gentle giant Maine Coon.

Little Buddy’s take: These guys are awesome and I’m seriously considering moving to their territory and living among them. Do you know why? At 10 pounds I would be a giant among them, striding meowscularly through the jungle with my own personal army of felines. They would make me their king, naturally, and sing songs about Buddy the Colossal Cat. I would have their most desirable females bathed and brought to my tent, where we would dine and I would regale them with stories of my adventures in America. Sadly, though, there are no turkeys in India or Sri Lanka. Could I live without turkey?

You might also like:

Amazing Cats: The Jaguar, ‘He Who Kills With One Bound’
Amazing Cats: The Puma
Amazing Cat Breeds: The Buddinese

Sunday Cats: White House Welcomes Willow

Willow’s in the White House!

First Lady Jill Biden promised a cat would reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as a presidential pet during her husband’s administration, and a year after President Joe Biden was sworn in, Willow the cat has joined the First Family in Washington.

Willow is a gray tabby who got Jill Biden’s attention in a very cat-like way: She invited herself onstage while the First Lady was giving a campaign speech for her husband on a Pennsylvania farm in 2020.

A campaign official later called the farm’s owner, Rick Telesz, and asked if the Bidens could adopt the friendly moggie. Willow is two years old and is the first presidential cat since India, a black American Shorthair who belonged to former President George W. Bush’s daughters, Barbara and Jenna. India lived to the ripe old age of 18, outliving Bush’s two terms as president.

The Bidens had another cat lined up, but delayed the cat’s arrival because their dog, Major, wasn’t adjusting well to the White House and was known for biting staff and Secret Service agents. Major’s been sent back to the family home in Delaware, but in the meantime the cat the Bidens were going to adopt got attached to its foster family and became a foster fail.

Willow seems to be doing just fine. Michael Larosa, the First Lady’s press secretary, told reporters Willow has been “settling into the White House with her favorite toys, treats, and plenty of room to smell and explore.”

She’ll be doing a lot of exploring — there are 132 rooms in the White House, and most former presidential cats were given the run of the executive residence as well as the West Wing. Socks, President Bill Clinton’s cat, had access to the Oval Office and was sometimes spotted in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, even choosing the famous podium for a lounging spot once.

Cats have a long and distinguished history in the White House, from the incredible fame of Socks to Abraham Lincoln’s Dixie and Tabby. Lincoln once called the former “smarter than my whole Cabinet,” while he often embarrassed his wife by feeding the latter from the White House dinner table. Click here to read our post from last year detailing the lives and adventures of presidential cats.

Bud’s Book Club: The Man-Eaters of Kumaon & The Game of Rat and Dragon

Welcome to the inaugural post of Buddy’s Book Club, where we’ll read stories about cats and stories involving cats!

We’re going to start things off easy with a classic short story of the cat canon, which is available for free online via Project Gutenberg, and a seminal book about big cats from a man whose name is indelibly linked with them.

The Game of Rat and Dragon (1954) by Cordwainer Smith

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Read it here for free from Project Gutenberg, a collaborative effort to create a digital archive of important cultural literary works that have fallen into the public domain. For those unfamiliar with Project Gutenberg, it’s completely above-board, legal and safe for your devices, and the story opens in plain HTML with illustrations included as image files. You can read the story in a browser or download it onto a reading device, tablet or phone.

The Game of Rat and Dragon first appeared, as so much short fiction of the era did, in a digest. Although Smith had penned it the year before, the story was published in Galaxy Science Fiction’s October 1955 issue and became an instant classic among cat-lovers and science fiction aficionados. (There is considerable overlap between the two, not surprisingly: Introverts whose imaginations run wild when they look to the stars tend to have many of the same personality traits as people who prefer the more sublime antics of cats.)

The Game of Rat and Dragon imagines a far future in which humanity has become a star-faring culture, meaning we’ve conquered interstellar flight and have begun to colonize planets in star systems other than our own.

There is, of course, a problem. The dark, lonely void between stars isn’t as empty as we thought it was, and is inhabited by invisible (to the human eye), inscrutable, inexorable entities eventually dubbed “dragons.”

When dragons attack they leave only death and insanity in their wake, putting the entire idea of interstellar travel at risk. Imagine if there was a not-insignificant chance of your passenger jet being attacked by impervious creatures every time you hopped on a plane. It wouldn’t be long before the entire air industry collapsed and the world suddenly became a much bigger place, with other continents unreachable by air.

Who can help humans with this problem? Cats, of course! To say more would be to spoil the fun. Meow!

Man-Eaters of Kumaon (1944) by Jim Corbett

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Available as an ebook for 99 cents from Barnes and Noble.

Jim Corbett was a sportsman, the son of a government official in the British Raj who was raised in India’s jungles and came to know them intimately. He’s best remembered as the fearless hunter who finally brought down the infamous Champawat tigress, who officially claimed 436 lives over a years-long rampage as a man-eater, and likely many more that went unrecorded.

To understand the gravity of Corbett’s accomplishments, it’s necessary to understand the effect of a man-eater on rural India. The people living in India’s tiny villages are subsistence farmers. If they don’t farm, they don’t eat.

But when a man-eater as dangerous as the Champawat tigress claims an area as its hunting grounds, everything grinds to a halt: Farmers refuse to tend their fields, villagers disappear behind locked doors, and a simple walk to a neighboring village becomes an impossibility unless escorted by a group of two dozen or more armed men. Even then it’s a risk, for as Corbett notes, when tigers become man-eaters they have no fear of humans and will kill people in broad daylight, even when they’re in groups.

And yet for all their power and predatory instincts, tigers are never deliberately cruel and don’t harm humans willingly. Tigers become man-eaters by unfortunate circumstance, usually due to negligence or stupidity on the part of humans.

The Champawat tigress, for example, was like any other big cat until a human hunter took aim and shot her in the mouth, destroying one lower canine completely and shattering another. The tiger could no longer take down her usual prey, or at least not without serious difficulty. At some point — perhaps after encountering the body of a person it did not kill — the tigress realized she could survive on human flesh.

If that hadn’t happened, those 436-plus souls wouldn’t have been lost, an entire region wouldn’t have been brought to its knees, and the tigress would have continued life as normal.

The vast majority of the time, tigers are content to let humans be.

“I think of the tens of thousands of men, women and children who, while working in the forests or cutting grass or collecting dry sticks, pass day after day close to where tigers are lying up and who, when they return safely to their homes, do not even know that they have been under the observation of this so called ‘cruel’ and ‘bloodthirsty’ animal,” Corbett writes.

Despite his reputation as the man to enlist when a man-eater terrorized a region, Corbett saw the way things were trending a century ago, and begged people to let the big cats live undisturbed.

“A tiger is a large-hearted gentleman with boundless courage,” he wrote, “and that when he is exterminated — as exterminated he will be unless public opinion rallies to his support — India will be the poorer by having lost the finest of her fauna.”

Corbett would undoubtedly be deeply disturbed by the situation today, with only some 4,000 wild tigers remaining in the entire world, and the glorious species mostly reduced to spending life in captivity, constantly sedated so that idiots can pay to take selfies with them.

The Man-Eaters of Kumaon follows Corbett on 10 hunts of man-eating tigers and leopards. It’s also a story of life in the British Raj, rural life in India, Corbett’s jungle adventures, his love for his loyal hunting dog and his turn toward conservation.

Schedule:

We can do the short story in a week, yeah? Let’s shoot for one week for The Game of Rat and Dragon, and two weeks for The Man-Eaters of Kumaon. We’ll adjourn and discuss in follow-up posts. Happy reading!