Tag: Los Angeles

Sunday Cats: RIP P-22, Beloved Cali Puma, Plus: Cat Lady Hot Takes

When the puma known as P-22 made headlines a month ago for snatching a pet Chihuahua off his leash on a post-sundown walk, a lot of people were concerned the mountain lion would be put down or hunted in retaliation.

The dog’s owner admitted he was distraught, but also pleaded with the public not to harm the puma, who after all was just being a cat. P-22 didn’t know pet dogs are off-limits, and he showed no aggression toward the other dog or the man walking the pooches. He was hunting after dark, like pumas do.

Sadly, P-22 is now dead, although there does not appear to be a connection to the Chihuahua incident.

Late on Monday morning, Sarah Picchi of Los Feliz opened her door to find fish and wildlife officers on her property. She knew why they were there, as she’d spotted the cougar in her backyard.

“Of course, I knew it was P-22 because I’ve been following the story,” she told the Associated Press.

P-22, who was described by the National Park Service as “a remarkably old cat in the wild” at 12 years old, was showing signs of distress. Veterinarians who have been tracking and protecting California cougars for 20 years tranquilized P-22 and gave him a veterinary examination after receiving reports that he may have been hit by a car on Sunday night.

p22beforeafter
P-22 when he was healthy, right, and just a few days ago when he was suffering from infections and a fractured skull, left.

Unfortunately it looks like he was indeed hit. The beloved mountain lion, who had famously crossed his state’s busiest highways in his younger days to find a range of his own, suffered a skull fracture, an unnamed skin condition and signs of kidney and liver disease.

Veterinarians said the only option, at his advanced age and in his condition, was to place him in a sanctuary where he could be constantly monitored and cared for, but that’s a dicey proposition for a proud animal who spent his entire life fending for himself, hunting and going where he pleased. P-22 would not have recovered, they said, and would have had poor quality of life even if he lived out his remaining days in captivity.

Ultimately they made the difficult decision to euthanize him this week.

Again, there’s no indication any of the misfortune to befall P-22 had anything to do with the Chihuahua incident, although the driver who hit him without reporting the injury made a selfish choice. It’s not clear if earlier treatment could have saved P-22, but it may have saved him significant suffering.

The famous cat, who called some of Los Angeles’ most well-known neighborhoods home, leaves behind a legacy that includes books and documentaries on his incredible life and journey from southern California to his eventual home in LA. Rest in peace, big guy.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post for more photos and a link to the National Park Service’s tribute to P-22.

Wetumpka will pay the price for petty politics

Reader Leah of Catwoods fame brought our attention to this excellent analysis of the situation in Wetumpka, a town in her home state of Alabama that is now best known for extremely aggressive police officers arresting two women for the “crime” of managing a cat colony.

The women, Beverly Roberts and Mary Alston, were found guilty of two misdemeanors each earlier this week in Wetumpka municipal court. (They also spoke to PITB on Friday, discussing their plans to appeal and their worries about the health and safety of the colony cats.)

The column, by Alabama Political Reporter’s Josh Moon, echoes our own thoughts on the scandal, pointing out the petty nature of the arrests and prosecution:

It’s so utterly absurd. And to be quite honest, it reeks of small town politics. It smells suspiciously like some thin-skinned city official got peeved because some ladies had the gall to question him, and he decided to flex a little muscle, show those little gals where the power lies. 

And, lo and behold, in court on Tuesday, one major line of questioning revolved around whether Mayor Jerry Willis had told Wetumpka PD to arrest one of the cat ladies, because she had been continuously critical of the city’s animal control policies and practices. Willis, under oath, denied ordering her arrest. Testimony from a lieutenant from Wetumpka PD sure seemed to indicate that some sort of directive had come from the mayor’s office. 

Regardless, bodycam footage of the cops’ interactions with Roberts and Alston show an impressive response – three cop cars and four officers – to a call about a lady possibly feeding cats. On a roadside. With no businesses nearby. Near a wooded area. With plenty of space off to the side so traffic wasn’t impeded. On public property. 

As we did, Moon noted Alston and Roberts weren’t breaking any laws by being on public property, and there are no laws in Wetumpka prohibiting feeding stray cats.

And it’s not about feeding stray cats, as Willis claimed in his court testimony. Alston and Roberts were providing a service to Wetumpka, at their own expense, because they love animals. Trap, neuter, return is a proven process that limits and ultimately reduces stray cat populations, and does so in a humane way. Prohibiting the women from managing the cat colony will only make the problem worse as the felines mate and stray further afield looking for food, a fact that Willis and town officials don’t seem to appreciate.

Moon wrote:

A city with a decent government would have worked with Alston and Roberts. It would have given them awards for spending their days performing this public service for free. It would have explored ways to expand the very good thing they were doing. 

He quoted attorney Terry Luck, who represented the women, saying “Wetumpka is a laughingstock” for arresting Alston and Roberts, blatantly lying about the reasons and the sequence of events leading up to the arrests, and doubling down on prosecuting them even as the story spread nationally and people understandably shook their heads in disbelief at the insanity of it all.

The small-town trial, Moon noted, was covered by reporters from across the state and from national media outlets. Body camera footage of the arrests fueled public outrage, as officers treated Alston and Roberts like hardened criminals and even laughed at the idea that they were “a bunch of cops beatin’ up on some old ladies.” That’s not what you want your town to be known for.

“The city will pay a hefty price for the bad PR,” Moon wrote. “And the whole time, doing the right thing was free.”

Tribute to P-22

We leave you now with some photos and images that can only hint at how much P-22, the lion of Hollywood, was beloved by the people of LA. He was the subject of at least four books, two documentary movies, various festivals and fundraisers for protecting his kind, and his face graces innumerable posters, t-shirts and pins. Here’s how the National Park Service described the big guy:

Likely born in the Santa Monica Mountains as the son of adult male P-1, he somehow found his way to his tiny, nine-square-mile home in Griffith Park, separated from the Santa Monicas by the 101 and 405, two of the busiest freeways in the world. Defying expectations, he persisted for more than 10 years in the smallest home range that has ever been recorded for an adult male mountain lion.

Although he made frequent appearances on the streets of the Hollywood Hills and even, more recently, of the Silver Lake neighborhood, he was also clearly a wild cat, doing so mostly late at night, and subsisting largely on natural prey such as deer and coyotes.

In the end, he found his way into many Angelenos’ hearts and home surveillance camera footage.

 

‘Ghost Cat’: Famous Hollywood Puma Snatches Leashed Chihuahua On A Walk

P-22, as he’s known to the scientists who study him, is the star of two documentary movies, four books and innumerable photos captured by trail cameras, surveillance stills and the few people lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him.

The 12-year-old mountain lion is instantly recognizable by his radio collar and his derpy, wide-eyed look.

But he’s also a predator, as the National Park Service reminded the public on Monday when it confirmed P-22 was indeed the puma who stalked a dog walker accompanying two pooches on Nov. 9. P-22 struck in full darkness about 90 minutes after sundown, snatched one of the unfortunate pet dogs and was bolting away before the walker even had time to react.

The incident was captured by a security camera in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, and grainy video shows P-22 leaping out of a bush and pouncing on a chihuahua named Piper. After consulting GPS data from the radio collar and reviewing the surveillance footage, the National Park Service confirmed it was the famous wild cat.

“They are stealth predators,” the National Wildlife Federation’s Beth Pratt told the LA Times. “They’re called ‘ghost cats’ for a reason. This is how they get their prey. It’s not like the vision of lions in Africa that chase down their prey on the plains.”

P-22_2019
A close-up of P-22 in 2019, when he was briefly captured for a health check-up. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

While noting people are “more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a mountain lion,” Pratt warned that small pets can resemble the large feline’s natural prey. While P-22 usually hunts deer and foxes near Griffith Park in Hollywood Hills, pumas are also known to take down smaller prey and are opportunistic predators like their house cat and big cat cousins. (Despite their size, pumas — known as mountain lions, cougars and catamounts among many other names — are not considered true “big cats.”)

“It’s sad that P-22 killed a beloved pet,” Pratt told the Times. “But he doesn’t know that. He was just being a mountain lion.”

Daniel Jiminez, Piper’s owner, told Los Angeles’ KTLA that he and his wife are “devastated at the loss of our little dog.”

He said he thought his dog walker was joking when, while out celebrating his daughter’s birthday, he received a text from the walker saying Piper had been taken by a mountain lion. The Jiminez family adopted Piper in 2014.

Jiminez says he wants people to know what happened so they’re vigilant when walking their dogs in the area.

“I don’t want anything bad to happen to P-22,” said Jimenez. “I just want people to be safe out there so that nothing like this happens again.”

Top image credit NPS.gov

Cat Attacks Pilot, Forces Emergency Landing

Here’s a roundup of amusing cat stories from the past few days:

Pilot Lands After Berserk Cat Gets Into Cockpit

The captain of a Qatar-bound passenger flight was forced to return to Khartoum International Airport in Sudan — his takeoff point — after a berserk cat got into the cockpit and began attacking him, according to news reports.

The Wednesday flight was headed to Doha, Qatar’s capital, and was in the air for about an hour before the cat forced the emergency landing. Flight crew weren’t able to subdue the cat, who likely slipped onto the plane undetected the night before when it was stored in a hangar, according to airline authorities.

The cat-jacking was not the first incident of its kind, Euro Weekly News noted. In perhaps the most well-known incident in 2004, a cat named Gin escaped its carrier mid-flight and snuck into the cockpit while stewardesses were passing meals to the pilots. Gin attacked the captain and co-pilot, forcing them to return to Brussels. Also in 2004, a cat breached the cockpit of a plane bound for Bangladesh and caused havoc. While the plane arrived at its destination without any problems, it took the flight staff another two hours after landing to trap the frightened furball.

Earlier this month, a cat snuck onto a grounded El Al jet at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. On Feb. 21, maintenance staff at the airport discovered the relaxed feline “sunning himself” on the dash after using the pilot and co-pilot seats as his personal scratchers.

The cute shop cats of Cleveland

Cleveland.com’s Anne Nickoloff has a nice write-up about the shop cats of Cleveland who occupy bookstores, record shops, a brewery, a hardware store and a comic book shop, among other businesses. Some of the shop cats serve part-time as mousers, but most of them are really mascots and friendly faces that keep regulars coming back.

Shop Cats of Cleveland
The shop cats of Blue Arrow Records in Cleveland. Credit: Cleveland.com

Among them is Saaz the cat, who calls The Cleveland Brew Shop home.

“She’s part-pet, part-employee because we have a lot of malted barley here, and so often if you don’t have a deterrent, it can attract rodents,” Brew Shop owner Darren Cross told Nickoloff. “It’s actually true – the pheromones of the cat will eventually get around the store and mice can detect those pheromones and they’ll stay away.”

“I’d recommend having a cat for any store. People walk into our store just to pet the cat… She comes to the door when people walk in, she’s not shy like you would expect a cat to be, so it works out well.”

Cat is reunited with owner after 15 years apart

While this is a nice story, it’s also a cautionary tale about allowing your cats outside. Along from the anguish of losing a cat, I imagine the worst part is not knowing what happened to the little one.

A Los Angeles man named Charles adopted Brandy when she was just two months old and had her for only a short time before she disappeared. Charles told the Associated Press he searched for her and put up signs, but after his efforts proved fruitless he guessed coyotes may have gotten to the young cat.

“I wanted her back because when I adopted her I made a moral obligation to take care of her for her life,” he said.

On Sunday he received a call from a Los Angeles area shelter who had picked up Brandy and scanned her microchip. The long-lost cat was skinny and malnourished, but “seemed content” and was purring.

“I did break down and cry because I thought about all of the years I lost from her,” Charles told AP.

Charles and Brandy reunited
Charles and Brandy. Credit: Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control

Dennis Quaid The Actor Adopts Dennis Quaid The Cat

“Hello, Lynchburg Humane Society, how may I assist you?”

“Hi, This is Dennis Quaid. Is Dennis Quaid the cat still available?”

…CLICK!…

“Hello, Lynchburg Humane Society, how may I assist you?”

“Yeah, hi, this is Dennis Quaid again. I think we got disconn–“

“We’re a very busy shelter, sir, and we don’t have time for prank phone calls…”

“No, seriously, this is Dennis Quaid. I’m Dennis Quaid!”

“If you’re really Dennis Quaid, then which film is your greatest regret as an actor?”

“Oh that’s easy: Jaws 3D.”

“I’m sorry we doubted you, Mr. Quaid. Now how can we help you?”

That’s how we imagine the initial call went when Dennis Quaid — the actor — saw photos of Dennis Quiad — the cat — and called the shelter, whose staff were initially suspicious, adoption manager Danielle Ulmer said.

“I was like there is no way this is real, like, someone is pranking us,” Ulmer told WSLS, the local ABC affiliate.

dennisquaid

Quaid is co-founder of the podcast company Audio Up, which produces a cast called The Pet Show. Jimmy Jellinek, who hosts the show, worked with the shelter to set up a Zoom call so Quaid could meet his feline counterpart — and the shelter could see they weren’t dealing with an elaborate prank.

“It took us a while for them to actually believe us,” Jellinek said.

Jellinek is expected to fly to Virginia this weekend to pick up Dennis Quaid the Cat and bring him to his forever home in Los Angeles.

“It was really off the wall, but I just couldn’t resist. I had to,” Quaid told WSLS. “I’m out to save all the Dennis Quaids of the world.”

dennisquiadcat