You don’t often hear about public memorials for cats, let alone thousands of people participating in them, but the fact that tickets were gone for P-22’s “Celebration of Life” within three hours speaks to the special place the mountain lion had in the hearts of Californians.
The famous puma, who was euthanized in December after he was suffering from an infection and was hit by a car, called Los Angeles’ Griffith Park home, and that’s where the celebration will be held at noon Pacific (3 pm Eastern) on Feb. 4. It’ll be held at The Greek, the outdoor amphitheater more commonly associated with rock stars, although one could argue P-22 was a rock star in his own right.
P-22 was the subject of books, movies and music festivals during his 12-year life, and his face adorned t-shirts, murals and street signs asking people to be careful while driving around the Griffith Park area, where the big guy ranged. He was the most famous mountain lion in an ongoing study of his species, and was easily identified by the radio collar around his neck.
P-22’s “origin story” was equally fascinating. Born in southern California in 2010 or 2011, the fearless puma migrated north, crossing several of the busiest and most dangerous highways in the world before he settled in Los Angeles. His nine-mile home range was the smallest ever recorded for a member of his species.
Bookmark this link or this alternate to livestream the event, which is set to include music, performances and remembrances from Los Angelinos and celebrities who loved the “Hollywood Lion.”
Separately, there’s an effort to honor the late puma with postage stamps featuring his famously derpy visage.
Top image credit Miguel Ordeñana/Natural History Museum. Bottom image credit Steve Winter.
The 295-lb former NFL lineman recently got a license to kill mountain lions, so when he heard about a puma that was “terrorizing” a Colorado community by existing near it, he packed his weapons of war, rounded up his hounds and set off, trailing testosterone like a beefed up Jim Corbett gone to deliver justice to the Champawat tiger.
First he spoke to a local homeowner, who had an ominous warning for him.
“And when we had talked to the landowner, they said, ‘Hey, we have house cats. And the cats are acting weird.’
No doubt the cats were agitated and wanted to get out there to cause havoc with their feline brother by existing and eating stuff. The cats would have to be dealt with later.
Arriving at the scene, Wolfe (what a badass name) found the remains of a recently-killed deer and knew the evil mountain lion hadn’t reformed its ways. By continuing to exist despite the discomfort of people in the area, and continuing to eat, the defiant cougar was practically asking to be hunted down and killed.
Moving downwind of the fearsome predator so that it wouldn’t smell the pheromonal cloud of machismo that permanently surrounds him, Wolfe began climbing. The ascent was exhausting — not only is the 6’5″ Wolfe almost 300 pounds, but he was also carrying his sword, his health elixirs and his Bow of Righteous Smiting, a 1,000-DPS legendary weapon he obtained after slaying the Goblin King of Dreadmoore. Wolfe was carrying more than 400 pounds up the slope when he caught sight of the puma and did what men of testicular fortitude do: he released the hounds, who cornered the cat and chased it up a tree.
Then, with righteous fury, Wolfe drew his bow and killed — excuse me, “harvested” — the mountain lion, whose species is notoriously averse to conflict with humans and has killed fewer people in a century than dogs do in a week. But what are a few inconvenient facts between friends, amirite?
When Wolfe descended the treacherous slope with the corpse of the mighty cat like Geralt of Rivia toting the trophy from a monster hunt, the villagers applauded and sang songs of his bravery, then feasted in his honor.
But all was not well, for when Wolfe posted the manly photos of himself posing manfully with the corpse of the big not-quite-big cat, a contingent of insignificant peons criticized him on Instagram for killing an animal that was allegedly “just surviving.”
So Wolfe did what men of his stature do, and went on Tucker Carlson’s show to cry about the rodential men and women nipping at his heels.
It is said that the combined testosterone of Wolfe and Carlson created a vortex of badassery that threatened to spark untameable hair and muscle growth in anyone who ventured too close. Female assistants had to be ushered out of the studio before the segment began, and the lesser men manning the cameras had to sign waivers absolving Wolfe and Carlson of blame if they were transformed into hulking man-beasts by the combined presence of the former lineman and the scion of a TV dinner empire.
“I’ve been through some tough training camps, brother, but this hunt was – man – it beat me up bad. I was beat up bad. I’m all cut up and scraped up. I was in full-body cramps [and] barely made it up there,” Wolfe told Carlson.
Wolfe proceeded to regale Carlson with tales of how dangerous mountain lions are. Puma concolor, the scientific name for the species, is responsible for a whopping 27 deaths in the last century. That’s one person every four years, and most of those people triggered the confrontations by getting too close to puma cubs or cornering the animals. By comparison, dogs kill 25,000 people a year via attacks, and another 25,000 by spreading disease, the latter mostly in third-world countries. Cows killed 655 Americans over a nine-year period from 1999 to 2007. More than 40,000 Americans are killed in car crashes annually.
In other words, pumas rank extremely low on the list of potential dangers to people, despite their size and their superficial resemblance to much more dangerous African lions. Pumas/mountain lions, also known as catamounts and cougars, actively avoid humans and try to steer clear of conflict with people. When they kill a deer or even a pet, it’s not because they’re “terrorizing” communities — it’s because they’re obligate carnivores who need to eat meat to survive.
Wolfe explained that it’s important to “tree” mountain lions in order to do recon on them and make sure they’re appropriately big and impressive-looking.
“Those full-grown males will kill kittens as well, they’ll kill kittens to get the females to go back into heat,” Wolfe said, confusing terms and the dominance behavior of African lions with American pumas, which are not the same species. “It’s important to manage that herd, right? You have to manage every population of animal out here, especially mountain lions. So we got the dogs on ’em.”
Who knew cats were herd animals? Who knew pumas had decided to give up their solitary lifestyles and live in prides? Who knew former NFL linebackers arbitrarily killing random pumas qualifies as ‘managing a population’? Someone call the wildlife biologists so they can rewrite their field guides!
Despite his ability to scale mountains and slay (mountain) lions, Wolfe was wounded by the backlash when he posted photos of himself with his “harvest.”
“I can’t believe what’s happening to me…They’ve had 200 calls to Colorado Parks and Wildlife trying to turn me in like I did something wrong,” Wolfe complained. “I’ve been harassed.”
Disclaimer: Since this is the internet, and this post is bound to bring in readers unfamiliar with PITB and the fact that we’re sarcastic jerks, allow us to state for the record that Wolfe did not kill the Goblin King of Dreadmoore, does not own the legendary Bow of Righteous Smiting, and we’re not exactly sure if the villagers in the unidentified rural Colorado community threw a feast in Wolfe’s honor after he returned with the corpse of the cat that had been “terrorizing” their community. I mean, they probably feasted him, but we haven’t confirmed it.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the duke and duchess of Sussex, have gone on a months-long media blitz blaming the UK’s royal family for allegedly being unwelcoming, saying some really mean stuff, and in the case of Prince William, beating poor Harry up.
The self-exiled sort-of royals have appeared in Netflix specials, their own podcasts on Spotify, interviews with major media figures, and most recently released Harry’s ghostwritten autobiography, Spare, in which the prince claims he was “bred” to provide “spare parts” for “Willie” in case the vaunted heir to the British throne needed an extra lung, kidney or todger. (Harry mentions the royal member 15 times in the book, according to reporters who keep track of such important things.)
The prince — who is current fifth-in-line to the throne — has other grievances, mostly against the UK press, Piers Morgan, the Skokie Illinois Barbershop Quartet, and his step-mother, Camilla. So far he hasn’t directed his ire at the Earl of Budderset.
What do cats think about the royal drama?
“Probably my stuffed bumblebee! But I like my bouncy ball and the birdie wand thingie my mom uses when we play too. Oh! Also, those little plastic rings from bottles! So much fun to bat around.” – Maisie, 2, bird-watcher
“I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, and I think we need more treats, a Seventh Snack if you will, to bridge the considerable gap between Sixth Snack and Fourth Meal.” – Custard, 6, food critic
“HEY CHECK IT OUT! HEY! WHEN I PLOP ONTO THE COUCH CUSHION IT LEAVES A ME-SHAPED FOSSIL!” – Fiona, 7 months, kitten paleontologist
“There is one last door that Must Be Opened: The refrigerator door. You know how much I hate closed doors, and that one needs to stay open, okay? What if I want to take a nap with the cold cuts or use a nice block of feta for a pillow?” – Felix, 9, debate coach
“I think humanity is a thin layer of bacteria on a ball of mud hurling through the void, existing to speed the entropic death of this planet. That said, until we felines develop opposable thumbs, you humans are a necessary evil. You may feed me now.” – Mr. Fluffy, 13, retired
“So I told that mountain lion, I says, ‘Look here, puma! I ain’t intimidated by your size or your growl. As long as this heavy glass door stands between us, I’m gonna talk all the trash I want, and you can’t do nuthin’!'” – Doris, 6, abrasive meower
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.
Their 2023 Cat Calendar features magnificent moggies in giant form, scratching, lounging and napping on ships, jetties, dams and dredges.
Click here to download the printable PDF of the calendar.
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.
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.
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.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.