Beryl Edwards was overjoyed when her microchipping company contacted her to inform her that her cat Fred, missing since the summer of 2022, had been found.
Then her joy turned to frustration as the company asked her to confirm a change in Fred’s ownership.
“Can you imagine the range of emotions from, ‘Fred! He’s alive, he’s OK’ to ‘transfer of ownership? What’s this all about?’” the UK woman told the BBC earlier this week.
A rep from Identibase told Edwards the company couldn’t provide any information on the person or people who currently had Fred due to data privacy laws, so Edwards called the police, who handled it swiftly.
“I’m totally over the moon,” Edwards told the BBC on Wednesday. “I can’t praise Market Drayton police enough, they got on to the case on Sunday, contacted the people on Monday, and by 10:45 on Monday evening they brought Fred home.”
The police are able to access data the public cannot if it pertains to an investigation, and law enforcement had said earlier they considered Fred’s predicament a case of theft. It’s not clear if they charged the other party with a crime.
As for Fred, Edwards said he’s happy to be home with her and his litter mate, Gino.
“He’s roaming around the house, obviously he’s kept in doors,” she said. “He’s playing, he’s eating, having lots of cuddles, lots of love, he’s great.”
UK legislators recently passed a law that will require all cat owners to have their felines microchipped by June 10, 2024. Advocates say the law will greatly increase the chances that missing cats are reunited with their people. It will also help hold people to account if they abandon their pets, and will help authorities settle questions of ownership in cases where it’s disputed. Edwards said she’d like to see changes to the way information is shared as well so people in her situation can more easily resolve their problems.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE, United Kingdom — The alleged phenomena of big cats stalking the forests and outskirts of villages in the UK turned out to be a hoax this week after authorities caught an American feline planting “evidence” near the A40.
The perpetrator, who goes by the names Buddy the Cat, Kinich Bajo, The Buddinese Tiger and several other monikers, was spotted at the edge of the Forest of Dean using a ladder to create claw marks at roughly tiger height, Detective Inspector Alistair Clarke said.
When he realized he’d been made, the gray tabby cat yelled “Oh shit!” then bolted down the ladder and into the forest, Clarke told reporters.
Police called in a K9 unit, which was able to track a trail of crumbs and discarded turkey bones to a clearing where authorities discovered non-toxic black paint, a fog machine and a copy of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1977 docudrama Pumping Iron.
“It’s our belief that the suspect painted himself black, played prerecorded clips of various big cat roars, then posed menacingly amid the fog for the benefit of locals, mostly drunks stumbling out of local pubs,” Clarke said. “Choosing inveterate drunks as his primary witnesses ensured the resulting smartphone camera footage would be grainy, shaky and inconclusive, adding to the legend and mystique of phantom big cats in the countryside.”
Asked by a reporter whether Buddy’s dedication to weightlifting contributed to locals misidentifying him as a big cat, Clarke shook his head.
“We don’t think so, no,” he said. “Despite his apparent obsession with bulking up and the 63 bottles of protein powder we recovered, the suspect remains a tiny little stinker, which is why he carefully revealed himself only to the thoroughly inebriated.”
Buddy the Cat remained in a local lock-up awaiting extradition back to the US. His human told reporters the feline hadn’t said much about his predicament.
“He’s complained loudly about the food and said the British should be thanking him for increasing tourism to southern England, but other than that he’s kept a lid on his thoughts,” Big Buddy said.
In the meantime, the South Carolina state police forensics division and detectives from several US police departments have been in contact with UK authorities after similarities emerged between the fake big cat sightings and a series of bizarre crop circles in the US.
“We also found turkey bones and crumbs scattered around the crop circles, but at the time our working theory was that we were dealing with aliens who had a taste for turkey,” said one law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Now we believe our cases may be connected to the UK hoax.”
Prosecutors in Alabama have dropped their case against two women who appealed after they were convicted for feeding and trapping cats in their hometown.
Mary Alston, 61, and Beverly Roberts, 85, were arrested on June 25, 2022 after a bizarre confrontation in which four police officers pulled up in three squad cars and treated the longtime stray caretakers like hardened criminals.
The women were convicted of related charges in December and vowed to appeal the ruling, with their attorneys calling it a case of retributive and petty small town politics.
On Wednesday, Elmore County Circuit Court Judge J. Amanda Baxley accepted a motion by prosecutors to drop the case against Alston and Roberts.
It took their attorneys four months to get the body camera footage from the Wetumpka Police Department, but when they finally obtained and released it to the public in October, Wetumpka became the subject of national scorn for the way its police treated the women.
The footage showed the officers grabbing Alston by her wrists and pulling her out of her car, cuffing Roberts and berating the women for not moving fast enough when they were ordered to collect their traps and leave a wooded area on public land.
When Alston and Roberts expressed shock that police were hassling them, much less threatening them with arrest for managing a cat colony, one officer yelled at Roberts.
“It’s gonna get ugly if you don’t stop,” the cop said, jabbing a finger in Roberts’ face before cuffing her.
One officer told the women they were “too old to be acting this way,” and the footage captured audio of the officers laughing after one of them remarked that it was good there were no witnesses because they would have seen “a bunch of cops beatin’ up on some old ladies.”
There are no laws on the books against feeding cats in Wetumpka, so police charged the women with two misdemeanors each for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Roberts and Alston argued that they were performing a service for the town by caring for the colony of strays. They were conducting TNR (trap, neuter, return) operations in cooperation with local shelters, often at their own expense, to stop the cats from continuing to breed.
Despite the fact that TNR is widely accepted as the most humane and effective way to manage stray cat populations, Wetumpka officials stuck to their allegations that the women were exacerbating a nuisance.
Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis doubled down after his department received overwhelmingly negative feedback over the arrests, and in a December trial witnesses described an ongoing argument between Willis, Roberts and Alston over the stray cat issue.
During the trial it was revealed that it was Willis himself who called the police when he spotted Alston’s car near the wooded area. Willis claimed he did not tell the police to arrest the women, but Officer Jason Crumpton testified that he was indeed told to arrest them.
Despite that, municipal Judge Jeff Courtney — who was appointed to his position by Willis and was not elected — found Alston and Roberts guilty of all four charges.
Prosecutors did not say why they dropped the charges on Wednesday, and it was not immediately clear if Roberts and Alston will be allowed to return to caring for the cats, who live in a wooded area on public land not far from the same municipal courthouse where they were earlier convicted. PITB has reached out to the women for comment.
“We are very worried about them,” Roberts told PITB in December. “A few animal lovers have said they would help, but we are not sure this will happen. I’m not sure there is enough food available to hunt. The weather is getting colder, and they need protein.”
We wish we could say this story is a viral marketing stunt for the recently-released movie Cocaine Bear, but authorities say they’re not joking.
Cincinnati police pulled a car over in what they thought would be a routine traffic stop in late January. But when officers approached the vehicle a large cat inside got spooked, jumped through an open window and took refuge in a tree.
Cops called the city’s animal control staff, initially reporting a “leopard” on the loose.
“[They weren’t] sure what they were dealing with,” Cincinnati Animal Care’s Ray Anderson told WXIX. “Hindsight being 20/20, it probably would have involved a whole lot more people.”
Animal control officers who arrived on scene thought they were dealing with an F1 Savannah, a hybrid between a domestic cat and a serval, and were able to get the cat down from the tree, but not without some difficulty. The exotic wildcat suffered a broken leg in the process. (See video of the cat in the tree here.)
They brought the injured cat to the Cincinnati Zoo, where they were in store for several surprises: The felid was a serval, a medium-size African wildcat, and blood tests showed it had cocaine in its system. A subsequent DNA test confirmed the cat is a serval and not a Savannah hybrid.
The responding animal control officers were “pretty lucky because this cat could’ve shredded us” Chief Troy Taylor of the Hamilton County Dog Warden’s Office told Cincinnati’s WKRC.
The serval, whose name is Amorie, remains in the zoo’s care for now. Taylor said Amorie was given pain meds during treatment and is recovering. It’s not clear what will happen to him, and lots of questions about the incident remain unanswered. Local media reports say the driver was arrested during the traffic stop, but also said the driver is cooperating and has not been charged in relation to the cat or the narcotics.
It’s illegal to own wild cats in Ohio, and unless the serval found himself a bag of cocaine in the fleeting seconds between bolting from the car and scurrying up a tree, it seems the driver has some ‘splainin’ to do.
When police went to a Yorktown, NY, home for a welfare check this week, the last thing they expected was to find an army of cats.
The responding officers breached the home when no one answered, finding an elderly couple deceased inside, along with some 150 hungry, neglected cats. Police don’t believe there was foul play in the death of the couple, but the number of cats and the condition of the home have “hindered” their investigation.
The Westchester County SPCA is taking on the monumental task of collecting the cats, giving each of them veterinary care and finding homes for them. Staff there are calling it the largest single rescue in their history, and they’d already filled their own facilities and local shelters to capacity by the time they’d rescued 100 of the famished felines, leaving them scrambling for room to place the others. Some have upper respiratory, eye and skin infections, the SPCA said, while most of the cats were malnourished and dehydrated.
Credit: SPCA of Westchester County
Credit: SPCA of Westchester
Despite living in conditions police described as “filth and squalor,” the cats are well-socialized and friendly, rescuers say. They believe the husband and wife may have been Abyssinian breeders at some point.
“It’s very unusual in a case like this, especially with that number of cats, for them to be as social and sweet as they are, usually they are scared when they come from a situation like this because they haven’t had a lot of human interaction,” the SPCA of Westchester’s Lisa Bonnano told the New York Post.
Yorktown is about 28 miles north of Casa Buddy, and we can vouch for the excellent work done by the Westchester County SPCA, whose veterinarians gave kitten Buddy his first shots and gave him the snip.
Veterinary costs alone are expected to exceed $40,000, so if you’d like to help, you can make a donation here.
Alleged Dallas Zoo thief nabbed
When 24-year-old Davion Irvin stopped an employee at the Dallas World Aquarium to ask about exotic animals there, the staffer recognized him as the same man pictured in a surveillance still from the Dallas Zoo.
Police released the image to the public after three separate enclosures at the zoo were breached, leading to the brief disappearance of a spotted leopard on Jan. 13 and the theft of two emperor tamarin monkeys about two weeks later. The langur monkey exhibit was also breached, but the animals were not removed.
After the aquarium’s staff tipped them off, cops caught up to Irvin a few miles away and have since linked him to all three break-ins. They charged him with two counts of burglary — for the monkeys and the leopard — and six counts of animal cruelty. They’re also looking into whether Irvin may have been involved with the “very suspicious” death of an endangered lappet-faced vulture on Jan. 21.
Cops, who initially suspected the thief was looking for exotic animals to breed or sell, have said Irvin hasn’t told them why he wanted the primates and the medium size cats. Their investigation is ongoing.
Thousands say goodbye to P-22
More than six thousand people crowded into The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on Saturday to say goodbye to P-22, the Hollywood Lion, a puma who made the hills above the city his home for more than a decade.
People spoke about seeing his curious face pop up on their doorball cameras, spotting him disappearing into the trees in Griffith Park, and how his presence piqued the curiosity of many people who took the time to learn more about mountain lions.
But the unofficial theme of the event was how P-22 showed people humans and wildlife can co-exist, and how our species can do a lot more to make sure the animals we share the Earth with will survive in the future. One woman told LAist that before she learned about P-22, she “used to think they were scary” and aggressive like the big cats they’re often confused with.
Others said he inspired them to get directly involved with conservation efforts.
“We are wildlife. We are creatures of nature, just as all the animals and plants are,” archaeologist Desireé Martinez, a member of the indigenous Gabrielino-Tongva tribe, told KTLA. “What can we do to make sure that the creatures that we are sharing this nature with have the ability to survive and live on — just like us?”
P-22’s unforgettable visage, already familiar to Los Angelinos, is now ubiquitous in his former range, with several murals adorning the sides of buildings and other displays bearing his image.
“He inspired so much happiness. I mean, look at all the people that are here,” Babetta Gonzalez told LAist. “We have to remember that we are in their neighborhood and we need to respect their environment. We have integrated, but we could do a lot better.”
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.