Tag: sanctuary

Sunday Cat Round-Up: Sanctuary Welcomes Baby Snow Leopard, ‘Two-Face’ Cat Goes Viral

When Venus’ human posted photos of her to Instagram, people thought the half-black, half-ginger cat was photoshopped. A video of the unique kitty debunked that rumor, showing the heterochromatic, multitone cat in all her glory. Now Venus is a star, amassing tens of millions of views on Instagram and TikTok:

Welcome baby!

Snow leopards Laila and Yarko of the UK’s Big Cat Sanctuary are the proud parents of a newborn cub, and the sanctuary wants the public to help name the little guy, whom they’re calling Little Cub in the meantime.

“He appears to be developing and growing beautifully and is becoming more active day by day. Laila is an experienced mother and is just as attentive and devoted with this little one as she has been before,” Big Cat Sanctuary curator Briony Smith wrote.

Although Little Cub was born on Sept. 15, his birth was not announced until Oct. 21 in the video below:

Tabby founders pitch to Shark Tank

Remember Tabby, the cat dating app that Bud insisted was “fake news” because he can’t even fathom the possibility of sharing his kingdom with another cat?

The app’s founders will pitch to the big fish of Shark Tank on Friday, Oct. 29, looking for investments in return for a stake in their company.

Somehow I don’t see Mark Cuban or Lori Greiner as cat lovers, but Mr. Wonderful strikes me as the kind of guy who has a chonkster at home and secretly dotes on her, as he doesn’t want to harm his image as a ruthless businessman. (Edit: I searched around to see if O’Leary really is a cat lover, and while he described himself as a “non-cat guy,” he reached a deal with cat DNA company basepaws back in 2019, so clearly he understands businesses related to our feline overlords are good investments.)

Mr. Wonderful
Kevin O’Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful

‘Time To Re-Home The Wife’: Redditors Furious At Wife Who Made Husband Surrender 18 YO Cat

How could you force your husband to dump his beloved 18-year-old cat?

That’s the question many incredulous Redditors are asking after a woman told her story on a popular sub-Reddit called “Am I The Asshole?” for people second-guessing their decisions.

The woman who wrote the post said she and her husband got married about a year ago and they took the usual steps when introducing her pit bull to her husband’s cat. They started, she wrote, “by initially separating them, then by introducing them to each other’s smells, followed by letting them see each other whilst at a safe distance.”

“They appeared to get along, but after a day, the cat began making [its] dislike for the dog VERY clear,” she wrote.

The couple hasn’t been successful keeping the peace, she added, and a veterinarian who examined the cat said he was in perfect health, apparently eliminating health reasons for the cat’s alleged hostility toward the dog.

Finally, the wife “brought up the idea” of surrendering the cat. “Brought up” may mean “demanded” in this instance, but the nature of stories like this means both parties would be unreliable narrators. We just don’t know. She said she’s pregnant, which was another factor in her decision.

“We argued virtually nonstop about this for days, until my husband finally agreed to take his cat to said cat sanctuary,” she wrote. “However, he is still pretty upset with me.”

cute cat lying on pillow
Credit: cottonbro/Pexels

Most users weren’t too happy with the wife, others waved the post off as the work of a troll — albeit one who forgot the cardinal rule of trolling, that it should be funny — and some blamed the husband for caving.

“Anyone that rehomes an animal for someone they are screwing deserves the shit they will have to put up with being with that person,” one ticked-off user wrote.

Most of the condemnatory posts came from people who were incredulous not only that the wife made her husband give up his cat, but that the poor cat is 18 years old and has known nothing but a life with his human.

“Dear God, I hope this isn’t real,” one user wrote, while another summed it up succinctly: “Everything about this sucks.”

The feedback wasn’t split along gender lines either. Most users who identified themselves as female expressed concern for the cat.

“My husband’s cat passed 3 years ago at 18 years. And he would absolutely have rehomed me before he rehomed his cat,” one woman wrote. “Not that I would ever have suggested it, of course – I loved that little fart machine.”

I don’t have much to add to this, as the people who responded pretty much covered the bases. I’d like to believe this was someone’s misguided idea of humor, but in one sense it doesn’t matter because scenarios like this one play out all the time. If it is authentic, then the subtext says a lot: While the author says she “brought up the idea” of rehoming, she also says she and her husband “argued virtually nonstop” about the situation for days, and acknowledges that “he’s still pretty upset with me.”

It’s probably safe to say that’s an understatement, especially if she’s soliciting judgment from strangers on the internet as she second-guesses herself. (Side note: The idea of a sub-Reddit specifically for “catharsis for the frustrated moral philosopher in all of us, and a place to finally find out if you were wrong in an argument that’s been bothering you,” is pretty cool. All of us could use some outside perspective at times.)

As cat-lovers (and animal-lovers in general) know, rehoming is brutal on the pet, leads to depression and can cause serious physical ailments. For an 18-year-old cat, it’s even worse.

I hope the wife has a change of heart and they take the cat back, then get to work on figuring out how to keep the peace for real this time.

Sanctuary Jaguar Gives Birth To Beautiful Melanistic Baby, You Can Help Name Her

The Big Cat Sanctuary of Kent, UK — not to be confused with Florida’s Big Cat Rescue — is welcoming a newborn melanistic jaguar, and everyone from the vet staff to the caretakers are fussing over her.

The as-yet-unnamed baby was born to mom Keira and dad Neron in a big-cat breeding program designed to ensure the species survives as wild populations plummet due to habitat reduction and poaching. Staff at the UK sanctuary say the baby opened her eyes the day she was born and was walking by two weeks. That’s an unusually quick development for most cats, but apparently not for jaguars, who live in the deepest jungles of the Amazon.

jaguarbaby4
The Big Cat Sanctuary’s newest addition. / Credit: Alma Leaper

The sanctuary is allowing the public to pick the baby’s name from among three choices as part of a fund-raiser.

The choices are Inka (Inca) after the Inca people and their empire, Inti, a Quechuan (pre-modern Peruvian) word meaning “Sunshine,” or Killari, a word from the same language that means “Moonlight.” I’m partial to the latter, especially for the image it evokes of the world’s largest black panther — and the largest cat in the Americas — stalking the jungle on a moon-lit night.

The term “black panther” is a catch-all for any felid with melanism. Both jaguars and leopards can have the black color morph, as can domestic cats. Cats with melanism retain their spots, and if you look closely you can see they’re a shade darker than the rest of the cats’ black fur.

Check out the video below to see the little one behaving just like any other kitten.

The Cat Man of Syria Cares For Forgotten Felines

Human beings have lived in the city known as Aleppo for more than 4,000 years, making it one of the oldest continually-inhabited settlements in human history.

But as the raging civil war in Syria expanded and bombs began to fall on the country’s largest city, there was an unprecedented mass exodus — reducing Aleppo’s population from 4.6 million in 2010 to less than 600,000 by 2014.

Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel was one of the stubborn few who stayed. His wife and children fled to safety in Turkey in 2015, but anchored by his commitment to people who couldn’t leave, Aljaleel stayed behind to continue driving his ambulance and feeding a growing population of abandoned cats.

At first friends and acquaintances turned to Aljaleel to take their cats as they prepared to flee the crumbling city, knowing he was fond of felines and would care for them as his own.

Others heard about the “cat man of Aleppo,” and soon Aljaleel’s home became a sanctuary for former pets from all over the city, which was becoming a ghost town.

With few remaining people to feed them — and food sources like restaurant dumpsters drying up — hungry stray cats started showing up too.

“Since everyone has left the country, including my own friends, these cats have become my friends here,” Aljaleel said in 2016, as a BBC camera crew filmed him among the hundreds of cats in his care.

Aljaleel
Aljaleel, the Cat Man of Aleppo, hugs a tabby in his care.

One day a car pulled up and a little girl stepped out, cradling a cat.

Her parents “knew there was a cat sanctuary here,” Aljaleel told the BBC at the time. “The girl had brought the cat up since she was a kitten. She cried as she handed her over to me, and they left the country.”

For many people leaving the city in search of refuge in Europe or elsewhere in Syria, the decision to leave a beloved pet was agonizing.

But entrusting a cat to Aljaleel and his makeshift sanctuary — where the animal would be fed and well cared for — was much more palatable than making it to the border of an EU country only for a border guard or customs official to refuse the cat entry, forcing families to choose between pet and safety.

Ernesto's Sanctuary kittens
Kittens who were brought to Ernesto’s Sanctuary with their mother.

For people like the little girl, knowing their cats were in Aljaleel’s sanctuary meant maintaining a tie to home and hope that they could return.

“I’ve been taking photos of the cat and sending them to her in Turkey. She begs me, ‘Send me photos of her. I miss her. Please promise to return my cat to me when I get back.'”

That was in 2016. Almost five years later it looks like the young girl won’t be returning to Syria, and her cat is likely dead.

After Aljaleel’s makeshift cat sanctuary swelled to include more than 200 cats, things took a turn for the worse.

The Syrian government and rebel forces dug in, calling on allies for support and resources. ISIS and Iranian-backed insurgents entered the fray, seeing opportunity to advance their own interests amid the chaos.

So too did Russia and the United States. Both countries treated the conflict as a proxy war, with Russia backing Assad and his Syrian government forces, while the US and its allies threw their support behind an opposition that grew out of the Arab Spring in 2011.

The US and Russia provided the combatants with training and weapons systems, increasing the destructive firepower at the command of the belligerents. Both countries sought to advance their geopolitical ambitions in the region when they entered the conflict.

Ernesto's Sanctuary
Not just cats: Alina and Samira are best friends and are inseparable. Credit: Ernesto’s Paradise

In internal memos justifying intervention in Syria, the US State Department predicted the civil war would flare out in months. Instead, the war has now lasted more than a decade, and in a move The Guardian called “a bloody end to [former President Barack] Obama’s reign,” in 2016 the US dropped 26,171 bombs on countries in the Middle East, with Syria absorbing the lion’s share.

Perhaps it was one of those bombs — or a bomb from Russia, or one of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s own warheads — that obliterated Aljaleel’s sanctuary. It’s unlikely anyone will ever know. But one thing all sides agree on is that the chlorine gas was courtesy of Assad, who has not hesitated to use chemical weapons against his own people in the bloody war.

Weeks after Aljaleel was featured in a BBC short about the impact of the war, Aljaleel “watched helplessly as his cat sanctuary was first bombed, then gassed during the intense final stages of the siege of Aleppo,” per the BBC.

Some 180 of the 200 or so cats who found refuge with Aljaleel were killed by the bomb and the chlorine gas, and the stubborn man who dug in his heels and cared for Aleppo’s cats while everyone else fled finally gave up on his city.

Aljaleel and his cats survived the power outages, the destruction of the water works, the food shortages and a military siege of the city, but now the Cat Man of Aleppo was just a cat man in an ambulance.

He packed the few surviving cats, his meager possessions and a few sick, injured or elderly people into an ambulance and joined a convoy of civilians escaping the crumbling city. It was a tense and perilous journey, as those who fled knew Assad had no reservations about targeting his own people if it served his goals.

After seeing his family and recovering in Turkey, and with the help of an Italian benefactor and a growing community of supporters on social media, Aljaleel took his cats and his friends to a rural area in Syria, far from targets of opportunity, where he purchased a plot of land, put down roots and began his sanctuary anew.

Ernesto's Paradise
Even in war, cats know when it’s time to eat. The kitties of Ernesto’s Paradise wait by the more than 100 plates set out for them, eager for meal time. Credit: Ernesto’s Sanctuary.

That sanctuary is called Ernesto’s Paradise, named after Aljaleel’s own cat.

Ernesto’s Paradise is home to several hundred cats, plus four monkeys, horses, rabbits and dogs. There’s a playground for kids and — after a long search to find a veterinarian who hadn’t fled — Ernesto’s finally has a doctor in the house too.

The civil war in Syria has created perhaps the worst refugee crises in modern history, with millions fleeing to Europe and elsewhere in search of sanctuary.

The war had claimed 387,118 souls as of December 2020, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Another 205,300 were missing and presumed dead, according to SOHR. In addition, more than 88,000 people have been tortured to death in Assad’s prisons, while thousands more were taken by ISIS and other terrorist groups operating in the country.

But “children and animals are the big losers” in war, Aljaleel told the BBC, and that’s why he chose to return.

“I’ve always felt it’s my duty and my pleasure to help people and animals whenever they need help,” he said. “I believe that whoever does this will be the happiest person in the world, besides being lucky in his life.”

You can follow and support Aljaleel’s work via Twitter, Facebook and by visiting his sanctuary’s official site. Direct donations to the sanctuary can be sent here.

Ernesto and Alaa
Ernesto the cat and Alaa Aljaleel.