Tag: sanctuary

Ban On Big Cat Pets Heads To Biden’s Desk

All that awaits is a stroke of President Joe Biden’s pen.

The Big Cat Safety Act was passed by the US Senate this week, clearing its last legislative hurdle. The law would ban the “ownership” of big cats as pets and would end their exploitation by roadside zoo operators, while also outlawing big cat breeding by private parties.

It’s a bipartisan effort that gained steam after years of efforts by animal rights organizations and documentaries like Netflix’s infamous Tiger King, which showed millions of viewers how the majestic felids are kept in cruel conditions and chained to an endless breeding treadmill to provide a constant supply of cubs. Those cubs are taken away from their mothers shortly after birth and used as props in lucrative “selfie with a tiger” offerings at unaccredited roadside zoos.

Private “ownership” of big cats has been a contentious issue and an embarrassment for American animal rights activists, particularly because almost all big cat species are critically endangered. There are more tigers living in backyards in Texas and Florida, for example, than there are living in the wild in the entire world.

Breeding for conservation is a process that involves careful planning by experts at accredited zoos and sanctuaries. Because there are so few big cats left, with some subspecies down to just a few hundred living animals, mates must be carefully chosen to avoid genetic bottlenecks and to ensure healthy and viable breeding populations in the future. As private breeders and roadside zoos breed the animals without regard to subspecies or genetic diversity, they do not contribute to species conservation in any meaningful way and can do harm with indiscriminate matches, conservationists say.

leopard on brown log
Credit: Pexels

While the bill outlaws private ownership, it still allows sanctuaries, zoos and universities to keep big cats in regulated facilities that meet their physical and psychological needs. It also permits programs like the statewide puma project in California, which has been tracking the elusive felines for more than two decades and involves occasional sedation and temporary custody so the team can provide veterinary care.

“An extraordinarily cruel era for big cats in the U.S. finally comes to an end with the passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act,” said Kitty Block, president of the Humane Society of the United States. “We’ve been fighting for this moment for years because so many so-called ‘Tiger Kings’ have been breeding tigers and other big cats to use them for profit. And once the cubs grow too large for cub-petting or selfies, these poor animals get dumped at roadside zoos or passed into the pet trade, which is not only a terrible wrong for the animals, but also a threat to public safety. Now that the Big Cat Public Safety Act will become law, it’s the beginning of the end of the big cat crisis in the U.S.”

The Big Cat Safety Act cleared congress in mid summer, and its passage in the senate means it will get to Biden’s desk with several weeks to go in the current legislative session. Biden is expected to sign it without delay.

“For me, this fight for the big cats was never personal,” said Carole Baskin of Florida sanctuary Big Cat Rescue. “This was always about developing a national policy to shut down the trade in these animals as props in commercial cub handling operations and as pets in people’s backyards and basements.”

The new law does nothing for big cats currently in captivity, unfortunately. Current “owners” will be grandfathered in, although they won’t be able to replace their “pets” legally, as breeding and purchasing the animals will be illegal. The last “pet” members of the panthera genus in the US will die out within the next two or three decades, assuming no major outliers in lifespan.

Puma
As felines who can purr but not roar, mountain lions are not technically “big cats,” but they’ll also be protected under the new law. Credit: Pixabay/Pexels

The Vet Thought This Stray Had No Chance, Now He’s Stealing Hearts At The Shelter

Gulliver was in a seriously bad way when a Good Samaritan found him on Oct. 27, on the outskirts of a “well cared-for cat colony” in New Jersey.

The little tuxedo cat had been hit by a car and left to die with a fractured pelvis, femur and tail. A veterinarian who examined him didn’t give him much of a chance to live, but his rescuer was familiar with Tabby’s Place in Ringoes, NJ, and knew if anyone would go to extraordinary lengths to save the little guy’s life, the staff there would.

Tabby’s Place took Gulliver in and their emergency veterinarians got to work on repairing his shattered body. It was touch and go, but Gulliver had a glorious will to live that saw him through the surgery and emerge on the other side with a ravenous appetite.

When the staff at Tabby’s Place saw him tuck into a bowl and begin “eating like a champ,” they knew Gulliver was probably going to make it.

Famished from his ordeal and in desperate need of nutrients to help his body heal,  he displayed “the best appetite I have ever seen in twenty years of feline medicine” said “Dr. Fantastic,” the collective name Tabby’s Place staff use for the skilled veterinary surgeons who put the most catastrophically injured felines back together again.

And then there was a second surprise — despite all he’d been through, despite the unimaginable pain of getting flattened by 3,000 pounds of aluminum, steel, glass and rubber and left to suffer in a broken heap, and despite pain signals hammering their way through the fog of painkillers, Gulliver turned out to be an “extremely affectionate” kitty.

“He is so affectionate and snuggly,” said Bree, a sanctuary associate at Tabby’s Place who has been caring for the little survivor. “He leans his whole body into you and makes muffins. He has personally reminded me that there is good in this world, and it is worth fighting for.”

Three weeks after his surgery, Gulliver summoned the strength to stand on his own for the first time since he was hit. He took his first few uncertain steps, Bree said, to get close enough to her so she could pet him while she cleaned his crate. His tail was so badly damaged that it had to be amputated and he’s going to require care — including manually expressing his bladder — for the near future, but the staff at Tabby’s Place will find a forever home for him.

Despite the trauma he endured, Gulliver “should enjoy a long, healthy life like any other cat,” said Angela Hartley, the sanctuary’s development directory. “It would take a special adopter to learn how to express his bladder, but as we learn continually, there are many, many special adopters out there.”

It’s not clear yet whether Gulliver will regain the ability to use the litter box on his own, but Bree said she’s “hopeful that this will not be permanent.”

Because a sickly cat from Gulliver’s colony had found his way to Tabby’s Place earlier, the colony managers knew of the shelter and Gulliver found himself “in the care of a person who knew his life was worth saving,” Bree said.

“She was so right. Gulliver’s life was saved because there are good people in the world. I feel like his loving and gentle personality is a reflection of that.”

All images courtesy of Tabby’s Place. To fill out an online application or browse the adoptable cats of Tabby’s Place, click here.

Gulliver
Now that he’s a month removed from his brush with death, Gulliver’s much healthier and even has a regal look about him. Credit: Tabby’s Place

Frankie Sad Eyes Needs A Home

Even though I am the honored servant to the king, His Grace Buddy I, I am not immune to adoptable cats who tug at the heartstrings.

Frankie Sad Eyes is one of those cats. Just look at those eyes!

The little guy is 13 years old, and at an age when he should be enjoying a quiet, nap- and treat-filled life as the senior statesman among cats, he’s been surrendered by his people and has landed in a shelter.

Thankfully that shelter is Tabby’s Place, a no-kill, no-cage sanctuary in New Jersey that has a reputation for doing right by its cats. Still, any feline would be shocked by the experience of losing his or her family and ending up in a strange place with unfamiliar people and cats.

Frankie Sad Eyes
Frankie looks sad, and undoubtedly he’s finding it difficult adjusting to life in a sanctuary, but staff at Tabby’s Place say he’s a “joyful” cat with a zest for life.

Alas, I can’t adopt Frankie. Like the King himself, he’s not particularly keen on sharing his throne, so there can be no future where Buddy and Frankie are, well, buddies.

But Frankie, who is described as “a zesty, exuberant sweetheart” who still has kitten-like energy, is looking for a home where he can establish his new and forever kingdom, with a human or humans who will dote on him and see to his every need.

Visit Tabby’s Place to view their adoptable cats, make a donation or just brighten your day.

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.