Tag: shelter cats

Study Confirms Cats Are Set At Ease By ‘Slow Blinks’

I’d been in Japan for almost two weeks last year when I dialed back to the States on a Facetime call and my mom — who had been taking care of Buddy in my absence — held Bud up to her iPad.

“Someone wants to say hi to you,” she said.

Buddy looked at me, then tentatively blinked with one eye. When I returned the blink, he meowed excitedly, reaching a paw out to the screen.

Aside from making me feel bad about leaving my cat for so long, the exchange between Bud and I seemed to confirm the importance of the slow eye-blink in feline-human communication. It also confirmed that he missed me.

Now there’s a formal study that, for the first time, shows cats are more relaxed and more likely to approach humans — even strangers — if they’re greeted with a slow blink. Cats also like to reciprocate with a slow blink of their own when greeted that way, the study found.

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Credit: u/sol-aurum/Reddit

“This study is the first to experimentally investigate the role of slow blinking in cat-human communication,” said Karen McComb, a psychologist from the University of Sussex and co-author of the study. “And it is something you can try yourself with your own cat at home, or with cats you meet in the street. It’s a great way of enhancing the bond you have with cats. Try narrowing your eyes at them as you would in a relaxed smile, followed by closing your eyes for a couple of seconds. You’ll find they respond in the same way themselves and you can start a sort of conversation.”

Why does a slow blink put cats at ease?

Tasmin Humphrey, a Ph.D. student and study co-author, said it’s “possible that slow blinking in cats began as a way to interrupt an unbroken stare, which is potentially threatening in social interaction.”

The researchers say their results could help people communicate more clearly with their cats, and could be useful in shelters, where staff and volunteers are often tasked with trying to calm scared cats.

Broken-Hearted After Losing His Cat, Man Goes To Shelter And Finds His Lost Feline

Theron wasn’t exuberant like most people who walk through the door of the Bangor Humane Society looking to adopt a new pet.

The Maine man told shelter staff he’d resigned himself to adopting a new cat after his Cutie Pie, a gray-and-white medium hair kitty, went missing. He told the staff he hoped bringing home a new feline friend would help “heal his heart.”

Staffers showed him to the section where they housed the adoptable cats so he could browse at his leisure.

“As he perused the kennels, he stopped to examine one of our friends a little more closely and when the cat turned to face him, Theron erupted with joy. THIS WAS HIS CUTIE PIE!!” the shelter’s staff wrote in a Facebook post on Friday.

The staff had no reason to doubt him, but even if they did, Theron had ample proof: Like any human who loves his or her cat, Theron’s smartphone was a virtual gallery of photos of the little guy.

“Theron’s camera roll was full of pictures of Cutie Pie,” shelter staff wrote, “leaving no question that this reunion was the real deal!”

For his part, Cutie Pie must have had quite the ordeal and couldn’t wait to go back to his real home with his human.

“Let me just say I’ve honestly never seen a cat so eager to be in a cat carrier!” shelter staff wrote on Facebook. “He was SO ready to go home!”

I really don’t like to think of the possibility of Bud going missing, but if he did and we found ourselves in a situation similar to the one Theron and Cutie Pie found themselves in, the reunion wouldn’t be nearly as happy or tear-inducing.

“Oh my God! It’s Buddy! Buddy, it’s really you! I’m so glad I found you!”

“Get me out of this cage this very instant! These people are crazy! Do you realize they have not fed me turkey once since I’ve been here?!? Not once! And these accommodations! A bathroom and a food bowl within five feet of each other. Unthinkable! They’ve put me in with the riff-raff, as if I’m a common cat and not a king! I demand to speak with the manager! Actually, nevermind…I demand you take me home this very instant, feed me turkey, give me a massage, and then summon the manager so I can give her a piece of my mind! You’re going to have to make this up to me, you know. I expect the treat cabinet to be restocked with all manner of yums, including Temptations. I had to sleep on a pad. A pad! I tried to tell them, I said ‘I only sleep on top of my Big Buddy!’ And they wouldn’t listen. These people are torturous! I swear, when I get home…”

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Shelter Throws A Birthday Party For An Adoptable Cat, No One Shows Up

To our British readers,

Employees at a South London shelter threw a birthday party for a two-year-old cat who’s been in the shelter for 115 days, and not one of you jerks showed up.

Look at her. Just look at this beautiful tabby girl, hopeless and dejected because none of you soulless people could find it in your heart to drop by for a cuppa and kibble. Notice the sad little eyes, their accusatory glance seeming to say: “You’ve failed me, British people! I just wanted a forever home!”

I mean, we all know you guys can be cold, but who thought you’d be this heartless and cruel?

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Poor Monique had no one to celebrate with. Credit: Battersea Dogs and Cats

Has our guilt trip made you feel bad yet? 🙂

On a more serious note, this was actually a clever move by the shelter, Battersea Dogs and Cats. With tens of thousands of adoptable animals on sites like Petfinder and Craigslist, and every rescue contending for attention, shelter staff have to think creatively to break through the noise and help get their strays and abandoned pets into real homes.

In 2020, the cat who becomes a meme is rewarded with a home of her own, and the shelter also benefits with a bump in exposure and potential new donors.

In that sense, the birthday party didn’t fail at all: Monqiue the tabby will almost certainly find a real home soon thanks to follow-up articles and the attention they’ve brought to her story.

CATS GOING VIRAL

We’ve seen plenty of shelter stories go viral over the past year: There was Nevada, the sweet abandoned tabby who just wanted a hug, a surrender named Barsik who was dubbed “New York’s fattest cat” at a whopping 41 pounds, a fellow Chonkster named Bazooka whose dementia-inflicted former human fed him constantly, and Plankton, who proved good things come to those who wait when he finally found a home after 2,432 days at a New York shelter.

Perhaps the best example of clever cat marketing was a North Carolina rescue’s adoption ad for the “world’s worst cat.” The scowling black-and-white Perdita was a “jerk,” according to Mitchell County Animal Shelter’s sarcastic and highly amusing ad.

The listing worked, quickly going viral on Facebook and prompting more than 50 local applications within 24 hours.

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Perdita quickly found a forever home thanks to her viral post. Credit: Mitchell County Animal Shelter

Monique has tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, according to the shelter, and undoubtedly her bad luck can be chalked up to fewer adopters willing to take a cat with FIV. Despite that, Monique is expected to live a long and full life.

Here’s to hoping she finds her very own humans soon.

All photos courtesy of Battersea Dog and Cats. Click the thumbnails for larger versions:

Up For Adoption: A Buddy From Hell

Meet Buddy: Not for people who enjoy peace, caretakers with autoimmune diseases, or anyone who dislikes being smacked in the face.

What this 10-pound grey tabby lacks in size, he makes  up for in unmitigated douchebaggery.

LIKES: Turkey, mind-controlling you with toxoplasma gondii, never shutting up, destroying expensive personal belongings (particularly musical instruments), dipping his tail in your beverage just to piss you off. He occasionally enjoys rending human flesh with his claws as well.

DISLIKES: People who don’t give him treats. People who don’t treat him like the center of the universe. Vacuums, tardy service, acts of kindness, substandard service, mirrors, birds, dogs.

Come and meet Buddy, who is free to the first person who’ll claim him! In fact, we’ll play you, and he comes with a litter box, food/water bowls, toys, a harness, treats, scratching posts and heavy duty gloves.

Okay, so clearly I’m not giving Buddy away or taking applications for him. Anyone who wants Buddy will have to pry him from my cold, dead hands. He’s my Buddy.

But this adoption ad from an animal shelter in North Carolina got me thinking about how cats are described to prospective adopters:

Adoption ads for house cats are perfunctory affairs peppered with the same handful of descriptors: Every cat is a sweet, loving cuddle bug looking for a “furrever” home.

If you knew nothing about cats and based your opinion on adoption ads only, you’d think they’re basically cuddly pillows with no variation in personality or disposition.

The person who crafted Perdita’s adoption ad managed to cut through the noise with a funny, brutally honest description of the cat and her many quirks.

World’s worst cat? Even the veterinarian thinks she’s a major jerk? I have to know more.

The ad worked. Not only did it go viral, amassing thousands of shares, upvotes and comments on social media, it’s been talked about on TV and written about in major publications.

Most importantly for little Perdita, the clever ad also prompted more than 50 enthusiastic applicants, and the shelter says it’s “carefully considering” the would-be servants, no doubt trying to find the perfect match for the “World’s Worst Cat.”

At a time when thousands of charitable organizations are competing for donations and deserving pets languish in shelters, Perdita’s story proves rescues can cut through the noise and find homes for even the grumpiest of cats.

Buddy Angry
“Buddy doesn’t do hugs, okay? Buddy speaks in the third person, Buddy meows insistently for dinner, but Buddy does not do hugs. Deal with it, human.”

 

This Cat’s In For A Rude Awakening

Meet Bazooka.

The orange butterball weighs in at 35 pounds and was surrendered to the SPCA in North Carolina’s Wake County this week after his former owner died.

Although the shelter says some people were initially outraged that a person would let the ginger tabby grow to such elephantine proportions, it turns out there’s more to the story: Bazooka’s owner was inflicted with dementia and, never sure if he’d fed the amiable cat, he just kept feeding and feeding — and feeding — Bazooka, who has apparently never met a cup of kibble or a can of tuna he won’t happily scarf down.

We wouldn’t be surprised if there was some insistent meowing prompting his late human to keep refilling those bowls.

“[Bazooka’s owner] thought he was doing the best thing for his cat by feeding him,” the SPCA’s Darci VanderSlik told North Carolina’s News-Observer. “We need to look on this with a compassionate view. He was loved.”

Bazooka the Cat
Bazooka with his foster mom. Credit: Wake County NC SPCA

It turns out Bazooka is a loving and chill dude as well.

“He wants to be around people,” said Michelle Barry, the big guy’s foster mom. “He’s happiest lying right next to you. And he’s more active than I expected him to be.”

He’s in for quite an adjustment period, going from a life of on-demand meals to a strictly-regulated diet designed to get him down to a healthy weight. As any cat servant knows, there’ll be lots of agitated meowing in his future.

The ‘Zookster has already been adopted and will soon move into his forever home after the shelter provides some basic veterinary care and draws up a weight loss plan for him. Working with his new human, staff at the SPCA want to get Bazooka down to 20 pounds or so, which they feel is appropriate for his large frame.

They say they’re just glad to help.

“We don’t know a lot of the back stories of the animals we get, but we try not to judge people or make people feel bad about the circumstances that led to their surrender,” VanderSlik said. “We’re really lucky to have the resources to take him in and help him get a home he deserves.”

Bazooka the Cat
Bazooka’s a handsome kitty with a lion-like mane. In this photo, he’s thinking about pastrami sandwiches. Credit: Wake County NC SPACA