Tag: stray cats

Cat Hunt Canceled, Kiwi Journalist Says Cats ‘Need To Be Shot,’ ‘Run Over’ And ‘Wiped Off The Face Of Aotearoa’

A New Zealand group canceled a cat-hunting competition for kids after receiving massive backlash for the plan, but one Kiwi journalist told a national audience he thinks the cat hunt is a great idea and doesn’t go far enough.

“When it comes to feeral kets, I’m on the soide of the kea, the kākāpō and the kiwi ivery sangle doy of the week and my missige to [the organizers] is ‘Git the competition back on, git the keds back out thea,'” said the vowel-desecrating morning show host Patrick Gower. “If thea gonna hunt and thea’s feeral kets in the way, then we hif to woipe them out. Feeral kets need to be shot, they need to be run ovah, they need to be trepped, they need to be woiped off the foice of Aotearoa and I imploah the school to git it back on, and look, I’ll put up some rewoade as well foah any kets these kids git down theah as well.”

English translation: “I think the cat-killing contest is a wonderful idea, cats need to be shot, run over and exterminated from New Zealand, and I hate cats so much that I’ll put up some of my own money as prizes for the children who bag the most kills.”

You’ve got to wonder what cats have done to Patrick Gower for him to hate them so much, and fortunately dear readers, PITB has the answer!

Gower lost the New Zealander of the Year competition of 2020 to a cute orange tabby named Mittens.

Think about that: All those years of doing Pulitzer-worthy breakfast show kitchen demonstrations, of slaving away at the anchor desk bringing viewers important news about reality TV stars and parroting former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s declaration that New Zealand’s government is “the single source of truth” on COVID, and Gower loses the honor to a damn cat. Mittens even has the key to the City of Wellington, and Gower does not.

So sad.

Mittens the Cat
Mittens receiving honors that have eluded morning show host Patrick Gower. Credit: Wellington City Council

It’s unfortunate when a man in influential position, small country or not, enthusiastically encourages children to practice being future serial killers by slaughtering innocent animals because he thinks — despite the complete absence of evidence — that arbitrarily gunning down and running over sentient animals will save birds.

Really, you’d think before calling for the extirpation of an entire species of animal that these people would have something, even a single bogus research study, claiming that bird populations would recover if only people started killing cats on sight.

But no such proof exists, and the burden of proof rests with Gower, fellow Kiwi cat-hater Gareth Morgan and others who harbor an irrational and ill-advised hatred of tiny animals who are simply behaving the way nature designed them to behave.

What we do know is that managing cat populations can be done, but it’s difficult, time-consuming work that requires dedication and patience.

Cities like Washington, D.C., with its exhaustive cat count, and communities across the US have provided the blueprint with TNR efforts and a mass push for all pet owners to spay and neuter their cats. The results have been remarkable, and shelters save more than a million felines a year compared to just a decade ago. There’s still work to be done to bring the number of euthanizations down to zero.

Patrick Gower

It’s also worth noting that the organizers of the North Canterbury Hunting Competition and supporters like Gower are coming from a place of ignorance. In their original, now-deleted announcement, the organizers offered a “guide” to telling the difference between feral and pet cats, unaware that they are the same species. The only difference is that pet cats are fortunate enough to have homes, and strays and ferals do not.

The group said it was offering its “guide” as a way to prevent children from killing pet cats, but how exactly would they do that when a pet is indistinguishable from a colony stray or a feral? Would they find a microchip on the corpse of a cat they killed and say “Oops, guess that one doesn’t count!”?

Does a cat somehow feel less if it doesn’t have a home? Is its life worth less if it doesn’t have a collar and eat from a bowl?

It’s barbaric and so poorly thought-out, it really boggles the mind that the idea of a cat-killing competition for kids was voiced, let alone approved, planned and promoted by supposed adults.

As for the contest itself, we’re very glad it’s been called off, even if the organizers want to play victim and say their feelings have been hurt by the response to their murderous event.

That, however, doesn’t solve the problem. The fact that the organizers thought this was a good idea in the first place, and the increasingly pitched rhetoric from the likes of Gower and Morgan, are normalizing the idea of slaughtering innocent animals who have their own minds, thoughts and feelings, and who have been shaped by 10,000 years of history to live with and depend on humans.

Instead of calling for blood and whipping people into a frenzy, influential New Zealanders should read about cats and animal cognition in general, so they’re aware that felines experience the full range of primary and secondary emotions and are very much capable of suffering the same way we do when we’re injured, stressed and our lives are in danger.

That, unlike claims that cats are primarily responsible for the decline in bird populations, is hard scientific fact. We can peer into the brains of felines, watch their neurons fire, see different brain regions light up as they think specific thoughts and respond to specific smells and sights.

Maybe if people who hate cats understand what they are, they’ll feel some empathy for a beautiful species, animals who have been companions and literal life savers to humans since before deepest antiquity, animals whose lives have intrinsic value regardless of what they mean to us. At the very least, we owe them that.

New Zealand Hunting Contest For Children Offers Prizes For Killing The Most Cats

An annual hunting competition for children in New Zealand has a new category this year, awarding a cash prize to the young hunter who kills the most cats.

You read that right.

The North Canterbury Hunting Competition announced the new category on Saturday and says it will offer a $250 prize to any child 14 or younger who kills the most felines.

In a statement, the local SPCA pointed out the obvious, that cats will suffer horribly, pets will die and the competition will result in bungled kills en masse, leaving wounded cats to suffer horribly before the children finish them off — if indeed they do.

“There is a good chance someone’s pet may be killed during this event,” the Canterbury SPCA wrote in a statement. “In addition, children often use air rifles in these sorts of events which increase the likelihood of pain and distress, and can cause a prolonged death.”

photo of cats
Credit: Ali Arapou011/pexels

Prompted by the same sloppy “research studies” that inspired Australia to kill millions of cats — and resulted in a mouse plague of biblical proportions in 2021 and 2022, causing billions of dollars in damage to farms, homes, businesses and infrastructure — New Zealand is on a disinformation-fueled jihad against felines.

Like all such studies, the claims that cats are singlehandedly responsible for declines in native wildlife, thus absolving direct human activities of blame, come by way of overzealous bird conservationists and others who insist the mass murder of cats will save native birds and small mammals. As if humans destroying habitats, dumping chemical waste, creating wind farms that act as bird dicers, building glass skyscrapers that millions of birds fly into every year, saturating entire swathes of the Earth with light pollution and EM radiation that harms and confuses animals — and all the other things people do — have no impact whatsoever, and it’s only those dastardly cats who are the culprits.

You’ve got to hand it to the misguided conservationists, who have picked tiny scapegoats who can’t defend themselves verbally or physically against humans.

To understand how the “hunting” (killing) competition can be real, it’s important to understand the context of the way cats are portrayed in New Zealand. Gareth Morgan, a Kiwi economist and politician, launched a campaign about a decade ago with the stated goal of eradicating cats from the island nation of 5.1 million people, which would forbid people from adopting new cats and end programs like trap, neuter, return (TNR) in favor of having local animal control departments kill felines.

Morgan, whose Cats to Go site portrays kitties with devil horns and glowing red eyes, says cats are evil animals driven by “bloodlust.”

“Cats are the only true sadists of the animal world, serial killers who torture without mercy,” Morgan has said.

Hunting Competition
A screenshot from the group’s Facebook page announcing a new prize for young hunters.

The North Canterbury Hunting Competition, which also offers prizes like dirt bikes for child hunters, pulled the new category announcement from its Facebook page on Monday but stopped short of canceling the event, blaming people who were upset by the idea of cat hunting.

Citing abusive feedback, the group said it’s “incredibly disappointed by this reaction” and said the hunt is for a good cause, raising money for local projects.

Case Dropped Against Alabama Cat Ladies After Appeal

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.

Wetumpka cat arrests
A police officer pulls Alston from her car on June 25 before arresting her for trespassing.

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 Never Broke Any Laws’: In Disbelief Over Their Conviction, Alabama Cat Ladies Vow To Appeal

They’d been treated like hardened criminals and insulted by the same police officers who were supposed to protect them, but Beverly Roberts and Mary Alston didn’t think they’d be convicted.

Not for taking care of cats.

“I felt it was very unlikely that we would be found guilty,” Alston told PITB, “with all of the evidence that we had on our side with the body camera footage, and we never broke any laws.”

Roberts and Alston were arrested on June 25, when a trio of police cars pulled up and officers from the Wetumpka, Alabama, police department confronted them. Police body camera footage shows the women, who had been caring for a colony of stray cats, were surprised by the tone and impatience of the officers.

What they didn’t know was that Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis was the one who’d in effect dispatched the officers to the small wooded lot owned by Elmore County, grounds that are open to the public. They didn’t know that the officers — who warned the confrontation was “going to get ugly,” told the women they’re “too old to be acting this way” and later joked that they were “a bunch of cops beatin’ up on some old ladies” — were told by the assistant chief of police to arrest them after Willis spotted Alston’s parked car and called the assistant chief directly.

On Tuesday, despite the fact that Willis’ role was revealed during a trial, and despite the fact that Wetumpka has no laws against managing cat colonies or conducting “trap, neuter, return” activities, Alston and Roberts were convicted of a pair of misdemeanors each. Lacking laws to charge them directly, the authorities instead accused the women of trespassing on public land and being uncooperative with the officers.

“That’s what I kept going back to – that feeding and trapping cats is not illegal,” Roberts told PITB. “I was not in the location I was [accused of trespassing], and I was sitting in my car talking to my friend. I was not feeding cats.”

During the trial, Willis and the police argued that they’d already told Alston and Roberts to stop interacting with the cats, and said the pair chose to ignore earlier warnings to stay away from the stray colony. They reiterated their view that the colony is a nuisance.

Roberts said she’s had her disagreements with Willis in the past about the way the town handles animal-related issues, but says Wetumpka’s animal control officer gave her and Alston his blessing to manage the cat colony at their own expense. The animal control officer confirmed that during the Tuesday trial. Public-private partnerships to care for stray cats are common in towns and cities across the US, with many elected leaders welcoming the opportunity to work with local rescues and volunteers.

Roberts and Alston say they plan to appeal their conviction, hoping a county judge will see the charges as “politically motivated” accusations. They pointed out that Wetumpka municipal Judge Jeff Courtney is employed directly by the town, not elected to the post by voters, and they believe they’re more likely to get a fair shake when the people deciding their fate aren’t serving at the pleasure of the people making the accusations.

In the meantime, the cat colony remains in Wetumpka, and the cats haven’t been cared for since late June.

“We are very worried about them,” Roberts told PITB. “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.”

Since the terms of the sentencing include two years’ probation, Alston and Roberts are prohibited from caring for the strays. Alston noted the irony of local authorities claiming TNR was exacerbating a “nuisance” while, in the absence of care and neutering, the free felines “are left to go hungry and continue to multiply and branch out searching for food.”

Roberts says she still finds it hard to believe Wetumpka officials refused to compromise or find a way to establish cooperative care for a community problem.

“I thought that they surely had more pressing issues to attend to,” she said. “I really thought the judge would dismiss it and tell the city to work it out.”

Top image credit Wikimedia Commons


‘School With Paws’: Cats In Class Help Kids Readjust After Pandemic

When teacher Evrim Mutluay welcomed her students back to school after a long period of remote learning, she noticed they were different.

The kids, who hadn’t physically been to school for more than a year due to the pandemic, were “colder” and less engaged with their lessons and with each other. Many were either ambivalent or didn’t want to be there.

So Mutluay, who teaches at Adagüre Primary School in the rural outskirts of Turkey’s Izmir region, had an idea that might seem radical in most countries, but not in the famously feline-loving nation: She cleaned out an old storage building on school grounds and turned it into a shelter for 12 neighborhood cats.

It was the first step in her “Patili Okul” (“School With Paws”) project aimed at getting kids reinvested in their studies.

The cats — who have been given names like Alaca (“twilight”), Sun and Panther by the kids — have free run of the school during the day, and Mutluay’s elementary school-age students can not only pet and cuddle with them during class, they help take care of the former strays by cleaning their shelters and feeding them. The students “love the cats so much,” Mutluay said, and the program has “endeared the school to the children.”

School With Paws
A student cuddles a calico cat in class. Credit: Adagüre Primary School

The students have become so invested that many of them now show up on weekends voluntarily to feed and play with the cats.

“It also helps them to develop a sense of responsibility, by caring for others,” Mutluay told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, a wire service similar to the Associated Press. “In a way, cats and children grow up together.”

The school, which also has a community garden tended by the kids and holds classes outdoors when the weather permits, offers a chance for children to form bonds with the animals.

Mutluay described one student who was so affected by his time stuck at home that he “didn’t even make eye contact” when the school resumed in-person learning. Except for his nascent connection with a cat named Pied, he was distant and seemingly disinterested. When the student’s attendance fell off, Mutluay appealed to that connection to bring him back: “If you don’t come, Pied will cry,” she told him.

School With Paws
Credit: Adagüre Primary School

Student Cemre Şen is one among many of her classmates who have brought stray cats to the school. There are now 30 cats living on the school grounds, including the lost kitten Şen found. She and her fellow students even incorporate the cats and kittens into games they play during recess, she said.

The cats are not kept against their will: If they want to return to their colonies or street life, they are allowed to leave. Most choose to stay, enjoying the affection and attention from the kids and the guarantee of solid meals every day. (The kids feed them before classes begin and after school before heading home.) It’s an arrangement that works in a nation where caring for cats is seen as a community responsibility, as opposed to the network of shelters, rescues and colony managers who care for cats on behalf of a generally indifferent public in countries like the US.

In Turkey, the idea of cats in classrooms isn’t controversial because the little ones are everywhere — they’re allowed to wander in and out of shops, homes and even office buildings at their whim, and the streets of cities like Istanbul are lined with miniature cat houses for neighborhood felines.

The allure of cats in the classroom is so strong, Mutluay’s program has even attracted transfers like newcomer Ata Yıldırım, who switched schools after he read social media posts about the program.

“I have two cats at home,” he said, “and when I saw so many cats here, I convinced my parents to send me here.”

School With Paws
Evrim Mutluay and her students at Adagüre Primary School. Mutluay has been a teacher for 16 years. Credit: Adagüre Primary School