Tag: UK

Thanks To A New Treatment, These Cats Have A Second Chance At Life

After almost three months in treatment, little Parsnip is back to her old self.

The tabby cat with expressive sky blue eyes had been diagnosed with Feline infectious peritonitis, a variation of feline coronavirus that attacks the body’s white blood cells and can render even the most playful kittens lethargic, eventually robbing them of their ability to walk and ultimately, their lives.

Parsnip was an affectionate whirlwind of energy when 21-year-old Californian Anae Evangelista adopted her. When she lost her kitten exuberance six weeks later, Evangelista knew something was wrong. When the little cat stopped eating and drinking, Evangelista realized the problem was much more serious than an initial veterinary examination suggested.

After more tests, she received grim confirmation that Parsnip had FIPV, a virus that is almost always fatal.

But a veterinarian connected her with an online group for people whose cats have FIPV and Evangelista was able to get her kitty accepted for experimental treatment with GS-441524, a nucleoside analogue antiviral drug that has proven effective at treating all types of FIP in several trials in recent years.

After a regimen of almost three months of GS-441524 treatment, Parsnip has her energy back, she’s gained a pound and a half, and “looks perfectly healthy,” Evangelista said. Equally important, her blood work and other health indicators are all positive.

She’s overjoyed at the result. Parsnip came into her life at a difficult time, when Evangelista was grieving the loss of two friends. Losing the kitten she’d bonded with — an animal who had become such a comfort to her over the months — would have been too much.

Evangelista will graduate from college in about a week’s time, “so I’m honestly so excited to have her ‘graduate’ from her treatment too,” she told PITB.

Parsnip at the vet
Parsnip being a little trooper during one of her many veterinarian visits.

Londoner Billie’s cat, Jupiter, also suffers from FIPV. When she went to adopt him, Billie knew the British shorthair had Feline herpes virus (FHV) and that it would require careful monitoring. But the infection wasn’t life-threatening and Billie had already fallen in love with the golden-eyed chonkster.

When Jupiter’s appetite waned and his behavior changed earlier this year, Billie thought the little guy was just suffering from a FHV flare-up.

“He is very loving, he is like my shadow and he loves to play,” Billie told PITB, “but he wasn’t doing any of these things.”

As was the case with Parsnip, the veterinarians didn’t think Jupiter was seriously ill. They sent Billie and Jupiter home with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication, but after a week Jupiter still hadn’t improved. He was subject to a battery of tests — bloodwork, ultrasounds, x-rays — and kept overnight for observation.

“FIP is notoriously hard to diagnose, and there are so many symptoms that you could mistake for other things,” Billie said, noting veterinarians often have to “work backwards” and eliminate other potential ailments before diagnosing a cat with FIPV. “Jupiter’s symptoms were so minor initially, he just seemed a bit off and hadn’t eaten much and felt hot. I think because I know him and his behavior so well, we were able to catch it early.”

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Jupiter proudly displaying the Union Jack in celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee.

Because the tests didn’t confirm FIPV, a third visit with more tests followed before Jupiter was placed on his meds. While the FDA has yet to approve GS-441524 treatment in the US, the UK had approved the drug in fall 2021, so Jupiter was able to begin treatment right away. Like Evangelista, who paid $5,000 for the FIPV drugs, not including the initial veterinary examinations, Billie was faced with hefty bills: The three initial veterinary visits, tests and five nights of observation added up to £5,500 (about $6,930 in USD), and the medication set her back £7,500 (about $9,400).

Her family helped her pay the initial veterinary bills, her sister started a GoFundMe campaign, and her nieces began making “FIP Warrior crystal healing bracelets,” with the proceeds from sales going to Jupiter’s treatment. (A GoFundMe for Parsnip also exists, and has raised $2,060 of its $2,500 goal so far.)

So far, Jupiter is responding well to the treatment and the signs are encouraging.

Both cats will enter an 84-day observation period after their regimens. They’ll have their bloodwork monitored and will be examined several times over that stretch to make sure they’ve recovered. They’ll also be closely watched at home for any symptoms.

Evangelista and Billie said they’re heartened by the 85 percent success rate.

Despite the cost, Billie said she didn’t balk at taking care of her cat.

“Jupiter is my whole world,” Billie said. “It is just the two of us, he is my one constant and he means everything to me. He is so loving, and so sassy. He has such a little personality and I would be so lost without him.”

Follow Jupiter on Instagram @_jupitersfipfight and Parsnip at @lilmissparsnip

UK Soccer Player Pleads Guilty To Kicking, Slapping Cat

Remember Kurt Zouma, the soccer player who kicked and slapped his cat in a video posted online in February?

The West Ham United footballer pleaded guilty on May 24 to “causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal,” the BBC reported. His 24-year-old brother Yoan, who is also a professional soccer player, pleaded guilty to a single charge of abetting the crime when he filmed the violence and posted it to Snapchat.

An RSPCA investigation uncovered new details about the incident. Zouma was reportedly enraged when the cat scratched a chair.

“I swear I’ll kill it, I swear I’ll kill it,” he says in the video.

In the video, the elder Zouma, 27, drop-kicks the Bengal cat “like a football” in the prosecutor’s description, and slaps it hard in the face with a shoe. Both brothers were laughing in the footage, and Zouma’s child was present.

His brother Yoan uploaded the clip to Snapchat, and it would have remained private if not for the disgusted reaction of a woman Yoan asked on a date.

“I don’t think hitting a cat like that is OK – don’t bother coming today,” she wrote in a message to Yoan  Zouma, canceling their meet-up.

“I do not want to associate with people who find that funny, in front of a child as well,” she wrote.

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A Bengal cat. Credit: Marius Engesrønning/Wikimedia Commons

The outraged woman reported the brothers, and condemnation was swift: Zouma lost several sponsorship contracts, including his most lucrative deal with Adidas, and he was fined $250,000 by his team, which is the maximum a Premier League club can levy against a player.

The brothers don’t yet know the full consequences of their actions. They’ll return to court for sentencing on June 1, and although Zouma has been contrite and has people vouching for him to the court, there may be other considerations after Zouma’s video apparently inspired others to hit their cats and post the videos online.

People who imitated Zouma’s animal abuse formed an online group, calling themselves the “Kick the Cat Club.”

“Since this footage was put in the public domain there has been a spate of people hitting cats and posting it on various social media sites,” Thames Magistrate’s Court prosecutor Hazel Stevens said.

In the meantime, Zouma’s two Bengal cats have been in the custody of the RSPCA. The cats, Bonbon and Cherie, didn’t suffer any lasting physical injuries from the abuse, and despite enduring trauma, the RSPCA said both cats are friendly and will be ready for rehoming soon.

“What makes this case even more sad is the way the video was filmed and shared, making light of such cruelty,” the RSPCA’s Dermot Murphy said. “We hope this case will serve as a reminder that all animals deserve to be treated with kindness, compassion and respect, and that we will not tolerate cruelty.”

Bring Your Cats Inside: Thieves Are Snatching Cats From Yards And Selling Them Online

A week after a brazen thief stole a Portland family’s cat off their front porch, a pair of cat thieves were caught on security footage snatching a cat from a residential street in the UK.

The latter is not an isolated incident. A group of amateur sleuths, comprised of people whose cats were stolen and others concerned about the spate of thefts, found several of the missing cats listed for sale on a UK pet classifieds site, Pets4Homes.co.uk.

The latest cat-napping happened in East Birmingham, where home security cameras captured footage of a man and a woman creeping along a residential street shortly before 4 am, armed with cat treats, milk and a plastic bin and quietly searching for neighborhood felines.

East Birmingham’s Charlene Jones told the UK Sun that she was woken up by her dogs, who alerted her to intruders on her property.

“I didn’t notice anything until the dogs started barking, and I looked out the window and caught them in the act,” Jones said. “It all happened around 20 to four in the morning, at this point she was just putting the cat into the bin. I opened the window and the cat escaped.”

Cat thieves
In this still from Jones’ security cameras, the cat thieves are seen with the treats, milk and plastic bin they were using to capture neighborhood kitties.

An angry Jones, whose own cat was stolen three weeks ago, confronted the thieves, who claimed they were working for a local animal welfare charity and were trapping strays.

“I went out and spoke to them and she started reeling off all these charity numbers and claiming she worked for them,” Jones said.

When Jones later reviewed the footage she recognized the cat, who belongs to a neighbor a few doors down the street.

“I feel angry,” Jones told the paper. “I have done my own research, she has been selling cats for eight months.”

Jodie Smith of Solihull, a town of about 123,000 about 18 miles from Birmingham, said her family’s cat, Arlo, was stolen in January. A friend later spotted Arlo on Pets4Homes, but the Smiths weren’t able to recover him.

“It’s awful, this is my daughter’s cat,” Smith said. “My daughter can’t go to bed with cuddles from her fur baby. She is absolutely gutted.”

Arlo the cat
Arlo was listed on Pets4Homes but the family was unable to recover him.

Pet thefts on both sides of the Atlantic have been on the rise since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. As entire countries went into lockdown, demand for companion animals skyrocketed, leaving many shelters bare and breeders sold out.

Criminals saw an opportunity and began stealing pets, mostly dogs at first, from yards, homes and kennels, prompting the owner of one lost pet site to dub 2020 “the worst year ever” for dog thefts, according to the BBC.

With exotic cat breeds commanding large amounts of money on the open market, from a few hundred dollars for breeds like Persians to $20,000 for Savannah cats, opportunistic thieves began targeting felines as well. “Moggies,” cats of indeterminate origin or no particular breed, aren’t exempt either. Some may be stolen because thieves mistake them for exotics, while other thieves apparently find it worth their time to snatch cats that can net them $100 or more on sites like Craigslist and Pets4Homes.

In the UK, cat thefts have increased threefold within the last five years, a trend accelerated by the pandemic and the resulting scarcity of cats, especially those with breed pedigree. Police rarely recover the stolen pets, and authorities say some people are targeted after sharing photos and video of their pets online.

Stealing cats is especially easy in the UK, where the majority of people allow their cats to roam free outdoors and the idea of keeping cats strictly indoors is seen as cruel or improper, even though felis catus are domesticated animals and don’t have a “natural habitat.”

In the Portland case, no one has come forward with any solid information in the theft of Kiki the cat despite two relatively clear shots of the suspect’s face and extended footage of her approaching and taking the cat from the Autar family’s front porch on Feb. 20. Like the UK catnappings, the Portland suspect seemed motivated by profit: The family said their cameras also caught the woman checking for open car doors, and the way she grabbed and held the cat — holding him at arm’s length, dangerously carrying him by the scruff of his neck — indicated she saw him as an object, not a living creature.

Karina Autar told PITB on March 1 that her family hasn’t given up hope.

“We are all just getting by, we are coping by putting in all our energy [into finding] him,” she said.

Cat thief suspect
The thief was caught snatching KiKi off his family’s front porch on Feb. 20.

In the UK, Jones is not the only person to confront the cat thieves. Amy Buckley, 29, told The Sun that the woman seen in Jones’ footage also told her she was an employee of an animal welfare organization.

“She came to mine around January, claiming she worked for the PDSA and that they’d had a report about a large number of stray cats in the area,” Buckley told the paper.

She said she was immediately suspicious because PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) is a charity run by veterinarians that provides care, not TNR or general trapping services.

PDSA confirmed the woman does not work for the organization, while local police told the paper they had taken several reports from people whose cats had been stolen and were investigating the thefts. Meanwhile, an RSPCA spokesperson urged caretakers to have their cats microchipped.

In the meantime the victims are trying their best to locate their stolen furry family members, but they’re also angry at the pain the thieves have caused families and children.

“There are other families going through the same heartbreak,” Smith said. “For a lady to have some money in her pocket, she is destroying little children.”

Cat Lovers And Soccer Fans Pitch In To Help Severely Injured Kitty Who Ran Onto Field

Running onto the field in the middle of a professional soccer game is probably the best thing Topsey the cat ever did.

The nine-year-old tortoiseshell went missing in June of 2021 when her human, Alison Jubb of Sheffield (UK) was going on vacation and taking Topsey to a cattery. Topsey got spooked, bolted from her carrier, and after months of fruitless efforts to find her, Jubb thought she’d never see her cat again.

Then in the 94th minute of a Feb. 8 match between Sheffield and Wigan Athletic, a familiar-looking tortoiseshell dashed onto the field. Wigan’s Jason Kerr risked a penalty to catch and calm the clearly distressed cat while the crowd erupted in cheers.

“My daughter-in-law rang me last night and said, ‘Are you watching the football match?'” Jubb said. “I said ‘No,’ and she said ‘There’s a cat that ran on the football pitch and it just looks like Topsey.’ And I sort of laughed it off because I thought it won’t be.”

But the veterinarian rang the next day and, to Jubb’s surprise and delight, said the Sheffield woman’s cat had been identified via a microchip scan.

One of Sheffield’s season ticket holders happened to be a veterinarian, and when he offered to examine the terrified feline at the stadium, he realized she had serious injuries and brought her to a nearby clinic.

Topsey the Cat
Topsey in better times before she went missing. Credit: Alison Jubb

Topsey had survived her harrowing eight-months away and her bloodwork was okay, but the veterinarian said the tough little kitty had endured an attack by a dog or another larger animal, who picked her by her neck and shook her in its jaws. Topsey suffered broken bones, a damaged spine and had teeth marks on her neck.

The veterinary bill is hefty: Jubb was told she’s looking at about £10,000, or more than $13,000 in US dollars, to cover the exams, scans, surgeries and other necessities to relieve Topsey’s pain and mend her little body.

Generous cat lovers and soccer fans helped Jubb and Topsey reach that goal in just a few days. The campaign’s donations sit at £11,585 as of Feb. 19, and any money left over from Topsey’s veterinary care will be donated to a local rescue.

Topsey can’t walk properly because of her injuries, and in the 11 days since she was rescued, she’s been in veterinary care, recovering and scarfing down food after so many lean months left her malnourished.

Topsey Recovering
Topsey’s swaddled up in the care of a veterinarian. Credit: Alison Jubb

Despite the severity of her injuries, Topsey is “very comfy and she’s doing really well,” Jubb told the BBC.

Jubb says Topsey is constantly purring and is no doubt thrilled to be reunited with her humans and on the mend.

“Everybody has been brilliant, – my phone’s not stopped all day, it’s amazing,” Jubb said after Topsey was recovered. “And the players, I’d just like to say ‘thank you’ for being so gentle and kind with her and everybody who looked after her [on Feb. 8] because they’ve all been so nice with her and that’s lovely.”

Sunday Cats: Chonky Kitty Gets A Home, Footballer Gets Second Chance After Cat Abuse

Sterling the cat is a cute and playful little guy, and no doubt would have his fans among those who love chonksters, but he has to lose weight.

That was the gist of the message posted by staff at the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Michigan, who wanted to find a home for Sterling but also wanted to make sure his new human(s) would be dedicated to his health.

The silver tabby with a Buddesian coat pattern tips the scales at 30 pounds. Not only is the weight unhealthy, but it makes life as a cat difficult.

“We know, those plump cheeks are adorable. But obesity is terribly unhealthy for cats,” Humane Society staff wrote on Instagram. “Sterling is fastidious about hygiene, but can’t groom himself properly (we had to shave matted fur off his back). He’s so lively and playful, but can’t chase after toys. He’s curious about the world, but can’t jump up to look out the window. He’s so affectionate, but can’t comfortably snuggle with his people.”

An adopter has stepped up to the plate and given Sterling a new family, a deal that includes committing to working with a veterinarian to get the kitty to slim down. The Humane Society haven’t said who the adopter is, but Sterling’s adoption profiles disappeared shortly after the shelter’s impassioned plea on Feb. 9.

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Sterling weighs about 30 pounds. Credit: Humane Society of Huron Valley.

Zouma gets another shot

Kurt Zouma, the Premiere League footballer who earned himself worldwide condemnation over the last week for uploading a video showing him abusing his own cat, won’t lose his job due to the scandal.

West Ham United Coach David Moyes said Zouma’s actions were “completely out of character from Kurt” and compared the abuse incidents to drunken driving.

“He’s a really good lad and we’re going to get him some help,” Moyes told reporters. “Just like people with drink-drive offences have to go to classes to learn the reasons and the damage that can be done, the RSPCA are going to provide some courses for Kurt to understand about animals and how to treat them.”

Moyes says Zouma has repeatedly apologized, and he thinks the French national is sincerely contrite.

“But what do you do?” the coach asked. “Do you keep punishing people or do you give them a chance to make things right? All of us in life need second chances sometimes, and we’re going to give Kurt a second chance.”

The controversy flared up immediately after the UK Sun published a story about three short clips showing Zouma drop-kicking, slapping and throwing a shoe at his cat. The clips were filmed by Zouma’s brother, who can be heard laughing in the background, and involved Zouma’s son.

In his apology, Zouma said the abuse was “an isolated incident,” but said there was “no excuse” for his actions.

“I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video,” the soccer pro said.

Zouma was fined £ 250,000 — equal to about $330,000 — which is the maximum amount the club could fine him under league rules. He also lost his primary sponsorship with Adidas, which issued a terse statement and immediately dropped the center-back from its roster, and insurance company Vitality pulled its sponsorship from the entire team. Two other sponsors said they would meet with the club to discuss the issue.

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Scotsman Jason Kerr of Wigan gently scoops up Topsey, a house cat who interrupted play on Tuesday night by running onto the pitch in a match between Wigan and West Ham United.

Zouma also surrendered both of his cats — the one who was abused in the video and a second feline — to the RSPCA, which is conducting an investigation. Like the SPCA in the US, which has its own law enforcement division, the RSPCA has the ability to file criminal charges in cases involving animal abuse and neglect.

The felines of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Did you know the first Siamese cat to reach America’s shores was probably Siam, who belonged to First Lady Lucy Webb Hayes?

Back when Thailand was called Siam, U.S. ambassador David B. Sickels read that Mrs. Hayes — wife of Rutherford B. Hayes — was a cat lover and sent one of the now-famous Asian cats to the White House.

“I have taken the liberty of forwarding to you one of the finest specimens of Siamese cats that I have been able to procure in this country,” Sickels wrote to the First Lady in 1878. “I am informed that this is the first attempt ever made to send a Siamese cat to America.”

While we’ve written quite a bit about the famous cats who have occupied the White House over the years, the Hayes story and others are also detailed in a new article from Smithsonian Magazine, which marked the occasion of Willow the cat’s arrival by revisiting presidential pet history. It’s well worth a read if you like the idea of kitties roaming the halls of power and even sitting on one president’s lap during state dinners, eating at the table like humans.