Tag: Veterinarian

SPCA Offers $6k Reward After Shooter Kills NY Woman’s Beloved Cat

When Margaret Oliva’s husband died eight years ago, her cat Stella helped her through her grieving.

“She was my sanity, you know?” the Long Island woman said.

Oliva’s beloved tortoiseshell went outside on Sept. 1 and didn’t come back that night. Oliva enlisted the help of relatives to find Stella but wasn’t able to locate her until she heard “whimpering cries” on her Ring system’s audio.

Stella had collapsed near a bush on the front lawn. Oliva rushed her badly injured cat to an emergency veterinarian, where the fading feline fought for her life but succumbed hours later. The vet told the shocked Hicksville woman that someone had shot Stella twice, likely with a pellet gun.

“To have her taken like this…No, I can’t accept that,” Oliva told a local TV news station.

Now the SPCA is offering a $6,000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of Stella’s killer. Matt Roper, a detective with the Nassau County SPCA’s law enforcement division, said he believes Stella was shot by someone in the immediate neighborhood.

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The SPCA is offering a $6,000 reward for Stella’s killer.

Studies have shown that house cats who are allowed to wander outside during the day rarely go far. In a paper published in Scientific Reports earlier this year, a team of scientists from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences tracked 100 indoor/outdoor cats by equipping them with GPS collars. The data showed cats spend almost 80 percent of their time within 50 meters — or about 164 feet — of their homes, and a handful of statistical outliers who traveled a longer distance didn’t exceed more than a quarter mile.

The SPCA’s Roper said Stella suffered one projectile to her chest and one to a leg. Her killer is likely nearby and almost certainly knows about the anguish caused to Oliva. If caught, the killer could face a felony charge.

“This could be a high powered pellet gun,” Roper said. “This could be something that could be shot a couple of houses length, a couple of yards in length.”

Oliva’s home in Hicksville is about 10 miles from Glen Cove, where a cat named Gracie was shot and left paralyzed last summer when one pellet hit her stomach and another hit her spine. Poor Gracie was in a neighbor’s yard, dragging herself toward her home while her back legs hung limp. A woman found Gracie after hearing her crying out in pain, Newsday reported.

“What happens is a woman takes her kids for a walk,” said detective Lt. John Nagle of the Glen Cove Police Department. “When she returns to the house she hears an animal crying and goes to investigate. She finds this cat, just beyond the neighbor’s chain link fence, and the animal is crying and it can’t walk. Another neighbor, who happens to be a vet, comes over. She gets a cat cage, places it in the yard — and the cat immediately crawls over to it … She takes the cat to her vet, where she works, thinking maybe it’s been hit by a car. That’s when she finds out it’s not damage from a car, but that there’s two bullets.”

There’s a $5,000 reward for Gracie’s shooter.

In October of 2021, a young cat the rescuers named Abraham was shot with a pellet gun in Suffolk County on eastern Long Island. Like Gracie, Abraham was struck in his spine. The SPCA of Suffolk County, which called Abraham’s shooting “a horrific act of animal cruelty,” is offering a $4,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of his shooter.

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Gracie’s shooter hasn’t been found yet either.

‘Why I Took 50,000 Pictures Of My Cats Pooping’

When Alan Turing, the father of artificial intelligence, posed the heady question “Can machines think?”, he inspired generations of computer scientists, philosophers, physicists and regular people to imagine the emergence of silicon-based consciousness, with humanity taking the godlike step of creating a new form of life.

And when science fiction writer Philip K. Dick wrote his seminal 1968 novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” — the story that would eventually become Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic Bladerunner — he wondered what makes us human, and whether an artificial being could possess a soul.

It’s safe to say neither of those techno-prophets were thinking of fledgling AI algorithms, representing the first small steps toward true machine-substrate intelligence, announcing themselves and their usefulness to the world by helping us watch felis catus take a shit.

And yet that’s what the inventors of the LuluPet litter box designed an AI to do, and it’s what software engineer and Youtuber Estefannie did for her cat, Teddy, who’s got a bit of a plastic-eating problem.

“The veterinarian couldn’t tell me how much plastic he ate, and it would cost me over $3,000 [to find out]. So I didn’t do it,” Estefannie explains in a new video. “Instead, the vet gave me the option of watching him go to the bathroom. If he poops and there’s no plastic in his intestines, then he won’t die, and he might actually love me back.”

Estefannie casually described how she wrote a python script, set up a camera and motion sensor, and rigged it to take photos of Teddy doing his business. But, she explained, there was “a tiny problem”: Luna the Cat, aka her cat’s cat.

“This is Luna, this is technically not my cat, this is Teddy-Bear’s cat, and she uses the same litter box as Teddy,” she explained.

For that, she’d need more than a script. She’d have to build a machine learning algorithm to gorge itself on data, cataloguing tens of thousands of photos of Teddy and Luna along with sensory information from the litter box itself, to learn to reliably determine which cat was using the loo.

So Estefannie decided it was a good opportunity to “completely remodel” Teddy’s “bathroom,” including a compartment that would hide the bespoke system monitoring his bowel movements. The system includes sensors, cameras and lights to capture still images of Teddy dropping deuces in infrared, and a live thermal imaging feed of the little guy doing his business. (Teddy’s luxurious new bedroom turned out to be too dark for conventional cameras, thus the pivot to infrared.)

From there, Estefannie manually calculated how long Teddy’s number ones and twos took, and cross-referenced that information with photo timestamps to help determine the exact nature of Teddy’s calls of nature.

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The future! (Note: This is our cheesy photoshopped interpretation, not Estefannie’s actual stool monitoring interface.)

When all the data is collected, Estefannie’s custom scripts sends it to an external server, which analyzes the images from each of Teddy’s bathroom visits and renders a verdict on what he’s doing in there.

Finally, Estefannie gets an alert on her smartphone when one of the cats steps into the litterbox, allowing her the option of watching a live feed and, uh, logging all the particulars. The software determines if a number two was successful, and keeps detailed records so Teddy’s human servant can see aberrations over time.

“So now I definitely know when Teddy-Bear is not pooping and needs to go to the hospital,” she said.

I am not making this up.

For her part, Estefannie says she’s not worried about a technological singularity scenario in which angry or insulted machines, newly conscious, exact revenge on humans who made them do unsavory tasks.

“Did I make an AI whose only purpose in life is to watch my cats poop?” Estefannie asked, barely keeping a straight face. “Mmmhmm. Will it come after me when the machines rise? No! Ewww!”

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.

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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

Sunday Cats: Buddy The Philly Cat Makes A Friend, His Attackers Get A Trial Date

Two Philadelphia minors will head to trial in May after they sicced their dogs on a cat sitting on a porch a month ago.

The juveniles, who are 17 and 12 years old, were walking their dogs in Philadelphia on March 22 when they set them loose on Buddy, a black cat who was cared for by a local family but spent most of his time outside. They shouted encouragement as their dogs mauled Buddy on his family’s porch and Buddy would have been killed if the commotion hadn’t drawn attention from inside.

When one of Buddy’s caretakers stepped outside and tried to stop the dogs, the teens pulled their canines back and fled. They turned themselves in to authorities a few days later after the story went viral and they realized the attack was captured by a doorbell camera system.

They each face felony and misdemeanor charges for animal cruelty, inflicting harm on an animal and other alleged offenses. Since they’re charged as minors the court system is not releasing their names, which is common practice in juvenile cases in most states.

Buddy was so badly injured that veterinarians weren’t sure if he’d make it at first. With a lot of care and love, the little guy pulled through the first few critical days and continued to recover until he was well enough to go to a foster home in early April.

His new caretaker is Katie Venanzi, a veterinarian who specializes in emergency care and operated on him that first day when he was brought in to Blue Pearl Vet Hospital by the Pennsylvania SPCA.

“He was kept secluded in one room initially, but now he has a run of the house and he is doing so well with his foster sibling cat Teddy. His foster parents affectionately say they are the two most awkward cats in Philadelphia, but their relationship is blossoming and we hope it continues that way so that Buddy can officially stay in that home forever,” the SPCA’s Gillian Kocher said. “Hopefully in the coming weeks, we will have some additional details and will let everybody know when we can make an official announcement about Buddy’s adoption, but for now he’s doing wonderfully.”

The reason Buddy was outside in the first place is that, as a stray, he resisted an indoor life when his original family tried to keep him inside.

Venanzi told a local radio station that her and her husband are trying to help Buddy adjust to an indoor life and hope they can adopt him.

“We want to do whatever he needs,” she said. “We understand that he used to live outside. If he is not comfortable living in our house, we are willing to work with other people who are going to give him an opportunity to be in a safe environment but still exposed to the outdoors. We are going to take it day by day and see how he does, but we are really hoping to keep him.”

When Buddy’s story went viral, people around the world responded by making donations to the Pennsylvania SPCA and buying t-shirts with Buddy’s likeness on them, allowing the group to raise thousands. Meanwhile, in a post to social media, the Pennsylvania SPCA noted it had taken in 158 abused animals since Buddy was attacked: “That’s more than five Buddys a day.”

Some of those dogs and cats were shot or stabbed, while others were neglected or starved, Kocher said. Leftover money from Buddy’s surgeries and treatment will be used to help the other abused animals in the SPCA’s care.

Maryland Joins New York In Banning Barbaric Declawing Procedures

Two U.S. states have now banned declawing as ‘Merica inches closer to joining the rest of the civilized world in prohibiting the brutal practice.

With a stroke of Gov. Larry Hogan’s pen, Maryland became only the second state to ban declawing, joining New York, which outlawed the practice in 2019. Like New York’s version, the new Maryland law prohibits declawing unless it’s deemed medically necessary.

As most cat lovers know, declawing isn’t the manicure-like operation it sounds like. It’s the totally unnecessary, horrific amputation of a cat’s toes up to the first knuckle.

Declawing inflicts a lifetime of pain on cats, changes feline gait and posture, leads to early arthritis and causes a long list of secondary problems. For example, declawed cats are much more likely to bite because they have no other form of defense when they feel threatened, and they’re also much more likely to stop using litter boxes because it hurts to walk on the sand-like and granule texture of the litter with half-amputated toes.

The fact that so much misery is inflicted on innocent animals to protect furniture is indefensible.

The law goes into effect on Oct. 1, and veterinarians who perform the procedure after that time face fines of $1,000 and disciplinary action by the state veterinary board. We’d have preferred immediate implementation and stiffer penalties to prevent a last-minute rush on declawing appointments and discourage anyone considering breaking the law, but a win is a win, and all the major animal advocacy groups are celebrating, as they should.

Now we’ve only got 48 states to go.

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Buddy and his Claws of Cosmic Doom.