Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another Happy Ending

On August 31st, Jack the Cat was lost while traveling with his owner Karen Pascoe. American Airlines reported that he had escaped from his pet carrier in the luggage holding area during the Hurricane Irene frenzy, and had presumably been "roaming the halls" of JFK Airport for two months while search teams scoured the airport looking for him.

Well, folks, Jack has been found! He was located in the customs room and was immediately taken to the vet to get checked out. He is currently being treated for dehydration (not much pooling water in the customs room, I suspect) and will be flying home to his mom in California within the next couple of days.

This has been pretty bad press for American Airlines, as well it should be. I get angry enough when my luggage gets lost on flights, I can't imagine losing a cat!

Friday, October 14, 2011



I know a lot of pet owners who don't want to get their dogs or cats fixed, because they think it will alter their personalities or "take away their manhood" (most owners with this attitude are men with male pets - just sayin'). It's really easy to shut your eyes to the overpopulation problem, but that isn't the answer. I volunteer at a local animal shelter, and it's very sad to see all the animals who have been thrown from cars, abandoned in the streets, or worse - just because their owners couldn't take care of them. Problems like these are a direct result from overpopulation. 

Check out this awesome video from the Alliance for Humane Action:

If you know someone who has a negative attitude about spaying and neutering their pets, please talk to them. Here are some facts from the Human Society's website:

-About half of all animals brought into the shelters are adopted. The other half are euthanized.
-Dogs and cats don't have a sense of gender identity or ego, so getting them spayed or neutered will not affect their personalities.
-Most states have clinics within driving distance that will provide spay and neuter operations for $100 or less, and many veterinary clinics provide discounts through subsidized voucher programs. Bottom line: It's much cheaper to have the procedure done than paying to raise litter after litter.
-Even purebred dogs and cats should get fixed - at least one fourth of all animals in the shelters are purebreds.

To learn more, please visit the Human Society's website.

Friday, October 7, 2011


From left to right: Frank and Louie
Meet Frank and Louie - one very lucky feline who was rescued from euthanasia as a kitten. His breeder knew that Janus cats (cats born with two faces) rarely survive their first few days, so he brought the kitty to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Boston to put him to sleep before he suffered for too long. A cat loving lady who was working at the clinic, Marty Stevens, decided to adopt the kitten and try to save his life.
Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions
It worked! Twelve years later, Frank and Louie has been recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living Janus cat in the world.

What a lovely portrait! I wonder what the people at JC Penney's thought.
Frank and Louie has two noses, two mouths, and three eyes, the middle of which doesn't work. Frank does all the work when it comes to eating, since Louie does not have a lower jaw and has consequently had his teeth removed. Marty reports that he is a very friendly and loving cat. She is even able to take him for walks around their neighborhood in Worcester, Massachusetts. I wish my cat would do that!
Frank and Louie with optimistic owner Marty Stevens
This kitty is an amazing animal for so many reasons. Props to you, and happy belated birthday! Keep on keepin' on, Frank and Louie!

Watch the AP video of Frank, Louie, and Marty here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

smart parasite!

A new study shows that a common parasitic organism, Toxoplasma gondii, makes rats have a pretty weird sensory response when it comes to cats - instead of the typical fear response, they have the same attraction to the cats as they normally would to a sexually responsive female rat.

So the infected rat approaches the cat, gets eaten, and then the parasite infects the cat. Diabolical biological ingenuity! (Say that ten times quickly.) Not that I endorse infected cats, but I always get excited when biology is ten steps ahead of scientists. It gives me hope for Mother Nature making a comeback someday.

For the entire NYT article, click here.

Some theories on Willow's journey - NYT article

By Car or by Paw? Trying to Retrace a Cat’s Travels


Maybe she came on foot, charming strangers along the nation’s plains like a character out of Mark Twain.
Perhaps she hitched a ride, with or without permission, from a kindly driver going east from the Rocky Mountains.
Or maybe she was so irresistible to a New York family on a ski vacation that they simply had to sneak her back home once the trip was up.
However she arrived, Willow, a calico cat with a rich speckled coat and eyes that burn green, turned up about 1,800 miles from the Boulder, Colo., home from which she had escaped nearly five years before. Someone turned the cat in to Animal Care and Control of New York City last week, saying she was found on a nondescript block of East 20th Street. At the shelter, a microchip implanted between her shoulder blades when she was a kitten led to her address in Colorado and her identity.
Her old family is overjoyed. Animal experts are curious.
“How can a cat get from Colorado to New York?” said Peter L. Borchelt, an animal behavior consultant in Brooklyn. “Count the ways.”
Doctors, trainers and officials from Animal Care and Control have settled on three hypotheses, ranging from plausible to semimiraculous, to explain the cat’s journey.
The most cinematic option holds that Willow made the cross-country trip on her own. The five-year span allowed plenty of time for Willow to have traveled on foot, Dr. Paul Maza, veterinary consultant for the Feline Health Center at Cornell University, said.
“Cats are very adaptable,” Dr. Maza said. “It could have survived by catching rodents along the way, or getting into garbage. If it’s friendly, it could mooch food off of people.”
The problem with this explanation, Dr. Maza said, is motive. He said he had encountered occasional cases of cats traveling long distances, governed by instinct, to return home. But why, he wondered, would a cat choose to venture so far without a destination?
Dr. Borchelt presented another impediment to this theory: the Mississippi River.
“It’s going to have a hard time getting across there,” he said. “It’s also going to have a hard time not getting eaten by wolves or hit by a car.”
Julie Bank, executive director of Animal Care and Control, suggested the cat might have burrowed inside a vehicle bound for Manhattan.
“That’s very possible,” said Dr. Jay Kuhlman, of the Gramercy Park Animal Hospital. “A cat’s agile enough to get into the back of a truck and hitchhike.”
The only obstacle to this narrative, he added, would be extreme weather conditions during the drive.
Dr. Maza said train travel was also a possibility, although this premise might have required either a breach of protocol or a travel-savvy kitten.
Cliff Cole, a spokesman for Amtrak, said any stray animals found on trains were promptly turned over to Amtrak police, who are instructed to contact local animal control centers. Willow could not have ridden Amtrak to Manhattan, Mr. Cole concluded, “unless she knew which stop to get off.”
A more likely sequence of events, many agreed, would be that a person found Willow in Colorado, then moved with her to the Northeast and lost her.
“Somebody going from Colorado to New York?” Dr. Borchelt mused. “That happens all the time.”
About five times a day, actually. On average, according to the Department of City Planning, 1,715 Coloradans per year moved to New York City from 2007 to 2009.
Since being identified, Willow has stayed at the city’s Manhattan shelter in East Harlem. She was expected to be transported to a “foster family,” the home of a volunteer, on Thursday, and remain there for two weeks, Ms. Bank said, while the agency ensures she did not contract any infectious diseases since leaving home.
Because Willow appeared clean and well fed — a little chunky, in fact — when she was found, experts said it was unlikely she had spent much time fending for herself on New York’s streets.
But Dr. Kuhlman warned against underestimating the guile of a cat in the city. Years ago, he said, a client’s domestic shorthair disappeared in the West Village and turned up, pregnant, on the Upper West Side.
“I don’t know how she made it across 42nd Street,” he said.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cats love free speech

I never like talk about cat abuse, but what I hate even more is people getting their undies in a bunch over something so clearly hilarious.

I don't believe that David Thorne is an actual cat abuser, so laugh away at this e-mail exchange with a tightly-wound cat lover on 27b/6. (If you're not familiar with the site, this guy contacts people via the internet - sometimes Craigslist responses, customer service complaints, etc. - and engages them in lengthy and humorous arguments.)

A sampling of Thorne's wisdom, in case you're one of those who needs a teaser:

"Opinions are like nipples, everybody has one. Some have firm points, others are barely discernible through layers, and some are displayed at every opportunity regardless of whether the audience has stated "I am interested in your nipples" or not. Cats have nineteen."