Friday 18 July 2008

Euthanize a cat

cat in shelter
photo by Tjflex2 (see story below)

How to euthanize a cat? Why talk about such a morbid subject? Because about 2,100,000 (or more) cats are euthanized in the USA every year in animal shelters. Euthanasia means a pain free and stress free death. Did every one of the 2.1 million cats euthanized at shelters die a pain free death or are we causing a combined mass of pain and in fact simply killing cats?

It make me very sad to think of it but what we see is not what actually is. It has always been that way. A lot of what happens in the world is out of sight and out of mind for most of the population. Plus there is still a lot of work to do on education. So this post deals with an almost taboo subject, the legalized killing of animals and particularly cats.
cat in a cat shelter
The Times newspaper (in the UK) reported, on January 16th 1928, a criminal case of animal cruelty in which a certain Richard Johnson Sargent had been charged with causing unnecessary suffering to 2 cats. He had been prosecuted by the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Protection of Animals). Sargent was a veterinary inspector to the Guildford Council (the city of Guildford). He had, over a 2 year period euthanized cats (600) for a Guildford society". It doesn't say what society or why he was killing (euthanising) such a large number of cats (we are still killing them....). How to euthanize a cat is slightly different to how to kill a cat.

Anyway he used Chloroform, which was a fairly usual method in those days 80 years ago. He'd put the cats in a closed box with Chloroform and wait about 30 minutes. It was alleged that when he took them out of the box after 30 minutes and took them to the "destructor works" (whatever that is) they were breathing so he hit them with a sledge hammer. That is the gory and very sad story. He got off because it was found that he had committed no crime.

The Delaware legislation (Chapter 80) still allows killing shelter animals by Chloroform. Other States might as well, I don't know. However, Chloroform is hazardous to humans (carcinogenic) and is toxic to mice (so for killing animals after animal experiments it is unsuitable as I presume that the fumes could hurt other animals that are due to be experimented on and then killed) (source: University of Minnesota Euthanasia Guidelines). Minnesota University recommend several ways to kill a cat, one is an intravenous Barbiturate Overdose (100 mg/kg).

Carbon dioxide poisoning and decapitation of an awake cat is considered unacceptable. I feel better now.

Back to the question, "how to euthanize a cat"? HSUS recommend an intravenous solution of sodium pentobarbital by a trained professional. This is a short acting barbiturate. It is an anesthetic agent. It is almost impossible to find out how it kills but it is a respiratory depressant, so this may be the cause of death (i.e. the drug stops the animal breathing). I don't know if it is painless but it looks that way.

But are shelters killing or euthanizing cats? The simple answer is that many are killing them, according to Peta. They say that many shelters kill rather than euthanize cats (and dogs) by using the following methods:

---Can you euthanize a cat by carbon monoxide poisoning? Peta says that this method caused great distress and animals scream as they gasp for air. If that is true this is simply killing. Humans have died from carbon monoxide poisoning from defective boiler flues. As far as I am aware people have been killed in their sleep so this would indicate that it does not cause suffering.

---Can you euthanize a cat by shooting? I am surprised to hear that this happens. Clearly this can cause suffering. No comment needed.

---or can you euthanize a cat by electrocution? This causes pain and suffering obviously. We don't even kill human criminals this way anymore (in the US) although it is yet to banned (it is "optional") in some States as a form of execution.

---then there is decompression. This is unusual and unknown by most people I would guess. This simulates an ascent to a great height in a very short time causing gases in the cat's body to expand causing accute discomfort. It can go wrong too so has to be repeated sometimes (rarely I would hope). It frankly sounds horrible and it is a widely used method apparently.

May 24th 1909 - London

This comes from the Times Archive. Cat shelters were needed 100 years ago and cats were routinely killed (possibly euthanized) in shelters then. Tottenham Cat Shelter was opened by Lady Donegall. From March 6th 1909 to May 24th 1909, 80 cats were sheltered of which 60 where euthanized by putting them in a "chamber" (I'm going to guess that this was a chloroform chamber). If a cat was ill when recovered the cat was "destroyed". Cats were automatically destroyed after 7 days. I understand that about 75% of shelter cats are still "destroyed" today a very similar percentage to that of 1909. Nothing therefore has changed in 100 years of the domestic cat living with humans.

What happens to killed or euthanized cats?

I don't know but I'd bet my last dollar that the flesh gets used in pet food, the cartilage gets used in glue or whatever and the fur gets used in accessories and other consumer items. Is the commercial market behind the feral cat problem? If I am correct the stopping of the supply of dead cats to manufacturers would be a nasty shock to them. 2.2m are destroyed every year. Where could they get other supplies? Shock horror.....Maybe we can't solve the feral cat problem because bug business wants it to carry on.

Euthanize a cat - Conclusion

Although on many occasions in animal shelters we are euthanizing cats (killing them in a painless way), there would seem to be a large number of incidences when we, in fact, kill them. As the number of deaths is very large this probably means that a lot of pain and distress is caused. This implies a total failure on behalf of humankind. We adopt cats. We accepted their domestication. We now abandon and kill them. Is this proper behavior and why is it going on and on without radical solutions being found and implemented quickly?

Don't euthanize a cat - The Photo heading this post

The photo was posted in 2006 so things may have changed but this is his story in summary. This boy is called Babado. He has a will to live and is an inspiration. He suffers a neurological condition and was brought to a shelter (where the photographer works no doubt). He was cared for and he recovered a bit and then relapsed and recovered again. During his good spells he was a great character and no doubt amused all who come into contact with him. He stayed at the shelter for at least 3 years. I know there is a lack of space and this can't happen everywhere but we need to find a long term solution to the overpopulation of domestic cats and feral cats.

Photo second down on RHS - by cobalt123 - all photos published under a creative commons license.

Photo third down LHS - by SHamEy jo - cat in a no-kill animal shelter

From Euthanize a cat to Home page

Euthanize a cat - Sources:
  • Times Archive

Thursday 17 July 2008

Cat cruelty

Cat cruelty happened in 1946. An alleged case of cat cruelty was reported in the Times of June 22nd 1946. The Times article is particularly interesting as it concerned an Oxford University professor and his wife.

A criminal action was commenced against Professor and Dr. Edward George Liddell a professor of physiology at Oxford University. He was summoned to appear at Oxford Magistrates Court (the first place you go to when you are charged with a crime).

He had been conducting experiments on cats. His premises had been inspected without notice by RSPCA inspectors and 34 cats had been found in very poor condition. Some were emaciated and some had distemper (29 of them). He said all were there to be tested upon. He was testing the drug Sulphamezathine, which he said was being used to treat the distemper. Sulphamezathine is an anti-infective agent used to treat people for a range of conditions. Sulphamezathine is a sulfonamide and one of the first antimicrobial drugs (the beginning of antibiotics). So the intention was to do some good but why was it necessary to cause such suffering to cats?

He must have been charged with cat cruelty. There are many thousands of cases of cat cruelty in organized medical experiments fully approved of by scientists and physicians. These are educated people who driven to success in their field abuse other creature including cats as cats have a similar anatomy to humans. Another case of scientists killing Safari cats in the cause of science can be seen if you click on the link.

Cat cruelty to Home page

  • Times Archive

Cat totem

cat totem
photo puroticorico

The Cat totem is one of many Native American Animal totems. These interest me because the attitude of Native Americans towards animals as demonstrated in their animal totems is the kind of attitude that could be adopted by many people around the world. The Native American attitude is more inclined to foster better relations with our fellow creatures. I think it important to try and improve out relationship with animals. There are many millions of people in the world who would seem to actively dislike animals. I don't understand why this should be the case.

An animal totem is a symbolic object that can be used by a person to his/her benefit. This "relationship" also benefits the animal concerned. The totem can be used to get in touch with the qualities of the animal concerned and which are needed by the person. It seems to me that the animal totem represents the animal guide. The right animal guide, for you, can change throughout your life as your life changes. Animal guides promote a connection with nature, which is something that modern humankind lacks and which it could be argued is very important to us to keep us grounded and balanced.

Each person has a natural affinity towards a certain animal or animals at a certain time. Mine is obviously the cat. I also have an affinity towards the big cats as they are both proud and very talented and yet at the same time very vulnerable in a human world. You can find yours by asking some basic questions such as which animals you are drawn to. This website tells you in some detail, how to find and connect with your animal guide.

The Cat totem encourages independence and agility in mind and body. This animal guide is resourceful. I have already learned from my cat totem. I have learned patience and persistence. The cat totem gives you courage and confidence. I find she gives me reassurance and calm too.

The cat is also associated with myth and magic. This is probably due to the secretive nature of the wild cats such as the Scottish Wildcat and for example the Cougar. They are very hard to see in the wild. Perhaps this is what makes them a target for hunters as people are frightened by animals they cannot see and which are strong and good hunters. It is this innate fear of some people of the wild cats that makes the cat vulnerable. These people would do well to change course completely and go in the opposite direction and connect with these animals and the fear should subside.

A cat's presence calms people and creates a balance. People who live with cats live longer and are less stressed. The cat totem is a very useful one but only one of many.

Cat totem to Home page

Sources: - this is the better in my opinion

Cat Health and Cancer

cat with cancer
photo by McBeth under a creative commons license (see below for caption)

As cats live longer there are more reports of cancer in cats. Cat Health and Cancer is becoming more of an issue for cat keepers. Although cancer is not confined to older cats.

The causes of some cancers are known but as we all know billions of dollars and pounds continues to be spent on research into the causes of cancer, so we simply do not know, in many cases, the causes of cancer.

The incidence of cancer in cats in the US is about one half that of dogs (src: and stands at between about 150 to 450 per 100,000 cats. There is a high incidence of soft tissue tumors (35-45%) . 70% of tumors are malignant. Cats over 5 years of age are most likely to get cancer.

Cat Health and Cancer - Types of Cancer

Cancer refers to malignant tumors. "Malignant" means bad and bad in this case means a harmful tumor that can invade and damage nearby tissue and worse (by traveling through the blood stream). A "tumor" is a growth of tissue that serves no function and which grows in an uncontrolled and progressive manner by multiplication of the cells in the tumor. Benign tumors are ones that do not spread to other parts of the body.

Here are some types of malignant tumor or cancer:

---Squamous cell carcinoma - skin cancer. The word "squamous" comes from squamous cells, which are thin flat cells found in the tissue that makes up the skins surface. These cells are also found in the passages of the respiratory tracts and the digestive tracts.

---Sarcomas - soft tissue cancers. Soft tissue means: muscle, fat, blood vessels, nerves, lining of joints and tendons.

---leukaemias - cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

---Lymphoma - tumor of the lymphoid tissue. "lymphoid tissue" means a part of your body that protects against infection and disease (the immune system).

Cat Health and Cancer - Treatment

The treatment of cancer in cats has advanced significantly. Whereas in the past euthanasia would have been recommended for an older cat, there are now many options open to the veterinarian, cat and cat keeper. Surgery is the most common treatment. Although this doesn't always provide a cure it can allow for better analysis, follow up treatment for the cancer that remains and further surgery.

Another treatment is radiation therapy. This takes the form of several sessions of treatment over a 3-5 week period. Cats tolerate radiation therapy well apparently. This form of treatment is not always available, however.

Chemotherapy is another form of treatment for cat cancer. Chemotherapy is given (as is the case for humans) in the form of injections and/or tablets. Cats tolerate this form of treatment better than humans. The side effects for chemotherapy are lowered production of white blood cells (from bone marrow), some hair loss but this is confined to whiskers and stomach and intestine irritation. (source: Animal Health Trust, AHT,

Cat Health and Cancer - Some Causes

As stated these are largely unknown and there are many overlapping causes including environmental, genetic, nutritional, trauma and hormonal. Only a few cat cancers have known causes. The following causes are fairly well established:

---FeLV (FLV) - Feline Leukemia Virus. This disease is associated with cancer of the blood and bone marrow. FeLV is a serious illness.

---FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) increases the chance of getting cancer of the lymph system (lymphoid malignancies). An example of a cancer of the lymph system is lymphosarcoma. This cancer occurs in young adults.

---Genetic predispositions. There is a higher incidence of intestinal cancer that starts in the glands (intestinal adenocarcinoma) in Siamese cats.

---White cats (all white) are predisposed to getting skin cancer due to the reduced pigmentation in the skin, which provides reduced protection against the Ultra Violet element of sunlight. Clearly the white cat living indoors and outdoors in a sunny and hot climate is most at risk and steps should be taken to protect the cat. The susceptible areas are ears, nose (the areas not covered by fur).

---Chemicals can be carcinogenic

---Certain food additives may be carcinogenic. Cat food (opens to a list of posts on this subject) is a bit of a minefield. It is very commercial and there is less control over its manufacture as it is for cats. There is no easy answer. Wet food is better than dry generally.

---Hormones play a role in the development of cancer. For example, spayed females suffer a lower incidence of mammary cancer.

---Routine cat vaccinations can cause cancer. The most common form of cancer resulting from cat vaccinations and which resulted in changes is Feline Fibrosarcoma.

What we can do

---Checks - Put simply I think our duty is to inspect our cats regularly. This need not be arduous as it can be done when brushing, grooming or stroking our cats. Early treatment is the best for cancers obviously. Look for bumps, lumps and non-healing areas and if found go straight to the vet.

---Vomiting or loss of appetite for a day or more should be acted upon. This may be due to a cancer in the digestive system.

---Passive smoking - Cats like humans can contract cancer from passive smoking. It may be worse for a cat as the poisonous particles in cigarette smoke that kills people can sit on the cat's fur and skin where it will be licked of and ingested. This can lead to irritable bowel disease and possibly cancer.

---White cats - are more susceptible to skin cancer as mentioned. They should be kept in or under cover during periods of sunny weather and/or in the middle of the day when the sun is at its most fierce.

---Mouth face- swelling in the lips, jaw, neck, nose and mouth should be easy to see and acted upon quickly. The picture opposite is of course heartbreaking. This can must have been feral (taken in 2005 by sillydog) as it would have been spotted much earlier>>>>>>>>>>>>

---Respiratory system - Once again it should be obvious if our cat has a breathing problem and/or is coughing a lot or abnormally. I guess it is a bout being vigilant or simply aware of our cats needs etc.

---Desex - Spaying and neutering has many benefits to the domestic cat (although we are aware of the sad necessity of this procedure) one of which is to reduce the chance of contracting reproductive tract cancer.

---Inflammatory Bowl disease - this can lead to cancer of the gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms of bowl disease are diarrhea and vomiting. This should be obvious.

This list is not complete or comprehensive. It should go without saying that there is no substitute to seeing a veterinarian. This post is simply an overview by a concerned cat keeper.

Cat Health and Cancer to Home page

Photos (all published under a creative commons license -thank you all):

---Heading the post:
This cat is called Fartamus by his keeper (the photographer). He developed a mast cell sarcoma. You can see it on the nose just to the left of his eye. The picture was taken in September of 2004. I hope the surgery proved successful. Thanks to McBeth for the license to publish the photo.

---Photo of white cat 1st down - this cat has no ears due to surgery to remove them as they were cancerous. He is a great cat. This is one of the beauties of cats, they are uncomplaining and patient. Photo by teddybear.crafts aka Mike

---Photo of white cat 2nd down - the photographer refers to the ears of this cat as possible signs of skin cancer. photo by nz lawyer.

Cat Health and Cancer - Sources:
  • Wikipedia
  • Medical sites (for definitions)
  • Animal Health Trust
  • Your Cat by Dr. Hodgkins

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Florida Cougar

Florida Cougar Puma Panther
Florida Cougar - See credit below


A report on the Florida Cougar, by well qualified scientists (4) was published in 2003, which is now available for all to see. The report was designed to review all previous reporting on the Florida Cougar (called the Panther in the report). This was required due to complaints about previous reporting, which painted, it was felt, an inaccurate picture. It would seem that there is a lot of pressure from commerce and particularly land developers in Florida, which may have resulted in skewed reports being completed, which allowed (or by implication potentially allowed) development of certain areas within the range occupied by the Cougars.

It is the ever present battle between businesses (who by their nature have a lower than usual concern for nature and the environment) and people who think that quality of life including the lives of fellow creatures is important. It could be argued that quality of life is becoming a more pressing issue as the development of economies in 2008 still by and large takes precedent over the environment. Mankind often makes corrections too late, when if is harder to change course. This appears to the case with the Florida Cougar and many other wild species including the Bengal tiger, White Siberian Tiger and in the no too distant future the Cougar.

This post is an attempt to summarize, in laypersons language, some of the major issues. It is not meant to cover all the issues but simply bring to the notice of some people some of the factors that concern the preservation of this critically endangered wild cat.

Outline on Florida Cougar

Although the Florida Panther is still listed in reports as a sub-species of Cougar it seems that it is now considered to be the same species as the North American Cougar. Click on this link if you'd like to read more about the wild Cougar of North American.

Florida is a peninsula and therefore almost an island. A actually island that has a population of Cougar is Vancouver Island, Canada. The Florida Cougar is the only Cougar as far as is known living east of the Mississippi in America.

Within Florida this animal's s range includes the Everglades National Park, the Big Cypress National Preserve and the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.

The report

Having read the meat of the above mentioned report it seems to me that the findings were in broad terms as follows:

1. People do not know enough about the Florida Cougar, which makes decision making difficult. Not enough data has been collected in respect of the Florida Cougar and some that has been collected is based on selective data (perhaps to fit a goal). For example there is inadequate information (not reliable enough) about the numbers and the density of Florida Cougar. This seems like fairly basic stuff and indicates the shortage of information in other areas of research. One problem no doubt is the secretive nature of the Cougar but one would have thought in 2008 a reliable method could be found to measure numbers. The problem no doubt is one of desire and this may be due to pressure from local business. In truth the Cougar has been corralled into a human environment over time and it is going to be extremely difficult to make the relationship between human and Cougar work in Florida. Already the range is far too small for the Florida Cougar, which implies that action to protect this animal in this area is too late.

2. The report recommended a vigorous approach to assess the reintroduction of the Florida Panthers into at least one other area outside of South Florida. I presume (and please correct me if I am wrong) this is due to the range in Florida being too small to sustain the Cougar. When an area is too small for a wild animal you are likely (or certain?) to get inbreeding, which will lessen the chances of survival of the animal.

3. The report concluded that there has been inbreeding in the Florida Panther (the Cheetah is also inbred and captive big cats such as the White Siberian tiger is grossly inbred causing physical and mental abnormalities which are kept away from the public). They concluded that the loss of variability (loss of genetic variability) occurred from 1890-1990 a period of 100 years.

It had been suggested that this was due to the fact that the Florida Cougar lived on a peninsula but the report writers said that the Cougars of Vancouver Island in Canada were far more genetically diverse notwithstanding a poorer environment vis a vis prey.

Due to inbreeding the condition "Cryptorchidism" (the absence of one or both testes from the scrotum) had gone up by a factor of 400% over the period 1970–1992.

They concluded that the reason for "genetic erosion" was because of (a) human activity (recent anthropogenic isolation) before 1995 and (b) reduction in the Cougar (P. c. coryi) population.

4. There was a shortage of data about the Cougar's prey and therefore they could not be sure that sport (recreational) hunting had an impact on "Panther fitness" but it probably had little impact.

5. Earlier reports about the preferred habitat of the Florida Cougar had been misleading despite those reports being carried out objectively (this last point was stressed). The report's authors concluded that an earlier report stating that 96% (almost all) of the Florida Cougar's territory was no more than 90 meters from forest patches was incorrect and there was no information to support that finding. This earlier finding was used as a standard for decision making in respect of building developments and in lessening the impact on the Florida Cougar.

My personal conclusions (I am a complete layperson)

The situation regarding the Florida Cougar is a precursor for what is to come in other parts of the USA with respect to the Cougar and of course endangered wild life generally. It is only a matter of time (perhaps 30 years or more) for the same things to happen in other areas of the USA which are going through a substantial human population growth. To look into the future one only has to look at other countries that are more heavily populated such as Bangladesh (the major home of the Bengal tiger, which is heading towards extinction in the wild).

I am personally pessimistic about the situation for the Cougar in Florida. In truth it seems that this animal is already living in a human world and in, therefore, a kind of extended reserve, compound or zoo and this can only get worse no matter how many enlightened reports are written by experts.

Ultimately it is the politicians who act on the reports and they have to read and understand them. They are invariably pressured by voters and in turn by business. Until now business has always won when it comes to the big decisions.

Florida Cougar to Home Page


An Analysis of Scientific Literature Related to the Florida Panther 2003, Paul Beier, Michael R.Vaughan, Michael J. Conroy, Howard Quigley, (December 2003)

Published under Wikimedia Commons which in turn used this photo as it is in the public domain because it is a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.

Featured Post

i hate cats

i hate cats, no i hate f**k**g cats is what some people say when they dislike cats. But they nearly always don't explain why. It appe...

Popular posts