Saturday 11 July 2009

Cat Rescue Groups

As at the date of this posting, the continuing economic depression has hurt the domestic cat (and, incidentally, the wildcat). This can be gauged by the reactions of the cat rescue groups. This is an updating post on what is happening on the ground during the recession which is bottoming out at the time of the post.

Texas Maine Coon Cat Rescue

I am a friend of one of the organisers of Texas Maine Coon Cat rescue, Christie Montgomery. Pictures of Cats org has donated to the charity, a genuine no-kill cat rescue. This is what Christie says about the recession (this rescue organisation rescues all breeds and moggies by the way):

Unfortunately Michael, the economy has wreaked havoc on all rescues. It is a huge factor. Our rescue group normally does not rescue kittens because they always find homes. We have had to take in 19 kittens & their Moms in the last couple weeks to relieve our overwhelmed shelter. They needed cage space so they would not have to euthanize.

We are a non-kill rescue group. I volunteer time & medicine & pull cats from two local shelters & have never seen them so full. Today, I was contacted by a shelter in IN. & one in TN. for help; I am in TX. The other factor are the "owner surrenders". They have tripled. I cannot keep up with the e-mails & phone calls with requests for help with their pets. We also receive calls asking us to take cats thrown outside when their owners have moved or become homeless.

Our group receives recommendations for people to contact us from Vets, shelters, other rescue groups, etc. This situation is frustrating & very depressing realizing we cannot help them all. We do what we can as is everyone else.

Our shelter workers are trained to ask why someone is surrendering their pet. However, beyond that, they cannot ask if they have cut expenses or anything else to try to keep their pet. For the most part it is people who have lost their job & sometimes their home. Some have children. Some are moving where they cannot take a pet. This is the worst I have seen rescue in quite a few years.

Christie is highly committed and finds a way to make things work, however, Here is a series or reports from around the country in the USA :

rescue cat

Canyon County Pet Haven,

This animal shelter in Nampa, Idaho, USA, is full to capacity because of the economy and what they call the “kitten season” (they refer to the fact that at this time of year there is a rise in the number of new kittens – this must mean unneutered cats left to mate without any controls from people).

It also seems that for this shelter the rise in the number of cats that are at the rescue centre is because of a failure to adopt because of the economic conditions. The shelter is at 4 times its capacity at 280 animals.

Volunteer Humane Society

This is based in Lancaster, Massachusetts, USA and is in its 35th year, well done.


According to a story in the Wicked Local ( there has been an increase from 18-20 calls per week in past years to 30-40 per week currently (see chart). Although in 2008 there was a decrease from the years 2006 and 2007.

The shelter says there is better networking between shelters than previously.

Mid Michigan Cat Rescue

According to the website, Sarah Vicary of the Mid-Michigan Cat Rescue (new window) in Grand Ledged says that . “….the poor economy triggered a 25 percent decline in cat adoptions over the last year.”

Marin Humane Society

This rescue organisation has a slightly different story to tell. This may be because it is bigger and in a recession, like all businesses the bigger and better known organisations fair better or in this case it may be due to Marin County being an affluent area leading to better funding. In any case they have opened a new centre to accommodate a growing demand for adoptions has not been upset by the economy. Although the spokeswoman Carrie Harrington acknowledged the effects of the economy.

Like other shelters that take cats from other rescue organisations. This may account in part for the rise in adoptions. It would seem that this society are better funded than most as mentioned allowing them to grow with and absorb the increased number of rescue cats.

Location of Marin Humane Society


There is no doubt that the weak economy has impacted the majority of rescue organisations. There would seem to be a greater number of cats needing rescuing and a lower take up of adoptions plus less funding but it is not all bad news. The rescue organisations find ways to manage. This is through commitment. Rescue people are highly committed.

Cat Rescue Groups - Photo of rescued kitten: Photographer (by Roy Montgomery) says that a litter of kittens were rescued by her daughter from under a trailer with severe mange and fleas. They all recovered and were adopted by a no-kill shelter. Fantastic. Published under Attribution 2.0 Generic creative commons license.

Friday 10 July 2009

Beverly Hills Can Lead on Feral Cat Problem

The Beverly Hills Council can lead on the feral cat problem by showing an enlightened and humane approach in dealing with its feral cats. This ray of light and opportunity has come out of a misguided criminal prosecution by them against a decent and caring lady who was, in effect, doing Council’s work for them for free and against the ill-conceived objections of some unenlightened local people. She was being criminalised for allegedly feeding feral cats.

The matter concerns the now well know Katherine Varjian, 65, who has been feeding, trapping and neutering feral cats behind the 100-200 blocks of Palm, Maple and Oakhurst Drives in Beverly Hills.

Map picture

She was prosecuted for feeding feral cats under an ordinance (5-2-104, subdivision B and C) that the Council inadvertently deleted mid-prosecution, it seems, after the City adopted Los Angeles’ ordinance. That mistake (was it a mistake) presented the opportunity to air the whole thing.

It presented the opportunity for the majority of people to demonstrate that they are against this now deleted ordinance. That the City’s desire to reinstate the ordinance is wrong and that the wider issues should be dealt with at Council level. In short a time has come when Beverly Hills can lead on the feral cat problem in recognising that it is pointless and immoral to prosecute a good lady who is doing their work and that feral cats exist because of the irresponsible behaviour of people. Why then punish and euthanize the cat who is only trying to survive in a hostile world created by people?

As I read the situation the prosecution is on hold while the Council work with local cat rescue experts to devise a proper plan that works with the community including the people who have complained about Katherine Varjian. We can all understand their complaint. For some people feral cats are just vermin and part of the TNR process is feeding the cats. Opponents to Katherine Varjian’s work say that this attracts coyotes and other animals perceived by some as pests. This, in turn, is a public health issue. On the face of it these are fair arguments but they are misguided and don’t address the wider and far more important issues.

And it is now becoming clear that there is a need to address the wider issue. To stand back and think much more widely and accept that we need to live in harmony with the feral cat while dealing with it in a humane manner; not to wage war on it. In Australia they have a kind of phobia about the feral cat and allow it to be shot on sight in New South Wales (imagine that!). Killing feral cats doesn’t solve the “feral cat problem”. It is generally accepted, despite the time and effort (and cost) involved that trap, neuter and return (TNR) is the best method for both parties (human and cat).

Let us see whether Beverly Hills can lead on the feral cat problem and create ordinances that incorporates TNR into the legal framework of the city. This might lay down a marker for others to follow. And if that happened the Council members could be proud that they did the right thing. The Katherine Varjian case is a crystallisation of the polarized and disjointed approach of local authorities and legislators to this ongoing problem. The issues are in fact even wider than dealing with feral cats as these animals are the product of our behaviour.

The wider issue is us and how we behave. A huge thanks should go to Tina Varjian, Katherine’s daughter who is fighting the good fight. And this is a ultimately a battle between good and bad, right and wrong. Doing the right thing is harder and more expensive but it must be done. One last point: the criminal prosecution of Katherine Varjian should not proceed both on the basis that law under which is was brought does not exist and for the reason that it is not in the public’s interest.

Thursday 9 July 2009

Cat Owners Rely on their Veterinarian

You know, I don’t think that cat owners can rely on their veterinarian all the time and on every cat health problem. And we should be able to. And I am talking about American veterinarians primarily but similar principles apply to other countries.

veterinarian office

I think that the problem of not being able to totally rely on on our vet in America is because money, the making of it, is more of a concern for vets in America than in other countries. That is based on the fact that America is the richest nation, has a vast amount of debt and is heavily consumer orientated.

And the making of money is the biggest compromiser of all. It creates a massive conflict of interest that invariably colours sound judgment that should be wholly focused on one thing: what is best for the cat. Not what is best for the cat and does that make enough money for me.

If all veterinarians were paid by the state on a flat fee basis (a utopian situation possibly) treatment would be better – or would it?. The making of money colours judgments. This is compounded by the fact that cats cannot voice their own opinions. They have no opinions. But they do feel their illness. They are dependent ultimately on the standard of care provided by their “owner” in consultation with their veterinarian who as I have said cannot always be relied upon to provide objective advice.

I make this rather provocative statement on the basis of two areas of treatment, namely cat declawing and cat vaccinations. Both are wonderful sources of revenue for veterinarians in the United States. I think it is fair to say that there is a massively excessive amount of declawing of cats in the USA all of which is in flagrant violation of the ethical principles of a veterinarian and of his oath. I discuss this in detail on this page: American Vets are Unethical Towards the Cat (new window). I also feel that the act of declawing and the large number of full-time indoor cat in the USA are linked. Each follows the other. Indoor cats have more opportunity to destroy furniture and declawing allows cats to be full-time indoor cats. The percentage of indoor cats and declawed of cats is by far the highest in America.

There is the other bread and butter treatment so well exploited by some (not all of course, please note) veterinarians, namely cat vaccinations. The situation regarding vaccinations in confusing for cat owners. It shouldn’t be. It is confusing because a large number of vets recommend or perhaps sometimes insist that people bring in their cat for that routine yearly booster shot. It becomes a way of life. We, the public start thinking that it is normal. We do it for our cat despite the cost. But, wait a minute! When did people have yearly booster vaccinations? Never. There should be no reason why, in my opinion, cats should be different.

It seems that the veterinary associations are slow to produce recommendations that undermine the income of their members. That is understandable but if the procedure is carried out unnecessarily, it is carried out more frequently and the risk of a negative side effect from the vaccination is increased. I would argue that an increased risk of say cancer from a vaccination injection without benefit is an assault on the cat, a breach of the veterinarians oath and a violation of the code of ethics as laid down by the vets governing association. In some countries it could be a crime. Certainly declawing a cat is a crime in the UK and it has happened 20 million times in the USA. That would put a hell of a lot of vets in prison!

So, what am I saying? If veterinarians can make subjectively based medical judgements biased by financial profit they cannot be seen to be reliable. So, I don’t think cat owners can rely in their veterinarian. See also Cat Vaccination Recommendations (new window) for further reading.

From Cat Owners Rely on their Veterinarian to Cat Health Problems

Wednesday 8 July 2009

American Vets are Unethical Towards the Cat

I am convinced that a large number (not all, please note) of American vets are unethical towards the cat and as a consequence they are in breach of the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics of the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) and their oath, if they are members of that association.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), established in 1863, is a not-for-profit association representing more than 78,000 veterinarians….
The veterinarian’s oath under the AVMA is:
Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.
I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.
I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.
Selected clause of the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics:
  1. Veterinarians should first consider the needs of the patient: to relieve disease, suffering, or disability while minimizing pain or fear. (comment: this is a basic principle and is right at the top of the document. It goes to the core of everything the vet does in his or her practice. The patient is the cat in this instance)
American vets are unethical towards the cat - Please Note: I have reproduced the above verbatim for accuracy and I justify this under fair use as they are extracts of a large document and it is in the public’s interest and the companion cat’s interest to have this discussion.
American vets are unethical towards the cat – Note: If anyone wants to use this article and is brave enough to do so! - I hereby license its use under creative commons. Please place this near the article if reusing it (including the links):

Creative Commons License
American Vets are Unethical Towards the Cat by Michael is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. It is based on work of my own. The license applies world wide.

Also Please Note: I like America and Americans but strongly dislike the culture of declawing. It is not found anywhere else. Everything that I say or do in relation to the cat is on the basis of treating the cat as I would a person, with respect. Declawing is highly disrepectful of our cat companions.

Accusing a vet of being unethical is strong language, I know, but declawing cats on the whim of a cat “owner” who wants to protect furniture is an assault on the cat. Under these particular circumstances, it is deliberately inflicting a physical and possibly psychological injury on the cat. It is detrimental to the cat, a violation of a vet’s oath and a violation of the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics.

In fact, the president of the AVMA seems to agree with me! If that it the case what are they doing about it? The rules should be enforced more strictly and tightened up. She wants the law to prevent it when she can prevent it in changing the code of conduct of veterinarians.

In the UK a vet doing that on a consistent basis would, in my view be struck off and prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. He or she would probably be convicted and punished to a jail term not exceeding 51 weeks and/or a fine not exceeding £20,000 ($32,302 USD). His career would be ruined.

Yet in the United States of America, where they are proud to uphold basic human rights (but not the rights of cats, it seems) highly qualified and intelligent veterinarians have criminally assaulted, by European standards, at least 20 million cats. As there is almost no declawing in the UK, despite being allowed on medical grounds, I can only presume that 99.9% of that 20m are for the personal reasons of the person keeping the cat or the landlord renting out his flats (apartments).

American vets are unethical towards the cat – Note: I realise that some people use the argument that declawing saves the lives of cats as it means they can be kept by people living in apartments where the lease forbids it. I don’t go along with that argument. These people should not keep cats at all if the lease forbids it or seek a lease that does etc. It is this kind of self serving mentality that results in unwanted rescue cats that are put down in the millions in the USA.

If it is to be done appropriately the operation to declaw a cat should cost about 600 dollars but may increase up to 800 dollars if done using lasers, but it is worth it, says a well known vet tech (Asker) who contributes to Yahoo Answers. There is also a lot of pain treatment after the operation and “arthritis develops early in these cats and life long supplementation helps keep them comfortable and less stressed” (Asker – vet tech). This all equates to big money (total: $12,000,000,000 (USD) at today’s prices – I think this is 12 billion US dollars) for vets and it is money that drives some vets (a far too large a percentage, I allege) to carry out this operation in defiance of their code of conduct and their oath and also against the best interests of the cat (but in the interests of an ill advised human client).
There is an acute conflict of interest in the US veterinary profession: money –v- ethics. In the USA and elsewhere vets have, over recent years, strived to be treated as the equal of doctors. They started to call themselves doctors. This is a newish concept. If they want the status of doctors they should act like doctors and treat cats in the same way doctors treat people. Cats have no voice and cannot decide for themselves. That places a greater responsibility on the vet towards the cat. And it also places a great responsibility on the vet to explain all the facts to the person who keeps the cat. What the vet says to the cat keeper is the make or break moment as to whether the operation takes place or not. The cat keeper is in the hands of the vet at that moment. The vets words are critical and must comply with the ethical principles and oath.

Only on rare medical grounds should the operation be carried out. You know, there is quite a lot of denial in the veterinarian profession about cat declawing. There is a kind of manipulative management going on in some vet’s practices (I allege) that coerces vet techs and other employees to participate in the process of cat declawing against their better judgment (see the Psychology of Declawing).

The form below is, by the way, completely confidential. I have no idea who is voting. You can see the spreadsheet that stores the votes here: Results

In the UK (a country that is culturally close to and similar to the USA), the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which criminalises cat declawing, made no difference to the act of declawing because it simply hardly ever happened before. It is just not part of the culture and I think this comes to a very large part from the veterinarians. It can’t be the case that British people are more ethical generally that American people. It comes down to being trained and guided by the “experts” (the vets). In many ways they guide us in respect of how to treat our cats and they indirectly police us and dictate how we treat our cats.
“The procedure was considered cruel by almost all British vets, who refused to perform it except on medical grounds. The Guide to Professional Conduct of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons stated that declawing was "only acceptable where, in the opinion of the veterinary surgeon, injury to the animal is likely to occur during normal activity. It is not acceptable if carried out for the convenience of the owner ... the removal of claws, particularly those which are weight bearing, to preclude damage to furnishings is not acceptable."…(Wikipedia author)
As can been seen, the code of practice of vets in the UK is very explicit on this subject. What is happening in the United States? It would seem to me that the American Veterinary Medical Association, which is no doubt run by veterinarians is complicit in this cruelty and in fact condone it (as I understand it they permit it when there is destructive use of claws - this will always happen so it is a full approval but using what I call "weasel" words, words dressed up to sound like the veterinarian is doing the operation for a good reason) . In fact they must allow it as otherwise they would have taken steps to better manage what is a blot on the profession in the United States.

The surgery is basically an American “thing”. And it is an American thing because Americans are very driven by financial profit. It is why they are the richest nation in the world. What has happened is that self interest has got the better of American vets. But as mentioned their actions have, over time, coloured and altered the culture and opinions of a large number of ordinary Americans into believing that declawing is alright and acceptable when it clearly is not as it is in breach of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s code of conduct (when carried out for the personal and non-medical reasons of the cat keeper). That said, incidentally, polls in America (e.g. strongly indicate that the majority of people are against declawing of cats.

It is considered inhumane and is illegal in many countries: England, Scotland, Wales, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Portugal, Belgium, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Yugoslavia and Japan (src: Yahoo answers).

America is out of step with the world on declawing and it is in the hands of the directors and managers of the veterinarian associations to change an entirely distorted culture that is deeply ingrained in a substantial percentage of the American people.
American vets are unethical towards the cat - See also:
Michael Avatar

Update: Babz made a comment and left a link for a petition. This is the link: Declawing Petition (new page).

From American vets are unethical towards the cat to Home Page

Monday 6 July 2009

National Tiger Conservation Authority

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has a website that is entitled Project Tiger (new page). The reason why I visited it was because I noticed a press release (not from the NTCA website) that said a drastic change in method was to be employed by the NTCA in its management of 11 tiger reserves of India. All the reserves combined cover an area of 37,761 Km².

The embarrassment of losing all the tigers of the most prestigious reserve at Sariska-Panna to poaching (this is now more or less accepted as being the cause of the loss) and the further embarrassment of introducing breeding tigers that are related (this is yet to be confirmed for one of the tigers, a male, but it looks likely) and which are unfit for breeding has caused what is being described as a knee jerk reaction in deciding to coral the remaining tigers in 11 reserves to protect them and force them to breed.

As few as 5-15 tigers are in each of these reserves. This seems an impossibly low figure. How do they prevent inbreeding with resultant genetic defects and poor sperm quality? (See cat inbreeding means poor sperm quality). I guess they ship fresh stock in but it with such low populations in all these reserves is this viable.

The plan was forced on the National Tiger Conservation Authority. But it seems to me, a layperson, that at a certain point in time the cause is almost lost and that moment would seem to be fast approaching.

The press release page on the National Tiger Conservation Authority’s website is dated August 5th 2005. No that is not a typo. It is 2005 almost 4 years ago. Not much happening then! I was expecting to see a press release about this latest project but nothing on the website. The news came from

A toxic mix of the following is admitted on the NTCA website to be causing tiger losses:

  • human population growth
  • poor management – Sariska: breakdown in internal park management and a faulty system to count the tigers! And breakdown in the relationship between villagers on the reserve and management of the reserve.
  • habitat destruction on the reserves - mining
  • no or little protection for the tiger
  • despite CITES classification tigers are poached almost to order it seems, with some people thinking the wardens are involved. Tiger bone gets a mention on the website. As at 2003 (I believe) trade in tiger body parts was increasing particularly bones. The price: 10 grams for US$ 24.5 at the China/Vietnam border. The NTCA site says that trade in tiger body parts was permitted in Japan until 4-2000. They admit to difficulties in controlling illicit trade. This can probably be translated to mean very little enforcement of CITES exists.
  • a lack of vigour in relocating people on the reserves to avoid human/tiger conflict. Over 30 years, only 80+ villages have been relocated from all the 28 reserves. 1,500 remain inside the reserves and 250 of them are in core areas of tiger reserves.
  • tiger persecuted on a number of levels

Really, I am sorry to say that the National Tiger Conservation Authority’s website looks as lifeless as the body of the poached tigers. I suspect very little or nothing has happened on the site for years. Even large parts of the navigation bar do not work. This is indicative of the general malaise surrounding the management of the Bengal tiger I feel and I am sorry to sound critical but it is so sad and depressing.

The website should be much more active. If someone asked me I’d do the work!! – for free, of course.

From National Tiger Conservation Authority to Wild Cat Species

See also Bengal tiger facts

Chihuahuas vs Cougar Story is Pathetic

This is a story of small dogs frightening off a cougar in Los Angeles. The video is below.

The shame of the Chihuahuas vs Cougar story, though. People are pathetic! This story has thrown up a ton of idiotic comment. First, however, I do not see anyone other than one website mention the fact that this cougar was shot after this event, which has caused laughter and hilarity! First, they shot three tranquillisers into the cat then they shot it.

“Authorities confirm officers with the Department of Fish and Game were forced to shoot and kill the animal. They had hoped to return it to the wild.” (src:,0,224308.story) new page – link provided in thanks for verbatim quote.

Shot, after this poor cat was frightened off by three tiny dogs! What the hell are Americans doing? Why are people we so frightened of this cat! Americans are far too trigger happy. Is it because they thought the cat was rabid (had caught rabies)? There is no evidence of that as far as I can tell.

The event took place in Los Angeles, California, I believe. It is the only state where cougar hunting is banned. And to compound the sorry state of this story there is a horrible hunting website ( that makes gross misrepresentations about the cougar. They would do this because they are into killing this animal. They like killing beautiful animals, I guess.

First they refer to “California's cougar troubles”. What the heck are those? It is you who are the trouble and people like you. They then make a gross misrepresentation and say that the “California's mountain lion population immediately began dining on said voters.” (meaning that the people who voted for a ban on hunting the cougar are now being attacked and killed by the cougar after the ban).

There have been 14 attacks (few resulting in death) on people (mainly unsupervised children) in 117 years in California! - see Mountain Lion Attacks in California for full details). The car kills many thousands of times more (people are 2,000 times more likely to be killed by a car). The domestic dog kills many many more (10 times more likely). The deer kills many more. And yet this idiotic web site author says this. Total bias and totally wrong morally and ethically. I suppose, though, it is to be expected of the hunting and shooting lobby. If you like to shoot innocent animals for pleasure you have got to be the type who behaves like this.

And you might know, a lot of people in America (not all, please note) are far more interested in the older women called a “cougar” than the cat called a cougar. On researching this I would say that out of 100 people searching for information about the cougar on the internet, 85 are searching for the cougar women, 17 are searching for the cougar car and the remainder are searching for the cougar cat (src: keyword search using SBI).

This pretty much explains all of the cougar “problems” from the cougar’s standpoint. A lot of people in America (not all, of course but it seems the majority) generally just don’t care and are more interested in sex, consumerism and food. They are chasing pleasure and getting into debt and missing the real things.

Pet Cougar

Is there anything wrong is keeping a pet cougar? I ask this because I have just read an article on the website, by an obviously caring and decent women (the video below is unconnected to this woman). She extols the benefits of keeping cougars as pets. Her relationship with her female cougar is very special she says. And I believe her absolutely. She lives with a 70 lb female cougar. This lady also has a tiger, Canadian Lynx, Caracal, and a few Servals. It is a kind of mini zoo. I don't know what the facilities are like. This lady endorses and promotes the relationship that can be formed between wildcat or domestic cat and person. I can empathize with that. It can be as special as she says. It is different to a person to person relationship but as good - no doubt about it. Often it is better, more reliable and more consistent because our cat companions are often more reliable and more consistent than human partners.

Well, if not that they are more predictable and don't argue back. And it would seem that with tamed wild cats the bond between cat and person can be stronger than that between domestic cat and person. I am not sure why that is; probably because the cat is more intelligent and active, which makes the relationship more intense. Wild cats or wild cat hybrids are considered more intelligent than pure domestic cats because the demands of survival in the wild are higher than when the cat is domesticated, which trains the brain to think better.

Her article is called "The Last Pet Cougar". The title refers to the gradual introduction of legislation prohibiting the keeping of exotic pets. In Florida, for example, there is talk of expanding the list of Class I wildlife to prohibiting the personal possession of cougars and cheetahs. Class I species, in Florida, (in relation to cats) are currently (src:

  • Snow leopards (Panthera uncia)
  • Leopards (Panthera pardus)
  • Jaguars (Panthera onca)
  • Tigers (Panthera tigris)
  • Lions (Panthera leo)

People are very divided on the “ownership” of exotic cats by which I mean wild cats. It all depends on your view of the world and our place in it. There are pros and cons but it is nearly always the case that we measure the pros in reference to the benefits to us and rarely see cons in relation to wild cats generally. Our view can often be narrow and based on serving self interest.

If our ideal objective is to live in harmony on this planet with wildlife and to respect all wildlife in meeting that objective then keeping a pet cougar is not good, I suggest. This point of view is the pure animal lover point of view, some people call it the animal extremists point of view. This point of view allows animals to live naturally as they were intended in the kind of habitat and space that is suited to them without the interference of people other than to admire and observe. To meet that purest of objectives would require a complete change in attitude by billions of people.

Keeping a pet cougar does not meet this objective. The cougar is not adapted to living in a cage or confined spaces (and for a cougar, pretty much all we can provide equates to confinement). It is not meant to be domesticated. Although it could be argued that we domesticated the small wild cat 9,000 years ago so why not domesticate the big cats too! The life of a pet cougar is not only bad for the cougar (arguably) but is also bad for his or her fellow cougars that are left in the wild. This is because keeping pet cougars encourages the capture and sale of big cats. And lots of people in America search for “exotic big cats for sale”. Keeping a pet cougar encourages abuse of the cougar and is a selfish act. This statement is underpinned by how the lady (mentioned above) talks about her cougar. She refers to “ownership” of the cougar. The word is used without a second thought. This is a person who cares deeply about her cougar companion but she owns it.

It is perhaps wrong to be critical because a lot of good is being done in keeping a pet cougar in the way that she is, but at the bottom line it is wrong, in my view, and millions of Americans will disagree with that and not even understand it. But the concept of ownership of a wild cat indicates that the relationship is one sided, that the relationship is for our benefit and that there is a disregard for the bigger and wider issues; how to live in harmony with the wild cats.

Wild cats are, in a general sense, persecuted by people through human activity causing habitat loss and, in the case of the cougar by sport hunting. The gruesome sport hunting of cougar is still allowed in the USA and it is done with dogs! How barbaric is that? It is shocking in the 21st century that this is sanctioned by the state. It is an activity that is the ultimate expression of people serving their inner base instincts to the ultimate detriment of the cougar, whose population is declining and will continue to decline. The cougar is being used to destruction for the pleasure of a few people driven by prehistoric emotions. And it is big business. Suppliers feed on that basic emotion (to hunt, which was once about survival). Rarely do women hunt. It is the preserve of men who are playing out what is hard wired from eons gone by; to hunt and gather. Only we have moved on and they don’t realise it.

Generally speaking wild cats are gradually heading towards extinction despite the fact that the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (Red List) classifies the cougar as Least Concern (see below). We should, I argue be thinking of these things if we really love the cougar and want to live with one. In short if we want to live with a cougar because we like the idea of a close relationship with one, we should resist the temptation of adopting (buying) one and work on the bigger cause of protecting the cougar in the wild.

Buying a pet cougar encourages the business of trade in exotic cats. That can only be detrimental to wild cats. Keeping a pet cougar encourages trade in other wildlife. Keeping (no, “owing”) a pet cougar encourages less responsible people to do the same thing to the further detriment of the cougar (that they are keeping) and cougars generally (and themselves, I suspect). Keeping a pet cougar sends out a signal that it is OK to do this and therefore OK to ignore the wider issues. It is a process that does not turn back the gradual drift towards extinction of the wildcats but silently and almost invisibly encourages all that is wrong with our relationship with the wild cats. And it is the people, like this lady, who contribute to what they no doubt hate.

A final word about the concept propagated by the Red List people. They say the cougar is of Least Concern because “it is a widespread species”.

Least Concern (LC) is an IUCN category assigned to extant species or lower taxa which have been evaluated but do not qualify for any other category. As such they do not qualify as threatened, nor Near Threatened, nor (prior to 2001) Conservation Dependent. Many common species such as the Rock Pigeon, Human Human, Common Juniper, the Snail Kite and Sacred Kingfisher are assigned the Least Concern category.

Species cannot be assigned the Least Concern category unless they have had their population status evaluated. That is, adequate information is needed to make a direct, or indirect, assessment of its risk of extinction based on its distribution and/or population status…Wikipedia.

How can the cougar be of least concern when the Red List say that is has been destroyed from large tracts of habitat and its population is declining? I personally don’t get it. But I do know that this assessment encourages the business of sport hunting and I wonder if there something going on there. Is business affecting the classification of the cougar by the Red List people by providing inaccurate data on population size?

If we look at the cougar over a long period of time meaning look into the past for thousands of years and then project into the future for thousands of years we can only draw the conclusion that the cougar is endangered in respect of likelihood of extinction in the wild. Keeping a pet cougar furthers that process.

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Saturday 4 July 2009

Conspiracy to Eradicate the Florida Panther

florida panther This is fanciful, maybe. Extreme and ridiculous possibly, but could there be a conspiracy to eradicate the Florida panther to make way for that holy grail of business profit, property development?

The Florida panther AKA Florida cougar or just plain old mountain lion (as it is not a sub species) stands firmly in the path of economic progress and has done so throughout its entire existence. And there is circumstantial evidence that supports the supposition that there is a conspiracy to eradicate the Florida panther.

Take the recent killing of a young breeding female, for instance. The story was released in about 11th June 2009 but the shooting took place in April 2009. The female was about to breed precious new cougars. There are less than one hundred so each one counts and this one loss represents 2% of all Florida panther females. The police seem to be taking it seriously but have made little progress. The shooting happened in Hendry County, very close to the Big Cypress National Preserve –see below:

Map picture

The Florida panther is Florida’s official state animal and shooting it has been illegal since 1958. Despite that people still shoot it (8 have been shot, 6 fatally). But there have been only two prosecutions and of those two the most severe sentence was probation!
As development pressure grows the pressure to get rid of the cougar grows too. There is circumstantial evidence that points to the fact that this latest killing may be a “contract killing”. Circumstantial evidence of the hidden war against the cougar is:
  1. the massively flawed reports on conservation that were produced over a long period of time and which skewed decisions by the authorities to allow development on cougar habitat
  2. the appointment, recently, of Sam Hamilton as the head of the South-eastern Region of the FWS. He has a relatively poor track record of enforcing the Endangered Species Act 1973 and seems to make decisions that favour commercial development
  3. a large percentage of scientists at the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) claimed to be pressured into modifying reports to favour business development.
  4. the continued development of protected habitat in Florida (see more on the above here: Florida Panther)
  5. in respect of this last shooting the cat did not wear a radio collar so tracking the last steps is impossible (comment: with under 1oo to care for I would have thought each one would wear a collar or was it wearing one and was it was removed?)
  6. wildlife officials (managed ultimately by Sam Hamilton, the head) won’t release any details – I thought they are a public body serving the public under which transparency would or should be obligatory.
chart showing Florida panthers killed in 2009

If it is not the bullet it is the car – see chart above (src: Probably the biggest threat is traffic, which has expanded significantly with rampant road building. Lets not forget that Florida is one of the most desirable places to live on the planet. And we know people cannot live in harmony with the mountain lion. Something has to give and it won't be us. I allege that there could be a conspiracy to eradicate the Florida panther that is behind this latest shooting.

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More on the Puma:

Photo of Florida panther at Flamingo Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, Florida : published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License -- this site is for charitable purposes in funding cat rescue and conservation.

Airgun Attacks on Cats

Airgun attacks on cats keep on occurring in the UK. There seems to be a type of person in the UK, probably a young person, who is idle, sloppy, rather nasty and very badly brought up who likes to shoot cats with an air gun. These mysterious cat haters seem to populate all four corners of our island (see i hate cats). My vision or instinct (admittedly probably biased but it is all I have to go on) is that these social underclass types, mindlessly take pleasure in this sick pastime. I can visualise him looking out of his bedroom window wondering what to do and then seeing a cat wander by below decides that it would be amusing to test his hunting skills with the air gun his absent father bought him for Christmas.

If he was in America his father would have bought him a high powered hunting rifle and spent many an hour telling him how he had bravely stalked cougars in the mountains. Of course he wouldn’t have mentioned that the cougar had no chance because he used a pack of bl**dy hounds to track and corner the cat before shooting it at close range. It is the same thing only on a different scale as for all things American. In America they eat more and kill more than in Great Britain but the same mentality exists for that “type” of person. The one who simply doesn’t get it, who never will get it and who arrogantly and with ignorance looks down on other animals as objects to shoot.

These strange people have no awareness that an animal feels pain and pleasure. That they have a right to exist just as much as people, whether they are domestic cats or wild cats. A particularly hideous example of hunting cougar is when these mindless idiots stalk female cougars with cubs. The cubs are left motherless on her tragic and mindless death and die too. And it is that, the mindlessness of it all that disturbs me. There is a vast number of people who are simply switched off.

And, yes, I am talking down to these people because that is all one can do. Why is the world so divided over hunting? There are millions of people who see nothing wrong in hunting and shooting a mountain lion in America. And there is an equal number who hate the very thought of it. How dysfunctional is that? All I know is that it is wrong, very wrong and that it is a nasty throwback to the time hundreds and thousands of years ago when hunting was a necessity – it is no longer, so please stop!

What prompted this post was the usual story in the UK of yet more cats being shot and badly injured by air gun pellets. On this occasion it is in Oxfordshire. The home of well heeled people and Oxford University. The cat keeper concerned is Denise French of of Gwyneth Road, Littlemore.

Map picture
Her cat is Pippin who needed an amputation of the leg after being shot late in June. The area is marked on the map to the right.

This is the second time it has happened and I would expect it to be the same person or group of people who carried out the criminality on both occasions and I would also expect them to be local. Pippin would roam the scrubland behind her house. This implies that it happened there and as I said that the culprit is local, perhaps very local. I would knock on doors!

Mrs French hopes the news story will shame the criminal into stopping – a fat chance! If this person had a conscience he wouldn’t do it in the first place. The only way is to catch him and punish him and the police are not all that good at that, really they’re not. This is low level crime despite a pretty hefty sentence on conviction of a maximum of 6 months in jail and a fine of £20,000. It is also worth mentioning that such low level crime (in the eyes of the police) is often a precursor to serious crime against people as it is sign of a maladjusted individual.

cat enclosure

The above cat enclosure has no connection with this story – just a nice example of a cat enclosure which by the way give peace of mind to us – so double benefit. Photo by Shamey Jo (new window)

On good thing has come out of this. Mrs French has decided to build a cat enclosure and to stop her cats wandering. I like cat enclosures. They allow a cat to be outdoors, to smell the outdoors and watch. Cats can watch for endless hours and take amusement from it. Notice the contrast in forms of amusement. The human likes to kill to amuse while the cat watches. And I don’t want to hear people say that domestic cats wipe out a ton of wildlife. This is not true but something propagated by bird conservation societies and the like in their war against the cat. Anyway outside a cat enclosure birds are protected.

The RSPCA agree that they see all to many cases of cats being shot with airguns. Many are killed and those that aren’t have the quality of their lives severely curtailed, very often.

Another airgun attack on cats also occurred in Oxfordshire, this time in nearby Chinnor, Oxfordshire. Both incidents are marked together below:

Map picture

I don’t think that these are related because, as mentioned, my view is that the shooters live near to where the shooting took place. I cannot see a person driving around the country (and these two shootings are 15 miles apart) just to find a cat to shoot (unless they are seriously barmy as well as nasty). But airgun attacks on cats is so easy and convenient. Airguns can be bought over the counter in the same way real guns can in the USA. And in the UK cats are often left to wander unlike in the US. The airgun attacks on cats are a crime waiting to happen because all you need to create that toxic mix is an ignorant, idiotic and nasty individual to aim the gun at the cat.

I would advocate more cat enclosures in the UK and for cats to be managed a little more carefully. Gone are the good ole days when human population was a lot lower and traffic far less than today. We still act in a manner reminiscent of the 1950s concerning cats going out and wandering. Although, I personally don’t like the idea of a cat being permanently kept indoors especially when there is room outside in the garden to build a cat enclosure. In the US, where there is a lot more space and property prices significantly more manageable, a cat enclosure would seem a real possibility but few take it up preferring to keep their cat indoors. Sure, there are still risks of catching fleas and ticks etc. in an enclosure but there is risk in everything and risk needs to be set against quality of life.

See also:

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Airgun attacks on cats –source of news story:

Wednesday 1 July 2009

Fall injuries incurred because of cats

There are some interesting statistics on the subject of fall injuries incurred because of cats that are published by on the website. They naturally tell us a lot about us more than they do about our cats. They relate to the USA.

This is what I gleaned from the data and which is of interest to me and I hope people who keep and live with cats:

In 2006 in the USA dogs out numbered cats 43m to 37.5m. And in well over half of these households (64% in fact) there was more than one pet. The data collected indicate that cats and dogs present a “fall hazard”. I can understand that and it could be argued that we don’t need nationwide statistics to tell us that. A stray that I feed always gets under my feet because he is so pleased to see me (as he knows he’ll get food). He walks right in front of me and stops regularly. A sure fire way of causing a trip up!

In the USA, in 2006, 1% of 8m fall injuries, treated in hospital emergency departments, were caused by pets. The data will underestimate the true number as some accidents go unreported and some are treated in GP surgeries. Of these falls the majority happened when walking a dog (very few cats get walked!) and chasing cats or dogs (I suspect this relates more to cats though). The research indicated that proactive, preventative measures should be taken (don’t chase a cat for starters).

As expected the highest number of injuries occurred in relation to older people who also are more likely to keep (and a better equipped to keep) companion animals. They are also more likely to break something when they fall.

Other interesting information (which was admitted to be incomplete) is as follows:

Dogs are more likely to be involved in a person falling than cats (71.5 thousand to 9.7 thousand, a significant difference).

As to people, females are more likely to fall and be injured (68.7% females to 31.3% males – also a large difference). This would imply to me that women are walking their dog and falling over (rarely of course but those would seem to be the circumstances under which most accidents of this nature occurred).

As to people, the age group under which most accidents happened was the young (0-14) followed closely by 45-54.

The most common injury was the fracture at about 31% of all injuries followed by abrasions at 26%.

The area of the person’s body most injured was the arm or hand (27%) followed by the head and neck (23%).

Most accidents happened at home (by far, at 86%) .

And most accidents occurred when people chased a pet (11.7%) when they fell over the animal (66%).

If a conclusion can be drawn it is that people (mainly but only just, children) are recklessly (!) chasing their companion animal around the house and falling over causing a broken bone in their hand or arm.

Fall injuries incurred because of cats - Source: (new window)

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Monday 29 June 2009

Reason to Keep Your Cat Indoors

Here is another reason to keep your cat indoors, permanently. It is all over the cat news. It is the always fatal (although this could be 95% fatality), no cure, bobcat tick disease. The disease is caused by the blood parasite Cytauxzoon felis, which is carried by the American dog tick, which in turn is carried by the American bobcat in America but in Africa, this disease is carried by ungulates (animals with hooves). The parasite does not affect the bobcat, which is widely distributed throughout the USA. The disease is called cytauxzoonosis after the name of the parasite.
"The pathogen is spread to domestic cats through the American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis), which can be found in heavily wooded areas and fields. Because of the route of infection, it is most likely that outdoor cats develop the disease. The biggest risk of infection occurs in May through September, but even during that time, it is a very rare disease." (Wikipedia)

American Bobcat distribution range
Above: Range of the American Bobcat. Published under Wikimedia® creative commons license = Attribution-ShareAlike License. Author: Tim Marskell

Although it is rare, it is fatal which creates a dilemma for cat owners. Do we let them out? When a cat lives in an area that is suitable to go out (i.e. quite and traffic free - are there such places?) there is this added danger. It is a fast moving and nasty disease that causes a painful death.

Initially, the disease shows no apparent symptoms. When the symptoms show the cat is near death. Quite shocking and frightening. The disease is in the news because of the loss of 4 cats in one family nor far from Topeka, Kansas:

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The first cat to die used to spend a lot of time outdoors in a hedgerow

The disease is caused by a protozoa microorganism, which gets into the red blood cells of the cat which causes severe anemia. There are also blood flow problems through some of the cat's organs e.g. the liver and spleen. The organs fail. The symptoms start 1 to 2 weeks after infection and are:

  • A high temperature - 105 degrees + the normal body temperature is 99.5 to 100.5 degrees)
  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy
  • Jaundice in the eyes, gums, and skin (skin looks yellow). This is due to liver damage.
Historically this nasty disease is found in the south and south east of the USA . The temperature and humidity are high in these areas. However, it is migrating north and west due to climate change and bobcat migration.

As the disease is fatal the only action that can be taken is preventative measures and it is regrettably one more reason to keep your cat indoors. This is a shame. Keeping cats indoors will prevent transmission of the disease from bobcat to ground to domestic cat. Another measure is the well known Frontline:
"Although it can be prevented in most cases by use of such medicines as Frontline, there have been cases of cats treated with this medication that have died of Cytauxzoonosis because of the delay between application and absorption into the hair follicle of the feline"

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