Outdoor Cats In Texas
The closure of spay neuter facilities over the past few months has led to a population explosion of outdoor cats.
“San Antonio is known to have a huge population of outdoor cats. In San Antonio, the cats breed year round,” said San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition President Sherry Derdak.
The coalition was formed about 15 years ago to help spay and neuter cats, and has grown tremendously over the years.
"We also rescue and do adoptions. We help people with their vet bills, we help with food," Derdak said.
The pandemic has thrown all that work into overdrive.
“Around mid-March a lot of the spay neuter clinics had to close due to COVID, and then by the end of March, the Animal Care Services Community Cat Program closed down and they were the high volume spay neuter clinic for outside cats. They had a free service,” Derdak said.
She said Animal Care Services was spaying and neutering about 120 cats per week through the Trap Neuter Release program.
“We started looking around trying to work with anyone who was still open, doing cats, including private vets, and we were able to work with some but we had to pay full price,” Derdak said.
The procedures can cost up to $100 per cat.
In the month of April, Derdak’s spay neuter bill was $29,000. Typically, it’s around $10,000.
Still, she said paying that much money is a necessary investment.
"More kittens were born and will be breeding and having their own kittens by the fall. So we're going to be digging out of this for quite a while," she said.
The feral cat coalition is run strictly by volunteers. They request grants when available but operate primarily on donations.
Story re-posted from KSAT. Written by Courtney Friedman and Eddie Latigo.
Coronavirus In UK Cat
A pet cat has tested positive in the UK for the strain of coronavirus that is causing the current pandemic.
Experts say it is the first confirmed case of infection in an animal in the UK but does not mean the disease is being spread to people by their pets.
It's thought the cat caught coronavirus from its owner, who had previously tested positive for the virus. Both have now recovered.
Health officials stress the case is very rare and no cause for alarm.
UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: "This is a very rare event, with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within in a few days.
"There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change."
Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England's director for health protection, advised people to wash their hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.
An animal's fur could carry the virus for a time if a pet were to have come into contact with someone who was sick.
A private vet initially diagnosed feline herpes virus - a common cat respiratory infection - but the sample was also tested for Sars-Cov-2 as part of a research programme.
There has been a very small number of confirmed cases in pets in other countries in Europe, North America and Asia.
Daniella Dos Santos, President of the British Veterinary Association, said: "Our advice to pet owners who have Covid-19 or who are self-isolating with symptoms remains to restrict contact with their pets as a precautionary measure and to practise good hygiene, including regular handwashing.
"We also recommend that owners who are confirmed or suspected to have Covid-19 should keep their cat indoors if possible, but only if the cat is happy to be kept indoors. Some cats cannot stay indoors due to stress-related medical reasons."
Story re-posted from the BBC.
This Music Calms Cats
Like us, pets get anxious; and a trip to the vet; party at the house; or fireworks at 4th of July can trigger a nerve wrecking sensation in their bodies. Researchers from Louisiana State University have discovered that playing a certain type of music can help calm nerves of cats.
Play them feline-specific classical music.
As opposed to pop or metal, classical music soothes pets and helps them relax.
"We conclude that cat-specific music may benefit cats by decreasing the stress levels and increasing the quality of care in veterinary clinical settings," the researchers wrote in the study. (Cnet.com)
Cat Fends Off Coyotes
LOS ANGELES (KTLA) – Surrounded by three coyotes in the backyard of his family's Los Angeles home Monday night, a brave cat named Max held his own and tried to fight them off all by himself -- and the tense standoff was captured on video.
Maya Gurrin and her husband were watching a movie in their Highland Park home when they noticed a shadow of a tail through the window.
They went outside to check it out and were stunned to find a group of coyotes in their yard.
“I just kind of scream and lunge at them, and then they run away, and Max comes, like, strolling in as if nothing happened,” Gurrin told KTLA on Friday.
Little did the Gurrins know that until they scared away the coyotes, the animals had surrounded their beloved pet, apparently eyeing him as dinner.
Then, they checked a surveillance camera.
“It wasn’t until we saw the security footage, we were like, ‘Oh my God, he was out there for a good 30 seconds at least just fighting these guys off,’” Gurrin recalled.
In the video, the coyotes tower over an outnumbered Max, but he wouldn't back down.
The cat repeatedly lunged at the coyotes as each approached separately, forcing them to back off momentarily. But they kept coming right back at him until his owners eventually frightened them off.
“I knew he was like, an outdoor cat and could fend for himself, but nothing like that,” Gurrin said.
Though she can laugh about it now, Gurrin acknowledges the incident could have had a much different -- and tragic -- outcome.
So even though Max prefers being outside, the couple are trying to figure out a way to balance his need for freedom with their concern for his safety.
“He is miserable inside, it really breaks our heart,” Gurrin said.
The solution, for now, is a harness that can be used to walk the cat -- though his owner admits she’s uncertain if he’ll be OK with that.
The Gurrins have lived in the area for a couple of years and have seen coyotes walking in the street, but they had never seen the predators approach their cat before.
In the aftermath of the incident, Gurrin warned fellow pet owners in her neighborhood to be careful.
“Yes, [the coyotes] saw dinner," she said. "But they were not scared and it even took them a second to kind of move when we went outside."
Story re-posted from Fox 43. Written by Tribune Media Wire
Cats Connect To People
A new study has found that cats can connect with people in the same way as dogs and children.
The research, published in Current Biology, suggests the social abilities of cats to form human attachments has been greatly underestimated.
The study notes that more cats live with humans than dogs do worldwide. But historically, more scientific research has centered on the social relationships between people and dogs.
In experiments with cats and humans, the researchers found that cats do show specific “attachment styles toward human caregivers.” This suggests that cats share some of the same social abilities that historically have only been linked to dogs.
Kristyn Vitale is a researcher at the Human-Animal Interaction Lab at Oregon State University. She was the lead writer of the study.
In a statement, she said the evidence suggests that both cat and dog attachments to humans may represent the same kind of connection that exists between children and their caretakers.
“Our study indicates that when cats live in a state of dependency with a human, that attachment behavior is flexible and the majority of cats use humans as a source of comfort.”
The researchers designed experiments similar to methods used to measure human attachment behaviors. For example, other studies have observed how babies react to being reunited with caregivers after being separated for short periods.
In this experiment, adult and young cats first spent two minutes in a room with their caregiver. The cats then spent two minutes in the room alone, followed by a two-minute reunification period with the caregiver.
About 70 cats were studied. The behavior of the animals was observed by experts who divided them into two groups. Sixty-four percent were judged to be “securely attached” to caregivers, while 36 percent were found to be “insecurely attached.”
The cats with secure attachments showed several signs of “reduced stress” levels, the study found. These cats were found to be more comfortable and effectively balanced their attention between the person and their surroundings.
However, the cats with an insecure attachment showed clear signs of stress. These included shaking of the tail, repeated licking or staying completely away from the caregiver.
Of the insecure cats studied, 84 percent were judged to be “ambivalent.” Twelve percent were found to be “avoidant,” while four percent were considered “disorganized.”
Kristyn Vitale said there is a long-held societal belief that all cats like “to run and hide or seem to act aloof.” But she said the experiments showed that cats are more likely to behave this way when they are insecure. “The majority of cats use their owner as a source of security. Your cat is depending on you to feel secure when they are stressed out,” Vitale said.
She added that the results showed that the level of secure and insecure attachments in cats is very close to those measured in human babies. In humans, research has found that 65 percent of babies are also securely attached to their caregivers.
The researchers also were interested in finding out if socialization training would change the results. But after a six-week training program for the cats, there were no major differences.
“Once an attachment style has been established between the cat and its caregiver, it appears to remain relatively stable over time, even after a training and socialization intervention,” Vitale said.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Current Biology and Oregon State University. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.
Cat "Running At Large"
MURRAY, Utah (KSTU/CNN) - A Utah cat owner wants to see change after she says an antiquated ordinance led to misdemeanor charges for allowing her cat to lie on her front lawn.
“He’s got a cat door, so he just comes and goes and is a cat,” Anderson said.
Milo had let himself outside Monday and was lying on the front lawn when someone took a picture and reported it, according to Anderson. Animal control arrived and wrote the cat owner a citation.
“I just got a ticket for my cat being outside in my yard,” Anderson said. “This is a cat who is neutered and micro-chipped and vaccinated and is not a menace to society.”
Two misdemeanor charges were listed on the citation: having an “animal at large” and not having an animal license attached.
"I don’t think most people think it is illegal to let your cat outside under any circumstance,” Anderson said.
However, based on a Murray, Utah, ordinance, which was enacted in 1963, it is illegal for any animal to run “at large,” which is defined as any time an animal is not on a leash, confined to a vehicle or secured in the yard.
Murray City Attorney G.L. Critchfield says while Milo being on the front lawn was technically a violation, a motion was filed to dismiss the charges, considering how minor the violation was.
Anderson says she doesn’t know what to do now, considering Milo is an indoor-outdoor cat.
"This just feels like animal control being out of control,” Anderson said. “It’s definitely antiquated. I think, if anything, there needs to be some kind of addition or amendment to the ordinance excluding felines.”
Critchfield says no amendments to the ordinance are expected. He says it is intended to allow broad coverage of any animals that may be encountered.
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