Category Archives: Reviews / recommendations

Stuff recommended, read, seen, used, watched and our thoughts on them.

Feline Fantasies 101

Got cha attention, right? This is a wonderful post dealing with kitty myths and such on the advocacy site: care2.com. Black cats get such an especial dose of bad rep that many are rejected outright, but there are black kitties with absolutely perfect personalities (not just cats, dogs too), and adoption chances for black cats is only half of others (torties rank a close second, at least in Singapore). It’s really a wonder that black cats aren’t killed on sight everywhere (especially during Halloween, black cat month), though there’s no lack of trying, even in urban Singapore. But so what if they look like shadows with eyes under the right lighting? Black kitties are still kitties. Black kitties need love too

Janet Garey

Feline Fantasies 101

posted by Janet Garey Oct 19, 2009 5:10 pm


“Doesn’t Bella creep you out?” Andy asked, raking his black-painted nails through spikes of neon purple hair.

The object of his curiosity reclined on my lap, bubble gum-pink tongue lapping at her glistening, black as pitch, tiny paw. I had no idea what the boy was talking about.

“She’s a cat,” he observed, “and completely black!”

Chuckling over Andys’ skill at stating the obvious, my nod urged him to delve a bit deeper.

“Hey, everybody knows that black cats bring bad luck,” he insisted, then paused to watch my complexion darken, eyebrows shooting toward my auburn hairline.” I’ve always believed they have something to do with evil, witchcraft and wizardry.

Resisting the urge to smack my young Goth friend alongside his multiply-pierced head, I decided it was time to give Andy a crash course in Feline Fantasies 101, aka What the Heck Are You Thinking, Oh Child of the the New Millennium?”

(Click here to continue reading)

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Weekend Movie Choice: Food, Inc.

Movie choice: Food, Inc. (Credit to the woman of myanimalfamily)

Food, Inc.

Available at a GV screen near you, a movie generates food for thought.

If you don’t regurgitate and think about food after watching this, then you’re probably a card-carrying Darla-head who would watch Finding Nemo and made Nemo’s nightmare by joining the hordes who stampeded the aquariums demanding for a Nemo of your own, missing the reef for the polyp, totally.

Click on the title above to visit the official site for the trailer, more info about the movie, the issues, and take action!

Now if Animal Planet will premiere Whale Wars here, my weekend is complete. (Season 2 has already broken US viewership records for cetacean’s sake!)

Additional Ref related to Food, Inc:

The Homeless Singapore Cat’s Life: Smalley in the Hedge

This is a lovely, easy to understand and true depiction of the typical life of a homeless cat in Singapore. Through the story of Smalley, it paints the life of the community cats in our midst in 6 simple pictorial pages. Practically every aspect of the conundrum is touched on.

Please go direct to the myanimalfamily blog to read Smalley’s story. Please consider supporting the animalfamily project for Singapore’s homeless cats:

This illustrated story is written about a street cat for the benefit of all street cats. If you like the story, please donate SGD 5 to the cause.

Things are a’brewing, maybe a silly little story can change the world.”

myanimalfamily (top right corner of the blog)

Thank you to the woman of myanimalfamily for such a succinct and yet vibrant masterpiece. For all the Smalleys in Singapore!

[EDIT: Please see this. A lovely and absolutely accurate version of Smalley’s story, by someone on the opposite side of the globe, no less.]

Missing in action: Megafauna and seed dispersal in Asia’s empty forests

Very nice in-depth article by the ducky-dad of the blankie beast:

IMG_9740

Few people alive today know what is a stegodon. But it’s highly likely that the first generations of humans who arrived in East and Southeast Asia were quite familiar with these elephant-like creatures with bizarre tusks that ran parallel closely together towards the ground before curving upwards like a pair of long horns. On the continent, these pachyderms ranged from India to China. But when northern glaciers locked up enough seawater to turn Sundaland into a shallow shelf of immense river valleys and lowland rainforests, stegodons and other large land animals were able to walk or wade all the way to Luzon in the Philippines and Sulawesi in Indonesia. The returning seas trapped these footloose wanderers on islands such as Flores and Timor, where giants shrank over time to become jumbos the size of cows.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, modern hominids made their appearance in this region. The arrival of Homo in tropical East Asia coincided with a massive decline of large terrestrial mammals and the eventual disappearance of several species and even entire groups with no living remnants. Gigantopithecus was a massive ape that roamed East Asian forests in the same period as Homo erectus and now survives primarily in the imaginations of cryptozoologists and dreams of hopeful abominable snowmonsters. The stegodons survived for much longer, with the last known specimens dating from just 4,100 years before present from Yunnan in China, while dwarf species are known from Flores as recently as 12,000 years ago.

Elephants proper (Elephas sp.) coped better with the ascent of man, but with the rise of the Middle Kingdom, their habitats were cleared and hides so hunted (roasted trunk was a popular treat in ancient China) that a creature that once roamed as far north as Beijing now clings to a tenuous existence in the forests that border Myanmar. Elsewhere, Asian elephants rule over a fraction of their former range as expanding agri-industry and settlements force herds to find new homes in the hills or go head-on with humans to deadly effect.

Rhinos fared far worse, as East Asia’s two forest-dependent species teeter at the brink of extinction. Southern China had such high densities of Javan rhinos a few thousand years ago that their armour shielded the infantry of Chinese armies. Even in colonial times, casual big game hunters in the East Indies were able to boast of shooting six in a day. Today, no rhinos survive in China, whose medicinemen now cast their nets in Africa and other parts of Asia to satisfy their hunger for horny therapies. Just 300 or so Sumatran rhinos remain while Javan rhinos number in the mere dozens.

(click here to read full article)

P.S. Apologies for the radio silence. Good news to be updated with details are that Freddy and Mio have settled into new homes.

Love us, not hurt us!

Mama Piggy, one half of the KMM Crew ‘s foodbringer pair, shared a lovely article about the stray animal situation, abandonment and rescue here.

It’s in Chinese, but the key points, while nothing epiphanous to anyone familiar with the situation, are hard to miss. Hopefully, more of the general public read it and become aware of the plight of these LIVES among us.

The main points, with my inference added are:

  • More than thirty years of constant culling has not really achieved much in the way of stray animal population control as it does not address the root causes
  • TNRM, as a humane stray animal population control method that targets some of the root causes, works if given time, as in 10 to 15 years
    • I say some root causes in the above as attitude, education, and support from authority are part of it too, and grassroots (I so hate the political connotations of that), or rather groundlevel voluntary effort can only go so far. In countries like the US and Israel, authorities provide support in stray animal control at the national level and allow time for TNRM to work, unlike Singapore.
  • Pet ownership is a life-long responsibility. Pets are not toys, and no one should get a pet on a whim. Pets are life companions, and there must be give and take. Anyone not ready for the commitment of time, money and ability to share, should not get a pet at all.
    • Adopt, not buy. If you must buy, buy from an ethical breeder, not a breeding farm.
  • The ongoing and increasing incidences of abandonment in Singapore points to an alarming trend and indicates a problem within our society. The SPCA estimates an average of 10,000 animals (cats, dogs, rabbits and hamsters making up the bulk) are abandoned yearly here speaks volumes about Singaporeans’ attitude towards pet animals, possessive psyche (what the neighbour has, I must have or better) and responsibility.
  • Abandoned pets ARE PART OF THE STRAY ANIMAL POPULATION. Stray animal management cannot be dealt with unless the impact of abandonment is recognised and managed as well.
  • There are Singaporeans trying to be part of the solution, but again, groundlevel volunteer work can only achieve so much on its own. There are very real resource limits – financial, manpower and space constraints – to how much volunteers can do in terms of rescuing and caring for injured or diseased and former pets abandoned for whatever excuses.
  • Singaporeans must learn to be responsible pet owners and to appreciate that Singapore is not just made up of people, concrete jungles, status symbols, statistics and economic indicators.

Compassion often eludes feral cats; groups out to save them

From Dawn’s blog:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Article on cats

Here’s an interesting article about cats in USA Today.

It’s about TNRM and sterilisation. There are opponents of course, but we must also remember that the homeless animals have a right to roam, however that threatens their lives. We must also be very clear that sanctuaries are not the answer.

Therefore, the homeless animal population have to be managed within the environment they live in, ie our streets. Is it doable? from our experience, yes. It takes time and effort, but any bit helps. However, grassroots efforts like ours can only truly succeed with complementary policies that are effectively and actively implemented. This is because we can manage the existing population, but we’re powerless to stop the population growing or changing due to pet dumping, pest control roundups, or irresponsible pet owners who contribute to the problem by letting their unsterilised pets roam freely. Too bad that so far, Singaporean authorities are still waltzing around the issue, using outdated reasoning for maintaining the cat-specific ban that affects 85% of Singapore residents. Even when we have the tacit agreement of authorities to collaborate, we TNRM citizens of Singapore are treated like we’re nuisances or convenient hacket jobbers for the KS TCO, sometimes even the complainant. We definitely have a strange Love-Hate Relationship with TNRM, ala section 377A.

Look at this list in the article. It will be a happy day if we had initiatives similar to these for the homeless cats here.

  • PetSmart Charities will announce in July a $13 million spay-neuter program in Los Angeles. A clinic in Burbank, which Best Friends Animal Society in Utah also is helping fund, will sterilize 20,000 feral cats a year. PetSmart Charities has committed $862,000 to feral cat programs in Austin and Dallas as part of a $5.5 million five-year grant to Texas cities.
  • The Humane Society of the United States has just completed a CD/DVD. Effectively Managing Feral Cats will be free to 6,000 shelters, communities and feral-cat advocates through a PETCO Foundation grant. The Humane Society also holds workshops and has given thousands of dollars to a few small groups launching initiatives to protect feral cats.
  • Alley Cat Allies, which advises individuals and groups on feral-colony management, is embarking on major research to collect data about ferals and the people who help them. The non-profit group also will launch a year-long educational campaign beginning Oct. 16, National Feral Cat Day, and will push for public disclosure on how many feral cats shelters take in and euthanize to “make more transparent” every community’s “animal-control practices applied to feral cats, which most often rely on lethal control methods,” president Becky Robinson says.
  • No More Homeless Pets in Utah runs a sterilization program and works with city, county and animal control officials to develop alternatives to trapping nuisance homeless cats and depositing them at shelters — “a practice which almost guarantees euthanasia,” says the group’s Gregory Castle. A decrease in the number of cats in colonies and concurrent lower euthanasia rates have been “dramatic” in some locations, he says.

 

The full article for reference here

After receiving his rabies vaccine update, Sgt. Stripes is released into the area where he was caught earlier in the day in Burlington County, N.J. After receiving his rabies vaccine update, Sgt. Stripes is released into the area where he was caught earlier in the day in Burlington County, N.J.By Joan Fairman Kanes for USA TODAY

Compassion often eludes feral cats; groups out to save them

Feral cats — nearly invisible and often reviled — have prowled into the spotlight.

The free-roamers with an aversion to humans have grabbed headlines this spring because of a bounty on their heads in Iowa, a threatened roundup and disposal in Fairfax County, Va., and other elimination plans across the country.

But the cats also are receiving attention of a different sort.

Two feral cats warily check out traps that have been baited with tuna and placed where the cats are normally fed by caregivers in Burlington County, New Jersey. Two feral cats warily check out traps that have been baited with tuna and placed where the cats are normally fed by caregivers in Burlington County, New Jersey.

Grass-roots groups and animal-welfare organizations are directing money and energy toward helping the tens of millions of feral cats that skulk about college campuses, cluster around back-alley trash bins, swarm among the rocks at beach communities and colonize the nether-reaches of suburban parks, military installations and abandoned barns and fields:

•PetSmart Charities will announce in July a $13 million spay-neuter program in Los Angeles. A clinic in Burbank, which Best Friends Animal Society in Utah also is helping fund, will sterilize 20,000 feral cats a year. PetSmart Charities has committed $862,000 to feral cat programs in Austin and Dallas as part of a $5.5 million five-year grant to Texas cities.

•The Humane Society of the United States has just completed a CD/DVD. Effectively Managing Feral Cats will be free to 6,000 shelters, communities and feral-cat advocates through a PETCO Foundation grant. The Humane Society also holds workshops and has given thousands of dollars to a few small groups launching initiatives to protect feral cats.

•Alley Cat Allies, which advises individuals and groups on feral-colony management, is embarking on major research to collect data about ferals and the people who help them. The non-profit group also will launch a year-long educational campaign beginning Oct. 16, National Feral Cat Day, and will push for public disclosure on how many feral cats shelters take in and euthanize to “make more transparent” every community’s “animal-control practices applied to feral cats, which most often rely on lethal control methods,” president Becky Robinson says.

•No More Homeless Pets in Utah runs a sterilization program and works with city, county and animal control officials to develop alternatives to trapping nuisance homeless cats and depositing them at shelters — “a practice which almost guarantees euthanasia,” says the group’s Gregory Castle. A decrease in the number of cats in colonies and concurrent lower euthanasia rates have been “dramatic” in some locations, he says.

All major efforts involve trapping, neutering and returning the cats to their colonies. This method thwarts future litters and reduces the yowling, spraying and fighting that annoy humans. In the process, the cats usually are vaccinated, treated for minor problems and given a notch in the ear to identify they are sterile. Over time, the colony will grow smaller through attrition.

“TNR is not only the most humane, it is the most practical way of stabilizing the populations and … reducing them,” Castle says.

“Some New York neighborhoods no longer have feral colonies, or the colonies are much smaller,” says the ASPCA’s Aimee Hartmann, which holds workshops throughout the city, performs hundreds of sterilizations and loans traps to groups employing the method.

Scores of other groups participating in the practice report similar results.

Opponents speak out

The TNR method is not without detractors. Many veterinarians refuse to do such sterilizations because they say cats shouldn’t live outdoors because they become victims of the elements, predators and vehicles. And some bird and conservation groups say feral cats can decimate bird and small-mammal populations and spread disease.

Advocates counter that ferals exist because house pets were set loose or escaped, they adapted to survive, had litters, and now, a generation or more removed from being house cats, they can’t be tamed. And refusing to deal with that reality leads to more litters and more cats killed once they become public nuisances, are captured, taken to shelters and euthanized because no one will adopt them, advocates say.

Moreover, most ferals don’t live short, hideously deprived lives but are quite healthy and less apt to harm wildlife than toxins and development that overtakes habitats, says Julie Levy of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, an expert in infectious disease and feral cats. When neutered and vaccinated, such animals live many years.

A right to roam free

“For a long time, the prevailing feeling was that these animals aren’t deserving of help,” Robinson says.

But attitudes are changing.

“There are people who have been taking care of these colonies for years, getting up before dawn, leaving food and water.” Once regarded as odd, they’re increasingly regarded as “unsung heroes.”

Today, a live-and-let-live attitude is taking root, she says.

A 2007 Harris survey found that 81% believe feral cats should be allowed to live out their lives roaming free.

Still, many people have never seen a feral colony and are unaware of their numbers, which, combined with strays, could be as high as 80 million, Levy says, so these animals occupy a lower rung on the public’s concern-about-creatures hierarchy.

Advocates insist the separate-and-unequal distinction is specious.

“A good proportion of these free-roaming cats were once owned, or they are one generation removed from house pets,” says Susana Della Maddalena of PetSmart Charities. “We don’t think it’s fair to exclude them from help.”

ANIMALS: PETS AND THE REST

FERAL VS. STRAY

  • Not all outdoor cats are ferals. Nancy Peterson, feral cat expert for the Humane Society of the United States, says the population known as free-roaming cats includes:
  • Indoor/outdoor cats that roam neighborhoods. These are pets, and wandering does not make them “wild.”
  • Cats that were once pets but have been abandoned or gotten lost and have learned to survive on their own or joined feral colonies. These cats, when captured, can usually be re-socialized to live with humans. But their initial reaction to being captured is often frantic, and they can be mistaken for being feral.
  • Feral cats, which are generally one generation or more removed from being house pets, and their offspring aren’t socialized to humans and can rarely be tamed. (But their kittens, if caught young, can become pets.)

ONLINE RESOURCES ON FERALS
Hundreds of websites can aid people looking for info about feral cats. Among them:

  • Alley Cat Allies maintains a comprehensive assortment of info ranging from events and conferences to basic Q&A to legalities at alleycat.org.
  • Maddie’s Fund, which finances scores of animal causes, has nearly 500 ferals articles and resources. Click here for a good starting point, for interviews with ferals experts and details about model feral programs.
  • Go to the American Veterinary Medical Association for articles and debates about feral management and the group’s official position on TNR.
  • The Humane Society of the United States has lots of feral cat information updated regularly.
  • The American Bird Conservancy says free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of birds a year (a charge disputed by others who say there are easier-to-catch food sources) and have launched a campaign called “Cats Indoors!!
  • No More Homeless Pets in Utah’s site, utahpets.org, has informational aids, including solutions to conflicts and trapping instructions.
  • Downloadable documents — from trapping tricks to post-surgery guide — are at FixNation.org.
  • At feralcat.com there’s info and links to many resources and guides, including how to tame a feral kitten.
  • Go to aspca.org/tnr for info and guidance from the ASPCA. There’s also a list of upcoming training sessions in New York.

Book: The Cats’ House

The Cats’ House by Bob Walker
(available for loan from the nlb)

For the true minion with the resources to build or renovate the home for kitty’s pleasure, this is a Bastsend. For the rest of us mortal minions, it still offers a great read, a peek at possibilities to tantalise our wildest dedicational dreams. Photos of kitties cat-walking along the beams, sashaying from room to room along the kitty skylink… true minion heaven.

My only grip is there’s no mention of how kitty potty needs are addressed.

Regardless, this book demonstrates conceptualisations, considerations and tips during work-in-progress. And being a “I’m telling you this cos I’ve done it” book, it is quite the inspiring book. Just remember to wipe the drool from the corner of your mouth, and don’t allow your eyes to stay permanently green.

And yes, don’t let kitty see it, if you don’t want your life complicated by feline castles in the sky.

More reviews: on about cats

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