by Anjali Ravi, Communications Intern
This summer, bobcat fever is taking a toll on domestic cats in Northwest Arkansas. Though once thought to be carried only by the American dog tick, this blood parasite can also spread through the lone star tick, which is common to the area. Dr. Jack Herring, owner of Wedington Animal Hospital, told station KNWA that bobcat fever is becoming more prevalent and that on some days, there have been four or five cats hospitalized at once for it.
The death rate for bobcat fever is unfortunately very high. It infects the blood cells of the cat. Even in the event that your cat recovers from bobcat fever, he’ll still be a carrier of it, which can lead to even more complications and threaten other domestic cats in the neighborhood.
Cats who live outside city boundaries, in rural environments where ticks are more prevalent, are at a higher risk of getting bobcat fever. Despite this, city kitties are not completely protected from the disease. If your cat has contracted bobcat fever, it can be anywhere from 5 to 20 days before symptoms appear. Initial signs may include lethargy, decreased appetite, and high body temperature. As the disease progresses, your cat may experience breathing problems, dehydration, jaundice, and a noticeable drop in body temperature.
Because no vaccine is currently available, keeping your cat safe from tick bites is of the utmost importance. While the lone star tick is mainly found in eastern Kansas and the Southeastern states, bobcat fever isn’t the only tick-borne disease that can affect your cat. Rabbit fever (tularemia), Feline Infectious Anemia, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Lyme disease all affect domestic cats and have the potential to be fatal. Though uncommon in cats, Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world. Its dominant symptoms in cats are lack of appetite, lethargy, and lameness due to an inflammation of the joints.
Here are some tips to keep your cat safe from tick-borne diseases:
by Anjali Ravi, Communications Intern
When film director Ceyda Torun was a child, the cats of Istanbul traversed with her through the streets. They were her companions, neither bound to her nor separate. They guided seven-year-old Torun around the city and her own backyard, teaching her about courage, coexistence, and boundaries.
Torun grew up and moved to Los Angeles, but she never forgot Istanbul’s self-proclaimed cultural symbol. With cinematographer Charlie Wuppermann, she directed the 2016 feature-length documentary film Kedi – Turkish for “cat.” IndieWire described the film as “the Citizen Kane of cat documentaries.” Time magazine penned it as one of the top ten movies of 2017. The film even boasts a whopping 98% on Rotten Tomatoes – so what about Kedi has critics and viewers leaning into the screen?
Cats have lived in Istanbul for thousands of years. In an interview with The Guardian, Torun notes the ubiquity of Istanbul’s feline population: “There’s nobody here that doesn’t have a memory of cats: no grandmother, no generation has been here without cats, so they’re ingrained in our collective memory.” Among an ever-shifting political and social climate, these creatures have remained a constant.
“The cat embodies the indescribable chaos, the culture, and the uniqueness that is the essence of Istanbul,” says a voice at the start of the film. But among locals, the cat is also anthropomorphic. The website for Kedi lends profiles for each cat featured on the film. Sari, for example, is the hustler and mother who “doesn’t give a sh*t.” Psikopat, the jealous housewife. Gamsiz, the happy-go-lucky neighborhood man.
These cats have character. By likening them to the people around us – the neighbors, friends, and family that we meet day-to-day – they take on new meaning and intimacy in our lives. Experiencing these animals has also allowed the residents of Istanbul to contemplate their interactions with one another. Of Sari, one woman says, “She has qualities people should have . . . she doesn’t compromise her freedom.”
During the production of Kedi, street cats strode the frames with dignity. “If we approached the cat and she didn’t want to be filmed, we left,” explains Torun to The Guardian. “If she stuck around that meant she was giving us permission to shoot.” The authority given to cats is willing and necessary; in humanizing these creatures, people sustain their own humanity.
Some may feed or pet the cats and expect something in return – a show of affection, a loyalty to come back the next day. But still more seem to agree upon the sincerity of a cat’s unapologetic behavior and the way they provide, without intent, for those who wander into their paths. “People miss their kids, right? I miss her,” says one local about the cat Bengü, whose role has become familial to the workingmen in her industrial manufacturing neighborhood. “If there is afterlife,” says another, “I want to meet her [the cat] again, not my grandmother.”
Studies have shown that interacting with animals can increase people’s level of the hormone oxytocin, which boosts cell growth and helps us feel happy and trusting. Because of this, it’s no surprise that petting the cats also seems to give many residents of Istanbul a sense of security. Language becomes simplified to gesture, and touch. The small, honest, and fruitful encounters with these cats have calming and therapeutic effects. One man interviewed during the film had a nervous breakdown in 2002, only to be “cured” by his relationships with feline friends.
The symbiosis of cats and people is a lesson on empathy, and Kedi is a portrait of kindness. After making the film, both Torun and Wuppermann questioned whether they could justify making a documentary about Istanbul’s cats, as opposed to the city’s Syrian refugees or the country’s political upheavals. Aren’t those issues more important? What Torun came to realize was that her “love letter to the city and the cats” could be a form of resistance – a way of immortalizing the beauty of Istanbul through all the turmoil.
Now she lives beside an eleven-year-old tabby with the personality of a middle-aged man. “It’s kind of wonderful,” she says, “to experience life with another being like this.”
By Anjali Ravi, Communications Intern
On my first day of interning at Alley Cat Rescue, my co-workers showed me the kitten room. A small office filled with free-roaming kittens, some curled beside each other in beds, others playing, wrestling, sliding across desks. I’ll be here a lot, I told them.
My favorite cats were the ones that came to me: Pellusa, the office cat, who nibbled on my hair and sat in my lap as I typed up fact sheets, and Rigatoni, the kitten who cried when I wasn’t holding him, to name a few. These cats validated my love for animals without asking much of me.
Then I dropped by the isolation room, where our new cats are first brought. There I met Basil and Petunia, two feral kittens who had not yet been socialized. Picking them up left me with scratches on my arms. They hissed when I came close. They were wide-eyed, sharp-clawed, shivering babies.
I visited often. A co-worker showed me how to scruff them, wrap them in a towel, and hold them close. I brought Basil a toy and slowly she started opening up to me. Eventually they were moved to the kitten room, where a family fell in love with playful, sweet Basil and took her home.
Getting closer to shy cats is a process. Some feline friends are slow to acclimate to people and environments due to traumatic pasts, insufficient socialization, or genetic predisposition. Yet cats like Peaches, Lincoln, and Zetta at ACR have stolen my heart – not because they owe me affection, but because our connection had to develop over time.
Interested in befriending a shy cat? Here are some tips to make sure your cat is as comfortable as possible!
Last week ACR had the opportunity to travel to Roanoke, VA to meet with local groups and sponsor five public spay/neuter clinics. Over the week, just under 200 cats and kittens were fixed and vaccinated. Beyond the numbers, we got to chat with staff and locals to learn about the particular challenges they face helping cats in their community.
We began the week at Angels of Assisi, a full-service clinic with a mobile van that travels to the surrounding rural areas for vaccine and wellness clinics. With a station for neutering, a station for spays, prep areas and a recovery space, there was constant movement of people and cats. When fully staffed, this clinic can serve up to 100 cats in one day and watching them work as a team was impressive.
Our sponsorship provided free spay/neuter surgery and vaccinations for cats and the check-in room was packed on clinic days. We met some great folks who had brought cats in for sterilization and they told us a bit about why our sponsorship was so important. Many said they simply couldn’t see ever fitting a full-price spay or neuter procedure into their budget on their own. Others said this was the first time they felt they had access to the services, that spay/neuter and a proper vet visit weren’t just for folks with financial resources to spare.
We also sponsored a free spay/neuter day at the Old Dominion Veterinary Clinic in Troutville, VA. This clinic provided free spay/neuter appointments to the public as well as appointments for free-roaming cats brought by our friends, Barn Cat Buddies. This clinic went above and beyond a typical day for them and sterilized an impressive 28 cats. The story from folks at this clinic was much the same: people care deeply for their cats and know that spay/neuter is important, there’s just no money to do it or no vet nearby providing it at an affordable rate.
We’re excited to have connected with another organization serving the greater Roanoke area: Clover Cat Rescue. This dedicated one-woman operation provides spay/neuter and transport services for cats from a rural area north of Roanoke. Clover Cat helps folks who often don’t even have gas money, let alone funds for surgery, so we were happy to provide funding and hands-on help for her trip with 25 cats this time and we hope to work together again soon.
Our week in Virginia was busy, but more importantly it was inspiring. We met great people, beautiful cats, and heard some amazing stories about people and the animals in their lives. We got to speak with a young girl who asked about cats and declawing and an older man who told a story about bottle-feeding a young deer with a two-liter soda bottle. And we were reminded that every community’s challenge with cats is unique. The people served during our clinics in Roanoke have love and time to give their cats, but for many, the budget is tight. Some communities may benefit most from TNR training, while others may need hands-on help. ACR is committed to providing resources targeted to the communities we serve and we’re deeply thankful for the generosity of our supporters who make this work possible.
Buying cosmetics can be a confusing and time consuming task. What does sulfate-free mean? What’s the difference between nourishing and moisturizing? Do I really need to buy toner? All of this is made even more confusing when you look at the back of the label of your favorite brand and realize they test on animals.
Animal testing for cosmetics is currently legal in the United States, despite the fact that there are humane, non-animal alternatives. Further, the European Union and countries such as India and Israel have banned the sale of cosmetics tested on animals all together.
Congress has tried multiple times to ban cosmetics tested on animals here in the US by introducing the Humane Cosmetics Act. The bill is currently in Congress but has been stuck in a committee for over a year.
California has decided to act on their own and push our country towards an animal testing cosmetics ban by introducing SB 1249, the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act. According to the bill’s text, “This bill would make it unlawful for a manufacturer to knowingly import for profit, sell at retail, or offer for sale or promotional purposes at retail in this state, any cosmetic, as defined, if the final product or any component thereof was tested on animals for any purpose after January 1, 2020, except as specified.” Any violation of the law is punishable by an initial fine of $5,000, excluding a few limited exceptions.
Animal testing for cosmetics has actually been illegal in California since 2000, but the current law only applies to products tested within the state. The California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act would open this up to include products tested outside the state as well. If passed, this bill could have monumental effects on animal testing throughout the country.
As the president of Social Compassion in Legislation, Judie Mancuso, said in a press release, “As the state with the largest population and economy in the country, if California bans the sale of cosmetics tested on animals, in order to comply with our standards, manufacturers will have no choice but to stop testing on animals to sell cosmetics to the entire United States."
Therefore, this bill could move our country towards protecting animals from painful and unnecessary procedures nationwide. If you live in California, make sure to contact your legislators right away! The bill has passed the Senate floor and will be going to the Assembly for a vote. Tell your Assembly members that you support an end to the invasive and cruel practice of animal cosmetic testing and support the use of more effective non-animal methods.
Even if you do not live in California, you can urge legislators to introduce a similar bill in your state. Let’s help the US become a more humane country!
In April, Maryland became the second state in the U.S. to ban the sale of animals from puppy and kitten mills. The law, signed by Gov. Larry Hogan, will take full effect in 2020. This means that with the exception of animals that have come from welfare organizations, animal control units, and licensed breeders, cats and dogs will not be sold in pet stores.
The news reflects a triumph for animal welfare and advocacy groups nationwide, as the conditions at puppy and kitten mills are further exposed. Puppies and kittens sold in pet stores are usually from breeding mills with cramped, filthy living conditions. A large number arrive at pet stores malnourished, sick, or injured, and they often go without veterinary care .
Moreover, people who breed animals and then sell them to pet stores are contributing to the overpopulation issue. There are already so many cats in shelters and even more wandering the streets, abandoned or lost. The more animals bred, the harder it is for these cats to find a happy home. Sadly, about 2.4 million healthy cats and dogs are put down in U.S. shelters each year.
Fortunately, more and more people are coming to terms with the ugly side of many pet stores across the nation. Billie Castro, who testified in support of the bill, told the Washington Post in April that she thought she’d found her dream job at a store called Just Puppies, but that it turned into a nightmare. She told the Post that puppies would arrive at the store malnourished and infested with parasites, and that about once a month a puppy would die in their care.
While pet stores sell animals for profit, shelters find animals homes in order to save lives and prevent suffering. They provide stray or abandoned animals with spay/neuter surgery, veterinary care, microchipping, food, water, and shelter. Buying from a store merely creates space for another kitten or puppy to be sold, but adopting from a shelter frees up space and resources so that another animal in need can be helped.
Are you ready to find your forever friend? Support animals shelters and rescues by joining the #AdoptDontShop movement today! If you’re in the Maryland or Los Angeles area, consider adopting a cat from ACR.
Alley Cat Rescue is leading in the way in promoting humane and compassionate care for ALL cats.