Monday, January 31, 2011

Utah Bill Would Permit Killing Feral Animals

If you haven’t already heard, Republican Representative, Curtis Oda, has introduced a bill to Utah legislation to make it legal for residents to kill feral animals. Oda does not agree that feral animals should be protected under the state’s animal cruelty law. Instead, under this law, any person who has a “reasonable belief” that an animal is feral would have the right to kill the animal. The bill goes on to say that “humane” methods of killing feral animals include, shooting with guns or bows and arrows, clubbing and decapitation.

Oda was quoted by The Associated Press as saying, “I want to protect people from getting in trouble for doing the right thing.” No-kill methods, such as relocation or catch, neuter and release, are less efficient and more expensive, Oda said.

Only recently in 2008, did Utah’s legislature pass a law that made animal cruelty a felony. Anne Davis, the Animal Advocacy Alliance of Utah’s executive director, said feral animals were intentionally protected by that law. Gene Baierschmidt, executive director of the Humane Society of Utah, said the change could allow people to kill feral cats indiscriminately. “It would allow people to go to a feral cat colony and kill all of them,” Baierschmidt said. “It’s an archaic bill.”

Alley Cat Rescue agrees with the Humane Society of Utah and strongly advocates for humane alternatives to control feral animals. Despite Representative Oda’s belief, no-kill methods of animal control ARE more effective and less costly than the methods proposed by this bill. This bill undermines all animal cruelty laws and opens the doors for wide scale animal abuse. ACR is urging our supporters to please contact your lawmakers to ensure Utah’s House Bill 210 is not supported. You can also contact Representative Curtis Oda to express your opposition to his proposed bill. 

Contact Information:
Clearfield Office of Representatives
PO Box 824
Clearfield, Utah 84089
Phone: (801) 725-0277
Fax: (801) 773-3185

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dogs V Cats: Which is More Intellegent?

By Steve Pointing
(As Published in the January Edition of The Wool Press)

(Photo Credit:

Scientists at Oxford say that socially active dogs have developed bigger brains than standoffish cats and, as a result, are more intelligent than cats.

In a recent publication in the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences Oxford University researchers stated that dogs are smarter than cats. In fact their study found that all socially active species – including dogs, monkeys, dolphins and horses – have developed larger brains over time than solitary ones like cats, deer and rhinos. But does that settle the long – running debate over the relative intelligence of cats and dogs?

What did the study find?

The Oxford team looked at how 500 species, both living and extinct, have evolved over about 600 million years and found that the ones that lived in social groups had much larger brains, relative to body size, than those species that tend towards self-sufficiency.

Lead researcher Susanna Schultz says that “dogs have always been regarded as more social animals than cats and it appears that social interaction leads to the development of a larger brain”. The Oxford team hypothesises asking do on your own, and brains have evolved accordingly among different species.

What do cat lovers have to say about the findings?

Not surprisingly cat lovers (including our very own Zoë Luxton) do not buy into the Oxford team’s conclusion. “The domestic cat is highly intelligent thanks to its wild ancestry” says Beth Skillings, a vet working with the Cats’ Protection League. “Unlike dogs, they are smart enough to hunt alone and don’t have to depend on others.” Cats are also “very successful at subtly training their owners” by purring, meowing, “and sitting pitifully by their food bowl!”

Have there been previous studies reaching the same conclusion?

Yes – a 2009 study in the journal Animal Cognition also declared that dogs were smarter than cats. This was based on a test which involved dogs and cats pulling on a string to get a reward. Dogs performed better than cats in the test but this doesn’t necessarily “prove” that dogs are smarter than cats. Dogs have bigger brains, but cats have 300 million neurones in their cortex (the “thinking” part of the brain) whereas dogs only have 160 million.

What do neutral observers have to say on the matter?

The general view is that the pet owning public is fairly evenly split on the subject of which species is the more intelligent. About 30% “bark” for the dogs and 40% “yowl” for the cats with the remainder saying that they are equally intelligent. For those who don’t come with a prior bias in favour of one species over the other their view tends to be that cats and dogs are both smart – but in different ways. Come on Falkland Islanders – where would you place your vote?

This article can be viewed here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

2011 is the Year of the Cat

Photo Credit: Marcus Sakoda -
According to the Vietnamese calendar, 2011 is officially the Year of the Cat.

TET Lunar New Year’s day is on February 3rd of this year.

Tết Nguyên Đán, more commonly known by its shortened name Tết, is the most important and popular holiday and festival in Vietnam. It is the Vietnamese New Year marking the arrival of spring based on the Lunar calendar, a lunisolar calendar. The name Tết Nguyên Đán is Sino-Vietnamese for Feast of the First Morning. Tet falls on a time when the old year is over and the New Year comes by lunar calendar. This is also the time when the cycle of the universe finishes: winter ends and spring, the season of birth of all living things, comes.

Tet is an occasion for pilgrimages and family reunions. It is a time when one pays respect to his/her ancestors and grandparents who have brought up him/her. It is an occasion when everyone sends each other best wishes for a new year, stops thinking about unhappy things and says good things about each other.

The prowler, the Vietnamese year of the cat symbolizes sensitivity, gentleness and kindness. But, be careful, for cats can be like kittens, too. People born in the Vietnamese horoscope years: 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999 and 2011 are Cats. 

There are different kinds of cats in the Vietnamese horoscope. There is the Metal Cat born in 1951 and 2011 and they tend to be resilient, determined and strong. Their intensity is unparalleled by any other type of cat. Cats are naturally attentive and hospitable because they do not like unpredictable and unsettled situations; they have the tendency to feel contrived in promoting a comfortable and peaceful atmosphere. 

Those born in 1903 and 1963 are called Water Cats and are inclined to be peace makers, cool and easy going. Unfortunately, their kind and supportive nature is most often abused and taken advantage of. 

Wood Cats brought into existence on the years 1915 and 1975 are character- istically giving and generous, to the point of self sacrifice. Unknowingly, they are often very vulnerable to opportunistic and unscrupulous people.

Cats pay great attention to detail. They always get anxious when everything is in chaos. They gravitate towards safe and conservative decisions; thus missing good opportunities in life. Sentimental and compassionate, cats wear their hearts on their sleeves. As a result of being empathetic, cats make great friends.

For more information on "Cat" personalities or to find out what your zodiac animal is click here

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Louise Visits South Africa

Why controlling the feral cats at Sun City resort in South Africa is important to saving African Wildcats in the wild.
-- Written by Louise Holton, ACR President and Founder

In December, I was fortunate enough to visit my family in South Africa for a family reunion! We visited the Pilanesberg Game Reserve to see all the incredible wild animals South Africa is famous for. Every day was more spectacular than the day before. Herds of elephants, giraffe, white and black rhinos, crocodiles and hippos. And of course many beautiful, graceful antelope, grazing peacefully on the lush green grass. South Africa has 29 antelope species, more than anywhere else in Africa. Lots of wonderful rain had recently fallen, a lifesaver for the land, the animals and the people. Our party also saw many of the lion populations that live there, plus cheetahs, and leopards, and some of our party saw a serval one morning being chased by a lion. The serval ran off into the bush. 

Photo Credit: Sun International
Sun City, a world famous casino and vacation resort, is right on the border of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, where African Wildcats live. Some years ago, while the ACR staff was on a recon mission to find out about the plight of the African Wildcat, our cats’ ancestor, we saw some feral cats at one of Sun City’s many outdoor restaurants. So we made contact with the wonderful, caring Angie, who has been instrumental in taking care of Sun City’s feral cat population over the last few years. Angie, with few resources, has managed to trap and spay and neuter (along with the help of some marvelous veterinarians) some 160 feral cats. She has placed many of them in new homes, taken some into her own home, and helps to feed and care for many of the cats who call Sun City home.

Of course on the first evening at our villa in the reserve, who should visit me but none other than a feral cat!  Angie and I talked about the ever- growing population of feral cats in the reserve and we made contact with the Manager, and hopefully Angie will be able to do a TNR project in the Game Reserve. This is very important for the survival of the African Wildcats that still life in the reserve. Feral cats mix and breed very easily with the Wildcat. The concern is that they dilute the gene pool and in some areas of South Africa more hybrids exist than pure Wildcats.

Angie of Sun City (right) and her TNR helper.
ACR has a plan (supported in full by the University of Pretoria Veterinary School and by many biologists and scientists) to buy a Mobile Spay Clinic and donate it to the University. The students accompanied by veterinarians can then go into remote areas where African Wildcats still survive and we can get all the local stray and feral cats sterilized. This is the only way to ensure the survival of the Wildcat. 

Up to now, the smaller wildcats of the world have not received much attention. Bigger cats such as tigers and cheetahs get some attention, but the smaller cats fall through the cracks. Things are changing now and small amounts of money are being spent on some research, but more needs to be done if we are to save the African Wildcat from extinction.

There are an estimated 10,000 pure Wildcats still living in South Africa, so we must work fast! For more information on the African Wildcat and how you can help, please visit our website.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

ACTION ALERT: Key Largo Cats Under Fire

Here's our first fight in the new year. Right now in Florida, the Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to eradicate all feral cats in the National Key Deer Refuge. Now, we understand we must compromise when it comes to sensitive wildlife areas but after learning more information on this situation, it is sometimes hard to find compromise.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, "Because the hardwoods have been cleared from most of Key Largo for development, the Key Largo wood rat was classified as endangered in 1984, as was a relative, the Key Largo cotton mouse. Despite the protection provided by 8,000 acres of preserved habitat, over the last decade the rats and mice have nearly disappeared. ORCAT's cats may be responsible." 

About 350 stray and feral cats live in an exclusive island community, Ocean Reef Club a few miles south of Miami. These cats are the beneficiaries of a program called ORCAT, set up by Ocean Reef's homeowners in 1993, to care for the cats. Since starting this TNR program, the community cat population has been reduced from around 2000 cats to 350, with 100 of the cats residing at the community's animal care center. "To Ocean Reef residents, ORCAT is a huge success. To state and federal wildlife experts, it's a threat."

The Fish and Wildlife Service is blaming the cats for the decline in local wildlife populations and using their endangered status to push for the cats' eradication. But didn't we just read that the majority of the habitat in Florida has been cleared for development and that is what caused species to become endangered? Maybe it's because now they only have a small tract of land to survive on...all these species competing with each other and with humans? Why wasn't more being done when these animals were first considered endangered back in 1984? Now it's come down to once again, the conservationists claiming that nothing can be done about development or human activities, so the best they can do is to kill the cats so the other animals have one less obstacle in their way for survival. And despite ORCAT's TNR program and huge reduction of the cat population in that area, the Fish and Wildlife Service still says that no valid proof exists that TNR programs reduce numbers and they say that TNR actually promotes the dumping of cats and does nothing to reduce cat predation on wildlife. They go as far as to quote PETA as experts on feral cat management.

Humans are CLEARLY to blame for endangered species...leaving them a small tract of land to survive on is the reason for their decline, not cats. Humans are a far bigger threat to the wood rat and Largo cotton mouse than cats are. Please use the link to view the Fish and Wildlife Services' Integrated Predator Management Plan and let your opposition to their eradication plan be heard.