Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Honoring our Canine Friends on National Dog Day

Today we celebrate National Dog Day by honoring a few canines that are extra special to ACR. These dogs have come into our lives through our work on behalf of cats, and we just had to give them love and help when the time came.

First is Bandit, who was rescued in Mexico by our president, Louise. ACR was in the country conducting a MASH-style spay/neuter clinic when Louise met Bandit at a local shelter. At the time, the shelter was very much overcrowded with multiple animals housed in each cage, and euthanasia was being done by electrocution. Louise showed great compassion for Bandit in Mexico, and now we all get to share in Bandit's love. She greets us with enthusiasm during office visits, and is a doting "mother" to many of the cats and kittens in our care. Bandit's patience and love are big reasons why so many of our cats and kittens do great in homes with dogs.

Then there's Pickles, another sweetie rescued by one of our board members, DesireƩ, in Los Angeles. Pickles does his best to dispel the notion that dogs and cats don't get along. He's so cuddly and affectionate that he's been nicknamed Velcro. When it comes to interacting with Pickles, frequent and prolonged snuggling is mandatory.

Canine pal Pickles, rescued in L.A., with Chico, who was rescued from a Baltimore shelter.

Lastly there's Buddy, the pitbull mix Louise found abandoned at a Hyattsville dog park early one morning this spring. Louise has found a few dogs dumped at dog parks in this manner, where we assume the former caretaker figured a kind soul would happen upon the dog and take him in. Of course we'd never condone this method of "rehoming," but we're sure glad Louise had her Animals-In-Need-Radar working that day!

When it comes to rescue work, for us it's all about compassion and giving the animals the best life possible.We were able to take in Buddy and care for him while we searched for his new forever home. With the help of our friends at the Brentwood Animal Hospital, word spread about Buddy and his friendly and energetic personality, until a new home was found. And what a home it is, with a large open yard and even a stream for frolicking!


We're so appreciative of Buddy's new family for taking him in. We couldn't imagine a more stark contrast between the life he faced when he was left alone at the park and the life he can now look forward to. Our pledge is to find every cat we come in contact with a loving home like Buddy's, and if we can help out a dog or three along the way, all the better! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Charlie says "Bye Bye" to an eye

Charlie, before surgery.
by Adam Jablonski
If you're a longtime reader of the blog, you may remember a couple posts (see here and here) about the Peanuts Gang, a litter of siamese-mix kittens taken in and fostered by ACR as part of a TNR project in College Park, MD. Each kitten in the Gang suffered from eyelid agenesis, a condition that causes the hairs around the eyes to curl in and scratch and irritate the eyes, which can eventually cause blindness. We had three of these kittens treated by a specialist, who removed the offending hairs, and all but one has been without issue since.

Linus today, with no eye problems.
Young Charlie, as a Peanut.
Charlie is the only one of the group that continued to have eye issues. (Linus, Charlie's last littermate still in our care, received the agenesis treatment and has had no complications since.) Along with eyelid agenesis, Charlie had another congenital condition called microphthalmia, which left his right eye and optic nerve underdeveloped and non-functioning. That's not a health problem in itself, but because his socket wasn't supported by a full-size eye, his lid and lashes continued to curl into the space and cause irritation. His long fur didn't help matters either. We managed the problem by regularly trimming the fur and lashes near his right eye and by keeping the area clean.

But recently we noticed more discharge around Charlie's eye than usual, so we decided to have him examined by another specialist, who recommended removing the underdeveloped eye and closing the socket. After careful consideration, we decided that keeping the eye would be of no benefit to Charlie, so we chose to have it removed for him. The great news is that the surgery went smoothly and Charlie went straight home with Volunteer Coordinator Liz to convalesce. 

Charlie post-surgery, looking like he has a catnip hangover.
After a week on oral pain medication and an antibiotic, Charlie is getting back to his usual self. He's up and about in his cage and asking for rubs each time we check in on him during the day. He won't need to adjust to having one eye because he's only ever seen with his left. His left eye doesn't function perfectly either, but he can see from it well enough, and when interacting with Charlie one can tell he's using his sense of smell just as much as his sight to keep tabs on his surroundings.

Stitches keep the surgery site closed, whle the cone stops him from scratching it.
What's funniest to us is that Charlie now looks like a tough guy with a scar to prove it, and yet this is what he's known for around the office.


Both Charlie and Linus are available for adoption! They are both laid back and affectionate and do well with other cats. Linus has not had any eye problems since his surgery as a kitten, and we do not anticipate that Charlie will have any issues going forward. They're both about three years old, are neutered, up-to-date on their shots, and have tested negative for FIV and FeLV. Please get in touch if you're interested in meeting Charlie and Linus, as we're sure they'd be great additions to most any loving home.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Justice for Cecil and respect for ALL cats

Cecil, in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
By Vince O’Sullivan, via Flickr
By Louise Holton

The recent killing of an innocent lion, Cecil, has caused a global public outrage. We at Alley Cat Rescue were just as upset and horrified by the event. We hope that this spotlight will remain on the needless killing of animals, such as Cecil and other large and small wild cats. This came at the same time that Australia announced the killing of two million feral cats in the next few years.

First let us address the argument that killing animals gives money to conservation. The Huffington Post recently showed us that very little money from trophy hunting goes to the local economy. Plus hunters go after the biggest and best specimens of animals, thereby removing them from the gene pool, a big blow to conservation.

TAKE ACTION: ACR believes Cecil's killer should be held accountable and face charges in Zimbabwe. Please sign this PETITION to urge the U.S. government to fully cooperate with authorities in Zimbabwe who are seeking justice for Cecil. 

African Wildcat, South Africa
By Tim Ellis, via Flickr
Alley Cat Rescue has had a program in South Africa to protect the small African Wildcat, Felis lybica. This cat is endangered not only by hybridization, but by exploding human populations that take over and limit the cat’s habitat, and also by hunting. Farmers shoot the cat fearing he will take livestock, like sheep, even though the cat's diet is mostly small mammals, such as rodents and birds. ACR’s program in Africa aims to implement measures to spay and neuter feral and stray cats who live in areas bordering those where the African Wildcat still lives. This helps to reduce breeding between the wildcat and feral or stray cats (hybridization), and also serves to humanely manage and control the feral cat population.

As far as Australia killing feral cats, this is not only a terrible idea, but it will not work to remove all the feral cats in Australia. In fact it will have the reverse effect: it will make the population GROW, as a recent study in Tasmania has shown. (We recommend the Animals 24-7 blog for a detailed explanation of the study and it's important findings.)


And if Australia thinks it has a problem now with an overpopulation of rodents and rabbits, wait until they remove feral cats from the ecology. They do not seem to have learned the lessons from islands (such as Macquarie and Little Barrier island), where removing feral cats allowed rodent and rabbit populations to explode, damaging both plant life and the bird populations they were trying to save.

Killing makes the government look like it's doing ‘‘something,” even though this “something” may make matters worse in the long term. And sadly, all the years of propaganda against feral cats has caused most Australians to hate feral cats, as can be seen in the comment section of every newspaper where the articles announcing the killing have appeared.

By iris, via Flickr
ACR’s proposal to trap and spay or to use oral contraceptives to control feral cats in Australia is a far worthier plan to follow. Without cats around to control the number of rats and rabbits, the populations of these two prey animals grow quickly, and they go on to do even more damage to threatened animals and plant life than cats ever do. The use of trap and spay or oral contraceptives is preferable as these methods do not shock the ecosystem with an immediate removal of a top predator. Because these methods allow for a more gradual rate of attrition of cats over time, there is no associated boom in the rat or rabbit population. This gives wildlife the chance to recover without dealing with increased pressure from a new predator. Not only will these non-lethal methods work well in Australia, but they are also more humane than just rushing out to kill, which is a short-term fix at best.

To get back to the killing of Cecil, it is our sincere hope that this will start new debates and discussions on the killing of animals, for sport or otherwise. We hope those outraged by Cecil's death will consider why such emotion is often found lacking when it comes to calls for killing innocent feral cats living in well-managed colonies, or healthy and adoptable shelter cats who are killed simply because a facility runs out of space. Whether endangered lions or small wildcats like the African Wildcat, or the much-maligned and denigrated feral cat, we must remember that they are all sentient beings deserving of our respect and compassion.

-"The Economic Argument For Killing Cecil The Lion Doesn't Hold Up"
-Effects of low-level culling of feral cats in open populations: a case study from the forests of southern Tasmania
 -"Culling cats increases the feral population, Australian study finds"
 -"Cat control lead to eco disaster on World Heritage island"
-"Birds Glad Cats Eat Rats"

-Cecil the Lion
By Vince O’Sullivan (Own Work), [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Flickr
-African Wildcat 
By Tim Ellis (Own Work), [CC BY-NC 2.0 (], via Flickr
-Feral cat 
By iris (Own Work), [CC BY-ND 2.0 (, via Flickr