Healing Paws

What does a cat from Poland, Russia and Denver have in common? All three happen to be known for helping their fellow four-legged friends.

Rademenesa is known as the nurse cat of Bydgoszcz, Poland. He had come into the animal clinic with an inflamed respiratory tract, from which was thought he wouldn’t recover. However, the vet nursed him back to health and that’s when the clinic noticed something amazing.

cats, black cats, cats as healers, cat nurse, Rademenes,Poland, animal clinic, cat heroes, healing paws,

Image – Rademenes on Facebook @Rademenes.CatNurse

He returned the favor and began to comfort, cuddle and even massage other patients in the clinic. Rademenesa became the official, well-loved, full-time clinic nurse and mascot.

cats, black cats, cats as healers, cat nurse, Rademenes,Poland, animal clinic, cat heroes, healing paws,

Image – Rademenes on Facebook @Rademenes.CatNurse

Rademenesa made news around the world but he hasn’t let fame go to his head, he still practices his healing magic with great love on the animals at the clinic. For updates on him and his latest ‘patients’ be sure to follow him on Facebook.

Black cats seem to have a knack for this, and the next cat is no exception. Lyutsik the disabled cat who hails from Perm, Russia came into the clinic as a kitten after having been found with a damaged spine and, although his back legs are paralyzed he proved that his disability wouldn’t stop him from helping other animals.

cats, black cats, cats as healers, cat nurse, Lyutsik,Russia, animal clinic, cat heroes, healing paws, PK Perm, cats and dogs

ImagePK Perm

Смотрите, кто приходил в гости к Люцику- это самый известный в Перми чихуахуа Чарли @charli_perm. Если вы помните, Чарли лечился у нас с грыжей в позвоночнике, был прооперирован, восстановился, и теперь уже Чарли себя великолепно чувствует. Люцик позавидовал Чарли, что у него много нарядов от пуховика до свитеров и предпочел оставаться в стороне🐒😜 Добавляйтесь к @charli_perm , следите за его жизнью и ловите завтра #языкповторникам. Look , whom met Lucik in the last week! It is our patient who had similar problem with the spine. In one day he stoped to walk. After operation and a lot of care from his parents, he is good again! Lucik was envy of clothes of Charly because he has a lot of different coats and t-shirts, and Lucik decided stay behind without big interest. Add Charli @charli_perm and look at his style🐶🐶👕👟 #люцикклиникаклык #чихуахуа #пермь#ветеринарнаяклиника

A post shared by Клиника Клык🐾Пермь (@klykperm) on

Lyutsik has also been a blood donor and knows exactly who needs extra TLC standing by while they get injections and cuddling and purring to help patients heal.

 cats, black cats, cats as healers, cat nurse, Lyutsik,Russia, animal clinic, cat heroes, healing paws, PK Perm, cats and dogs

ImagePK Perm

Lyutsik is adored by staff who are inspired by his compassion, resilience and joy he brings to all the people and animals around him. He can be followed on the clinic’s Instagram page Klykperm.

Last but certainly not least is a handsome orange tabby named Ron who came to the Northfield Veterinary Hospital in Denver as a kitten from a feral cat colony and soon started comforting new, scared and sick animals. Ron’s skills made local news when he managed tame a large cat that was labeled too aggressive. Ron apparently sat on the cats carrier and in minutes had the cat purring and playing.

cats, Orange cats, cats as healers, cat nurse, Ron the cat, Denver, animal clinic, cat heroes, healing paws, cats and dogs

Image – Northfield Veterinary Hospital

cats, Orange cats, cats as healers, cat nurse, Ron the cat, Denver, animal clinic, cat heroes, healing paws, cats and dogs

Image –  Northfield Veterinary Hospital

cats, Orange cats, cats as healers, cat nurse, Ron the cat, Denver, animal clinic, cat heroes, healing paws, cats and dogs

Image – Northfield Veterinary Hospital

Ron’s story was shared early this year, but it looks like he may be officially retired from his cat nurse duties at the clinic. Northfield Veterinary Hospital recently posted a picture on their Facebook page in February showing Ron happily adopted and settled into his forever home.

It is clear that the healing abilities of cats extend beyond that of helping humans, and their healing paws seem to be just what the doctor ordered.

Wolf-Deer

Many years ago on a trip to Kenya I was very fortunate to see a serval on a night drive in Amboseli National Park. The image while grainy reminds me of how beautiful, elegant and perfectly camouflaged this animal is for its environment. It was the cats glowing eyes that gave it away and, as we stopped to watch, he or she turned around and gave one over the shoulder glance before silently padding off into the tall grass under the cover of darkness.

Serval, Africa, travel, ethical travel, safari, Amboseli National Park, wild cats, conservation, ecotourism

The name Serval is derived from a  Portuguese word meaning “wolf-deer”  or “deer-like wolf”

Servals (Leptailurus serval) are a medium-sized lesser cat, not to be grouped with the bigger cats even though they have been called miniature cheetahs, weighing between 30 to 40 pounds. Some of their distinguishing characteristics include tawny coats with black strips, splotches, spots, and, large oval ears which enable them to detect the slightest sounds and target small prey animals in the grass or in the ground. They also have the longest legs, which make them excellent acrobatic jumpers and hunters, for body size of any of the cats and are most at home in grassland and moist habitats such as reed beds and marshes, but are found in a variety of habitats throughout Africa except tropical rain forests and the Saharan desert. In North Africa a few isolated populations are said to exist in both Morocco and northern Algeria but it is thought they number less than 250 individuals, isolated in vulnerable sub-populations of fewer than 50. Therefore it is generally recognized that servals are critically endangered north of the Sahara.

If spotting a serval is lucky then catching a glimpse of the very rare melanistic serval is magic and, there are only 4 locations in Eastern Africa where you might be able to have this experience.

Melanistic serval, Serval, Africa, travel, ethical travel, safari, Amboseli National Park, wild cats, conservation, ecotourism,

Image © Alison Mees – “Interestingly, the serval spotted by Mees was foraging in the lowlands of  Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park suggesting that either these black cats are moving out of the mountains, or they are spreading their melanistic genes to populations that live at lower elevations. We’ll leave that to the experts to figure out.” via Earth Touch News Network

Melanism is a genetic condition in which an animal has an increased development of black pigmentation in the skin and hair, and even though the cause of  the condition still remains unknown, it is thought that the darker coloration helps retain body heat and provide a type of survival mechanism. Many other feline species, including bobcats, have exhibited melanism and it appears in about 13 of the 37 known feline species worldwide.

Melanistic serval, Serval, Africa, travel, ethical travel, safari, East Africa, Mkomazi National Park, wild cats, conservation, ecotourism,Tanzania

Image © Christian Boix – Melanistic Serval in Mkomazi National Park, Tanzania via Africa Geographic

Servals are typically a solitary species with pairs only coming together for a few days to mate. The female will give birth to a litter of kittens approximately 74 days later and about a year later she will chase her young from her territory allowing female offspring to stick around a few months longer than the males. Seeing two servals together wouldn’t be surprising if you happen to be at the right place at the right time, however if you happen to witness the meeting of a regular colored serval and a melanistic serval – that would be something truly special and rare.

This is exactly what happened to Jeremy Goss, conservationist and wildlife photographer, while on a night game drive in Kenya. It was unclear if this was a courtship or simply two servals greeting one another, regardless the photographs and video show an unforgettable meeting between the two cats.

Melanistic serval, Serval, Africa, travel, ethical travel, safari, East Africa, Kenya, wild cats, conservation, ecotourism, Jeremy Goss, wildlife photography

Image © Jeremy Goss – via Africa Geographic

Melanistic serval, Serval, Africa, travel, ethical travel, safari, East Africa, Kenya, wild cats, conservation, ecotourism, Jeremy Goss, wildlife photography

Image © Jeremy Goss– via Africa Geographic

Servals are listed on CITES II appendix, which prohibits international trade without a permit, and they are currently classified as least concern on the IUCN Red List. While they are not generally considered an endangered species they are suffering like all other of the wild cats.

The primary threats come from the bigger cats like leopards, dogs and most notably the ever-growing human population. Servals are poached for their beautiful coats, which are used for ceremonial and medicinal purposes, and even for their meat which is considered a delicacy by some African tribes. Fragmentation and loss of wetland habitat means loss of main prey sources like rodents, this in addition to the burning of grasslands, overgrazing by livestock and persecution by farmers, who consider them a threat to livestock, are also greatly contributing to their demise. Servals rarely take anything larger than a bird and do not pose a threat to humans but are often wrongly blamed for killing sheep and chickens.

Even though servals are not protected over most of their home range, hunting is prohibited in some of their range countries, there is no conservation plan in place but it is clear that any would be welcome to help better understand and ensure a future for this unique and elegant feline.

33 Lions

If you missed 60 minutes last night please watch the update on the 33 Lions rescued by Animal Defenders International, part of a massive, and first of its kind, undertaking to rescue all wild animals from Peru and Colombia’s illegal circuses. 60 minutes shows exclusive footage from the rescue as the lions are prepared for their fights to Africa. While the video shows the amazing rescue and how the lions are doing, there are some disturbing images showing the abusive treatment that the animals were subjected to by the circus. As always, please avoid circuses and attractions that use animals for entertainment, when the public stops supporting these establishments the abuse will stop to.

Click here or on image for video

60 minutes, Lions, Lion rescue, 33 Lions, ADI, Animal Defenders International, Lions rescued from lions from Peru and Colombia back to their native Africa, Big Cats, Circus, Africa, Operation Spirit of Freedom, Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary“ADI’s Operation Spirit of Freedom is the biggest operation of its kind, collaborating with Peru authorities to enforce its law banning wild animal circuses and raiding circuses all over the country. As part of its ongoing mission, ADI saved 109 animals from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade in Peru.”

For updates on how the lions are doing, and how you can help, please visit Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary.

Cats in Space

Cats in Space. It may sound like it could have been a skit on the original Muppet Show, but along with dogs, chimps, monkeys and a variety of other species cats were part of early space programs. The contributions of our feline friends, along with other animals  who made the ultimate sacrifice, have often gone unnoticed as they became unwilling victims to the advancement of space exploration and human curiosity.

cats, cats in space, early space exploration, space programs, animals in space,

The U.S while never actually sending cats into space did subject them to a ride on the “Vomit Comet”. Weightlessness, cats and pigeons.

Animals were used in early space programs to gain understanding of biological processes and the effects of space flight and gravity so that human injuries and loss could be reduced. Many countries used animals in early space programs including the U.S. Russia, China and Japan, but France included cats. Among the cats that the French used, who were subjected to a battery of tests including compression chambers, centrifuges and rocket-propelled sleds, a male named Felix and female named Félicette were chosen to be part of the first mission in 1963. Felix however had other plans and went missing just before the mission. Smart Cat.

Félicette, the first cat in space, cats in space, animals in space,

Félicette, who was found on the streets of Paris, stepped in to replace Felix as the first cat in space and, on On October 18, 1963 she was launched on the Véronique AG1 rocket from Algerian Sahara desert rocket base. After a 15 minute flight reaching an altitude of 130 miles Félicette made it back safely to Earth – alive. She had electrodes implanted in her brain so that they could measure brain activity and to register any changes that may have happened during the flight. Although Félicette did not actually orbit the Earth she came back a hero and was celebrated for her “valuable contribution to research” however, her celebrity did not last long. Not much is documented about her fate but it was noted in one blog that she was put to sleep not long after so that the electrodes could be studied. The not so glamorous side to the story and the reality of what happens to the majority of cats used in research.

Félicette, the first cat in space, cats in space, animals in space, animals used in research, cats used in research

Cats in simulated spacesuits [NASA archive]

Félicette wasn’t the last cat to go to space, and on October 24 France launched another cat who did not make it back alive. There were problems with the recovery and the delay cost the unknown ‘astrocat’ his or her life.

The story of Félicette and the other cats used in the French space program appear to have quietly slipped away into history, but it’s an important story to be told and one that should not be forgotten.

What does the future hold for cats in space? At the time there doesn’t seem to be any plans for these experiments to be repeated, however recently the Iranian Space Agency announced plans to send a Persian Cat into space. The announcement met with backlash and rightfully so, but whether or not the unlucky feline will make it to orbit is unclear.

Here’s hoping we keep cats, and all other animals, grounded and the only time we see our feline friends visit space is in a video like this.

The Lions of London

The Tower of London is known for its rich and rather dark history having been a royal palace, prison, fortress, place for executions and at one time a zoo housing a menagerie of animals including leopards, a polar bear, elephant, monkeys, zebra, ostrich and lions, most of which were given as ‘gifts’ from foreign countries to the monarchy. In 1937 two very well-preserved lion skulls were excavated from the Towers moat and later confirmed, through genetic testing, to be the now extinct pure Barbary lions. Interestingly the skulls were carbon dated back to between “1420 and 1480 for one, and between 1280 and 1385 for the other, making it the oldest lion found in the UK since the extinction of wild cave lions during the last ice age.” Lions being symbols of nobility and strength of the monarchy did not prevent them from mistreatment, and the skulls revealed evidence that they suffered from nutritional and physical stress which would have been in addition to the stress caused from their initial capture, transport to the zoo and a life in captivity.

Lions, Leopards, zoos, captivity, Tower of London, Cats in art, Lion Sculptures, Wildlife in captivity, babary lions, extinct cats, ancient wildlife trade, big cats,

The Royal Menagerie zoo lasted more than 600 years: An illustratation of how the zoo within the Tower looked in 1816Daily Mail online

Visitors were allowed to view the animals and apparently during the 18th century the price of admission was “three half-pence, or the supply of a cat or dog to be fed to the lions.”  The collection of animals continued to grow and expand in species until it was realized that the Tower was no place to keep them. Suffice it to say the attitude towards captive animals, and animals in general was not very good, but as people’s views of animals in captivity started to change most of them, except for those in the private collection of Keeper Alfred Cops which were later re-homed in 1835 after a series of accidents, were sent to the Zoological Society of London in Regent Park in 1831 and early 1832 to establish the London Zoo. The Tower’s zoo was officially closed in 1835.

By current standards the conditions these animals were kept in must have been appalling or close to what we see in some of the modern worlds worst zoos. Thankfully the only remaining animals on the Tower grounds today are those made of galvanized wire.

lions, tower of london, barbary lions,

Tower of London: The 3 Lions  sculpture is located on the site of the original Lion Tower

To celebrate the history of the Royal Menagerie, contemporary animal sculptor, and a member of the Society of Wildlife Artists (UK) and a signature member of the Society of Animal Artists (USA), Kendra Haste was commissioned to create life-size replicas of the wild creatures that were once held at the Tower.

Kendra Haste, Sculpture, Lions, zoos, captivity, Tower of London, Cats in art, Lion Sculptures, Wildlife in captivity, babary lions, extinct cats, ancient wildlife trade, big cats,

“Royal Beasts” exhibit include lions, baboons, a polar bear and elephant – Image – Kendra Haste

These amazing and incredible life-like sculptures were created by using layers of galvanized wire, twisted and even painted to produce the results which give a sense of “a living, breathing subject in a static 3-D form.” The result can be seen in these photos, in person one can easily imagine them coming to life a haunting tribute to those creatures, victims of wildlife trafficking, who were imprisoned and perished at the Tower.

Kendra Haste, Sculpture, Lions, zoos, captivity, Tower of London, Cats in art, Lion Sculptures, Wildlife in captivity, babary lions, extinct cats, ancient wildlife trade, big cats,

Image – Kendra Haste

Kendra Haste, Sculpture, Lions, zoos, captivity, Tower of London, Cats in art, Lion Sculptures, Wildlife in captivity, babary lions, extinct cats, ancient wildlife trade, big cats,

Image – Kendra Haste

Elephant, Kendra Haste, Sculpture, Lions, zoos, captivity, Tower of London, Cats in art, Lion Sculptures, Wildlife in captivity, babary lions, extinct cats, ancient wildlife trade, big cats,

Image – Kendra Haste

Currently on display until 2021, this incredible exhibit is a must see if you live, or will be in London, so be sure to check it out if you have the chance.

Purr Therapy

I actually wasn’t looking for it, but there it was face up on the shelf of the bookstore under the ‘pets and nature’ section. I had stopped by the store to buy a book not cat related, crazy I know but it does happen, however the title and cover caught my attention as did the story about a psychotherapist who used two of her cats in her practice.

Purr Therapy, Dr. Kathy McCoy, Therapy Cats, Pet loss, lessons cats teach us, therapists who use animals in therapy, cat assisted therapy, cats, book reviewThe book details how Dr. Kathleen McCoy’s two cats serendipitously become part of her practice helping to bring healing to her patients. While animal assisted therapy is becoming more accepted and a variety of species like dogs, rabbits, horses, pigs, birds and cats are now used, the author admits that she had not previously considered it until she noticed the special rapport that her first therapy cat Timmy had with people. After Timmy’s untimely death she wasn’t looking for another cat but ends up adopting Marina who later steps in to continue Timmy’s work.

Mark Anderson Cartoon, Cats, Therapy, therapy cats

All cat lovers know the healing presence our cats have on us and, science has finally caught up confirming that felines have the ability to relieve stress, anxiety, lower blood pressure and even help heal bones and muscle with their purrs. Purr Therapy takes the reader into specific examples from Dr. McCoy’s own life and practice on how Timmy and then Marina helped her clients, while teaching her “lessons in mindfulness, joyful living, and compassion.”

There are moments in the book that cat owners will identify with and maybe even directly relate to, I know I did as both of my cats exhibited many of the same qualities that Timmy and Marina had. The book is insightful and at times emotional, especially if you have experienced a sudden loss of your feline companion.

Purr Therapy is an enjoyable and interesting read one that will help you to further appreciate the amazing abilities of the furry little therapist that you share your home with. It can be purchased in bookstores or online at retailers like Amazon.

Love Story

Wonderful short film from Jay Station on Youtube documenting the mating behavior of Florida Panthers. Always fascinating to watch big cat behavior!