Senior Cat Sunday

There have been many changes taking place at the Toronto Animal Services South location where I volunteer, I will be writing about this in a separate future post, cat adoptions have been on the increase and intake has been on the decrease. During the last few years this has also meant there have been less cats to socialize as the turn around time for adoptions has become much quicker.

While the younger cats, especially kittens, go faster older cats tend to still be overlooked which means in many cases they wait little longer to find homes. Cats have generally been considered to be a senior between 7 and 10 years but recently the different life stages have been revised, so a true senior cat can defined as being between the ages 11 to 14 years (geriatric is 15 plus). With the right care and attention which includes annual vet check ups, proper nutrition and exercise, they can live long active lives making them wonderful companions – and the best thing is you know exactly what your cats personality is like from the start!

If you follow me on Instagram I often post available cats for adoption from the shelter, but I felt a few of the older cats who have been there for a while deserve some extra focus. If you live in Toronto, or know people who do and are looking for a wonderful older cat, please share this with them.

Meet Baby Face a 7-year-old cat that really earns his name, he came in as an owner surrender and is very shy at first but, as soon as he gets to know you he is extremely sweet. He loves to stand on his hind legs and give you head butts or role over for a tummy rub. A very eager to love and be loved cat, Baby Face has been in the shelter since April 6, 2016.

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ID# 737950 – Baby Face is a gentle boy who is also good with other cats

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Mia is a part of the big and beautiful cat club, she is long-haired black cat that will need some help ensuring she stays focused on her diet and weight management. She came in as an owner surrender and is 8 years old. Her long hair will also need to be groomed on a regular basis to ensure she does not get mats, while she is tolerant of other cats she may be prefer to be your one and only. Mia has been at the shelter since April 16, 2016.

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ID # 489892 – Mia loves a cozy cat bed and to be the focus on your attention

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Finally Pumpkin, who is the oldest of the bunch at 11 years old is a lovely black and white cat. She is a quiet girl who loves to settle in a cozy space or a cat tower where she can hide out. This affectionate girl will bring a calm to your household and, while she can be tolerant of other cats, Pumpkin would prefer to have you all to yourself. Pumpkin has been at the shelter since April 22, 2016.

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ID # 740964 – Pumpkin’s very distinct markings add to her charm

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Generally cats from about 7 years and up will have a harder time finding homes, it is good to remember that just because they are labeled as ‘senior’ or ‘older’ it doesn’t mean they cannot live a long, healthy and active life. For some great tips on how to care for an older cat and help them get the best out of life, check out this great post by International Cat Care.

All cats listed above are available at Toronto Animal Services South Shelter, adoption is open to the public 7 days a week between 12-3pm.

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Blood Lions

The ground breaking film Blood Lions airs on MSNBC tonight in the USA. This film will not be easy to watch I will tell you that right off the top. It is however one that needs to be watched if the world is to stand up to the legal, horrific and brutal practice of Canned Hunting. Please watch and share the link with others.

Catch the premiere of Blood Lions, tonight October 7 at 10pm ET on MSNBC

For other dates check the MSNBC Documentary Schedule

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Blood Lions will take viewers into the dark world of the canned hunting in South Africa. Image – Blood Lions on Facebook

With the help of Ian Michler, safari operator and environmental journalist and Rick Swazey, an American hunter, viewers will see inside the breeding farms where lions are bred to be killed. The chain of suffering starts with tourists who volunteer or pay to pet, play, and bottle feed Lion cubs. Once these cute cubs are too large for human interaction the tame and habituated Lions are sold to canned hunting facilities where hunters pay big money for an easy and guaranteed kill. The Lions are shot with guns, rifles and crossbows all in an enclosed area with no chance for escape, suffering greatly before they die.

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Image – MSNBC

“Our film is an exposé,” says Blood Lions director Bruce Young, “most of the lions exist in appalling conditions, exploited at every stage of their lives. Even the people in South Africa do not know that lions are being bred for the bullet – and that it is totally legal. We want to show the world what is going on, who is involved, the impact on the animals and how much money is being generated by this industry.” – MSNBC

MSNBC web extras must watch online!

Volunteering in South Africa’s lion breeding facilities learn what you are really supporting.

Lion Bone Trade The demand for lions bones in China has created a new market for lion breeders in South Africa.

Want to help? Sign and share this petition to ask REAL GAP to Stop Sending Volunteers to Lion Breeding Projects in South Africa.

Eagle Scout

Eagle Scout Robbie Elliott of Norfolk, Virginia has become a local hero for community cats after he had to develop a leadership service project to earn his Eagle Scout honors in 2014. Initially he knew he wanted to do something to help pets and, after visiting the local Norfolk SPCA and learning about their TNR  program to help humanely reduce the number of community cats without resorting to killing them, Robbie decided where he would focus his attention.

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All Image via PetSmart Charities unless otherwise stated

TNR was a very new idea to the Norfolk community but, after PetSmart Charities granted the SPCA there a $62,000 grant in 2012 all that changed. The funds helped fix 1,200 cats and brought awareness to the practice and how it could help reduce the number of community cats by offering free spay and neuter services. Since then the program has grown.

Robbie’s visit to the SPCA made him realize that most people weren’t paying much attention to the cats and with food and shelter being the top two things needed, Robbie decided to focus on shelter.

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Robbie researched previous designs and what would best fulfill the needs of the cats enlisting the help of local architect Randy Lyall who donated his services. Together they included some unique elements on the wooden shelters like: a polycarbonate window for natural light, sheltered porch for food and water, a round hole for entry into the house, a one-way door in the back to give cats a quick getaway, and an inside wall to block the wind/rain. The design was also created with the caretakers in mind by ensuring two of the walls and roof were removable, making cleaning the structures easier.

Robbie raised $2,800 and he and his troop built a total of 10 houses, local business donated some of the materials which helped free up $820 which was then donated back to the program to buy food for the cats.

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Cat Shelter/Feeder built by Robbie Elliott

The Chesapeak Clipper reports that one of the local caretakers, Debbie DeMarco,  who was given two of the cat houses says they are a big hit with the cats and that Robbie ” has a good heart – and he did a really nice job.”  Rob Blizard, executive director of the Norfolk SPCA said he was amazed with the time and thought put into the project. “Robbie’s is the deluxe version – the Taj Mahal of feral cat houses.”

Robbie’s project has had a lasting, positive impact as more people have come forward wanting to help the cats. Some people who held negative views on the community cats prior to this project have now seen the benefits of TNR. All the support then allowed for an additional grant from PetSmart Charities of $79,000 to fix even more cats in 2015.

For anyone interested in building these houses, both the blueprints and instructions are available for free. Robbie and the Norfolk SPCA are encouraging everyone to share them to help community cats in all cities.

Slow Motion

One of the main reasons the iPhone was invented was to take pictures and videos – of cats. A few months ago I moved to an iPhone 6 and discovered the slow motion function on the camera. What better way to highlight the graceful, acrobatic and sometimes  hilarious movements of our feline friends.

If you follow my instagram feed you will see a few slow-mo videos and this past week I took several of an adorable kitten duo. These two sisters were abandoned at a pet supply store before being brought into the shelter. For the full videos be sure to check my Facebook page.

Both girls were spayed and will be up for adoption, I can’t imagine they will be in the shelter long.

Global March For Lions

On March 13 and 14, people in cities around the world will once again bring awareness to the canned Lion hunting industry in South Africa. Last year was the first Global March For Lions (GMFL) and with 60 cities worldwide participating it was truly a historical moment, no gathering had previously raised awareness for Lions like the GMFL did.

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“Last year’s Global March for Lions created unprecedented public awareness world-wide about the plight of the lion. It was really extraordinary. During my almost thirty years fighting for the lion, never before I had I seen such a public outpouring of concern for the King of Animals. It was so heartening, and is making a difference. With this year’s demo we must build on this. The lion needs us like never before.” – Gareth Patterson, Author of My Lion’s Heart.

How the average person contributes to the canned hunting industry

For some it starts as a dream, traveling to Africa to volunteer on a conservation project  where the placement includes interaction with Lion cubs. Most of these placements, which can be found in South Africa, sell themselves to unwitting volunteers who think that they will be doing a good thing by helping raise, bottle feed, and play with lion cubs. Volunteers are told they are helping with “conservation” of the species and that when the Lions are grown, and thus to large to interact with people, they will ultimately be released back into the wild.

This could not be further from the truth

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Ask yourself if this looks fun or natural for these cubs?

Cubs, once able to feed themselves are turned into props used to provide photo and petting opportunities for paying visitors. There is nothing more unnatural to a Lion cub than being handled by humans all day long and being separated from their mothers. It is unhealthy, cruel, extremely abusive and exploitative. Most of these cubs are in very poor condition and are a product of FACTORY FARMING. These human-imprinted Lions have NO conservation value and therefore can never go back to the wild.

This industry is in it for money – there is no other reason

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The stuff of nightmares, the majority of these “projects” are commercial lion breeding farms that supply Lions for Trophy Hunting outfits – All Images – Global March For Lions Facebook

The reality 

Once the cubs are too large and dangerous to interact with people most end up in the canned hunting industry. The Lion cubs that were hand-reared by volunteers, used for photo-ops and habituated to people are then killed by trophy hunters. The Lions are baited, drugged, shot with guns, rifles and crossbows resulting in a horrible lingering death for the animal. All this done in an enclosed area with little or no chance for the lion to escape. Lions now an easy target, betrayed by humans that they had once trusted and grown dependent on.

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Big business. The majority of trophy hunters, who hail from the EU and USA, will pay well over $10,000 and sometimes up to $38,000 per kill

Breeding captive Lions helps wild Lions

  • Breeding of lions in captivity is NOT an important scientific necessity for the survival of Lions in the wild and it is certainly not a recognized conservation practice
  • To date almost NO captive reared Lions have been successfully introduced into the wild and, the gene pool in wild Lions is still sufficiently wild
  • Inbreeding is very prevalent in captive bred Lions and wild Lions are captured to breed with those in captivity to improve their genes
  • Luke Hunter (President of Panthera and someone who has worked on the conservation of wild African cats since 1982) and other experts recently published a paper demonstrating this “Walking with lions: why there is no role for captive-origin lions – Panthera Leo in species restoration
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Captive breeding of lions involves very significant unregulated welfare issues

  • Stress to cub and mother caused by separation at an early age
  • Habituation to human contact, abuse and in some cases lack of adequate nutrition (to keep them small)
  • Restriction of freedom to express appropriate behavior and protection from fear and distress
  • Finally, Lions are sold into the canned Lion hunting industry
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Cub petting kills, make the connection

Many volunteers who take a placement at these facilities may not always be aware of what they are getting into. However some will defend placements even when presented with the facts, denying and refusing to believe that the cubs they once “played” with have since been sold into the canned hunting industry.

Thankfully, some return from their experience wanting to prevent others from making the same mistake. I urge you to read www.claws-out.com a blog where volunteers recount their time at Ukutula Lodge in South Africa. A cautionary tale, these volunteers are now  advocating against the cub petting and canned hunting industry.

Where have all the Lions gone?

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It is impossible for all these Lions, let alone one, to find a proper and reputable placement.

Believe it or not Canned Hunting Is NOT illegal in South Africa

Campaign Against canned Hunting (CACH), a South African charity working to stop canned lion hunting in South Africa, has had no success yet in changing the law. However since the industry relies on hunters being able to take their trophy home CACH, along with UK-based charity Lion Aid,  are working on changing the laws so to ultimately prevent  the importation of lion “trophies” into most countries like the EU and the US. This makes it less desirable to trophy hunt an animal when you can’t take the trophy.

Please visit the Global March For Lions Facebook Page for a complete list of cities and events this year, check back here for more updates and be sure to share this information to help educate others on the status of the African Lion.

Whisker Wednesday

“Cats know how to obtain food without labor, shelter without confinement, and love without penalties”  – W. L. George

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Calvin was adopted tonight, right after I took these photos 🐱

Lanai’s Little Lions

On my recent visit to Hawaii I made sure to take a day trip to Lanai, a place with less crowds, beautiful beaches and where the cats, also known as Lanai’s Little Lions, live.

Kitty paradise awaited at Lanai Cat Sanctuary a non-profit community service organization, founded in 2008 whose mission is to assist animals by “providing sustenance, foster homes, shelter, adoptions, veterinary care, spay/neuter services and humane education.”

Lanai Cat Sanctuary is reliant on awesome volunteers, staff and donations to help pay for food, supplies, medicine and the shelter, which is growing since they built their “permanent” structure in October of 2009.

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The greeting committee at LARC

What greets you upon arrival is something made of cat lovers and feline dreams. The warm climate allows for an amazing outdoor space full of cat cubicles for sleeping or hiding in, jungle gyms, bridges, baskets and lots of natural elements conducive to kitty happiness like trees and tall grass.

The 15,000-square-foot space is enclosed by a perimeter fence which ensures all cats remain safely inside. All are free roaming except those being newly acclimatized to the group or ones with FIV, who get their own special accommodations within the generous enclosure.

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Special accommodations for cats waiting for a vet visit

A separate house exists strictly for cats that are being treated for an illness or that will be getting a vet check, this ensures they get the help they need and are easier to find among the 300 – 400 cats currently housed at any time at the rescue center.

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Yes we all get along! One of the many cat approved resting areas.

Lanai Cat Sanctuary is a place where abandoned, abused and stray cats find refuge in peaceful surroundings and where you will find a multitude of cats just hanging out… and getting along. The “litter box” along the perimeter of the enclosure is brilliant, it consists of a home-made mixture that includes local pine tree needles which means there is no odor.

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Practicing my cat herding technique with a little help from some treats.

As a tourist visiting Lanai you can opt to get your cat fix daily, no appointment required, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you are staying at the Four Season on Lanai they can arrange these visits for you through the resorts volunteerism program, or you can arrange an individual visit like I did and be lucky enough to have the cats all to yourself. If you live on the Island then becoming part of the their community as a regular volunteer is also an option.

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The cat tree with baskets makes a perfect spot for an afternoon nap

If you fall love with one or more cats, this is almost guaranteed, you can elect to adopt/sponsor a cat in place or adopt and bring a cat home. Be sure to visit their wish list to see what items are needed and you can always opt to bring cat toys and treats in your suitcase like I did.

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Splendor in the grass – the cats make a nest in the long grass

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Founder Kathy Carroll with Slater girl who is a really snuggle bug! She is also available for adoption.

Founder Kathy Carrol is supported by many dedicated volunteers and staff who are key to helping Lanai Cat Sanctuary run smoothly and who also give the cats lots of love and attention.

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Be sure to check out their Facebook page for updates and events and, follow them on Instagram for your daily dose of tropical feline photos.