Monthly Archives: May 2012

I get updates every few days from Modern Cat, a really neat web site that offers all kinds of items (furniture, toys, food) for the “modern cat.” In a recent email, I learned about a very cool trip that any cat lover would drool over attending.

Friends of Roman Cats will present a 12-day educational tour of Italy that will not only allow participants to visit many lovely Italian historical sites, but will also include interesting cat sites. The Cats & Culture tour will run from October 9-21, 2012.

To download the complete itinerary and pricing information, go HERE.

One of the nice things about this trip is that Italy deals with stray and feral cats much differently than the United States. According to the Friends of Roman Cats web site, Italy passed a law in 1991 that “bans killing healthy stray cats and dogs.” Rather, “community cats live openly and are fed by numerous gattare; others are cared for in sanctuaries.” The tour will visit many of these sanctuaries.

The twelve day festival of felines begins in Venice, passes through Florence and Siena, and ends in Rome. Susan Wheeler, President of Friends of Roman Cats, will accompany travelers on the tour. The price of the trip includes a $200 tax-deductible donation to Friends of Roman Cats, which will be divided between all of the shelters and cat groups that participate in the trip.

So, not only do you get to see lots of history and kitties, but you also get to help support the cats you meet–who you know will not be killed after you pass through. If you are looking for a wonderful trip this year, the Cats & Culture tour might be it!

I am so proud to announce that the blog for Black and Orange Cat Foundation is a finalist, along with blogs for Covered in Cat Hair, The Intrepid Pup, and Rescued Insanity, for Best Blog Writing in the BlogPaws 2012 Nose-to-Nose Pet Blogging and Social Media Awards. I have to thank my sister, Bobbie, for nominating the blog for this award.

Best Blog Writing was one of twelve categories that blogs were being judged in by a panel of distinguished professionals (rather than the normal voting by popularity that we see with many of these contests). Other categories included:

1. Best Blog Design, 2. Best Humor Blog, 3. Best Bark Blog, 4. Best Meow Blog, 5. Best Wiggle Blog, 6. Best New Blog, 7. Best Cause Blog, 8. Best Video on a Blog, 9. Best Photo on a Blog, 10. Best Facebook Design, and 11. Best Twitter Design.

To see all the finalists, go HERE.

If the B and O blog wins in the writing category, I will receive a 5,000-meal donation of Halo Spot’s Stew for the rescue or shelter of my choice, as well as a $100 gift certificate for Halo! Guess you know who will be getting the food donation!

I also received a free pass to the BlogPaws 2012 conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Halo, Purely for Pets and are the official sponsors of the BlogPaws awards. The winners will be announced on Saturday, June 23, at the red carpet gala ceremony at the BlogPaws conference.

Wish the blog (and me!) luck!

As many of you know, Alley Cat Allies has been working with cat lovers in Canton, Ohio this past year to help stop the trapping and killing of feral cats. The group, and others involved in TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return), have been trying to convince City Council to spay and neuter feral cats, rather than killing them.

In their ongoing efforts to help the Canton cats, Alley Cat Allies is sponsoring a two week Spay-a-Thon for all cats, whether they are feral, stray, or owned pets. The Spay-a-Thon will take place at One of a Kind Pets Spay & Neuter Clinic. This event is FREE and will begin on May 30 and run until June 13. If you are a Canton resident and would like more information, call Alley Cat Allies at (855) 264-CATS (2287).

Just when I think I cannot possibly hear anything more awful that humans have done to animals, I am sadly disappointed to learn that, yes, our species can find even greater cruelties to subject innocent creatures to endure.

A few weeks ago, I heard a story on NPR about animal activists in China who were stopping trucks loaded with dogs headed to butchers to be slaughtered. These activists were buying the dogs and finding sanctuaries for them. Attitudes in China are changing and dogs are no longer considered just “food,” but, rather, companions. Hurrah for that.

I was so deeply troubled by the story and the photos that I saw when investigating how I could help, that I decided to find an organization that actively was working to stop dog butchering in China and send them a donation.

The group I found was Animals Asia.

When I went on the Animals Asia web site, I read about sanctuaries for the dogs rescued from the meat trade. And I also learned about something I had never heard about before: Moon Bears.

Moon Bears. Their name sounds so otherworldly and exotic, conjuring up fairy tale images of creatures frolicking under starlit skies. Their story, however, is something far removed from the realm of magical yarns. Rather, what these majestic animals suffer seems more from the pages of a horror novel.

Moon Bears are Asiatic Black Bears. They are called Moon Bears because of the cream blaze on their chest that looks like a crescent moon. These animals are a threatened species with their numbers falling each year. What I also learned on the Animals Asia web site is that these bears are trapped as babies and kept caged for their entire lives so their bile can be harvested.

And this is where major, heart wrenching cruelty steps in.

As mentioned, these bears are trapped in leg hold traps as babies, so when they are taken to the bile farms, many of them are missing a paw or a limb or are severely injured. They are then placed in extraction or “crush” cages (so called because the top of the cage can be lowered to crush the bear on to the bottom to make it easier to collect bile from them) in which they will live for the rest of their lives-years and years (some bears have been kept alive 20-25 years or more)–until they are either rescued or die. They are never let out of these cages and their legs often no longer work due to muscle atrophy from the horrendous confinement.

Once they are in these cages they often have their teeth and claws removed and then a tube is implanted to “milk the bile” from their gall bladders. In some other cases, the bile is just allowed to drip out from a permanent hole in the gallbladder and abdomen that routinely becomes infected, causes internal bleeding (which often leads to death), and is very painful. The bile farmers dose these bears with antibiotics to keep them alive, so they can continue to harvest the bile.

I won’t go into any more details about this, because just writing these words has brought tears to my eyes. You can read more (if you can take it) on Wikipedia.

You can also read a 2008 NPR story called “Stalking the Moon Bears” HERE. It is no easier to read, however.

The bears are tortured in this manner, because bear bile is prescribed in traditional Chinese medicine. Bear bile contains UDCA, ursodeoxycholic acid, which is thought to reduce fevers, help with eyesight, and protect the liver. UDCA, however, can be obtained in many other ways due to modern chemical methods–methods that make harming these bears unnecessary and unjustified. Still some Chinese doctors refuse to use anything other than the bear bile and so the mutilation and torture of these creatures continues.

When I was online reading about the Moon Bears, I discovered that Animals Asia, and several other places, have safe havens where they take the bears that they purchase from the bile farmers. The bears are then allowed to live out their final days in peace. I ordered a wonderful children’s book, Saving Jasper, which describes the actual rescue of one bear who had lived confined in a crush cage for 15 years. I intend to donate this book to our local library to educate others about something I knew nothing about.

When Jasper and the other bears in the sanctuaries were rescued, they actually had to be cut out of their crush cages. There was no other way to release them, as they are put in the cages with the idea that they will never come out.

The rescued bears require huge amounts of medical care and are often very frightened, at first, of open spaces after living in the tiny cages. Moon bears often stand over six feet tall, but these cages are usually no more than four and a half feet long.

Imagine spending your entire life hunched over, never able to stretch or move your limbs, while being tormented and existing in ceaseless pain with nothing to do all day but crouch in misery, your mind focused only on your condition. Not even sleeping or eating would bring joy. This is the bear’s life.

Sometimes, I’ve had people comment to me: why worry about animals on the other side of the world when there are plenty of animal horror issues close to home? Yes, it is true that there are enough animal issues right here in Ohio to keep me busy writing blog posts for the rest of my life. I hear tons of sad things just dealing with cat rescue.

But the internet has made all of us so connected that thousands of miles disappear with the click of a mouse. We can see and experience things that once were impossible to discover. All of life is joined together and one animal’s suffering is my concern if I can do something to make it stop–whether that suffering is in my own backyard or a dark cage I will never see in person (thankfully) in China.

This connectivity was brought home to me through an NPR story that I paid special attention to a few mornings ago after my readings on the Moon Bears. Black bears in the state of New York (and elsewhere) are now being poached to provide bile and paws (bear paws are a delicacy used in Chinese soups) for Asian pharmacies and restaurants in the United States. This is no longer just an issue far away in China.

Here is the story I heard on NPR about bear poaching in the United States.

While I know, as a pharmacist, that our own pharmaceutical industry mistreats many, many animals (the myriad of animals locked in research labs, for example, and that is without including other non-drug businesses such as puppy mills and factory farms–I could go on and on), I still find the story of the Moon Bears heart breaking. The bears do not need to be treated as they are to provide a substance that can be synthetically made in a lab or processed from plants.

For Mother’s Day this year, I bought my mom a silver pendant of a Moon Bear. I did not go into great detail, but I told her what the bear symbolized–hope. Some day, I believe her necklace will be a reminder of how the world has changed–changed so that animals are no longer made to suffer for human whims and all of the Moon Bears are set free.

To find out more, visit Moon Bear Rescue on Facebook HERE and Animals Asia on Facebook HERE.

Benjamin's Poor Ear

At the beginning of March, the lady who had helped Exodus (the FIV positive kitty with the broken jaw), sent me an email and a text about another kitty who showed up needing emergency vet care. With her text was the photo above showing Benjamin (aka “Butter”) and his awful looking left ear. I immediately took one look at the picture and arranged to meet her.

Benjamin went to East Hilliard Vet Services to have his ear fixed. Much of the ear was missing and what was still there was very infected. The smell from the carrier was so grotesque, I thought I would gag. It was Benjamin’s poor ear that was giving off the awful smell and I wondered how he had survived.

We are not certain what happened to the ear. We think Benjamin was probably attacked by something that ripped away the top of the ear and then the rest became infected. Whatever happened, it had to have been very traumatic and extremely painful for this little guy.

I thought that Benjamin would end up without an ear after everything was done. There wasn’t much left and what was there was very fragmented and jagged.

But thanks to Dr. Tom and Dr. Chris and a wonderful vet student, Dr. Missy, Benjamin ended up with a very short and stubby ear. His left ear is about half the size of his right ear, but it is shaped like an ear (with a slight curl at the top). We think his new ear makes him look very handsome!

Whatever attacked Benjamin may have nearly taken his ear and also given him FIV, feline immunodeficiency virus. This is the same virus that Exodus had, so perhaps it is being transmitted by another cat at the location where Benjamin and Exodus came from. In any case, both cats from the same place were infected.

Many people (and vets) freak when they hear FIV positive. A lot of shelters automatically euthanize cats that test positive for this virus, because there are so many negative cats that also need homes. But the truth is, FIV positive cats can live very long and healthy lives and the virus is very hard to pass on to other cats. People just need to understand that these cats are also perfectly suited to being adopted and added to their families. There are too many stereotypes that need to be overcome with education.

The virus is only spread through deep bites and these typically only occur between un-neutered male cats. Benjamin is neutered and he is also a very, very docile and gentle cat who is not aggressive in any way. He likes other cats and could be adopted with a negative kitty who was also very laid back and sweet. Two cats that do not fight are not going to pass the disease.

Cats with FIV can also live long lives. While their immune systems may be a bit weaker than other negative kitties, that does not mean they are going to die young or live horrible, sickly lives. They should be kept indoors and treated for any problems that arise, but that is how we want people to treat their cats anyway, whether they are positive or negative for FIV.

There are several nice articles about FIV on the Best Friends web site. You can access those HERE and HERE. You can also read a Fact Sheet about FIV HERE.

Exodus went to Best Friends Animal Society in Utah last October, because I could not find anyone who would look past his FIV status and adopt him. But that was a very special case and I am certain Benjamin can find a home here in Ohio with an open minded person.

Benjamin is a lovely cat. He is dog-like in his personality, following you around and loving a good rubdown and scratch. He is very, very laid back and was a perfect angel during the time he had to be confined to a large dog crate so he could heal. He never made any messes or trashed his cage. He just patiently waited for “stretching time” and his meals and belly rubs. He loves everyone he meets.

Benjamin is only 2-3 years old. He has the wonderful orange tabby personality and has never met a stranger. This sweet, special boy with the tiny ear and the virus many people fear, truly deserves a home where he will never struggle to survive again. Please open your heart and your mind and let Benjamin into your home.

If you would like to adopt Benjamin, please go to our web site, and download an adoption application under “How you can help” and “Adopt.” Once you have filled it out, either email it back to us at or fax it to 614-873-0972.

Everybody loves a circus, right? A harmless afternoon or evening of fun?

Wrong. I don’t enjoy the circus and I really don’t think the animals that are forced to perform do either. And that is why my husband, Joe, and I will not be attending the circus that will be in town in May.

The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus is coming to Plain City on May 11 for two show times. The way this circus works is that they tend to pick smaller villages or towns to visit and get chambers of commerce or local schools (schools mean field trips and lots of children) and organizations to sponsor them. Then those groups sell the tickets for the circus in advance and receive a portion of the ticket sales. It is billed as a fundraiser. The circus moves from one small town to the next. On May 13, they will be in Johnstown.

With them will be several animals who did not decide, of their own free will, to “run away and join the circus.”

Many, many circuses are moving away from animal acts because the animals are made to perform using deprivation or punishment to enforce behavior. From the Culpepper and Merriweather web site, this circus uses a dog and pony show, trained birds, and camels. They do not mention having big cats, but on several other sites, I found evidence that they have performing tigers and lions. They no longer use elephants, as elephants are often the animals that lead to the most citations of cruelty for circuses and can produce the most risks if they escape–which two elephants did from this circus in 2008. Another elephant escaped in 2009 and was involved in a collision with an SUV.

Going back to 1991, Culpepper and Merriweather has been in trouble with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on numerous occasions for failing to meet the standards set forth in the Animal Welfare Act. You can read a fact sheet on these citations HERE.

Read another opinion about this circus HERE.

Tons of groups that promote animal welfare, including the ASPCA, ask that people not support an industry that harms animals. They ask those who care to NOT attend circuses that still use animal acts. Read the facts about animals in circuses HERE and HERE and HERE. These are just a few of many sites. Just Google “Circus Cruelty” and watch what comes up.

I realize that many people reading this may not have known that circuses are cruel. This blog was meant to educate and make the readers think. Children love animals and circuses are billed as fun places where kids can view exotic species they don’t see in their own back yards. But circuses promote lives of misery. Here is a quick list of things to think about:

1. If you’ve ever taken dancing lessons or tried to balance on one leg for a long period of time, you know how hard those things can be. Now imagine you are a wild animal that never, ever would do those things in real life. How difficult do you think it is for an elephant or a lion to attempt those feats? The only way to get them to do it is with punishment. Would you really want to do something just because you were afraid–terrified someone would beat you or hurt you?

2. How would you like to be crammed in a tiny space for hours upon hours in a day, traveling from one town to another every week of the year? You’d get tired and so do the animals. When the animals finally are let out, it is to do embarrassing tricks that they don’t want to do.

3. What if you were deathly afraid of another type of animal (I don’t like snakes and there is no way I would work with a venomous snake each day of my life)? But, too bad. Every day, you are FORCED–yes, forced (no one gives these animals a choice), to work with another animal that could eat you. Often horses are trained to have lions ride on their backs. Horses are prey animals. Big cats are predators. It is against their natures to be together. You can imagine how terrified the horse is every time it is forced to allow that lion to get on its back–a position that would normally lead to the lion killing it.

4. These animals are majestic, awe inspiring creatures. They deserve our respect and our compassion.

There are a number of circuses, including Cirque du Soleil (which I have attended), that do not use animals to entertain–only humans who chose that life. To see a list, go HERE.

Please think about these things before you attend a circus with animals.


Our good friend (who is also an adopter, volunteer, and fundraiser for Black and Orange Cat Foundation), Olivia Brininger, will be at Eldchrist Winery in Plain City on Thursday, May 10 for Ladies Night featuring Lia Sophia jewelry. In the past, Olivia has done several Lia Sophia fundraisers to help the B and O kitties, so we would like to send everyone out to this event to support her.

This should be a fun evening to bring your girlfriends, sisters, and female relatives to. There will also be products available from Scentsy and Sweet Mamas Cake Pops. Sweet Mamas Cake Pops are made by two local, Plain City sweet mamas, Tracy and Kirsten.

Local Plain City author Sherri Hayes will also be there to sign and sell her romance and suspense novels. Sherri has published three books, Hidden ThreatBehind Closed Doors and Slave. Her latest book, Need, a sequel to Slave, will be available in July.

The winery event runs from 6-9 pm. Please come and have a good time, while supporting our friend and B and O kitty lover, Olivia!


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