It's Kitten Season! The Critical Importance of Spay & Neuter
By Jeffrey Richard, Jameson Humane Volunteer
With the approach of Spring, we are again in the throes of “kitten season” among both feral cats and domesticated pets. Melissa Bush, Companion Animal Program Manager for Jameson Humane, describes this yearly event,
“Kitten season typically occurs from early spring to late fall, but cats can't be bothered with seasonal restrictions. Female cats can give birth multiple times a year, year-round, having an average of 4-8 kittens per litter. If we didn't spay and neuter our resident and community cats, we could have a kitten explosion on our hands which is exactly what we saw through the pandemic when many low-cost and no-cost spay/neuter options were unavailable. Quite the CATastrophe! Spaying and neutering your pets not only helps to keep them healthy but it also helps to prevent overpopulation. It's also important to look after our community or "feral" cats which can be done through "Trap, Neuter, Return" (TNR) programs or TNR focused rescue groups in your area. Preventing over-population is possible and spay/neuter is the first step in the right direction."
As a result, it is time once more to discuss the critical need for spaying and neutering of pets and feral cats. In Jameson Humane’s February 2022 Blog article, A Sensible, Humane Solution to the Over-Population of Community Cats – Trap, Neuter and Return, we described the benefits of Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) programs as the only humane and realistic way to control and, one would hope, ultimately reduce the population of feral “community” cats. This article expands on that earlier coverage of the spay/neuter topic.
Spaying and Neutering Pets Benefits Both Them and Society
“Spaying” a cat or dog is the removal of a female’s ovaries, while “neutering” is the removal of a male’s testes. Both are relatively routine surgeries performed by a veterinarian while the animal is under anesthesia. Spayed females will no longer go into heat, become pregnant, or endure the discomfort and health risks of birthing and the drain on energy and physical demands of nursing and caring for kittens or puppies. Neutered males will no longer be able, or have the urge, to impregnate a female, will become more docile, and will be less prone to fight with other males. Studies have also shown that early spaying and neutering of cats and dogs will make them less susceptible to certain reproductive ills and diseases including cancer.
Spaying and neutering pets and community cats also benefits society in general by avoiding an additional huge burden on animal shelters and rescue organizations of unwanted or abandoned pets. Overcrowding at shelters also increases the number of animals that are euthanized when no one adopts them. The relatively simple step of spaying and neutering pets will avoid that awful consequence suffered by unwanted animals.
The Napa Humane website details the benefits of spaying and neutering cats and dogs:
In every community, in every state, there are homeless animals. In the U.S., there are an estimated 6-8 million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year. The single most important thing that we can do to save cats and dogs from all the suffering and death that their overpopulation causes is to spay and neuter them. Spaying and neutering reduces or eliminates:
- The odds of breast cancer and dangerous uterine infections in females and prostate problems and testicular cancer in males.
- Frustration in resisting the natural urge to mate. Your companion will be less distracted, more easily trained, and a more contented member of your family.
- The animal’s need to roam in search of a mate, decreasing the chances that your pet will become lost, get into fights with other animals or be hit by a car.
- Messy heat cycles in females and attracting unwanted males.
- The tendency to bite. However, your pet will still be protective of his home and family even after being altered. Aggression is different from protectiveness.
- Spraying, wailing, marking territory, or making inappropriate sexual approaches toward people or objects.
(Source: https://napahumane.org/our-work/spayneuter-vaccinations-microchipping/why-spay-or-neuter/ .)
Unless Trap/Neuter Release Programs Are Expanded, It is Likely that the Community Cat Population Will Continue to Increase Exponentially
Although there is no way to know exactly how fast the community cat population is growing, there is no doubt that it is out of control and the unrestrained population growth is causing much suffering among community cats and especially kittens who fall victim to the 75 to 80 percent mortality rate that affects young ferals.
A number of animal support organizations have published alarming projections and graphic depictions of what reproduction by a single community cat can lead to in terms of population growth. An example is a poster pasted below published by the North Shore Animal League America, which suggests that in 12 years, a single unspayed female and her progeny will produce more than 2 million cats. (It should be noted that this projection is likely too aggressive because it fails to account for the sad fact of the very high mortality rate of kittens who never reach the age of mating. Even the poster itself notes: “This chart is based on theory and the actual numbers of the lives saved [by spaying and neutering feral cats] could be more or less.”) But the truth is that the community cat population is increasing exponentially, with devastating consequences not only for the community kittens who suffer and die of starvation and illness, but for the ecology and wildlife in their territories. Dr. Fielding O’Niel, DMV, of the Tuckahoe Veterinary Hospital, analyses the mushrooming community cat population, the resulting negative impacts on wildlife, and TNR as a possible solution:
Current scientific data is sketchy, but most estimates place the number of wild or feral cats in America at 70 million and rising. This includes cats that were abandoned, lost and those born in the wild.
Females in this population have an average of 1.6 litters each year with an average of 5 kittens per litter. Males are responsible for an average of 7 pregnancies per year. Eighty percent of kittens born in the wild will die before 1 year of age from the same causes that afflict all wild life - starvation, disease and trauma. This magnitude of suffering is incomprehensible.
These cats are highly adaptive natural predators and survive at the expense of wildlife. Research estimates that each feral cat kills 7 birds a year. That is 500 million birds killed annually nationwide, many on the endangered species list. Birds are third on the menu behind reptiles and small mammals (mice, rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels). It is estimated that feral cats, trying to survive, destroy 2 billion birds, mammals and reptiles each year in America.
The obvious solution to this problem is population control. All pets must be neutered and, in many areas, this is mandated by law. Controlling feral populations is more difficult. One program gaining favor is Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR). While this doesn't reduce existing populations, it does limit those of the future.
The Pandemic Has Drastically Reduced the Number of Community Cats and Pets Being Spayed and Neutered
The San Jose Mercury-News published an article on November 28, 2021 about the feral cat crisis and the lack of spay/neuter services, which is excerpted here:
Stray and feral cats and the volunteer groups that try to help them are in the eye of a perfect storm, caught in the vortex of too few veterinarians and too little staff, COVID challenges and changes in the ways public shelters operate.
. . . At the crux of the storm is a lack of veterinarians and trained staff to perform necessary spay/neuter surgeries on so-called community cats. Groups that once offered free or low-cost operations closed their doors during the pandemic or drastically cut back on the number of procedures they can safely perform.
This isn’t just a localized problem, either, although each area has its unique challenges. Every rescue group in the Bay Area that does TNR — trap, neuter, return — is having problems finding appointments to have the cats neutered.
. . . The staffing problem is widespread. Some 87 percent of U.S. shelters are understaffed, according to an August survey by the Best Friends Animal Society. . . .
. . . TNR groups worry that without adequate neutering efforts, the feral cat population, estimated at 70 million across the U.S., will continue to grow. . . .
Unfortunately, as of late 2022, the impact of the pandemic and the ongoing shortage of veterinarians across the country had not improved. According to an article published by the University of Florida in September 2022:
New research finds that there are almost 3 million missing neuter/spay surgeries in the U.S. due to the pandemic, which, combined with veterinarian and staff shortages, is contributing to widespread overcrowding at pet shelters.
. . . All the impacts of the pandemic combined have the potential to undermine progress made in controlling pet populations and euthanasia in shelters . . . Currently, shelters are in crisis mode, with overcrowding and lagging adoptions . . . Pet overpopulation seems to be increasing, leading to increased shelter euthanasia for the first time in many years.
(Source: https://sheltermedicine.vetmed.ufl.edu/2022/09/13/impact-on-spay-neuter-surgeries-due-to-covid-19-pandemic-threatens-pet-overpopulation/ .)
Jameson Humane’s Role
In next month’s article, we will discuss the great support being provided by Jameson Humane’s Mobile Vet Unit to pets and their owners. And as we described last February, Jameson is helping to carry out the community’s responsibility to care for community cats. When alerted to the presence of community cats, Jameson staff observes the cats and provides essential support, including nourishment and medical care when needed. Jameson staff evaluates the overall appearance and behavior of each cat: Does it have clear eyes? Is its coat clean? Does it seem to be in good health? If so, then the cat is likely thriving in its colony. If not, it might be lost or abandoned and living on its own as a stray. Jameson Humane staff tries to determine whether the cat should remain in the wild or whether it is a candidate for potential socialization and adoption.
Jameson will check each cat to determine whether it has been spayed or neutered. Initially, they check the cat’s ears. If one of the ears is clipped or “tipped,” this indicates that the cat has been spayed or neutered and is likely living in a cat colony. If a cat does not have a tipped ear, no sign of a tag, and seems timid around people, it should be trapped to determine the whether it needs to be spayed or neutered.
Spay/Neuter Guidance and Resources
Those in the community who see feral or abandoned cats and are interested in initiating the TNR process can use those same indicators described above to determine whether the cat has already been spayed or neutered.
Alley Cat Allies (ACA) has published detailed instructions and advice for those who find community cats and want to pursue TNR. They summarize their ideal view of the basic steps as follows:
- Trap: Humanely trap all the cats in a colony. A colony is a group of cats living outdoors together.
- Neuter (or spay): Take the cats in their traps to a veterinarian or clinic to be neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped (the universal symbol of a neutered and vaccinated cat. Learn more at alleycat.org/Eartip).
- Return: After the cats recover, return them to their outdoor home where they were trapped.
Watch videos of cats being returned and how to do Trap-Neuter-Return at youtube.com/AlleyCatAllies.
(Source: https://www.alleycat.org/resources/how-to-help-community-cats-a-step-by-step-guide-to-trap-neuter-return/ .)
Alley Cat Allies has also created a spay-neuter resource that it calls the “Feral Friends Network.” The Network includes veterinarians with community cat experience and others who provide low-cost spay and neuter services. Use the following link for a form to use to request a list of Network members in your area: https://www.alleycat.org/our-work/feral-friends-network/feral-friends-network-connect/
From a local perspective, as we described last February, the County of Napa through its Animal Shelter offers rental of traps to members of the public for TNR purposes and provides vouchers for presentation to the clinic to defray the cost of spaying and neutering. The Animal Shelter’s rental of traps is free of charge except for a $50 deposit that is refunded if the traps are brought back in good condition and in a timely manner. And the County’s voucher program to defray the cost of spaying or neutering any animal is described on the website as follows:
Spaying and neutering is the best defense against unwanted litters, which then prevents additional animals from entering the shelter system. Spaying and neutering can also eliminate mating related nuisance behaviors such as roaming, vocalizing and even aggression. Medical conditions such as pyometra (infection of the uterus) and many reproductive cancers are non-existent when animals are sterilized. However, due to the rising costs of veterinary care, finding affordable spay/neuter for your pet can be challenging. Thankfully, the Napa County Animal Shelter and Adoption Center offers spay/neuter vouchers for Napa County residents. The vouchers cover the cost of any dog, cat, rabbit and feral cat spay/neuter done at the Napa Humane Spay/Neuter Clinic (707-252-7442) located at 3265 California Blvd. in Napa, 94558.
(Source: https://www.countyofnapa.org/3163/SpayNeuter-Voucher-Program )
Join Jameson Humane in Celebrating National Pet Dental Health Month
by Jeffrey Richard, Jameson Humane Volunteer
A key component of Jameson Humane’s mission is promotion of the health and well-being of all animals. Accordingly, Jameson asks our readers to take note and celebrate National Pet Dental Health month in February. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) website (https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/pet-dental-care) includes this advice:
“Don't turn your nose to your pet's bad breath! That odor might signify a serious health risk. Dental health is a critical part of your pet’s overall health, and dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems. That's why the AVMA sponsors National Pet Dental Health Month every February. Take part by learning more about how you can improve the dental (and overall) health of your pets.”
During this year’s National Pet Dental Health month (and regularly thereafter), people should:
- Take pets for a regular veterinary check-up that will include examination of their mouth.
- Softly brush their pets’ teeth using a toothbrush and toothpaste made for the species. (See specific advice below on steps to take in order to ease into brushing your pets’ teeth at home. Note: only one percent of pet owners brush their pet’s teeth.)
- Follow a balanced diet for pets.
- Look for foods that are certified for Veterinary Oral Health Care (VOHC) on the packaging.
- Look for warning signs of dental problems such as bad breath, swollen gums, brownish tartar deposits along the gum line, and bleeding.
- Notice behavior such as pawing at their mouths or faces, which might indicate dental pain.
The AVMA website provides a step-by-step instructional video describing what you can do at home to help maintain pets’ dental health. https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/pet-dental-care In addition to having a veterinarian check the animal’s teeth and gums at least once a year, people should take the following steps to help maintain a pet’s dental health:
- Buy toothpaste and brushes designed for pets. Never use human toothpaste.
- Brush your pets’ teeth daily but first gradually introduce them to the process:
- Show them the pet the brush and paste and leave the items out for a week or so to let the pets get used to them.
- For at least several days up to two weeks, before actually brushing, rub a little bit of paste on their gums to get them used to it, and give praise and treats to help associate the toothpaste application process with good things.
- Introduce them to the brush, put some paste on the bristles and let them lick it off. Again, accompany this with lots of praise and some treats.
- Once they are used to the brush and the paste, then begin with a little slow brushing of the teeth and gumline in one area, again with lots of praise and rewards.
- Gradually work up to a complete brushing for about 30 seconds.
- Give pets those products that are helpful in reducing tartar and plaque such as water or food additives.
- Give pets treats that are specifically designed to reduce tartar and plaque. Rawhide may be okay but check with your vet first.
Veterinary services are necessary for more significant dental care, including regular cleaning and other steps such as tooth extraction. For those services, it is particularly important that pet owners understand the need for anesthesia. The AVMA explains in detail anesthesia and pre-anesthesia and post-anesthesia procedures and things to expect. https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/when-your-pet-needs-anesthesia The website provides a list of things people can do to prepare their pet for anesthesia and reduce the risk to their pets:
- Let your veterinarian know if your pet has ever had a reaction to sedation or anesthesia.
- Make sure your veterinarian is aware of all medications and supplements (including over-the-counter products) your pet is receiving.
- Keep your pet at a healthy weight.
- Follow your veterinarian's instructions before anesthesia, especially with regards to withholding food and/or water.
- Follow your veterinarian's instructions regarding any medications you should – or should not – give to your pet prior to anesthesia.
Join Us for Veganuary
Join Jameson Humane in Celebrating and Experiencing “Veganuary”
by Jeffrey Richard, Jameson Humane Volunteer
Veganuary is a global campaign to spread awareness about our food system and to create a kinder, more compassionate world where animals are not bred for slaughter or for products that damage our environment and our health. Veganuary is a great chance to explore an alternative way of eating, and to experience first-hand how each of us can have a positive impact on the world around us simply by making small changes to the way we eat, what we wear, and our overall understanding and appreciation of animals as sentient beings.
Celebrating Veganuary is one way Jameson Humane advocates for “Veganic Living” or “Veganics.” Veganics is a holistic, plant-based way of living — one which excludes the consumption of all animal products including food, cosmetics, and clothing. Jameson recognizes that the transition to Veganic Living may not be easy for many people. Jameson encourages people to make the transition at their own pace. But the benefits of a vegan diet for humans, animals, and the world itself are well-established in climatological, dietary, and sociological studies and can be joyfully and directly experienced through culinary exploration.
Veganic Living Makes Sense for the Sake of the World’s Future and Our Quality of Life
A strong case for veganism is presented by Jeannie Hudkins, a guest blogger on the Jameson Humane website, in her post of January 10, 2022, which you can find here: https://www.jamesonanimalrescueranch.org/news-events/blog/11
Ms. Hudkins makes many powerful arguments in favor of veganism, including:
- “Animal agriculture alone creates the most climate-harming emissions, surpassing even the combined emissions of all cars, planes, trucks, buses, and trains. The meat industry (Cargill, Tyson, JBS) now produces more greenhouse emissions than the fossil fuel industry (Exxon, Shell, BP). A whopping 51% of our nation’s heat-trapping emissions come from animal agriculture, including all processes from the gestation and birth of a food animal to its slaughter, processing, and packaging as meat and dairy products.”
- Animal waste disposed in the world’s streams finds its way to large rivers like the Mississippi and ultimately to the ocean. This has resulted in creation of dead zones in the oceans, in which neither aquatic animals nor plants can survive. Ms. Hudkins reports that there are now 150 such dead zones in the world.
- The water used to raise 11 billion farmed animals, including the water used to grow the crops that feed those animals, accounts for nearly one-third of fresh water usage in the world, seriously depleting aquifers around the world.
- Animal farming has a direct and catastrophic impact in deforestation of the world’s rainforests. The loss of nearly 70 percent of the world’s rainforests just in the past few decades has contributed to the disruption of the carbon dioxide balance in the world and has greatly accelerated climate change.
- Fish-farming is a huge source of methane gas production.
- A plant-based diet would avoid all of those harmful consequences. Ms. Hudkins makes the following plea: “If you ate plant-based foods for one month, you would reduce over 600 pounds of harmful carbon emissions, save over 900 square feet of rainforest, conserve 300,000 gallons of fresh water, and spare the lives of 30 animals. Switching to a plant-based diet, you will single-handedly contribute to cleansing our waters, clearing our air, renourishing our soils, restoring our forests, and rewilding our oceans.”
Such conclusions are supported by authorities and scientific studies around the world. Research by the University of Oxford (UK) concludes that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – while still providing enough food to feed the world. “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said Joseph Poore who led the research. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he said, as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The World Animal Foundation echoes these findings: “Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution. It is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. Factory farms are a primary driver of topsoil erosion, rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss and ocean dead zones. It takes 12 times as much land, 13 times more fuel and 15 times more water to make a pound of animal protein than to make a pound of plant protein.” (World Animal Foundation, https://www.worldanimalfoundation.com/wild-earth/save-the-earth/ )
Vegan Food is Delicious!!
People everywhere have discovered the pleasures and health benefits of vegan dining. Vegan and vegetarian restaurants and food options in our markets are flourishing. And even for those people who have been raised to enjoy the flavor and texture of meat, miraculous strides have been made in producing plant-based foods that satisfy their palates by mimicking those traits of a carnivorous diet.
The Jameson Humane team has been fully embracing the fun of trying out new recipes and products as well as myth-busting and learning all kinds of interesting and eye-opening facts about veganism. Click on the following link to sign up for Jameson's Veganuary, so that you will receive all the tips, recipes, and even special offers from vegan-based companies to get you started on your journey:
To see some of the fantastic vegan recipes, restaurant options, retail sources and delicious dishes Jameson Humane staff have found, as well as some fun facts and interesting myth-busting, explore the following posts:
Animal Companions Make Us Healthier
Animal Companions Make Us Healthier
By Jeffrey Richard, Jameson Volunteer
The final weeks of each year bring occasions for thankfulness, celebration, expressions of love, and renewed hope as we look forward to the new year. Feelings of comfort and joy are particularly evident among those who are blessed by the presence of animals in their lives. Jameson Humane has initiated a new program called Animal Assisted Healing, which seeks to maximize the benefits we humans can receive by connecting with and helping care for Jameson’s rescued animals (see program description below).
According to a 2020 article about the health benefits of animal companionship on the website of the senior-support organization, Barclay Friends: “In 2017, there were approximately 90 million dog and 96 million cat owners in the United States. Three years later, the pandemic has caused a surge in pet adoptions to the point where demand is outweighing supply.” (Seniors and Pets, A Pawsome Combination, https://bf.kendal.org/2020/09/21/seniors-and-pets-a-paw-some-combination)
Why have so many more people brought animals into their lives during these anxious and uncertain times? They seem to have an instinctive appreciation of the comfort that can come from caring for cats, dogs, and other animal companions. Whether those seeking animal companions know it or not, it is widely accepted that pets can improve our physical and mental health. The Barclay Friends article summarizes some of the impacts of having animal companions:
- Lowered cortisol, a stress hormone, and increased serotonin and dopamine, hormones associated with happiness and well-being
- Lowered blood pressure, heart rate and serum triglycerides
- Increased daily exercise in petting, lifting, grooming . . .
- Lowered risk of depression and stress-induced disease
The benefits we derive from having animal companions seem to transcend those things that can be measured. In The Power of Pets, Health Benefits of Human-Animal Interactions, the National Institutes of Health describe the tangible and intangible benefits of pets:
Nothing compares to the joy of coming home to a loyal companion. The unconditional love of a pet can do more than keep you company. Pets may also decrease stress, improve heart health, and even help children with their emotional and social skills.
. . . .
Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.
Dogs and cats (each in their own way) can help people who are struggling with anxiety or illness by helping them focus on the here and now – an ability or perspective commonly referred to as mindfulness. According to the NIH article:
“Dogs are very present. If someone is struggling with something, they know how to sit there and be loving,” says Dr. Ann Berger, a physician and researcher at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. “Their attention is focused on the person all the time.”
Berger works with people who have cancer and terminal illnesses. She teaches them about mindfulness to help decrease stress and manage pain.
“The foundations of mindfulness include attention, intention, compassion, and awareness,” Berger says. “All of those things are things that animals bring to the table. People kind of have to learn it. Animals do this innately.”
The Human-Animal Bond
People enjoy a heightened sense of self-worth in caring for their pets and other animals and in turn are comforted when animals reciprocate with affection and support. Those of us who have developed bonds with pets know this to be true. The physical and mental mechanisms at play are complex from a medical and psychological perspective. But we don’t need to understand the neurological details; we know intuitively (and from our experience) that caring for animals fulfills our need to be needed. Nothing beats the joy we feel when our pets rush to greet us when we come home to them. And we are immensely satisfied by fulfilling our responsibility to love and nurture our hairy or feathery friends.
The formation of a bond of comfort and love between a human and an animal is better described by a poem than by scientific data:
Fit to Be Tied (by Jeff Richard, Nov. 2022)
When we met
You shied away
No loving looks
No happy dog games to play
I knew time must
Pass to trust
For you to see
All the good in me
To love and to share
As a fit-for-purpose pair
Two souls who found
A tie to be bound
Jameson Humane’s Animal Assisted Healing Program
Jameson Humane has long known and been inspired by the positive impacts that relationships with animals have on humans; in fact, this is one of the factors that have motivated many staff members and volunteers to join the work of Jameson Humane. Due to the serious psychological challenges so many people have experienced these last few years and the increase in mental health symptoms in our communities, Jameson Humane was called on to start an Animal Assisted Healing Program. This program is centered around the healing benefits of the human-animal bond described above. The Director of Animal Assisted Healing, Mackenzie Lovie, explains:
“We believe that by allowing members of our community who are dealing with challenges of any kind to come and interact with our rescue animals they will have the opportunity to experience some of that healing power. Our mission for this new program is centered around the belief that our rescue animals can rescue humans with their powerful stories and unconditional love.”
The community thanks and applauds Jameson for the development of this new program and for all of the great work that Jameson does for the sake of animals and humans alike.
Photo: Hope Hilman on left with Ronnie and Kate Tsyrklevich on right with Scarlett at Heartwood Haven.
Today I opened my eyes for the first time! WOW! I am so excited to experience so many new things! Look out world, HERE I AM!!!
Today I made new friends! They are all my age and it was so cool to be part of a family. I haven’t seen any adults around, but I have already grown so much. I bet it’s because there’s an all you can eat buffet. I feel like I am always hungry though. Hmm…now that I mention it, I think I am going to go have a snack!
Day Twenty Seven
Sorry it’s been a while. It’s getting a little cramped in here to write. You would not believe how much I have grown. I overheard some people talking and they said I am looking good. I don’t have a mirror, but it makes me happy to know I am pretty. I try to stay clean, but it’s hard with all my friends in here with me. The sun hasn’t gone down in a while. It’s always so bright, but good news! That means it’s always breakfast time LOL - I wish they would change up the menu some though. The food’s a little bland. Well, I am off to book club.
XO, Jilly (I gave myself a name since no one else did!)
Hello my Dear Diary!
I just overheard so GREAT news! I get to go to a new house soon! Somewhere called S-Town. I hope I make even more friends there! I can’t wait!!!
P.S. I quit book club. They said my nails were “stubby” so I bit one of the girls. Luckily, no one else saw. I’ve seen what happened to some of my friends that got caught and it is NOT pretty.
Day Eighty Seven
It’s getting a little hard for me to write. I think I may have eaten too much…it hurts my knees to walk… Lucky for me everything is close within reach at all times. Even though I know I shouldn't, I'm just so hungry all the time. I keep over-hearing about S-Town more and more. I can’t wait!!!
Day Ninety Five
It’s happening!!! Most of my friends have already left and I was told in three days I am moving to S-Town!!!! I CAN’T WAIT!!!! I’ll try and write more the day I leave!!! I’m just so excited!!!
Jill Jill, Queen of the Hill
Day Ninety Eight
Hey Diary! I only have a minute to write. I was told I am now 14 weeks old and it’s time! I am headed to S-Town!!! As soon as I get there I promise to write more!
I love you Diary!!!
Day One Hundred
Umm Hey Diary… So…I have a lot to update you on. These last few days have been eventful to say the least. Remember how I told you I was moving to S-Town? Well, get this - it’s not a real place! Well, I mean.. it is, but it sure isn’t where I want to end up. I was just about to get in a truck when instead I was put in the back of a van. The people talk to me! Like, directly to me!!!! And they told me I was headed to a farm sanctuary where I would be safe from slaughter. They said I would be put on a diet (yuck) and get to live out the rest of my long life with friends outside and not in a cage! I will miss my friends…
14 weeks is how long most turkeys get to live before they are sent to slaughter. Turkeys have a natural lifespan of up to 10 years. In the U.S., it is estimated that over 46 million turkeys are slaughtered just for Thanksgiving. That’s more than the entire human population of California, all killed just for one meal on one day. Each one of these animals have their own unique personality but are never given much of a chance to show it. Instead, they are kept in small cramped cages, because any expended energy is weight they may lose. With the high-stress conditions they are kept in, the turkeys can develop habits such as pecking at themselves or their cage mates, which usually results in the farmer mutilating them by cutting off the tips of their beaks and toes. If the turkey is “organic” it means that if there is any illness or disease in the flock, they will not be treated. This includes parasites. Due to the way humans have altered turkeys to grow larger faster, they are no longer able to naturally reproduce, and the hens must be artificially inseminated to produce fertilized eggs.
Check out some great suggestions from World of Vegan on some dishes you can prepare for a cruelty-free Thanksgiving. Let’s show our friends and family what we are truly thankful for, compassion and kindness for all! https://www.worldofvegan.com/thanksgiving/
Want to learn more about the lives of turkeys?
World Animal Day: Breaking Common Animal Myths
Join the World Animal Day Movement
By Jeffrey Richard, Jameson Volunteer
October 4 is World Animal Day and we celebrate all month long (well, all year, really)! The mission of the World Animal Day movement, as described on its website, is as follows:
“To raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe. Building the celebration of World Animal Day unites the animal welfare movement, mobilising it into a global force to make the world a better place for all animals. It's celebrated in different ways in every country, irrespective of nationality, religion, faith or political ideology. Through increased awareness and education we can create a world where animals are always recognised as sentient beings and full regard is always paid to their welfare.”https://www.worldanimalday.org.uk/
Here are some facts about World Animal Day (WOAD):
- Over 1,000 events are held every year around the world to celebrate the occasion.
- World Animal Day has 97 Ambassadors in 75 nations.
- The organization’s grant program has funded numerous projects since the program’s inception in 2014.
- World Animal Day has been celebrated on October 4 since 1929.
The WOAD website is replete with resources, event schedules, and suggestions as to how you can get involved. The WOAD’s efforts around the globe bring fresh hope that animals may one day be recognized universally as sentient beings who deserve the same dignity, respect, and kindness that we humans expect.
Refuting Animal Myths
In the spirit of affording respect and dignity to all animals, we thought it would be appropriate to examine a few of the widespread myths about certain animals, which have no factual basis or reliable support.
Are Pigs Unclean?
“Pigs are filthy animals,” says Jules to Vincent in Tarentino’s Pulp Fiction. But contrary to that widely held belief, pigs are not dirty. The National Geographic website for kids notes: “Despite their reputation, pigs are not dirty animals. They’re actually quite clean. The pig’s reputation as a filthy animal comes from its habit of rolling in mud to cool off. Pigs that live in cool, covered environments stay very clean.” https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/facts/pig#:~:text=Despite%20their%20reputation%2C%20pigs%20are,covered%20environments%20stay%20very%20clean.
Will Touching a Baby Bird Cause Its Mother to Abandon It?
No. Mother birds will not abandon chicks merely because they have been touched by a human. This myth apparently stems from the belief that birds can detect the scent of humans and are put off by it. According to the Sierra Club: “In fact, most birds have a rather poor sense of smell and are unlikely to readily abandon their young. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should go picking up every young chick you find. Young, seemingly helpless birds often have their mothers close by, carefully watching. Human disturbance (rather than human touch) near a nesting site is far more likely to contribute to a mother bird stranding her young ones.” https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2015-2-march-april/green-life/9-myths-about-animals-you-probably-think-are-true
Do Bears Hibernate in the Winter?
No. The Sierra Club website also offers the following clarification:
“Ask anyone which animal comes to mind when they hear the word ‘hibernate’ and their response will likely be a brown or black bear. It may be common to picture a burly, fattened-up mama grizzly slumbering away in her winter den deep in the woods while the white snow blankets everything in sight. This follows with the dangerous misconception that sleeping bears are nearly impossible to arouse during the winter months.
“True hibernation occurs when an animal drastically lowers their body temperature to nearly match their surroundings, and sleeps through the winter. Hibernating animals, like woodchucks, appear lifeless and are not easily awakened.
“Bears, on the other hand, exhibit torpor, a shorter-term reduction in body temperature accompanied by lethargy. Heart rate drops, but not as much as that of true hibernators. Though less active than usual, bears in torpor can readily respond to external stimuli. So don’t forget your bear spray on your next snowshoeing trip.”
Are Bats Blind?
No, they are not, according to the Norfolk, Virginia Zoo’s website: “Bats are not blind! They can see almost as well as humans can, but at night they can use echolocation, or using echoes from sound waves, to locate meals and places to land. Bats are nocturnal like a lot of other animals, so they prefer to sleep during the day and hunt at night.” https://virginiazoo.org/animal-misconceptions/
Will An Ostrich Bury Its Head in the Sand?
Nope. The Norfolk, Virginia Zoo website sets the record straight:
“Those pictures you see online of ostriches with their heads in the sand aren’t what you may think. Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand to hide from predators, but will instead either run or flop on the ground and flatten their heads to blend in with the random vegetation in their surroundings. Ostriches do, however, use their beaks to help dig holes to make nests and hide their eggs in. They will then turn the eggs several times a day. It would be hard for an ostrich to keep their head in the ground as they wouldn’t be able to breathe.”
Are Daddy Longlegs Venomous Spiders?
Daddy longlegs is the nickname most commonly given to an arachnid whose correct name is the Harvestman. Contrary to the common assertion that daddy longlegs are “the most venomous spiders in the world,” they are neither spiders nor venomous. Harvestmen no fangs, and have one main body part instead of two. Source: https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2015-2-march-april/green-life/9-myths-about-animals-you-probably-think-are-true
Do Frogs Spread Warts?
“No, amphibians can’t give you warts. Yes, frogs and toads may have little bumps on their skin, but these glands don’t secrete anything. You also can’t get warts from a frog or toad’s urine. Warts are caused by viruses that can only be spread by humans. This one is toadally false and Prince Charming, the African bullfrog might take offense to you blaming him and his friends.” https://virginiazoo.org/animal-misconceptions/
Are Black Cats Harbingers of Bad Luck?
In some places (including the U.S.), popular lore suggests that black cats bring bad luck, particularly if they cross your path while walking. It should be noted, however, that folks in Great Britain and Germany apparently believe that it is good luck to have a black cat cross your path – but only if it crosses from left to right. And Scottish lore indicates that if a strange black cat arrives at a home, this portends prosperity.
But the weight of superstitious belief appears to tip in favor of the belief that black cats bring bad luck as opposed to good. The historical roots of this belief can be traced back to medieval times. According to the History Channel’s website:
“Written records link black cats to the occult as far back as the 13th century when an official church document called “Vox in Rama” was issued by Pope Gregory IX on June 13, 1233. “In it, black cats were declared an incarnation of Satan,” says Layla Morgan Wilde, author of Black Cats Tell: True Tales And Inspiring Images. ‘The decree marked the beginning of the inquisition and church-sanctioned heretic and/or witch hunts. Initially it was designed to squash the growing cult of Luciferians in Germany, but quickly spread across Europe.’”
“ . . . Given the belief in medieval Europe that the devil and witches were capable of taking the form of black cats, it makes sense that the superstition surrounding crossing their paths developed, says Phoebe Millerwhite, a folklorist and artist. ‘Therefore, a black cat crossing your path might very well be on a mission from a witch,” she notes. “Just as easily, it could be the devil in disguise—and no one wants to cross paths with the devil. This explains why a black cat crossing your path is considered a bad omen.’”
Nautical lore is particularly hard on black cats. It is said that if a black cat wanders aboard a ship and then leaves, the ship will sink on its next voyage. Not surprisingly, no reliable research can be found either to support or disprove these myths and superstitions about black cats.
*Note: Jameson Humane believes black cats are some of the sweetest around and can make amazing companions. Bad luck? We think not!