Happy Gotcha Day Big Merp!

It was two years ago that Marlon, aka “Big Merp” came to live with us at CatSynth HQ! We had already known him for a while, but circumstances arose where he needed to find a new permanent home, and we were more than happy to oblige.

We first met him in 2018. He was living on the street in the Temescal section of Oakland, California.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_3156-1.jpg

Life on the streets can be rough, and it showed on his face. But he was incredibly friendly and loved people, and enjoyed coming indoors to hang out. He was clearly a former house cat, likely abandoned. We’re glad we found him and gave him a home. The posh indoor life has been good to him.

Big Merp is a “synth cat” – he loves to get up on the main instrument desk to be close to the action. There is the iconic photo lounging with the Novation LaunchPad Pro and Arturia MicroFreak above, as well as many others.

Although he bonded with the humans right away (including visitors), things were a bit more difficult with Sam Sam. She was not happy with this newcomer to her home and tried her best to avoid him for quite a while. Over time, however, her confidence returned and the two grew more comfortable with each other’s presence. They may not be the best of friends, but they do at least accept one another and share space.

Please join us in wishing Big Merp a very happy second Gotcha Day!

Fire and Water (Northern California and Puerto Rico)

We at CatSynth are staying safely ensconced at HQ as the rather poor smoke-filled air reaches our doorstep. Fortunately, we are safe and have everything, which no longer true for so many to our north in Sonoma and Napa. This is still an on-going situation which we are following on social media and through local sources like SFGate. It is just devasting to see scenes and places I recognize going up in flames.

As things are still in the emergency and evacuation phase, the focus is on shelter, and of course fighting the fire.

Bring Crucial Supplies & Volunteer at Shelters

To accommodate the estimated 20,000 evacuees, a number of local landmarks have opened their doors to the growing influx of escapees. Below is a list of shelters, organizations, schools, and businesses we’ve found that are currently operating as safe spaces; they need able-and-willing volunteers and donations of essential supplies.

Veterans Memorial Building and Hall, 1351 Maple Ave. (Santa Rosa), sonomacountry.ca.gov
Petaluma Community Center, 320 N. McDowell Blvd. (Petaluma), cityofpetaluma.net
Sonoma County Fairgrounds (open for large- and medium-sized livestock and farm animals), access via Gate 7 on Aston Ave. (Sonoma), sonomacountyfiar.com
Ramekins Culinary School and Inn, 450 W. Spain St. (Sonoma), remekins.com
Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds (open to accommodate small livestock and other farm animals, access via Gate 4 on 175 Fairgrounds Dr (Petaluma), sonoma-maringfair.org
Crosswalk Church (currently at-capacity and in need of aid), 2590 1st St. (Napa), crosswalknapa.org
Napa Valley College Gym, 2277 Napa Vallejo Hwy. (Napa), napavalley.edu

Here are some resources for those needing to evacuate with pets. Please share with your friends in the area:

Multiple shelters are open to assist pet owners. They are:
Napa County Animal Shelter at 942 Hartle Ct, Napa
Santa Rosa Fairgrounds at 1350 Bennett Valley Road. Access the Fairgrounds via Gate 7 on Aston Ave
Cloverdale Citrus Fair at 1 Citrus Fair Drive, Cloverdale
Californians: If anyone has a horse trailer, Chalk Hill Ranch near Healdsburg needs emergency help. They have 54 horses in dire need of transportation off the ranch. 13426 Chalk Hill Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448 707-433-1804

To help animals and their humans, Donate to the Humane Societies and SPCA

Natural disasters of this magnitude affect more than human lives. Donate your time—and extra bags of dog and cat food—to the North Bay branches of the Humane Society and SPCA as they go about the tough work of accommodating new shelter animals.

Humane Society of Sonoma County, 5345 CA-12. (Santa Rosa), sonomahumane.org
Humane Society of Napa County, 3265 California Blvd. (Napa), napahumane.org
Yuba-Sutter SPCA, 745 Sutter St. (Yuba), yubasutterspca.org

Animal shelters in the region are evacuating some of their residents to places south here in SF and in Oakland. In some cases, it may the shelter is in danger. In others, they are making space for animals lost or otherwise affected by the fires. Our friends at the SF SPCA and Cat Town Oakland are helping out.

Many wineries and other institutions are affected. We haven’t heard updates from some our favorite places around St Helena and Calistoga. We did hear that the di Rosa Art Center galleries and staff are all safe. Friends have reported in safe as well. We will continue to follow things – it is so hard to watch but also so hard to look.

Thousands of miles to the east and south, our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico are trying to recover. We have fire; they have water. The recovery phase sometimes falls off the outside radar as new disasters happen – though in a dark twist the toxic politics will ensure that it does stay in our consciousness longer. It was pretty outrageous to see the lack of response, then the embarrassingly poor response, and cheap shots and criticisms of the people suffering through this disaster and trying to help them. But we persevere…

In general, organizations helping humans, pets, and preserving culture need cash more than stuff (and it’s also best to allow it to go to general funds). For disaster relief, friends have recommended Oxfam America. As in our local conflagration, and after the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, organizations are helping rescue and evacuate pets and other animals. From a recent story in The Atlantic:

The Humane Society of the United States, anticipating a deluge of lost and abandoned pets after the recent natural disaster, began coordinating flights of animals already in Texas shelters to other parts of the country. Eventually, they relocated hundreds of adoptable cats and dogs in the days before and after the storm. The same happened with Irma in Florida and the Virgin Islands. The same is happening after Maria in Puerto Rico.

HSUS is collecting and distributing donations for animal and human relief work. Many local organizations are helping as well. You can find out more from The Humane Society of Puerto Rico’s Facebook Page on current status and needs.

You can see feline evacuees from Puerto Rico to Safe Haven for Cats in North Carolina in this video, via this article.

Weekend Cat Blogging: Public Service Announcements

It is interesting times for human and feline alike, particularly here in the United States. Our quadrennial civic ritual comes down to its final weekend.

Thanks to Ann from Zoolatry for this graphic. It’s a cat-friendly reminder to humans in the US to VOTE this coming Tuesday (if they have not done so already). Whatever your choices may be, it’s important to participate.

We are also thinking of all our friends – and family, too – that have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. As electricity and communications come back online, I have heard from family and from friends in both the experimental-music and cat-blogging communities, and happy that everyone seems to be OK (albeit still without power in some cases).

You can find a great list of resources for people with pets (courtesy of George the Duck). Now that the immediate emergency is subsiding, the attention shifts to the aftermath. A New Jersey has also set up a hotline for pet rescue. The Humane Society has set up rescue and shelter operations in NY and NJ as have numerous other organizations, both local and national. Our friends at PAWS in Norwalk, CT are also helping out, as they weathered the storm relatively well.

And of course, please support the help for humans and animal companions alike through donations to your favorite groups and local rescue efforts in the region.

This has also given us thought about disaster preparedness here in San Francisco, where we have our own worries. The site 72hours.org has great info specific to the Bay Area, including a section on preparedness for pets. We have been a bit lax about our preparedness kits despite having most of the pieces – it’s something we’re going to do soon!

Weekend Cat Blogging #386 is up at Mind of Mog.

The Carnival of the Cats will be hosted this Sunday by Nikita and Elvira from their new home in Houston, at Meowsings of an Opinionated Pussycat.

And the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

Cats in Shanghai

Well, this story is a lot less cute than the last one, but it still has cats, and a happy ending. From Reuters:

The power of the Internet has saved more than 800 cats from being skinned and served up on Chinese dinner tables.
About 30 animal lovers rushed to a parking lot in Shanghai after reading an Internet posting sparked by animal rights activist Huo Puyang that said two trucks carrying cats in wooden boxes had been intercepted, Huo said on Monday…
…The felines were on their way to the booming southern province of Guangdong, where some residents pride themselves as gourmets who will eat anything that flies, crawls or swims.

What the story (or similar stories on the same incident from other sources) don't mention is how in China there is a distinction between which cats are prized pets and which are food. Long-hair cats like Persians are to be bred and prized, while the common short-hair cats like those in the photo above, or Luna, are potential meals (not that we want long-haired cats to be eaten, either). But it gets worse, some of these cats may have been pets:

Huo's daughter-in-law had been looking for their missing pets and stumbled into the trucks, one of which sped away. The daughter-in-law called Huo, whose animal-loving friends then sent out an Internet alert last Friday.

The activists ended up buying the cats from the driver, after police said there was no evidence that any of them were stolen pets.

For all we know, the poor kitties were actually destined to become pet food or toothpaste. Or maybe part of some shoddy plastic product at Wal Mart…but for now, there's a happy ending in their rescue:

They now hope to place them in homes after posting their pictures and profiles on the Internet.

“They were so frightened,” the report quoted one of the rescuers, Huo Puyang, as saying.

I'm generally not that into the whole pushing-democracy-in-China thing. I could care less about the Communist Party and such. But it is good to see Chinese activists standing up to the sleeze and corruption, whether its big businesses spiking products with poisons or truck drivers stealing cats off the street. The same article (in the “related link” below) documents other recent internet-organized actions in China.

Cats in Lebanon…Germany

Who doesn't love pictures of cute kittens?

Well, these kittens are in Lebanon, being cared for by members of BETA. Like many places closer to home, it is kitten season, and their shelter is overflowing with kittens who need homes. And this is on top of the cats and other animals that BETA has rescued from the recent confrontations and senseless religious/tribal violence still happening there.

Meanwhile, in Germany, a country famous around the world for its warm and fuzzy nature, animal shelters experience a summer influx of cats for very different reasons. According the the reports accompanying these photos from Reuters, many of these cats are surrendered to shelters, or simply abandoned, during the long European summer vacation season. You can click on the photo below for a second article.

They don't have pet sitters in Germany?

More sad news (but hope) for cats in Lebanon

As if last year wasn't enough, there is more sad news from our friends at BETA in Lebanon:

More than a week has already passed now with, at the beginning, severe clashes between the Lebanese army and some armed groups in northern Lebanon. Immediately following those deadly conflicts, car bombs and hand grenades went off in Beirut and its suburbs, and the first bomb exploded very close to one of the cat shelters in Ashrafieh area. Fortunately, the glass and walls remained intact at the shelter.

As many readers are probably aware, the Lebanese army has been involved in a confrontation with Islamic militants that have taken up residence in Palistinian refugee camps. Nobody likes them in Lebanon, even reliably militant Hezbollah leaders support the Lebanese army moving against them (and of course the Palestinians in the camps are going to suffer more because of them). The attack in Beirut near the cat shelter is either a direct response, or by someone who sympathizes with the militants. I guess it's one I have trouble understanding. These Islamic militants have no redeeming value, even for those who want the US out of Iraq and Israel out of the Palistinian territories. It makes the suffering of people and animals in their path even more tragic, and we're glad the cat shelter was spared their violence.

Another feline story with some hope amidst the current events:

[This kitten was] rescued by a CNBC reporter from one of the mostly bombed Palestinian camp in the north of Lebanon. The reporter was kind enough to pick up the dirty starving kitten. A few days later, she also found the sibling of the kitten and also brought her to us. Both kittens are now boarding at one of the BETA members home, getting lots of food, affection, warmth and care and of course playing with lots of toys.

We at CatSynth are happy that someone cared enough to rescue the kittens, who of course did nothing wrong but ended up in the middle of a useless human conflict.

I should note that the sources for this article were BETA in Lebanon, Agence France-Presse and the BBC, so don't suggest this report is some US-orchestrated media plot. (There are plenty of those to go around already.)

LBK finds a home!

Remember LBK, the “Little Black Kitty” from Nashville? Well, it looks like he found a home! From kitikata-san:

Little Black Kitty has a home! Little Black Kitty has a home! YAY! Little Black Kitty has a real name too! His name is Bruno! YAY! Bruno also has the lap of luxury that he deserves. Bruno's human likes to tap on his leg, and Bruno is more than happy to hop up on his lap to sit for hours to purr, to be petted and to nap. Bruno's lap of luxury is his favorite place to be.

We at CatSynth are happy to hear about Bruno finding such a nice home, something we wish for all our feline friends.

LBK in Nashville needs a home

From our friend kitikata-san Weekend Cat Blogging 90 comes the story of LBK (Little Black Kitty) in Nashville. According to kitikata-san's human companion:

This little black kitty (LBK) was found in the middle of a very busy intersection of Wedgewood and 12 Ave. South in Nashville during rush hour. He had been hit by a car, or tossed out of a car. I stopped and a woman stopped to help LBK, and we took LBK to the vet. LBK is in a fantastic foster care situation now, so LBK can heal up, and get the remaining course of antibiotics. Amazingly, the vet said that LBK has no broken bones, only some trauma to his face.

Doesn't he look a bit like Luna in that photo?

LBK turns out to be a really sweet cat (seems like many little black shorthair cats have an exceptionally sweet disposition), enjoying lots of cuddling and pets, and purring. He also is quite healthy (outside of the whole getting hit by a car thing), neutered and apparently well cared for. All this adds up to the conclusion that he was someone's beloved companion. So what happened? Perhaps he simply got out and got lost, as seems to happen all too often. I also can't shake the idea from kitikata's human that he may have been “tossed out of car.” How could someone do that to such a sweet, loving, creature?

In any case, we hope LBK finds a good home, or is reunited with his original family. If anyone reading is in the Nashville area and interested in LBK, follow the “related link” below.

another cat from Lebanon

From AFP: a kitty amidst the rubble in a fishing port south of Beirut. This is essentially the type of image I see in my mind when I think about the situation, or cats in war more generally. It was part of an AFP article that Yahoo! syndicated for their main news page covering the middle east conflict today, right under the news that the Lebanese PM had rejected the cease-fire deal.

I haven't seen or received any updates from BETA or the groups in Israel since my previous article, I will certainly post anything that I receive.