Posts Tagged Cat

Here Puss, Puss, Puss II

I read a recent blog post highlighting the feral cat problem in Hawaii ( The post mentioned a paper published in Conservation Biology which indicated that Hawaiian residents preferred euthanasia over trap-neuter-release (TNR) programs when it came to feral cat management (;jsessionid=FB4AAB1970A118DB0073E69D40924627.f01t04?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false). This study was criticised as being flawed and its findings erroneous by Vox Felina, a group that supports TNR (

Whether or not the Conservation Biology study is flawed is irrelevant. What the residents of Hawaii prefer in this regard is also irrelevant. The fact remains, feral cats should not be present on Hawaii. They were introduced in the 1800s and have caused untold destruction to the native bird life since then. These species, like the birds of New Zealand, evolved without the presence of predators and are ill equipped to deal with them. Neutered cats kill just as many birds as cats that have not been neutered.

The debate over TNR and euthanasia only occurs because we have an emotional attachment to cats that has evolved over many hundreds of years. No one appears to be advocating TNR programs for the possums of New Zealand, the rabbits of Australia or the brown tree snakes running rampant on Guam. Why the inconsistency? All four groups of animals are feral and cause untold damage to their new environments, environments which will only recover properly if these animals are completely removed. The only way the New Zealanders were able to successfully reintroduce any of their endangered birds to their offshore islands was to remove every last cat.

As well as the predation issue cats also carry toxoplasmosis. This disease is caused by a small parasite that needs cats to complete its life cycle. It causes no disease in cats but has killed alala (Corvus hawaiiensis), nene (Hawaiian goose; Branta sandvicensis), red-footed boobies (Sula sula) and even the endangered Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi). Toxoplasmosis is also a zoonosis, posing health risks for pregnant women and immunocompromised people (

Unfortunately as long as there are feral cats running around the Hawaiian Islands, its bird species will be at risk of extinction. No TNR programs will remedy that. The only remedy is to remove the cats from the environment. Anything else is nonsensical.

Dr. F. Bunny

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You Will Obey

My daughter’s horse sailed gracefully over the jump, and then made a sharp left turn. Unfortunately my daughter continued going straight ahead, making a less than graceful face plant into the dirt. She dusted herself off, spat the sand out of her mouth, wiped the blood from her lip, climbed back on and completed the course.

When I commented to my daughter that she was certainly not lacking in courage, she just shrugged her shoulders and said that she had to finish the course. Otherwise her horse would learn that if he bucked her off the workout would be over, and he could go back to his paddock to eat grass and ready himself to panic next time a paper bag appeared in a tree.

I asked if that meant he did not enjoy being ridden. She just gave me one of those looks and walked off, confirming what I had long suspected. Horses do not particularly enjoy being saddled, ridden, coerced over jumps and made to ride in weird configurations around a show ring (this is called dressage). So why do they allow it? Why does a 500 kg horse allow itself to be dictated to by a girl barely a tenth of its weight? Surely a horse must have more grey cells than a cow, who wouldn’t dream of allowing someone on its back? And what about elephants? While they do trample the odd mahout, by and large they let themselves be pushed around by tiny men with pointed sticks and do nothing about it. Imagine trying that with a rhino or a hippo.

It does baffle me how often this occurs, a smaller, physically weaker creature dominating a much more powerful one. And now, if you’ll excuse me, the cats want feeding and then I have to provide a lap for their mid-afternoon snooze.

Dr. F. Bunny

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Something Fishy Going On Around Here

I have quite a spectacular goldfish swimming around its tank. His (or her) name is Witchhaven. That is what happens when you let your kids name the animals. I won’t even mention Cork and Spider-man, two former chickens. Anyway Witchhaven is the last of his kind. A decision was made that when all the fish died we would move from cold water fish to tropical ones. Witchhaven continues to stubbornly cling to life long after his contemporaries have moved on.

Interestingly, while we have decided to allow Witchhaven to live out the term of his natural life, I would be perfectly within my rights to shove a sharp barbed hook into his mouth and lift him out of the water with his full body weight hanging by his lip from the hook. This is called fishing. While fish do get a mention in the 1986 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act the act does not apply to any fishing activities authorised by and conducted in accordance with the Fisheries Act 1995 ( Hooks are, of course, regarded as an integral part of recreational fishing and, as the act clearly states, “recreational fishing equipment means any fishing equipment prescribed in the regulations to be recreational fishing equipment.” I love bureaucracy.

Intriguingly were I to pull my cat along by a hook embedded in its lip I would get into trouble as this, no doubt, falls under the definition of someone who “wounds, mutilates, tortures, overrides, overdrives, overworks, abuses, beats, worries, torments or terrifies an animal (” Unfortunately it is perfectly fine to do that to our aquatic friends, because that is in the interests of sport, which override all other considerations.

And don’t think you can get out of it by saying fish don’t feel pain. They have a brain and a nervous system and the avoidance of noxious stimuli has the same benefit for them as it does for us. There is certainly no shortage of studies supporting the notion that fish feel pain.

A 2003 study was conducted where a noxious chemical was rubbed onto the lips of rainbow trout and their behaviour compared with untreated fish. The treated fish rocked from side to side and rubbed their lips into the gravel and on the sides of the tank. Their breathing rate also increased. When these fish were treated with morphine, a potent pain killer, these abnormal activities decreased, indicating analgesia (Sneddon 2003).

A similar 2007 study found morphine blocked the effects of a noxious stimulus (acetic acid) that had been injected into the cheeks of flounder (Newby et al 2007).

Koi carp showed a marked decrease in interactive behaviour, food consumption and activity following surgery. This did not occur if the carp were given butorphanol (another pain killer) or morphine (Baker et al 2010).

I could go on but it is pretty obvious that in this day and age the only people who still argue against fish feeling pain are those with a vested interest in perpetuating those painful activities i.e. anglers.

So go forth and fish, if you must, but don’t delude yourself that the marlin on the end of your hook, leaping so magnificently out of the water, is doing it for fun.

Dr. F. Bunny


Baker, T.R., B. Cummings, S.M. Johnson, and K.K. Sladky. 2010. Comparative analgesic efficacy of morphine and butorphanol in koi (Cyprinus carpio) undergoing gonadectomy. Proceedings of the AAZV AAWV Joint Conference. Pp. 203-204.

Newby, N.C., A.K. Gamperl, and E.D. Stevens. 2007. Cardiorespiratory effects and efficacy of morphine sulphate in winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus). American Journal of Veterinary Research 68: 592-597.

Sneddon, L.U. 2003. The evidence for pain in fish: the use of morphine as an analgesic. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 83: 153-162.


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