Belated Caturday felid trifecta: Kittens frozen to ground rescued with hot coffee; cat chases d*g; dog dad brings up abandoned kittens (and lagniappe)

February 2, 2020 • 9:00 am

Oy! As reader Linda Calhoun reminded me this morning, there was no Caturday Felid yesterday. And indeed, although I have about six such posts prepared in advance, I was rushing out to do my grocery shopping morning, and the feature simply slipped my mind.

But one day late is better than not at all, and so I consider my long record of Caturday Felid postings to be unbroken. Here’s what was going to go up yesterday.

This came from BBC News but has gone viral. Several readers sent it to me as well. It’s the kind of video where you realize that yes, there are good people in this world, and so, for all the people who have emailed me that they’re depressed about the world, have a look at this video. As the old Jewish saying goes, “Whoever saves a life saves the world.” And this oil worker saved three. 

Here’s a longer news report as well as an update on the three rescued kittens. They’re fine, and have found a forever home—together.


As reader Tom said about this video, “Legend has it Shackles is still running to this day.”


And yet another rescue of abandoned kittens, and we have a foster d*g parent. Reader Merilee sent this, and reader Michael, seeing it, added, “Valia is a Greek loony animal lady person & more loons are needed!”  Indeed, the hero here is Valia, not Aragon the d*g, whose only duties seem to be sniffing the kittens and covering them with saliva. 


Lagniappe: This picture of what cats really are is, as reader Jon notes, available on a t-shirt from Sheharzad whose Instagram account says, “Illustrator of dark humor cartoons … or is it just regular cartoons? You decide!”

$21 will get you this:


h/t: Woody, Jeremy

Readers’ wildlife photos

December 30, 2019 • 8:00 am

Regular Stephen Barnard has been busy this winter, explaining the dearth of photos from him. But today he sent a batch which weren’t labeled. However, you can recognize the animals, including Deets the Wonder Dog. The landscapes are taken on his property.








And three landscapes. Stephen called the first one “sad”, presumably because his fishing float is grounded for the winter.



Christmas kitties

December 25, 2019 • 12:00 pm

by Greg Mayer

Peyton, the Philosophical Cat, is not much moved by the holidays, except that, with someone at home during the day more frequently, she’ll be able to have her midday treat more often—her choice between salmon snacks or a paté.

Unusually, she’s not taken to sleeping under the tree this year, but she has found a spot on the dining room table amongst the accoutrements of the holidays. Her eyes are very bright, which I attributed to the flash, but another viewer of the photo thought it was because Peyton can stare into your soul.

I’m cat-sitting over Christmas, so I can also share a second cat, Delilah, a longhair, who has both the hair and the cranial structure typical of the breed.

Delilah gave me a present, which she disdainfully glanced at in order to bring it to my attention, preferring for herself canned cat food to fine Belgian chocolates.

And even though he’s a d-g, here’s Peyton’s nephew, Q-Tip, taking more advantage of the under-tree space at his house. (And, yes, obviously, he’s her nephew by adoption.)

Hero dog in al-Baghdadi chase finally named

October 29, 2019 • 9:00 am

Up to now, the Belgian Malinois hero dog who chased Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi down the tunnel has not been named. In fact, on the CBS News I just watched in my cabin, the dog was still anonymous. I was concerned about its fate as it was apparently wounded when al-Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest (taking three of his kids with him), but the dog is going to be okay.

And, mirabile dictu, the dog has been named, and her name is CONAN. In fact, Conan has her own Wikipedia entry already. Here’s a bit of it, along with her picture.

President Donald Trump posted the declassified picture of Conan on Twitter and called her a “wonderful dog” in the tweet. The name was classified at the time, but it was revealed as Conan to Newsweek.

Meet Conan:

These dogs are apparently very good at recognizing scents, and the Wikipedia article on the breed says that one named Cairo took part in the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden. They’re also used to guard the White House and track down poachers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

The tweet below gives some amazing facts about these military dogs, including the fact that they can parachute into battle sites wearing goggles, infrared cameras, and waterproof gear.

And here’s one of the hero dogs parachuting from a plane. Imagine the training it takes to get a dog to do that—and tolerate it!

The ABC News video above says that Conan will get an invitation to the White House, as she should, but Trump will only use that to tout his own wonderfulness. If I were the President, I would feed Conan a lovely filet of beef rather than the McDonald’s hamburgers that guests often get in the White House.

Readers’ wildlife photos

September 6, 2019 • 7:45 am

Stephen Barnard has been busy fishing, but he favors us today with a new batch of photos from Idaho. His captions are indented.

The first four are rufous hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus). They migrate through in August and put on quite a show at the feeders. They’re gone now.

Next is a moose (Alces alces) across the creek in early morning sun. I see this young bull frequently. He’s almost tame.

Next, a rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) that I’m releasing.

Next, a woolly worm caterpillar on the handle of my fishing net. It surprised me. Beautiful creature up close — slow, exploratory, undulating motions. I don’t know anything about these other than what you can find on google. Apparently there are several species.


Next, a grasshopper on Loving Creek, taken while fishing. I’m in the habit of photographing insects that fish eat. Now they’re eating a lot of these. Again, I don’t know anything about these other what you can find on Google.

My d*g Deets has something of a following in WEIT. Here he’s recovering from hernia surgery, which was very successful, although manual, not robotic. I think the new style fabric cones in royal blue are fashionable.

Finally, just before sunrise over Loving Creek this morning. [This was yesterday.]

Readers’ wildlife photos

August 15, 2019 • 7:45 am

It’s been too long since we’ve had some photos by Stephen Barnard from Idaho, but he came through with this nice batch (and an explanation). His captions are indented.

I haven’t been doing much photography, for a variety of reasons, one of which is that I’ve been doing a lot of fishing.

This is my  pet fish, a  large, active, aggressive rainbow trout that dominates a deep pool. It’s a peculiar fish in that the right side of its head is dark compared to the rest of the body, which is unusually blonde. It’s striking. My theory, which is mine, is that it’s a genetic mosaic.


Pet fish taking a Trico spinner, a tiny mayfly that has died and fallen to the water. The fish gorge on these insects that hatch in multitudes.


Taking photos of fish is a problem. They’re usually the boring and repetitious “grip and grin” type photos. I typically fish alone and that makes it even more difficult. Hitch in the background likes to watch.


Instead, I’ve been photographing trout underwater at the time of release.


Some birds. These are barn swallows (Hirundo rustica). They build several nests every year under the eaves of my house and raise multiple broods. Kind of messy, but amusing. They keep the mosquitoes under control. The broods occupy the nests from time to time well after fledging, and I’ve noticed that they will eject newly hatched chicks to their deaths.


A black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) showing off his gorget.


A rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) spoiling for a fight.


The rare and endangered great-horned rufous hummingbird (Bubo rufus).


Deets (Canis lupus familiaris)


Readers’ wildlife photos

May 4, 2019 • 7:30 am

Since Stephen Barnard sent his recent batch of photos to me in one dollop, and I posted half of them yesterday, here is the other batch; Stephen’s notes are indented:

The second batch is a mixed bag. First, a couple of duck mated pairs: Cinnamon Teals (Anas cyanopteraand Gadwall (Mareca strepera).

The next three are a mated pair of Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis). The male is performing a courting ritual, which involves among other things throwing stuff in the air.

Next, a couple of d*g (Canis lupus familiaris) photos. I usually take Deets and Hitch along when I fish on my place. Hitch is very interested when I manage to catch something (a Brown Trout in this case).

Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) warming up in the morning sun.

Finally, a sunset.



Readers’ wildlife photos

April 16, 2019 • 8:00 am

Stephen Barnard has been sending me photos from Idaho every few days, and let’s see them all together. His captions are indented.

The first set of photos came with a “trigger warning: mink/mallards”. I was relieved that the mallards didn’t get eaten.

This American Mink (Neovison vison) was working its way down the creek, sometimes on the bank and  sometimes in the water. It was (unmistakably) stalking a pair of mallards that were hugging the bank to keep out of a strong wind. I  expected it to attack them, but I think my presence spooked it.

A couple of new species showed up today, in wet, overcast weather that ducks seem to enjoy. Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera). Common. Breeding male. They seem to me to be gregarious and quarrelsome, often hanging close to mallards and squabbling among themselves.

Gadwall (Mareca strepera). Less common. More solitary in pairs. This is a breeding male. The feather patterns on the wing are psychedelic.

Not a good photo, but just to show another duck species in Loving Creek. Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis)

Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris). Tiny, active, secretive birds. Hard to photograph.

The silhouette of a moose (Alces alces) at sunset.

Mating Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis).

Deets (Canis lupus familiaris).


Readers’ wildlife photos

February 23, 2019 • 7:30 am

I saw a photo of a coyote (Canis latrans) on Stephen Barnard’s Facebook page, and asked him if I could use it. He said yes, but told me that I may have published one or more of these several years ago. So be it; I don’t remember, and I bet most readers either don’t or have come aboard since then. Stephen’s notes:

Slate article takes us to task for being moved by a photo

December 4, 2018 • 10:45 am

The article below, which just appeared in Slate, seems better suited for the Pecksniffian Salon, famous for its authoritarianism and hatred of New Atheism. But let’s start with a viral tweet from Jim McGrath, who was a spokesman for G. H. W. Bush after he left the White House but before he died:

I don’t know if this was staged (I doubt it, because reliable media report that the dog spent Sunday night in front of Bush’s casket), but the picture of Bush’s service dog Sully touched the hearts of many people—including me (yes, I’m a cat lover, but I can be moved by the loyalty of a dog). The reasons why this went viral are many: its invocation of loyalty, the poignancy of what looked like the dog’s sadness, a connection between a former President and his dog, and so on.

So the photo was real, and what’s not to like about it? Well, read Slate‘s hectoring and repugnant piece below (click on screenshot), whose title tells it all:


Yes, you morons, Slate tells you not to waste “emotional energy” on the photo or the dog. How authoritarian can you get? The reason Graham is pecksniffing? Sully spent only six months helping Bush after his beloved wife Barbara died (they were married 74 years!). Six months, apparently, is not enough time for a dog to form a bond with a man, and therefore you shouldn’t act like Bush et chien were together for life. Stop tearing up and move on with your life, importunes Graham. I kid you not.  Here’s a quote:

There’s nothing wrong with applying sentimentality when it comes to family pets reacting to their owners’ deaths. There’s even some preliminary evidence from the small field of “comparative thanatology” that animals notice death, and that some may even experience an emotion we might compare to grief. But Sully is not a longtime Bush family pet, letting go of the only master he has known. He is an employee who served for less than six months.

. . . It’s wonderful for Bush that he had a trained service animal like Sully available to him in his last months. It’s a good thing that the dog is moving on to another gig where he can be helpful to other people (rather than becoming another Bush family pet). But it’s a bit demented to project soul-wrenching grief onto a dog’s decision to lie down in front of a casket. Is Sully “heroic” for learning to obey the human beings who taught him to perform certain tasks? Does the photo say anything special about this dog’s particular loyalty or judgment, or is he just … there? Also, if dogs are subject to praise for obeying their masters, what do we do about the pets who eat their owners’ dead (or even just passed-out) bodies?

The photograph, in other words, is not proof that Sully is a particularly “good boy” or that “we don’t deserve dogs,” as countless swooning tweets put it on Monday. On its own, it says almost nothing other than the fact that Sully was, at one point in the same room as the casket of his former boss. This is simply a photograph of a dog doing something dogs love to do: Lie down. The frenzy around it captures something humans love to do, too: Project our own emotional needs onto animals.

Demented? Good Lord! And notice the whataboutery: “what do we do about dogs who eat their owners’ bodies?” Who the hell cares? It’s not relevant.  And who is to say that Sully wasn’t sad in a dog-like way, or missed G. H. W.  We just don’t know, and being touched by that picture can indicate many things beyond “projecting our own emotional needs onto animals.”

It’s bad enough that the Authoritarian Left tells us what we should think. Now they tell us what we should feel. If this weren’t a family friendly site, I’d use a certain two-word phrase to show how I feel about this article and its author, a regular contributor to Slate.

Here’s what Grania, who sent me the link, had to say:

This sort of left-wing article is just embarrassing. It’s a response to a photo that was going around the internet yesterday of the dog curled up on the floor near the coffin with a “mission accomplished” slogan on it.
Much as I was not a fan of any of the Bushes and think that some of the recent eulogizing is a little over the top, all articles like this prove is that there are many on the left who are petty and spiteful.
Amen. I’ll leave the last word to John Passantino, the Los Angeles bureau chief for BuzzFeed: