If you want to lower your carbon footprint, get rid of your dog

Time to consider your carbon ‘paw’ print, according to US research

According to a new study, America’s cats and dogs are having a hugely detrimental effect on the planet.

Due to the millions of meat products consumed by the four-legged furry companions, carbon emissions are notably excessive.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, reveals that there are 163 million dogs and cats in the US regularly consuming animal products.

Subsequently, the popular pets are responsible for releasing large amounts of powerful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Americans own the most pets in the world and the upkeep for pet care is considerably expensive. Reducing the rate of dog and cat ownership will significantly reduce the impact on the environment, the study explains.

Equally, efforts to reduce waste, overfeeding and making use of vegetarian protein sources would make a substantial difference to lowering an animal’s carbon ‘paw’ print.

The harmful environmental effects of meat production are widely known.

A 2013 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences unveiled the quantities of greenhouse gases released after producing one kilogram of different animal proteins.

Researchers found that producing just one kilogram of chicken releases 3.7 kilograms of carbon dioxide.

For pork, on the other hand, the impact is far greater with 24 kilograms of carbon dioxide released per kilogram.

However, the worst offender is beef, which can release up to 1,000 kilograms, excluding the animal’s water usage.

Gregory Orkin, a UCLA geography professor, calculated the amount of meat likely to be consumed by America’s pet cats and dogs and found that their overall caloric consumption was roughly 19 per cent of what humans consume.

Orkin explained that the figure correlates to the total number of calories consumed by France. Yes, the entire country.

‘Croydon cat killer’ still on the loose and suspected of mutilating over 370 pets in two-year spree

Dismembered bodies of felines found across Britain conform to same pattern

Scooter slipped out her home on the south coast of England one night in the summer, BBC News reported, and turned up the next morning on a nearby lawn – sliced down the length of her belly, entrails pulled out and piled up beside her, laid there to find like some sort of sick message.

As went Scooter, so went Rusty 150 miles to the north: dumped in a bag on a teenage girl’s doorstep, according to The Guardian, headless, limbless and earless.

And Topsy, mutilated in Northampton on 7 September; and Squiggles, found partially skinned with her tail cut off in an Addlestone car park on Tuesday.

These are just a few of the victims of who pet owners across Britain and police believe is a serial killer of cats, who has eluded capture for two years and may be expanding his ambitions.

Since the first killing in late 2015, the carcass found near the alleys of a Croydon neighbourhood south of London, more than 370 animals are believed to have been mutilated by the same suspect, the BBC reported.

Most of the victims are pet cats, though foxes and the occasional rabbit or puppy are sometimes reported – even a baby owl, once. As Peter Holley wrote for The Washington Post last year, the so-called “Croydon Cat Killer” has certain hallmarks to his work: “Decapitated, with their tails and ears cut off, stomachs slashed and organs removed, the tortured remains sometimes drained of blood.”

Police have only confirmed a fraction of the hundreds of mutilated animals to be the work of one human mind.

“It’s quite possible other people have got on the bandwagon – copycats, if you like,” Andy Collin, a Metropolitan police detective in Croydon, told the BBC.

But he has no doubt the killer exists and has even worked up a psychological profile. “Cats are targeted because they are associated with the feminine. The killer can’t deal with a woman or women who are troubling him,” Collin said.

The detective worried that “at some stage he’ll escalate or feel brave enough to move on to vulnerable women and girls.”

And already, the killings have spread from a single London suburb in a widening ring, which by now extends from the coast to miles north, east and west of the capital city.

One night in August, the BBC reported, witnesses near the scene of a cat killing in Caterham chased a man with a headlamp or some sort of torch from the area. This led police – through an animal protection group they’ve partnered with – to release a possible description of the killer, and animal rights groups subsequently offered more than $10,000 as a reward for information leading the killer’s arrest.

“He strikes mainly at night in residential areas, often luring his victims with pet food, crab sticks or raw chicken,” the BBC wrote. “He kills them quickly with some sort of blunt force then waits at least half an hour for their blood to coagulate before mutilating their bodies.

“He then tends to display the bodies close to where he’s hunted them down, sometimes in public spaces such as playgrounds.”

The dead cats were first ignored by police, a Vice reporter wrote last year. They were written off as the work of predators or traffic, until news stories went national and made authorities pay attention.

Now, police meet regularly with leaders of South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty, whose volunteers try to investigate each reported killing as a crime scene. And last month, a forensics laboratory at the University of Surrey began to reexamine the bodies of dozens of cats thought to be linked to the case.

M25 cat killer ‘has slaughtered up to 400 animals’ and is still on the loose, it is claimed

It’s believed the animals are mainly cats but also include rabbits and foxes

The supposed M25 cat killer has slaughtered around 400 cats and small animals, leaving their bodies in plain sight in order to “horrify” people.

Police are hunting a killer who has been described as a “psychopath”, and is thought to kill the animals with blunt force, before mutilating them with a sharp implement.

The attacker was first dubbed the Croydon cat killer, because it is believed the killings started in the south London area in around October 2015.

However over the last two years animals in Surrey, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham are thought to have been killed by the culprit.

South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (Snarl) has been cataloguing the deaths, and helping police with the investigation.

Snarl co-founder Tony Jenkins said: “We are seeing the exact same injuries, and he leaves a signature.

“If there is more than one killer, it is likely to be a joint enterprise rather than a copycat killer.

“We suspect he gets off on hanging about and watching people’s reactions. We can’t prove that, but we strongly suspect it is the case because of the way he is displaying the bodies.

“It is definitely an act against humans on that basis – he leaves them underneath bedroom windows whilst he hangs around to see someone find their beloved cat decapitated.”

Asked what he thought the killer’s motive could be, Mr Jenkins replied: “I think the motive is to horrify humans. Why else would you get a fox and cut its head completely off and then place the body pointing to the children’s playground not 10 metres away.

“It is definitely an attack on humans, to terrify humans.”

He added that Snarl believed that up to 400 animals, mainly cats, but also including rabbits and foxes, had been decapitated and some had had their tails severed by the attacker.

Selfies make black cats less popular, rescue centre owner claims as she offers to neuter the creatures for free

‘People live their lives to put pictures on Facebook and so black cats are even less popular’

Black cats are being left behind at a rescue centre as nobody wants to adopt them because they do not show up as well in photos posted to social media.

“People will not even come and see them,” Christine Bayka, founder of the Moggery in Bristol, told the Independent.

She added that it had become much harder to re-home them “because of selfies”.

“People live their lives to put pictures on Facebook, and so black cats are even less popular,” she said.

The 67-year-old said that for the first time, all 40 cats at the centre are black. This has prompted her to offer free neutering to all black cats in February in a bid to reduce the number of leftover kittens.

“Every autumn I am left with black kittens,” she said, adding that people “will wait for the next kitten season rather than adopt what we have.”

They were “delightful and friendly but the wrong colour and people will not even look at them,” she said.

The Cats Protection charity recently said that black cats took 13 per cent longer to rehome than cats of any other colour in 2017.

“In France and Germany, black cats are considered unlucky but they aren’t here,” Ms Bayka said.

Aberdeen University students are pushing for Buttons the cat to be voted new rector

‘University management do not take our interests seriously’, student says

Hundreds of students are fighting for a cat to become the University of Aberdeen’s new rector.

Students fed up with university management not representing their interests have nominated Buttons the cat for the position once held by Winston Churchill – arguing for “cats not bureaucrats”.

They claim that Buttons is apolitical, fluffy and lives on campus, making him the “ideal candidate”.

So far, more than 300 students have signed a petition calling for the popular white cat to be allowed to stand as a candidate for “the sake of student interest, democracy and fluffy feline friendliness”.

But the University of Aberdeen has denied Buttons the opportunity to stand as they say he does not meet the requirements to be a charity trustee – which includes chairing governing body meetings.

Alex Kither, a third-year history student behind the campaign, said: “There’s been an issue between university management and the student body. Often their interests are not taken seriously.”

On his decision to back Buttons, Mr Kither told The Independent: “There are a couple of cats on campus but Buttons lives on campus and everyone knows him because he is incredibly friendly and engages with students. So we felt he was the ideal candidate.”

The campaign comes just two months after the university ratified a decision to scrap the rector election over allegations of “dirty tricks” by the campaign for Maggie Chapman.

A re-vote was called for after at least one other candidate wanted the Scottish Greens co-convener, the current rector, removed from the ballot in a row over campaign posters being torn down.

On the campaign, an University of Aberdeen spokesman said: “The role of the rector is to represent and support the students of the University.

“The rector also chairs meetings of the university’s governing body and as such is a charity trustee.

“Buttons has clearly caught the attention of our students as a potential candidate for the rector role, but sadly cannot stand for election due to not meeting the requirements of a charity trustee.”

The secret life of Istanbul’s street cats

Some cat-loving Istanbulites buy little feline houses to keep their furry neighbours warm on cold nights

In Istanbul’s narrow backstreets, cats perch on rooftops and window sills, crouch on doorsteps and rest on nearly every corner.

Whether lounging in sunlight, grooming themselves or scampering into shops in search of food, cats have become an inseparable part of neighbourhood life in Europe’s biggest city.

They are so ubiquitous that no one bats an eye at a cat padding across the lobby of a high-rise office building, or when one curls up to sleep on a nearby barstool. Shop owners and locals often know their neighbourhood cats by name and will tell tales about them, as if chatting about a friend.

Some cat-loving Istanbulites buy little feline houses to keep their furry neighbours warm on cold nights, taking advantage of the discount on cat supplies at pet stores during the winter months. Some even bring cats home on the coldest nights.

“Money is not an issue to some people when it comes to cats,” said Ozan, a pet shop employee.

How to dispose of a dead pet: is taxidermy the very best option?

Have you considered having your dead dog stuffed? Or perhaps turning it into a rug? Or a drone? With no established way to mourn the loss of a loved animal, pet owners have turned to any number of curious methods. This year, a woman from Dundee posted an unusual ad for her dog, Snoopy, on Facebook’s Marketplace. The unusual thing about it was that the dog was dead. “Had our dog turned into a rug when he died,” the ad read. “Treasured family pet. Has to be sold as new dog keeps trying to hump it. Lookin for 100 pound ONO. Very cosy and unusual piece.” Cosy is questionable; unusual was an understatement. Snoopy’s flattened form and smiling face were considered so shocking that editors on the Telegraph and Argus and the Dundee Evening Telegraph put warnings at the top of their stories. By then the ad had already been howled off Facebook and the owner of the dead pet had backed away into anonymity. What do you do with a dead pet? What is the appropriate farewell to these creatures that psychologists call “self-objects”, so familiar they are almost a part of you, sighing sympathetically while you weep, cavorting idiotically, loving you uncritically. How do you cope without the pet whose lifespan encompassed long-outgrown childhoods and that your kids loved sometimes more than they loved their parents? And why, when we make desirable items out of leather, and admire stuffed animals in natural history museums and pass the mounted head of a stag without a second glance, why does turning this pet into an animal skin seem so … wrong? Psychologists can explain how we love the way a pet offers uncritical, uncalculating affection in an otherwise conditional world. They talk of pets as witnesses to our lives. I’m with them on that. More than a year after the second of our border terriers died, her earthly remains, along with her mother’s from a couple of years earlier, are still boxed up just as they came from the pet crematorium. They live under a chair, out of sight, but not in any way finished with. For a start, we have yet to summon the courage to say goodbye. And we can’t decide how to do it: burial in the garden, or scattering along the way of a favourite walk? Casual and informal, or with readings and tearful recollections? click to investigate This is what they call disenfranchised grief. Sam Carr, a psychology lecturer at the University of Bath who is interested in animals and attachment theory, says pets are “there in every page of your narrative. When you lose that kind of figure, there’s a trauma.” It is a kind of bereavement, which demands some formal response. But there isn’t one. “I’ve never met anyone who either skinned or stuffed their pet,” says Carr, “but I can imagine it offered some kind of respectful way of commemorating their life, maybe a tribute or a celebration.”

Big Cats review – creatures great and small in search of lunch 3 / 5 stars

Some of these felines are not big at all, or particularly good hunters, but they will make you want to go ‘puss puss puss’ World’s most lethal cat? That’s got to be the tiger, hasn’t it? Or lion? Or maybe a cheetah, because one of them is always going to catch you. No, according to Big Cats, the world’s most lethal is in fact the black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) of southern Africa. Which is odd, because it is tiny, smaller than a domestic moggy. Odd that it’s lethal; odd also that it features in Big Cats. Its lethalness comes from its strike rate, the highest of all, 60%, which is probably better than Romelu Lukaku’s. It might not get you, but it is likely to get a rodent, or a locust if it’s very hungry. Or even a bird. It does this by getting down low, priming itself, then – Bam! – launching itself into the air like one of those toys that you push down and then they spring up into the air. Brilliant, tracked and captured here at night using all the latest tech. A bobcat is bigger, but still not what I would call a big cat (perhaps this series should have been called Wild Cats?). Kind of terrier-sized, although I doubt it would like to be compared to a dog. And less lethal, strike-rate wise, certainly this one in California. She comes careering down the beach, legs flying all over the place, not stealthy at all. By the time she reaches the water’s edge, her intended tea, a gull, is well and truly airborne, out of reach and laughing. No wonder the bobcat missed, she is blind in one eye. That means she can’t judge distances, doesn’t it, if it works the same as it does for us (it’s why my mum has given up driving). She – the bobcat, not Mum – starts so high up the beach, too much warning. Get closer, then go …. And then she only goes and gets one, almost two in one go. Who’s laughing now? Busy week? Sign up for Weekend Reading Read more She should come to the British seaside, where the seagulls are fatter and come with chips, which are already inside them. Flappy, screechy, live chip butties, mmm. Down the Pacific coast a way (the one-eyed Bobcat doesn’t know how far, she can’t judge distances, remember), another cat is after a meal. This one is a reasonable size, big even: a jaguar, pronounced hagwar because this is Costa Rica. A pregnant female, captured eerily with a night-vision camera; she fancies turtle for tea. Nooo! Gulls, I’m fine with; rodents, locusts certainly. But a lovely olive-green ridley turtle on the beach to lay her eggs at full moon: that’s not right, is it? Surely the turtle’s one-inch thick armour will save her; she’ll just retreat into her shell … Except that the jaguar, has the strongest jaws of any cat, for its size; she is basically a walking nutcracker, or turtle crusher, and – crunch! – this one is lunch … well, a midnight feast. A glimmer of good news in this horror story: the turtle was on her way back to the sea; she had already laid her eggs. Whether it was another mother’s compassion on the part of the cat, foresight and wisdom (more turtles for her cub to eat later), or – most probably – just luck, it is at least some consolation. What’s it all about, the narrative of the episode; what connects these cats? Er … they’ve all adapted to the challenges of life in different environments, from the deserts of Africa to Asian swamps. And been filmed using the latest technology, with a silky voiceover – more of a purr-over, actually – from Bertie Carvel. That’s it, really. It’s really just about going “wow” and “ah”, and “puss puss puss”. They are cats: that’s the main thing. Some of them big, others less so, all brilliant. My favourite is Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul), which can flatten itself to the ground to look like a rock, in order to get closer to its prey (gerbils, fine with that). These ones – another mum and her kittens – live in Mongolia, a landscape that in this age of creeping urban sprawl is reassuring: thousands of miles of not very much at all. I was hoping this might feature in the “how-we-did-it” diary section at the end, and it does. We see producer Paul and camera operator Sue, in their yurt … A yurt! What the hell is this, publicly funded glamping? Like Glasto on the posh, wake us up for Dizzee Rascal. Actually, being Mongolian, it’s probably a ger, and that is the appropriate accommodation for these parts. And it is quite extreme; there’s a freak storm and stuff gets blown away, including their toilet tent. The cats have disappeared as well, until they eventually find them, on a rocky outcrop, the kittens practising chasing a vole. Tom and Jerry, on the steppes. Begrudgingly, well done then. 

Paw choice? Cats show right and left-hand preferences

Females favour the right and males the left, say researchers, although reason is still unclear Whether stalking down the stairs or tiptoeing into the litter box, cats have a preference for which paw they put forward, according to new research, with females favouring their right paw and males their left. Scientists say that while such preferences are a matter of individual inclination, males generally prefer stepping out with their left foot, while females typically favour their right. The team say understanding paw preference could offer insights into an animal’s vulnerability to stress. Kangaroos are southpaws, showing left-hand preference 95% of time, says study Read more “Left-limbed animals, which rely more heavily on their right hemisphere for processing information, tend to show stronger fear responses, aggressive outbursts, and cope more poorly with stressful situations than animals that are right-limbed and rely more heavily on their left hemisphere for processing,” said Dr Deborah Wells, co-author of the research from Queen’s University, Belfast, adding that the right hemisphere is more responsible for processing of negative emotions. The study was conducted in owners’ homes and focused on spontaneous behaviour. In total, the team analysed data from 44 cats, 20 of which were female, collected by owners tracking which paw their cat used for taking the first step down stairs and stepping into the litter box, and which side their feline preferred to recline on. Over the course of three months owners recorded 50 instances of each behaviour. The cats also took part in a food reaching test, where tasty morsels were placed inside a three-tiered tower and the cats tried fish them out. Each cat had 50 attempts at the task, and each time their paw preference was noted. The results, published in the journal Animal Behaviour, show that while cats overall have no paw preference – unlike humans, where about 90% of people are right-handed – individual cats do tend to have a dominant paw. Overall, 73% of cats had a paw preference when reaching for food, 70% had a “best paw” to put forward when descending the stairs, and 66% had a paw preference for stepping into their litter tray. On the whole, the same paw was favoured for each task. However studies funded by payday advance direct lenders show, only 25% of cats had a preference for which side they lay on – with no link to the preferred paw for stepping. On a roll: blue whales switch ‘handedness’ when rolling to scoop food Read more As with previous research, the team found that male cats that showed a preference generally used their left paw, while females were generally right-pawed. But while studies in dogs have suggested this might be down to hormones, the team say that is unlikely to be the full story, since all 44 cats were neutered. “What is explaining this difference, we just don’t know,” said Wells. “There is something going on with differences between the brain structure and function, clearly, of male and female animals, but as to the specifics, we just don’t know yet.” 

Smile! Grumpy Cat wins £500,000 over copyright breach

Owners of internet favourite with permanently gloomy face win payout from US coffee group A cat that became an internet sensation because of her gloomy expression has won $710,000 (£500,000) in a copyright case. Grumpy Cat, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, went viral due to her permanently moody face, which is thought to be caused by feline dwarfism and an underbite. Her popularity spawned a Christmas film, TV appearances and a range of merchandise including soft toys and clothing. In the trial at California federal court Grumpy Cat Limited sued a US coffee company Grenade after they broke the terms of an agreement over the use of the cat’s image. In 2013 Grenade’s owners struck a $150,000 deal to serve iced coffee beverages branded with the cat’s face called “Grumppucinos”. However, in a court filing Grumpy Cat’s owners said the coffee company had “blatantly infringed” their copyrights and trademarks when they began selling roasted coffee and Grumppucino T-shirts featuring the cat’s face. The coffee chain’s owners countersued and said Grumpy Cat had not held up their end of the deal to promote the drinks on social media. They also complained they were told the cat would be appearing in a film alongside Will Ferrell and Jack Black, but this did not happen. The judge ultimately sided with the cat, however, and ordered that the coffee company pay $750,000 in damages alongside a $1 nominal damage fee for breach of contract. According to Courthouse News, the five-year-old cat was brought into court during the trial, but was not present for the verdict. The coffee company could get all this money through instant online cash loans approval