- 1. Piano-Playing Tabby Wins ASPCA Cat of the Year Award
- 2. ASPCA Happy Tails: Molly, Stay Forever Young!
- 3. Who Does Your Dog Love? Show Us in Our October Photo Contest
- 4. If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit: Halloween Costume Tips for Your Furry Friends
- 5. Victory for Farm Animals—California Bans Tail Docking of Cows
1. Piano-Playing Tabby Wins ASPCA Cat of the Year Award
When Betsy Alexander and Burnell Yow of Philadelphia, PA, visited an animal shelter in Cherry Hill, NJ, they never imagined they would adopt a feline prodigy. Nora, a grey Tabby named after the surrealist painter Leonora Carrington, appeared to be your average mischievous young kitten. But this seemingly ordinary shelter cat is receiving an extraordinary honor next week, when she will be officially named Cat of the Year at the annual ASPCA Humane Awards in New York City.
Originally deemed “bossy” by shelter staff, Nora wasn’t the most popular feline among her four-legged clan, but Betsy and Burnell saw something special in the demonstrative kitty and welcomed her into their furry family. Nora immediately established herself as the alpha cat of the family’s four other felines, but it wasn’t until she was a year old that her secret gift suddenly emerged. One afternoon, Betsy, who teaches music lessons, was startled to discover Nora delicately tickling the ivories of her Yamaha piano. Playing the piano soon became the cat’s favorite pastime. Her sensitive pawing, which several newspapers have described as "a cross between free jazz and Philip Glass,” became a YouTube sensation, drawing more than 20 million page views. It also inspired a Lithuanian composer to arrange a symphony in her honor.
Though her talents are unrivaled, Nora has been named the ASPCA Cat of the Year as much for her musical abilities as for her pluck and drive to prove that shelter petsfar from being castoffsoften make the best animal companions. Nora is a true testament to the spirit of the Humane Awards, which every year honor exceptional animals as well as inspiring individuals who have dedicated their lives to animal welfare.
Check our website for a complete list of this year’s award winners, including a guide dog for a disabled Iraq War veteran and two undercover agents who assisted in the largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history.
2. ASPCA Happy Tails: Molly, Stay Forever Young!
Everybody remembers Sassythe saucy Beagle whose youthful exuberance disguised her true age. We’re happy to report that the popular pooch (now known as Molly) is happily living with Bronx, NY, resident Floree Jackson and her loving family. On September 19, the day after Floree’s 26th birthday, the demonstrative canine became the missing puzzle piece for the Jacksons’ growing family. Now eight years old, Molly has a new name and a new lease on life. We recently caught up with the family matriarch and her fun-loving fur kid.
“Molly’s doing great!” Floree enthuses. “She has claimed the love seat by the front window as her ownshe is really laid back, and gets along great with my kids.”
It seems Molly is finally enjoying the quiet wisdomand the joy of nappingthat comes with middle age. “She likes to sleep on her back on any pillow or pile of clothes!” Floree reports.
But don’t be fooledMolly hasn’t totally left her puppy ways behind. Just as this former wiggle worm gets used to her new two-legged parents and siblings, so, too, is Floree adjusting to the unique habits of the canine kind. She says, “Molly is my first dog, so it’s funny to see her sniff in circles before she goes to the bathroom. She is definitely getting accustomed to my work schedule and wakes up with my alarm clock.”
“Molly is a wonderful addition to the family,” Floree adds. “She is a great pet for my children and fits right in. She’s made us the ‘typical family’mom, dad, kids and a beautiful Beaglewho could ask for anything better?”
3. Who Does Your Dog Love? Show Us in Our October Photo Contest
Does your pooch love a species other than the canine kind? Does he pal around with the neighbor’s cat or let your bird perch on his head? Does he go out to pasture with your horse or snuggle up to your guinea pig? This October, for the ASPCA Adopt-A-Shelter Dog photo contest, we want you to catch your dog in the act of interspecies affectionsend us a great shot of your open-hearted, open-minded pooch hanging with friends outside the canine community. The top five winnersselected by ASPCA staffwill receive an ASPCA Prize Pack and be featured on our website. So get clickingthe deadline for entries is October 31!
4. If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit: Halloween Costume Tips for Your Furry Friends
Even though our fur kids can look smashing in a pumpkin or pirate costume specifically made for their four-legged frames, many pets can have adverse reactions to a constrictive outfit or its irritating materials. Remember, pet parents, animals are most comfortable hanging out in their birthday suits. But in the spirit of all that’s ghoulish, the ASPCA offers some helpful costume tips to keep you and your pet singing “trick-or-treat!” all the way to November 1.
Schedule a dress rehearsal and try on all costumes well before the big night. Please don't put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). If your pet seems distressed or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or in a simple, festive bandana.
Does your pet have sensitive skin? Even those with hearty coats can have allergic reactions to the synthetic materials found in many costumes. While you ride a sugar high, your pet might be uncomfortably scratching the night away.
If you do dress up your pet, be sure the costume isn't annoying or unsafe, and make absolutely sure it doesn’t limit your pet’s movement, hearing, vision or ability to breathe or bark. Ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, which can lead to injury.
It’s best to avoid costumes with lots of sequins or other dangling parts that your pet could eat or choke on. If your pet ingests something poisonous, immediately contact your vet or the ASPCA’s 24-hour poison control hotline at (888) 426-4435.
Need some creative costume inspiration before the big night? Check out the fashion-forward winners of our 2008 best-dressed dog photo contest.
For more information on playing it safe with your pet on All Hallows Eve, read our top 10 tips for a stress-free Halloween.
5. Victory for Farm Animals—California Bans Tail Docking of Cows
Attention, animal lovers! After a long fight, California’s dairy cows have emerged victorious! The ASPCA applauds California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who made history by signing into law SB 135, a bill forbidding the cruel and unnecessary amputation of dairy cows’ tails. Since tail docking is already outlawed for horses in California, SB 135 will simply add the words "and cattle" to the law's language.
Tail docking is a common practice of the dairy industry, where up to two-thirds of a dairy cow’s tail is amputated without the use of painkiller or anesthesia. The docking is often performed by applying a constrictive rubber band to the tail, cutting off blood flow and allowing the tail to fall off. This often leads to neuromasdense masses of nerve endings associated with both chronic and acute pain. Infected wounds resulting from careless tail docking are also common.
“Cows naturally use their tails to swat off biting insects,” says Jill Buckley, Senior Director of Government Relations for the ASPCA. “Tail docking makes this simple movement impossibleleading to enormous suffering, especially during fly season.”
The bill, which will go into effect January 1, was introduced by state Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez and supported by the ASPCA, Humane Society of the United States, the California Veterinary Medical Association, California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau. The bill was passed by the Senate 27-12, and the Assembly approved it by a vote of 58-15.
While the docking of cows’ tails is already banned in several European nations, including the U.K. and Netherlands, Californiathe U.S.’s largest dairy stateis the first state to ban the procedure. This act will protect the more than 1.8 million California cows farmed for their milk. The ASPCA is hoping this landmark legislation will encourage other large dairy states to follow suit.
Read more about the ASPCA's fight against cruelty to farm animals.