The Cat Boat – Amsterdam’s Floating Sanctuary for Cats

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The Cat Boat is one of Amsterdam’s most peculiar attractions. It’s essentially a sanctuary for cats, but what makes it special is that the rescued cats all live aboard a quaint little houseboat that bobs along the Herengracht canal. Although it wasn’t intended to be a tourist attraction, Cat Boat regularly receives about 4,500 visitors a year, most of whom are tourists missing their own cats while on vacation!

The origins of the Cat Boat can be traced back to 1966, when a kind woman named Henriette van Weelde took pity on a stray feline and her kittens and allowed them into her own home. Henriette soon became well known in the neighborhood for her kindness; people would regularly drop off rescued cats at her doorstep and she wouldn’t hesitate to take them all in.

This went on for about two years, after which Henriette simply didn’t have enough room to house more cats. So she came up with a solution – she put them all on an unused houseboat on the nearby Herengracht canal. The feline sanctuary was something of a ‘pirate’ ship for about two decades, operating without the knowledge of the authorities. But in 1987, it finally got a permit and was officially christened ‘de Poezenboot’ (the Cat Boat).

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Swedish Scientists Want to Find Out if Cats Meow with an Accent Based on Where They Live

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A cat with an accent sounds like a character in a whimsical children’s tale, but Swedish scientists are trying to figure out if domestic cats actually do have differing ‘dialects’ based on their geographical location. They also want to understand if the owner’s voice might have a role to play in the way cats’ meow. If they’re successful, the team of scientists from Lund University hope to put together a ‘dictionary’ of cat sounds.

“It seems that cats can consciously vary their intonation or melody constantly, perhaps to convey a certain message, perhaps to alter or increase the urgency of a message, or emotions,” said Susanne Schötz, a reader in phonetics and head of the project. “We want to find out to what extent domestic cats are influenced by the language and dialect that humans use to speak to them, because it seems that cats use slightly different dialects in the sounds they produce.”

The project, titled ‘Meowsic’ (short for ‘Melody in Human-Cat Communication’), will be carried out over the next five years. Schötz explained that she and her team will use phonetic analysis to compare cat sounds from two parts of Sweden – Stockholm and Lund – with differing human dialects, and figure out if the cats from these regions also have different dialects. They will focus on intonation, voice, and speaking style in the human speech that is addressed to cats, and also cat sounds that are addressed to humans.

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Dog Owner Dyes Dogs to Look Like Pandas, Sparks Controversy

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A dog owner from Singapore has stirred up controversy by dyeing her three pure-bred Chow Chows to resemble pandas. The white fur dogs now have dyed black patches around their eyes, on their ears, and all over their bodies, making them look more like mini pandas than canines.

and her dogs began to gain popularity after many Singaporean residents spotted them around town and posted photographs of them online. About a month ago Jiang decided to make the most of the publicity and started a service called Panda Chow Chows that allows people to rent out her dogs for photo shoots. A Facebook post made by her husband reads: “Meet the cutest and most adorable dogs in Singapore. The Panda Chow Chows! Toudou (Potato), Yumi (Sweetcorn) and DouDou (Bean). Very proud of my wife Meng Jiang launching her new venture.”

The couple revealed that they brought the three dogs with them from London, when they moved to Singapore in October last year. They started by dyeing only one of the dogs, Yumi, because they thought the puppies were looking more and more like pandas as they grew older. “Yumi loved it and TouDou and DouDou were really jealous of her, so we tried it with them and they all had a new level of energy after it was done,” Jiang told Channel News Asia.

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World’s Largest Rattlesnake Roundup – How to Turn Slaughtering Thousands of Snakes into a Yearly Festival

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For the past 59 years, the residents of Sweetwater, Texas, have been coming together during the second weekend of March to celebrate the ‘World’s Largest Rattlesnake Roundup’, a four-day event that features the beheading and skinning of thousands of rattlesnakes in front of a live audience.

Annual rattlesnake roundups are common in several areas of the rural Midwest and Southern United States, but the event at Sweetwater is considered by far the largest of them all. Launched in 1958 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), it used to be the most effective way to control the region’s heavy snake population responsible for the death of cattle and humans alike.

And while the festival’s original premise might not be relevant anymore, the event still manages to draw up to 30,000 visitors each year, including out-of-state snake hunting teams and tourists from other countries. Just last year , a whopping 3,780 pounds – that’s tens of thousands – of rattlesnake were netted and thrown live into a pit, from where they were taken out and killed, one at a time.

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Kindhearted Woman Converts Home into Retirement Home for Old Unwanted Dogs

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House With a Heart is an animal sanctuary in Gaithersburg, Maryland, that’s exclusively dedicated to the care of elderly dogs and cats. Founded in 2006 by Sher Polvinale, the shelter regularly rescues senior animals abandoned by their owners, and cares for them until the very end.

Sher and her husband had been working with rescued cats and dogs for nearly 20 years before they had the idea for House With a Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary. Over the years, they had received several calls from people who could no longer care for their aging pets. These animals almost never got adopted again, so they eventually decided to convert their home into a haven dedicated to their care.

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This Unique Record Label Specializes in Music for Dogs

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Since 1999, The Laurel Canyon Animal Company has been producing music exclusively for animals – particularly dogs. The Los Angeles company regularly collaborates with animal communication experts and even psychics to get dogs directly involved in the music making process and the tunes they release are all chosen by the animals.

“We’ll take whatever the dog says and turn it into a song,” said co-founder Skip Haynes. “We’re probably the only people in the world to involve animals in the creative musical process. We’re trying to create a bridge between animals and human beings using music, because that’s what we do.”

“Each CD we produce is devoted to a particular kind of animal or species. Each track is devoted to a unique concern, situation, or shared experience of the people who love those animals or the animals themselves. We utilize the writing, production, and conceptual talents of animal loving writers, producers, artists, communicators, musicians, poets – and of course, animals from all over the world.”

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Loyal Dog Spends Two Weeks on Doorstep of Owner Who Will Never Come Home Again

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A German Shepherd recently won the hearts millions with a stunning display of love and loyalty reminiscent of the legendary Hachiko. According to eye-witnesses in his Houston neighborhood, the dog spent weeks at the front gate of his apartment complex patiently waiting for his owner, not knowing he had been killed and would never return.

54-year-old Hatem Abuharbid was killed on February 7, when the convenience store where he worked was robbed. He was shot in the thigh by the two robbers, and the bullet pierced through an artery in his leg. He died later at the hospital due to heavy bleeding. Meanwhile, his German Shepherd back home kept waiting for Abuharbid to come back, as he did every evening.

“Of course he’s confused because he doesn’t know what’s going on,” said Cassandra Eubanks, a neighbor. “He hadn’t seen his owner in two weeks. You could just tell that he was a lost dog. He would follow the cars and when he would realise that it was not his owner’s car, he would just stand there and look helpless.”

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The Epic Tale of a Refugee Cat from Iraq That Got Lost in Greece and Reunited with His Family in Norway

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In a miraculous turn of events, a refugee cat that got separated from his family while fleeing Iraq has not only survived the treacherous sea voyage to Lesbos, but has also been reunited with his owners, now living in Norway.

Kindness towards animals is not new to the people of Lesbos – we’d previously written about a café in the Greek island that opens its doors to stray dogs at night. So when volunteers found the poor, frightened cat all alone in November last year, they took him in, naming him Dias and deciding to care for him until his real owners could be found.

A few volunteers recalled that there had been a refugee family that was separated from their pet cat on reaching Lesbos a week earlier, so they began their hunt by putting up posters at reception centers all over the island. They also set up a Facebook page called ‘Reunite Dias’ to help spread the word. In the meantime, Dias was left in the care of volunteers Amy Shrodes and Ashley Anderson, who had been working with refugees on the island.

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World’s Loneliest Chimp Hugs Human Visitors after Years of Isolation on Tiny African Island

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After three years of isolation on a remote island, Ponso the chimp finally received a visitor this year – Estelle Raballand, director of the Chimpanzee Conservation Center. The lonely chimp’s happiness was obvious from his ear-to ear-grin and the way he almost immediately hugged Estelle when she reached out to him.

Ponso’s tragic story began thirty years ago, when he was abandoned off Africa’s Ivory Coast along with 65 other chimpanzees. These chimps, most of which were captured in the wild, were used by the New York Blood Center (NYBC) for hepatitis research. During the testing phase they were reportedly biopsied, anesthetized, and chained by their necks to jungle gyms. After the tests were complete, the lab left the chimps on various remote islands with no natural source of food, occasionally dropping off supplies.

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Can Dogs Fly Planes? New Reality Show Wants to Find Out

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You might think it ridiculous and even dangerous to put dogs behind the yoke of a plane and let them try to fly it, but that won’t stop some people from trying. Case in point, Dogs Might Fly, a new TV show from the UK that plans to train some dogs to fly a plane.

While the internet has plenty of videos of dogs driving cars, planes are an entirely different matter. The sheer number of things that could go wrong makes it sound like a foolhardy exercise, but it’s a risk the makers of the show are willing to take in a bid to demonstrate that dogs have “distinct personalities and incredible levels of intelligence.”

“People give up on them too easily and this series will show us why we shouldn’t,” presenter Jamie Theakston told The Telegraph. “They are just as deserving and just as intelligent. Even if a dog has been deprived of human contact or has been badly treated, it is just as able and motivated to initiate a new relationship with a human very quickly.”

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Sunglasses-Wearing Cat Becomes Internet Superstar

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Meet Bagel, a.k.a ‘Sunglass Cat’, who became a social media sensation because of an eye condition that requires her to wear sunglasses at all times. Her shades are decorated with stick-on jewels, giving her a cool vibe that has earned her a reputation as one of the internet’s coolest cats. 

The Los Angeles feline was born without eyelids and her eyes are unable to produce tears. She was rescued from a shelter by Karen McGill when she was a two-month-old underweight kitten. Karen had to nurse her back to health, feeding her by hand every thirty minutes. Later, Bagel got three surgeries for her eye condition, and Karen still needs to apply drops to her eyes several times a day.

To protect Bagel’s sensitive eyes from harsh sunlight and dust, Karen came up with the idea of putting shades on her all the time. Over time, Bagel has come to associate her glasses as a means of comfort and protection. Without shades, her eyes are at a constant risk of being damaged due to cornea damage. Karen removes the jewel-lined glasses from time to time so Bagel can wash her eyes, but the keeps them on at all times in public. The cat also has allergies and cannot regulate her body temperature, which is why she is seen wearing clothes in a few photographs.

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Woman Has Pet Cat Stuffed So She Can Take It with Her Everywhere

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An Argentinian woman found it so hard to part with her recently deceased pet cat that she had its body stuffed by a taxidermist just so she could keep carrying it with her everywhere she goes.

Daniela Cardone and her stuffed cat Matute shot to fame a few days ago, when she posted some pictures of their trip to Lujan city, in the Buenos Aires province, on Instagram. Speaking to reporters, the former model said she simply couldn’t bear to part with Matute after he died around a month ago, so she sought out someone to help her preserve his body. She strongly believed that his soul was still around her, and it didn’t make sense for her to dispose of his body.

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The Androgynous Lionesses of Botswana

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Moremi Game Reserve, located in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, is home to a pride of butch lionesses with deep roars and bushy, luxurious manes. They look so much like male lions, they easily fool competing prides into believing that they’re actually males.

The maned lionesses are regularly spotted by visitors to the Mombo Safari Camp, an area within the Reserve where these wild beasts reside. Wildlife experts believe that the lion population in the area might have a genetic condition that causes the phenomenon. The seasonal flood waters of the delta could have isolated these lions for decades, forcing them to inbreed their way to a genetic mutation causing a hormonal imbalance.

When National Geographic contacted Luke Hunter, president of the big-cat conservation group Panthera, for answers, he explained that masculine females are likely to occur when the embryo is disrupted – either during conception or while in the womb. “If the former case, the genetic contribution of the sperm – which determines the sex of the fetus in most mammals – was probably aberrant, giving rise to a female with some male characteristics,” he said.

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Retired Doctor Sells Her Properties to Take Care of Stray Cats and Dogs

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Weng Xiaoping, formerly a renowned doctor in China, is spending her retirement caring for stray animals. In what may seem like an unthinkable act to most people, Weng sold two of her properties for 1.8 million yuan (almost $300,000) immediately after she retired and decided to use all that money to fund her new mission in life.

With the money in hand, Xiaopang moved to the mountainous village of Taipingqiao, near Huzhou city, to build a sanctuary for unwanted dogs and cats. In the past eight years, she has adopted and cared for hundreds of animals. She has also hired two assistants, using her pension of 7,000 yuan per month to pay them.

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Meet Tanu, the Japanese Raccoon Dog Taking the Internet by Storm

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The internet is going crazy over photographs of Tanu, an adorable dog that belongs to a canine species called tanuki, also known as ‘Japanese raccoon dog’. Most Westerners mistake the tanuki for a raccoon or badger, but it is in fact a canine breed.

Tanu became an internet celebrity after his owner, Twitter user @chibi_tori, started posting photographs of him. The pictures, which mostly show Tanu eating or sleeping next to a warm stove, were thousands of times over before Buzzfeed picked up the story. Chibi_tori told the popular entertainment website that he found the dog abandoned in June last year and has been raising it as a pet ever since.

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