Posts tagged cats

AMONG THE ANIMALS: Seattle Arts & Lectures Presents “Thinking Animals”

Guinea pigs at factory-style breeding farm in Peru

Guinea pigs at factory-style breeding farm in Peru

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle and the Queen Anne & Magnolia News

December 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

This January, Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) is hosting a series of talks on animal issues near to our hearts and minds. “Thinking Animals: Species, Power and the Politics of Care in the World” is a series of five lectures that explore the interdependencies of humans and animals. Nationally recognized leaders will discuss various aspects of human-animal relationships — from the thought-provoking behavior of cats in French history to guinea pigs in Peruvian politics. These lectures are for anyone who loves animals and thinks critically about their roles in society.

Prof. John Marzluff (UW)

Prof. John Marzluff (UW)

Relating to animals

University of Washington (UW) professor John Marzluff has done extensive research on birds in our city. On Jan. 9, in his lecture “Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers and Other Wildlife,” Marzluff will illuminate how birds continue to evolve in response to changes to our cities.

Marzluff explains that cities were once just single ecosystems but now consist of many different types of ecosystems, such as ponds, fields and high-rises. This allows for a more diverse bird population than we see in rural areas, and Marzluff will explain how we can foster this unique interdependency.

“This talk will be like a field guide to your yard,” Marzluff explains.

On Jan. 30, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, will speak on the juxtapositions of animal issues within the context of our economy, as we struggle to reconcile our natural concern for animals with widespread economic exploitation of animals.

In his talk “Animal Protection in the 21st Century: Finding Clarity in Our Tangled, Contradictory Relationship with Animals,” Pacelle will discuss how we need to reject institutionalized cruelty to truly address issues of violence in society.

“The exploitation of animals is retarding progress for us and creating all sorts of collateral damage in society,” Pacelle describes. “I’ll be talking about how technology and innovation can provide a pathway forward for society on a range of animal issues.”

Kathryn Gillespse

Kathryn Gillespie

SAL’s Feb. 13 lecture is not to be missed for anyone who thinks critically about the sources of their food and our relationship to farmed animals. Beacon Hill resident and UW part-time geography lecturer Kathryn Gillespie has meticulously researched the lives of dairy cows in the Pacific Northwest and nationwide.

In her talk “The Cow with Ear Tag No. 1389: Species, Place and Power in U.S. Animal Agriculture,” Gillespie follows individual cows through potent moments in their lives — from the dairy farm to the auction house, where all spent (terminally over-milked) dairy cows and separated calves end up for sale to slaughterhouses. Through her research at 4H shows, dairy farms, auction houses and dairy-industry trade shows, Gillespie reveals the inherent violence that dairy cows and calves experience and how it differs dramatically from the public perception of the dairy industry.

In her Feb. 27 lecture “Thinking with Cats,” UW French and Italian studies professor Louisa Mackenzie will explore the role of cats in the intellectual lives of prominent French historical figures as a means to understanding the human-animal divide (i.e. what makes us human and “them” animals).

Mackenzie explains, “There is something of a minor tradition in European philosophy of cats provoking moments of deep existential questioning about the limits of what we know.”

She will discuss how cats seem to know things that humans may not know or know in the same way. Mackenzie adds that it is good “to be reminded that human ways of ordering the world are not the only ways.”

Guinea pigs at an intensified farm in Peru (photo courtesy of Maria Elana Garcia)

Guinea pigs at an intensified farm in Peru (photo courtesy of Maria Elana Garcia)

From food to celebrities

On March 6, Wallingford residents and UW professors María Elena García and José Antonio Lucero will explore the shifting role of animals in Peru, with a focus on guinea pigs and a high-profile Rottweiler.

Once mainly an indigenous food animal in Peru, guinea pigs have increasingly been used in elite food-tourist products and as symbols of Peruvian unity. García’s research questions how Peruvian society has changed this indigenous food by incorporating it into modern cuisine, thereby creating a greater demand for the meat. This has resulted in intensified guinea pig farming and genetic manipulation to make the meat more available, much the same way chickens are factory farmed in the United States.

García also considers the consequences of this move for indigenous peoples.

Lucero will speak on the curious case of a Rottweiler who killed an alleged burglar and then became a celebrity as upper-class Peruvians championed the dog for protecting property from the threat of criminals from indigenous society. The case reveals much about insecurity and race in the political imagination of Peru.

García and her UW colleagues collaborate to consider these and other issues of animals in society through the UW Critical Animal Studies Working group. The group has organized this lecture series with SAL.

García explains, “Animals represent a paradox for us humans: Animals are everywhere, yet they are often almost invisible. When we slow down to ask some questions about the place of animals in the world, we gain a greater understanding, not only of the animals that share our world but also about ourselves.”

For more information and tickets for SAL’s “Thinking Animals” lecture series, visit


Leave a comment »

AMONG THE ANIMALS: Foster care: ‘A shelter without walls’


Mo, a foster cat from PAWS

Sept. 19th, 2013

Originally published in City Living Seattle and the Queen Anne News

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

My husband, Eric, and I had presided over a two-dog, one-cat household for a long time before one of our dogs passed away in May. We were not ready to commit to another dog. Instead, we decided to foster cats and dogs from a local rescue group and help out one animal at a time.

We signed up with the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) since its shelter is close to our North Seattle home. There are also foster programs through the Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) and numerous private rescue groups. Smaller rescue groups also depend on foster families to care for homeless pets because they do not have a brick-and-mortar shelter.

Eric and I acquired the requisite training to volunteer and to learn how to engage with the foster-care system. We learned about pickups, drop-offs, vet appointments and how to encourage good behavior in the home so our foster animal will be adopted.

I was ecstatic when PAWS’ foster-care coordinator Rebecca Oertel called to say she had a dog needing care for two weeks. By the end of the day, our confident yet tiny foster dog, Mariah (a Chihuahua mix), was firmly established in our home and was spending her Friday night in a rambunctious play session with our dog, Toby.

Toby loved every minute of his new playmate’s company. They chased and played tug of war (with both sanctioned and unsanctioned socks). At times, my cat Buca would sit high on the counter and watch Mariah bounce around the living room like a ball in a tennis match.

Toby and Mariah

Toby and Mariah

As a puppy, Mariah needed guidance on house training, but she quickly absorbed new commands like “sit” and “stay.” She was a joy to have in our home.

When I got a voice mail that a family was keen on adopting Mariah, I was overjoyed, yet I braced myself to miss her petite and energetic spirit. Toby, Eric and I took Mariah back to the shelter together, and the abundance of kisses and hugs were natural at such a moment to say goodbye.

New foster family members

That day, Oertel introduced us to Mo, a 20-pound Maine Coon-mix cat with a positive outlook and polite disposition. In our extra bedroom, Mo hunkered down in the closet. But within a day, he found the lounge chair and amply filled it as if the space between the arms was destined for a giant, long-haired, white cat.

Mo was a perfect gentleman toward dogs, cats and people. He even graciously notified me when it was time for his litter box to be cleaned, and he kept himself and his surroundings in order. Indeed, he was a perfect houseguest, complete with good “meow” conversations in nearly comical tones.

We found it exceptionally difficult to take Mo back to the shelter so that he could meet some potential adopters. Mo awaits adoption at PAWS Cat City in Seattle’s University District.

Our current foster dog, Choco (a Chihuahua mix), is about 2 years old and started out timid around new people. Within days, she learned that life at the Lagally house is safe for dogs, and she found good company in my cat, Buca.

Choco and her shoe pile

Choco and her shoe pile

Like Mariah and Mo, Choco’s unique personality is a delight to discover. Chaco loves shoes, and she collects them from all over our house — from closets, shoe racks or the back porch — and piles them on the couch. No shoe is ever damaged — just displayed as yet another glorious find. As we take joy in and offer respect for Choco’s shoe pile, she seems to learn that people are not so scary after all.

Rewarding connections

Animals at SAS or PAWS typically need temporary foster care to recover from a cold or surgery or to take a break from the shelter. Foster families come from all walks of life, including working people, families, apartment dwellers and homeowners.

“We literally have all lifestyles represented, said SAS spokesperson Kara Main-Hester.

Main-Hester said that SAS regularly has about 130 to 200 animals in foster care and more during kitten season, and more than 700 animals per year are cared for by foster parents serving our local city shelter.

Similarly, PAWS placed around 1,600 dogs, cats, kittens and puppies in foster homes last year alone.

“The foster-care program creates a shelter without walls,” explained Oertel, who emphasized that PAWS can always use more foster families, which, in turn, helps PAWS care for even more animals.

For me, not only do foster-care programs serve an important role as part of the companion animal-shelter system, such programs also give foster parents the rewarding, heartwarming chance to connect with some very precious souls who we might otherwise never get to encounter in our journey through life.

For more information on local foster-care programs, visit the Seattle Animal Shelter website at, or contact PAWS at

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of “Living Humane,” a news site providing information on humane-conscious lifestyles at She also writes a blog called “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at

Comments (4) »

Approaching 75,000 cats fixed in Lynnwood!

T-shirt at the FCSNP in Lynnwood, Wash.

The Feral Cat Spay Neuter Project (FCSNP) in Lynnwood, Wash. is approaching a phenomenal event.  This June they are passing a benchmark of spaying or neutering 75,000 cats!  Here is a brief interview with Executive Director, Lauren Glickman.

Q: An exciting milestone for the Feral Cat Spay Neuter Project (FCSNP) is coming up as you approach fixing the 75,000th cat.  Did this milestone come sooner than you expected?

A:  The milestone seems right on time. We’ve been altering between 7500 and 9500 cats per year for the past 5 years now, so we’ve been able to predict with some accuracy when these milestones will occur.

Q:  How many years has FCSNP been in operation? Has your rate of cat surgeries increased over the years to reach this milestone?  Is there a maximum capacity for the Lynnwood clinic? 

A: In operation, since 1997 and rate statistics are shown below.    Capacity is 50 cats/day.

Cats altered per year at FCSNP

Q:  How far do people drive to bring cats to the clinic?   What is the overall region you serve?  

A:  People have come all the way from Forks, WA and also from Gray’s Harbor, Tri Cities, Yakima and Lewis County.  Most of our cats are from Pierce, Snohomish, King, and Grays Harbor counties.

Q:  I understand you are implementing a campaign in Everett to let people know about your services.  Who are you hoping to reach with this campaign? 

A:  We are hoping to reach out to people who live in areas where there are free-roaming cats as well as low-income folks who want to do the right thing but can’t always afford it.

Q:  How do you plan to celebrate this milestone?  Do you have any other milestones on the horizon?    

A:  On August 18th we are going to host an Open House at the Clinic in Lynnwood.  We will have drinks and snacks and will chat and enjoy each other’s company.  We have a big Sexless Soiree Auction with a Twist coming up on September 15th.  That’s our big fundraiser for the year and it’s super playful and fun!

Volunteers at the FCSNP

Q:  How can people help out at FCSNP?

A:  People can help FCSNP in many ways.  Monthly donations are probably one of the best ways… a small recurring monthly donation makes a huge difference in what we’re able to accomplish.  Donations of towels, auction items, carriers, bleach, garbage bags and Costco gift cards are always welcome.  People can volunteer in a variety of ways.  Our website describes the many volunteer positions available.

Leave a comment »

CBC’s Doc Zone Features Richmond’s Cat Sanctuary (Jan. 6th!)

Richmond’s own cat sanctuary founded and operated by the Richmond Animal Protection Society will be featured in CBC’s documentary Cat Crazed.

Check out Bountiful Films.

Leave a comment »