Keep Guns Away From Pets and Kids

My pal Puss in Boots — who is a famous movie star now and even has his own self-titled flick — knows how to get out of sticky situations without using a gun. He also says please make sure to keep your guns out of the reach of pets and children so pets and people are less likely to get hurt by accident. Image credit Pixar

Have you ever thought about what might happen if your kids or pets accidentally get their hands (or paws) on a gun? Because kids usually don’t know about gun safety and neither do pets, it’s easy for us to hurt or even kill ourselves or somebody else because we don’t know that’s a lethal weapon.

I’ve often pondered this same idea with my mom as we watched copious amounts of news channels. She speculated about the state of this beautiful country. You know the usual questions like whether pets, and kids could live safely.

Yet, the recent spate of news has got me worried. You know, this takes me back to the first time I sat in my owner’s arms. You should know that a neighbor brought me to her as a little orphan cat.

And I often hear worry in my owner’s voice when she thinks about what could have happened to me if she did not save me. I’m the survivor of my litter. My three sisters didn’t make it because our mom wasn’t feeding us very well.

That’s the reason she called me Rudy. Or maybe it’s because I kept rudely hissing whenever I saw a stranger.

At least my human doesn’t keep a gun in a spot where I could step on it and accidentally injure or even kill somebody. There’s already too many people who do it on purpose using guns. They’re always showing new victims of gun violence on TV these days.

I mean, the other day, I was relaxing out on the pool deck when I heard my owner talking about something she’d seen online from a news outlet called the New York Times. From what she said about it, it was an incident of a two-year-old girl who shot herself with her dad’s gun.

The gun was easily accessible from under her dad’s pillow, so the kid played with it and injured herself.

And for some reason, it made me sad thinking about how almost 20,000 innocent victims are killed every year due to guns being easily accessible to kids. Unfortunately, I was unable to find figures on how many people get hurt because they had a cat or dog, they left a gun laying around, and the pet did something to cause that gun to go off. I’m sure it happens, though, and it sort of stinks that a pet might be blamed for yet another easily preventable accident and put down just because their pet-parents didn’t take precautions to keep it from happening.

Sometimes I even wish that people would have the same level of sophistication as cats. If they have to get guns, they should make an effort to keep them out of reach of kids and their pets.

The news even said that almost one-third of homes have a gun loaded and unlocked. And as I’m sitting curled up inside a deep pile of blankets, what do I know really about guns when I don’t exactly have the right to own one.

I do, however, think it’s accurate that guns harm people, but people are responsible for pulling the trigger. That’s what my good friend Walter always says. He’s a cat we sometimes visit at the nursing home. He recently hurt his leg, so he walks funny now, but he is still wise as ever.

He’s always talking about the mass shootings over the last ten years, where kids are taking guns to their school and harming their classmates. He told me that almost 78 children, teens, and young adults are injured or killed daily by guns in the United States.

Hey, I’m no expert on social matters, but it seems to me that there would at least be some control when it comes to kids holding guns and having access to them.

I also thought that if this were a cat school, it would never happen. As cats, we care about the impact on our fellow kittens. The worst that might happen in our interactions with other cats is that we get into a fight over territory or food where our teeth and claws are our only weapons. If only people could have the same policy when it comes to guns. It’s not that I don’t think people should have the right to own a gun for self-defense if they live in a high crime area or something. You shouldn’t even have to prove that there’s a definite immediate threat to yourself, your family, and (most importantly) your pets because violent crime can randomly happen at any time. It’s just that I think that guns should be kept in a safe place out of the reach of kids and pets. And, remember, cats can climb and you’ve seen those videos of cats opening doors. So we’re smarter about getting our paws on things we shouldn’t – including guns – than you might think.


Animals Need to Move Freely Too, and Walls Aren’t Helping!

Animals like this ugly toad that I would probably chase if I saw it on my territory could have their migratory routes interrupted by Trump’s border wall. Image credit Medium.

This wall sure is taking a long time to build, and thinking about it makes me wonder about what it means for pets and our owners. The other day, we were sitting around and meowing about how strange it was that someone wanted to build a wall to keep other people out.

My owner was talking about it and suggested to me that maybe I could tweet about it because I do have a Twitter account. But because I’m not the cat version of Trump, I decided that 280 characters was not enough to say what I really thought.

About tweeting, though, why did they not name it Mewter? It seems a much better name. Cats are better at spreading news with our Twilight Meow network than dogs with their much better publicized Twilight Bark, and I’m not saying that because I’m a cat.

Speaking of Twitter, did you also notice President Trump’s tweets to Greta Thunberg? It seems she still has not chilled.

I love her attitude too, and you could say I’m a big fan if only because climate change is definitely going to impact animals too. If Greta had commissioned a wall between Mexico and the United States – she would have done it already with her worldwide connections. I guess she is too busy trying to get governments to do something about climate change to think about building a silly wall, though.

Maybe they could have asked the beavers or the ants to build a wall if they need one. Beavers and ants are both supposed to be pretty good at creating complex structures, after all, and could probably do it relatively cheaply by making use of locally sourced materials at that.

And the best part would be that we wouldn’t have needed to shut down the federal government for 28 days in an ultimately failed attempt to make Congress do what they want.

Cats like to be able to roam freely. So do most animals. A border wall would interfere with that.

How about we invite all the pets to vote for the cats to rule the country and promise them no more invasions of their homes by two pets or more. That would do the trick. I mean, if you’re like any pet, all pet duties should be yours and yours only. And, anyway, I don’t get along with the dog that my human’s family agreed to watch for a friend with a sick kid very well. So I can definitely sympathize if you’re used to being an only pet and suddenly your mom comes home with a puppy or kitten that you don’t like.

So about this wall. Maybe there’s a better way because I hate the fact that I’m stuck on one side of the fence when perhaps I wanted a vacation on the other side. And I’m pretty sure all Mexican pets have always wanted to scope out the sights in the United States.

Mostly though, as far as I know, most pets overstay their visa requirements. And the costs associated with them illegally being in the country are minimal.

So what I’m saying is that how will we ever accommodate the costs associated with building this wall. When it comes to jobs, it seems most immigrants are in the country legally as naturalized citizens. The actual number of illegal Mexican immigrants in the US has decreased. The stats are quite telling as we see it dropped to 4.9 million in 2017 from 6.9 million in 2007. It is possible that all this talk of building a wall discouraged them from coming over.

As the Mexican border wall remains in build mode, hundreds of people and pets ponder why we need such a wall. What’s the point? To keep drugs out. To keep migrants out or to make sure people don’t steal American jobs.

Hmmm, so I could think of a better way to spend $7.8 billion in the United States. Firstly, I would take all pets out of captivity and give them good homes with a decent meal a day.

Well, that’s not possible now, because as promised, Trump has sourced the funds and perhaps soured relationships with our southern neighbor as a result of his desire for a wall.

Annoyed because even my food rations have become so simple these days. I mean someone has to pay for this wall if Mexico doesn’t (as Trump promised in 2016 during the hugging pets and babies election run)

So spoiler alert, no new wall exists except for the guys who constructed 0.5 miles of fence in Texas. And even when most of the funds from the defense budget and military children’s education fund became Trump’s wall fund.

Experts tell us that it will cost up to $45bn to build this wall, including maintenance and permissions over ten years. And of course, Trump has spoken about including a water-filled trench with snakes or alligators.

He also mentioned that there would be electric fencing topped with spikes that can pierce human and cat flesh. Ouch.

Over the last three years, the cost analysis has changed from person to person. Some speculated that it would cost about $4.5bn for the first year and need consistent payments over ten years.

It seems Trump has his ideas about building a transparent steel wall and not a concrete wall so we can see people trying to cross over. And I thought we could do that with drones scoping the area.

So now all we have is no wall, billions of taxpayer dollars spent, and damaged relations with Mexico over migrants. Listen, I can get why you’d be territorial; I don’t like the idea of sharing my space and my food dish with other animals, either. But you shouldn’t have to spend billions of dollars on a wall that might accomplish no more than interrupting some wild animals’ migratory paths over a dispute that they had nothing to do with.

The irony is that there’s some kind of invisible wall between me and this weird-looking shrimp of a dog that they call a “chihuahua” now. They say it’s to protect both me and this chihuahua from the consequences of getting into a fight even though the chihuahua most definitely started it by trying to eat my food. I guess if it came down to a choice between a wall and a fight between the U.S. and Mexico, I’d be more inclined to be understanding of Trump’s desire for a wall. However, the dollars could perhaps be more wisely spent on more practical and humane solutions to problems like illegal drugs and undocumented migrants coming into the United Sates.


Support Animal Charities!

Imagine if humans were on the verge of extinction, treated poorly, and given substandard rights on earth. Well, that would mean that cats would not have owners, and I’d have to hunt for my favorite brand of cat food and clean up after myself.

Imagine reversing the roles; we’d take better care of human beings and make sure that it was a fair society for all pets and humans. And to add to that, we’d try not to put too many pictures of our cute humans on Instagram or dress them up in frilly pink dresses for YouTube videos and laughs.

Who am I kidding? Of course, we’d go overboard there. If I’m honest, I would also call my pet human, Rudy.

Today, I’m writing with a heavy heart as I saw some harrowing stuff on Instagram with my owner. Cats, dogs, elephants, and cows everywhere are in pain, and we’re merely making videos to create awareness.

Sure, PETA will stick it to people who even wear a stitch of our fur. It’s not that humans don’t deserve to be warm. It’s just that we kinda need our fur too. And of course, many wild animals are killed by poachers every year purely because some people think that the body parts of rhinos and tigers make good “traditional” medicine – which to me, sounds a lot more foolish than people just wanting to be warm.

So I was rather proud when my owner decided to donate some of her hard-earned money towards an animal charity. I mean, with her limited income and wet food for me costing money, she can only do so much, but at least she donates when she can. The deciding factor was these alarming stats about my animal friends all over the world.

Firstly, did you know that 3-4 million dogs and cats like me are euthanized every year in the US? Shark populations are in crisis as more and more people are trading shark fins every year. And for what? Shark fin soup.

And you already know we raise animals for food and their treatment is questionable. Awareness is good, but people don’t always know what they can do to help other than try to eat less meat. On the other hand, Americans spend $60bn on pets every year. So my person and most other pet owners do know how to treat their pets decently even when those pets pounce their ankles because they want to play. They just kinda wish they knew how to do more for animals who don’t have a human who can be good to them.

Animal charities often do not receive as much revenue as nonprofits that help humans. For example, the figure of $100 million for an animal charity may seem significant, but often the extent of the animal welfare problem is so large – it’s just not enough.

Listen, I’m not a fan of Trump either. I wish my human had thought to catch a video of me swatting at his face that time I saw him on TV. Still, I was happy to hear that he signed a bill that makes the torture of animals a serious federal offense and involves jail time for anyone caught harming animals.

I know it can sometimes be difficult to pay your own bills and save up for unexpected bills, let alone have enough money left over to donate to charity. The fact remains that pets and animals make a difference in your lives. They do this by being a companion in difficult times, providing food, and generally keeping our food chain intact.

Since humans and pet owners are at the top of the food chain, animals suffer because they have very little protection. They do not have a way to be heard, except perhaps for me, who has a unique cat platform thanks to the internet.

Deciding between animal charities and human ones is difficult indeed. Take it from an animal; we need all the help we can get.

Studies show us that owning a pet can increase both your well being and longevity. Even using pet therapy, many people with terminal diseases have been able to live a long and fruitful life.

A very silly cat I saw getting caught in the bird feeder one time. Luckily, his person got him out of it easily. Helping animals in predicaments can be more complicated at times, though.

As a pet myself, you should know that we hold no grudges and can learn how to take care of ourselves if something happens to our humans (though, of course, I’d rather have my human around so I can beg her for treats). And if you’re a cat reading this, let all the other cats know we need to be extra cute to support animal welfare. Yes, even if it means getting stuck in the bird feeder.


Pets Need Health Care Too!

I was a little guy when I got ringworm! Luckily, it was easy to clear up. I just don’t like going to the vet.

When I was a kitten, I had the bad luck to catch ringworm and pass it on to my human. She handled it about as well as could be expected, mostly meaning that she took me to the local vet instead of dumping in me in a ditch a few miles from home. I mean, I have days where I get ill and it sort of stinks when my human has to spend money on vet bills instead of new catnip toys. Even with pet insurance, there is usually a copay.

You know the best thing about vets is that they don’t request unnecessary blood tests or extra scans. The worst part – and the entire reason that I hate visits to the vet – is that they can and will shove a rod up my butt to “take my temperature”. Long story short, I’m well now, happy that I don’t have to go to the vet today, and just about to dig into another can of wet food – the Fancy Feast Medleys brand, my favorite.

The problem with dealing with pets’ health is that it can be expensive, according to what I heard my human talking about on the phone with her dad. Dealing with the ringworm can cost a couple of hundred bucks. If my person has to have surgery on her leg or something, it can be extremely expensive at almost $100,000. If the humans are lucky enough to have insurance, it can still come out to close to $30,000 in out-of-pocket expenses.

Grumpy Cat was famous enough to have her own Christmas special! Unfortunately, most cats aren’t so lucky.

Cats like Tardar Sauce and Lil Bub were lucky enough to be Internet celebrities and help their humans with unexpected expenses through merchandising fees. Most cats aren’t that lucky and might wind up in the local animal shelter if their humans can’t afford to keep them anymore just because they hurt their leg.

It made me wonder, why does it cost so much to get good medical care for both pets and people even though they may have insurance that covers most of it. I mean, isn’t that the reason people take out insurance, to be covered and not have such large bills?

So strange, her friends from the UK said they hadn’t had any large payments such as those. They have something called a national health insurance fund. Their government manages everything from drug costs to administrative negotiations keeping costs down.

And while we contribute 17.9% of our GDP towards healthcare, there is still a considerable challenge for American citizens.

Some people who work in health care that my human talked to said that that the most significant chunk is the admin costs at the hospitals. Most hospitals have to hire small armies of clerks to keep up with the paperwork required by regulators, Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance companies. This cost is alarming when we consider that some hospitals have more billing staff than actual patients.

Advanced drugs and technology don’t come cheap. The pharmaceutical companies will often plead research and development costs, but that probably isn’t the entire reason that spiking drug costs have been making the news lately. Maybe it’s just because I’m a cat, but it seems weird to me that the price of a drug can rise from $13.50 per capsule to $750 a capsule with no explanation. It’s like they don’t realize that it’s bad for business if their customers start dying because they can’t buy the product.

To add to this, doctors are often afraid that they will get sued for malpractice if they miss somebody’s cancer or heart condition, so they ask for more and more tests while patients have to foot the bill. Even then, it’s not unheard-of for doctors to miss something that should have been obvious, which means that their patients wind up having to undergo more complex procedures that cost way more than they would have if their health conditions had been caught early.

The more I think about it with my feline senses; I’m prone to believe we’d be better off with similar models like Europe and Japan. Citizens contribute towards national healthcare insurance according to what they earn.

Or perhaps, I’m having a cat rant and acting superior because pet insurance is often better than human health insurance, IDK. Maybe I should just dig into this wet food and not worry about it so much.


My Position on Privacy

My human got me one of those kitty litters with a cover because she knows that there are times when privacy is important. I do, too, which is why I will often swat at people when I don’t want them around. Just because there might be times when you want your privacy doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything wrong. I intend to respect that if I am elected president.

What I Will Do:

Respect Your Right to Be Forgotten

I will support regulation that requires private corporations to delete any data they have on you at your request. They will also be required to not sell your data to third parties without your consent and that consent cannot be sneakily hidden in their “terms and conditions” or added later without your permission. I will also take that one step farther and require that government agencies delete any data on you that is not currently being used as part of a criminal investigation.

Revamp Regulations on Which Data Must Be Collected on You

Let’s be real, KYC/AML regulations have been proven notoriously ineffective in actually combatting financial crimes like money laundering. They assume that you are automatically guilty of financial crimes or will be at some point in the future just because you want to open a bank account or use a cryptocurrency exchange. To be fair, the banks should make sure it’s you if you want to make a withdrawal, but I seem to vaguely remember that the Constitution has something to say about assuming guilt without proof.

Require Stricter Security for Your Private Data

Have you ever wondered why businesses store your credit card information or ask for your social security number when you apply for employment? There are no laws or regulations requiring them to do so, but they do it anyway and then put you at risk of identity theft by being unwilling to spend the money to properly secure that data. I will support measures requiring that businesses justify their need to collect and store sensitive information like this and properly secure any data they keep on you.

What I Won’t Do:

Assume you’re guilty of something just because you want privacy.

I get it; sometimes you just think it’s nobody’s business if you want to buy your cat some catnip. The government should not default to assuming you’re guilty just because it can’t track your every move. I’ll push for limiting the amount of information that the government can collect on you and higher standards for warrants allowing law enforcement to access privately owned databases.

Keep you in the dark about how your data is collected, stored, and used.

I’m for transparency on how your data is collected, stored, and used in both the private and the public sectors. I will push for greater transparency regarding what data about you is collected by the government and support an end to long and confusing user agreements that force you to unknowingly turn over your data to corporations before you can use their products.


Positions on Animal Rights

As you might guess, animal rights are a priority for me. I got lucky; I have a human who adopted me after my mom abandoned me. I lost three out of my four litter-mates because they weren’t so lucky. Because of this, I’ll donate my quarterly salary as president to randomly selected animal shelters around the nation and push for making it easier for animals to find happy homes

Animal Experimentation

Listen, you humans could totally do better on this one. You talk about people acting like animals, but we’re not the ones who are sending chimps into space, strapping little monkeys into metal frames so that they can’t move, and stealing other people’s dogs to sell to laboratories.

Some progress has been made in this department. The National Institute of Health ended testing on chimpanzees in 2013, for instance. However, more could be done.

Because of this, I will support more stringent regulations and more frequent inspections of laboratories that test on animals, with an eye toward cutting out any unnecessary animal experimentation. I will lean on the FDA to take a hard look at whether its stringent animal testing requirements for new drugs and treatments are even necessary, for instance. Laboratories will be required to verify the sources of their animals and will not be allowed to purchase animals from sources that are not transparent about where the animals come from.

Push for Adoption Over Purchase of Pets

Many pets are abandoned every year because their humans were not prepared to care for them. As president, I will support the ending of pet mills and adoption of homeless pets. This is why I ask that you donate to nonprofits that support homeless pets and adopt a pet (or two or three) from an animal shelter or a stray cat that chooses you. Just do your research, though, because a new living environment can be a huge adjustment for a pet and the number one reason that pets get abandoned is that their humans just weren’t ready for a long-term commitment.

Keeping Federal-Level Bans on Animal Abuse

I won’t be very unhappy if Trump is not re-elected in 2020, but he did do a good thing by signing that bill that makes animal abuse a felony at the federal level. I might reverse a lot of his policies, but that’s one I’ll keep. Animals deserve to live free of fear that humans will harm them.

Push for Improved Veterinary Science and Practices

I’ve hated going to the vet since the first time a vet tech shoved a thermometer up my butt. There’s gotta be a better way to make sure animals are healthy. I’ll support improvements to veterinary practices that are less scary and painful for animals. I will also support efforts to make veterinary care affordable for more pets and their human families.

I’ll also support research for veterinary medical research (again, keeping to my standards of making sure laboratory animals are treated as humanely as possible) so that your pets can benefit from the latest medical practices as much as you do.

Should Animals Have Human Rights, Though?

You might have heard of that case where a group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project tried to argue that chimpanzees should have the same legal rights as humans in a court case filed in 2013. The case got tossed in appeals court, but some animals like chimps, elephants, and dolphins can be scarily intelligent. Elephants have been known to learn how to open enclosures to free other animals and chimps have been observed disarming traps set by poachers, for instance. So how far would it be out of line to expect that at least some animals should be considered humans’ intellectual equals and given the same rights?