11 Surprising Places Where You Can Adopt a Cat

Lanai Cat Sanctuary
Lanai Cat Sanctuary

The period from spring to early summer is known among animal rescues as “kitten season.” It's the time of year when shelters are overwhelmed with young cats—one of the reasons behind why June is designated “Adopt a Shelter Cat” month. While animal rescues do good work, not every shelter is the same. Check out these surprising places where you can find your next feline friend.

1. A SLEEPOVER

One downside to the adoption process: the short amount of time available to spend with a cat before deciding to take them home. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, lets visitors spend the night on-site in cottages and cabins. The shelter’s “Animal Sleepovers” program helps visitors maximize playtime while helping rescue cats (and other furry friends) learn social skills. Overnight space books quickly, so Best Friends also offers an outings program that allows visitors to take feline friends for day adventures away from the shelter.

2. A NAVAL BASE

Cuba's Guantánamo Bay is known for housing U.S. prisoners, but one foster group—aptly named Operation Git-Meow—is more focused on the area's feline population. The group works to rehome an estimated 500 stray cats. Volunteers humanely trap the cats, provide veterinary care, and locate new homes. These Cuban kitties are often relocated to adoption centers in Washington D.C. or with families throughout the U.S.

3. AN ART MUSEUM

Cats in residence adoption center
Cats in Residence

The Cats-in-Residence Program brings cat and art lovers together. Since 2013, artist Rhonda Lieberman has created art installations that feature adoptable cats at coastal museums and galleries. The crafted playgrounds provide a stage for cats to become performance artists, while reminding viewers about the needs of stray animals. The inaugural installation took place in New York City, but the performance piece has since moved around to Hartford, Connecticut, to Los Angeles, and to Worcester, Massachusetts.

4. A GOOD SAMARITAN'S HOUSE

New Yorker Chris Arsenault is known by his Long Island, New York neighbors as “the cat man,” thanks to a cat rescue run out of his home. Called "Happy Cat Sanctuary," the compound is now a fenced-in, free-range shelter that houses more than 300 cats. Kitties have access to a courtyard complete with fountains and treetop hideouts, and the rescue focuses heavily on cats that have been victims of violence.

5. A CAT CAFE

Visitors play with a cat at the pop-up Cat Cafe
Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Cat cafés have become popular throughout the country. The concept is simple: Have lunch or a drink, meet pawed friends, and potentially take home an eligible stray. Most lounges, such as MauHaus in St. Louis, Missouri, require a reservation or tickets to hang out with the cats. But be smart about planning your visit around mealtimes; Blue Cat Café in Austin, Texas (and other cat cafes) prohibit waking sleeping cats for playtime or cuddles.

6. ON THE GO WITH A MOBILE ADOPTION TRUCK

What’s better than a food truck? A mobile cat adoption center. The Catty Wagon, provided by the Michelson Found Animals Foundation, makes appearances at farmers’ markets and shops throughout Los Angeles. Prospective pet parents can step inside to visit with kittens up for adoption or purchase toys and cat supplies. While the truck doesn’t need help drawing crowds, its giant yellow cat ears make it easy to spot.

7. A UNIVERSITY

aerial view of stanford university
iStock

Adopting a cat from Stanford University is a smart idea (though these kitties don’t come with honorary degrees). In 1989, the Stanford, California institution launched the Feline Friends Network at a time when an estimated 1500 homeless cats roamed the campus. Volunteers help control cat populations by trapping cats to be vaccinated and spayed or neutered before living out their free-range days on the campus. The university offers feeding stations with regular schedules for strays, while tame felines who enjoy interacting with humans become adoption candidates.

8. AN ANCIENT CRIME SCENE

The ruins of Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome are famous for their historical significance—Julius Caesar was murdered there in 44 BCE. But now, the site—which includes four unearthed temples—has become a popular tourist attraction for cat lovers. Following Torre Argentina’s excavation in 1929, Rome’s stray cat population swarmed the site. “Gattare” (Italian cat ladies) cared for the feral cats, until the Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary launched in 1993. Now, volunteers care for hundreds of felines each day, working to find them local (and international) homes.

9. A SMALL, REMOTE ISLAND

a woman holds a cat at lanai cat sanctuary
Lanai Cat Sanctuary

Lanai Cat Sanctuary in Lanai City, Hawaii, is a tropical oasis for homeless cats. The 3-acre facility houses more than 500 cats, where strays are able to safely roam and hide out in cat houses built by volunteers. But Lanai Cat Sanctuary isn’t just in the best interest of cats; its mission is to protect native island birds and endangered wildlife by reducing the number of cat predators in the wild.

10. A FREE-RANGE SANCTUARY

The Cat House on the Kings has become one of California’s largest shelters, providing care for nearly 700 cats. But The Cat House isn’t like other temporary feline homes. All cats are cage-free, with free rein of 12 (fenced) acres and owner Lynea Lattanzio’s home in Parlier, California. If an afternoon at the sanctuary isn’t enough, visitors can rent a room to squeeze in more kitty cuddles after visiting hours are over, or find the perfect cat companion to adopt.

11. ABOARD A BOAT

de pozenboot for adoptable cats
De Pozenboot

Amsterdam’s de Poezenboot—which literally translates to "Catboat"—houses felines on water. The furry residents are able to stroll the boat’s fenced walkways and watch nearby ducks while waiting for forever homes. De Poezenboot was christened in 1968, when founder Henriette van Weelde ran out of dry land to house dumped cats. If the Netherlands feels too far to travel for adoption, de Poezenboot also offers financial adoption, through which cat lovers can learn about (and support) non-rehomeable cats that will live out their lives on water. Because regardless of land, sea, farm, or skyrise, all cats deserve a happy home.

10 Colorful Facts About Cassowaries

iStock/BirdImages
iStock/BirdImages

All birds are living dinosaurs, but the dagger-clawed cassowary especially looks the part. Even wildlife biologists call cassowaries the world's most dangerous bird—and yes, it has been known to kill people. Here’s everything you need to know about the majestic and terrifying beast.

1. The southern cassowary is Earth's second-heaviest bird.

Scientists recognize three living species of cassowary—all of which live in New Guinea, northeastern Australia, and nearby islands. The dwarf cassowary is the smallest, with an average height of around 3 feet. The northern cassowary, an orange-throated behemoth, can stand nearly 5 feet tall. The southern cassowary is bigger than both at 5 foot 6 inches tall. The only two birds that grow taller are ostriches and emus. Adult southern cassowary females can weigh up to 157 pounds, and males 121 pounds, making them the second-heaviest birds on the planet behind ostriches.

2. Cassowaries have dangerous feet.

In the southern cassowary's Australian range, you might come across warning signs that read “Be Cass-o-wary.” Heed this advice. Normally, cassowaries are shy and reclusive, but they can become aggressive when threatened and strike back with powerful head-butts and pecks. Their most dangerous weapon is the razor-sharp claw on the middle toe of each foot, which, in southern cassowaries, grows to be 5 inches long. The birds deliver a series of downward kicks that have been known to break bones and cause fatal lacerations. 

3. Rearing cassowary chicks is the father's job.

Female cassowaries breed with several partners. After laying her eggs, she abandons them, at which point the males take over and incubates the eggs for at least 50 days. The fathers never leave the nest, not even to eat or drink. Once the eggs hatch, males spend the next nine months raising and defending the chicks. Males also teach the chicks how to forage so they can fend for themselves.

4. Cassowaries are surprisingly good jumpers.

What’s scarier than a 150-pound modern dinosaur with killer claws? One that can leap 7 feet off the ground. To get the most out of those toe daggers, cassowaries will sometimes jump feet-first at an attacker, with the claws slashing downward in midair. They’re also great swimmers and sprinters with a top running speed of 30 miles per hour.

5. Cassowaries have a spike hidden on each wing.

Cassowaries are closely related to emus and more distantly related to ostriches, rheas, and kiwis. All of these birds, known as ratites, are flightless. Cassowaries have small vestigial wings tipped with a small claw that probably serves no purpose.

6. Cassowaries are frugivores that also eat their own poop.

Wild cassowaries dine mainly on fruits and berries that fall to the ground in the rainforests they call home. A typical southern cassowary can eat up to 11 pounds of fruit a day, along with plenty of fungi and the occasional dead animal for some extra protein.

Cassowaries also hunt rodents, snails, and lizards. Poop is yet another item on the menu. Cassowary poop usually contains half-digested fruit, which still has plenty of nutritional value, so the birds devour each other’s droppings as well as their own. 

7. The function of their odd crests, or casques, is a mystery. 

Cassowaries sport royal-blue necks and shaggy black feathers, but their most distinctive feature is the helmet-like casque that sits above the eyes. The bony protrusion is covered with a sheath of keratin (the material that makes up your fingernails), and it begins to develop when the bird is around 2 years old. Scientists have long speculated, sometimes wildly, about its purpose. One theory is that casques help cassowaries push aside forest underbrush. The casques might also be used to attract the opposite sex.

A more interesting hypothesis involves how these birds communicate. Cassowaries emit very deep bellows—the lowest bird calls known to humans. Perhaps their casques amplify and broadcast these sounds by acting as a resonance chamber. Certain crested dinosaurs (like Parasaurolophus of Jurassic Park fame) may have produced calls the same way.

8. Cassowaries can live for decades (at least in zoos).

Naturalists don’t know how long a wild cassowary can expect to live. A few southern cassowaries have reached their 40th birthdays in captivity. In zoos, northern cassowaries can top that figure—one reached the age of 48 and another may have been as old as 61. The average lifespan for captive dwarf cassowaries is about 26 years.

9. Cassowaries have strange genitalia.

Both sexes have a pseudo-penis that isn’t connected to any of their internal reproductive organs. When cassowaries mate, the male ejaculates through his cloaca, an orifice at the base of the pseudo-penis. When they aren’t mating, males' pseudo-penis is turned inside out and retracted.

Such peculiar anatomy has given the cassowary a unique place in New Guinean culture and folklore. For example, the native Mianmin people tell stories about a human woman with a penis who somehow transformed into a cassowary. Another indigenous group, the Umeda, put on a regular ceremony called “ida.” A big event that lasts for two days and nights, the ritual involves a fertility dance which calls for two male dancers who represent a pair of cassowaries. Each player is given a heavy mask and is coated with charcoal from head to toe.

10. At least two unfortunate humans have been killed by cassowaries. 

To date, there have been only two verified reports of a cassowary taking human life. In April 1926, a cassowary fatally charged 16-year-old farmer Phillip McLean in north Queensland, Australia. More recently, a 75-year-old Florida man was killed by a cassowary he had kept as a pet at his exotic bird farm.

In 1999, Queensland Parks and Wildlife ranger Christopher P. Kofron analyzed 150 documented cassowary-on-human attacks. Twenty-two percent of attacks resulted from the bird defending itself, its eggs, or its chicks, 5 percent were triggered by somebody getting too close to the cassowary’s food, and 73 percent involved a cassowary that associated people with free meals. Many cassowaries in Australia had lost their natural shyness around humans thanks to people feeding them bananas and watermelon. Today, feeding a wild one is against the law, but the practice continues.

Notre-Dame's Rooftop Bees Survived the Historic Fire

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Following the fire that tore through Notre-Dame in Paris on April 15, fire officials shared that the church's bell towers, stone facade, and many of its precious artifacts had escaped destruction. But the building's centuries-old features weren't the only things threatened by the blaze: The three beehives on the roof of the cathedral were also at risk. Now, CNN reports that the bees of Notre-Dame and their homes have survived the historic fire.

Notre-Dame's beehives are a relatively recent addition to the site: They were placed on the first-floor rooftop over the sacristy and beneath one of the rose windows in 2013. Nicolas Geant, the church's beekeeper, has been in charge of caring for the roughly 180,000 Buckfast bees that make honey used to feed the hungry.

Most people weren't thinking of bees as they watched Notre-Dame burn, but when the fire was put out, Geant immediately searched drone photographs for the hives. While the cathedral's wooden roof and spire were gone, the beehives remained, though there was no way of knowing if the bees had survived without having someone check in person. Geant has since talked to Notre-Dame's spokesperson and learned that bees are flying in and out of the hives, which means that at least some of them are alive.

Because the beehives were kept in a section 100 feet below the main roof where the fire was blazing, they didn't meet the same fate as the church's other wooden structures. The hives were likely polluted with smoke, but this wouldn't have hurt the insects: Bees don't have lungs, so smoke calms them rather than suffocates them.

Notre-Dame's bees may have survived to buzz another day, but some parts of the building weren't so lucky. France has vowed to rebuild it, with over $1 billion donated toward the cause so far.

[h/t CNN]

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