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9 Internet-Famous Cats Who Were Adopted

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LilBub.com

In case you’re in need of another reason to bring a brand new fluffy new feline into your life, June is Adopt-A-cat Month. Just think—a whole month dedicated to finding forever homes for the most regal of household pets. If that’s not enough to push you into bringing a new little one into your heart and home, how about the possibility that the Internet’s newest superstar is waiting for you at your local shelter? After all, some of the web’s most beloved viral sensations were adopted, too.

1. Hana

Being the little sister of the web’s arguably most famous cat—Maru, best known for his love of bags and boxes—can’t be an easy job, but baby Hana manages to do it with some style, grace, flair, and plenty of charm. Maru’s human parents adopted Hana the Chiba cat back in 2013, and since her introduction into the world of viral cats, she’s added some noticeable sweetness and kitten-sized wit to Maru’s ever-popular videos.

2. Nora The Piano-Playing Cat

The Internet’s favorite “musical edu-cat” was a shelter kitten in Cherry Hill, New Jersey before she was adopted in 2006. Her owners, Betsy Alexander and Burnell Yow, already had five cats and weren’t in the market for a new one—but Nora charmed piano instructor Betsy so thoroughly that they couldn’t resist the little gray tabby. Nora’s love of “playing” the piano was soon unleashed, thanks to a home that features two giant grand pianos and Betsy’s many piano students. It was only a matter of time before Nora tried her paw at the keys.

3. Keyboard Cat

Although the original Keyboard Cat—Washington state-born Fatso—is currently playing on the big scratchpad in the sky (she passed away back in 1987, long before the very idea of “viral videos” hit the mainstream), she was a shelter cat back in her kitten days. In fact, Fatso was sick when her family first adopted her from a local shelter in Spokane, but they were dedicated to getting her happy and healthy. It was only after Fatso healed up that they realized her unique “talents” for clomping the keys.

4. Lil Bub

Lil Bub’s unique look—several genetic mutations, including dwarfism, give her that cute “perma-kitten” appearance—is adorable now, but it almost worked against her when she was first put up for adoption in 2011. Born to a feral mom, Bub was the runt of an otherwise normal litter, and while she was lucky enough to be fostered by a loving family, they had some serious trouble finding her a forever home. Of course, that all changed when her human dad, Mike Bridavsky, met her. He eventually took her home and turned her into a star—and Bub is using all of her starpower for good. The cat and her owner frequently give to animal-related charities and shelters, but right now they're doing something special: June is Bub's birthday month, and instead of toys, the cat is raising money for the ASPCA.

5. Colonel Meow

Although Colonel Meow is no longer ruling this fair Earth (he passed away earlier this year), the Himalayan-Persian crossbreed left a big mark on both the planet and the Internet during his life. He also probably left a lot of hair—Meow holds the 2014 Guinness world record for “longest fur on a cat,” a staggering nine inches. The angry-faced cat dictator (dictcator?) was first rescued by the Seattle Himalayan and Persian Society before his loving human family (aka his “slave beasts”) adopted him at a local Petco. Meow soon became an Internet star, thanks to both his luxurious fur and his impudent mug. We miss you, great leader!

6. Nala

Nala Cat is web-famous for a very special reason: she’s just really, really cute. The wide-eyed Siamese-Tabby mix lights up the Internet with her permanently surprised expression and panache for wearing absurdly cute outfits. Nala was born into an overly-cat-populated home, and when she was taken away to a local shelter, she was separated from the rest of her cat family. When Nala was about six months old (her real birthday is unknown), her future owner just happened to visit the shelter, and while she knew she wanted to adopt a cat, she wasn’t planning on taking one home that day. Nala, of course, won her over with a big face kiss, and the duo has been inseparable ever since.

7. Hamilton the Hipster Cat

California’s own hipster cat with a built-in moustache, Hamilton was born into a feral cat colony in San Jose. Young Hammy was picked up by the Humane Society of Silicon Valley (along with his sister, Flower), who set about readying the two skittish ferals for adoption. It took a lot of work, trust, and patience, but by the time Hamilton’s human dad adopted him in September of 2012, some major milestones had already been reached—and Hammy’s instant attachment to his new dude sure didn’t hurt.

8. Sockington

One of Twitter’s first true superstars—of any species, really—Sockington didn’t have such an auspicious start. Before he became a viral sensation, young Socks was spotted at a Boston subway station in 2004. Hungry and alone, the gray and white shorthair caught the attention of a commuter on his way to work, who couldn’t help but notice that the handsome fellow was still there when he returned later in the day. Socks was soon taken in, passed through a few fosters in order to find a forever home, and eventually made his way to Jason Scott, who has provided him with a “life of luxury” and instant Internet fame. Socks is still popular on Twitter, where he proudly leads the “Socks Army.”

9. Penny

Socks isn’t the only famous kitty in his home—and he’s also not the only one to come from a scrappy background. Sockington’s own sister (and semi-nemesis) Pennycat also got started out in the wild. Penny’s original owners dropped her off on the front porch of a local animal shelter after they decided they didn’t want her, but the wily Penny didn’t have much interest in shelter life and soon ran away to a Hudson, New York farm, where she just kind of hung out for a few months. Eventually adopted by Jones, Penny is now just as spoiled as Socks—and 10 times more sassy. While Socks stays busy on Twitter, Pennycat runs their website. What a pair!

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Sylke Rohrlach, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0
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Animals
Scientists Discover 'Octlantis,' a Bustling Octopus City
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Sylke Rohrlach, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Octopuses are insanely talented: They’ve been observed building forts, playing games, and even walking on dry land. But one area where the cephalopods come up short is in the social department. At least that’s what marine biologists used to believe. Now a newly discovered underwater community, dubbed Octlantis, is prompting scientists to call their characterization of octopuses as loners into question.

As Quartz reports, the so-called octopus city is located in Jervis Bay off Australia’s east coast. The patch of seafloor is populated by as many as 15 gloomy octopuses, a.k.a. common Sydney octopuses (octopus tetricus). Previous observations of the creatures led scientists to think they were strictly solitary, not counting their yearly mating rituals. But in Octlantis, octopuses communicate by changing colors, evict each other from dens, and live side by side. In addition to interacting with their neighbors, the gloomy octopuses have helped build the infrastructure of the city itself. On top of the rock formation they call home, they’ve stored mounds of clam and scallop shells and shaped them into shelters.

There is one other known gloomy octopus community similar to this one, and it may help scientists understand how and why they form. The original site, called Octopolis, was discovered in the same bay in 2009. Unlike Octlantis, Octopolis was centered around a manmade object that had sunk to the seabed and provided dens for up to 16 octopuses at a time. The researchers studying it had assumed it was a freak occurrence. But this new city, built around a natural habitat, shows that gloomy octopuses in the area may be evolving to be more social.

If that's the case, it's unclear why such octo-cities are so uncommon. "Relative to the more typical solitary life, the costs and benefits of living in aggregations and investing in interactions remain to be documented," the researchers who discovered the group wrote in a paper published in Marine and Freshwater Behavior and Physiology [PDF].

It’s also possible that for the first time in history humans have the resources to see octopus villages that perhaps have always been bustling beneath the sea surface.

[h/t Quartz]

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This Just In
Criminal Gangs Are Smuggling Illegal Rhino Horns as Jewelry
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iStock

Valuable jewelry isn't always made from precious metals or gems. Wildlife smugglers in Africa are increasingly evading the law by disguising illegally harvested rhinoceros horns as wearable baubles and trinkets, according to a new study conducted by wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

As BBC News reports, TRAFFIC analyzed 456 wildlife seizure records—recorded between 2010 and June 2017—to trace illegal rhino horn trade routes and identify smuggling methods. In a report, the organization noted that criminals have disguised rhino horns in the past using all kinds of creative methods, including covering the parts with aluminum foil, coating them in wax, or smearing them with toothpaste or shampoo to mask the scent of decay. But as recent seizures in South Africa suggest, Chinese trafficking networks within the nation are now concealing the coveted product by shaping horns into beads, disks, bangles, necklaces, and other objects, like bowls and cups. The protrusions are also ground into powder and stored in bags along with horn bits and shavings.

"It's very worrying," Julian Rademeyer, a project leader with TRAFFIC, told BBC News. "Because if someone's walking through the airport wearing a necklace made of rhino horn, who is going to stop them? Police are looking for a piece of horn and whole horns."

Rhino horn is a hot commodity in Asia. The keratin parts have traditionally been ground up and used to make medicines for illnesses like rheumatism or cancer, although there's no scientific evidence that these treatments work. And in recent years, horn objects have become status symbols among wealthy men in countries like Vietnam.

"A large number of people prefer the powder, but there are those who use it for lucky charms,” Melville Saayman, a professor at South Africa's North-West University who studies the rhino horn trade, told ABC News. “So they would like a piece of the horn."

According to TRAFFIC, at least 1249 rhino horns—together weighing more than five tons—were seized globally between 2010 and June 2017. The majority of these rhino horn shipments originated in southern Africa, with the greatest demand coming from Vietnam and China. The product is mostly smuggled by air, but routes change and shift depending on border controls and law enforcement resources.

Conservationists warn that this booming illegal trade has led to a precipitous decline in Africa's rhinoceros population: At least 7100 of the nation's rhinos have been killed over the past decade, according to one estimate, and only around 25,000 remain today. Meanwhile, Save the Rhino International, a UK-based conservation charity, told BBC News that if current poaching trends continue, rhinos could go extinct in the wild within the next 10 years.

[h/t BBC News]

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