Framed No. 2

The second in the Framed series is from the recently released book, The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation.

Cats Mating on the Island of Crete

The book’s authors actually have very little to say about TNR, assuming, I suppose, that the accompanying photos say it all. The caption for this one reads (somewhat incongruously, if you ask me): “Managed feral cat colonies are a hazard to birds and attract the dumping of additional unwanted cats.” [1]

Photographer Tina Lorien tells me that these cats were actually photographed on the Island of Crete, where, it seems, even spayed/neutered pet cats are rather rare (never mind managed colonies). Once again, ABC doesn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story (which pretty well summarizes the rest of the book’s section on cats—something I’ll get to in my next post).

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On December 2, ABC is hosting a free webinar with book authors Daniel Lebbin, Michael Parr, and George Fenwick—plus novelist and essayist Jonathan Franzen, author of the book’s foreword. Registration is limited to 100 people.

Literature Cited
1. Lebbin, D.J., Parr, M.J., and Fenwick, G.H., Threats: Invasive and Overabundant Species, in The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation. 2010, University of Chicago Press: London.

Framed No. 1

That the ancient Egyptians worshiped cats as gods is, today, common knowledge. Just as their regal little bodies were preserved through mummification, their likenesses were preserved in tomb paintings.

But the cat’s image has not always been portrayed with such reverence. “To the medieval mind,” writes naturalist and biologist Roger Tabor, “there was a sinister side to cat magic, associated with demons and witchcraft. It led to the lowest ebb in the history of the cat.” [1] Naturally, that “sinister side” was depicted in both words and pictures.

Eighteenth century artwork, such as Hogarth’s The Four Stages of Cruelty, suggests that, as Tabor writes, “abuse and torture [of cats] were still widespread.” [1]

And today? Well, it’s a mixed bag. There are the wildly popular LOL Cats, of course, that routinely make their way around the Web. And an astonishing number of photos, illustrations, and videos. (Searching for “cats” turns up nearly 40,000 results.)

At the same time, less flattering images seem to be quite popular, too. (“People are rarely neutral about cats,” notes Tabor.) This is hardly surprising; beliefs and attitudes—whatever their origins—rarely change quickly. What is surprising, though, is how some of these images have been employed—at least in some cases—by sources one is expected to take seriously.

I’ve encountered several examples over the course of my research, and have begun “collecting” them for an occasional series of posts, of which this is the first.

Framed No. 1
I don’t recall exactly, but it’s entirely likely that this little gem—from, “the webs [sic] leading Shooting Sports News Service for the Ammunition, Firearms, Shooting, Hunting and Conservation communities,” was the one that sparked the idea for the Framed series. Celebrating the injunction earlier this year against publicly funded TNR in Los Angeles, it seems the AmmoLanders got a little carried away.

AmmoLand blog: Cat eating bird

In addition to the poorly rendered dental implants, there’s the erroneous—and rather incomprehensible—caption: “Feral Cats Kill 10,000,000’s of Game Birds & Small Animals Every Month.”

A quick Google search reveals a previous use of the image: New England Birdhouse, a blog devoted to “backyard birding, bird watching, building bird feeders and bird houses, gardening, and New England living.”

Cat Eating Bird

The faux canines are gone, and blogger Bill Askenburg does a better job getting his apostrophes correctly placed. The content itself, though, is no better, as Askenburg has apparently been drinking too much of the American Bird Conservancy’s Kool-Aid.

Finally, a little more digging reveals the original source of the photo, thanks to John Blatchford, a zoology feature writer for, who properly credits Mark Marek Photography.

Literature Cited
1. Tabor, R., Cats—The Rise of the Cat. 1991, London: BBC Books.