THE HAZARDS OF PETS ON AIRLINERS
Cuddles, a miniature guide horse, already has made headlines because he guides his blind owner, Dan Shaw, of Maine, similar to a guide dog. But now Cuddles is flying first class and so are other service animals, such as dogs, cats and monkeys, as long as they are small enough to fit into the first-class cabin of a Boeing 777. All kinds of animals now are welcome on airlines in the United States after a change in U.S. Department of Transportation policy, the London Times reported. The new rules were tested last week when Cuddles, just over 2-feet high and weighing 70 pounds, became the first to fly on a standard domestic passenger flight. Cuddles was given a seat in the first-class cabin of the plane. Airline staff decided against putting a diaper on the horse -- a decision they regretted on the two-hour flight from Boston to Chicago. The flight record noted the passenger in seat 3A "had a bowel movement on the carpet of the bulkhead."
REAL LIFE 'BLACK CAT' HIDES IN WALL
In what some would describe as a modern day version of "The Black Cat," the tale by Edgar Allen Poe, a cat became trapped behind a wall. In Poe's book, the protagonist kills his wife and builds a basement wall to hide her body, but the woman's cat sneaks inside as the protagonist builds the wall, where it "blows the whistle," so to speak, on the murderer. Roy Robles and Cady Lazzareni of National City, Calif., had a similar experience -- minus the murder. They were putting in new kitchen cabinets in the beginning of April when their cat, Hidey, disappeared, KGTV-TV, in San Diego, reported. They thought the cat -- named because he likes to hide -- had run away. However, by the end of May, Cady heard loud meowing and scratching coming behind a kitchen cabinet. The cat's owners drilled a hole and the cat appeared, quite a bit thinner but still alive. Hidey is expected to recover fully from his ordeal.
CLEVER CATS OUTWIT BELL
The United Kingdom's 10 million cats are drawing criticism for their hunting and using gardens as toilets. Cats are the favorite pets in England, but many gardeners consider them unwelcome guests. The Mammal Society asked more than 4,000 people to rate a dozen mammals according to how much they liked seeing them in their garden, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported. Rats were the least-welcome visitors on the list, but cats did not score much better and were less popular than either gray squirrels, rabbits or moles. The Mammal Society estimated each cat -- allowed outdoors in Britain -- kills about 35 animals every year, the BBC said. Some owners have resorted to putting bells on their cat's collar to warn prey. However, some cats have learned to hold their heads still to minimize the noise coming from the bells on their necks, according to animal behaviorist Sarah Heath.
The wool industry has spent millions trying to prevent knitwear from shrinking, but genetics soon might solve the problem, the British journal Nature reports. Fibers from certain sheep retain their length, separation and shape when wet more than twice as well as others, said scientists at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization in Wembley. They plan to establish a breeding program to investigate the effects of genetics on wool size, curvature and yield. "It is possible for wool growers to identify and select sheep that naturally produce low-shrinkage wool," said Tony Schlink of CSIRO.
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