Lab Test Cat 698 Gets a Name and a HomeCat 698 spent his first four years in a toxicity testing laboratory. The lab was closed down and then bought by the Beagle Freedom Project, but who wants to adopt a lab cat? They aren't kittens, and they've been deprived of a normal life and exposed to toxic chemicals. Erin Sharoni wanted to, that's who. She's doing research in bioethics at Harvard Medical School, particularly on developing animal-free testing techniques. Sharoni flew to Oklahoma to get one of the lab cats and couldn't resist #698, who she renamed Bagel. Bagel was healthy, sociable, and affectionate, but he had some strange gaps in his knowledge of the world. For example, he didn't know what cat toys were for. Or a sink. But with love and patience, he is learning, and settling into the world of a pampered pet. You can follow the story of Bagel at Instagram. Meanwhile, the Beagle Freedom project is looking for people to foster or adopt more cats and dogs rescued from labs.
Lucas the Toucan Has a Glow Up After RescueNikita found a baby toucan in rough shape in the Peruvian Amazon. He says it's cute, but with missing feathers and parasites, he looks like a cartoon version of a plucked vulture. You could say it had a face only a mother could love, but sadly, this bird's mother didn't, or he wouldn't be in this predicament. Nikita and Paul of Junglekepers took him in and fed him and named him Lucas. Lucas made an amazing recovery thanks to the love and care from the staff at the research station. Pretty soon he looked more like Toucan Sam, and that's the way it should be. This is like the story of the guy throwing starfish back into the sea. No, you can't save them all, but your efforts mean the world to that one starfish. Lucas is out there somewhere now, living his best life and making baby toucans for the rainforest ecosystem.
Moving In Day for the Polar Bear Family​Peak Wildlife Park in central England built a new expanded home for their polar bear family, Hope and her offspring Nanook and Noori. These bears were taken in last year when their previous zoo went out of business. The new enclosure has grass, trees, rocks, hills, a cave, and a deluxe swimming pond. As the grand opening neared, the keepers distributed treats in cones, fruit and vegetables, and lard all around the new environment for the bears to find. The snacks give them encouragement to explore and get used to their new home. From the bears' reactions, we can assume they like their new five-acre home very much. -via Nag on the Lake​
Axel, the 43-Pound CatAxel is a real chonker. An absolute unit. He was surrendered to a shelter at 43 pounds! For context, I have three cats that weigh around eight pounds each, and the big orange cat weighs 13 pounds. Axel was definitely overfed at his previous home. The rescue organization Ferdinand and Friends placed him with their director Christina for fostering, and she was worried about all that extra weigh the cat carried. He had trouble hauling himself around, and he suffered from arthritis due to the stress on his bones. They had to get special equipment for him, including scales! But Axel is well on his way to a healthy weight. You can follow his weight loss journey at Instagram and TikTok, where he goes by his stage name Biggie Smalls.If you are dealing with an obese cat, there is help. Axel's Instagram page led me to a guide for helping your cat get trim and fit. 
An Appreciation of MuttsFame and fortune may follow a champion purebred dog at dog shows like Westminster. If your family dog is a purebred, chances are that it was eliminated from such competitions at birth, with a breeder designating it as "pet quality" as opposed to "show quality." They keep those dogs. But what advantage do these champion purebred dogs hold over our beloved pets? Sure, they could win at dog shows, but it comes at a cost. Purebred dogs are bred with other purebred dogs that display the standard attributes of that breed. Over time, this will involve some measure of inbreeding, a situation that tends to protect recessive genes and mutations. This leads to a tendency toward chronic health problems. In mixed-breed dogs (mutts) that mate fairly randomly, these weaknesses appear much less often, and even die out. While they are all good dogs, the "imperfect" mixed breeds tend to be healthier. As a Fark member put it:Gumball is a pure-breed.His father was a dog and his mother was a dog.That makes him pure dog.I couldn't have said it better myself. Read about the advantages that mutts have over show dogs at Time. -via Fark ​(Image credit: Andrea Arden) 
Should You Train Your Cat to Use a Toilet?One of the bigger considerations when deciding to adopt a pet is taking care of their toileting needs. Dogs will have to be trained and then taken outside often if they are going to live with you, and you must be willing to accommodate them. Cats are bit easier, because they naturally use a litter box, but you still have to clean it. Some folks get around this by training their cat to use a human toilet, especially since the renowned jazz bassist Charles Mingus published his guide for toilet-training your cat in 1972. It takes time and patience, and he ends the instructions with "good luck." But is it a good idea? Maybe for you, since this eliminates the need to clean a litter box, but what does the cat get out of it? There are several reasons that training your cat to do something that is counter-instinctual and against their nature might not be good for your cat's overall quality of life. Dr. Ian Malcolm said it in Jurassic Park: "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." Read what training your cat to use a toilet means for the cat at Inverse.(Image credit: Reward)