Pet Scoop: Mystery of Knut the Polar Bear’s Death Solved, “Smelly Cat” Duet Goes Viral

August 28, 2015: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Knut plays with his keeper, Thomas Doerflein, at the Berlin Zoo in May 2007. The bear died in March 2011.
Knut plays with his keeper, Thomas Doerflein, at the Berlin Zoo in May 2007. The bear died in March 2011.

Knut’s Cause of Death Found

For the last four years, scientists have struggled to determine the reason for the sudden death of the Berlin Zoo’s world-famous polar bear, Knut. The bear, who beat the odds to survive after being rejected by his mom as a cub and became such a celebrity he was on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, stunned the world when he died at age 4. By last year, scientists thought it could be decades before they figured out why Knut had a seizure and fell into his pool in front of hundreds of visitors. But then they got a call from a German neurologist, who thought his case showed similarities to his human patients with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own brain cells. It was newly discovered in humans and had never been seen before in animals — but researchers have now determined that’s what killed Knut. Had his caretakers known about the illness at the time, researchers said he likely could have been treated. "The knowledge gained from his death should benefit both human medicine, because people will know the Knut disease and be more aware of it, and animal medicine," said Alex Greenwood of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research. The findings were published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. — Read it at NBC News

Iconic Katrina Pup Living in Texas

As New Orleans marks the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we have an update on a dog whose iconic photo highlighted the plight of animals in the aftermath of the storm. The Dallas Morning News reports that a Katrina rescue dog named Orli who now lives happily in Irving, Texas, may be the same Shih Tzu puppy known as “Oily Dog.” Oily Dog appeared in a 2005 photo that showed her covered in oil on the streets of Louisiana. Don Rorschach, who lives in Irving, was determined to track down the dog in the photo and give her a home. After finding the pup believed to be Oily Dog with a Louisiana rescue, he drove 500 miles to pick her up and bring her home. Rorschach went on to become a founding member of a Shih Tzu rescue group in Texas, with Orli as the mascot. He said that although he can’t be 100 percent sure that Orli was in fact Oily Dog, he’s just glad so much good has come from her rescue. — Read it at the Dallas Morning News

“Cat Café” Added to Oxford Dictionaries Site

Along with “butt-dial” and “mic drop,” cat cafés have become so pervasive that the phrase was on the list of the 10 words being added to The definition appears as, “Cat café (noun): A café or similar establishment where people pay to interact with cats housed on the premises: she was one of many waiting in line this morning for the opening of North America's first pop-up cat cafe.” The words on the list, which was released as part of a quarterly update, won’t necessarily make it into the Oxford English Dictionary. — Read it at USA Today

Smelly Cat Lisa Kudrow Taylor Swift
Lisa Kudrow joined Taylor Swift on stage in Los Angeles to perform Smelly Cat.

Lisa Kudrow Joins Taylor Swift for Duet

Taylor Swift was only about 5 years old when Phoebe started singing her much-loved song Smelly Cat on the hit sitcom “Friends.” But she delighted “Friends” fans everywhere when she invited Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe, up on stage in Los Angeles Wednesday night to join her in a Smelly Cat duet. Video clips of the duet have quickly become an Internet sensation. The quirky song was written by Kudrow’s character on “Friends,” and she regularly performed it at Central Perk, the coffee shop where the gang spent so much of their time. “So ‪@taylorswift13 is THE best person I've ever met. That was fun. Thanks Taylor,” Kudrow Tweeted on Thursday. — Read it at Time and watch it at the U.K.’s Guardian

Trembling Kitten Saved From Storm Drain

A passerby who heard the cries of a 5-week-old kitten from a storm drain in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, called 911 for help Wednesday. Firefighters said it only took about 10 minutes to rescue the trembling, frightened orange kitten from where he was stuck. “He was probably about six feet down into the storm drain. We popped the storm drain, kind of shimmied ourselves down there and picked him up,” said firefighter Lincoln Thibeault. They brought him to the New England Animal Medical Center, where he’s recovering well. Once he’s ready, the kitten Thibeault described as “very friendly” will be available for adoption. — Read it at Massachusetts’ Wicked Local Raynham


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