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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Months of Unrelenting Abuse Meted Out to Elfie by a Roommate Graphically Demonstrate the Advantages as Well as the Limitations of Using Surveillance Cameras in Order to Protect Cats

Matthew Sparks Is Caught Dangling Elfie in Midair

"If it wasn't for her owner deciding to install the hidden cameras no one would have known what was going on."
-- Dan Hatfield of the RSPCA

Elfie was acting strangely and at first her unidentified owner did not know quite what to make of her erratic behavior. He was astute enough to realize however that she only acted that way whenever his new roommate, twenty-nine-year-old Matthew Sparks, was at home.

Instead of confronting him directly with his suspicions, he took the circuitous route of having hidden cameras installed in the house that he and Sparks shared in the Fishponds section of Bristol and what he discovered once he finally got around to reviewing the surveillance footage was a shocking and unmistakable pattern of sustained and systematic abuse. Specifically, his roommate would pick up Elfie and then drop her to the floor, which is not only dangerous but perturbs cats no end.

He also can be seen on the surveillance tape kicking out at her but it is unclear if he actually ever connected with any of his blows. He also not only repeatedly grabbed her roughly by the scruff of the neck but relentlessly pursued her around the house. Considering that he engaged in all of that deplorable conduct, it is entirely possible that he did far worse things to her that were not captured on tape.

Armed with the video footage, Elfie's owner brought the matter to the attention of the RSPCA and Sparks was arrested sometime last autumn. In January of this year he pleaded guilty in Bristol Magistrates' Court to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal by inflicting physical abuse and engaging in acts of mental torture. Predictably, the laughingstocks who mete out justice in Bristol let him off with a minuscule fine of £385, two-hundred hours of community service, and a lifetime ban on the owning of any and all animals.

"This was one of the most disturbing cases I have ever worked on," RSPCA inspector Dan Hatfield told the Bristol Post on January 19th. (See "Bristol Man Caught Physically Abusing and Mentally Torturing Cat in 'Most Disturbing Case Ever'.") "It is really distressing to think about the fear and pain Elfie experienced in her own home."

Luke Was Stomped to Death by a Live-In Lover

If Hatfield and his cronies at the thoroughly discredited RSPCA truly believed any of the self-serving palaver that they routinely serve up to the public they would have demanded that Sparks had been jailed for what he did to Elfie. Far from being an isolated case, it is almost unheard of for the organization to go after any feline abuser with anything other than a wet noodle. (See Cat Defender posts of March 9, 2012 and March 13, 2012 entitled, respectively, "Amateur Ornithologist Guns Down Hartley with an Air Rifle, Feigns Remorse, and Then Cheats Justice by Begging and Lying" and "The Sick Wife Defense Works Like a Charm for Cunning Patrick Doyle after He Traps a Cat and Then Shoots It with an Air Rifle while Still in Its Cage.")

The RSPCA's intransigence can perhaps best be explained as an example of the professional courtesy that one cat abuser extends to another. (See Cat Defender posts of June 5, 2007 and October 23, 2010 entitled, respectively, "The RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated" and "The RSPCA Steals and Executes Nightshift Who Was His Elderly Caretaker's Last Surviving Link to Her Dead Husband," plus Daily Mail articles dated December 30, 2012 and December 6, 2014 and entitled, respectively, "Revealed: RSPCA Destroys Half of the Animals That It Rescues -- Yet Thousands Are Completely Healthy" and "RSPCA Forced to Apology for Wrongly Putting Down Cat Belonging to Family It Accused of Cruelty in Bungled Prosecution.")

Equally disturbing is Hatfield's enthusiastic praise for technology. "If it wasn't for her owner deciding to install the hidden cameras no one would have known what was going on," he crowed to the Bristol Post.

Au contraire, if he had been paying close attention to Elfie he immediately would have known what was happening and accordingly would have given Sparks the bum's rush long ago. Instead he, according to the January 20th edition of the Daily Mail, had the cameras installed in July but did not get around to acting until sometime in September. (See "Lodger Is Caught on Camera Torturing His Landlord's Cat after He Installs Hidden Cameras to Work Out Why His Pet Is Acting Strangely.")

By procrastinating for so long, the homeowner not only irresponsibly allowed Elfie to languish in misery for months on end but, more importantly, he placed her life in grave jeopardy. That is because systematic abuse of this nature usually follows a pattern of escalating violence that ultimately culminates in the cat's murder.

Lucy Nearly Lost Her Life to a Sadistic Roommate

Foolishly waiting around for either technology to do its job or the telltale signs of such abuse to manifest themselves in the form of bruises and broken bones often is too late in order to save a cat's life. That sobering and distressing reality was driven home with a vengeance to Lisa Altobelli, a scribe with Sports Illustrated, in March of 2007 when her then live-in lover, former New York Mets' farmhand Joseph Petcka, stomped to death her cat Norman in a drunken rage.

Petcka, who also is known to have physically abused Altobelli and at least one other woman, was let off by a Manhattan court with four-hundred-seventy-six hours of community service at a soup kitchen. (See the New York Post, December 18, 2009, "Cat-Killer Petcka Sentence (sic) to Community Service," NBC Today, September 29, 2008, "Man Who Killed Cat: 'I Did Not Act Intentionally'," and the New York Daily News, September 28, 2008, "Cat Killer Petcka Treated Me Just Like an Animal -- ex-Girlfriend.")

Earlier on October 15, 2004, thirty-nine-year-old convicted thief and drunk driver Peter Landrith did likewise to a fourteen-year-old arthritic cat named Luke that belonged to the son of his lover, Allyn Cornell. The attack occurred in the townhouse that they shared in Leesburg, Virginia, and allegedly was over a tuna fish sandwich.

In spite of Landrith's litany of lies and the savagery of the attack, Loudoun County Circuit Court judge J. Howe Brown Jr. let him off with five years probation when the case finally came to trial in January of 2006. Even Landrith could not help grinning from ear to ear at the absurdity of his penalty. (See Cat Defender post of January 17, 2006 entitled "Loony Virginia Judge Lets Career Criminal Go Free After He Stomps to Death a Fourteen-Year-Old Arthritic Cat.")

Declan Garrity

Even on those rare occasion when cats are able to somehow survive lengthy periods of abuse at the hands of roommates and live-in lovers they often wind up scarred and traumatized for life and that certainly is exactly what recently happened to a pretty little black, brown, and white female named Lucy. Her hellish nightmare began in November of 2015 when her unidentified twenty-nine-year-old owner, a nurse by vocation, invited twenty-four-year-old Declan Garrity into their Upper East Side apartment in Manhattan. As a consequence of that simply horrendous mistake in judgment, the newcomer did everything but kill Lucy over the course of the following three months.

When the nurse finally tumbled to what was occurring on February 20th of last year, he already had broken Lucy's right leg in two places, her left pelvis, and several of her ribs, teeth, and claws as well. As if all of that were not horrendous enough, he additionally inflicted unspecified muscle damage as well as burns to her tail.

Mercifully, Lucy lived but even then her initial veterinary tab exceeded $12,000 and it was expected to have climbed considerably higher. Like both Elfie's owner and Altobelli, the nurse surely would have known what was occurring right under her nose if only she had been paying the least bit of attention to her cat.

"She was noticeably staying away from (Garrity). I thought it was weird," she later admitted to the New York Daily News on February 26, 2016. (See "Cat-Torturing Goon Tricked Pet's Owner into Thinking He Was 'Best Roommate Ever' while Sadistically Burning, Beating Animal for Three Months.") "I was like, "How can we get the cat to like him?' Your mind doesn't go straight to 'He's doing something to my cat'."

Larry Negard

Contrary to the falderol so profusely doled out in the universities and churches, sensory data is far superior to theoria and never should be ignored. Plus, cats are especially good judges of character and if they are wary of an individual, their owners should be likewise.

Garrity subsequently was charged with animal cruelty and fired by Barclays Bank but he did a runner and returned home to Omagh in Northern Ireland where he remains to this very day. Since Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has shown absolutely no interest whatsoever in having this sadistic monster extradited, he in all likelihood never will be punished for the repeated beatings that he dished out to Lucy. (See the Belfast Telegraph, March 3, 2016, "New York Cops Arrest Northern Ireland Man Accused of Cat Torture after He Ignores Ruling by Judge," the New York Daily News, April 20, 2016, "Cat-Torturing Creep Declan Garrity Back in Native Ireland (sic), Manhattan Judge Issues Bench Warrant," and the New York Post, October 13, 2016, "Banker Wanted for Torturing Cat Is Found in Ireland (sic) -- with Pet Dog.")

Leaving cats alone with roommates for long periods of time while chasing shekels and sex is bad enough in its own right, but to leave an ailing one behind in order to go on a six-week sailing expedition simply boggles the mind. As difficult as it may be to believe, that is precisely what Alex McAllaster of Fort Walton Beach did with her eight-year-old cat Dante in the spring of 2013.

Not surprisingly, the unidentified roommate got rid of him almost as soon as she was out the door. It took quite a bit of doing but this story ended happily on June 29th when McAllaster finally located him outside one of Walmart's stores. (See Northwest Florida Daily News, articles dated June 7, 2013 and July 3, 2013 and entitled, respectively, "Roommate Gives Away Cat; Owner Searching" and "Cat Given Away by Roommate Found: 'As Soon as He Meowed, I Knew It Was Him'.")

Duplicitous neighbors pose an even greater threat to cats than do Machiavellian lodgers such as Sparks, Petcka, Landrith, and Garrity. For instance, over the course of the past several years, nine cats belonging to Randy and Patsy Hamilton of Bossier City, located on the East Bank of the Red River in Louisiana, have mysteriously disappeared. Even worse, those whose remains later were found had been either shot or beaten to death.

They had no earthly idea who was killing them until their home surveillance camera recorded their next-door neighbor, sixty-eight-year-old Larry Negard of 6008 Tracy Lane, shooting yet still another of their cats, Oreo. He then climbed over the six-foot fence that separates their properties in order to retrieve the cat's body before subsequently stuffing it into a trash bag.

Following that, he likely deposited the cat in a trash can whereby it was shortly thereafter collected by the garbagemen and taken to the city dump and burned with the remainder of the trash. Negard thus was able in the space of a few, violent minutes to systematically eradicate Oreo from the face of the earth without leaving behind any obvious traces of her. It often is all that easy not only to kill a cat but to get away scot-free with doing so to boot.

Stephanie Curwen Sics Her Pit Bull, Duke, on Regi

Every bit as methodical as he is cunning and murderous, Negard afterwards leaned over the fence with a garden hose in order to wash away any incriminating evidence that he may have left behind. He was not quite thorough enough this time around, however, because officers from the Bossier City Police Department had reviewed the surveillance video and therefore knew not only what to look for but, more importantly, where to find it. It therefore was not surprising that they found blood and tissue samples belonging to Oreo on the ground where Negard had shot him.

"It is terrible that someone would kill our cat," Randy Hamilton told the Bossier Press-Tribune on March 4, 2016. (See "Bossier Man Jailed for Killing Neighbor's Cat.")

In either late February or early March of last year, Negard was found guilty of simple cruelty to an animal by judge Edward Charles Jacobs of the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court for Bossier and Webster Parishes, sitting in nearby Benton, and sentenced to ten days in jail. He also was fined $500, ordered to pay another $500 in restitution to the Hamiltons, and court costs as well.

It is amazing that he received even that polite tap on the wrists considering that assistant district attorney Richard R. Ray initially wanted to let him off the hook scot-free. "He was offered probation and no jail time but be repeatedly refused and insisted on going to trial. With the video evidence we knew we had a strong case against him," he candidly admitted to the Bossier Press-Tribune. "We were pleased the court found Mr. Negard guilty as charged."

Apparently it never has so much as crossed the minds of either Ray or the Bossier City Police Department to investigate the deaths of the Hamiltons' other cats. If they were to do so, there can be little doubt that they would soon discover that it was none other than Negard who had killed them all.

Stephanie Curwen

In spite of the gargantuan malfeasance demonstrated by the authorities as well as the total lack of anything even remotely approaching justice in Jacobs' ruling, Hamilton was pleased with the outcome of the proceedings against Negard. "We are so thankful that the Bossier (City) Police Department and the District Attorney's Office took this matter seriously," he mindlessly gassed to the Bossier Press-Tribune.

Interlopers who either intentionally sic their dogs on cats or simply allow them to run free and thus to instigate such attacks of their own volition are an additional concern. For example in June of 2014, twenty-four-year-old Stephanie Curwen of Walter Avenue in St. Annes, Lancashire, turned loose her Staffordshire Bull Terrier-mix, Duke, on a six-month-old black kitten named Regi as he was sitting on top of a fence that surrounded the house that he shared with Lesley-Ann Brocklehurst and her family on Baron Road in the South Shore section of Blackpool.

She then stood idly by laughing as Duke dragged Regi to the ground and proceeded to tear him apart. She and Duke in all likelihood would have been able to have gotten away with their despicable crime if their devilry had not been captured on a surveillance camera that was mounted on the property of Brocklehurst's neighbor, Craig Hargreaves.

As was the case with Sparks, the RSPCA prosecuted Curwen but the buffoons who sit on Blackpool Magistrates' Court let her off with an inconsequential fine of £280. (See Cat Defender post of July 18, 2015 entitled "Blackpudlian Thrill Seeker Who Sicced Her Pit Bull on Regi and Then Laughed Off Her Fat Ass as He Tore Him Apart Receives a Customary Clean Bill of Health from the Courts.")

Later in early 2015, the same cruel fate befell an elderly three-legged black cat named Freeman from Tarring in West Sussex when he was abducted from his owner's garden and subsequently mauled to death on a neighbor's lawn by two large dogs that were thought at the time to have been Dobermans. After the attack, the dogs' owner pulled up in a blue car, collected them, and then proceeded on her merry way.

"To find out that he had been savaged by the dogs and the owners had not done anything is just completely callous," Freeman's forty-four-year-old owner Tracy Lynch told the Daily Mail on April 3, 2015. (See "Shocking Moment Three-Legged Cat Was Mauled to Death by Two Passing Dogs as It Lay in Its Front Garden.") "That's what's most distressing for us that they didn't do anything to check on the cat."

Freeman Was Mauled to Death by Two Vicious Dogs

The ninety-second attack was recorded by a surveillance camera that was located on the property of Lynch's neighbor, Terry Rickards, but no arrest ever was made in this case. Clearly, something is terribly wrong whenever vicious dogs are not only allowed to roam freely but to trespass on private property in order to kill cats.

Cretins who get rid of unwanted cats and kittens by by sealing them up in bags and boxes and then casually tossing them out in the trash are a universal plague. Even more distressing, they rarely are ever caught and made to answer for their heinous crimes in a court of law.

For example, shortly past midnight on August 6, 2015, sixty-two-year-old Susan Maude of Park Road in Tranmere, Merseyside, zipped up three cats, Polly, Dolly, and Dylan, and five black kittens in a laundry bag and then deposited them in a trash can at a car park off of Southwick Road. Unfortunately for her, she was captured on surveillance cameras carrying out her devilry.

"A member of the public rang a cat rescue charity and asked them (sic) to come out and collect an animal," RSPCA inspector Anthony Joynes related to the Daily Mail on March 2, 2016. (See "Shocking Photos of Kittens Left Abandoned by Their Callous Owner, Sixty-Two, Who Dumped a Laundry Bag Full of Eight Cats Next to Bins Near Her Home.") "When they got there they discovered a cat popping its head out of a bag and found there were three adult cats and five kittens inside."

Charged with animal cruelty for not only dumping the cats but also for turning loose a dog named Rusty to fend for himself in the street she, like Garrity, did a runner and as a consequence never showed up for trial. She nevertheless was found guilty in absentia by Wirral Magistrates' Court of Birkenhead and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Susan Maude Leaves Home with a Sack Full of Eight Cats...

Although she is now known to be living in the Normanton section of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, one-hundred-thirty-two kilometers northeast of Tranmere, that warrant never was served and she remains to this very day as free as a bird. That is of secondary importance, however, in that the main concern is that the cats were saved from simply horrific deaths. Even then they had an extremely close call.

"We're very lucky that we didn't end up with a bag full of dead cats," Joynes added to the Daily Mail. "It was a hot August day and they weren't found until early afternoon."

Not only that but they very easily could have been collected by garbagemen and subsequently ground to bits at the city dump long before any relief arrived on the scene. Thankfully, that did not happen and the RSPCA claims to have rehomed all of them.

Although in this particular instance the existence of surveillance cameras undeniably led to the identification and subsequent arrest of Maude, it does not appear that they played any beneficial role at all in saving the lives of the cats. "We're also lucky that members of the public who live in (sic) the street have their own security cameras and I've got to thank them," Joynes concluded.

The most infamous case of cat stealing and dumping in recent memory occurred on August 21, 2010 when forty-five-year-old spinster Mary Bale nonchalantly strolled up to a four-year-old female named Lola on Brays Lane in Coventry, Warwickshire, petted her, and then stuffed her into a garbage can. That likely would have been the end of her if her owners, Darryl and Stephanie Andrews-Mann, had not had the presence of mind to have taken a look at the footage from their home surveillance camera.

...and Returns Thirty Minutes Later with an Empty Sack

Lola's life thus was spared but even then her deliverance did not come until fifteen hours later. The footage was handed over to the RSPCA and Bale eventually was charged with animal cruelty but judge Caroline Goulborn of Coventry Magistrates' Court let her off with a measly £250 fine plus £1,171 in court costs.

Even more revoltingly, Goulborn treated her as if she were the victim as opposed to being Lola's assailant and would-be murderer. First of all, she all but excused Bale's misconduct on the ground that she had been depressed over her father's illness.

Secondly, she argued that Bale had been treated unfairly by the mainstream as well as social media. "The media interest in this case has resulted in you being vilified in some quarters and I have taken that into account," she ruled according to the account of the proceedings rendered on October 19, 2010 by the BBC. (See "Coventry Cat Bin Dump Woman Mary Bale Fined for Cruelty.")

Although her solicitor, David Murray, later told the BBC that she "bitterly regretted" what she had done to Lola, that certainly was a far cry from the tune that she was humming immediately following her unmasking and arrest. "I don't know what the fuss is all about," she declared to the Daily Mail on August 26th. (See "Greyhaired (sic) Bank Worker Who Dumped Cat in Wheelie Bin Could Face Court as RSPCA Prosecutors Review Case.") "It's just a cat."

A third incidence whereby surveillance camera footage proved to be crucial in saving a cat from harm occurred on November 15, 2013 when a ten-year-old large white and brown tom with patches of fluffy ginger fur named Busby was snatched in broad daylight by a man and a woman from a car park at Springfield Court in the York suburb of Holgate in North Yorkshire. Fortunately as far as his heartbroken owner, thirty-nine-year-old Chris Howson of Falconer Street, approximately four-hundred-three feet north of Springfield Court, was concerned, the abduction had been recorded by a surveillance camera belonging to one of his neighbors.

Mary Bale Steals Lola, Stuffs Her in a Trash Can, and Calmly Walks Away

The tape not only was promptly turned over to the North Yorkshire Police but posted online as well.  Howson, however, was not about to sit around hoping against hope that the authorities and the general public were going to locate his cat for him. Rather, he offered a reward for Busby's return, fly-posted the neighborhood with Lost Cat posters, and issued an impassioned appeal for his return.

"If people know where he is, please contact me," he told The Press of York on November 22, 2013. (See "York Cat Returned to Owner after Video of Theft Goes Viral.") "I just want him back, if the people who took him return him to where they took him from, there will be no questions asked..."

He augmented that appeal with a not-so-subtle threat. "If not I will pursue the matter and if they are eventually caught I will press charges," he added to The Press.

That did the trick and the man in the video telephone him and promptly returned Busby to him on November 21st. Although he seemed to be a bit on edge as the result of his trying ordeal, he was otherwise unharmed.

"He (the thief) told me he didn't think he had a home," Howson confided afterwards to The Press. "I didn't believe him but I didn't really want to stand around and have a chat, I wanted to get him home. I'm grateful he has done the right thing."

A Pair of Thieves Make Away with Busby

An almost identical set of facts and circumstances repeated themselves shortly before midnight last December 4th on Brunswick Street East in Hove, East Sussex, when another still unidentified man and woman teamed up to steal a three and one-half-year-old ginger-colored tom named Mr. Cheeky from the courtyard of the house that he shared with fifty-four-year-old Ollie Wilson and forty-six-year-old Laura King. As was the case with Busby, the abduction was recorded by a surveillance camera belonging to one of the couple's neighbors.

Lamentably, in this case the tape apparently was not turned over to them until considerably later and that delay ultimately proved to be costly. To condense a long and truly heartbreaking story into a few words, neither hide nor hair ever was seen of Mr. Cheeky again until he was run down and killed January 28th by a motorist a short distance from home on Cromwell Road. (See Cat Defender post of February 8, 2017 entitled "The Long and Hopelessly Frustrating Search for the Kidnapped Mr. Cheeky Ends Tragically Underneath the Wheels of a Hit-and-Run Motorist.")

The respective surveillance tapes are far too grainy as to allow for any positive identifications to be made but nevertheless there is a faint resemblance between the couple that stole Busby and the pair that nabbed Mr. Cheeky. Plus, their modi operandi are identical.

It therefore might be worthwhile for King, who is still searching for Mr. Cheeky's abductors, to touch bases with both Howson and the North Yorkshire Police. If Maude is capable of fleeing from Tranmere to Normanton in order to avoid prosecution, it certainly would have been easy enough for the thieves who stole Mr. Cheeky to have transversed the four-hundred-thirty-six kilometers that separate Holgate in the north from Hove in the south. Thanks to the invention of modern-day forms of conveyance, great distances no longer pose much of an obstacle to those individuals and groups intent upon engaging in criminal activities.

A surveillance camera mounted on board the HMS Belfast as it lay anchored near the London Bridge early on the morning of February 9, 2008 likewise failed to save the life of its mascot, Kilo, from three drunken yobs who drowned him in the Thames. The surveillance footage coupled with the eyewitness testimony of one of the museum ship's security guards, Steve Laceby, did however eventually lead to their arrests.

Busby and Chris Howson

Deplorably, even the existence of those two pieces of irrefutable evidence proved to be insufficient in order to persuade judge Sue Green of Camberwell Youth Court in London to punish Kilo's executor, a sixteen-year-old girl identified only as Jessica from the borough of Enfield in north London. As a result, she set her free with nine-months of supervised probation.

Jessica who, like Curwen, was laughing off her ugly little face as she hurled Kilo into the drink, turned in a repeat performance during sentencing and, considering the lopsided brand of justice that English jurists are known for dispensing, she perhaps was entitled to her hilarity. (See Cat Defender posts of October 2, 2008, November 10, 2008, and November 24, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Sixteen-Year-Old London Girl Is Finally Arrested in the Horrific Drowning Death of Kilo from the HMS Belfast," "London Teenager, Convicted of Killing the HMS Belfast's Kilo, Also Is Unmasked as a Remorseless Liar and Drunkard," and "Kilo's Killer Walks in a Lark but the Joke Is on the Disgraceful English Judicial System.")

Of the thirteen cases of abuse chronicled above, only nine of them involved surveillance cameras and of that latter tally only four of them were owned and operated by the victims' caretakers; the remainder belonged to neighbors. Most importantly of all, in the cases of only Elfie, Lola, and Busby can they be said to actually have made vital contributions toward saving feline lives.

Even that latter statistic is somewhat misleading in that by relying upon technology in order to protect her, Elfie's owner not only procrastinated but actually endangered her well-being even further. Much the same thing can be said for the delay on the part of Lola's owners in reviewing the surveillance footage captured by their camera.

On the legal side of the equation, surveillance footage led to convictions in only five of the cases and none of the defendants in any of them received any jail time except for Negard and he only got a measly ten days. That in turn lends credence to the deep-seated suspicion that almost any ailurophobe could shoot untold numbers of cats right before the eyes of most jurists and yet still be let off with a small fine and probation.

Jessica and Her Accomplices Are Captured on Camera

In spite of the meager results achieved so far by surveillance cameras, it nonetheless is believed that they do indeed have a role to play in protecting cats but before that can become a reality drastic modifications need to be made in how that they are deployed and utilized. First of all, the quality of the images that they capture must be drastically upgraded.

Secondly, in order to be effective multiple cameras that are capable of filming movements and activities from various angles and ranges are essential. Thirdly, surveillance cameras require much better nighttime lighting in order to be of much value.

Fourthly, guardians need to actually own their own surveillance systems. As the distressing events surrounding Mr. Cheeky's abduction and death have demonstrated, relying upon those of a neighbor is woefully inadequate when it comes to both protecting cats as well as holding abusers and thieves accountable under the law.

Fifthly, surveillance footage is of no use unless it is reviewed at least several times a day. If the owners of both Elfie and Lola had been willing to have done so, they could have spared them months and hours of totally needless suffering and terror.

It additionally is a good idea to timely review surveillance footage even when cats are known to be safe and sound indoors. Individuals who are willing to do their due diligence in this regard are then in a position to identify potential dangers, whether they be human or animal, long before a catastrophe occurs.

Kilo Never Received Any Justice from the Courts

Sixthly, cameras are desperately needed at all TNR colonies in order to ward off mischief. Around-the-clock armed guards would be an even better idea but there are not too many cat-lovers who are willing to undertake that awesome responsibility and expense.

In the final analysis, however, there is not any substitute for knowledgeable, caring, and vigilant owners who are willing to devote huge amounts of time and resources to their cats' welfare and that applies regardless of whether they also rely upon surveillance technology in order to augment their efforts. This world always has been hostile to cats and that is even more so the case nowadays in that motorists, ornithologists, and wildlife biologists have joined the ranks of their more traditional enemies.

"...the unfortunate feline species seemed to be fair game for every kind of cruelty and neglect," veterinarian James Herriot wrote in his 1994 book, Cat Stories. "They shot cats, threw things at them, starved them and set their dogs on them for fun."

By failing to take their cats' safety seriously enough, Altobelli failed Norman as Cornell did likewise with Luke. The same thing can be said for Lucy's unidentified owner as well as McAllaster's poor judgment in fobbing off Dante's care on an unreliable roommate.

Regardless of whether the threats emanate from roommates, neighbors, dogs, or thieves, it is naïve for individuals who care about cats to expect very much in the way of assistance from either rescue groups, the police, or the courts. Such individuals accordingly are pretty much on their own and although surveillance cameras, unlike implanted microchips, have some limited utility when it comes to protecting cats from harm, they are by no means a panacea.

Photos: the RSPCA (Elfie and Sparks), Brent Cornell (Luke), the New York Daily News (Lucy, Lola and Bale), Steven Hirsch of the New York Post (Garrity), the Bossier Press-Tribune (Negard), the Blackpool Gazette (Regi), the Daily Mail (Curwen and Freeman) the Liverpool Echo (Maude), The Press of York (theft of Busby and him with Howson), and the HMS Belfast (Jessica and Kilo).

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The Long and Hopelessly Frustrating Search for the Kidnapped Mr. Cheeky Ends Tragically Underneath the Wheels of a Hit-and-Run Motorist

Mr. Cheeky

"You've paid a high price for being so independent, friendly and fearless, or perhaps because of your resemblance to 'A Street Cat Named Bob', but you could never have been an indoor cat. It just wasn't in your nature. I'm so glad you got a last taste of freedom, albeit tragically brief."

-- Laura King

The long-drawn-out search for Mr. Cheeky has finally ended. Tragically, the three and one-half year old ginger-colored tom was intentionally run down and killed by a hit-and-run motorist sometime January 28th on Cromwell Road, a scant 1.44 kilometers removed from the home that he shared on Brunswick Street East in Hove, East Sussex, with fifty-four-year-old Ollie Wilson and his common law wife forty-six year old Laura King as well as a black cat named Django.

An unidentified woman discovered his body in the road and rushed him to the Wilbury Veterinary Surgery at 20 Wilbury Street but it was too late to save his precious life. An implanted microchip was found and deciphered and, this time around, Petlog did its job by supplying the surgery with the names and address of his owners. (See Cat Defender post of January 24, 2017 entitled "Tigger Is Finally Reunited with His Family Despite the Best Efforts of the Administrators of a Microchip Database to Keep Them Apart.")

Nevertheless, this incident has graphically demonstrated once again that when it comes to safeguarding the lives of cats implanted microchips are thoroughly worthless. (See Cat Defender post of May 25, 2006 entitled "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats.")

Heinous and despicable acts of this nature also constitute the perfect crime in that neither the police nor phony-baloney animal protection groups can be so much as bothered with even superficially looking into them. Consequently, no arrest has been made and none is expected.

"I've been in bits all day thinking about it," King, who was notified of Mr. Cheeky's death at 11:50 a.m. by the surgery, wrote later that same day in an article entitled "The Kidnapping of Mr. Cheeky -- the Final Chapter" that was posted on the Facebook page Find Mr. Cheeky. "He had such a tough start to life, abandoned as a young cat, barely out of kittenhood, living on the streets and rescued by Lost Cats (of) Brighton, where we got him, and then only two and a half years of happy life with us..."

Although he was a rough and tumble tom, he also had his gentler side. "He was a tough and independent cat most of the time -- let's face it he ran the neighborhood in catty terms!-- but just occasionally he would be as soft as a marshmallow and allow a big cuddle, usually when he was tired," she continued. "Or if I let him sleep on our bed -- big treat-- he would start by sleeping nonchalantly at the bottom and gradually work his way up...through the night until he had wedged his head under my chin gently purring and bunting me with his nose until I was so hot I had to get up and relegate him back to the living room with his food and litter tray."

The surgery offered, for a hefty fee no doubt, to burn and dispose of Mr. Cheeky's remains but King instead asked it to hold them until she could collect them after the weekend because she was too upset to drive the 1.93 kilometers that separate her house from the surgery. She easily could have walked that short of a distance but apparently she did not even feel up to doing that.

As a result, the surgery refrigerated them. That is all that has been revealed but hopefully King and Wilson did reclaim and later bury them in their garden. The very thought of them being casually tossed out in the trash is too nauseating to even contemplate.

By way of commemorating Mr. Cheeky's life she is planning on hosting a Mad Catters' Tea Party February 19th at Patisserie Valerie on Western Road in order to raise money for Lost Cats. No further details have been disclosed, but it would be a nice gesture on its part if the shelter were to kindly reciprocate by naming either a fund or a wing in his honor. The shelter itself sans doute could sorely use the money after having recently lost its longtime founder, Ron Ayres, to the Grim Reaper and now to be facing eviction from its current location.

Although Mr. Cheeky's murder is sad enough in its own right, how that he came to be on Cromwell Road in the first place is an entirely different, and ongoing, story that began on December 4th when he was stolen from Wilson and King's courtyard by a pair of brazen thieves. Since they sometimes allowed him to stay out all night, they did not realize that anything was amiss until he failed to show up for breakfast the following morning.

In all likelihood they would have remained forever ignorant of his fate if one of their neighbors had not come forward and voluntarily supplied them with Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage of his abduction. It has not been disclosed when the unidentified neighbor contacted them but it apparently was sometime considerably later because the surveillance video was not uploaded onto YouTube until December 15th.

"Our neighbor found these images on CCTV of our cat Mr. Cheeky being kidnapped by a couple, we think in their twenties, at 11:52 p.m. on Sunday 4th December," King disclosed to the Brighton and Hove News on December 15th. (See "Cat Thieves Caught on Camera.") "The man fusses (with) Mr. Cheeky, then the woman entices him with some food. They then pick him up and take him round the corner to the end of Brunswick Street East where it exits onto Waterloo Street."

The Thieves Lured Mr. Cheeky into Their Net of Intrigue...

The male culprit is described as being white, five-feet, eight-inches tall, stockily built, and with short brown hair that is shaved on the sides. He is wearing a black jacket, light-colored jeans, and dark shoes.

His accomplice was a five-foot, six-inch, white female wearing a long padded black coat with a fur-lined hood. She also had on a knee-length dark dress, black low-cut ankle boots, and light-patterned leggings. She additionally was carrying a white shopping bag.

"It's a callous and stupid thing for someone to do," Wilson angrily barked to The Sun of London on December 14th. (See "Catnappers: Heartbroken Couple Release (sic) CCTV Footage of Their Beloved Ginger Cat Mr. Cheeky Being Stolen from Outside Their Home.") "I'd never expected someone to steal Mr. Cheeky, he's not a pedigree cat."

C'est la vie. It is always unforeseen events that are the most difficult to cope with and, worst still, they constitute the norm as far as most cats are concerned.

"Mr. Cheeky had been inside all evening fast asleep," Wilson continued. "He left through the cat flap and was sat (sic) in the courtyard when he was taken."

King later corroborated her mate's version of events on that fateful evening. "My last memory of Mr. Cheeky was earlier on the night he was taken. I was sitting on the sofa in front of the TV and Mr. Cheeky was lying on his back on my lap reaching up with his paws to try and brush my hair with his claws," she wrote in the January 28th Facebook article cited supra. "It was one of his little things. He was fascinated by hair. But it was also a perfect moment which I will treasure always."

Chances are that he would still be alive today if either she or Wilson had had the bon sens to have locked the cat flap. In her defense, King stated on in a January 31st addendum to her January 28th article on Facebook that a miscommunication between her and her mate was the reason that the flap was not secured. For whatever it is worth, she insists that Mr. Cheeky was locked up nights ninety-five per cent of the time.

The case against Wilson and King's guardianship of Mr. Cheeky is even more egregious in that in addition to allowing him to stay out all night at times, they allowed him to roam the streets of Hove pretty much at will. "You had a paw in every door -- little children loved you -- and you followed us to the local pub too," King wrote in the January 28th Facebook article. "You even tried to follow me up the street to get the bus to work and were a regular visitor striding up the aisles at the Sunday Assembly in Waterloo Street!"

Ever since Wilson and King started their own business, MatchFit Media, of Brighton in late 2014 they undoubtedly have been away from home for rather extended periods of time at least five to six days a week and in doing so they, from all indications, left Mr. Cheeky to wander the streets all by his lonesome. (See PRWeek of New York, January 26, 2015, "Ollie Wilson Leaves CLA to Launch Brighton-Based Agency MatchFit Media.")

As if all of that were not reproachable enough in its own right, they not only inexcusably allowed him to scrap with dogs but even reveled in his deering-do to boot. "You wouldn't hesitate to look a dog straight in the eye or boot a canine nose which got too close," King revealed in her January 28th Facebook article. "You even managed to cow an American Bulldog two doors down and visit and walk around the flat as if you owned it."

Plus, Mr. Cheeky was known to be overly fond of people and bad things generally can be counted upon to happen to such cats. (See Cat Defender post of July 14, 2016 entitled "Missy, Who Was Too Kindly Disposed Toward Humans for Her Own Good, Is Memorialized in Wood at the Bus Stop That She Called Her Home Away from Home for Almost a Decade.")

That is just one more reason why that cats, contrary to popular opinion, should not be tamed any more than is absolutely necessary. A healthy wariness of humans is highly beneficial for their long-term survival. Also, as far as it is feasible owners never should allow anyone else to feed them.

...and Then Spirited Him Away to Parts Unknown

The negative aspect of such a policy is that shelters routinely kill cats that they deem to be unsocialized. Even so, almost any cat that is trapped and brought to one of these wretched killing factories can exhibit characteristics of being wild owing solely to the fear and stress that routinely accompany such a harrowing experience.

As a result, most cats cannot win no matter what their socio-economic status, temperament, and behavior. (See The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 11, 2011, "Shelter Shock. Cats Can Get Sick from Stress. One Proposed Remedy? Keep Them Out.")

In addition to contacting the Brighton and Hove News, Wilson issued a public appeal for Mr. Cheeky's return. "It's been very upsetting and stressful. Mr. Cheeky is such a character, he's much loved and we enjoyed having him at home," he told The Sun. "We're worried about him and we hope he is okay. I'm appealing to the people in the CCTV to please return Mr. Cheeky."

Zoe Ayres of the Sussex Police echoed those sentiments. "Mr. Cheeky is microchipped and is missed dearly by his owners. We are appealing to anyone who might recognize the man or the woman or have information as to the location of his whereabouts," she declared to The Sun. "I would also like to appeal to the people in the video as our main priority is to get Mr. Cheeky back safe with his owners. He is probably very distressed being away from his normal surroundings and it is obviously very upsetting for his owners."

In the extremely trying days and weeks that followed, King fly-posted the neighborhood with Lost Cat posters, offered a £300 reward for Mr. Cheeky's return, and established at least two pages on Facebook as well as writing about his disappearance on her blog, www.thepoetlaura-eate.blogspot.com. As far as it could be determined, she did not hesitate to check out every credible lead that she ever received but all of her efforts failed to bear fruit.

Arguably the most promising course of action available to her and Wilson would have been for them to have had stills made of the thieves from the surveillance tape and then to have circulated them around the neighborhood. In particular, these photographs ought to have been shown to both employees and patrons of the Bottom's Rest Pub at 16 Kerrison Mews, which is only about fifty feet or so removed from where Mr. Cheeky hung his hat.

"We suspect they (the thieves) may have left Bottom Rest's Pub at the top of the street before spotting Mr. Cheeky sitting in (our) yard," King theorized to the Brighton and Hove News in the article cited supra.

Sure enough the bar, according to information contained online, closes its doors at midnight and that tends to lend credence to her suspicions. Apparently that avenue of inquiry either was not pursued for whatever reason or turned out to be a a cul-de-sac.

In this instance, the valuable time that had elapsed between Mr. Cheeky's disappearance and when his owners were alerted to the existence of the surveillance video may have proven fatal. If, on the other hand, they had been able to show stills of the culprits to bartenders at the pub the very next day there is a good chance that they not only would have remembered serving the duo but might actually have known their names and address.

Furthermore since most, but not all, people go to bars in order to socialize, it is possible that one or more of the patrons who were on hand December 4th would have recognized the thieves. Any little tidbit of information gleaned from either patrons or employees could have been decisive in cracking this case.

The only other obvious option available to Wilson and King would have been for them to have temporarily shuttered their business and beaten the pavement day and night for Mr. Cheeky. If they did not want to do that, they could have retained the services of a private dick to have acted in their stead. (See Cat Defender post of April 2, 2015 entitled "Cornishman Shells Out £10,000 on Private Peepers in Order to Track Down Farah's Killer but Once Again Gets Stiffed by Both the Police and the RSPCA.")

Since Mr. Cheeky was able to stay alive for nearly two months that eliminates both PETA and the RSPCA from the list of possible suspects in that both groups routinely kill off all cats that they steal from the street. (See Cat Defender posts of January 29, 2007, February 9, 2007, October 7, 2011, June 5, 2007, and October 23, 2010 entitled, respectively, "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in a North Carolina Courtroom," "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs," "PETA Traps and Kills a Cat and Then Shamelessly Goes Online in Order to Brag about Its Criminal and Foul Deed," "RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated," and "RSPCA Steals and Executes Nightshift Who Was His Elderly Caretaker's Last Surviving Link to Her Dead Husband.")

Lost Cat Posters Did Not Work This Time

Vivisectors, fur and flesh traffickers, and other miscellaneous abusers likewise can be eliminated for that same reason. It seems unlikely in this instance but it is always remotely possible that Mr. Cheeky could have been stolen and dumped by either bird or wildlife advocates.

That is precisely what happened in Southampton, Hampshire, back in September and October of 2007 when a self-professed bird lover trapped and subsequently dumped between six and eight of his neighbors' cats at an undisclosed location. In a macabre resemblance to what happened to Mr. Cheeky, one of the stolen cats, a two-year-old ginger tom named Fletcher, later was killed by a hit-and-run motorist twenty-two kilometers from home in Corhampton.

"It makes me really angry at what has happened," his twenty-nine-year-old owner, Kelly Went, said afterwards in sentiments that have become all-too-familiar to both Wilson and King. (See Cat Defender posts of October 30, 2007 and November 16, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Crafty Bird Lover Claims Responsibility for Stealing Six Cats from a Southampton Neighborhood and Concealing Their Whereabouts" and "Fletcher, One of the Cats Abducted from Bramley Crescent, Is Killed by a Motorist in Corhampton.")

In Mr. Cheeky's case, however, his abduction appears on the one hand to have been a random crime of opportunity. It is even conceivable that the thieves were drunk and stole him as some kind of a perverse prank.

On the other hand, the woman appears to have enticed him over with food which in itself would tend to indicate a certain amount of forethought went into her actions. It additionally is rather odd that he, in spite of his overly friendly nature, was so compliant and that in turns leads to speculation that he may have known his abductors. Since he was wearing a yellow collar, there can be little doubt that he was purposefully stolen as opposed to having been mistaken for a homeless waif.

The most perplexing aspect of this tragic and disturbing case concerns where and what Mr. Cheeky was doing between December 4th and January 28th and in that light absolutely nothing was known until certain unidentified individuals residing on Cromwell Road contacted King out of the blue a few days after his death in order to inform her that he had been frequenting their flat. They even supplied her with at least two photographs of him entering the premises through an open window on January 27th.

"Sadly the occupants hadn't heard about Mr. Cheeky's case to realize a stolen cat was visiting them or they would have kept him in and contacted us," King wrote February 1st in an untitled article posted on Facebook. "They are so upset but I have told them they mustn't blame themselves. If a cat looks okay and is wearing a collar, why wouldn't you assume they (sic) must belong to a neighbor?"

From that it can be inferred that she accepted their version of events because their physical descriptions do not match those of the culprits as shown in the video but beyond that her severely redacted version of that encounter raises far more questions than it answers. First of all, did Mr. Cheeky's collar contain contact data?

Secondly, through their abysmal failure to take any concrete steps in order to protect Mr. Cheeky's safety, the occupants of the flat have proven themselves to be every bit as callous and uncaring as both his owners and abductors. Thirdly, King most conspicuously of all fails to disclose how long that her cat had been visiting the flat.

"Our one crumb of comfort is that at least our darling wasn't malnourished when he died -- albeit thinner than when he was stolen," she concluded in the February 1st article. "But it still breaks my heart how scared and stressed he must have been for so many weeks. And how desperate to find his way home to us."

None of that is necessarily true. For instance, if he had been taken out of the area and dumped at a remote location, like Fletcher, and then attempted to find his way home, the telltale signs of his travails may have been evident in his worn-down claws and the pads on his feet and even a cursory veterinary examination would have detected such damage.

If that were not the case, a far more plausible explanation is that his abductors were astute enough in order to have kept him inside for at least a month. After that length of time cats, supposedly, forget all about their old abodes and owners.

Mr. Cheeky Visiting a Flat on January 27th

It is entirely conceivable that the thieves were hands-on, as opposed to absentee, caretakers and that he grew to like living with them. Quite obviously, either they or someone else had been feeding him. Regardless of what actually transpired, the thieves are every bit as guilty as everyone else who either walked in or out of his brief life for failing to protect him from the machinations of motorists.

With blood in her eye, King is determined more than ever to bring Mr. Cheeky's abductors to justice and in furtherance of that worthy objective she announced in another untitled Facebook article dated February 2nd that she had been granted an interview with the BBC for the following morning. That engagement, however, did not go well.

In a February 3rd posting on Facebook that since has been deleted she stated that the network's Neil Pringle not only gave her short shrift but even had the unmitigated gall to cast aspersions on the unassailable fact that Mr. Cheeky had been kidnapped in the first place. It will no doubt come as cold comfort to her, but one-sided, scurrilous journalism is a staple at the propaganda arm of the old British Empire.

For example, last September James Menendez of the News Hour not only granted Peter P. Marra of the disgraced Smithsonian Institution a platform in which to agitate for his cat-killing agenda but in doing so he even chuckled at the very idea of so many innocent felines being slaughtered. Like just about all of the network's hatchet jobs, this outrageous piece of unabashed anti-cat propaganda never was posted on its web site.

Moreover, both Menendez and the BBC were fully aware that Marra served as Nico Dauphiné's supervisor. (See Cat Defender posts of July 12, 2011, November 18, 2011, and January 6, 2012 entitled, respectively, "The Arrest of Nico Dauphiné for Attempting to Poison a Colony of Homeless Cats Unmasks the National Zoo as a Hideout for Ailurophobes and Criminals," "Nico Dauphiné, Ph.D., Is Convicted of Attempting to Poison a Colony of Homeless Cats but Questions Remain Concerning the Smithsonian's Role," and "Nico Dauphiné Is Let Off with an Insultingly Lenient $100 Fine in a Show Trial That Was Fixed from the Very Beginning.")

It therefore would not appear that King can expect much assistance from the BBC. She likewise apparently has not received any anything other than lip service from the Sussex Police.

Her best bet therefore would be to canvass the area around Cromwell Road in search of a young couple in their twenties and this would need to be done primarily through contacting the owners and superintendents of apartment blocks. Even if a pair of suspects should be ultimately identified, the surveillance video may be insufficient in itself to support the bringing charges against them owing to its poor quality.

There additionally has been some speculation that the thieves dumped Mr. Cheeky because he had become too hot to hold on to before fleeing the area themselves. In that case, any young couple known to recently have moved out of the neighborhood immediately would fall under a cloud of suspicion. Tracking them down and holding them accountable under the law would, however, require either the cooperation of the authorities or the hiring of a peeper.

Oddly enough, King as of yet has not publicly expressed so much as a jot of interest in bringing Mr. Cheeky's killer to justice. That is a real shame given that with so many surveillance cameras in the area, the dastardly dead very well could have been captured on tape.

Her total unwillingness to face up to her own culpability in his death is a likely factor in her reluctance to pursue that angle. "I take the point about indoor cats but Mr. Cheeky was having no truck with that," she wrote January 31st in the comments' section of her January 28th article on Facebook. "...Mr. Cheeky would bash his face against the cat flap until his nose bled during the daytime if he was not let out."

Based upon that, it would appear that he craved something that he was not getting at home. "He also had a huge need for the company of other humans and cats, which we didn't realize when we first got him," she continued. "He was massively sociable and had 'a paw in every door'."

Whereas it is readily granted that the difficulties associated with putting the brakes on a cat that has grown accustomed to enjoying unfettered freedom cannot in any way be underestimated, King committed the fatal error of drawing all the wrong conclusions from Mr. Cheeky's personality and behavior. "I guess this made him a high risk cat in some ways, but it was not one of our neighbors who stole him, but two random strangers. Our neighbors are all devastated and he was perfectly safe with them," she concluded.

How Long Had He Been Coming to This Flat?

First of all, it is difficult to see how that she could have arrived at such deductions considering that neither the thieves nor the motorist have been identified. Consequently, both of them very well could be neighbors of hers.

Secondly, the existence of the Bottom's Rest Pub is a rather strong indication that the neighborhood contains retail as well as residential properties and the latter most assuredly attract all sorts of outsiders. Thirdly, Hove has more than ninety-thousand residents and nearby Brighton is home to more than two-hundred-eighty-one-thousand additional denizens. Most of them undoubtedly also own and operate motor vehicles and that in turn makes the area far too dangerous for cats to be allowed to roam the streets without chaperones.

Although kidnappings are relatively rare, the evidence is overwhelming that motorists are lethal to cats. (See Cat Defender posts of November 21, 2012, January 30, 2010, and August 17, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Officials at Plymouth College of Art Should Be Charged with Gross Negligence and Animal Cruelty in the Tragic Death of the School's Longtime Resident Feline, PCAT," "Casper Is Run down and Killed by a Hit-and-Run Taxi Driver While Crossing the Street in Order to Get to the Bus Stop, and "Brave Little Fred the Undercover Cat Has His Short, Tragic Life Snuffed Out by a Hit-and-Run Driver in Queens.")

Even those cats that are able to somehow weather these totally uncalled for assaults often wind up maimed for life. (See Cat Defender posts of October 13, 2016, May 2, 2012, November 13, 2010, April 29, 2010, September 12, 2009, and March 5, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Bart Has Courageously Overcome Being Run Down by a Hit-and-Run Motorist and Subsequently Buried Alive by His Owner but Another Dark Cloud Is Looming over His Future," "Pregnant, Abandoned, and Then Deliberately Almost Killed by a Hit-and-Run Driver, Sugar Crawls Back to Her Subterranean Abode in Order to Feed Her Kittens," "Christopher, Who Has Persevered Through Tragedy and Given Back so Much, Is Now Being Held Captive for His Valuable Blood," "Long Suffering River Finally Finds a Home after Having Been Run Over by a Motorist and Nearly Drowned," "Luzie Sustains a Broken Hip and a Bloody Mouth Before She Is Successfully Rescued from the Busy Elbtunnel," and "Run Down by a Motorist and Frozen to the Ice by His Own Blood, Roo Is Saved by a Caring Woman.")

The case against motorists is so damning that even police officers, who are supposed to act responsibly and to enforce the laws of the road, not only callously allow their cats to be run down and killed but actually do likewise themselves to those that are owned by civilians. (See Cat Defender posts of March 18, 2009 and June 18, 2015 entitled, respectively, "Eco, Who for Years Was a Mainstay at a Small Massachusetts Police Department, Is Run Down and Killed by a Motorist" and "Harry Is Run Down and Killed by a Pair of Derbyshire Police Officers Who Then Steal and Dispose of His Body in an Amateurish Attempt to Cover Up Their Heinous Crime.")

Politicians likewise not only use them as valuable political props with little or no regard for their personal safety but often are downright antagonistic to roadside memorials erected in the memory of those that have been killed by motorists. (See Cat Defender posts of November 10, 2014, November 13, 2014, and October 9, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Freya, the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Resident Feline, Cheats Death Once Again When She Survives Being Run Down and Injured by a Motorist but Her Good Luck Cannot Last for Much Longer," "Gutless Georgie 'Porgie' Osborne Gets Rid of Freya but in Doing So Lies About the True Reason Behind His Second Cruel Abandonment of Her," and "Feline Traffic Fatalities Are Unworthy of Commemoration According to a Möhnesee Bureaucrat Who Orders the Destruction to a Roadside Memorial to Jule.")

Moreover, there cannot be so much as a scintilla of doubt that all such attacks on cats by motorist are, not accidental, but rather intentional. (See Cat Defender post of June 25, 2015 entitled "Kayden Is Run Down Three Times in Succession by a Van Driver in Yet Still Another Graphic Example of How So Many Motorists Intentionally Kill Cats.")

Even more galling, these individuals not only glory in mowing down cats but also at the tremendous amount of pain and suffering that they are inflicting upon their heartbroken owners. "The world is a bad dog," Joe Conrad opined in his novel, Victory. "It will bite you if you give it a chance."

It accordingly is the solemn duty of all individuals who care about cats to do everything in their power not to allow these rotten, scum-of-the-earth bastards to win! For homeowners, such as Wilson and King, that entails nothing less than keeping their cats out of the street.

For the managers of TNR colonies, the homeless, and those who reside in buildings that do not allow cats, a solution to this pressing and disturbing dilemma is largely out of their control but even they must do whatever they can in order to protect those that are under their care. (See Cat Defender posts of January 5, 2011, March 2, 2012, and August 2, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Gunned Down by an Assassin and Then Mowed Down by a Hit-and-Run Driver, Big Bob Loses a Leg but Survives and Now Is Looking for a Home," "Homeless Man in Washington State Pauses in Order to Take a Snooze and It Ends Up Costing Him His Beloved Cat, Herman," and "Old, Poor, and Sickly, Jeanne Ambler Is Facing Eviction for Feeding a Trio of Hungry Cats.")

There is not any point in arguing that the task is too difficult because if Michael King was able to rough it all the way from Portland to Ventura and then back to Helena with Tabor safe and sound in his backpack surely homeowners are capable of figuring out a way of keeping their cats from winding up underneath the wheels of motorists. (See Cat Defender post of July 5, 2013 entitled "Tabor's Long and Winding Road Leads Her Back Home but Leaves Her with a Broken Heart.")

In Milford, Connecticut, and on the remote Japanese island of Iriomote, Cat Crossing signs have been erected and speed limit restrictions have been instituted in select cities throughout both Deutschland and Angleterre but those efforts have been sabotaged by politicians and the police who have absolutely no interest whatsoever in protecting the lives of cats. Consequently, the onus of doing so falls by default squarely upon the shoulders of their owners and caretakers. (See Cat Defender posts of January 26, 2007 and November 26, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Cat Activists Succeed in Getting Connecticut Town to Erect a Cat Crossing Sign" and "After Surviving on Its Own for at Least Two Million Years, Rare Japanese Wildcat Faces Its Toughest Battle Yet.")

Sadly, Mr. Cheeky Has Climbed His Last Tree

The best solution is to provide them with large, fenced-in yards that have nets strung across the top. Unfortunately, such arrangements normally are either impracticable or too expensive as far as most cat owners are concerned.

One possible compromise would be to equip cats with escape-proof harnesses and then to tether them to long leashes in the garden. If that is not feasible, their guardians need to accompany them on all of their outdoor rambles because, with the notable exceptions of rural areas and quiet, exclusively residential, neighborhoods, it is far too dangerous in most instances to allow them to roam on their own.

Measures of this sort are needed because it is cruel and unfair to keep them locked up indoors all the time. They are not, as birders and wildlife biologists ludicrously contend, second-class citizens of this planet. Furthermore, they never have committed any offenses that would justify such mistreatment.

Secondly, exclusively indoor environments can be harmful to their physical health. (See Cat Defender posts of August 22, 2007 and October 19, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Indoor Cats Are Dying from Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Various Toxins in the Home" and "Smokers Are Killing Their Cats, Dogs, Birds, and Infants by Continuing to Light Up in Their Presence.")

Thirdly, such environments deny them not only access to fresh air but to the extensive exercise that they need. Fourthly, keeping cats locked away deprives them of the society of their fellow felines and as such has a tendency to engender behavioral problems.

Regardless of whatever approach is adopted, the time when cats were capable of holding their own against the machinations of the monster known as man are long past and those individuals, institutions, and groups that contend likewise are liars. (See Cat Defender post of October 9, 2015 entitled "A Lynch Mob Comprised of Dishonest Eggheads from the University of Lincoln Issues Another Scurrilous Broadside Against Cats by Declaring That They Do Not Need Guardians in Order to Safeguard Their Fragile Lives.")

Another myth currently en vogue is that they are low maintenance animals. In reality, however, nothing could be further from the truth.

In addition to their myriad of mortal enemies, they require almost constant attention in order to ward off the onset of both boredom and loneliness and that usually means that they fare best with owners who stay home the vast majority of the time. Under such circumstances, they not only tend to do considerably less roaming but mischief as well to their owners' houses.

As Mr. Cheeky has demonstrated, sterilizing a cat does not always reduce its tendency to roam and that is especially the case if its owners are either away for most of the time or ignore it whenever they actually are at home. As a consequence, busy and selfish individuals who are unwilling to devote considerable time to ensuring that their cats are happy and contented ought to reconsider adopting one and instead get something that they are better suited to handle, such as a pet rock.

In spite of how truly tragic events have turned out for Mr. Cheeky, King is still in denial and that does not bode well for the prospects of either Django or any other cats that she and Wilson plan on adopting in the future. "You've paid a high price for being so independent, friendly and fearless, or perhaps because of your resemblance to A Street Cat Named Bob, but you could never have been an indoor cat," is how that she chose to eulogize him in the January 28th Facebook article cited supra. "It just wasn't in your nature. I'm so glad you got a last taste of freedom, albeit tragically brief."

There is no one so obstinate as those individuals who pigheadedly refuse to learn from their past mistakes but King's turning to religion for solace really takes the cake. "So farewell my brave soldier, the most fearless cat I ever knew," she wrote on January 28th. "God bless you my fur babe, until we meet again."

That is doubly ironic in that the Sunday Assembly which she attends is comprised of nonbelievers. "We want people to come and feel part of a community and have fun -- but we can't promise eternal life," the church's leader, Simon Clare, declared to The Argus of Brighton on August 1, 2013. (See "Atheists Set Up Brighton and Hove's First Godless Church in Waterloo Street.")

Bull sessions devoted to science, philosophy, and psychology have replaced Bible thumping as the brain fodder du jour at the Sunday Assembly but absolutely nothing contained in either of those two extremes ever has produced anything even remotely beneficial for cats like Mr. Cheeky. He is simply stone-cold dead and he is not coming back either tomorrow or in ten-thousand years.

Photos: Facebook (Mr. Cheeky), The Sun (surveillance tape), and the Brighton Journal (Mr. Cheeky up a tree).

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tigger Is Finally Reunited with His Family Despite the Best Efforts of the Administrators of a Microchip Database to Keep Them Apart

Tigger Was Subjected to Years of Turmoil and Uncertainty

"A microchip registration should not be treated as proof of ownership, but rather it is a record of keepership. That is, where a pet animal normally resides and is intended to assist reunification if the pet goes missing."
-- a spokesperson for Petlog

"Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive," Sir Walter Scott observed in his 1808 epic poem, "Marmion," and those sentiments are perhaps nowhere more à propos than when it comes to implanted microchips. As their universality continues to grow, so too do the problems and absurdities associated with them as the preferred method of keeping track of companion animals.

The double-edged nature of these onerous devices was driven home in rather stark fashion to forty-one-year-old Karen Jones and her three children of Drayton Bassett, five kilometers south of Tamouth in Staffordshire, late last July when she, out of the blue, received a letter from the microchip database Petlog requesting a change of ownership for her seven-year-old Bengal, Tigger. To say that the missive left her dumbfounded would be a classic understatement of the first order.

That is because not only had she not put in such a request but, more importantly, the designer cat that she had shelled out £800 for in 2009 had mysteriously disappeared without so much as a trace four years earlier in 2012. At that time, she and her children, Carmen now thirteen, Leon now fifteen, and Sam now nineteen, had searched high and low for him and even resorted to fly-posting the neighborhood with Lost Cat posters but they never were able to find either hide or hair of him. They even notified Petlog and their veterinarian but those efforts likewise failed to bear fruit.

"I couldn't believe it when I discovered Tigger was still alive," Young, who works in the beauty industry, told The Telegraph of London on August 12, 2016. (See "Missing Cat Found after Four Years -- but Family Can't Be Told Who Has It Because of Data Protection Rules.") "It'd be (sic) so long, that I had given up all hope of seeing him again."

Her elation that Tigger was still alive melted quicker than a cone of ice cream on a hot July day however when Petlog, which is supposed to assist owners in reclaiming lost cats, unexpectedly stiffed her. "But when I got in touch with Petlog and told them I was the owner and I wanted to be reunited with my cat, they refused to tell me who had him, due to data protection rules and instead said they'd pass on my details," she disclosed to The Telegraph. "They told me it was up to the people who had him to get in touch with me."

By that she was referring to the Data Protection Act (DPA) of 1998 which Petlog, quite obviously, interprets in an extremely inflexible fashion. That is nothing, however, compared to the novel view that it holds regarding microchips themselves.

"A microchip registration should not be treated as proof of ownership, but rather it is a record of keepership," a spokesperson for the company proclaimed to The Telegraph."That is, where a pet animal normally resides and is intended to assist reunification if the pet goes missing."

Even though circumstances abound whereby someone, usually a close family member, serves as the caretaker of a cat without actually owning it, most individuals nevertheless would be shocked to learn that there exists a legal distinction between keepership and ownership and that microchipping alone is therefore insufficient to establish the latter. Au contraire,  it would appear that if Young had not either received or responded to Petlog's letter that Tigger's current guardians would have been able to legitimize their possession of him by simply putting in a change of ownership in the database.

The entire rationale behind microchipping then would have been turned on its head with Young left out in the cold as the biggest loser. "I had no right to my own cat," she later correctly deduced to the Daily Express of London on August 17th. (See "Cat Finally Reunited with Owners after Four Years Missing and a Data Protection Battle.")

Perhaps most galling of all, Petlog insisted upon referring to Tigger's new guardians as his owners and that really got Young's goat. "I was furious," she exclaimed to The Telegraph.

Although she may have run up against a brick wall in her frustrating dealings with Petlog, she still had the law on her side. Armed with both a receipt of purchase as well as a pedigree certificate, both of which she had wisely retained over the years, she took her case to the Staffordshire Police where she, surprisingly, found receptive ears.

"Via a third party, this individual or individuals have been made aware that the cat in their possession has an owner and they should take appropriate steps to return the cat to its rightful owner," a spokesman for the department told The Telegraph. "We expect this to happen. Failure to do so could result in further action."

The specifics have not been spelled out in media reports but it nevertheless is believed that the undisclosed third party was someone that had contacted Young via social media and she in turn then relayed that information to the police. Regardless of the exact details, Young eventually learned that Tigger was residing in Sutton Coldfield, a suburb of Birmingham located nine kilometers southwest of Drayton Bassett.

Realizing that the game was up, Tigger's guardians belatedly contacted Young and he was returned to her during the second week of August. "The kids were close to tears when I walked in the door with him," she confided to the Daily Express. "Me and my kids were over the moon and were relieved he was okay."

It is far from clear what would have transpired if his interim caretakers had not complied with the warning issued to them. While it is entirely conceivable that the police could have unilaterally procured a warrant and seized him, a more likely scenario is that a protracted and expensive legal tug-of-war would have resulted.

Best of all as things eventually turned out, Tigger apparently had been treated well during his prodigal years and therefore was no worse for the wear in spite of having endured many trials and tribulations. "The people who had Tigger said they purchased him for £200 from a woman who was moving into a high-rise flat," was about all that Young was able to disclose on that subject to the BBC on August 16th. (See "Data Protection Row' Cat Owner Reunited with Pet.")

She nonetheless suspects that he may have been stolen before he was passed on to the family in Sutton Coldfield. For their part, the police apparently found the caretakers' story to be plausible in that no charges were filed against them.

Karen Young Fought Tooth and Nail in Order to Get Tigger Back

Since press reports have not divulged the circumstances surrounding Tigger's disappearance in 2009, it is difficult to evaluate Young's claim that he was stolen. In particular, if he was allowed out-of-doors, almost anyone could have mistakenly picked him up off the street falsely believing that he was homeless.

That happens all the time and although cats are richly entitled to their freedom, allowing them to roam exposes them to a myriad of dangers. It also leaves their owners open to charges, no matter how frivolous, of being unfit caretakers.

That is especially the case if their cats are deemed to be disheveled, injured, or out in traffic. Their rescuers therefore sometimes have valid reservations about returning them. (See Cat Defender posts of July 9, 2007 and June 26, 2012 entitled, respectively, "A Hungry and Disheveled Cat Named Slim Is Picked Up Off the Streets of Ottawa by a Rescuer Who Refuses to Return Him to His Owners" and "A Family in Wiltshire Turns to Social Media and Leaflets in Order to Shame a Veterinary Chain and a Foster Parent into Returning Tazzy.")

All things considered, Young and her children are extremely fortunate to have found Tigger again after so many years. If, on the other hand, his interim caretakers had not requested a change in ownership not only would they never have seen him again but they likewise would not have known whatever became of him. Under such cruel circumstances any measure of closure would have been totally out of the question.

Unlike collars and tattoos, implanted microchips are not visible to the naked eye and therefore the two, or possibly more, guardians that Tigger had between 2012 and 2016 in all likelihood were unaware that he was a lost cat with an owner who desperately wanted him back. That discovery likely was not made until fairly recently and then only during a routine visit to a veterinarian.

None of that explains, however, why neither his last interim caretakers nor the attending veterinarian failed to notify Young. It is a murky area of the law but apparently veterinarians are not under any legal obligation to notify the authorities whenever they treat a cat whose implanted microchip lists its owner as being someone other than its current guardian.

The only remotely similar case in recent memory involved a four-year-old gray and white female named Tabor who was picked up off the streets of Portland in September of 2012 by a homeless man named Michael King. After a nine-month tour of the West Coast, he took her to Helena Veterinary Service in June of the following year for a routine check-up and that is when a microchip was discovered that revealed her legitimate owner to be Ronald A. Buss of Portland.

Without so much as a moment's hesitation, King did what was legally required of him by promptly returning her to Buss. By that time, however, he already had moved on to the next chapter in his turbulent life by acquiring a new traveling partner and that development made Tabor expendable.

It never was disclosed what, if any, action that the surgery would have taken if he had refused to contact Buss and to return his cat. (See Cat Defender post of July 5, 2013 entitled "Tabor's Long and Winding Road Finally Leads Her Back Home but Leaves Her with a Broken Heart.")

In her case Young is, quite understandably, thoroughly disgusted with the entire business of microchips. "Based upon my experience I think microchipping is a scam," she ranted to The Telegraph. "I paid for a service I'm not receiving. It's a mockery and protects criminals."

She is equally fed up with Petlog. "I'm glad the keepers did the right thing and realized how much misery they were causing us all, but it's no thanks to Petlog," she averred to the Daily Express. "The fact still remains that Petlog didn't help me get Tigger back."

The DPA likewise has not escaped her vituperation. "It's up to the integrity and goodwill of people who find your cat to return it," she pointed out to the BBC. "If it falls into the wrong hands, they can hide behind the Data Protection Act."

For its part, Petlog stubbornly insists that the only allegiance that it owes is to the authorities. "In the case of stolen pets...Petlog will work with the police and other relevant authorities, but it is against data protection legislation to provide personal data to third parties," a spokesperson for the firm swore to the BBC.

That admission brings up the still unresolved issue of what, if anything, that it did with the lost cat report that Young filed with it in 2012. At the very least it should have made a notation in its database that Tigger had been reported missing.

If it had done its due diligence, it then would have readily known that something was amiss as soon as his interim caretakers had filed a change of ownership request and under those puzzling circumstances it should have either contacted Young by telephone or the Staffordshire Police. It accordingly seems rather clear that Petlog failed both Tigger and Young in its mission to protect their interests.

Furthermore, if Young was furious at the firm for referring to Tigger's interim caretakers as his "owners," she surely must have hit the ceiling once she learned that it considered her to be a mere third party. Although that in itself is a disturbing commentary upon just how shabbily both cats and their owners are being treated by those individuals and groups who are lining their pockets by peddling Silicon Valley snake oil to the naïve, it is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg as far as the difficulties and dangers that implanted microchips pose to both cats and their owners.

Although this is the first such known incident on record whereby a microchip database company has freely chosen to hide behind privacy law protections in order to thwart the expressed purpose of the devices, it would be rather naïve to believe that Tigger is an isolated case. A large part of the problem in determining the extent of such malfeasance lies in trying to get to the bottom of a rather complicated matter that is little understood outside the microchip industry itself.

Carmen with a Remembrance of Her and Tigger

Owned by The Kennel Club of London, Petlog boasts on its web site that it is the United Kingdom's "largest database for microchipped pets" but since there are at least a dozen known microchip purveyors throughout England it is by no means the only one. By contrast, in the United States there are at least fourteen known manufacturers of microchips with, presumably, their own individual databases. Plus, RFID-USA of Tampa claims to be a national pet microchip registration base.

Complicating matters further, microchips operate on different frequencies and therefore require multiple hand-held scanners in order to be deciphered. The chips themselves also sometimes move around once implanted and therefore are difficult to locate even if the appropriate scanners are available.

The chips additionally have been known to malfunction with disastrous consequences, such as leaving pets marooned in foreign countries. That is an especially frightening possibility considering that the European Union mandated in 2011 that all pets crossing the borders of its member states must be microchipped.

It is almost superfluous to point out but unless guardians keep their contract information up-to-date in the databases it it almost impossible for lost pets to be reunited with them. (See Cat Defender posts of March 31, 2010, July 25, 2014, and August 26, 2015 entitled, respectively, "Winnipeg Family Is Astounded by Tiger Lily's Miraculous Return after Having Been Believed Dead for Fourteen Years," "Poussey Overcomes a Surprise Boat Ride to Dover, a Stint on Death Row, and Being Bandied About Like the Flying Dutchman in Order to Finally Make It Home to La Havre," and "A Myriad of Cruel and Unforgivable Abandonments, a Chinese Puzzle, and Finally the Handing Down and Carrying Out of a Death Sentence Spell the End for Long-Suffering and Peripatetic Tigger.")

That is one reason why that England and Wales impose a £500 fine on all dog owners who not only fail to microchip them but also to keep their contact information current. As of yet, neither jurisdiction requires that cats be chipped but that is the law in both Spain and Belgium.

The biggest impediment in the entire scheme lies, arguably, in the limited availability of scanners in that, as far as it is known, only shelters and veterinarians have access to them. If, on the other hand, they were readily available to the general public it is entirely possible that at least some lost pets would be promptly returned to their legitimate owners.

As things now stand, that does not always happen. Rather, it is often years, and even decades, before lost cats are brought to either a veterinarian or a shelter and their implanted microchips found and read. Regrettably, by that time their owners often have relocated elsewhere and therefore are nowhere to be found. Even worse, some of them no longer want any part of their long-lost cats.

The sale and implantation of microchips also is a thinly-disguised cruel and inhumane money-making racket. In their quest to make as much moola as possible in the shortest amount of time coupled with the least amount of exertion, some veterinarians have been known to carelessly ram home these devices on top of vaccination sites which in turn has led to cats developing cancerous growths.

Others think absolutely nothing at all of implanting them on top of spinal cords. For example, back in 2014 a three-year-old calico named Sassie from Consett in County Durham was left paralyzed as the result of such gross negligence.

Plus, removal of the chip cost the offending party, the Durham County Council, £3,000. (See Cat Defender post of April 28, 2016 entitled "Sassie Is Left Paralyzed as the Result of Yet Still Another Horribly Botched Attempt to Implant a Thoroughly Worthless and Pernicious Microchip Between Her Shoulders.")

In Angleterre, the cost of having a microchip implanted in an animal generally runs between £25 and £30 and as such these procedures constitute a quick and easy way of turning a fast buck. It therefore is not surprising that the RSPCA, Cats Protection, the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals have jumped on the microchipping bandwagon in spite of the dangers associated with these devices.

Not a great deal is reported in the media about what goes on inside shelters but if what happened to a gray and white tom of unspecified age named Cooper last year while he was unjustly incarcerated at the Rowan County Animal Shelter in Salisbury, North Carolina, is indicative of prevailing conditions and procedures elsewhere, the number of grotesquely botched microchipping operations performed annually at these thinly disguised death houses surely must be staggering. (See Cat Defender post of June 23, 2016 entitled "The State of North Carolina's Veterinary Division Is Covering Up a Savage Beating Dished Out to Cooper at the Rowan County Animal Shelter During the Course of a Microchipping Fiasco.")

In addition to the advisability of implanting any foreign object in an animal, there is a growing body of research linking microchips to the development of cancer. (See Cat Defender posts of September 21, 2007 and November 6, 2010 entitled, respectively, "FDA Is Suppressing Research That Shows Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer in Mice, Rats, and Dogs" and "Bulkin Contracts Cancer from an Implanted Microchip and Now It Is Time for Digital Angel® and Merck to Answer for Their Crimes in a Court of Law.")

By far and away, however, the strongest argument against these odious devices is that they offer cats absolutely no protection whatsoever against motorists, other animals, and a multitude of individuals and organizations intent upon doing them harm. (See Cat Defender post of May 25, 2006 entitled "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats.")

Their manufacture, implantation, and recordkeeping also provide the financial and political elites with yet still another golden opportunity to snoop, dominate, and ultimately control the lives of both cats and their owners. Once all of their demerits are taken into consideration the benefits that they offer are negligible to say the least.

Young's roller-coaster ride with Tigger also serves to refocus attention on the myriad of problems associated with owning hybrid cats. Created from the forced breeding of Asian Leopard Cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) with Egyptian Maus, Abyssinians, and other unspecified domesticated breeds, Bengals such as Tigger are four generations removed from their wild ancestors.

Even as such, man's patently cruel and immoral manipulation of their gene pools has not been able to completely eradicate their wild natures. Consequently they, like all hybrids, are high maintenance cats that require a good deal of both attention and space.

Mother and Daughter Finally Have Tigger Back Home Where He Belongs

Not surprisingly, they do not like being cooped up indoors all the time and according have a tendency to run off whenever the least little opportunity presents itself. That, most likely, is how that Young lost custody of him in the first place although thievery also is a distinct possibility.

On a much broader scale, it is difficult to understand how that any hybrid cat ever could be completely contented in a domestic environment. In addition to that, they are prone to genetic abnormalities that often shorten their lives.

Furthermore, many jurisdictions around the world have statutes that outlaw the ownership of them. Most tragic of all, whenever they are able to shake off the shackles of domestication their only reward is often to be shot on sight by either ignorant citizens or trigger-happy cops.

Even if they are able to stay alive under such perilous circumstances, sooner or later they are trapped and wind up spending the remainder of their days in either some hellhole shelter or zoo. (See Cat Defender post of February 20, 2008 entitled "Exotic and Hybrid Cats, Perennial Objects of Exploitation and Abuse, Are Now Being Mutilated, Abandoned, and Stolen.")

Their tendency to run away from home coupled with owners who intentionally abandon them to their own devices has even necessitated the creation of rescue efforts designed to shelter and rehome specific breeds of them. Considering the millions of homeless and unwanted cats that are systematically exterminated en masse each year by shelters and veterinarians, homeless designer cats are the absolute last thing that this world needs.

Just as it would be utterly impossible for any whorehouse to stay in business for very long without a rather substantial client base, sadistic and greedy breeders of these cats rely upon an equally callous public that is willing to shell out big bucks in order to bask in the hubris of being able to show them off to their friends and acquaintances. Therefore, in spite of the cruelties inflicted upon them by both parties, the variety as well as the overall number of designer cats continue to increase.

One of the more popular breeds are Savannahs, which are a cross between African Servals and a variety of domestic cats such as Oriental Shorthairs, Egyptian Maus, Serengettis, Ocicats, Chausies, and Bengals. (See Cat Defender posts of May 19, 2015 and April 19, 2014 entitled, respectively, "Savannahs: More Feline Cruelty Courtesy of the Capitalists and the Bourgeoisie" and "Doomed from Conception to a Lifetime of Naked Exploitation and Destined Never to Fit In Anywhere, Chum Is Gunned Down in Cold Blood on the Violent Streets of Lawless and Uncaring Detroit.")

Asheras, which are a cross between African Servals, Asian Leopard Cats, and a "trade secret" domestic, also are growing in popularity. (See Cat Defender post of February 19, 2008 entitled "Asheras Are the Designer Chats du Jour Despite the Cruelties Inflicted During Their Hybridization.")

Although they are still very much a breed in development, Toygers are supposedly the end product of forcibly breeding Bengals with the offspring of an unidentified cat abducted from streets of Kashmir. (See Cat Defender post of April 13, 2007 entitled "Killing and Torturing Wild and Domestic Cats in Order to Create Toygers Is Not Going to Save Sumatran Tigers.")

In the United States, the breeding of bobcats with domestics in order to create Pixie-Bobs and similar varieties has spawned all sorts of dilemmas. (See Cat Defender posts of June 28, 2007, December 19, 2008, April 26, 2014, and May 29, 2014 entitled, respectively, "Rural Alabama Man Makes a Killing Forcibly Breeding Domestic Cats to Bobcats in Order to Create Pixie-Bobs," "Regardless of Whether He Is a Pixie-Bob or a Bobcat, It Is Going to Be a Blue Christmas for Benny after He Inadvertently Bites Santa Claus," "The Opportunistic Old Hacks Who Run the Show in New Jersey Are All Set to Unjustly Condemn Rocky to a Lifetime Behind Bars for, Basically, Daring to So Much as Breathe," and "The Odds Were All Against Him and His Enemies Were Well-Financed and Unscrupulous but Rocky Nonetheless Prevails in a Stafford Courtroom.")

Trumping all of the cruelties and inequities involved in not only domesticating but in breeding hybrids is the disturbing petit fait that their creation requires the removal of their progenitors from the wild. Although Prionailurus bengalensis still inhabit a large swath of the earth that includes Russia, Korea, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, and parts of Indonesia, that does not necessarily mean that their survival is by any means assured.

For instance, the Chinese, Thais, and Myanmars traffic extensively in their fur, flesh, and body parts. Farmers also shoot them on sight in order to protect the chickens that they in turn slaughter in droves.

Their habitat also is shrinking. For example, on Iriomote in the Yaeyama Islands of the Ryukyu chain, a subspecies of them, Prionailurus bengalensis iriomatensis, is being decimated by both developers and motorists. That is so much the case that perhaps fewer than two-hundred of these critically endangered cats still exist. (See Cat Defender post of November 27, 2006 entitled "After Surviving on Its Own for at Least Two Million Years, Rare Japanese Wildcat Faces Its Toughest Battle Yet.")

The hybridization of Asian Leopard Cats was first reported in 1889 but such unions were not officially confirmed until 1934. It took another thirty ago, however, for Bengals to become a popular breed.

It also is believed that Leopard Cats were the first breed to have been domesticated in China. That reportedly occurred more than five-thousand years ago and long before they were supplanted in domestic circles by the more common Felis sylvestris lybica of African and the Near East.

Regardless of whether their domestication involves either the genuine articles or hybrids, neither process augurs well for their long-term survival in the wild. What the species needs is to be left alone in protected habitats coupled with a ban of all trapping and killing.

As far as Tigger is concerned, he certainly has done remarkably well in order to have persevered throughout all the upheaval that has been thrown at him during his short life. It remains to be determined, however, if Young and her family are capable of holding on to him this time around.

Beyond that, it would be refreshing if they were willing to devote the time, effort, and resources that are necessary in order to make him at least somewhat contented with his unfortunate lot in life. It was not his fault that he was born with a mixed set of genes that have left him suspended midway between two rather different, but equally demanding, worlds.

Photos: The Telegraph (Tigger and Carmen with a picture of him), the BBC (Karen Young), and the Daily Express (the happy reunion).