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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

Friday, May 27, 2016

Snubbed by an Ignorant, Tasteless, and Uncaring Public for the Past Twenty-One Years, Tilly Has Forged an Alternative Existence of Relative Contentment at a Sanctuary in the Black Country

Tilly Has at Least Some Access to the Great Outdoors

"Over the years that we have had Tilly at the sanctuary, she has been passed over by more than thirty-thousand people looking for a cat."
-- Joyce Clarke

There are an infinite number of cat stories that are crying out to be told; in fact, every cat has a story that deserves to be taken down and preserved somewhere just to establish that either he or she had lived and not died in vain. Out of that tremendous number, perhaps no one is more worthy of being remembered and honored while that she is still alive than a twenty-four-year-old tortoiseshell named Tilly.

How, when, and under what circumstances it all began for her are secrets that she likely will take with her to her grave. As far as the remainder of the world is concerned, however, her recorded history began in 1995 when she and the litter of kittens that she had just given birth to were discovered holed up in a coal bunker in a garden.

By that time she already was somewhere between one and three years old and likely had been abandoned sometime before that by her uncaring and unscrupulous owner. She certainly had not been sterilized and that proved to be a stroke of Glück im Unglück in that it meant that her genes had at least some small chance of living on regardless of whatever became of her.

As things fortunately turned out, that coal bunker was not the end of the line for her but rather it marked the beginning of a new and entirely different life. The specifics are unknown, but one way or another she was handed over to Joyce Clarke who operates a sanctuary in the small West Midlands' town of Wednesbury.

The establishment has been identified in various press reports as either the Wednesbury Cat Sanctuary or the West Midlands Animal Welfare Sanctuary but since neither of them has a presence on the web it is assumed, correctly or incorrectly, that it is a private, nameless one that Clarke has operated out of her house for the past thirty years. If, on the other hand, the secrecy is due to fears that the place easily could become overrun with cats dumped by the public, that serves only to underscore how truly lucky Tilly was to have been taken in all those years ago.

All of that is inconsequential when compared to the stunning realization that she is still living there today, twenty-one years later. That, most assuredly, was not how that Clarke had scripted it for things to turn out for Tilly.

She initially was put up for adoption but, if Clarke is being completely truthful, no one ever wanted any part of her. "Over the years that we have had Tilly at the sanctuary, she has been passed over by more than thirty-thousand people looking for a cat," she averred to The Mirror of London on April 4th. (See "Oldest 'Rescue Cat' in United Kingdom May Be Most Rejected after Being Rejected Thirty-Thousand Times by Potential Owners.")

That great a number of snubs is nothing short of astounding in that it means that Tilly has been rejected one-thousand-four-hundred-twenty-eight times each year that she has been with Clarke. That further breaks down to one-hundred-nineteen rejections per week and a staggering seventeen snubs per day.

There also could have been other factors involved and principally among them is the very real possibility that Clarke eventually grew so fond of her that she could not bear the thought of giving her up to another individual. She also could have wisely and compassionately mandated that Tilly not be declawed and that proscription would have disqualified a number of potential adopters from consideration. A lack of access to the great outdoors could have been another sticking point.

Although there is not anything in the public record to even remotely suggest that this was the case with Clarke, some shelters and sanctuaries are doing a real disservice to the cats that they have in their care by ruthlessly running roughshod over not only their lives but those of their potential adopters as well. They are doing so by not only mandating that their cats be sterilized, microchipped, and vaccinated against all sorts of unnecessary and imaginary ailments but that prospective adopters foot the bill for these and other procedures and manipulations.

Tilly Is Anything But Aloof with Joyce Clarke

Still other rescue groups attempt to make as much money as possible off of each cat that they sell back to the public and such ruthless and inhumane trafficking in those that already are down and out and on death row discourages some people from adopting. Besides, it is not universally true that individuals with money make better guardians than do those that are considerably less prosperous.

Perhaps most galling of all, some groups never completely relinquish control of the cats that they adopt out but instead insist upon making surprise visits in order to check on how well they are getting on in their new homes. Although no halfway conscientious rescue group ever wants to see a cat either abused or neglected, the "Big Brother" mentality and tactics that some of them are known to stoop to are seldom effective and oftentimes counterproductive.

As far as Tilly is concerned, Clarke attributes her rejection by the public to her personality. "It was probably her personality that meant nobody ever wanted to adopt her," she added to The Mirror. "She can be a bit stroppy and would occasionally snap at people, but not anymore."

It is difficult to know with any certainty but Tilly's standoffishness and wariness could be attributable to her having been taken away from her mother too early. For example, that was the assessment rendered by Robyn's Nest and All the Rest Animal Rescue of an inadequately socialized six-month-old black kitten named Bilbo Baggins that it took in after he had been dumped at a pet store in the Melbourne suburb of Doncaster on May 12th of last year.

"He doesn't know how to play," Nadia Munday, who for a while served as his foster mother, said of him at that time. "Most kittens are taught how to play by their mother (sic) when they start venturing out of the nest around three weeks of age, and when they are too rough playing the mother cat tells them off. It's almost like he hasn't had any of that." (See Cat Defender post of December 3, 2015 entitled "Bilbo Baggins Does Justice to the Memory of His Esteemable Namesake by Surviving Being Hogtied, Wrapped in Plastic, and Stuffed into a Shopping Bag in Order to Finally Come Out on Top in the End.")

Like Bilbo, Tilly also could have been abused during her early years. If that along with having been prematurely separated from her mother did not contribute to her disdain for humans, life on the rough and tumble streets of the Black Country certainly would have soured her on the world of man.

In the final analysis, however, none of those arguments are really all that persuasive in that the blame for her lengthy confinement at Clarke's sanctuary most assuredly lies, not with her, but rather with the abysmally ignorant, tasteless, and callous public itself. "They (potential adopters) want a cat that will come over for a cuddle and she didn't fit the bill," Clarke confided to The Mirror.

Whereas it is well understood that dog owners care only for animals that will worship at their feet, the conventional wisdom used to be that cat owners were above such shamefully selfish and idiotic thinking and conduct but that apparently is not always the case. If so, there is not much hope that civilization ever will be able to rise above the ugly truths that Euripides spoke of way back in 420 B.C. in his play, "Hippolytus."

The Sanctuary Is the Only Real Home Tilly Has Ever Known

Take for example this rather poignant exchange between the protagonist and one of his attendants:

Attendant: "Dost know, then, the way of the world?"

Hippolytus: "Not I, but wherefore such a question?"

Attendant: "It hates reserve that careth not for all men's love."

Hippolytus: "And rightly too. Reserve in man is ever galling."

Attendant: "But there's charm in courtesy?"

Hippolytus: "The greatest surely, aye, and profit, too, at trifling cost."

If all of that were not distasteful enough in its own right, the same subservient mentality also holds sway not only in the next world but with the blessed immortals as well. For instance:

Attendant: "Dost think the same law holds in heaven as well?"

Hippolytus: "I trow it doth, since all our laws we men from heaven draw." (E.P. Coleridge, translator)

In other words, all the world loves flatterers, fawners, and strokers and that has profound implications for all morality, law, social relations, economics, and politics. All is not lost, however, in that there are some individuals who have proven themselves to be fully capable of rising above such baseness and one of them was Philadelphia writer Agnes Repplier who in her famous essay, "Agrippina," wrote the following:

"Rude and masterful souls resent this fine self-sufficiency in a domestic animal, and require that it shall have no will but theirs, no pleasure that does not emanate from them.

"Yet there are people, less magisterial, perhaps, or less exacting, who believe that true friendship, even with an animal, may be built upon mutual esteem and independence; that to demand gratitude is to be unworthy of it; and that obedience is not essential to agreeable and healthy intercourse. A man who owns a dog is, in every sense of the word, its master: the term expresses accurately their mutual relations. But it is ridiculous when applied to the limited possession of a cat. I am certainly not Agrippina's mistress, and the assumption of authority on my part would be a mere empty dignity, like those swelling titles which afford such innocent delight to the Freemasons of our severe republic."

Théphile Gautier could not have agreed more. "Si vous êtes digne de son affection, un chat deviendra votre ami mais jamais votre esclave," he once astutely pointed out.

The indictment against the supposedly cat-loving English public is by no means confined to those multitudes who, apparently, do not recognize any discernible differences between felines and canines, but rather it also extends to those who harbor ingrained prejudices against those cats that are elderly, frail, and suffer from impaired vision. For example, last summer more than five-hundred of them turned up their crooked noses at a nineteen-year-old female named Pops before she finally was able to secure a new home at the last minute. (See Cat Defender posts of August 6, 2015 and September 12, 2015 entitled, respectively, "Elderly, Frail, and on Death Row, Lovely Pops Desperately Needs a New Home Before Time Finally Runs Out on Her" and "Pops Finally Secures a Permanent Home but Pressing Concerns about Both Her Continued Care and Right to Live Remain Unaddressed.")

For any true lover of the species, a cat's age, appearance, health, disabilities, and personality quirks are totally irrelevant. Furthermore, there arguably is not any more satisfying achievement on this earth than to finally be able to win the love and trust of a wary and standoffish cat, such as Tilly.

Nevertheless, the shabby treatment meted out to both her and Pops is an indication of just how low the cat-owning fraternity has sunk since Francis Scarfe penned the following lines to his poem, "How We Should Regard Cats Like Grizabella:"

"Those who love cats that do not even purr,
Or which are thin and tired and very old,
Bend down to them in the street and stroke their fur
And rub their ears and smooth their breast and hold
Their paws, and gaze into their eyes of gold."

Tilly May Be Old But Her Health Is Rather Good

Even though at first glance it would appear that Tilly has led a sad and tragic life, there are other indications that point in an entirely different direction. That is because in some respects she not only has persevered in what Charles Dickens would have called reduced circumstances but, more importantly, thrived.

In particular, not only has she more than earned her keep by assisting Clarke and her staffers in caring for the other cats at the refuge but she additionally has found meaning and a purpose in life by taking a keen interest in those that are disabled. "She is so good with the other cats in the shelter and has looked after a few of them herself," Clarke declared to The Mirror. "There have been times when we've had paralyzed and blind cats come into our rescue center and Tilly has really taken them under her wing. We kept finding them asleep with Tilly looking after them."

Not a good deal has been revealed about Tilly's life at the sanctuary but other than being recognized as England's oldest rescue cat she lives in the same cottage with Clarke and has plenty of food and water as well as access to veterinary care whenever she needs it. She also has the companionship of Clark and the other forty cats that reside at the sanctuary.

Even though the facility likely is fenced-in, that does not mean that she has spent her entire life cruelly cooped up indoors. "She has lived in the cottage and has got fields and land to hand," Clarke told the Express and Star of Wolverhampton on April 4th. (See "Tilly the Rescued Cat Still Without an Owner after Twenty-One Years.")

Best of all, she is in remarkably good shape. Her weight is good, her eyes are still bright, and her fur is so glossy that hardly anyone encountering her for the first time would be able to correctly guess her age.

"She can be a bit grumpy but she is in good health," Clarke told The Mirror. "She has only really had minor things wrong."

In addition to the superlative care that she has received from Clark, she doubtlessly also has long and robust genes to thank for her longevity. The proof of that lies not only in her but also in one of her kittens that was born in 1995 and is still alive today and living with her and Clarke.

Luck sans doute also has played a key role in her life in that tortoiseshells are believed by many to be endowed with it in spades. "We have got a lot of old cats but Tilly is the oldest of all of them," Clarke added to The Mirror. "We knew that cats can live for a long time and once had a cat that lived to be twenty-three, but never as old as Tilly."

Whereas some establishments, such as Cats With No Name in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, and Tenth Life Sanctuary in Clewiston, Florida, have given sanctuaries a bad name, Clarke's operation appears from all outward considerations to be a credit to the movement. (See Cat Defender posts of May 10, 2010 and May 17, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Lunatic Rulings in Cats With No Name Cruelty Cases Prove Once Again That Pennsylvania Is a Safe Haven for Cat Killers and Junkies" and "Julie Levy and Her Henchmen Ride to the Rescue of Maury Swee's Severely Neglected Cats and Promptly Slaughter at Least One-Hundred-Eighty of Them.")

First and foremost, Clarke refuses to kill off those that are healthy and although that is a good starting point she desperately needs to expand that policy to include the killing of all cats under any circumstances. As things now stand, the only real difference between a healthy cat and an unhealthy one often boils down to monetary and labor considerations and no individual or institution should be afforded that kind of discretion in matters of life and death.

At this rather late stage in Tilly's remarkable life, the sanctuary wisely has given up on getting rid of her. "We're not looking for a home for her now," Clarke vowed to the Express and Star. "It would be too much for her at her age."

Tilly Does Not Have Any Regrets and Is Not Looking Back

Whereas Tilly conceivably might be able to successfully adopt to new surroundings and different people, such a transition would in all likelihood be way too stressful for her. In that light, it is always important to remember that although dogs may belong to people cats belong to places.

Tilly's fate, either for better or worse, was sealed a long time ago and she should be allowed to live out her remaining days with Clarke and her four-footed friends at the sanctuary. Besides, she seems to be happy enough and totally unconcerned about not having a conventional home.

Besides, there really is not any reason why she should lament not having either what she never has known or, if she did, only briefly. She also appears to be every bit as psychologically fit as she is physically and not to have suffered any adverse effects from being rejected by so many potential adopters.

In all likelihood she probably could care less what those thirty-thousand fools felt and said about her. Good riddance! The loss has been all theirs, not hers.

Her plight does, however, bring up the thought-provoking dilemma of what cats actually do need and want out of life and the first part of that equation is considerably easier to address. Specifically, they first of all require protection from their sworn enemies because they are totally incapable of surviving on their own no matter what the University of Lincoln and others argue to the contrary. (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 to Safeguard Their Fragile Lives.")

Beyond that they need shelter, food, water, veterinary care, and the companionship of other cats and at least one human counterpart. They most definitely are not islands unto themselves any more than humans are but exactly how much human interaction they desire depends upon their upbringing and circumstances.

In that sense, they are not really all that different from humans in that they desire to have the best of both the natural and civilized worlds. The wild outdoors can be pleasant when the weather is hospitable, food is readily available, and their surroundings are free of both human and animal predators. A loving home can likewise be appreciated but even it fails to satisfy all of a cat's desires.

Due to circumstances beyond her control, Tilly missed out on having a conventional home but she nevertheless has done all right for herself at Clarke's sanctuary. The arrangement may not be ideal but she at least has bits and pieces of both worlds and, perhaps, that has proven to be enough for her.

The life that she has forged for herself there certainly dwarfs by a country mile any sort of meager existence that she would have had on the street and the proof of that is to be found in her good health and longevity. In the end all that really matters is that she has survived against Herculean odds.

She is a real treasure and it certainly would be well worth both the trouble and expense of visiting the sanctuary just to get a fleeting glimpse of her. It even would be a rare and distinct honor just to have her turn up her dainty nose and hiss before ambling off in an air of marked disdain and insouciance.

Photos: London Metro (Tilly outdoors), The DoDo (Tilly with Clarke and in profile), The Express and Star (Tilly indoors), and The Mirror (Tilly up close).

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Corpses of Eleven Cats Are Found Locked Inside Pet Carriers That Were Dumped Alongside North Carolina Roads but the Authorities Are Unwilling to Go After Their Killer

One of the Dump Sites 

"The animals had been very decomposed which leads you to believe they had been dead for several months."
-- detective Tim Handy of the Madison Police Department

Employees of the Public Works Department (PWD) in tiny Madison Township, fifty-three kilometers north of Greensboro, made an horrific and disturbing discovery when they arrived at work just before 6 a.m. on May 4th. Dumped alongside a service road near Old Covered Bridge Road were six pet carriers which later were determined to contain the remains of seven cats.

Later that same morning at around 11:30 a.m. an unidentified park ranger stumbled upon the bodies of four additional cats trapped inside an unspecified number of carriers a little more than two kilometers south of the first site on U.S. 220 near Janet Road and Phoenix Auto Sales and just outside the Madison city limits in the manufacturing town of Mayodan.  As was the case with the first set of victims, their cages were lined with newspapers and contained several inches of rotting cat food and accumulated feces.

News reports are rather sketchy and somewhat contradictory, but apparently the only differences between the two sites other than the number of victims was that a plastic trash can also was found at the first one whereas at least two feeding dishes were found at the latter one. It accordingly is not known if the cats had been supplied with water because it could have been either previously consumed, evaporated on its own, or spilled during the bandying about of their death chambers.

Since employees of the PWD and the park ranger apparently frequent both locations on a more or less daily basis, it is believed that all of the eleven cats were dumped at their respective locations sometime between 6 p.m. on May 3rd and the following morning. Determining when they were killed is a considerably trickier proposition.

"The animals had been very decomposed which leads you to believe they had been dead for several months," detective Tim Handy of the Madison Police Department (MPD) theorized to WGHP-TV of High Point on May 4th. (See "Crates with Decomposing Cats Inside Found on Sides of Rockingham County Roads.")

While that certainly is a possibility it is by no means conclusive in that the carcasses of cats decompose at varying rates depending upon where and under what conditions they are either maintained or dumped. For instance, corpses that are stored indoors in either freezers, air conditioned rooms, or in unheated areas disintegrate at a rate far slower than those that have been left outdoors and thus exposed to the torrid rays of the sun. The freezing cold likewise acts as a preservative while scavengers and maggots will make quick work of most any dead animal.

A necropsy therefore is the only sure way of determining how long that they had been dead. The newspapers that lined their carriers might possibly however furnish some clues as to the approximate date of their incarceration. That is true even if their publication dates are missing because it is rather easy to match up news stories and advertisements to their counterparts on the web.

Most important of all, a necropsy should be able to determine exactly what killed each of the victims. Whereas kidney failure due to dehydration is a distinct possibility, they apparently did not starve to death. Besides, if their gaoler was thoughtful enough to have provided them with food that individual likely gave them water as well.

A post-mortem most assuredly also would be able to detect the presence of sodium pentobarbital and other lethal drugs in their systems and such a finding would serve to not only orient law enforcement officials in their investigation but it also would narrow down considerably the list of potential suspects. Even if that ultimately proved not to be the case, the law enforcement community would still have numerous forensic tools at its disposal.

First of all, the pet carriers and feeding dishes should have been immediately dusted for fingerprints and vacuumed for microscopic evidence. After making a note of their brand names, manufacturers, and relative ages, they next should have been photographed.

All retailers in the vicinity that sell pet carriers and food dishes should have been contacted next. Considering the large number of carriers used in the commission of these diabolical crimes it is entirely possible that a merchant just might happen to recall making either a single sale of that quantity or a series of smaller ones to a particular individual or organization.

The Other Dump Site 

Secondly, the food found in each carrier should have been analyzed in a laboratory in order to have determined both the brand and its age. In order to follow through on that thread, investigators would have needed to expand their dragnet from pet stores to supermarkets, drug stores, and other retailers that sell cat food.

Even the feces as well as the urine that had collected in the newsprint needed to have been scrutinized in a laboratory for clues. If the cats were either beaten, tortured, or used as guinea pigs the telltale signs of such abuse likely still would be detectable in their bones, skin, and fur.

Both locations where the cats were found should have been cordoned off and treated as crime scenes. Molds and photographs should have been taken of any and all footprints and tire tracks.

The police additionally should have canvassed door-to-door all residential dwellings and businesses located anywhere near both crime scenes. That is a real long shot but it is always conceivable that someone may have either seen or heard something suspicious during the evening hours of May 3rd.

Piecing together a profile of either the individual or group evil enough in order to have committed such dastardly acts is an equally demanding task. Nevertheless, several issues are not in dispute and the authorities actually have quite a bit of data to work with if only they could be prevailed upon to act.

First of all, the perpetrator had access to a rather large number of cats and considering that the population of Rockingham County is only ninety-three-thousand-six-hundred-forty-three, it would not seem likely that the area is overrun with an inordinate number of them. Secondly, since pet carriers are not cheap, the culprit is quite obviously either an individual or a group with disposable income.

Thirdly, the fact that carriers, as opposed to large, heavy cages, were used is a rather strong indication that the guilty party regularly moves around cats. Fourthly, considering the large number of carriers employed, either a truck or a van likely was used in the commission of the crimes. Whereas it is theoretically possible that the carriers could have been crammed into a station wagon, that is unlikely owing to both the smell associated with the decaying bodies and the porous nature of the contraptions.

Fifthly, the selection of such conspicuous dumping sites is an indication that the culprit was in a hurry to have gotten rid of the cats and was not particularly concerned that they would be found so quickly. Otherwise, it would have been much easier and safer for the killer to have placed the cats' corpses in black trash bags and then either burned or deposited them in Dumpsters and no one likely ever would have been any the wiser. That individual then could have either held on to or disposed of the carriers and food dishes in any number of ways.

Sixthly, the selection of the service road as a dumping site would tend on the one hand to indicate that the perpetrator is either a local resident or at least someone who is familiar with the area. On the other hand, that individual merely could have accidentally stumbled upon both locations.

Seventhly, even though the dumping of the cats in such a public manner suggests that the killer was imbued with a certain amount of arrogance and hubris, these horrific crimes do not appear to have been the handiwork or someone who was deliberately flaunting either his or her devilry as was the case a few years back in British Columbia. (See Cat Defender post of April 13, 2012 entitled "Serial Killer Who Freezes the Corpses of Cats and Dogs in Blocks of Ice and Then Exhibits Them on His Neighbors' Lawns Is on the Loose in Dawson Creek.")

Eighthly, unless the perpetrator belongs to an organization that has unlimited access to additional pet carriers, it would appear that either he or she is, at least for the time being, getting out of the business of trafficking and killing cats. Absolutely nothing can be taken for granted, however, and that is another poignant reason why it is so vital and the authorities monitor the sale of carriers and cages very closely until this case is solved. It is, after all, entirely conceivable that the killer simply was too lazy and nauseated to have cleaned the carriers and accordingly plans on purchasing replacements and continuing to kill cats.

Au premier coup d'oeil, this would appear to be the work of a hoarder but the perpetrator's modus operandi does not exactly fit that mold. First of all, the number of cats involved is far too small unless, that is, the culprit has killed and dumped additional victims elsewhere and that is a possibility that the authorities should not ignore.

One of the Feeding Dishes

Secondly, anyone with the financial means to have purchased that many pet carriers likely also would have been able to have had at least some of the cats sterilized. Thirdly and most telling of all, eleven cats are not either all that difficult or expensive to house and feed. For instance, numerous individuals are able to take care of twice that many of them and with relative ease.

Regrettably, even some practitioners of TNR have been known to abdicate their solemn responsibilities to their charges by either removing them from their colonies and subsequently imprisoning them in carriers in their houses or, even worse, handing them over to veterinarians to kill. For that reason, the authorities cannot completely rule out such individuals and groups from their inquiry. (See Cat Defender post of December 22, 2011 entitled "Rogue TNR Practitioner and Three Unscrupulous Veterinarians Kill at Least Sixty-Two Cats with the Complicity of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals.")

Although it is freely acknowledged that there simply are not enough facts to go on in order to reach any firm conclusions, it nevertheless could have been the case that these eleven cats were the victims of institutionalized violence. Accordingly, research laboratories, veterinarians, pet stores, groomers, and wildlife rehabilitation centers and zoos that nakedly exploit cats as surrogate mothers should be considered as prime suspects.

Animal Control officers, who even under the best of circumstances operate largely above the law, also have the vehicles, pet carriers, lethal means, expertise, and independence in order to commit such dastardly crimes. Much like letter carriers who dump rather than deliver the mail, it would be so easy for them to do likewise with the cats that they either trap or those that are surrendered to them by their uncaring owners.

For example in August of 2006, Michelle A. Mulverhill walked away from her job in Oxford, Massachusetts, and that led to horrific consequences for the animals under her care and control. (See Cat Defender post of August 31, 2006 entitled "An Animal Control Officer Goes on a Drunken Binge and Leaves Four Cats and a Dog to Die of Thirst, Hunger, and Heat at a Massachusetts Shelter.")

Even the operators of cat sanctuaries have been known to hideously neglect their responsibilities and that is precisely what Virginia Kresge Justiniano and Andy J. Oxenrider of Cats with No Name in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, did back in 2009. Even more outrageously, they got away scot-free with the commission of their gargantuan crimes. (See Cat Defender post of May 10, 2010 entitled "Lunatic Rulings in Cats With No Name Cruelty Cases Prove Once Again That Pennsylvania Is a Safe Haven for Cat Killers and Junkies.")

Since they already possess licenses to kill, municipal shelters have little incentive to dump cats. Besides, most of them are subject to at least some minimal level of governmental oversight.

It is an entirely different matter for those organizations that operate private shelters and that, quite naturally, brings this analysis full circle to the criminal conduct perennially engaged in by slimy and despicable PETA. Not only does it have a long history of killing and illegally dumping cats and dogs but its death house in Norfolk is only three-hundred-eighty-one kilometers east of Madison. Plus, it deploys a fleet of death vans that operate throughout all of Virginia and parts of northern North Carolina in search of cats and dogs to steal and kill.

Quite often municipal shelters hand over large numbers of animals to the representatives of this criminal organization and they in turn kill them in their vans before dumping their corpses. For instance, in less than a thirty-day period back in 2005 two of its employees killed and dumped the corpses of seventeen cats and eighty-two dogs in a Dumpster at a Piggly Wiggly Supermarket in Ahoskie, three-hundred-eighty kilometers east of Madison in Hertford County.

The Tar Heel State's utterly disgraceful judicial system would not countenance holding these mass murderers accountable under the anti-cruelty statutes and as a result both the duo as well as PETA walked away scot-free. (See Cat Defender posts of January 29, 2007 and February 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in a North Carolina Courtroom" and "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs," plus The News and Observer of Raleigh, April 15, 2008, "PETA Workers Cleared of Animal Cruelty (sic) Convictions.")

The clean bill of health given the organization has left it free to continue to steal and kill with impunity and it certainly has not been the least bit shy about availing itself of the golden opportunity given it by the courts. (See Cat Defender post of October 7, 2011 entitled "PETA Traps and Kills a Cat and Then Shamelessly Goes Online in Order to Brag about Its Criminal and Foul Deed" and The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, December 1, 2014, "Man Says PETA Took His Dog from Porch, Killed Her.")

Another Feeding Dish

It is important to point out, however, that at this juncture there is not so much as a shred of evidence to link PETA to the killing of the eleven cats in Madison. Nevertheless, based upon its past conduct, the location of the crimes, and the modus operandi of the perpetrator, it cannot be completely excluded from the list of suspects.

More to the point, all institutions, shelters, rescue groups, and individuals that traffic in cats must, at least theoretically, be regarded as suspects. The authorities first should concentrate their investigation within a fifty-mile radius of Madison but if that should fail to produce results the search should be widened to include at least another one-hundred miles. Although it seems unlikely, it is remotely possible that the cats were killed elsewhere and subsequently dumped in Madison by either someone or group from outside the area.

The investigation is being handled by the MPD and the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office (RCSO) in Reidsville but it has not been disclosed what, if any, forensic tests have been performed or if any suspects have been questioned. If previous cases of this sort are any barometer, neither organization has stirred so much as a muscle in order to bring either the guilty party or parties to justice.

For its part, the RCSO has been acting as if it is totally unaware that a crime in fact has been committed. "Reach out to us," sergeant Kevin Sutland implored in the WGHP-TV article cited supra. "Let us help the animals. Let us try to find them new forever homes."

Unless that quote has been taken out of context, he apparently does not even know the difference between acts of abominable animal cruelty, which are patently illegal, and the perennial difficulties associated with finding guardians for homeless cats. Besides, mindless jawboning is not going to crack this case.

Every bit as disgraceful, the local media have dropped the story like a hot potato and that in turn has made it possible for the authorities to leisurely sit back on their fat cracks and do absolutely nothing. Local humane groups and individual cat lovers also appear to be permanently out to lunch.

The one group that has ventured to shove in an oar has been the thoroughly discredited Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and its willingness to help can only be described as a case of subtraction by addition. That is because its assistance has been limited to offering a minuscule and totally irrelevant $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer.

"Leaving these cats for dead inside their kennels and carelessly tossing them out is heartbreakingly cruel and also a serious crime," the organization's Erica Geppi blew long and hard in a press release dated May 5th. (See "Reward Offered in Rockingham County, North Carolina, Cat Cruelty Case.") "We hope our reward helps find the person or persons who committed this despicable act (sic)."

As it is the case with Sutland's gruntings, hope does not contribute a blessed thing toward solving animal cruelty cases. In order to accomplish that Herculean task, the best forensic science available, dedication, and steadfastness are needed but, regrettably, all of those components are in exceedingly short supply in Rockingham County.

More to the point, the HSUS is only offering the reward because it is absolutely certain that it never will be called upon to make good on its pledge. If it were even halfway serious about bringing the perpetrator to justice it would dispense with its empty rhetoric and acts of beau geste and instead promptly dispatch a team of trained investigators to Madison in order to beat the bushes.

It would be great fun, however, to see some intrepid individual even so much as attempt to collect from the organization. That is because it is a foregone conclusion that Wayne Pacelle and his minions would hem and haw until the cows came home before finally filling their silk drawers if they ultimately were forced to part with so much as a lousy penny, let alone five-thousand smackers, from their precious hoard. Why, just the exertion involved in cutting the check would tax these good-for-nothing, bone-lazy misers, who make Jack Benny look like a spendthrift, beyond the limit!

Furthermore, the organization's intransigence, duplicity, grandstanding, and mendaciousness are not anything new. For example, after pledging to defend the cats on San Nicolas it turned around and sold them down the river to their sworn enemies. (See Cat Defender posts of June 27, 2008, July 10, 2008, April 28, 2009, November 20, 2009, and February 24, 2012 entitled, respectively, "United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navy Hatch a Diabolical Plan to Gun Down Two-Hundred Cats on San Nicolas Island," "The Ventura County Star Races to the Defense of the Cat-Killers on San Nicolas Island," "Quislings at the Humane Society Sell Out San Nicolas's Cats to the Assassins at the Diabolical United States Fish and Wildlife Service," "Memo to the Humane Society: Tell the World Exactly How Many Cats You and Your Honeys at the USFWS Have Murdered on San Nicolas Island," and "United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Humane Society Hoist a Glass in Celebration of the Extermination of the Cats on San Nicolas Island.")

Along about that same time it joined forces with its bosom buddies at PETA in an attempt to have the survivors of Michael Vick's notorious dogfighting ring killed. Fortunately, it was thwarted in its evil designs on that occasion by Judge Henry E. Hudson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond and the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, both of whom rallied to the long-suffering and horribly abused canines' defense.

Even Though She Was In Bad Shape the Colchester Cat Deserved to Live

Neither the dumping of cats in pet carriers along the sides of thoroughfares nor the rot that so infests the animal protection movement are by any means confined to this side of the Atlantic. Au contraire, both odious practices extend to England and its animal welfare groups.

For instance, along about the beginning of July of last year a forever nameless gray and white female of undermined age was beaten about the face with some type of blunt object before being locked up in a blue pet carrier and then dumped in a pile of rubbish on Easthorpe Road in Colchester, eighty-two kilometers northeast of London in Essex. She remained there battered and bruised, pestered by the insects and elements, and without food and water for two to three weeks until finally her desperate plight was discovered by an unidentified motorist who had stopped in order to take some photographs.

"She was emaciated beyond belief and looked as if she had been hit around the face before being thrown out of the window. She was crawling with maggots," Samantha Garvey of the RSPCA, which came and collected her, later revealed. "I could barely believe this cat was still alive she was in such a terrible state. I can honestly say it was one of the most heartwrenching sights I have ever seen."

Acting in full accordance with its warped business model, the RSPCA quickly made sure that she did not remain in that condition for much longer. "Sadly, there was nothing which could be done to save this poor cat, she was in such a bad state," Garvey continued. "We took her straight to a vet who said she had to be put to sleep to prevent further suffering."

C'est-à-dire, the RSPCA did not even attempt to save her when she unquestionably deserved to have been afforded every opportunity in the world to have gone on living and that is especially the case considering the way that she had been treated. Moreover, the mere fact that she still had enough strength left in her to meow for help is a rather strong indication that she wanted to live.

Unlike the cats dumped in Madison, she was still wearing a pink collar with three bells on it and that is a pretty good indication that she, at least at one time, had had an owner who cared about her. Lamentably, no one ever came forward in order to claim her remains and it is extremely doubtful that the RSPCA even bothered to so much as open an investigation into her horrific murder. (See Cat Defender post of August 31, 2015 entitled "Beaten and Entombed Above Ground for Several Weeks, a Forever Nameless Cat from Colchester Is Finished Off by the RSPCA Which Refuses to Even Investigate Her Death.")

Contrary to what an awful lot of individuals earnestly believe, the lives of cats are not any less precious than those of their human counterparts and as such they are deserving of the same protections of the law. In fact, a good argument could be made that due to their vulnerabilities they are entitled to even more stringent protections. In reality, however, their lives count for next to nothing with both the law enforcement community and those phony-baloney charities that are sworn to protect them.

As a consequence, no matter how heinous the crimes, numerous the victims, or prolonged the suffering, neither the police nor rescue groups can be prevailed upon to take cruelty to cats seriously. Even on those exceedingly rare occasions when arrests are made, successful prosecutions are launched, and jurors convict, meathead judges cavalierly brush aside the law and allow the killers and abusers to escape with suspended sentences, probation, and court costs. It therefore is almost unheard of for cat killers to be sent to jail.

The life of the Colchester cat did not matter one whit to the RSPCA and so far both the MPD and the RCSO have demonstrated the same callous indifference to the fate of the eleven cats killed in and around Madison. The warped thinking and do-nothing attitude of the authorities on both sides of the pond brings to mind the following description of the greedy capitalist Medbourne, the wastrel Colonel Killigrew, the crooked politician Gascoigne, and the scandal-plagued widow Wycherley that Nathaniel Hawthorne introduced to the world in his famous 1837 short-story, "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment:"

"With palsied hands, they raised the glasses to their lips. The liquor, if it really possessed such virtues as Dr. Heidegger imputed to it, could not have been bestowed upon four human beings who needed it more woefully. They looked as if they had never known what youth or pleasure was, but had been the offspring of Nature's dotage, and always the gray, decrepit, sapless, miserable creatures, who now sat stooping around the doctor's table, without life enough in their souls or bodies to be animated even by the prospect of growing young again."

The only real difference between Dr. Heidegger's research subjects and those individuals and groups charged with enforcing the anti-cruelty statutes is that the latter aggregate does not suffer from a lack of youthful vigor but rather from something that is far more sinister. Specifically, none of them recognize any substantial difference between right and wrong and for that reason they are completely lacking in all justice, compassion, honesty, and integrity. Tant pis, their intransigence serves not only as an official endorsement of cruelty to cats but also as a green light for yet still additional individuals and groups to take up arms against the species.

Photos: Madison Police Department (pet carriers and food bowls) and the Herts and Essex Observer of Bishop's Stortford (Colchester cat).

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A London Hospital Waives Its Draconian Anti-Cat Rules and Grants the Final Wish of a Cancer Victim by Allowing Her to See Her Beloved Patch One Last Time

Patch and Gladys Wray

"It was a beautiful moment. I put her hand on Patch to stroke him and everyone in the room heard her breathing change. She knew he was there."
-- David Wray

Regardless of either the circumstances or the foe, facing the final curtain is never easy. "I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine," Joe Conrad observed in Heart of Darkness. "It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with noting underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamor, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid skepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary."

Some of those irrepressible and gloomy thoughts no doubt coursed through the mind of Gladys Wray as she reclined in her bed at Queen's Hospital in Romford in the London borough of Havering earlier this year. The sixty-six-year-old resident of Haydon Road in the East London community of Dagenham was fighting a losing battle against lung cancer and fast approaching the end of her earthly journey.

In addition to the all-consuming struggle to stave off lapsing into oblivion, there are always the inevitable regrets and troubling reminders of all the things that have been left undone that bedevil the soul in its final hours. So, too, was it the case with Gladys.

In particular and while there was still time and energy remaining, she had one final wish and that was to see her beloved brown and white cat, Patch, one last time. She originally had hoped to get well enough in order to have returned home but when her condition suddenly deteriorated that became an impossibility.

Since cats are verboten at Queen's Hospital, that necessitated the dramatic, last-minute intervention of Mandarin A Ward clerk Leigh Kaniklides and palliative care occupational therapist Ursula Abbott who cleared away the red tape in order for Patch to visit Gladys.

"When I heard the family talking about her last wish to see her cat I couldn't stop thinking about it," Kaniklides told Your Cat Magazine of Grantham in Lincolnshire on April 12th. (See "Cat Brought to Hospital to Say Final Goodbye to Owner.") "I have cats and I know I'd want to see them."

By the time that the arrangements had been finalized the Grim Reaper already had his icy hands clinched tightly around Gladys' throat but it nonetheless is strongly believed that she still possessed enough presence of mind in order to have sensed Patch's presence. "It was a beautiful moment," her sixty-five-year-old husband, David, told Your Cat. "I put her hand on Patch to stroke him and everyone in the room heard her breathing change. She knew he was there."

With her last earthly wish now fulfilled she, sadly, died about an hour later. It has not been disclosed how Patch and her other animals are coping with the loss of their mistress but it is indisputable that she dearly cared about cats and that this world is a far poorer place with one fewer fan of the species in it.

"She loved animals -- we have another cat, Honey, and a dog, Roxy -- but cats were her favorite. She adored them," David continued. "It was a big surprise that we could take him to see her. Everyone on the ward was fantastic."

Press reports have not delved into why it is that cats are personae non gratae at Queen's Hospital, which is an integral part of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals and as such is underneath the thumb of the National Health Service (NHS) Trust. Nevertheless, by adhering to such an outlandishly outmoded policy the institution is bucking a growing worldwide trend in health care that long ago recognized the therapeutic value of cats.

Specifically, cats nowadays makes regular visits to hospitals and many of them have found permanent homes at nursing facilities. Most prominently among the latter group is an eleven-year-old gray and white tom named Oscar who along with five of his mates resides at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

That in and of itself is not any mean achievement but Oscar is better known for his uncanny ability to predict death. (See Cat Defender posts of July 30, 2007 and May 27, 2010 entitled, respectively, "A Visit from Oscar Means That the Grim Reaper Cannot Be Far Behind for the Terminally Ill at a Rhode Island Nursing Home" and "When Lovers, Friends, and All Hope Have Vanished, Oscar Is There for Those Who Have No One and Nothing Left," plus David Dosa's 2009 tome, "Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat.")

Miss Kitty, a skinny calico who along with thirteen of her mates resides at the Phoebe Health Care Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, is another member of that select fraternity. She is loved and appreciated so much in fact that staffers, residents, and volunteers held a party for her when she turned twenty-one on April 11, 2013.

"When we put the cat in their (inmates') lap (sic), that's when the magic happens," staffer Pam Kleckner told The Morning Call of Allentown on April 11, 2013. (See "In Allentown, a Senior Cat Gets the Royal Birthday Treatment.") "She responds well to all the attention, and they feel like they're caring for something."

Miss Kitty on Her Twenty-First Birthday Back in 2013

Nurse Gina Shupp wholeheartedly endorsed those sentiments. "The residents love her and the families do, too," she told The Morning Call. "They look for her, and when she's not on the counter they say, 'Where is she?'"

Even more impressive, the nursing home sometimes allows residents to bring along their cats with them and that is how Miss Kitty wound up there all those years ago. Specifically, she accompanied Kleckner's father, Fred Navatier, when he relocated from his home in Lehighton, forty-five kilometers north of Allentown. "He spoiled her and she's spoiled here," Kleckner summed up to The Morning Call.

There also is a growing body of evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, that recognizes a discernible link between human health and the companionship of cats. For instance, fifty-four-year-old cancer victim Sylvia Manning of Billericay in Essex was left distraught when her cat, Bear, mysteriously disappeared in 2013 while she was in the hospital receiving treatment.

Although there never will be any way of knowing for sure, it is conceivable that if he had been allowed to have accompanied her he not only would not have disappeared but that her treatment and recovery could have been expedited. (See Cat Defender post of April 24, 2013 entitled "A Cancer Victim in Billericay Issues an Urgent Appeal for the Prompt Return of Her Beloved Cat, Bear.")

Other cats, such as Tiger, Sumo, and Fidge, have saved their owners' lives by alerting them to cancers. (See Cat Defender posts of April 11, 2009, March 27, 2010, and April 20, 2012 entitled, respectively, "Tiger Saves His Owner's Life by Alerting Him to a Cancerous Growth on His Left Lung," "Taken In Off the Street by a Compassionate Woman, Sumo Returns the Favor by Alerting Her to a Cancerous Growth on Her Bosom," and "Grateful for Being Provided with a Loving Home, Fidge in Turn Saves His Mistress's Life by Alerting Her to a Malignant Growth on Her Breast.")

Furthermore, the health benefits to be derived from keeping cats are by no means limited to their uncanny ability to detect cancers. For example, they also are known to be able to anticipate both diabetic seizures and emphysema attacks. (See Cat Defender posts of May 18, 2009, April 21, 2012, and April 18, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Elijah Teaches Himself to Detect Low Blood Sugar Levels in His Guardians and Others," "Adopted from a Shelter only Hours Previously, Pudding Saves His Rescuer's Life by Awakening Her from a Diabetic Seizure," and "Blackie Stays Up Nights Monitoring His Guardian's Breathing for Emphysema Attacks.")

In some cases, a cat's love even has been known to transcend both death and the grave. (See Cat Defender posts of July 27, 2013 and March 28, 2013 entitled, respectively, "Instead of Killing Her Off with a Jab of Sodium Pentobarbital and Then Burning Her Corpse, Ian Remains Steadfast at His Guardian's Side Long after Her Death" and "Even the Finality of the Grave Fails to Diminish Toldo's Abiding Love and Devotion to His Long Dead Guardian.")

Far from being a one-way street, individuals such as Rachel Honeycutt and Jennifer Foster love cats so much that they are willing to risk their lives in order to save even those that are perfect strangers. (See Cat Defender posts of August 10, 2009 and December 4, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Georgia Woman Is Struck and Nearly Killed by a Motorist while Attempting to Rescue Kittens Dumped in the Middle of a Busy Highway" and "Grieving Widow Risks Her Life in Order to Save Cosmo from the Jaws of a Hungry Coyote in Thousand Oaks.")

Others, such as Janice L. Rolfe of Grandview Heights, have been arrested for feeding hungry cats while still others, such as Hannelore Schmedes of Mahlum in Bockenem in Niedersachsen and Mamoru Demizu of Osaki, have gone to jail for stealing in order to feed both their own resident felines as well as those that are homeless. (See Cat Defender posts of February 26, 2007 and February 12, 2011 entitled, respectively, "Charged with Feeding a Feral Cat Named Fluffy, Retired Ohio Schoolteacher Beats the Rap" and "Disabled Former Casino Worker Is Sent to Jail for Shoplifting in Order to Feed Her Twelve Cats," plus the Hessische-Niedersächsische Allgemeine of Kassel, December 12, 2013, "Japaner wird aus Liebe zu Katzen kriminell.")

Tales of individuals who have been threatened with eviction from their apartments for feeding homeless cats are, likewise, almost endless. (See Cat Defender post of August 2, 2010 entitled "Old, Poor, and Sickly, Jeanne Ambler Is Facing Eviction for Feeding a Trio of Hungry Cats.")

John Beck was even fired from his job at ailurophobic Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, for demonstrating compassion for cats. (See Cat Defender post of June 14, 2006 entitled "Kindhearted Dairyman, Sacked for Feeding Feral Cats, Files $20 Million Lawsuit Against Cornell University" and the Cortland Standard, February 22, 2007, "Groton Man Appeals Dismissal of His Lawsuit Against Cornell University.")

In an even more recent case that really takes the cake, forty-nine-year-old Chris Muth of Carroll Gardens not only lost his job, apartment, and girlfriend but also was locked up in a mental hospital for attempting to rescue a cat in distress. (See Cat Defender post of August 4, 2008 entitled "Brooklyn Man Gets Locked Up in a Nuthouse and Then Loses Digs, Job, and Honey All for Attempting to Save His Friend's Cat, Rumi.")

In rare cases, individuals have been known to kill themselves after they have lost the companionship of their cats. That is exactly what Alan Jordan of Tredworth in Gloucester did after his unidentified cat disappeared. Tragically, his sacrifice turned out to have been in vain in that the cat returned home a fortnight later. (See Cat Defender post of January 2, 2012 entitled "With No Reason Left to Go on Living, Tredworth Resident Takes His Own Life after His Beloved Cat Disappears.")

Shortly thereafter, forty-four-year-old Michael McAleese of Poole in Dorset did likewise after his cat, Sophie, died. (See Cat Defender post of June 12, 2012 entitled "Sophie's Sudden Death Proves to Be Too Much of a Burden for a Bachelor in Poole to Bear So He Elects to Join Her in the Great Void.")

The Happy Threesome: Spider and Lugosi with Barbarella Buchner  

There additionally is a growing trend whereby some individuals are eschewing settling down with their own kind and instead are marrying their cats. That is what thirty-nine-year-old Uwe Mitzscherlich of Bannewitz, twelve kilometers south of Dresden in Sachsen, and his fifteen-year-old black and white resident feline, Cecilia, did in early 2010. Famed Schauspielerin Christin-Maria Lohri officiated.

"Es klingt verrück, aber will meine Cecilia heiraten," he declared on that momentous occasion. (See Cat Defender post of May 20, 2010 entitled "A Simple Ceremony in a Garden Outside of Dresden Joins Forever an Unlikely, Albeit Devoted, Pair of Lovers.")

Long before that on January 9, 2005, transplanted Londoner Barbarella Buchner married her two cats, Spider and Lugosi, through the web site, www.maryyourpets.com. They now reside on the Canary Island of Lanzarote.

"My two cats are my soul mates. They're the loves of my life," she declared to The Mirror of London on January 6, 2015. (See "Barbarella Buchner: Woman Celebrates Ten-Year (sic) Anniversary after Marrying Her Two Pet Cats.") "I have no regrets, and I don't care what people say."

Before marrying Spider and Lugosi, the forty-nine-year-old web designer had several long-term relationship with members of the opposite sex but she never wanted to walk down the aisle with any of them. Finally, she gave up on men altogether.

"I never really wanted to get married to any of my human partners and I didn't know if I had it in me to be a wife," she explained to The Mirror. "If a man ever approaches me, I just tell them (sic) straight off, 'Sorry, I'm married to my cats'."

Not only has her relationship with her cats endured longer than any of her liaisons with men, but she also finds it more fulfilling. "I have loved and lived with a couple of partners before but realized that my love for my fur babies is so much deeper than anything I have felt for a human," she freely confessed to The Mirror.

As far as Spider and Lugosi are concerned, they are indeed fortunate to have Buchner to look after them and that is especially the case considering how abysmally homeless cats are treated on the Spanish-ruled island in the north Atlantic. For example, back in March officials from Yaiza stole at least nine feeding stations, and presumably shelters as well, from the grounds of the Playa Blanca Hotel in allegedly an attempt to spruce up the area in preparation for a visit by David Cameron and his family.

That cruel behavior left at least a dozen or two of the one-hundred-thirty cats cared for by Freddy's Cathouse without food and water. (See The Mirror of London, March 28, 2016, "Stray Cats Evicted from David Cameron's Five-Star Lanzarote Hotel Before Prime Minister's Visit.")

It therefore does not take much imagination to conclude that there is a whole other world out there and that as a consequence human happiness and fulfillment, as Barbarella, Uwe, and others have demonstrated, are not necessarily dependent upon the companionship of one's own kind. Such arrangements are not for everyone but they do provide an alternative to both loneliness and bad relationships.

In conclusion, considering the central role that cats now occupy in the lives of so many individuals it is time that institutions such as Queen's Hospital welcomed their presence and treated them in much the same fashion as they do family members and close friends of their patients. Such a change can only serve to boost morale and to speed recovery times.

Moreover, in the case of the terminally ill, such as Gladys, to deny them the opportunity to see their cats one last time can only be labeled as insensitive and cruel. Kaniklides and Abbott have pointed the way forward for Queen's Hospital and the NHS and now it is time for the high-muck-a-mucks to take the next step and put out the welcome mat to all cats.

As for Patch, Honey, Roxy, and David, these surely must be difficult days. They nevertheless have each other and their fond recollections of Gladys and those two positives, hopefully, will be sufficient in order to sustain them until the pain associated with their terrible loss slowly begins to recede into the past.

In that light, it is just too bad that neither Jordan nor McAleese had other cats to love and care for, otherwise they likely would have been able to have found ample reason to have persevered. They also could have adopted other cats and with there being so many of them in dire need of loving owners, that makes their precipitate behavior doubly tragic.

The truly beautiful thing about cats is that they are not particular and therefore will love almost anyone so long as they are not mistreated. Finding another woman in order to replace a departed spouse is not nearly quite as easy and for that reason David may be forced, at least for a while, into relying upon the companionship of Patch, Honey, and Roxy for his continued happiness.

Photos: the Yellow Advertiser of Essex (Patch and Gladys), April Bartholomew of The Morning Call (Miss Kitty), and The Mirror and News Dog Media (Spider, Lugosi, and Buchner).

Thursday, April 28, 2016

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

Eight Stitches Were Required to Patch Up Sassie's Injured Neck

"The girl doing the chipping seemed not to have a clue what she was doing. She made two attempts to chip Sassie."
-- Kristina Hogan

Much like an habitual drunkard who cannot stay off the bottle, modern man is seemingly unable to say no to technology. A rather poignant example of that herd mentality is to be found in the public's mindless acceptance of implanted microchips as the preferred method of keeping track of their cats and dogs.

The masses are not totally to blame, however, in that just about all the major animal rescue groups in England, such as Cats Protection in Haywards Heath, Sussex, the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in south London, the RSPCA, and the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals in Telford, Shropshire, have been busily ramming these pernicious devices down their gullets for years. They have been aided and abetted in their devilry by the totalitarians who call the shots in the European Union who in 2011 mandated that all cats and dogs traveling between its member states be fitted with these odious devices.

More recently on April 6th, a new law went into effect across England and Wales that requires all dogs to be chipped. Violators as well as those who fail to keep their contact information current are subject to a £500 fine.

As if all of that were not bad enough, the cat killers at the garishly misnomered Cats Protection and their confederates at other English charities are now agitating for that egregious requirement to be applied to cats as well, as it currently is the case in both Spain and Belgium. Mercifully, the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs so far has wisely decided against doing their bidding. (See The Telegraph of London, April 5, 2016, "Cat Microchipping Should Be Compulsory Too, Say Charities.")

Even in the land of the dollar bill the microchipping craze is spreading like an unchecked outbreak of malaria in that it has been endorsed by just about all shelters, veterinarians, and numerous municipal authorities as well. If the current trend continues unabated, the practice soon will surpass both collars and tattoos in popularity even without the benefit of a governmental fiat.

Although there are numerous reasons why this trend is such an ominous development in the field of animal welfare, none so readily stands out as the appalling level of incompetence that exists within the ranks of those professionals that are charged with implanting them. Specifically, although surgically inserting these miniature identification devices between the shoulder blades is a straightforward, uncomplicated procedure, it is shocking just how many veterinarians are unable to do so without either crippling or killing cats.

In addition to general incompetence, an overarching desire to make as much moola as possible within the shortest period of time and with the least expenditure of energy coupled with a lackadaisical attitude toward the well-being of their patients are sans doute contributing factors. Not surprisingly, the petit fait that implanting a microchip is an invasive procedure and as such requires not only competence but diligence as well often gets lost in such a perverse business model.

That is perhaps even more so the case with those charities and governmental authorities that from time to time offer free-of-charge microchipping services to the public. A good case in point was the totally inexcusable pain, suffering, and lasting injuries inflicted upon a pretty three-year-old calico female named Sassie from Consett after her owner took her to such an event sponsored by the Durham County Council in early 2014.

The details are a bit sketchy, but the unidentified individual doing the chipping so botched the procedure that she recklessly plunged the needle containing the device into Sassie's spine as opposed to inserting it between her shoulder blades. As a consequence, she was left paralyzed.

"The girl doing the chipping seemed not to have a clue what she was doing," Sassie's thirty-one-year-old owner, Kristina Hogan, afterwards averred to The Chronicle of Newcastle-upon-Tyne on February 18, 2014. (See "Consett Cat Sassie Paralyzed in Microchipping Bungle.") "She made two attempts to chip Sassie."

Although it has not been disclosed if the woman was actually a licensed veterinarian or merely an assistant of some sort, she additionally came within a hairbreadth of nearly killing Sassie. "On the second, she rammed the needle so hard into her she injected the chip between the first and second vertebrae in the neck, paralyzing her," Hogan continued. "If it had gone any further up it would have hit her in the brain, and if it had gone any deeper it would have perforated her spinal cord."

As a consequence, Hogan was forced to rush Sassie to Croft Vet Hospital in Cramlington, thirty-seven kilometers north of Consett in Northumberland, where the microchip first had to be located with computer scans and then surgically removed at a staggering cost of £3,000. That was nothing, however, when compared to the damage that had been inflicted upon Sassie.

To begin with, eight stitches were required just to sew up her severely damaged neck. Following that, she not only was forced to wear an Elizabethan collar until the incision healed but to be caged for six weeks while she convalesced. Worst of all, the procedure robbed her of the ability to run and jump.

Sassie Was Confined to an Elizabethan Collar for Weeks

"She just used to really enjoy being out -- if you opened the door to call her she wouldn't come and nine times out of ten you'd have to tempt her in with a bit of ham," Hogan confided to The Chronicle. "Now she'll never be able to go outside again because she's too slow to get away from predators."

The full extent of her injuries was not expected to have been determined until after the cone and stitches were removed but since no additional articles concerning her have appeared in the English press, it is impossible to speculate on how she is progressing. All may not have been lost, however, in that some cats who have suffered similar fates eventually have regained some of their mobility.

For example, Simon Platt of the Animal Health Trust's Small Animal Centre in Newmarket, Suffolk, wrote in an article entitled "Spinal Cord Injury Resulting from Incorrect Microchip Placement in a Cat" that an unidentified two-year-old neutered male had in time regained the use of his front appendages even though a certain degree of paralysis persisted in his left leg. (See the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, volume 9, issue 2, April 2, 2007, pages 157-160.)

For its part, the Durham County Council has attempted to atone for what was done to Sassie. "We are extremely upset and sorry that this happened," Ian Hoult, its neighborhood protection manager, told The Chronicle. "We immediately apologized and have paid for all necessary veterinary care to ensure the animal's future well-being."

In addition to leaving Sassie paralyzed, the bungled microchipping also has had a traumatic effect upon Hogan's three young children. "It's affected the children as well -- the kids were in tears," she told The Chronicle. "They can't go and give her a cuddle and pick her up because they're so worried they're going to hurt her spine."

Besides muscling microchips into cats' spines, slap-happy veterinarians also make a disturbing habit of recklessly implanting them at vaccination sites which in turn has led to the onset of cancer. "Veterinarians should be aware that because inflammation may dispose felines to tumor formation, separation and observation of vaccination and implantation sites are indicated," Meighan K. Daly of the University of Georgia at Athens wrote a few years back in an article entitled "Fibrosarcoma Adjacent to the Site of Microchip Implantation in a Cat." (See the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, volume 10, issue 2, April 2008, pages 202-205.)

Veterinary malpractice aside, there is a growing body of evidence that the chips themselves are cancerous. (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.")

Although the toxicity of these devices coupled with the tendency of veterinarians to implant them at vaccination sites and on top of spines constitute the principal concerns, they are by no means the only ones. First of all, not all of them operate on the same frequency and as a result multiple scanners are needed in order to read them and that in the past has led to deadly consequences.

For instance on April 21, 2004, Lisa Massey's eight-month-old American Pit Bull Terrier, Haddon, was killed by an animal shelter in Stafford, Virginia, all because staffers were using the wrong scanner and thus were unable to decipher his implanted microchip. (See the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, July 1, 2004, "Pet's Death Rekindles Electronic ID Debate.")

Secondly, microchips have a tendency to move around inside cats and dogs and that sometimes makes it difficult to locate them. Thirdly, like all such devices they sometimes simply malfunction. (See the Daily Mail, April 17, 2007, "Impounded: Family Forced to Leave Their (sic) Dog in France Because Officials Couldn't Scan Its ID Chip.")

Fourthly, it is almost superfluous to point out but if owners neglect to keep their contact information up-to-date in the databases that the chips are linked up to there virtually is not any way that they can be reached by those shelters and veterinarians that even so much as bother to scan the animals that they impound and treat. This is a huge problem for cats that are bandied about between multiple owners. (See The Australian of Sydney, articles dated March 20, 2007 and March 21, 2007 and entitled, respectively, "Three-Thousand-Dollar United States Cat Handed to RSPCA" and "Valuable Stray Cat Reunited with United States (sic) Owner," plus Cat Defender posts of August 26, 2015 and July 25, 2014 entitled, respectively, "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" and "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.")

Only once in a blue moon can a shelter be counted upon to go out of its way in order to reunite a lost cat with an owner who has failed to maintain a current address in a microchip database. (See Cat Defender post of March 31, 2010 entitled "Winnipeg Family Is Astounded by Tiger Lily's Miraculous Return after Having Been Believed Dead for Fourteen Years.")

Sassie and Kristina Hogan Are Persevering

Trumping all of those concerns is the often overlooked reality that implanted microchips offer cats and dogs absolutely no protection whatsoever against motorists, human and animal predators, poisoners, the elements, and thieves. (See Cat Defender post of May 25, 2006 entitled "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats.")

Although proponents may trumpet their efficacy in reuniting lost cats with their owners, the statistics that they cite in support of their reasoning are misleading. That is because for every successful reunion there doubtlessly must be hundreds, if not indeed thousands, of chipped cats that are never found.

One reason for that is the limited availability of scanners. Therefore, individuals who rescue cats from the streets and fields do not have any means of checking for implanted identification devices.

A few of them do, belatedly, ask their veterinarians to scan them but that is usually years after they have been rescued. (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.")

Although collars and tattoos also have their limitations and health risks, they at least are visible to the naked eye and that convenience alone sometimes increases the odds that animals outfitted with them will be returned to their owners. They also have the advantage of being free of both exorbitant veterinary and database maintenance fees which, by the way, is another reason why practitioners and animal rescue groups are lobbying so intensely to have them replaced.

Last but not least, microchips lull owners into a false sense of security that often serves to encourage them to become negligent in the care of their cats. That in turn reinforces the popular, albeit totally spurious, stereotype that cats are self-sufficient loners who are quite capable of taking care of themselves. (See Cat Defender post of October 9, 2015 entitled "A Lynch Mob 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.")

On a much broader level, all monitoring technology, whether it be microchips, radio collars, cameras, or whatever, has been developed and deployed for reasons that are inimical to the health and well-being of the animal kingdom. To put the matter succinctly, the power to monitor and observe is equivalent of that to know and that in turn equates to the power to control which, ultimately, entails the ability to denature and kill. (See Cat Defender posts of June 11, 2007, May 4, 2006, and February 29, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Katzen-Kameras Are Not Only Cruel and Inhumane but Represent an Assault Upon Cats' Liberties and Privacy," "Scientific Community's Use of High-Tech Surveillance Is Aimed at Subjugating, Not Saving, the Animals," and "The Repeated Hounding Down and Tagging of Walruses Exposes Electronic Surveillance as Not Only Cruel but a Fraud.")

As far as it is known, no statistics are kept as to the number of animals that are killed each year, either intentionally or accidentally, as the result of tagging initiatives that are carried out by wildlife biologists and other governmental officials but the total surely must be astronomical. (See Cat Defender posts of April 17, 2006 and May 21, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Hal the Central Park Coyote Is Suffocated to Death by Wildlife Biologists Attempting to Tag Him" and "Macho B., America's Last Jaguar, Is Illegally Trapped, Radio-Collared, and Killed Off by Wildlife Biologists in Arizona.")

At this very moment the USDA's diabolical Wildlife Services and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game are using radio-collared "Judas" wolves in order to track down and flush out other wolves from their dens. Sharpshooters then gun down the helpless animals from helicopters and airplanes.

The wolves attempt to flee but it is totally impossible for them, especially those that previously have been tagged, to escape. (See the Center for Biological Diversity's press release of March 29, 2016, "Judas Wolves -- Wildlife Services' Sick Killing Strategy.")

Considering the gargantuan lengths that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has gone to in order to eradicate cats on San Nicolas, in the Florida Keys, and elsewhere, the species one day could find itself being treated every bit as cruelly as wolves. It accordingly is not a good idea for those who care about them to provide governmental agencies, rescue groups, and veterinarians with either the electronic means or the data that will make it easier for them to carry out their hideous crimes.

A far more prudent alternative would be to rely upon close observation and conventional means in order to keep track of cats. Such a strategy has, admittedly, its limitations but a reliance upon technology and those groups and entities that champion it is definitely not the answer.

Photos: The Chronicle.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mr. Mistoffelees Will Be Forever Four Months Old All Because He Accidentally Brushed Up Against a Bouquet of Lilies and Then Unwittingly Attempted to Lick the Deadly Pollen Off of His Fur

Mr. Mistoffelees Covered in Orange Lily Pollen

"Had I known that lilies were so deadly to cats I would never have had them in my house."
-- Elizabeth Mackie

There is a well-known Sprichwort about curiosity killing cats and while there unquestionably is some truth to it, the abysmal ignorance and downright carelessness of their owners doubtlessly claims the lives of a far greater number of them. A good case in point was the totally preventable death back on January 10th of a handsome white kitten with patches of black known as Mr. Mistoffelees all because his owner was unaware that lilies are deadly to cats. Lamentably, his life ended almost as soon as it had begun in that he was only four months old.

The unfortunate chain of events that culminated in his demise were set in motion either shortly before or just after he entered this perilous old world when seventy-six-year-old Pat Mackie died of a stroke in September of last year. Depressed over the loss of her mother, daughter Elizabeth adopted Misty, as he was known, and brought him home to live with her in her house in Whitchurch, three kilometers east of the Welsh border and thirty kilometers north of Shrewsbury in Shropshire, the West Midlands.

Everything apparently went swimmingly until Mackie gave away a chest of drawers to an acquaintance who reciprocated by presenting her with a bouquet of white lilies which she then placed in a vase on the ledge of a bay window in her home. Tragically as things later turned out, Mr. Mistoffelees also was partial to that particular perch.

As a consequence, he accidentally brushed against the flowers numerous times while gazing out the window and by the time that the thirty-eight-year-old bar manageress had so much as a clue as to what was afoot his fur was covered in orange pollen. Although she was totally ignorant of just how toxic lily pollen is to cats, Mackie nevertheless had enough bon sens to know that it did not belong in his fur.

She initially attempted to remove it but when her ministrations were met with resistance her next thought was not to seek immediate veterinary intervention but rather to post a photograph of him online accompanied by a plea for suggestions on how best to go about cleansing his fur. It was only after respondents had enlightened her that she belatedly realized the gravity of the situation.

"Suddenly people started warning me that lily pollen is toxic to cats and I should check he hadn't eaten any," she disclosed to the Daily Mail on January 27th. (See "Cat Owner Is Devastated When the Beloved Kitten She Bought to Cheer Herself Up Is Killed by Pollen from Lilies.") "I had never heard this before, I was immediately worried so I called the vets."

In Misty's case it would appear that he ultimately was done in by his species' renowned fastidiousness in that he is believed to have attempted to lick off the pollen with his tongue. It is not known, however, either how long he was exposed to it or how much of it he ingested.

Mr. Mistoffelees at Play

It likewise has not been disclosed what, if any, symptoms of lily toxicity he was exhibiting by the time that Mackie tumbled to his plight. Some of the outwardly observable ones are, inter alia, drooling, vomiting, lethargy, depression, a lack of appetite, and increased urination. Swollen and painful kidneys are another telling symptom but blood and urine tests performed by a competent veterinarian are required in order to make such a determination.

Once she finally got around to doing so, Mackie made a simply terrible decision by taking Mr. Mistoffelees to the Leonard Brother Veterinary Clinic where practitioner Andy Nelson, if press reports are credible, totally botched the job of saving his life. He first sedated the kitten and then attempted to induce vomiting so as to force his digestive tract to expel the pollen from his kidneys and other internal organs.

While he was in the process of doing that, Misty suffered a heart attack but Nelson, inexplicably, did not have any adrenaline on hand. As a result, he abandoned the helpless kitten on his deathbed while he went to scrounge around for some.

Before he hightailed it out of the operating theatre, however, he fobbed off the traumatic job of administering last-ditch chest compressions to the rapidly dying kitten onto the already sagging shoulders of Mackie. The only logical conclusion to be drawn from that absolutely shocking deviation from normal veterinary protocol is that Leonard Brother is not only too cheap to maintain a supply of adrenaline but also to employ trained veterinary assistants as well.

"I massaged his chest as shown by the vet in a bid to save him while he got the adrenaline but unfortunately we couldn't revive him," she confided to the Daily Mail. "I was devastated."

The official cause of death has been listed as a combination of kidney and liver failure. If a necropsy had been performed, it perhaps would have been able not only to have pinpointed exactly what killed him but also to have determined how much and what form of lily toxicity was present in his tiny body. Since it has not been disclosed what was done with his remains, that is a strong indication that they likely were burned so it is way too late now for conducting such a probe.

Unwilling to own up to his own incompetence, Nelson did the next best thing which was to pack off all the blame for Mr. Mistoffelees' untimely death on Mackie. "This is the second cat in the last year that I have seen die from lilies just because the owner did not know that they were dangerous to cats," he shamelessly pontificated to the Daily Mail. "I'm amazed at the number of people who simply do not know how deadly they can be for cats, as they are popular pets and lilies are popular flowers -- but the two just cannot go together."

Andy Nelson

Those same arguments easily could be turned around and applied with even greater force to the pompous and hypocritical Nelson. First of all, since he already was intimately familiar with lily poisoning he should have readily recognized the grave danger that Mr. Mistoffelees was in and accordingly pulled out all the stops in a race against the clock in order to have saved him. Secondly, he should at the very least have had both adrenaline and an assistant ready at hand.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons is far too much of a laughingstock as an oversight body for Mackie to waste her precious time and money by lodging a formal complaint with it against Nelson, but she should find another veterinarian if she should decide in the future to acquire a replacement for Misty. (See Cat Defender post of June 17, 2010 entitled "A Veterinarian Gets Away with Almost Killing Felix but Is Nailed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for Not Paying Her Dues.")

It therefore is anything but surprising that the entire affair from start to deathbed finish has made an emotional wreck out of Mackie. "It was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life as he was just a baby and I was there trying to save him like that," she confided to the Daily Mail. "It was awful."

Absolutely no one, except cat-haters, could possibly disagree with her on that point but her suffering certainly did not end with Misty's death; au contraire, she has been left with enough regrets in order to last her for a lifetime. "Had I known that lilies were so deadly to cats I would never had them in my house," she vowed to the Daily Mail.

Considering their popularity and ubiquity, lilies surely must claim countless lives each year and yet very little is either spoken or written about the dangers that they pose to cats. That is so much the case that in recent memory only one other case comes readily to mind and it concerned a white Maine Coon cat named Haggis from parts unknown but presumably somewhere in the United Kingdom.

As was the case with Mr. Mistoffelees, the trouble began when some acquaintances of his unidentified owners presented them with a bouquet of lilies. Like Mackie, they placed them in a vase on a windowsill and some of the yellow pollen collected in Haggis' fur when he inadvertently brushed up against them while peering out through the glass. Not only were they also ignorant of just how deadly the pretty flowers are to cats, but they initially even thought that he looked rather comical covered in yellow pollen.

Mercifully, it belatedly dawned upon them that the lilies just might possibly be toxic to cats and once their suspicions were confirmed by an online search their initial amusement quickly gave way to panic. With no time left to spare, they immediately washed the pollen out of his fur in the shower and then rushed him to a veterinarian. Unfortunately, the only thing that the practitioner was willing to do for him was to place him on intravenous fluids so as to prevent the onset of dehydration and kidney failure.

That unidentified professional apparently neither attempted to induce vomiting nor to soak up any residual toxins left in his stomach by prescribing activated charcoal. His distraught owners were simply told to be patient and to hope for the best.

Haggis Is Only One of a Handful of Cats to Have Survived Lily Pollen

He remained at the surgery for two days but when he failed to exhibit any outward signs of lily toxicity he was allowed to return home. That was a few years ago and thanks to the timely intervention of his guardians he apparently, unlike Misty, never had time to lick off any of the pollen and for that reason is still alive today.

His close brush with death nevertheless has had a profound effect upon his caretakers. "It was a terrible feeling to know that because of your own stupidity your cat could have died," the owners told International Cat Care (ICC) of Tisbury in Wiltshire on September 7, 2015. (See "Keeping Cats Safe -- Lilies.") "Since that day no flower or plant is allowed in our home."

Haggis accordingly can be counted as one of the fortunate few. "The unusual thing about the case of Haggis is that the outcome was good, which sadly is often not the case," Claire Bessant of ICC told Your Cat Magazine of Grantham in Lincolnshire on September 17, 2015. (See "Cat Has Lucky Escape from Lily Poisoning.") "Many owners are still unaware of the dangers of lilies to their cats and cats often die as a result of poisoning."

Even in saying that much she is drastically understating the case. For example, not only is the pollen itself toxic but so, too, are the flowers, leaves, and stems. Why, just even drinking the water from the vases in which they are displayed is sufficient in order to kill a cat.

Moreover, since consumption of less than one leaf can be fatal to a cat, the same is likely true in regard to the pollen itself in that licking up just a few particles of it could conceivably cause renal failure. Because of their tender years and considerably smaller internal organs, young kittens, such as Mr. Mistoffelees, are especially ill-equipped to cope with the devastating consequences of lily toxicity.

There additionally are a wide variety of lilies that are lethal to cats. For instance in the article cited supra, ICC enumerates the following sub-species of Lilium (true lily) as being toxic to cats: Lilium asiatica (Asiatic lily), Lilium asiatica americana (Asiatic-American lily), Lilium candidum (Madonna lily), Lilium hydridum (Japanese showy lily), Lilium lancifolium (Tiger lily), Lily longiforum (Easter lily), Lilium orientalis Stargazer lily (Oriental lily), Lilium regale (Royal lily), Lilium speciosum, Lilium rubrum (Rubrum lily), and Lilium umbellatum (Western or Wood lily). Also, all species of Hemerocallis (Day lilies) are included in that roll call of deadly flowers.

Complicating matters further, there are other closely related plants which can sicken cats without causing kidney failure. Chiefly among these are calla or arum lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) and peace lilies (Spathiphyllum species) that contain crystals which can inflame the mouth and digestive tract and thus cause drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.


Another plant to watch out for is lily of the valley (Convalaria majalis) which can cause irregular heartbeats and precipitate drops in blood pressure which in turn can lead to the onset of seizures and comas in cats. (See PetMD. com, undated article entitled "Lily Poisoning in Cats.")

For its part, Cats Protection of Haywards Heath in Sussex also warns against poinsettias which if consumed by cats can lead to diarrhea and cramps. Rhododendron and daffodil bulbs are an even greater concern because in addition to sickening cats they also can kill them.

Rather than trying to remember all of that, it would be far preferable to follow the sage advice of Haggis' chastened owners and to refrain from keeping any plants at all indoors. At the very least, owners would be well advised to determine beforehand if a particular plant is hazardous to cats before allowing it indoors.

Oddly enough, outdoor lilies do not appear to pose nearly as much of a threat because most cats prefer to chew on grass. The wind, dew, and rain also helps to disperse the pollen that accumulates on their flowers, leaves, and stems. If that were not the case, there surely would be dead cats everywhere.

Nevertheless, outdoor lilies likely are responsible for a good deal more feline deaths each year than it generally is acknowledged. That is because some cats crawl off and hide once they believe that the end is near and their corpses are never found. Secondly, the owners of even those that return home in order to die seldom request necropsies and as a result the cause of their deaths remains a mystery.

It accordingly would be a good idea for owners as a cautionary measure to remove all lilies and other poisonous plants from their properties. Unfortunately, there is not a great deal that they can do about neighbors who insist upon planting lilies in their gardens in order to purposefully harm and kill cats.

Even more worrisome, horticulturists and the likes of Ted "Slick Willie" Williams and the National Audubon Society most assuredly would not hesitate for so much as a split-second to plant lilies in order to intentionally kill cats. (See Cat Defender posts of August 19, 2010 and May 18, 2013 entitled, respectively, "Music Lessons and Buggsey Are Murdered by a Cat-Hating Gardener and an Extermination Factory Posing as an Animal Shelter in Saginaw" and "Ted Williams and the National Audubon Society Issue a Call for Cats to Be Poisoned with Tylenol® and Then Try to Lie Out of It.")


Mackie therefore can be forgiven her ignorance about lilies but her abject neglect of Mr. Mistoffelees is an altogether different matter. Like so many individuals in general and working people in particular, she fell for the myth disseminated by the likes of the flatheads at the University of Lincoln that cats are self-sufficient beings who can take care of themselves. (See Cat Defender post of October 9, 2015 entitled "A Lynch Mob 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.")

In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth in that cats are considerably more difficult to properly care for than dogs and other animals. That is because they not only face far more dangers but also have many more enemies as well. As a consequence, it is imperative that both domesticated cats as well as those that reside in managed TNR colonies have attentive and conscientious guardians.

Far too many individuals think and behave like Mackie in that it is customary for them to routinely lock their cats indoors and then to forget all about them while they go out and chase shekels and romance. Since they consequently rarely ever see them except at bedtime and breakfast, it often is too late in order to save them once they suddenly become either sick, injured, or lost.

It is an entirely different scenario with attentive owners who actually spend considerable time with their cats. For example, during the latter half of 2010 a cat-hater in New Westminster, British Columbia, dunked at least three cats in turpentine.

Corrine Ritchie's cat Linden and Rob Stainton's resident feline Vincent survived because they discovered what had happened to them before they had time in order to lick off very much of the deadly corrosive from their fur. Lamentably, Jennifer Szoke did not reach her cat, Harley, in time. (See Cat Defender posts of July 30, 2010, August 30, 2010, and January 3, 2011 entitled, respectively, "Harley Suffers Severe Burns to His Tongue and Mouth as Well as Lung Damage after He Is Deliberately Dunked in Turpentine," "Hope, Prayer, and Veterinary Intervention Ultimately Prove to Be Insufficient in Order to Save Harley after He Is Deliberately Dunked in Turpentine," and "Another Cat, Vincent, Is Dunked in Turpentine in New Westminster as the Police and Animal Control Continue to Laugh Up Their Dirty Sleeves.")

Like Mackie, twenty-five-year-old Aidan Moreau-MacLeod spends the lion's share of his time at Bar Negroni in the Little Italy section of Toronto where he slings swill in addition to being co-owner. As a result, he was nowhere to be found when a police dog mauled his eighteen-year-old cat McGuire during the early morning hours of June 4th of last year.

Fortunately, his father discovered McGuire's desperate condition when he returned home later that evening and subsequently rushed him to a veterinarian. The younger Moreau-MacLeod was extremely fortunate on that occasion because McGuire easily could have died from his untreated wounds while he was away from home lining his pockets. (See Cat Defender post of July 2, 2015 entitled "After Allowing One of Their Police Dogs to Maul McGuire to Within an Inch of His Life, the Toronto Police Do Not Have Even the Common Decency to Summon Veterinary Help for Him.")

Flurbiprofen Topical Analgesic

It therefore is entirely conceivable that if Mackie had been home watching over Mr. Mistoffelees that she could have saved him if she had gotten him away from the lilies in a timely fashion and promptly dunked him a bathtub in order to have removed the pollen from his fur. She also is guilty, like seemingly everybody else nowadays, of wasting precious time online when she instead should have been on her way with him to a veterinarian.

Although there is not any dearth of knowledge pertaining to the dangers posed by both human and animal predators, motorists, and other cretins to cats that live outdoors, Mackie also is remiss for failing to realize that indoor environments are not necessarily all that much more conducive to promoting feline health, well-being, and longevity. In addition to a lack of exercise space, mental stimulation, and a denial of the fellowship of other cats, indoor environments cannot be reached by the life-giving rays of Old Sol and they circulate primarily old, stale, and polluted air.

They also contain toxins other than lilies, such as cigarette smoke and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). (See Cat Defender posts of October 19, 2007 and August 22, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Smokers Are Killing Their Cats, Dogs, Birds, and Infants by Continuing to Light Up in Their Presence" and "Indoor Cats Are Dying from Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Various Toxins in the Home.")

Furthermore, whereas it is well understood that both prescription and over-the-counter medications should be kept far out of the reach of cats at all times, the same also holds true for the treated areas and surrounding clothing of individuals who use topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). For example, last spring the Federal Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine in Rockville, Maryland, reported that flurbiprofen, which also contains the muscle relaxer cyclobenzaprine as well as baclofen, gabapentin, lidocaine, and prilocaine, had been responsible for the deaths of three domestic cats and renal failure in two others that survived thanks to timely veterinary intervention. (See FDA press release of April 17, 2015 entitled "Flurbiprofen-Containing Topical Pain Medications: FDA Alert -- Illnesses and Deaths in Pets Exposed to Prescription Topical Pain Medication.")

The alert does not specify how the cats came into contact with the painkiller, only that their owners applied lotions and creams containing it to their necks and feet. It nevertheless would stand to reason that the cats licked it off either their owners' bodies or clothing. As is the case with lilies, it only takes a very minute amount of flurbiprofen in order to cause kidney failure and death in cats.

Other mundane, yet lethal, hazards to be found in the home include plastic trash bags, electric recliners, and furniture imported from China and, presumably, elsewhere that contain the mold and mildew retardant dimethyl fumarate (DMF). (See Cat Defender posts of September 24, 2015 and October 21, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Henry Is Saved by Cats Protection after Swallowing Part of a Plastic Trash Bag but His Fate Would Have Been Entirely Different if He Had Fallen into the Clutches of the Mercenaries at PennVet" and "Two Thoughtless Old Biddies Crush Thirteen-Month-Old Sheba to Death Underneath an Electric Recliner," plus The Telegraph of London, December 4, 2008, "Toxic Leather Armchair Kills Father, Son, and Cat, Family Claims.")

Construction mishaps inside the home also can injure and even kill cats. (See Cat Defender posts of August 4, 2008 and September 8, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Brooklyn Man Gets Locked Up in a Nuthouse and Then Loses Digs, Job, and Honey All for Attempting to Save His Friend's Cat, Rumi" and "Bonny Is Rescued at the Last Minute after Spending Seven Weeks Entombed Underneath a Bathtub.")

Indoor cats are likewise up the spout whenever either fires or carbon monoxide leaks occur. (See Cat Defender posts of September 29, 2008 and April 23, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Kiki Is Healthy Again but in Legal Limbo as Her Rescuer, Firefighter Al Machado, Basks in the Glory of His Heroics" and "Winnie Saves an Indiana Family of Three from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.")

Mr. Mistoffelees and Elizabeth Mackie in Happier Days

Cats that are left home alone for extended periods of time also have little or no protection against the evil designs of housebreakers. For example on August 14, 2009, burglars broke into thirty-three-year-old Amanda Faulkner's house in Hamilton, one-hundred-thirty kilometers south of Auckland, where they broke one-year-old Nookie's pelvis, his tail in three places, and damaged his bladder by repeatedly kicking him as if he were nothing more than a football.

Faulkner did not even discover his plight until more than a day later and even then she cruelly elected to pay a veterinarian in order to finish the job that the thieves had started rather than to save his life. (See Cat Defender post of September 9, 2009 entitled "Home Alone in New Zealand, Friendly Little Nookie Is Repeatedly Kicked and Left for Dead by Vicious Burglars.")

Topping all of those concerns, cruelly cooping up a cat inside deprives it of the opportunity to ever acquire the prerequisite skills that it would require in order to survive in the real world if it one day were to suddenly find itself on its own. (See Cat Defender post of February 2, 2015 entitled "Cruelly Denatured and Locked Up Indoors for All of His Life, Nicky Is Suddenly Thrust into the Bitter Cold and Snow for Twenty-One Consecutive Days with Predictably Tragic Results.")

To her credit, Mackie has started a petition drive aimed at persuading both florists and supermarkets to put warning labels on bouquets of lilies. "I would hate for anyone else to go through what I have so I hope that our petition can at least raise awareness and if the shops do start labeling them, then that could save a lot of cats from dying a horrible death," she told the Daily Mail in the article cited supra.

Although he may have completely botched Mr. Mistoffelees' care, Nelson nonetheless wholeheartedly concurs with Mackie on that point. "It's a very simple change but (it) could save a lot of cats a very painful death from kidney failure and their owners a lot of heartache," he added to the Daily Mail.

In his 1939 poem entitled "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats," T.S. Eliot said the following about Misty's illustrious namesake:

"He holds all the patent monopolies
For performing surprising illusions
And creating eccentric confusions
At prestidigitation
And at legerdemain
He'll defy examination
And deceive you again
The greatest magicians have something to learn
From Mr. Mistoffelees' conjuring turn."

It accordingly is truly regrettable that little Misty did not possess just a tiny bit of the original's conjuring prowess. If he had done so, he might then have been able to have risen from his deathbed or, better still, to have avoided the lilies altogether.

What is done is done, however, and it is way too late to do anything for him now. Ironically, the terrible memories of his needless death are destined to long outlive his brief sojourn upon this earth and there simply is not any way that ever can be construed as being anything other than grotesquely unfair and unjust.

Photos: the Daily Mail (Mr. Mistoffelees covered in pollen and Nelson), the London Metro (Misty at play and with Mackie), Your Cat Magazine (Haggis), International Cat Care (Lilium and Hemerocallis), and Sri Rama Pharmaceutical of Hyderabad, India (flurbiprofen).