Free Lewis Now! Connecticut Tomcat, Victimized by a Bum Rap, Is Placed Under House Arrest
Lewis, a five-year-old polydactyl long-haired tuxedo tomcat (See photos) from Fairfield, Connecticut was placed under house arrest last week for allegedly attacking about a half-dozen area residents. Meanwhile, his guardian, real estate broker Ruth Cisero, is up to her neck in legal troubles.
The alleged attacks, which have occurred over a three-year period in Lewis's Holland Hill neighborhood, had previously prompted Animal Control to order him quarantined on three separate occasions. Cisero even took the drastic measure of placing him on Prozac for two months but when he suffered a negative reaction to the drug she wisely took him off of it. Now, he has been placed under house arrest following another incident.
After the Connecticut Post broke the story last week Cisero has been inundated with hundreds of telephone calls and requests for interviews by reporters from all around the world, including the BBC, CBC, and London's Guardian. With his fame spreading like wildfire, Lewis has now even been profiled at myplace.com. It is a classic example of the old newspaper adage which holds that if a dog bites a man it is not newsworthy but if a man bites a dog it is a big story. Likewise, ailurophobes attacking cats is old hat but a cat who strikes back creates a media feeding frenzy.
"I have pages and pages of newspapers and people who want to come here and interview and take pictures of Lew. All over the place they have covered this story and I am totally shocked," Cisero told the Connecticut Post on March 30th. (See "Fairfield Feline Under House Arrest Now Media Celebrity.")
Contrary to the pronouncements and edicts of Animal Control, Lewis has no doubt been the victim of a malicious slander campaign initiated by overly protective cat owners, ailurophobes, and bird advocates. He has, in short, been given a bum rap and should have his freedom restored immediately!
Cisero attributes two of the alleged attacks to the interference of neighbors in standoffs between Lewis and their cats. "Everyone who is complaining has a cat. And as you know like a dog, when cats face off, you can't go near them and that's not been brought out anywhere," she told WCBS-TV out of New York on March 29th (See "Lewis the Cat in Hot Water After Alleged Attacks.")
As for Avon peddler Donna Greenstein, who had a run-in with Lewis, Cisero suspects that she inadvertently either stepped on the cat's tail or closed a door on him. Whatever the case, Greenstein is suing Cisero for $5,000.
As for the other alleged attacks, Cisero believes that they were instigated by bird-lovers who objected to Lewis's hunting prowess and responded by dousing him with water and throwing eggs at him. "Part of this bad reaction he is having to people is he has been tormented," Cisero told the Connecticut Post.
Ailurophobia cannot be ruled out either as one of the sources of Lewis's troubles. Malheursement, there are a lot of people in this world who go ballistic whenever they see a cat and some of that anti-cat sentiment even leaches into news accounts. For instance, Janet Kettman is quoted by WCBS-TV as accusing Lewis of being a dry-gulcher. "His m. o. is to spring from behind you and what he does is wrap himself around your legs and he bites and scratches," she said.
When they are considered in their entirety and divorced from the hysteria created by ailurophobes, the charges against Lewis are preposterous. Cats are, as Lilian Jackson Braun once said, peace-loving creatures and they never attack humans unless they are either provoked or rabid. Some cats do admittedly like to grab ankles when they are playing and this sets off certain people who are either antagonistic toward them in the first place or unfamiliar with their ways and personalities. If the alleged attacks had been captured on audio-video the tapes would most likely confirm that all of them had been, wittingly or unwittingly, provoked by Lewis's accusers.
As for Lewis, not only has he lost his precious freedom but his life has been placed in jeopardy because of these charges being leveled against him. Accustomed to the great outdoors, Cisero is going to have a tough time keeping him inside. What Machiavelli said about taking away the liberties of people accustomed to living in freedom applies equally to cats. "He is dying to get outside," Cisero has already told the Connecticut Post.
If she has the time and is willing to spend the money, Cisero could enclose a backyard or a porch for him. She could also attempt to train him to walk on a leash around her property if fencing in the yard is not practicable. She could also try making the inside of her house a whole lot more interesting to him by building kitty condos, erecting special perches near windows where he could watch the birds, and by buying him a toy mouse that he could chase.
Cisero is scheduled to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court on April 25th to stand trial on charges of reckless endangerment resulting from an alleged attack that Lewis committed while he was under limited house arrest. More worrisome is the fact that Lewis will no doubt attempt to regain his freedom and should he somehow manage to escape Cisero's house again Animal Control might very well sign his death warrant. One of his alleged victims is already clamoring for his head.
It is therefore incumbent upon Cisero that she take great care in order to ensure that Lewis's enemies never again get their hands on him. It is entirely possible that Cisero may eventually tire of her travails and abandon Lewis to some shelter where he would surely be exterminated unless a suitable home could promptly be found for him.
The best solution for all concerned would be for the authorities to immediately free Lewis. Bird-lovers and ailurophobes should mind their own business and anybody afraid to go outdoors because of a cat should stay inside. Failing that, Cisero should take matters into her own hands and leave Connecticut. That would indeed be an expensive undertaking but no cost is ever too great when it comes to saving a life. Cats are special and they live such terribly short lives even under optimal circumstances.
Photos: WPVI-TV, Channel 6, Philadelphia (Lewis playing and portrait shot) and WNBC (Lewis reclining on the carpet).