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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, September 29, 2006

Avenal State Prison Reverts to Its Old Aulirophobic Ways by Scrapping a TNR Program and Cutting Off the Cats' Food Supply

It is not part of the national agenda but at the local level there are only a handful of more contentious issues than homeless cats and, in particular, Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR). Generally speaking, the battle lines are usually drawn with advocates of extermination, such as animal control officers, shelter operators, bird advocates, and wildlife proponents, on the one side and proponents of sterilized colonies on the opposing side.

With the notable exception of rural communities where they often find employment as mousers on farms and ranches (See Cat Defender post of February 21, 2006 entitled "Chairman Meow Finds a Home in a Barn and a Job as a Mouser on Texas Horse Ranch"), homeless cats are personae non gratae almost everywhere else.

Even though they are purposefully dumped there by uncaring students, they are certainly not welcome on college campuses (See Cat Defender posts of June 14, 2006 and September 11, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Kindhearted Dairyman, Sacked for Feeding Feral Cats, Files $20 Million Lawsuit Against Cornell University" and "Selfish and Brutal Eggheads at Central Michigan University Target Colony of Feral Cats for Defamation and Eradication") nor on military bases. The corporate world is hostile to them (See Cat Defender post of July 27, 2006 entitled "Northrop Grumann Plans to Exterminate a Colony of Feral Cats That Has Lived at Its Redondo Beach Facility for Twenty Years") as is the public sector (See Cat Defender post of October 20, 2005 entitled "After Ridding Ohio Statehouse of Rats, Cats Now Find Themselves Facing Eviction").

Private clubs do not want them (See Cat Defender post of January 19, 2006 entitled "Public Outcry Forces Army Navy Country Club to Scrap Plans to Exterminate Long-Term Resident Felines") and they are not even safe in abandoned buildings (See Cat Defender post of March 31, 2006 entitled "Idaho Humane Society Lends Its Support to the Demolition of a Derelict Seed Store That Claims the Lives of Dozens of Cats"). They are even denied safe harbor on beaches (See Cat Defender post of September 25, 2006 entitled "Photographer Captures the Beauty of Feral Cats That New Jersey Coastal Town is Hellbent on Exterminating") and faraway islands (See Cat Defender post of September 21, 2006 entitled "Aussies' Mass Extermination of Cats Opens the Door for Mice and Rabbits to Wreak Havoc on Macquarie").

Now comes word that they have worn out their welcome at Avenal State Prison (See photo above) even though hundreds of them have shared the grounds of the sprawling six-hundred-forty-acre facility with one-thousand employees and seventy-five-hundred medium-security inmates since it opened in January of 1987. In particular, a TNR program inaugurated in 2001 by the prison and outside volunteers was abruptly discontinued in February of this year allegedly because of its cost and ineffectiveness.

Under the original agreement, the cats were humanely trapped, desexed, and vaccinated. The adults were returned to the prison to work as mousers and to keep the inmates company while new homes were found for the kittens.

"It's good for the inmates. Its' good for rodent control," Joyce Bicknell (See photo above of her and Boo Boo), a retired employee of the California Feline Foundation who now works with Feral Paws Rescue, told The Fresno Bee on September 25th. (See "Prison Cat Program Declawed; Fur Flies.") "It's a perfect environment for them," she added in reference to the isolated, treeless, sun-baked lockup located eighty-nine kilometers south of Fresno at the foot of Kettleman Hills in Kings County.

James Haley, a spokesman for warden Kathy Mendoza-Powers (See mug shot below) gave several reasons for scrapping the initiative, known as the Star Project, and not surprisingly a lack of staff and money were at the top of his list. "Do you want your tax dollars spent on cats or do you want tax dollars spent on inmates?" he rhetorically asked The Fresno Bee in the article cited supra.

That charge was quickly rebutted by Bicknell who told the newspaper that not only was ample funding available through grants and donations but that veterinarians were also willing to provide their services either gratis or at reduced rates. In the past, Maddie's Fund has footed the bill for the sterilizations.

Haley also argued that the program was stopped because it was ineffective in controlling the feline population. In order to buttress his claim, he pointed out that only four out of one-hundred-fifty cats trapped during the last four to five months that the program was in place had been previously sterilized.

This assertion has also been rejected by Bicknell and her allies who claim that the colony, which originally numbered around six-hundred cats, has been reduced by between one-hundred and two-hundred cats through TNR. Alley Cat Allies, however, claims on its website that only about two-hundred cats remain out of an original population of five-hundred. Needless to say, without accurate before and after statistical data there is not any way to evaluate these conflicting claims.

The apparent ineffectiveness of the program could be attributable to there being more cats than previously inventoried or perhaps it is simply a matter of more time and effort being needed before the program bears fruit. Since the compound is surrounded by an electric fence that is sandwiched in between a double cyclone barrier topped with concertina wire, it is unlikely that any newcomers have gotten in to join the colony.

Although the point is moot as far as Avenal is concerned, TNR should not be judged solely by its efficacy in keeping out other feral cats. TNR eliminates the ability of sterilized cats to reproduce and that in and of itself reduces feline overpopulation. The fact that new cats may join a colony only means that trapping and sterilization must be an ongoing process. More importantly, homeless cats, like down-and-out individuals, must have somewhere to hang their hats.

More than likely TNR's death knell at Avenal was sounded in August of 2005 when the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) fined the prison $2,500 for three violations relating to its care of the cats. The report in The Fresno Bee does not specify the nature of these infractions but most likely they were related to safety and health concerns.

Cal OSHA's Dean Fryer told The Fresno Bee that the prison's TNR program was "not fully instituted or evaluated to be effective." He did not recommend, however, that it be abandoned, only that better controls were needed. Nonetheless, prison officials used this criticism and fine as the pretext for discontinuing TNR.

Tant pis, Avenal has also removed the eight to ten feeding stations inside the compound as the result of Cal OSHA's damning report. The report in The Fresno Bee does not broach the subject of what the cats are doing for sustenance nowadays but Haley callously dismissed such mundane concerns by saying, "These are feral cats... they're used to being on their own."

The dismantlement of the feeding stations has led to another disagreement between the contending parties with prison officials claiming that starving the cats to death has helped to reduce their population whereas cat advocates have countered by arguing that the number of cats is actually increasing.

Following the discontinuance of TNR, prison officials and the volunteers entered into an informal compact whereby the prison agreed to trap the cats and hold them until they are picked up by the volunteers. So far, however, this arrangement is not working out.

First of all, prison officials are not trapping very many felines and, secondly, they are turning over to Avenal Animal Control those few that they do snare if volunteers do not collect them before 4 p.m. Due to a lack of space at their shelter, Animal Control leaves the cats in their traps on its lawn until the volunteers collect them.

This has led to some cats being imprisoned in traps for as long as forty-eight hours without either food or water. Because of either their extended confinement or rough handling, many of these cats have been injured as the result of their ordeal. (See photo above of a bloody cat in a cage.)

The Fresno Bee does not delve into what happens to these cats but presumably the kittens are put up for adoption. The fate of the adults is a good deal more problematic. If they are not exterminated by either Animal Control or the prison, the volunteers must either socialize them and find new homes for them or find somewhere else to release them.

Several instances of feline cruelty have also been uncovered by Alley Cat Allies and the Star Project. For instance, a black cat (See photo above on the left) and her five kittens were recently discovered secured with duct tape inside a trash can. When rescuers finally arrived some eight hours later one kitten was near death.

In a shocking act of desecration that demonstrates not only the warden's contempt for cats but also her total lack of respect for the departed, a feline cemetery, meticulously maintained by the inmates, was ordered destroyed on March 28th of this year. (See photos above and below.)

The remains of more than one-hundred cats interred there were removed, wrapped in trash bags, and placed inside a box. Even Alley Cat Allies has been unable to determine what officials have done with them; more than likely they were tossed out with the garbage.

Malheursement, the recent events at Avenal mark a return to the prison's old atavistic, aulirophobic ways. Most notably, in November of 2002 prison officials deliberately sealed up alive about thirty-five cats underneath one of the buildings inside the compound. This barbaric act led to the deaths of more than two-dozen cats by starvation and dehydration. Rescuers were able to save a cat named Inmate (See photo below) and several others but most of the trapped cats died horrible deaths as their mummified remains vividly demonstrate. (See photo below.)

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) does not have a comprehensive policy on dealing with cats and other animals that turn up at its institutions and consequently each facility is free to deal with them as it sees fit so long as it does so in a humane manner. Humane treatment, however, means different things to different people. For instance, most cat-haters consider extermination to be humane.

It is not known how widespread TNR programs are within the American penal system, but in addition to California they are also being tried at institutions in New York and Montana.

A world away in Cape Town, authorities recently announced that they are planning to transfer the feral cats who have been living on the grounds of Parliament to dreadful, maximum-security Pollsmoor Prison. (See The Pretoria News, September 15, 2006, "Parliament's 'Fat Cats' Off to Jail.")

While this is no doubt an ominous turn of events for the felines, it is nonetheless a big improvement over the South Africans' extermination campaigns at Nelson Mandela's old gulag on Robben Island. (See Cat Defender posts of March 23, 2006 and April 27, 2006 entitled, respectively, "South Africans, Supported by Ailurophobic PETA, Are Slaughtering More Cats on Robben Island" and "Cat-Hating Monster Les Underhill and Moneygrubbing Robben Island Museum Resume Slaughtering Cats in South Africa.")

Elsewhere in California, the Solano County Sheriff's Claybank Sentenced Detention Center, located sixty-two kilometers west of San Francisco, and the Blaine Street jail in Santa Cruz have instituted successful programs whereby female inmates serve as surrogate mothers to feral kittens. (See Cat Defender post of October 27, 2005 entitled "Inmates at Women's Prisons in California Save Lives by Fostering Feral Kittens.")

Under these innovative programs, the kittens have someone to care for them until they are old enough to be adopted while the inmates learn parenting skills, earn certificates of achievement, and receive reductions in their sentences. Most importantly, the program saves lives. It is a win-win situation for all concerned.

Contrary to the defamation campaign launched by officials at Avenal, most of the felines that Bicknell and others have had examined by veterinarians are healthy. Also, not all of them are feral.

Their presence has also had a humanizing effect on both staff and inmates. Over the years, caring employees have fed and watered the cats, bottle-fed kittens, and even smuggled out newborns. In addition to burying the cats and tending to their graves, inmates have also fed and helped to care for them. Some of them have even adopted cats.

For instance, Miss Samples, an eight-year-old black and white cat, was at one time the pet of lifer Louis Vigel (See photos below). "I call her Samples because once we had a lot of grasshoppers in here and she went around biting them in half, sampling them," he told The San Francisco Chronicle on September 9, 2001. (See "A Death Sentence Handed Down to a Prison Colony of Feral Felines Is Commuted to Life -- and Sterilization.")

It is not known if either Vigel or Miss Samples are still at Avenal but according to The Fresno Bee Miss Samples is definitely still alive.

The situation at Avenal is not ideal for the cats. As is the case with the inmates, there is no escape for them. Some of them also no doubt die horrible deaths by electrification on the high-voltage fence that surrounds the compound. This fence also claims a number of birds each year but yet the inveterate cat-haters at the National Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy are not calling for the heads of prison officials as they so often do for any cats caught dining on birds.

Also, since all of the cats are either black, gray, or black and white inbreeding may potentially cause genetic concerns down the road. These difficulties pale in comparison, however, to the ailurophobic behavior of prison officials which needs to be drastically amended.

Nonetheless, these cats need a place to live. The prison needs low-cost rodent control and the inmates and staff need feline companionship. Despite Haley's assertions, the care and maintenance of the cats does not cost the institution a cent; besides, with an annual budget of $98 million even the $2,500 fine from Cal OSHA is a drop in the bucket.

More to the point, Avenal has a moral responsibility to the cats. Because of its airtight security, the cats did not simply wander onto the grounds; au contraire, they were unquestionably brought in by prison officials to control the rodent population. The fact that they have multiplied so prolifically is the fault of the prison for not having instituted TNR a long time ago. For instance, between the prison's opening in 1987 and the introduction of TNR in 2001 the only feline population control practiced at Avenal was sporadic extermination.

Even though Avenal created the problem, Feral Paws Rescue and Alley Cat Allies are willing to correct the situation at no cost to the prison. Instead of thanking and cooperating with these dedicated animal welfare groups, prison officials have obstructed their efforts and reverted to their old barbaric ways.

The petit fait that the inmates at Avenal have enough compassion and bon sens to care for the cats whereas prison officials are capable of only denigrating and exterminating them presents a prima facie case that this nation needs to take a good hard look at exactly who it is that it is incarcerating.

America has more than two million individuals behind bars and this number is growing by eighty-three-thousand per month. Most of these individuals are either drug users or petty thieves who do not belong in the can; they need treatment and jobs that pay a living wage. As long as the prison-industrial complex is permitted to flourish, however, the jails will always be overflowing in this country. America has tons of money to spend locking up people in either jails or homeless shelters but not a sou for affordable housing, good jobs, or low-cost health care.

The scarce space at Avenal could be better utilized by the incarceration of inveterate cat-haters and abusers such as Mendoza-Powers. This space could also be used to house war criminals such as Bush and Olmert, crooked politicians, thieving capitalists, and polluters.

Photos:Kim Komenich of the San Francisco Chronicle (inmates with cat, Miss Samples with Louis Vigil, and Miss Samples by herself), The Fresno Bee (Joyce Bicknell and Boo Boo), CDCR (Kathy Mendoza-Powers), Avenal Prison Cat Rescue (injured cat in trap, Inmate, and mummified cats), Alley Cat Allies (black cat that survived trash can ordeal and feline graveyard).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Photographer Captures the Beauty of Feral Cats That New Jersey Coastal Town Is Hellbent on Exterminating

Another authority has come forward to refute the often repeated lie that feral cats are sickly, spread dangerous diseases, and lead such miserable existences that they would be far better off if they were exterminated. Little Silver, New Jersey resident David Tanen, who spent considerable time photographing the cats who live on the beach in nearby Sea Bright, found them to be both hardy and healthy.

"I've learned how clever and resilient they are," he told The Hub of Freehold on September 7th. (See "Beach Cats Star in Sea Bright Exhibit.") "The town was going after them, yet I recognize the offspring of some of these cats. They're so healthy."

Not merely content with capturing the cats' images for posterity, Tanen decided to use his photography to help the cats in Sea Bright and elsewhere. The first product of his newfound commitment was a calendar comprised of his photographs and entitled "Beach Cats, Wild Cats of Sea Bright 2006."

So far, five-hundred or so of the more than one-thousand calendars that he had printed have been sold with the proceeds going to the Monmouth County SPCA and Alley Cat Allies. Between $3,000-4,000 has been taken in to date.

The photograph at the top of the page is entitled, appropriately enough, "Winter Cat," while the one in the middle of the page is titled "Grasskit." The photo at the bottom of the page is titled simply "Cavel." The entire collection is on exhibit at the public library in Sea Bright through the end of the month.

Explaining how be became interested in the cats, Tanen told The Hub, "I just happened upon them and thought, 'They're so pretty.' The variety is what fed my interest and that they're so fancy. So I started taking pictures."

Tanen's work, no matter how inspiring, cannot disguise the horrific crimes that the politicians and citizens of affluent Sea Bright have perpetrated against their felines residents over the years. Sadly, many of the cats captured on film by Tanen may have already been exterminated.

For at least two years and probably longer, Sea Bright has been trapping and giving them to Blumig Kennels in East Brunswick to exterminate. (See The Hub, August 13, 2004, "Crackdown Coming on Feeding Feral Cats. Borough Hopes to Shed Image of Welcoming Felines.") It has also criminalized feeding them and a city ordinance requires that all felines be licensed and wear collars with tags when out-of-doors.

The extermination campaign has been spearheaded by fanatical cat-haters Natalie Hutchinson, a local homeowner, and borough councilwoman Dina Long who have waged a malicious slander campaign against the cats by alleging that they spread diseases and foul yards and the beach with their feces. Hutchinson has even gone so far as to raise the specter of lawsuits against the city if the cats are not eradicated.

Typically, Hutchinson and Long blame outsiders for not only dumping the cats at the shore but for enabling them to survive by feeding them. It would thus appear that the wealthy residents of Sea Bright do not have either an ounce of humanity or a penny's worth of generosity to offer their feline residents.

As per usual, wildlife officials have also joined the bandwagon by labeling the cats as a threat to the piping plovers who nest on the beach. Health officials from Monmouth County have also been called upon to provide a rationale for the town's extermination plan.

Sleeping rough is obviously not an ideal situation for the cats; they all need loving homes. Nonetheless, like all creatures, homeless cats have an inalienable right to life and freedom. Killing or harming them in any way is a grievous offense against both nature and God. By exterminating their homeless cats, the residents of Sea Bright have proven themselves to be far more morally bankrupt than either Adolf Hitler or Pol Pot!

It is surprising that Alley Cat Allies and other feline advocacy groups have not stepped in to protect the cats and to refute Hutchinson's and Long's malicious lies. Contrary to the unfounded assertions of this pair of ailurophobes, there is a growing body of veterinary evidence that supports the conclusion that most feral cats are healthy and lead relatively good lives if they are left alone.

In some instance, trapping and sterilization may be necessary in order not only to keep their population in check but, more importantly, to placate the demands of cat-hating monsters such as Hutchinson and Long. Generally, however, feline overpopulation is exaggerated because less than twenty per cent of homeless kittens survive.

Researchers are currently working on the development of a feline birth control pill which will hopefully greatly reduce the need for trapping and sterilization. This is a welcomed advancement because sterilization is not only expensive but trapping is traumatic for cats and complications sometimes arise from these types of surgeries.

Although a lack of food and shelter are formidable obstacles for all feral cats to overcome, their main threat comes from ailurophobes, both those who operate within the confines of the law and those who act outside it. Extermination is the only arrow in the quivers of most animal control officers and so-called humane societies and they are not the least bit hesitant to do the burgers' and politicians' dirty work for them; besides, they get a kick out of killing defenseless cats and dogs.

Inveterate cats haters, on the other hand, look upon cats as fair game for any cruelty. Some of these monsters poison them with antifreeze and other toxins while others shoot and torture them with impunity.

The residents of Sea Bright need to change their way of thinking and join the twenty-first century. This requires first and foremost that they renounce extermination as method of dealing with their feral cats.

The cats need police protection, food, water, vitamins, shelter, and veterinary care and it is incumbent upon the politicians and residents of Sea Bright to provide these essentials. If Sea Bright refuses to mend its evil ways, Alley Cat Allies and other cat advocacy groups should seek injunctive relief in the courts in order to protect the cats. The same rationale applies to food and shelter. If Sea Bright persists in its niggardly ways, it is paramount that Alley Cat Allies step in and provide what is needed.

Flooding caused by n'oreasters is also a major concern. The city should provide the cats with a safe and dry place to hold up when the Atlantic crosses the seawall and floods not only the beach but Route 36 as well.

If the residents of Sea Bright had either any humanity or intelligence they would realize just how lucky they are to have such beautiful feline residents. Far from being a liability, they are big positive for the city.

Photos: David Tanen.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Aussies' Mass Extermination of Cats Opens the Door for Mice and Rabbits to Wreak Havoc on Macquarie

"Of all the creatures ever made he (man) is the most detestable. Of the entire brood he is the only one ... that possesses malice. He is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain. The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot."
-- Mark Twain

Although it has been almost two-thousand years since Lucretius warned the world in the De rerum natura about the folly of attempting to conquer the infinite, the egomaniacal scientific community still refuses to take heed. Whether it is space exploration, genetic engineering, micromanagement of the environment, or some other undertaking, they still pigheadedly persist in attempting to mold all of creation to their liking.

Being far too cowardly to experiment on themselves and too much in love with their own wickedness to mend their anti-social ways, they have instead made guinea pigs out of the animals and Mother Earth. A good example of their runaway hubris, gross ignorance, and boundless cruelty can be found in the Australians' mass slaughter of the cats on Macquarie.

Macca, as it is known to the cognoscenti, is a windswept, rainy island only thirty-four kilometers in length and five kilometers in width. It is located fifteen-hundred kilometers south of Tasmania in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica (See map below) and passage from Hobart takes about three days by sea.

There are not any roads on the island and the only way to get around is a pied. There likewise are not any hotels or restaurants and the only accommodations are provided by Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) which maintains a base (See photo above) and eight field huts scattered about the island.

The island's only permanent residents are the twenty employees of ANARE who conduct biological, botanical, meteorological, medical, and aurora australis research. The number of researchers doubles during the summer and since the island was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1997 it annually attracts around nine-hundred tourists.

It does, however, play host to some rather impressive visitors each spring. In particular, millions of Royal penguins (See photo at the bottom of the page), petrels, and wandering albatrosses (See photo below on the right) stop by to bred and moult as do countless elephant seals (See photo below). In a misguided effort ostensibly designed to protect the seabirds' eggs and newborns, Mike Anderson (See photo above) and other members of ANARE have exterminated all of Macca's feral cats.

In true Australian fashion, the cats were mercilessly gunned down, poisoned, and caught in kill traps over a number of years until the men of science were finally able to boast in 2004 that the island was now cat-free. (For more information about Australia's extensive cat-killing operations see Cat Defender post of August 11, 2005 entitled "Barbaric Australians Come Up with an Ingenious New Poison in Order to Exterminate Cats.")

Afraid of incurring the totally justified wrath of cat-lovers all over the world, the cowardly Australians have not revealed how many cats that they slaughtered but more than likely the number was in the hundreds if not indeed thousands. That estimate is based upon what their cousins in apartheid South Africa did with their unwanted felines on Marion Island.

Located in the Indian Ocean seventeen-hundred-seventy kilometers south of Port Elizabeth and measuring only nineteen kilometers in length and twelve kilometers in width, Marion is approximately the same size as Macquarie and the South Africans exterminated more than thirty-four-hundred cats there during the 1980s. The cats were done in by the feline panleucopenia virus (distemper) which the racists deliberately infected them with; those not vanquished by the deadly disease were shotgunned to death during the night by snipers equipped with flashlights.

For the cats, death was agonizingly slow. Fever, depression, weight loss, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and severe stomach pain are just a few of the symptoms of distemper. (See Cat Defender post of March 23, 2006 entitled "South Africans, Supported by Ailurophobic PETA, Are Slaughtering More Cats on Robben Island.")

The Aussies' easy victory over the felines on Macquarie has turned out to be a Pyrrhic one, however, because it has led to an explosion in the population of rabbits, mice, and rats. The rodents have begun preying upon the eggs and chicks of the seabirds while the rabbits have decimated the island's vegetation which in turn has led to widespread erosion and an ecological catastrophe. The erosion is so extensive that some experts are predicting that it could take thousands of years before green grass flourishes again on Macca's once verdant rocky slopes.

Even breeding grounds have been destroyed. "Rookeries that exploited caves and crevices covered by cushion-shaped tussocks lost their cover in as little as one short southern summer, while the loosened debris plunged down onto the rocky beaches favored by Royal, King, Gentoo, and Rockhopper penguins and the fur and elephant seals," The Brunei Times reported on September 11th. (See "Ecological Disaster Ravages Jewel of Southern Ocean.")

"It's an embarrassment, it's a shocking situation. The tourists really are distressed when they see this horrible destruction all around them, and it's a very embarrassing thing to explain to well-traveled international tourists," Jenny Scott (See photo below), a biologist at the University of Tasmania, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on September 1st. (See "Macquarie Island Criticized as Environmental Disaster.") "So they (the slopes) now look brown, with tussock stumps and big erosion gullies and it's just heartbreaking to see."

It is not clear from press reports but apparently the feral cats largely kept the rabbits and mice in check and since they had relatively plenty to eat themselves they, too, left the seabirds alone. All of this took a disastrous turn for the worst in 1978 when the scientists decided to thin out the rabbits by infecting them with myxomatosis.

Like the feline panleucopenia virus, myxomatosis is a merciless killer. Rabbits infected with it develop tumors on their heads and genitals and often go blind; they also become listless, loose their appetites, run fevers, and sometimes come down with pneumonia. Worst still, the virus, which is transmitted by fleas and mosquitoes, can take as long as thirteen days to kill its victims.

With their food supply thus sharply reduced, the cats then allegedly began attacking the nests of the seabirds. This in turn prompted the Aussies to inaugurate their feral cat extermination program which in turn has inadvertently led to the current situation that is imperiling both the birds and the environment.

The Australians' barbarism and stupidity in this regard is reminiscent of the Catholics' mistreatment of cats during the Middle Ages. Declared by the Church to be the familiars of witches, cats were exterminated en masse which in turn led to the spread of the deadly bubonic plague by the unchecked rodent population. It is estimated that this sottise cost Europe twenty-five per cent of its citizens. (See Cat Defender post of May 22, 2006 entitled "Belgian Ritual of Tossing Stuffed Cats from Belfry Makes Jest of Hideous Crimes of Capitalists and Catholics.")

Like a rubber ball bouncing off the wall, the quick-witted Australians are now planning to launch an eradication program aimed at the rodents and rabbits as soon as the money is appropriated and the fingerpointing subsides. They may be able to get rid of the rabbits without too much trouble but ridding the island of the mice and rats will be considerably more difficult.

This is true for several reasons. First of all, some of the rodents may be indigenous and, secondly, undoubtedly more of them will continue to arrive on ships and in cargo containers. As is the case in the Galapagos and Robben Island, increased tourism will bring with it at the very least non-native parasites, insects, flora, and diseases never encountered by the native avian and mammalian populations.

According to Scott, the current situation could have been avoided if the scientists had left two-hundred or so cats alive to control the growth of the rabbit and rodent populations. This would have also given ANARE, she reasons, time to develop a comprehensive extermination program that would have rid the island of the entire kit and caboodle of all of them without engendering the current imbalances in nature and the attendant ecological disaster.

The Australians' barbaric treatment of animals, exploitation of the environment, and unparalleled stupidity are as old as the discovery of Macquarie. Starting with their arrival in 1810, the English colonialists immediately began exterminating the seals and penguins for their valuable pelts and oil.

Of course, wherever the colonialists have ventured they have brought along with them cats and rabbits. Because they multiply so profusely, rabbits were valued as a source of food both on long sea voyages and in new lands. Cats, on the other hand, have always been valued for their unmatched ability to keep the rodent population under control.

Clearly, neither the Australian capitalists nor the scientific community has either any intelligence or morality when it comes to the treatment of animals. Exploitation and extermination are all that they know or ever care to know. Their only solution to every problem that arises is to exterminate. The only value that either the animals or Mother Earth have to them is a monetary one and once they have gotten all that they can get out of them they are expendable.

The cats, rabbits, and mice who either live or used to live on Macquarie were brought to the island against their will by the colonialists and they are therefore the responsibility of the exploiters. Since they have decided that these animals' continued existence is detrimental to their pursuit of ecotourism dollars, they have a moral responsibility to humanely return them to their native lands.

Anderson and his fellow exterminators should be arrested and jailed for the remainder of their lives. Not only does justice demand that this be done, but it is the only way to ensure the continued survival of the rabbits, mice, and other non-income producing animals that live on Macquarie.

Contrary to what the murderous and greedy Australians believe, cats, rabbits, and even mice have just as much of a right to life as do birds and humans.

Photos: ANARE (base camp, seals, Jenny Scott, penguins), ABC (Mike Anderson and albatross), and Wikipedia (map).


Monday, September 18, 2006

Rescuers Lure Manx Kitten Named Piper from a Storm Drain in Salinas by Baiting a Trap with Mackerel and a Bell

"Le temps passe avec un chat n'est jamais perdu."
-- Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Little Piper's (See photo above) introduction to this wicked old world was a rough one. Just six-weeks-old and homeless, she suddenly found herself trapped in a dark and forbidding storm drain that was full of methane gas and other scary and unpleasant things and creatures. She was, quite naturally, frightened and hungry.

Rescuers in Salinas, California, who had been trying unsuccessfully for several days to save her, were about at their wits' end.

Firemen, such as Rick Smith (See photo below), had donned oxygen tanks and respirators and climbed down a manhole into the sixty-foot-wide, four-hundred-fifty-foot-long storm drain in order to look for her but every time they got to within striking distance the frightened kitten would run away. Restrained by the limited reach of their air hoses, the firemen were then forced to abandon the chase.

A video camera was lowered into the hole in an effort to pinpoint Piper's exact whereabouts, but all this accomplished was to provide fleeting amusement for the newborn. Food was tossed down and humane traps baited with more food were lowered to no avail.

Finally, after being trapped in her subterranean hellhole for around a week, Piper was brought to safety on September 9th when Judi Adams of the SPCA of Monterey County came up the idea of baiting a trap using a jingle ball with a bell and some mackerel.

Piper was chasing a leaf down the drain when she heard the jingle and detoured to the trap. (See photo above on the right.) The bell was necessary because rescuers feared that methane gas in the tunnel had dulled the kitten's sense of smell to the point where the fish alone would not be sufficient to lure her into the trap.

"It was really the ball that did it," Beth Brookhouser of the SPCA told The Californian of Salinas on September 11th. (See "Kitty Coaxed to Safety.") "(The kitten) was standing right on top of the mackerel before she realized, 'Oh, there's food here!'"

The black and white Manx (See photo on the left) appears not to have suffered any injuries as the result of her subterranean misadventures and she is reportedly now doing well. She will remain at the SPCA for a couple of weeks in order to give officials time to monitor her health and after that she will be put up for adoption.

Piper is, quite naturally, glad that her long ordeal is finally at an end. "She seems pretty happy to be in daylight again," Brookhouser added.

Piper's plight came to the public's attention on September 3rd when employees of a business park near Salinas Municipal Airport first detected her cries coming from a storm drain at the junction of Moffett and LaGuardia streets. The SPCA was called in on September 6th and Salinas Public Works and the fire department later joined the rescue effort.

It is not known how Piper got trapped, but storm drains are certainly large enough for her to have either purposefully crawled in or to have fallen in by mistake. She is fortunate that her cries were heard and help was summoned. Storm drains no doubt claim the lives of many kittens each year.

SPCA officials toyed with the notion of naming the kitten Stormy or Draino but when it was firmly established that she was indeed a female Piper was chosen instead.

Originally from the Isle of Man where their images still adorn coins and stamps, kayt Manninagh are usually tailless and their hind legs are longer than their front ones. Being hardy animals, they are much in demand by farmers as mousers.

Photos: Scott MacDonald of The Californian (Piper with toys), KSBW-TV of Gilroy (Piper in cage), SPCA of Monterey County (Piper), and David Royal of the Monterey County Herald (Rick Smith).

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Cat Killing Season Is in Full Swing All Across America as Shelters Ramp Up Their Mass Extermination Pogroms

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
-- Mohandas Gandhi

Each year tens of millions of cats and dogs are exterminated at shelters across the United States. Since most cats entering this aulirophobic world arrive during the spring, a high percentage of all feline executions occur during summer and autumn. Although America is justifiably condemned by the international community for its neglect of its poor, its failure to provide affordable health care, and its horrific war crimes against the Iraqis, Palestinians, and Lebanese, it is arguably its perennial mass slaughter of totally innocent cats and dogs that says the most about its barbaric nature.

The forlorn little kitten shown above is on death row at the Sonoma County Animal Shelter in Santa Rosa, California. If it is not adopted soon, it will be killed, dumped in the garbage, and forgotten like billions of its sisters and brothers have been in the past. More than seven-hundred cats and kittens were dumped at Sonoma County shelters during July and although kill rates have not been made public, Mickey Zeldes of the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter told The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa on August 29th that "undoubtedly euthanasia rates are going up." (See "Cats Jam Local Shelters.")

Compounding matters further is the fact that not as many cats are being adopted. "There's not the turnover. It's a one-way door," Zeldes added. This has prompted the Humane Society of Sonoma County to take the unusual step of offering would-be guardians a second cat at half-price if they will take two and this has helped somewhat to alleviate overcrowding at shelters.

Shelters charge adoption fees not only in order to make money but also allegedly to ensure that research labs, purveyors of feline and canine flesh and fur, and other abusers do not get their hands on cats and dogs. Only the first reason is valid and it has only limited merit.

High fees ($100) do not curtail evil individuals from adopting cats and dogs; money is no object for vivisectors and traffickers in animal flesh and fur. For example, when Senate Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist was studying medicine at Harvard he adopted a cat on the pretense that he was going to give it a good home but instead he took it back to his laboratory and used it as a guinea pig.

Background checks and follow-up home visits are the only ways that shelters can ensure that cats and dogs are being properly cared for in their new environments. Consequently, adoption fees should be lowered and even waived in certain circumstances if doing so will save lives.

Many poor families are willing to feed and care for either a cat or a dog but they are either unable or unwilling to pony up the adoption fee. In addition to the invaluable companionship that they offer, cats are superb mousers and dogs are capable of providing better home security than expensive alarm systems.

High adoption fees are inherently discriminatory and shelters should not be run by the bourgeoisie exclusively for the bourgeoisie. Tant pis, high adoption fees cost lives. Cats and dogs subsisting in low-income homes is far preferable to shelters full of dead animals.

There are undoubtedly some shelters that look upon homeless animals as a cash crop and accordingly prefer to see them dead than to let them go gratis or at a discount. These shelters should be closed and their proprietors jailed. Sheltering animals should be undertaken for only altruistic reasons, not financial considerations.

That which is true of adoption fees applies equally to sterilization costs. On the average it costs $135 to spay a cat and $85 to neuter one; for dogs, those figures are $205 and $153, respectively.

In Eugene, Oregon, a hodgepodge of animal welfare groups have formed a No Kill Community Coalition dedicated to establishing a low-cost sterilization clinic. They plan to offer feline alterations for $35 and canine sterilizations for $70. Poor residents will pay about one-third of the going rate with the coalition picking up the remainder. (See The Register-Guard, August 21, 2006, "No-Kill Coalition Sets Priority to Build Spay-Neuter Clinic.")

In the Bay State, the MSPCA and the Animal Rescue League of Boston admit to having exterminated twelve-thousand cats at their shelters last year. At SPCA shelters, only thirty-nine per cent of adult cats taken in last year made it out alive as compared to sixty-seven per cent of young kittens and sixty-four per cent of kittens between six and twelve-months-old. (See The Patriot Ledger, August 31, 2006, "Cat Population -- Overwhelmed: Feline Casualties Stacking Up; Shelters Euthanize as Kittens Multiply Like Rabbits.")

For shelters, killing cats and dogs is not only fun but dirt-cheap as well. A 250 milliliter bottle of sodium pentobarbital, the preferred poison of most animal houses of detention, costs only $45 and is sufficient to do away with eighty cats. That works out to fifty-five cents per cat plus an additional fifteen cents for the needle and syringe. Shelters in Massachusetts must also pay a small fee in order to use the MSPCA's crematory in Methuen.

The cats shown in the photo above on the right are two of more than fifty on death row at a shelter in Pembroke, thirty-eight kilometers from Boston. The Brockton MSPCA has thirty-two felines incarcerated and there are more than forty more at the Taunton Animal Shelter. All of this is in addition to hundreds of cats awaiting adoption at several no-kill shelters in the Boston area.

At Woodside Estates Mobile Home Park in Mansfield, Ohio, one-hundred-seven kilometers south of Cleveland, cat-hating residents have taken to shooting, poisoning with antifreeze, and running down with their vehicles some of the estimated one-hundred feral cats who have taken up residence there since the Humane Society of Richland County drastically scaled back its extermination program. Whereas it used to slaughter three-hundred felines per month, it has now stopped accepting more cats than it can find homes for and its kill-rate has nosedived to three to four cats a month. (See Mansfield's News Journal, August 15, 2006, "Mobile Home Park 'Overrun' by Stray Cats, Say Residents.")

This has led residents to falsely accuse the Humane Society, located northeast of the trailer park, of deliberately releasing cats that eventually find their way back to their doorsteps. (See photo above on the right of two cats underneath steps.) Since the organization used to foolishly allow individuals to drop off unwanted pets in boxes that it had placed outside, officials believe that people are now simply turning loose cats at the curb.

This is not an uncommon phenomenon since some irresponsible pet owners also dump unwanted cats outside bins that are intended for the collection of clothing and toys for the needy. It is as if they attach no more value to a cat's life than they do to an old pair of moth-eaten jeans. Not having the guts to commit such foul deeds on Christmas, some of these villainous pet owners hold off on abandoning their trusted companions until Boxing Day.

In central Ohio, the Licking County Animal Shelter is running a cat extermination factory. For instance, last year it killed 2,215 of its 2,437 feline residents. Feral and sick cats are slaughtered immediately upon arrival as are sick and aggressive dogs. (See The Advocate of Newark, August 29, 2006, "Residents Step Up to Care For, Control Cat Population.")

Since en masse exterminations of central Ohio's more than one million feral and stray cats is the only policy that public servants are willing to entertain, volunteer organizations such as the Cat Assistance Team of Central Ohio (CATCO) and concerned citizens such as Helen Gibbons of Helen's Family Restaurant in Newark and Dorothy Clow have begun trapping, sterilizing, and feeding homeless cats at their own expense.

Newark's Homeward Bound Humane Society, a nonprofit, no-kill organization, is operating at twice its capacity by sheltering sixty cats and twenty-four dogs. "I don't know how it couldn't be a good thing to help ferals or animals that are homeless," president Julie McCormack told The Advocate in the article cited supra. "Fortunately, it seems more and more people are helping."

In the photo below on the right a kitten whose mother was run down and killed by a motorist when she was only four-days-old is being bottle-fed by an attendant at Homeward Bound.

It is a sad commentary on the state of public affairs when practically all tax dollars go to capitalists, militarists, destroyers of the earth, and crooked politicians. Despite its humongous wealth, America has little or nothing to offer the animals, Mother Earth, or its downtrodden.

In Princeton, New Jersey, SAVE recently announced that it will no longer be admitting sickly cats and aggressive dogs. To the shelter's credit, however, it has already found a sanctuary in Minnesota that is willing to accept two of its five unadoptable dogs and fifteen cats that suffer from the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). (See Town Topics, August 30, 2006, "No-Kill Shelter Faces Dilemma, Animals Unsuitable for Adoption.")

While this strategy will no doubt free up space so that SAVE can place more adoptable cats and dogs in new homes, it is undeniably a death sentence for sickly and feral cats as well as aggressive dogs. It is therefore incumbent upon SAVE that it not completely turn its back on all unadoptable animals, but rather that it continue to help find sanctuaries for them until some other organization steps forward to fulfill this role.

At the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the feline extermination rate is nothing less than staggering. Through August of this year, 2,872 cats have been slaughtered but only 1,910 adopted; the reclaim rate for felines is a dismal eight per cent.

The kill-rate for dogs, although noticeably lower than that of felines, is still too high. So far this year 1,954 dogs have been executed but 3,107 have found new homes. The fact that forty per cent of all dogs entering the shelter are reclaimed by their owners suggests that either animal control is overzealous in carrying out its duties or that owners are allowing their canines to roam freely. (See The Gazette of Colorado Springs, September 3, 2006, "The Truth about Cats and Dogs.")

The shelter normally kills on the average twenty to twenty-five cats and dogs each day but because of the influx of kittens that number skyrockets to between thirty-five and thirty-eight during the summer months. The shelter takes in on the average between sixty-five and one-hundred cats and dogs per day and has one-hundred-eleven animals, primarily cats, living temporarily in foster homes.

In the photo below, Tabor Kailey of the Humane Society of Pikes Peak is shown administering a test for aggressiveness to a stray dog. How well canines and cats perform in these one-on-one interactions often determines whether they are allowed to go on living or are exterminated. If there is insufficient room at the inn, however, test performances are irrelevant and the animals are killed anyway.

All of the arguments advanced by shelters, veterinarians, and animal control officers for killing cats and dogs are bogus and dishonest. When Taunton Animal Control Officer Manny Massa told The Patriot Ledger in the article cited supra that "if they're feral, and we can't do anything with them, we have no choice but to put them down" he was lying. There are alternatives.

TNR has been proven to work in a multitude of instances all over the world. Claims by ailurophobes that feral cats damage property, kill an inordinate amount of birds, and stink up neighborhoods are lies. If for political reasons TNR is not feasible, sanctuaries such as 10th Life in Clewiston, Florida are a viable alternative.

Uncontrolled population growth, development, and pollution have however put the future of feral colonies and sanctuaries in jeopardy. If these detrimental forces are not brought under control soon, there will be neither the space nor an inhabitable environment to support either of these alternatives.

Also, not all sanctuaries are what they pretend to be. For instance, when sheriff's deputies and representatives of the Humane Society raided the Voice of the Animals' Camelot sanctuary in Blanchard, Idaho, forty-three kilometers from Sandpoint, on September 6th they uncovered a full-blown cat hoarding operation. (See photo below.)

More than four-hundred cats were crammed into dilapidated trailers that were coated with excrement from stem to stern. So far, officials have exterminated more than half of the felines allegedly for health reasons but an unwillingness to foot the bill for their medical treatment is most likely the real reason for their elimination. (See Bonner County Daily Bee, September 13, 2006, "Half of Camelot's Animals Euthanized.")

Despite the abhorrent behavior of officials in Blanchard, disease is not a valid excuse for killing cats since even those with FIV can live normal lives. Injured felines should receive medical care not death sentences and elderly cats should be allowed to complete their brief sojourns on this earth.

The same arguments apply equally to aged, sickly, and injured dogs. Although vicious canines may not be suitable for adoption, they certainly do not deserve the gallows either. Their aggression is not their fault; it is rather the product of their breeding and mistreatment by humans. Some of these animals respond to therapy and for those that do not there are sanctuaries.

More importantly, the tests that shelter workers have concocted in order to uncover wildness in cats and aggression in dogs are subterfuges designed to provide a convenient cover so that they can safely play God. Almost any cat or dog incarcerated at a shelter will behave in a frightened and unfriendly manner because they instinctively know that they have lost not only their homes and liberty but that their continued existence is also in jeopardy. Removed from the hellish, disease-ridden environment that characterizes all shelters, most cats and dogs do not exhibit violent behavior.

Only an act of Congress or a constitutional amendment will ever put an end to pet genocide. It is disgraceful that this is not the number one priority of all animal rights groups. Since these organizations are unwilling to act, it is up to animal lovers to take their case to the streets and to demand that the political establishment recognize the moral imperative and outlaw pet genocide once and for all time.

Since national action is not on the horizon, the fight must therefore be concentrated at the local level where the number one priority must be the closing of all shelters and the firing of all animal control officers. They are the problem, not the solution. As long as they are allowed to make money off of trafficking in cats and dogs the exterminations will never end. (See Cat Defender posts of November 23, 2005 and May 11, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Texas Newspaper Defends Pet Genocide by Publishing Graphic Photographs of Shelter Workers Exterminating a Dog," and "Mass Murderers at SPCA Are Operating an Auschwitz for Cats and Dogs in Lakeland, Florida.")

So-called no-kill shelters are another fraud. Most of these facilities have rather limited capacities which means that they turn away far more cats and dogs than they accept; consequently, they leave the killing to the public shelters. Moreover, their proscription against killing does not extend to sickly and aged animals or to feral cats and aggressive dogs.

Shelters should be replaced by spacious adoption agencies, sanctuaries, and foster homes. In order to make this a reality, there must be a drastic increase in public funding for animal care and welfare.

Innovative adoption strategies are also desperately needed. Many libraries already have feline mascots and other public institutions as well as commercial establishments should be encouraged to adopt cats and dogs. Laws prohibiting pets from apartments buildings and old folks' homes should be scrapped.

Finding homes, sanctuaries, and rural environments for homeless cats and dogs is sans doute a daunting challenge but Nathan Winograd, a well-known former shelter director in San Francisco, believes that it is doable. In fact, he is quoted in The Register-Guard article cited supra as declaring that a shelter running at peak efficiency can find homes for almost all stray and abandoned animals as well as feral cats.

Photos: Jeff Kan Lee of The Press Democrat (kitten at Santa Rosa shelter), Marc Vasconcellos of The Patriot Ledger (cats at Pembroke shelter), Jason Molyet of the News Journal (cats under steps), Morgan Wonorski of The Advocate (kitten with bottle), Brienne Boortz of The Gazette (dog), and Keith Kinnaird of the Bonner County Daily Bee (Voice of the Animals' Camelot sanctuary).

Monday, September 11, 2006

Selfish and Brutal Eggheads at Central Michigan University Target a Colony of Feral Cats for Defamation and Eradication

"He who is cruel to animals becomes hard in his dealings with man. We can judge the heart of man by his treatment of animals."
-- Immanuel Kant

Ailurophobia is by no means limited to the hoi polloi but rather its ugly tentacles extend far and deep into the ranks of the intelligentsia. Most notably, vivisectors and dissectors have a long and shameful history of butchering and torturing cats and other animals all the while hiding behind the cloak of academic respectability.

Although it is not nearly as well-known, American universities also have an extensive record of abusing and, in some instances, exterminating feral cats. A good case in point is Central Michigan University's (CMU) recent decision to do away with a colony of about fifteen cats (See photo above of a feline outside Grawn Hall) who have been residing at its Mount Pleasant campus since at least early summer.

Not only have campus pest management specialist Dave Swayze and Isabella County animal control officer Val McCullough ordered that the cats be trapped and removed, but they also have launched a malicious defamation campaign against them. In order to transform their fiendish plot into a reality they are spreading the often repeated but completely unfounded lie that feral cats carry rabies, parasites, and bacterial infections that make them a hazard to both humans and household pets.

Au contraire, most feral cats are remarkably healthy. They rarely contract rabies and the only parasite that they are known to carry which is harmful to humans is toxoplasmosis gondii and it can only be contracted by ingesting cat feces. (See Cat Defender post of May 16, 2006 entitled "Kansas City Vets Break Ranks with AVMA to Defend Cats Against Bird Advocates, Wildlife Proponents, and Exterminators.")

As far as domestic pets are concerned, it is doubtful that they are even allowed on campus, let alone permitted to run free; consequently, there is little or no chance of them coming into contact with the ferals.

Swayze and McCullough also object to the fact that some kindhearted students have been not only feeding the cats but also releasing some of them from traps set outside Grawn Hall (See photo below) which houses the Business Administration Department and Ronan Hall (See old black and white photo below) which used to house the library. "Feral cats pose a risk to humans and pet cats are not supposed to be running wild, so it is a good idea for students to consider all cats they see as being feral and leave them be," McCullough told the student newspaper Central Michigan Life on August 31, 2006. (See "Campus Sees Cat Infestation.")

Swayze is such an inveterate cat-hater that he would much prefer to see the cats die of starvation than for the students to feed them. "People who feed wild cats should know that they are not doing the animals a favor. Competition for food often results in fights and injury (sic) to the animals. Several cats that I have caught in that area showed obvious bite scars and signs of old injuries."

Life on the street is rough and cats, like homeless people, occasionally get banged up but that is going to happen to cats regardless of whether humans feed them. Since Swayze admits to having snared a number of raccoons, opossums, and skunks in his traps, it is more than likely that the felines sustained their injuries scrapping with these animals rather than by fighting with each other over food. (See Cat Defender post of August 28, 2006 entitled "Marauding Pack of Vicious Raccoons Rip Ten House Cats to Shreds and Terrorize Residents but Wildlife Officials Refuse to Intervene.")

"... hungry cats do no make the best mousers."
--- Carl Van Vechten, The Tiger in the House

Swayze furthermore categorically declares that feeding homeless cats reduces their ability to provide for themselves. Anyone even remotely familiar with the feline world knows just how ludicrous that statement is since even well-fed house cats continue to hunt if they are allowed outside. As Carl Van Vechten noted in his seminal work, The Tiger in the House, "... hungry cats do not make the best mousers."

CMU is certainly not alone in attempting to starve to death its unwanted cats. Back in 2003, Cornell fired sixty-seven-year-old dairyman John Beck for feeding feral cats on its Harford, New York campus. (See Cat Defender post of June 14, 2006 entitled "Kindhearted Dairyman, Sacked for Feeding Feral Cats, Files $20 Million Lawsuit Against Cornell University.")

Swayze is being truthful only when he admits that he views the felines as a nuisance. Just as municipalities all across America are locking away the homeless out-of-sight and out-of-mind in shelters and jails, college campuses like CMU do not want the world to know that they have a homeless cat problem.

Moreover, Central Michigan Life reporter Milinda Wilson is also probably shading the truth when she declares that the cats first showed up on campus this summer. More than likely they were abandoned at the close of the spring semester back in May by irresponsible students hotfooting it out of town for their summer vacations. This sort of crass use and abuse of cats is endemic to practically every college in America.

Consequently, the welfare of these cats is preeminently the responsibility of the students and administrators at CMU. With a student body just shy of 28,000 and with four-hundred-eighty acres of land at its disposal, CMU (See photo at the bottom of the page) is not only as rich as Croesus but it has plenty of space in order to accommodate the cats. It should therefore spend some of its precious shekels on either finding them new homes or providing them with on-campus veterinary care, food, and permanent housing. All campuses have a surplus of half-empty basements and underutilized outbuildings that could easily be converted into feline housing.

Swayze told Central Michigan Life that wildlife accidentally trapped are released on undeveloped sections of campus but that most of the cats are given to farmers with the remainder being "placed with people who are equipped to deal with them." Then in a slick attempt to reassure cat-lovers he craftily added, "The office of pest management never destroys or injures any animals caught in these traps."

Swayze chooses his words with the meticulous care of a Blair or a Clinton and his assurances therefore cannot be taken at face value. Most likely what all this double talk means is that he is giving the cats to McCullough who in turn is exterminating them.

That is the usual modus operandi of most phony-baloney, inherently immoral, intellectuals who spend their allotted time on this earth strutting around college campuses with their dirty schnozzles poked high in the air, their forked tongues wagging nonstop, meerschaums dangling from their pursed lips, and cobs stuck up their hairy, overgrown cracks. Although they no doubt lack the guts to exterminate the cats themselves, they certainly do not have any reservations about allowing some outsider to do their dirty, murderous deeds for them.

Like journalists, university professors and administrators consider themselves to be exempt from such mundane concerns as morality. Because of the exalted positions that they occupy they feel that the world owes them adulation and a ton of money whereas they do not owe society, Mother Earth, or the animals anything.

In his Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce defines a lecturer as someone who has "his hand in your pocket, his tongue in your ear and his faith in your patience." Not surprisingly, about all that anyone ever gets out of intellectuals is either hypocrisy or sottise; they only become animated when they are pimping for either the capitalists or the militarists.

If either Central Michigan Life or the student body had any backbone or genuine concern for the welfare of these cats they would demand an accounting from the school's administration as to the fate of each one of them. In particular, someone should visit them at their new homes in order to verify that school officials are being truthful.

Those cats still living on campus should be photographed and their trapping, removal, and relocation independently monitored and verified at each step of the way. Unless the students prevail upon them to do the morally correct thing, the administrators will take the fast, cheap, and brutal way out by mercilessly exterminating the cats.

These cats' lives are not any less precious than those of the suits, dons, and acolytes of CMU. Like man, they have an inalienable right to life and freedom. Besides, they have not committed any grievous crimes against society unless, c'est-a-dire, having the temerity to breathe is now considered to be a capital offense.

If they had any interest in either doing the right thing or in their own edification, the administrators at CMU could learn a lot from the sterling example set by Hofstra University. When she died, Kate Hofstra left money in her will for the care and maintenance of the stray and feral cats that were then living on the Hempstead, Long Island campus that bears her name.

Her legacy lives on today thanks to the efforts of administrator Camille Marryat, Animal Lifeline, a New York State animal rescue group, and the generosity of anonymous donors who see to it that the felines are provided with food, shelter, desexing, and veterinary care. New homes are also provided for those cats that are friendly enough to be adopted. (See The Chronicle of Hofstra, February 3, 2005, "Cats Find Refuge.")

Photographs: Ryan Evon of Central Michigan Life (cat) and Central Michigan University (Grawn Hall, Ronan Hall, and campus entrance).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Pair of Homeless Kittens Rescued from Condemned Veterans Stadium Win Back-to-Back Best Household Pet Awards

Hagrid-of-Hogwarts (See photo on the right) rebounded from a sixth place finish in 2005 to win this year's Best Household Pet award from the American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA). His sister, Hermione-of-Hogwarts (See photo below) took home the award last year.

The brown and white polydactyl male, who beat out eight-hundred-twenty-one contestants from thirty-nine states and four Canadian provinces, was honored last week in Lexington, Kentucky with a ribbon and the Betty Haralampus Trophy. He will also receive a listing in ACFA's yearbook.

Unlike purebreds, household cats are judged on overall physical appearance, cleanliness, and their friendliness toward the judges. In Hagrid's case, show judge Joan Apel-Klarner of Rockford, Illinois was impressed by his glossy coat, playfulness and, especially, the six toes that he has on his front paws.

"His feet make him comical," she told the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 30th. (See "Cat Saved from Stadium Implosion Named Top Pet.") "He sticks out like a sore thumb with all those toes. He almost looks as if he has hands, instead of feet."

Hagrid originally had seven toes on each back paw but his guardian, West Chester University professor Linda Hanna (See photo above) of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, had three of them surgically removed because they were allegedly in the way. This is a debatable point. Since she started exhibiting him and Hermione when they were only four-months-old it is conceivable that the desire to win cat shows was the primary motivation behind her decision to mutilate him.

Hanna does admit to preparing Hagrid and Hermione for competition by wiping them down with a warm washcloth and then applying a conditioner to their coats. Hopefully, she uses a nontoxic product and removes it immediately after the shows so as to prevent them from ingesting any harmful substances while grooming themselves.

Even more remarkable than their winning back-to-back cat shows is the fact that they were two of seven homeless kittens that Hanna rescued from Veterans Stadium (See photo below) in south Philadelphia shortly before it has demolished on March 21, 2004. She bottle-fed the two-week-old kittens and decided to keep Hagrid and Hermione. One of their littermates died and the fate of the other four is unknown.

Being show cats is certainly a big improvement over being dead cats, but it is not any bowl of cherries. Cats are territorial and do not like to travel. By constantly entering them in cat shows, Hanna is forcing them to spend a disproportionate amount of their existence cooped up in pet carriers while they are being transported from one city to another. This is no doubt both frightening and stressful for them.

Plus, there is the de rigueur of all the incessant training and grooming that they are force to endure as well as the unnecessary surgical procedures designed to improve their appearance. Both Hagrid and Hermione have also been sterilized.

Cats' lives should be their own. They should not be exploited just so that humans can win awards, fame and, in some instances, money. Besides, what use does a cat have for money or ribbons?

Hanna is also guilty of perpetuating that disgusting trend of naming cats after characters out of Joanne Rowling's Harry Potter series. For example, Assistant Brooklyn District Attorney Carol Moran named her cats Fred and George after the Weasley twins. (See Cat Defender post of August 17, 2006 entitled "Brave Little Fred the Undercover Cat Has His Short, Tragic Life Snuffed Out by a Hit-and-Run Driver in Queens.")

There are no doubt advantages in this ploy, but naming cats after popular culture figures and then entering them in an endless parade of cat shows is nothing less than naked exploitation that borders on animal cruelty.

Photos: American Cat Fanciers Association (Hagrid with Linda Hanna, and Hermione) and www.about.philadelphia.com (Veterans Stadium).