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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

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yobs Celebrating Guy Fawkes Day Kill a Twelve-Year-Old Cat Named Tigger with Fireworks; a Cat Named Sid Is Severely Burned

"Every year, it is the same story, cowardly idiots who have no sense or feelings are allowed fireworks. The sale of fireworks to the public should now be banned; only licensed firework display (sic) should be allowed."
-- Moggies

For some inexplicable reason, people all over the world are attracted to the loud bang and flash of multicolored lights associated with pyrotechnics. In the United States, they are an indispensable part of every Fourth of July celebration. For the Chinese, no lunar new year would be complete without them. The same is true for the recently concluded Guy Fawkes Day observances in England and South Africa.

As exhilarating as they are to some people, fireworks are very stressful and often deadly for both domestic animals and wildlife alike. Not only do they claim their fair share accidental and unintended victims, but there are some twisted minds in this wicked old world who get a perverted kick out of employing them in order to inflict pain and suffering upon defenseless animals.

One such sad and tragic case occurred October 31st in the London suburb of New Addington when a twelve-year-old cat named Tigger was purposefully killed by fireworks during a night of revelry in the run-up to Guy Fawkes Day on November 5th. The senseless killing has left Tigger's guardians, Ray Purkiss and his nine-year-old daughter, Stephanie, devastated. (See photo above of them holding a picture of Tigger.)

Since Tigger had burn marks all around his bottom, it is likely that fireworks were strapped to his tiny body and then ignited. As is the case with so much crime in Old Blighty nowadays, yobs are suspected.

"I suspect that it was kids. I just can't imagine that adults would do anything so cruel," Purkiss told the Croyden Guardian on November 3rd. (See "Another Cat Killed with Fireworks.") "I have lived around New Addington for thirty-five years but have never known anything quite like this to happen around here," he added.

The cat advocacy group Moggies was equally outraged. "Every year, it is the same story, cowardly idiots who have no sense or feelings are allowed fireworks. The sale of fireworks to the public should be banned; only licensed firework display (sic) should ever be allowed," a spokesperson wrote on its website.

Purkiss wholeheartedly concurs. "Fireworks are just too accessible nowadays, anyone can get hold of them -- something has to be done about it," he told the Croyden Guardian.

Indeed statistics bear out both Purkiss's and Moggies' concerns. According to the Royal SPCA, reports of injured and traumatized animals as the result of Guy Fawkes Day fireworks increased by eighty-two per cent in 2005.

A couple of days earlier on October 29th, a one-year-old gray tomcat named Sid was found severely burned and bleeding in a garden near Royston Mains Road in the Edinburgh suburb of Granton. Since he was covered in masking tape, it is patently obvious that he had been held down while rockets were taped to his body.

The cat, who was rushed to E-Vets in Edinburgh suffering from first degree burns, is now, mercifully, recuperating at Braid Veterinary Hospital in nearby Newington. (See photo on the left of him with nurse Cheryl McKenzie.) "We are very pleased that he has survived this ordeal, as the attack could have quite easily killed him," Christina Harkness of E-Vets told the BBC on October 31st. (See "Cat Scarred After Firework Attack.")

So far, the cat has responded well to treatment but it is going to take him a long time to heal. If his owner does not come forward, Sid will be transferred to the Scottish SPCA where he will continue his recuperation.

Natalie Smart of the Scottish SPCA summed up the feelings of cat lovers everywhere when she said, "The attack was brutal and unprovoked. The people responsible for this despicable act need to be caught as they may be a danger to other animals, or even to other people."

This latest atrocity comes on the heels of an especially gruesome attack last year upon a cat named Oscar (See photo below) from Hamilton, fifty-six kilometers from Edinburgh, who was not only assaulted with fireworks but also tossed onto a bonfire. Although he was fortunate enough to survive the attack, he is scarred for life.

There is an old saying that a friendly cat is a dead cat and sure enough it was Sid's and Oscar's tameness that nearly cost them all nine of their lives. "Both cats are extremely friendly and we fear that this sense of trust is what put them into danger with the thugs who carried out the attacks," Smart theorized for the Edinburgh Evening News on October 31st. (See "Police Hunt Thugs Who Taped Firework to Cat.")

Although individuals who perpetrate these diabolical acts of animal cruelty do not deserve to go on living, the death penalty would be far too humane a punishment for them. They should instead be given a strong dose of their own medicine.

In South Africa, one-hundred-twenty-one incidents involving fireworks had already been reported to the SPCA by November 3rd with many more expected over the holiday weekend.

In one particularly macabre case, a feral cat living in the Durban suburb of Clairwood was so frightened by the loud explosions that it unwittingly jumped into a barrel of tar. By the time rescuers arrived the tar had begun to set and the SPCA, rather than attempting to extricate it, elected to kill it instead.

Unfortunately, killing cats that are traumatized but not otherwise injured by fireworks is all too common in South Africa. "In some cases animals become so traumatized that they are permanently scarred and have to be put down months later," the SPCA's Jacqui Dewar told the Durban Daily News on November 3rd. (See "SPCA Officials Face Their Own Trauma.")

"It's a tough job and we have to keep our emotions on hold as we often see dead animals and badly injured ones that run into cars," Dewar added. "Often we deal with animals that have run away because of fireworks or are caged and tied up. You have to put yourself in their position and ask if you would like to be treated like that."

Although no official statistics are kept as to the number of animals killed and maimed by Fourth of July firecrackers, in 2005 thirty frightened dogs were killed by motorists when they fled into the streets of Tucson. (See Cat Defender post of July 11, 2005 entitled "Thirty Dogs Are Killed Fleeing Fireworks.") If that is any indication, the number of cats and dogs killed either directly or indirectly by fireworks must be in the tens of thousands.

Moreover, it is not only domestic animals that are harmed by fireworks but wildlife as well. Worst still, deer, rabbits, squirrels, birds, and other animals do not have anyone to either look after their well-being or to comfort them.

Photos: Croyden Guardian (Reg and Stephanie Purkiss), Rob McDougall of the Edinburgh Evening News (Sid), and Centre Press (Oscar).

Monday, November 27, 2006

After Surviving on Its Own for at Least Two-Million Years, Rare Japanese Wildcat Faces Its Toughest Battle Yet

"Cats don't belong to people. They belong to places."
-- Wright Morris

On a remote Japanese island in the Pacific one of the world's rarest and most endangered cats is waging an heroic uphill struggle not to join the woolly mammoth and the dodo as just another historical curiosity.

Unknown to the outside world until its discovery by Japanese writer and naturalist Yukio Togawa in 1965, Prionailurus iriomotensis (or Felis iriomotensis) is found only on the subtropical island of Iriomoto, two-hundred kilometers east of Taiwan. (See map below.) The cat, which au premier coup d'oeil could be mistaken for Felis domesticus, is thought by most researchers to actually be a separate species that originated in China before the shima broke off from the mainland.

More astonishingly, the International Society for Endangered Cats has reported that fossils found on a neighboring island strongly suggest that the cat has existed as a separate species for more than two-million years. By way of comparison, Homo Sapiens have only been around for a mere one-hundred-fifty-thousand years.

Not everyone agrees with this analysis, however. For example, some researchers have suggested that the Iriomote wildcat is an offshoot of the leopard (Prionailurus bengalensis). Anatomical differences between the two cats, however, cast doubt on this hypothesis. For one thing, the Iriomote cat's claws are neither fully sheathed nor do they fully retract. Also, its toes are partially webbed.

The cats, which are approximately the same size as domestic felines, have dark-brown fur that is marked with dark spots that tend to merge into bands. (See photos above and below.) They have yellow eyes with white spots on the backs of their rounded ears. They divide their time between the mountainous tropical rainforest that comprises the interior of the two-hundred-eighty-two square kilometer shima and the sandy beaches along the exterior. Their interior habitat is legally protected but not the coastal areas.

Being primarily carnivores, their diet consists of fruit bats, wild pigs, rodents, box turtles, skinks, frogs, crabs, birds, and insects. In marked distinction to their domestic cousins, they do not have any aversion to the water and are not only excellent swimmers but adept at supplementing their diet with several varieties of fish including mudskipper.

They mate usually between December and March and again in September and October. These unions, however, only produce between one and four kittens. Although they have been known to leave their mothers at as early as three-months of age, the newborns do not reach sexual maturity until they are approaching their first birthday.

Although the cat has been legally protected since 1967, less then one-hundred of them are known to survive. Whereas some experts maintain that their population has remained stable for the past forty years, others feel that the species is actually in decline. Despite concerted efforts on the part of the Japanese government to save it, the cat is facing considerable obstacles.

As usual, the money men are the principal culprits in its decline. An estimated fifteen-hundred of the shima's twenty-two-hundred residents are engaged in ever-expanding sugar cane, pineapple, and rice growing operations as well as cattle ranching. Indigenous residents, who have long known of its existence, also hunt the yamaneko (mountain cat) for its flesh which they consider to be a delicacy. Seven-hundred-thousand tourists also visit the so-called "Galapagos of Asia" each year no doubt, in part, with the hope of getting a glimpse of the reclusive cat.

This flurry of activity has led not only to a reduction in the cat's habitat but the corresponding increase in vehicular traffic claims the lives of approximately ten of them each year. To their credit, the Japanese have built eighty cat underpasses along the shima's main two-lane highway in addition to erecting numerous cat crossing warning signs and information billboards. (See photos below.)

A twenty-four-hour hotline also has been set up in order to encourage motorists and others to report injured cats. Once a call is received, the cats are collected and transported to the Iriomote Wildlife Conservation Center where scientists such as Maki Okamura (See photo below) use specially installed video cameras in order to monitor their progress. Not having humans in sick bay all the time reduces stress on the cats and helps to hasten their recovery.

Not knowing when to put the brakes on both technology and their own ambitions, champions of the cat unfortunately have gotten on the surveillance bandwagon. For instance, remote cameras have been installed in the jungle in order to keep tabs on their comings and goings and some of them have been fitted with radio transmitters.

Although the conservationists strenuously argue that these measures are intended only to keep track of the number of cats that remain and to delineate their range, this is a subterfuge in order to allow them to make guinea pigs out of their subjects. Like all animals, the cats need protected habitats, not surveillance.

Even though the specifics of the tagging program are not known, it can nonetheless be safely assumed that all injured cats brought to the rehabilitation center have radio transmitters implanted under their skin. The researchers possibly could be fitting transmitters into collars but since they have a tendency to come off this is somewhat less likely although not totally out of the question.

In addition to being unnecessary and extremely stressful, trapping and tagging can sometimes be lethal. The scientific community and in particular the World Wildlife Fund should be compelled to reveal not only how many animals that they kill trapping and tagging but also how many later die from complications engendered by this mischief. It is therefore imperative that all tagging and snooping on the animals be outlawed. (See Cat Defender post of May 4, 2006 entitled "Scientific Community's Use of High-Tech Surveillance Is Aimed at Subjugating, Not Saving, the Animals.")

Other factors adversely affecting the cat's survival chances include interbreeding with domestic cats, which is reducing its available gene pool, and new diseases that are being introduced to the island by way of tourism and development. Crab traps and predators such as stray dogs are also having a deleterious impact.

"The wildcat's barely hanging on," Okamura confessed to the Environmental News Network on October 27th. (See "One of the World's Rarest Wildcats Tests Japan's Resolve to Save the Environment.") Nonetheless, "We still have time to save it," she optimistically added.

Japan's past record on both the animals and the environment is indeed a dismal one. A large number of both animals and birds have been either hunted to oblivion or had their habitats so ravaged by developers that they eventually became extinct. Most notably, the Japanese slaughter thousands of whales each autumn and winter in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. (See Cat Defender post of January 27, 2006 entitled "Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace Run Out of Fuel Leaving Minke Whales to the Mercy of Japanese Harpooners.")

This year the Japanese intend to kill one-thousand-seventy minkes plus a cumulative total of one-hundred-seventy Brydes, seis, sperm, and fins. Before leaving for the Antarctic on November 15th, the Japanese whaling fleet slaughtered thirty-five whales off of Hokkaido. (See Environmental News Network, November 15, 2006, "Japanese Research Fleet Leaves for Annual Antarctic Hunt.")

The Japanese's barbaric treatment of marine mammals is not limited to whales. For instance, every year they herd up to twenty-one-thousand bottlenose dolphins into shallow coves and then eviscerate them with knives. These senseless killings serve no purpose other than to provide the Japanese with an opportunity to demonstrate their manhood and to thumb their noses at international opinion. (See Washington Post, November 20, 2006, "Intelligence of Dolphins Cited in Fight Against Hunt" and Environmental News Network, November 21, 2006, "Group Wants Japan to End Dolphin Hunting.")

Despite its shortcomings, the program to save the Iriomote wildcat is a welcomed about-face on the part of the Japanese. Also, the fact that the cat's image now adorns municipal buses, key chains, coffee mugs, and refrigerator magnets is a sign that animal rights issues are slowly creeping into the consciousness of the Japanese public.

Having been called a living fossil by some, the Iriomote wildcat is one of the animal kingdom's precious gems. To allow this very rare cat to disappear is unthinkable. It is therefore imperative that not only the Japanese but conservationists around the world take drastic steps to ensure its survival.

First of all, its protected habitat desperately needs to be expanded to include coastal areas as well as the jungle. Development must be drastically curtailed and severe restrictions need to be placed on the operation of motor vehicles. Since the cat is primarily nocturnal, vehicular traffic should be banned after dark.

Laws are also needed to curb the scientific community's curiosity and fascist tendencies. The cat will only survive if it is left alone in a protected habitat. As Wright Morris and other have often remarked, "Cats don't belong to people. They belong to places."

Photos: Web Japan (wildcat, map), Iriomote Ranger Office (wildcat), Kanpira (road signs), and Itsuo Inouye of the Associated Press (Maki Okamura).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

An Evil Galveston Bird Lover Is Finally Arrested After Having Gunned Down Hundreds of Cats

"To have known, at close quarters, what absolute evil means is to be armored against what life can do to you."
-- Agatha Christie, The Third Girl

This is a call to arms for all cat lovers.

For all too many years cat advocates have stood placidly by while bird lovers have vilified, abused, and murdered cats. The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has lobbied hard to have them placed under house arrest. The National Audubon Society, National Wildlife, National Geographic, PETA, and others have been so brazen as to call for the roundup and extermination of all feral cats. (See Cat Defender post of April 15, 2005 entitled "National Geographic Trying to Exterminate Cats.")

Monsters like Richard DeSantis in West Islip, Long Island and Debbie and Robert McCallum of Edmonds, Washington have illegally trapped their neighbors' cats and turned them over to shelters to exterminate. (See Cat Defender posts of June 15, 2006 and October 30, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Serial Cat Killer on Long Island Traps Neighbors' Cats and Then Gives Them to Shelter to Exterminate" and "Collar Saves a Cat Named Turbo from Extermination After He Is Illegally Trapped by Bird-Loving Psychopaths.")

Just as birds of a feather have a tendency to flock together, cat-hating bird enthusiasts and wildlife proponents are kindred spirits. Par exemple, Pat Conrad, a fan of sea otters, wants all feral cats to be killed as does snake lover Paul Klawinski of William Jewel College in Liberty, Missouri. (See Cat Defender posts of March 3, 2006 and May 16, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Cat-Hating Professor at UC-Davis and the BBC Call for the Extermination of 78 Million Feral Felines" and "Kansas City Vets Break Ranks with AVMA to Defend Cats Against Bird Advocates, Wildlife Proponents, and Exterminators.")

In Washington State, wildlife officials refuse to lift a finger to stop raccoons and coyotes from invading residential neighborhoods and killing cats. (See Cat Defender posts of August 28, 2006 and October 2, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Marauding Pack of Vicious Raccoons Rip Ten House Cats to Shreds and Terrorize Residents but Wildlife Officials Refuse to Intervene" and "Coyotes, Cheered on by Wildlife Officials, Join Raccoons in Killing Cats and Dogs in Washington State.")

If all of that were not bad enough, the United States military has taken it upon itself to kill every cat that it sees as it spreads murder and mayhem around the globe. (See Cat Defender post of November 14, 2006 entitled "Military Killing Cats and Dogs by the Tens of Thousands as Imperialistic America Attempts to Conquer the World.")

Bird advocates continue, however, to be cats' most diabolical and unscrupulous opponents. The latest and most egregious outrage against cats has been committed by Galveston, Texas bird lover Jim Stevenson (See photo above) who was arrested on November 8th for murdering a pregnant cat with a .22 rifle near the San Luis Pass Bridge. Worst still, the cat already had a limp from a gunshot wound to the foot earlier in the week that was no doubt also inflicted by Stevenson.

Although it is not known exactly how many cats reside near the bridge, at least ten of them have been gunned down during the past year. Four were killed during the first week of November alone. Like all murderous fascists, Stevenson just either did not know when to quit or thought that he was immune to capture.

In all likelihood the fifty-three-year-old former high school teacher from Tallahassee would still be at it if it were not for the intervention of toll collector John Newland. Knowing that the game was up, Stevenson complied with Newland's order to stop shooting but like the yellow-bellied coward that he is he got in his truck and fled.

Newland then got in his pickup truck and eventually was able to run down the murderer. Stevenson then rammed Newland's truck with his own vehicle and took to his heels but by that time the police had arrived and he was promptly arrested.

Newland and co-worker Howard Etzel have names for each of the cats (See photo below) that live near the bridge and consider them to be pets. They feed them and bury the bodies of Stevenson's victims underneath the span.

"I can't talk about it. I'm almost afraid to get them too tame because they trust people and people like this morning come out here and shoot them," Newland told KHOU-TV in Houston on November 8th. (See "Prominent Bird Expert Charged With Shooting Cat.") "They're just like family. I told my wife that when I die, I want my ashes to be buried here under the bridge (See photo below) so I can protect the cats," he added.

Etzel, meanwhile, was puzzled by Stevenson's killing spree. "Somebody like that just has to hate animals," he told KHOU-TV. "How can he be a birdwatcher and then hate cats? I don't know."

Compounding matters further, this is not a story simply about the murder of one cat or of ten cats. Au contraire, Stevenson's murder spree dates back at least ten years and involves hundreds of cats. In particular, in a January 21, 1999 post on a website maintained by the University of Houston (listserv.UH.edu) he confesses to being a mass murderer of cats. The pertinent part of his anti-cat screed declares: "... I sighted my .22 rifle and killed about two-dozen cats in about the first year."

Any simpleton can crunch the numbers. If this diabolical monster is gunning down at a minimum twenty-four cats per year he must have killed at least two-hundred-forty of them over the past decade. The figure could actually be ten times that because he admits in the same post that he has also trapped cats. Moreover, if he is shooting and trapping felines he is also most likely poisoning them as well.

The web post reveals Stevenson to be an egomaniacal psychopath who is totally incapable of differentiating between right and wrong and truth and falsehood. He first of all makes the ludicrous claim that cats do not belong outdoors because they are not a natural part of the environment. Where did they come from then? Was it from outer space or a test tube?

As any fool knows, not only have there always been feral and stray cats but even most domestic cats have always lived outdoors. Historically, cats have been kept primarily at home and on farms as mousers; confining them to apartments as pets is a relatively new development that is practiced almost exclusively in crowded urban areas.

After than inauspicious beginning, he proceeds to blame the feline species for causing "innocent" motorists to feel "pain and guilt" when they run them down in the street. No one but either an inveterate cat-hater or a complete idiot would ever make such an absurd statement. Far from feeling remorse, motorists run down cats, dogs, and even Stevenson's precious birds for the thrill of doing so.

Not only are cats extremely cautious but they are also fleet of foot; consequently, any motorist behind the wheel of a car equipped with an advanced suspension system, good tires, and properly working brakes has to go out of his or her way in order to kill a cat or any other animal for that matter. The same is true of the five-thousand pedestrians that motorists annually slaughter each year across the country. Of course, in Stevenson's case he sans doute steps on the accelerator and turns the wheel over every time he sees a cat crossing the street.

He next claims that by gunning down defenseless cats he is actually doing them a favor. "My only aim (so to speak) is to kill them without much pain, but this would pale in comparison to the pain they die with from diseases and starvation (which eventually happens to many feral cats)." Statements like that leave little doubt that he would gladly apply his perverted morality to all animals and individuals that he dislikes.

He also lamely attempts to justify his killings by claiming that he shoots only wild cats and those without collars. Newland's and Etzel's statements prove that he is lying about not killing tame cats and collars are difficult to detect from rifle range. It is quite obvious that he simply hates all cats and does not care about their status. For instance, when has any cat-hating bird lover ever restrained from attacking domestic cats?

He caps off his virulent spiel by calling upon PETA to trap and take care of all feral and stray cats. In doing so, he is obviously either being ironic or showing his stupidity because, like him, PETA also wants to kill all homeless cats. In fact, at its Norfolk, Virginia shelter it has a kill rate of around eighty-five per cent.

The fact that a serial cat killer could operate for so long and in the open raises serious questions not only about the lax law enforcement in Galveston but also the commitment and vigilance of cat advocates both locally and nationally. (See Cat Defender post of October 27, 2006 entitled "Tiny Kitten Named Zoe Has Her Ears Cut Off by Fiends but Texas Police Do Not Seem to Care.")

If either group had been doing its job, Stevenson would have been caught and put away a long time ago and hundreds of cats would still be alive today. Their dereliction of duty makes Newland's heroics all the more laudable.

Stevenson, who spent a night in the can, is back out on the street after posting a $10,000 bond. Even if convicted of felony animal cruelty, the severest sentence that he could receive would be between six and twenty-four months in the slammer and a measly $10,000 fine.

This slap-on-the-wrists penalty is so absurd that it is obscene. He should be tried for the deaths of two-hundred-forty cats and given four-hundred-eighty years in the stir. His online confession to shooting two-dozen cats should be sufficient alone to put him away for the remainder of his miserable existence. At the very least he should be charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty since his latest victim was pregnant. Even that is not about to happen, however. He will not only beat the rap but it is a lock that he will kill more cats in the future. His kind never changes.

Rather than condemning his killing spree, bird lovers, wildlife proponents, and shelter workers have jumped to Stevenson's defense. Among those quoted by the Houston Chronicle in its November 11th edition as speaking up on his behalf were: Dori Nelson of the Seabrook Eco-Tourism Committee that he led on a recent birdwatching expedition; inveterate cat hater Trish McDaniel, former director of the Animal Shelter and Adoption Center of Galveston; Matt Wagner of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; and, Houston Audubon Society President Stennie Meadours. (See "Birder Claims Past Cat Killings.")

None of these perverts actually had the fortitude to come right out and say directly that they approved of individuals gunning down cats but their derogatory comments about felines and their refusal to condemn the killings leaves little doubt that they are tickled pink about Stevenson's actions. No doubt they secretly wish that they had the chutzpah to do what he has done. It will be interesting to see how much financial and legal assistance that they lend him at his upcoming trial. No doubt some of them will even testify on his behalf.

After devoting volumes of ink to Stevenson's supporters, the Chronicle gave TNR practitioner Kathi Richardson only a few sentences to denounce Stevenson and to defend cats. Having read his anti-cat screeds in the Galveston Ornithological Society magazine that he publishes, she said that his killing spree did not surprise her the least little bit.

As for the cats, she pointed out the often overlooked fact that their presence helps to keep down the rodent population. The cat-hating Australians recently ignored this petit fait and as the result created an environmental disaster on Macquarie. (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.")

While cats do kill some birds and small mammals, they do not kill anywhere near the number that bird lovers and wildlife proponents allege. Moreover, if birders like Stevenson are so concerned about protecting birds they should fence in their nesting areas and stand guard over them twenty-four hours a day. That would allow them to humanely shoo away any felines that might venture near.

Although protecting birds is not the responsibility of cat owners, some of them have fenced in their yards and patios at great expense in order to protect wildlife. For instance, Julie Stonefelt of Edmonds, Washington spent several hundred dollars to enclose her cats Henry, Otis, and Oliver. (See photo below of Henry and Otis). Fellow Edmonds resident Corrie Hines spent $3,000 on her enclosure. (See The Herald of Everett, November 1, 2006, "Keeping Tabs on Tabbies.")

More to the point, birds are far from being innocent denizens of this planet. Eagles, owls, and other birds of prey attack and kill cats and kittens. (See Cat Defender post of July 31, 2006 entitled "Fifteen-Year-Old Cat Named Bamboo Miraculously Survives Being Abducted and Mauled by a Hoot Owl in British Columbia.") Even blue jays and other songbirds harass cats, chipmunks, and other small animals.

Birds also foul streams with their excrement and thereby kill fish and other aquatic creatures. They also prey upon worms and other insects but no one has ever heard of any entomologist shooting birds although they would certainly be justified in doing so based upon Stevenson's twisted logic.

Birds also spread such deadly diseases as the West Nile Virus and Vogelgrippe, start forest fires, foul storefronts, residences, and public parks with their droppings, and destroy crops. In this context it is important to remember that scarecrows are not erected in order to protect crops from cats and nobody has ever accused a cat of pooping on his or her head.

Birds also kill birds. This petit fait was vividly demonstrated writ large last month when a Eastern White pelican ate a pigeon (See photo below) in London's St. James Park. (See BBC, October 25, 2006, "Pelican Swallows Pigeon in Park.")

Contrary to what birders and wildlife proponents would have the public believe, cats are the least of their worries. Rats, foxes, snakes, and other animals also kill birds, but bird lovers do not go around shooting these species. Developers and polluters also kill birds by destroying their habitats but yet birders do not denigrate and assassinate them.

Tall buildings, communications towers, airplanes, and automobiles also kill birds but one seldom hears birders complain about them either. Moreover, nearly all bird advocates drive cars, travel by air, work in tall buildings, and use telephones, televisions, and other modern conveniences that rely upon communications towers.

By purchasing a rife and bullets, Stevenson is lending his financial support to the armaments' manufacturers who are providing the means for warring factions all over the world not only to expeditiously exterminate each other but also to kill off the animals and to destroy the environment. (See Cat Defender posts of August 10, 2006 and October 12, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Death Toll Mounts for Cats and Other Animals Slaughtered and Left Homeless in Lebanon by Israeli War Criminals" and "A Few Hundred Cats and Dogs Are Airlifted Out of Lebanon but Cluster Bombs and an Oil Slick Continue to Kill Animals and Marine Life.") More importantly, he has moved far beyond mere ailurophobia to perpetrating unspeakable acts of violence that no cat lover can possibly ignore.

Climate change is killing the famous flamingos in Kenya's Lake Nakura National Park but very few bird enthusiasts are willing to stop burning the fossil fuels that are accelerating global warming. (See Environmental News Network, November 16, 2006, "African Lake's Iconic Birds Are Vanishing.")

Moreover, it is the Center for Biological Diversity rather than bird lovers that is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in an effort to force that agency to comply with the Endangered Species Act by safeguarding fifty-six species of birds and five species of butterflies that are imperiled. (See Environmental News Network, November 16, 2006, "Center Seeks Protection for Fifty-Six Vanishing Birds and Five Imperiled Butterflies Around the World.")

None of this is difficult to understand. The truth of the matter is that bird lovers are simply too busy murdering and denigrating cats to be bothered with protecting the birds that they so fervently claim to love. Their only raison d'etre is to kill cats.

Logic and moral considerations are, of course, completely lost on bird advocates; no one can reason with psychopaths. Their resourcefulness and their penchant to take the law into their own hands must not, however, be underestimated. They are, in fact, far more dangerous than those New Jersey teens who burned a kitten to death for the fun of it. (See Cat Defender post of October 5, 2006 entitled "New Jersey Teens' Idea of Fun: Beat Up a Defenseless Kitten and Then Burn It to Death.")

The teens' crime was an isolated incident, but the campaign of denigration and extermination launched against cats by birders is well-financed, systematic, and violent. Birders are cut from the same piece of cloth as people who shoot up schoolhouses and post offices and blow up federal office buildings such as the one in Oklahoma City. They have zero tolerance for those who oppose them and they are not the least bit hesitant to resort to violence. Homeland Security needs to start monitoring these groups.

Since the law enforcement community cannot be relied upon to protect the rights of cats, that responsibility must by default fall to cat owners and individuals who manage feral colonies. Feeding and sheltering feral cats is no longer sufficient; caretakers also must take it upon themselves to provide around-the-clock protection for their charges. In some cases this will no doubt necessitate that they arm themselves.

The killing must be stopped at all costs and every individual who loves cats must be willing to not only stand up and expose bird advocates for what they are but also to take concerted action in order to protect all cats.

Photos: Galveston Police Department (Stevenson), KHOU-TV (black cat), Galveston Bay Estuary Program (San Luis Pass Bridge), Jason Fritz of The Herald (Henry and Otis), and Cathal McNaughton (pelican eating pigeon).

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ratty's Taste for Bangers Coupled with His Owner's Negligence Places Terrier's Life in Grave Jeopardy

"In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog."
-- Edward Hoagland

Ratty sure does love bangers. In fact, he is so fond of them that he twice weekly takes a perilous unescorted fifteen-mile bus ride from his farmland home in Dunnington into York in order to get them.

Despite the enormous amount of interest that this story has generated in the English press, it is nonetheless feared that his owner's negligence along with the complicity of others may wind up costing this special little terrier (See photo above) his precious life.

If reports in The Sun of London and The Press of York are to be believed, Ratty has been taking the number ten bus into York ever since July of this year if indeed not longer. At first, he was getting off on Hull Road and stopping in at the Black Bull where a barmaid served him bangers.

Recently the friendly barmaid left, however, and the landlord banned Ratty from the premises. Undeterred, he is now dining across the street at the Rose and Crown (See photo below) on Lawrence Street.

"I saw it on the news when Ratty was going to the Black Bull, but it's great to have him here now," landlord Paul Clary told The Press on November 8th. (See "Ratty the Boozing (sic) Terrier Moves On to Find New Local.") "He's welcome here anytime," he amplified for The Sun on November 9th. (See "Bus Dog Switches Boozers.")

Although Ratty is apparently clever enough to get to York, he cannot get back home unaided. "About three weeks ago, someone was driving past the Rose and Crown and spotted him sitting outside the pub so (they) brought him back," his owner, Gary Kay, told The Press. "Another time one of my friends was in the pub and saw Ratty sitting by the back door."

Kay, who in addition to being a farmer is also a parish councillor, has repeatedly feigned ignorance about Ratty's inexplicable behavior. "I've no idea how he's doing any of this or how he crosses the road. The dog just has a mind of his own," he lied through his teeth to The Press.

First of all, since he is home most of the time Kay does not have any valid excuse for not looking after the welfare of his dog. If he is too lazy to do even that much he should at the very least chain Ratty or, better yet, fence in his yard.

This is imperative because Ratty, so named because he was acquired to check the rodent population, is already lame as the result of having one paw run over by a motorist. Instead of doing the right thing, however, Kay has appealed to the public to look out after his dog.

Secondly, Ratty would not be able to get to York in the first place were it not for the complicity of the operators of the number ten bus and the Fulford School bus that he also regularly rides. Thirdly, although there is certainly nothing wrong with pub owners feeding him, it is criminal for them to allow him to go back out into the busy street afterwards.

In the final analysis, this story sounds like a put-up job. More than likely Kay and the pub owners have some arrangement worked out whereby Ratty is being used to stimulate business and the mercenary capitalist press is playing along for a cut of the action. More alarming is the deafening silence of animal rights groups.

A measure of credence is provided for this hypothesis by Kay himself who boasted to The Press, "He is a local celebrity and must be York's most famous dog." It is also important to remember that far from enlightening the hoi polloi the capitalist media tell them only what they want them to know.

Nonetheless, it is also true that Old Blighty has a rich history of dogs frequenting pubs. For instance, a few years back The Sun published an article about a fourteen-year-old Jack Russell Terrier named Pluto (See photo above) who continued to do his daily pub crawl in spite of the death of his seventy-three-year-old owner, Arnold "Sooner" Millard. (See photo below.)

Having developed a taste for bitters and crisps as a puppy, Pluto would accompany "Sooner" (so called because he would sooner be at a pub than anywhere else) as he made the rounds of four drinking establishments in Featherstone, West Yorkshire. "Sooner was happiest with a pint in his hand and Pluto at his feet," Mary Sharpe, landlord at the Number One Club and Pluto's new guardian, told The Sun on April 23, 2002. (See "Paw Me a Pint.")

It is not clear from the account in The Sun if Pluto made the rounds unaccompanied after Sooner's death or if someone went with him. All four pubs are located within a mile's radius of each other but he had nonetheless to cross the road at least once in order to get to all of them. It is not even known what became of Pluto or if he is even still alive.

The bottom line is that it is far too dangerous nowadays to allow dogs and cats to run loose in busy city streets. (See Cat Defender posts of March 26, 2005 and August 17, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Silver, a Young Dog, Dies Needlessly" and "Brave Little Fred the Undercover Cat Has His Short, Tragic Life Snuffed Out by Hit-and-Run Driver in Queens.")

Moreover, should Ratty be injured again or killed by a motorist his blood will be all over the hands of everyone involved in exposing him to the whims of the homicidal maniacs and distracted drivers who today comprise the majority of the motoring public.

Photos: The Sun (Ratty, Pluto, and Sooner) and The Press (Ratty at the Rose and Crown).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Military Is Killing Cats and Dogs by the Tens of Thousands as Imperialistic America Attempts to Conquer the World

"I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it."
-- Abraham Lincoln

Iraqis and Afghanis are far from being the only living creatures that United States Air Force personnel are exterminating in the Persian Gulf region. Au contraire, these bloodthirsty imperialists are also killing cats by the thousands.

In an October 31st dispatch posted on its official website by Jason Tudor (See mug shot below), the Air Force's Three-Hundred-Eightieth Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron's entomology flight admits to having trapped (See photo above) and killed more than one-hundred-fifty cats on one base. (See "Flight Fends Off Diseases in the Desert.")

Since Tudor's piece is obliquely datelined "Southwest Asia," there is no way of knowing for sure which base he has in mind. It is nonetheless believed that he is referring to Al Udeid, a multi-billion-dollar installation thirty-five kilometers south of Doha that the United States shares with the Qatari Air Force. The Air Force's secretiveness is no doubt aimed at blunting criticism from not only Islamic opponents of the base but animal rights activists as well.

The chief executioner at Al Udeid is Staff Sergeant Robbie Crumpton, a reservist who works out of a base in Charleston, South Carolina. Although he has three cats at home, he does not have any pangs of conscience about trapping (See photo below of him baiting a snare with a bowl of tuna) and exterminating cats en masse.

"It's totally different. You can view these as a (sic) disease carrier," he told the website. "We're protecting the base population from these cats."

In fact, his only lament is that he does not have access to the Qatari portion of the base so that he could do a more thorough extermination. "They're all over the base. The big problem is we only control a small part of the base," he complained.

The Air Force is lamely attempting to justify its feline extermination program on the ground that the cats carry and transmit diseases such as rabies, cat scratch disease (CSD), Vogelgrippe, and -- God forbid! -- the bubonic plague!

Contrary to the Air Force's propaganda, rabies outbreaks are extremely rare in both cats and dogs. Although no data are available concerning Al Udeid, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that between 1989 and 2000 there were only twenty-seven confirmed cases of rabies in dogs in Iraq and just one case involving another unspecified domestic animal.

Granted, Iraq is not Qatar but these statistics nonetheless demonstrate the rarity of rabies outbreaks. Moreover, the disease is found far more commonly in foxes and raccoons than in domestic animals.

In addition to being morally abhorrent, killing cats and dogs will not check a rabies epidemic. Experts agree that vaccination is the best and only prophylactic against the virus.

This has not, however, stopped the Chinese authorities from using rabies as a pretext in order to launch a nationwide canine extermination program. The crackdown is particularly harsh in Beijing although Grace Ge Gabriel of the International Fund for Animal Welfare insists that the city does not have a rabies problem. (See International Herald Tribune, November 14, 2006, "Man's Best Friend Targeted by Beijing Police.")

Many residents feel that the mass slaughter is aimed at cleaning up the city in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. A new law limiting households to one dog and banning outright the ownership of large dogs such as Golden Retrievers and Huskies led to a spirited protest Saturday. (See photo below.)

Cat Scratch Disease is likewise a very rare and self-limiting disease that usually does not even require treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, there are only 2.5 cases of CSD per one-hundred-thousand people a year in the United States.

More to the point, it is primarily kittens who are sickened by the disease; most infected cats do not even become ill. It is therefore the opinion of veterinarian Susan Little of the Winn Feline Foundation of Manasquan, New Jersey that extermination and onychectomies are completely unwarranted.

The only people who need to be concerned about CSD are individuals with compromised immune systems and for them Dr. Little merely cautions that they not adopt kittens. Since it is therefore unlikely that the military inducts sick men and women or allows them to keep kittens in their barracks, the threat of CSD to the troops is nil.

The threat of Vogelgrippe is another of Tudor's and the Air Force's manufactured lies. Although three felines did die from the disease earlier this year in Deutschland, there is not a shred of evidence that the disease can be transmitted either from cat to cat or from cats to humans. (See Cat Defender posts of March 8, 2006 and March 17, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Vogelgrippe Claims the Life of a Kater on Deutschland's Ruegen Islet. Could Humans Be Next?" and "Two More Cats and a Steinmarder Die of Vogelgrippe on Insel Ruegen Prompting Panicky Owners to Abandon Felines at Shelters.")

Finally, although the bubonic plague (Yersinia Pestis) claimed the lives of one-quarter of Europe's population during the Middle Ages, this deadly disease is primarily spread by fleas and mice, not cats. In fact, the carnage in Europe was caused by the Catholic Church's mass extermination of cats because it was alleged that they were the familiars of witches. Without any effective check on the rodent population, the virus spread unhampered throughout the continent.

While it is remotely possible for humans to contract the disease through either the inhalation of respiratory secretions or from the scratches and bites of an infected cat, the fevers, chills, vomiting, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes that characterize the virus both in humans as well as in felines can usually be successfully managed if detected early enough. Despite these dangers, flea powder, not extermination, is the best way to protect cats from the plague. (See the Wet Mountain Tribune of Westcliffe, Colorado, November 2, 2006, "Cats Test Positive for the Plague.")

Dogs also are being targeted by the United States military for extermination. Most notably, Central Command (CENTCOM) issued General Order 1-A (GO-1A) in late 2002 mandating that all non-working animals within the combat zone be exterminated. (See Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), May 27, 2005, "U.S. Military Treats Stray Dogs and Cats Befriended by Troops as Enemies of the State.") Mine, bomb, and sentry dogs were, naturally, exempted from the decree.

This inhumane and draconian order has led to American soldiers being ordered to gun down defenseless dogs both on the battlefield and on military bases in Iraq. The Pentagon has even gone so far as to hire mercenaries to murder dogs.

Heureusement, some decent soldiers have defied these malevolent orders (See photo below of G.I. with dog) and gone to both great expense and risk in order to rescue war dogs. (See Cat Defender post of October 26, 2005 entitled "Love Conquers All Obstacles as Soldier Locates His Lost Dog in Iraq and Brings It Home to Maryland.") Anyone violating this order is subject to court-martial and a reduction in rank.

In addition to exterminating dogs and cats, the American military has thoroughly destroyed the environment of Iraq. The use of such patently immoral and probably illegal weapons and chemicals as depleted uranium, white phosphorous, and cluster bombs have contaminated the air, soil, and water tables.

Bushra Juhi of the Associated Press reported on November 13th that the conflict has turned the once vibrant Tigris River into a stagnant polluted sewer that is good for little more than serving as a makeshift graveyard for the dozens of Iraqis who are being slaughtered each day. (See "War, Pollution and Politics Endangering Iraq's Storied Tigris River.") Even boaters and fishermen do not dare go near the river except under the cover of darkness.

Not about to left out of the mayhem, the Navy has also willingly joined the killing spree against animals. In 2002, Chief of Naval Operations Vern Clark ordered all naval bases to get rid of their stray cats and dogs. He also put an end to all TNR programs and instituted a total ban on feeding. This policy has accordingly led to the extermination of tens of thousands of cats and dogs.

At the naval base in Rota, Spain (See aerial photo below), for instance, sailors have taken matters into their own hands by poisoning cats with antifreeze and suffocating kittens in plastic trash bags. (See Stars and Stripes, April 28, 2004, "Navy Policy Has Compounded Problem of Stray Cats at Rota, Some Say.")

The Navy claims that the Rota Animal Welfare League (RAWL) takes in most of the base's unwanted cats and dogs and that as a result it is forced to kill on the average only four cats and five dogs a year. This is most likely a lie, however.

Since RAWL is a no-kill shelter it has a limited capacity and this means that either it or the Navy kill untold numbers of cats and dogs. No-kill is a misnomer in that these types of shelters also exterminate cats and dogs.

In addition to the sickly, injured, aggressive, and feral animals that they routinely dispatch to the devil, they sign the death warrants of tens of thousands more by refusing to shelter them. They may not kill quite as many cats and dogs as regular shelters, but they do not seem to have a problem with allowing others to do their dirty work for them.

At the navy's base in Yokosuka, Japan, Sheila Dove (See photo below) and other volunteers operate a foster care program for feral kittens known as Pets Are Worth Saving (PAWS). As commendable as this may be, it has not stopped program director Melissa Tran from wholeheartedly endorsing the navy's mass extermination of cats in Japan.

Believing that the only raison d'etre of a cat is to be someone's pet, she is so mean-spirited that she does not even want individuals to feed feral cats. "The best thing to do is to call PAWS, the vet's office or security right away instead of feeding them" she told the Stars and Stripes on October 5th. (See "Yokosuka PAWS Volunteers Step In to Save Abandoned Kittens.")

The cruel and barbaric mistreatment of cats in Japan is certainly not limited to the inhumane conduct of American military personnel stationed there; au contraire, it is endemic to Japanese society as a whole. This subject will be explored more fully in a future article.

Cats have always been treated diabolically by the American military. During World War II, they were dropped from airplanes high above German ships with bombs attached to their tiny bodies. Disliking the water, the big brains at the Pentagon theorized that they would climb on board and subsequently blow up not only themselves but the warships as well. They, however, became unconscious in mid-air and presumably drowned. (See BBC, March 16, 2006, "Pentagon Plans Cyber-Insect Army" and Shawn Plourde, "What Did You Do in the War Fido?")

During the Cold War, spies surgically implanted surveillance equipment inside a cat and then tried to coax it inside the Kremlin. The poor animal was run down and killed by a motorist while crossing the street and, hopefully, that was the end of that cruel plot.

More recently, a mock anti-terrorism drill in Jacksonville, North Carolina cost the lives of up to two dozen felines when a hotel in which they had been living was demolished so that the police and firemen could play their childish games at the taxpayers' expense. (See Cat Defender posts of June 9, 2005 and June 23, 2005 entitled, respectively, "War on Terrorism Costs Cats Their Home -- and Maybe Their Lives Also" and "The War on Terrorism is a Fraud.")

America's partner in crime, Israel, has likewise never had any regard for the welfare of cats or, for that matter, any other animal as well. For instance, when they briefly pulled out of Gaza and four colonies in the West Bank last year they left behind thousands of cats. (See Cat Defender post of November 7, 2005 entitled "Israeli Colonialists in Gaza and the West Bank Leave Behind Thousands of Cats to Die of Thirst, Hunger, and Predation.")

They inflicted even more carnage on the animal world during their invasion of Lebanon this past summer. This time around they did not confine their killing to cats but rather they targeted dogs, livestock, marine mammals, and fish as well. (See Cat Defender posts of August 10, 2006 and October 12, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Death Toll Mounts for Cats and Other Animals Slaughtered and Left Homeless in Lebanon by Israeli War Criminals" and "A Few Hundred Cats and Dogs Are Airlifted Out of Lebanon but Cluster Bombs and an Oil Slick Continue to Kill Animals and Marine Life.")

Like certain maligned groups and the environment, cats and other animals are sacrificial pawns in the imperialistic wars played by capitalists. Although the military men and the police no doubt derive a great deal of pleasure out of murdering, raping, and pillaging, they are merely the hired guns of the money men.

Moreover, when it comes to killing and looting no country in history can quite match the United States. Not only does it operate more than six-thousand military bases at home and in territories that it controls, but it also maintains more than one-thousand additional installations in over one-hundred-thirty foreign countries.

For instance, the Air Force alone maintains at least twenty-four bases in the Persian Gulf. In addition to Al Udeid, it has another base in Qatar near Doha plus two more in the United Arab Emirates, two in Bahrain, three in Kuwait, and four in Oman. Ten bases is Saudi Arabia and one in Jordan round out the total.

When the presence of these bases is taken into consideration along with not only the Americans' imperialistic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but also the Israelis' campaigns of genocide and plunder directed against the Palestinians, Lebanese, and Syrians, the Islamic world's outrage is not only completely understandable but equally justified as well.

Chalmers Johnson certainly hit the nail on the head when he labeled America's far-flung military installations as colonies. (See Common Dreams, January 15, 2004, "America's Empire of Bases.")

None of this carnage would be possible were it not for the exploitation of the animals, Mother Earth, and the masses that fuels the accumulation of capital and the growth of inequality. As Lord Action once said, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

The killing and subjugation of entire nations of people in order to acquire their property is horrendous enough it itself but the killing of totally innocent animals and the destruction of the environment is far worse. Abraham Lincoln's declaration that he did not care "for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it" can be equally applied to America's foreign and domestic policies.

Photos: Jason Tudor (orange cat, Robbie Crumpton, and mug shot of himself), Claro Cortez of Reuters (Chinese protesters), Justin Sullivan of Getty Images (G.I. with Iraqi dog), Global Security (Rota), and Allison Batdorff of the Stars and Stripes (Sheila Dove and kittens).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Florida Ailurophobes and Politicians Are Attempting to Kill Two-Hundred Felines by Closing a Sanctuary

Homeless cats in Volusia County, Florida have a true friend in Kristy Grant (See photo above) but ailurophobes and politicians are attempting to administer a coup de grace to her sanctuary.

Back in the mid-1990s, she rescued six kittens from an abandoned building in South Daytona and took them home to live with the four cats that she already owned. When local officials objected to this arrangement she was forced to pack up and move to Pierson where she purchased a house and ten acres of land.

At her new address she has continued to rescue cats and now the number has grown to around two-hundred. (See photos above and below.) As was the case in South Daytona, the Volusia County Council has told her that she must get rid of the cats because their presence is creating a public nuisance as well as adversely affecting property values.

As part of a growing nationwide trend toward restricting pet ownership, Volusia has a law in place that limits residents to four animals per household. The law contains an exemption, however, for animal shelters situated in rural areas and when Grant sought to avail herself of this loophole she was rebuffed last month by the Volusia County Council.

"I think it's a shame not one council member came to visit to see for themselves if it was a public nuisance," the second grade teacher at McInnis Elementary School in DeLeon Springs told the Orlando Sentinel on October 20th. (See "Shelter Dispute.")

In order that she might be allowed to keep her cats, Grant has pledged to reduce their number by finding alternative homes for some of them and to have the remainder sterilized. She has already shelled out $25,000 in order to fence in five acres of her property.

So far, however, these concessions have fallen upon deaf ears and now the two parties are headed for court. Worst still, the county has shifted the burden of proof onto Grant's shoulders by insisting that it is she and not the county that must prove that her cats are not a public nuisance and that their presence is not reducing property values.

This is, of course, a totally ludicrous requirement. Since the county admits that there are not any specific standards governing the establishment of shelters and sanctuaries, the burden of proof should fall upon the county and those residents who object to the cats.

Although the council back in August gave Grant ninety-days to get rid of all but four of her cats, it is not known exactly how much time she has left or if she will be able to secure an injunction in order to stop their removal. She did, however, tell the Orlando Sentinel in the article cited supra that she would rather move than give up her cats.

As it is, she is already spending between $1,500 and $2,000 per month on food for the cats and attorneys' fees and relocating that many cats will without a doubt impose an even greater financial hardship upon her. Moreover, it may not even be feasible since school teachers are not generally made of money. Consequently, some of the cats may wind up in shelters where they surely will be exterminated.

The Volusia County Council is without a doubt doing the bidding of Grant's cat-hating neighbors and this is proven by its unwillingness to even investigate the allegations against her. Rather than attacking her and the cats, the council should work with her in order to put the sanctuary on solid legal footing.

The petit fait that there are hundreds if not thousands of homeless cats running around Volusia County means not only that there are a lot heartless, irresponsible cat owners in the area but also that the county is not doing nearly enough to find homes for them. By sheltering these cats Grant is actually doing the county's job for it and she should accordingly be thanked for her efforts rather than persecuted.

Home to around twenty-six-hundred, mostly Hispanic, residents, Pierson is a rural community that would make an ideal location for a cat sanctuary. More importantly, with the felines confined behind a fence no rational person should have any objection to their presence.

Ailurophobes are never rational, however, and politicians seldom do anything other than the dirty work of the rich.

Photos: Barbara V. Perez of the Orlando Sentinel.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Trapped in a Moving Van for Five Days, Texas Cat Named Neo Is Finally Freed in Colorado

"We cannot without becoming cats, perfectly understand the cat mind."
-- St. George Mivart, The Cat

What started out as an insouciant visit to a next-door neighbor's yard in Crowley, Texas on October 19th quickly morphed into a harrowing seven-hundred-twenty-nine-mile trip to Longmont, Colorado for a handsome longhaired brown cat named Neo.

Employees from Golden Van Lines were emptying the house of its furnishings and the ensuing noise, confusion, and hustle and bustle frightened the little cat. Thinking that he had found a safe harbor, he unwittingly took refuge in one of the items being loaded onto the truck.

Not realizing that they had an accidental stowaway on board, the movers closed up the truck and took off for Longmont. This doomed Neo to spend the next five days alone in the darkness of the truck without either food, water, or sanitary facilities.

Upon arrival in Longmont, the four-year-old cat bolted from his gulag much to the surprise of the workers. Luckily, he did not go too far, however.

The kindhearted employees of the company fed and watered him, gave him a rug to lie down on, a litter box, and a night light. Being a quick study, company Vice President Mike McCarthy immediately suspected that Neo was someone's pet.

"He's a very nice cat. He's not some stray," he told the Daily Times-Call of Longmont on October 27th. (See "Stowaway Cat Takes Moving Truck to Longmont.") "We think he must have gotten in while they were loading up the truck," he surmised.

After making their special guest comfortable in the conference room (See photo above), Golden Van Lines set out to reunite him with his rightful owner. Since he was not wearing a collar, the company first had him scanned by the Longmont Humane Society in order to determine if he had been microchipped.

When this undertaking proved fruitless they photographed him and e-mailed his picture to their customer in Crowley. As it turned out Neo did not belong to the party doing the moving but rather to their neighbors, Amos and Sonja Gaines.

Wanting to spare him another long, grueling truck ride, Golden Van Lines put him on an American Airlines flight to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and he was reunited with his rightful owners on November 2nd.

"Neo does stuff like this," Sonja told the Burleson-Crowley Connection of Cleburne on November 7th. (See "Cat Stows on Board Moving Van.") "Every time people leave their windows down on their vehicles, he likes to get in their open cars. But he's never done anything like this before."

Although locating Neo was certainly a welcome development for the Gaineses, the cat left behind a lot of disappointed would-be guardians in Longmont. "I have about twelve people who want to adopt him," McCarthy told the Daily Times-Call.

Although it is fairly common for cats to get trapped in furniture and shipping crates, usually their misadventures are short-lived. This is not always the case, however. For instance, an Appleton, Wisconsin cat named Emily wandered into a nearby manufacturing plant last fall and wound up in Nancy, France. (See Cat Defender post of December 9, 2005 entitled "Adventurous Wisconsin Cat Named Emily Makes Unscheduled Trip to France in Hold of Cargo Ship.")

Cats like a quiet and calm environment and they therefore have a tendency to hide whenever strangers show up and conditions become boisterous. Recognizing this petit fait, cat owners can take certain precautions to ensure that their pets do not meet with mischief.

When either moving or having a large number of guests over, cats should be confined to a room that is quiet and secure. As Neo's brush with disaster demonstrates, this is a good idea even if it is only a neighbor that is moving.

Secondly, after the moving van is fully loaded it would be a good idea to make sure that all cats are present and accounted for as well. Should a cat be missing, the van and its contents must be searched before it is allowed to depart.

In order to avoid these types of problems cat owners need to at least attempt to think like a cat. Although there is no doubt a good deal of truth in St. George Mivart's admonition that "we cannot without becoming cats, perfectly understand the cat mind," the effort nonetheless needs to be undertaken.

Finally, kudos are in order for McCarthy and the staff of Golden Van Lines for the effort and expense that they went to not only in caring for Neo but also in reuniting him with his owners. Individuals planning on relocating can rest assured that in Golden Van Lines they have a bona fide cat-friendly carrier.

Photo: Erin McCracken of the Daily Times-Call.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Three-Legged, Bobtailed Cat Named Opie Melts the Hearts of the Hardened Criminals at a Rural Tennessee Prison

"One small cat changes coming home to an empty house into coming home."
-- Pam Brown

Any cat capable of turning the hard hearts of convicted murderers and thieves to mush has to be one special feline. One-year-old, three-legged, bobtailed Opie (See photo above) is just such a cat.

Born feral, little Opie lost his right hind leg when he run over by a motorist. Bruce Roberts found him, took him to the vet, paid his medical bill, and brought him to live at Turney Center Industrial Prison and Farm in Only, Tennessee where he, a civilian, manages the laundry room.

Surrounded by razor wire, Turney is a fifty-five acre medium-security prison situated in the rolling hills of rural Hickman County in the western part of the state. The facility is home to one-thousand-ninety-seven inmates, a few of which are convicted murderers. Since Only has a mere twelve-hundred residents, that makes Turney a prime example of the so-called prison industrial complex.

It is not known if it was love and first sight between Opie and the eleven convicts who labor Monday through Friday in the laundry room, but that is undeniably the case now. "Opie is like us, missing something," an unidentified inmate told The Tennessean on October 20th. (See "Three-Legged Cat Brings Companionship to Prisoners.")

Named after the fictional Opie Taylor from the old Andy Griffith Show, the cat was at first frightened by the loud noises made by the washers and dryers. That was when Kenneth "Ham" Parham, a lifer, and the other inmates stepped in to hold and comfort him.

Now, Opie has Ham fetching him tuna from the prison's commissary and making him toys out of old rags. The due have in fact become big buddies. (See photo above on the right.) "The good thing about Opie is Opie doesn't care what I done (sic) wrong. Opie just cares that I'm here with the tuna," Ham, who has been at Turney for twenty-three-years, told The Tennessean.

"He don't talk back, and he don't tell on you. When the boss man first brought Opie here, Opie would hide. Now, Opie can't wait until we get here in the mornings. Opie, well, Opie, he's one special cat. He keeps us cool."

Of course, having only three legs is difficult but other cats have lost limbs, usually to illegal leghold traps, and gone on to live relatively long lives. (See Cat Defender posts of February 9, 2006 and August 18, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Newspaper Cat Named Tripod is Killed Off by Journalists He Befriended in Vermont" and "Brave Orange Tabby Cat Dubbed Hopalong Cassidy Loses Limb to Leghold Trap in British Columbia.")

For now, Opie has a warm, safe place to live and plenty of food and love. He also has warm dryers to sit on and warm clothing to wallow in to his little heart's content. Ever once in a while he helps inmates such as Jeremy Ginn (See photo below) fold clothes.

Since the laundry only operates weekdays, Opie is left to his own devices on weekends. Before they return to their cells at the close of work on Fridays, Ham and the other inmates make sure that he has plenty of food and water to see him through the long weekend.

The arrangement has worked out real well for all concerned. Opie has a home and the inmates have a shining ray of sunshine in their otherwise dreary lives. Inmate Chuck Rose perhaps summed up the situation best when he said, "Opie, he's a piece of home."

It thus appears that Pam Brown was on the money when she said, "One small cat changes coming home to an empty house into coming home."

Photos: Shelley Mays of The Tennessean.