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Cat Defender

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Marmalade Receives a Tepid Homecoming After Having Been Missing for Eleven Years


A handsome Australian cat named Marmalade has been reunited with his family in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick after an eleven-year hiatus thanks to an implanted microchip.

Allegra Strauss (See photos above of her and Marmalade) got the surprise of her life when the Lost Dogs Home in nearby Werribee telephoned on February 5th to inform her that it had rescued the long-lost feline. "I think the owner had a bit of a shock," Graeme Smith, managing director of the rescue organization, told the Herald Sun of Melbourne on February 8th. (See " 'Curious' Cat Returns to Owners After 11 Years.")

Unless Marmalade suddenly learns to speak English like H.H. Munro's Tobermory, it is likely that his whereabouts during the past decade will remain for ever a mystery. "We have no idea where he has been this whole time," Allegra told the Herald Sun.

The fact that he has not only survived all these years but is in excellent health is an indication that he was well cared for by someone during his long absence. Although a longhaired cat named Sneakers was returned to his owner last year after having been missing for ten years, Marmalade's lengthy absence appears to have set a new record. (See Cat Defender post of June 12, 2006 entitled "Given Up for Dead, Sneakers Is Reunited with His Owner After Having Gone AWOL Ten Years Ago.")

Much has changed at the Strauss household since Marmalade has been away. Not only is Allegra now a teen but he will have to share his turf with two other cats, Teapot and Little Meow, that the Strausses have taken in during his absence.

As amazing as this reunion is, it is nonetheless distressing that the truant feline has been welcomed back with something less than open arms. In point of fact, Allegra seems so anxious to get shed of Marmalade that she has already announced that she would be willing to part with him should his previous caretaker surface. "I'd hate to think that another family is worried about their missing cat," she told the Herald Sun.

Statements such as that raise questions about Marmalade's original disappearance. Since according to the Herald Sun he vanished from a "friend's house where he was being looked after," it is fair to ask what he was doing there in the first place? Moreover, why were the Strausses so derelict in their responsibilities toward him?

Marmalade is a fine looking cat who has gone through a lot of travails over the years and he certainly deserves a good home, whether it be with the Strausses or with somebody else.

Beginning May 1st, the state of Victoria will be mandating that all cats and dogs within its jurisdiction be microchipped. This is not a feline and canine safety measure, however; it is aimed instead at protecting wildlife at the expense of domestic pets and their owners.

More importantly, it provides the Australian authorities with another convenient excuse to exterminate all cats that they deem to be homeless. (See Cat Defender posts of August 11, 2005 and January 6, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Barbaric Australians Come Up with an Ingenious New Poison in Order to Exterminate Cats" and "DNA Tests Confirm That 'Big Cat' Killed in Australia Was a Feral Tabby and Not a Puma.") They have already killed off twenty-five-hundred feral cats 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.")

Although microchips are touted as harmless, many cats have developed vaccine associated sarcomas (VAS) as the result of, often unnecessary, inoculations. No such problems have been identified with microchips so far but since implanting them is an invasive procedure they merit monitoring.

Perhaps more importantly, they are not a very effective way of keeping track of pets. Since private citizens do not own scanners, microchips are only effective if a lost pet is picked up by a shelter or rescue group that has a scanner. (See Cat Defender post of May 25, 2006 entitled "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats.") Close personal supervision remains the only surefire method of ensuring the safety of cats and dogs.

Photo: Herald Sun.