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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, March 08, 2007

Blackie the Cat Has Postmen, Bobbies, and Deliverymen Looking over Their Shoulders in Ramsgate, Kent

Blackie and Ann Hogben
"So if you 'ave business with Faber -- or Faber --
I'll give you this tip, and it's worth a lot more:
You'll save yourself time, and you'll spare yourself labour
If jist you make friends with the cat at the door."
-- T. S. Eliot, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

A feisty, twenty-one-pound tomcat named Blackie has residents of the small seaside resort of Ramsgate in Kent looking over their shoulders and his devoted owner on the defensive after having attacked thirteen individuals over a span of six years. So far, he has had run-ins with five letter carriers, five paper boys, a construction worker, a fast-food deliveryman, and even one bobby.

Since both postmen and bobbies wear uniforms, this has led Ann Hogben, his forty-eight-year-old owner, to speculate that the cat she lovingly refers to as Bruiser has authority issues. That seems unlikely, however, because cats do not see certain colors too well and most of them are unlikely to be able to distinguish uniforms from other modes of attire. Besides, paper boys, construction workers, and fast-food deliverymen seldom wear uniforms.

A couple of years back, a parrot made the news when he cursed out, inter alia, a bobby and a clergyman and this led to speculation that he had so-called authority issues. Actually, it was the truck driver who owned him that had the authority issues and the bird was merely mimicking what he had been taught. In this instance, there is not a speck of evidence that Hogben either harbors an antipathy for authority or that even if she did these sentiments could be passed on to her cat.

Blackie's recent attack upon a mailman shoving envelopes through the letter box can be explained by the fact that all cats like to hunt and will therefore paw at anything that is either dangled in front of them or runs across their field of vision. In short, they love to play catch, whether it is with a string, a mouse, or a hand poked through a chute in a door.

Animal shelter workers on the prowl for their daily quotas of cats to kill, will thrust ballpoint pens through the bars of felines' cages supposedly to test for aggression. Since almost all cats will grab at objects thrust at them, this test proves absolutely nothing. It merely provides shelter workers with a handy excuse to kill more cats.

More than likely, Blackie's aggressive tendencies stem from a lack of socialization. Since he and his mistress live alone, he has never gotten accustomed to interacting with other people and animals. Also, since Hogben dotes on him by supplying him with tuna, steak, chicken, and evaporated milk, he may have grown quite possessive and territorial.

The fact that there is nothing to indicate that he has ever gone after either invited guests or neighbors tends to suggest that this is a turf issue. If he is still intact, this could also be contributing to his aggressive attitude.

Boredom could also be a factor. Since Hogben has a job, Blackie is thus left to his own devices for a good portion of the day.

Regardless of the source of his aberrant behavior, Hogben is taking steps to put an end to the attacks. Most noticeably, she has erected a sign on her front door that reads: "Warning: Dangerous Cat -- Has Attacked Thirteen People in the Last Six Years." She also forbids him from going near the front door and now confines him to an adjacent room whenever there is even a knock at the door.

"I've done all I can to stop Blackie making a nuisance of himself," she told London's Daily Mail on December 26, 2006. (See "'Warning: Dangerous Cat -- Has Attacked Thirteen People in the Last Six Years.'") "There really is nothing else that I can do. I've warned all my neighbors. I just hope it brings to an end a very sorry saga," she added.

Despite his aggressive attitude toward interlopers on his territory, Hogben insists that Blackie is a very loving cat who likes to sleep in her lap. He does, however, snore like a freight train.

It might be worth trying to accustom him to walk on a leash. That would enable her to have more control over him around strangers and after a while he might eventually lose his aggressive tendencies.

Considering that he is twelve-years-old, however, behavioral modification techniques may not work with him. In that case, keeping him away from strangers may be the best that can be accomplished. The drawback with this approach is that it exacerbates rather than alleviates the underlying problem.

It is nonetheless refreshing to learn that the thirty-eight-thousand residents of Ramsgate have far more tolerance for these types of situations than do the residents of Connecticut. Last year, for instance, Fairfield resident Ruth Cisero was hauled into court by her disgruntled neighbors after her cat, Lewis, allegedly attacked several of them.

Some of them even went so far as to petition the court to have Lewis killed. Luckily, saner heads prevailed and Lewis escaped with his life and Cisero with probation. (See Cat Defender posts of April 3, 2006 and June 26, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Free Lewis Now! Connecticut Tomcat, Victimized by a Bum Rap, Is Placed Under House Arrest" and "Lewis the Cat Cheats the Hangman but Is Placed Under House Arrest for the Remainder of His Life.")

Photo: Daily Mail.