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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, April 19, 2007

Bus-Hopping Macavity Earns High Praise from His Fellow Commuters for Being the Perfect Passenger

"Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime -- Macavity's not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air --
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity's not there!"
-- T.S. Eliot, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

Like his namesake from out of the pages of T.S. Eliot's immortal, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, Macavity is a mysterious cat.

The plucky white-colored cat, who sports one blue eye and one green one, first came to the attention of forty-nine-year-old bus driver Bill Knunkhun back in January when he spotted him jumping off the number 331 which he operates between Walsall and Wolverhampton in the West Midlands. (See photos above.) The strange thing about the incident, however, is that Khunkhun does not have any recollection of Macavity ever boarding the bus.

When he stopped the following day in front of a row of houses at Churchill Road in Walsall, Macavity ran up to the bus and scampered aboard through the open door just as if he owned the place. The adventurous feline rode about four-hundred meters down the road to where he disembarked in front of a row of shops that just happens to include a fish and chips emporium.

"Because I had seen it jump off the day before I carried on driving and sure enough when I stopped just down the road he jumped off," Khunkhun told the Daily Mail on April 9th. (See "Mystery Cat Takes Regular Bus to the Shops.") "I don't know why he would catch the bus but he seems to like it," he added.

Since that fateful day, Macavity has been a regular rider on the Three-Thirty-One. He takes the bus an average of two to three times a week and he always gets on and off at the same stops. He does not, however, always take Khunkhun's bus; rather, he prefers to spread around his patronage.

So far, there have not been any complaints from either drivers or passengers about Macavity's riding but then again the English are considerably more tolerant about these types of situations than the Americans. In fact, malaprops are as English as afternoon tea.

"I suppose he is the perfect passenger really. He sits quietly, minds his own business and then gets off," nineteen-year-old commuter Paul Brennan told the Daily Mail. "It was quite strange at first but now it just seems normal."

Although Macavity wears a purple collar, apparently no one has checked to see who owns him or where he lives. Actually, his real name is not even Macavity; that is merely a makeshift moniker bestowed upon him by the drivers.

It is also unknown how he gets home since he only travels one-way on the bus. Presumably, he either walks back or is driven home.

How he got started riding in the first place is by far and away the most intriguing question of the entire affair. Since Khunkhun did not see him board the bus on his initial trip, he could have been smuggled aboard by his owner. After all, it is not likely that a driver would fail to notice an unescorted feline hopping aboard.

If that is true, then perhaps Macavity's owner works at one of the shops where he disembarks. Even if his owner showed him the ropes the first time out, it is still quite a remarkable feat for him to have learned to board and get off the bus by himself.

The only other possible explanation is that he figured out all by himself how to cadge bus rides. It is also surprising that he has no fear of buses, especially since they are not only big and noisy but crowded as well. Of course, it is entirely possible that he could be deaf since white-colored cats are prone to that disability.

Although the English love their peripatetic cats and dogs, Macavity's owner is playing Russian roulette with his well-being by allowing him to run loose in the busy streets. This is especially the case since the West Midlands have gotten to be rather crowded. Walsall, for instance, has one-hundred-seventy-one-thousand denizens while its neighbor nine kilometers to the west, Wolverhampton, has two-hundred-forty-thousand inhabitants. (See map.)

Macavity could easily be hit and killed by a motorist or fall victim to the machinations of yobs who make a sport out of abusing and killing cats. The dangers inherent in the situation are magnified exponentially if he is indeed deaf. (See Cat Defender posts of August 17, 2006 and November 30, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Brave Little Fred the Undercover Cat Has His Short, Tragic Life Snuffed Out by Hit-and-Run Driver in Queens" and "Yobs Celebrating Guy Fawkes Day Kill Twelve-Year-Old Cat Named Tigger with Fireworks; Cat Named Sid Is Severely Burned.")

Cats have every right to their liberty and should be allowed outdoors so long as they live in safe neighborhoods. Busy streets are not, however, any place for them. More to the point, if they are going to ride public transportation they should either be on a leash or in a cage and accompanied by their owners.

Whether contrived or on their own initiative, bus-riding cats and dogs are not anything out of the ordinary in England. For instance, a terrier named Ratty regularly takes a fifteen-mile bus ride between Dunnington and York all by his lonesome in order to be served bangers at a bar. He does, however, have to be driven home at night and, worst still, he is lame as the result of having one of his legs crushed underneath the wheels of a car.

In Featherstone, West Yorkshire, a Jack Russell Terrier named Pluto does a daily pub crawl on his own initiative in order to be treated to bitters and crisps. (See Cat Defender post of November 20, 2006 entitled "Ratty's Taste for Bangers Coupled with His Owner's Negligence Places Terrier's Life in Grave Jeopardy.")

Finally, in Southam in Warwickshire, Leila Abbou's cat Milo visits the vet by herself and even car surfs. For those and other unescorted antics she was honored last year by Go-Cat pet food. (See Cat Defender post of December 5, 2006 entitled "Milo, Who Visits the Vet by Her Lonesome, Is Named Old Blighty's 'Most Adventurous Cat'.")

The capitalist media adore stories about cats and dogs that are allowed to run loose in the street but they hardly ever mention the hundreds of thousands of them that are maimed and killed by motorists and animal-haters each year. They know as well as everybody else that photographs of bloodied and mangled companion animals do not sell newspapers. Homeless felines and canines are forced to contend with homicidal motorists and ailurophobes, but pet owners should be more protective of animals under their control.

Cat lovers in Milford, Connecticut have erected a cat crossing sign in their town and that should cut down on feline fatalities somewhat but traffic warning signs are not any substitute for responsible pet ownership. (See Cat Defender post of January 26, 2007 entitled "Cat Activists Succeed in Getting Connecticut Town to Erect a Cat Crossing Sign.")

Despite the obvious risks that Macavity is taking by using public transportation, his gentlemanly behavior serves as an example to all commuters. Most prominently, he does not gas nonstop on an irritating mobile phone while on the bus or pollute the stillness with his boisterous ravings.

He does not attempt to hog two seats or to block the aisle with his paws. Neither does he attempt to cut off the legs of those passengers sitting behind him by pushing back his seat all the way. Should he decide to grab a few winks, as cats often do, he certainly does not snore like a freight train. To put it succinctly, he knows the difference between a bus and a flophouse on wheels.

Since he grooms himself every day and eats a healthy diet, his fellow passengers are not subjected to any obnoxious body odors or smelly ethnic foods. Being neither an intravenous drug user nor a boozer, he does not leave behind any hypodermic syringes or puddles of beer and urine when he gets off the bus as is so often the case with commuters who ride both New Jersey Transit and Academy buses.

Always immaculate, he does not use the bus as his personal toilet. No one will ever catch him shaving in his seat, tying on a tie, or applying make-up, hairspray, and obnoxious-smelling perfume and cologne.

Hopefully, the publicity generated by Macavity's adventures will prompt his owner to act responsibly and start accompanying him on these perilous trips. If not, animal protection groups should intervene in order to guarantee his safety.

Lastly, if the Daily Mail and other English newspapers are so intent upon capitalizing on the exploits of cats like Macavity and dogs like Ratty they at the very least should have the decency to raise an awareness of feline and canine safety issues.

Photos: The Daily Mail (Macavity) and Tourist Net UK (map).