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Cat Defender

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Heartbroken Lancashire Heeler Named Oscar Digs Up and Retrieves the Corpse of His Feline Playmate, Arthur

"He had managed to climb out through the cat flap in the night, obviously with the intent to get Arthur back...Then he pulled him into the basket and went to sleep next to him."
-- Robert Bell

Arthur's death was a little bit too much for Oscar. After witnessing his owner, Robert Bell, bury his best friend in the garden, the eighteen-month-old Lancashire Heeler from the Manchester borough of Wigan knew immediately what he had to do.

As a consequence, the seventy-three-year-old Bell and his wife, Mavis, got one of the biggest surprises of their lives the next morning when they discovered the little dog curled up alongside the deceased cat in the sleeping basket that they used to share. (See photos above of the pair.)

"He had managed to climb out through the cat flap in the night, obviously with the intent to get Arthur back," Bell later told The Times of London on January 10th. (See "Dog Retrieves His Best Friend -- a Cat Buried in the Garden.") "Then he pulled him into the basket and went to sleep next to him."

Since Arthur was a pretty good sized cat, it must have taken a herculean effort on the part of the diminutive dog just to retrieve Arthur's body. Oscar did not stop there, however, but instead spent the greater part of the night licking clean Arthur's white fur.

Despite being touched by Oscar's devotion to Arthur, Bell knew that he could not allow him to retain possession of the cat's body. Consequently, Arthur has been interred in a secure grave and a kitten named Limpet has been acquired to serve as Oscar's new playmate.

While Arthur was alive, the duo were inseparable and the cat even used to assist Oscar in climbing up onto the sofa. It will take Oscar a while to get over Arthur's death but the heart does go on and hopefully things will work out between him and Limpet.

As sad as this story is, it is yet another confirmation that cats and dogs need not be mortal enemies. In particular, if they are introduced to one another as kittens and puppies the odds are good that they will be able to live together in peace and harmony. Oscar's devotion to Arthur may appear to be a little extreme but it is not unprecedented.

At the Amesbury, Massachusetts residence of Diane and Les Packer, an eighteen-pound tomcat named Yodi served as the eyes of a blind ninety-pound female boxer-terrier mix named Aspen for ten years.

The white cat would use his tail in order to guide the brown dog to her food dish, the bathroom, and anywhere else she needed to go. "They were together all the time. Inseparable," Les told The Daily News of Newburyport on October 3rd. (See "Blind Dog's Cat Friend, Guide Is Missing.")

Tragically, Yodi mysteriously disappeared over the Labor Day weekend while the Packers were away and his absence has left Aspen heartbroken. "The dog's been very lethargic, just lying around," Diane told The Daily News. (See photo above of her and Aspen.)

She is not coping much better herself. "He's a very special cat, and he's such a homebody," she added. "(It is) just a mystery what's happened to him. I feel devastated."

The Packers, who also have seven other cats, had jury-rigged their house in such a fashion as to enable all of their pets to come and go as they please and that, coupled with their absence, no doubt facilitated Yodi's disappearance. It would have been far wiser for them to have locked the cat flaps and hired a pet sitter.

This is especially true in light of the petit fait that Yodi already had a deformed right paw as the result of having been run down by a motorist.

As amazing as these two stories are, feline and canine bonding is not limited to providing mutual assistance but it sometimes also extends to the rearing of each other's offspring. (See Cat Defender posts of October 15, 2005 and July 17, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Elsa, a Rottweiler Feared in the 'Hood, Shows Her Soft Spot by Adopting an Abandoned Kitten" and "Dachshund Named Emma Adopts Quintet of Feral Kittens That Her Mistress Cruelly Stole from Their Mother.")

Photos: Manchester Evening News (Oscar and Arthur) and Katie McMahon of The Daily News of Newburyport (Aspen and Diane Packer).