Exotic and Hybrid Cats, Perennial Objects of Exploitation and Abuse, Are Now Being Mutilated, Abandoned, and Stolen
|One of the African Servals Found in Seattle|
"It's a predator. It's a wild animal."
-- Seattle Animal Control Officer Don Baxter
"They're not dangerous."
-- Saginaw Animal Control Officer Kevin James
Although the creation and sale of exotic cats and hybrids has become a booming business, it also has its down side. Specifically, more and more of these genetically modified cats are either running away from home or being dumped at shelters by disgruntled owners.
This is in turn necessitating the founding of specialized rescue groups and sanctuaries in order to care for these abused and misused cats. While breeding, registration, retail sales, and abandonment statistics are difficult to obtain, a few poignant examples culled from the news media will help to delineate the scope of the problems faced by these cats.
In Seattle, Animal Control officers captured two African Servals during the month of January. Both of them were about one-year of age and had been cruelly declawed.
Since exotic cats and hybrids are often sold in pairs, the officers believe that the cats were owned by the same person. So far, however, that person has not come forward to reclaim them.
Consequently, the cat captured on New Year's Day has been sent to an exotic animal sanctuary in Redmond and the one trapped on January 19th will most likely soon follow suit. Since these cats are said to be difficult to rehome, they will probably have to remain at the sanctuary for the remainder of their lives.
"It's a predator. It's a wild animal," Animal Control Officer Don Baxter proclaimed to KOMO-TV of Seattle on January 23rd. (See "Exotic Cats Found Wandering Around Seattle.") "If someone has some chickens or rabbits that are pets, this is absolutely a hunter who would go after them."
In the Fort Worth suburb of Saginaw, an African Serval named Gizmo escaped through an open window in October and was on the lam for five days before owner Christina Miller tracked him down and recaptured him. When an offer of cat food failed to entice the cat, Miller offered him some bottled water and that did the trick.
Unlike Seattle, however, individuals in Saginaw are allowed to own exotic cats provided that they purchase a wild animal certificate and register them. Unfortunately, Miller also chose to have Gizmo declawed.
"He's a great pet and we've raised him for the last five and one-half years and this is a first for us," she told WCBS-TV of New York on October 24th of last year. (See "Escaped African Serval Cat Caught in Texas.") "It's very disturbing."
In total disagreement with Seattle's Baxter, Saginaw Animal Control Officer Kevin James told WCBS-TV, "They're not dangerous. They eat things smaller than what will fit in our mouth 'cause they eat everything whole. So I don't think any domesticated pet will have anything to worry about, unless it's a hamster."
Although Servals have been known to kill small antelopes, the Cat Survival Trust maintains that more than ninety per cent of their prey weighs less than seven ounces.
|African Serval Rescued in Mahopac|
It thus appears that James clearly has the better of Baxter on that issue. Besides, without their claws their hunting prowess is significantly diminished.
Baxter's libels are not, however, surprising when viewed in light of Washington State's notorious anti-cat policies. Only recently, Seattle Parks and Recreation, the city's animal shelter, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the USDA went out of their way in order to protect a coyote that had killed at least one cat and stalked several dogs in Discovery Park. (See Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 1, 2008, "Coyote in Discovery Park Won't Be Killed.")
More to the point, this was not an isolated incident. Elsewhere in Washington State, wildlife officials have repeatedly come down on the side of coyotes and raccoons that have killed 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.")
Officials in Washington State like to masquerade as wildlife proponents but they were exposed as hypocrites as far back as 1981 when they evicted a mountain lion dubbed D.B. Cougar from Discovery Park. In other words, some wildlife is welcome in Washington but certainly not cougars and African Servals. As far as domestic and feral cats are concerned, it goes without saying that their antipathy is unlimited.
On October 28th, an ailing African Serval was rescued from deplorable conditions at the home of fifty-four-year-old Louis Pinot in the Westchester County town of Mahopac in upstate New York. According to the Westchester SPCA, the home was filled with feces, trash, and other assorted filth. (See Fox News 5, October 31, 2007, "Exotic Cat Saved from Squalid Home.")
Pinot has been charged with animal cruelty and the cat is expected to recover. Its ultimate fate remains unknown, however.
In the Saskatchewan town of Regina, a Savannah known as Kimba nosed his way out a patio door on August 31st and was AWOL for two months before he was corralled by a farmer sixty kilometers away in Bethune. Savannahs are a cross between African Servals and domestic cats. (See Cat Defender post of May 19, 2005 entitled "Savannahs: More Feline Cruelty Courtesy of the Capitalists and Bourgeoisie.")
"It was like an old reunion," his unidentified owner told the Leader-Post of Regina on November 1st. (See "Frantic Feline Search Ends Just Fine.") "We brought him in the house. He was ecstatic. He was as happy as we were."
Exotic cats and hybrids are also coveted by thieves. For instance, last summer in Lee County, Florida construction workers stole Sydney Williams' $10,000 Savannah known as Taz.
Mike Brock, a detective with the Lee County Sheriff's Department, intervened and was able to persuade the workers to return the cat. "I had to be real careful. I didn't want to spook anybody to the point where they (would) harm the animal," he told WVVA-TV of Bluefield, West Virginia, on November 5, 2007. (See "Cop Tracks Down Stolen $10,000 Cat.")
"I basically told them it would be in everybody's best interest if this cat was returned to the family safe and unharmed," he added. A few days later Taz was in fact returned and Williams in turn agreed not to press charges against the culprits, All totaled, Taz was away for eight days.
More municipalities should follow the sterling example set by West Hollywood and other cities and outlaw this onerous practice. Moreover, veterinarians who perform onychectomies should be stripped of their licenses to practice veterinary medicine.
Secondly, wild cats belong in protected habitats as opposed to breeding farms and in living rooms. Contrary to what some people think, they are not inanimate objects to be manipulated at will by both breeders and consumers alike. (See Cat Defender post of February 19, 2007 entitled "Asheras Are the Designer Chats du Jour Despite the Cruelties Inflicted During Their Hybridization.")
Thirdly, there is not any way that the creation of hybrids can be either morally or humanely justified. The process is not only fraught with unspeakable cruelties and needless mortalities but it also adds to the existing surplus of cats. (See Cat Defender posts of April 13, 2007 and June 28, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Killing and Torturing Wild and Domestic Cats in Order to Create Toygers Is Not Going to Save Sumatran Tigers" and "Rural Alabama Man Makes a 'Killing' Forcibly Breeding Domestic Cats to Bobcats in Order to Create Pixie-Bobs.")
Finally, exotic and designer cats tend to be passing fads much like cats and dogs featured in motion pictures. Because they are trendy, many people covet them at first sight but once the novelty wears off they quickly grow tired of them and dump them at shelters.
Anybody wanting a cat should go to a shelter and save a life by adopting one. Individuals who desire cats with canine personalities, as many hybrids are said to possess, should simply adopt a dog.
Photos: KOMO-TV (Seattle African Serval), WCBS-TV (Gizmo), Fox News 5 (Mahopac African Serval), Don Healy of the Leader-Post (Kimba), and WVVA-TV (Taz).