Drunken Brute Beats, Stabs, and Then Hurls Fifi to Her Death Against the Side of a House in Limerick
"It was only a fucking cat! What are you getting worried about?"
-- Fifi's killer
Pretty little Fifi had only recently settled into her new home on Hartstonge Street near People's Park in Limerick. Everything seemed to be going well for the black and white kitten and she had every expectation of a long and happy life before her. (See photo above.)
All of her hopes and dreams came crashing down upon her at around 5 p.m. on September 7th when she was set upon by an unidentified drunken lout who beat, stabbed, and threw her against the side of a house. The mortally injured kitten then was taken by parties unknown to Treaty Veterinary Clinic where attendants worked in vain to save her life.
Although details of the incident are sketchy, it appears that Fifi was used as a pawn in a heated dispute between two drunks that broke out near the park. (See photo below.) The men, still at large, are described as being in their thirties with one of them having a crucifix tattooed on his neck.
"In the middle of the argument, one of the men brutally attacked the kitten with hands and knife, after which he threw her, still alive but badly injured, at a nearby house wall," Keith Fawcett, a neighbor of Fifi's unidentified owner, told the Limerick Leader on September 10th. (See "Kitten Stabbed in Limerick Row Between Drunks.") "The body then dropped two feet onto the concrete path below."
When asked by his verbal jousting partner why he had so brutally attacked Fifi, the murderer reportedly fired back, "It was only a fucking cat! What are you getting worried about?"
It would be a welcome development in the annals of animal welfare if the authorities in Limerick would do something out of the ordinary and pull out all the stops and bring this monster to justice. Cat-lovers should not, however, hold their breaths.
"People like these have no place in society," Jodie Hayward of Limerick Animal Welfare told the Limerick Leader in the article cited supra. "We see horrific injuries to cats and kittens all the time, but never anything as bad as this."
Generally speaking, the role played by alcohol in violent and criminal behavior is drastically overrated. Although the bottle may provide the culprits with the prerequisite "Dutch Courage" needed in order to commit their dastardly deeds, its role is purely secondary.
Individuals who commit heinous crimes of this sort do so because they are bad people, not because they are in their cups. The bottle serves merely as a convenient excuse in order for them to fob off responsibility for their actions.
The offender in this case most likely abuses animals and individuals when he is sober as well as in the bag. He therefore should be apprehended as soon as possible and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law based solely upon his reprehensible conduct with no allowance being granted for his inebriation.
Having said all of that, there can be little doubt that alcohol abuse and animals can be a deadly combination. Par exemple, during the summer of 2006 then forty-one-year-old Animal Control Officer Michelle A. Mulverhill went on a bender and left four cats and a dog unattended at a shelter that she oversaw in Oxford, Massachusetts. (See Cat Defender post of August 31, 2006 entitled "Animal Control Officer Goes on Drunken Binge and Leaves Four Cats and a Dog to Die of Thirst, Hunger, and Heat at Massachusetts Shelter.")
Mulverhill was forced to resign and subsequently pled guilty to five counts of animal cruelty in Dudley District Court. Obviously no lover of animals, presiding Judge Neil Snider let her off with one-year of probation and a requirement that she undergo counseling. (See Worcester Telegram, December 7, 2006, "Probation Ordered for Ex-Animal Officer.")
The city also was negligent for hiring a soak in the first place but, more importantly, it should have had a system of checks and balances in place in order to have protected the animals. Since its victims were homeless and penniless, it too got away scot-free with its crimes.
Last Christmas at the San Francisco Zoo, brothers Amritpal and Kulbir Dhaliwal along with their friend Carlos Sousa Jr. showed up high on vodka and pot and proceeded to taunt a rare Amur tigress known as Tatiana. When the fun and games finally ended, Tatiana had mauled Sousa to death and lay dead herself. (See Cat Defender post of January 28, 2008 entitled "Hopped Up on Vodka and Pot, Trio Taunted Tatiana Prior to Attacks That Led to Her Being Killed by Police.")
Despite being the instigators of these tragic events, the Dhaliwal brothers have retained high-powered shyster Mark Geragos for a lawsuit against the zoo and the Sousa family is also suing.
In addition to predation by drunkards, cats all over Ireland are under assault from ailurophobes, economic interests, and public institutions. In Dublin, for instance, stray and feral cats are being systematically trapped and removed from the grounds of St. James Hospital, the Custom House, shopping centers, and industrial parks. (See photo below of the Custom House.)
The same balderdash employed in order to justify their eradication elsewhere around the world is likewise being warmed up and pressed into service by the Irish. Cats are accused of, inter alia, overturning trash cans, fouling vegetable and flower gardens, and killing bats and birds.
The first two allegations can be disposed of rather simply. Cats are very neat animals that neither foul nor destroy property. Au contraire, it is precisely birds, rats, voles, squirrels, raccoons, and other animals that make a nuisance of themselves.
Moreover, cats have been transported all over the world precisely because of their uncanny ability to protect crops and grain stores from damage caused by rodents, birds, and other animals. Men and women of bon sens consider themselves fortunate to have the services and companionship of such useful and agreeable animals.
Since bats generally reside in caves, it is difficult to see how feline predation is adversely affecting them. In America, it is windmills that are killing them. (See New Scientist, August 25, 2008, "Wind Turbines Make Bat Lungs Explode.")
Birds are likewise being killed off by a litany of causes ranging from climate change, habitat destruction, and the wholesale use of deadly pesticides on the one hand to dwindling food supplies, noise pollution, and collisions with gratte-ciels, communications' towers, and airplanes on the other hand. Far from being innocent souls themselves, they also prey upon cats and kittens, horseshoe crabs, insects, and other animals.
All of that is in addition to spreading deadly diseases, such as the West Nile Virus and the H5N1 strain of Vogelgrippe, setting forest fires, and destroying crops. (See Cat Defender posts of May 6, 2008 and August 14, 2008 entitled, respectively, "National Audubon Society Wins the Right for Invasive Species of Shorebirds to Prey Upon Unborn Horseshoe Crabs" and "Birds Killing Cats: Blackie Is Abducted by a Sea Gull and Then Dropped but Her Fall Is Broken by a Barbed-Wire Fence.")
In their effort to get rid of Ireland's estimated one-hundred-thousand feral and stray cats, the ailurophobes have contracted out the job to private pest control companies who subsequently have been accused of dumping the cats that they trap on housing estates instead of killing them.
"We believe cats are being taken from one location to another and released," Orla Aungier of the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) told The Times of London on September 14th. (See "Stray Cats 'Being Dumped on Estates'.") "We recognize that colonies of stray cats can create problems when they start inbreeding and producing large numbers of kittens. But releasing them in another area just moves the problem."
That is really an outrageous position for the DSPCA to take. Homeless cats, whether they be ferals or strays, have an inalienable right to both life and liberty.
In this instance, pest control companies should be commended for having the good conscience to spare the cats' lives as opposed to killing them. That is a good deal more than can be said for Critter Control in Richmond, Virginia, and most other exterminators in America. (See Cat Defender posts of July 7, 2008 and August 21, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Fox Affiliate in Richmond Murders at Least Three Cats and Then Sends in the Bulldozers to Destroy Their Homes" and "Justice Denied: Exterminator Who Gassed Three Cats at the Behest of Fox-35 in Richmond Gets Off with a Minuscule Fine.")
In general, however, pest control companies do not have either the savoir-faire or sensitivity needed to deal with cats. Consequently, they trap and kill many domestic cats as well as members of managed colonies. Some of these killings are accidental while others are deliberate in order to collect a bounty. (See Cat Defender post of August 30, 2007 entitled "Texas Couple Files Lawsuit Against Pest Control Company for Trapping and Gassing Their Cat, Butty.")
"I know of situations where pest control companies have trapped feral cats that we have spayed and neutered," Phil O'Malley Cooley of Dublin's Petwatch told The Times in the article cited supra. "Also, many households have adopted them and are now feeding them, which technically makes them pets."
The situation for feral and stray cats is even more perilous in rural areas. Even though a good many dairy and cattle farms are overrun with rats, farmers are nonetheless calling upon pest control companies to trap and kill their resident felines.
"A single cat on a farm can be a good thing because it may keep rats and mice at bay, but when they start to multiply they can be very difficult to manage," Declan Murphy of Quality Pest Control Limited told The Independent of Dublin on September 9th. (See "Catty Persistence Will Pay Off for Farmers.")
Murphy goes on to make the following uninformed statement: "A cat that's being fed will not hunt, so he's no good to keep rats and mice at bay."
Both Benvenute Cellini and Carl Van Vechten disagree. "Cats of good breed hunt better fat than lean," according to the sixteenth century sculptor and painter. "...hungry cats do not make the best mousers," Van Vechten declared in his seminal work, The Tiger in the House.
This is a controversial point but reason would seem to dictate that well-fed cats would do considerably less hunting. Besides, since cats are estimated to sleep as many as eighteen hours a day they could not be doing all that much hunting in the first place.
Nonetheless, Murphy's dogma misses the point because cats do not need to hunt very much in order to keep rodents in check. The very smell of their bodies and urine is sufficient to cause most mice to flee.
That was demonstrated last year by researchers at the University of Tokyo who genetically altered circuitry in the brains of mice that normally cause them to associate the smell of a cat with predation. (See London's Daily Telegraph, July 11, 2007, "Cat-and-Mouse Game Driven by Smell of Fear.")
Consequently, these mutant mice would then walk right up to laboratory cats without any trepidation. (See photo above.)
As useful as that information may be, it does not alter the fact that animal experimentation is, in the words of Mohandas Gandhi, "the blackest of all the black crimes that man is at present committing against God and his fair creation." In a just and humane world there would not be any vivisectors.
Murphy also is wrong about cats being able to fend for themselves. Stray and feral cats need at the very least to be fed, watered, and sheltered. It would be even better if they were vaccinated against diseases and provided with veterinary care when needed.
To offer them anything less is to be not only cheap but ungrateful as well. By keeping the population of destructive and disease-spreading animals within manageable limits they are providing an invaluable service to mankind and therefore should not only be compensated but afforded protection as well.
More to the point, if Ireland does indeed have too many homeless cats, the humane and intelligent solution for both farmers and city slickers alike is TNR. This method will allow the cats to live out their brief sojourns on this earth in managed colonies while at the same time drastically reducing their numbers.
A hundred-thousand homeless cats is not a particularly large number especially when compared to America's estimated seventy million and that consideration alone raises suspicion that ailurophobia and greed are motivating extermination efforts. Although the Irish economy has started to cool off somewhat of late, the past dozen or so years have been heady times on the Emerald Isle.
Too many people, too much development and farming, and too much greed are the principal factors imperiling all animals, both domestic and wild. Instead of denigrating and exterminating cats and other animals Ireland and the rest of the world need to learn to respect their rights and to make room for them.
As Fifi's brutal murder and events in Dublin and rural Ireland have demonstrated, the Irish have short memories. Otherwise they would take cognizance of that old Irish proverb which counsels "beware of people who dislike cats."
Photos: Limerick Leader (Fifi), Limerick City Council (People's Park), Stevage of Wikipedia (Dublin's Custom House), and Ko and Reiko Kobayakawa of the University of Tokyo (mutant mouse and lab cat).