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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, September 25, 2008

Seattle Resident Beats Off a Voracious Raccoon with a Broom in Order to Save the Life of His Cat, Jewel

Raccoons are continuing to exact a heavy toll on cats in Washington State. One of their latest victims was an eight-pound gray cat named Jewel from Seattle who was savagely mauled in her own yard on July 1st.

The raccoon had her pinned to the ground and most likely would have finished her off if her owner, Matthew Garcia, had not intervened with a broom. Given a new lease on life, Jewel scampered away and was not seen again for eight days.

Once she returned home, it was discovered that she had sustained a broken fibula, a fractured hip, and two puncture wounds in the attack. Garcia immediately secured veterinary assistance for her and she has since made a complete recovery.

It is nonetheless nothing short of a minor miracle that she did not either bleed to death or die from infection during the interim. (See photo above of her with Garcia.)

In the past, Jewel had managed to steer clear of the raccoons who daily frequent her yard but once a new baby arrived at the Garcia household she became more confrontational. While Garcia suspects that his cat may have been attempting to protect the new arrival, it is possible that other psychological factors were at work. (See The West Seattle Herald, August 11, 2008, "Jewel the Guard Cat.")

For instance, Jewel could have been feeling neglected as so often happens when a new baby arrives on the scene and in turn took out her frustrations on the raccoons. It also is conceivable that she could have been scrapping with them previously unbeknownst to her owner.

She also could have been the victim of an unprovoked attack. Based upon the limited amount of information available, it is difficult to say exactly what may have transpired.

There can be absolutely no doubt, however, that raccoons can be lethal for cats. Back in 2006, numerous domestic cats were killed by raccoons seventy-six kilometers to the south in Olympia. (See Cat Defender post of August 28, 2006 entitled "Marauding Pack of Vicious Raccoons Rip Ten House Cats to Shreds and Terrorize Residents but Wildlife Officials Refuse to Intervene.")

It is therefore advisable never to leave food of any kind outside after nightfall. This holds true for the feeding of both domestic and feral cats.

Raccoons are intelligent animals with keen recall systems and once they learn to associate a particular location with food they are impossible to dissuade. More importantly, they sooner or later may come to associate cats as competitors for their daily sustenance and that can lead to deadly consequences.

Cats are not any more capable of holding their own against raccoons than they are of fighting dogs to a draw. Armed with forty razor-sharp teeth and non-retractable claws on their front paws, raccoons are well equipped by Mother Nature to hold their own in any kind of a fight.

Their rear feet can be rotated one-hundred-eighty degrees and this allows them to descend trees headfirst, which is something that even cats cannot attempt. They additionally are excellent swimmers.

Consequently, cats must be protected from them. Some individuals have had success by installing cat-fencing supplemented by an electrified wire strung along the outside perimeter. This type of an arrangement has the added benefit of also keeping out such proficient feline predators as coyotes, fishers, and dogs.

If that is not an affordable option, cats must be kept inside after dusk. Moreover, should there be coyotes and fishers in the neighborhood they cannot be allowed out unsupervised even during the daytime.

Overlapping trees from adjoining lots are another concern that can negate the positive benefits of cat-fencing. It is therefore necessary that these trees be pruned if raccoons and fishers are to be thwarted.

In addition to being fearless, raccoons also are enterprising. That is what a coterie of highfalutin judges at the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in downtown Atlanta recently discovered to their chagrin.

Although the building has beefy security guards who give the evil eye to all visitors and metal detectors that steadfastly refuse to grant entree to anyone carrying so much as a red cent in either his or her pockets, neither proved to be much of a challenge to a raccoon named, appropriately enough, Russell. After entering the building through the heating system and scaling pipes and ventilation ducts, he proceeded to go on a crime spree back in August that lasted several weeks before he was finally captured.

Russell's haul included, inter alia, an apple purloined from the office of bankruptcy judge Paul W. Bonapfel, chocolate chips cookies mooched on the tenth floor, a sandwich of unknown description from floor nine, and a packet of dried soup taken from an office on the twenty-third floor. Although the stingy judges squealed like stuck pigs, these petty thefts did not amount to very much.

Nevertheless, federal judges are not to be trifled with under any circumstances. Consequently, the General Services Administration, which oversees the building, called in a trapper and Russell was lured into a trap baited with tuna on August 25th. (See photo above of him with Bonapfel and Judge Mary Grace Diehl.)

For whatever it is worth, building manager Robert Perkins has stated that the feds are planning to spare Russell's life. "We're going to see if we can get him turned loose on a farm somewhere," he told The Atlanta Constitution on August 25th. (See "Paw Prints in Judge's Office Spell End for Masked Bandit.") "We're going to take him a long way from this building."

That arrangement is just fine with Judge "Good Apple" who earlier had posted a "Raccoon Crossing" sign on the door to his chambers. (See photo above.) "We don't have jurisdiction over raccoons," he told The Constitution. "We leave that to the executive branch."

The story behind how Russell wound up in the federal building is every bit as interesting as were his exploits once inside. Locals theorize that he may have been driven out of his previous home by a construction crew working nearby.

While raccoons generally prefer wooded habitats, they have been living in cities, such as Cincinnati, ever since the 1920s. In fact, an estimated fifteen per cent of those living in the nation's capital reside in houses whereas that figure skyrockets to forty-three per cent in the German city of Kassel. (See Der Spiegel, March 9, 2007, "Raccoons Invade Germany" and Cat Defender post of March 23, 2007 entitled "Bird Lovers in South Africa Break Out the Champagne to Celebrate the Merciless Gunning Down of the Last of Robben Island's Cats.")

It also is conceivable that he could have been either transported to downtown Atlanta and then dumped or that he previously was someone's pet. Unless someone comes forward and claims him, his prior life will remain for ever a Chinese puzzle.

Therefore, the best that can be hoped for is that the feds will keep their word and spare his life. The ideal situation, however, would be for a bona fide animal rescue group to take custody of him. They have the expertise to determine his status and where best to release him back into the wild.

More poignantly, Russell's exploits demonstrate writ large just how difficult it has become for animals to secure safe places to live and sufficient nourishment. They are to be commended for their ingenuity but the inescapable fact is that they are fast running out of Lebensraum.

Even under optimal conditions raccoons have a life expectancy of only two to three years. Hunters, motorists, a shortage of food, deadly diseases such as distemper and rabies, and predation by coyotes, bobcats, and dogs all combine to drastically shorten their sojourns on this earth.

Of course, there really was not any valid reason why Russell could not have remained at the courthouse. The judges have plenty of money and it certainly would not have killed them to have fed and watered him every day. After all, tens of thousands of people around the globe are forced to share their attics with raccoons.

Since it has been decreed that all living creatures within the boundaries of the capitalist dystopia known as America must sing for their supper, he could have earned his keep by catching mice and serving as a combination security guard and mascot. Besides, all federal courthouses are chock-full of stodgy old judges dispensing their very own jaundiced versions of justice, spit and polish bailiffs trying to keep order, and somnolent law clerks yawning through another day, but how many can boast to having their very own raccoon?

Photos: Kim Robinson of The West Seattle Herald (Jewel and Garcia) and John Spink of The Atlanta Constitution (Russell with judges and "Raccoon Crossing" sign).