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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

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sparkles, Who Was Forced to Pay the Ultimate Price for Belonging to the World's Most Abused Species, Tops the List of the Most Memorable Cats of 2008

"One is permitted to assume an attitude of placid indifference in the matter of elephants, cockatoos, H.G. Wells, Sweden, Puccini, and even Mormonism, but in the matter of cats it seems necessary to take a firm stand. The cat himself insists upon this; he invariably inspires strong feelings. He is, indeed, the only animal who does. From his admirers he evokes an intense adoration which usually finds an outlet in exaggerated expression...But so magnetic an animal is bound to repel when he does not fascinate, and those who hate the cat hate him with a malignity which, I think, only snakes in the animal kingdom provoke to an equal degree."
-- Carl Van Vechten, The Tiger in the House

The recently concluded year was another eventful one in the cat wars. There were a few success stories, such as those involving Tinkerbelle, Tama, Roosevelt, and Caloo. Cats such as Emmy, Bonny, Janosch, Ginger, Georgia, and Ronaldo had narrow escapes but Malli was not nearly so fortunate. It also was the year that the world said good-bye to the beloved and respected Scarlett. Above all, 2008 will be remembered for the numerous despicable acts of abysmal cruelty that were committed against Sparkles, Trooper, Arwen, Chopper, Elmo, and Freeway.

So, without further ado, here they are: the eighteen most memorable cats of 2008. For previous year-end roundups, see Cat Defender posts of December 21, 2006 and December 25, 2007 entitled, respectively, Heroes and Victims: Sixteen Special Cats to Remember from the Year 2006 and Survivors and Adventurers: Fifteen Wonderful Cats to Remember from the Year 2007.

1.) Sparkles. Irish Cat Is Killed by a Firecracker Set Off in Her Ear.

Of all the heartbreaking, sickening, and disgusting stories to come out of last year the premeditated murder of a white cat named Sparkles from Arklow stands out from the remainder. Despite losing her left ear, hearing, and the back of her head to a firecracker, it initially looked like she was going to live.

She eventually was cleared to leave the hospital and to go home to her new family. The seizures and infections that had racked her tiny body from the outset proved to be unrelenting, however, and she was euthanized six weeks later. The horrific pain that she must have gone through brings tears to the eyes. Worst still, because the police in Wicklow County steadfastly refuse to take crimes against cats seriously, her murderer is still walking the mean streets of Arklow. (See Cat Defender posts of November 20, 2008 and January 12, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Trusting Domestic Cat Has Her Left Ear Blown Off with a Firecracker by Cretins Outside an Irish Bar" and "Disoriented and Racked with Excruciating Pain, Seizures, and Infections, Sparkles Loses Her Long Struggle to Live.")

2.) Tinkerbelle. Death Row Feline Gets a Long-Distance Reprieve.

Pretty as a picture, four-year-old Tinkerbelle was on death row at the SPCA's notorious slaughterhouse in Lakeland, Florida. At the last minute a telephone call came through from Sue Watts in Birmingham and a reprieve was granted. Following an outlay of $3,000, Tinkerbelle flew off into the wide blue yonder on August 28th in order to begin a new life in England. Because of Old Blighty's ludicrous quarantine laws, she is still in jail and will be until March but at least Watts is able to visit her.

The unlikely duo's paths crossed in late July when Watts was in the States to attend the wedding of one of her nieces in Davenport. Although she erred grievously in dumping Tinkerbelle at the SPCA before returning home, she now has atoned for that near-fatal mistake. "This cat struck up a relationship while we were there and we fell in love with it. So, it's the cat we want to provide a home for," is how she explained the rationale behind the long-distance adoption. Moral of the story: although it likes to play hide and seek, love is real and it can, on occasions, move mountains. (See Cat Defender post of September 4, 2008 entitled "Tinkerbelle Is Freed from Death Row and Flown to Safety in England Capping Off a Storybook Ending to Her Travails in Florida.")

3.) Emmy. English Cat Is Locked in a Storage Shed for Nine Weeks.

In October of 2007, a ten-year-old tuxedo cat named Emmy from Dame Agatha's old haunt
of Torquay in Devon became trapped inside an outdoor storage shed where she was forced to remain for nine weeks without either food or water. Rescuers theorize that she survived by licking up condensation that had accumulated on the shed's windows.

The trying ordeal left her with, quite understandably, a fear of both tight places and of being left alone. She also initially was having difficulty jumping due to atrophy that had developed in her legs.

Adding insult to injury, her owners had moved into a new house during the interim and no longer wanted her. At last report she was still at a shelter and looking for a new home. (See Cat Defender post of January 23, 2008 entitled "Emmy Survives Being Locked in an Outdoor Storage Shed for Nine Weeks Without Either Food or Water.")

4.) Tama. Tortoiseshell Turns Around Money-Losing Rail Line.

The Wakayama Electric Railway's Kishigawa Line in western Japan was hemorrhaging red ink like a faulty fountain pen and losing passengers by the droves. That was when management hit upon the brilliant idea of appointing a nine-year-old tortoiseshell named Tama that hung around the Wakayama terminal as its stationmaster.

Since her appointment, ridership has soared by more than ten per cent and the railroad is back in the black. As for Tama, she has been rewarded with a medallion and a cap as well as a hefty increase in salary, i.e., cat food. Books have been written about her and she has been featured in a documentary film. She also has an entry devoted to her on Wikipedia and Tama merchandise is selling like hot cakes.

In addition to overseeing operations, she spends a good deal of her time posing for photographs with tourists and other well-wishers. "She never complains, even though passengers touch her all over the place," Yoshiko Yamaki, a spokesman for the railroad, said last year. (See Cat Defender post of June 2, 2008 entitled "Ridership Soars as Tama Takes Over as a Stationmaster on Money-Losing Commuter Train Line.")

5.) Trooper. Kitten Dies after Being Tossed from a Speeding Auto.

In still yet another heartbreaking story involving abominable cruelty, an eight-week-old, hazel-eyed black and white kitten named Trooper died last summer as the result of injuries that he sustained on July 31st when he was tossed from a speeding automobile on Route 168 South near the Virginia and North Carolina border. Rescued by kindhearted Michele Laney of Moyock, he was rushed to Mount Pleasant Veterinary Clinic in Chesapeake where he was treated for a broken leg and abrasions to his face.

His prognosis was good and Laney was excited about the prospect of being able to take him home to live with her. On August 14th, however, his lungs collapsed and kidneys failed. Emergency surgery was performed in order to install a catheter but he died on the operating table. The veterinarians theorize that he may have either sustained internal injuries that did not show up on the initial x-rays or that his body was simply too young to cope with the extent of the injuries that he sustained.

Whatever the reason, there cannot be any disputing that his death broke not only Laney's heart but those belonging to his care-givers as well. (See Cat Defender post of August 28, 2008 entitled "In Memoriam: Trooper Survives Being Thrown from a Speeding Automobile Only to Later Die on the Operating Table.")

6.) Bonny. German Cat Is Entombed Underneath a Bathtub.

The scrapes that cats manage to get themselves into and, occasionally, out of never cease to amaze. A good case in point is a Persian-mix named Bonny that belongs to Monika Hoppert of Stadthagen, Niedersachsen.

Following a plumbing rupture in her building in June, Hoppert left the door to her flat ajar so as to allow the carpeting to dry out. Unbeknownst to her, Bonny slipped out and took refuge underneath the bathtub in a neighbor's apartment.

Unfortunately for her, workmen failed to detect her presence and proceeded to tile over her escape route. The neighbor heard her meowing one day in August while showering and a rescue was mounted. Too weak to even stand, Bonny's weight had plummeted from thirteen to four pounds.

She was in such sad shape in fact that the attending veterinarian wanted to euthanize her. Being a tough-minded German, Hoppert was not about to stand for any such drivel and instead took Bonny home and nursed her back to health by her lonesome.

Ironically, it was precisely the faulty plumbing that almost cost Bonny her life that ended up being her savior in that it was only through the consumption of water that had leaked from the tub that she was able to have survived. (See Cat Defender post of September 8, 2008 entitled "Bonny Is Rescued at the Last Minute after Spending Seven Weeks Entombed Underneath a Bathtub.")

7.) Janosch. German Cat Is Accidentally Sent Through the Post.

One-year-old Janosch from Rottach-Egern in Bayern crawled into a shipping crate at a neighbor's house last June and was accidentally sealed up and sent through the post to Dorsten in Nordrhein-Westfalen. Fortunately for him, an alert postal employee noticed that something was alive and moving inside the crate and he was freed twenty-four hours later.

Because of her busy work schedule, his forty-four-year-old owner, Gitti Rauch, was unable to immediately go and collect him and this necessitated his spending the next twenty-seven days in a shelter. All totaled, Janosch's misadventures wound up costing her $440 in shelter fees and transportation expenses.

"Du bist eine teure Katze!" she chided Janosch once they were happily reunited. All kidding aside, she was overjoyed to have him back. "Aber das war's mir wert, wir sind froh, dass er wieder da ist," she added. (See Cat Defender post of July 21, 2008 entitled "Janosch Survives Being Sent Through the Post from Bayern to the Rhineland.")

8.) Arwen. Florida Cat Is Murdered with a Bow and Arrow.

A black and white cat named Arwen from New Port Richey was shot through the abdomen with an arrow outfitted with razor blades on April 28th. She wandered around town for several days in what must have been horrific pain until she was discovered on May 1st and rushed to Geoffrey Adams' surgery.

By that time her left front leg had become so infected that it had to be amputated. She was given a blood transfusion, placed in an incubator, intravenous fluids were administered, and a feeding tube was inserted. She also was treated with antibiotics and painkillers and Adams believed that she was going to live.

Despite his dedication, generosity, and Herculean efforts, Arwen died unexpectedly on May 4th. "She fought hard while she was with us, so we did not give up on her," he said immediately after her death. As is the case in just about all feline murders, Arwen's killer remains at large due a lack of interest on the part of the New Port Richey Police in bringing either him or her to justice. (See Cat Defender post of May 13, 2008 entitled "Just When It Appeared That She Was Going to Make It, Arwen Dies Suddenly after Being Shot in the Abdomen with a Barbed Arrow.")

9.) Chopper. Kitten Is Divested of His Fur and Left in the Cold.

A twelve-week-old orange kitten named Chopper was shaved from head to tail and left to die in the Ontario cold in November. His abuser also did such a mean job of shaving that the kitten was left with cuts all over his tiny body.

Luckily for him, he was rescued in the nick of time and turned over to the Ontario SPCA where upon examination it was determined that he additionally was suffering from severe malnutrition, a respiratory infection, fleas, worms, and ear mites. "He was in rough shape...we didn't know if he'd make it," Dave Wilson of the SPCA said at the time. "He was probably just trying to survive on the street and somebody did this to him."

Despite long odds against him, he nevertheless did recover and, just as importantly, his days as a street cat are history in that he now has a new home. (See Cat Defender post of December 9, 2008 entitled "Shaved from Head to Tail and Left to Freeze to Death in the Ontario Cold, Chopper Is Saved at the Last Minute.")

10.) Malli. Cat Dies after Trip from Malaysia.

She was born in a shipping crate sometime around Christmas of 2007. On February 4th, she and her mother and siblings were loaded aboard a ship in Johor Bahru where she was destined to remain without either food or water for the next thirty-two days until she arrived at Samsel Supply Company in Cleveland on March 7th.

The twelve-week-old black and white kitten survived but her mother and siblings died en route. She was taken into custody by the Cleveland Animal Protective League where she was nursed back to health. She later was placed in foster care as a prelude to her anticipated adoption by an employee of Samsel.

Just when it appeared that there was going to be a storybook ending to her miseries, she died unexpectedly on March 22nd of possibly either a congenital defect or a compromised immune system. (See Cat Defender posts of March 21, 2008 and April 25, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Malli Survives a Thirty-Two Day Voyage from Johor Bahru to Cleveland Trapped Inside a Shipping Crate" and "After Surviving a Lengthy and Hellish Confinement at Sea, Malli Dies Unexpectedly in Foster Care.")

11.) Scarlett. Heroic Mother Cat Is Killed Off by Her Owner.

She always will be remembered for the daring rescue of her five, four-week-old kittens from a burning garage in Brooklyn back in 1996. In addition to her heroics, Scarlett was a survivor who spent the remainder of her life handicapped and in pain. For instance, not only were the tips of her ears and blotches of her fur burned off in the inferno but also her eyelids. That necessitated that her pupils had to be medicated several times a day in order to keep them moist.

Suffering from lymphoma, kidney failure, a heart murmur, Hyperthyroidism, and bad teeth, guardian Karen Wellen elected to have her killed off on October 11th in spite of the fact that she still had a hearty appetite. The good news is that four of her kittens were still alive at last report.

Even in death she remains an inspiration to cat-lovers everywhere. She will not soon be forgotten. (See Cat Defender posts of October 27, 2008 and September 15, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Loved and Admired All Over the World, Feline Heroine Scarlett Is Killed Off by Her Owner after She Becomes Ill" and "Scarlett, the Cat Who Saved Her Kittens from a Burning Building in 1996, Is Still Alive on Long Island.")

12.) Elmo. Beloved Persian Is Executed by a Cop.

A ten-year-old Persian named Elmo belonging to Roger Oldaker of Cecil, Pennsylvania was trapped and summarily executed on the spot by a local police officer on March 22nd. Acting upon a complaint filed by an unidentified cat-hating neighbor, the policeman claimed that he was justified in killing Elmo because he was running loose like a stray and not wearing a collar.

The readily observable facts paint an entirely different picture, however. For starters, Elmo was an expensive Persian and a healthy and well-groomed one at that. Secondly, the fact that he did not flee when the cop approached was another strong indication that he was a domesticated cat.

Oddly enough, it was his domestication that ultimately cost him his life. "He just didn't know where to run," a distraught Oldaker later said. "Another cat ran away, and the policeman said if my cat would have run, he would have let him go." (See Cat Defender post of March 31, 2008 entitled "Cecil, Pennsylvania Police Officer Summarily Executes Family's Beloved Ten-Year-Old Persian, Elmo.")

13.) Roosevelt. Stray Tomcat Finds a Home and a Mission.

Nobody seems to know where he came from; he simply wandered onto the spacious grounds of Lake Quinault Lodge on the coast of Washington State in the spring of 2007. It did not take him long, however, to win over the hearts of both staffers and guests and to become an indispensable part of the operation in the process.

He now wears many hats. He is the lodge's mascot, concierge, and mouser but, above all, he is a beloved companion of both employees and tourists. He frequently accompanies guests on hikes through Olympia National Park and staffers compete with each other in order to spend their breaks with him. After his busy days have ended, he can be found most evenings reclining in his favorite chair in front of the fireplace in the inn's cozy lounge.

Not content with merely soaking up the good life, he is busy helping to raise money not only for a proposed no-kill shelter in Aberdeen but also to buy food for the area's homeless cats and dogs. (See Cat Defender post of January 7, 2008 entitled "Roosevelt, Who Has Brightened the Lives of So Many Vacationers, Now Sets His Sights on Saving Other Homeless Cats and Dogs.")

14.) Ginger. Cat Survives Trip from China to England.

A male cat named Ginger survived a five-week, sixty-five-hundred-mile voyage from Xiamen (Amoy) in Fujian Province to Nottinghamshire last summer trapped inside a consignment of textiles. When he was discovered by employees of Toray Textiles in late July, Ginger was famished and dehydrated but otherwise unharmed.

Like all foreign cats arriving in Angleterre, he immediately was sentenced to six-months in quarantine and should be getting out just about now. Luckily for him, Toray generously stepped forward and agreed to foot $2,800 of his $3,200 quarantine fee. On top of that, employee Deborah Ford has consented to provide him with a home. (See Cat Defender post of August 11, 2008 entitled "Trapped Inside a Crate, Ginger Licks Up Condensation in Order to Survive a Nightmarish Sea Voyage from China to Nottinghamshire.")

15.) Caloo. New Jersey Cat Lands a Job in Politics.

Caloo, a four-month-old black, brown, and white cat with strikingly beautiful green eyes, moseyed unannounced into Borough Hall in Carlstadt back in August. She promptly was taken into custody like a convicted felon on the lam and given an appointment with the hangman.

That was when borough administrator Jane Fontana came to her rescue and convinced the borough council to adopt her as "The Carlstadt Cat." Caloo now spends weekdays in Fontana's office and weekends at her residence.

In addition to regularly attending meetings and generally trying to keep the politicians on the straight and narrow, she enjoys watching paper being printed and chasing computer mice. Like Tripod in Natchez and Bootsie in El Cerrito, Caloo is living proof that cats have a future in politics. (See Cat Defender posts of September 22, 2008, November 28, 2008, and March 20, 2007 entitled, respectively, "New Jersey at Long Last Has at Least One Honest Public Servant and Her Name Is Caloo from Carlstadt," "Natchez Politicians Pause to Remember Tripod on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of His Death" and "El Cerrito's Bureaucrats Distinguish Themselves by Showing Compassion for a Waif Known as Bootsie.")

16.) Georgia. Bronx Moggy Survives Twenty-Five Days in Subway.

Given the fact that navigating New York City's labyrinthine subway system is a daunting enough task for most humans, it must have been positively terrifying for a seven-month-old black cat from the Bronx named Georgia who spent twenty-five nerve-racking days lost deep within its innards during January and February. While en route to the veterinarian, Georgia somehow managed to escape from her cage while her owner, Bronx librarian Ashley Phillips, was waiting for the IRT at Fifty-Ninth Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

The tragic story instantaneously became fodder for the city's tabloids but it was just as quickly forgotten as soon as all hope for a successful rescue faded. Then, like un coup du ciel, Georgia was located and rescued on February 16th thanks to the combined efforts of Consolidated Edison, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and Transit Police. With the exception of a broken leg and a scratch on her nose, Georgia came through her rough ordeal in better shape than anyone could have hoped. She was, however, dehydrated and considerably skinnier.

"I'm still in shock," Phillips later said of the rescue. "I kind of gave up hope that they'd find her." Quite obviously, miracles occur underground in New York City as well as on the Hudson. (See Cat Defender post of March 7, 2008 entitled "Georgia Is Found Safe and Sound after Spending a Harrowing Twenty-Five Days Lost in the Bowels of the New York City Subway System.")

17.) Ronaldo. Bounty Is Placed on Tiny Kitten's Head.

Ronaldo was only ten-days-old when he arrived in a shipping crate abroad a lorry at Matalan's depot in Corby, Northamptonshire during the first week of August. That did not deter predatory quarantine officials, however, from placing a $3,200 bounty on his head.

Fortunately for the Portuguese kitten, the clothing retailer magnanimously agreed to ransom his life. "We decided to donate the full amount because the kitten was in one of our depots and it has touched everyone in the office," spokeswoman Cathy Hughes said. "They were all chuffed to bits to be able to help him." (See Cat Defender post of August 18, 2008 entitled "Ronaldo Escapes Death after Retailer Coughs Up the Exorbitant Bounty That Quarantine Officials Had Placed on His Head.")

18.) Freeway. Orange Tabby Survives Being Thrown from a Truck.

"All of a sudden, I see this cat flying in the air...I was devastated when I saw him. The poor thing bounced as high as my truck." That was how volunteer animal rescuer Catherine Barton described the tossing of an orange tabby named Freeway from a speeding gray pickup truck on I-95 near Stuart, Florida on Boxing Day of 2007.

She immediately pulled over and scooped up Freeway and rushed him to veterinarian Joel Rossen's mobile surgery where he was treated for abrasions to his face, nose, and ears as well as a broken tooth. Unlike Trooper, Freeway was able to survive this cowardly and despicable act of feline cruelty. (See Cat Defender post of January 14, 2008 entitled "Freeway Miraculously Survives Being Tossed Out the Window of a Truck on Busy I-95 in South Florida.")

Photos: Belfast Telegraph (Sparkles), Fox-13 of Tampa (Tinkerbelle), BBC (Emmy and Ginger), China Daily (Tama), Brian Clark of Hampton Roads TV (Trooper), Denis Lochte of the Schaumburger Nachrichten (Bonny and Monika Hoppert), Theo Klein of Bild (Janosch and Gitti Rauch), WTSP-TV of St. Petersburg (Arwen), Erica Bajer of The Chatham Daily News (Chopper and Kelly Spero of the Ontario SPCA), Steve Trueman of the Cleveland Animal Protective League (Malli), North Shore Animal League (Scarlett), Roger Oldaker (Elmo), David Sandler of The Daily World of Aberdeen (Roosevelt), Alexis Tarrazi, The Leader of Lyndhurst (Caloo), Ashley Phillips (Georgia), Alison Bagley of the Kettering Evening Telegraph (Ronaldo), and Deborah Silver of the Vero Beach Press Journal (Freeway and Joel Rossen).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

India Dies at Age Eighteen Leaving the White House Without a Resident Feline for the First Time in Sixteen Years

"The President, Mrs. Bush, Barbara, and Jenna are deeply saddened by the passing of their cat, India...(She) was a beloved member of the Bush family for almost two decades. She will be greatly missed."
-- White House press release of January 5, 2009

India, the Bushes' eighteen-year-old black American Shorthair, died on January 4th at the White House. (See photo above.) No cause of death has been given and the Bushes have not announced either any funeral or burial plans.

"The President, Mrs. Bush, Barbara, and Jenna are deeply saddened by the passing of their cat, India...," a White House press release dated January 5th declared. (See "President, Mrs. Bush, Barbara, and Jenna Deeply Saddened by Passing of Their Cat, India...") "(She) was a beloved member of the Bush family for almost two decades. She will be greatly missed."

Also known as "Kitty" and "Willie," it is believed that she was born in Austin in 1991. In January of 2001, she moved with the Bushes to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue where she replaced the departing Socks as First Cat. (See Cat Defender post of December 24, 2008 entitled "Former First Cat Socks Is Gravely Ill with Cancer and Other Assorted Maladies.")

During her years at the White House, India remained for the most part out of the spotlight as media curiosity was concentrated instead on the Bushes' Scottish Terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley. (See photo below of Miss Beazley giving India a face washing while Barney awaits his turn.)

From what little was known about her, India apparently had a fondness for tuna-flavored kitty treats (no big surprise there), the White House Library, and piano recitals. (See photo further down the page.)

Despite her best efforts to the contrary, the mere fact that she occupied the prestigious position of First Cat was enough to leave her open to unprovoked attacks from all quarters. In July of 2004, for example, youths in Thiruvananthapuram, India burned an effigy of Bush because they falsely believed that his choice of a name for her was a veiled insult directed at their country.

Actually, she was named by Bush's then nine-year-old daughter, Barbara, in honor of slugger Ruben Sierra who played for the Texas Rangers baseball team, which once was owned by her father. Sierra's nickname was "El Indio."

In addition to their abysmal ignorance, it is the very epitome of ailurophobia to consider it an insult to have a cat share the name of your country. If the truth be told, the feline species has enjoyed a far more glorious past than the state of India.

Even in death there has not been any peace for India. For instance, some of Bush's critics in the Muslim world have peppered a web site used by al-Qaeda with sarcastic and derogatory remarks about her.

"For God's sake, could someone tell us where the wake is to be held?" a commentator who calls himself Dark Side wrote shortly after her death was announced. (See Associated Press, January 6, 2008, "Islamic Militants Ridicule Death of Bush Cat.")

"This is not the right time to die," another blowhard bellowed. "It is a dilemma for the Arab leaders at this time because they are busy and have to leave the region to offer condolences."

Regardless of whatever anyone may have thought of either the man or his presidency, it nonetheless takes a genuinely mean-spirited low-life to go after another person's dead cat. Besides, the prophet Muhammad thought so much of the species that he once ordered an attendant to cut away his sleeve so that he could extricate his arm from underneath a sleeping cat without disturbing its repose.

Despite their avowed love of the prophet and the Koran, those who have unjustly attacked India have demonstrated their ignorance of and total disregard for the teachings of both of them. Cats and other animals are all too often the innocent victims of mankind's never-ending strife and accordingly should be left out of petty squabbles of this sort.

With India's passing, the office of First Cat is now vacant for the first time in sixteen years. Moreover, since President Obama is not a cat-lover, it is likely to remain that way for at least the next eight years.

While he may be able to successfully navigate the ship of state through the perilous political waters of today solely on his own abilities, to attempt such a Herculean feat without the benefit of feline counsel can only be classified as foolhardy. Besides, a mansion as grand as the White House requires the presence of "a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat," as Mark Twain intoned in Puddn'head Wilson, no less than does a lopsided hovel on the poor side of town.

As for India, it can only be hoped that she was given a proper burial and a tombstone and not merely tossed out with yesterday's newspapers. She, like all cats and dogs, deserves at least that much.

For instance, the most famous presidential pet of all time, Richard Nixon's American Cocker Spaniel Checkers, is buried at the Bide-A-Wee Pet Cemetery in Wantagh on Long Island. (See photo above.) Although he has been dead a long time, his grave remains the most popular attraction in the cemetery. Sadly, none of the Nixons have ever stopped by to pay their respects.

Photos: Kimberlee Hewitt of the White House (India), Paul Morse of the White House (India with Barney and Miss Beazley and by herself listing to a piano recital), and Jostein Sand Nilsen of Wikipedia (Checkers' grave).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Disoriented and Racked with Excruciating Pain, Seizures, and Infections, Sparkles Loses Her Long Struggle to Live

"The cat had been through so much. She fought for weeks and weeks and I am just so saddened that she could not hold on any longer...She hung on so long but she was just in pain and disoriented. It was very difficult."
-- Sparkles' unidentified guardian

In yet still another tragic denouement to one of last year's most heartbreaking stories, little Sparkles has lost her six-week tussle with the Grim Reaper and died. The end came about a month ago when her guardian and staff at Avondale Veterinary Hospital in Arklow decided to euthanize her. (See photos above and below.)

With the world being so chock-full of ailurophobes, individuals who work with cats on a daily basis sooner or later come to anticipate a certain amount of suffering and abuse. Nevertheless, some cases are destined to remain forever indelibly etched in human consciousness and this is certainly one of them.

The four to five-year-old white female was discovered drenched in blood and near death on October 29th by bar patrons at The Old Ship located at 44 Main Street in Arklow, south of Dublin. Her left ear and the back of her head had been blown off by a firecracker that had been deliberately rammed into her ear canal and then lighted.

Veterinarians at Avondale rewired her broken jaw and removed damaged tissue from her ear. Against all odds, the brave little moggy survived numerous rounds of surgery and was expected to recover although she was destined to be deaf. (See Cat Defender post of November 20, 2008 entitled "Trusting Domestic Cat Has Her Left Ear Blown Off with a Firecracker by Cretins Outside an Irish Bar.")

After she was cleared to leave the hospital she was adopted by an unidentified party from the Templerainey section of the city. Some miracles are just too good to last, however, and the infections and seizures that she was prone to simply refused to abate.

Consequently, the decision was made to end her life. Whether or not that was the correct call it is difficult to say.

Life is not only precious but short and as a general rule not a single second of it should be sacrificed to either expediency or necessity. Nevertheless, no matter how much everyone wanted her to live there can be no denying that horrific pain was the price that she was paying for her perseverance.

"The cat had been through so much. She fought for weeks and weeks and I am just so saddened that she could not hold on any longer," her owner told Wicklow People on December 17th. (See "Cat Injured by Firecracker Loses Its Battle to Survive.") "She hung on so long but she was just in pain and disoriented. It was very difficult."

Sparkles' brutal murder has left her owner with a wound of her own that steadfastly refuses to heal. "I'm just so angry and upset. The people who did this need to know the consequences of their actions and realize how serious this is," she told Wicklow People.

While perfectly understandable, her last comment is off-target because the monster who committed this despicable act did so knowing exactly how much damage it was going to engender. In fact, it is through the maiming and killing of defenseless cats and homeless men that sadistic cretins of this genre get their kicks. (See Washington Post, January 10, 2009, "Fatally Beaten Homeless Man Lives On in the Songs He Sang.")

Consequently, it is ludicrous to believe that such devils can be rehabilitated through education. More than likely the perpetrator is extremely pleased with either himself or herself and has enjoyed to the hilt Sparkles' suffering.

Au contraire, what is needed first of all is a total ban on the sale of all fireworks and BB guns. Secondly, animal lovers must demand that police, prosecutors, and judges begin to take animal cruelty seriously.

The fact that no arrests have been made in this case proves that, despite all the public pronouncements to the contrary, the authorities in Wicklow County simply do not care how many cats are horribly abused and killed. More than likely, the police have not even opened an investigation into Sparkles' murder.

It is not a certainty but there is a good chance that Sparkles knew her attacker since it is difficult for a perfect stranger to get that close to even a domesticated cat. The petit fait that her previous owner did not come forward to claim her after her photograph appeared in several local newspapers tends to lend a certain degree of credence to this line of thinking.

This is definitely a lead worth pursuing. Unfortunately, it appears that the police in Wicklow County are such good-for-nothing bums that they are not about to lift a finger in order to bring Sparkles' killer to justice. That is a perennial problem with cops everywhere in that they never can be counted on to do their jobs because they are too busy engaging in either illegal activities or goldbricking.

As for Sparkles, it is impossible to underestimate just how horribly she was made to suffer during the last six-weeks of her life. It is a shame that her life had to end the way it did, but it is an even bigger disgrace that Irish society is so callous that it winks at such barbaric crimes.

Finally, it is highly unlikely that it was a mere coincidence that this heinous crime was perpetrated outside a bar. For instance, last summer a cat named Fifi was horribly killed by drunks in Limerick. (See Cat Defender post of September 18, 2008 entitled "Drunken Brute Beats, Stabs, and Then Hurls Fifi to Her Death Against the Side of a House in Limerick.")

The Irish possess many admirable qualities but a love of sobriety is not one of them. Since they quite obviously are incapable of holding their liquor they would be far better off if restrictions were placed on its manufacture and sale.

Photos: Wicklow People (Sparkles and an unidentified woman) and Belfast Telegraph (Sparkles).

Friday, January 09, 2009

Pennsylvania Pet Groomer Is Caught Piercing the Ears, Necks, and Tails of Cats and Dogs and Then Illegally Peddling Them on eBay

"This is a first. It's unbelievable anybody would do this to kittens."
-- Carol Morrison, SPCA of Luzerne County

Make no mistake about it, there is good money to be made from the exploitation, abuse, and slaughter of cats. Most notably, tens of thousands of Animal Control officers and employees of shelters earn their daily bread precisely through the roundup and systematic slaughter of tens of millions of them each year. (See Cat Defender post of September 14, 2006 entitled, "Cat Killing Season Is in Full Swing All Across America as Shelters Ramp Up Their Mass Extermination Pogroms.")

In the course of their fraudulent research, vivisectors maim, torture, and kill tens of thousands of them each year as a means of lining their pockets with huge sums of welfare money. (See Cat Defender posts of February 1, 2008 and October 20, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Cats Are Destined to Be Treated as Horribly as Lab Mice Now That Vivisectors Are Able to Clone Them with Altered Genes" and "Swedish Academy Bestows Its 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Yet Another Trio of Vivisectors Whose Discoveries Are Maiming and Killing Cats.")

Besides supplying vivisectors with the cats that they torture, breeders also make a pretty penny peddling purebreds to owners who in turn exploit them by turning them into beauty show contestants. Still other breeders scour the world and native forests for exotic cats that they then mate with domestic cats in order to create hybrids. (See Cat Defender posts of December 19, 2008 and February 19, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Regardless of Whether He Is a Pixie-Bob or a Bobcat, It Is Going to Be a Blue Christmas for Benny after He Inadvertently Bites Santa Claus" and "Asheras Are the Designer Chats du Jour Despite the Cruelties Inflicted During Their Hybridization.")

Other shekel chasers clean up by cloning cats and creating allergy-free breeds. (See Cat Defender posts of November 17, 2008 and October 10, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Mr. Green Genes' Coming Out Party Ushers in a New Era of Unspeakable Atrocities to Be Committed Against Cats by Cloners and Vivisectors" and "Dodgy Allerca and Dishonest CBS Join Forces to Market an Allergy-Free Cat Named Joshua to a Gullible Public.")

Not to be forgotten are the connoisseurs of feline flesh, especially the Chinese and Australians. (See Cat Defender posts of February 8, 2006 and September 7, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Stray Cats Rounded Up in Shanghai, Butchered, and Sold as Mutton in Restaurants and on the Street" and "Australians Renounce Civilization and Revert to Savages with the Introduction of a Grotesque Plan to Get Rid of Cats by Eating Them.")

Perhaps less well known but certainly no less egregious, the Swiss, Danes, Peruvians, and Costa Ricans also stuff their ravenous maws with feline flesh. (See Cat Defender posts of August 25, 2008 and December 1, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Danish Journalism Students Procure the Corpse of a Murdered Cat and Then Skin, Cook, and Eat It in Order to Promote Their Careers" and "Peruvians Ludicrously Claim That as the Descendants of Slaves They Are Entitled to Massacre and Eat Cats with Impunity.")

The Chinese, Australians, Swiss, and others also do a bustling business trafficking in feline fur. (See Cat Defender posts of July 14, 2008 and December 15, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Australian Park Ranger and a Seamstress Team Up to Go into Business as Cat-Killers and Fur Traffickers" and "Heather Mills Asks EU to Ban Sale of Cat and Dog Fur; Paul McCartney Calls for Boycott of Chinese Goods and Olympics.")

When they are not hard at work taking the law into their own hands by either killing or abducting and dumping cats, bird advocates amuse themselves by demonizing the species so as to increase the flow of contributions to their multimillion-dollar bird-watching industry. (See Cat Defender posts of May 6, 2008 and August 7, 2008 entitled, respectively, "National Audubon Society Wins the Right for Invasive Species of Shorebirds to Prey Upon Unborn Horseshoe Crabs" and "Crime Pays! Having Made Fools Out of Galveston Prosecutors, Serial Cat Killer James Munn Stevenson Is Now a Hero and Laughing All the Way to the Bank.")

Wildlife biologists, both inside and out of government, are every bit as ailurophobic as birders. Their forte, however, is in getting their sticky fingers on tons of welfare money that they use to finance their cat-killing frenzies on San Nicolas Island, Big Pine Key, Cape May, and elsewhere. (See Cat Defender posts of May 24, 2007 and June 27, 2008 entitled, respectively, "USDA and Fish and Wildlife Service Commence Trapping and Killing Cats on Florida's Big Pine Key" and "United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navy Hatch a Diabolical Plan to Gun Down Two-Hundred Cats on San Nicolas Island.")

Like their comrades in arms at shelters and in Animal Control, veterinarians also administer, for a price, their share of deadly jabs of sodium pentobarbital. That is in addition to cleaning up by performing such patently cruel and inhumane surgical procedures as onychectomies and tail dockings. If all of that were not remunerative enough, they further cash in by performing unwarranted sterilizations, which sometimes result in death, and unnecessary vaccinations that occasionally lead to the development of vaccine associated sarcomas (VAS).

As unbelievable as it may sound, the naked exploitation of cats does not end even in death because shelters and other entrepreneurs do a thriving business peddling their corpses to dissectors in the public schools and medical colleges. It almost goes without saying that few cats ever receive anything remotely approximating a proper burial let alone a grave marker.

Considering the extent of those abuses, one could be forgiven for being lulled into believing that human ingenuity had sucked the last drop of blood out of the feline species. The greed and evil that lurks in the hearts of men never can be underestimated, however, and there is always someone else out there with an even more diabolical money-making scheme up either his or her sleeve.

That was the grim reality that officers of the SPCA of Luzerne County and Pennsylvania State Police came face to face with on December 17th when they raided the premises of a pet groomer in Sweet Valley, twenty-two kilometers west of Wilkes-Barre. What they found inside were three kittens, an adult cat, and a dog with ear, neck, and tail piercings.

The unidentified female proprietor of Pawside Parlor at 71 Dobson Road was mutilating the animals and, in particular, offering the kittens for sale on both e-Bay and in classified ads posted elsewhere on the World Wide Web. Marketed under the heading "Pure-black, tailless, pierced, Gothic kittens" was a three-month-old kitten cruelly dubbed "Snarley Monster."

The kitten had fourteen-gauge rings in its floppy ears, a submission ring in its back, and its tail had been cut off. (See photos above.)

"This is a first," Carol Morrison, an officer with the SPCA of Luzerne County, told the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre on December 17th. (See "Pierced Kittens Removed from Home.") "It's unbelievable anybody would do this to kittens."

In addition to the pain and suffering that body piercings engender, infections and even possibly cancerous growths are likely side effects. Submission rings inserted in their tails restrict blood flow and sooner or later cause them to rot and fall off.

Included in the $400 price tag was a leash to be threaded through the submission ring in each kitten's neck. The excruciating pain, not to mention the attendant neck and skin damage, that being jerked around in this manner was certain to cause is almost too horrifying to contemplate.

Much of the same logic is applicable to cats, such as Snarley Monster, who are forced to wear pierced earrings. In addition to infections, such weighty and cumbersome trinkets over time are sure to damage the delicate cartilage in their ears and perhaps even harm their hearing as well. Furthermore, they interfere with the cats' ability to train their ears so as to better pinpoint the origination point of sounds.

Although an inordinate love of money was sans doute the principal motivation behind the mutilations, the abuser also appears to have derived a good deal of devilish delight out of inflicting such abominable cruelty upon defenseless animals. "She thought it was a great idea (to pierce kittens)," Morrison told the Times Leader in the article cited supra.

That quite naturally brings up the thought provoking questions of precisely what types of individuals would purchase mutilated cats and dogs in the first place and for what diabolical purposes? It is conceivable that these so-called Gothic kittens were intended to be sacrificed in either sadomasochistic rituals or porno films. After all, it is well known that pornographers traffic in films that feature naked women in stiletto heels stomping to death helpless kittens.

Another possibility is that the cats were intended to be abused by celebrants of the occult and black arts. Other than that, an intellect as twisted as that of the traffickers would be required in order to divine their motives. Regardless of the ultimate objectives of both buyers and sellers, there can be no denying that pain, abuse, ridicule, and death were all that awaited these unfortunate cats and dogs.

The fate of the four cats and lone dog is unknown at this time. They were scheduled to have been examined by a veterinarian with a decision on their future expected soon thereafter.

The rings placed in their ears, necks, and tails should be promptly removed and their wounds treated with antibiotics and monitored for infections and the onset of cancerous growths. The good news is that their injuries should heal in time and thus allow them to get on with their lives.

Consequently, there is not any valid reason why they should not be put up for adoption. If homes cannot be found for them they should be sent to a sanctuary. After all that they have been through they deserve a second chance at life and should not be killed under any circumstances.

Although the abuser is expected to be charged with animal cruelty, for some unknown reason no charges have been laid to date. Worst still, her pet grooming business presumably is still open for business.

Since, according to Morrison, it is illegal to peddle live animals on eBay, the web site also is culpable in the crimes of Pawside Parlor. It is therefore imperative that it do a far better job of policing what is sold on its auction site otherwise it could be held liable in both civil and criminal courts.

Finally, a hearty word of gratitude is in order for the unidentified good Samaritan who saw the ads on the Internet and traveled at his own expense from out of state to Sweet Valley in order to investigate. Without his concern and the telephone call that he placed to the SPCA countless cats and dogs still would be at the mercy of the "Sweet Valley Mutilator."

All cat and dog lovers owe this kindly gentleman a gigantic "Thank You!"

Photos: Sky News.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Feral Cats Save a Young Boy from Harm and Hunger on the Mean Streets of an Argentinian City

"The boy was lying at the bottom of a gutter. There were all these cats on top of him licking him because he was really dirty. When I walked over they became really protective and spat at me. They were keeping the boy warm while he slept."
-- Policewoman Alicia Lorena Lindgvist

A colony of eight feral cats has been credited with saving the life a young boy who last month was left to fend for himself on the streets of Posadas in the northeast corner of Argentina. Not only did the cats feed, warm, and groom him, but they also protected him from predators and other evildoers.

The unidentified boy was discovered by Alicia Lorena Lindgvist of the provincial police of Misiones as she was making her rounds in the Christ King section of the city. (See photos above of her and the boy.)

"The boy was lying at the bottom of a gutter. There were all these cats on top of him because he was really dirty," she related to the Daily Mail on December 20th. (See "Real-Life Mowgli Kept Alive on Freezing Streets by Wild Cats.") "When I walked over they became really protective and spat at me. They were keeping the boy warm while he slept."

Scraps of food brought to him by the cats also were discovered nearby. "The cats knew he was fragile and needed protecting," Lindgvist added.

The boy, who had been living with the cats for "several days," apparently became separated from his homeless father while the latter was collecting cardboard to sell. The man later told the police that cats always had been protective of his son.

The boy, whom the English tabloids have dubbed Mowgli in reference to the Indian boy raised in wolves in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, has been taken into protective custody by the police and no further information has been released about him. He does not appear, however, to be any worse for wear.

Hopefully, he at least by now has a roof over his head because the streets are not any place for either individuals or animals to live. If the impecunious are unable to afford shelter, it is the responsibility of the state to provide it.

As charming as the story may be, there are nevertheless several inconsistencies within it that need to be examined. First of all, press reports peg the lad's age at one year but from what can be seen of him in the photographs above he appears to be quite a bit older and able to walk. That at least would explain how he became separated from his father since it is rather difficult for an infant to crawl very far.

Secondly, despite the cats' heroics a spokesman for Thames Valley Animal Welfare in Berkshire has poured cold water on their altruism. "They would have viewed the baby as a big hot water bottle. Cats will cuddle up to anything to keep warm, even dogs," he told the Daily Mail in the article cited supra.

On that point both he and Lindgvist are playing fast and loose with the truth. Posadas enjoys a subtropical climate with a year-round average daily temperature of a very humid seventy-seven degrees Fahrenheit. For instance, the high today is expected to be eighty-six degrees with a low tonight of only sixty. Later in the week the thermometer is expected to approach the century mark.

Consequently, with nighttime lows ranging from between sixty and sixty-eight degrees neither the boy nor the cats were ever in any danger of freezing to death. They both may have gotten a little cool during the pre-dawn hours but that is all.

The spokesman did, however, grudgingly concede that the boy "could have been feeding off the scraps they (the cats) brought."

Regardless of whatever motive is assigned to their behavior, there is no denying that the nurturing instinct exists in all animals. In fact, it is not uncommon for cats and other animals to succor the offspring of unrelated species.

In addition to caring for motherless puppies, chickens, and other animals, cats are known to occasionally bring home dead mice for their guardians to have for dinner. Just because the majority of humans are selfish, greedy, and uncaring, it does not necessarily follow that the animals are equally morally deprived. (See Cat Defender post of May 22, 2008 entitled "Strange Bedfellows: Colorado Cat Named Gizmo and a Turtle Named Shelly Become the Best of Friends.")

In conclusion, the rescue of "Mowgli" is a telling rebuff to all individuals who look upon feral, stray, and homeless cats as little more than vermin to be eradicated. Not only do all cats have in inalienable right to live, but they also render invaluable services to mankind, such as in keeping the rodent population in check and, occasionally, coming to the aid of abandoned children.

It also is important to bear in mind that all cats who wind up on the streets do so through no fault of their own. "A good proportion of...free-roaming cats were once owned, or they are one generation removed from house pets," Susana Della Maddalena of PetSmart Charities told USA Today on May 6, 2008. (See "Compassion Often Eludes Feral Cats; Groups Out to Save Them.") "We don't think it's fair to exclude them from help."

Lastly, the mere fact that these feral cats were capable of bestowing compassion upon a member of an unrelated species demonstrates their superiority to all men and women who are totally incapable of reciprocating.

Photos: Misiones Police.