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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

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Health Department Banishes Smallcat from a Popular Carson City Restaurant but Her Feisty Owner Is Putting Up Quite a Fight

"I was told to get rid of her immediately or my business license would be suspended. I got rid of the complainer instantly, but apparently they meant the cat."
-- June Joplin

Another cat has run afoul of Health Department regulations and been given the boot. This time around it is a longhaired calico named Smallcat who for the past five years had charmed both employees and patrons at Comma Coffee across the street from the statehouse in Carson City, Nevada.

"Animals can carry diseases that can spread to humans," Dustin Boothe of Carson City Health and Human Services told the Nevada Appeal on February 3rd. (See "Comma Coffee Owner Starts Petition Drive to Allow Cat in Shop.") "It's not a routine thing, but they can carry bacteria or other organisms that can make people sick. Obviously the mascot's great, but there are reasons behind (the ordinance)."

The cause celebre began, as per usual in matters of this sort, with an anonymous complaint filed with the Health Department. "I was told to get rid of her immediately or my business license would be suspended," Comma's feisty proprietor June Joplin told the Appeal in the article cited supra. "I got rid of the complainer instantly, but apparently they meant the cat." (See photo above of her proudly displaying a framed portrait of Smallcat.)

Smallcat, who arrived at Comma as a stray kitten, used to bed down in Joplin's office where she was permitted to come and go as she pleased through an open window. Relieved of her responsibilities as the restaurant's head mouser, mascot, and customer relations manager, she now has been banished to Joplin's residence where she is anything but a happy camper.

"She's in exile. She's very stressed and very unhappy," Joplin confided to the Appeal. She is reportedly having a difficult time adjusting to her mistress's other felines as well as to being confined.

In a last-ditch effort to secure a variance from the Nevada Board of Health, Joplin has initiated both in-store and online petitions which to date have garnered one-hundred-sixty and six-hundred-eighteen signatures, respectively. It is not known when the state authorities will act on her challenge.

"Smallcat, for me, represents what Comma Coffee is all about," online signatory Laura Jean Karr of Nevada wrote on February 2nd. "She is a furry little symbol of freedom, free-thinking and comfort rolled into one."

Nevadan William Shaw, who signed the petition on February 11th, availed himself of the opportunity to take backhanded swipes at both the competition and Health Department. "Having Smallcat at the Comma made it seem much more homey and friendly than the typical Starbucks type sterility," he wrote. "As for claiming that I could catch a disease from Smallcat, rest assured I stand a much better chance of catching an illness from the Health inspector..."

Smallcat even has at least one supporter who is allergic to cats. "I have to say that I'm allergic to cats and I still miss the cat," Rabbi Jonathan Frierich told KOLO-TV of Reno on February 5th. (See "Comma Coffee's Cat in Exile, Fans Press for Return.") "The cat is an essence of the place."

The rabbi's open-mindedness on this subject is one further bit of evidence that cats need not be banned from either public or retail establishments just because some individuals are allergic to them. (See Cat Defender post of February 11, 2008 entitled "U.S. Postal Service Knuckles Under to the Threats and Lies of a Cat-Hater and Gives Sammy the Boot.")

Besides, indoor environments, like nature itself, are chock-full of all sorts of allergens and few individuals would have the chutzpah to demand that a restaurant be closed simply because they are allergic to peanuts, soap, or the perfume worn by employees. It is only cats that provoke this type of tyranny from a minority of ailurophobes.

When they were on the campaign trail grubbing for money and votes, Obama, Biden, and Rodham all frequented Comma Coffee and none of them voiced any objection to Smallcat's presence. True to form, now that they have achieved their objectives, the Janus-faced Democrats are nowhere to be found in Smallcat's hour of need.

As for those who object to Smallcat's presence, Joplin has a word of friendly advice for them: Get lost! "There are places to have a (sic) homogeneous, sterile environment to eat in. That is not what Comma Coffee is all about," she told the Appeal. "This is a homey place. And the cat is part of the energy of a healthy environment."

In defense of Smallcat, Joplin insists that she is not allowed in areas of the restaurant where food is prepared and, more importantly, that she actually has improved sanitary conditions by keeping the rodent population at bay. In fact, she goes so far as to claim that Smallcat has not only scared off the mice at her place of business but from the entire block as well.

Her argument may sound counterintuitive to some people, especially those who think that all animals are not only unclean but disease carriers as well, but Joplin has a salient point that is worthy of serious consideration.

Anywhere there are people there also are bound to be grain and food stores which invariably attract mice. It is not so much the case that mice are voracious eaters as it is that they contaminate great quantities of food with their urine and feces.

It therefore was precisely man's evolvement from nomadic hunters and gatherers into farmers with fixed abodes that led to the domestication of cats in the Fertile Crescent and surrounding areas roughly ten-thousand years ago. Once Homo sapiens acquired sufficient technology in order to develop ships and weaponry they degenerated into militarists, imperialists, and colonialists.

That proved to be a disastrous development for Felis domesticus in that the species then was shanghaied by the would-be lords of all creation and transported to the far reaches of the world to secure grain and food stores. Once deadly chemicals and sturdier storage bins were developed these cats became expendable.

They initially were abandoned to fend for themselves in the wild but once the exploiters and usurpers discovered that tourists would willingly shell out megabucks in order to view exotic fauna they began exterminating their former helpmates en masse. As a consequence, millions of cats have been systematically extirpated from hundreds of lands, primarily islands, during the past one-hundred years.

Not surprisingly, the so-called civilized and humane Australians, South Africans, New Zealanders, Americans, and English have been the most prolific cat killers. (See Cat Defender posts of September 21, 2006, March 23, 2007, and June 27, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Aussies' Mass Extermination of Cats Opens the Door for Mice and Rabbits to Wreak Havoc on Macquarie," "Bird-Lovers in South Africa Break Out the Champagne to Celebrate the Merciless Gunning Down of the Last of Robben Island's Cats," and "United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navy Hatch a Diabolical Plan to Gun Down Two-Hundred Cats on San Nicolas Island.")

These crimes have been so widespread and horrific that nothing short of an international body assembled along the lines of the Nurnberg war crimes tribunal would be sufficient in order to not only put at end to them but to bring those responsible for their commission to justice.

Despite being ubiquitous, pest control companies are not very good at what they do and as a consequence many cats are still able to find work as mousers on farms, in private homes, and at retail establishments. (See Cat Defender post of February 21, 2006 entitled "Chairman Meow Finds a Home in a Barn and a Job as a Mouser on Texas Horse Ranch.")

Mice that are poisoned also have a tendency to crawl off and die inside walls and other nooks and crannies and as the result their rotting corpses stink up houses and stores from stem to stern. Cats, on the other hand, do not even have to be particularly good mousers in order to be effective in that their body odor is usually sufficient to scare off most rodents.

For instance, at a livestock feed store called Agway in Ellington, Connecticut, a black and white female named Leslie is doing what cats have done for millenniums. Adopted from a shelter on January 2, 2007, she has been safeguarding the store's inventory ever since. (See photo above.)

In addition to keeping the rodent population under control, Leslie also has become a big hit with both patrons and management. "(She is) a nice addition to Agway," store employee Liz told The Examiner of Newark on February 7th. (See "The Agway Cat.")

Although some nitpickers might quibble that hiring a cat to protect animal feed is a far cry from having one to safeguard food intended for human consumption, the perceived difference is more fanciful than real. After all, meat, eggs, milk, cheese, and other products that come from livestock are later consumed by humans.

Logic would seem to dictate that if cats are as unhygienic as Boothe and other health inspectors maintain, they would be equally unwelcome on farms as well as in restaurants such as Comma Coffee. Moreover, if that were ever to come to pass all livestock feed soon would become contaminated by rodents and farmers would not have much of anything left to feed their animals.

Nevertheless, the discrimination directed at cats like Smallcat is widespread. Last year, par exemple, a cat named Ember was evicted from the Blunsdon Arms in Swindon after complaints were lodged by Health Department inspectors. (See Cat Defender post of October 23, 2008 entitled "Pecksniffian Management at Swindon Pub Plies Ember with Food and Then Gives Her the Bum's Rush.")

In New York City, proprietors of restaurants, bodegas, and delicatessens often are presented with a Hobson's choice of whether it is preferable to have mice or to keep a cat, both of which are illegal. "It's hard for bodega owners because they're not supposed to have a cat, but they're also not supposed to have rats," Jose Fernandez of the Bodega Association of the United States told The New York Times on December 21, 2007. (See "To the Dismay of Inspectors, Prowling Cats Keep Rodents on the Run at City Delis.")

He then went on to point out a petit fait that should be obvious to everyone but nevertheless is often overlooked amidst all the sound and fury. "If cats live in homes and apartments where people have food, a cat shouldn't be a threat in a store if it's well maintained," he told The Times.

Another often overlooked fact is that cats are considerably cleaner than most people. In particular, it is well-known that since the majority of restaurant employees work for peanuts, they cannot afford to miss a day's pay and therefore often come to work while under the weather.

In practical terms, that translates into more mucus and airborne germs in the food that they prepare and serve. It additionally is not uncommon to see pus oozing from sores on their hands and arms.

Many of them likewise do not even bother to wash their hands after going to the toilet, picking their noses, and scratching their crotches. Worst still, some restaurateurs are too cheap to even provide employees and guests with hot water and soap. Corrupt and ailurophobic public health officials, who go ballistic at the sight of a cat, compound the situation by turning a blind eye to these blatant code violations.

All things considered, the food served in most restaurants is not only ridiculously overpriced but substandard in quality and unclean to boot. As Rex Stout's fictional private investigator and gourmand par excellence Nero Wolfe was fond of saying, anyone who wants to eat good food must either cook it themselves or hire a private chef.

It also is a false assumption that the quality of the fare is commensurate with its price. George Orwell, for instance, put the kibosh to that notion when he wrote in this first novel, Down and Out in Paris and London, that it is actually the pricier fares that contain the most spittle and dirt.

On the subject of cats and food, the Japanese are considerably more forward thinking than their western counterparts. In Tokyo, for example, there are at least seven neko cafes where patrons pay between eight and twelve dollars an hour for the privilege of sipping tea and dining in the presence of cats. (See Cat Defender post of June 5, 2008 entitled "Teahouse Cats Are Given Shelter and Work but Precious Little Job Security and No Legal Protections.")

All of these teahouses adhere to strict sanitary rules but some Westerners might be surprised to learn that they are designed as much for the protection of the cats as they are for that of the humans. All of the felines are vaccinated and the premises are vacuumed frequently so as to prevent a build-up of cat hairs and dandruff. Diners likewise must not only remove their shoes before entering but wash their hands as well. (See photo above of some cats hard at work at Cafe Calico.)

Much the same thing can be said for eating and drinking establishments in both Angleterre and on the Continent who, in general, take a considerably more relaxed attitude toward the presence of cats and dogs. (See Cat Defender post of November 20, 2006 entitled "Ratty's Taste for Bangers Coupled with His Owner's Negligence Places Terrier's Life in Grave Jeopardy.")

A number of hotels across America and elsewhere rent out cats by the night to their guests. (See Cat Defender post of May 15, 2008 entitled "Predatory Capitalism Rears Its Ugly Head as Minnesota Bed and Breakfast Sacks Overnight Cats, Morris and Fred.")

Since guests quite obviously not only keep food in their rooms but also sleep and cuddle with their feline companions it is difficult to understand how this type of intimate contact could be viewed as hygienic while it is verboten to keep a cat in a restaurant.

In conclusion, there is not any good reason why Health Department officials should not be willing to compromise with restaurants such as Comma Coffee and other food retailers. Besides providing a more hygienic environment for both diners and employees, the keeping of restaurant cats would not only reduce the number of homeless cats but also those that are slaughtered at shelters.

They additionally provide companionship, help to alleviate worker stress, and are popular with patrons. (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.")

Photos: Cathleen Allison of the Nevada Appeal (Joplin and Smallcat), The Examiner (Leslie), and Kichimani (Cafe Calico cats).