Pretty Little Sleepy Survives a Suffocation and Starvation Attempt on Her Life Thanks to the Timely Intervention of a Mattress Store Employee
"It looked like a UPS box. We get deliveries of hand soap and discount tickets in boxes just like this, except this one was duct-taped. When I tossed the box on my desk, I heard a meow."
-- Michael Medeiros
All that pretty seven-week-old Sleepy ever wanted out of life was a chance to live and time to explore this strange and exciting world that she had been born into through no fault of her own. Instead, what the calico kitten got was to be cruelly taken from her mother and sealed up inside a brown box without either ventilation or milk.
She then was unceremoniously dumped on the doorstep of a Sleepy's outlet at 2555 Grand Army of the Republic Highway in Swansea, Massachusetts, forty-seven miles south of Boston. This horrific act of animal cruelty occurred sometime between the store's closing at 10 p.m. on June 23rd and its reopening at 10 a.m. the following day although it is conceivable that she could have been trapped inside the box for an even lengthier period of time.
Upon arrival at work on June 24th, Michael Medeiros picked up the package and, not noticing anything unusual about it, nonchalantly tossed it on his desk and forgot about it. He was not even planning on opening it until later in the day.
"It looked like a UPS box," he later explained to The Herald News of nearby Fall River on June 25th. (See "Special Delivery: Kitten Found in Box at Mattress Store.") "We get deliveries of hand soap and discount tickets in boxes just like this, except this one was duct-taped."
He soon found out to his surprise, however, that this was not any ordinary delivery. "When I tossed the box on my desk, I heard a meow," he added.
Even then Medeiros failed to associate the meow with the package and instead began to scour the store for an errant cat that he thought might have crawled in overnight. It was only when he noticed that the box was moving and heard scratching coming from inside it that he belatedly put two and two together and opened it. Inside he discovered Sleepy and immediately set her free.
"There was no ventilation on the box and there was (sic) some ants coming out of it. The kitten had an eye infection and you could tell it hadn't been that well taken care of," he told The Herald News. "There was a little bit of dry cat food inside the box, which is sad considering that kittens can't even eat that anyway. That's why the ants were inside it."
In spite of a lack of both ventilation and nourishment, the good news was that Sleepy miraculously was still alive and in pretty good shape to boot, albeit except for the eye infection. (See photo above.)
Medeiros contacted Liz Botelho of the Ernest W. Bell Animal Shelter on Stevens Road who came and took possession of Sleepy. At last report, she was said to be doing well and is available for adoption.
She is indeed very fortunate that Medeiros found and freed her when he did because it is unlikely that she would have lasted very much longer under such dire circumstances, especially considering the heat and humidity. Nonetheless, it is difficult to fathom why anyone would want to harm such a beautiful and fragile creature.
Of course, it could be that it is precisely their vulnerability that excites these murderous rages in cat abusers. Being essentially cowards and low-lives, individuals who commit these despicable crimes would likely do the same thing to other animals and even humans if they thought for one minute that they could get away with doing so.
To keep things in perspective, it is important to remember that shelters and Animal Control officers systematically exterminate tens of millions of cats like Sleepy each year without so much as a second thought. Moreover, if birders and wildlife biologists are ever allowed to have their way there will not be a cat left standing anywhere on the face of the earth.
Far from being an isolated case, Sleepy was the second high-profile kitten in as many weeks to be abandoned under strikingly similar circumstances in the Boston area. On June 13th, an eight-week-old, two-pound black, brown, and white kitten named Postina was found stuffed inside a mailbox in the city's Hyde Park.
Fortunately for her, she was deposited inside the mailbox either Friday evening or early Saturday morning when the volume of mail is at its lightest. If she had been placed in the box during the week it is conceivable that she could have been suffocated by the heavier amount of letters and packages.
As things turned out, she was discovered by an unidentified letter carrier and delivered to the offices of the Massachusetts SPCA (MSPCA) where veterinarians determined that she had come through her ordeal no worse for the wear. She was accordingly fed, vaccinated, and put up for adoption. (See photo above on the right.)
After her story was picked up by the Internet, MSPCA was contacted by individuals from as far away as the Netherlands and Italy wanting to adopt her. The organization instead accepted the suit of postal worker George Knapp and his wife, freelance television technical director Dani-Jean Stuart, of Weare, New Hampshire. (See photo below of Postina with Knapp.)
The happy couple drove down to Beantown on June 22nd and collected Postina whom they are renaming. "We are going to call her PD for postage due since she didn't have any stamps on her when she went into the mailbox," Stuart told Zootoo on June 22nd. (See "Postal Worker Adopts Cat Dropped in Mailbox.")
Postina's troubles are far from over, however, in that Knapp and Stuart also have a fourteen-year-old Doberman-mix named Caesar that she is going to have to learn to peacefully coexist with under the same roof. "He's very curious about her, but she just gave him a punch on the nose," Stuart related to Zootoo. "So, he might shy away for a while, but she hasn't used her claws yet, so that is a good thing."
The fact that the couple has had at least one cat in the recent past is an indication that Caesar already is accustomed to them. There likewise should not be any major problem with Postina adjusting to Caesar, provided she has not been previously abused by a dog. The situation nevertheless should be closely monitored by Knapp and Stuart because a tiny kitten can hardly be expected to defend herself against a Doberman.
It also is refreshing to see the United States Postal Service (USPS) come to the rescue of a feline in distress, especially in light of its outrageous decision earlier in the year to bar a cat named Sammy from entering its facility in Notasulga, Alabama. (See Cat Defender post of February 11, 2009 entitled "U.S. Postal Service Knuckles Under to the Threats and Lies of a Cat-Hater and Gives Sammy the Boot.")
Of course, Knapp is not the only USPS employee to ever go the extra mile for the sake of a cat. For instance, Kim Pinkham of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, has taken it upon herself to rescue abandoned and abused cats and dogs that she comes across on her mail route. (See La Crosse Tribune, January 19, 2009, "Postal Carrier Helps Out Cats, Dogs Seen During Route.")
Letter carriers for the Royal Mail are even more accommodating when it comes to cats. In the village of Lyme Regis in Dorset, for example, a six-year-old tomcat named Beezley often rides along on Terry Grinter's two-wheeler as he makes his appointed rounds. (See Cat Defender post of October 13, 2008 entitled "Life Imitates Art as a Small Town in Dorset Acquires Its Very Own Version of Postman Pat and Jess in the Form of Terry and Beezley.")
In Woolavington in Somerset County, a four-year-old moggy named Charlie one day crawled into postman Nick Lock's mailbag in order to escape the rain. Apparently finding the bag to his liking, he now regularly makes the rounds with Lock. (See BBC, January 29, 2009, "Cat Helps Deliver Town's Letters.")
Being much more than simply entertaining stories, the abuse suffered by both Sleepy and Postina has revived interest in the odious practice of feline abandonment and sparked a debate about what should be done about it. "Postina has captured the attention of pet-lovers across the globe and shone a much-needed light on the seriousness of pet abandonment," the MSPCA's Meagan Rock stated June 22nd on the organization's web site. (See "MSPCA Finds New Family for Postina.") "We also want to remind the public that Postina's story is shared by thousands of homeless cats that are dumped, neglected, as well as abused each year and come to us looking for care and a new home."
The first thing to be recognized about cat abandonment is the breadth of the problem. Not only are cats dumped in such familiar places as city streets and the countryside, but they also are abandoned in city parks, on beaches, outside no-kill shelters, and into existing feral colonies. (See Cat Defender posts of October 19, 2006 and June 14, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Animal Rights Groups Pressure San Antonio Officials to Stop Killing Cats in Japanese Tea Gardens" and "Gulf Breeze Planning to Trap and Kill Three-Dozen Cats Left Homeless by Hurricane Ivan.")
Some individuals even abandon them outside old clothes bins located at strip malls. The world famous Dewey Readmore Books, for example, was found stuffed inside a book depository outside a library. (See Cat Defender post of December 7, 2006 entitled "After Nineteen Years of Service and Companionship, Ingrates at Iowa Library Murder Dewey Readmore Books.")
College campuses, such as Cal State Long Beach, are another popular dumping ground for unwanted cats. (See photo directly below.) So, too, are public schools. (See Cat Defender posts of July 31, 2008 and May 3, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Cal State Long Beach Is Using the Presence of Coyotes as a Pretext in Order to Get Rid of Its Feral Cats" and "Principal Who Shotgunned to Death Two Kittens at Minnesota School Is Rewarded with Similar Position in Idaho.")
Prisons and military bases also serve as magnets for individuals who want to unload their cats. (See Cat Defender posts of September 29, 2006 and November 14, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Avenal State Prison Reverts to Its Old Ailurophobic Ways by Scrapping TNR Program and Cutting Off Cats' Food Supply" and "Military Killing Cats and Dogs by the Tens of Thousands as Imperialistic America Attempts to Conquer the World.")
Stadiums, ghost towns, and motels also serve as convenient dumping grounds for unwanted cats. (See Cat Defender posts of September 6, 2006, June 21, 2007, and October 16, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Pair of Homeless Kittens Rescued from Condemned Veterans Stadium Win Back-to-Back 'Best Household Pet' Awards," " Caring Restaurant Worker Rescues Ghost Town's Cats from the Wrecking Ball and Finds Them a New Home," and "Tourists from Michigan Save the Life of a Critically Ill Oregon Cat Named Marmalade.")
Even the centers of political power, such as the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, are used in order to dispose of unwanted cats. (See photo below on the right.) Municipal airports are another popular dumping ground although it is always difficult to separate the abandoned felines from the ones that the airlines have lost through their neglect and carelessness. (See Cat Defender posts of October 20, 2005 and November 5, 2007 entitled, respectively, "After Ridding Ohio Statehouse of Rats, Cats Now Find Themselves Facing Eviction" and "Port Authority Gives JFK's Long-Term Resident Felines the Boot and Rescue Groups Are Too Impotent to Save Them.")
The current worldwide financial meltdown has spawned yet another sadistic form of pet abandonment, namely, that of leaving behind cats and dogs to starve to death in foreclosed houses. (See Cat Defender post of February 5, 2008 entitled "When Bankers Become Crooks and Homeowners Get Greedy, Cats and Other Animals Pay the Ultimate Price.")
This unconscionable practice is almost as reprehensible as the criminal behavior of the Israeli colonialists who left behind thousands of cats and dogs to starve to death when they pulled out of the Sinai in 1982 and Gaza in 2005. The major difference between the two groups is that whereas the colonialists had new homes to go to and fat welfare checks in their pockets courtesy of the largess of the United States Congress, the only thing that the vast majority of former homeowners in the United States have received from Uncle Sam has been the middle finger. (See Cat Defender post of November 11, 2005 entitled "Israeli Colonialists in Gaza and the West Bank Leave Behind Thousands of Cats to Die of Thirst, Hunger, and Predation.")
Most of these forms of abandonment, as odious as they are, are nevertheless benign in that the cats are not initially harmed and are thus given some marginal chance of survival. There are, however, far more malevolent forms of abandonment.
One especially deadly practice is that of tossing cats out the windows of automobiles on busy highways. (See Cat Defender posts of August 14, 2006, January 14, 2008, and August 28, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Austrian Officials Close Busy Alpine Tunnel in Order to Rescue Kitten Cruelly Abandoned by a Motorist," "Freeway Miraculously Survives Being Tossed Out the Window of a Truck on Busy I-95 in South Florida" and "In Memoriam: Trooper Survives Being Thrown from a Speeding Automobile Only to Later Die on the Operating Table.")
It was only a few weeks ago that a pretty three-week-old kitten named Lucky was tossed out the window of a pickup truck on one of Staten Island's busiest thoroughfares. Thanks to the heroics of a local judge, the kitten miraculously escaped with her life. (See Cat Defender post of July 2, 2009 entitled "Three-Week-Old Lucky Is Rescued by a Staten Island Judge after She Is Tossed Out the Window of a Pickup Truck on Hylan Boulevard.")
Another lethal way of getting rid of cats is to weight them down in cages and then toss them into streams or to leave them on beaches to drown when the tide comes in and inundates their cages. (See Cat Defender posts of January 13, 2006 and May 20, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Montana Firefighters Rescue Lucky Calico Cat Who Was Caged and Purposefully Thrown into an Icy River" and "Malice Aforethought: Upstate New York Cat Is Saved from a Watery Grave by a Dead Tree and a Passerby; New Hampshire Cat Is Not So Fortunate.")
Still other cat-hating devils, such as Laurence E. Thayer of North Brookfield, Massachusetts, and Donald Curtis Hunt of Norge, Virginia, dispense with the pretense of abandonment and take the law into their own hands. (See Cat Defender posts of July 3, 2006 and May 14, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Crooked Massachusetts Cops Allow Politician to Get Away with Attempting to Drown a Kitten Named Lucky Girl" and "Virginia Is for Cat Killers, Not Lovers, Now That Its Legal Establishment Has Sanctioned Donald Curtis Hunt's Drowning of Five Kittens.")
The inescapable conclusions to be drawn from this litany of abuse and criminal conduct is that feline life is cheap and abandonment pervasive. Moreover, since the problem is so diverse and unwieldy, a multifaceted approach is needed in order to make even a little bit of headway toward eradicating it.
Although it is cruel to abandon a cat, it is even crueler to deliver one up to the knackers at shelters and Animal Control and most cat owners realize this sad fact of life. Consequently, the only thing that is going to measurably curtail abandonment is the outlawing of the killing of all cats.
Individuals would therefore be considerably more willing to surrender their cats to shelters if they knew for certain that they would not be killed. Secondly, shelters must be transformed from slaughterhouses into adoption centers and sanctuaries where all animal life is held to be sacrosanct and inviolable.
Those individuals who take the law into their own hands by disposing of cats on highways, in rivers, and by drowning must be arrested whenever possible and given lengthy prison sentences. Unless the legal establishment can be prevailed upon to take animal cruelty seriously there never will be an end to these atrocities.
There is considerable debate as to whether pet overpopulation is a myth or a reality. For their part, both Nathan Winograd of No Kill Solutions and Maddie's Fund contend that it is a myth.
Regardless of wherever the truth may lie in that important debate, sterilization has been shown to save lives. It is therefore paramount that local governments make either free or low-cost spaying and neutering available to pet owners with limited income.
To make this medical procedure mandatory, as the California legislature is now considering doing, could possibly exacerbate the problem as opposed to helping to alleviate it. (See San Francisco Chronicle, June 9, 2009, "There's Nothing Progressive about Mandatory Spay-Neuter.")
Considering the availability of Food Stamps and WIC coupons as well as the prevalence of food pantries and soup kitchens, it is difficult to believe individuals who claim that they are too poor to feed their cats and dogs. Nevertheless, this is another excuse that they are employing in order to justify abandoning their pets. Fortunately, there are organizations such as Feeding the Pets of the Homeless of Carson City and Tiertafel of Rathenow who distribute free cat and dog food to the impecunious.
A ban on the creation of hybrids and exotic cats as well as restrictions on the breeding of purebreds would not only lead to fewer felines being abandoned but to a precipitate decrease in the number of abuses and genetic abnormalities that these odious practices engender. (See Cat Defender posts of February 20, 2008 and April 7, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Exotic and Hybrid Cats, Perennial Objects of Exploitation and Abuse, Are Now Being Mutilated, Abandoned, and Stolen" and "Pregnant Minskin Arrives in Oregon Frozen as Solid as a Block of Ice Following a Fatal Cross-Country Flight in the Cargo Hold of an Airliner.")
Photos: The Herald News (Sleepy), MSPCA (Postina by herself and with Knapp), Mark Boster of the Los Angeles Times (Cal State Long Beach cats), and Tim Revell of The Columbus Dispatch (cats outside Statehouse).