Mayor of Naples Fears the Worst Now That City Kitty Has Not Been Seen in Several Weeks
"No one really wants to address this because everyone just expects City Kitty to show up and be here in the morning. She certainly has been missing for a couple of weeks, (but) I don't think anyone wants to face the facts."
-- Mayor Bill Barnett
She has been a mainstay at Naples City Hall for the past fifteen years. Politicians and bureaucrats have come and gone but the black and white female known as City Kitty was always there to greet both visitors and hangers-on alike.
When she was not serving as the city's unofficial mascot she could be found most days relaxing either in the sun or inside her white cat house on the back steps. (See photo above.)
All of that could very well now be a thing of the past in that City Kitty has not been seen at City Hall since early February. There are accordingly quite a few long faces these days in Naples and Mayor Bill Barnett all but wrote her obituary last week.
"No one really wants to address this because everyone just expects City Kitty to show up and be here in the morning," he told the Naples Daily News on March 16th. (See "City Kitty, a Cat That Hung Around Naples City Hall for Years, Is Believed Dead, Officials Say.") "She certainly has been missing for a couple of weeks, (but) I don't think anyone wants to face the facts."
In addition to getting on, City Kitty was diagnosed by the staff at Harborside Animal Clinic last June with both arthritis in her hips and Feline Hyperthyroidism (FH). Those diagnoses were made after Naples resident LaVeeda Krumm trapped the cat and took her to the clinic because her claws were allegedly overgrown.
That is peculiar in itself in that it is almost unheard of for outdoor cats' claws to become overgrown because of all the scratching and climbing that they do. It therefore is conceivable that Krumm either does not like cats with sharp claws or has felt the sting of those belonging to City Kitty.
Regardless of the rationale, Krumm did not have any business trapping City Kitty and handing her over to the medical men for a purely cosmetic procedure. Elderly cats, both big and small ones, are ill-suited to deal with the stress of being repeatedly trapped and monkeyed with by veterinarians. (See Cat Defender post of May 21, 2009 entitled "Macho B, America's Last Jaguar, Is Illegally Trapped, Radio-Collared, and Killed Off by Wildlife Biologists in Arizona.")
Moreover, extreme caution must be observed in treating arthritis and thyroid conditions in cats as well as in humans. Sometimes the powerful drugs used to treat those maladies can be lethal.
It is not known what medications, if any, City Kitty was taking when she disappeared. Other than natural remedies, NSAIDs and opiates are commonly prescribed to treat the pain and inflammation that accompanies arthritis in both cats and humans.
Drugs, surgical removal of the thyroid glands, and injections of radioactive iodine are, correspondingly, the most common treatments of FH. In City Kitty's case, she was scheduled to have received the latter treatment gratis from RadioCat in nearby Estero last July. (See Naples Daily News, July 16, 2009, "Naples' Residents Foot City Kitty's Vet Bill.")
It is unclear what role, if any, that the veterinary care that she received played in either prolonging or shortening (if indeed that is the case?) her life. Although her repeated trapping as well as whatever treatment she may have received is problematic, there was nothing at all ambiguous about the $439 bill that Harborside turned around and demanded from the city.
That is not really all that surprising in that most veterinarians expect at least that much for just saying hello. Anything more extensive usually requires the donation of an arm, leg, and a testicle!
City employees and area residents rallied to City Kitty's side and donated close to $1,000 which not only covered her veterinary tab but left a substantial surplus that was used to purchase food for her and several other homeless cats who hang out at City Hall.
While it is difficult to say what may have happened to City Kitty, it is unlikely that she left the area voluntarily. Cats are territorial by nature and if she is still alive she most likely is either living indoors with someone or has been transported, intentionally or accidentally, out of the area.
Despite all of their good work in caring for her, the mayor and other city officials were remiss in not mounting an immediate search and rescue mission the very first day that she failed to show up for work at City Hall. The surrounding area should have been thoroughly canvassed, "Lost Cat" posters erected on every electrical and telephone pole, and area residents and businesses leafleted.
Shelters and Animal Control should have been promptly contacted. The mayor would not have been out of line if he had issued a prompt appeal to any suspected catnappers to return her at once.
City Kitty is a treasure and, against all odds, it might not be too late to save her if Barnett were to order an all-out search for her. Since that does not appear to be in the cards, Naples probably has seen the last of City Kitty unless she either returns of her own volition or a citizen comes forward with some new information.
In her absence, a gray and white cat named Earl Grey and an orange one named Stewart have taken up residence on the steps of City Hall where they now great workers and visitors alike each day. To his credit, the mayor has magnanimously pledged to keep out the welcome mat for all feline visitors to the center of power in Naples by continuing to provide them with free food and water.
A plate of red salmon accompanied by a saucer or two of thick cream from time to time also would be much appreciated by the city's peripatetic felines. No expense should be spared because the cats deserve the very best that the city has to offer.
The same logic equally applies to those visiting City Hall. T.S. Eliot summed up the situation as follows in his epic poem, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats:
"So, if you 'ave business with Faber -- or Faber --
I'll give you this tip, and it's worth a lot more:
You'll save yourself time, and you'll spare yourself labor
If jist you make friends with the cat at the door."
Eliot went on to osbserve that the bonds of friendship between cats and humans, like those that are formed man-to-man, are solidified and strengthened by:
"Some little token of esteem
Is needed, like a dish of cream;
And you might now and then supply
Some caviar, or Strassburg Pie,
Some potted grouse, or salmon paste --
He's sure to have his personal taste."
Before attempting any of that, those with business before the politicians would be wise to consult with their attorneys in order to ascertain if the anti-bribery statutes pertain to the cats of politicians.
The cat-friendly policies of Naples stand in stark contrast to those of Bonita Springs, twenty-two kilometers to the south, where politicians bend over backwards in order to dispossess both cats and citizens. (See Cat Defender post of July 9, 2009 entitled "Politicians and a Condominium Developer Share the Blame for the Abandonment of at Least Fifteen Domestic Cats in Bonita Springs.")
Furthermore, in an age where so many local politicians are obsessed with rounding up and killing cats en masse, imposing draconian anti-roaming and leash laws, and knuckling under to the lies and threats made by avian and wildlife proponents, Mayor Barnett is to be saluted for both his compassion and bon sens. If researchers ever were to look into the matter there can be little doubt that they soon would discover that municipalities that have cats looking over the shoulders of their elected representatives are significantly better governed than their opposites.
Take, for example, the impact that a black and white former stray named Bootsie has had on the politicians and bureaucrats in El Cerrito since his arrival in 2004. (See Cat Defender post of March 20, 2007 entitled "El Cerrito's Bureaucrats Distinguish Themselves by Showing Compassion for a Waif Known as Bootsie.")
In tiny Carlstadt, New Jersey, a cat named Caloo with a multicolored coat and beautiful green eyes has been keeping the politicians in line since 2008. (See photo above.)
Saved from the hangman by Borough Administrator Jane Fontana, the Borough Council voted unanimously on September 4, 2008 to adopt her as "The Carlstadt Cat." Caloo, who has a fondness for croissants, now spends weekdays at Borough Hall and weekends with Fontana. (See Cat Defender post of September 22, 2008 entitled "New Jersey at Long Last Has at Least One Honest Public Servant and Her Name Is Caloo from Carlstadt.")
In Natchez, a toothless, three-legged cat named Tripod wandered into City Hall in June of 1979 and forever changed the way that Mississippi River town feels about the species. That accomplishment is all the more remarkable in that he died prematurely four years later on October 9, 1983.
As an example of how much he still is revered even today, about forty citizens and politicians assembled near his grave at City Hall on October 9, 2008 to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of his passing. The Reverend Darian Duckworth of Grace United Methodist Church presided over the ceremony and afterwards the attendees repaired to City Council chambers where a ten-minute news feature about Tripod's life was shown. (See Cat Defender post of November 28, 2008 entitled "Natchez Politicians Pause to Remember Tripod on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of His Death.")
Not all politicians are fair, compassionate, and appreciative toward cats, however. In fact, some of them are outright ingrates and rabid ailurophobes.
That is the case with those in Columbus, Ohio, who rewarded a colony of homeless cats for taking care of the rodent problem at the Capitol by issuing them an eviction notice and, most likely, a death sentence. (See Cat Defender post of October 20, 2005 entitled "After Ridding Ohio Statehouse of Rats, Cats Now Find Themselves Facing Eviction.")
Finally, although Barnett is known for his political astuteness, he has been wrong before and hopefully he is wrong this time around about City Kitty.
Photos: Lexey Swall of the Naples Daily News (City Kitty) and Alexis Tarrazi of The Leader of Lyndhurst (Caloo).