Pretty Norwegian Forest Cat, Already Suffering from Kidney Trouble, Is Abandoned to Die of Thirst in a Schließfach at the Hamburger Hauptbahnhof
Die Katze in dem Schließfach "erheblich gelitten" haben muss. Sie sei "infolge der Grunderkrankung, verbunden mit dem Flüssigkeitsentzug, verdurstet."
-- preliminary necropsy from the Institut für Hygiene und Unwelt
In addition to one torrid heat wave after another, the summer of 2010 will be remembered as a season of death by cat-lovers. Scarcely a day has gone by without there being at least one report in the news concerning some defenseless cat that either has been horribly abused or murdered.
The latest installment in this seemingly never-ending saga of violence and death comes from the St. Georg section of Hamburg where at 11:50 p.m. on August 21st Deutschen Bahn riders passing through the city's Hauptbahnhof heard a cat crying for help inside Schließfach number 457. The railroad's police were summoned and a beautiful mixed-breed Norwegian Forest cat was freed alive.
She was taken to a veterinarian where she either died shortly thereafter or was deliberately killed off. Since the authorities are not saying, the public probably never will know for certain if her life could have been saved. (See photo of her above.)
Since the lockers are only opened and emptied once every day by the staff at the depot, the unfortunate cat could have been cruelly imprisoned in the forty-two centimeter high by twenty-five centimeter wide and seventy-eight centimeter long Schließfach for up to twenty-four hours. Confined in total darkness, she was without food, water, and an adequate supply of air. (See photo below of a policeman examining an adjoining locker.)
A preliminary necropsy conducted by the Institut für Hygiene und Unwelt revealed that the cat had died of thirst. That is not surprising in light of the fact that she already suffered from kidney woes and as a consequence required more fluids than a healthy cat.
Die Katze in dem Schließfach "erheblich gelitten" haben muss," the pathologists reiterated the obvious. Sie sei "infolge der Grunderkrankung, verbunden mit dem Flüssigkeitsentzug, verdurstet."
She also had an abrasion on her left hip but it is unclear how this injury was sustained. She either could have been previously abused or somehow incurred the bruise in her frantic attempt to free herself from the Schließfach.
The authorities in Hamburg have opened a criminal investigation into this horrifying act of feline cruelty but they have their work cut out for themselves. For starters, since the cat was neither tagged, tattooed, nor microchipped they do not have any way of tracking down its owner.
Since press reports are mum on the subject, it appears that the architect of this heinous crime did not even leave behind the carrier which he used in order to transport the cat into the rail depot. Forensic experts might be able to pick up some clues by combing the cat's fur and examining the Schließfach for fingerprints but that is about all they have to go on at the present time.
As hard as it is to believe in this post-September 11th world, there are not any video surveillance cameras in this section of the Hauptbahnhof! Accordingly, any terrorist could check a bomb into any one of the lockers and blow the depot to kingdom come and no one would be any the wiser.
In Manhattan, for example, the Port Authority bus terminal removed all of its lockers in the late 1970s or thereabouts. An attended parcel check service was instituted in its stead and continued to operate well into the 1980s but even it was fraught with all sorts of problems.
During that era, long-haired and bearded Daniel Rakowitz was a familiar figure on both the Bowery and at St. Mark's Place. As a Jesus and numerology freak, he would tell everyone that he encountered that he was the messiah.
In spite of all of that, most people nonetheless were shocked when he murdered twenty-six-year-old Monica Beerle, a dance student from Switzerland, cooked her corpse, and fed it to the homeless at St. Mark's Place. He then ladled the leftovers into a bucket and stored them at the bus station's parcel check service.
Nowadays lockers are about as scarce as hens' teeth at rail depots, bus stations, and airports across America. Although it is refreshing to see that the Hamburger Hauptbahnhof still retains this essential amenity for travelers, it is the epitome of stupidity for it to allow bags that have not been inspected to be stored in lockers.
Even video cameras are insufficient to thwart mischief. There should be an attendant on duty personally inspecting all checked bags. Unwilling to spring for that added expense and headache, the depot probably will respond to this tragedy by removing all of its lockers.
Despite the formidable difficulties involved, the authorities should begin their inquiry into this cat's death by reviewing all video footage taken in other parts of the terminal on August 20th and August 21st. There is a small chance that the tapes will show the culprit with a pet carrier.
It also is conceivable that there exists a registry that contains the names and addresses of all owners of Norwegian Forest cats in Hamburg. That is, admittedly, a long shot but almost any angle is worth pursuing in order to bring this cat's murderer to justice.
Always johnny-on-the-spot whenever there is any free publicity to be gobbled up, the serial cat killers at phony-baloney PETA are offering an inconsequential reward of €500 for information leading to the arrest of the cat's owner. "Die Katze wurde wie ein alter Koffer zurückgelassen und ist unter größten Qualen gestorben," the organization's hypocritical Nadja Kutscher rocked on her moral high horse for the benefit of the Hamburger Abendblatt on August 26th. (See "Katze im Schließfach: PETA setzt Belohnung aus.")
That certainly is big talk coming as it does from an organization that annually exterminates an astounding ninety-eight per cent of all cats and dogs that arrive at its shelter in Norfolk, Virginia. Even more telling, if PETA had its way, all homeless and abandoned cats, such as the one who died in the Schließfach, would be promptly rounded up and killed on the spot.
In fact, its murder rate would be even higher if the thousands of cats and dogs that its employees kill in the field and then secretly dispose of their corpses in private Dumpsters were included in the total. (See Cat Defender posts of January 29, 2007 and February 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in North Carolina Courtroom" and "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs.")
Next, Kutscher and her colleagues likely will be dropping their dingy drawers and exposing their worn-out cracks and droopy teats for all the world to see outside the Hauptbahnhof. The long and the short of the matter is that PETA cares absolutely nothing for animals and as a consequence will commit almost any crime in order to get free publicity and the money and power that goes along with it. (See photo of the depot directly above.)
Abandoned, imprisoned in a box, her kidneys failing, and dying of thirst, this cat suffered horribly the last day of her life. Also, she must have cried out for help until she was hoarse.
The fact that no one came to her aid until it was much too late is a black mark against both Deutschen Bahn and those commuters and travelers who use the depot. Surely, numerous passengers must have heard her plaintive cries and noticed her banging against the door of the locker in a futile effort to free herself. Yet, it took almost twenty-four-hours for the cavalry to arrive.
This cat likely still would be alive today if just one commuter had taken the time to intervene on her behalf. Unfortunately for her, that was too much to ask.
Feigning ignorance is not a valid excuse either. Everyone knows that cats and other animals do not belong in storage lockers.
Sadly, she is destined to find neither peace nor dignity even in death. The Institut für Hygiene und Unwelt already has carved up her corpse like a Christmas turkey and her remains likely will be put on ice until the authorities give up on solving this case. After that, her remains in all likelihood will be burned.
Such morally inexcusable conduct is every bit as reprehensible as condemning her to die of thirst in a Schließfach. The pathologists at the Institut should put her back together and provide her with a proper burial and a tombstone.
She deserves no less. That she once lived and, perhaps more importantly, how she died must never be forgotten.
Photos: Hamburger Polizei (Norwegian Forest cat) and Marco Zitzow of Bild (Schließfach and Hamburger Hauptbahnhof.)