After Scrimping By in a Polluted Parking Lot for Eleven Years, Olivia Is Ready for a Loving and Permanent Home
"She still recognizes my car when I stop by some weekends to check on her, and she comes running."
-- District Attorney Birgit Fladager
Olivia is a beautiful cat. She is in fact such an attractive and appealing feline that is is nothing short of amazing that no one wants her. (See photos of her above and below.)
As a consequence, she has been forced to spend the past eleven years eking out a living in the parking lot that separates the Stanislaus County Men's Jail and Stanislaus County Superior Court in downtown Modesto. Where she came from and her exact age are not known; suffice it to say that she is a senior cat without means.
Since her arrival in the parking lot in 1999, she has been cared for by a constantly changing assortment of lawyers and clerks. Most notably, then Stanislaus County Deputy District Attorney Birgit Fladager began feeding and watering her shortly thereafter and even eventually had her sterilized.
She additionally was able to find homes for a pair of Olivia's kittens. During that period the two became quite close, so intimate in fact that Olivia would not allow anyone else to pet her. (See photo of Fladager on the right below.)
All of that came to an abrupt end in 2004 when Fladager was called away to Redwood City in order to be an integral part of the prosecutorial team that successfully convicted murderer Scott Peterson. Not only was she able to help land Peterson on death row but she also succeeded in humbling his multimillion-dollar attorney, Mark Geragos, in the process.
At last report, Geragos had graduated from defending murderers to representing miscreants who abuse caged tigers at the San Francisco Zoo. (See Cat Defender post of January 28, 2008 entitled "Hopped Up on Vodka and Pot, Trio Taunted Tatiana Prior to Attacks That Led to Her Being Killed by the Police.")
In 2006, Kathy Fortune took over as Olivia's primary caregiver and she in turn was succeeded in 2008 by another clerk, Nancy Phillips, who cares about and watches out for cats even though she is allergic to them. "She's not too friendly...I can't pet her," Phillips told The Modesto Bee on January 1, 2011. (See "Food, Friends Keep Cat at Court.") "I just feed her."
Over the years Olivia has developed a discriminating palate and, according to Phillips, will not eat any other dry food except Meow Mix Original. That notwithstanding it is a good bet that she eagerly would chow down on fish, chicken, and other meats if the wealthy attorneys and clerks were not quite so cheap.
A daily saucer of milk accompanied by an occasional ration of thick cream also would be much appreciated. Cats, like women, must be spoiled rotten in order to bring out the very best that is in them.
Not much else is known about Olivia's living arrangement. It can however be said with certainty that in addition to a minimalist regimen of water and kibble, she surely needs some type of shelter even in warm and sunny California.
For example, the average overnight temperature this time of the year in Modesto is only 37° F. In July, by contrast, the thermometer soars to a blistering average daily high of 94° F with many afternoons posting readings in excess of 100° F.
Cats are not any different from people in that they, too, are prone to the debilitating effects of both hypothermia and hyperthermia. In extreme cases, both can produce respiratory difficulties and even heart failure.
Flooding also is a concern since Modesto does not have an adequate storm drainage system. That may not be much of a concern for humans but for cats it is an entirely different scenario.
In El Cerrito, one-hundred-twenty kilometers away, Bootsie also lives outdoors but he is able at least to hold up underneath the city manager's trailer during inclement weather. (See Cat Defender post of March 20, 2007 entitled "El Cerrito's Bureaucrats Distinguish Themselves by Showing Compassion for a Waif Known as Bootsie.")
Olivia also needs vaccinations, someone to remove the parasites from her fur, and competent veterinary care whenever she becomes ill. The administration of those vital life-saving interventions is made all the more problematic by there not being anyone that she trusts enough to get close to her.
She has, however, enjoyed the exceedingly good fortune to have avoided any major tragedies over the years. Most importantly, she has not been either run down or maimed by any motorists. Nevertheless, auto emissions slowly could be destroying her delicate lungs, just as they are killing humans, and that is another negative aspect of being forced to live in a parking lot.
As far as it is known, she also has been able to avoid the machinations of poisoners and other abusers who feast upon homeless cats. In that respect, residing near a courthouse and a jail provides a certain level of protection against ailurophobes. Being essentially yellow-bellied cowards, they are unlikely to attack a cat residing under the watchful eye of the authorities.
The only recent incident worth mentioning occurred in December when an unidentified prospective juror stole and ate her food. He was caught flagrante delicto by Phillips but was rewarded for his thievery by being dismissed from the jury pool.
"He was a nicely dressed man," Phillips told The Modesto Bee. "He obviously had issues."
The need to get Olivia into a permanent, loving home is all the more urgent now that she is the equivalent of sixty years old in human terms. Sooner or later her senses and reflexes are going to start to wane and as a consequence she may not be able to avoid either motorists or other abusers.
The logical person to adopt her is Fladager who is now the county's district attorney. "She still recognizes my car when I stop by some weekends to check on her, and she comes running," she told The Modesto Bee in the article cited supra.
An admission such as that is so woefully inadequate as to be downright disgraceful. The sand is fast running out of the hourglass as far as Olivia is concerned but there still is enough time left for Fladager to make up for her years of neglect and do the right thing.
Hopefully, she will not procrastinate until it is too late and Olivia mysteriously disappears just as City Kitty vanished without a trace last year from City Hall in Naples. (See Cat Defender post of March 25, 2010 entitled "Mayor of Naples Fears the Worst Now That City Kitty Has Not Been Seen in Several Weeks.")
Even if neither Fladager nor any of her colleagues within Modesto's legal establishment are willing to come to Olivia's aid, there surely must be countless area residents who would be willing to give her the secure and loving home that she so richly deserves. Since she already is accustomed to being around people, she certainly is more than capable of making such an adjustment.
Photos: Debbie Noda of The Modesto Bee (Olivia) and Brian Ramsay of The Modesto Bee (Fladager).