Left Stranded by His Mother, Almond Finds a Home in the Hollow of a Maple Tree That Comes with Private Catering
"I'm not going to stop (feeding him), no. If I'm gone there will be someone here to take care of the cat. I'm not going to leave her (sic). I want to see how long it stays here."
-- Ron Venden
A handsome gray and white cat known as Almond has taken up residence in Ron Venden's yard on Highway X in rural Green County, Wisconsin. Even more astounding, Venden claims that he never has left the tree since he entered this world in June of last year. (See photo of him above.)
The sequence of events is not exactly clear but apparently Almond's mother gave birth to a litter of kittens in the tree last spring but for some unknown reason neglected to take him along with her when she pulled up stakes. The sixty-six-year-old retired carpenter, who now raises chickens as a hobby, discovered Almond's presence soon thereafter and took it upon himself to become his surrogate mother. (See photo of him with Almond below.)
With the aid of a twelve-foot ladder, he has installed an automatic kibble dispenser and twice daily treats Almond to a bowl of salami, meatloaf, and milk. (See bottom photo of the provisions.)
In order to make living in the maple bearable throughout Wisconsin's long, brutal winters, Venden cut a hole in its hollow and fitted an all-weather straw bed inside of it. He topped off Almond's winter abode with a combination tin and tar paper roof.
So far, the impromptu cat house that Venden has cobbled together has worked out rather well for Almond. "You can see the cat looks pretty healthy," he told the Wisconsin State Journal of Madison in a video on January 19th. (See "Cat Born in a Tree.")
Looks, as everyone knows, can be deceiving and that is especially the case with cats. In particular, if he never leaves the tree it is doubtful that Almond is getting all the exercise that he needs in order to prevent his legs from atrophying.
The inordinate amount of climbing that he does is definitely beneficial but a cat needs to walk, run, and gambol as well. It also could be the case that he has developed a psychological issue and is terrified of abandoning the security blanket provided by the maple.
Initially, Almond was wary of Venden's entreaties but the meat and milk eventually wore down his resistance. "At first he was real feisty at me, but soon he started letting me pet him and now he's as tame as can be," Venden told the New York Daily News on January 24th. (See "Wisconsin Man Finds a Cat in Tree, Builds Him a Shelter, Feeds Him Salami and Meatloaf.")
Understandably, Almond has elected to stick around for a while and that has not come as any surprise to Venden. "I think it's because I'm treating it too good," he proudly confessed to the print edition of the Wisconsin State Journal on January 19th. (See "Almond the Cat Never Leaves His Tree, but He Has a True Friend Who Watches over Him.") "I kind of enjoy it. The neighbors think I'm goofy."
It thus appears that Almond has found a lasting home with two guaranteed meals a day. "I'm not going to stop (feeding him), no. If I'm gone there will be someone here to take care of the cat," he pledged in the video cited supra. "I'm not going to leave her (sic).¹ "I want to see how long it stays here."
The most likely candidate for that job is his daughter, Tammy Sias, from nearby Primrose in Dane County who already takes care of Almond whenever her father is not at home. Her dad's compassion and newfound notoriety have, nonetheless, left her nonplussed.
"In his younger days, I would have never, ever, ever pictured him getting so attached (to a cat) in my life," she confessed to the Wisconsin State Journal. That profound attitudinal change most likely can be attributed to either the transformative power of cats or Venden's mellowing with age.
Nevertheless, Sias sometimes is taken aback when her neighbors stop her on the streets of Primrose and ask: "How's your tree cat today?"
Although it is a trifle unusual, it likely is true that Almond calls the maple tree home; the assertion that he never comes down is considerably more suspect. Although a reporter from the Wisconsin State Journal claims that there are not any visible paw prints in the snow, that in itself is far from being conclusive.
If the reporter had been operating on the level, she would have looked for urine and scat. Since Almond obviously is eating and drinking, the telltale signs of such activity should be easily enough to spot either in the hollow of the tree or on the ground below.
If not, he obviously is eliminating elsewhere and that most likely is away from the tree when nobody is watching. Besides, no cat defecates and urinates where it eats and sleeps if it has a viable option.
For his part, Venden insists that he has tried to coax Almond out of the maple without any success. "I've tried to bring it down a couple of times and it starts scratching," he related to the Wisconsin State Journal in the article cited supra.
Calling in the Fire Department in order to mount a rescue would be a total waste of time because firefighters in this country, as opposed to their far more obliging and responsible colleagues in Angleterre, do not rescue cats stranded in trees. (See Cat Defender posts of February 20, 2007 and March 20, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Stray Cat Ignominiously Named Stinky Is Rescued from Rooftop by Good Samaritans After Fire Department Refuses to Help" and "Bone-Lazy Mendacious Firefighters Are Costing the Lives of Both Cats and Humans by Refusing to Do Their Duty.")²
The petit fait that Venden's residence is located five miles south of Belleville is another reason for concern because denizens there are still cashing in on UFO sightings that date back as far as 1987. The Belleville Chamber of Commerce even sponsors an annual UFO festival and parade that is held the last Saturday in October.
Although Venden does not appear to be the type, it is remotely conceivable that the Wisconsin State Journal could be trumpeting the part about Almond never having set foot on terra firma as a means of attracting tourists to the area. Even if it is true, no cat should be condemned to spend the winter outdoors in Wisconsin.
For example, current overnight temperatures in snow-covered Belleville have been as frigid as -8° F with daytime highs often struggling to reach even 20° F. Although Venden has made the maple as comfortable as possible, there is not any way that Almond could be anything other than miserable under such trying circumstances.
When contacted by the Wisconsin State Journal, Dane County Animal Control Officer Patrick Comfert insisted that Almond "should be fine" outdoors this winter. While it is true that a cat dubbed Frosty lived for five weeks without either food or water in a -28° F frozen food warehouse in Northamptonshire last year, his hellish ordeal cost him his ears and tail as well as frostbite burns to his nose and paws. (See Cat Defender post of April 8, 2010 entitled "Frozen Food Purveyor Knowingly Condemns Frosty to Spend Five Weeks in Its -28° Fahrenheit Warehouse Without Either Food or Water.")
In a roundabout, unintended way Comfert is correct, however, in that even living outdoors in the cold and snow is preferable to a jab of sodium pentobarbital administered within the warm and cozy confines of the death camp that he operates. Nevertheless, it still is appalling that residents of the Badger State are so unwilling to do more for their homeless cats. (See Cat Defender posts of May 8, 2009 and February 1, 2011 entitled, respectively, "Domino, Feral and All Alone, Faces an Uncertain Future in Wisconsin Following an Unplanned Trip to Arizona" and "Lovable Freddie Puts Tiny Wisconsin Village on the Map but His Affection and Good Works Are Unappreciated.")
Of course, respecting the rights of cats and other animals never has been the strong suit of Wisconsinites. Heading the list of feline defamers, haters, and exploiters is disgraced bird advocate Stanley A. Temple of the nearby University of Wisconsin at Madison. After all, it was his totally bogus report on alleged feline predation of birds that provided a large part of the rationale for a failed legislative initiative in 2005 to shoot and kill all outdoor cats.
Like his colleagues within the American Bird Conservancy and the National Audubon Society, he is a barefaced liar. "I actually like cats," he swore with a straight face in a thinly disguised love letter that was issued as a press release by his employers at UW-Madison on January 27th. (See "Stan Temple: A Life Saving Threatened Species.") "But I never had one until we did this study (of alleged feline predation). He's twenty-one years old now and he still likes me, although for the first seven or eight years of his life I made him wear a radio collar to provide data for the study."
C'est-à-dire, Temple likes cats that he can control, subjugate, and abuse so to collect spurious data that he then uses in order to justify the mass extermination of scores of them. Such warped and dishonest thinking is akin to the practitioners of genocide professing their abiding love for their victims.
The slimy and utterly reprehensible university that pays him his welfare millions in order to slander, libel, and abuse cats additionally has been cited numerous times by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for violating the minimalist standards of the Animal Protection Act. (See The Capital Times of Madison, July 17, 2010, "USDA Inspectors Again Find Violations at UW-Madison Animal Research Labs.")
Vivisectors at the university currently are cutting up and torturing cats, dogs, sheep, pigs, monkeys, gerbils, mice, and other animals at more than fifty locations on campus. In return for their heinous crimes, the professors rake in between $200-300 million annually.
Obviously not contented with cleaning out their students' wallets and filling their empty noggins with right-wing establishment propaganda, the vivisectors require not only additional funding but the thrill of torturing to death defenseless animals. Numerous individuals are sans doute bamboozled by the lies spread by Temple and his colleagues but any serious examination of how these cretins think and behave soon will reveal them to be little more than criminals and welfare bums.
It therefore is clear that bird and wildlife advocates are peas shelled from the same rotten pod as vivisectors. Both groups assume that they have a God-given right to defame, subjugate, exploit, torture, and exterminate cats and other animals with impunity. Worst still, societies allow them to commit their dastardly deeds without imposing any legal, political, or moral constraints upon them.
If either any halfway legitimate animal protection group or prosecuting attorney could be found who would uphold and enforce the anti-cruelty statutes they soon would find themselves behind bars instead of abusing and killing animals on the public's dime. More to the point, if there were one legitimate anti-cruelty officer in Wisconsin, Temple's cat would have been taken from him long ago and placed in a loving home. To have stood idly by and allowed that monster to have abused it for such an extended period of time is in itself a criminal act.
Viewed against the backdrop of the crimes and callousness exhibited by his fellow citizens toward cats, Venden's compassion for Almond is all the more commendable. Hopefully, he will be able to do as good of a job of protecting him from his many enemies as he so far as done feeding and sheltering him.
Photos: Gena Kittner of the Wisconsin State Journal.
¹There is considerable confusion as to Almond's sex. For example, the cat is referred to as he, her, and it in various media reports. The preponderance of references are, however, masculine.
²Cheap, nosey, and despotic Google, which owns Blogger, has removed some of the previous posts from the cache on the right. They still are floating around in cyberspace and can be found by entering their titles in most search engines.