Citizens of Ichenheim Callously Allow a Torched Cat to Walk the Streets for Days Before Summoning Veterinary Help That Arrived Too Late
"Katzen sind sehr saubere Tiere. Und da sie mehrere Tage unterwegs war, bevor wir sie behandeln konnten, hat sie natürlich selbst versucht, sich zu reinigen. Damit kamen aber Giftstoffe in den Körper, die Schäden verursachten, von denen sich das Tier nicht mehr erholen konnte."
-- Uwe Dindas of Tierschutzvereins Offenburg-Zell am Harmersbach
Another cat has been doused with gasoline and burned to death by an ailurophobe. The latest victim was a brown and white female with captivatingly beautiful green eyes from the Ichenheim section of Neuried in Ortenaukreis, Baden-Württemberg. (See photo of her above.)
The attack took place during the early days of January and the badly burned cat was forced to wander around Ichenheim in excruciating pain for many days before finally an unidentified citizen telephoned Tierschutzvereins Offenburg-Zell am Harmersbach (TSV) on January 10th. If just one resident had shown an ounce of compassion and acted sooner, there is a good chance that the nameless cat might still be alive today.
In addition to the burns and other injuries that she suffered on the outside, the cat also sustained unspecified damage to her internal organs as the result of instinctively attempting to lick off the gasoline and bits of charred fur. The staff at TSV attempted to cleanse her fur and to treat her injuries but they were much too late and she died on January 13th.
"Katzen sind sehr saubere Tiere," Uwe Dindas of the rescue group told the Badische Zeitung of Freiburg on January 17th. (See "Katze wird mit Benzin übergrossen und stirbt.") "Und da sie mehrere Tage unterwegs war, bevor wir sie behandeln konnten, hat sie natürlich selbst versucht, sich zu reinigen. Damit kamen aber Giftstoffe in den Körper, die Schäden verursachten, von denen sich das Tier nicht mehr erholen konnte."
Although there can be little doubt that the attack was intentional, Dindas points to the conspicuous absence of gasoline on the cat's head and tail as being definitive. "Wir vermuten, dass es ein Katzenhasser auf das Tier abgesehen hatte und es in Brand stecken wollte," he told the Badische Zeitung.
As per usual in cases of this sort, no arrest has been made and none is expected. Instead, the rescue group has fobbed off responsibility onto the shoulders of the ten-thousand residents of Neuried who have been warned to be vigilant against similar such attacks in the future.
Sadly, little is known about the victim. She very well could have had a family but, since none is mentioned in press reports, apparently no one has come forward in order to claim her remains.
Consequently, her corpse in all likelihood was burned. She already has been forgotten while her murderer still walks the streets of Ichenheim as free as a bird.
In late August of 2010, a black cat named Lätzchen from Karsdorf in Burgenlandkreis, Sachsen-Anhalt, suffered life-threatening burns when she, too, was doused with an accelerant and set on fire. The attack left her blind and cost her half of her fur. (See photo of her below.)
Her ears were reduced to stumps and she suffered flesh wounds to her nose. If she is still alive, it is only thanks to multiple skin grafts and specialized care that she will require for as long as she lives.
As was the case with the cat in Ichenheim, the attack upon Lätzchen was deliberate and premeditated. "Die Täter haben vorsätzlich gehandelt," a spokesman for the local police department averred at that time. "Sie wollten, dass die Katze einen qualvollen Feuertod stribt."
Despite what was done to Lätzchen and the grief that the attack has caused her guardian, Ulrike Bach, and her eight-year-old son, David, the assailant remains at large. (See Cat Defender post of September 22, 2010 entitled "Lätzchen Is Deliberately Set on Fire and Burned Within an Inch of Her Life in Karsdorf.")
Like all animals including man, cats are ruled by their instincts which sometimes promote their well-being while at other times just the opposite. In particular, because of their incessant grooming all poisons, carcinogens, and pollutants are lethal to cats.
For example, on July 2nd of last year an orange-colored tom named Harley from New Westminster in British Columbia was deliberately dunked up to his waist in turpentine. In an instinctive effort to remove the toxin from his fur, he suffered severe burns to his tongue and esophagus as well as a collapsed lung.
If he had known that the turpentine was deadly, he would have refrained from attempting to cleanse his fur and consequently very well might still be alive today. As things eventually turned out, he died on August 14th. (See Cat Defender posts of July 30, 2010 and August 30, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Harley Suffers Severe Burns to His Tongue and Mouth as Well as Lung Damage after He Is Deliberately Dunked in Turpentine" and "Hope, Prayer, and Veterinary Intervention Ultimately Prove to Be Insufficient in Order to Save Harley after He Is Deliberately Dunked in Turpentine.")
All medications that are applied topically constitute another reason for concern. That is especially true in the case of flea and tick retardants. For example, Jennifer Leyton-Purrier of Ashford Carbonel in Shropshire failed to pay attention to what she was dousing her cats with and that oversight nearly killed them. (See Cat Defender post of September 15, 2010 entitled "Shy and Huli Buli Go into Convulsions and Wind Up in the Hospital for Four Days after They Are Doused with a Topical Flea Insecticide.")
Both indoor and outdoor pollutants have a far more insidious effect on cats. Of particular concern are polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which are used as fire retardants in, inter alia, electronics, carpeting, mattresses, and furniture.
The presence of these chemicals in the home is blamed for the spiraling increase in the number of cases of Feline Hyperthyroidism. (See Cat Defender post of August 22, 2007 entitled "Indoor Cats Are Dying from Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Various Toxins in the Home.")
They additionally have been blamed for impaired fertility in women, reduced testosterone levels in men, neurological problems in children, and undescended testicles in male babies. (See Deborah Watkins et alii, "Exposure to PBDEs in the Office Environment: Evaluating the Relationship Between Dust, Hand Wipes, and Serum," to be published online June 30th in Environmental Health Perspectives.)
As is the case with PBDEs, the fumes and residue from tobacco and other drugs that are smoked also settle into the the fur of cats and are subsequently ingested with dire consequences when they groom themselves. (See Cat Defender post of October 19, 2007 entitled "Smokers Are Killing Their Cats, Dogs, Birds, and Infants by Continuing to Light Up in Their Presence.")
The fallout from aerosol sprays, asbestos, household cleaning products, and even mold retardants secreted away inside furniture also are killing cats. (See Cat Defender post of October 21, 2010 entitled "Two Thoughtless Old Biddies Crush Thirteen-Month-Old Sheba to Death Underneath an Electric Recliner.")
Even dish and bath water can sicken cats, especially if they should accidentally tumble into either an unattended sink or bathtub and then attempt to lick their fur clean. The same logic applies to other harmful substances, such as paint and oil, that can adhere to their fur and paws.
Since it is well documented that auto, train, and airplane emissions as well as pollutants from coal-fired and nuclear power plants have a deleterious effect upon human health, the same is even truer as far as cats and other animals are concerned. Gritting salt and other chemicals indiscriminately applied to streets and roads during the wintertime in order to melt snow and ice likewise can be lethal to cats. (See Cat Defender post of March 25, 2011 entitled "Compassionate Construction Workers Interrupt Their Busy Day in Order to Rescue Chabot-Matrix from a Stream in Maine.")
Save for relocating elsewhere, there is not a great deal that guardians can do about either outdoor pollution or the machinations of cat-haters. Indoor environments are another matter altogether.
The removal of carpeting, rugs, drapes, and other items that tend to serve as repositories for toxins and dust particles is an essential first step in making indoor environments safe for cats. Twice daily brushings and frequent baths also can go a long way toward reducing the amount of harmful substances that cats ingest while grooming themselves.
Since they are such fastidious animals, cats are going to continue to instinctively groom themselves regardless of the consequences. It therefore is incumbent upon their guardians to ensure that their fur is clean and as free of harmful chemicals and particles as humanly possible.
Photos: Badische Zeitung (Ichenheim cat) and Steffen Schnellhorn of Bild (Lätzchen).