Eddie Is Saved by an Outdoor Umbrella after He Is Abducted from the Balcony of His Manhattan Apartment and Then Dropped by a Redtailed Hawk
"The tenant was awakened by a huge thud in his garden. He ran out and found his garden umbrella toppled over, and a cat in the corner meowing."
-- Eddie's unidentified owner
Eddie was stretched out on a bench on the fifth floor terrace of his West Side Manhattan apartment one day in either June or July when a redtailed hawk swooped down and carried him away. When his devoted owner, an unidentified micro brewer, went to look for him all she found were bits and pieces of his white fur, broken claws, and scattered feathers.
Assuming the worst, she scoured nearby Riverside Park for his corpse without an inkling of success. She visited the birds' known nesting sites, believed to be at least a dozen or so and located on the ledges of high-rise apartment buildings and in nearby Central Park, and also came up empty-handed.
She also blanketed her neighborhood with Lost Cat posters and that did the trick. More people read these notices than it is generally assumed and when a neighbor from down the street saw hers he promptly called and spoke the four little words that she was dying to hear. "I have your cat!" he declared.
As it eventually became known, the four-pound hawk had deposited the fifteen-pound cat with light-green eyes in the neighbor's garden a mere fifty feet from his home. He may have been too heavy for the bird to have lugged home, Eddie could have dug his claws into it and forced it to let go of him, or the hawk simply could have lost its grip. (See photos of Eddie above and below.)
"The tenant was awakened by a huge thud in his garden. He ran out and found his garden umbrella toppled over, and a cat in the corner meowing," the craft brewer told the New York Daily News on July 16th. (See "Fat Eddie Gets Snatched Up by Hawk, But Dropped in Neighbor's Garden Due to Weight.") "I can only imagine Eddie bounced off the umbrella like in the cartoons."
That is nothing to be joking about because in all likelihood it was precisely that outdoor umbrella that broke Eddie's fall and saved his life. Otherwise, he could have suffered serious, if not indeed fatal, injuries had he bounced off the unyielding ground or, worst still, pavement.
There is, after all, some anecdotal evidence to suggest that cats have a significantly better chance of surviving falls from higher altitudes than lower venues. Generally speaking, the chances of a cat having sufficient time in order to right itself during the course of a short plunge from only five stories are not considered to be good.
Thanks to the umbrella's breaking of his fall, Eddie escaped with only minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises. Hopefully, he did not sustain either any internal or neurological injuries that will come back to haunt him later in life.
The attending veterinarian should have checked for such damage but nothing can be taken for granted when dealing with a profession that is so rife with moneygrubbing, incompetent charlatans. (See Cat Defender posts of July 28, 2011 and July 2, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Tammy and Maddy Are Forced to Pay the Ultimate Price after Their Owner and an Incompetent Veterinarian Elect to Play Russian Roulette with Their Lives" and "Lexi Was By No Means the First Cat to Be Lost by Woosehill Vets Any More Than Angel Was Their Last Victim of a Botched Sterilization.")
Since he was adopted from the ASPCA a few years back and is overweight, Eddie more than likely has been sterilized. Contrary to both common sense and all medical knowledge, his owner not only looks upon his obesity favorably but credits it, not the umbrella, with saving his life.
"The moral of this story is essentially (that) your flaws can be an asset," she proclaimed to the Daily News. "In Eddie's case, his chubbiness saved him."
That may or may not have been the case but in general obesity kills far more cats than it saves. Besides becoming fat, sterilized cats tend to be lazy and that makes them easy targets for hawks and other predators.
"But it has become the general custom, except for those who keep kings for breeding purposes, to alter these toms, so that they grow into large, affectionate, and lazy animals, who sleep a good deal, eat a good deal, and are generally picturesque but not very active," Carl Van Vechten observed way back in 1922 in his book, The Tiger in the House. "Personally I am more interested in cats who retain their natural fervor."
Applied to this case, it could be argued that if Eddie had been more active the hawk never would have gotten its talons into him in the first place. Testosterone has its pluses and minuses but few would question its indispensability in a fight.
More broadly speaking, it is difficult to understand how sterilizing cats, cruelly imprisoning them inside, and feeding them load after load of cheap kibble each day ever could be good for their long-term health. Sterilization is not an end in itself; on the contrary, owners who elect to go that route are still responsible for making sure that their denatured cats get plenty of exercise, eat real meat, and maintain a healthy body weight.
The brazen attack upon Eddie in densely populated Manhattan was not an isolated incident. Although it is not known how many cats are eaten each year by hawks in the city, the National Audubon Society reported in 2007 that pairs of hawks were spotted nesting at thirty-two different locations throughout the city. Gotham's most famous hawk is one named Pale Male who has lived at 927 Fifth Avenue at the corner of East 74th Street since 1990.
In addition to cats, small dogs are sometimes attacked by hawks. For instance, a chihuahua was mauled by one in 2003 behind the Central Library on West Forty-Second Street.
Nor is the problem of predatory birds killing cats confined to Manhattan. For example, during the summer of 2006 a great horned owl snatched a fifteen-year-old cat named Bamboo from her back porch on Oliver Street in Oak Bay, British Columbia. Unlike numerous cats who have been eaten by owls at nearby Swan Lake, Bamboo escaped with her life when the owl dropped her to the ground.
Nevertheless, she sustained three broken legs, several puncture wounds, and lost a large piece of flesh from her right front paw. (See Cat Defender post of July 31, 2006 entitled "Fifteen-Year-Old Cat Named Bamboo Miraculously Survives Being Abducted and Mauled by a Hoot Owl in British Columbia.")
The situation is even grimmer in tiny Newell, South Dakota, where at least two great horned owls are killing both homeless and domestic cats with impunity. As is the case in Manhattan, even small dogs are at risk. (See Rapid City Journal, October 26, 2010, "Who Who Who Dunnit? Authorities Identify Newell Catnapper.")
Gulls are another concern. At Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde in Faslane, outside of Glasgow, a black-backed gull kidnapped a five-week-old kitten named Blackie in July of 2008.
The kitten escaped with her life when the gull dropped her on a barbed-wire fence although she did sustain deep cuts to her paws. Three of her littermates as well as numerous ducklings were not nearly so fortunate and are believed to have been killed by the gulls. (See Cat Defender post of August 14, 2008 entitled "Birds Killing Cats: Blackie Is Abducted by a Sea Gull and Then Dropped but Her Fall Is Broken by a Barbed-Wire Fence.")
Raccoons also are killing cats. For example, on July 20th a pair of them killed Wendy and Nicole Thibeault's seventeen-year-old siamese, Kokanee, outside his home on Springthorne Crescent in Richmond, British Columbia.
"She (Wendy) sprayed the raccoons with water from the hose, but they just took the cat and ran off," daughter Nicole told the Vancouver Sun on July 20th. (See "Pair of Raccoons Attack, Then Drag Away Family Cat.") "Now, we can't even find his body. We're all devastated. He's been with us through everything."
In recent years, cats also have been killed by raccoons in Olympia and attacked by them in Seattle. (See Cat Defender posts of August 28, 2006 and September 25, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Marauding Packs of Vicious Raccoons Rip Ten House Cats to Shreds and Terrorize Residents but Wildlife Officials Refuse to Intervene" and "Seattle Resident Beats Off a Voracious Raccoon with a Broom in Order to Save the Life of His Cat, Jewel.")
Coyotes and fishers likewise are taking a heavy toll on both homeless and domestic cats. Not only are they allowed to trespass on private property in order to kill cats, but a few years back a fisher in Rutland, Vermont, snatched and cat through an open window. (See Cat Defender posts of October 2, 2006 and July 19, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Coyotes, Cheered on by Wildlife Officials, Join Raccoons in Killing Cats and Dogs in Washington State" and "Up to Their Old Tricks, Wildlife Officials Reintroduce Fishers to the Northeast to Prey Upon Cats and to Provide Income for Fur Traffickers.")
In some instances, individuals are to blame for placing the lives of their cats in jeopardy by relocating to habitats that previously were exclusively occupied by wildlife. In most cases, however, wildlife biologists are responsible for driving wild animals out of rural areas and into the cities.
They accomplish this léger de main by doing the dirty work of various commercial concerns in the countryside while simultaneously championing the wanton killing of cats and dogs by wildlife in the cities. In Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and Bluffers Park in Toronto, cat-haters even have been accused of baiting coyotes into killing cats.
These crimes are not hidden and both ornithologists and wildlife biologists seldom are able to resist shouting their delight from the rooftops every time either a cat or a dog is killed by a bird of prey, coyote, or fisher. For example, when a fisher savaged two dogs a few years back University of Rhode Island wildlife professor Thomas B. Husband could not help but exclaim, "That's neat." (See Cat Defender post of August 28, 2007 entitled "TNR Programs, Domestic Cats, Dogs, and Humans Imperiled by Wildlife Proponents' Use and Abuse of Coyotes and Fishers.")
Although a healthy respect for the right of all animals to live is the only morally justifiable position to take, such a philosophy certainly has its obvious disadvantages. For example, if cat advocates played by the same rules as the unprincipled scoundrels who comprise the ranks of ornithologists and wildlife biologists they would be entitled to retaliate by not only demonizing wildlife but by taking the law into their hands.
Unfortunately, bigots, haters, liars, thieves, and murderers always have ruled the roost in human affairs. What has changed is man's ignoble acquiescence in the face of such patented criminality.
"We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once boldly predicted in words that echo those voiced a few centuries before him by Edmund Burke.
Photos: Joanna Molloy of the New York Daily News.