Self-Defense Is Against the Law in Australia after a Woman Who Attacked a Cat Gets Away with Her Crime Whereas Her Victim Is Trapped and Executed
|Tigger and Sandy Williams|
"When I saw it out there I caught it by hand. It sank its teeth into my wrist bone, causing thirty fissures."
-- Sandy Williams
A forever nameless cat from South Yunderup, a southern suburb of Perth in the state of Western Australia, was murdered by an unidentified veterinarian near the end of July all because he had defended himself after he had been attacked by resident Sandy Williams who idiotically intervened in a scrap between it and her cat, Tigger.
"In the past six months a feral cat kept coming on to my property and bullying my cat Tigger," she declared to the Mandurah Coastal Times of Perth on August 10th. (See "Feral Cat Attack Leaves Woman with Severely Infected Arm.") "When I saw it out there I caught it by hand. It sank its teeth into my wrist bone, causing thirty fissures."
Ever since then Williams has been exulting in her rôle as the helpless victim of an unprovoked attack by a homeless cat when in fact it was she who was the instigator. Contrary to her outlandish claims of being seriously injured, all she received in return was a slight infection that easily was treated with antibiotics.
As for the victim, it soon thereafter was trapped, declared to be diseased, and promptly liquidated. Predictably, the cat-hating buffoons who call the shots in the land down under have not disclosed what diagnostic tests, if any, were conducted and what disease the cat may have been carrying in its system.
More than likely it simply was killed because it had bitten Williams. Cats can carry all sorts of bacteria in their mouths and underneath their claws that in turn can cause mild infections in humans but that certainly does not mean that they are diseased and therefore must be killed.
"I feel sorry for it, but I had to stop my cat from getting hurt," Williams explained to the Mandurah Coastal Times. Her crocodile tears make it all the more the pity that the cat did not claw out her eyeballs.
|Patti Talbot and Paul Taylor|
It also is conceivable that this dispute could have been settled without the loss of a life if only she had not been so cheap. Since was was unwilling to pony up the A$30 a day that it would have cost her in order to have rented a trap, she simply should have purchased one instead.
A far better alternative would have been to let the cats work things out themselves. That usually is the best alternative, unless blood is being spilled and there is absolutely nothing in press reports to even remotely suggest that was the case.
Since the sexes of the cats have not been disclosed it is difficult to say with any degree of certainty what may have triggered this long-running confrontation. If they were of opposing sexes, it is a good bet that the great god Eros was to blame.
A tom can smell a female in estrus for miles and although their wooing, foreplay, and frolicking can sound at times like all Hell has broken loose it is harmless. "No matter how much the cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens," Abraham Lincoln once observed.
If unwanted kittens are a source of concern, sterilization is the best preventative but that costs a pretty penny. If, on the other hand, the conflict was territorial in nature, Williams either could have confined Tigger inside for a while until the tom lost interest in her or erected cat fencing around her yard.
"Cats do not understand backyard boundaries," Michael Gibbs of Pinjarra Veterinary Hospital told the Mandurah Coastal Times in the article cited supra. He therefore counsels individuals not to interfere in territorial disputes between cats. That is sound advice although he would be guilty of grotesque hypocrisy if it indeed was his surgery that murdered the cat.
Williams now has compounded her initial mistake of taking matters into her own hands by blaming the authorities as well. "If there were dogs lurking around people would act on it; if it was a dog attack things would be different," she groused to the Mandurah Coastal Times.
The obvious problem with such thinking is that a cat is not a dog. Vicious dogs sometimes kill individuals but, as far as it is known, no one ever has died from either a cat scratch or a bite. Besides, people are supposed to have more intelligence than to grab a strange cat with their hands and the law cannot be expected to protect idiots from their delusions and rashness.
"But no one was interested," she whined. "I felt I had no alternatives and I should not have had to suffer the consequences."
Still wallowing in denial, she is unwilling to admit that she unjustly killed that cat just the same as if she had taken a gun and shot it in the head. Her injured arm has healed by now and she will continue on with her miserable life but for her totally innocent victim there will not be any tomorrows.
In light of the Australians' poisoning campaigns, mass exterminations, and trafficking in both feline flesh and fur, concerted international action is desperately needed in order to protect all of their resident felines from both the authorities and individuals like Williams. (See Cat Defender posts of August 11, 2005, September 21, 2006, September 7, 2007, and July 14, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Barbaric Australians Come Up with an Ingenious New Poison in Order to Exterminate Cats," "Aussies' Mass Extermination of Cats Opens the Door for Mice and Rabbits to Wreak Havoc on Macquarie," "Australians Renounce Civilization and Revert to Savages with the Introduction of a Grotesque Plan to Get Rid of Cats by Eating Them," and "Australian Park Ranger and a Seamstress Team Up to Go into Business as Cat-Killers and Fur Traffickers.")
The same applies to the millions of animals that the imperialists have imported, exploited, and abandoned over the years and now are targeting for extermination. Their hit list includes, inter alia, half a million camels, three-hundred-thousand horses, five million donkeys, twenty-three million pigs, plus scores of cane toads, red foxes, goats, and rabbits. (See Agence France Presse, September 25, 2005, "Millions of Animals Face Death Sentence in Australia.")
An almost identical confrontation occurred January 27th in the tiny village of Kennington in Oxfordshire when seamstress and part-time nanny Patti Talbot claims to have been bitten on her right thigh by an unidentified tom. She was treated with antibiotics at John Radcliffe Hospital in nearby Oxford and sent home but was forced to return the following week for a three-night stay because the wound became infected.
Just as was the case in South Yunderup, the attraction seems to have been two cats, Max and Eevee, owned by her common law husband, Paul Taylor. Once again, the slaphappy media fails to disclose whether this case involved either eros or territory.
Like Williams, she got what she deserved when she elected to blast the tom with a water pistol and to chase it off of her property. Since she is willing to admit that much, there is no telling what other abuse she may have directed at the cat.
"I went to the door to shoo it away, but it just stood there. Then I went up the steps, but it still would not go," she swore to the Oxford Mail on March 14th. (See "Woman Claims She Is Being Terrorized by Feral (sic) Cat.") "The next thing I knew it lunged at me and grabbed hold of my leg. The wound was so deep it bled for twenty-four hours."
If she is being truthful and that is all that she did, the tom, quite justifiably, interpreted her actions to be another personal attack upon him. Although she never will admit it, it is conceivable that she may have attacked him again with water and possibly other objects just before he bit her.
Now, like Williams, she is acting out the part of being the totally innocent victim as well as begging for help and the public's sympathy. "I don't want to go outside at all, and when I come home at night I'm absolutely petrified in case it is hanging around my car," she told the Oxford Mail with a straight face. "I see it at least once a day. It arches its back, makes a growling noise and looks ready to attack. I have shot it with a water pistol but it just stands there as if to say 'put that down, I am going to get you'."
She quite obviously is either an outrageous liar or a nut case. For a grown woman to be so afraid of a cat that she dreads to even go outside is such an irrational response that it borders upon a severe mental disorder.
Anyone that disturbed would be well advised to put away her squirt gun and instead to bring the cat a peace offering in the form of a bowl of treats. Contrary to the nonsense that Talbot is espousing, cats are not vindictive animals who hold grudges; they will, however, sometimes defend themselves when attacked.
Cats like cats and by visiting Max and Eevee the tom is not in his own mind doing anything wrong. Just as Talbot would not appreciate a cat telling her what humans she could associate with, the tom obviously does not like being told that he cannot visit Taylor's cats.
A little bit of understanding goes a long way in preventing these types of disputes from getting out of hand. Like Williams, Talbot has at her disposal the options necessary in order to resolve this misunderstanding in a manner whereby nobody gets hurt.
That does not appear to be the solution that she favors in that she already has had Taylor contact the RSPCA, the police, and the Vale of White Horse District Council. Possessed of such pigheaded, uninformed, and inhumane attitudes concerning strange cats, a thoughtful person cannot help but cringe at the thought of how individuals like Talbot, Taylor, and Williams treat their own companions.
Whereas the allegations made by Williams and Talbot present one set of difficulties, individuals who claim to have been assaulted by cats that they brought home from adoption agencies present another set of problems that, additionally, have opened up the floodgates for ambulance chasers. Take, for instance, the case of twenty-eight-year-old Karen Costa of Astoria who on May 10, 2010 filed a lawsuit in Queens Supreme Court against Petco and KittyKind of Union Square in Manhattan.
In her suit, she claims that on May 30, 2007 a cat named Harry that she had adopted from the duo bit her on her right bird finger necessitating that she spend three nights in the hospital. She further claims that the attack left her unable to work for six months and that to this day she is unable to ride a bicycle and to jet ski.
According to her, Harry actually was a feral cat who hid underneath her bed for weeks before finally emerging to attack her. Right off the bat that explanation does not hold water because Harry surely must have left his hideaway periodically in order to eat and to use the litter box.
Much more importantly, there must have been something in the way that Costa and her then unidentified common law husband treated Harry that forced him into hiding for such an extended period of time. Besides, all adoption agencies allow individuals to get acquainted with cats before taking them home and if Harry had been a feral that surely would have been noticeable at that time.
|The Old East Village Landmark Is Still Going Strong Today|
It also is odd that she waited three years before filing her lawsuit. Also, since she works in marketing, it strains credulity that she was unable to work for six months.
Neither Petco nor KittyKind have officially commented on Costa's suit but an unidentified female volunteer at the latter termed the case "ridiculous." (See the New York Daily News, May 11, 2010, "Queens Woman Karen Costa Sues Petco after Cat with Lion-Sized Temper Takes Bite Out of Her Finger.")
One possible explanation could be that Costa is attempting to exploit the damage done to KittyKind's reputation after its former director, Marlene Kess, was arrested for hoarding back in 2005. (See Cat Defender posts of May 26, 2005 and March 29, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Cat Hoarder Masquerading as Cat Savior Kills More Than Two-Hundred Cats" and "Famed Manhattan Cat Hoarder Marlene Kess Gets Off with a Fine and Community Service.")
For the Love of Animals in Elmsford, Westchester County in upstate New York, is in an almost identical predicament to that of Petco and KittyKind after seventy-one-year-old retired waitress Barbara Pinchbeck of Mahopac in Putnam County to the north filed a $2 million lawsuit against it last November.
The case centers around a black cat named Wheezer that Pinchbeck adopted from the shelter in April of last year. On his first night in his new home, Pinchbeck alleges that Wheezer out of the blue bit two of her fingers that in turn resulted in her being forced to spend a week in the hospital to the tune of several thousand dollars.
"It was snarling, hissing and baring its fangs," she told the New York Daily News on November 21, 2010. (See "Woman Sues Shelter for $2 Million after She Says 'Crazed' Hellcat Attacks Her.") "It leaped six feet in the air and landed on my hand. It bit through my two fingers."
It is impossible to know exactly what transpired without having been there, but based upon Pinchbeck's own version of events it would appear that the cat was frightened of her and bit her either out of fear or by accident. Pinchbeck, however, insists that the cat simply went berserk.
"I've never seen a cat like that in my whole life," she swore to the Daily News. "That cat was crazed."
Pinchbeck's case is strengthened by the fact that when she telephoned fifty-four-year-old Jamie Turell of the shelter to come and collect Wheezer she was too afraid to even show up. "She needed her friend to get the cat," Pinchbeck told the Daily News. "She was afraid of her own cat."
Considering how strongly she feels about For the Love of Animals it is indeed puzzling that Pinchbeck turned right around and adopted another cat from it. As for Wheezer, he reportedly has been placed in another home but both Turell and Pinchbeck are feigning ignorance of his whereabouts which in turn casts considerable doubt on his well-being.
Turell's attorney, Thomas Gorton, is not having any of the Pinchbeck's palaver. "It was a nice pussycat," he told the Daily News in the November 21, 2010 article cited supra. "The plaintiff is the only one who's talking because the cat's not saying a word."
Therein lies the rub, as Shakespeare would say, in all of these cases of alleged, unprovoked cat attacks. It therefore is just too bad that Wheezer cannot speak up for himself like Saki's Tobermory.
Cats, as opposed to humans, are known for their easy-going, balanced personalities and Pinchbeck's claims are at odds with that assessment. Although theoretically possible, it would be simply astounding if Wheezer did indeed have a Jekyll and Hyde personality.
On a much more mundane level, individuals who choose to share their lives with cats would do well to bear in mind Miguel de Cervantes's admonition that "those who play with cats must expect to be scratched."
In November of last year, fifty-four-year-old Cheryl Sibley of Hasbrouck Heights in New Jersey filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court alleging that she was mauled by the bar's resident feline, Minnie II, in October of 2009. She has not specified the extent of her injuries, only that they necessitated her having to go to the hospital for treatment.
The court challenge has come as a total shock to the bar's longtime owner, Matthew Maher. "I have no recollection of any attack," he told the New York Post on December 5, 2010. (See "Is This the Face of a Killer?") "If I would have known, I would have been the first to call her and say 'Are you okay? Can I do anything for you'?"
Sibley's lawsuit is the latest in a series of tragic events that have befallen McSorley's cats during the past two years. Their string of bad luck began in the summer of 2009 when Minnie I died of an undisclosed cause.
A few months later her companion, Stinky, died of, reportedly, a broken heart. To top it all off, the city's Health Department fined McSorley's $1,000 in August of 2009 for allowing Minnie to walk on the bar.
Since then Minnie has been cruelly confined to the non-public areas of the establishment during business hours which in itself casts considerable doubt on Sibley's suit. That petit fait has prompted Maher to speculate that Sibley must have been in the bar after-hours if the confrontation did in fact take place.
Unlike so many businessmen who sour on the species once the going gets tough, Maher has proven himself to be a true, uncompromising, stubborn-as-a-mule Irishman by his decision to stick by his feline friends. "There have always been cats at McSorley's, and there always will," he declared to the Daily Mail on December 6, 2010. (See "Cat Suit: Woman Sues Historic New York Bar after Claim of 'Vicious Attack' by House Cat.")
The veracity of that claim is attested to by John French Sloan's world famous 1929 painting entitled "McSorley's Cats."
As commendable as all of that may be, things never will be quite the same at the neighborhood drinking emporium as they were when its resident felines were free to rub whiskers with such notable barflies as Babe Ruth, Harry Houdini, and Woody Guthrie. To this very day the legend persists that whenever there is a cat asleep in the window the spirit of the great escape artist is loose in the house.
In 2006, a longhaired, black and white polydactyl named Lewis from Fairfield, Connecticut, got into trouble with the authorities after he became involved in a series of scrapes with women. Although it later was shown that he had been the victim, that did not prevent the presiding judge from placing him under house arrest for the remainder of his days on this earth.
Specifically, bird advocates doused him water and threw eggs at him. Other cat-haters stepped on his tail, closed car doors on him, and one neighbor even went so far as to illegally trap and take him to a shelter. (See Cat Defender posts of April 3, 2006 and June 26, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Free Lewis Now! Connecticut Tomcat, Victimized by a Bum Rap, Is Placed Under House Arrest" and "Lewis the Cat Cheats the Hangman but Is Placed Under House Arrest for the Remainder of His Life.")
A similarly unjust fate was visited upon a thirteen-year-old black cat named Bingo from Luzern in 2009 after he, too, was placed under house arrest for biting a woman who had intervened in a squabble between him and her cat. (See Cat Defender post of October 17, 2009 entitled "Bingo Is Placed Under House Arrest for Defending Himself Against a Neighbor Who Foolishly Intervened in a Cat Fight.")
In addition to standoffs with other cats, disputes with dogs and their owners often land felines in trouble. For instance, nineteen-year-old Hoppy was placed under a death threat by Minneapolis Animal Care and Control in 2009 because he dared to defend himself against dogs. (See Cat Defender post of October 18, 2009 entitled "Minneapolis Is Working Overtime Trying to Kill an Octogenarian's Cat Named Hoppy for Defending His Turf Against Canine Intruders.")
|McSorley's and Its Cats as They Appeared to John French Sloan in 1929|
Attacks perpetrated against homeless cats by dogs and their owners are far more numerous but seldom reported. Some dog owners even consider it to be great fun to sic their charges on cats.
For example, John Randall of Pitsea in Essex not only allowed his Jack Russell Terrier, Scrappy, to attack a colony of homeless cats but he gladly joined in the fun by giving them a few good whacks with his cane. (See Cat Defender post of October 23, 2009 entitled "Essex Welfare Bum Who Sicced His Dog on Cats and Beat Them with His Cane Is Now Pretending to Be the Victim of an Assault.")
In just about all of these cases the alleged victims either have admitted or were observed attacking cats. Like any other creature, cats have a right to defend themselves and those who attack them have no one to blame for their injuries except themselves.
After all, "a baited cat may grown as fierce as a lion," Samuel Palmer wrote in his 1710 tome entitled Moral Essays on Some of the Most Curious and Significant English, Scotch, and Foreign Proverbs.
None of that rules out the possibility that some cats, especially intact toms not accustomed to being around strangers, can exhibit aggression if either sex or violations of their turfs are involved. For example, a twelve-year-old, twenty-one-pound tom named Blackie from Ramsgate in Kent has been accused over the years of attacking letter carriers, paper boys, construction workers, fastfood delivery personnel, and even a bobby. (See Cat Defender post of March 8, 2007 entitled "Blackie the Cat Has Postmen, Bobbies, and Deliverymen Looking over Their Shoulders in Ramsgate, Kent.")
Given that cats are diminutive, non-aggressive, peace-loving animals, the burden of proof should rest with those individuals who claim the opposite. That is especially the case not only because they are unable to speak for themselves but owing to the fact that the consequences of their being adjudicated guilty are often either the gallows or incarceration.
Photos: Mandurah Coastal Times (Tigger and Williams), Oxford Mail (Talbot and Taylor), New York Daily News (Costa, Pinchbeck, and Wheezer), Daily Mail via Flickr (McSorley's facade and Minnie II), New York Post (Sibley and Maher), and Susan Danly Walther, The Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery in San Marino, California ("McSorley's Cats.")