Pregnant, Abandoned, and Then Deliberately Almost Killed by a Hit-and-Run Driver, Sugar Crawls Back to Her Subterranean Abode in Order to Feed Her Kittens
"Damned things. One shouldn't brake, one shouldn't give way to one's reflexes like that. Suppose there'd been someone behind me? It was only a cat."
-- Ruth Rendell, The Veiled One.
Sugar has been forced to learn the hard way just how cruel and murderous some individuals treat members of her species. Although her tuition indeed has been steep, she is one of only a handful of lucky felines to have lived through the terrible abuse meted out to them.
Her woes first began when her unidentified owner left her behind in the basement of a house believed to be located somewhere in Essex County, New Jersey, before hightailing it out of her life. As best it could be determined, the monster did not even have the decency to leave her any food and water.
On top of all of that she was pregnant. Four kittens arrived shortly thereafter and in order to continue to provide milk for them she had to eat and drink herself.
That necessitated that she venture out into the perilous streets of New Jersey where running down cats and other animals for fun rivals no-show and do-nothing public jobs as the principal occupations of the hoi polloi. Not surprisingly, it did not take long for a hit-and-run motorist to deliberately run her down.
Left with two broken legs and a fractured hip, she somehow summoned enough strength in order to crawl back home and to continue nursing her kittens. (See The Star Ledger of Newark, April 2, 2012, "Paw Prints: Kittens, Heroic Mom in Need of Homes.")
It is not known how long Sugar was forced to languish in her subterranean home but her plight eventually was discovered and she was brought to the Homeless Animal Rescue Team's (HART) shelter in Westfield where she underwent two expensive operations in order to repair her legs and hip. If it is true that every dark cloud has a silver lining, then the good news is that she is expected to make a full recovery.
Also at the shelter is her ten-week-old son, Elijah, and three of his siblings. Both mother and kittens have tested negative for both FIV and FeLV and are available for adoption.
Sugar's heroics and dedication to her family recalls to mind the valor exhibited by a two-year-old black and white female named Scarlett in the spring of 1996 when she made five trips into a burning garage in Brooklyn in order to rescue her quintuplet of four-week-old kittens. Her heroism made her world famous but she was forced to pay an exorbitant price for her notoriety.
Specifically, she lost both of her eyelids and the tips of her ears. Her paws were singed by the inferno and patches of her fur never did grow back.
From that day forward her eyes had to be medicated several times a day in order to keep them moist. She also no doubt was forced to live with a certain amount of pain.
In later years she was afflicted with lymphoma, kidney trouble, a heart murmur, dental woes, and a thyroid condition. Finally on October 11, 2008, she was killed off by her owner, Karen Wellen of Long Island, who had adopted her in 1996. (See Cat Defender posts of September 15, 2005 and October 27, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Scarlett, the Cat Who Saved Her Kittens from a Burning Building in 1996, Is Still Alive on Long Island" and "Loved and Admired All Over the World, Feline Heroine Scarlett Is Killed Off by Her Owner after She Becomes Ill.")
Although one of her kittens died of smoke inhalation shortly after being rescued, Oreo, Cinders, Samsara, and Tanuki were, at last word, still alive and living on Long Island. Perhaps therein lies Scarlett's most lasting legacy although even that likely will come to bitter end with their deaths.
That is precisely what is most unfair about shelters sterilizing all cats because there are incalculable benefits to be derived from continuing the bloodline of a beloved cat. Not only is it possible to see resemblances and personality traits of departed loved ones in their offspring but such a policy completely eliminates the need for cloning. (See Cat Defender posts of October 16, 2006 and January 5, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Unable to Turn a Profit, California Cat-Cloning Company Goes Out of Business" and "World's First Cloned Cat, CC, Finally Gives Birth to Three Healthy Kittens at Age Five.")
In June of 2008, an heroic cat named Phoenix suffered severe burns to her paws while rescuing her kitten, Blaze, from the Humboldt Fire which damaged seventeen houses in Paradise, California, and forced the evacuation of ninety-five-hundred residents. Later, she graciously consented to nurse six additional kittens who had been orphaned by the wildfire. (See Cat Defender post of July 3, 2008 entitled "Phoenix Is Severely Burned but Still Manages to Save One of Her Kittens from the Humboldt Fire.")
The extraordinary heroics of mother cats are by no means limited to protecting their offspring from starvation and conflagrations. For instance, at a recycling plant in Düsen, outside Dortmund in Nordrhein Westfalen, a sick and severely emaciated cat known only as Katzen-Mama was forced in 2009 to fend off a rapacious fox in order to save the lives of her four, eight-week-old kittens.
As was the case with Sugar, Scarlett, and Phoenix, the rescue did not come cheap in that the fox inflicted several severe bite wounds to Katzen-Mama's side and head and as a consequence she likely would have died from an infection if her caregiver had not summoned Arche 90 in Dortmund which in turn brought her to veterinarian Malinda Wächter to be treated. "Eine Mutter mit einem Löwenherz," is how the rescue group's Gabi Bayer later characterized Katzen-Mama. (See Cat Defender post of June 26, 2009 entitled "Emaciated and Suffering from the Flu, Katzen-Mama Fights Off a Vicious Fox in Order to Save Her Four Kittens.")
The most famous feline heroine in recent memory is, arguably, a fictional one named Clara who was featured in a classic episode of Escape entitled "A Shipment of Mute Fate" which aired on radio at least four times between the late 1940's and 1960. Written originally by Martin Storm for Esquire, it is the story of a zoologist named Chris Warner who smuggles a South American Bushmaster (Lachesis muta) aboard a passenger ship bound from Caracas to New York City.
Predictably, the deadly reptile escapes and eventually corners Warner. Just when he thinks that he has met his Waterloo, Clara emerges and claws out the snake's eyes in order to save her trio of newborn kittens.
In a chain of events similar to those that befell Sugar, the ship's chief steward, Bowman, originally had ordered Clara's guardian, a stewardess named Mrs. Willis, to abandon the pregnant cat in Venezuela. She instead wisely and humanely defied authority and smuggled Clara aboard and in doing so saved not only her companion's life and her three kittens but Warner's as well.
The lesson to be derived from the trials and tribulations of both Sugar and Clara is that feline life always should be respected. (Escape's March 13, 1949 adaptation of "A Shipment of Mute Fate" along with Suspense's January 6, 1957 version can be found at various locations on the web.)
Because they are such exceptional animals, cats often are adored every bit as much by fans of the species as they in turn love their young. For example, retired college tutor Jeanne Ambler of the Tampa suburb of Temple Terrace was willing to risk being evicted from her apartment in order to care for a group of homeless cats. (See Cat Defender post of August 2, 2010 entitled "Old, Poor, and Sickly, Jeanne Ambler Is Facing Eviction for Feeding a Trio of Hungry Cats.")
Retired English teacher Janice L. Rolfe of Grandview Heights, Ohio, actually was arrested in late 2006 for feeding a homeless cat. (See Cat Defender post of February 26, 2007 entitled "Charged with Feeding a Feral Cat Named Fluffy, Retired Ohio English Teacher Beats the Rap.")
Even more outrageously, John Beck of Cornell University was fired from his job as a dairyman for showing compassion for homeless cats. (See Cat Defender post of June 14, 2006 entitled "Kindhearted Dairyman, Sacked for Feeding Feral Cats, Files $20 Million Lawsuit Against Cornell University.")
Others even are willing to put their lives on the line in order to save cats. For instance, when she witnessed a pair of women tossing kittens out the window of their car on the busy East-West Connector in Cobb County, Georgia, back in 2009, twenty-eight-year-old Rachel Honeycutt did not think twice about stopping and mounting a rescue. Mowed down by a hit-and-run motorist, her valor came within a hairbreadth of killing her. (See Cat Defender post of August 10, 2009 entitled "Georgia Woman Is Struck and Nearly Killed by a Motorist while Attempting to Rescue Kittens Dumped in the Middle of a Busy
In rare cases, either the disappearance or death of a beloved cat is sufficient in order to push an individual over the edge. That, sadly, is what happened to Alan Jordan of Treadworth in Gloucester in March of last year. (See Cat Defender post of January 2, 2012 entitled "With No Reason Left to Go on Living, Treadworth Resident Takes His Own Life after His Beloved Cat Disappears.")
In the case of Sugar and the countless other cats that are either killed or maimed by hit-and-run drivers every day, there is not a scintilla of doubt that all of these attacks are deliberate. The toll that these villains take on wildlife, especially birds, raccoons, opossums, deer, turtles, bobcats, and cougars, is far greater but rarely is a word of protest ever uttered by wildlife biologists.
"Damned things," police inspector Mike Burden cursed after instinctively braking in order to narrowly miss running down a cat in Ruth Rendell's 1988 novel, The Veiled One. "One shouldn't brake, one shouldn't give way to one's reflexes like that. Suppose there'd been someone behind me? It was only a cat."
After she had abducted Darryl and Stephanie Andrews-Mann's cat, Lola, and stuffed her into a trash can back in 2010, Mary Bale of Coventry invoked the same defense. Shortly thereafter, Michele Hanson issued a fitting rejoinder to her, Rendell, and all others who think and behave as they do.
"Nothing will happen, while too many people feel like Mary Bale," she wrote in The Guardian on August 28, 2010. (See "Cat Litter Episode Shows How Our Pets Are Both Protected and Persecuted.") "'It's only a cat,' said she. It's the 'only' that's the problem: they're only animals, and we're the only species that matters. But we're not."
The horrific toll that motorists take on cats like Sugar, wildlife, pedestrians, and bicyclists obscures the undeniable reality that the automobile is an invention whose time has come and gone. Once the wholesale carnage wreaked upon the nations and animals of this world as the result of America's imperialist wars for petrol, the destruction done to Mother Earth from oil drilling and natural gas exploration, the contribution made to global warming as the result of auto emissions, and the adverse health effects associated with the burning of fossil fuels are taken into consideration it becomes clear that the automobile is an extravagance that the world can no longer afford.
|Katzen-Mama and Malinda Wächter|
To top it all off, motorists steadfastly refuse to obey the rules of the road and to stay off the booze, drugs, and telephone when behind the wheel. Considering the catastrophic damage that they inflict upon the environment, animals, and public health, they should be willing, at the very least, to operate their vehicles in a safe manner.
Compounding matters further, the police purposefully allow anarchy to prevail on the roads. The only times that they even bother to put in an appearance is in the aftermath of an accident and then it is only in order to collect an assist in much the same fashion as hockey and basketball players do whenever a goal is scored.
In turn, they use these so-called assists in order to lobby their compliant supervisors for promotions and salary increases. Consequently, safeguarding animal and human lives counts for absolutely nothing as far as they are concerned.
The entire shebang from the oil and natural gas extraction companies, automobile manufacturers, and the builders and maintainers of public roads, bridges, and tunnels on the one hand to the irresponsible behavior of the motoring public on the other hand is a racket that is endangering all life on this planet. There simply are better ways of moving people from one place to another.
Finally, anyone interested in giving courageous and long-suffering Sugar and her kittens a permanent home can do so by contacting HART by telephone at (908) 337-0477. The shelter also can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Although HART charges a minimum of $80 for each cat, it would be wonderful if this family could be kept together.
Photos: HART (Sugar, Elijah), North Shore Animal League (Scarlett), Susan Doyle (Phoenix), and Stephan Schütze of Bild (Katzen-Mama).