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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Family in Wiltshire Turns to Social Media and Leaflets in Order to Shame a Veterinary Chain and a Foster Parent into Returning Tazzy

"We acted in the best interests of the cat and always put its welfare as a priority. We provided all the necessary treatment and, after a reasonable time, with no owner coming forward, we arranged to rehome the cat."
-- Alasdair Moore of Bath Veterinary Group

Of all the myriad of ways in which to lose custody of a beloved cat, to have him confiscated by a veterinary chain and given to a third party has to be one of the most outrageous. Nevertheless, that is precisely what recently happened to Richard Smith and his nineteen-year-old son, Rowan, of Primrose Drive in Melksham, nineteen kilometers south of Bath in Wiltshire.

On March 24th, their seventeen-year-old oriental-spotted cat, Tazzy, mysteriously disappeared only to later turn up unbeknownst to them injured, unconscious, and shivering at Clackers Brook, a scant one-hundred-fifty yards from home. His unidentified rescuer took him to Chapel Surgery on Forest Road in Melksham which in turn fobbed him off onto its parent company, Bath Veterinary Group (BVG), which operates several surgeries in and around Bath.

It has not been disclosed either what was ailing Tazzy or how he came to wind up at Clackers Brook. All that is known for certain is that as soon as he recovered he was placed in foster care with Joe Fenton of Ashley Avenue in Bath.

While all of that was occurring the Smiths were working the telephones and combing their neighborhood in an effort to locate him. Their efforts eventually bore fruit but it is unclear just how long it took them to locate Tazzy and that is a crucial point in this inquiry.

According to the elder Smith, once he contacted BVG it readily acknowledged treating Tazzy and promised that he would be returned to him and his son before the end of the day. In the interim, however, Fenton telephoned Rowan and nixed the deal.

"He accused us of abusing the cat," the elder Smith told the Wiltshire Times on April 28th. (See "Missing Tazzy Given to Foster Carer after Being Discovered Unconscious and Shivering.") "Basically, he said we're not getting the cat back."

When Smith reported this outrage to BVG he was shocked to learn that the surgeons had done an abrupt about-face and now were solidly in Fenton's corner. "What I didn't like was that the vets seemed to want to wash their hands of it very, very quickly and that aggravated the situation," he added.

For its part, BVG blames the Smiths for failing to demonstrate a timely interest in reclaiming Tazzy. "We acted in the best interests of the cat and always put its welfare as a priority," the organization's Alasdair Moore wrote to them in a letter. "We provided all the necessary treatment and, after a reasonable time, with no owner coming forward, we arranged to rehome the cat."

Moore's blanket exoneration of his surgery raises more questions than it answers. First of all, when did Tazzy arrive at BVG and, more importantly, when did the Smiths contact the surgery?

Rowan and Richard Smith Searching for Tazzy

In that respect, it is imperative that "a reasonable time" be defined in concrete terms. Since most shelters around the world are legally bound to hold all impounded animals for three days or longer before either killing or adopting them out, surgeons should be held to comparable legal constraints. Under no circumstances should they be allowed to dispose of any animal, domesticated, homeless, injured, sickly, or otherwise, as they see fit.

There also is a huge difference between placing a cat in foster care and rehoming it. Although foster parents sometimes take a liking to a particular cat and therefore would like to hold on to it, that is not always a valid legal argument.

In spite of the unassailable fact the Smiths never at any time relinquished their ownership of Tazzy, BVG continued to obdurately maintain that it was justified in giving him to Fenton. "Vets are not in a position to decide on a matter of ownership," Moore had the insolence to lecture the Smiths in the letter cited supra. "We therefore cannot offer any more help in resolving the situation and suggest you seek your own legal advice."

As it was to be expected, Fenton was in full agreement with BVG. "If Mr. Smith believes there has been any wrongdoing, he should report it to the police and go down the proper sources," he threw down the gauntlet in the Wilthire Times' article cited supra.

For whatever reason, cost most likely, the Smiths declined that option and instead brought the matter to the attention of the RSPCA. Although it has not been publicly disclosed how that organization responded, it is doubtful that it provided any worthwhile assistance, especially considering the extraordinary lengths that it is prepared to go in order to not only steal but to kill cats with impunity. (See Cat Defender posts of June 5, 2007 and October 23, 2010 entitled, respectively, "RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated" and "RSPCA Steals and Executes Nightshift Who Was His Elderly Caretaker's Last Surviving Link to Her Dead Husband.")

They next turned to Facebook and Twitter in order to expose and denounce both BVG and Fenton. That was followed up by extensive fly-posting in Bath.

The pen apparently is indeed mightier than both the sword and the pocketbook because on May 12th Fenton wilted under the Smiths' public relations barrage and threw in the towel by returning Tazzy to BVG. Stung by all the bad publicity and not about to feed and shelter Tazzy without recompense, BVG shortly thereafter returned him to his rightful owners.

"I'm so pleased he's back with us," Smith told the Wiltshire Times on May 13th. (See "Tazzy Cat Home at Last.") "We're much happier."

He and BVG also appear to have buried the hatchet. "We'd like to thank everyone involved, particularly the person who found Tazzy and the vets for their help on the positive side of things," he added.

Tazzy Is Reunited with Rowan Smith and, Presumably, His Brother

As for Tazzy, he reportedly is doing well and has settled back into his old routine. Nevertheless, being injured, rescued, and shuttled back and forth between BVG and Fenton was quite an ordeal for a senior cat to endure.

It has not been disclosed who picked up Tazzy's not inconsiderable veterinary tab but it is assumed that the Smiths and BVG reached some sort of amicable compromise.

BVG's callous and totally irresponsible behavior should not come as any surprise to anyone even remotely familiar with the total lack of scruples displayed by the majority of practicing veterinarians. Chiefly among these is the profession's steadfast refusal in most circumstances to minister to homeless animals and the companions of the impecunious. (See Cat Defender post of July 16, 2010 entitled "Tossed Out the Window of a Car Like an Empty Beer Can, Injured Chattanooga Kitten Is Left to Die after at Least Two Veterinarians Refused to Treat It.")

To put the matter in its proper perspective, if MDs were allowed to do likewise the streets would be overflowing with the corpses of both poor children and adults. It thus seems clear from their callous behavior that most veterinarians have little or no respect for the sanctity of all animal life.

That point is buttressed by the eagerness of small animal veterinarians to serve as the hired guns of shelters, rescue groups, and pet owners unwilling to care for elderly and sick animals. (See Cat Defender posts of December 22, 2011 and May 12, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Rogue TNR Practitioner and Three Unscrupulous Veterinarians Kill at Least Sixty-Two Cats with the Complicity of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals" and "Too Cheap and Lazy to Care for Him During His Final Days, Betty Currie Has Socks Killed Off and His Corpse Burned.")

In that regard, it actually is highly commendable that BVG chose to treat and rehome Tazzy, presumably, free of charge. If he instead had wound up at Blythman Partners in the Gosforth section of Newcastle-upon-Tyne the outcome likely would have been altogether different.

For example, on October 13th of last year, Beverley Hume allowed her twenty-five-year-old cat, Ginger, out into her garden to play where he shortly thereafter was abducted by an unidentified local resident who delivered him to the Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter on Benton Road. The shelter then gave him to Blythman which promptly snuffed out his life because he allegedly was thin and in pain as well as being old.

"Ginger was put down without consent, without giving us a chance to find him," a brokenhearted Hume later lamented. "We should have been given at least twenty-four hours to find him. We believe our rights have been taken away by the vets."

Instead, Ginger was dead a scant three hours after Hume last saw him. (See Cat Defender post of January 11, 2012 entitled "A Deadly Intrigue Concocted by a Thief, a Shelter, and a Veterinary Chain Costs Ginger the Continued Enjoyment of His Golden Years.")

The profession's disdain for life is so pervasive that it even is enshrined in the policies of certain veterinary organizations. For instance, the thoroughly unprincipled American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is so bloodthirsty and vile that it is on record as stating that homeless cats do not have any right to exist. Its totally immoral position is made all the more hypocritical because its members have it within their power to solve the feline overpopulation problem almost overnight by simply reducing the exorbitant sterilization fees that they demand.

Incompetence and malpractice are rampant within the profession and tolerated only because pet owners and others are too cheap and uncaring themselves in order to hold these charlatans accountable in a court of law. Some veterinarians are so incompetent that they even botch routine sterilizations and allow cats to escape through open windows. (See Cat Defender post of July 2, 2010 entitled "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.")

The profession likewise does not have any qualms about implanting cancer-causing microchips in cats and dogs and in that regard BVG even has made a convert out of the elder Smith. "We really want to make people aware that getting your animal chipped is not just a case of finding your pet when they've (sic) run way, but would have stopped the problems we had," he bellowed with all the fervor of an acolyte to the Wiltshire Times in the May 13th article cited supra.

Practitioners also make a mint by administering all sorts of unnecessary vaccinations that sometimes lead to the onset of injection-site sarcomas. Their cozy relationship with pet food purveyors also presents them with a golden opportunity to sicken perfectly healthy animals by fobbing off on their gullible owners unhealthy products. The veterinarians then turn around and cash in a second time once they are called upon to treat the same animals that they deliberately sickened in the first place.

Professional oversight bodies, such as state veterinary boards, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and the Conseil de l'Ordre des vétérinaires, are little more than pompous, highfalutin shills for a thoroughly corrupt and immoral profession. (See Cat Defender posts of June 17, 2010 and January 19, 2012 entitled, respectively, "Veterinarian Gets Away with Almost Killing Felix but Is Nailed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for Not Paying Her Dues" and "Veterinary Watchdog Group Not Only Allows an Incompetent Substitute Practitioner to Get Away with Killing Junior but Scolds His Owner for Complaining.")

The profession also works hand in glove with vivisectors, factory farmers, and slaughterhouses in the commission of crimes that are so gargantuan and diabolical that they even dwarf the practice of genocide. Other practitioners lend their expertise to those individuals and businesses that nakedly exploit racehorses, camels, sled dogs, and Greyhounds for profit. Veterinarians also are guilty of aiding and abetting circuses, zoos, captive-breeding facilities, and the entertainment industry in enslaving and exploiting both exotic and domestic cats.

In the final analysis, there is precious little to be said about the practice of veterinary medicine that is complimentary. While it is true that major advancements have been made of late in the discipline that enable knowledgeable pet owners with deep pockets to sometimes procure expert care for their sick and injured companions, on the whole the profession kills and abuses far more animals than it treats and saves. As such, veterinarians are the archenemies of all those who truly love and care about animals.

BVG's mistakes in judgment aside, the question of what responsible and caring individuals should do with cats that they rescue from the street is a good deal more involved. That is especially the case if they suspect that one of them has been either neglected or abused.

For example, in February of 2010, Tom Neville of San Francisco rescued a pug-nosed Himalayan named Samantha who had matted fur and was covered in fleas in sores. Worst still, she was tied up and left all alone underneath a freeway overpass at a makeshift homeless camp where she was being menaced by dogs.

Giroux and Guay with Letter
He initially had planned on keeping her until he read in a local newspaper that she was the property of a homeless man named Daniel Harlan who exploited her as a live prop in order to augment his panhandling. So, with misgivings, he returned the cat to Harlan. It is not known if she is still alive but Harlan's past record of exploitation and neglect makes that doubtful. Plus, from all indications, he appears to be both a drunkard and a dope addict

He admittedly rakes in $975 from Social Security each month and that alone is more than sufficient for him to put a roof over both his and Samantha's heads. On top of that, he has his take from panhandling and Food Stamps. Soup kitchens abound in the "sewer by the bay" and groups such as Food Not Bombs hand out free victuals in the street every day. Clothing also is free and plentiful.

Neville, quite obviously, did not want to contend with Harlan and his supporters but it is difficult to understand how his decision was in Samantha's best interests. (See Cat Defender post of March 2, 2012 entitled "Homeless Man in Washington State Pauses in Order to Take a Snooze and It Ends Up Costing Him His Beloved Cat, Herman.")

Rightly or wrongly, an unidentified woman in Ottawa chose to do the exact opposite when she rescued a seventeen-year-old longhaired tuxedo without a tail named Slim in 2007. That was in spite of the fact that the cat was wearing a collar with a tag.

Because Slim was hungry and thin, his fur matted and dirty, and his body covered in sores, she concluded that his owners, Michel Giroux and Tanya Guay, were guilty of neglecting him and therefore unfit guardians. Instead of returning him she sent them a defiant, anonymous letter.

"Obviously, I have no intention of returning him to the city streets to be neglected again," she informed them in no uncertain terms. "If you really do care about his well-being, you'll be happy that he now lives a safe, sweet, peaceful, happy life."

Slim's rescuer concluded by stating that he now was living in the country by a lake, eating all-natural cat food, and had a girlfriend. Above all, she declared that he was "incredibly happy and healthy."

To say that Giroux did not appreciate either the woman's thievery or patronizing attitude would be a gross understatement. "Who does this person think she is to decide this cat is neglected?" he fumed. "This person has taken it upon themselves (sic) to think that they have saved a cat when in point of fact, this cat is not neglected and he's loved and we just want him home."

Adopted from a shelter when he was only three-months-old, Slim had been allowed by Giroux and Guay to roam the streets all of his life. He often would stay away from home for two or three days during which time neighbors would feed him. As far as it could be ascertained, his only previous misadventure involved losing his tail.

"This watching the sun set while eating organic cat food -- I don't really think this is his thing," Giroux scoffed. Rather, he fervently believes that Slim would be happiest roaming the streets of Ottawa.

Oliver Gatsby
He and Guay brought the matter to the attention of both the police and the Ottawa Humane Society but as far as it is known they never again saw Slim. (See Cat Defender post of July 9, 2007 entitled "Hungry and Disheveled Cat Named Slim Is Picked Up Off the Streets of Ottawa by Rescuer Who Refuses to Return Him to His Owners.")

The debate over whether cats should be allowed outside is every bit as much of a philosophical one as it is an animal welfare issue. Specifically, whereas some individuals consider it negligent for owners to allow cats outdoors, others feel just as strongly that it is cruel and inhumane to imprison them inside as lifelong couch potatoes. Being a proponent of either policy does not necessarily make an individual an unfit guardian and it certainly does not constitute valid grounds for stealing a cat.

Besides, cats escape from houses and pet carriers all the time and few individuals would dare to declare their owners to be unfit guardians. For instance in September of 2004, a Russian Blue named Oliver disappeared from Chavissa Woods' walk-up apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He was found by an unidentified person who delivered him to KittyKind on Union Square where he subsequently was adopted by a female attorney identified only as Jane Doe who changed his name to Gatsby.

Woods somehow traced Oliver Gatsby to KittyKind and then filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan in an effort to force the charity to reveal Jane Doe's real name and address. By that time the attorney had been caring for him for more than a year and, quite understandably, did not want to relinquish custody.

At first, she contended that Woods was an unfit guardian because she had been out of town when her blind roommate carelessly had allowed Oliver to escape. She ultimately elected to abandon the fight and Oliver eventually was, for better or worse, returned to Woods. (See Cat Defender post of January 3, 2006 entitled "Manhattan Court to Rely Upon 1894 Dog Law to Decide Custody over a Russian Blue Cat Named Oliver Gatsby.")

Kindhearted individuals who care about cats should be encouraged to feed, water, shelter, and medicate those that turn up on their doorsteps. They also should keep an eye out for Lost Cat posters and, if a match is found, normally return the cat to its rightful owner.

If, on the other hand, there is evidence of abuse and neglect, rescuers need to take it upon themselves to surreptitiously investigate the cat's owners in an effort to determine if returning it would be advisable. In most cases, however, insufficient information is available in order to make such a determination.

Consequently, the decision to either keep or return a cat most often boils down to intuition. In that respect, rescuers need to be mindful that there occasionally can be some rather costly legal repercussions involved in seizing someone else's cat.

Be that as it may, under absolutely no circumstances should lost cats be turned over to Animal Control officers, shelters, rescue groups, and veterinarians because none of them can be trusted to respect the sanctity of feline life. Despite the numerous complications involved in rescuing a cat, all moral responsibility, like charity, begins at home and cannot under any circumstances be delegated.

As far as the Smiths are concerned, there simply is not not enough information available in the public record in order to make a proper determination as to their worthiness to be entrusted with Tazzy's life. If however they are banking on an implanted microchip in order to compensate for their lack of attentiveness they are destined to be sadly disappointed because that technology only comes into play whenever a lost cat is delivered alive and breathing to either a shelter or a veterinarian that is willing and skilled enough to look for and properly read them.

Above all, once a cat disappears time is of the essence and an owner must act promptly, decisively, and intelligently. On this particular occasion, the Smiths got away with dilly-dallying around but next time neither they nor Tazzy may be quite so lucky.

Photos: the Wiltshire Times (Tazzy, Smiths with cage and Tazzy), Tanya Guay (Slim), A.D. Wilson of the Ottawa Sun (Giroux and Guay), and Chavissa Woods (Oliver Gatsby).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sophie's Sudden Death Proves to Be Too Much of a Burden for a Bachelor in Poole to Bear So He Elects to Join Her in the Great Void


"He was devastated when she died and phoned me in the middle of the night. He slept with her for three days until he couldn't stand the smell any longer. I tried to persuade him life was more than a cat, but in his case it wasn't."
-- Adriana Van Dijk

Not a great deal is known about the private life of forty-four-year-old bachelor Michael McAleese other than that he lived alone in a flat on Hillcrest Road in the Parkstone section of Poole in Dorset. He was unemployed and his mother had died a few years earlier and those two reversals undoubtedly contributed mightily to his sense of social isolation.

He did love cats, however, and whenever his landlady, Adriana Van Dijk, was away he would take care of her cat, Sophie. He became so attached to her that Van Dijk ultimately decided to give her to him.

"As soon as Michael saw Sophie he seemed to fall in love with her," Van Dijk told the Bournemouth Echo on May 8th. (See "Cat Owner Took His Own Life after Beloved Tabby Sophie Died.") "She had the sweetest nature and they totally clicked. She was like a child to him."

As authoress Suyin Han knew only too well, when it is right love can be A Many Splendored Thing. Like all things in this world, however, it also is fleeting and mortal.

For McAleese, his happiness ended on December 8th when thirteen-year-old Sophie suffered a stroke and died in his arms. Without counterbalancing psychological support systems in order to see him through this tragic loss, his life quickly spiraled out of control.

"He was devastated when she died and phoned me in the middle of the night," Van Dijk confided to the Bournemouth Echo. "He slept with her for three days until he couldn't stand the smell any longer. I tried to persuade him life was more than a cat, but in his case it wasn't."

The first clue that McAleese's life was hanging in the balance came when he confided to an unidentified man that he was planning on committing suicide. Despite that desperate, last-minute appeal for help, there is absolutely nothing in press reports to indicate that the man, who had stopped by in order to collect Sophie's corpse for cremation, even informed the local mental health crisis team.

Additionally, there is not any evidence that either McAleese's sister, Juliet Willmore, or Van Dijk lifted so much as a finger in order to help him get through this excruciatingly painful period in his life. If any of them had cared just a little bit about him, the denouement to this story might very well have been altogether different.

On December 13th, McAleese posted a moving video of Sophie on YouTube that he entitled "This is in her memory. She was such a wonderful little cat. This is a montage tribute to my beloved Sophie cat. I loved her so much and still do."

It is unclear what has become of that video since all that remains of it is a thirty-nine second snippet entitled "Cute Calico, Sophie Cat, Drinking Milk." In its description, McAleese gave a vivid indication of what he was going through when he declared: "I have never felt such pain and heartache."  

Eight days later on December 21st, McAleese was found dead as the result of an overdose of drugs that included Secobarbital. A book on how to commit suicide along with several notes of unspecified content were found beside his lifeless body.

"The flat was very tidy, it looked like everything was prepared for his death," David Tong of the coroner's office for Bournemouth, Poole, and East Dorset told the Bournemouth Echo in the article cited supra. All of that prompted Tong's boss, coroner Sheriff Payne, to conclude that McAleese had taken his own life.

That was in spite of the testimony of pathologist Sherie Haider who told Bournemouth Coroner's Court that toxicology tests performed on McAleese's corpse revealed that the amount of Secobarbital in his system was within the normal prescribed limit. Although it is theoretically possible that he could have accidentally overdosed, there can be little doubt that he was distraught and contemplating ending his life.

With his tragic death, McAleese thus became the second man in England to have killed himself in 2011 after his cat either either had died or mysteriously disappeared. Earlier on March 28th, fifty-eight-year-old Alan Jordan of Daventry Terrace in Treadworth, Gloucester, hanged himself after his cat disappeared.

Although like McAleese he was unemployed and lived alone, the similarities end there. Specifically, Jordan had a personal physician and a crisis intervention team from 2gether Trust at his disposal who were supposed to have been helping him to cope.

"He was severely depressed, a problem which had come to a head three weeks before when he lost his cat," his physician, Jonathan Unwin, told an inquest held shortly after his death in Cheltenham. "I contacted the mental health crisis team, who arranged to see him at home, and started him on antidepressant tablets."

The response from both Unwin and 2gether Trust was woefully inadequate, however, in that Jordan previously had attempted to take his own life on at least three different occasions by overdoing on paracetamol (acetaminophen), hanging himself, and slashing his wrists. His tragic death was rendered all the more senseless when his cat returned home a fortnight later. (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.")

Critics can scoff and dismiss McAleese and Jordan as just two more crazed cat people but to do so overlooks the petit fait that their families, friends, the professionals whose job it was to help them, and society as a whole failed them miserably. Under such dire conditions, it was completely to be expected that they would turn to the only living creatures who cared so much as a jot about them.

Not surprisingly, when their cats either died or disappeared they were left with nothing to hold on to and fell into an abyss of hopelessness from which neither of them was able to recover. In hindsight, it is difficult to see how any other outcome was possible under the circumstances.

The often repeated prejudice that animal lovers are social outcasts and people haters also does not hold up under scrutiny. After all, the same charge could be leveled with even greater currency against shekel chasers, killers (policemen and soldiers in particular), drunks and dope addicts, hedonists, sports fans, scholars, religious adherents, and others.

Once all the lies and pretenses are scraped away there is precious little humanity to be found anywhere. Under such perverted circumstances, the capacity to love cats and other animals is a decided improvement over man's baser pursuits.

The precipitate decline that is occurring in traditional support systems is being hastened along by a world that is changing at mach one speed. Bigotry of every genre, unchecked greed, senseless violence, and mass insanity have become the norms. Even if money is not an object, living in such an uncaring, dog-eat-dog world is anything but a walk in the park.

None of that in any way helps McAleese, Jordan, and all those who are still capable of forming tremendous emotional attachments. Love most assuredly is a gamble but so too is all of existence.

The dangers and the pain are real but when all is said and done it remains arguably the noblest sentiment that any man or animal ever can hope to experience in this crazy world. McAleese's life ended much too soon but at least he had the good fortune to have been loved by Sophie and there can be little doubt that his last mortal thoughts were centered on her.

Souls perhaps more prudent have counseled that lovers should parcel out their affections in much the same fashion that a miser spends his money. That is a totally spurious argument because as Thomas Hardy so eloquently put in his 1876 novel, The Hand of Ethelberta, "a lover without indiscretion is no lover at all."

Photo: Bournemouth Echo.

Friday, June 01, 2012

A Tattoo Unravels Burli's Secret Past but It Is a Radio Broadcast That Ultimately Leads to His Happy Reunion with His Forever Grateful Current Guardian

Burli and Hans S.

"Ein roter Kater? Sehr dünn? Ohne Vorderzähne? Das ist unser Burli!"
-- Hans S.

For a cat who is seventeen-years-old, Burli's last few months certainly have been both eventful and traumatic. His misadventures began sometime in March when he mysteriously disappeared from Hans S.'s residence in Glonn, a spa town in the district of Ebersberg, thirty kilometers southeast of München.

That was all the more puzzling in that he had lived contentedly with the fifty-nine-year-old truck driver and his family for the past sixteen years. "Es ist uns an einem Wochenende vor sechzehn Jahres zugelaufen und nicht mehr weggegangen," Hans S. told the München Abendzeitung on April 7th. (See "Poldi: Das wahre Happy-End des Katers.") "Seitdem ist der Burli bei uns. Der ist ein richtiges Familienmitglied: Meine Mutter mit fünfundachtzig Jahren pflegt ihn genauso, wie es meine Kinder, meine Frau und ich natürlich tun."

Additionally, Hans S. insists that Burli was healthy despite his advanced years and "gefressen wie ein Scheunendrescher." All of that combined to make his loss every bit as upsetting as it was perplexing. "Wir waren alle sehr, sehr traurig," he confessed to the Abendzeitung.

Hans S. and his family searched everywhere that they could think of for him without success before finally being forced to entertain the distressing possibility that Burli had crawled off somewhere in order to die alone. "Das machen Katzen, wenn sie spüren, deas es zuende geht," Hans theorized to the Abendzeitung.

He therefore had no way of knowing that Burli was alive and well and living in the woods of Aying, a municipality in the district of München only fifteen kilometers away and home to the world renown Ayinger Brewery. He was found in a woodpile by Bernhard Schöttl and his nineteen-year-old son, Kilian.

"Wir haben sofort erkannt, dass das Tier schon alt und krank ist," Bernhard told Bild of Berlin on April 5th. (See "Kater Poldi nach sechzehn Jahren zurück zu Frauchen.") "Er hatte ja nicht mal mehr Reißzähne."

Burli with Kilian  Schöttl

The Schöttls fed Burli for a few days before they discovered that he had a tattoo on one of his ears. They then accordingly handed him over to Tierschutzverein München (TSV).

Staffers there received quite a jolt, however, once they deciphered the tattoo. Specifically, they discovered that his real name is Poldi and that he had disappeared from his first home in Unterhaching, another municipality within the district of München, twenty-five kilometers removed from Glonn, sixteen years earlier. Once contacted by TSV, Burli's former mistress was, to say the least, erstaunt.

"Sie war total perplex, hat keine Sekunde überlegt, ob sie Poldi zurücknehmen soll -- das war für sie selbstverständlich," Eveline Kosenbach of TSV told Bild in the article cited supra. "Sie hat ihn damals überall gesucht."

Kosenbach, it might be recalled, was the one who organized a rally through the borough of Moosach on January 8, 2011 after amateur ornithologist Ernst K. had tortured Rocco to death. (See Cat Defender post of January 19, 2011 entitled "Bird Lover in München Illegally Traps Rocco and Then Methodically Tortures Him to Death with Water and Pepper Spray over an Eleven-Day Period.")

Although Burli's former guardian had been thoughtful enough to have him tattooed, that did not prevent his disappearance which she blames on his inability to get along with her other cat.

While all of this was occurring Hans S. was out driving in his car one day when he heard an announcement on the radio that immediately grabbed his attention. "Ein roter Kater? Sehr dünn? Ohne Vorderzähne?" he thought to himself before it suddenly dawned on him what his ears were telling him. "Das ist unser Burli!"

Burli with Eveline Kosenbach

He then drove like hell, which is certainly something that the Germans know how to do well as any tourist who ever has driven on the Autobahn will attest, to TSV where he explained the situation. The staff found his story to be plausible and took him to the quarantine station in order to have a look at the thin, red cat without any front teeth that the Schöttls had earlier surrendered.

Burli was lying on a pillow but when he caught sight of Hans he meowed and extended a paw in greeting. The tears came unbidden to Hans' eyes as he gathered up Burli in his arms. The old cat purred with delight.

In his 1972 country classic, "Watermelon Wine," Tom T. Hall opined that there are only three things in this world that are worth a solitary dime: old dogs, children, and watermelon wine. He elaborated by adding:

"He said women think about theyselves (sic) when menfolk ain't around,
And friends are hard to find when they discover that you're down.

He said I tried it all when I was young and in my natural prime,
Now it's old dogs and children and watermelon wine.

Old dogs care about you even when you make mistakes.
God bless little children while they're still too young to hate."

If he were to consult Hans S., he might very well be prompted to expand that list to include old cats as well.

"Bei uns heißt er, Burli, und dass wir ihn wiederhaben, ist das schönste Ostergeschenk," he told the Abendzeitung in the article cited supra.

Burli in the Garden

It is unclear exactly how the custody issue was resolved, but suffice it to say that Burli's previous owner has elected not to press her suit. Even if she had been so inclined, it is far from certain that she would have prevailed.

"Der Mann hat sich völlig korrekt verhalten," München jurist Rudolf Brettmeister told the Abendzeitung in the article cited supra. "Mangels Zuordnung zu einem Eigentumer war das Tier als herrenlos anzusehen."

Early on in his guardianship of Burli, Hans S. had taken him to a veterinarian but the practitioner had been unable to decipher the tattoo. It is unclear why TSV was able to succeed where his veterinarian failed unless the charity simply is more proficient in such matters.

The woman has not been left totally out of the picture in that Hans S. has extended an invitation for her to visit Burli in Glonn. The risk involved there, should she accept, is that she very well could have a change of heart upon seeing Burli again, especially if he should happen to still remember her.

Sadly, there is a dark cloud hanging over Hans and Burli's happiness. Specifically, while Burli was at TSV's shelter he was diagnosed to be suffering from both liver disease and Feline Hyperthyroidism.

The encouraging news is that TSV believes both ailments to be treatable. "Aber jetzt sind unsere Tierärzte guter Hoffnung, dass sie ihn wieder hinkriegen," Monika von Tettenborn of TSV told the München Abendzeitung on April 5th. (See "Kater auf großer Tour.")

Burli Enjoying His Leibspeise

Happy to be back home, Burli now spends bis days sleeping, playing in the garden, and dining on sliced chicken. "Das ist Burlis Leibspeise," Hans S. told the München Abendzeitung on April 10th. (See "So lebt der weltberühmte Ausreißer-Kater heute.")

In his younger days, Burli used to give the bum's rush to every dog that dared to venture onto his Grundstück but these days he seems to be more content to bask in the attention ladled on him by Hans and his family. He not only attentively listens to every word spoken to him but gives the distinct impression that he comprehends them as well.

Since he always has been frightened of thunderstorms, Hans now believes in hindsight that he was frightened into becoming as Ausreißer by the ruckus generated by a construction crew erecting new houses in the neighborhood. "Einmal hat das ganze Haus vibriert," Hans S. told the Abendzeitung in the April 10th article cited supra. "Wir vermuten, dass Burli sich so gefürchet hat, dass er fortgelaufen ist. Warum sollte er sonst ausbüxen, zum ersten Mal in sechzehn Jahre?"

As for how he made it to Aying, Hans speculates that Burli may have taken refuge in a parked car so as to escape the bedlam unleashed by the construction crew and in turn unwittingly became a stowaway. While that is certainly a possibility, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he simply walked the fifteen kilometers. After all, cats are known to sometimes cover great distances zu Fuß.

A few years back, a three-year-old one named Mimine spent thirteen months walking eight-hundred kilometers from Toulouse in southwest France to Treveray in the north in order to track down a family that cruelly had abandoned her. Although the cat that they had left behind was neither tagged nor microchipped, the family insisted that the late arrival was indeed their Mimine.

As incredible as her journey was, it never has been explained how Mimine knew where to find her family. (See Cat Defender post of April 27, 2007 entitled "French Chat Named Mimine Walks Eight-Hundred Kilometers to Track Down Family That Abandoned Her.")

Burli  Ruminating on the State of the World

With the unriddling of his extraordinary secret past, Burli thus became the second cat in recent memory to be so exposed thanks to a tattoo. Earlier in January of 2010, Ingrid Kerger got the shock of her life when a veterinary hospital in Oakbank, fifteen kilometers east of Winnipeg, telephoned to inform her that it had located her cat, Tiger Lily.

The truly amazing part of that was that Tiger Lily had disappeared from Kerger's home in Lockport, thirty-two kilometers north of Winnipeg, on October 12, 1996 when she was only three-years-old. "I was in shock when they called," Kerger later said. "My sons were incredulous."

The improbable reunion was made possible not only by virtue of Tiger Lily's ear tattoo, but also the due diligence demonstrated by the surgeons who tracked Kerger from Lockport to the new abode in Winnipeg. To top it all off, Kerger insists that Tiger Lily still remembers her and her two sons despite all the years of separation. (See Cat Defender post of March 31, 2010 entitled "Winnipeg Family Is Astounded by Tiger Lily's Miraculous Returns after Having Been Believed Dead for Fourteen Years.")

It accordingly is entirely possible that Burli will remember his former mistress should they ever meet again. With cats it is pretty much impossible to know not only where they have been but what they recall.

Tattoos therefore do unquestionably work to a certain degree even though they have their negatives and limitations just like all pet identification devices. Chiefly among these is the need to sedate cats before marking them.

Tiger Lily with Ingrid Kerger

They also are a form of mutilation much like the branding of livestock and the surveillance tagging of wildlife. For instance, early last month eighty-five-year-old Holland Cokeley of South Strabane, Pennsylvania, found a turtle that his son, Jeff, had carved his initials and the date into the bottom portion of its shell forty-seven years ago. (See Los Angeles Times, May 4, 2012, "Turtle with Unique Mark -- Boy's Initials -- Found after Forty-Seven Years.")

While it is unclear how much pain the younger Cokeley inflicted upon the defenseless turtle, it is indisputable that it had to have been frightened out of its mind. To mistreat an animal in such a fashion is the very epitome of animal cruelty and the younger Cokeley accordingly belongs in jail as opposed to being treated as another darling of the insensitive capitalist media.

Tattoos also are sometimes difficult to decipher, as Hans S. found out, and those using them must keep their contact information updated with whichever registry, such as Tattoo-A-Pet in Fort Lauderdale, that they choose to use. As the cases of both Burli and Tiger Lily have more than amply demonstrated, that entails doing so for up to twenty years after a cat has vanished.

Normally, cats are tattooed on their ears but since some unscrupulous individuals and business have been known to cut off tattooed ears before illegal selling them to vivisectors, many owners elect to have their companions tattooed a second time on the insides of their thighs. The rationale being that no self-respecting vivisector ever would entertain the notion of carving up a mutilated cat; rather, they require wholesome, intact specimens so as to better gauge the full extent of the damage and pain that they so ruthlessly inflict.

Many of the same limitations that pertain to tattoos also apply to surgically implanted microchips as well. In particular, they sometimes malfunction and veterinarians and shelter personnel often are unwilling to do a thorough job of looking for them. Besides moving around inside animals, not all chips operate at the same frequency and therefore require different scanners in order to be read.

Most important of all, there is a growing body of scientific research linking them to cancer. (See Cat Defender posts of September 21, 2007 and November 6, 2010 entitled, respectively, "FDA Is Suppressing Research That Shows Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer in Mice, Rats, and Dogs" and "Bulkin Contracts Cancer from an Implanted Microchip and Now It Is Time for Digital Angel and Merck to Answer for Their Crimes in a Court of Law.")

Collars, whether they be conventional, elastic, or breakaway, remain the least invasive form of identification although they certainly are not without their limitations and negatives. (See Cat Defender posts of May28, 2008 and June 22, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Collars Turn into Death Traps for Trooper and Que but Both Are Rescued at the Eleventh Hour" and "Hobson Is Forced to Wander Around Yorkshire for Months Trapped in an Elastic Collar That Steadily Was Eating Away at His Shoulder and Leg.")

Holland Cokeley's Mutilated Turtle

Despite the extravagant claims made by their proponents, no identification device ever will protect a cat against the machinations of ailurophobes, thieves, motorists, and poisoners. Likewise, none of them will prevent a cat from either getting lost or experiencing misadventures.

In Burli's case , he was saved from starvation and an untimely death by the compassion of the Schöttls. Secondly, once they noticed his tattoo, they chose to attempt to reunite him with his owner by handing him over to TSV.

The real architect of this happy reunion, however, was TSV which had not only the expertise to decipher Burli's tattoo but went the extra mile by contacting the media. If Burli had wound up with a rescue group that was any less conscientious than TSV, he likely would have been returned to his previous owner and Hans S. would have gone to his grave never knowing what had become of him.

This unfortunate episode possibly could have been avoided if Hans either had registered Burli's tattoo or outfitted him with a collar. Even more inexplicably, there is absolutely nothing in press reports to suggest that he either visited local shelters or blanketed his neighborhood with Lost Cat posters.

Also, individuals searching for lost cats need to pay special attention to all movable objects in their neighborhoods, such as automobiles, garbage trucks, discarded furniture, and even parcels going out in the post. Since they have a tendency to secret themselves away in small compartments when frightened, it is easy for an unwitting cat to get trapped inside one of these objects and to subsequently end up halfway across the country never to be seen again.

In the final analysis, collars, Lost Cat posters, visiting shelters in person, door-to-door canvassing of neighborhoods, and paying special attention to movable objects trumps everything that modern science has to offer when it comes to locating lost cats. It additionally is a good idea for cat owners to reconnoiter their neighborhoods well in advance for potential dangers, whether they be human or animal.

Above all, the most important thing to bear in mind is that lost cats are helpless in such circumstances and the sand is fast running out of the hourglass. Anyone who truly cares about a cat must be willing to drop everything, go all-out, and to spare no expense in order to relocate it.

A cat's life is something precious and once it is extinguished it cannot, like that of the mythical phoenix, be rekindled. Moreover, anyone who ever has loved one of them and had the good fortune to be loved in return knows only too well how intricately his happiness and that of the beloved are intertwined.

Photos: Sigi Müller of München Abendzeitung (Burli with Hans S., in garden, eating, and up close), Bernhard Schöttl (Burli with Kilian), Tierschutzverein München (Burli with Kosenbach), Winnipeg Free Press (Tiger Lily with Kerger), and Holland Cokeley (mutilated turtle).