In Utter Desperation, Victoria Claws Off Her Rotting Ears after She Is Stricken with Cancer and Abandoned to Aimlessly Wander the Forbidding Streets of Newent
|Victoria with Dangling Left Ear|
"The cat had been in so much discomfort it had resorted to ripping its own ear off to try and relieve itself of its constant agony, leaving it in such a state of self-disfigurement."
-- Sue Cowlishaw of New Start Cat Rescue Centre
It is difficult to imagine a much more crueler fate than to be all alone, in horrific pain, and dying but yet unable to procure life-saving veterinary intervention. That is especially the case for those cats who are tormented by skin cancer.
On Sunday, October 14th, an unidentified Good Samaritan in Newent, a small town of five-thousand souls located eight miles northwest of Gloucester, discovered a homeless white cat with grayish-black spots whose ears had been severely injured. The cat, since named Victoria, was rushed to New Start Cat Rescue Centre (NSCRC) where she promptly underwent emergency veterinary surgery twenty minutes after her arrival.
"It became apparent that the cat's ears had been ravaged by skin cancer. Due to non-treatment of this condition for months, this cat's ear had rotted away," Sue Cowlishaw of the charity told The Citizen of Gloucester on October 16th. (See "Cat with Cancer Rips Its Own Ears Off after Owners Abandon Her.") "The cat had been in so much discomfort it had resorted to ripping its own ear off to try and relieve itself of its constant agony, leaving it in such a state of self-disfigurement."
Her left ear, which was left dangling uselessly at the side of her face, attests to the months of unrelenting pain that she was forced to endure. That was in addition to the daily struggle in order to procure food, shelter, and to avoid predators, both human and animal.
The staff at NSCRC would like to believe that their surgeon removed all the cancer but that will not be known for some time. Victoria later was forced to make a return trip to the surgery due to an infection but, at last word, that problem had been resolved.
"She's not out of the woods yet but she's certainly on the mend," the charity's Wendy Hyde, who is serving as Victoria's foster mother, told The Citizen on October 27th. (See "Support Pours In for Victoria -- the Abandoned Cat With No Ears.") "...she is a lot more perky now and she's taken over my living room."
The charity also has been heartened by the more than £500 that have poured in from places as far away as Canada, New Zealand, and China in order to help defray the thousands of pounds that it is spending on Victoria's surgery and rehabilitation. "We have been absolutely bowled over by the messages of support from all over the world," Hyde added to The Citizen in the October 27th article cited supra.
Victoria additionally has received offers of a permanent home from individuals living in both London and on the Isle of Jersey. "She's a truly international star now," Hyde marveled.
|Victoria after Surgery|
While that certainly is encouraging news it is equally undeniable that the road to a full and complete recovery is destined to be a long and painstaking one. Of immediate concern is for NSCRC to make absolutely certain that all the cancerous cells have been removed from her ears and that new ones do not manifest themselves. In that same vein, her nose and eyelids need to be closely monitored for potential outbreaks of the deadly disease.
Vigilance therefore is the order of the day on both the part of NSCRC and her future guardian. With that being the case, it perhaps would be preferable if a new home could be secured for her in Newent where there are professionals who are intimately familiar with her condition.
Apparently her hearing per se has not been impaired but even that is difficult to gauge since cats cock their earlobes in order to better pinpoint the direction and nature of sounds. Nevertheless, if the cancer has been confined to the earlobes and she has not in any way injured the ear itself she should be just fine in that regard.
She will, unfortunately, require specialized care for the remainder of her days. Most obvious of all, her ears must be protected against punctures, insects, rain, and flying debris, such as sand and dirt.
In addition to close supervision of her activities, protective headgear, if she could be prevailed upon to accept its presence, is one option worth exploring. Prosthetic ears are another option although the cost would be great.
It should be possible to treat any lingering discomfort that she may experience with topical ointments thus eliminating the necessity of having her declawed. She already has been disfigured and the last thing that she needs now is a second mutilation.
Above all, it looks like her days spent in the sun are pretty much at an end. That does not necessarily mean, however, that she must be cooped up indoors all the time.
For instance, she safely could be allowed out into an enclosed yard early mornings and after sunset. On those rare occasions when she must be out in the sunlight for whatever reason it would be a good idea to bathe her face and head in a proven sun blocker.
The truly sad thing about Victoria's plight is that she is far from being an isolated case. Innumerable cats, especially those with white fur, develop painful and deadly skin cancers each year that go untreated.
|Victoria with Louise Barrow|
For example, in the spring of 2010 a brown and white nameless cat without ears showed up unannounced at Gasthof Linde in Löffingen, Baden-Württemberg. She hung around for two months until management cruelly fobbed her off on Löffinger Tierheim and that was the last ever heard of her.
Veterinarians who examined her speculate that her ears had been surgically removed after she, like Victoria, had contracted skin cancer. (See Schwarzwälder-Bote of Oberndorf am Neckar, July 29, 2010, "Katze ohne Ohren sucht Besitzer.")
In addition to the ravages of Old Sol, hatred of the species has cost numerous cats and kittens their ears. For example, in July of 2010 an eight-week-old kitten named Harrison was found with his ears cut off in Harrisonburg, Virginia. (See Cat Defender post of September 2, 2010 entitled "Only Eight-Weeks-Old, Harrison Is Maimed for Life When an Assailant Cuts Off Both His Ears with a Pair of Scissors.")
Earlier in 2006, another diabolical monster used a pair of scissors in order to cut off the ears of a tiny kitten named Zoe in Kingsville, Texas. Having had his fun, her assailant then deposited her in a Dumpster. (See Cat Defender posts of October 27, 2007 and September 2, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Tiny Kitten Named Zoe Has Her Ears Cut Off by Fiends but Texas Police Do Not Seem to Care" and "Zoe Rebounds from Having Her Ears Cut Off in a Savage Attack to Become the Heroine of a New Series of Children's Books.")
Even some veterinarians have been known to inexcusably cut off large chunks of cats' ears as a way of identifying them as having been sterilized. This entire business of mutilating sterilized cats should be outlawed and a better identification method substituted in its stead.
Almost nothing is known about Victoria's past although the prima facie evidence tends to suggest that she is a local feline who was abandoned by an owner who was too uncaring, cheap, and lazy to attend to her pressing veterinary needs. "It looks like the owner has abandoned her. How could anyone do that?" Louise Barrow of NSCRC complained to The Citizen in the October 16th article cited supra. "We, more than anyone, know just how expensive vets' bills are at the moment, but it is awful."
Victoria's friendly demeanor and the fact that she snuggles up with Hyde's nine-year-old son, Harrison, all tend to add credence to Barrow's theory that she previously had a home. Even if procuring veterinary care for her was out of the question due to financial considerations that still was not a valid excuse for her previous owner to have abandoned her.
That individual could have applied topical pain relievers to her ears and used whatever home remedies that were available to her. Most important of all, Victoria would have had a home with food, water, and care.
It is a difficult deal to swing these days but perhaps a veterinarian eventually could have been found who would have allowed Victoria's guardian to have paid on time. Nevertheless, even on those rare occasions some practitioners demand collateral in exchange for extending credit.
Despite Barrow's self-righteousness, it would have been interesting to have seen what type of response Victoria's guardian would have received from the charity if either he or she had come to it hat in hand. Would it have extended emergency treatment to Victoria or concocted some lame excuse in order to have allowed her interminable suffering to continue?
All charities talk big but most of them are as full of it as the nearest septic tank. They have their own agendas and are constantly on the lookout for projects that will enhance their reputations and bottom lines.
With that being the case, there is very little time, effort, and even the will power to pay much more than lip service to the highfalutin ideals that they profess. Of course, there can be no denying that need always far exceeds resources. Nevertheless, such an attitude is cold comfort to cats, other animals, and humans who are knocking on death's door.
An analogous situation exists in the response of animal protection groups to animal cruelty. Specifically, instead of committing the resources in order to apprehend abusers, they content themselves with declarations of moral outrage and insignificant offers of reward money that they know that they never will be forced to honor. (See Cat Defender post of January 7, 2010 entitled "Large Reward Fails to Lead to the Capture of the Archer Who Shot an Arrow Through Brownie's Head.")
Since its inception in 1948, the National Health Service has admirably provided health care on demand to all citizens of the United Kingdom as well as to visitors. The time now has come for it to do likewise for its cats and dogs.
That is not about to happen anytime soon, especially considering Prime Minister David Cameron's austerity policies, but it is nonetheless an obvious omission that urgently needs to be addressed. Contrary to what some people think, cats and dogs are not merely the superfluous toys of the bourgeoisie and the rich; rather they are intimate family members of all classes, including the working class and poor. Ergo, to deny life-saving veterinary intervention to any cat and dog because of a lack of money is an egregious and odious form of class discrimination.
It goes almost without saying, however, that such sentiments would be scoffed at in the land of the dollar bill. Americans are such a misanthropic lot of rotters that they are adamantly opposed to even universal health care, let alone anything even remotely approaching equality in veterinary care.
Since veterinarians, the government, and most animal protection groups could care less whether either a sick or an injured cat lives, the only alternative for dedicated ailurophiles is self-help. For example, unlicensed veterinarians already are proliferating in the United States. (See Cat Defender post of February 14, 2006 entitled "Special Agent Fred the Cat Goes Undercover to Help Nab Quack Vet in Brooklyn Sting Operation.")
There is a wealth of sound veterinary information available online and many minor ailments can be treated with home remedies. Veterinarians practicing in the Caribbean and Mexico also are worth exploring. In some cases it actually is cheaper to have a cat treated abroad than in America and that includes paying air fare and a hotel bill to boot.
Photos: Daily Mail and Hot Spot Media (Victoria with dangling left ear), The Citizen (Victoria's cancer-ravaged ears), Paul Nicholls of the Daily Mail and SWNS (Victoria with Barrow), and Schwarzwälder-Bote (Löffonger Katze).