Pronounced Dead, Eulogized, and Then Relegated to the Underworld, Norman Astounds His Guardian by Turning Up Hungry and Grumpy for Breakfast the Very Next Morning
|Norman and Karen Jones|
"I hadn't seen Norman all morning because he often goes roaming around. So I had a feeling it was him when I saw the cat by the side of the road."Losing a cherished cat is never easy under any circumstances but to be forced into retrieving its lifeless body from the street is undeniably one of the most heartwrenching ordeals that this wicked, lawless, and uncaring world has to dole out to any individual. Just the very sight of its once lithe and sleek body now mangled and covered in blood, its tiny head bashed in beyond recognition, and its outstretched paws racing in vain for the safety that lay only a few feet away are so depressing as to plunge a distraught owner over a cliff.
-- Karen Jones
All of that pales in comparison, however, with the accompanying realization that its precious and noble heart has been stilled forever. This is not the movies where the dead simply dust themselves off and rise again; rather, it is the end of the line not only for the cat but a large portion of its owner's mortal soul as well.
All of those terrible, dark emotions and countless others no doubt coursed through forty-eight-year-old Karen Jones' mind when she recently was forced to scoop up the lifeless body of what she believed was her two-year-old black tom, Norman, from Beecholme Drive in the Kennington section of Kent. According to a passerby, the cat had been murdered by a hit-and-run driver who is still at large and likely never will be apprehended and punished for this despicable crime.
"I hadn't seen Norman all morning because he often goes roaming around," she related to the Daily Mail on May 16th. (See "Stunned Family Who Thought Their Cat Norman Had Risen from the Dead Realize They had Buried Wrong Pet Twenty-Four Hours Earlier.") "So I had a feeling it was him when I saw the cat by the side of the road."
Jones, a mother of two who trains new employees for the supermarket giant Sainsbury, took the cat back to her house on Mardol Road in Ashford, Kent, where her twenty-two-year-old son, Harry, spent the next two hours digging a grave for it in the garden. Following an hourlong service, it was interred with its favorite toy mouse and a black porcelain cat was placed on top of the grave as a marker.
Imagine then her shock when Norman nonchalantly strolled into the kitchen the very next morning and grumpily demanded to be fed his customary breakfast. "I said 'Is that you, Norman?' and he meowed back," Jones later recalled saying to him.
Although by this time it was perfectly obvious that his death, like Mark Twain once famously said of his own falsely reported demise, had been an exaggeration, Jones still failed to correctly do her sums and instead jumped to the wrong conclusion. "At first I thought he had been resurrected from the dead but he didn't know what all the fuss was about," she told the Daily Mail. "Then I realized we must have had the wrong cat."
Just to make sure she raced outside in order to verify that Norman had not revived and crawled out of the crypt. Only then was she absolutely clear in her own mind as to what exactly had happened.
She has attributed her colossal mistake to the fact that the cat which she found approximately two-tenths of a mile away on Beecholme Drive was the same size and color as Norman and had identical facial features as well as the same length of fur. Press reports gloss over this gruesome aspect of the story but more than likely the dead cat's face was disfigured to a certain degree and that accounts for Jones's mistake. Otherwise, it seems highly improbable that she would have committed such an egregious faux pas.
|Karen Jones at Norman's Grave|
Not a good deal is written on this subject but mistakes of this nature are not all that uncommon. Many cats are similar in appearance and unless certain distinguishing marks are still visible on their corpses it is awfully easy to go wrong when attempting to identify them.
That segues into the disturbing question of the identity of the cat that is buried in Jones's garden. "It is all really funny but I was devastated when I found out that he had died and there must be a cat owner out there who feels like I did," she told the Daily Mail.
She accordingly has appealed in vain for its owner to come forward. "Despite knocking on neighbors' doors there has been no contact from the dead cat's owners, sadly," she averred to the Kentish Express of Ashford on May 24th. (See "Norman, the Ashford Cat Who Rose from the Grave, Becomes an International Media Star.")
At the very least, Jones hopefully will be able to find it in her heart to allow him to rest in peace where he is and not venture to disinterre him. He deserves at least that much consideration.
None of that lingering unpleasantness has in any way however dampened the elation that she feels at having Norman back home. "It was incredibly emotional because we had spent a whole day grieving," she told the Daily Mail in the article cited supra. "Suddenly we found ourselves switching from tears of sadness to tears of joy."
The emotional pendulum that she has been on just as easily could swing back the other way unless she takes dramatic steps in order to do a far better job of safeguarding Norman's fragile life. In particular, Norman is an unneutered tom that Jones inexplicably allows to venture out into traffic. Furthermore, she does not have even the bon sens to equip him with so much as a collar and a tag.
Even more alarming, Norman recently has had several near brushes with death. For instance, he sustained a broken leg about a year ago under unspecified circumstances and one of his eyes was scratched earlier this year by another cat.
Amazingly, none of that has fazed Jones in the least little bit. "Norman has been in the wars in the past and has come back dragging an injured leg behind him," is how she insouciantly dismissed concerns about his well-being to the Daily Mail. "He is a tomcat who just goes roaming about and pops in every now and then for some food."
Like all animals, man included, cats are genetically hot-wired to mate and that means that they are going to roam unless they are supplied with sexual partners at home. While there is not anything per se wrong with cats roaming, they should not be allowed out into busy streets under any circumstances whatsoever.
Cats most assuredly are entitled to their freedom and belong outdoors but that definitely does not include knowingly serving them up on silver platters to motorists who get their perverted kicks by deliberately running them down. They accordingly only should be allowed to roam on their own in areas that are relatively free of both motorists and predators, such as coyotes and fishers.
Otherwise, their owners need to provide them with fenced-in yards that are covered on the top with nets. Training them to walk on leashes as well as accompanying them on their rambles are two additional options worthy of consideration.
Under absolutely no circumstances should they be cruelly imprisoned exclusively indoors because doing so not only sometimes creates behavioral problems but also can be detrimental to their health. (See Cat Defender posts of August 22, 2007 and October 19, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Indoor Cats Are Dying from Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Various Toxins in the Home" and "Smokers Are Killing Their Cats, Dogs, Birds, and Infants by Continuing to Light Up in Their Presence.")
Jones also might want to consider having Norman sterilized. That sometimes, but not always, curtails a tom from roaming.
Sterilizing cats is not without its difficulties, however. The foremost problem is to secure the services of a veterinarian who is competent to even perform such routine procedures.
With the practice of veterinary medicine being riddled with so many charlatans, incompetents, and moneygrubbers, it is anything but surprising that practitioners kill countless cats each year by fouling up these simple surgeries. (See Cat Defender posts of February 26, 2008, July 2, 2010, and July 28, 2011 entitled, respectively, "The Dark Side of Spay and Neuter: Veterinarian Botched Surgeries and Back Alley Castrations Claim the Lives of Numerous Cats," "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," and "Tammy and Maddy Are Forced to Pay the Ultimate Price after Their Owner and an Incompetent Veterinarian Elect to Play Russian Roulette with Their Lives.")
Secondly, although cost is a consideration for many individuals that would not appear to be a constraint in Jones's case. Thirdly, many altered toms have a tendency to become obese and that, like roaming, also can threaten their health.
Since misery is said to covet company, Jones can take comfort in knowing that she is by no means alone in the dilemma that she is facing. For example, Lorna Fothergill of Newport Pagnell in the borough of Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire was confronted with a similar problem back in 2010 when, thanks to an implanted microchip, her long-lost cat, Bigga, unexpectedly was returned to her after an eight-year absence.
After having spent so many years on the street, Bigga had become accustomed to that rough and tumble lifestyle even though it had taken a terrible toll on his health. Not only did he have the outwardly visible scars to prove it, but arthritis, liver trouble, and the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus to boot.
Fothergill was able to train him to walk on a leash and tried cooping him up inside for a while. "We love him and he recognizes me but he's been a feral cat for a very long time," she said back then. "He's scratching the house down just trying to get out."
It is not known what eventually became of Bigga but apparently Fothergill quickly gave up on the idea of trying to transform him into an indoor cat. "We are really happy to have him back but I know when we do let him out in a week or so we will probably never see him again," she predicted fatalistically. (See Cat Defender post of July 1, 2010 entitled "Bigga Is Reunited with His Owner after an Eight-Year Absence but Life on the Street Has Left Him in Poor Health and Put Her in a Quandary.")
Contrary to popular belief, caring for a cat is anything but simple and uncomplicated and sometimes there are not any workable solutions to problems of this sort. While it is true that indoor cats life considerably longer than those who are allowed outside, their lives are nowhere nearly as fulfilling.
Consequently, the only real way that cats can be made simultaneously happy and secure is for the outdoors to be made considerably less inhospitable to them. A few baby steps already have been undertaken in that regard but much more remains to be done.
For example, on Warrenside Street in the borough of Deighton in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, ten-year-old Joni Davies and her six-year-old sister, Willow, have erected a road sign urging speeders to slow down. They embarked upon their anti-speeding campaign after their beloved ten-month-old black kitten, Luna, was run down and killed by a hit-and-run motorist.
"I just felt so angry that I wanted to turn that negative energy into a positive," the girls' thirty-eight-year-old mother, Lorraine, told The Huddersfield Daily Examiner on February 11th. (See "Deighton Sisters' Anti-Speeding Campaign after Kitten's Tragic Death.")
Not too far way in the Woodseats section of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, Tom and Emily Hunt have started a petition drive in order to have the speed limit on Hackthorn Road where they reside reduced to twenty miles per hour. Like the Davies, they were motivated to take action after another hit-and-run motorist ran down and killed their cat, Rascal, in October of 2011. (See Sheffield Telegraph, April 17, 2012, "'Speeding Motorist Killed Our Pet Cat' Says Sheffield Man.")
Similar efforts currently have been inaugurated in Berlin and elsewhere across Deutschland but sustained and genuine progress remains as elusive as ever and some jurisdictions even have gone so far as to outlaw roadside memorials erected in honor of dead cats. (See Cat Defender post of October 9, 2010 entitled "Feline Traffic Fatalities Are Unworthy of Commemoration According to a Möhnsee Bureaucrat Who Orders the Destruction of a Roadside Memorial to Jule.")
|Willow and Joni Davies along with Their Dog|
Cat Crossing signs likewise have been erected in Milford, Connecticut, as well as on the remote Japanese island of Iriomote. (See Cat Defender posts of January 26, 2007 and November 27, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Cat Activists Succeed in Getting Connecticut Town to Erect a Cat Crossing Sign" and "After Surviving on Its Own for at Least Two Million Years, Rare Japanese Wildcat Faces Its Toughest Battle Yet.")
Developments built exclusively for those who own cats are another distinct possibility. Since those that specifically ban cats and dogs already have become a reality in England, there is not any valid reason to delay the introduction of their opposites.
Fences and other types of barriers also could be inexpensively constructed alongside busy highways and roads where they not only would protect cats but other companion animals, wildlife, and farm animals as well. Underpasses and overpasses capable of accommodating both animals and pedestrians also are worth exploring.
Clearly, something urgently needs to be done in order to put an end to the carnage although it is doubtful that many cat-lovers would be willing to go quite as far as courageous Tina Teixeira of Lodi, California, did in May of 2009 after a speeding motorist ran down and killed one of her cats and injured two others outside her house on West Elm Street. Specif-ically, she erected a sign threatening the children of the offending motorists.
Although it is highly unlikely that she ever would have been able to even identify the culprits let alone retaliate against their children, she nevertheless had the nerve to articulate a point of view that was ripe for a public airing. "People fly down this street and they don't care," she told the Lodi News-Sentinel on May 23, 2009. (See "Lodi Resident Puts Up Sign to Tell Drivers to Pay Attention.") "You don't want me to kill your kids, don't kill mine."
Predictably, her spirited defense of cats landed her in hot water with the authorities, her neighbors, and the capitalist media and that in turn prompted her to replace her contentious sign with a more benign one. "I Watch Out for Your Kids, So Please Watch Out for Mine," it read.
Even though she ultimately was forced to back down, that did not prevent her from calling attention to not only her detractors' total lack of anything even remotely resembling a sense of justice but their blatant hypocrisy as well. "I don't mean to offend anyone, but I don't see anyone apologizing for the loss of my animal," she told the Lodi News-Sentinel.
C'est-à-dire, it is perfectly permissible as far as most people are concerned for motorists to run down and kill cats and other animals with impunity but totally unacceptable for their defenders to even complain about such abhorrent crimes. "I can't just let her (my cat) die in vain for nothing," Teixeira vowed to KXTV of Sacramento on May 25, 2009. (See "Lodi Woman: 'Hit a Cat I'll Hit Your Kid'.") "Someone needs to stand up to these people."
In the final analysis, however, the only thing that is going to make any real difference is for the running down and killing of cats and all other animals to be criminalized. Although motorists have a responsibility to watch out for animals, pedestrians, and bicyclists, they instead make a game out of how many of them that they can either maim or kill. Compounding this intolerable situation even further, the police and politicians categorically refuse to enforce the laws of the road.
|Tina Teixeira with Her Sign|
Once the detrimental impact associated with petrol wars, auto emissions, and the paving over and splitting up of arable farmland, forests, and priceless ecosystems is taken into consideration alongside the huge number of animal and pedestrian fatalities recorded each year, it becomes increasingly obvious that the automobile is fast becoming a luxury that this planet can no longer afford. Under such circumstances, motorists at the very least should be willing to operate their chariots in a responsible manner but since they are so totally unwilling to do even that much they should be deprived of their motoring privileges altogether.
The problem of motorists who deliberately run down cats is particularly acute for those that do not have owners in order to watch out for them. Yet TNR advocates, such as Alley Cat Allies, pretend as if the problem does not exist. TNR is a good start but it is neither the alpha nor the omega of the care that homeless cats so desperately need and deserve.
To put the case succinctly, animals are deserving of equality under the law and in that regard motorists who kills them should be arrested and sent to jail. Since all automobiles are equipped with brakes, steering wheels, modern suspension systems, and horns, they simply do not have any valid excuse for their lawless conduct.
As far as those who like to sip on the grape, pull on their bongs, gas on their telephones, and to vent their spleens from the safety of the driver's seat are concerned, they should be identified, arrested, and their driving privileges irrevocably revoked. The sooner that they are taken off the road the better that life is going to be for one and all. The oil companies and automakers are sure to cry a river over their lost revenue but they will survive which is considerably more than can be said for their defenseless victims.
Finally, by retrieving what she thought was Norman's lifeless corpse and providing him with a proper funeral, burial, and headstone, Jones has demonstrated that she cares deeply about her cat. Sometimes that is insufficient, however.
Hopefully, she will be able to find it within herself in order to take the necessary steps that will ensure that Norman's life is a long and healthy one. Since he is not endowed with man's deviousness, he is unable to divine the evil designs of motorists and others and that makes it incumbent upon Jones to do a far better job of watching over him.
Only a few short weeks ago she thought that he was dead and gone forever but now she has been blessed with a second chance in order to do right by him. If she thoughtlessly allows this golden opportunity to slip through her fingers his premature death is going to be on her conscience from this day forward until eternity.
Regrettably, she does not appear to have learned very much from her recent anguish and instead of concentrating all of her efforts on safeguarding his life she seems to be more preoccupied with cashing in on his notoriety. In particular, she has retained a publicity agent in order to promote his career.
"Norman is doing well and remains totally unaware of the media fuss," she told the Kentish Express in the article cited supra. The same sans doute could be said for her appalling indifference to his value as both a moral equal and a fellow sentient being.
Photos: Daily Mail (Norman, his grave, and Bigga), The Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Davies sisters), and KXTV (Teixeira).