Instead of Killing Her Off with a Jab of Sodium Pentobarbital and Then Burning Her Corpse, Ian Remains Steadfast at His Guardian's Side Long after Her Death
"The circumstances were very sad and it must have been awful for the cat. He was trapped indoors wondering why his owner wouldn't wake up, feed him or let him out."
-- Sheila Pennell of Cats Protection
A fair amount, albeit not nearly enough, attention is devoted to the heartbreak and grief that owners experience whenever a beloved cat dies. Coping with such a devastating loss is never easy under any circumstances but most individuals eventually recover to a large extent and thus are able to get on with their busy lives. Quite often it is none other than the arrival of another cat that provides the salve for their wounds.
Regrettably, not very much attention is paid to the even more pitiable situation where the shoe rests on the other foot. In particular, even when either a relative of the deceased or a neighbor magnanimously consents to take in a bereaved cat and to provide it with a home and food, it is left the majority of the time to cope all alone and in silence with its tragic loss.
During such trying times cats need and deserve special attention and never should be left to their own devices. By so stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that they have psychological as well as physical needs, man continues to demonstrate not only his extreme selfishness but his uncaring nature as well.
In spite of the glaring deficiencies inherent in any regimen that attempts to address only a cat's physical needs, such a lopsided approach is still far preferable to the simply abhorrent alternative of surrendering it to Animal Control officers, shelters, and PETA whose only raison d'être is to liquidate the entire species. Every bit as outrageous as it sounds, that is the cruel and unjust fate that befalls countless grieving cats each year who manage to outlive their guardians. It also serves to accentuate the point that the most valuable contribution that any individual can make to the life of a cat is to keep it safe from all those individuals and groups that are intent upon doing it harm.
In addition to those concerns, watching its owner die right underneath its nose can be traumatic enough in its own right for any cat as a ten-year-old handsome tuxedo named Ian found out firsthand back in May when the elderly and unidentified woman who cared for him died unexpectedly. Alerted by neighbors who had not seen her in some time, Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Ian Concannon was summoned to her house on Knightwick Crescent in the Kingstanding section of north Birmingham where he found Ian curled up alongside her lifeless body.
Press reports fail to disclose how long the pensioner had been dead and that makes it impossible to speculate on how many days Ian was forced to go without food, water, and having his litter box emptied. Suffice it to say, that must have been an extremely difficult time for him.
"The circumstances were very sad and it must have been awful for the cat," Sheila Pennell of Cats Protection told the Birmingham Mail on June 4th. (See "Devoted Cat Found Curled Up Next to His Dead Owner.") "He was trapped indoors wondering why his owner wouldn't wake up, feed him or let him out."
Since his caretaker lived alone, Ian easily could have starved to death if it had not been for the concern shown for her by her neighbors. He escaped the hangman's noose a second time when the kindhearted auxiliary policeman compassionately elected to turn him over to Cats Protection instead of surrendering him to the RSPCA or some other organization that is dedicated to killing cats. (See Daily Mail, December 30, 2012, "Revealed: RSPCA Destroys Half of the Animals That It Rescues -- Yet Thousands Are Completely Healthy.")
Shortly after his rescue Ian was placed in foster care with Pennell at her home in the suburb of Erdington, eight kilometers northeast of Birmingham. Although his horrifying ordeal does not seem to have adversely affected his physical health, it is a good deal more difficult to gauge what impact it may have had on his psychological well-being.
"He's now over his trauma and has settled in well," Pennell opined to the Birmingham Mail. "He is quirky and has a lovely nature. But it is sad to see him looking out of his lonely pen in the nice weather wishing he had a new home and a garden of his own."
Unfortunately, none of the dead woman's relatives expressed so much as an iota of interest in adopting him. Tant pis, none of them even knew so much as his real name and that necessitated Cats Protection naming him in honor of his rescuer.
Despite being coldhearted and irresponsible, their behavior is merely par for the course in cases of this sort. For example, when radiologist Larry Johnson died of a heart attack back in July of 2007 he left an estate valued at $6.5 million to his alma mater, Juniata College in Hungtingdon, Pennsylvania. Also included in his bequest was his beloved cat, Princess.
Like a flock of ravenous vultures at feeding time, the greedy administrators and professors quickly swooped down and gobbled up everything of any conceivable monetary value but, true to form, they did not want any part of Princess. She in turn was fobbed off of an unidentified neighbor and that was the last that the world ever heard of her. (See Cat Defender post of June 9, 2008 entitled "Pennsylvania College Greedily Snatches Up Alumnus' Multimillion-Dollar Bequest but Turns Away His Cat, Princess.")
Beverley Hume of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne is a notable exception to that rule in that she gladly took in her parents' elderly cat, Ginger, after they had died. Tragically, even the kindness that she bestowed upon Ginger proved to be insufficient in order to safeguard his fragile life from the evil designs of a gaggle of inveterate cat-haters. (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.")
Even though Ian previously had been neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped, Cats Protection had a difficult time placing him in a new home. In particular, at least two offers of adoption did not pan out for unexplained reasons.
Even Concannon, who later telephoned Pennell on a regular basis in order to check on his namesake's well-being and progress, was unable to offer him a home. " He's a lovely little cat and the circumstances in which I found him were very sad," he explained to the Birmingham Mail in the article cited supra. "I like cats myself, but I live in a shared house with a landlady so I can't have him."
Thanks in no small part to the willingness of the Birmingham Mail to champion his cause, Ian finally secured a permanent home somewhere along about the middle of June. Best of all, he is said to be in good health and supposedly has adjusted well to his new guardian and surroundings. It is difficult to know, however, if he finally has gotten over the loss of his longtime guardian.
Unlike Garrison Keillor and millions of other callous and uncaring owners who do not hesitate for so much as a split second before having their cats killed off once they become either old, sickly, or simply unwanted, Ian did not desert his beloved guardian even in death. (See Cat Defender post of July 17, 2013 entitled "Not Satisfied with Merely Whacking Meiko, Garrison Keillor Struts on Stage in Order to Shed a Bucketful of Crocodile Tears and to Denigrate the Entire Species.")
|PCSO Ian Concannon|
Critics may counter that he did not have any choice in the matter because he was locked indoors with her corpse. It is doubtful, however, that he would have behaved much differently even if every door and window in the house had been left standing wide open. Just because mankind has elevated perfidy to an art form is not a valid reason for attributing such a distasteful character trait to cats.
Furthermore, cats often do not only remain forever faithful to their dead caretakers but to fallen siblings as well. Take, for example, the tragic case of six-year-old Bonnie and her brother, Buster, from the market town of Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, East Midlands.
In one of the most despicable and heinous crimes committed against a cat in recent memory, a group of unidentified cretins killed Bonnie last November 10th by ramming a firecracker up her rear end and then detonating it. As she lay dying in Shelley Road, Buster, who had raced to her side, was run down and killed by a hit-and-run motorist.
Despite urgent appeals to the public from Constable Mark Jones and the RSPCA for witnesses to come forward, both Bonnie's assailants and the hit-and-run killer of Buster remain at large today and likely never will be apprehended. That, disgracefully, is merely the norm for individuals who use explosives and motor vehicles in order to kill cats. (See Cat Defender posts of November 20, 2008, January 12, 2009, October 2, 2010, and November 21, 2012 entitled, respectively, "Trusting Domestic Cat Has Her Left Ear Blown Off with a Firecracker by Cretins Outside an Irish Bar," "Disoriented and Racked with Excruciating Pain, Seizures, and Infections, Sparkles Loses Her Long Struggle to Live," "History Repeats Itself Only This Time Around It Is a Dog as Opposed to a Cat That Has Her Head Nearly Blown Off by Irish Punks with a Firecracker," and "Officials at Plymouth College of Art Should Be Charged with Gross Negligence and Animal Cruelty in the Tragic Death of the School's Longtime Resident Feline, PCAT.")
"Buster was very protective of his sister," the unidentified owner of the duo confided to the Northampton Chronicle and Echo on February 21st. (See "Police Renew Appeal after Cat Is 'Blown Up' by Firework.") "We have had them since they were kittens and they were inseparable. It looks as though he had stayed with her but had been hit by a car."
Quite understandably, their senseless murders have been especially difficult on their owner. "I'm totally lost without them. The house seems so quiet. Every time I hear a noise I think it's one of them coming through the door," their guardian added. "I'm still coming to terms with it all. They were part of the family."
Their deaths also have dissuaded their aggrieved caretaker from adopting replacements for them anytime soon. "I don't think I'll be getting another cat as long as I am living here, not when there's people like that about," the owner told the Northampton Chronicle and Echo. "You wonder what they'll do next. It was a cat this time but what's after that? Another animal? A small child?"
The devotion shown by Ian to his deceased guardian and Buster's unwillingness to leave Bonnie's side are eclipsed only by, perhaps, the undying love exhibited by three-year-old Toldo in Montagnana for his long-dead guardian, Renzo Iozzelli. Although Iozzelli passed away on September 22, 2011, Toldo has been not only visiting his grave on his own volition but bringing along with him small tokens of his affection as well. (See Cat Defender post of March 28, 2013 entitled "Even the Finality of the Grave Fails to Diminish Toldo's Abiding Love and Devotion to His Dead Guardian.")
The altruistic behavior of all of these wonderful cats demonstrates that they answer to a higher morality and and are imbued with a sense of compassion that is far superior to all the self-serving, hypocritical tosh that most humans blather on about so profusely but seldom, if ever, practice. Mark Twain, a keen observer of the species, doubtlessly would concur if he were still alive today.
"If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat," he wrote in his 1894 Notebook.
There are, of course, exceptions to any rule and some individuals truly love and respect their cats. In fact, a few of them love them so much that they are unable to go on without them.
For example, fifty-eight-year-old Alan Jordan of Daventry Terrace in Tredworth, Gloucester, hanged himself in March of 2011 after his cat temporarily disappeared. (See Cat Defender post of January 2, 2012 entitled "With No Reason Left to Go on Living, Tredworth Resident Takes His Own Life after His Beloved Cat Disappears.")
In December of that same year, forty-four-year-old Michael McAleese of Hillcrest Road in the Parkstone section of Poole in Dorset also took his own life following the tragic death of his treasured cat, Sophie. (See Cat Defender post of June 12, 2012 entitled "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.")
If people were considerably more open-minded on matters of this sort there is a good deal that they could learn from cats. "These intelligent, peace-loving, four-footed friends -- who are without prejudice, without hate, without greed -- may someday teach us something," noted authoress Lilian Jackson Braun wrote in her 2000 novel, The Cat Who Saw Stars.
In particular, there could not be any better place for them to begin earning their tuition than by for once acknowledging that cats have an inalienable right to live out their lives to the very end and in doing so to be free of all abuse and exploitation. Half-hearted measures that already have been watered-down by a million caveats, such as the so-called No-Kill movement, never will suffice; the prerogatives of the species must be accepted as absolutes.
Finally, although few individuals are willing to so much as contemplate, let alone plan for, their own eventual demises, it is unassailable that no one live forever. Consequently, it is imperative that owners, if at all possible, make contingency plans for the continued care of their cats.
That is especially the case for those who live alone. By doing so they can ensure that fewer cats are forced to endure the terrifying travails that befell Ian.
That should not be misconstrued in any way so as to minimize the formidable obstacles faced by those who are elderly, sickly, and all alone in this world themselves. Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon them to do as much as is humanly possible for their loyal and devoted cats.
Photos: the Birmingham Mail.