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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

Monday, June 24, 2013

Buried Long Before Her Time, Muffin Is Freed from the Crypt by Her Devoted Six-Year-Old Snuggling Partner

"When I was burying a hole for it (a flower), I heard a meow."
-- Bradley McCallum

When it comes to the mournful task of interring a cat the number one thing to remember is to to make doubly certain that it actually is dead before proceeding any further. Although that should be axiomatic to most thinking individuals, Sarah McCallum of the tiny St. Louis suburb of St. Jacob was so confounded when her cat, Muffin, suddenly became unresponsive one day back in April that she committed the unforgivable error of burying her alive in a medium-sized United States Postal Service box.

Muffin therefore was forced to spend the next three and one-half hours in the ground until McCallum's six-year-old son, Bradley, came home from school and requested permission to plant a flower on his favorite cat's final resting place. When he went to do so he received a shock that is destined to remain etched in his young memory for as long as he walks the face of the earth.

"When I was burying a hole for it (the flower), I heard a meow," he later explained to KTVI-TV of St. Louis on April 12th. (See "Cat Uses One of Its Nine Lives After Being Buried Alive.")

He promptly notified his mom who sprang into action with alacrity. "As soon as I put the shovel in the ground then I could hear and then I couldn't move the dirt fast enough," she told KTVI-TV.

Muffin soon was extricated from her premature grave and taken to a local veterinarian who, if KTVI-TV is to be believed, pronounced her to be perfectly healthy. That assessment stands in stark juxtaposition to McCallum's earlier claim that she was cold, not breathing, and lacked a discernible heart beat.

"Because I couldn't find her heart rate or her breathing cause she was completely lifeless," is how McCallum defended her decision to inter Muffin to KTVI-TV.

Sarah McCallum with Muffin's Makeshift Coffin

Bradley was considerably less forgiving in his assessment of his mother's colossal mistake. "My mom thought my cat was dead because she was laying (sic) down," he told KTVI-TV.

The details are sketchy but as best it could be determined Muffin had suffered some type of seizure and then went into a coma. Even if that indeed is what happened, it nevertheless is odd that the attending veterinarian so readily gave her a clean bill of health.

Normally, cats that suffer either seizures or fainting spells are given blood tests, neurological examinations, and either MRIs or CTs before a diagnosis is made. In some cases drugs, such as Valium, phenobarbital, and potassium bromide, are prescribed so as to ward off future attacks.

Without knowing the particulars it is impossible to speculate with any measure of exactitude on either what exactly happened to Muffin or her future prognosis. Should she experience another attack, hopefully McCallum belatedly has learned her lesson and will seek out veterinary intervention as opposed to resorting to the finality of the crypt.

McCallum, also has invoked the psychological well-being of Bradley and his siblings as another justification for her hellfire rush to inter Muffin. Another family cat died last year and the children apparently did not take its demise too well.

She also has sought and received absolution from her unidentified veterinarian. "Even the vet said anyone would have mistaken the cat comatose with her temperature so low," she told KTVI-TV in the article cited supra.

Bradley at Muffin's Grave

The most perplexing question of all centers on how Muffin was able to survive being trapped underground for such an extended period of time. The most plausible explanation to that riddle is that the box contained just barely enough oxygen in order to keep her alive in her comatose condition.

It also is conceivable that some air may have seeped in from above, especially if the box were not taped too tightly and the sod not packed too densely on top of it. Nevertheless, once she had revived Muffin doubtlessly would have soon exhausted her meager supply of oxygen in a futile attempt to extricate herself if Bradley had not intervened.

There accordingly can be little doubt that she owes her new lease on life to him. "This is the only cat that likes to snuggle with me," he told KTVI-TV.

When it comes to fickle-hearted individuals, love of the "mad, shadow, random, and abandoned" type that Warren Zevon sang so passionately about in his song, "Accidentally Like a Martyr," is largely a total waste of both time and energy but a cat's unconditional and unstinting devotion is far more valuable than money in the bank and therefore worth pulling out all the stops in order to retain. It also is something concrete to hold onto in an ever-changing world and, despite the tenderness of his years, Bradley seems to have developed an abiding appreciation of that petit fait.

Moreover, this is yet another poignant example of how love sometimes works its magic even from beyond the grave. (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 Long Dead Guardian.")

Nevertheless, of all the myriad of indignities that cats are subjected to during their terribly brief lives, to be prematurely written off as dead has to be sans doute the most galling of all. In addition to Muffin, a sixteen-year-old cat named Krümel from the city of Hattingen in Nordrhein Westfalen has been on the receiving end of such exasperating affronts on numerous occasions.

Krümel Asleep in Front of Jane Herold's Famous Sign

Because she has developed a penchant for sleeping in the street out front of her home at the Hotel Garni Herold at the corner of Krämersdorf and Kleine Weilstraße, concerned passersby have taken it upon themselves to notify the fire department, police, and Tierschutz on dozens of occasions based upon their mistaken belief that she is either dead or ill. That in turn has prompted her owner, seventy-seven-year-old Jane Herold, to erect a sign requesting that they contact her instead whenever they have concerns about her cat.

That was the only way that she could put an end to all the abductions and superfluous veterinary bills. "Krümel geht es gut," she said last year. "Sie ist zwar alt, aber noch fit." (See Cat Defender post of September 17, 2012 entitled "Contrary to the Neighborhood Scuttlebutt, Krümel Is Alive and Well, at Least for the Time Being, at the Hotel Garni Herold.")

If undiscriminating individuals are so determined to prematurely declare them to be dead, it is perhaps advisable that cats make it a point of honor to, if at all possible, be absent whenever such uninformed decisions are rendered. (See Cat Defender post of June 12, 2013 entitled "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.")

Although no evidence has come to light that would tend to suggest that McCallum's interment of Muffin was anything other than an honest mistake, that is not always the case in such instances. That is because more than a few hale and hearty cats and kittens are unearthed each year from shallow graves and, based upon extrapolations from the available anecdotal evidence, the actual number interred but never discovered surely must be at tragic  proportions.

For example, in one of the vilest and most contemptible acts of feline cruelty ever recorded, a brown and white kitten named Matt from the Polish town of Szamotuly (Samter in Deutsch) was discovered early last year trapped inside an upturned steel bucket that had been buried in an anthill. Saved from imminent death by passersby, he was covered in bite marks, emaciated, and dehydrated. The hundreds of bites inflicted by the ants also had led to the onset of asthma and to a buildup of fluid in his tiny lungs.

"I picked up the bucket and saw this poor kitten lying on the floor (sic) covered in ants," rescuer Magda Miechowicz told the Daily Mail on May 17, 2012. (See "Who Could Do This to Matt the Cat? Cruel Thugs Buried Kitten in Anthill to Be Eaten Alive.") "It was bleeding, fur was missing, and fluid was seeping from its eyes."


The severest damage was done to his eyes and face but, thanks to veterinary intervention, he was expected to live. "The sheer number of ant bites has left the kitten very poorly. He is very dehydrated and has large abscesses all over his body," a spokesman for the attending veterinarians told the Daily Mail. "He is lucky to be alive."

According to the authorities in Szamotuly, there is little doubt that Matt was deliberately buried in the anthill so that the insects could slowly suck the life out of him bite-by-bite all the while inflicting as much pain and suffering as possible. No further information concerning his recovery has appeared online and, if past cases of animal cruelty are any guide, it is highly unlikely that his attackers ever will be identified and apprehended let alone punished.

Along about the same time that Matt was fighting for his life in the anthill, a pretty three-year-old tortoiseshell named Libby was undergoing an eerily similar ordeal in the Brackendale section of Squamish in British Columbia. Deliberately sealed up in a five-foot-long culvert that was barely eight inches wide, she was rescued on March 6th after what is believed to have been a monthlong incarceration.

Dehydrated, emaciated, and covered in scabs and open wounds, her body temperature had plummeted precipitantly low and she weighed only six pounds. Much like Matt, she also had lost sixty per cent of her fur.

"She was extremely frightened and stressed, but once we took her into care, her demeanor totally changed," Marika Donnelley of the Squamish Valley Branch of the BC SPCA said shortly after her deliverance. "She is friendly and loving and seems so grateful to see friendly faces." (See Cat Defender post of April 4, 2012 entitled "Buried Alive in a Culvert for Weeks Without Food and With Very Little Water, Libby Is Rescued Battered and Bruised but, Thankfully, Alive.")

On August 26, 2010, an unidentified couple out picking mushrooms in Hindås, thirty-four kilometers east of Göteborg, accidentally found a trio of four-week-old kittens that had been buried alive. The two females and one male later were delivered to Tina Karlsson of Kattstugan who dewormed, sterilized, and put them up for adoption. (See Cat Defender post of September 11, 2010 entitled "Swedish Couple Out Gathering Mushrooms Unearths a Trio of Four-Week-Old Kittens Buried in the Woods.")

The Anthill

In August of that same year a trio of compassionate teenage girls from the Glen Top section of Stacksteads in the borough of Rossendale, Lancashire, stumbled upon a seven-month-old black and white kitten who had been stuffed into a basket and buried alive in a hole in the ground. The kitten later was turned over to the RSPCA's branch in Oldham, Greater Manchester. (See Lancashire Telegraph, August 27, 2010, "Buried Alive Kitten Saved by Rossendale Teenagers.")

Most live burials do not end happily, however. For instance, on May 6, 2010 a five-year-old cat named Spud died after he was knocked unconscious by a blow to the head with a shovel and then buried alive in a garden in Maxton Court on the Lansbury Park Housing Estate in Caerphilly, twelve kilometers outside of Cardiff. Due to the excessive amount of grit and mud(See South Wales Echo of Cardiff, May 27, 2010, "Cat Died after It Was Buried Alive" and Caerphilly News, Mary 27, 2010, "RSPCA Investigate Cat Buried Alive in Caerphilly Garden.")

Whereas premeditated atrocities of this sort are roundly condemned by most caring individuals, a far greater number of cats are buried alive each year through either carelessness or indifference and these totally preventable deaths rarely, if ever, spark even so much as a whimper, let alone an outcry, from the public. Heading the list of these egregious offenders are those dressed-up death camps that masquerade as animals shelters.

Each year these thoroughly abominable institutions either gas or poison to death tens of millions of cats and dogs which they then seal up in plastic trash bags and stow in refrigerators. That is in its own right  horrendous enough but their diabolical crimes are compounded by the fact that some of their totally innocent victims are not even dead.

Instead, they later revive on their own and then either suffocate or freeze to death while still trapped inside their cheap burial shrouds. Even then they are only afforded that gruesome luxury if their executioners fail to discover their plight in a timely fashion and thus do not make additional attempts upon their lives.


In one especially appalling case that attracted worldwide attention back in 2011, a beautiful cat named Andrea survived multiple gassings at the abominable and totally incorrigible animal shelter in West Valley, Utah. (See Cat Defender posts of November 12, 2011, February 7, 2012, and May 11, 2012 entitled, respectively, "The Multiple Attempts Made Upon Andrea's Life Graphically Demonstrate the Urgent Need for an Immediate Ban on the Killing of All Shelter Animals," "Long-Suffering Andrea Finally Secures a Permanent Home after Incredibly Surviving Quadruple Attempts Made on her Life by an Unrepentant Utah Shelter," and "Andrea's Incredible Survival of Two Gassings Plus Attempts to Suffocate and Freeze Her to Death Makes Her the Overwhelming Choice as Cat of the Year for 2011.")

Shelters and Animal Control officers also, in effect, bury cats alive by leaving them to die in unattended traps. (See Cat Defender post of August 23, 2010 entitled "Valley Oak SPCA Kills a Cat by Allowing It to Languish in the Heat in an Unattended Trap for Five Days at the Tulare County Courthouse.")

The Toronto Humane Society, to cite another example, is so derelict in its duties that a few years back it lured a cat into a baited trap that it had set in its very own ceiling but never once bothered to check. When it finally was discovered, the cat's remains had mummified. (See Toronto Star, November 28, 2009, "Humane Society: 'It Seems Like a House of Horrors'.")

Police officers and other law enforcement personnel likewise are guilty of gunning down and then discarding the corpses of cats and dogs that are still alive. (See People Magazine, May 12, 2003, "Dosha the Wonder Dog.")

A large number of cats also die each year after they accidentally are sealed up alive inside containers on cargo ships. Only a precious handful of those that somehow manage to survive their grueling transoceanic voyages ever make the news.


One such truly fortunate survivor was a three-month-old orange and white kitten named Ni Hao ("Hello" in Mandarin) who arrived in Los Angeles last July 11th aboard a cargo ship from Shanghai. Dehydrated, severely malnourished, and barely able to breathe, he was so weak following his death-defying sixty-five-hundred-mile misadventure that he neither could open his eyes nor stand.

After receiving emergency veterinary treatment he was placed under quarantine at the Carson Animal Care Center in Gardena. "Little by little we're getting there," Aaron Reyes of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control told MSN on July 17, 2012. (See "Meow! Stowaway Kitty Is on the Mend (and Finds His Voice).") "We're hoping that under the treatment of our med team and with rest, he'll be able to continue to recover quickly."

That indeed is exactly what happened and soon afterwards he was adopted. He now has a new life and is said to be doing extremely well. (See County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control on Facebook, June 20, 2013, "Throwback Thursday.")

Emily, China, Spice, Ginger, and Mandarin also have survived similar voyages in recent memory but Malli was not nearly so lucky. (See Cat Defender posts of December 9, 2005, May 17, 2007, July 16, 2007, August 11, 2008, September 8, 2010, and April 25, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Adventurous Wisconsin Cat Named Emily Makes Unscheduled Trip to France in Hold of Cargo Ship," "North Carolina Shelter Plotting to Kill Cat That Survived Being Trapped for Thirty-Five Days in Cargo Hold of Ship from China," "Accidentally Trapped in a Shipping Crate, Calico Cat Named Spice Survives Nineteen-Day Sea Voyage from Hawaii to San Bernardino," "Trapped Inside a Crate, Ginger Licks Up Condensation in Order to Survive a Nightmarish Sea Voyage from China to Nottinghamshire," "Mandarin Survives a Long and Harrowing Sea Voyage from China to Canada Only to Wind Up in Hock to the Calgary Humane Society," and "After Surviving a Lengthy and Hellish Confinement at Sea, Malli Dies Unexpectedly in Foster Care.")

Natural disasters and miscellaneous mishaps also have led to the live entombment of many cats within the supposedly safe and secure confines of their very own homes. (See Cat Defender posts of April 16, 2009, September 8, 2008, and August 4, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Felix Survives Being Buried Alive for Thirty-Five Days in the Rubble of the Kölner Stadtarchivs," "Bonny Is Rescued at the Last Minute after Spending Seven Weeks Entombed Underneath a Bathtub," and "Brooklyn Man Gets Locked Up in a Nuthouse and Then Loses Digs, Job, and Honey All for Attempting to Save His Friend's Cat, Rumi.")

Ni Hao

Trash compactors at recycling centers and city dumps also have become the final resting places for many cats although a few fortunate ones, such as Penny and Alfie, have had their lives spared by dramatic interventions at the last minute. (See Cat Defender posts of August 23, 2007 and May 4, 2010 entitled, respectively, "An Alert Scrap Metal Worker Discovers a Pretty Penny Hidden in a Mound of Rubble" and "Picked Up by a Garbage Truck Driver and Dumped with the Remainder of the Trash, Alfie Narrowly Misses Being Recycled.")

Although by no means insignificant, the number of cats accidentally buried alive in this fashion pales in comparison with those who are the victims of malice aforethought. For instance, forty-five-year-old bank clerk Mary Bale of Coventry demonstrated back in 2010 just how easy it is to commit these hideous crimes when she picked up Darryl and Stephanie Mann's cat, Lola, and nonchalantly stuffed her into a wheelie bin on Brays Lane.

Thanks to surveillance footage taken by the Manns' security camera, Lola later was found and rescued before the garbagemen had time to collect the trash. (See BBC, October 19, 2010, "Coventry Cat Bin Dump Woman Mary Bale Fined for Cruelty.")

Countless other cats are stuffed into duffel bags, suitcases, and backpacks and then tossed out with the trash as if they were nothing more than pairs of old, worn-out shoes. (See Cat Defender posts of October 3, 2009,  February 24, 2010, February 25, 2010, and October 14, 2011 entitled, respectively, "Deliberately Entombed Inside a Canvas Bag for Six Days, Duff Is Saved by a Pair of Alert Maintenance Workers at an Apartment Complex in Spokane," "Sealed Up Inside a Plastic Bag and then Tossed in the Trash, Titch Is Rescued by a Passerby in Essex," "Bess Twice Survives Attempts Made on Her Life Before Landing on All Four Paws at a Pub in Lincolnshire," and "Chucked Out in the Trash, Tabitha Winds Up in an Oxygen Chamber with Four Broken Ribs, an Injured Lung, and Pneumonia.")

Some individuals eschew the convenience of the trash in favor of watery graves and accordingly either toss caged cats off of bridges or abandon them on beaches in sealed cases to drown in the incoming tide. (See Cat Defender posts of January 13, 2006 and May 20, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Montana Firefighters Rescue Lucky Calico Cat Who Was Caged and Purposefully Thrown into an Icy River" and "Malice Aforethought: Upstate New York Cat Is Saved from a Watery Grave by a Dead Tree and a Passerby; New Hampshire Cat Is Not So Fortunate.")


A parcel post package, much like the one in which Muffin was buried, nearly became Sleepy's grave back on June 24, 2009 when she was stuffed into it and heartlessly abandoned outside a retail outlet in Swansea, Massachusetts. A few days earlier on June 13th, a cat subsequently named Postina was cruelly buried alive inside a mailbox in Boston's Hyde Park. (See Cat Defender post of July 3, 2009 entitled "Pretty Little Sleepy Survives a Suffocation and Starvation Attempt on Her Life Thanks to the Timely Intervention of a Mattress Store Employee.")

Even Dewey Readmore Books, who later would go on to achieve worldwide acclaim, almost never made it out of the starting gate after he was left to freeze to death in a library book return box. (See Cat Defender posts of December 7, 2006 and May 10, 2007 entitled, respectively, "After Nineteen Years of Service and Companionship, Ingrates at Iowa Library Murder Dewey Readmore Books" and "Iowa Librarian Vicki Myron Inks Million-Dollar Deal for Memoir About Dewey Readmore Books.")

Even recycling bins used to collect old clothes have been pressed into service as spur-of-the-moment tombs for unwanted cats. For example, in September of 2010 a two-week-old black kitten subsequently christened as Delilah was overheard crying for help inside a locked clothes bin by a passerby in Washington Township, New Jersey.

An Animal Control officer was summoned who used a bolt cutter in order to free the frightened and hungry kitten. She then was handed over to Common Sense for Animals of Stewartsville where the staff hand-fed and nursed her around the clock until she was old enough to eat regular cat food.

Delilah "has proven to have a will to live and is living proof that with a little help odds can be turned around," the no-kill shelter declared to the Warren Reporter of Hackettstown on October 24, 2010. (See "Two-Week-Old Kitten Left for Dead in Locked Clothes Bin Rescued in Washington Township.")

Trio of Kittens Found in a Clothing Bin in Langley

About a month or so earlier in August of the same summer, a trio of three and one-half week old orange kittens was found in a clothing bin at Ninety-Sixth Avenue and Yeoman's Crescent in the Vancouver suburb of Langley. Like Delilah, they too were spared thanks to the intervention of an unidentified Good Samaritan who overheard their plaintive cries of distress and responded by contacting the Langley RCMP which in turn mounted a successful rescue.

Malnourished, dehydrated, and covered in fleas, the kittens were turned over to the Animal and Emergency Clinic of the Fraser Valley where veterinary assistant Tara MacDonald magnanimously volunteered to foster them even though that entailed both formula and syringe feedings.

"They're absolutely adorable," she cooed to The Vancouver Sun on August 12, 2010. (See "Three Kittens Rescued after Being Dumped in Donation Bin.") "They come to work with me every day, they play with my children and they're doing really well."

She ultimately decided to adopt the male kitten, Tigger, who now resides with her and her two other cats, Jack and Cricket, as well as her dog, Angus. The two females were surrendered to the nearby Abbotsford chapter of the BC SPCA and that is the last that ever was heard of them.

Although the Victorians harbored in their bosoms a deep-seated fear of being entombed alive, scarcely a word is uttered nowadays on that ghastly subject. That is even more so the case with cats who down through history have been afforded few, if any, safeguards against being victimized in such a cruel and unjust manner. Au contraire, human ingenuity has logged considerable overtime in conjuring up more and more novel means of burying them alive in makeshift graves.

In addition to manifesting an appalling disregard for the sanctity of life, such aberrant behavior represents a pigheaded refusal on the part of both individuals and society to accept cats as moral and legal equals. In most people's view, it is only man and his egotistical selfishness that matters and, thanks to such narrow-minded thinking, even he is rapidly become irrelevant.

Photos: KTVI-TV (Muffin, McCallum, and Bradley), Udo Kreikenbohm of Der Westen (Krümel), Daily Mail and Euro Pics (Matt), Dietrich Rose Corbis (anthill), Squamish Valley Branch of the BC SPCA (Libby), The Mirror (Andrea), Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (Ni Hao), Common Sense for Animals (Delilah), and Animal and Emergency Clinic of the Fraser Valley (Langley kittens).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

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."
-- Karen Jones
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.

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.

Although Ashford was voted as the fourth best place to live in Angleterre back in 2005, its population of one-hundred-eighteen-thousand souls, most of whom likely own and operate automobiles, makes major parts of it far too dangerous for footloose cats. It therefore does not take any genius to understand that unless Jones belatedly wakes up and undertakes immediate remedial measures in order to safeguard Norman from the machinations of motorists he is destined to wind up like Casper, PCAT, and millions of cats like them. (See Cat Defender posts of January 30, 2010 and November 21, 2012 entitled, respectively, "Casper Is Run Down and Killed by a Hit-and-Run Taxi Driver While Crossing the Street in Order to Get to the Bus Stop" 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.")

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).