Gypsy Is Discovered Alive and Well Hiding in a Hole Underneath a Sink Three Weeks after an EF5 Tornado Destroys an Oklahoman City
|Gypsy and Misty Satterlee|
"When I got back over there I decided to call one more time for her and I just barely heard a little meow."
-- Misty Satterlee
When a deadly EF5 tornado clocked at three-hundred-twenty-one kilometers per hour roared through Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20th Misty Satterlee and her family were forced to flee the house that had served as their home for the past eight years. In doing so, they left behind their longhaired black, brown, and white cat, Gypsy, to fend for herself.
As best the story can be pieced together from press reports, Satterlee did not return to her wrecked home until three weeks later on June 10th and even then it was not ostensibly in order to look for Gypsy but rather to show off the damage to a brother who was visiting from out of town. Nevertheless, since she already was on the premises she decided to look for Gypsy as well.
"When I got back over there I decided to call one more time for her and I just barely heard a little meow," she told KWTV of nearby Oklahoma City on June 11th. (See "Family Finds Pet Cat Alive Inside Wall of Destroyed Home in Moore.")
As it eventually became clear, that faint cry was coming from a hole underneath a sink. The local fire department was summoned and, after knocking a hole in the wall, Gypsy was pulled to safety.
Thin and dehydrated but apparently otherwise unharmed, she was taken to a local veterinarian who placed her on an intravenous drip in order to quickly restore some of the fluids that she had lost during her prolonged incarceration. At last report, she was expected to make a complete recovery.
"I'm so happy to have her back," Satterlee added to KWTV. "Our family's complete now."
It is theorized that Gypsy took sanctuary in the hole underneath the sink in order to protect herself from the disintegrating walls, blown-away roof, and other assorted flying debris. That quick thinking likely saved her life but the killer winds also apparently left her so traumatized that she was unable to muster enough courage in order to forsake the security afforded by her newfound hiding place.
With the roof long gone, she likely survived on rain water although she also may have been able to snare some rodents and insects for sustenance. There also could have been small bits of food scattered around the dwelling.
If that scenario is in any way accurate, Gypsy certainly would not by any means be the first cat to have undergone a similar ordeal. For instance in June of 2008, a black Persian-mix named Bonny belonging to Monika Hoppert of Stadthagen in Niedersachsen was accidentally entombed underneath a neighbor's bathtub for an astonishing seven weeks.
In much the same fashion that Gypsy's was forced to survive on rain water, Bonny managed to avoid perishing from dehydration by lapping up water that had leaked from the tub. Even with that expedient at her disposal, her weight had plummeted from thirteen to four pounds by the time that she was rescued. (See Cat Defender post of September 8, 2008 entitled "Bonny Is Rescued at the Last Minute after Spending Seven Weeks Entombed Underneath a Bathtub.")
Based upon Gypsy's level of emaciation and dehydration, it is safe to assume that in her case both food and water were in extremely short supply. Plus, the violent storm coupled with Satterlee's desertion of her surely must have taken an extremely high psychological toll on her.
In that regard, it is impossible to tell from press reports if Satterlee's desertion of her in her hour of greatest need either was intentional or dictated by circumstances. For instance, it is conceivable that she made every attempt humanly possible in order to take Gypsy with her but simply was unable to do so.
At the same time it also is possible that she thought only of saving her own skin and little or nothing about Gypsy's welfare. That is precisely what Edgar K. and Susi S. did on December 31, 2009 when they left their nine-month-old cat, Lumpi, to die in an inferno that had engulfed their second floor apartment in Altshausen, Baden Württemberg.
Their heartless abandonment of him was made all the more reprehensible owning to the fact that it was precisely his cries and scratching at their bedroom door that had awakened them from their slumber and thus made possible their escape. Although no additional proof was needed, their abhorrent behavior demonstrated writ large once again that man is unquestionably the most selfish and ungrateful of all the animals. (See Cat Defender post of April 3, 2010 entitled "Lumpi Is Unforgivably Left to Die in a Burning Apartment by the Ingrates Whose Lives He Saved.")
In her defense, Satterlee claims that Gypsy never was far from her thoughts. "There's a tiny part of me that just wanted to hang on and keep looking for her because she's our family," she told KWTV in the article cited supra. "We've had her eight years and she's part of us and we aren't complete without her."
It is nonetheless difficult to reconcile those lofty sentiments with her three-week delay in returning to collect her. Even more telling, if her brother had not been visiting it could have been months before she eventually returned home and by that time Gypsy surely would have been dead.
Although Gypsy's sanctuary easily could have been instantaneously transformed into her final resting place if the entire house had collapsed, she at least had that much of a retreat at her disposal. That is considerably more than can be said for homeless cats and kittens that wind up in the paths of tornadoes.
For example, a tortoiseshell kitten named Spinner was picked up off the ground and bandied about much like a kite by a twister that slammed through the outskirts of Albert Lea in southeast Minnesota on June 17, 2010. She later was found plastered to a board on Curtis Peterson's farm in the nearby community of Armstrong.
|Jim Johnson with the Kittens|
Covered in mud and near death, she also had sustained a broken leg. "She couldn't move and she couldn't meow," Dan Smith of the Albert Lea Veterinary Clinic later said. "Her littermates were in the trees. They didn't make it."
Smith was able to mend her broken leg with a pin before putting her up for adoption. Regrettably, it has not been possible to ascertain what ultimately became of this beautiful little girl. (See Cat Defender post of August 31, 2010 entitled "Picked Up Off the Ground by a Tornado and Slammed into a Board, Spinner Sustains a Broken Leg but Survives Bloody and Unbowed to Live Another Day.")
Bereft of any means of protecting themselves, the death toll of homeless cats caught in tornadoes must be astronomical. Besides being swept up off the ground, they easily are victimized by falling buildings, trees, and other flying objects.
Under such dire circumstances their options are pretty much limited to seeking shelter in either a ravine or a hole in the ground until the tornado passes overhead. Even if they are fortunate enough in order to weather the blunt of these storms, procuring food and water in their aftermaths can be difficult, especially in areas that have been both destroyed and evacuated.
Hurricanes can be even deadlier than tornadoes in that homeless cats are not only forced to cope with extremely high and violent winds but flooding as well. Compounding matters further, even those that belong to managed colonies often are unable to count on the assistance of their caregivers during these emergencies.
For instance, when hurricanes Irene and Sandy battered Atlantic City in 2011 and 2012, respectively, Alley Cat Allies cruelly and irresponsibly abandoned more than one-hundred of its cats that live underneath the Boardwalk to their own devices. (See Cat Defender posts of December 10, 2011 and January 2, 2013 entitled, respectively, "Snowball Succumbs to the Inevitable after Toughing It Out for Two Decades at Atlantic City's Dangerous Underwood Hotel" and "Alley Cat Allies Demonstrates Its Utter Contempt for the Sanctity of Life by Unconscionably Killing Off Its Office Cat, Jared.")
Tornadoes and hurricanes are far from being the only threats that warm weather poses to cats. Hornets are another as a trio of three-week-old kittens found out firsthand back in October of 2011.
Kindhearted construction worker Jim Johnson of West Fargo, North Dakota, was delivering some tiles to a cabin in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, on October 7th when his unidentified co-worker overheard crying coming from inside an adjacent garage. Upon closer inspection, he discovered two brown and white kittens and a tuxedo secreted away in the window well but that was the least of their troubles in that they were covered from head to toe with hornets.
"They were crawling out of their ears, and they were embedded in their bodies," he later told The Forum of Fargo-Moorland on October 9, 2011. (See "Saved from the Swarm: West Fargo Man Rescues Kittens from Attacking Hornets.")
|The Two Kittens That Survived an Attack by Hornets|
Without hesitation, Johnson donned his colleague's large hooded sweatshirt and attacked the hornets with a board which, predictably, only further incensed them. "As hard as I swung the board, the more I'd be pissing them all off," he candidly admitted afterwards.
In spite of that, he was able to get down on his knees and remove the kittens one-by-one to safety. Then, using the sleeve of the sweatshirt as a makeshift glove, he pulled the hornets off of the kittens' fur.
As things turned out, his heroics came just in the nick of time because although the tuxedo was still putting up quite a spirited fight, its littermates had abandoned the uphill struggle and were lying motionless in the window well. "Never have I seen such a helpless moment like this. Those cats wouldn't have lived much longer," he told The Forum in the article cited supra. "From the time they opened their eyes, they were probably coated with hornets."
For his trouble, Johnson was rewarded with twenty stings to his mouth, neck, hands, and arms but, thankfully, he did not go into anaphylactic shock and apparently did not even require medical attention. He also received an inadvertent bite on one of his hands courtesy of the terrified tuxedo.
Afterwards he drove them eighty-two kilometers to his home in West Fargo where he fed them a special milk, most likely Kitten Milk Replacement. He next took them to a local veterinarian who placed them on antibiotics.
Sadly, one of the brown and white kittens died a day later on Saturday, October 8th but the remaining pair survived and by Sunday were climbing all over Johnson's living room couch. "It's amazing how fast they're coming back," he marveled to The Forum.
Unfortunately, Johnson was unable to give the survivors a home and instead immediately put them up for adoption. As was the case with Spinner, it has not been possible to determine what ultimately became of them.
"I don't want to get too attached to them," was the last word from Johnson's wife, Marianne.
|The Courageous Tuxedo Kitten|
Outfitted in work clothes that often are smudged with dirt and coated with grim, they may not look like much to the bourgeoisie and the capitalists, but construction workers continue to demonstrate that they have some of the biggest hearts in this world. For example on December 30, 2010, Paul Champagne, Tom Kelsey, and John Schnopps of Chabot Construction Company went out of their way in order to rescue a black and white kitten named Chabot-Matrix who cruelly had been abandoned on an ice floe in the Pennesseewassee Stream in Norway, Maine. (See Cat Defender post of March 25, 2011 entitled "Compassionate Construction Workers Interrupt Their Busy Day in Order to Rescue Chabot-Matrix from a Stream in Maine.")
Johnson's only mistake in judgment was to return to the garage with a tank of propane gas and a plumbing torch where he proceeded in short order to kill off the hornets and to remove their painstakingly-constructed nest. In addition to their inalienable right to live, hornets desperately are needed in order to pollinate flowering plants and trees.
That is especially the case in light of the alarming disappearance of both wild bees and those that are used as commercial pollinators. (See Cat Defender post of April 30, 2007 entitled "Pollinating Honey Bees Are Dying Off in Droves as Entomologists Grope Around in the Dark for the Cause.")
Besides, with the kittens safely rescued there was not any need to have killed them. Also, winter comes early to Minnesota and the hornets soon would have gone into hibernation and that would have made relocating their nest, if necessary, a far simpler and safer task.
Generally speaking, hornets do not pose much of a threat to either humans or cats so long as the location of their nests is known and avoided. On the contrary, large nests that have been erected above portals and windows often are a godsend in that they serve as powerful deterrents to burglars and other mischief-makers. The goal, as always, should be to appreciate, respect, and to work with nature as opposed to attempting to transform and obliterate it.
With Old Man Winter already knocking on their doorstep, the kittens surely would not have lasted much longer even if they somehow had been able to withstand the onslaught mounted by the hornets. That was especially the case with their mother nowhere to be found.
The Forum stated categorically that she had abandoned them but that almost certainly was not the case. Rather, it is far more probable that she was killed either by the hornets, some other predator, or a scum-of-the-earth motorist who runs down cats for sport.
It is even conceivable that she could have been trapped and killed by either Animal Control or a local TNR practitioner. It is not widely reported but some TNR adherents trap mother cats that they never return.
While it is not known with any certainty what they then do with those cats that they so indiscriminately trap and remove, it is a good bet that they kill a majority of them. In doing so, they are cruelly and unconscionably condemning litters of up to eight helpless kittens to prolonged and agonizing deaths from either starvation or predation.
Even though almost any substance that a cat ingests can be potentially harmful to its health, many individuals are unaware of the numerous dangers that lurk in something as innocuous as pond water. That terrifying reality was driven home with tragic consequences to sixty-year-old Betty Evans of Wildwood in the Woodside section of Telford in Shropshire during the summer of 2011.
The trouble began when some children from the neighborhood returned from a fishing trip to a nearby stream and offered to restock her backyard pond with some of their catch. Unwittingly, she accepted their generosity without having any idea of exactly what they were dumping in her pond.
Her nine-year-old cat, Blossom, drank from the pond and, despite veterinary intervention, eventually went blind. Her other cat, Sam, also drank from the pond and immediately thereafter developed vision problems of his own.
"A couple of weeks ago Blossom came in with a really bloodshot eye. Last week both eyes were affected and despite operations at the vet, she has now lost her sight," Evans explained to News Today on August 16, 2011. (See "Killer Shrimp Blinds Cat.") "My other cat, Sam, is also now showing signs that his eyes might be going bad."
Initially, the culprit was believed to have been a voracious species of killer shrimp from eastern Europe known as Dikerogammarus villosus. They kill, but do not eat, native shrimp, young fish, blue-tailed damselflies, nymphs, water hog lice, water boatmen, and fish leeches. An investigation undertaken by the Environmental Agency exonerated the killer shrimp on August 16th of that year and instead placed the blame on a hog louse (Asellus aquaticus), essentially an aquatic woodlouse. (See Shropshire Star, August 16, 2011, "Killer Shrimp 'Did Not Blind Cat'.")
Blossom and Sam were far from being the only animals to be adversely affected by the introduction of the hog louse into Evans' pond. "I used to have a lot of toads and frogs in my garden who would all come out at night and play, but now there are very few and they all look thin and yellow," she told News Today in the article cited supra.
Skin cancer is another disease that imperils the lives of cats with white fur and since the rays of the sun are at their hottest during the summer months that is when the danger is greatest. For example, late last year a cat named Victoria from Newent in Gloucester fell victim to that deadly disease and never recovered. (See Cat Defender posts of November 14, 2012 and February 9, 2013 entitled, respectively, "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" and "New Start Cat Rescue Center Abruptly Kills Off Victoria after the Cancer Returns to Her Already Ravaged Ears.")
Earlier this summer a cat named Luna from Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire, Scotland, also lost both of her ears to skin cancer. (See Cat Defender post of August 12, 2013 entitled "Luna Weathers a Costly Assault from Old Sol and Is Looking to Make a New Start in Life but a Dark Cloud Is Looming over Her Future.")
Chemicals used on cats in order to control fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other parasites also can lead to serious health consequences if they are improperly applied. That is precisely what happened to a pair of fifteen-month-old Bengal cats named Shy and Huli Buli from Ashford Carbonel in Shropshire during the summer of 2010.
|Sam and Betty Evans|
"I got a call from my daughter who told me that the cats had gone into fits and were having convulsions," their owner, Jennifer Leyton-Purrier, later disclosed. "They were in a terrible state and although I tried using water to wash off the treatment that is applied to the neck it was no good."
That which followed was anything but pleasant. The cats' condition deteriorated so rapidly that it was necessary for the attending veterinarian to place them in medically-induced comas where they were fed intravenously.
They hovered between life and death for four days before finally improving enough in order to be allowed to go home. It was not known at that time, however, if they had suffered any long-term, permanent damage from the chemicals.
Leyton-Purrier, who at last report was a member of the Ludlow Town Council, later admitted that she inexcusably had failed to read the label on the retardant before dousing Shy and Huli Buli with it. (See Cat Defender post of September 15, 2010 entitled "Shy and Huli Buli Go into Convulsions and Wind Up in the Hospital for Four Days after They Are Doused with a Topical Flea Insecticide.")
In addition to fits and convulsions, insect retardants also have been known to cause, inter alia, skin irritations, burns, and welts, neurological damage, upset stomachs, excessive drooling, uncontrollable shaking, unsteady gaits, and even death. A far more sensible approach is to use organic deterrents and to manually remove ticks from cats' fur.
Although warm weather presents a significant number of dangers to cats, it is still far preferable to the numbing cold, snow, ice, and darkness that conspire to make wintertime such an unrelenting misery. Much more importantly as far as homeless cats are concerned, there is little or nothing for them to eat and precious little shelter to be found during the winter.
The summer of 2013 soon will be history. Once it makes its quietus it will take along with it all the long, hot and sunny days as well as the easy living.
The birds no longer will be around to herald the beginning of each new day with their joyful songs and the fire flies, who so beautifully lighten up the evenings, also will be long gone. The crickets will no longer provide their free daily concerts and the trees will lose their foliage.
Most plants, flowers, and shrubs will disintegrate into nothingness and the hum of the bees, wasps, and other insects will be stilled. In sum, the verdant and lively landscape of summer will be transformed almost overnight into a barren, dead, and silent environment that is every bit as inhospitable as it is ugly.
If an individual is fortunate enough to live for eighty years he is destined to see only eighty summers. For cats, the reality is an even harsher one in that their summers most often can be counted on one paw.
The wisdom expressed all those years ago by American poet Oliver Herford is still worth remembering today:
"Gather kittens while you may,
Time brings only sorrow;
And the kittens of today
Will be old cats tomorrow."
Photos: KWTV (Gypsy and Satterlee), Geri McShane of the Albert Lea Tribune (Spinner), David Samson of The Forum (Johnson with brown and white kitten and bottle-feeding the tuxedo), WDAY, 970 AM Radio of Fargo (the two surviving kittens), News Today (Blossom), and Shropshire Star (Sam and Betty Evans).