Unforgettable Hattie, Who Annually Returns Home for Christmas, Is Crowned as Cat of the Year for 2012
The most readily observable feature about the cats of 2012 is that an astounding sixteen of the eighteen selected experienced episodes of either abandonment or homelessness at one time or another during their lifetimes. It is even conceivable that the two exceptions, Krümel and Sophie, also were plagued by these perennial feline maladies even though there is not anything in the record to indicate that was indeed the case.
Nine of them were victims of violence, including PCAT, Sugar, Mausi, and Krümel, who were deliberately preyed upon by motorists. Alvin had his rear end blown off by an assailant armed with a firecracker while Chips was not only injured but left an orphan by a wildfire.
Libby was buried alive and left for dead in a culvert whereas Toldo was stoned while frequenting the grave of his beloved guardian. Later in 2013, the world famous mayor of Talkeetna, Stubbs, was mauled to within an inch of his life by an unleashed, vicious dog.
The morally unacceptable practice of whereby shelters and veterinarians kill, as opposed to treating, sick and injured cats continued unabated and claimed the lives of Victoria and Tuxedo Stan. In addition to them, PCAT, Sophie, and Bisbee are no longer alive.
Burli, Libby, Alvin, Sugar, Mausi, Pudding, and Fidge rebounded nicely from adversity but the jury is still out on Hattie, Krümel, Hilary, Stubbs, and Chips.
Any one of these wonderful cats would have been more than deserving to wear the crown of Cat of the Year, but due to the uniqueness and melancholic nature of her plight that honor cannot be denied to elderly and peripatetic Hattie.
For a look back at previous Cat of the Year articles see Cat Defender posts of December 21, 2006, December 25, 2007, January 25, 2009, February 20, 2010, February 23, 2011, and May 11, 2012 entitled, respectively, "Heroes and Victims: Sixteen Special Cats to Remember from the Year 2006," "Survivors and Adventurers: Fifteen Wonderful Cats to Remember from the Year 2007," "Sparkles, Who Was Forced to Pay the Ultimate Price for Belonging to the World's Most Abused Species, Tops the List of the Most Memorable Cats of 2008," "Abandoned and Left to Die in the Cold and Snow of Wisconsin, Domino Was the Most Memorable Cat of 2009," "Frosty, Who Nearly Froze and Starved to Death in an Uncaring Capitalist's Frozen Food Warehouse, Stands Out as the Most Remarkable Cat of 2010," 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.")
1.) Hattie. "The Christmas Cat" Returns Home for the Sixth Consecutive Year.
|Hattie and Allan Spurgeon|
"I really love animals and taking care of them. I'm going to feel really bad some year when she doesn't come back."
-- Allan Spurgeon
The most unforgettable story to come out of 2012 concerned a fifteen-year-old longhaired female named Hattie with white fur who is one of Allan Spurgeon's barn cats in tiny Hope, Minnesota. Like her sixteen-year-old mother, who by the way is still alive, and her great-grandfather, she was born on Spurgeon's farm and, according to him, her first nine years on this earth were anything but exceptional.
Six years ago, however, she began to roam. Specifically, she mysteriously disappears each May only to return home a few days before Christmas. That has prompted Spurgeon to dub her as "The Christmas Cat."
"It's cool that she comes back before Christmas -- just in case there is a gift for her just like a child would," he said last December following her return on Christmas Eve. Because of her advanced years, Spurgeon initially had feared that he had seen the last of her and that she would not be coming back.
If there were any consolation to be found in his trepidations it was in the fact that he felt exactly the same way the first time that she vanished. "I looked in all the buildings and ditches and didn't find her anywhere, thought she was dead," he recalled. "Then on the morning of Christmas Eve Day the first year, she returned."
Throughout all the years and all the mysterious disappearances and miraculous returns Spurgeon never has been able to ascertain where his prodigal feline spends her summers and autumns. "It's a mystery to us," he said. "She's the only one (of his barn cats) that wanders."
Owatonna veterinarian Stephen Krumm believes that she is roughing it. "She probably is living off the land in the summer and returns home during the winter just like we have summer and winter homes sometimes," he theorized.
That seems highly improbable, however, in that winter usually arrives sometime in October in Minnesota and consequently there is little food, water, and shelter available for footloose cats. That nevertheless is typical of the callous, uninformed, slapdash thinking that the public has become accustomed to expect from members of his shamelessly immoral and moneygrubbing profession.
For his part, the longtime professional barber at first thought that she might be hanging out at the Hope Campground but since the water is shut off there in early autumn that seems unlikely. Also, since she has been spayed, she certainly is not on the prowl for romance.
The most logical explanation is that she has a summer home but since Spurgeon does not know of any seasonal residents in Hope, he cavalierly has dismissed that notion. That does not necessarily invalidate the theory in that Hattie conceivably could have secured a summer home outside of Hope.
The mere fact that she spent four days cooped up inside her winterized shed immediately after returning home last Christmas Eve is one indication that she was recuperating after a long and arduous journey. Cats, after all, have been known to travel amazing distances.
Besides, most tourists are such a cold-blooded lot that they think little or nothing about nakedly exploiting cats for the companionship and other services that they freely provide during the warm summer months only to turn around and cruelly abandon them to their own devices once the arrival of the snow, ice, and cold prompts them to hightail it back to their sunny winter homes. They then sadistically marvel at their survival instincts should they perchance encounter them again the following summer.
Even Spurgeon is guilty of the same callous indifference. "She's a tough animal," he marveled last year. "I was worried at first, but she is obviously doing okay."
That is hardly the case. In addition to the ever present threat of abduction, she easily could be run down and killed for sport by a motorist.
She additionally could be preyed upon by coyotes, foxes, owls, wolves, and other predators in the area. The elements are another concern and, since she has white fur, the onset of skin cancer is a distinct possibility.
Most important of all, she is getting on and desperately needs to be in a secure and warm home environment. About the only thing that she has going for herself in that regard is that long genes obviously run in her family.
"I really love animals and taking care of them," Spurgeon added. "I'm going to feel really bad some year when she doesn't come back."
So, too, are an awful lot of cat-lovers around the world who are on pins and needles and hoping against hope that Hattie somehow will be able to make it home again this year for at least one more Christmas. (See Cat Defender post of February 1, 2013 entitled "Precious Little Hattie Returns Home for Her Sixth Consecutive, but Hopefully Not Last, Christmas.")
2.) Krümel. Elderly Cat's Life Is Placed in Mortal Danger Because of Her Unusual Sleeping Habit.
|Krümel Alongside Her Now Famous Sign|
These are not brief catnaps either but rather full-blown snoozes which only magnify the dangers that she unwittingly is exposing herself to on a daily basis. "Wenn sie einmal liegt, dann liegt sie und steht für nichts und niemanden mehr auf," Herold confided. "Oft schläft sie mitten auf der Kleinen Weilstraße und die Autofahrer müssen um sie herumkurven."
Compounding matters further, she lost her right eye to an infection some time ago and when she goes to sleep her head droops forward in an unnatural position that makes it appear as if she were dead. That in turn has led dozens of concerned citizens into incorrectly deducing that she either is sick or dead.
As a result, they have telephoned Tierschutz personnel more than twenty times and Herold's daughter even once intercepted a fireman carting away Krümel. One concerned citizen even abducted her and took her to a local veterinarian.
All that accomplished, however, was to stress out Krümel and to saddle Herold with a veterinary bill that cost an arm and a leg. "Ich bekam einen Anruf, ich möge bitte meine Katze abholen," Herold related. "Aber jetzt reicht es wirklich, das kostet mich und auch die Katze viele Nerven."
Realizing that she had to do something drastic in order to put an end to these abductions, the transplanted Englishwoman erected the following sign outside the hotel that she has operated for the past forty-five years: "Wenn Sie ein Problem mit meiner Katze haben, melden Sie dies bitte nicht sofort Feuerwehr, Polizei oder Tierschutz, sondern rufen mich an unter 2 23 35."
So far, the sign appears to be having its intended effect. "Ich merke schon, wenn hier Leute vorbeigehen, dass sie zögern und gucken," Herold said.
There can be no denying, however, that Herold is taking a simply awful chance in allowing a cat as old as Krümel to sleep in the street. Besides the machinations of motorists, a concerned citizen might very well conclude that she is an unfit guardian and simply steal Krümel.
In spite of all of that, Herold remains unfazed. "Krümel geht es gut," she averred 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.")
3.) Burli. Elderly Tom's Mysterious Disappearance Leads to a Miraculous Reunion and the Unexpected Discovery of His Secret Past.
"Er ist uns an einem Wochenende vor sechzehn Jahren zugelaufen und nicht mehr weggegangen. Seitdem ist der Burli bei uns," he added. "Der ist ein richtiges Familienmitglied: Meine Mutter mit fünfundachztig Jahres pflegt ihn genauso, wie es meine Kinder, meine Frau und ich natürlich tun."
Given Burli's advanced years, Hans then jumped to the logical conclusion. "Das machen Katzen, wenn sie spüren, dass es zuende geht," he sadly deduced.
Unbeknownst to him, however, Burli was still very much alive and living on his own in the woods of Aying, only fifteen kilometers from home. He was discovered by Bernhard Schöttl and his nineteen-year-old son, Kilian, who shortly thereafter turned him over to Tierschutzverein München (TSV).
The staff at TSV then received the shock of their lives when, after deciphering an ear tattoo, they discovered that Burli's real name was Poldi and that he had disappeared from his previous home in Unterhaching, twenty-five kilometers from Glonn, sixteen years previously. Their shock was matched by that of Burli's original owner once she was apprised of the situation.
"Sie war total perplex, hat keine Sekunde überlegt, ob sie Poldi zurücknehmen soll -- das war für sie selbstverständlich," the charity's Eveline Kosenbach related. "Sie hat ihn damals überall gesucht."
For whatever reason the unidentified woman chose not to assert her ownership of Burli and TSV took to the radio airwaves in order to publicize his plight. Luckily for him, Hans was out driving in his car one day when he by chance heard one of those broadcasts.
"Ein roter Kater? Sehr dünn? Ohne Vorderzähne? Das ist unser Burli!" he belatedly realized.
He then drove like hell to TSV where he was shown to the quarantine area. Burli, who was reclining on a pillow, meowed when he first saw Hans and extended a paw in greeting. The tears came unbidden to his guardian's eyes as he gathered up Burli in his arms.
"Bei uns heißt er, Burli, und dass wir ihn wiederhaben, ist das schönste Ostergeschenk," he later exclaimed.
Unfortunately, while he was interned at TSV veterinarians discovered that Burli is suffering from both liver disease and Feline Hyperthyroidism but all is not lost. "Aber jetzt sind unsere Tierärzte guter Hoffung, dass sie ihn wieder hinkriegen," Monika von Tettenborn of TSV later said.
Although he may be living on borrowed time, Burli is more than happy to be spending his dwindling days sleeping, playing in the garden, and eating sliced chicken. "Das ist Burlis Leibspeise," Hans added. (See Cat Defender post of June 1, 2012 entitled "A Tattoo Unravels Burli's Secret Past but It Is a Radio Broadcast That Ultimately Leads to His Happy Reunion with His Forever Grateful Current Guardian.")
4.) PCAT. College Unforgivably Sacrifices Its Longtime Resident Feline to a Hit-and-Run Motorist.
"She was a real asset to the college and had always been completely spoiled," is how college steward Angie Davies chose to eulogize her. By making a declaration so grotesquely at odds with reality she obviously was either jesting or has a rather limited understanding of what it means to spoil a cat.
Actually, PCA did very little for PCAT while she was alive. Furnishing her with an unheated "little kennel" and not ratting her out to the knackers at either the RSPCA or some other so-called rescue group was about the extent of its benevolence toward her.
The school apparently did not have even enough compassion to feed and water her. That in turn forced her to cadge food from students. "She used to hang about and now and then you'd do something like hand her a cheeky bit of ham from your sandwich," sophomore photography student Dan Richards recalled.
As far as it is known, the school never even once took PCAT to see a veterinarian and it certainly did not endeavor to secure a permanent home for her. All of those glaring omissions pale in comparison, however, with its adamant refusal to lift so much as a lousy finger in order to safeguard her fragile life.
The college is located in a congested area and under no circumstances should she have been allowed anywhere near vehicular traffic. The administration, faculty, and student body at PCA accordingly are guilty of deliberately killing PCAT just as if they had placed a gun to her lovely temple and pulled the trigger.
The intelligentsia at PCA and elsewhere are under the mistaken impression that because of the privileged perches that they occupy within society's perverted pecking order they are exempt them from all moral and legal obligations. Au contraire, if the animal protection statutes were worth the parchment on which they are written, everyone at the school would have been charged with gross negligence and animal cruelty in connection with PCAT's untimely death.
The college's abdication of its responsibilities is made all the more deplorable by the fact that with an annual operating budget of £8 million it has moola to burn. Yet even after PCAT's tragic death an unidentified spokesperson for the administration remained ignorant as to even her gender. "The cat had visited the campus on a daily basis for over ten years and seemed to adopt the college as its home," was all that the mouthpiece was able to say.
The response to her death from the well-heeled student body was equally disappointing. "Everyone is talking about her," young Richards volunteered. "It's felt really weird in the college now she's gone."
To their credit, the students did donate a paltry £100 in order to have PCAT's corpse burned and her ashes placed in a miniature oak box with her name engraved on the lid. It is not known, however, what was done with her makeshift coffin.
With that being the case, it is highly unlikely that she received so much as either a memorial service or a tombstone anywhere on campus. As far as the members of the faculty are concerned, none of them have uttered so much as peep concerning her death but that is to be expected from such moral retards and self-absorbed slugs.
"Everyone loved PCAT," Davies insists. "She was a help to some students that were stressed. She calmed them down with a stroke."
Even if she is being so much as halfway sincere, the type of love that she and the rest of PCA bestowed upon PCAT during her brief life was the wrong kind. Otherwise, she would still be alive today. (See Cat Defender post of November 21, 2012 entitled "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.")
5.) Bisbee. Texas A&M's Beloved Unofficial Mascot Dies Suddenly.
The cat, estimated to have been between ten and thirteen years old, was such an integral part of the A&M experience that none of the routine campus tours given to all incoming freshmen each autumn was complete without a stop at BSBE in order to introduce the new arrivals to him. Moreover, his fame was by no means confined to the campus itself but rather it extended well beyond its physical boundaries to include more than six-thousand followers on Facebook plus an additional three-thousand on Twitter.
Sadly, he disappeared from BSBE on July 10th. A large Lost Cat poster was erected in front of the building and students favorably disposed toward him turned to the Internet in order to plead for his safe return. Even college President R. Bowen Loftin was moved to go on Twitter in order to solicit assistance in locating him.
All of their sincere efforts turned out to be in vain as Eugenia Beh, formerly of the Sperling C. Evans Library, had suspected from the outset. "Since the weather has been clear the last couple of days, he usually would have been outside," she surmised. "I am kind of afraid that the went off to pass away."
On July 19th her worst fears, unlike those that Hans S. harbored in his bosom regarding his beloved Burli, were confirmed when a maintenance worker discovered Bisbee's lifeless body in a crawl space at BSBE. "He used to go there to get away from the elements," Beh added. "He appeared to pass away peacefully."
While there is something profoundly sad about this wonderful cat who meant so much to so many people for such a very long time dying all alone in a lonely, deserted crawl space, Beh nevertheless was thankful at least to finally have closure. "I'm glad that at last we know what happened to him. It is better than not knowing," she said. "I'm in mourning with thousands of students, faculty, staff and alums right now."
A temporary memorial consisting of a small tree, toys, and written condolences was established in his honor outside of BSBE and plans calling for the commissioning of a life-sized bronze likeness of him were briefly entertained. "When Bisbee passed away a lot of students expressed interest in a memorial. The cat was just so amazing," BSBE greenhouse manageress Ginger Stuessy said. "He touched so many people. We just want to keep his memory going."
Regrettably, all of that splendid talk ultimately turned out to be just a lot of hot air. Beh subsequently left the library and Stuessy retired and with their departures from the A&M scene the idea to memorialize Bisbee died, much like him, a quiet and unsung death.
"I would hate for them (the incoming class of 2016) not to be able to meet him," Xavier Lozano, a political science major, said once word first spread about Bisbee's disappearance. Tragically, that can never be either in the flesh or in bronze. (See Cat Defender post of October 15, 2012 entitled "Texas A&M Ushers In a New Academic Year But Things Are Just Not Quite the Same Without Its Beloved Bisbee.")
6.) Libby. Pretty Tortoiseshell Survives Being Buried Alive for Weeks in a Culvert.
The simply diabolical means that some individuals improvise in order to do away with unwanted cats continue to astound. Take, for instance, the case of Libby, a three-year-old tortoiseshell from the Brackendale section of Squamish in British Columbia, who sometime in February of last year was sealed up and left for dead in a five-foot-long culvert that was only eight-inches wide.
Cruelly deprived of food, water, companionship, and any protection whatsoever against the elements, her weight had plummeted to only six pounds and she was near death when she finally was discovered at 9 a.m. on March 6th by an unidentified public employee. In spite of her obviously weakened condition, the plucky female nevertheless was able to somehow summon the strength in order to elude for more than three hours traps set for her by the Squamish Valley Branch of the BC SPCA.
Once she finally was corralled, fluids were administered to her in order to help alleviate her severe dehydration and she was placed on a heating pad in an effort to rapidly elevate her body temperature. The extended period of time that she was forced to spend in the desolate culvert, which was sealed off with a combination of rocks, wood, and tree bark, nevertheless had robbed her of considerably more than just her normal body temperature and a few meals.
"We suspect that she may have been abandoned in the densely wooded area for some time before she was discovered because she has severe hair loss on sixty per cent of her body and is covered in scabs and open wounds," Marika Donnelly of the BC SPCA later revealed.
Quite understandably, Libby at first was extremely frightened of her rescuers but she quickly came around once she realized that they did not mean her any harm. "She has a wonderful, feisty attitude and a ravenous appetite so we are hopeful that she will make a full recovery and that someone will come forward to offer her a home," Donnelly added.
Fortunately for her, all of that and more eventually became a reality. Not only did she recover from her injuries but soon thereafter she found a new home where, at last word, she is said to be doing "wonderful."
Regrettably, no arrest ever was made in this simply outrageous case of animal cruelty. Furthermore, it is doubtful that either the BC SPCA or the police even bothered to so much as look into the matter.
That is all the more egregious in that the culvert in which Libby was found is located adjacent to the Squamish City Dump and other cats doubtlessly also have been interred there while still alive. (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.")
7.) Victoria. Long-Suffering Female Is Done In by Both Skin Cancer and Her Rescuers.
One of the most heartbreaking stories to come out of 2012 concerned a white cat with grayish-black spots named Victoria from Newent in Gloucester. Picked up off the street by an unidentified Good Samaritan on October 14th, she already was suffering from advanced skin cancer.
The pain was so horrific in fact that she had been forced to rely upon her own primitive devices in a futile effort to rid her body of the deadly invader. As a result, one of her ears was left dangling uselessly at the side of her face.
"The cat had been in so much discomfort it had resorted to ripping its own ear off to try and relieve itself of its constant agony, leaving it in such a state of disfigurement," Sue Cowlishaw of New Start Cat Rescue Center (NSCRC), which took her in, said at the time of her rescue.
She underwent emergency surgery and was placed in foster care with the charity's Wendy Hyde. "She's not out of the woods yet but she's certainly on the mend...she is a lot more perky now and she's taken over my living room," Hyde reported soon thereafter.
Donations in excess of £500 poured in from as far afield as Canada, New Zealand, and China and Victoria received offers of adoption from concerned individuals living in both London and on the Isle of Jersey. At that point it looked like she had beaten the odds and was going to live.
That made NSCRC's announcement during the early days of January that she had been killed off, presumably just after Christmas, all the more shocking. "She was so brave. But the vet confirmed my worst fears that the cancer had returned," Hyde related on that solemn occasion. "There were no options left for her."
As it so often is the case in circumstances like this, the charity failed to provide any particulars as to either the extent of Victoria's cancer or the measures undertaken in order to treat it. Even more importantly, it never has explained why it was necessary to have killed her instead of allowing her to die a natural death.
Likewise, it never has disclosed what it did with her remains. NSCRC's total lack of candor on all of these issues strongly suggests that it was too cheap to treat her, too lazy to have cared for her, and too uncaring to have provided her with even a decent burial and a fitting tombstone.
The terrible fate that befell Victoria is a poignant reminder that cats with white fur should not be allowed out in the sunlight for extended periods of time unless prophylactic measures are undertaken beforehand. Sadly, homeless cats like her do not have anyone to protect them from the ravages of Old Sol.
In her case it is unclear whether she, a friendly and sociable cat, was abandoned either before or after she contracted skin cancer. For her part, Louise Barrow of New Start believes that it likely was the latter and, if true, that makes what was done to her tantamount to premeditated murder.
"It looks like the owner has abandoned her. How could anyone do that?" she asked rhetorically. "We, more than anyone, know just how expensive vets' bills are at the moment, but it is awful."
In addition to coping with the unrelenting pain in her ears, Victoria also was forced to somehow summon the stamina and will power in order to procure food, water, and shelter during all of those months that she was forging an existence on the mean streets of Newent. Plus, she also had to be constantly on guard against both human and animal predators.
Everyone who either walked in or out of her all-too-brief existence on this earth failed her and she unquestionably deserved far better. (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.")
8.) Alvin. Kitten Survives Having a Firecracker Rammed Up His Rear End and Detonated.
While most sensible citizens of Ballina in New South Wales were celebrating the arrival of 2012 in a humane fashion, one of their moral retards was busy getting his perverted jollies by using a firecracker in order to blow off the anus of a five-week-old brown and white kitten named Alvin. Although the pain and trauma that he experienced must have been nothing short of pure torment, he somehow survived that New Year's Eve attack but was left to wander the streets on his own for weeks without either solace or treatment. In addition to all of that he had to procure food, water, and shelter as well as steer clear of predators.
It was not until he was discovered at the Ballina Fair Shopping Center in mid-January by Northern Rivers Animal Services that he belatedly was delivered to Racecourse Road Veterinary Hospital (RRVH) for emergency treatment. It is not known either how long he wandered around the busy mall in his agony or how many shoppers and retailers callously turned a blind eye to his desperate plight.
By the time that he reached RRVH he was severely emaciated as the result of either a lack of food or the inability to properly digest and eliminate what little he was able to procure. That, however, was the least of his worries.
"Alvin had burns right down his legs, his fur was burnt and his whiskers had been burnt off. He had severe damage around his anus and severe burning inside," Rachelle Beardsworth of RRVH reported after examining him. "When we were cleaning him up we actually found the burnt wick from the firecracker."
Beardsworth and her staff attended to his wounds, administered pain medication, and placed him on a special diet. "He's doing great," she enthusiastically reported in February. "We're doing procedures on Alvin two or three times a week because we are trying to get his bottom to function properly."
It may sound counterintuitive but Beardworth also was forced into taking unspecified preventive measures in order to slow down the healing process so as to reduce scarring. "With burns, there can be a lot of scar tissue, which wouldn't be good for him in that location," she said. "But compared to the little kitten that came here three weeks ago, it is just an amazing transformation."
Because it was feared that he would require extensive veterinary care for a very long time, RRVH initially decided against offering him to the public and instead planned on making him its office cat. "We have all fallen in love with him. He rules the roost here," Beardsworth added. "Now he greets everyone in the waiting room; he is a gorgeous-natured little fellow. But he's also a bundle of mischief."
That plan was kayoed by, of all things, his love of dogs and RRVH accordingly was forced to put him up for adoption for his own safety. The fact that his rear end had healed up nicely and, most important of all, he had regained full function of it, made the decision to let him go a no-brainer.
He now resides with a retired couple who, according to Beardsworth, "love him to bits." Good-bye does not always mean forever and she is still able to see him ever once in a while when his guardians bring him in for his regular checkups.
As an added bonus, she insists that Alvin still remembers her and the clinic. "He has truly landed in a wonderful place," she added in a recent letter.
It would have been oh so easy for Beardworth to have killed off Alvin like so many of her fellow practitioners surely would have done under the circumstances but instead she chose to treat him and for that she deserves all the praise in the world. As for Alvin, he is living proof that ever once in a while a determined cat is able to triumph somewhere besides in a storybook.
The one disconcerting note is that the perpetrator of this despicable act of animal cruelty remains at large thanks to the indifference of both the Ballina Police and the Australian RSPCA. "Alvin is so trusting," Beardsworth astutely pointed out. "He would have trusted the person that did this to him (and) that makes my blood boil. I have never seen anything this nasty." (See Cat Defender post of March 31, 2012 entitled "Alvin Amazingly Survives on His Own for a Fortnight Until Help Arrives after a Low-Life Scumbag Blows Off Most of His Rear End with a Firecracker.")
9.) Sugar. Courageous Mother Cat, Crippled by a Hit-and-Run Motorist, Perseveres in Order to Save Her Kittens.
The cruelties that often befall some cats are so heinous that just even contemplating them is difficult and what happened to Sugar most definitely falls into that category. Her only consolation is that she, unlike so many cats, was able to survive in order to live another day.
Sometime in early 2012, her unidentified owner left her all alone in the basement of a vacated house in Essex County, New Jersey, and relocated elsewhere. Not only was she left without food, water, and heat, but she also was pregnant.
Once her kittens arrived she was forced to venture out into the violent streets in order to procure sustenance for herself so that she could continue nursing them. Not surprisingly, it did not take long before she deliberately was mowed down and left for dead by a hit-and-run motorist.
Although that attack left her with two broken legs and a fractured hip, she nevertheless was able to summon the strength in order to crawl back home and continue caring for her young ones. Eventually her desperate plight was discovered and she and her kittens were delivered to the Homeless Animal Rescue Team (HART) in Cranford.
There she underwent two surgeries in order to repair her legs and hip and, best of all, she was expected to have made a complete recovery. Although it is not known what ultimately became of her, according to HART she and her kittens are doing "fine."
Regardless of wherever she may be, Sugar's heroics and dedication to the well-being of her kittens will always serve as an inspiration to one and all. (See Cat Defender post of May 2, 2012 entitled "Pregnant, Abandoned, and Then Deliberately Almost Killed by a Hit-and-Run Driver, Sugar Crawls Back to Her Subterranean Abode in Order to Feed Her Kittens.")
10.) Hilary. Elderly Female Is Saved by a Compassionate Northumbrian after the Hotel That She Called Home Closes.
All of that changed in late January when J and G Inns, which had been operating the historic twenty-one-room hotel on a lease from The Lord Crewe Arms Charitable Trust, threw in the towel and and abandoned ship. Even more outrageously, the hotel chain left town without making any provisions whatsoever for Hilary's continued care.
That was when kindhearted Kath Lennon, one of the quaint town's one-hundred-forty permanent residents, stepped into the breach. "I was in the hotel bar on its last night before closure and asked what would happen to Hilary," she later confided. "Everybody wanted to make sure she was all right and I volunteered to feed her."
Besides providing her with food twice a day, Lennon also ensures that she has plenty of milk. Almost as importantly, she arranged it that the hotel's boiler room remained open so that Hilary was not left outdoors to brave the elements. From all initial accounts that arrangement appears to be working out well for Hilary. "She's a hardy cat and certainly hasn't lost her appetite," Lennon added.
The inn later was leased to Calcot Hotels who are renovating it to the tune of £1 million. It initially was to have reopened in March of 2013 but that date has been pushed forward by at least a year.
In never has been publicly explained what affect the renovations are destined to have on Hilary's status. Moreover, as far as it is known neither Calcot nor the hotel's new manager, Tommy Mark, ever have publicly commented one way or another on Hilary's status.
Most alarming of all, Calcot's Linda Geddes professed total ignorance of both Hilary and her fate when recently contacted. Attempts to reach Lennon for an update on Hilary's health and status also have yet to bear fruit.
If Mark and his cronies have so much as a lick of sense, they will not repeat the same colossal mistake of their predecessors. Instead, they will have the bon sens to recognize that Hilary is one of the hotel's most valuable assets.
"Hilary is one of the village's best-known characters -- to both residents and visitors," Lennon declared. "People come around specially to say hello to her and visitors remember her."
Much more important than that, she has spent practically her entire life at The Lord Crewe Arms and to uproot her now would be nothing short of cruel and insensitive. She has become in fact such a great ambassador for the establishment that her name and its are almost synonymous. (See Cat Defender post of May 18, 2012 entitled "Left Out in the Cold When the Medieval Hotel That She Called Home for Twenty Years Closed, Hilary Is Befriended by a Compassionate Northumbrian.")
11.) Stubbs. Throwaway Kitten Survives in Order to Become the Mayor of an Alaskan Town.
|His Honor Mayor Stubbs of Talkeetna|
Although the United States may have long ago ceased to be a land of opportunity as far as most of its denizens are concerned, in tiny Talkeetna, Alaska, sixteen-year-old Stubbs is living proof that rags to riches success stories are still possible for some cats. In his case, his origin was so humble that it is nothing short of a minor miracle that he ever made it out of kittenhood.
That is because his owner wanted rid of him so bad that either he or she had resorted to the expedient of offering him and his litter mates free of charge to the public from out of a cardboard box in a parking lot. Luckily for him, Lauri Stec took an immediate shine to him and adopted him on the spot.
Since the part-Manx tom lacked a tail, she christened him Stubbs and shortly thereafter he was designated as the town's honorary mayor. As a result of that momentous decision, Mayor Stubbs has put Talkeetna on the map and in doing so attained world renown for himself.
"He's good. Probably the best we've had," Stec proclaimed last year. "He doesn't raise our taxes (and) we have no sales tax. He doesn't interfere with business."
He also has become a tourist magnet all by himself. "Oh my gosh, we probably have thirty to forty people a day come in who are tourists wanting to see him," Stec said in reference to Nagley's Store, which she manages. "He was just in Alaska Magazine (April 2012 edition), and he's been featured in a few different things."
Although the mayor is blessed with the patience of Job, the daily nonstop parade of gaping and pawing tourists sometimes gets on even his nerves. "He meowed and meowed and meowed and demanded to be picked up and put on the counter," Skye Farrar, who works alongside Stec at Nagley's, revealed last year. "And he demanded to be taken away from the tourists. Then he had his long afternoon nap."
Even though attending to official business and meeting with his many admirers consumes a lion's share of the mayor's time, he nevertheless sometimes manages to slip away to his favorite watering hole for a wine glass filled with catnip-laced water. Despite that indulgence, he never has been seen to be so much as even tipsy, let alone pie-eyed and shitfaced as is so often the case with many politicians.
"I'm very confident that Talkeetna will be A-OK as long as we have Stubbs around," Farrar predicted. That does not mean, however, that the mayor's job is always a bowl of cherries.
"His biggest political rivals would be other local businesses that would hate that he comes over and takes a nap and leaves fur everywhere," Farrar said. "They aren't big fans of him. We usually say, 'You have to deal with it. He runs the town'."
As 2013 was destined to demonstrate, Talkeetna's large population of unleashed dogs pose an even more ominous threat to Stubbs' continued good health and tenure as mayor than do any of his political rivals. (See Cat Defender posts of September 25, 2012 and October 28, 2013 entitled, respectively, "Talkeetna Has Profited Handsomely from Mayor Stubbs' Enlightened Leadership but the Lure of Higher Office Soon Could Be Beckoning Him to Change His Address" and "Slow to Recuperate from Life-Threatening Injuries Sustained in a Savage Mauling by an Unleashed Dog, Stubbs Announces His Intention to Stop Down as Mayor of Talkeetna.")
12.) Toldo. Italian Cat's Love for His Guardian Transcends the Grave.
When he was only three months old, Toldo was rescued from a colony in Montagnana, Padova Province, by Renzo Iozzelli. Little did either of them know it at the time but that was destined to be the beginning of a great love affair that ultimately would transcend the grave.
Like all mortals, Iozzelli departed this vale of tears on September 22, 2011 and his gray and white cat dutifully followed his coffin as it wended its way from the house that they shared to the cemetery. Although there certainly was not anything unusual about that, Iozzelli's widow, Ada, immediately suspected that something extraordinary was occurring when she visited the grave the following morning and found a sprig of acacia lying on top of it.
"Andammo al cimetero con mia figlia e trovammo sulla tomba un rametto di acacia," she told the Corriere Fiorentino last December. "Io pensai subito che fosse stato il gatto, ma mia figlia era convinta che lo dicessi solo per lo stato emotivo in cui mi trovavo in quei momenti."
It did not take long however for her to be proven correct and her daughter to be shown to be in error when later that night her son-in-law visited the cemetery and found Toldo standing guard over Iozzelli's grave. Ever since then Toldo not only has been visiting his dead guardian's grave on a regular basis but he also on these occasions brings along with him small tokens of his enduring affection. Although the gifts consist primarily of useless sticks, leaves, twigs, plastic cups, and paper towels, that in no way diminishes either the thought or the effort that goes into their procurement.
"He loved my husband. It was something else," Ada explained to London's Independent on January 4th of this year. "Now it's just me, my daughter and my son-in-law and he's very affectionate with us too."
With cats, love is never a one-way street and while he was alive Iozzelli surely must have labored extremely hard in order to have instilled such devotion in Toldo. "Mio marito era molto affettuoso con lui. Renzo amava gli animali," Ada told the Corriere Fiorentino. "È quasi come se Toldo volesse essergli riconoscente. È un gatto speciale, non si può che volergli bene."
That is not entirely true in that some visitors to the cemetery have resorted of late to throwing rocks and other projectiles at Toldo so as to drive him out of the area. At last report, concerns over his personal safety were temporarily in abeyance due to a respiratory infection that had resulted in pretty much confining him to home. (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.")
13.) Sophie. Beloved Tortoiseshell's Sudden Death Pushes Her Guardian over the Edge.
Much like the undying love that Toldo still harbors in his heart for Iozzelli, Michael McAleese's profound affection for his thirteen-year-old tortoiseshell, Sophie, also transcended the grave. Although in the case of the forty-four-year-old bachelor from Hillcrest Road in the Parkstone section of Poole in Dorset his love was destined to have tragic consequences.
The great affair of the heart began when McAleese's landlady, Adriana Van Dijk, asked him to care for Sophie while she was away from home. He soon became so attached to her that Van Dijk eventually gave her to him.
"As soon as Michael saw Sophie he seemed to fall in love with her," she reported. "She had the sweetest nature and they totally clicked. She was like a child to him."
She also was mortal and on December 8, 2011 she suffered a stroke and died in McAleese's arms. "He was devastated when she died and phoned me in the middle of the night," Van Dijk later revealed. "He slept with her for three days until he couldn't stand the smell any longer. I tired to persuade him life was more than a cat, but in his case it wasn't."
On December 13th, McAleese posted a video on YouTube that was captioned: "This is in her memory. She was such a wonderful little cat. This is a montage tribute to my beloved Sophie cat. I loved her so much and still do."
Eight days later on December 21st, McAleese was found dead in his flat of an apparent drug overdose that included Secobarbital. In May of 2012, a coroner's inquest concluded that he had taken his own life.
"The flat was very tidy, it looked like everything was prepared for his death," David Tong of that office theorized. Indeed, a book on how to commit suicide along with several notes whose contents never have been made public were found alongside his lifeless body.
Earlier he had informed an unidentified man who had stopped by in order to collect Sophie's corpse for cremation that he was contemplating suicide but the worker apparently never acted upon that information. The same held true for Van Dijk and the victim's sister, Juliet Willmore, who also were acutely aware of his psychological vulnerability.
The fact that his mother had died a few years earlier and that he lived alone sans doute contributed mightily to his sense of social isolation and despondency. It also did not help matters that he was out of work.
Sophie was all that he had left in this world and when she died he, quite understandably, was unable to go on with life. Fortunately for Toldo, he still has Iozzelli's family for succor in his time of bereavement. (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.")
14.) Mausi. Pretty Young Calico Is Rescued on the Autobahn by a Münchner Ehepaar.
On March 23rd, Hannelore and Erich B. of München were out motoring on Autobahn 8 near Günzburg when they spied something unusual on the petrol tank of a passing truck. "Ich dachte, das ist ein Lappen," Erich later admitted with a red face.
Actually, it was a very frightened pretty young calico cat. The couple then attempted to alert the truckdriver to stop but all of their frantic gesticulations were in vain.
In desperation, Hannelore held up an improvised handwritten note that read "Katze! Hinten!" and that did the trick. The driver shortly thereafter pulled over at the Ulm-Elchingen Interchange where Autobahn 8 and Autobahn 7 intersect and the cat was rescued just in the nick of time.
"Da war die Katze mehr tot als lebendig," Hannelore later said. "Sie war verletzt, das Fell war ölverschmiert."
Although that act of compassion was pretty stupendous in its own right, it was merely the first installment in the kindhearted Münchner couple's heroics. They next transported the injured cat to Germeringer Tierklinik in Fürstenfeldbruck, twenty-five kilometers west of München, for emergency treatment.
They did not even flinch when the mercenary practitioners stuck them with a bill for €197. As for the cat, she not only made a full recovery but was given a new name, Mausi, to boot.
She then was handed over to Tierschutzverein München (TSV) where she was forced to spend the following two months before finally being adopted. At last report she was said to be doing rather well in her new home.
Since the truckdriver had begun his route in Obertaufkirchen im Landkreis Mühldorf am Inn and apparently had not made any stops in between there and where Mausi was rescued, TSV concentrated its search for Mausi's original owner in that vicinity. Unfortunately, no one ever came forward in order to reclaim her and all that the charity was able to ascertain was that she had been let out of an automobile in a commercial park. She then unwittingly climbed aboard the trucker's rig where she soon found herself hanging on for dear life as he roared down the Autobahn.
Most abandonments do not end happily for cats but, thanks to Hannelore and Erich's intervention, Mausi survived and now has her entire life ahead of her. (See Cat Defender post of March 28, 2013 entitled "Mausi Is Saved from a Potentially Violent Death on the Fast and Furious Autobahn Thanks to the Dramatic Intervention of a Münchner Couple.")
15.) Chips. Orphaned Bobcat Is First Saved and Then Thrown to the Wolves.
The Chips wildfire that roared through the Plumas National Forest in August consumed seventy-five-thousand acres and claimed the lives of countless animals as well. One of the fortunate survivors was a three to four week old orphaned bobcat kitten subsequently dubbed Chips.
Dazed, dehydrated, and walking in circles, she was discovered alongside a road outside of Chester, California, on August 25th by Charles "Tad" Hair of the Mad River Ranger District of the United States Forest Service. He cruelly and irresponsibly attempted to ignore her desperate plight but she would not be put off and began following in his footsteps. In fact, every time that he would stop she would curl up around his boots.
Even then his first inclination was not to come to her aid but rather to reunite her with her mother and then to continue on with his mop up work. That proved to be impossible, however. "No tracks whatsoever in the ash except for this little gal's," he later affirmed.
Belatedly, compassion won out over expediency in his divided heart and he gathered her up in his arms and took her back to his base in West Lake Almanor. "I just couldn't leave him (sic) there," he reasoned.
She shortly thereafter was handed over to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care (LTWC) in South Lake Tahoe where she was diagnosed to be suffering from second degree burns to her back and all four paws. Her whiskers were singed and her eyes were filled with soot and oozing so much pus that she could barely see well enough in order to even walk.
The staff at LTWC tended to her burns and flushed out her eyes thrice daily in order to remove the soot as well as to treat an infection. They also removed the soot and ash from her fur.
Since she did not yet have any teeth, she was fed a daily ration of twelve pulverized mice. She also was placed on a special kitten formula in order to help alleviate her dehydration as well as to soothe her irritated throat and lungs.
On November 1st she was transferred to Sierra Wildlife Rescue (SWR) in Placerville where she was confined with three other orphaned bobcats in an outdoor enclosure. Over the course of the following several months she was expected to learn how to hunt and to get along with her den mates.
Most important of all, staffers deliberately mistreated her in a belated effort to replace the positive feelings that she had developed toward humans with a persistent fear of them. "If you have a friendly bobcat in the wild, that's not going to work," Jill Tripoli of SWR explained.
Despite the preposterousness of SWR's claim that in less than six months it was able to teach Chips what it would have taken her mother six to twelve months to have done in the wild, she was released in either Humboldt or Lassen counties on April 19th of this year. If she survived for so much as a fortnight she was extremely lucky. (See Cat Defender posts of February 21, 2013 and December 13, 2013 entitled, respectively, "Orphaned by a Wildfire and Then Rescued by a Forest Ranger, Chips Is Bracing for a Frightening Return to the Wild" and "Chips Is Abandoned in the Perilous California Wild Where Her Fur Alone Is Worth $700 to Trappers.")
16.) Tuxedo Stan. Handsome Tom Runs for Mayor in Halifax.
He also founded the Tuxedo Party not only to promote his candidacy but, much more importantly, to attract attention to the desperate plight of homeless cats in Halifax and elsewhere. Not only true to his word but every bit as honest as the day is long, he generously donated the proceeds from the sale of his campaign buttons, T-shirts, and lawn signs to a mass sterilization effort.
Unfortunately, he did not prevail in that undertaking but by running under the campaign slogan of "Because Neglect Isn't Working," he did succeed in focusing public attention upon an issue that officials in Halifax had ignored for all too long. Moreover, having been born at a veterinary hospital to a cat who only recently had been rescued from the street herself, Stan was acutely qualified to lobby the public on behalf of other homeless cats and kittens.
"I knew Stan from the day he was born," his guardian, retired veterinarian Hugh Chisholm, would later say. "He was a real bright light, and when I saw that and saw his stunning good looks I said, 'Enough, I am bringing him home with me'."
It often is said that no good deed goes unpunished and that certainly turned out to be prophetic in Stan's case. At things eventually turned out, his campaign for mayor was destined to be his last hurrah as the dawning of 2013 brought with it nothing but pain and sorrow for this wonderful cat. (See Cat Defender posts of September 25, 2012 and September 26, 2013 entitled, respectively, "Talkeetna Has Profited Handsomely from Mayor Stubbs' Enlightened Leadership but the Lure of Higher Office Soon Could Be Beckoning Him to Change His Address" and "Former Halifax Mayoral Hopeful Tuxedo Stan Is Killed Off by His Owner after Chemotherapy Fails to Halt the Onslaught of Renal Lymphoma.")
17.) Pudding. Elderly Tom Saves His Guardian's Life Only Hours after Having Been Adopted from a Shelter.
|Pudding and Amy Jung|
Unlike the vast majority of men and women, cats remain eternally grateful to those who befriend them. A good example of that marvelous character trait in practice is to be found in the life and times of a long-suffering nine-year-old orange and white cat named Pudding who resides in Sturgeon, Wisconsin.
To say that life has not always been kind to him would be a gross understatement. Born in July of 2003, he unceremoniously was dumped at the Door County Humane Society (DCHS) in February of 2008 because his owner allegedly had developed an allergic reaction to him. In April of that same year he was adopted by a new owner but when that person died in January of 2012 it was back to DCHS for him.
On February 8th of last year he was adopted again and this time by thirty-six-year-old Amy Jung and her son, Ethan. Although she was ignorant of it at the time, that act of compassion on her part was destined to end up saving her life.
At around 11 p.m. on that same day, Jung was sound asleep when she went into insulin shock. Instantly realizing that something was terribly wrong, Pudding raced into her bedroom and jumped up on her chest in a frantic attempt to awaken her.
When that did not work he began swatting her in the face with his paws and tenderly biting her on the nose. Those expedients worked like a charm but even once she had revived Jung was still unable to get the attention of her slumbering son.
That was when Pudding raced into Ethan's room and rudely awakened him by jumping in bed on top of him. Thus, Jung survived the night in order to live another day all because of the heroics of a cat that she had adopted from a shelter only hours previously.
"He just really took right over. Really second nature. Anything he could to pull me out of it," Jung later testified. "If something or someone hadn't pulled me out of that, I wouldn't be here."
Furthermore, Jung was far from being the only beneficiary of Pudding's heroics in that after his story went viral on the Internet monetary donations poured in to DCHS from as far afield as Singapore and Brazil. Halo Foods of Tampa even went so far as to donate five-thousand meals, for both cats and dogs, to DCHS. All of that made for a fitting reward for an organization that time and time again has eschewed the sodium pentobarbital in order to stand steadfast at Pudding's side throughout all of his ups and down during his rollercoaster existence.
"It's been a crazy month but one that has unfolded in such an unexpectedly happy way," the organization stated in the winter edition of its in-house publication, Door Animals Quarterly. "In extraordinary instances, an animal actually saves a life. Most often, our pets open more subtle doors to a better, fuller, healthier, funnier life." (See Cat Defender post of April 21, 2012 entitled "Adopted from a Shelter Only Hours Previously, Pudding Saves His Rescuer's Life by Awakening Her from a Diabetic Seizure.")
18.) Fidge. Adopted Cat Alerts Her Owner to a Cancerous Growth on One of Her Breasts.
|Fidge and Wendy Humphreys|
In September of 2011, a pea-sized lump was found in fifty-two-year-old Wendy Humphreys' right breast. That was bad enough news in its own right but luckily for her the cancer was detected in time and for that she has her black and white resident feline, Fidge, to thank.
It was, after all, the cat whom she had adopted as an eight-week-old kitten in May of that year who first alerted her to the presence of the unwanted growth. "She kept coming and sitting on my right breast when I was lying on the settee. She would jump up onto it every night for a fortnight," Humphreys, of Wroughton in Wiltshire, later disclosed. "I went to see my GP (General Practitioner) because I thought it was bruised. It just hurt and I didn't think anything else could be wrong."
Unfortunately for her the growth turned out to be malignant and that necessitated her being forced to undergo extensive chemotherapy. Worst still, the afflicted appendage was scheduled to have been surgically removed in March of 2012.
As dreadful as all of that has been, the important thing is that she is still alive. "The chemo is hard and I'm dreading having my breast removed," she said. "But I am going to beat it."
She also is eternally grateful to Fidge for giving her a second chance at life. "She saved my life, definitely. No hesitation at all," she declared. "I was told that if I hadn't been diagnosed when I was I would have died because of the hormones in the menopause. I am so glad I got her."
In much the same fashion that Pudding now sits at Jung's feet in order to warn her whenever her blood-sugar level gets out of whack, Fidge has remained vigilant at Humphreys's side. "She goes around on your (sic) shoulder and on your (sic) back and none of the other cats have done that," she added. "She never leaves me alone. Every morning she jumps up and makes sure I'm all right."
As a reward, Fidge now receives the royal treatment from Humphreys and her family. "We have given her plenty of food and toys and everything," she related. "But giving them love and loyalty is enough. Not all animals have that."
As laudable as those sentiments may be, that does not alter the salient fact that they are woefully insufficient. Rather, what is urgently needed is an uncompromising, no-nonsense commitment to ending all killing, abuse, and exploitation of cats. (See Cat Defender post of April 20, 2012 entitled "Grateful for Being Provided with a Loving Home, Fidge in Turn Saves Her Mistress's Life by Alerting Her to a Malignant Growth on Her Breast.")
Photos: Ashley Stewart of The Leader of Owatonna (Hattie and Spurgeon), Udo Kreikenbohm of Der Westen (Krümel), Sigi Müller of the München Abendzeitung (Burli), Facebook (PCAT, Bisbee, Stubbs, and Tuxedo Stan), Squamish Valley Branch of the BC SPCA (Libby), The Citizen of Gloucester (Victoria), Northern Star (Alvin), Homeless Animal Rescue Team (Sugar), North News and the Daily Mail (Hilary), Corriere Fiorentino (Toldo), Bournemouth Echo (Sophie), TZ-Online (Mausi), Lake Tahoe Wildlife Center (Chips), Tina M. Gohr of the Green Bay Press-Gazette (Pudding and Jung), and Swindon Advertiser (Fidge and Humphreys).