Hamish McHamish's Derelict Owner Reenters His Life after Fourteen Years of Abject Neglect Only to Have Him Killed Off after He Contracts a Preeminently Treatable Common Cold
"I picked him out of the litter because he was the boldest. Arguably that was a mistake."
-- Marianne Baird
The only thing worse than reporting upon the death of a cat is being forced to bury one. It nevertheless is a sorrowful task that must be performed.
It therefore was with profound sadness coupled with a burning outrage that it recently was learned that former BBC producer Marianne Baird had enlisted the services of an unidentified veterinarian in St. Andrews in order to kill off the world famous Hamish McHamish. (See Cat Defender post of June 20, 2014 entitled "St. Andrews Honors Hamish McHamish with a Bronze Statue but Does Not Have the Decency, Love, and Compassion in Order to Provide Him with a Warm, Secure, and Permanent Home.")
That dirty and patently immoral deed was carried out early on September 11th allegedly because the handsome longhaired orange and white tom with watery green eyes had contracted a common cold. "In the end, the chest infection that he had been battling proved too much for him and the kindest thing to do was to let him go," either Baird or one of her flunkies announced on that date in an untitled article that appeared on Hamish's popular Facebook page.
As best it could be determined, he had been ill for only a few days in that an August 25th note on his Facebook page failed to make any mention of him being sick. In fact, the first inkling that there was anything amiss with him at all surfaced on September 9th in another untitled article on his Facebook page. Even that posting is remarkable only for what it failed to disclose. For example:
"Most of you will have noticed that I've been a little quieter lately. That's because I have been rather poorly. At fifteen years young, things that were once easy to overcome are now more difficult. My mum and the vet are keeping a close eye on me and I am being very well looked after. For now though, I'm taking some time to try to get better."As it always is the case in matters such as this, no specifics as to Hamish's health have been revealed. All that the public has to go on is Baird's assertion that he was better off dead.
Without knowing all the specifics it is difficult to speak with any degree of authority but it nonetheless is strongly suspected that Hamish was killed off simply because Baird was too cheap and lazy in order to care for him during his time of greatest need. As far as her accomplice is concerned, it is well established that murdering cats, dogs, and other animals constitutes a substantial portion of all veterinarians' income.
For instance, it is common practice for these charlatans to charge distraught owners an arm and a leg in order to treat ailing cats. When they demur, the bloodsuckers counter by offering to whack their companions at a far more reasonable fee. If truth in advertising any longer counted for much of anything, the members of this disgraceful profession would be compelled by law to promote themselves as butchers as opposed to animal doctors.
The premature, cold-blooded killing off of Hamish involves considerably more than moral and ethical objections however in that it is beyond debate that common colds in cats, as in humans, are preeminently treatable maladies. While it is true that a cat's immune system is pretty much on its own when it comes to fighting off the primary viral infection, the amino acid Lysine has been shown to be helpful in that regard. Antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, can be prescribed in order to treat secondary bacterial infections.
In addition to all of that, cats need to be kept hydrated and well nourished. In the event that for whatever reason they fail to eat and drink, they must be forcibly fed and given subcutaneous fluids.
"The prognosis for recovery from viral upper respiratory infections is excellent, with the majority of adult cats making a full recovery," Manhattan veterinarian Arnold Plotnick wrote August 17, 2006 in an article entitled "Viral Upper Respiratory Infections in Cats" that can be found online at www.manhattancats.com.
Furthermore, it is not merely unconscionable owners like Baird and moneygrubbing veterinarians that are in the habit of killing off cats with common colds but Animal Control officers and shelters as well. For example, on September 1st of last year Burlington Animal Control stole and subsequently murdered Anna Latimer's six-year-old gray and deaf cat, Snuffy, all because she, like Hamish, had come down with a common cold.
Like Plotnick, Scott Mathison of Queen West Animal Hospital in Toronto is of the opinion that cats suffering from common colds and the herpes virus should not be killed. "Definitely not," he told Metro Canada on September 6, 2013. (See "Runaway Cat Euthanized Without Owner's Consent over Cold-Like Symptoms.")
Although it is utterly reprehensible, the sad truth of the matter is that there are not many owners and even fewer shelters that are willing to devote the time and money required in order to nurse cats stricken with common colds back to health. Rather, they look upon them in much the same fashion as they do pairs of worn-out shoes.
The common thread that unites both individuals and shelters alike is the pressing desire to get rid of aged, sickly, and injured cats as quickly and as cheaply as possible. The mere existence of such a perverted sense of values speaks volumes for the human race but it is anything but a flattering story.
|Hamish on the Go, July 18th|
Hamish's immune system ultimately may not have been resilient enough in order to have successfully warded off the infection, especially considering his advanced years, but he unreservedly deserved to have been given every opportunity, no matter how marginal, to have gone on living. By depriving him of that opportunity both Baird and the attending practitioner are guilty of cold-blooded, premeditated murder.
Baird's behavior is especially appalling in that she cruelly abandoned Hamish to wander the forbidding streets of St. Andrews like a threadbare vagabond as soon as he had celebrated his first birthday. Then, lo and behold, she reentered his life fourteen years later only to have him killed off.
Even if worse had come to worst, Hamish was quite capable of dying on his own and at his own sweet time and he certainly neither needed nor wanted any input from his derelict owner. The dying part of existence is every bit as easy as falling off of a log backwards; it is the living part that rips out the guts of both cats and men.
Baird's simply abhorrent mistreatment of Hamish bears a striking resemblance to that meted out to another fifteen-year-old cat named Dodger from West Street in Bridport, Dorset, by his derelict owner, Fee Jeanes. Too busy pursuing a career as a hoofer in order to properly care for him, she likewise turned loose the ginger-colored tom to ride the buses in Dorset and Devonshire by his lonesome and only reentered his life at the last minute in February of 2012 after he had been diagnosed with a stomach tumor.
Like Baird, she quickly dispensed with her custodial and moral obligations to Dodger by having him whacked by the practitioners at Bredy Veterinary Centre. Quite obviously, both mesdames consider abject neglect and jabs of sodium pentobarbital to constitute the alpha and the omega of proper cat care. (See Cat Defender post of August 27, 2014 entitled "After Traveling for So Many Miles on the Bridport to Charmouth Bus, Dodger's Last Ride Is, Ironically, to the Vet Who Unconscionably Snuffs Out His Precious Life at the Urging of His Derelict Owner.")
In London, the Fleet Street crowd is often disparagingly referred to as reptiles and that comparison is grossly unfair, not to the former, but rather to the latter. By virtue of the privileged perches that they occupy as members of the Fourth Estate, Baird and her colleagues go through life believing that they are entitled to only the very best that this world has to offer.
Such an attitude is accompanied by the equally strong conviction that they owe absolutely nothing to anyone in return. Not surprisingly, journalists have a long and checkered history of abusing and killing cats. (See Cat Defender posts of July 17, 2013, September 28, 2011, and February 9, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Not Satisfied with Merely Whacking Meiko, Garrison Keillor Struts on Stage in Order to Shed a Bucketful of Crocodile Tears and to Denigrate the Entire Species," "Marvin Is Betrayed, Abducted, and Murdered by a Journalist and a Shelter Who Preposterously Maintain That They Were Doing Him a Favor," and "Newspaper Cat Named Tripod Is Killed Off by Journalists He Befriended in Vermont.")
All of those heinous crimes are in addition to the simply outrageous libels and slanders that the capitalist media are constantly directing at the species at the urging of ornithologists, wildlife biologists, and the United States government. (See Cat Defender posts of March 23, 2007, December 8, 2007, July 10, 2008, and June 15, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Bird Lovers in South Africa Break Out the Champagne to Celebrate the Merciless Gunning Down of the Last of Robben Island's Cats," "All the Lies That Fit: Scheming New York Times Hires a Bird Lover to Render His 'Unbiased' Support for James M. Stevenson," "The Ventura County Star Races to the Defense of the Cat-Killers on San Nicolas Island," "and "American Bird Conservancy, The New York Times, and the Humane Society Unite to Form an Achse des Bösen Against Cats.")
Every cat-hating rant ever issued by PETA has been duly reported as the gospel truth by seemingly every newspaper in America and last year the Orlando Sentinel stooped so low as to publish the National Audubon Society's diabolical proposal to poison all cats. (See Cat Defender post of May 18, 2013 entitled "Ted Williams and the National Audubon Society Issue a Call for Cats to Be Poisoned with Tylenol® and Then Try to Lie Out of It.")
In spite of that it nevertheless would be incorrect to single out journalists as being the only professionals who harbor in their malignant bosoms an abiding contempt for the sanctity of feline life. Au contraire, librarians, politicians, phony-baloney no-kill operations, and even cat advocacy groups feel the same way. (See Cat Defender posts of December 7, 2006, March 12, 2009, October 23, 2012, and January 2, 2013 entitled, respectively, "After Nineteen Years of Service and Companionship, Ingrates at Iowa Library Murder Dewey Readmore Books," "Too Lazy and Cheap to Care for Him During His Final Days, Bettie Currie Has Socks Killed Off and His Corpse Burned," "A Supposedly No-Kill Operation in Marblehead Betrays Sally and Snuffs Out Her Life Instead of Providing Her with a Home and Veterinary Care," and "Alley Cat Allies Demonstrates Its Utter Contempt for the Sanctity of Life by Unconscionably Killing Off Its Office Cat, Jared.")
When push finally came to shove, not even being a heroine with international stature was sufficient in order to have saved the beloved Scarlett from the hangman. (See Cat Defender post of October 27, 2008 entitled "Loved and Admired All Over the World, Feline Heroine Scarlett Is Killed Off by Her Owners after She Becomes Ill.")
No details have been disclosed as to what was done with Hamish's remains. Likewise, it is not even known if Baird had the decency to provide him with a proper funeral.
His Facebook page, which at last glance had attracted eight-thousand, nine-hundred-sixty-six followers, has not been updated since the tragic announcement of September 11th. All that is known for certain is that shortly after his death bouquets of flowers and lighted candles were dropped off at the bronze statue of him that was unveiled in Church Square on April 5th.
Hopefully it is not the case, but more than likely he was either cremated or simply chucked out in the trash in that it is hard to imagine someone like Baird doing right by him in death since she had so miserably failed him in life. Even more telling, she does not appear to have been all that broken up about putting an end to his all-too-brief sojourn upon this earth.
"I think the whole story's absurd," she cackled to the University of St. Andrews' student newspaper, The Saint, on September 18th. (See "Hamish McHamish: "He Started Out...") "He started out as just this little cat and became a positive legend. He was just a cat who would walk by himself."
|Bronze Is a Poor Substitute for the Real Thing|
Her last sentence is, rather obviously, a reference to Rudyard Kipling's scurrilous short-story, "The Cat Who Walked by Himself," which appeared in his 1902 book entitled Just So Stories. In it Kipling feebly attempts to justify the naked abuse of cats by what he estimates to be sixty per cent of men and one-hundred per cent of dogs on the grounds that cats are too independent and therefore totally unwilling to become slaves.
Kipling's forever nameless cat successfully ingratiates himself to a cavewoman by catching mice and looking after her newborn. In return, she allows him to enter her cave, to warm by the fire, and to drink milk three times a day.
Even in agreeing to become domesticated, the cat still insisted upon maintaining his independence and although that was agreeable with her it was a totally different matter as far as her husband was concerned. "I will catch mice when I am in the cave for always and always and always; but I am still the cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me," he pledged to the caveman.
"Not when I am near," the brute shot back. "If you had not said that last I would have put all these things (two leather boots, a stone ax, a piece of wood, and a hatchet) away for always and always and always; but I am now going to throw my two boots and my little stone ax (that makes three) at you whenever I meet you. And so shall all proper men do after me."
The cat likewise attempted in vain to maintain his independence from the caveman's dog. "I will be kind to the baby while I am in the cave, as long as he does not pull my tail too hard, for always and always and always," he agreed to the canine's demand. "But still I am the cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to me!"
"Not when I am near," the dog barked back. "If you had not said that last word I would have shut my mouth for always and always and always; but now I am going to hunt you up a tree whenever I meet you. And so shall all proper dogs do after me."
Philadelphia scribe Agnes Repplier summed up the dilemma considerably less allegorical in her essay entitled "Agrippina" which appeared in the June 1892 edition of The Atlantic Monthly. "Rude and masterful souls resent this fine self-sufficiency in a domestic animal, and require that it shall have no will but theirs, no pleasure that does not emanate from them," she astutely observed. "Yet there are people, less magisterial, perhaps or less exacting, who believe that true friendship, even with an animal, may be built upon mutual esteem and independence; that to demand gratitude is to be unworthy of it; and that obedience is not essential to agreeable and healthy intercourse."
Both Kipling's and Repplier's insights into how both men and dogs feel about cats have stunning philosophical and political ramifications. Specifically, it thus would appear that what most men truly abhor above all else is independence and freedom and it does not necessarily matter whether such behavior is exhibited by either a cat or one of their fellows.
Kiplings's portrayal of both men and dogs also exposes them to be totalitarians who are not only prone to violence but unwilling to honor their agreements. Women, on the other hand, come across as being considerably more open-minded, reasonable, just and, above all, less belligerent.
According to Hamish's obituary in London's Independent on September 11th, Baird acquired "replacement pets" soon after she irresponsibly had abandoned Hamish to the streets. (See "Hamish McHamish Dead: St. Andrew's (sic) Town Cat Passes Away after Battling Chest Infection.")
Although it is not known either what those pets were or how she has treated them, it is strongly suspected that some of them were dogs and that certainly would be in keeping with both her personality as well as her apparent fondness for Kipling's overt denigration of cats. His summation is quite illuminating. For example:
"Pussy can sit by the fire and sing, pussy can climb a tree, or play with a silly old cork and string to 'muse herself, not me. But I like Binkie my dog, because he knows how to behave; so Binkie's the same as the first friend was, and I am the man in the cave. Pussy will play man-Friday till it's time to wet her paw and make her walk on the windowsill (for the footprint Crusoe saw); then she fluffs her tail and meows, and scratches and won't attend. But Binkie will play whatever I choose and he is my true first friend. Pussy will rub my knees with her head pretending she loves me hard; but the minute I go to my bed pussy runs out in the yard, and there she stays till the morning light; so I know it is only pretend; but Binkie, he snores at my feet all night, and he is my firstest friend!"
In rattling off such age-old prejudices as those, Kipling inadvertently revealed himself to be a complete imbecile when it comes to cats. Actually, they can be every bit as devoted and loving as dogs.
Secondly, they were domesticated by farmers in Cyprus, the Near East, and China and certainly not by cavemen. (See Washington University of St. Louis press release of December 16, 2013, "Cat Domestication Traced to Chinese Farmers Five-Thousand-Three-Hundred Years Ago.")
Thirdly, few cats, if any, are truly able to walk by themselves, especially in a world that is so chock-full of despisers of the species. The only thing that Old Kippie got right was when he correctly identified himself as a caveman and for Baird to rely upon his sottise in order to excuse her neglect of Hamish is both shameful and disgraceful.
Cats consequently require the assistance of sympathetic individuals if they are going to survive and flourish in this hostile world. With that being the case, the key issue then boils down to the specifics of the Faustian bargains that are foisted upon them and in Hamish's case he clearly received the shaft whereas Baird and St. Andrews got the gold mine.
|Hamish Is Chased Up a Tree by a Pair of Dogs|
Flora Selwyn, editor of St. Andrews in Focus and who also spearheaded the drive to raise the £5,000 needed for the statue, recalls how his presence lifted the spirits of the bedraggled construction crew at the St. Andrews Brewing Company. "The workmen weren't sure they would get everything done on time. They looked down, saw his tail waving and everyone knew everything would be fine," is how she chose to remember him to The Saint. "That's the reputation he acquired. He was rather magical in that sense."
Although there is not any obvious reason to doubt her sincerity, it nevertheless is strange that the September-October edition of her magazine neglects to make any mention whatsoever of Hamish's demise. The rag's web site likewise is pretending that he is still alive by continuing to showcase a video about the unveiling of his statue.
"It has to do with fantasy," is how she went onto explain his popularity to The Saint. "It's just a lovely fairy tale."
Whereas that may have been true as far as Selwyn and her fellow denizens of St. Andrews were concerned, it was an entirely different matter for Hamish who had a hard life and an even crueler, premature death. Astrid Lindgren may have romanticized life on the road in her 1956 thoroughly enchanting little volume, Rasmus and the Vagabond, but there cannot be any denying that being homeless is one of the most disastrous fates that ever could befall a cat.
That makes it especially difficult to comprehend how Baird could have so cruelly condemned him to a lifetime on the street. "Sometimes he'd come home for dinner," she disclosed to The Saint. "But it wasn't long before he'd be back in Queens Gardens or further afield. The garden just wasn't big enough for him."
Declaration such as that do not stand the test of reason in that although cats like to roam, most of them also enjoy the availability of free food and shelter, especially during inclement weather. One possible conclusion to be drawn from Hamish's atypical behavior is that he was made to feel, for whatever reason, unwelcome at home.
Even more alarming, Baird apparently did not make all that much of an effort to keep him at home. "When he started to wander around, he used to go to Greyfriars Garden at night because it was a good hunting ground. I would call him and carry him home," she told The Courier of Dundee on April 7th. (See "St. Andrews Pays Tribute to Famous Feline Hamish McHamish.") "If he didn't want to come home, he would jump over the wall. But more and more, he would just jump over the wall."
In all fairness to her, keeping a cat at home is a far more difficult task than most people realize. That is especially the case after one has gotten a taste of freedom.
In the final analysis, there is neither a right nor a wrong answer to this dilemma. Cats deserve their freedom but it is extremely dangerous for them to be outside without a chaperon. One possible compromise would be to provide them with large fenced-in yards that are covered on the top with nets.
Although doing so is feasible for only a handful of owners, that is exactly what veterinarian Hugh Chisholm did for his cat, Tuxedo Stan. In the end, however, he negated that good deed by killing him off after he became ill. (See Cat Defender post of September 26, 2013 entitled "Former Halifax Mayoral Hopeful Tuxedo Stan Is Killed Off by His Owner after Chemotherapy Fails to Halt the Onslaught of Renal Lymphoma.")
Furthermore, keeping cats cooped up inside polluted houses and apartments all the time is not only cruel and harmful to their health but it is the first step on the long road to denaturing them. In addition to robbing them of their freedom, the majority of them nowadays are sterilized, fitted with cancer-causing microchips, and fed diets of cheap kibble instead of the meat that they crave.
Some owners even cruelly declaw them while others, ably assisted by unscrupulous veterinarians, dope them up in order to keep them from going stir crazy as the result of their boredom, isolation, and confinement. Even during their twilight years their owners cruelly deprive them of even dying natural deaths.
Just when it would appear that modern man had all but exhausted his bag of dirty tricks when it comes to denaturing cats, Sarah Ellis of Lincoln University in Lincolnshire recently proposed that their ownership should be strictly curtailed. "I think what would be helpful for people would be to restrict the number of cats that they own," she declared to The Independent on September 29th. (See "Expert Urges Cat Lovers to Own Just One Animal Each.")
Ellis' assertion that multiple cat households lead to territorial disputes and cause psychological harm brought a swift rebuke from Celia Hammond whose charity, the Celia Hammond Animal Trust (CHAT), did such a herculean job in saving approximately two-hundred cats from the wrecking ball when large swaths of East London where demolished in order to make way for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. "The majority of cats are very gregarious. They love each other so much, they enjoy living together and grooming each other," she retorted to The Independent. "If someone was out all day, we wouldn't give them just one cat because they would be lonely; we would give them two cats. Multiple cat households are a good thing."
Hammond summed up by putting the boneheaded Ellis in her place. "This is an academic view," she told The Independent. "Those involved in rehoming cats on a daily basis know this is ridiculous." (Also see CHAT's October 2nd rebuttal to Ellis on its Facebook page.)
|Hamish Lies in Bed on August 25th|
In spite of the myriad of difficulties confronting a homeless cat, there is absolutely nothing in press reports that would tend to indicate that Baird even so much as endeavored to get Hamish off the street during either the wintertime or whenever St. Andrews was buffeted by violent storms. All that has been disclosed is that she did have enough concern for his well-being so as to provide him with an annual veterinary checkup.
That may be too harsh of an assessment of her guardianship but at the same time it is difficult to get around the inescapable conclusion that she could have done considerably more in order to have made his life easier. Either way, it is she who is going to have to live with her callousness and that potentially could create a dilemma if she, against all odds, should turn out to have a conscience.
"I picked him out of the litter because he was the boldest," she admitted to The Saint. "Arguably that was a mistake."
Truer words never have been spoken in that Hamish certainly deserved a far more attentive guardian than she ever was to him. Her glaring shortcomings did not deter her, however, from basking in the limelight once he had became an international star.
"I can't really get over it," she gushed to The Courier in the article cited supra. "All I did was get a kitten."
Apparently Hamish was able to spend some nights in the flats of compassionate students from the university. The remainder of the time he apparently was on his own.
"It became an unwritten rule," Selwyn swore to The Saint. "If Hamish turned up at your door, you let him in."
That statement is misleading in that most of the shops and businesses in St. Andrews close their doors in the late afternoon and are shuttered completely on weekends and holidays. Some watering holes and restaurants keep later hours but it is doubtful that many of them are open all night. Consequently, Hamish's options for locating a warm and secure place to sleep were extremely limited.
As a perennially homeless feline, Hamish was forced to deal with the bone-chilling cold, snow, rain, and ice during St. Andrews' seemingly interminable winters where for long periods there are fewer than six hours of daylight. This is how Richard Adams summed up the plight of the dispossessed in his 1972 novel about rabbits entitled Watership Down:
"Many human beings say they enjoy the winter, but what they really enjoy is feeling proof against it. For them there is no winter food problem. They have fires and warm clothes. The winter cannot hurt them and therefore increases their sense of cleverness and security. For birds and animals, as for poor men, winter is another matter."In that respect, it simply boggles the mind that all throughout the fourteen years that he spent on the street absolutely none of St. Andrews' more than seventeen-thousand residents was willing to provide him with a permanent home. The same criticism can be leveled against the tens of thousands of students and hundreds of teachers and administrators at the University of St. Andrews.
As Ellis and her fellow eggheads have more than amply demonstrated time and time again, such crass, selfish, and uncaring behavior is exactly what this world has come to expect from the intelligentsia. (See Cat Defender posts of November 21, 2012 and June 9, 2008 entitled, respectively, "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" and "Pennsylvania College Greedily Snatches Up Alumnus' Multimillion-Dollar Bequest but Turns Away His Cat, Princess.")
As best it could be deciphered from press reports, even obtaining a sufficient amount of sustenance was a hardscrabble affair for Hamish. All that is known with any degree of certainty is that he sometimes was served Frühstück by the law firm of Pagan Osborne at 106 South Street. Students from the university also occasionally fed him and that is vouched for by the disturbing fact that his body weight was known to drop precipitately during the summertime when they were away on vacation.
It also is believed that the staff of Dynamic Hair at 98-100 South Street sometimes cared for his fur but it is not known if they bothered with either removing parasites from it, cleaning away the bothersome discharges that congeal around a cat's eyes, and attending to minor injuries. He additionally received some unspecified favors from the staff at Sue Ryder's Charity Shop at 109-A South Street.
Although the care provided to Hamish by the citizens of St. Andrews was woefully inadequate, they did have enough compassion so as to refrain from having him rounded up and killed and for that they are to be commended. Also, he surely would not have survived for as long as he did if they, at the very least, had not treated him with benign neglect.
|All Alone and on the Street as Usual on June 20th|
Besides all the deprivations associated with roughing it, Hamish had to be constantly on the lookout for predators, such as motorists, ailurophobes, and others. Just this past January, for instance, he had an especially close call when he was, just as Kipling presaged, chased up a tree on South Street by a pair of dogs.
Luckily, he was unharmed on that terrifying occasion even though it took the able-bodied assistance of the staff at Dynamic Hair and students from the university in order to bring him down to safety. The unprovoked attack did, however, prompt the provost of Fife and Dunfermline, Jim Leishman, to issue a public appeal on his behalf.
"We've got to protect the old boy. He's getting on. I would ask dog owners to please keep their animals under control and on a leash when around Hamish McHamish," he told the Daily Record of Glasgow on January 30th. (See "Provost of Fife and Dunfermline Legend Jim Leishman Wants to Protect Scotland's Most Famous Cat Hamish McHamish.") "We've got to make sure he's not upset. He's Scotland's most iconic cat, after all."
Despite uttering those lofty sentiments, there is absolutely nothing in the public record to suggest that he ever undertook any concrete measures in order to ensure Hamish's safety. Even more alarming, it does not appear that he attempted in any way to dissuade Baird from having him killed.
A good case could be made that since Baird had abdicated her guardianship of him that Hamish by default belonged to the town and that it was precisely Leishman's moral and legal responsibility to not only safeguard his life but to ensure that he received the competent veterinary care that he needed and so richly deserved. Regrettably, it is doubtful that even he would have acted much differently than Baird if Hamish had been his responsibility. As far as it is known, he has not even publicly commented one way or the other on Hamish's killing.
It is much too late to do anything for Hamish now; Baird has seen to that for once and all time. Moreover, it is doubtful that many residents of St. Andrews are boohooing in their tumblers of Johnny Walker as the result of his death. Like Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis, they likely believe that Hamish is going to be worth considerably more to them dead than alive.
For example, his statue is still standing and old Selwyn is already salivating all over herself as visions of wheelbarrows full of shekels dance in her old gray mop just as visions of sugar plums are said to do in the heads of small children at Christmastime. "I hope it will be a big attraction. It'll be a nice change from golf and universities," she declared in an undated video posted on her magazine's web site. (See "Hamish McHamish Unveiling. The Cool Cat Around Town.") "It'll be an added bit to the town."
First of all, inanimate bronze is a poor substitute for the genuine, real-life article. Secondly, the statue is not only hideously ugly but it bears only a faint resemblance to Hamish.
At the very least, any public depiction of him should have been life-sized and fashioned out of porcelain, ceramics, or some other material that would have been capable of accurately capturing the beautiful colors of his fur and eyes. The likeness also should have been accompanied by color photographs, videos, and other memorabilia and housed in either a museum or some other public facility.
Susan McMullan's 2012 biography of him, Hamish McHamish of St. Andrews. Cool Cat About Town, continues to sell well and Waterstones is unlikely to scrap its "Hamish Recommends" section. Most important of all, he will continue to live on in the memories of those who were fortunate enough to have known him.
Since the Scots freely chose fat slavery at the expense of lean liberty on September 18th, the British Open will be returning to the Old Course next July and it is conceivable that some of the tourists who will be in the auld grey toon for the event belatedly will realize that its most beautiful face and noblest soul is conspicuously missing from the all-too-familiar landscape. Sadly, their recollections and understanding of him are destined to be every bit as selective as those of the town's regulars. After all, mankind in general is infamous for confounding a clear conscience with a faulty memory.
Those who know and truly love cats, however, will not be quite so easily bamboozled. Rather, they will remember all the long, cold, and dark nights that he was forced to spend wet and shivering on the street with hunger pains gnawing at his stomach as he patiently waited for a new day to dawn that, just perhaps, would bring with it a few precious moments of shelter, some food, and a loving pat on the head from a sympathetic stranger.
They also will not forget all the times that he, lonely and frightened, was forced to cower in deserted alleyways and underneath buildings in order to elude predators, both animal and human, that were intent upon doing him harm. Most of all, their souls with burn with rage every time that they think of how his precious life was so cruelly and unjustly extinguished when all he wanted to do was to go on living.
"Too much sanity may be madness and the maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be," Miguel de Cervantes cautioned several centuries ago. That is, quite obviously, an insight that none of the thousands of individuals who either walked in or out of Hamish's brief life over the years ever bothered to take to heart.