Cruelly Denatured and Locked Up Indoors for All of His Life, Nicky Is Suddenly Thrust into the Bitter Cold and Snow for Twenty-One Consecutive Days with Predictably Tragic Results
|A Bedraggled Nicky Has His Paws Wrapped|
"I just thought, gosh, there is no way he can make it because he's been inside with us all these years."
-- Candice Darmafall
Nothing good ever lasts.
If something sounds too good to be true, it likely is not so.
Good guys only win in the movies.
And, storybook endings are reserved for the world of fiction.
Like poisonous arrows shot from a quiver in spitfire fashion, the cynics sling their distressing truths at anyone willing to so much as lend them an ear. Moreover, there is precious little solace to be found in even the grudging acknowledgement that their pronouncements do contain a certain degree of validity. That is especially the case after a handsome and loving cat who, at first report had made a miraculous recovery from a simply horrendous case of frostbite and hypothermia, has had a relapse and died.
As painful as it is to even contemplate, let alone chronicle, that is precisely what has happened to a ten-year-old longhaired, orange-colored tom named Nicky from Lorain, Ohio, who died on January 17th as the result of cruelly having been left outside in the freezing cold for an astonishing twenty-one consecutive days and nights! Like countless other felines who succumb to the numbing effects of hypothermia each winter, Nicky's prolonged suffering was entirely preventable and that only serves to make his premature death all the more tragic and inexcusable.
On Thursday, January 15th he was found near death by an unidentified family in Amherst, eight kilometers due south of Lorain, and transported to the Friendship Animal Protection League (FAPL) in Elyria, fifteen kilometers to the west. "It was completely frozen. The cat was basically stiff as a board," Greg Willey of FAPL told WKYC-TV of Cleveland on January 18th. (See "Miracle Cat Found Frozen Has Died.") "The best way for me to describe it is that it looked like it came out a meat locker."
Willey's first instinct was to finish the job that Old Man Winter had started but when Nicky stirred and meowed he had a positive change of heart and instead rushed him to Fox Veterinary Hospital in Carlisle Township, approximately seven kilometers removed from Elyria. "The poor cat came to me completely flat out; we thought he was dead," veterinarian Ashley Berardi told WKYC-TV. "Temperature was low below normal, so low it wouldn't even register on the thermometer."
Like Willey before her, Berardi's first thought was not to even attempt to save Nicky's life but rather to snuff it out. "Greg had thought we were going to have to euthanize. But we kind of showed the cat some food and he perked up right after it, so he still had that drive," Berardi added to WKYC-TV. "So we thought, okay, let's get the catheter in, let's try."
As it should be obvious to any thinking person, the life of any sick or injured cat is worth saving regardless of whether it has an appetite or not. Furthermore, just because a cat is too sick to eat does not necessarily mean that it will not respond to veterinary intervention.
Based upon both Berardi's appalling lack of respect for the sanctity of feline life as well as her indefensible triage protocol, she undoubtedly would have followed Willey's advise and killed off Nicky on the spot if he had not responded to the offer of sustenance. That can only be interpreted to imply that if she were practicing medicine she likely would subject a man with a hole in his head to a test of scarfing down a platter of pork chops before she commenced treatment.
She eventually did, thankfully, get around to administering intravenous fluids and painkillers to Nicky as well as placing him on a heating pad in order to quickly elevate his body temperature. Each of his badly frostbitten paws also were treated and carefully wrapped.
All of that initially proved to be a resounding success in that he was able to shake off death's icy grip and to regain consciousness. "I cannot describe to you how much of a miracle it is that this cat is still ticking," Willey later marveled to The Chronicle-Telegram of Elyria on January 16th. (See "Olaf the Frozen Cat Reunited with Owner.") "It is truly incredible. You could have probably lifted it by its tail and it would have stayed flat."
Once Nicky's miraculous return to the world of the living had been reported by both WKYC-TV and Facebook, his longtime owner Candice Darmafall came forward to reclaim him on January 16th. "I'm so happy," she rejoiced to The Chronicle-Telegram. "He's so beautiful and has always been such a nice cat."
Since the staff at Fox had dubbed him Olaf in honor of the snowman from Walt Disney's 2013 production, Frozen, she even briefly contemplated changing Nicky's name. "We might have to start calling him Nickolaf," she mused to The Chronicle-Telegram.
Her newfound lightheartedness was strikingly at odds with the doom and gloom that she expressed when she was first reunited with him and he was still tethered to intravenous tubes. "I just thought, gosh, there is no way he can make it because he's been inside with us all these years," she told WKYC-TV.
As things tragically turned out, her original dire assessment of his slim chances of pulling through proved to be prophetic in that by Saturday Nicky was dead. "They (Darmafall and her family) got a chance to spend a lot of time on Saturday with Nicky and say their goodbyes, and that was a pretty important thing," was all that Willey was willing to disclose to The Chronicle-Telegram on January 19th. (See "Cat Nicknamed Olaf Dies from the Cold.")
Darmafall likewise was equally reticent about what actually had happened to Nicky. "Social media and caring people are what gave us the opportunity to reunite with him," she declared to The Chronicle-Telegram on January 19th. "We can't thank the family who found him, FAPL, and Fox Veterinary Hospital enough."
It therefore is not known what caused Nicky's abrupt relapse and death although Berardi earlier had warned that he could have sustained unspecified internal injuries as the result of his prolonged exposure to the elements. All that has been reported in the media is that by January 16th his body temperature had returned to normal and that he was up and about. It is not unusual, however, for ailing cats to raise the hopes of their loving guardians by mounting surprising, last-ditch rallies only to later break their hearts to bits by suddenly dying.
|Nicky Lies Suspended Between Life and Death|
Much more importantly, it is not even known if he was allowed to die on his own terms or was intentionally killed off by Berardi at Darmafall's urging. After all, Berardi certainly does not have any qualms whatsoever about killing cats so long as she is handsomely paid for her diabolical crimes.
It is even remotely conceivable that Nicky could have been whacked by Willey of FAPL in that it was he who announced his death. His outrageous tendency to repeatedly refer to Nicky as it also tends to suggest that he looks down upon cats as inanimate objects.
Furthermore, honesty is far from being FAPL's strong suit. For example, although it claims to be a no-kill operation, in practice it kills off all cats and other animals that enter its portals with the notable exception of those that it is able to sell back to the public for a profit.
On its web site it not only admits to killing animals that are terminally ill and deemed to be dangerous, but it also reserves the right to kill off its inmates in so-called emergencies as well as to comply with unspecified federal, state, and local laws. Most revealing of all, it declares that it will not allow animals to live for prolonged periods of time in cages and that can only be interpreted to mean that FAPL is operating a slaughterhouse thinly disguised as a no-kill operation.
Far from being an isolated case, that is how another no-kill fraud known as Kitty City in La Lutz, New Mexico, operates. Plus, it additionally has the audacity to support bans on the feeding of homeless cats as well as to stipulate that the ones it sells back to the public be cruelly confined indoors for the remainder of their lives. (See Cat Defender post of July 29, 2010 entitled "Benicia Vallejo Humane Society Is Outsourcing the Mass Killing of Kittens and Cats All the While Masquerading as a No-Kill Shelter.")
In addition to not knowing where and how Nicky died, it has not even been publicly disclosed what was done with his remains and, as per usual, it is precisely the capitalist media who are to blame for those glaring omissions in the public record. When it comes to their coverage of cats, they oscillate between cute stories that are designed to sell newspapers and to attract viewers and the outrageous lies spread by ornithologists, wildlife biologists, PETA, and others. Such a dishonest policy therefore allows them to laugh all the way to the bank without ever being compelled to recognize that cats are sentient beings endowed with both rights and liberties that should be respected.
As suspicious, horrible, and heartbreaking as Nicky's death was, that is only one part of the story. The other part is that he had been living on the streets ever since Boxing Day! Although the weather was mild enough on that ill-fated day in that temperatures ranged from 31°to 48° Fahrenheit, conditions soon deteriorated. According to data recorded at the Lorain County Regional Airport in nearby New Russia Township and posted online at www.friendlyforecast.com, the thermometer was below freezing on twenty of the days and nights that he was forced to spend outdoors. Included in that total were four days of single digit readings plus another four with of sub-zero temperatures.
It also snowed on twelve of those days and the rain came down on four other occasions. So, in addition to being nearly frozen to death, Nicky also was soaked to the bone.
In the end it undoubtedly was the sub-zero temperatures that killed him. Although he did somehow manage to survive a -4° Fahrenheit reading on January 8th and a -2° Fahrenheit night on January 10th, he was unable to make it through the night on January 14th when the thermometer plunged to -12° Fahrenheit. Even on the day that he finally was rescued the thermometer stood at a teeth chattering -3° Fahrenheit.
It thus appears in hindsight that Nicky likely would still be alive today if his deliverance had come a day earlier. Sadly, neither The Fates nor lady luck were willing to accommodate him even in that regard despite the fact that he had suffered so painfully for so very long.
Compounding an already totally unmanageable stroke of simply horrendous misfortune, Nicky not only had lived his entire existence indoors but he had been cruelly declawed and neutered as well. "Nicky has been with us ten years and has never been outside," Darmafall disclosed to The Chronicle-Telegram in the January 16th article cited supra.
He accordingly knew absolutely nothing about the outside world and without claws he was unable to procure sustenance, defend himself against predators, and to climb trees and fences in order to elude pursuers. His weight at the time of his rescue has not been disclosed but it is difficult to imagine that he could have been anything other than severely emaciated.
It therefore is truly amazing that he lasted for as long as he did under such unrelenting, hellish circumstances. Needless to say, no cat ever should be subjected to the pain, suffering, deprivations, and fears that were visited upon Nicky.
His plight also serves as a poignant reminder of the adverse consequences of denaturing cats. First of all, besides being outrageously cruel, painful, and utterly barbaric, declawing amounts to a death sentence for cats that, one way or the other, find themselves outdoors and on their own for extended periods of time. (See Cat Defender post of November 29, 2010 entitled "Harrison's Turbulent Years Spent on the Street Are Yet Another Reason Why Declawing Is Not Only Cruel and Inhumane but Dangerous as Well.")
Secondly, confining cats indoors exclusively is not only cruel and inhumane but it deprives them of both the knowledge and skills that they need in order to survive should they unexpectedly find themselves outdoors. Most domesticated cats live for quite a few years and absolutely no one can foresee what the future will hold for either them or their guardians.
For instance, some of them have been known to escape from their carriers while en route to the veterinarian with disastrous results. (See Cat Defender post of March 7, 2008 entitled "Georgia Is Found Safe and Sound After Spending a Harrowing Twenty-Five Days Lost in the Bowels of the New York City Subway System.")
Individuals also not only die but cruelly abandon their cats. It therefore is imperative that they be acquainted with the outside world and know how to survive in it. No halfway responsible parent ever would lock up a child in a closet and keep it in total ignorance of the outside world and the same logic applies in spades to the nurturing of cats.
|Nicky Is Briefly Reunited with Candice Darmafall|
Thirdly, many kittens are weaned way too early. Without human intervention it is not uncommon for their mothers to continue to nurse and instruct them for as long as six to twelve months after birth.
Fourthly, PETA ridiculously wants to denature the species by transforming these obligate carnivores into vegetarians. Many owners do not help matters by feeding them a steady diet of cheap kibble instead of the meat that they crave.
Fifthly, although necessary in many instances, en masse sterilizations are robbing them of their sexual freedom. Sixthly and most outrageous of all, their guardians and unprincipled veterinarians are depriving them of their right to die natural deaths.
Man always has been the great manipulator and annihilator of the animals, Mother Earth, and even his fellow man but that does not make such abhorrent conduct either right or desirable, especially where the animals and Mother Earth are concerned. If modern man has sunk so low that he no longer has any ambition other than to be a dumb herd animal who works most of the time and devotes his ever diminishing leisure to counting his shekels and lapping up whatever garbage du jour that mass culture has to offer, that is his business but he should have enough decency not to impose his baseness upon cats and other animals.
"To live is so startling that it leaves little time for anything else," Emily Dickinson once observed and that is not a bad philosophy to follow. It will not make an individual either rich or popular but it will deter either him or her from abusing the animals and Mother Earth.
The circumstances that led to Nicky's abandonment are cloaked in every bit as much secrecy as his death and on that vitally important issue Darmafall has been anything but forthcoming. "I don't know how he got out, but we were so happy to find him," she vowed to The Chronicle-Telegram on January 16th.
On that latter point she appears to have been sincere. "She was just sobbing when she saw her cat," is how Willey described her reunion with Nicky at Fox to The Chronicle-Telegram on January 16th. "This was just a wonderful turn of events."
Notwithstanding that, it is nevertheless highly suspicious that Nicky disappeared on Boxing Day in that so many nominal Christians select that time of the year in order to get rid of their unwanted cats. (See Cat Defender post of January 15, 2015 entitled "Lewis, Ann Arbor's Much Celebrated Garden Shop Cat, Departs This World Under Highly Suspicious Circumstances.")
It additionally is odd that Nicky was found eight kilometers away in Amherst. Although it is remotely possible that he could have walked that distance over the course of a number of days, that seems unlikely given the inclement weather.
Besides, since he had spent his entire life indoors it only seems logical that he would have been frightened to death of the world outdoors and as a consequence would not have strayed far from home. That in turn opens up the possibility that he became trapped inside either a box or some article of furniture and thus unwittingly ended up in Amherst.
It is not a pleasant scenario to contemplate and there most assuredly is not a shred of evidence to support it, but it is conceivable that Nicky was driven to Amherst by Darmafall and turned loose in the cold to fend for himself. She is, after all, already guilty of robbing him of both his freedom and claws and this world is chock-full of all sorts of seemingly honest and respectable individuals who nevertheless do terrible things to cats. Plus, her total lack of candor concerning his disappearance only serves to fuel such speculation, no matter how unfounded it may be.
Her credibility is further undermined by the fact that it is unclear just how hard and thoroughly she and her family searched for Nicky. According to The Chronicle-Telegram's January 16th edition, she limited her rescue efforts to posting messages and photographs of him on Facebook.
If that is true, she belongs in jail! That is all the more the case given his handicaps and the inclement weather.
She was fully cognizant from the outset that he was ill-equipped to survive for very long under such dire conditions and her failure to mount an all-out rescue effort can only be described as inexcusable. In particular, all the while he was suffering piteously and dying by degrees in the unforgiving cold she appears to have contented herself with pecking away on her computer from inside the comfort of her heated house!
In that light it would be interesting to know how she spent New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Specifically, was she in her cups, making merry, and watching the football games on the idiot box or out combing the streets and fields for Nicky?
None of that is meant to imply that locating an errant cat is an easy job; au contraire, it is a frustrating, heartbreaking, and near impossible feat to pull off even under the best of circumstances in that it is estimated that fewer that ten per cent of them ever are reunited with their owners. Be that as it may, that is not a valid excuse for not dropping everything and searching high and low, both night and day, for them.
|The Amazing Annie|
Instead of merely writing off Nicky as dead, she should have logged off of her computer, forsaken her warm and cozy house, and scoured her neighborhood for him. His health and well-being was, after all, her personal and moral responsibility and not that of the users of Facebook.
"Lost Cat" posters should have been printed and nailed to every lamppost and rescue groups, such as FAPL, promptly contacted. Most important of all, she should have trekked door-to-door interviewing residents and leaving "Lost Cat" posters with them.
Only she knows what happened on Boxing Day and how hard she tried to find Nicky. Above all, it is she who is going to have to live with the decisions that she made and that is destined to create a dilemma if she does in fact have a conscience.
It additionally does not reflect positively upon area residents and public officials in that at least some of them surely must have seen Nicky wandering the streets under life-threatening conditions and yet none of them had so much as the common decency to notify the authorities of his desperate plight. Even more deplorable, such callous indifference to the acute suffering of an animal is totally in keeping with Ohioans' well-earned reputation as being some of the most flagrant abusers of cats, both small and large, in the country. (See Cat Defender posts of October 20, 2005, February 26, 2007, August 2, 2007, April 8, 2008, September 22, 2011, and November 3, 2011 entitled, respectively, "After Ridding the Ohio Statehouse of Rats, Cats Now Find Themselves Facing Eviction," "Charged with Feeding a Feral Cat Named Fluffy, Retired Ohio English Teacher Beats the Rap," "Ohio Cat Shot in the Leg with an Arrow Is Forced to Endure a Long-Drawn-Out and Excruciating Death," "Ohio Politician Proposes Adding Cats to the Growing List of Pigs, Other Animals, and Humans Killed by Tasers," "Neanderthaloid Politicians in Lebanon, Ohio, Wholeheartedly Sanction the Illegal and Cold-Blooded Murder of Haze by a Trigger-Happy Cop," and "Sheriff Matt Lutz Settles an Old Score by Staging a Great Safari Hunt That Claims the Lives of Eighteen Tigers and Seventeen Lions in Zanesville.")
So, in Nicky's case the cynics were proven to be correct in that his remarkable turnaround ultimately proved to be just too good to last. They are not always right, however, in that other cats felled by Old Man Winter's ruthlessness have gotten off of their death beds in order to live again.
For instance back on January 2, 2010, an unidentified Good Samaritan found a thirteen-year-old tuxedo named Annie emaciated and apparently frozen to death in a snowdrift near Main Street and Sweetland Farm in the Boston suburb of Norfolk. The unidentified rescuer then wrapped her in a blanket and contacted Animal Control Officer Hilary Cohen.
"At first response, she appeared dead. She was cold, stiff, and unresponsive," she said at that time. "When I picked her up, I did hear an agonal cry, but that sometimes happens postmortem."
Despite having grave reservations about her chances of surviving, Cohen refused to give up on Annie. "I kept her in the blanket and put her on my lap in the cruiser and headed to the hospital," she later recalled. "Once in the car, I turned the heater on and saw a whisker twitch. That was the only sign of reflex I saw from her."
At Acorn Animal Hospital in nearby Franklin, Annie was diagnosed to have a body temperature of only 86° Fahrenheit, which is fifteen degrees below normal for a cat. She also nearly had starved to death in that she weighed only three and one-half pounds.
The hospital's staff used electric blankets, hair dryers, hot water bottles, and heat disks in a desperate effort to elevate her body temperature. They also administered intravenous fluids and steroids, conducted a blood test, and closely monitored her blood-sugar levels and heart rate.
Seven hours later Annie regained consciousness and within forty-eight hours she was eating, drinking, and back on her feet. "I've seen different kinds of animal issues over the years but I've never seen an animal this cold be revived," Cohen later marveled.
Instead of depositing Annie at a shelter, Cohen went beyond the call of duty when she elected to take her home to her house so that she could continue administering heat therapy to her. On January 5th, her owners came forward to reclaim her after reading about her plight in The Sun Chronicle of Attleboro.
As it later was disclosed, Annie's family had been living in Norfolk for only about a week before she mysteriously disappeared in early December of 2009. She was found only about three quarters of a mile from home but even to have made it that far she had been forced to cross railroad tracks and other obstacles. Although her owners had contacted Animal Control and put up "Lost Cat" posters, they quite obviously had not been looking in the right places. (See Cat Defender post of January 21, 2010 entitled "Trapped Outdoors in a Snowstorm, Annie Is Brought Back from the Dead by the Compassion of a Good Samaritan and an Animal Control Officer.")
As Annie's remarkable turnaround clearly demonstrates, time and knowledge are of the essence when dealing with cats suffering from frostbite and hypothermia. Cohen and Acorn's crackerjack veterinary team knew exactly what to do and they did not waste valuable time bandying about Annie and debating the merits of attempting to save her life as FAPL and Fox did in the case of Nicky.
It thus is safe to conclude that the cynics do not hold an absolute monopoly on truth because:
One never knows until one tries.
Miracles do happen and dreams do come true once in a blue moon.
Aegroto dum anima est, spes est.
And, never give up, especially on a cat.
None of that in any way can now either help Nicky or erase the haunting memory of what his last three weeks on this earth must have been like. Only a profound change in how individuals, especially guardians, look upon and treat cats can ever ensure that no cat is again put through what he was forced to endure. Sadly, even that seems to be every bit as far away as the shelter and warmth that he so desperately sought as he trudged day after day, lonely, frightened, and hungry, through the unrelenting Ohio cold and snow.
Photos: Friendship Animal Protection League (Nicky being attended to and with Darmafall), Dan Bowman of WKYC-TV (Nicky by himself on a table), and The Chronicle Sun (Annie).