Bubba Is Condemned to Spend Forty Days Trapped Underneath a Snow-Covered Porch after Her Uncaring Owners Prematurely Wrote Her Off as Being Dead
"I thought I heard something and, sure enough, her paw stuck out and she meowed, and well, I near fainted."
-- Howard Hogan
At times it is difficult to know exactly what to think about some of the cat stories that make the news. That is largely because neither their owners and guardians, rescue groups, nor the capitalist media are renowned for telling the unvarnished truth.
A good case in point is the hellish nightmare that was visited upon a strikingly colorful eighteen-year-old tortoiseshell named Bubba from the small rural community of St. Felix on the western tip of Prince Edward Island (PEI). Specifically, she disappeared from the house that she shares with Howard Hogan and Lucina Costain on January 31st and was not found until forty days later on March 11th.
The details are a bit sketchy but apparently she had spent that entire period trapped in a snow-covered hole beneath their front porch. It is not even clear if her rescue from the ten-foot by four-foot subterranean dungeon with only about a foot's worth of vertical clearance came as the result of a conscious effort on the part of Hogan to belatedly find her or was merely an accidental byproduct of his snow removal activities.
"I thought I heard something and, sure enough, her paw stuck out and she meowed, and well, I near fainted," he afterwards related to the CBC on March 20th. (See "Bubba the Cat Found after Forty Days Under Snow-Covered Deck.") "Lucina was looking out the window, and I told her, I yelled 'The cat is alive!' and she come (sic) out running."
Although emaciated and unsteady on her feet, Bubba still had enough in the way of reserves in order to follow her guardians indoors. They started her off on warm milk and gave her only small portions of food at first but by the following day she had recuperated sufficiently enough in order to resume taking her customary daily rations.
Not surprisingly, she was rather weak as the muscles and bones in her legs had atrophied. She recovered quickly, however, and by March 14th was able once again to leap up into her regular sitting chair.
It is believed that she subsisted throughout her long and grueling ordeal by eating grass, rodents, and snow. Being a rather large cat, Bubba also had reserves of fat that came in especially handy.
|The Snow-Colored Porch Where Underneath Bubba Lived for Forty Days|
"That's what saved her; she was overweight," Hogan declared to The Journal Pioneer of Summerside on March 18th. (See "Family Cat Found Under Snowbank Forty Days after She Went Missing.")
The porch and the nearly three meters of snow that fell on St. Felix during her incarceration also served to provide her with a measure of insulation and thus to protect her from succumbing to hypothermia. Her misadventures have thus demonstrated once again the prominent role that porches and the areas underneath them play in the lives of cats that, for one reason or another, get caught outside during cold and snowy weather. (See Cat Defender posts of February 23, 2015 and March 14, 2015 entitled, respectively, "Abandoned to Tough It Out by His Lonesome in the Deadly Michigan Cold and Snow, Flick Sustains Horrific Injuries to His Front Paws When They Become Frozen to a Porch" and "Ace Is Found Frozen to a Porch with His Eyes Gouged Out but the Authorities Are Too Lazy, Cheap, and Ailurophobic to Go after His Assailant.")
Although Bubba's death-defying ordeal makes for scintillating reading, there is a dark and disturbing undercurrent to her story. First and foremost is the petit fait that she easily could have been spared her nightmarish misadventure if only her guardians had cared enough about her in order to have mounted anything other than half-hearted rescue attempts.
For instance, on the night that she disappeared Costain spent only thirty minutes searching for her. Fully aware that the hole was one of Bubba's favorite haunts, she shoveled down to it the following day but, failing to locate her wayward feline, she then abandoned the search.
For his part Hogan claims to have shoveled the spot a couple of times during the weeks that followed before he, too, threw in the towel. That is in spite of the fact that he has admitted to later having heard her crying for help on several occasions.
Instead of mounting an all-out search for her, Hogan and Costain contented themselves with falsely believing that she had been eaten by either a dog or a coyote. At other times they excused their glaring lack of concern for her welfare by kidding themselves into believing that she had run away from home of her own volition.
Their account of events simply is not plausible owing to the fact that it should have been rather easy to have tracked her movements from the paw prints that she would have left behind in the snow if she had ventured from the house. Secondly, it would have been all but impossible for her to have gotten very far considering the huge amount of snow that was on the ground. Thirdly, they knew all along about the existence of the hole and her tendency to seek sanctuary there.
|Bubba and Lucina Costain|
In that light it would be interesting to know not only how long Hogan and Costain have cared for Bubba but, in general, how well that they have treated her. In addition to their lackadaisical rescue efforts, there are other subtle indications that they do not care very much about her.
For starters, Bubba is a derogatory moniker for a cat, especially for such an attractive, loyal, and mature female. Secondly, Hogan's simply disgraceful tendency to refer to her as "the cat" does not inspire confidence in his fidelity to her.
If a reputable and trustworthy animal protection group should exist on PEI, it might want to look into Costain's and Hogan's neglect and mistreatment of Bubba. That is especially the case in that, considering her advanced years, she needs and deserves guardians who not only love her but are attentive to her needs. Above all, she needs to be protected from want, predators, and the elements.
Speaking of the latter, PEI and the remainder of the Canadian maritimes dodged another bullet earlier this week when an anticipated springtime snowstorm fizzled out into just plain rain. Hogan reportedly filled in the hole beneath his porch immediately after Bubba's rescue but he did so with snow and it surely has melted by now.
Consequently, the hole is now exposed and Bubba easily could find herself trapped there again the next time that it snows heavily. Unless Hogan and Costain are willing to shovel it out every time that Bubba goes missing they should fill it in with dirt so as to prevent her from becoming entombed there once again.
Bubba's misfortunes bear a striking similarity to those that befell a ten-year-old black and white female named Emmy from Dame Agatha's hometown of Torquay in Devon back in 2007. In October of that year she is believed to have followed her unidentified male guardian into an outside storage shed where she became trapped.
She thus remained in the unheated shed without either food or water for the following nine weeks until the man belatedly discovered her presence and freed her in late December. Although he and his wife later claimed that they had invested weeks in searching for her, they inexplicably never once looked inside the shed. The most logical conclusion to be drawn from that glaring oversight is that they already knew exactly who that they would find there.
|Emmy and an Unidentified Staffer at Torbay|
When she finally was rescued Emmy was almost skeletal and near death. Based upon tongue marks left on the windowpanes of the shed, it is theorized that she survived by lapping upon condensation. She also may have snared an few bugs and an occasional mouse from time to time.
Taken to the Torbay Blue Cross Center in the Watcombe section of that town, also in Devon, she eventually recovered but had, at least temporarily, lost the ability to jump due to atrophy in her legs. Her trying ordeal also had left her with, quite understandably, such debilitating psychological scars as a fear of tight places and of being left alone.
"Emmy survived a nightmare ordeal and lived to tell the tale and now needs a good home," a spokesperson for Torbay said following her rescue. "If only she could speak and let us know how she got through it because she has an amazing story to tell."
The charity also incomprehensibly fell hook, line, and sinker for the couple's rather tall tale. "Her owner really had no idea where she was," Torbay's Laura Valentine swore to the media.
Such patently obvious balderdash as that really takes the cake in that the couple would have had to have been deaf not to have overheard her meowing and scratching at the woodwork and windowpanes for such an extended period of time. That is even more so the case in that cats tend to be most active at night when the sounds of the city give way to stillness and quiet.
Even if their locking of Emmy in the shed was unintentional, that fails to explain their haste in getting rid of her so soon after she was rescued. According to press reports at that time, the couple was too broken up about what had happened to her in order to retain custody of her. C'est-à-dire, since they already had abandoned her for nine weeks, they ultimately decided to go whole hog and thus run out on her once and for all time.
They also lamely claimed that she would not fit in at the new house that they were acquiring. Needless to say, neither explanation is believable, especially when viewed in light of previous events.
|Emmy's Would-Be Tomb|
Torbay perhaps unwittingly came the closest to the truth when it described Emmy as "a loving cat who needs constant attention and care." The organization further claimed that she was "not too good with young children but a home with teenagers would be fine."
Consequently, there can be little doubt that her owners had wanted to get rid of her, one way or another, for a considerable period of time. That by no means constitutes proof that they intentionally left her in the shed to die but it does point to that distinct possibility. (See Cat Defender post of January 23, 2008 entitled "Emmy Survives Being Locked in an Outdoor Storage Shed for Nine Weeks Without Either Food or Water.")
There are three common denominators to be found in the misadventures of Bubba and Emmy. First of all, in both instances the explanations provided by their respective guardians are difficult, if not impossible, to believe.
Secondly, even if against all odds they should be telling the truth that in no way excuses either their callousness or their abject failure to seriously search for their errant cats. Thirdly, neither of them contacted the authorities or posted any "Lost Cat" notices and that is doubly suspicious.
Most distressing of all, there is not very much that concerned cat lovers can do about such callous and neglectful behavior. That is because, first of all, it is impossible for any individual, no matter how dedicated, to care for every cat that needs protection.
Secondly, just about all animal rescue groups are complete frauds in that the only solution that they have to offer homeless and abused cats are jabs of sodium pentobarbital. As a consequence, calling upon their assistance is an extremely dicey proposition.
As bleak as the situation may be, it is imperative that the alarm bells continue to be sounded. Bubba and Emmy survived their close brushes with death but countless other cats are suffering and dying all alone and under similar circumstances at this moment and they never must be forgotten.
Photos: Eric McCarthy of The Journal Pioneer (Bubba alone and with Lucina Costain), Rhonda Constain (snow-covered porch), and the Daily Mail and SWNS (Emmy and the shed).