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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tama Is Finally Able to Escape the Merciless Clutches of Her Simon Legree Overlords at the Wakayama Electric Railway but Doing So Has Cost Her Everything That She Ever Had, Including Her Life

Beautiful Tama Weighted Down with Her Worthless Cap and Medallion

"Tama war sehr milde und wurde selten böse, obwohl sie mit ihrer Untergebenen Nitama streng war."
-- Mitsunobu Kojima of the Wakayama Electric Railway

The most distressing aspect of being a cat writer is that sooner or later one is forced into authoring the obituaries of all those wonderful felines whose lives and exploits one had chronicled only a few years earlier. Moreover, the timeline that separates these two labors of love is often so brief as to hardly make either exercise seem worthwhile.

That is because there simply is not any way of getting around the stubborn reality that just as roses are always accompanied by thorns, the easy living of summer gives way to the hard grind of winter, and the vigor of youth is destined to be supplanted by the frailty of old age, death too is an inescapable part of life. It thus was with those dark thoughts in mind that the news of the death on June 22nd of Japan's famous railroad cat, Tama, was received, mourned, and finally grudgingly accepted as an irreversible fait accompli. (See Cat Defender post of June 2, 2008 entitled "Ridership Soars as Tama Takes Over as Stationmaster on Money-Losing Commuter Train.")

The official word is that she died from a myocardial infarction at an undisclosed animal hospital located somewhere in Wakayama Prefecture in the Kansai region of south-central Honshu Island. She apparently had entered the facility suffering from a sinus infection but neither the duration of her stay nor the treatment that she received have been divulged.

A far more likely scenario is that she was deliberately killed off with a deadly jab of sodium pentobarbital and her death later dishonestly attributed to a heart attack. That is because common colds generally are not known to stop hearts from beating but the same most definitely cannot be said for the ingestion of powerful and deadly drugs.

Secondly, there are not too many people in this world who are willing to go to the extra trouble and expense of medicating an elderly and sick cat. As a consequence, killing off those suffering from something as inconsequential as a common cold has become the de rigueur for both cheap and lazy owners as well as unscrupulous veterinarians in hot pursuit of an easy and quick buck. (See Cat Defender posts of October 18, 2014 and May 28, 2015 entitled, respectively, "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" and "Abandoned, Homeless on the Street, Expelled by the Ingrates at Manchester International Airport, and Finally Whacked by Her Last Guardian, So Ran the Course of Ollie's Sad and Turbulent Life.")

In Tama's case, it has not been disclosed who made the decision to end her life. It could have been either officials at her employer, the Wakayama Electric Railway (WER), or her nominal owner, Toshiko Koyama.

Tama at Her Sixteenth Birthday Celebration Back in April

For whatever it is worth, The Guardian of London reported on June 29th that she was being cared for by Koyama at the time of her death. (See "Tama the Cat: Three-Thousand Attend Elaborate Funeral for Japan's Feline Stationmaster.")

If she indeed was killed off, that constituted an ignoble and utterly outrageous end for the sixteen-year-old Horatio Alger of the feline world who rose from homelessness and abject poverty to achieve worldwide stardom as the top cat at WER's Kishi Station in the rural city of Kinokawa. Her death also once again poignantly demonstrates the utter worthlessness of both fame and legions of fans when it comes to safeguarding the life of a cat.

None of that is by any means meant to imply that there had not been subtle, telltale indications in the past that Tama was on her way out. Most notably was the appointment of another tortoiseshell named Nitama (Tama the Second in Japanese) as her apprentice and acting stationmaster on January 5, 2012.

Along about that time Tama's workload was significantly reduced. For instance, upon becoming stationmaster she was given the back-breaking schedule of working 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. six days a week. In particular, her duties consisted of being cooped up all day long in a tiny ticket booth where she was expected to not only greet commuters and tourists alike but also to pose for photographs with them as well.

"She never complains, even though passengers touch her all over the place. She is an amazing cat," Yoshiko Yamaki, a spokesman for WER, told the China Daily on May 26, 2008. (See "Cat as Station Chief Brings Passengers Back.") "She has patience and charisma. She is the perfect stationmaster."

With the elevation of Nitama, Tama's days were reduced to three per week and her hours cut to between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (See CNN, May 24, 2013, "The Cat That Saved a Japanese Train Station.")

It is difficult to know exactly what to make of those changes. On the one hand, Tama's health could have been already in decline or, on the other hand, perhaps WER simply was hedging its bets in preparation for such an eventuality.

Mourners Drop Off Flowers and Pray at Tama's Funeral on June 28th

Either way, there cannot be any denying that as the years wore on the public came to see less and less of her even though she was well enough in order to join officials from WER and about three-hundred of her faithful friends in order to celebrate her sixteenth birthday on April 29th. If there was anything ailing her on that occasion, railroad officials certainly kept it under their caps.

"Thanks to Tama-chan, the Kishigawa Line became known not only in Japan but also in the world," company president Mitsunobu Kojima told those in attendance according to the May 1st edition of The Asahi Shimbun of Tokyo. (See "Cat Stationmaster Turns Sweet Sixteen.") "I believe she will live to (be) twenty in cats years and one-hundred in human years."

His sentiments were echoed by ten-year-old Azumi Konishi of Naka-Kishi Elementary School in Kinokawa. "She is so cute when she lies down and rolls on her back," she told The Asahi Shimbun. "I want her to stay healthy for a long time."

That was not to be, however. All that is known for sure is that sometime between her birthday and the arrival of the month of June she became ill. It has not been even revealed when she last worked at Kishi.

If officials of WER are to be believed, she was still up and about as late as June 21st. "When we visited her with the company president the day before she died, she stood up and meowed as if she was begging him to hold her," Yamaki told The Guardian.

Kojima then reportedly told her to get well soon so that WER could celebrate her tenth anniversary (in January of 2017) as stationmaster. (See The Telegraph of London, June 28, 2015, "Cat Stationmaster Tama Mourned in Japan and Elevated as Goddess.")

Since commemorating her upcoming decade of service to the railroad was now totally out of the question, WER chose instead to celebrate her life by staging a Shinto-type funeral for her at Kishi Station on June 28th. The ceremony was held outside the converted ticket booth where Tama slaved away for free for so many years and was attended by three-thousand of her faithful fans.

A Terrified Nitama and Mitsunobu Kojima at Tama's Shrine in August

In addition to her remains, the makeshift altar featured portraits of her and ceramic dolls. Sake, watermelon, apples, cabbages, and other fruits and vegetables were donated for her use in the next world. A memorial set up outside the station likewise was piled high with bouquets of flowers, canned tuna, and other assorted gifts.

Oddly enough, neither the Japanese nor the Western media have made any mention of what ultimately was done with her remains. Considering the deleterious consequences that the June heat can have upon the remains of a cat, Tama's corpse likely was refrigerated after her death if it, and not just an empty box, was indeed present at the ceremony.

Even if the genuine article was in attendance, it thereafter likely was either burned or tossed out in the trash. If so, she thus was denied even a proper burial and a final resting place.

"We believe that Tama was divinely born to this world as the savior of our local railway," is how Kojima chose to eulogize her according to the June 29th edition of The Asahi Shimbun. (See "Three-Thousand Mourners Pay Final Respects to Cat Stationmaster Tama.") "We are proud that we were able to work with her for nine (sic) years."

Regrettably, he did not have the bon sens to stop there but instead went on to beseech her to continue to protect local public transportation all around the world. Following his lead, twenty-three-year-old transplanted German Anna Masslau, who is attending classes at Mie University in Tsu, one-hundred-seventy-five kilometers northwest of Kinokawa, could not resist the overpowering temptation to heap on yet still more of his outrageous self-serving balderdash.

"I ended up not being able to see her, but I am sure that Tama is still working as the stationmaster in heaven," she mindlessly declared to The Asahi Shimbun. "I want to meet her there."

Fourteen-year-old high school school student Daisuke Hosokawa from Wakayama was not quite so easily deceived by all the pomp and ceremony. "I feel something is missing when I see the place where Tama used to be is empty," he observed to The Asahi Shimbun.

Miiko, Tama's Mother, Died in 2009

Yoshinobu Nisaka, the governor of Wakayama Prefecture, likewise had the decency to keep his condolences simple. "Tama won a great popularity at home and abroad as a superstar of tourism," he told The Telegraph earlier on June 26th. (See "Japan Mourns Death of Tama, the Train Stationmaster Cat.") "At the news of her loss, I express my deep sorrow and great gratitude."

Following the customary fifty days of mourning, Tama was appointed "Honorable Eternal Stationmaster" and declared a goddess on August 11th. A shrine featuring two miniature bronze statues of her and located on the train platform also was unveiled on that solemn occasion.

As it always is the case with the Nipponese, financial considerations were of the utmost importance even at this the most sacred of all Shinto rites. Most noticeably, both statues depict Tama with beckoning paws, one for inveigling riders and the other for relieving them of their yen.

The enshrinement of Tama also served as the occasion for the official elevation of five-year-old Nitama as her successor. That occurred when she, dressed in a stationmaster's cap and held aloft by Kojima, offered make-believe prayers to the shrine and "reported" her promotion to Tama's soul (Tama Daimyojin).

More than anything else she looked petrified at being so rudely bandied about and shamelessly exploited but none of that in any way deterred Kojima from continuing to chase yen. "I hope (Nitama) will continue boosting local sightseeing and other businesses," he is reported as stating according to the August 11th edition of The Japan Times of Tokyo. (See "Railway Names Tama the Cat's Replacement as Stationmaster.")

As that utterly sickening example of what he and his subordinates have in store for her demonstrated, all that interests Kojima is the amount of money that Nitama can bring in to WER's coffers. Moreover, he appears from all outward indications to be totally incapable of ever seeing her as a live, sentient being endowed with a life, needs, and rights of her own.

Adding to that utterly deplorable situation, almost nothing has been publicly divulged about her. It accordingly is not even known where she came from, who owns her, and where she spends her nights and days off.

Chibi. Where Is She Now?

Furthermore, it is feared that now with Tama gone her workload will be increased from weekends to possibly six or seven days a week. Imprisoned in a tiny ticket booth in order to be pawed by the vulgar hoi polloi is not much of a life for a cat but that is, apparently, all that she ever has known since age one.

Nitama "looked more dignified than when I saw her a few years ago, and she seems to have got (sic) more used to her job," forty-two-year-old gratte-papier Yukado Nakahashi of Saitama Prefecture observed to The Japan Times. Whereas that possibly could be the case, it also is true that there is a fine line between connaître les ficelles and being resigned to a cruel and inescapable fate.

It thus seems clear that despite their numerous theological disagreements that Orientals and Occidentals alike are united in fervently believing that no hard-working cat is to be allowed so much as a moment's respite in either this or their make-believe worlds of tomorrow. Whether acting alone or in concert, both capitalists and the adherents of organized religion are not only insufferable but hellbent upon annihilating all of creation.

Despite the halcyon picture painted by WER and the capitalist media, Tama's life was hardly a bowl of cherries either before or after her meteoric rise to international fanfare. In fact, given the shameless manner in which everyone who either walked in or out of her life exploited her to the hilt, her life never really did ever belong to her.

As far as it is known, she entered this world on April 29, 1999 when she and three other kittens were born to a scarcely seven-month-old homeless cat named Miiko in an employees' locker room at Kishi Station. The first years of her life surely must have exceedingly difficult in that she was forced to forge a meager existence while living outdoors with her mother, siblings and other cats from the neighborhood.

She occasionally was fed by commuters but other than that she, from all accounts, was pretty much on her own without the benefits of shelters, veterinary care, and protection against her species' myriad of avowed enemies. Whereas Kinokawa is far from being the coldest place on earth, average nighttime lows from December through March are in the mid to upper thirties Fahrenheit and that certainly made being out of doors very uncomfortable for her. The city's rainy summers doubtlessly were not any picnic either.

In 2004, she, her mother, and a younger sister named Chibi were taken in by Koyama who at that time owned and operated a grocery story located near Kishi Station. Her deprivations did not end there, however, because he cruelly confined her and her family to an unheated shed on his property.

Tama's Prison for Eight and One-Half Years

In a harbinger of events to come, his decision was not motivated by compassion but rather avarice. In particular, he exploited Tama, Miiko, and Chibi in order to entice customers into his store.

Cats, and tortoiseshell like Tama in particular, are believed by the Japanese to bring good luck and that accounts for their popularity with temple monks, the captains of ships and, above all, the mercantile class. This phenomenon is best exemplified by the ceramic maneki-nekos that are found outside of shops, restaurants, gambling dens, and now at Tama's own shrine. (See The Economist, July 4, 2015, "The Cat's Miaow.")

It also was the Japanese who inaugurated the Katzen-Café craze that now has spread all over the world. One opened in London last year and another one débuted recently in Aachen. (See Cat Defender post of June 5, 2008 entitled "Teahouse Cats Are Given Shelter and Work but Precious Little Job Security and No Legal Protections" plus the Aachener-Zeitung, September 9, 2015, "Katzen-Café: Sechzehn kleine Pfoten garantieren für entspannten Tag.")

Their moist recent foray into the naked exploitation of cats for the sake of turning a lousy buck has been the establishment of a google-style street view of cats in the port city of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture. (See The Japan Times, September 4, 2015, " Hiroshima Eyes Tourist Boost with Cat's-Eye View of City Streets.")

All the while that Tama and her relatives were struggling to eke out some sort of existence on the streets, the Kishigawa Line, which extends a little more than fourteen kilometers from Kinokawa to Wakayama, was drowning in a sea of red ink. For instance by 2005, daily ridership had plummeted to five-thousand which added up to an annual total of only 1.9 million loyal customers.

That in turn translated into an annual budget deficit of US$4.7 million. As a consequence, Nankai Electric Railway went bankrupt and WER assumed control of the money-losing commuter train.

In a last-ditch effort to stay financially afloat, WER fired all the conductors and stationmasters at the line's fourteen stations and that was when Koyama entered the picture. Assigned to look after the Kishi Station, he brought Tama inside and it was not long before he and railroad officials hit upon the brilliant idea of extending the concept of maneki-nekos to include real cats as well.

The Tama Train Is Still Operating, Sans Its Namesake

As the result of that brainstorm, Tama was appointed stationmaster at Kishi in January of 2007 and the publicity generated by her appointment sparked and immediate seventeen per cent increase in ridership that very month as compared with the same period of a year earlier. All totaled, she is credited with boosting ridership by fifty-five-thousand and pumping an additional US$8.7 million into the moribund local economy.

By June of 2008 ridership had increased by ten per cent and that stellar achievement earned Tama a promotion to Super Stationmaster. With that elevation came a medallion inscribed with her title to go along with the custom-made stationmaster's cap and badge that she had received earlier.

She also was given an office in the form of a renovated ticket booth and that not only allowed her to occasionally get away from people but it also provided her with some direly needed privacy. "She declines to relieve herself when passengers are looking," Yamaki disclosed to the China Daily in the article cited supra. "We set the toilet where passengers can't see."

As the years rolled by more and more honors accrued to Tama. For instance, in 2010 she was named Operating Officer of WER and in 2013 she was appointed to the position of Deputy President. "... she was really doing her job," Kojima candidly acknowledged to The Telegraph in the June 28th article cited supra.

The statistics certainly bear out that assessment of her value to the railroad. For example, by 2014 ridership had increased to 2.27 million and three-hundred-thousand tourists, primarily Taiwanese and Hongkongese, visited Kinokawa.

Fully cognizant that they had a sure-fire moneymaker on their hands, officials at WER were not about to content themselves with merely what they were able to rake in at the fare box. Rather, they promptly embarked upon a frenzied marketing blitz designed to put Tama's face on seemingly every piece of merchandise imaginable.

As a result, Tama-themed stuffed animals, T-shirts, dining room furniture, pens, notebooks, erasers, staplers, Kishi Station uniforms, key rings, tote bags, and assorted figurines are now not only an integral part of the Japanese retail landscape but they also can be purchased abroad as well as on the Internet. In the spring of 2009, WER introduced the Tama Densha, a special train with her image plastered on the seats as well as its exterior, and it is still operating today as, hopefully, a permanent memorial to her.

Appropriately enough, John Lennon's classic about a home for homeless boys in Liverpool operated by the Salvation Army, "Strawberry Fields Forever," is played over the intercom as it and other trains arrive and depart from Kishi. (See Cat Defender post of December 5, 2005 entitled "Remembering John Lennon: A Great Songwriter and Brave Political Activist Who Also Loved Cats.")

The Tama-Themed Exterior of Kishi Station

A year later in August of 2010, Kishi Station was remodeled in order to resemble her face with dormer windows representing her eyes and her paw prints adorning the floor. Besides featuring a souvenir shop, the station also boasts a café where customers can purchase cupcakes with her face etched in the icing.

A volume of photographs entitled Dairy of Tama, the Stationmaster was published early on in her reign and later she was featured in travel books. Besides making numerous television appearances and having her own entry on Wikipedia, she was featured in Myriam Tonelotto's 2009 documentary about famous cats entitled "La Voie du Chat" ("Katzenlektionen" in Deutsch) as well as an episode of the Animal Planet Series, "Must Love Cats."

So, thanks to the insatiable greed of WER, Tama is destined to live on for a long time to come not only as a highly successful marketing gimmick but as the public face of the company. What already has been conveniently swept underneath the rug and is destined to remain hidden from public consumption is how outrageously she was abused and exploited by both Koyama and the railroad barons.

Besides Koyami's abject neglect of her during her early years, it never has been publicly disclosed how much he was paid for selling her into slavery to WER and thus robbing her of any opportunity to ever have had a life of her own. Secondly, although he supposedly had custody of her up until her death, absolutely nothing has been revealed about what type of existence she had outside of Kishi Station.

For instance, was she allowed to live indoors at his house or did he still cruelly confine her to his unheated shed? Also, was she ever allowed outside in order to get some fresh air, to soak up a few rays, to frolic in the green grass and, most important of all, to have some time to herself? It is not even known if he either spent any time with her or allowed her to have feline playmates of her own.

It is assumed that she was sterilized once she came to work at Kishi but before that she most likely gave birth to several litters of kittens. If so, whatever became of them and, even more importantly, are any of them still alive today?

Kittens not only look like their parents but often bear an eerie resemblance to them in their manners, temperament, and inclinations. With that being the case, there is not any legitimate need for either cloning or elaborate memorials because the deceased live on in the genes of their offspring. (See Cat Defender posts of October 16, 2006 and January 5, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Unable to Turn a Profit, California Cat-Cloning Company Goes Out of Business" and "World's First Cloned Cat, CC, Finally Gives Birth to Three Healthy Kittens at Age Five.")

Nitama's Life Is in Mortal Danger as She Attempts to Fill Tama's Shoes

Her mother, Miiko, died of an undisclosed cause on July 20, 2009 and it is not known what became of either her sister Chibi, who was born on May 12, 2000, or her other two siblings. Unless either one or more of her siblings or some of her kittens are still alive, Tama unfortunately did not leave behind any living relatives.

Additionally, since she was forced to work so intimately with the public on a daily basis it is pretty much a sure bet that she was cruelly declawed. She possibly may even have been defanged as well. It is, after all, a foregone conclusion that any entity as miserly as WER was not about to pay out damages to anyone who got fresh with Tama and as a result was justifiably rewarded with being either scratched or bitten.

Most perplexing of all is the matter of how that she, a former footloose stray, was transformed into a cat that was so docile that she not only would willingly consent to being cooped up all day in a tiny ticket booth but to simultaneously allow countless strangers to endlessly paw and harass her. The most likely explanation to that conundrum is that she was fed a daily cocktail of mood-altering drugs.

For example, both benzodiazepines (BZs), such as diazepam (Valium®) and alprazolam (Xanax®), as well as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (Prozac®) and paroxetine (Paxil®), are commonly prescribed by quack veterinarians in order to treat fear, aggression, and other so-called behavioral problems in cats that, in reality, exist only in their owners' heads. It also is conceivable that either Koyama or officials at WER were lacing the milk that they gave her with alcohol since it affects the same parts of a cat's brain as do BZs.

That was the dirty trick that Wilbur Willard played on a homeless black female named Lillian in Damon Runyon's short story of the same name which was first published in Collier's Weekly on February 1, 1930. A radio adaptation of it aired October 16, 1949 on the Damon Runyon Theatre and can still be heard today at Internet Archive and elsewhere online.

She additionally may have been starved into compliance given that such patented cruelty is an indispensable tactic for entertainers ranging from street performers to world-renowned traveling circuses who employ cats in their acts. That is about the only way that frightened felines can be inveigled into, inter alia, jumping from great heights into hoops of fire and riding tricycles.

The strong, but unsubstantiated, suspicion that either drugs or alcohol were used in order to control Tama is buttressed by the fact that in many photographs she appears to be almost catatonic, which is an highly unusual emotional state for any cat. Even Kojima himself has lauded her sedateness and good manners.

"Tama war sehr milde und wurde selten böse, obwohl sie mit ihrer Untergebenen Nitama streng war," he confided to Der Spiegel on August 27th. (See "Nachfolgerin für Katzen-Gottheit: Die Neue ist am Zug.")

If there is any validity to those suspicions, the drugs conceivably could have contributed to her death. The only thing known for certain is that neither Kojima nor Koyama ever will admit to plying Tama with drugs even if that were the case. A necropsy might be able to settle the issue one way or another but it is highly unlikely that her remains still exist in any form.

Tama Is Finally at Rest but She Could Have Had So Much More Out of Life

It also is utterly ludicrous for Kojima to imply that it was Tama, as opposed to himself and his subalterns, who made life difficult for Nitama. Furthermore, it certainly is not too late for some legitimate animal rights group, if one exists in the land of the rising sun, to subject her to a surprise, unannounced drug test. Such an undertaking just might possibly save her life.

Far from being a cause for celebration, Tama's life and death should be mourned by all those who truly cared about her. Whereas she so richly deserved a life that not only belonged to her but that was free of abuse, exploitation, and the normal run-of-the-mill deprivations that plague the lives of members of her species, all that she received instead were their polar opposites.

Deplorably, the same litany of abuses that she was forced to endure are now being heaped upon Nitama as well as the dozens of other cats, dogs, and rabbits that railroads all across Japan have shanghaied into serving as their unpaid mascots. Such cruelty and abuse once again demonstrates that when it comes to making money at the expense of the animals there simply are very few limits to either man's greed or his cruelty.

Besides, the packet that Tama made for WER did not in any way profit her because cats, to their eternal credit, do not have any use whatsoever for money. The same likewise is true for the multitude of honors, medals, and titles, that WER bestowed upon her.

If she had been given a choice in the matter, there can be little doubt that she would have much preferred to have been blessed with a permanent and secure home with a loving owner who doted on her as well as feline companions of her own choosing. One day filled with love, dignity, and freedom would have meant far more to her than a thousand years of bondage to the merciless bloodsuckers at WER.

Finally, in a forlorn cemetery located in the northern port city of Herakleion on the island of Crete lay the remains of Nikos Kazantzakis, the author of the 1946 novel, Zorba the Greek. That in and of itself is of little consequence as far as Tama is concerned but there is a rather poignant connection between the epitaph that is etched on his tombstone and her cruel fate. A German translation of the original Greek reads:

"Ich glaube nicht, ich hoffe nicht, ich fürchte nicht. Ich bin frei."

Lamentably, that oftentimes is the very best that cats such as her and men alike can ever expect to get out of a world where predatory capitalists and religious frauds, such as Kojima and Koyama, lord it over all of creation. Even so that is, as Tama knew only so painfully well, a terribly high price to pay for one's freedom.

Photos: China Daily (Tama in her regalia), Bunna Takizawa of The Asahi Shimbun (Tama's sixteenth birthday), Chika Oshima of the Associated Press and The Guardian (flowers for Tama), The Asahi Shimbun (Nitama at Tama's shrine), Tabobou of Wikipedia (Miiko and Chibi), Twilight2640 of Wikipedia (ticket booth), Wakayama City (train), hirorin0505 of Wikipedia (Kishi Station), Kyodo of The Japan Times (Nitama in front of a photograph of Tama), and Paul Richardson of the BBC (Tama relaxing).

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Because a Compassionate Firefighter from Oregon Chose to Care When His California Guardians Could Not Be Bothered with Doing So, Monty Burns Is Able to Escape the Valley Fire with His Life

Monty Burns and His Horribly Burned Face and Ears

"That is a true hero."
-- Wasson Memorial Veterinary Clinic's Description of Ralph Rhodes

It sure looked like it was curtains for Monty Burns. All of his fur had been singed, the tips of his ears had melted, and his face had been badly burned and disfigured.

Plus, his paws had been scorched so badly that even walking was, at the very least, excruciatingly painful if not altogether impossible. Worst of all, his lips and mouth were so severely swollen that he was unable to either slake the intense burning in his mouth, lungs, and stomach or to eat.

Under such wretchedly appalling circumstances, his life-expectancy could could have been measured, not in days, but rather in a matter of hours. If his untreated burns and the damage done to his lungs by smoke inhalation had not finished him off, either starvation or predation surely would have done the trick.

Monty was one of no doubt hundreds of cats and dogs as well as countless wild animals who fell victim to the Valley Fire which broke out on September 12th near the city of Cobb in Lake County. The fast-moving blaze, whose cause has yet to be determined, grew from only fifty acres to more than ten-thousand in just a few hours.

Due to his friendly demeanor and the fact that he had been previously sterilized, Monty obviously had guardians but they absconded with their own miserable hides and precious possessions as soon as the conflagration erupted. In doing so, they left Monty behind to be burned alive all by his lonesome.

If events had gone as his lower-than-dirt guardians had planned, that would have been the last of him and the world never would have known even that he ever had lived. They later would have resumed their uncaring and worthless lives just as if nothing had happened and if Monty's corpse had not been burned to a crisp, it surely would have decomposed into nothingness within a few days after its extended exposure to the torrid California sun.

Monty Alongside Some of the Cards, Toys, and Food That He Has Received 

The Fates are a capricious bunch of rotters even under the best of circumstances and as such they can only rarely be counted upon to smile down upon cats, but that is not the entire story. For whatever reason, whether it was pity, the luck of the draw, or some other unexplained and unfathomable reason, they unilaterally decreed that it was Monty's karma's to live, not die, and promptly dispatched a savior in order to free the black tom from the Grim Reaper's strangulating grasp.

As it so often turns out to be the case, Monty's rescuer not only was a perfect stranger but he was not even from the Golden State. Rather, he was a firefighter on loan from Eugene, Oregon, seven-hundred-sixty-three kilometers away, named Ralph Rhodes.

Although press reports have not specified exactly when the dramatic rescue took place, it undoubtedly was sometime between September 12th and September 14th and even then the circumstances surrounding it can only be described as extraordinary. Specifically, Rhodes and his unidentified partner were driving down California Highway 175 near Middletown in Lake County, one-hundred-forty-eight kilometers north of San Francisco, when they spied Monty resting motionless in a driveway at number 19594.

Whereas most individuals would have kept on going without giving him so much as a second glance, Rhodes instinctively knew that something was wrong when he did not attempt to flee. He therefore promptly turned his big rig around, retraced his steps, and collected Monty.

His heroics did not end there, however. Fully realizing that the badly burned tom desperately needed far more help than he was able to provide him with, he next drove him forty-six kilometers to Lakeport in the north where he handed him over into the care of the Wasson Memorial Veterinary Clinic.

That did not mean, however, that he was out of the woods; au contraire, it was more of a case of him having gone from the fire into the frying pan because after veterinarian Chris Holmes had taken one quick look at him his first thought was to finish off the job that had been begun earlier by the Valley Fire. "He can't eat because his lips and mouth are so swollen," he later told KGO-TV of San Francisco on September 15th. (See "Firefighters Rescue Burned Black Kitten from Valley Fire.") "At first, he couldn't open his mouth."

Monty Waits In His Cage for a New, and Hopefully Better, Owner 

What transpired next never has been publicly explained, but Holmes had an abrupt change of heart and elected instead to provide Money with the emergency veterinary care that he so richly deserved and desperately needed. Perhaps Rhodes interceded once again on his behalf and generously agreed to foot the bill for his care but that is mere conjecture.

Although typical of the type of perverted thinking that the public has come to expect from just about all practitioners, Holmes' initial reaction was nothing short of criminal. Instead of murdering cats and other animals, he and his fellow partners in crime should once and for all time destroy their caches of sodium pentobarbital and other lethal drugs and concentrate their talents solely upon saving the lives of injured, sickly, and elderly cats. The snuffing out of innocent lives never should be an option for any veterinarian.

Since Monty was unable to either eat or drink, it was necessary for Holmes to insert a feeding tube in his stomach and after that his condition almost immediately began to show signs of marked improvement. It is going to take considerable time and medication, however, for his severe burns to properly heal.

Hopefully, his hearing has not been compromised but the massive damage done to his ears possibly could make him more susceptible to contracting cancer if he is allowed out of doors for protracted periods of time without either protective headgear or sunscreen. The same concerns are applicable to his badly burned face should his skin and fur fail to completely heal. (See Cat Defender posts of November 14, 2012, February 9, 2013, and August 12, 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," "New Start Cat Rescue Center Abruptly Kills Off Victoria after the Cancer Returns to Her Already Ravaged Ears," and "Luna Weathers a Costly Assault from Old Sol and Is Looking to Make a New Start in Life but a Dark Cloud Is Looming over Her Future.")

Any potential damage done to his tiny lungs by smoke inhalation is yet still another potential problem but the most pressing concern at the moment is his eyesight. "There's an antibiotic in there, so it's kind of hard to tell, but there are eyes in there," Holmes told KGO-TV.

All is not lost, however. "We are very optimistic his eyes will be okay," an unidentified representative from Wasson predicted to London's Metro later on September 19th. (See "This Badly Burned but Brave Cat Survived a California Wildfire.")

Monty Is Cradled by His Savior, Ralph Rhodes

At last report, Monty was said to be purring and rubbing his head against staffers at Wasson. Since his disgraceful owners have not come forward to either reclaim him or to repay Wasson for saving his life, he was scheduled to have been placed in foster care sometime this past weekend as a prelude to securing a new and permanent home for him.

Even if by chance they belatedly should turn up, returning Monty to them would not be a good idea. Rather, they are deserving of lengthy prison terms for abandoning him and also should be banned from owning other cats in the future. Although it has not been divulged if Monty was fitted with an implanted microchip, if so that would be one means of tracking them down and thus holding them accountable under the anti-cruelty statutes.

Besides, since they reside in an area that is prone to wildfires, they should have been prepared in advance for such an exigency with a cage and, above all, by keeping a closer eye on him. Given the remoteness of the area, they also undoubtedly had access to an automobile and therefoe do not have a valid excuse for not taking him along with them when they flew the coop.

Even if they were blindsided and overwhelmed by the swiftness with which events unfolded, that in no way excuses their dodgy behavior after his story went viral on the world wide web a month ago. It thus would appear that they do not want any part of him which very well could turn out to be a case of Glück im Unglück as far as he and his future well-being are concerned.

As far as the big picture is concerned, there simply is not any way of knowing how many cats were cruelly abandoned by their callous owners to perish in the conflagration. All that has been disclosed so far is that Animal Control in Lakeport word was attempting to locate the owners of at least sixty-five dogs that also were forsaken by their equally callous owners. Furthermore, considering that dogs normally are considerably easier to corral in emergencies than cats, that petit fait alone suggests that the number of the latter left behind surely must have been significantly higher.

All totaled, by the time that the voracious Valley Fire finally was brought under control on October 6th it had consumed more than seventy-six-thousand acres in Lake, Napa, and Sonoma counties, nearly two-thousand buildings, and claimed the lives of four individuals. That earned it the dubious distinction of being the third most destructive wildfire in the state's history. (See the San Francisco Chronicle, October 7, 2015, "Once Ferocious Valley Fire Is One-Hundred Per Cent Contained.")

Little Chips Is All Grown Up Now but Where Is She and Is She Still Alive?

As far as Rhodes is concerned, a thousand pages of accolades would still fail to do justice to his derring-do. In a society where the vast majority of its citizens are only capable of caring about their respective tribes, shekels, mindless self-indulgence, and of doing evil to others, the animals, and Mother Earth, the compassion that he extended to Monty and the trouble that he went to in order to save his life stand out like sore thumbs.

Without belaboring the obvious, perhaps Wasson said it best when it stated simply on its Facebook page, "That is a true hero." The mere fact that individuals of Rhodes' caliber still exist coupled with Monty's indomitable will to live signify that there is some, but not much, reason for optimism about the fate of not only cats like him but of this world as a whole.

Although the number of cats that die anonymously in wildfires each summer in California surely must be astronomical, only a tiny handful of them are ever either mourned or even remembered. Rightly or wrongly, that honor in 2015 will always belong to Monty whereas in 2012 it went to an orphaned three to four-week-old bobcat named Chips.

On August 25th of that year, the two-pound kitten was found dazed, dehydrated, and walking in circles alongside a road outside of Chester in Plumas County by Charles "Tad" Hair of the Mad River Ranger District. As it later was revealed, she had sustained second-degree burns to all four paws as well as to her back, her whiskers had been singed, and her eyes were filled with so much soot and pus that she could barely see well enough in order to even walk.

With her mother nowhere in sight, she surely would have died if Hair had not gathered her up and taken her back to his base in Lake Almanor West, eleven kilometers south of Chester. She almost immediately thereafter was transferred to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in South Lake Tahoe where her burns were attended to and she was placed on a steady diet of Kitten Replacement Milk and mice that had to be pulverized for her consumption since she did not yet even have teeth.

On November 1st, she was moved to Sierra Wildlife Rescue in Placerville where staffers attempted to toughen her up for an eventual return to the wild. For either better or worse, that fateful day dawned on April 19, 2013 when she was released into the wild of Humboldt County.

Phoenix: What Ultimately Became of  Her?

Sadly, that was the last ever to be heard from her although she always will be associated with the eponymous Chips Fire which consumed seventy-five-thousand acres in the Plumas National Forest during August of 2012. (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.")

It may have come much too late in order to have saved Chips but on August 5th of this year the California Fish and Game Commission voted to ban bobcat trapping throughout the state. "This vote today is historic and shows California's national leadership in wildlife protection," Camilla Fox of Project Coyote told KCET-TV of Los Angeles on that same date. (See "California Bans Bobcat Trapping in Three to Two Vote.") "This victory will help protect California's native bobcats from the insatiable international fur market where individual bobcat pelts can sell for as much as $1,000 per pelt."

Back in 2008, it was a female named Phoenix from Paradise who made headlines when she was able to successfully rescue one of her kittens, Blaze, from the deadly Humboldt Fire; the remaining members of her litter, regrettably, perished. She also suffered severe burns to her paws as the result of her heroism.

Afterwards, she demonstrated her magnanimity by graciously agreeing to serve as the surrogate mother for six other kittens who had been orphaned by the conflagration. (See Cat Defender post of July 3, 2008 entitled "Phoenix Is Severely Burned but Still Manages to Save One of Her Kittens from the Humboldt Fire.")

Although it would seem that it would be far easier for urban apartment dwellers to corral their cats and thus carry them to safety in times of emergency, that is not always the case. For example on December 31, 2009, forty-six-year-old Edgar K. and forty-four-year-old Susi S. of Altshausen in Baden-Württemberg left their nine-month-old cat, Lumpi, to die in a 4 a.m. blaze that engulfed their second-floor apartment.

His lifeless body later was found wedged between the mattress of the couple's bed. His sister, Sissi, miraculously survived by hiding underneath the bed.

Lumpi, R.I.P.

The couple's conduct was made all the more reprehensible because they undoubtedly would have perished in the blaze themselves if their cats had not awakened them from their slumber. "Plötzlich kratzte und miaute es an unserer Schlafzimmertür als ich öffnete, stürmten unser Kater Lumpi und unsere Katze Sissi ins Zimmer," Edgar K. later disclosed. "Ich sah Qualm auf dem Flur, aus dem Wohnzimmer schlug mir eine beissende Rauchwolke entgegen."

For whatever it is worth, the couple later claimed to have attempted to save their rescuers' lives. "Die Katzen haben geschrien," Suzi S. declared. "Wir wollten nach ihnen schauen, aber wir sahen kaum noch etwas und konnten nicht mehr atmen."

Despite ringing every bit as hollow as the report that echoes from an empty beer barrel, Suzi S. nevertheless did have the decency to at least acknowledge the sacrifice that Lumpi had made for her and her mate. "Jetzt verdanken wir ihm unser Leben," she said. (See Cat Defender post of April 3, 2010 entitled "Lumpi Is Unforgivably Left to Die in a Burning Apartment by the Ingrates Whose Lives He Saved.")

Looking ahead, there is no end in sight to the wildfires which each summer decimate large swaths of both California and British Columbia and as a consequence countless cats, such as Monty, are destined to continue dying and suffering piteously as the direct result of man's greed, selfishness, and evildoing. Since it is painfully obvious that he is totally unwilling to undertake the steps that are necessary in order to save himself, such as curbing his reliance upon fossil fuels, he certainly is not about to do so in order to save the animals and the planet.

Consequently, responsibility for the safety of all cats, both domestics and those that are homeless, falls by default squarely upon the shoulders of their owners and caretakers. The response that is so desperately needed from those who care about the species is for a great deal more steadfastness and vigilance on their behalves, not less, as the likes of Daniel Simon Mills, Alice Potter, Sarah Ellis, and Celia Haddon would have the world to believe. (See Cat Defender post of October 9, 2015 entitled "A Lynch Mob Comprised of Dishonest Eggheads from the University of Lincoln Issues Another Scurrilous Broadside Against Cats by Declaring That They Do Not Need Guardians in Order to Safeguard Their Fragile Lives.")

Photos: Wasson Memorial Veterinary Clinic (Monty), Lake Tahoe Wildlife Center (Chips), Susan Doyle of the Mercury-Register of Oroville (Phoenix), and Bild (Lumpi).

Friday, October 09, 2015

A Lynch Mob Comprised of Dishonest Eggheads from the University of Lincoln Issues Another Scurrilous Broadside Against Cats by Declaring That They Do Not Need Guardians in Order to Safeguard Their Fragile Lives

The University of Lincoln: An Idyllic Hangout for a Den of Cat-Haters

"We do not reject that cats may have social preferences, nor that some cats form this type of attachment in certain circumstances, nor do we wish to imply that cats do not form some form of affectionate social relationship or bond with their owners (a broader sense of the term 'attachment'), only that the relationship with the primary caregiver is not typically characterized by a preference for that individual based on them (sic) providing safety and security to the cat."
-- Daniel Simon Mills and Alice Potter

There always has been good money in the naked exploitation and abuse of cats as research subjects and since there are so many of them thousands can go missing without hardly anyone ever noticing that they are gone. Plus, their docility and utter defenseless makes them ideal targets for thoroughly evil professors to exploit to the hilt.

As a result, vivisectors have been having a field day at their expense and laughing all the way to the bank for centuries. In desperate need of some sort of rationale in order to justify their en masse feline eradication schemes, ornithologists and wildlife biologists likewise have hopped on the bandwagon and now can be counted upon to annually gush forth with a steady stream of totally bogus scientific papers that depict members of the species as devils incarnate, sans only the horns, long tails, and pitchforks.

Being totally lacking in objectivity, honesty, and tact, these inveterate cat-haters are easily unmasked for what they are and their scurrilous screeds debunked and relegated to the rubbish heaps from which they originated. At the University of Lincoln in Lincolnshire, however, a far more insidious rat pack of feline defamers and maligners is hard at work on a long-term project aimed at manufacturing a scientific foundation for divesting both domestic and homeless cats of the few hard-fought protections of the law and the humane considerations that their supporters only recently have won for them.

For example, on September 2nd the school's Daniel Simon Mills and Alice Potter published in the journal PLOS ONE a paper entitled "Domestic Cats (Felis silvestris catus) Do Not Show Signs of Secure Attachment to Their Owners" which was the end product of their taking of eighteen domestic cats and running them through a modified version of the Ainsworth Strange Situation Test (SST) that was developed in the 1970's by psychologist Mary Ainsworth in order to study how infants reacted when their mothers left them alone in a room with perfect strangers. Over the years the test has been improvised in order to study attachment issues in chimpanzees, dogs, hand-reared wolves and, of course, cats.

Over the course of a seven-week period between May and July of 2012 the researchers subjected the cats to eighteen, three-minute episodes whereby they either were locked in a room by themselves, with their owners, or with strangers. The goal of these exercises was to assess the amount of contact sought by the cats, their level of passive behavior, and any visible signs of distress that they exhibited when their owners left the room.

From these observations, they first concluded that cats do not suffer from separation anxiety. "Previous research has suggested that some cats show signs of separation anxiety when left alone by their owners, in the same way that dogs do, but the results of our study show that they are in fact much more independent than canine companions," Mills told the University of Lincoln in a September 3rd press release. (See "Standing on Their Own Four Feet: New Research Shows Why (sic) Cats Are More Independent Than Dogs.") "It seems that what we interpret as separation anxiety might actually be signs of frustration."

Secondly, the researchers reject the notion that cats are securely attached to their owners. "Although cats vocalized more when the owner rather than the stranger left the cat with the other individual, there was no other evidence consistent with the interpretation of the bond between a cat and its owner meeting the requirement of a secure attachment," they wrote in the Abstract to the PLOS ONE article cited supra.

From that, Mills and Potter concluded that cats do not look to their owners to provide them with safety and security. "We do not reject that cats may have social preferences, nor that some cats form this type of attachment in certain circumstances, nor do we wish to imply that cats do not form some form of affectionate social relationship or bond with their owners (a broader sense of the term 'attachment'), only that the relationship with the primary caregiver is not typically characterized by a preference for that individual based on them (sic) providing safety and security to the cat," they summarized in the PLOS ONE article.

Aside from their final product being cloaked in enough psychological mumbo jumbo, statistical gobbledygook, and tortured prose so as to satisfy the undiscriminating intellectual palate of almost any high-strutting, supercilious buffoon with a Ph.D., the minuscule fifty-four minutes that Mills and Potter spent observing the cats as they ran them through the rather limited and crabbed strictures of the SST is hardly sufficient in order to support the far-reaching conclusions that they purport to have uncovered. Even they slyly admit that the SST may not be suitable for studying feline attachment issues. "An alternative explanation for these results might be that the modified SST used here is not an appropriate instrument for measuring attachment, and the finding that the behavior of cats appears to be very variable (and unreliable across time) may have wider implications for those using behavioral assessments to evaluate cats, such as for rehoming," they added.

"Don't use cats," an anonymous science professor once told a student. "They'll screw up your data." In hindsight, it is just too bad that Mills and Potter did not have enough bon sens to have heeded that advice.

Secondly, in respect to the rehoming of cats there is hardly anything new in their cautionary note in that Michael Moyer of PennVet in Philadelphia and others have long maintained that cats do not belong in shelters in the first place. Why, just shanghaiing them off the street and then falsely imprisoning them behind bars scares them, for good reason, nearly to death.

The stress and trauma that accompanies such a nightmarish experience in turn quite often renders them temporarily anti-social and that deplorable situation is not helped by staffers who poke pencils and pens at them in a thoroughly dishonest and ludicrous attempt to assess their sociability for adoption. The shelter environment also sickens them by allowing latent viruses to emerge and spread.

Placing their litter boxes alongside their food dishes also distresses them as do the disinfectants that are used in order to clean their cages. (See The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 11, 2011, "Shelter Shock. Cats Can Get Sick from the Stress. One Proposed Remedy? Keep Them Out.")

In addition to the fatal flaws relating to both the smallness of their sample and the SST, Mills and Potter are guilty of failing to realize that all so-called scientific research must take into consideration the constraints imposed by time, place, and circumstances. The commission of such an egregious error is certainly nothing new in that ornithologists, wildlife biologists, and other inveterate cat-haters have been engaging in the same dishonest modus operandi for years when it comes to their studies of alleged feline predation.

By doing so they intentionally neglect, inter alia, the petits faits that most cats do not hunt at all and even if they did there would not be very much for those that live in the snow belt to eat during the wintertime. None of that ever has in the least deterred them from ludicrously concluding that cats kill billions of birds and small mammals each year and therefore must be systematically exterminated.

Mills and Potter additionally are guilty of failing to realize that cats, like all animals, have different personalities, histories, and inclinations. Pythagoras and Aristotle, just to name two, understood that thousands of years ago and for the academic community to so stubbornly persist in denying it can only be attributed to a combination of extreme prejudice and blatant dishonesty. To put the matter succinctly, just as it would be idiotic for any serious investigator to maintain that all individuals behave in a like manner, so too is it the case with cats.

Much more to the point, whether or not cats suffer from separation anxiety, are securely attached to their owners, and look to them for safety and security depends largely upon their breeding, histories, personalities, and circumstances. For instance, cats that are robbed of their sex lives by sterilization, divested of their abilities to climb and hunt by being cruelly declawed, cooped up indoors all by themselves, and made to be fully dependent upon their owners for both their survival and enrichment are more likely to not only suffer from separation anxiety but also to look upon their caretakers as the only stars in the firmament.

Under such utterly appalling circumstances, they most often are never allowed to learn a blessed thing about the outside world, other cats, and individuals other than their caretakers. They accordingly are in even worse shape than those individuals who spend their entire lives in caves like the one described by Plato in Book One of The Republic. (See Cat Defender post of February 2, 2015 entitled "Cruelly Declawed 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.")

By contrast, cats that grow up outdoors and learn early on how to hunt and cope with other cats and animals, the elements, and people are forced by necessity to be far more self-sufficient and independent than those that are cruelly denatured. Mills and Potter, however, give short shrift to these rather obvious differences.

Daniel Simon Mills

For instance, the cats used in their study were domestics and all of them except one had access to the outdoors. The authors are however conspicuously silent as to just how much access they were permitted and as a consequence that could have been anything from roaming at will to being confined in a small garden for brief periods of time each day.

They even appear to reject the notion that there is any substantive difference between indoor and outdoor cats as far as questions of attachment are concerned. "Although, we accept it is possible, if unlikely, that the typical relationship between owners and their cats in Mexico is different to that which generally occurs between owners and their cats in the United Kingdom, or that there is a difference in the relationship between owners and cats kept indoors...and cats with outdoor access," they state in the PLOS ONE article.

Their limited research, however, does not in any way support such a conclusion. Furthermore, they fail to take into account the vastly different amounts of love, nurturing, instruction, and guidance that owners provide to their cats. For example, it is entirely conceivable that cats which have been rescued from abusers, dogs, and other enemies by their owners might come to rely upon them for their personal safety.

Overall, Mills and Potter have failed to adequately address a wide range of variables in the cat-human relationship and as such their research boils down to little more than prejudice and opinion. In fact, their misguided foray into the cat thicket begins and culminates in rank prejudice.

"The domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) has recently passed (sic) the dog as the most popular companion animal in Europe," is how they begin their PLOS ONE article. "Ease of care, ability to live in a small residence and the capacity to cope with being left alone for long periods of time have been reported as reasons for this popularity. Indeed, some have suggested that cats are 'ideal' companions for owners who work long hours."

From that resounding endorsement of cruelly incarcerating cats indoors and treating them with abject neglect, Mills proceeds to conjure up an old evolutionary myth as additional support for his initial prejudice. "If you think about it, why should cats depend on people for safety and security?" he rhetorically asked the readers of Live Science to ponder on September 4th. (See "Sorry, Cat Lovers: Felix Doesn't Need You.") "Cats are naturally very independent hunters."

Au contraire, even footloose cats are not anywhere near the lonely, solitary hunters that he imagines. For example, they often hunt together, share prey, nurture each other's kittens, play together, groom each other, and sleep in piles in order to keep warm during cold weather.

Most glaring of all, he totally overlooks that they are drawn together as devout worshipers of the great god Eros. To sum up, just as no man is an island unto himself, so too is it the case with cats.

The closest that Mills and Potter come to even admitting that these phenomena exist is when they grudgingly acknowledge that cats groom each other, rub noses, and sometimes form "cooperative colonies of related females."

Even if researchers one day should be able to substantiate some of Mills and Potter's findings, that in no way would alter the conclusion that their research is not only irrelevant but dangerous and defamatory to boot. That is because all cats desperately need caretakers whether or not they look to them to provide for their personal safety.

In fact, their total ignorance of the machinations of their sworn enemies makes it imperative that their owners and caretakers provide for their personal safety. It often has been observed that a cat has the intellectual development of a four-year-old child and no responsible and caring parent would expect it to be able to protect itself and the same rationale is even more applicable in the case of cats.

Besides needing to be supplied with food, water, shelter, veterinary care, and companionship, they desperately require owners who are willing to go to the mat in order to protect them. Specifically, their fragile lives must be safeguarded against the evil designs of motorists, poisoners, cat-haters, animals such as dogs, raccoons and coyotes, fur and meat traffickers, Animal Control officers, shelters, vivisectors, and eggheads like Mills and Potter.

The existence of those harsh realities has not in any way dissuaded the capitalist media, however, from seizing upon Mills and Potter's one-sided palaver in order to fallaciously declare that cats do not need humans. In addition to the headline in Live Science, the one in The Telegraph's September 3rd edition screamed "Cats Do Not Need Their Owners, Scientists Conclude.")

Science Alert jumped on the bandwagon September 4th by proclaiming "Your Cat Doesn't Really Need You Around After All, Study Finds." Like sheep to the slaughter, an article posted the same day on CNET declared "Cats Don't Need Their Owners, Researchers Say."

The occasionally reliable National Post of Toronto could not resist the temptation to join the siren call when on September 4th it followed suit by idiotically caroling "Your Cat Doesn't Love You: Science." Always on the lookout to put the screws to cats, the slimy and disreputable Washington Post declared on that same date that "Your Cat Might Not Really Care About You, Study Suggests."

Their irresponsible reporting was nothing, however, compared to the utter nonsense that flowed from the lips of so-called cat expert Celia Haddon who, amazingly enough, has published around forty books including at least nine concerning cats. "This study shows that cats do not need their humans to feel safe, they don't depend on us, they look after themselves," she blew long and hard to The Telegraph in the article cited supra. "And abandoned or feral cats get on just fine on their own. Cats are not pack animals, they don't depend on other cats. So they are not going to depend on their owners."

She is not only off her trolley about domesticated cats but she is positively loony when it comes to those that are homeless. Even those that live in managed colonies where they are supplied with food, water, and shelter still need around-the-clock armed security guards in order to protect them from their myriad of enemies.

Cats that are totally on their own stand little chance of surviving because, first of all, food is too difficult to obtain. "Even a cat, as an animal known to have nine lives, cannot live without food," George Henry Borrow pointed out the obvious in his 1862 travel book, Wild Wales: Its People, Language and Scenery"

Moreover, even so much as scavenging in trash cans can kill them. (See Cat Defender posts of September 24, 2015, January 16, 2008, and December 18, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Henry Is Saved by Cats Protection after Swallowing Part of a Plastic Trash Bag but His Fate Would Have Been Entirely Different if He Had Fallen into the Clutches of the Mercenaries at PennVet," "From a Mason Jar to Death Row: Homeless New Jersey Cat Is Once Again Fighting for His Life," and "Wild Oats Survives Nineteen Days with a Peanut Butter Jar Stuck on Her Head.")

There additionally are a myriad of insuperable cataclysmic events that force all cats to rely upon their owners and others for their deliverance and most prominently among them is war. (See Cat Defender posts of August 10, 2006, October 12, 2006, November 14, 2006, and July 16, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Death Toll Mounts for Cats and Other Animals Slaughtered and Left Homeless in Lebanon by Israeli War Criminals," "A Few Hundred Cats and Dogs Are Airlifted Out of Lebanon but Cluster Bombs and an Oil Slick Continue to Kill Animals and Marine Life," "The Military Is Killings Cats and Dogs by the Tens of Thousands as Imperialistic America Attempts to Conquer the World," and "Targeted for Elimination by the American War Machine and Cheney's Henchmen, Baghdad's Cats Are Befriended by an English Mercenary.")

Cats likewise are pretty much helpless when they become enveloped in natural disasters. (See Cat Defender post of December 19, 2005 entitled "At Least One-Hundred-Thousand Cats and Dogs Were Killed by Katrina Along the Gulf Coast.")

Celia Haddon

Cats also require human assistance in order to survive wildfires whether they are caused by arson, carelessness, or lightning strikes. (See Cat Defender posts of July 3, 2008, February 21, 2013, and December 13, 2013 entitled, respectively, "Phoenix Is Severely Burned but Still Manages to Save One of Her Kittens from the Humboldt Fire," "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.")

While it is quite obvious that both Haddon and the capitalist media have carried Mills and Potter's rather meager findings way too far, neither of the authors in post-publication interviews has publicly contradicted their expanded interpretation of their research. In fact, they appear to have acquiesced to such a view.

"It (hers and Mills' research) suggests that if a cat is scared or has been involved in an incident it's not going to want to cuddle, it's going to want to go and hide, so owners need to provide a place for that to happen," Potter opined to The Telegraph. "Likewise an owner shouldn't worry if their cat doesn't want to be comforted. It's just doing what comes naturally."

That arguably is the most asinine advice that anyone ever could give to a cat owner. First of all, cats are extremely adept at concealing not only their emotions but especially illnesses. As a result, by the time that an owner finally realizes that something is amiss it often is too late to even save the cat's life.

Consequently, cats need to be given a good once-over at least twice a day. That way parasites can be removed from their fur and skin and minor scrapes and bruises treated.

Abrupt changes in mood, diet, and the use of the litter box can signal that something is terribly wrong. It also must always be borne in mind that cats not only go off by themselves in order to hide but also to die.

Most outrageous of all, Mills and Potter's research is a reaffirmation of the age-old prejudice that views cats as being something considerably less than sentient and caring beings and as such to be totally unworthy of society's love, respect, care and, above all, the protection of its anti-cruelty statutes. For instance in his 1906 Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce defined a cat as "a soft, indestructible automaton provided by nature to be kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle."

Across the pond, it has been Rudyard Kipling's 1902 defamatory essay entitled "The Cat That Walked by Himself" that continues to this very day to be the most insidious poison contaminating the minds of the English public. For example, after feasting her jaundiced peepers on Mills and Potter's baloney, The Telegraph's Sarah Knapton could not refrain from moronically thundering, "Rudyard Kipling was right."

Divested of all its contrived logic and scholarly pretenses, Mills and Potter's paper amounts to little more than a modern-day rehash of Kipling's outrageous lies and prejudices. In that vein, it never must be forgotten that his ailurophobic rant sanctified feline abuse as the solemn duty of every man and dog on the planet. Quite obviously, Mills and Potter now have assumed that mantle for themselves.

On all of those issues Mills, Potter, Bierce, and Kipling are simply wrong. First of all, cats are every bit as intelligent, loyal, and loving as dogs and other animals. "The cat has too much spirit to have no heart," is the way that Ernest Menaul once put it.

Secondly, they are capable of extraordinary acts of compassion and gratitude and that is considerably more than can be said for most humans. (See Cat Defender posts of March 27, 2010, April 20, 2012, April 21, 2012, May 18, 2009, April 18, 2009, and April 11, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Taken In Off the Street by a Compassionate Woman, Sumo Returns the Favor by Alerting Her to a Cancerous Growth on Her Bosum," "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," "Adopted from a Shelter Only Hours Previously, Pudding Saves His Rescuer's Life by Awakening Her from a Diabetic Seizure," "Elijah Teaches Himself How to Detect Low Blood Sugar Levels in His Guardians and Others," "Blackie Stays Up Nights Monitoring His Guardian's Breathing for Emphysema Attacks," and "Tiger Saves His Owner's Life by Alerting Him to a Cancerous Growth on His Left Lung.")

Thirdly, it has been medically substantiated that owning a cat increases life-expectancies, alleviates stress, and reduces the likelihood of heart attacks by forty per cent. Even something as mundane as simply holding a purring cat in one's lap has been known to help with bone and muscle repair, pain relief, and dyspnea.

"If you put a cat and a bunch of broken bones in the same room, the bones will heal," an old Sprichwort maintains. (See "Four Brilliant Ways Cats Are Secretly Helping Their Owners Live Healthier Lives," April 1, 2015, at www.upworthy.com.)

Fourthly, cats quite often even risk their own lives in order to save those of their guardians. (See Cat Defender post of April 23, 2007 entitled "Winnie Saves Indiana Family of Three from Dying of Carbon Monoxide.")

Fifthly, if they appear to be aloof and standoffish that is because after millenniums of simply horrendous abuse they have more than ample justification for their wariness. Besides, going one's own way and minding one's own business is not, contrary to what most people believe, either a crime or a valid excuse for failing to enforce the anti-cruelty statutes as they pertain to cats.

This is by no means the first time in recent memory that researchers at the University of Lincoln have concocted misleading research to the detriment of the species. About a year ago Mills and Potter's colleague, Sarah Ellis, placed tracking devices on around one-hundred cats residing in both urban and rural areas and from the minuscule amount of data that she collected concluded that city dwellers should not be allowed to own more than one cat.

"As humans, the more we love something, the more we want it and the greater the number of it we want," she argued to London's Independent on September 29, 2014. (See "Expert Urges Cat Lovers to Own Just One Animal Each.") "We love cats therefore we're not content with one -- we want two or three or four and if our neighbor feels the same way and his neighbor feels the same, we suddenly have a huge problem -- three households with nine cats."

Statements such as those demonstrate the dreadful consequences that accrue whenever pop psychology is combined with abysmal ignorance. First of all, it is doubtful that very many individuals truly desire to own more than either one or two cats.

Rather, they wind up with a houses full of them simply because they either cannot afford the exorbitant fees that veterinarians charge in order to sterilize them or they compassionately take in homeless cats in order to save them from the knackers. Contrary to what the overzealous Ellis postulates, caring for cats is an entirely different matter from either chasing shekels, owning multiple automobiles, or acquiring eighteen different diplomas from various degree mills.

Sarah Ellis

Secondly, it is utterly preposterous for her to maintain that a trio of families owning three cats each is a "huge problem." Even a single owner with nine cats would not pose much of a dilemma so long as that individual possessed the prerequisite money, space, and savoir-faire in order to properly care for them.

Nevertheless, Ellis goes on to declare that keeping more than one cat in an urban setting leads to both unresolvable territorial disputes and psychological harm brought on by stress. "Although we feel really happy because we've rescued them and given them a home, we've actually created a situation where they are not happy at all."

In making such uninformed and unsupported far-reaching conclusions Ellis is guilty of committing the same blunders as Mills and Potter. That is because cats have different personalities and reside with all types of owners in a variety of abodes. She accordingly does not possess either the knowledge or the empirical evidence to back up her hackneyed opinions.

Secondly, even if territorial disputes and stressful situations should develop, knowledgeable owners know how to alleviate them. Thirdly, she is completely silent as what is to become of the millions of cats that she wants to evict from multi-feline households. It does not take much imagination, however, to divine the cruel fate that she has in mind for them.

Ellis' inhumane proposal was quickly debunked by Celia Hammond of the Celia Hammond Animal Trust of London. "This is an academic view," she told The Independent. "Those involved in rehoming cats on a daily basis know this is ridiculous."

She then proceeded to methodically expose Ellis' lies one-by-one, starting with her and her colleagues' assertion that cats are solitary animals. "We observe that the cats (those that are homeless) live as large, extended families, kittens grow up within the family group and mother cats will even rear each other's kittens," she stated October 2, 2014 in an untitled article posted on her organization's Facebook page. "These cats are not solitary animals and do not choose to leave the group to live singly."

She next went on to explain that it is precisely human intervention, as opposed to nature, that makes some cats less able to get along with their mates. "Taking a kitten away from its own family and raising it with a human family but without the company of other cats will alter its behavior toward members of its own species when it meets them again," she added in the Facebook article. "We do have cats in our care who prefer to be single, this is generally because they have previously been raised singly and lived as an only cat with a previous owner, for these cats plenty of human company is essential."

Next, and perhaps most important of all, Hammond flatly rejected Ellis' claim that multiple-cat households are detrimental to the health of their members; au contraire, they are beneficial to it. "Particularly in today's society when many cat owners work long hours or cats are kept indoors only in flats it is particularly important that they have each other's company otherwise they can suffer loneliness, frustration and boredom which can develop into behavioral problems," she added. "For anyone else considering offering a home to a cat, particularly people who work or lead busy lifestyles we would strongly recommend a related or bonded pair of cats."

Finally, she pointed out the immeasurable harm that Ellis' proposal would do if it were implemented. "(It is) an opinion which could lead to more single cats leading lonely lives in flats or where owners work full-time," she concluded. "It will also make it harder for rescue organizations to rehome bonded pairs of cats that love each other and want to be together."

Incidentally, Ellis reviewed Mills and Potter's manuscript and added in her own two cents' worth. Based upon the way that she runs around peddling her services to seemingly every cat defamer on the planet her behavior recalls to mind novelist Pete Dexter's characterization of Jonathan Yardley, the book editor of the Washington Post, as "a worn-out old whore." (See Salon, March 9, 2007, "Street Writing Man.")

It thus would appear that Mills, Potter, and Ellis are engaged in a contest to determine not only which one of them can lasso in the largest amount of research money but to simultaneously make the biggest imbecile out of either himself or herself in the process. That in no way is meant to imply that they are stupid, only that they surely must hate cats with a passion if they were willing to pony up the US$1,350 that PLOS ONE charges hack scholars in order to publish their long-winded spiels.

As someone who teaches veterinary medicine, Mills obviously knows better and that accordingly makes it more than likely that his spurious research is attributable to the long-held disdain that members of his ignoble profession always have harbored in their malignant bosoms for cats. Potter's complicity in his shenanigans can be explained in large part by her affiliation as a cat behaviorist with the thoroughly discredited RSPCA. (See Daily Mail articles of December 30, 2012 and December 6, 2014 entitled, respectively, "Revealed: RSPCA Destroys Half of the Animals That It Rescues -- Yet Thousands Are Completely Healthy" and "RSPCA Forced to Apologize for Wrongly Putting Down Cat Belonging to Family It Accused of Cruelty in Bungled Prosecution," plus Cat Defender posts of June 5, 2007 and October 23, 2010 entitled, respectively, "RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated" and "RSPCA Steals and Executes Nightshift Who Was His Elderly Caretakers's Last Surviving Link to Her Dead Husband.")

Far from being an isolated case, the University of Lincoln is merely one of countless institutions of higher learning to recently become engulfed in the cat hating and defamation craze that is sweeping college campuses all around the world like a wildfire out of control. (See Cat Defender post of July 18, 2011 entitled "Evil Professors Have Transformed College Campuses into Hotbeds of Hatred Where Cats Routinely Are Vilified, Horribly Abused, and Systematically Killed.")

Perhaps most reprehensible of all has been the traitorous conduct of those individuals who lent their cats to Mills, Potter, and Ellis in order to be used as guinea pigs during the course of their totally bogus research. As far as they are concerned, nothing short of being dipped in hot oil and then hurled headfirst down an abandoned mine shaft will suffice as an apt punishment. The species already has far too many enemies without owners selling its members down the river to those whose only goal is to do them harm.

This is not merely an obscure tempest in an academic teapot; on the contrary, there is a considerable amount at stake here and judging from both the willingness of cat owners to cooperate with the researchers coupled with the capitalist media's resounding endorsement of their bogus findings, there can be little doubt that the most outrageous lies ever concocted about cats count for considerably more than does the unvarnished truth. Moreover, that is especially the case if they are dressed up in scholarly outerwear and emanate from a mainstay of the intellectual establishment, such as the University of Lincoln.

They also enjoy a life-expectancy that surpasses even that of cats. "One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives," Mark Twain astutely observed in his 1894 novel, Pudd'nhead Wilson.

Finally, anyone who either understands anything about cats or cares so much as a jot about their welfare realizes only too well just how wrongheaded and potentially damaging are the lies so profusely disseminated by the Lincoln gang. First of all, the goal should be to inspire owners to be more caring and protective, not less, of their cats.

That includes above all protecting them from their enemies. Furthermore, caring owners do not abandon their cats under any circumstances and they most assuredly do not have them killed off once they become either sick, elderly, too expensive to care for, or their presence is not longer desired.

As far as those that are homeless are concerned, the movement to protect them has come too far to be derailed by either the Lincoln gang or numskulls like Haddon. They are richly entitled to food, water, veterinary care, shelter, and armed protection. Trumping all of those concerns, their inalienable right to live must be respected and the anti-cruelty statutes stringently enforced against all those who abuse them.

On each and every one of these issues, the University of Lincoln has declared, either explicitly or inexplicitly, its opposition and, accordingly, its mendacious and defamatory professors must be exposed and confronted. The school also is in desperate need of a new motto because Libertas per Sapeintiam is absolutely the last thing on this earth that it either represents or is promoting, especially with the likes of Mills, Potter, and Ellis amongst its ranks.

Photos: Chris Goddard of the University of Lincoln via Wikipedia (campus), University of Lincoln (Mills and Ellis), and Macmillan Publishing Company (Haddon).