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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

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Rescue Group in British Columbia Compassionately Elects to Spare Grandpa Mason's Life and in Return for Doing So It Receives an Unexpected Reward Worth More Than Gold Itself

Long Suffering Grandpa Mason

"He (Grandpa Mason) also shows us that old, broken, ferocious, 'lost cause' cats still have value and are worthy of compassion."
-- Shelly Roche of Tiny Kittens

Far from the maddening crowd at an undisclosed location in British Columbia an estimated ten-year-old gray and brown formerly homeless tom named Grandpa Mason is waging a lonely and uphill battle against the Grim Reaper and accordingly could only have either days or months in which to live. His is unquestionably a sad and disturbing story but that serves only to make its telling all the more imperative.

His recent history began last October when he was trapped and removed from a farm by the charity Tiny Kittens of Fort Langley, forty-seven kilometers southeast of Vancouver. His uprooting and removal was necessitated after a developer had purchased the farm and began to tear down the derelict barns that he and roughly fifty-nine other cats and kittens had called home for an undetermined number of years.

Absolutely nothing has been disclosed about either his early years or how that the managed to survive for so long on his own, but given his ingrained fear of humans it would appear that he likely was born on the farm and lived his entire life without so much as a glimmer of human contact and support. Much more importantly, judging from his rapidly deteriorating health his deliverance did not come a day too soon.

In particular, he had a massive growth on the bottom of his right paw, his tail had been broken multiple times, his teeth had gone bad, and he was suffering from several unspecified infections. Tiny Kittens attended to those maladies, sterilized him, and was planning on returning him to the wild when it discovered that, tragically, his kidneys are failing.

Fearing that he would not be able to make it through another winter on the outside, the organization was left with the choice of either killing him off or bringing him inside. Fortunately for him, it chose compassion over expediency.

"We are a no-kill organization, and believe that any life is worth saving as long as we are able to alleviate suffering," founder Shelly Roche wrote in an untitled and undated article that appears on the charity's web site, www.tinykittens.com. "Mason's many scars told us how hard he had fought to survive this long, and we were determined to give him a chance to experience comfort, safety and freedom from pain during his sunset months."

Although Roche wisely had elected to exercise the only morally acceptable option available to her under the circumstances, that did not necessarily make the task at hand all that much easier. "He is one of the oldest ferals we have seen, and throughout his recovery, he made it clear his feral instincts were deeply ingrained," she pointed out.

Consequently, his unsocialized nature coupled with his rapidly deteriorating health meant that adoption was all but out of the question. That in turn left Roche with little choice other than to bring him home with her to live in her house.

The details have not been spelled out, but it apparently was, to say the least, a rather interesting adjustment period for the both of them. Eventually, Mason reached the point where he would engage in play with Roche but other than that he still did not want to have much to do with her.

It was only after he had begun to play with his toys and to rearrange the throw rugs and pillows that she realized he was beginning to adjust to his new home and life. "I thought that was a pretty great outcome for an old, terminally ill feral cat, and I didn't think it could get any better," she wrote on her web site.

As things eventually turned out, she was completely wrong about that. "The wonderful thing about the cat is the way in which, when one of its many mysteries is laid bare, it is only to reveal another," Robert De Laroche wrote in his 1997 tome, The Secret Lives of Cats. "The essential enigma always remains intact, a sphinx within a sphinx within a sphinx."

So, too, was it with Mason and Roche's epiphany came when she introduced several kittens that she was fostering to him. Halfway expecting the grizzled tom not to want any part of the rambunctious little ones, she received the shock of her lifetime when something altogether different occurred.

As soon as the kittens were placed in the same room with him they made a beeline for his lair and quickly climbed all over him. Not only did he not chase them away but when intrepid, ginger-colored, Scrammy licked his ear his old calloused heart melted away faster than a cone of ice cream on a hot July afternoon. Now, he and the kittens regularly play, snuggle, wrestle, and chase each other around Roche's house. (Videos of him and the kittens are posted on Tiny Kittens' web site.)

It Did Not Take Scrammy Long to Melt Mason's Heart

He sometimes calls out to them in order to gain their attention and even grooms them. "...the one thing missing for Mason had been contact with another living being, and while he didn't want that from me, he had clearly been craving it from his own kind," Roche concluded.

Actually, it is not all that uncommon for toms to assume some type of a role in the rearing of kittens although in most instances such activity is pretty much confined to keeping them warm and minding the nest while their mothers are away. In Mason's case, however, there appears to be a good deal more going on, such as perhaps a pressing need for companionship and possibly even a few latest pangs of paternalism.

According to his latest round of blood tests, his kidneys have stabilized. His weight is steady and he is said to be looking "great."

Even so, it does not appear that his story is destined to have a happy ending. "We are trying to be realistic and prepare ourselves that he likely only has months left, but we are determined to make those months the best he's ever had," is how that Roche summed up Mason's rather gloomy prospects.

Tiny Kittens has not given up on him completely, however, in that he is receiving some form of unspecified treatment. What, if any, impact that is going to have on his prospects is not known.

Since cats, like humans, can get by on one kidney, a transplant would be one option for Tiny Kittens to explore. Such procedures are only performed in the United States and England and cost around US$15,000. (See Cat Defender post of October 11, 2013 entitled "Heroic Hermione Is Holding Her Own Despite Tragically Losing a Kidney in a Botched Sterilization Two Years Ago.")

In spite of their daunting price tags, thirty-five-year-old Thomas Rätsch of Hannover brought his six-year-old cat, Maxi, to the United States in 2010 for such a procedure. (See the Hannover Allgemeine Zeitung, October 27, 2010, "Kater aus Hannover bekommt Vereinigten Staaten -- Niere für siebentausend Euro" and Die Welt of Frankfurt am Main, October 27, 2010, "Katze soll neue Niere für siebentausend Euro bekommen.")

Fred Petrick and Tony Lacari from parts unknown in Virginia likewise paid the University of Georgia in Athens US$15,000 back in 2015 to implant a kidney in their beloved cat, Arthur. (See the Daily Mail, November 5, 2015, "Couple Rescue a Stray Cat...So They Can Use It for a $15,000 Transplant to Save Their Pet with Fatal Kidney Disease.")

It is not known how that either Maxi or Arthur have fared but on the average only fifty per cent of transplant recipients live for as long as three years. In spite of that rather disappointing success rate, some cats do beat the odds. For instance, the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia claims on its web site that one of its transplant recipients lived for at least thirteen years.

In Mason's case, his options likely are pretty much limited to diuresis, dialysis, chemotherapy and, possibly, stem cell treatments. Another possibility would be a regimen of home care consisting of daily injections of subcutaneous fluids and a special diet rich in omega three fatty acids.

"I've seen even very sick cats, cats who need hospitalization in the beginning, do really well on home care with an owner who was willing to give it a try," Patty Khuly of Sunset Animal Clinic in Miami told the San Francisco Chronicle on August 18, 2009. (See "Caring for a Cat Whose Kidneys Have Failed.") "What makes the difference in how well a cat with kidney failure does is not how sick they are, or how bad their kidney values are on a blood test. It's the attitude of the owner."

The odds against Mason are definitely long but all is not lost just quite yet. "Many of these cats who were on the brink of death can be brought back with supportive care at home," Khuly continued. "Not only brought back for days or weeks or months, but years. You just don't know unless you try."

Needless to say, the administration of subcutaneous fluids to a formerly homeless cat like Mason would not be an easy feat to pull off but Roche and the staff at Mountain View Veterinary Hospital in Langley City, eleven kilometers south of Fort Langley, should be resourceful enough in order to be able to master that difficult chore. If doing so would help to extend his life, a few scratches and bites would be a small price to pay.

Mason and Lucy Enjoy a Snuggle

In addition to subcutaneous fluids and a diet rich in protein, veterinarian Karen Becker of the Chicago area also recommends that cats suffering from kidney disease be provided with good quality water, kept in stress-free environments, and monitored for anemia and hypertension. She additionally counsels that kibble be eliminated from their diets. (See www.healthypets.mercola.com, August 6, 2012, "Why Do So Many Domestic Cats Have Chronic Kidney Failure?")

Practitioners at Colorado State University in Fort Collins also recommend that the vaccinations for Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (herpes), Feline Calicivirus (pneumonia), and Feline Panleukopenia (distemper) be either omitted altogether or at least significantly reduced. (See Truth4pets.org, May 25, 2012, "Don't Vaccinate Your Adult Cat for Distemper" and catinfo.org, April 2011, "Vaccines for Cats: We Need to Stop Overvaccinating.")

Founded in 2013 in order to help cats and kittens by, inter alia, mounting rescues, providing veterinary care, foster parents, placement in new homes, and sterilization services, Tiny Kittens also has embarked upon an ambitious agenda aimed at educating the world about both the plight as well as the intrinsic value of homeless cats. "He (Mason) is helping us raise awareness about feral cats, the hardships they face, the love they have to give, and that spaying and neutering is a very easy way to prevent the suffering that results from cat overpopulation," Roche writes on her web site. "He also shows us that old, broken, ferocious, 'lost cause' cats still have value and are worthy of compassion."

The only thing that she fails to mention is the astronomical death toll that the failure to sterilize takes on kittens that are born premature and stillborn; countless others are, for one reason or another, deserted by their mothers. Being subjected to a long series of continuous pregnancies also takes a heavy toll on females and some of them actually die while giving birth.

Unneutered toms likewise also have a hard row to hoe. In addition to the cuts and scratches that they often sustain while fighting amongst themselves over fertile females, their incessant roaming also makes them easy prey for motorists who are only too happy to intentionally end their lives.

Ideally, cats that are allowed to breed need to be healthy, well fed and cared for, and domiciled. In the case of females, the number of litters that they are allowed to produce needs to be restricted. Above all, owners need to be willing to take responsibility for any and all kittens that their cats bring into this cruel and ailurophobic world.

Beyond its rescue and heuristic efforts, Tiny Kittens has demonstrated through its rescue and care of Mason that homeless cats can be socialized. Secondly, its choice of life over death serves as a model for all feline rescue groups to emulate.

Thirdly, it has shown that old old cats not only have value but are to be treasured as well. (See Cat Defender posts of November 21, 2012, March 23, 2015, April 16, 2015, August 6, 2015, September 12, 2015, May 27, 2016, and May 4, 2017 entitled, respectively, "Officials at Plymouth College of Art Should Be Charged with Gross Negligence and Animal Cruelty in the Tragic Death of the School's Longtime Resident Feline, PCAT," "Old, Sickly, and on the Street, George Accidentally Wanders into a Pet Store and That, in All Likelihood, Saved His Life," "Nelson's Odyssey from Being the Long Abused Cat That Nobody Wanted to One of England's Most Beloved Comes to a Sad End at Age Twenty," "Elderly, Frail, and on Death Row, Lovely Pops Desperately Needs a New Home Before Time Finally Runs Out on Her," "Pops Finally Secures a Permanent Home but Pressing Concerns about Both Her Continued Care and Right to Live Remain Unaddressed," "Snubbed by an Ignorant, Tasteless, and Uncaring Public for the Past Twenty-One Years, Tilly Has Forged an Alternative Existence of Relative Contentment at a Sanctuary in the Black Country," and "Seventeen-Years-Old, Sickly, and Blind Orakel Is Abandoned to Fend for Herself in the Unforgiving Streets of Breitenfurt bei Wien.")

There cannot be any disputing that Mason's lot in life has been an outrageously unfair one. Tant pis, there is not any power on earth that is capable of undoing the multitude of wrongs that have been done to him.

Although there is not any way of putting the sand back into the hourglass and thus giving him back his youth and health, it would be a small step in that direction if Tiny Kittens and its veterinarians were to put their heads together and come up with some means of extending his sojourn upon this earth even if it is only for a very brief period of time. He most definitely is a rare treasure who is more than worthy of such an eleventh-hour effort.

The days and weeks ahead are destined to be difficult ones for him. His flesh is going to grow progressively weaker and his spirits are going to begin to flag. Under such trying circumstances, the urge to give up the ghost is going to be almost too much to resist.

There likewise may come a point in time when Tiny Kittens wearies of the cost and effort that are required in order to sustain an ailing cat. It accordingly will be sorely tempted to either simply let nature take its course or, worst still, to get rid of him once and for all.

The very best that therefore can be hoped for is that he somehow will be able to summon the reserves that he is surely going to need in order to carry on and that Tiny Kittens will remain steadfast and unwavering by his side. The gold standard for the both of them is therefore identical to the one that Dylan Thomas laid out for his ailing father way back in 1951:

"Do not go gentle into that good night
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Photos: Tiny Kittens.