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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 03, 2017

Paucho Somehow Made It Out of Grenfell Tower Alive but the Fate of the Dozens of Other Cats That Resided in the High-Rise Firetrap Remains Shrouded in Secrecy


"I hope they're (her three cats) still there."
-- Esther Watts of Hurstway Walk

The deadly inferno that broke out during the small hours of June 14th and subsequently destroyed Grenfell Tower in the Kensington section of west London has dominated the news on both sides of the Atlantic for the past three weeks. Lost in both the daily reports chronicling the steadily increasing human death toll as well as the esoteric debates concerning the use of external cladding in order to insulate and beautify the outsides of buildings has been scarcely any mention whatsoever of the fate of the dozens, if not indeed hundreds, of cats that also resided in the Latimer Road house of death.

What precious little information that has eked out of London has been sketchy and contradictory but as best it could be determined the twenty-four-story skyscraper contained approximately one-hundred-twenty-seven apartments that were home to somewhere between four-hundred and six-hundred souls. Illegal tenants as well as those who were away on summer holidays no doubt have contributed to the confusion over not only just how many individuals were at home on that god-awful night but also the exact number of fatalities.

Nevertheless, given that the English are known to favor cats as companion animals, it might not be unreasonable to assume that at least half of the flats contained one or more felines. Although Kensington is an affluent area of the realm that boasts the presence of such well-heeled tenants as the Royal Albert Hall, the French Consulate, and Imperial College, the vast majority of those who resided in the upscale public housing project appear to have belonged to the ranks of the working class and the poor and that in turn may have had a negative impact upon the number of cats actually living in the structure.

Those caveats aside, it probably is safe to assume that there were at least sixty cats living in the building on that fateful night. Given the structure's height and layout, it additionally is totally out of the question that they could have been anything other than indoor felines. (See Cat Defender post of March 10, 2017 entitled "A Caring Woman in Tekirdag Comes Up with an Innovative Way in Order to Lure In Cats from the Cold.")

Yet, it has proven to be all but impossible to find out any information concerning the fate of those cats. For instance, both the dailies as well as the weeklies have avoided broaching the subject as if it were the plague and that in itself is extremely peculiar in that they, as a rule, seemingly never can get their hands on enough stories about the species.

Local animal rescue groups likewise have been every bit as reticent. For instance, the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in the south London borough of Wandsworth immediately offered to provide temporary assistance to companion animals that had been left homeless by the inferno but it has not proven possible to locate any data relating to just how many cats, if any, that the charity has rescued. (See Your Local Guardian of Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, June 14, 2017, "Battersea Dogs and Cats Offers Temporary Shelter to Pets of Those Affected by Grenfell Tower Fire in North Kensington.")

The Grenfell Tower Blaze Lit Up the London Skyline 

The only cat reputed to have made it out of the burning building alive is a brown and white, blue-eyed male named Paucho. Even in his case, it has not been publicly divulged either how that he masterminded that bit of deering-do or what has happened to his caretakers.

Shortly after his escape, he was taken in by the Parish of St. Clement's and St. James on nearby Treagold Street and there his story ends. It accordingly is not possible to say how that he is getting on and where he is living today. (See the Metro of London, June 15, 2017, "Grenfell Tower Fire Cat Being Looked After at Church Near Scene.")

The Bush Theatre, located a little less than two kilometers away in the Shepherd's Bush section of the borough of Hammersmith and Fulton, has offered to provide shelter for children displaced by the fire but even in doing that it has failed to so much as mention the plight of the displaced cats. That is all the more odd in that it has a trio of resident felines of its own.

"If your kids need a cuddle, Marley, Caramel and I are here," a dashing tuxedo named Pirate, reportedly told the Express of London on June 14th. (See "London Fire: Local Theatre Offers 'Cuddles with Cats' to Terrified Children.") "Thoughts with those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire."

His mate, jet-black Marley, was equally forthcoming. "We are here if you want to chat with humans, a quiet place, a shower, Wi-Fi or cat cuddles," he chipped in to the debate. "So awful this has happened."

Fires, explosions, and other cataclysmic events present a myriad of nearly insurmountable obstacles for cats that live in apartment blocks. First of all, in addition to the damage that the flames and smoke can rapidly inflict upon their fur, whiskers, lungs, and eyes, it is totally impossible for them to open either the doors that lead out of their apartments or those that block entry into the stairwells.


They likewise do not have any means of activating the elevators, even if they should be still in service. Leaping from a window is a remote, albeit death-defying, possibility but even that last-ditch escape route is only available to them if one has been left ajar.

They therefore are totally at the mercy of their owners for their deliverance. The latter therefore must not only have cages ready at hand but, much more importantly, they must be willing to take the time and effort that is required in order to locate and corral them.

Next, they need to cover the cages with wet towels in order to protect their occupants' tiny lungs from succumbing to smoke inhalation. Finally, they must transport them through the smoke and fire to safety and for that task it is essential that they have flame-resistant and sturdy cages that will not either catch on fire themselves or come apart at the seams whenever their terrified occupants start to trash about in panic.

It accordingly is long overdue that derelict local fire and public safety officials took into consideration the safety of cats and thereby enacted protocols designed to ensure their safe evacuation from high-rises in times of emergency. If they are unwilling to do that, it is then time to, perhaps, consider banning cats from apartment blocks. This world most definitely does not need any more cats to be burned alive.

Fire departments in the United States, who only rarely can be prevailed upon to rescue cats that have become stranded in trees and on electrical poles,  recently have nevertheless purchased pet oxygen masks and, as far as it is known, their officers have not been shy about coming to the assistance of cats in need of resuscitation. Some firemen even have risked their lives by reentering buildings in order to pull cats to safety. (See Cat Defender posts of February 20, 2007 and March 20,2008 entitled, respectively, "A Stray Cat Ignominiously Named Stinky Is Rescued from a Rooftop by Good Samaritans After the Fire Department Refuses to Help" and "Bone-Lazy, Mendacious Firefighters Are Costing the Lives of Both Cats and Humans by Refusing to Do Their Duty.")

Generally speaking, however, the solemn duty of evacuating cats from burning buildings falls squarely upon the shoulders of their owners. With human nature being what it is, far too many of them forget all about their faithful companions in times of emergencies and instead think only of saving their own worthless hides.


If past history is any guide, that is exactly what a good portion of the residents of Grenfell Tower and surrounding apartment blocks did on the morning of June 14th. The only person who so far has been willing to publicly admit to such shameful conduct has been fifty-year-old Esther Watts of nearby Hurstway Walk.

After having been told by the police to evacuate, she quickly gathered up her twelve-year-old son and dog and hightailed it out of her flat. Cruelly left behind to fend for themselves were her three cats. "I hope they're still there," she later told The Telegraph on June 14th. (See "Cat Saved from Grenfell Tower Now Being Looked After in Church.")

Earlier on December 31, 2009, forty-six-year-old Edgar K. and forty-four-year-old Susi S. of Altshausen in Baden Württemburg ran out on their cats, Lumpi and Sissi, after an early morning blaze had engulfed their apartment. Sissi miraculously survived by hiding underneath a bed but nine-month-old Lumpi was not nearly as fortunate.

The couple's simply reprehensible conduct was made all the more deplorable in that they surely would have been burned to death if their cats had not awakened them from their slumber. "Jetzt verdanken wir ihm unser Leben," Susi S. afterwards truthfully acknowledged. (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.")

The numerous wildfires that rage across the western United States and Canada each summer also provide callous owners with another golden opportunity in order to desert their cats in their times of greatest need. (See Cat Defender post of July 3, 2008 and October 14, 2015 entitled, respectively, "Phoenix Is Severely Burned but Still Manages to Save One of Her Kittens from the Humboldt Fire" and "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.")

These fires also take a rather heavy toll on the newborn kittens of big cats, such as bobcats, but that is not attributable to their mothers running out of them but rather to their being burned alive themselves. (See Cat Defender posts of February 21, 2013 and December 13, 2013 entitled, respectively, "Orphaned by a Wildlife 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.")

Cuddles and Jennifer Powder

The feline death toll that ensued when an American train carrying highly inflammable crude extracted from the Bakken Formation exploded in downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, in July of 2013 never will be known, but some of them were undoubtedly left to die in the flames whereas others later succumbed to starvation. (See Cat Defender post of March 31, 2014 entitled "Mario Is Brought Back from Death's Door When His Silhouette Is Accidentally Spotted in a Window of Fire-Ravaged Lac-Mégantic.")

Public and private shelters alike are sometimes little more than dressed-up firetraps. Worst still, some of their operators will go to great lengths in order to save the lives of their canine inmates while simultaneously turning deaf ears to the plaintive cries for help of the cats that they have unjustly and negligently incarcerated. (See Cat Defender posts of March 15, 2016 and April 3, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Freckles Is Alive and Well More Than Two Years after Having Been Left for Dead in the Rubble of the Burned-Out Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter" and "Fires at Private Shelters Claim the Lives of More Than Two Dozen Cats in Connecticut.")

On September 9, 2008, forty-three-year-old Warren Niles and forty-four-year-old Joan T. Ferreira of New Bedford, Massachusetts, were charged with arson for setting their apartment on fire in order to collect on a renters' insurance policy. In doing so, they did not even bother to first remove their three resident felines.

Two of the cats perished in the blaze but a three-year-old tiger Angora named Kiki survived. (See Cat Defender post of September 29, 2008 entitled "Kiki Is Healthy Again but in Legal Limbo as Her Rescuer, Firefighter Al Machado, Basks in the Glory of His Heroics.")

While obviously not totally unheard of, torching cats for money is fairly rare; the far larger problem pertains to individuals who do likewise for fun. (See Cat Defender posts of October 5, 2006, July 12, 2007, June 8, 2009, September 22, 2010, and June 27, 2011 entitled, respectively, "New Jersey Teens' Idea of Fun: Beat Up a Defenseless Kitten and Then Burn It to Death," "Burned Nearly to Death by Laughing Teenage Girls, Two-Month-Old Kitten Named Adam Is Fighting for His Life in Santa Rosa," "Adam Is Persevering Throughout All the Pain Two Years after Having Been Torched by Giggling Teenage Girls in Santa Rosa," "Lätzchen Is Deliberately Set on Fire and Burned Within an Inch of Her Life in Karsdorf," and "Citizens of Ichenheim Callously Allow a Torched Cat to Walk the Streets for Days Before Summoning Veterinary Help That Arrived Too Late.")

In addition to the ongoing recriminations and public protests that the Grenfell Tower fire has engendered, the authorities have embarked upon an ambitious program to test the external cladding in at least six-hundred apartment blocks across England. Many of those structures have already flunked their tests and that has necessitated the temporary uprooting and relocation of dozens, if not hundreds, of tenants. (See the BBC, June 24, 2017, "Cladding Fire Tests Failed by Thirty-Four Blocks in Seventeen Areas.")

Bacon and Kristen Eliasson

Yet in spite of all of that, the fate of the Grenfell Tower cats remains unexplained. Almost as importantly, the question of how best to protect cats that live in skyscrapers had yet to filter into public consciousness.

It thus seems clear that as far as most owners, public officials, and rescue groups are concerned, the welfare of cats does not count for any more in times of domestic emergencies than it does in wartime. C'est-à-dire, they are considered to be expendable and of little value.

The only glimmer of hope that cats have lies in the petit fait that not all of their guardians are as selfish and uncaring as Edgar K. and Susi S. For example, twelve-year-old Jennifer Powder of Prince Albert in Saskatchewan made sure that her four-year-old, multicolored cat, Cuddles, made it out alive when the home that they shared was destroyed by a fire on October 12, 2007.

"I love my cat," she said succinctly and sincerely afterwards. (See Cat Defender post of November 30, 2007 entitled "Cuddles Saves Saskatchewan Family from a Blaze in a Faulty Fireplace That Destroys Their Home.")

Twenty-six-year-old Kristen Eliasson acted every bit as admirably when she wrapped her cat, Bacon, in a blanket and then spirited him to safety after a fire had engulfed her Ottawa apartment earlier on October 16th of that same year. Even though she wound up losing not only her abode but all of her personal belongings as well, she was singing anything but the blues.

"I'm just glad my cat's alive," was all that she had to say. (See Cat Defender post of October 31, 2007 entitled "Bacon Shows His Appreciation and Love for His Rescuer by Awakening Her from a Burning Apartment.")

Photos: the London Metro (Paucho), The Telegraph (Grenfell Tower ablaze), The Guardian of London (Pirate and Marley), The Prince Albert Herald (Cuddles and Powder), and the Ottawa Citizen (Bacon and Eliasson).