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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

Thursday, August 31, 2017

With His Previous Owner Long Dead and Nobody Seemingly Willing to Give Him a Second Chance at Life, Old and Ailing Harvey Has Been Sentenced to Rot at a Shelter in Yorkshire

Harvey Has Been Left Alone with Only His Dark Thoughts for Company

"But he really is completely lovely -- just so desperately unlucky."
-- Sam Davies of Yorkshire Cat Rescue

Languishing in one of the cages at Yorkshire Cat Rescue (YCR) in Keighley, West Yorkshire, is a disillusioned and extremely unhappy thirteen-year-old brown, gray, and white male named Harvey. His feelings are easy enough to comprehend once one realizes that his world has been turned upside down during the course of the past eight months or so.

Absolutely nothing has been disclosed about his first twelve years on this earth but given that he was able to have persevered for that length of time in this ultra-ailurophobic world is a pretty good indication that his prior life was not all that shabby. The security and sense of well-being that he previously had enjoyed ended abruptly last December however with the death of his guardian.

No specifics have been divulged so it is impossible to speculate as to the circumstances but, quite obviously, no provisions were made for Harvey's continued care in the event of such an occurrence. Even though that could have been because his owner had not expected to kick the bucket quite so soon, that still does not excuse the deceased's surviving relatives for dumping him at YCR. That is especially the case in that all the world knows only too well what happens to the overwhelming majority of cats that wind up at shelters.

By contrast, when Ellen Frey-Wouters of the Bronx departed this vale of tears in 2015 at the age of eighty-eight she was thoughtful enough to have left behind US$300,000 for the continued care of her beloved resident felines, Troy and Tiger. Whereas not everyone can hope to be a millionaire, that does not excuse even those owners of limited means from the solemn responsibility of making some provision so that their faithful and loving companions can go on living. (See the New York Post, August 21, 2017, "Bronx Widow Leaves $300,000 Fortune to Her Cats" and the Daily Mail, August 24, 2017, "Here, Kitty, Kitty! New York Woman Leaves $300,000 to Her Cats in Her Will with the Request They 'Never Be Caged'.")

In Harvey's case, he initially lucked out in that his first stay at YCR was a short one in that the charity soon was able to place him in another home. Unfortunately, the cats already residing there apparently resented his intrusion and he according was sent packing.

As far as that debacle is concerned, there was more than enough blame to go all around. First of all, YCR erred egregiously in placing him in such an environment. Secondly, it certainly did not take his new guardians long in order to demonstrate both their unfitness and unworthiness to care for a such a cat as Harvey and they did so by jerking the welcome mat out from under him almost as soon as he had arrived.

It is by no means unusual for cats to sometimes not get along initially but difficulties of that sort almost always can be worked out over time. Patience and a certain modicum of savior-faire are required but any individual unwilling to invest at least that much in a cat does not have any business adopting one in the first place.

Besides, individuals of good will but lacking in expertise can always seek out the advice of cat behaviorists and others who are knowledgeable about the species. A wealth of information regarding such issues also is available online. Anything is far preferable to giving up on a cat and thus returning it to death row at some hellhole shelter.

At some undisclosed time earlier this year, another attempt was made at finding Harvey a permanent home when YCR let him go to an unidentified woman living in Leeds, thirty-three kilometers southeast of Keighley, but she likewise returned him when she became ill. As was the case before, YCR clearly dropped the ball once again by failing to verify the woman's ability to care for a cat.

In adopting out a cat, it is not sufficient for shelters to merely establish that would-be adopters are willing and financially able to care for one, but rather they also need to inquire about their health as well. In particular, they need to know who is going to be responsible for the cat's continued care in the event that the adopter either becomes ill or dies unexpectedly.

Quite often these situations are unavoidable and it is axiomatic that all rescue groups have more cats on their hands than they can properly care for and shelter. Many of them no doubt therefore conclude that any home, even one for a brief period of time, is preferable to having a cat languish in a shelter.

No one therefore can really blame shelters for exploring all available options when it comes to rehoming cats. Such an approach fails, however, to adequately take into consideration just how traumatic it is for a cat to be bandied about from one stranger's home to another.

So, to sum up, over the course of the past eight months Harvey has been forced to suffer through no fewer than three guardians as well an identical number of stays at YCR. It accordingly is not at all surprising that recent events have left him withdrawn and feeling down in the dumps.

"Older cats who lose their owners sometimes find it harder than youngsters to come out of their shells at the center," YCR's Sara Atkinson said in an August 14th press release. (See "Twice Returned Cat Seeks Loving Home.") "They just don't feel at home in a pen, and really should be making themselves comfortable on a sofa, with someone who appreciates the benefits of adopting an older cat."

That is stating the case rather mildly in that for a cat to wind up at a shelter is a far more harrowing experience than for a previously domiciled individual to be dispossessed and subsequently relegated to living in a homeless shelter. At least the evil individuals and organizations who run the latter institutions are not permitted by law to either cage or kill their inmates and they therefore are free to walk out the door at anytime.

It is an entirely different ballgame as far as cats are concerned in that the familiar faces and personalities of their previous guardians are replaced by those that belong to total strangers and the unbridled freedom and respect that they formerly enjoyed are forced to give way to incarceration in a cage without so much as an iota of dignity. Most devastating of all, the sense of security that they once had relied upon is rudely supplanted by fear, stress, and an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness and hopelessness. The smell of death that pervades these wretched gulags for cats is palpable.

As if all of that were not sufficient in order to sicken a healthy cat, the obnoxious smells, the strong disinfectants that are used, the unfamiliar, and often subpar, food and water, and the presence of all sorts of communicable diseases are almost certain to do the trick. Such horrendous living conditions are even more intolerable for elderly cats who have grown accustomed to far better treatment. (See The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 11, 2011, "Shelter Shock. Cats Can Get Sick from Stress. One Proposed Remedy? Keep Them Out.")

For all those reasons and more, YCR is pulling out all the stops in a last-ditch effort to place Harvey in a permanent home. "This poor lad has spent the summer with us, and still no luck in finding him a home," Atkinson lamented. "So we're trying our very best to help him tell the world what a lovely lad he is."

The number one obstacle standing in Harvey's way of securing a new home is the harsh reality that few individuals either want or appreciate the value of an older cat. Two notable exceptions to that rule were Andrea and Dave Huntley-Crow of Seaton in County Durham who compassionately took in Nelson after he had been forced to spend fifteen hellish years on the docks of nearby Seaham Harbor. (See Cat Defender post of April 16, 2015 entitled "Nelson's Odyssey from Being the Long Abused Cat That Nobody Wanted to One of England's Most Beloved Comes to Sad End at Age Twenty.")

Generally speaking, however, most individuals only look at the matter through the prism of what a cat can do for them, as opposed to what they can do for a deserving feline in desperate straits, and that in turn leaves precious few opportunities for the Harveys of this world. Not a great deal has been written on this subject but judging by what little that has come to light it does not appear that there are too many happy endings for old cats that have been abandoned by their owners.

In fact, the successful rehoming of cats that have outlived their owners is such a rare occurrence that only a couple of recent cases come readily to mind. One concerned a male named Tizer who was taken in by the British Transportation Police in order to work as a mouser at King's Cross Rail Station in London. (See Cat Defender post of November 23, 2007 entitled "Tizer Lands a Job Working for the Police After Ending Up at a Shelter Following the Death of His Previous Owner.")

The other one concerned a female cruelly misnomered as Pops who eventually was taken in by an unidentified family in Bath, Somerset. (See Cat Defender posts of August 6, 2015 and September 12, 2015 entitled, respectively, "Elderly, Frail, and on Death Row, Lovely Pops Desperately Needs a New Home Before Time Finally Runs Out on Her" and "Pops Finally Secures a Permanent Home but Pressing Concerns about Both Her Continued Care and Right to Live Remain Unaddressed.")

Many elderly cats, including some that even have gone blind, are routinely abandoned to fend for themselves as best they can in the street. While that is a decidedly far preferable fate than a one-way trip to the death house, it is hardly ideal. (See Cat Defender posts of March 23, 2015 and May 4, 2017 entitled, respectively, "Old, Sickly, and on the Street, George Accidentally Wanders into a Pet Store and That, in All Likelihood, Saved His Life" and "Seventeen-Year-Old, Sickly, and Blind Orakel Is Abandoned to Fend for Herself in the Unforgiving Streets of Breitenfurt bei Wien.")

Even worst still, some senior citizens of the feline world end up as murder victims. (See Cat Defender posts of January 17, 2006 and November 30, 2006 entitled, respectively, "A Loony Virginia Judge Lets a Career Criminal Go Free After He Stomps to Death Fourteen-Year-Old and Arthritic Luke" and "Yobs Celebrating Guy Fawkes Day Kill a Twelve-Year-old Cat Named Tigger with Fireworks; a Cat Named Sid Is Severely Burned.")

About half of the remaining number of elderly cats are whacked by unscrupulous veterinarians at the urging of their morally bankrupt owners. (See Cat Defender posts of October 18, 2014, July 17, 2013, March 12, 2009, October 27, 2008, December 7, 2006, and February 9, 2006 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," "Not Satisfied with Merely Whacking Meiko, Garrison Keillor Struts on Stage in Order to Shed a Bucketful of Crocodile Tears and to Denigrate the Entire Species," "Too Cheap and Lazy to Care for Him During His Final Days, Betty Currie Has Socks Killed Off and His Corpse Burned," "Loved and Admired All Over the World, Feline Heroine Scarlett Is Killed Off by Her Owner after She Becomes Ill," "After Nineteen Years of Service and Companionship, the Ingrates at an Iowa Library Murder Dewey Readmore Books," and "A Newspaper Cat Named Tripod Is Killed Off by the Journalists That He Befriended in Vermont.")

The other half of them are killed off by shelters and rescue groups. Most reprehensible of all, the criminal conduct of PETA, the RSPCA, and others have made it dangerous for old cats to even so much as to walk the streets by themselves.(See Cat Defender posts of June 5, 2007, October 23, 2010, September 28, 2011, and January 11, 2012 entitled, respectively, "The RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated," "The RSPCA Steals and Executes Nightshift Who Was His Elderly Caretaker's Last Surviving Link to Her Dead Husband," "Marvin Is Betrayed, Abducted, and Murdered by a Journalist and a Shelter Who Preposterously Maintain That They Were Doing Him a Favor" and "A Deadly Intrigue Concocted by a Thief, a Shelter, and a Veterinary Chain Cost Ginger the Continued Enjoyment of His Golden Years.")

Even phony-baloney no-kill operations whack their share of old cats. (See Cat Defender post of October 23, 2012 entitled "A Supposedly No-Kill Operation in Marblehead Betrays Sally and Snuffs Out Her Life Instead of Providing Her with a Home and Veterinary Care.")

In Harvey's case, the daunting task of finding him a new home has become considerably more difficult than it was before in that YCR now believes that he is suffering from a small, but benign, brain tumor. That diagnoses was made earlier this summer after he was returned to the shelter for the second time and began to exhibit symptoms of a noticeable decline in his mental faculties.

He therefore could be suffering from a growth within either the brain itself or the membrane that surrounds it called a meningioma. Although MRIs, radiographs, and ultrasound imaging can be helpful in detecting abnormal growths, the only sure way of diagnosing cancer is through a biopsy.

Since YCR is unsure exactly what is ailing Harvey, that test apparently was not conducted. It accordingly is possible that he could have sustained some type of injury that has produced a buildup of fluid in his head that is mimicking a tumor.

Apparently YCR is not planning on treating him. "Harvey's brain tumor shouldn't affect how long he has left to live," the organization's Sam Davies speculated in the press release. "It just means he can get a little confused at times. It looks like he is wondering why he is finding it so much harder to live at the shelter than all the young cats around him."

If he does have a tumor but it does not grow, Harvey may be able to live with it. If it should become malignant, however, it will need to be immediately removed if that can be done without endangering his life.

In either case, the growth needs to be constantly monitored by way of computed tomography, computerized axial tomography, and MRIs. (See Pet MD, undated article entitled "Brain Tumors in Cats" and Vet Info, undated article entitled "Meningioma in Cats.")

Although he may be sickly as well as getting on, Harvey still loves his freedom and the great outdoors and YCR, to its credit, does not wish to deprive him of either of them provided that certain precautions are undertaken. "We feel he might be a little too vulnerable to be roaming the streets or fields on his own," Davies said in YCR's August 14th press release. "So we'd love to find him a home with a safe, and enclosed garden, because he does love the outdoors, and a cat his age should be able to enjoy life -- even if he sometimes forgets where he is."

It also is entirely conceivable that the mental fog in which he allegedly is laboring could clear up somewhat if a good and loving home could be secured for him. Since the response from the public has been so appallingly callous, perhaps it is time that either a staffer at YCR adopted him or the charity considered placing him in a sanctuary.

For example, a cat named Tilly has spent just about all of her long life at such a facility in the West Midlands. (See Cat Defender post of May 27, 2016 entitled "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.")

Above all, it is imperative that YCR does not give up on Harvey and take the easy way out. As it is, cats live such terribly short lives that to abbreviate any of them by so much as one second is a monumental crime of the first order.

As an elderly cat, he additionally is richly entitled to a warm and secure home, good quality food, and topnotch veterinary care. For all that he has given to this world, he deserves at least that much in return.

"But he really is completely lovely -- just so desperately unlucky," is how that Davies summed up his tragic plight. It does not have to end for him in a shelter, however, in that all he needs is for one kindhearted soul to ride to his rescue on a white stallion and that would magically transform all of his recent Unglück into, hopefully, everlasting Glück.

Anyone who therefore would be willing to either provide him with a permanent home or to make a contribution toward his medical expenses is urged to immediately contact YCR at 44-01535-647184. The charity also can be reached at mail@yorkshirecatrescue.org.

Photo: Yorkshire Cat Rescue.