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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, November 02, 2017

Fate, Circumstances, Rotten Luck, and the Half-Hearted Efforts of Insincere Individuals and Groups All Conspire to Make a Quick End of Morris, the World Famous Glass Bank Cat of Cocoa Beach


"I saw the compassion in her eyes (his daughter's), and I knew I had to save (the) cat."
-- Tony Hernandez

The cat world has been plunged into mourning once again by the premature death of yet still another of its most cherished and long-suffering citizens. "It is with a very sad heart that I have to post that Morris the Glass Bank Cat was found deceased yesterday morning," it was somberly announced September 20th on the Facebook page, Save Morris the Glass Bank Cat. "There was no sign that he was feeling sick, so this was completely unexpected."

Since late May of 2014 he had resided at Purrs and Whiskers Shelter at 4251 Turtle Mund Road in Melbourne but since that organization has not released any additional information it is not known even if a necropsy was performed on him. It additionally has not been revealed what was done with his remains.

The best therefore that can be hoped for is that he was afforded a proper and dignified burial on the grounds complete with an appropriate grave marker and flowers. It would be painful to later learn that his corpse had been either burned to cinders or casually tossed out in the trash.

The orange Manx, who not only resembles but was named in honor of 9Lives®' emblematic figurehead, was catapulted into public consciousness during the third week of April in 2014 when he was accidentally spotted in an upper floor window of the condemned Glass Bank on North Orlando Avenue in Cocoa Beach, thirty-three kilometers north of Melbourne. Fortunately for him, the individual who first noticed his desperate plight was civic-minded and kindhearted attorney Tony Hernandez.

"We are always vigilant when we walk by it," he told Florida Today of Melbourne on April 30, 2014. (See "Lawyer Steps Up to Save Elusive Glass Bank Cat.") "We always look at it."

Constructed in 1960, the building originally was home to a branch of the ubiquitous First Federal Bank of Florida but it and the other tenants pulled up stakes and vacated the premises either before or shortly after Hurricane Frances pummelled the structure in 2004. Owner Frank Wolfe continued to live in the penthouse until January of 2014 when he too left, albeit by the Roman way.

Morris Was First Spotted in a Window at the Glass Bank

Even the structure's moniker had become obsolete by then in that much of its glass exterior had been covered over with concrete by as early as 1981. So, by the time that Hernandez had tumbled to Morris' presence he was the last known surviving soul still in the building and by then even it had an impending date with the wrecking ball.

Given that shysters are such notoriously tight-fisted penny-pinchers, it is far from clear what exactly motivated Hernandez to take on Morris as a pro bono client. "I really want that building demolished," he averred to Florida Today. "I don't want this to turn into me being an animal activist and chaining myself to the fence, because that is not going to happen."

Later on in the same article, however, he was singing an altogether different tune. "That building already has a lot of bad, negative aura," he added. "Let the world know we are people with compassion, even when it comes to a little cat."

As is befitting a member of his profession, Hernandez later offered up a third version of events. "I saw the compassion in her eyes (his daughter's), and I knew I had to save (the) cat," he vowed to Florida Today on May 19, 2014. (See "Morris the Cat Captured at Doomed Glass Bank Building.")

Apparently it took even considerably more than his daughter's compassion to have gotten him off the schneid and that in turn led to his fourth explanation. "My daughter would not leave me alone about this," he confessed to WFTV of Orlando on May 23, 2014. (See "Morris the Cat Rescued from Glass Bank Building.") "She wanted me to assure her that the cat was going to be saved."

That would seem to be the most plausible explanation in that the persuasive powers of little girls and grown-up women never should be underestimated. Besides, the tender gender always has been a cat's best friend in a hostile world that is dominated by mean and nasty men and their belligerent dogs. (See Rudyard Kipling, "The Cat That Walked by Himself.")

Regardless of his true motivation, he did not waste any time in starting a spirited political campaign to save Morris that included the stringing a large banner in front of the bank and pledging to donate US$1,000 of his own money to any rescue group that would humanely trap and remove him from harm's way. He also established the above mentioned Facebook page which soon attracted such notables as the lovely Barbara Eden from the 1960's comedy television show, I Dream of Jeannie, and followers from as far away as Brazil.

Tony Hernandez Led and Financed the Rescue Effort

It took some doing but Morris was finally corralled on May 18th by, it is believed, representatives of Purrs and Whiskers. "It was an ongoing, clandestine effort on the part of real experts on cats," was the sum total of all that Hernandez was willing to divulge to Florida Today in the May 19th article cited supra. "After several days of planning and executing, I must say the rescue effort went perfectly."

Morris immediately thereafter was transported to Clearlake Animal Hospital in Cocoa, twenty-four kilometers east of Cocoa Beach on the mainland, where he was sterilized, vaccinated, and put underneath the microscope. "Right now, the cat is at an undisclosed location where he is going through a three-day evaluation process," Hernandez added. "If experts say it's feral, we'll look for a registered colony for him. If it's adoptable, there's a long list of people. But they'll have to have the right house."

Apparently having tired of the entire affair, he quickly formulated plans to wash his hands of it. "We've had everybody asking us, television stations, CNN," he groused to Florida Today on May 19th. "I just want to have one good media blitz and put this whole story to rest."

That occurred a few days later on May 23rd when Morris, still caged but mercifully not bound and gagged, was introduced to the world and the media. Mayor Dave Netterstrom certainly did his part by declaring that occasion to be officially known now and forever as "Morris the Glass Bank Cat Day."

"I am very proud to be in a community that gets involved in so many different things," he told Florida Today on May 23, 2014. (See "Glass Bank Cat Gets His Own Day in Cocoa Beach.")

Even though Netterstrom and Hernandez may have been crowing like a pair of bantam roosters, Morris was conspicuously silent throughout the entire event. "Morris is not all too happy," Hernandez confided to Florida Today. "We've evicted him from his beautiful skyriser(sic) across from the beach and (neutered) him, but it's in his own best interest."

That last admission on his part was in direct contradiction to what he had said a few weeks earlier after Morris had been successfully trapped. "My client would like to thank everyone for their support," he told Florida Today on May 19th.

Hernandez's Banner Out Front of the Doomed Bank

Be that as it may, he did not either flinch the least little bit or squeal like a stuck pig when it came to finally making good on his prior commitment to Morris. "I want everybody to remember what the best nation in the world is, and that is the Do Nation," he declared on that memorable occasion according to the account of the proceedings rendered in Florida Today on May 23rd. "Most of these animal rescue organizations survive financially on their own money, or money being donated by other people, so on behalf of Morris and my law firm, I would like to take this opportunity to donate to Purrs and Whiskers Shelter $1,000."

That prompted onlooker Mike McGahey of Canna Proposals in Cocoa Beach to chip in with another US$100 on the spot.

That in turn left it up to Mona Motz of Purrs and Whiskers to reveal to those assembled what lot in life she and her colleagues had assigned to Morris. "He is not extremely friendly like you would expect a lap cat to be," she told Florida Today in a prelude to lowering the boom on him. "He will be placed in either one of two feral cat colonies that are safe and cared for daily."

Translated into shirtsleeve English, she and her allies were too lazy to have bothered with socializing him for adoption. For example, if Tiny Kittens in Fort Langley, British Columbia, could socialize Grandpa Mason and Funds for Furry Friends in Brandon, Manitoba, could do likewise for Butterscotch, the evidence is overwhelming that almost any homeless cat can be tamed for eventual adoption. (See Cat Defender posts of July 24, 2017 and September 6, 2014 entitled, respectively, "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" and "Butterscotch Is Finally Freed from a Bug Trap but His Deliverance Has Come at an Awfully High Price That He Will Be Repaying for the Remainder of His Days.")

That decision was all the more inexcusable given the subsequent amount of time and energy that the shelter invested in him before turning him loose at its fenced-in TNR colony. "We had to transition him. He didn't just get plunked in with this feral colony," Motz added to Florida Today on September 26, 2017. (See "Morris, the Glass Bank Cat of Cocoa Beach, Dies.") "We put him in what we call a relocation cage, which is like a big condo, and let him get used to the routine, the area, the sounds, the smells, the other cats."

In addition to large cages with elevated resting places, the shelter features one-thousand square feet of outdoor space for its resident felines to explore. It never has been revealed, however, how much of the time that Morris was confined to his cage or the amount of interaction that he was afforded with his human counterparts.

At least he did not suffer from a lack of feline companionship. "Morris had his buddies that he would hang out with," Motz revealed to Florida Today on September 26th.

A Frightened and Confused Morris Immediately after His Capture

That notwithstanding, a good argument could be made that he would have been far better off if Purrs and Whiskers had devoted its time, money, and energy toward socializing him for adoption as opposed to a lifetime behind bars at a fenced-in TNR colony. Furthermore, since it has not been disclosed how many cats live at the shelter and under what conditions it is not even possible to begin to properly evaluate the quality of life that Morris enjoyed there for the last three and one-third years of his life.

Although sanctuaries are most definitely a huge improvement over conventional, hellhole shelters, not all of them are created equal. For example, Tenth Life Sanctuary in Clewiston, two-hundred-fifty-eight kilometers south of Cocoa Beach, was closed in 2010 owing to unhygienic conditions and neglect of its inmates.

Worst still, in addition to failing to alleviate the plight of the suffering cats, that precipitate action served only to initial their death warrants. (See Cat Defender post of May 17, 2010 entitled "Julie Levy and Her Henchmen Ride to the Rescue of Maury Swee's Severely Neglected Cats and Promptly Slaughter at Least One-Hundred-Eighty-Five of Them.")

At Cats With No Name in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, hundreds of felines were left to die of hunger and neglect by dope addicts Virginia Kresge Justiniano and Andy J. Oxenrider who ran the sanctuary. (See Cat Defender post of May 10, 2010 entitled "Lunatic Rulings in Cats With No Name Cruelty Cases Prove Once Again That Pennsylvania Is a Safe Haven for Cat Killers and Junkies.")

Politically speaking, fenced-in TNR colonies are a two-edged sword in that although they are undeniably a far safer alternative to those that do not have barriers, their very existence plays directly into the hands of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), ornithologists, and wildlife biologists who are determined to remove all cats from the great outdoors. For instance, with the able-bodied assistance of the phonies and traitors at the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, the USFWS was allowed to get away with pulling off precisely that type of a coup with the handful of cats that it allowed to escape from San Nicolas with their lives. (See Cat Defender posts of February 24, 2012 November 20, 2009, and April 28, 2009 entitled, respectively, "The United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Humane Society Hoist a Glass in Celebration of Their Extermination of the Cats on San Nicolas Island," "Memo to the Humane Society: Tell the World Exactly How Many Cats You and Your Honeys at the USFWS Have Murdered on San Nicolas Island," and "Quislings at the Humane Society Sell Out San Nicolas's Cats to the Assassins at the Diabolical United States Fish and Wildlife Service.")

Also, as the propaganda and behavior of Animal Care and Control and other public officials in New York City have more than abundantly demonstrated, relinquishing control of managed colonies to the authorities in any shape, form, or fashion is simply a horrendous development. (See Cat Defender post of December 22, 2011 entitled "Rogue TNR Practitioner and Three Unscrupulous Veterinarians Kill at Least Sixty-Two Cats with the Complicity of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals.")

It therefore is imperative that such undertakings remain exclusively in the hands of the volunteers. Besides, the politicians are too cheap and ailurophobic to contribute so much a red cent to such efforts; au contraire, they simply want to gain control of these colonies so that they can impose their malevolent wills on both the cats and their caretakers.

Morris Was Still in Captivity Even on His Special Day in Cocoa Beach

It is important to point out at this juncture that no evidence whatsoever has come to light that would tend to indicate that Morris was in any way either neglected or abused while he lived at Purrs and Whiskers. There likewise is not any guarantee that even if had he been put up for adoption that he would have been placed with a conscientious guardian who took his care and welfare seriously.

In April of last year, Morris decided to enter the political thicket and a second Facebook page entitled "Morris 'the Glass Bank Cat' for Cocoa Beach City Commissioner" was established in order to promote his candidacy. His campaign never really got off the ground, however, and his Facebook page attracted only one-hundred-nine followers. Other than that tidbit of information gleaned from the web, almost nothing is known concerning how that he spent his years at Purrs and Whiskers.

Then on December 15th the shelter's operator, Karen Clarise Gibson, established a page on Go Fund Me entitled "Morris the Glass Bank Cat Vet Visit" which quickly raised every cent of its US$450 intended goal. As it later was revealed, Morris by then, sadly, was suffering from liver failure. That acknowledgement accordingly makes the shelter's September 20th declaration on Facebook that his death "was completely unexpected" more than a little puzzling.

Since Purrs and Whiskers has not elaborated on his condition it is impossible to know exactly what ailed his liver. Generally speaking, however, liver failure in cats can be caused by tumors, toxoplasmosis, a build up of fat, the ingestion of toxins, and the development of portosystemic shunts whereby the blood bypasses the liver and is returned to the circulatory system without first having been cleansed.

No fewer than twelve tests are currently available for diagnostic purposes and treatment can include, inter alia, detoxification, surgery, a regimen of calorically dense, high- protein food, fluids and electrolytes, plasma transfusions, antibiotics, and Vitamin K. (See Cat World, June 27, 2017, "Liver Disease in Cats -- Causes, Symptoms and Treatment.")

Needless to say, US$450 would not have covered very much of that. In fact, such a piddling sum would have barely gotten Morris inside the front door for even so much as a cursory examination by the bloodsuckers at Clearlake Animal Hospital who state emphatically on their web site that they must have all of their shekels in advance.

The funds donated by Hernandez and McGahey in all likelihood would have been sufficient for a diagnosis, detoxification (induced vomiting, enemas, stomach pumps, and activated charcoal), and an improved diet for Morris. Additional funds would have been required for, inter alia, follow-up veterinary visits and, if needed, surgical intervention.

Morris, Mona Motz, Hernandez, and Dave Netterstrom at the Ceremony

It therefore is unclear whether it was a lack of money per se, veterinary incompetence, or Purrs and Whiskers' unwillingness to have his liver condition properly attended to that ultimately led to his premature death. At the same time it is every bit as likely that his hardscrabble past simply caught up with him in the end.

Although quite a few of Alley Cat Allies' Boardwalk Cats have lived well into their twenties, most members of the species that have spent any measurable length of time on their own generally do not fare nearly as well as their domesticated cousins. (See Cat Defender posts of December 10, 2011 and August 24, 2017 entitled, respectively, "Snowball Succumbs to the Inevitable after Toughing It Out for Two Decades at Atlantic City's Dangerous Underwood Hotel" and "The Brutal Murders of a Trio of Atlantic City's Boardwalk Cats Provide an Occasion for the Local Rag and PETA to Whoop It Up and to Break Open the Champagne.")

Not only is life on the street difficult, dangerous, unhygienic, and disease-ridden, but it is strongly suspected that congenital maladies are the number one factor in the shortened life-expectancies of homeless cats. That phenomenon is even more pronounced in kittens.

That tragic pattern certainly held true in Morris' case in that he was believed to have been somewhere between one and two years of age at the time of his discovery and rescue. That in turn would have made him either four or five years old at the time of his death and although it is said that the good die young that was much too soon for any cat to exit this world.

No one has hazarded so much as a guess as to where he came from but the most likely explanation is that he, or his mother before him, was abandoned to fend for himself by either a resident of Cocoa Beach or a tourist. While it is always conceivable that he could have been driven in from the mainland with the intent of purposefully dumping him that seems considerably less probable.

Given that Manx kittens retail for between US$200 and US$400 apiece, it is strange that his previous owner would have simply dumped him as opposed to having sold him. That coupled with his fear of humans, lends a certain amount of credence to the theory that it was his mother who was abandoned and that he subsequently was born sans-abri.

As for how that he lived, Wolfe could have been feeding him. Although it is not known if he was a cat fancier, the fact that Morris' presence in the Glass Bank was not detected until shortly after his suicide may not have been a coincidence.

Morris in His So-Called Kitty Condo at the Sanctuary

No details have been divulged concerning security arrangements at the condemned building but unless Morris was carried to the upper floors by someone, he would have required not only ingress to the building via either a door or a window but, more crucially, open and unlocked doors that led to the first, second, third, and fourth floors. There simply is not any conceivable way that he could have operated the elevators even if they still had been working.

Hernandez and Motz may know the answer to that riddle but based upon the limited information available it would appear that he was brought inside by either Wolfe or someone else with keys to the facility. After Wolfe's death it is quite possible that he survived on mice, bugs, and condensation.

If doors to both the stairwell and the outside had been left open, he could have been scavenging in the street and returning to the bank to sleep. It also is conceivable that someone living nearby could have been feeding him but was unwilling to come forward and claim him once he had become famous.

"He was healthy," was about all that Hernandez was willing to disclose to WFTV concerning his condition after his rescue. "He was emotionally scared, a little shocked."

That in itself is not conclusive in that it is not known either how long it took Purrs and Whiskers to trap him or how successful that he might have been in pilfering food from their snares before he himself was caught. Nevertheless, if Hernandez is to be believed Morris was neither emaciated nor dehydrated.

That does not automatically foreclose the prospect, however, that he may have been forced in the past to have gone without both food and water for prolonged periods of time and that in turn could have irreparably damaged his liver and kidneys as well. For example, a beautiful nine-year-old Persian named Tavia from Kissimmee, one-hundred-seven kilometers due east of Cocoa Beach, was intentionally left in an empty, unheated house by her owner for more than two months back in 2010. She additionally was provided with very little to eat and drink and that ultimately led to her premature death from liver and kidney failure.

In her case, however, the steady diet to barbiturates foolishly fed to her by her guardian in order to help facilitate grooming her also could have been a contributing factor in her demise. (See Cat Defender post of December 23, 2010 entitled "Tavia's Desperate Pleas for Help Fall Upon the Deaf Ears of the Evangelical Who Abandoned Her and the Heartless Officials and Citizens of Kissimmee.")

Morris on the Grounds of the Sanctuary on July 9, 2017

The various toxins that Morris could have unwittingly ingested while on his own is almost infinite. Even the ingestion of lilies and other harmful plants and shrubs can kill a cat but Purrs and Whiskers likely had the bon sens to have removed them from the grounds of its outdoor enclosure. (See Cat Defender post of April 11, 2016 entitled "Mr. Mistoffelees Will Be Forever Four Months Old Because He Accidentally Brushed Up Against a Bouquet of Lilies and Then Unwittingly Attempted to Lick the Pollen Off of His Fur.")

The condition of his fur, nails,and feet would have provided additional clues as to how that he had been living. So, too, would have the presence of parasites in his fur and their toxins in his blood.

The three and one-third years that he was able to eke out of life after his rescue were terribly fleeting but they were far preferable to the fate that awaited him if he had remained inside the condemned building. (See Cat Defender posts of March 31, 2006 and June 10, 2005 entitled, respectively, "The Idaho Humane Society Lends Its Support to the Demolition of a Derelict Seed Store That Claims the Lives of Dozens of Cats" and "The War on Terrorism Costs Cats Their Home -- and Maybe Their Lives Also.")

It was a good thing that Hernandez had his eyes in the clouds as opposed to using them in order to pan the pavement for pennies on that fateful day back in April of 2014 because otherwise it is highly unlikely that Morris ever would have made it out of the bank alive. If that had not been the case the world never would have known that he ever existed.

In that respect, his deliverance bears a striking resemblance to that of a brown and black tom with yellow eyes named Mario from Lac-Mégantic, two-hundred-fifty-four kilometers east of Montréal in Eastern Townships, Province Québec, who was forced to spend seventy-nine days all alone and without food and water in a deserted building after an American-owned oil train carrying Bakken crude exploded. His salvation finally came on September 21, 2013 when Mario Vachon, who was conducting a survey of deserted buildings in a sealed-off section of town, accidentally spotted, not him, but rather his silhouette in a window.

That was enough, however, in that he promptly notified Françoise Belle-Isle of Fourrière municipale de Lac-Mégantic who was able to successfully trap and remove Mario the very next day. (See Cat Defender posts of March 31, 2014 and January 11, 2016 entitled, respectively, "Mario Is Brought Back from Death's Door When His Silhouette Is Accidentally Spotted in a Window of Fire-Ravaged Lac-Mégantic" and "Mario, Who Survived an Oil Train Explosion and Subsequently Was Forced to Go Without Food and Water for an Astonishing Seventy-Nine Days, Was the Most Compelling Feline Personality of 2013.")

Long- Suffering Morris Is Gone Forever

Looking back over the course of Morris' brief and troubled life there is not any way of getting around the conclusion that his lot from start to finish was one of abandonment, neglect, deprivation, and incarceration that ended in sickness and an early grave. Moreover, there are not any true heroes in this story.

Although Hernandez is to be commended for mounting and financing the rescue that saved Morris, he contributed absolutely nothing toward ensuring that he was placed in a proper home and received the top-notch veterinary care that he so urgently needed and richly deserved. The same charges are even more applicable in the case of Purrs and Whiskers.

Netterstrom, the capitalist media, and the citizens of Cocoa Beach likewise patted themselves on the back for rescuing Morris, took their bows, and then got on with their lives. On the whole, it is difficult to escape the feeling that the entire "Save Morris" effort was little more than a cheap publicity stunt staged by one and all involved to make themselves look good in the public's eye but with precious little regard for either Morris' well-being or desires. He most assuredly deserved far better treatment than he received!

What the feline protection movement so desperately needs are individuals and organizations that are sincere and put the needs and desires of cats first. Believe it or not, that is an entirely different enterprise than public grandstanding, running off at the mouth, buffoonery and, above all, sucking up to the elites.

In death Morris thus has joined Mayor Stubbs and King Loui I in what that can only be labeled as a summer of sorrow. (See Cat Defender posts of August 4, 2017 and September 15, 2017 entitled, respectively, "Mayor Stubbs, 1997-2017: A Melancholic Remembrance, an Appreciation, and a Tearful au Revoir" and "King Loui I's Days of Roaming the Perilous Streets of Aachen Come to a Sad End Shortly after He Is Diagnosed with Inoperable Throat Cancer.")

It would be comforting to believe that a far better winter awaits but that would be a pipe dream. With cats, neither the dying nor the killing ever abate for very long.

Finally, the Glass Bank disappeared from Cocoa Beach's skyline on Groundhog Day of 2015 and now Morris has joined it in that eternal pit of nothingness. All that remain are the memories, photographs, and a passel of regrets and what-might-have-beens.

Photos: Facebook (Morris up-close, in a window at the Glass Bank, Save Morris banner, Morris, Motz, Hernandez, and Netterstrom at ceremony, Morris in a cage and on the grounds of the sanctuary, and the final goodbye) and Florida Today (Hernandez, Morris in a cage immediately after his capture, and Morris in a cage at the ceremony).