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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, March 26, 2018

A Dedicated and Compassionate Kilianstädterin Has Found at Least a Partial Solution to the Tragic Plight of alte und obdachlos Katzen

Luke and Melanie Gottschalk

"Diese Tiere sind in der Regel schwer vermittelbar, weil etwa Familien mit Kindern näturlich ein kleine und süße Katze wollen."
-- Melanie Gottschalk

When it comes to cats few issues are quite as heart-wrenching as that of those that have grown not only old but, through no fault of their own, also homeless. That is by no means a new problem in that it has plagued the species ever since time immemorial.

Now, a young technical designer named Melanie Gottschalk from the Kilianstädten section of Schöneck, twenty kilometers north of Frankfurt am Main in the state of Hesse, believes that she has found at least a partial solution to that age-old dilemma by placing them in the homes of pensioners. Being a lifelong fan of the species, she operates a private rescue operation out of her house for cats of all ages but it is the elderly ones that are her specialty.

Her rescue efforts begin with a perusal of the lost, found, and for sale notices on the Internet. "Ich kann inzwischen gut unterscheiden, welche Anzeige von einem Tierschutzverein ins Netz gestellt wurde oder ob ein Verkäufer Geld mit der Katze machen will," she disclosed to the Frankfurter Neue Presse on September 4, 2014. (See "Wenn alte Katzen obdachlos werden.") "Und dann gibt es die für mich interessanten Anzeigen, wo Menschen Tiere schnell loswerden wollen -- aus den unterschiedlichsten Gründen."

She then contacts the advertisers while simultaneously interceding with local veterinarians and other rescuers by e-mail on behalf of those cats. Some of those that she is able to gain custody of are placed fairly soon in new homes but the remainder she takes in herself and fosters until good homes can be secured for them.

At one point in 2014, she was caring for a Maine Coon named Luke, a tom named Baghera, a female named Lilly, and a pregnant cat named Emmi that had been rescued from floodwaters in Nidda, forty kilometers northeast of Frankfurt am Main. "Bekannte haben das Tier gefunden und mich informiert," she related to the Frankfurter Neue Presse. "Da konnte ich nicht Nein sagen und seither lebt Emmi bei uns (she and her boyfriend)."

Generally speaking, however, she has had remarkable success in finding new homes for those cats that she has rescued. "In der Regel dauert es nicht lange, bis ein neues Zuhause für die Tiere gefunden ist," she told the Frankfurter Neue Presse.

With old cats, however, she has run up against the same old Stolperstein  that has stymied traditional shelters for so long. "Diese Tiere sind in der Regel schwer vermittelbar, weil etwa Familien mit Kindern näturlich ein kleine und süße Katze wollen," she lamented to the Frankfurter Neue Presse.

As it often has been pointed out, necessity is the mother of invention and it was out of those frustrations that Gottschalt eventually hit upon the idea of placing old cats with pensioners. The arrangement works out well for senior citizens given that older cats are quieter and less demanding than either kittens or those that are in the primes of their lives.

As for the cats themselves, Gottschalk argues that such arrangements assure them of permanent homes for the remainder of their days. The rather obvious flaw in her reasoning is that old men and women also get sick and die and that in turn translates into their new arrivals being left homeless once again.

Just how big of a problem that is with the cats that she places with seniors, only she knows. Nevertheless, she presumably is willing to compensate for that drawback by retaking custody of those cats that find themselves displaced for a second time.

Since she does not limit her feline outreach efforts to Kilianstädten and Nidda, she was able to place a twelve-year-old Maine Coon from Mainz, sixty-six kilometers south of Kilianstädten in Rhineland-Pfalz, with a seventy-year-old woman in Hanauer Stadtteil Klein-Auheim, twenty-two kilometers south of Kilianstädten, whose dog had recently died. "Das war genau das richtige Tier für die Seniorin," she told the Frankfurter Neue Presse. "Die alte Dame ist super happy mit ihrem neuen tierischen Freund."

In order to facilitate such successful adoptions, she must first overcome two daunting obstacles. The first of which is to identify those senior citizens who might be willing to take on the care of an elderly cat. Secondly, those individuals then must somehow be prevailed upon to adopt.

As far as the first problem is concerned, Gottschalk has been able to circumvent it by relying upon an eclectic mix of e-mail, word of mouth, and fliers that she distributes to merchants in and around Schöneck. Although surmounting the second dilemma surely would tax the oratorical skills of even the most seasoned carnival barker, since she has been able to convince at least one dog owner to adopt a cat she must be pretty good at that difficult chore.

Even though her results so far have been only meager, she is demonstrating that the correct strategy coupled with hard work can produce amazing results. The true secret of her success does not lie in strategy, however, but rather in an altogether different ingredient that is so sorely lacking in traditional rescuers and shelters.

"Ich mache das aus Liebe zu den Tieren und verlange auch kein Geld dafur," she summed up for the Frankfurter Neue Presse.

It goes almost without saying that her initiative is direly needed given that the options available for elderly and homeless cats are few indeed. Just as an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the best of all possible solutions would be for their guardians to make provisions for their continued care in their wills.

That is what Ellen Frey-Wouters of the Bronx did for her two companions, Troy and Tiger, before she kicked the bucket in 2015. Specifically, she left behind US$300,000 for their continued care. (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'.")

Although the transition from one home and one guardian to another home and a new caretaker is not an easy adjustment for an elderly cat to make, it is still preferable than for it to wind up totally on its own. If that should not be feasible, the second best option would be for owners to prevail upon close family members to take over the care of their cats after they are gone.

That is precisely what Beverley Hume of Newcastle upon Tyne did after both of her parents died and left behind their elderly cat, Ginger. Sadly, even her compassion proved to be insufficient in order to safeguard the life of the twenty-five-year-old male from the machinations of those individuals and institutions who fervently believe that old cats should not be allowed to draw so much as one more breath under any circumstances. (See Cat Defender post of January 11, 2012 entitled "A Deadly Intrigue Concocted by a Thief, a Shelter, and a Veterinary Chain Costs Ginger the Continued Enjoyment of His Golden Years.")

Even more reprehensibly, the simply abhorrent attitude that veterinarians and shelters have toward elderly cats is shared by the overwhelming majority of owners who do not hesitate to have them killed off as soon as their care becomes either expensive or inconvenient. Despite its popularity, murdering elderly cats never should be an option for either individuals or institutions.

Even those cats that are lucky enough to outlive their guardians are left with very few options. For example, just about all of those that are dumped at shelters are immediately liquidated shortly after their arrival.

That is because just about all of those wretched institutions are anything but animal shelters; rather, they are thinly disguised feline extermination camps. Secondly, even if staffers were willing to attempt to find homes for them the general public, as Gottschalk has pointed out, has little or no interest in adopting old cats.

Even those extremely rare organizations that have some, but not much, respect for the sanctity of feline life still have a devil of a time finding homes for their senior citizens. For instance, Yorkshire Cat Rescue (YCR) in Keighley, West Yorkshire, is currently on its fourth attempt to locate a permanent home for a fourteen-year-old tom named Harvey. (See Cat Defender posts of August 31, 2017 and March 12, 2018 entitled, respectively, "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" and "Much Like a Nightmare that Stubbornly Refuses to End, Harvey Continues to Be Shuttled from One Home to Another at the Expense of His Health and Well-Being.")

Not all of its efforts have been in vain, however, in that it has successfully placed a fifteen-year-old ginger and white tom named Frank in a new home. (See Cat Defender post of September 5, 2017 entitled "Written Off More Than Once as Being All but Finished, Frank Is Living Proof That Old Cats Not Only Have Value but Considerably More Life Left in Them Than Most People Are Willing to Acknowledge.")

Elsewhere, it even took Cats Protection three tries in order to secure a permanent home for a ten-year-old tuxedo named Ian from Birmingham after his guardian had died without making any plans for his continued care. (See Cat Defender post of July 27, 2013 entitled "Instead of Killing Her Off with a Jab of Sodium Pentobarbital and Then Burning Her Corpse, Ian Remains Steadfast at His Guardian's Side Long after Her Death.")

Harvey, Frank, and Ian are exceptions to the rule in that the overwhelming majority of old cats never make it out of shelters alive. For that reason alone, shelters never should be an option for them or, for that matter, any cat no matter what its age and circumstances.

The second most likely destination for cats that have outlived their owners is the street as George, Pops, Orakal, and so many others have have discovered to their distress and horror. (See Cat Defender posts of March 23, 2015, August 6, 2015, September 15, 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," "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," and "Seventeen-Year-Old, Sickly, and Blind Orakel Is Abandoned to Fend for Herself in the Unforgiving Streets of Breitenfurt bei Wien.")

Although most any existence, no matter how harsh, is still preferable to unjustly robbing these cats of their inalienable right to live, there cannot be any disputing that dumping elderly cats in the street constitutes the very epitome of cruelty and that is especially the case with those that have lost their eyesight and mobility. In most instances, the absolute very best that they can expect from a cutthroat and uncaring world is to be offered shelter by kindhearted, private individuals who respect their right to live.

Private sanctuaries are a third option but they are few in number and usually operate at capacity. (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" and the Donau Kurier of Ingolstadt, July 9, 2013, "Die Geschichte der Maya.")

Managed TNR colonies offer a fourth option for elderly cats and Alley Cat Allies has had several of its charges in Atlantic City live to be at least twenty years old. (See Cat Defender post of December 10, 2011 entitled "Snowball Succumbs to the Inevitable after Toughing It Out for Two Decades at Atlantic City's Underwood Hotel.")

Even so, it is cruel to sentence elderly cats to spend their last days all alone and outdoors. Plus, the Underwood Hotel is a dangerous place for even humans, let alone defenseless cats. (See Cat Defender post of August 24, 2017 entitled "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.")

Considering the extent to which the game of life is stacked against them, only a handful of cats ever live long enough in order to become senior citizens. Those that do accordingly should be treasured for the rare gems that they are and every day that they continue to grace the face of Mother Earth ought to be regarded a a precious gift.

Even granting them that much is still woefully insufficient. In particular, not only should their right to live be enshrined in law but that also should entitle them to warm, secure, and loving homes, a good quality diet, and top-notch veterinary care. To afford them anything less makes a mockery of any lingering pretenses that man may still harbor in his malignant bosom about his own fundamental fairness, decency and, most importantly, right to exist himself.

Photo: Thomas Seifert of the Frankfurter Neue Presse.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Much Like a Nightmare That Stubbornly Refuses to End, Harvey Continues to Be Shuttled from One Home to Another at the Expense of His Health and Well-Being

Harvey Has Had Five Homes Within the Past Fifteen Months

"He is one of a kind and utterly lovely. He is just quite specific about his demands -- no other pets, no noisy kids, all attention and love on him. That's not a bad deal, is it?"
-- Yorkshire Cat Rescue

As far as it is known, no cat possesses the power to divine the future. With that being the case, even having the good fortune to have entered this world in perfect health, a happy kittenhood, and a good life as a mature adult cat are not preventatives against the vicissitudes of old age.

In particular, the infirmities that accompany growing old are themselves difficult enough for any cat to deal with but for one to suddenly find itself uprooted from its home and abandoned to either the streets or unjustly incarcerated at some hellhole shelter is, quite often, entirely too much for it to overcome at such a late stage in its life. About the only thing positive that can be said about such tragic dénouements is that they are still preferable to being whacked by unscrupulous veterinarians at the behest of their perfidious owners.

Although he was only concerned with man's lot, Sophocles knew that in order to have had a good life an individual had to be not only happy throughout his days but also to drag his happiness down into the crypt with him. He makes that clear in the concluding lines of Oedipus Rex where he argues as follows:

"Let every man in mankind's frailty
consider the last day; and let none
Presume on his good fortune until he find
Life, at his death, a memory without pain."

So, too, is it doubtlessly the case with cats and at an undisclosed location in, presumably, West Yorkshire, a fourteen-year-old brown, gray, and white tom named Harvey is currently struggling to come to grips with that eternal dilemma. Although practically nothing has been publicly disclosed about his first twelve years upon this earth, his fortunes took a downward tumble in December of 2016 when his guardian died.

As a result, he was unceremoniously dumped at Yorkshire Cat Rescue (YCR) in Keighley and that was destined to be only the first of four lengthy stays for him at that facility over the course of the following fifteen months. His first incarceration was, mercifully, a brief one in that the charity was able to place him in a new home shortly after his arrival.

Unfortunately, he did not hit it off with his owners' other resident feline and they quickly threw in the towel on him and returned him to YCR. The next time around he was adopted by an unidentified woman in Leeds, thirty-three kilometers southeast of Keighley, but she soon thereafter allegedly became ill and likewise dumped him back into YCR's lap.

So, within a period of less than six months he had been bandied about between no fewer than three homes on top of three separate stays at YCR. "But he really is completely lovely -- just so desperately unlucky," is how that the charity's Sam Davies summed up his cruel fate.

Despite those devastating setbacks, the shelter to its credit vowed not to give up on him. "This poor lad has spent the summer with us, and still no luck in finding him a home," its Sara Atkinson lamented last year. (See Cat Defender post of August 31, 2017 entitled "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.")

The long hot summer dragged into a chilly autumn and Harvey still found himself firmly encased behind bars at YCR. In fact, it was not until early November that he was given a new lease on life and even that positive break did not materialize until after the charity had come up with a novel and experimental stratagem in order to get him into another home.

"As you know Harvey has been with us for quite some time but he has now found a loving permanent fosterer and it looks like he has decided to stay there and let her look after him and his wonkiness," YCR announced November 7th on its Facebook page.

Under that unusual arrangement, YCR took it upon itself to foot the bill for his food and veterinary care with the fosterer providing only a place for him to live and, supposedly, pledging to take good care of him. It nevertheless is unclear who actually had legal custody of him and, much more importantly, which party would have been liable if he had been abused or mistreated in any fashion.

The positive aspect of such arrangements is that they do get cats like Harvey out of cages at shelters and into homes. On the negative side of the equation, fosterers are not required to make any moral, legal, or financial commitments to those that they bring into their lives and they accordingly are free to return them to YCR at any time.

The situation is analogous to the adoption fees that shelters charge. One theory maintains that there is a causal link between the size of those fees and the sincerity of the adopter. For instance, the higher the fee, the greater the degree of commitment.

Another theory holds that lowering them actually saves lives by making it possible to place more cats in homes. It is difficult to know which theory is closest to the truth owing to, inter alia, the paucity of research conducted on this subject and the multitude of variables and value judgments that would need to be sorted out before any firm conclusions could be reached.

In Harvey's case, however, YCR's experiment turned out to have been an unmitigated disaster. "I then had the most amazing foster mum but I of course had to be trouble and make sure she knew that I do not share my human with other pets," the charity, speaking on behalf of him, announced February 10th on Facebook. "So I am back here looking for a new home!"

There are at least four things that can be said about that debacle. First of all, any woman who would give up on an elderly cat after only three months was not a fit guardian for him in the first place.

Secondly, YCR once again dropped the ball by placing Harvey in such an untenable situation. Thirdly, it needs to seriously rethink this entire business of placing him with so-called permanent fosterers or, at the very least, to be forthright enough to call them what they really are and that is nothing more than short-term guardians who do not have any firm commitments to the Harveys of this world.

Fourthly, it is not only outrageous but totally unforgivable that YCR has fobbed off all the blame for the failure of this half-baked expedient onto the tiny shoulders of Harvey. Au contraire, it is the charity and the fosterer who have failed him and not vice-versa.

For its part, YCR is culpable for failing to realize that all cats are individuals with different personalities, histories, and experiences in life. C'est-à-dire, one size does not fit all.

Most egregious of all, it does not have any earthly way of knowing what types and amounts of verbal and physical abuse that he may have been subjected to at the hands of the fosterer and her other pets. After all, the woman is free to badmouth him until the cows come home but he is unable to speak up for himself.

Based upon the deleterious effect that his latest foray into the adoption thicket has had upon his health, the miseries, torments, and possible abuse that he may have suffered were anything but insubstantial. "When I came back here I was all shouty and confused," YCR stated for him February 10th on Facebook. "I was a bit all over the place and not at all the cuddly Harvey they remembered from all those months ago."

In its defense, YCR insists that Harvey is suffering from a benign brain tumor and that is what is causing his agitation, wobbly gait, and forgetfulness. Yet at the same time it insists that its veterinarians cannot find any presence of such a growth.

Harvey Desperately Needs a Home Before Time Runs Out on Him

Given that there are various diagnostic tests which are fairly accurate in detecting such growths, YCR should not be allowed to have it both ways. If Harvey does have a tumor, it needs to be closely monitored and, if conditions so merit, treated and possibly even removed.

If that is not the case, the charity should stop blaming his health for its own incompetence. In that light, it certainly is odd that he was said to have been in excellent health when he first arrived at the shelter and it was not until after he had returned from YCR's first failed attempt to adopt him out that a noticeable decline in it was detected.

It accordingly very well could be the case that the changes in both his personality and physical health could be at least in part attributable to his being bandied about like a Flying Dutchman between the shelter and various homes. If, on the other hand, the right home environment could be secured for him both his mental and physical health might very well improve almost overnight.

It is almost superfluous to point out, but the absolute last thing on earth that this fourteen-year-old cat needs and deserves is additional time in either a cage or foster care. "...I can get a bit confused, lost and agitated," YCR said for him February 10th on Facebook. "...I wondered why every cat else was finding it easier here (at the shelter) than me!"

Because of his advanced years and health concerns, YCR next issued a call to find him a home with a guardian who would be willing to overlook his forgetfulness and personality quirks. If one could be found with an enclosed garden that would be all the better considering his love for the great outdoors.

"As you know Harvey is back with us and we are struggling to find him a suitable home due to him being an old boy with...hmmm...lots of character," it stated February 16th on Facebook. "Everyone at the centre love him dearly but this is not the best place for a wobbly oldie who does not like other cats."

It then went on to elaborate on just how difficult a job that it had on its hands. "Yes, he is demanding. Yes, he is on the older side. Yes, he is loud. Yes, he is wonky. But he is also a charmer. A cuddler," it added. "He is one of a kind and utterly lovely. He is just quite specific about his demands -- no other pets, no noisy kids, all attention and love on him. That's not a bad deal, is it?"

Certainly not in that Harvey would make a simply fantastic addition to some lucky individual's life. Above all, that person could love him completely and without reservations knowing that those sentiments were fully reciprocated.

It did not take long for that plaintive appeal to bear fruit but whether it is of the edible or the poisonous variety remains to be determined. "We are so happy to say that he has found a permanent fosterer and a retirement home," a much relieved YCR proudly announced February 26th on Facebook.

Although the charity is deserving of the highest praise possible for standing by Harvey, its decision to once again pay someone to take him in on a temporary basis is extremely troubling. That is especially the case given that it has omitted any mention whatsoever of whether or not the fosterer meets all of the requirements that it outlined on February 16th.

Even more outrageously, it once again has placed the onus of making this arrangement work upon Harvey. "All he has to do now is play nice and make sure this stays his forever home!" it cautioned February 26th on Facebook.

That certainly does not sound like it is expecting this arrangement to work out. Whereas the charity's position is completely understandable given that being behind bars is having a debilitating effect upon his health, bandying him about from home to home under who knows what conditions is not good for him either. In fact, the stress could very well eventually kill him.

The most logical solution from the outset would have been for a staffer at YCR to have adopted him but since that has not occurred it is most likely attributable to all of them already caring for multiple felines. Much like the Epicurean gods who were said to have resided in the intermundia, Harvey thus seems to be beyond the help of all but a few genuine cat-lovers and that in turn has whittled down the pool of potential adopters to those that have little or no experience in caring for cats in general and especially those with his pressing needs.

Although the organization has not commented one way or the other on this subject, Harvey's disdain for other cats is most likely attributable to his either being weaned too early or the product of his having spent his entire adult life with a one-cat guardian. In some instances, issues of this type can be resolved over time with work, patience, and a certain amount of savoir-faire but owing to his age, personality, and background that may not be feasible in this instance. Besides, he has been put through enough experimentation already and it would not be conducive to his well-being to subject him to any more stress and turmoil.

That does not appear to leave YCR with all that many alternatives but the most promising of which would be to attempt to place him with an elderly woman who recently had lost a cat. The difficulty with that would be to first identify such individuals and then to convince one of them to take on the care of Harvey. That is admittedly a long shot but it may be his only hope.

If it has not done so already, YCR ought to at least consider broadening its appeal beyond West Yorkshire. Advertising is sans doute an expensive proposition but both England and Scotland are chock-full of cat-lovers and there is at least some small measure of hope that such an appeal might very well produce positive results.

Every individual and organization involved in this process has failed Harvey to one extent or the other. First of all, his late guardian neglected to make any provisions for his continued care and that person's survivors likewise wanted no part of him and could have cared less what became of him.

Secondly, the three caretakers who subsequently invited him into their homes quickly gave up on him and thereby established beyond a doubt their unworthiness to be cat owners. Thirdly, the charity has put him through pure hell by subjecting him to three badly botched adoptions while during the interims sentencing him to languish in a cage for months on end.

Seemingly unwilling to have profited from its past mistakes, it now has fobbed him off on another suspect guardian with, from all outward appearances, little hope of success. It is, however, the charity's maligning of Harvey and blaming him for its own mistakes that galls the most. With this world being so jam-packed with despisers of the species, cats such as Harvey certainly do not need and deserve to be publicly excoriated and maliciously libeled by an organization that claims to be in their corner.

As any halfway sensible individual can easily comprehend, Harvey is the victim not the victimizer that YCR would have the naîve to believe. Furthermore, denigrating cats who have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune is so repulsive and outrageous that it is deserving of being proscribed by law.

As troubling as some of YCR's comments and actions have been the sad truth of the matter is that it is all that is standing between him and a date with the hangman. Even so its patience and resources are not limitless and that makes it imperative that some conscientious member of the public comes forward soon and offers him a permanent and loving home.

Plus, time is fast running out on him and it is questionable just how much more of this senseless bandying about that he is capable of withstanding. Fiddling around as Nero was said to have done while Rome burned is not an option in his case.

To have put any cat through what Harvey has been subjected to over the course of the past fifteen months is totally unacceptable and it accordingly is high time that YCR found him a permanent home. Most importantly of all, it never must be forgotten that he is not asking for anything more than what he so richly deserves.

Photos: Facebook.