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Cat Defender

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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.