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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, September 20, 2018

Pirate Pleasantly Surprises the Thespians at the Bush Theatre by Turning Up after a Six-Month Absence but He Is Far from Being Out of the Woods Just Yet

The Indomitable Pirate Surveys His Dominions 

"Look who's back home! It's only bloody Bush (Theatre) cat Pirate back from the dead! Rejoice!"
-- Vinay Patel

For true lovers of the species there is not anything worse than having a cat to disappear. In some respects, such a tragic dénouement is even more devastating than losing one to either ill health or old age. At least under the latter scenario some small measure of closure is eventually possible over the course of time but that is hardly the case with one that goes AWOL. (See Cat Defender post of September 30, 2017 entitled "The Love Lives On for Salem at a Long Island Farm Sanctuary Even Though She Has Been Missing  for More Than Three Years.")

In that vein, it was particularly distressing to have learned during the early days of January that Pirate, one of the resident felines at the Bush Theatre at 7 Uxbridge Road in the Shepherd's Bush section of West London, eight kilometers west of Charing Cross, had disappeared without so much as a trace. "I'm lost. Please help find me," he announced via Twitter on January 15th. "Look out for the black and white cat with one eye in Shepherd's Bush. I am very small and wearing a Battersea Dogs and Cats Home collar."

Other than facilitating the sending out of that tweet, it is not known what, if any, additional measures staffers undertook in order to locate him. Normally, fly-posting the neighborhood with Lost Cat posters, door-to-door canvassing, and the alerting of local rescue groups and veterinarians are the usual emergency initiatives that are improvised under such trying circumstances.

Nothing really tops dropping everything and beating the bushes night and day until Hades freezes over but even that is rarely successful. "It's wonderful when you read about these reunions, but unfortunately for ninety per cent of lost cats, there is no returning home," is how that Lorie Chortyk of the British Columbia SPCA summed up the dismal prospects of ever locating a beloved companion to The Province of Vancouver on January 2, 2011. (See "Cats Rarely Come Back.")

More than six months were dutifully crossed off the calendar without there being either any sightings of Pirate or additional updates on his situation posted to his Twitter account. At that juncture, it certainly looked like the world had seen and heard the last of him.

Pirate Is Poked and Probed by the Vets

Then like a coup du ciel there came a startling announcement. "It's official. I'm back at the Bush after a shortish break from the world of theatre in Ealing," Pirate announced June 29th on Twitter. "Thanks for breaking the news."

It has not been disclosed either who found him or how that he ultimately was returned to the Bush Theatre. All that is known is that he apparently had been staying at some sort of a school in Ealing, seven kilometers west of the theatre via the A4020.

Unless he was stolen and transported there in a cage, it is nothing short of a miracle that he was not run down and killed by a motorist given that Shepherd's Bush is such a congested neighborhood. Also, since he was wearing one of Battersea's collars, it is utterly disgraceful that no one at the school saw fit to return him to his rightful owners.

The details have not been spelled out on social media but, presumably, it was from the data contained on his collar that his rescuers learned who he was and thus were able to effectuate his return to the theatre. On the other hand, even if his collar had been removed his notoriety in West London is such that it alone may have been sufficient in order to have facilitated his eventual return home.

Other than having lost some weight, Pirate was deemed by staffers at the theatre to be no worse for the wear and that assessment was soon vouched for by a visit to the Royal Veterinary College in Camden, ten kilometers northeast of the theatre. "Many thanks to Jose and Emma from (the) Royal Veterinary College and Battersea for looking after me at my heart scan today," he tweeted on August 22nd. "It seems my ticker never has been better."

Pirate Wrapped Up in the Arms of Playwright Vinay Patel

His psychological well-being, however, turned out to have been a horse of an altogether different color. "Once we took him back to the theatre it took him a few weeks to get accustomed again, but he's all settled in now and seems to be happy," a spokeswoman for the theatre confided in a September 14th e-mail letter.

No one was happier to have Pirate back home than playwright Vinay Patel whose latest effort, "An Adventure," opened last Saturday and runs through October 20th. "Look who's back home!" he exclaimed June 29th on Pirate's Twitter page. "It's only bloody Bush cat Pirate back from the dead! Rejoice!" (See also The Stage of London, September 11, 2018, "Playwright Vinay Patel: 'Putting on the Play Is Not Enough -- It's Who You Get in the Room'.")

With a population of forty-thousand souls and hopelessly clogged with vehicular traffic, Shepherd's Bush is far too perilous a neighborhood for cats not on a leash and that admonition goes doubly for one who has only one eye. Yet, staffers at the theatre do not appear to have profited any from Pirate's latest misadventure.

"He does have a tendency to escape from time to time, but hopefully he won't try it again anytime soon," was all that the theatre's spokeswoman had to say on that topic in her letter. Hope, however, is not going to save Pirate's fragile life; au contraire, only responsible and enlightened guardianship on the part of Patel, a cat fancier himself, and other staffers is ever going to suffice in that regard.

Shepherd's Bush Is Too Congested for Footloose Cats

That nonchalant response is all the more deplorable considering that this was by no means the first time that they had come precariously close to losing him for good. For example, he went missing earlier on May 3, 2014 and was gone for four days.

"Pirate has just returned home with his tail between his legs (accompanied by the absolute heroes who found him!)," Battersea Dogs and Cats Home announced May 7, 2014 on its Facebook page. "Thank you all for sharing. We are so touched by all your kind thoughts."

While there is not any obvious reason to question the charity's sincerity in that regard, it nonetheless has proven itself on prior occasions to be far more concerned with sucking up to the high-muck-a-mucks on Downing Street by supplying them with Larry, Palmerston, and Gladstone to exploit to the hilt as inexpensive political props than it ever has been with protecting and safeguarding the lives of cats. In particular, if it truly cared about them it instead would be concentrating its efforts on not only keeping them out of traffic but also in apprehending and punishing those who run them down. (See Cat Defender posts of August 1, 2016, August 8, 2016, and August 17, 2016 entitled, respectively, "Unmercifully Maligned and Treated Like Dirt for So Many Years, Larry Nevertheless Manages to Stick Around Long Enough in Order to See the Last of David Cameron and His Uncaring Family," "Palmerston Is Recruited for a Prestigious Post in Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service but Then Disgracefully Relegated to Makeshift Living Quarters Out in the Cold," and "Gladstone Joins Larry and Palmerston as Whitehall's Latest Resident Felines but the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Welsh Terrier, Rex, Is Waiting in the Wings to Put an End to All of Them.")

The Bush Theatre's difficulties in holding on to and safeguarding the lives of its resident felines are by no means limited to Pirate but rather they extend to a jet-black tom named Marley. "Please help my humans find me," he pleaded April 3, 2017 on his Twitter account. "I've gone walkies."

Marley Takes a Breather after a Long Day at the Office

Luckily for him, he soon was located. "We found Marley," the theatre announced a day later on his Twitter account. "He is very hungry but seems fine from his adventure."

For his part, Marley seems to have accepted what had happened with equanimity. "I really don't know what all the fuss was about," he tweeted. "Now, if you don't mind I have some snoozing to do."

Like so many businesses and institutions, the Bush Theatre likes to have cats on the premises. Regrettably, staffers seem to be only capable of nakedly exploiting them for the many benefits that they so freely bestow upon them without reciprocating by taking any concrete measures designed to ensure their well-being and safety.

At the crux of the matter is the theatre's abject failure to assign that awesome responsibility to a specific staffer. Besides providing him with a minder, it needs to confine him to either a room or a particular area whenever that individual is not on the premises and thus unable to look after him.

Pirate Makes Sure that the Computers Are Not Taken over by Mice and Bugs 

The theatre is sans doute a busy and hectic place with both staffers and patrons alike coming and going at all hours of the day and night. With that being the case, it is doubtful that any of the former devote so much as a moment's thought to Pirate's and Marley's safety.

Unless that deplorable situation is radically altered for the better, the final chapter in Pirate's life is  destined to be a tragic repeat of what earlier happened to the lovely PCAT of Plymouth College of Art in Devon. (See Cat Defender post of November 21, 2012 entitled "Officials at Plymouth College of Art Should Be Charged with Gross Negligence and Animal Cruelty in the Tragic Death of the School's Longtime Resident Feline, PCAT.")

In addition to that all-absorbing concern, a theatre could hardly be considered to be a suitable environment for a cat. Most obviously, with so many loose women parading around in various stages of undress that alone could easily retard the moral development of a young and highly impressionable cat who is just starting out in this wicked old world; a grizzled and world-weary tom, however, would likely already be too far gone to suffer any additional harm.

Not to be forgotten, there are the corrupting influences of the infamous casting couch to be taken into consideration as well. In spite of those disadvantages, the keeping of cats is a time-honored theatrical tradition and black ones, such as Pirate and Marley, are especially in demand.

"A black cat is preferred; indeed, the mere presence of a black cat is sufficient to insure (sic) the success of any playhouse or any play. However, a cat of another color will do," Carl Van Vechten wrote in his 1922 seminal work, The Tiger in the House. "This superstition is so widespread that every theatre from the Comédie Française (still operating in Paris) to the People's Theatre on the New York Bowery (destroyed by a fire in 1929) entertains a cat, feeding her lavishly, and treating her with a respect and consideration which she seldom receives elsewhere save in the homes of cat-lovers."

Pirate Entertaining, Or Being Amused By, One of His Toys

That very well may have been true enough during his lifetime but that was long before cat-killing motorists and serial murderers, such as those now operating in Croydon and Olympia, Washington, took over the highways and byways of London and elsewhere and turned them into their personal hunting grounds. Nowadays, merely housing, feeding, and medicating a cat is no longer sufficient; rather, theatre operators have a solemn moral responsibility to also provide for their personal safety. To put the matter succinctly, it is high time that all thespians stopped living in the past and upgraded their thinking on the proper care of a cat to twenty-first century standards.

Despite the assertion of author Margaret Benson that a "cat is above all things, a dramatist," Pirate, like most theatrical cats these days, is not expected to sing and dance for his supper. Although various stratagems, such as releasing mice at opportune moments and laying down trails of chopped meat, have been employed in the past as inducements, most cats do not have the slightest bit of interest in entertaining a house full of strangers.

"Now at home he is a natural actor," Van Vechten continues. "But, away from home, or constrained, the cat has a natural timidity, a natural dignity, and a feeling which amounts to an absolute aversion for the performance of silly antics which other animals, such as seals and dogs, seem to enjoy, and which elephants can be taught to execute with facility if not with desire."

They accordingly are especially difficult to train but not for the usually prescribed reason. "They are difficult to train, not because they are stupid but because they are too intelligent to be interested in such nonsense. A cat is never vulgar and this sort of thing undoubtedly strikes a cat as vulgar," Van Vechten opined. "It is perhaps easier for a cat to train a man than for a man to train a cat. A cat who desires to live with human beings makes it his business to see that the so-called superior race behaves in the proper manner toward him."

Pirate Was Pressed into Service Last Christmas as Santa Claus

So, in addition to serving as the Bush Theatre's good luck charm, Pirate provides staffers with companionship and helps them to calm the jitters that often accompany performing before a live and demanding audience. At other times, he enjoys chasing the mice out of computers, playing with his toys, and taking an active part in the theatre's observance of such seasonal festivities as Christmas.

Other than that, not a good deal is known about him except that he was acquired from Battesea and has been residing with the thespians for about five years. Somewhere along the way he tragically lost his right eye.

He is perhaps best known to the outside world, however, for compassionately opening up both his heart and home last summer to the survivors of the inferno at Grenfell Tower, located a scant two kilometers removed from the theatre. "If your kids need a cuddle Marley, Caramel (the theatre's third resident feline) and I are here," he tweeted on June 14th, the day of the catastrophe. "Thoughts with those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire."

Not about to be outdone by his fellow lodger, Marley was every bit as forthcoming. "We are here if you want to chat with humans, a quiet place, a shower, WiFi or cat cuddles," he tweeted. "So awful this has happened." (See Cat Defender post of July 3, 2017 entitled "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.")

Pirate All Alone and Unprotected Outside the Theatre

In spite of all that Pirate has come to mean to so many people around the world, staffers at the Bush Theatre have on at least two occasions carelessly and inexcusably placed his life in grave jeopardy. Things usually do not work out this way very often in this topsy-turvy world but, thanks to The Fates, they now have been given a third opportunity in order to atone for their past oversights.

A necessary first step in that process would be for them to wake up and realize that Pirate's life is not any less precious than any of theirs. Specifically, since he does not have any way of anticipating the myriad of dangers that await him outside the theatre's front door, it is paramount that they, who most assuredly do know, take proactive measures on his behalf in order to safeguard his life.

Most importantly of all, that is no less than what he so richly deserves. Since he has grown so accustomed to tragedy, danger, deprivation, and multiple abandonments, it is only fair that he be provided with an opportunity to fully get to know their polar opposites.

"You can't save every animal in the world but for the one you do save, it is the world," Greek Animal Rescue Canada in Toronto stated back in 2008. In that regard, there cannot be any question that saving Pirate is a task that is preeminently within the power of the thespians at the Bush Theatre.

Photos: Twitter (Pirate and Marley) and HTUK of Wikipedia (an aerial view of Shepherd's Bush).

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Having Fallen Under the Spell of the Charismatic Marley's Irresistible Charms, an Old Age Pensioner Subsequently Lands in Dutch with Both His Lawful Owners and the Peelers

Marley Is a Very Popular Cat in the Neighborhood

"Surely to goodness they should be concentrating on burglars and muggers rather than wasting time with an old lady and a cat."
-- Shirley Key

Falling head over heels in love with a cat is certainly an easy enough thing to do. It is so easy in fact that it could happen to almost anyone. That is especially the case if the beloved just happens to be a dashing, jet-black tom with bedroom eyes and the lover is an elderly woman who is all alone in this world.

There are always difficulties with any affaire de coeur, however, and that is perhaps why that in Greek mythology Ares, the god of war, serves as Aphrodites' lover. In addition to that age-old dilemma, "the course of true love never did run smooth" as Lysander reminded Hermia in Act I, Scene I of William Shakespeare's 1594 play, A Midsummer-Night's Dream.

The protagonists in this modern-day tale of love and woe are a seventy-nine-year-old pensioner named Shirley Key who resides on Sea Road in Westgate-on-Sea, one-hundred-twenty kilometers east of London on the North Sea in Kent, and a four-year-old tom named Marley who is owned by her neighbors, Kathryn and Brad Doulton. Although press reports contend that he is a Persian-Ragdoll mix, it is difficult to detect any resemblance to either breed in his outward appearance.

That has not, however, in any way diminished his appeal. In fact, it could even be argued that his flamboyant personality more than compensates for whatever elements of the exotic that he may be lacking.

Even so, that is certainly not a valid reason for anyone to call into question his morals. "Marley is a complete tart and a floozy, a right showoff and most of the neighbors know him," Mrs. Doulton declared to the Daily Mail of London on June 10th. (See "'Surely They Should Be Concentrating on Burglars, Not an Old Lady and a Cat': Tearful Pensioner, Seventy-Nine, Slams Police for 'Threatening to Prosecute Her for Feeding Her Neighbor's Pet'.") "He has a lovely coat and wonderful eyes. I can see why people like him."

Well, that certainly is a fine way for a woman to talk about her cat! Besides, doing so could be dangerous. For instance, if he ever were able to master the faculty of language, as did Hector H. Munro's Tobermory, and started spilling the beans about her sexual peccadilloes the shoe then would be on the other foot and it would be her, rather than Marley, with the red face.

As far as it has been revealed, the retired model and Marley first met in April of 2017 when she accidentally stumbled upon him sleeping in her greenhouse. Moreover, if her account of that fateful meeting is in any way accurate, it would appear in hindsight that she got to him just in the nick of time.

"When I found (him I) could play a tune of its (sic) ribs and backbone. It (sic) could hardly stand up," she disclosed to the weekly Kent and Sussex Courier of Royal Tunbridge Wells on June 2nd of this year. (See "Heartbroken Westgate Pensioner, Seventy-Nine, Warned by Police for Feeding Neighbor's Cat.") "It (sic) was staring at me petrified. Its (sic) eyes looked completely dead."

Far from being a slouch when it comes to doing the right thing, she promptly provided Marley with some food and continued to shelter him. It is far from clear, however, if she invited him into her house or cruelly forced him to remain in her, most likely, unheated greenhouse.

She eventually even took him to Pets at Home, England's largest pet store, to be treated by one of the outlet's veterinarians. That exercise set her back £200 but it did relieve her mind in that the examination revealed that he, apparently, was not suffering from anything other than gross neglect.

The record is a bit murky as to what she did next but she at the least did continue to feed and shelter him just as if he belonged to her until November of last year when she belatedly learned that he was owned by the Doultons. It is unknown how that came about in that he apparently was neither wearing a collar nor had he been tattooed. Presumably, he also had not been microchipped or otherwise the examining veterinarian likely would have found and deciphered the implant.

It would be even more interesting to know what the Doultons were doing between April and November of last year. For instance, did they even bother to canvass the neighborhood door-to-door or to fly-post it with Lost Cat posters?

The answer to both of those question would appear to be no and that in itself calls into question the sincerity of their belated declarations of abiding love for him. "Marley was catnapped. She was keeping him in overnight which was causing us distress," Mrs. Doulton averred to the Daily Mail. "Marley is loved by everyone in the family, especially my granddaughter Emily, and we all missed him."

She may or may not be telling the truth but from all appearances she certainly did not love and miss him sufficiently enough in order to even mount so much as a cursory search for him. Compounding her and her family's negligence, they knowingly allowed him to continue to reside with Key until May of this year.

Perhaps he occasionally stopped by his old stamping ground during the day but even that is unknown. The English like to profess their great love for cats but a fairly large percentage of them would qualify as the most uncaring, negligent, and irresponsible guardians on the planet.

For example, they not only allow them to roam the perilous streets while they are away at work during the day but also to stay out all night. They accordingly seldom know either where they are for weeks at a time or the myriad of dangers that are imperiling their fragile lives. (See Cat Defender posts of November 21, 2012, January 31, 2014, November 10, 2014, October 7, 2016, and February 8, 2017 entitled, respectively, "Officials at Plymouth College of Art Should Be Charged with Gross Negligence and Animal Cruelty in the Tragic Death of the School's Longtime Resident Feline, PCAT," "A Northumbrian Shrink Lays Claim to he Title of Being the World's Most Irresponsible Cat Owner by Turning Loose Jasper to Roam the Perilous Tyne and Wear Metro for Weeks on End," "Freya, the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Resident Feline, Cheats Death Once Again When She Survives Being Run Down and Injured by a Motorist but Her Good Luck Cannot Last for Much Longer," and "The Long and Hopelessly Frustrating Search for the Kidnapped Mr. Cheeky Ends Tragically Underneath the Wheels of a Hit-and-Run Motorist.")

Some of them even knowingly allow their cats to sleep in busy streets. (See Cat Defender post of March 29, 2017 entitled "Archie Is Knowingly Allowed to Sleep Smack-Dab in the Middle of a Busy Thoroughfare by His Derelict Owners Who Are Content with Merely Tracking His Movements by Satellite.")

It is a good deal more difficult to know exactly what to think about Key's contention that Marley was emaciated and, more or less, knocking on heaven's door. That is because opinions vary greatly as to what constitutes the proper care of a cat.

For example, the same cat can appear to be both obese and a bag of bones to two separate sets of eyes. Some folks likewise consider a footloose feline to be suffering from neglect whereas others would deem it cruel to lock it up indoors.

In June of 2007, an unidentified woman stole a seventeen-year-old, good-looking, longhaired tuxedo named Slim off the streets of the New Edinburgh neighborhood in Ottawa. She did so even though he was wearing a collar with a tag.

Slim's longtime owners, Michel Giroux and Tanya Guay, only found out what had happened to him when the thief took the extraordinary step of sending them an anonymous letter on June 30th. In the epistle, she accused them of allowing him to become thin and emaciated, his fur to become matted and dirty, and for sores to accumulate all over his body. Worst of all, she defiantly refused to return him.

"Obviously, I have no intention of returning him to the city streets to be neglected again," she emphatically stated. "If you really do care about his well-being, you'll be happy that he now lives a safe, sweet, peaceful happy life."

The woman's behavior and tongue ultimately proved to be far more than Giroux was able to bear with good grace. "Who does this person think she is to decide this cat is neglected?" he indignantly stormed back. "This person has taken it upon themselves (sic) to think that they (sic) have saved a cat when in point of fact, this cat is not neglected and he's loved and we just want him home."

As far as it is known, Giroux and Guay never again saw either hide or hair of Slim and that was truly tragic in that they had cared for him ever since they had adopted him from a shelter when he was just three months old. (See Cat Defender post of July 9, 2007 entitled "A Hungry and Disheveled Cat Named Slim Is Picked Up Off the Streets of Ottawa by a Rescuer Who Refuses to Return Him to His Owners.")

There is not any really good solution to this age-old dilemma. Cats need and deserve their freedom but any owner who allows them off of his Grundstück is playing Russian roulette not only with their lives but also his own happiness as well. Plus, such behavior leaves him open to charges of being an unfit guardian.

Finally in May of this year, the Doultons decided that they had had enough of Key's interference in Marley's life and accordingly sicced the Kent Police on her. On one of no fewer than three trips that they paid to her house they slapped her with a Community Protection Notice (CPN) Warning.

Authorized under the Anti-Social Behavior, Crime and Policing Act of 2014, these criminal behavioral orders replaced the old civil Anti-Social Behavior Orders (ASBOs) that had been in effect since 1998. Besides CPNs, there are at least six other types of these writs which are handed out by the police, Police Community Support Officers (the auxiliary police), and local authorities.

A Heartbroken Shirley Key with the Warning Letter She Got from the Bobbies

They are aimed at curbing so-called quality of life crimes, such as the playing of loud music in public and the failure of property owners to properly dispose of trash and other refuse. They even have been issued in order to compel property owners to repair holes in their fences so as to stop their dogs from escaping.

The warning that Key received obliged her to prevent Marley from venturing onto her property, including her greenhouse, and from staying overnight with her. Failure to have complied would have resulted in her being issued a real CPN which would have cost her £80.

Repeated violations could have landed her in the dock and resulted in additional CPNs and fines being levied against her. Realizing that the game was up, she apparently never entertained so much as a moment's thought of attempting to hold on to Marley but that certainly did not mean that she was the least bit happy about the way that she had been treated.

First of all, having the peelers come after her was embarrassing to say the least. "I've only had the police around three times now. The neighbors are asking me, 'what is wrong?'," she explained to the Kent and Sussex Courier. "They are treating me like a criminal."

Secondly, their behavior unnerved her something awful. "From that day I have had trouble sleeping," she confided to the Daily Mail in the June 10th article cited supra. "I've lost weight because I was frightened of going to court."

Thirdly, the police's precipitate action foreclosed any possibility that she was ever going to be able to see Marley again, let alone hold on to him. "I lost my brother and I'm the last one in the family, so he really did heal the aching in my heart," she candidly admitted to the Kent and Sussex Courier. "It's very sad."

Far from being a typically selfish old woman who is incapable of thinking about anyone else's welfare other than her own, Key has constantly kept Marley's feelings and needs close to her heart throughout her travails. "It (sic) goes where it wants, he won't understand he can't come here," she lamented to the Kent and Sussex Courier.

Once she had gotten over the twin shocks of being treated like a common criminal and losing custody of Marley, her soul became inflamed with moral indignation directed at the high-handed tactics of the police. "Surely to goodness they should be concentrating on burglars and muggers rather than wasting time with an old lady and a cat," she fumed to the Daily Mail on June 6th. "It was such a shock seeing them there. I burst into tears when they served me with a Community Protection Notice..."

Far from being an isolated case, it is always the same old story all over the world in that cops are little more than predators who feather their own nests by crapping almost exclusively on those individuals and animals who are unable to defend themselves. That is the principal reason why these sorry, rotten bastards can seldom, if ever, be counted upon to do what they are supposed to be doing in that they are all the time engaged in activities that they should not be doing.

In this case, however, the Kent Police belatedly had a change of heart and on June 1st rescinded the warning letter that they had issued to Key. "A warning was given to a resident in error on May 31st in Westgate following a report of a dispute between two neighbors," Chief Inspector Rhiannan Pepper told the Kent and Sussex Courier. "The warning has been since withdrawn and the matter fully explained to the resident."

The officer who issued the warning also was reportedly called on the carpet. Even so, the police not only steadfastly refused to issue an apology to Key but they "strongly advised" her once again to restrain from feeding and housing Marley.

"I didn't encourage him, I never even used his name. I don't have any pets, I don't have a cat flap, but I do leave the door open for fresh air," Key revealed to the Daily Mail on June 6th. (See "Animal Lover, Seventy-Nine, Is Visited by Three Police Officers and Given Official Warning Letter for Cat Theft after Feeding Moggie She Thought Was a Stray Because It Kept Coming into Her Garden.") "So he would walk in quite happily. I can't keep him out unless I keep my doors closed, and I shouldn't have to do that."

If she thought that she had found a loophole in the law that she could exploit so as to occasionally continue to see Marley once in a while, she was promptly disabused of any such notion by the Doultons' decision to ground him. The only concession that she received from the couple was Mr. Doulton's belated acknowledgement that he "felt stupid" for calling the police on her.

"I understand she is a lonely old lady but she should get her own cat," Mrs. Doulton told the Daily Mail on June 10th.

Having apparently taken that advice to heart, Key has announced plans to adopt a rescue cat later in the year but such an undertaking is not without its problems. The most obvious of which is her advanced years and the fact that she lives alone.

It is by no means even clear that there are all that many rescue groups that would entrust a cat to her care. Even if she were able to overcome that impediment, it would be imperative that she immediately made some arrangement for its continued care in the event that she preceded it in death.

The absolute last thing that this world needs is for more cats to be put through what Ian was when his caretaker died. (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.")

Those considerations may also help to explain Key's ardent interest in Marley. C'est-à-dire, she would dearly love to have a cat of her own but is unwilling at her age to assume the awesome responsibilities that go with ownership.

As a compromise, she settled on Marley and that is an all-too-common occurrence. In fact, it in large part explains the meteoric rise in the popularity of cat cafes. (See Cat Defender post of June 5, 2008 entitled "Teahouse Cats Are Given Shelter and Work but Precious Little Job Security and No Legal Protections.")

There was nothing per se wrong with Key's befriending of Marley except for the fact that he turned out to have legal guardians who strenuously objected to her attentions. She might even be a far better guardian of him than the Doultons but that is a moot point considering that she does not have any legal claim to him.

Also, should she go ahead as planned and actually adopt a cat she is courting trouble if she stubbornly continues to insist upon keeping her doors, and possibly windows as well, open. In addition to the danger posed by real-life burglars, one of her neighbors might take a shine to her new cat and spirit it away to parts unknown.

A far more pressing concern are motorists who get their kicks by running down and killing footloose cats. She accordingly ought to at least consider either fencing in her garden or closely monitoring her new arrival's activities whenever it  ventures out of doors.

With shelters, Animal Control officers, veterinarians, and others killing tens of millions of them around the world each year there quite obviously is a huge surplus of unwanted cats. That in turn makes all celebrated custody disputes of this sort appear to be out of place and superfluous.

Of course, it is not any secret that individuals become attached to specific cats and that certainly is easy enough to comprehend. In addition to that, the theft of cats is purportedly on the rise all across England.

For example, pet insurer Direct Line, located in the Bromley section of London, maintains that the number of cats stolen during 2016 increased by a whopping forty per cent over 2014. Even more eye-popping, three-hundred-sixty-thousand respondents claimed that they had had at least one cat stolen during 2016.

While it is true that pedigreed cats can fetch a tidy sum on the black market and that research laboratories and fur retailers traffic in them, not too much can be read into those statistics. That is especially the case given that the English allow their cats to roam so freely. After all, if they do not have any earthly idea where their companions are a lion's share of the time, it is difficult to see how that they in good faith can claim that they have been stolen.

Nevertheless, with shelters and surgeries overflowing with cats and kittens no one has a valid reason for stealing another person's cat. Instead, the proper thing for such individuals to do would be to save a life by adopting.

The dilemma about what to do with footloose cats that appear to be homeless is a good deal more complicated. Even so, that is not a valid reason for anyone to go off the deep end as Kelly Freezer of Bright Side Vets in Swadlincote, three-hundred-eighteen kilometers east of Westgate in Derbyshire, did last year.

Slim's Drop-Dead Good Looks Made Him a Real Prize for His Abductor

"It might not be intentional but the person feeding the cat might think the cat is a stray and encourage it to stay, when the reality is the cat is just looking for food and comfy place to sleep," she railed to the Burton Mail on September 5, 2017. (See "Swadlincote Vet Makes Pleas to Cat Owners as Number of Thefts Continues to Soar.") "For this reason we would discourage people from feeding a cat that isn't theirs, not only could it encourage them (sic) to continue to stray from home but they (sic) could have special dietary requirements or medications that needs (sic) to be considered."

That is the usual drivel that the public is treated to by members of her ignoble profession who always have been, more or less, anti-cat. First of all, anyone who comes upon a cat that needs befriending, protecting, sheltering, feeding, and medicating should by all available means open up his heart and wallet for it because doing so just might save its life.

Should the cat turn out to have an owner who objects to someone else caring for it, such an individual has little choice but to cease his ministrations. If, on the other hand, that individual feels that the cat in question is being either abused or neglected, he then can attempt to either purchase it outright or, for whatever it is worth, report the negligent owner to the proper authorities.

Secondly, Freezer's palaver about diet and medications does not make sense. If a cat is out on the street it quite obviously could be eating almost anything or nothing at all. Furthermore, unless it occasionally returns home and on such occasions is lucky enough to find its derelict guardian available, it is not going to be receiving its medications anyway.

The response to Key's plight from Cats Protection in Haywards Heath, Sussex, was every bit as useless as it was predictable. "We do hear of people accidentally adopting owned cats," a spokesperson for the charity acknowledged to The Telegraph of London on June 6th. (See "Cat 'Thieves' Warned Against Feeding Neighbors' Pets after Pensioner Handed Official Warning by Police.") "We ask people to check with their neighbors first before taking in a stray cat."

That is hardly practicable given that cats are known to roam miles from home. Besides, few individuals are willing to go door-to-door in order to track down their own cats once they disappear, let alone those that belong to either perfect strangers or to no one in particular at all.

It additionally is unconscionable for the charity to advise concerned citizens to stand idly by and allow cats to be mowed down by motorists, eaten by foxes, and assaulted by yobs simply because they do not know if they have owners. Of course, such asinine and heartless advice is merely par for the course coming as it does from an organization that has a nasty habit of snuffing out the lives of the very cats that it claims to be protecting. (See Cat Defender posts of August 26, 2015 and February 17, 2016 entitled, respectively, "A Myriad of Cruel and Unforgivable Abandonments, a Chinese Puzzle, and Finally the Handing Down and Carrying Out of a Death Sentence Spell the End of Long-Suffering and Peripatetic Tigger" and "Cats Protection Races to Alfie's Side after His Owner Dies and He Winds Up on the Street, Swears It Is Going to Help Him, and Then Turns Around and Has Him Whacked.")

Even more outrageous, Cats Protection is opposed to individuals feeding cats that they do not own. Its spokesperson even went so far as to advise against the feeding of both well-fed and undernourished cats. Its reasoning being that if a cat with a healthy weight keeps turning up it likely has an owner of its own whereas one that is starving to death does not need to be fed but rather to be returned to its owners.

As the cases of both Marley and Slim have more than abundantly demonstrated, determining the health of any cat is a highly subjective business. Besides, anyone who elects to play Hamlet until a cat keels over from a lack of food and water is not only being cruel but a fool to boot.

Instead, the charity is putting all of its eggs into one basket by continuing to preach the gospel of implanted microchips. "We'd advise cat owners to microchip their pet (sic) and keep the details up-to-date should they change address (sic)," its spokesperson blowed to The Telegraph.

The reason that it and veterinarians are so madly in love with them is that they pocket approximately £30 in England and $45 in the United States for every one of them that they implant. The makers of the chips also charge cat owners a fee for maintaining their contact information in their databases.

Although microchips can occasionally lead to the successful reunification of long-lost cats with their rightful owners, they also have been used as an excuse to put the kibosh on such efforts. (See Cat Defender post of January 24, 2017 entitled "Tigger Is Finally Reunited with His Family Despite the Best Efforts of the Administrators of a Microchip Database to Keep Them Apart.")

They additionally have been linked to cancer. (See Cat Defender posts of September 21, 2007 and November 6, 2010 entitled, respectively, "The FDA Is Suppressing Research That Shows Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer in Mice, Rats, and Dogs" and "Bulkin Contracts Cancer from an Implanted Microchip and Now It Is Time for Digital Angel® and Merck to Answer for Their Crimes in a Court of Law.")

Some veterinarians and rescue groups are so incompetent that they cannot even properly implant the devices. (See Cat Defender post of April 28, 2016 entitled "Sassie Is Left Paralyzed as a Result of Yet Still Another Horribly Botched Attempt to Implant a Thoroughly Worthless and Pernicious Microchip Between Her Shoulders.")

The number one rap against microchips, however, is that they afford cats absolutely zero protection against those individuals and animals who are intent upon doing them harm. (See Cat Defender post of May 25, 2006 entitled "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats.")

Last but not least, Cats Protection recommends that strays be taken to veterinarians so that they can be scanned for implanted chips. In the United States most veterinarians, including those from Banfield who work out of some of PetSmart's outlets, offer this service gratis; it is not known if their English counterparts reciprocate.

Even so, there are at least two difficulties with that proposal. First of all, it definitely is not for individuals with weak hearts. Why, just the shock of ever receiving anything free of charge from one of those bloodsucking charlatans would be sufficient in itself to put some individuals in their graves!

Secondly, there are not a whole lot of people in this world who are willing to go to the trouble and expense of trapping a cat. On top of that, a cage and a means of transporting it to a surgery are required.

In the event that the cat should turn out to have an owner, additional time and expense are necessary in order to reunite it with its owner. Perhaps most disconcerting of all, the act of trapping and all the bandying about that goes with it is extremely traumatic for the cat itself.

Instead of putting its faith in laws, rules, and gratuitous advice that few individuals are going to adhere to anyway, Cats Protection would be better off championing the right of all cats to live. Along with that it should be urging that they be treated with compassion at all times and that most definitely includes allowing concerned individuals to provide them with protection, shelter, food, and veterinary care.

In the greater scheme of things, those are the issues that truly matter. Ownership issues will sometimes successfully sort themselves out as they eventually did in Marley's case. At other times, wonderful cats, such as Slim, will be regrettably lost forever.

Nevertheless, the goal always should be to better protect and to enhance the lives of all cats and in that light instructing private citizens to turn cold shoulders to those in need is most definitely not the right approach. Au contraire, the willingness of individuals to demonstrate compassion should be universally applauded.

With from all appearances Marley and Key's dalliance being at an end, only two outstanding issues remain. The first one concerns whether the Doultons have shown the common decency to reimburse Key for the £200 at she shelled out in order to have Marley treated at Pets at Home.

That is as rather unimportant matter, however, and that is attested to by Key's unwillingness to make a stink about the money in spite of how dreadful the Doulton have treated her. The quality of the care that they are going to be providing Marley is a much more important issue.

First of all, since they have not publicly commented upon Key's accusation that they nearly starved him to death, it is not exactly clear who is telling the truth. Looking ahead, the more important issue is whether or not they are going to be willing to take proper care of him by keeping him at home and furnishing him with regular meals.

Normally speaking, cats that have guardians who stay at home and take a keen interest in both their well-being and happiness do not do all that much roaming. By contrast, owners who are seldom around and correspondingly demonstrate very little or no interest in their cats' happiness leave them with little choice other than to seek out the companionship of other humans and cats who are willing to supply what they are missing at home.

Contrary to popular belief, cats are high maintenance animals who require almost constant supervision and care and for that reason alone absentee owners seldom make even halfway decent guardians of them. Moreover, any individual who is fortunate enough to have one, two, three, or more cats at home does not have much of a reason to be doing any roaming and spraying.

The pursuit of fame and fortune is a total waste of time and as far as some discriminating masculine souls are concerned there are at least twenty excellent reasons why cats make better companions than women. (See Cat Defender post of February 17, 2018 entitled "Forget about Women! Adopting a Cat Is a Far More Rewarding Alternative for Some Guys Who Are Searching for Their Forever Valentines.")

Photos: Daily Mail (Marley), the Kent and Sussex Courier (Key), and Tanya Guay (Slim).