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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

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Beautiful and Noble Hamish McHamish Who Suffered Through Fourteen Years of Abject Neglect and Naked Exploitation Is Remembered as Cat of the Year for 2014

The class of 2014 has eighteen distinguished members. Seven of them hail from the United States, five from England, three from Scotland, and one each from Canada, France, and Iceland.

Regardless of their respective nationalities, the tie that binds them all together is death. Most regrettably of all, Hamish McHamish, Peat, Lewis, Dodger, and Penny are long dead but the remaining members of the class also had their share of brushes with the Grim Reaper but somehow survived.

In particular, Cookie, Spice, and Örvar went missing for long intervals before finally being miraculously reunited with their owners. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for either Jordan or Salem who are still nowhere to be found.

The lives of Jasper and Percy remain at risk because of their guardians' decisions to allow them to ride the rails by their lonesomes whereas it is motorists that are imperiling the very existences of Simba, Mayhem, and Archie. Young Butterscotch and elderly George were cruelly abandoned to fend for themselves in the street while Chance's owner not only cast him out but attempted to drown him in the process.

It was not easy to single out any one of these remarkable cats to wear the crown of Cat of the Year but, upon reflection, that honor simply had to go to Hamish McHamish owing not only to his striking good looks but, more importantly, because of how terribly that he was forced to suffer for fourteen years on the mean streets of St. Andrews because his guardian, the students at the University of St. Andrews, and the local citizenry were too cheap, exploitative, and uncaring to provide him with a warm and secure place in which to hang his hat. This posthumous recognition of his life and exploits cannot possibly do him any good at this late date but it nevertheless is important that neither he, his interminable suffering, nor his cold-blooded murder ever be forgotten.

For a look back at previous articles in this series, see Cat Defender posts of December 21, 2006, December 25, 2007, January 25, 2009, February 20, 2010, February 23, 2011, May 11, 2012, December 18, 2013, and January 11, 2016 entitled, respectively, "Heroes and Victims: Sixteen Special Cats to Remember from the Year 2006," "Survivors and Adventurers: Fifteen Wonderful Cats to Remember from the Year 2007," "Sparkles, Who Was Forced to Pay the Ultimate Price for Belonging to the World's Most Abused Species, Tops the List of the Most Memorable Cats of 2008," "Abandoned and Left to Die in the Cold and Snow of Wisconsin, Domino Was the Most Memorable Cat of 2009," "Frosty, Who Nearly Froze and Starved to Death in an Uncaring Capitalist's Frozen Food Warehouse, Stands Out as the Most Remarkable Cat of 2010," "Andrea's Incredible Survival of Two Gassings Plus Attempts to Suffocate and Freeze Her to Death Makes Her the Overwhelming Choice as Cat of the Year for 2011," "Unforgettable Hattie, Who Annually Returns Home for Christmas, Is Crowned as Cat of the Year for 2012," and "Mario, Who Survived an Oil Train Explosion and Subsequently Was Forced to Go Without Food and Water for an Astonishing Seventy-Nine Days, Was the Most Compelling Feline Personality of 2013.")

1.) Hamish McHamish. St. Andrews' Horribly Neglected Homeless Cat Is Killed Off by His Absentee Owner.

Hamish McHamish on His Own and on the Street

"I had him since he was a kitten and he turned into a bit of a legend, so it is a bit of a wrench to leave this place."
-- Marianne Baird

September 11th was a dark and sad day for cat-lovers everywhere because that was when retired BBC producer Marianne Baird took Hamish McHamish to an unidentified veterinarian in St. Andrews and had him killed off. Even though the truly beautiful longhaired orange and white tom with watery green eyes was all of fifteen years old, his killing still came as a shock.

"In the end, the chest infection that he had been battling proved too much for him and the kindest thing to do was to let him go," she announced to the world later that same day on his Facebook page.

His illness surely must have developed rather rapidly because as late as August 25th there was absolutely nothing posted on Facebook about him even being sick. Rather, the earliest mention that he was even ailing did not come until September 9th.

"Most of you will have noticed that I've been a little quieter lately. That's because I have been rather poorly," he publicly acknowledged in a Facebook posting on that date. "At fifteen years young, things that were once easy to overcome are now more difficult. My mum and the vets are keeping a close eye on me  and I am being very well looked after. For now though, I'm taking some time to try and get better."

As it soon thereafter became painfully evident, Baird and her veterinarians gave him almost no time at all in order to get back on his feet. As far as it could be determined, no memorial service ever was held in his memory and it never was publicly divulged what ultimately was done with his remains.

A handful of the town's seventeen-thousand residents were respectful enough, however, to drop off a few bouquets of flowers and lighted candles at a recently installed bronze statue of him in Church Square. Even as such it was about as stingy and unappreciative a sendoff as is imaginable for a cat who had come to symbolize the auld grey toon not only to its denizens but also to the tens of thousands of golfing enthusiasts who pour in from all around the world every fifth year when its legendary Old Course hosts the British Open.

From what little information that has surfaced regarding his early days, it would appear that Hamish enjoyed a fairly normal kittenhood. All of that radically changed once he had reached the tender age of one year old because that was when Baird reprehensibly washed her hands of him by cruelly abandoning him to wander the forbidding streets of St. Andrews as a homeless and utterly penniless vagabond. The only positive thing that she is known to have contributed to his upkeep over the course of the succeeding years were annual veterinary checkups.

By default, the responsibility for his care passed to the students at the University of St. Andrews and local businesses such as Sue Ryder's Charity Shop, Dynamic Hair, and the law firm of Pagan Osborne. Even with those kindhearted souls in his corner, his life was at best a hardscrabble affair.

The toll that life on the street had taken on him was clearly visible not only in his long and unkempt mane but also in the dramatic weight loss that he underwent each summer once the students left town. His most formidable foes, however, were the unrelenting cold and rain that accompany the eighteen hours of darkness that envelope St. Andrews for most of the winter months.

"It became an unwritten rule," Flora Selwyn, who edits St. Andrews in Focus, related earlier in 2014. "If Hamish turned up at your door, you let him in."

It also became part of local folklore that it was a harbinger of bad luck to turn him away. Even so, it is almost impossible to imagine him as being anywhere other than out in the cold, wet, and darkness for a lion's share of the nights that he spent upon this earth.

On top of that, he was forced into dealing with the litany of dangers that are faced by all homeless cats. Principally among them were assaults by yobs and other miscreants as well as the constant perils posed by motorists. Last but certainly not least, there was the danger posed by his species' oldest and most ruthless adversary. Specially, in January of 2014 he was chased up a tree by a pair of vicious dogs and accordingly had to be gotten down by students from the college and employees of Dynamic Hair.

On April 5th, the city honored him with the aforementioned statue and on that memorable occasion he was driven to the unveiling in a BMW. "Our statue is a way of saying thank you to Hamish for being so perfectly adorable and to celebrate him and the joy he brings to us," Selwyn said on that occasion. "It (the statue) has been a very popular idea. Hamish is a wonderful animal."

Such declarations of abiding love notwithstanding, it is strange to say the least that over the course of his lifetime that no one in St. Andrews, Selwyn included, ever saw fit to provide him with a loving, secure, and warm home. That in turns lends itself to an altogether different interpretation as to why the city's elders chose to belatedly honor Hamish with a statue.

"I hope it will be a big attraction. It'll be a nice change from golf and universities," Selwyn candidly added. "It'll be an added bit to the town."

So, in a roundabout way, she and the city got what they wanted even if they no longer have Hamish around in order to hideously neglect and to exploit to the hilt for financial gain. This world may very well be brimming over with haters and exploiters of the species but even many of them fully realize that no animal brings in the big bucks quite like a cat.

Even so, it must be said for the sake of truthfulness that the statue itself is not only ugly but bears faint resemblance to the genuine article. Most noticeably, it has been fashioned in all the wrong colors and therefore completely fails to convey Hamish's stunning attractiveness.

As for Baird, she put up for sale last year the house that she so steadfastly refused to share with Hamish at 4 Loudens Close and hightailed it out of town in favor of the Isle of Wight. "I had him since he was a kitten and he turned into a bit of a legend, so it is a bit of a wrench to leave this place," she vowed to The Courier of Dundee on April 16, 2016. (See "Whenever I Lay My Cat...That's My Home.") " I'm getting older so I guess they (family members) want me to be a bit closer to home."

Given that cats suffering from common colds are, under most circumstances, treatable, coupled with the fact that she deliberately chose not only to withhold veterinary care but also to end his life, it is utterly impossible to believe that she thought so much as twice about him while she was making up her mind to vacate the old abode that they once so ever briefly shared. Even if against all odds she did, the £375,000 that she was asking for it sans doute went a long way toward soothing any latent pangs of conscience.

Other than in the memories of his benefactors, Hamish's most lasting legacy is destined to live on, not in bronze, but rather in Susan McMullen's 2012 tome, Hamish McHamish of St. Andrews. Cool Cat Around Town. (See Cat Defender posts of June 20, 2014 and October 18, 2014 entitled, respectively, "St. Andrews Honors Hamish McHamish with a Bronze Statue but Does Not Have the Decency, Love, and Compassion in Order to Provide Him with a Warm, Secure , and Permanent Home" and "Hamish McHamish's Derelict Owner Reenters His Life after Fourteen Years of Abject Neglect Only to Have Him Killed Off after He Contracts a Preeminently Treatable Common Cold.")

2.) Simba. Ginger-Colored Tom Magically Transforms a Maine High School into a Special Place.

Simba

"I just see such an emotional connection and real care about this creature. He has such a calming effect on all of us."
-- art teacher Carol Connor

Ever since he first arrived in 2001, Simba has had a profound effect upon the students, teachers, and administrators at Westbrook High School (WHS), located eleven kilometers outside of Portland. It is math teacher Tina Soucy, however, that they have to thank for the petit fait that he ever entered their lives in the first place.

"I was just moving into my classroom downstairs and he was sitting outside, and I let him in," she disclosed in 2013. After that, he did the rest all by himself.

"He knew what he was doing because he made friends with the superintendent (Marc Edward Gousse)," she continued.

In the days, weeks, months, and years that followed Simba quickly became a regular visitor to not only Soucy's math classes and Gousse's office, but he also frequently could be found in the guidance counselor's office, at band practice, and in the stands during sporting events. About the only places that were declared to be off limits to him were the cafeteria and areas where there were students that were allergic to cats.

It was perhaps, however, the calming effect that cats are known to have on their human counterparts that was most appreciated about the elderly ginger-colored tom. "He kind of sets the tone and reminds us that we don't have to be stressed," 2012 graduate Victoria Simoneau pointed out. "We can be as relaxed as Simba and still get stuff done."

Art instructor Carol Connor echoed those sentiments. "I just see such an emotional connection and real care about this creature," she said. "He has such a calming effect on all of us."

He also proved himself to be quite a money-maker and all the world knows only too well how much that Americans dearly love their greenbacks. In particular, a collection of paintings, drawings, and photographs made of him by both staffers and teachers was sold to the public at an auction in April of 2013 in order to raise cash for the purchase of direly needed art supplies.

Malheureusement, all of the hoopla churned up by the art sale also left Simba a bit knackered. "It's been a rough week for him," Soucy acknowledged. "He's famous now."

Little is known about Simba's early years other than that he at one time was owned by a family named Foye who left him behind when they decided to relocate elsewhere. He consequently was adopted by Eileen Shutts of 42 Monroe Avenue in 2006.

That change in ownership not withstanding, life went on as before for Simba in that he continued to spend most of his days at WHS. What he did with himself on weekends, holidays, and whenever the school was closed for extended intervals, such as during the summer months and Christmas break, never has been publicly divulged.

Located at 125 Stroudwater Street, the school is only two-tenths of a mile removed from Shutts' house but even so there is always the very real danger that he could be run down and killed by a motorist. Kidnappers, poisoners, and dogs are three additional menaces that imperil his continued existence.

Regrettably, it has not proven possible to ascertain if he is still visiting WHS or even if he is still alive. Although his exact age is not known, he would be somewhere between nineteen and twenty-two years old if he is still alive today.

"We don't want him to just go away someday and never be recognized for what he's brought to the school," Connor added in reference to the art sale. "The climate and culture here, he just elevates it."

Gousse could not have agreed more. "I think he probably knows he's liked and loved, and it's mutual," he said.

In spite of the many positives that accompany youth, few individuals at that stage of their lives possess the capacity to separate the important from the unimportant and as a consequence it is highly doubtful that any of the recent attendees of WHS fully realized just how fortunate they were to have been blessed by Simba's presence. Much the same thing can be said for the teachers and administrators in that wisdom does not always accompany adulthood. (See Cat Defender post of May 19, 2014 entitled "Even after Fourteen Years of Faithful Companionship and Exemplary Service, Teachers, Students, and Administrators at Westbrook High Remain Clueless as to Simba's Intrinsic Value.")

3.) Penny. The Longtime Resident Feline of the Swansea Public Library Dies.

Penny During Her Happy Days

"She's a fixture around here. The first thing people say when they walk in the door is (to) ask 'where's Penny'?"
-- library director Cynthia St. Amour

For more than a decade a pretty tortoiseshell with green eyes named Penny lived at the public library in Swansea, six kilometers west of Fall River in the Bay State. Adopted from a shelter in 2003, she served as the facility's mascot, goodwill ambassador, and resident mouser. Even more importantly, she was a cherished friend and loyal ally to both staffers and patrons alike.

"Not every cat can be a good library cat. She's calm and mellow," circulation librarian Marie Shea said in 2013. "Penny is a joy to the staff and a joy to the patrons and makes the library a special place."

By early March of 2014, however, she not only had lost considerable weight but had stopped climbing the stairs. In an effort to retard the very noticeable decline that was occurring right before their very eyes, staffers started providing her with special foods as a way of enticing her to eat more.

Patrons likewise did their part by sitting with her and petting her but all of their attentions were to no avail and Penny died on March 8th. For whatever it is worth, the library insists that she died on her own at an unidentified veterinarian's office before that individual had even a chance to examine her.

"It's good that she's not suffering," Shea said afterwards. "It's so sad without her."

"She was everyone's cat," is how that Kaija Gallucci of the library's technical services department chose to eulogize her. "It'll be a different sort of (grieving) process."

"I think she made the library a little special," is how that children's librarian Carol Gafford remembered her. "She had a great life."

Following her death, her remains were burned and her ashes reportedly scattered in a garden at the library. Although the institution neglected to hold a funeral service in her memory, it did pony for the laying of a cheap and disgustingly insignificant rock in the same garden that is surrounded by flowers and contains a photograph of her.

The inscription on the rock reads" "Penny, Beloved Library Cat, Your Paw Prints Are Forever on Our Hearts."

Her memory therefore lives on today not only in that monument but also on the library's Facebook page which still features several photographs of her even though her image has been inexcusably deleted from the library's web site. It is, however, in the hearts of those staffers and patrons that were fortunate enough to have known her that her absence is felt the keenest.

"A day does not go by that a child doesn't come in and ask for Penny," Gafford related shortly after her death.

Up until the last year of her life Penny had enjoyed a quiet and uneventful existence that saw her divide her time between the front desk, a straw basket, peering longingly out the windows, and snoozing in the stacks. All of that was radically altered in early 2013 when local rabble-rouser and troublemaker Patrick Higgins launched a spirited campaign to have her evicted from her home.

"I must again demand that Penny the 'house cat' for the Swansea Library disappear since there are many people who are allergic to cats who cannot use the library (sic) facilities due to their allergies, in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act," he wrote in a March 24th e-mail letter that was sent to the library's director, Cynthia St. Amour, and other bigwigs around town.

That threat was sufficient in order to not only scare St. Amour out of her silk drawers but to prompt her into shamefully knuckling under to his Machiavellian will. "We'll be looking at adoption possibilities in the future," she announced by way of pulling the rug out from underneath Penny.

In doing so, that marked an abrupt change in her way of thinking."She's a fixture around here," she had only recently publicly declared. "The first thing people say when they walk in the door is (to) ask 'where's Penny'?"

Fortunately for Penny, St. Amour's subalterns were not nearly as chicken-hearted as their boss and they responded with, not cowardice, but rather spit in their eyes. In particular, one petition started by them and demanding that Penny be allowed to remain at the library collected more than four-hundred signatures by April 1st.

Another one circulated by former Swansea resident Aubrey Laflamme attracted two-thousand-one-hundred-forty-four supporters as well as four-hundred endorsements on Facebook. The Herald News of Fall River interviewed one-thousand-two-hundred-eighty respondents and eighty-seven per cent of them were in favor of allowing Penny to remain in her home.

The law firm of Killoran and Killoran of Fall River even went so far as to offer its services pro bono to Penny. As things eventually turned out, they were not required because when the Board of Library Trustees met on April 3rd they voted to allow Penny to stay.

"Basically, he (Higgins) wants you (the board) to make her disappear. It's an ultimatum," city attorney Arthur Frank told the trustees at that historic gathering. "He's saying do this or I'll file (a complaint). If you want to deal with the devil, you can deal with the devil."

There is not any obvious connection, but it is remotely possible that the stress brought on by Higgins' machinations could have played some part in hastening Penny's death. Although she may not have been aware of either his existence or what he was up to, she nonetheless may have been capable of sensing the tensions that he was generating in her caretakers as well as the imminent dangers that lurked in her environment.

Ironically, although Higgins may have lost the battle it appears in hindsight that he has won the war. That is because the library, at last check, had not as of yet found a replacement for Penny and that was one of his key demands.

"I've lived here all my life and I can't remember a time when the library didn't have a cat," local resident Luna Leal was able to declare with pride in 2013 but she most definitely cannot say that today. With Penny long gone and no newcomer on the horizon, the Swansea Public Library is now just another soulless repository of old books and computers. (See Cat Defender post of March 8, 2016 entitled "Penny of the Swansea Public Library: A Remembrance.")

4.) Chance. Diabetic Tom Is Weighted Down in a Cage and Dumped in a Creek to Drown.

Chance, Soaking Wet, but Alive

"I usually run with earbuds in, but didn't that day because of the rain. It's a good thing I didn't, otherwise I couldn't have been the tool God used to save the cat."
-- Matt Guidarelli

The diabolical crimes committed against cats by ornithologists, wildlife biologists, environmentalists, and other despisers of the species are horrific enough in their own right but, sadly to say, some of those that are perpetrated against them by their owners can sometimes be every bit as bad. For example, on June 3rd or thereabouts an unknown individual incarcerated an eight-year-old brown and gray cat named Chance in a pet carrier and then tossed him into the Normans Kill in the Slingerlands section of Bethlehem, just west of Albany.

In order to make doubly certain that he drowned, the cretin weighted down his cage with a thirty-pound rock. Considering that the cat, at sixteen pounds and six ounces, already was not only grossly obese but also suffering from diabetes, that constituted a classic case of overkill.

As if the deck were not already stacked against him, even Mother Nature had thrown her considerable weight behind his assailant by sending down the rain in torrents and as a consequence the water in his cage was almost up to his eyeballs. Under such dire circumstances there is not any way of denying that the Grim Reaper was knocking impatiently at Chance's door with the intention of either immediately drowning him or later on allowing him to succumb to a lack of insulin and starvation.

With no conceivable way of getting out of the cage, his situation was beyond all conceivable hope. Nevertheless, he refused to give up and instead kept crying out for help and, although by that time his vocal chords surely must have been severely strained, that is what ultimately led to his eleventh-hour deliverance.

At around 5 p.m. on that fateful afternoon, twenty-five-year-old Matt Guidarelli ventured out for his daily jog and although it is usually his style to run with the music blaring in his head, on that occasion he had chosen to shut it off and that ultimately made all the difference. "I usually run with earbuds in, but didn't that day because of the rain," he afterwards explained. "It's a good thing I didn't, otherwise I wouldn't have been the tool God used to save the cat."

As a result of having tuned out the music in favor of reality, he was able to overhear what he at first mistook to be an infant crying. It was not until he had paused on a footbridge and peered down into the Normans Kill, however, that he spied the partially submerged pet carrier.

By that time only Chance's yellow eyes and head were visible above the water line in his cage. That in turn left him with only about three inches of breathing space.

Without hesitating, Guidarelli clambered ten feet down into the creek and pulled Chance to safety. Other than having been scared out of eight of his nine lives, he was, miraculously, unharmed.

Ironically, his savior is anything but a fan of the species. "I'm not a cat person at all, and am actually allergic to them," he admitted. "What I did is what anyone should do if they have the physical ability to do it."

It accordingly is not surprising that he categorically refused to be even the least little bit critical of Chance's would-be executioner. "I can't be angry with the person who did this because I don't know the circumstances they (sic) were in, but there are so many other alternatives to get rid of an unwanted pet," he declared.

Such an outlook, no matter how indefensible, is apparently shared by both the police and animal protection groups in the area because no effort whatsoever was made in order to apprehend and bring to justice Chance's former owner. Furthermore, this is not the first such incidence of its kind in upstate New York. (See Cat Defender post of May 20, 2008 entitled "Malice Aforethought: Upstate New York Cat Is Saved from a Watery Grave by a Dead Tree and a Passerby; New Hampshire Cat Is Not So Fortunate.")

Following a nervous and stressful fortnight at a shelter, Chance was ransomed off of death row by Broadway actress Megan McGinnis and her partner Dena Sanders of Schenectady. "It was love at first sight," McGinnis later explained. "There was just something about him, and we had to adopt him."

Sanders wholeheartedly concurred in that assessment of him. "It's amazing. He's very cuddly and loves to chase the laser pointer," she added. "He's getting a second chance at life."

Like just about all things in life, their generosity and compassion has not come cheaply. In particular, since Chance is afflicted with type one diabetes mellitus, he requires twice daily insulin injections plus biweekly veterinary visits.

"He's an expensive kitty," McGinnis acknowledged. "But he's worth it."

The mere fact that two perfect strangers could so readily recognize his intrinsic worth makes it all the more deplorable that his former guardian would attempt to do away with him in such a hideous fashion. The same is equally true of the authorities and their stubborn insistence upon turning blind eyes to such heinous acts of animal cruelty. (See Cat Defender post of July 9, 2014 entitled "Dumped in the Normans Kill, Chance Did Not Have a Prayer in Hell Until a Jogger Who Had Turned Off the Music Heard His Desperate Cries for Help.")

5.) Butterscotch. Manitoba Tom Is Forced to Wander Around for Weeks with His Head Stuck Inside a Bug Trap.

Butterscotch with His Head Caught in a Wretched Bug Trap

"When I have to catch an animal, it's a job I have to do. It's something you can't walk away from. Not a cat in distress like this one. The cat had to be captured."
-- Toni Gramiak of Brandon Area Lost Animals

Homeless and all alone on the forbidding streets of Brandon, two-hundred-fourteen kilometers west of Winnipeg in Manitoba, an orange and white cat of undetermined age named Butterscotch was forced into going to outlandish lengths in order to hold body and soul together. When he went searching inside a green and red plastic bug trap for sustenance, however, that nearly proved to he his undoing.

Unable to extricate his head from the device, he wandered around with it for an undetermined amount of time until his desperate plight finally came to the attention of a Good Samaritan on the south end of town on July 23rd who promptly notified Brandon Area Lost Animals (BALA). The charity immediately set out to humanely trap him but little did it realize at that stage what a protracted and frustrating ordeal lay ahead of them.

The good news was that the trap was not preventing Butterscotch from eating and drinking so there was not any immediate concern that he was about to succumb to either starvation or dehydration. The trap did, however, severely impair his peripheral vision and that nearly led to him being run down and killed by a hit-and-run motorist on August 7th.

The biggest concern was the trap itself which was disintegrating but not enough so as to allow Butterscotch to extricate his head. Rather, the danger was that he easily could have become impaled on the jagged pieces of sharp plastic.

Strangulation was another bothersome worry. "The problem was the plastic ring," Jennifer Beckwith of the Grand Valley Animal Clinic (GVAC) in Brandon said at that time. "He'd stuck his head through the top of it and had managed to basically break it apart, but the ring was still hanging off his neck."

Equipped with humane traps, night vision cameras, and electronic monitors placed outside the snares, corralling Butterscotch should have been a cinch for the experienced trappers at BALA but an unidentified neighborhood troublemaker threw a monkey wrench into their best laid plans. Specifically, he damaged and overturned traps and tried to frighten away both Butterscotch and his pursuers by banging on his fence, activating a pressurized water hose, turning on his outside lights and cameras as wall as flashing floodlights on the trappers' vehicles.

The Brandon Police Service was notified but, typically, refused to intervene. Since the middle-aged male never attempted to either feed or to come to Butterscotch's assistance in any way, it seems safe to conclude that he was motivated by concerns other than his welfare.

Rather than dissuading BALA, the man's attempts at sabotaging the trapping initiative served only to reinforce its resolve. "When I have to catch an animal, it's a job I have to do. It's something you can't walk away from," the charity's Toni Gramiak said. "Not a cat in distress like this one. The cat had to be captured."

All of the days and hours that she and the volunteers devoted to the effort finally paid a huge dividend on August 9th when Butterscotch finally was apprehended. Then, and only then, were they able to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

"Eighteen days to capture a cat was...ridiculous," the organization later exclaimed on its Facebook page. "The challenges and threats we faced were beyond bizarre. The nightmare (yes, nightmare) is over."

Butterscotch then was taken to GVAC where he was anesthetized in a prelude to removing the trap. While he was flat out on his back, Beckwith also vaccinated him for rabies, distemper, and leukemia, doused him for fleas, worms, and mites and, lastly, sterilized him. On the positive side of the equation, he was neither emaciated or dehydrated and he tested negative for both the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and the Feline Immunosuppressant Virus (FIV).

After that he was forced to spend three days at the city pound before being transferred to Funds for Furry Friends where he was placed in foster care. Although he initially was terrified to death of humans, it did not take his unidentified foster mom long to have him eating out of her hands.

"Two weeks after coming into care, Butterscotch revealed his true self. He is a playful big kitten who loves to play fetch for treats," BALA proudly declared on Facebook. "He loves human affection, rolls around on his trusted human's lap and gives a lot of purrful head butts."

Best of all, he did not have to languish in foster care for very long because a home was secured for him in late September. "We know that Butterscotch gets his happily ever after," Gramiak proudly informed the Geulph Mercury on September 26th. (See "Cat That Spent Weeks With Bug Catcher on Head Finds a Home.")

Through its stellar work with Butterscotch, Funds for Furry Friends has proven once again that almost any homeless cat can be socialized. Instead of killing them, that effort and money would be much better spent socializing them for eventual adoption. (See Cat Defender post of September 6, 2014 entitled "Butterscotch Is Finally Freed from a Bug Trap but His Deliverance Has Come at an Awfully High Price That He Will Be Repaying for the Remainder of His Days.")

6.) Spice. Tiny Albuquerquean Kitten Mysteriously Turns Up in Portland.

Spice Is Looking Forward to a Brighter Tomorrow

"She was a big little deal. We got calls from all over from people who wanted to pay to reunite the cat and her family."
-- Patsy Murphy of the Animal Rescue League of Greater Portland

Although barely six-months-old, a gray and white kitten named Spice was really put through the wringer, so to speak, and her litany of misadventures all began, à propos, on Halloween, October 31th. That is when she mysteriously disappeared without so much as a trace from a large apartment complex in Albuquerque while her unidentified guardian was busily handing out candy to trick-or-treaters.

Under most circumstances that would have been the end of the matter and no one ever would have known what had happened to her. The Fates, however, had other plans in store for the pretty little newcomer to this wicked old world.

Five days later on November 5th, a handyman by the name of Bob Watterson nonchalantly picked up a duffel bag that had been dumped on the doorstep of Threads of Hope, a Catholic thrift shop, located at 244 St. John's Street in, of all places, Portland, Maine. Initially believing that it contained nothing more than old worn-out duds intended for resale to the down-and-out, he brought it inside and that was when he got the surprise of his life.

"I saw something move in the bag. I didn't know what it could have been," he later related. "Out popped the cat's head. It was pretty cool."

He initially did the right thing by taking Spice home with him but she quickly wore out her welcome by pissing in his bed. He then unceremoniously dropped her like a hot potato at the Animal Rescue League of Greater Portland (ARLGP) in Simba's hometown of Westbrook.

Thanks to an implanted microchip, it soon was learned that the kitten had been adopted earlier in the year from a shelter in Albuquerque. From there it was easy enough to identify and locate her owner.

"She was floored, absolutely stunned. She doesn't know anyone in Maine and has never been here, so she had no idea how the cat got here," Patsy Murphy of the ARLGP soon thereafter divulged to the public. "English is not her first language, and she is very shy but she desperately wants the cat back."

Since the individual who dumped her at Threads of Hope is not talking, how that she made it all the way from Albuquerque to Portland in such a short period of time is a secret that Spice is destined to take with her to her grave. The most logical explanation is that she was stolen and transported by car but that does not preclude other possibilities as well; with cats, one seldom knows for sure.

Although the woman said that she wanted to have Spice returned to her custody, she was not about to foot the bill for her return trip and neither was ARLGP. Luckily for the both of them, Jonathan W. Ayers of IDEXX Laboratories in Westbrook got wind of their dilemma and generously agreed to pay for their reunification.

"It really touched my heart," he said. "She's a miracle cat, and I felt like I could do something to complete the miracle."

On December 4th, Spice was flown to Albuquerque with Murphy acting as her chaperon whereupon she received a hero's welcome at the Animal Welfare Department's eastside shelter at 8920 Lomas Boulevard. The media were on hand and the facility was festooned with "Welcome Home" balloons. There was even a Christmas stocking with her name on it pinned to a poster.

"She was a big little deal," Murphy proclaimed on that happy occasion. "We got calls from all over from people who wanted to pay to reunite the cat and her family. Calls came from New York, California, Texas, New Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, China, and Germany."

Conspicuously absent from the proceedings was her mysterious owner. She is said to have collected the kitten later in the day but her reticence, coupled with her gross negligence in allowing Spice to disappear in the first place, raises serious unanswered concerns about her suitability as an owner.

"We are plain folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things!" the esteemable Bilbo Baggins declared in J.R.R. Tolkien's 1937 novel, The Hobbit. "Make you late for dinner! I can't think what anybody sees in them."

That which holds true for adventures is even more so the case with misadventures and Spice certainly has already had enough of them in order to last her for a lifetime. (See Cat Defender post of December 11, 2014 entitled "Uprooted from Home and Left Stranded Thousands of Miles Away, Spice Discovers to Her Horror That Not All the Ghouls and Goblins in This World Are Necessarily to Be Found on Halloween.")

7.) Cookie. Normandie Chat Perseveres Through a Marathon Misadventure.

Cookie

"C'est un chat extraordinaire, qui a du caractère certes, mais facile. Je suis éblouie et admirative de ce qu'il a fait."
-- Dan Bouchery

No year would be entirely complete without at least one remarkable French chat who somehow had managed to surmount all sorts of daunting obstacles in order to go on living and in that regard a ten-month-old tuxedo named Cookie from Beaumont-en-Auge, Calvados département, in Normandie more than satisfied that requirement. His travails began on February 13, 2013 when his owner, Dan Bouchery, temporarily relocated to Grasse in Provence on the Côte d'Azur in order to accept a three-month assignment to author a collection of poems for children.

As a former homeless waif who loves his freedom, Cookie did not much care for being cooped up in the hotel room where Bouchery was living. "Il ne s'habituait pas à la vie dans la chambre d'hôtel, à Grasse. Il s'ennuyait," she later explained to L'Express of Paris on December 13, 2014. (See "Un chat traverse la France entière pour retrouver sa maîtresse.") "Cookie aime la pluie et réclamait d'aller sur le balcon en permanence. Je le sortais avec une laisse pour l'habiteur au départ. Il semblait être un chat-chien, très attachant."

The December 15, 2014 edition of The Local of Paris has a slightly different version of events and instead claims that Cookie had been allowed out into an enclosed garden at the hotel. (See "Cat Returns after Twelve-Hundred Kilometer Trek Across France.")

Regardless of the exact circumstances, Cookie disappeared without so much as a trace on March 7th and it did not take Bouchery long in order to arrive at the most logical explanation. "J'ai cru qu'on me l'avait volé," she declared to L'Express.

She searched for him, put up Lost Cat posters, and even placed an advertisement in the local newspaper but Cookie was nowhere to be found. Once she had completed her assignment, she reluctantly left Grasse without him on April 30th and returned home to Beaumont-en-Auge.

She accordingly picked up her old life and soon forgot all about Cookie. On August 26, 2014, however, she received an unexpected telephone call from a veterinarian in Orbec, forty kilometers southwest of Beaumont-en-Auge, informing her that Cookie was alive and well and that a positive identification of him had been made thanks to an implanted microchip.

"C'est une dame qui lui a apporté, il était amaigri et sale," Bouchery told the Nice Matin on December 12, 2014. (See "Un chat, disparu à Grasse, parcourt un millier kilomètre pour retrouver sa maîtresse en Normandie.") "Elle voulait le garder, mais la gendarmerie lui a demandé de me le rendre..."

Cookie supposedly had shown up at the unidentified woman's house three months previously but that seems unlikely not only given his emaciated and unhygienic condition but because she had waited for so long to take him to a veterinarian in order to have him treated for an infestation of fleas. Despite the police and the veterinarian demanding that she immediately return him to Bouchery, the woman inexplicably took him en vacances with her for seven weeks.

It therefore was not until either October 13th or October 14th that Cookie finally was reunited with Bouchery. Even then, she was immediately confronted with the same old dilemma that had led to his disappearance in the first place.

"Il a montré quelques appréhensions en retrouvant la maison," she candidly disclosed to L'Express. "Elles se sont vite effacées pour laisser place à un concert de ronronnements, et des câlins interminables."

Even more alarmingly, Bouchery wasted no time in demonstrating that she had learned absolutely nothing from her previously irresponsible guardianship of Cookie. "If fait un cirque pour se nicher dans le grenier de la maison, où il a trouvé son petit nid douillet pour la journée, et la nuit, il vit dehors, librement."

As for how that Cookie traversed the roughly eleven-hundred-four kilometers that separate Grasse on the Mediterranean from Orbec on the Baie de la Seine in the far north, Bouchery believes that he walked the entire distance. "Comme les oies sauvages, je pense qu'il s'est orienté grâce aux étoiles, marchant la nuit et dormant le jour," she speculated to Nice Matin. "C'est un chat extraordinaire, qui a du caractère certes, mais facile. Je suis éblouie et admirative de ce qu'il a fait."

Whereas such an explanation cannot be completely ruled out, it nonetheless seems highly unlikely. A much more plausible account of events would be that he, much like Spice, was stolen in Grasse and then transported by motor car to somewhere in the vicinity of Orbec and then, for whatever reason, dumped.

Nowadays there are simply too many vehicles on the road, too many super highways, bridges, and other man-made obstructions to make such a long and dangerous journey feasible. Why, it would be practically impossible for even a human to pull off such a feat without occasionally having recourse to modern forms of conveyance in order to ford streams and to pass through tunnels.

In addition to the perils posed by motorists, he would have had to dealt with the machinations of dogs, wild animals, and ailurophobes. On top of all of that, he did not have any obvious means of procuring food, water, and shelter while en route.

Tall tales of this sort nevertheless endure, especially in France. Par exemple, back in 2007 a cat named Mimine is alleged to have walked from Bordeaux in the south to Treveray, Meuse, in the north. (See Cat Defender post of April 27, 2007 entitled "A French Chat Named Mimine Allegedly Walks Eight-Hundred-Thirty Kilometers in Order to Track Down the Family That Abandoned Her.")

Although Bouchery should have been grateful for having been given another opportunity in order to do right by Cookie, she instead has chosen to abdicate her moral responsibilities to him in favor of a false reliance upon modern technology. "Comme quoi il ne faut jamais désespérer...et pucer son animal," she pontificated to Nice Matin.

Besides, her work is far more important to her than his personal safety. In fact, she at last word was contemplating writing a book about his misadventures. "J'en ferais bien un livre pour enfants avec des aquarelles, mais je ne veux pas non plus trahir la réalité de l'histoire," she conceded to Nice Matin.

8.) George. A Footloose Senior Citizen Is Rescued by a Pet Store.

George

"It was quite a shock to see how skinny George was when he first arrived here. His teeth were also in a terrible state which would have meant eating was difficult and very painful for him."
-- Deana Perrin of Margaret Green Animal Rescue

The callous disregard with which societies all over the world treat elderly and infirm cats continues to sadden and infuriate at the same time. For example, in September a handsome eleven and one-half year old orange-colored cat with sad eyes named George wandered into a Pets at Home outlet in Liskeard, Cornwall.

After graciously feeding the badly emaciated tom, staffers next telephoned Margaret Green's Wingletang Rescue and Rehoming Centre for Dogs and Cats in Tavistock, Devon, which promptly came and collected him. It was not until after examining him, however, that staffers learned the full extent of the impact that living on the street had taken on his health.

"It was quite a shock to see how skinny George was when he first arrived here," the charity's Deana Perrin later stated. "His teeth were also in a terrible state which would have meant eating was difficult and very painful for him."

As a matter of fact, they were so far gone that they had to be removed and George accordingly was placed on a diet of soft food. After that, he not only was able to put on weight but for the first time in a long while was free of pain.

That left a hairless ring around his neck as his sole remaining health concern. "It was obvious that George had been in a home at some point as he had a mark around his neck where a collar had been," Perrin pointed out. "At some point his collar must have been excruciatingly tight as the skin around his neck is completely bald."

It is not known how that Margaret Green elected to treat his neck but it sometimes can be exceedingly difficult to get fur to regrow once it has been either torn out or severely stunted. A surgical transplant would have been one option but such a procedure is not only expensive but may not have been deemed advisable in George's case considering his advanced years.

In addition to the telltale evidence of a collar, George's friendly demeanor and love of cuddling are two additional indications that he at one time had belonged to someone. Nevertheless, in spite of his photograph appearing in the local press no one ever came forward in order to reclaim him and that strongly suggests that he had been heartlessly abandoned in order to fend for himself by his previous owner.

Margaret Green accordingly set about attempting to secure a rural home for him but it, regrettably, is not known whatever became of him. Because of his engaging personality, however, he quickly had become a huge favorite of both staffers and volunteers who insisted that he was more than welcome to remain with them for as long as it took in order to find him a new home. (See Cat Defender post of March 23, 2015 entitled "Old, Sickly, and on the Street, George Accidentally Wanders into a Pet Store and That, in All Likelihood, Saved His Life.")

9.) Lewis. Loyal Garden Shop Cat Meets His Waterloo on Boxing Day.

Lewis

"He met me at the door every morning. There will never be another cat like Lewis."
-- Mark Hodesh

Perfidy, ungratefulness, and malice aforethought are the hallmark virtues of man and that petit fait was nowhere more in evidence during 2014 than in how cleverly seventy-year-old Mark Hodesh schemed to successfully get rid of his faithful eighteen-year-old feline companion, Lewis. For fifteen years the duo had toiled side-by-side at Hodesh's Downtown Home and Garden in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but theirs was far from being an equitable relationship. C'est-à-dire, Lewis received only room and board whereas Hodesh reaped a financial bonanza as the result of all the paying customers that his presence brought into his store.

"We walked in after looking from the outside and (Lewis) was lying right there on the bench," Brian Wolfe of Superior Charter Township, eighteen kilometers east of Ann Arbor, later recalled. "It was always nice seeing the cat there."

Longtime store employee Sarah Kaufman testified to the fact that Lewis had become an Ann Arbor institution over the course of his tenure at the store. "A million kids learned how to pet a cat on his head," she recalled. "People in their twenties bring in their kids and say 'my mom used to come bring me to see this cat.' He was really amazing."

Even Hodesh echoed those sentiments. "It was an immediate fit," he agreed. "He ended up being very friendly to people."

The good times came to an abrupt end on Boxing Day when Hodesh, from all outward appearances, took him to an unidentified veterinarian and had his life extinguished. Rather than admitting that was what had happened, he instead lamely attempted to obscure the ugly truth by being deliberately vague about the circumstances surrounding Lewis's death.

"Lewis, the orange tabby store cat at Downtown Home and Garden, has died peacefully at about twenty (sic) years of age," was all that he was willing to divulge in a December 26th posting on the store's Facebook page.

Even so, the case against him is pretty much incontrovertible. First of all, he never has disclosed how that Lewis met his Waterloo. Secondly, he apparently was not ailing but rather a robust fifteen pounds.

Thirdly, the selection of Boxing Day is a dead giveaway. Not only is that date popular with owners who choose to have their cats killed off, but the same holds true for those of them who dump their faithful companions at shelters and in the street.

Fourthly, Hodesh already had sold the store and December 31st was scheduled to have been his last day as proprietor. Moreover, the new owner apparently did not have any interest whatsoever in either retaining Lewis's services or acquiring a replacement for him.

"The cat is a legendary part of the business," Kelly Vore said afterwards. "That is a vacancy I wouldn't even begin to try to fill."

Yet in spite of uttering those sentiments, less than three months later she adopted a ten-year-old orange cat named Wallace from the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Ann Arbor and installed him at her shop. (See The Ann Arbor News, March 23, 2015, "Ann Arbor's Downtown Home and Garden Welcomes Wallace the Cat.")

As if having killed off Lewis were not horrific enough in its own right, it does not appear in hindsight that the fifteen years that he slaved away at the store for peanuts were all that great either. First of all, he was left alone evenings, nights, holidays, and whenever else the store was closed.

Secondly, Hodesh irresponsibly placed his life in danger by allowing him to roam the perilous street of Ann Arbor at night without an escort. Thirdly, Hodesh nakedly exploited Lewis's good nature for profit while simultaneously providing him with precious little in return.

Worst of all, he apparently had Lewis killed off when it would have been so easy for an individual of his means to have placed him in either another home or at a sanctuary. After all that he had so freely given to Hodesh, the store, and the community, Lewis deserved at least that much.

During his lengthy tenure at the store, he often could be found either lounging on a bench across from the till or sleeping on the radiator during the long, cold winter months. During the summer, he was a familiar sight in Bill's Beer Garden, which Hodesh operates evenings in the store's parking lot.

All of that is now ancient history. "I knew something was wrong today (December 27th) when I walked in and he wasn't lying there," Wolfe later recalled but even he failed to realize just how irreversibly wrong things had become and, even more distressingly, that they never could be made right again.

"He met me at the door every morning," is how that Hodesh chose to eulogize him. "There will never be another cat like Lewis."

On the individual level he sans doute is correct, but speaking more generally he is dead wrong. That is because for as long as owners like him are allowed to murder their cats once they no longer have any use for them the killing is never going to stop.

The problem therefore is not that there never will be another Lewis but rather that there are far too many people in this world who think and behave like Hodesh. (See Cat Defender post of January 15, 2015 entitled "Lewis, Ann Arbor's Much Celebrated Garden Shop Cat, Departs This Vale of Tears Under Highly Suspicious Circumstances.")

10.) Örvar. Reykjavík Cat Is Reunited with His Owner after a Seven-Year Hiatus.

Örvar and Birkir Fjalar Viðarsson

"I think the universe decided to reunite us for the final chapter in his life so that he can enjoy his golden years in a dignified manner."
-- Birkir Fjalar Viðarsson

During the autumn of 2007, a handsome ginger and white cat of undetermined age named Örvar disappeared from the residence of Birkir Fjalar Viðarsson in Reykjavík. He searched everywhere that he could think of and even contacted the local shelter, Kattholt, but all of his efforts proved to have been in vain.

He finally was forced into concluding that Örvar either was dead or had been taken in by a stranger. "All I could do was hope that somebody nice had stolen him," he told the Iceland Review of Reykjavík on April 10, 2014. (See "Missing Reykjavík Cat Found Seven Years Later.")

Closure was made all the more difficult in that his soul was rent asunder with misgivings over having adopted a puppy shortly before his cat had vanished. "I really mourned this cat; I blamed myself for this and wondered what would have happened had I not gotten the puppy," he confessed to the Iceland Review. "It took me a long time to get over this and I thought about it regularly."

In spite of all of that, Viðarsson did eventually get over the loss of Örvar and went on with his life. In February, however, he received the shock of his life when staffers at Kattholt telephoned and informed him not only that Örvar was still alive but that he was in their custody.

Perhaps every bit as amazingly, Örvar had not forgotten him despite their long separation. "When I arrived, I was told that Örvar was shy and kept to himself in the corner. But when I called out his name he came running, climbed on top of me and wrapped his body around me," Viðarsson later confided to the Iceland Review. "It was as if we had never been apart. It was lovely."

Afterwards, he took Örvar to a local veterinarian where he was pronounced to be in good health. If that had not been the case, this story in all likelihood would have had an altogether different dénouement considering that Viðarsson, all protestations of abiding love aside, is anything but a respecter of life.

"At first I really couldn't believe it. I did not not know what to expect," he said of the unexpected bolt from the blue that arrived courtesy of Kattholt. "So I prepared for the worst; maybe he had lost an eye or an ear. Maybe he would have to be humanely put out of his misery."

Such sentiments are beyond repulsive. First of all, cats with missing eyes and ears can get on just fine in this world.

Much more importantly, all cats have an inalienable right to live regardless of whether they have as little as five minutes or as much as twenty years' worth of life left in them. How that he could even contemplate killing a cat that he had not so much as seen in seven years staggers the mind and infuriates the conscience.

In spite of all of that, his reunion with Örvar appears to have gotten off on the right foot. "Before bringing him home I didn't know what to expect," he confided to the Iceland Review. "But he seems very happy. He just lies in his bed and enjoys life."

The number one concern going forward, however, is what Viðarsson is going to do with him once he becomes either ill, elderly, or his presence is simply no longer wanted. For whatever it is worth, he maintains that he is firmly committed to Örvar.

"I think the universe decided to reunite us for the final chapter in his life so that he can enjoy his golden years in a dignified manner," he declared to the Iceland Review. "Now that Örvar's home I'm not giving him up again."

Although it is not known if the puppy was the reason that led to Örvar's disappearance, great care must always be observed whenever bringing together cats and dogs under the same roof. Any additional companions that Viðarsson may have acquired during the intervening years is an additional concern and that is especially the case if Örvar has spent either most or all of his life in a one-animal family.

Finally, Örvar's trials and tribulations have once again exposed both the pluses and minuses of relying upon implanted microchips as the preferred method of keeping track of cats. While it is true that one of these devices was partially responsible for his reunion with Viðarsson, that almost never came about because the latter had neglected to update his contact information in the database that is linked up to the chip inside of Örvar.

Instead, Viðarsson has Kattholt to thank for returning his cat to him in that it devoted no less than two weeks of its valuable time into locating him. Maintaining up-to-date contact information in microchip databases is made all the more imperative given that it is not all that uncommon for lost cats to turn up as much as fifteen years later at shelters and veterinarians' offices.

Those owners who truly love their cats accordingly should be willing not only to keep their contact information current but, more importantly, to pony up the money that database administrators demand in order to provide this valuable service. Cats and misfortune travel the same rocky and winding road in this world and that in turn makes it almost impossible for their owners to anticipate all the calamities that may one day befall them.

11.) Jordan. Handsome Tuxedo Is Granted a Library Card by the University of Edinburgh.

Jordan

"External users can use the library -- he has his own reference card. Someone at the Help Desk made up the card with a photo."
-- Caroline Stirling of the University of Edinburgh Library

In what may have been a first-of-its-kind development, a handsome eight-year-old tuxedo named Jordan was given a library card by the University of Edinburgh. It is not known, however, if he ever used it in order to borrow any library materials and, if so, what types of literature he preferred.

Rather, he seems to have found a much more practicable use for the library, which was founded in 1580 and contains more than two and one-half million volumes. "He just tends to come in and sleep on the chairs near the door," thirty-seven-year-old Caroline Stirling of the library's Help Desk disclosed in December. "I think everyone quite likes him."

Adopted in 2006 by Father Dermot Morrin of St. Albert's Chaplaincy at 23-24 George Square, Jordan from all indications apparently lived contentedly with the Dominican friars until the discovered the existence of the library. "He is really popular," Stirling added. "He has been coming in for at least a year."

Although it is not known what prompted him to forsake the cozy confines of the monastery in favor of the library, the most likely scenario is that he serendipitously turned up outside the latter facility one day and was helped inside by an obliging student. There seems to be little doubt, however, that in addition to the library's comfortable sleeping chairs, the attentions lavished on him by both students and staffers is another reason that kept him coming back day after day.

"Everyone loves Jordan. It's lovely how he is always in those seats inside the library," twenty-two-year-old student Heidi Karjalainen testified. "He's like a substitute for my cat home in Finland."

Morrin seconded her observations. "You've got a lot of international students here and the appeal of the cat is domestic," he pointed out. "It makes them feel more at home. The students say its (sic) stress relieving because he's in the library when they study."

As things eventually developed, the students' gain translated into the friars' loss. "He ignores us when he sees us in the square," Morrin disclosed. "He ignores us indoors as well unless he wants feeding."

After a while Jordan became such a familiar figure at the library that one of Stirling's underlings decided to make him a bona fide patron of that ancient temple of learning. "External users can use the library -- he has his own reference card," she explained. "Someone at the Help Desk made up the card with a photo. He doesn't have to have it with him when he comes in."

It is a good thing that the library elected to waive that last requirement because he would have had a difficult time hanging on to it. Even that issue soon became moot because on March 13, 2016 this magical interlude in time came to an abrupt end when he disappeared without so much as a trace. (See Cat Defender post of October 3, 2017 entitled "Jordan, the University of Edinburgh's Library Cart, Disappears into Thin Air but No One Either Cares, Knows or Is Willing to Say What Has Happened to Him.")

12.) Salem. Beloved Barn Cat Disappears from Historic Lewis Oliver Farm on Long Island.

Salem Is Long Gone but Not Forgotten

"Anyone who has ever had a pet, knows how much they are a part of our family and can imagine how worried we have been for this past almost year."
-- Lorene Eriksen

For any true fan of the species, there is never any getting over the loss of a cat. After a while the pain sometimes subsides but the loss is always still there much like a swollen thumb that stubbornly refuses to return to its normal size.

In Jordan's case, neither his owner nor the University of Edinburgh apparently did anything in order to locate him after he mysteriously disappeared. It was an altogether different matter with Lorene Eriksen of the historic Lewis Oliver Farm Sanctuary in Northport Village on Long Island when her beloved cat Salem vanished on August 14th.

In particular, she put out an Amber Alert, canvassed door-to-door, posted Lost Cat posters throughout the neighborhood, and looked in garages. When none of those efforts bore fruit, she turned to both mainstream as well as social media, a mailing service, a telephone service that specializes in locating lost pets, and even offered a US$1,500 reward for her safe return.

None of those latter efforts were any more successful than her earlier ones and that led her to conclude that she likely had seen the last of the petit black female that she had rescued, along with her twin sister Sabrina, from a homeless colony back in 2007. She accordingly concluded that Salem most likely had either left of her own volition, gotten into a scrap with another cat, or succumbed to the machinations of a hit-and-run motorist.

She also fully realized that someone could have stolen her and that theory took on added significance when an unidentified visitor to the farm in June of 2015 informed her about seeing a now deleted post on a Facebook page entitled Moms of Huntington, New York, concerning "the friendly black cat at Lewis Oliver Farm" and how that the author felt "so bad for it."

"Needless to say, this was a shocking revelation and a substantial break in what had remained a mystery behind her disappearance," Eriksen said in July of 2015. She and her fellow volunteers who keep the farm going then attempted to track down the author of the post without success.

"The fact that the post no longer appears on the page tells us that the person who likely took Salem after writing about her either lost her in the process of 'rescuing' her or simply has no intentions of coming forward to clear up what could very well have been a case of mistaken identity (that she was homeless)," Eriksen lamented.

What she is referring to is an all-too-common occurrence whereby concerned individuals abduct cats from the street erroneously believing them to be either homeless or neglected. Other individuals simply steal cats because they are either too cheap to pony up the adoption fees that shelters demand or too lazy to socialize those that are homeless. It thus remains very much an open question to this very day whether Salem was intentionally or mistakenly stolen.

Eriksen also issued a plaintive call for Salem's alleged abductor to demonstrate "empathy and compassion" by promptly returning her but so far that has not happened. "Anyone who has ever had a pet, knows how much they are a part of our family and can imagine how worried we have been for this past almost year," she concluded.

In spite of all the time that has run off the clock, Eriksen steadfastly continues to search high and low for her beloved cat. "Three years ago today our funny, sweet, and sassy little friend abruptly vanished from our lives taking with her all of her crazy antics, her larger-than-life personality, and a piece of our hearts," she wrote August 14, 2017 on the Facebook page entitled Lost Cat Salem. "While we don't need a date on the calendar to be reminded of Salem, we ask that you help us remind everyone that we will always be searching, worrying, and missing her by sharing this post and her story by visiting Salem's page..." (See Cat Defender post of October 13, 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.")

13.) Mayhem. Abandoned North Carolina Tom Tracks Down His Owner to Her New Address.

Mayhem

"We had been here for about three weeks and I was sitting out on the porch and heard a cat meowing. I walked over to the fence and called to him because I couldn't see anything, and he came bounding under the fence and I have been in shock ever since."
-- Jill Roberson

The most baffling story of the year concerned an eighteen-month-old gray and white tom named Mayhem from Rutherfordton, North Carolina. As far as it has been revealed, all went normally in his young life until his owner, Jill Roberson, changed houses in February and in doing so elected to get rid of him.

That simply unpardonable decision was arrived at supposedly because her new abode is located on a busy street. Not wanting to confine him indoors but afraid to allow him to roam under such perilous circumstances, she fobbed him off on an unidentified couple that lives on a farm ten kilometers out of town.

Normally, she and Mayhem never would have crossed paths again but he had other plans in store for her."We had been here for about three weeks and I was sitting out on the porch and heard a cat meowing," she later disclosed. "I walked over to the fence and called to him because I couldn't see anything, and he came bounding under the fence and I have been in shock ever since."

For whatever it is worth, Roberson insists that Mayhem never had been at her new house previously and that brings up the perplexing matter of how that he was able to locate her. The most logical explanation is that the couple belatedly decided that they did not want him and in turn dumped him in the vicinity of her new address figuring that he then would be able to locate her on his own.

An even more implausible explanation is that Mayhem returned home and from there proceeded to track Roberson to her new house by smell. "It is just a miracle to us," was the sum total of light that she was able to shine on this Chinese puzzle.

Kimberly Lednum of the Rutherford Animal Hospital in Rutherfordton was every bit as flabbergasted. "Given this particular situation, absolutely, it defies all logic," she testified.

Other than being dirty and skinny, Mayhem came through his misadventures unscathed. Unfortunately, his travails did not change a blessed thing in that Roberson still resides on a busy thoroughfare that is way too busy for him to be allowed outside.

Compounding matters even further, it is highly improbable that she has mended her callous ways so as thus to become the loving and conscientious guardian that he so desperately needs and deserves. "It just confirms that pets have feelings," she said afterwards. "We loved him, but we didn't realize he loved us that much, that he would track us down."

Her last statement is pure malarkey in that no one who truly cares about a cat would so much as ever contemplate abandoning it, let alone actually going through with the commission of such a revolting and despicable crime. Moreover, absolutely no one who cared about the happiness of an outside cat ever would relocate to a house that is located on a busy street.

It is not known whatever became of Mayhem but with such an irresponsible and uncaring owner as Roberson his prospects were anything but encouraging. (See Cat Defender post of April 10, 2014 entitled "Mayhem Inexplicably Finds His Way to the New Address of the North Carolina Owner Who Earlier Had Cruelly Abandoned Him.")

14.) Jasper. Northumbrian Tom Is Abandoned to Ride the Trains by His Lonesome.

Jasper

"He's avoided a lot of scrapes so far so there's no need to worry about him."
-- Steph Keenan

Irresponsibly turning loose a cat to ride the rails can be almost as dangerous as allowing one to venture out into street traffic. Yet, that so far has not fazed forty-two-year-old psychotherapist Steph Keenan of Waterville Terrace in North Shields, thirteen kilometers east of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in Northumbria, the least little bit.

Seemingly oblivious to the myriad of perils that she is knowingly subjecting him to, she has turned loose her eighteen-month-old ginger tom Jasper to ride the Tyne and Wear Metro's Yellow Line for weeks on end. "He's a real monkey," is how that she has described him. "I can only presume some of it what he gets up to but the places he's ended up can only mean he's been on the Metro."

For instance, on Guy Fawkes Day of 2013 he went AWOL for six weeks before an unidentified woman from Jesmond, eleven kilometers removed from North Shields, found him and took him to a veterinarian in Heaton, a residential suburb in the East End of Newcastle. Thanks to an implanted microchip, he was reunited with Keenan just in time for Christmas.

On another occasion, he took the Yellow Line to the Meadow Well Train Station, three kilometers from North Shields, and was gone for a week. He additionally is known to have ridden the train to Four Lands Ends in Longbenton, ten kilometers from home.

Although she is an exceedingly busy individual with four children to raise and a live-in lover to look after in addition to her job, there is absolutely nothing in press reports that would tend to indicate that she has invested so much as one minute of her time searching for Jasper on any of those occasions when he has gone missing. Au contraire, she is so callous as to have publicly complained about having been forced to take time away from her job and family in order to go and fetch him.

"People have actually gone to great lengths to pick him up and take him to a vet or shelter which can be a real inconvenience," she groused. "I was quite annoyed when I had to go pick him up the last time."

In addition to harboring such a thoroughly reprehensible attitude in her bosom, Keenan also seems to be oblivious to the dangers that very easily could claim Jasper's fragile life at any moment. "He has wandered far and wide and has very few of his nine lives remaining," she briefly conceded before cavalierly dismissing those concerns. "He's avoided a lot of scrapes so far so there's no need to worry about him."

That last statement conclusively demonstrates that she either desperately wants rid of Jasper or is so mentally deranged that she has lost touch with reality. If the authorities in North Shields cared anything at all about Jasper's safety they would promptly remove him from her care.

In fact, that should have been done a long time ago considering that her neglect of him dates all the way back to his kittenhood. For instance, she has admitted to no less than allowing him to get stuck up a chimney, trapped inside a neighbor's house, and stranded inside another neighbor's garage during the first six weeks of his turbulent life.

There are even problems with that admission in that kittens, generally speaking, do not even begin to walk until they are around four weeks of age and even then they seldom stray more than a few feet from their mothers' sides. If Jasper did in fact make it up a chimney and onto the grounds of neighboring homeowners it more than likely was because someone connected to the Keenan household transported him to those locations because it is highly doubtful that he traveled that far of his own volition and on his own steam. Furthermore, it never has been explained either where his mother was while all of that was going on or, more importantly, what ultimately became of her.

The Tyne and Wear Metro likewise is complicit in Keenan's abject neglect of Jasper by continuing to allow him to venture onto its trains. Under such perilous circumstances, he easily could be either run down and killed by one of its engineers or fall through a crack in a boarding platform never to be seen again. Even if he should be fortunate enough in order to avoid those calamities, there is always the ever-present fear that he could be either stolen or become permanently lost.

Since no additional stories have appeared in the media concerning him it is impossible to say what has become of him. The only thing that can be ventured with any certainty is that he desperately needs and deserves a far more responsible owner than Keenan. (See Cat Defender post of January 31, 2014 entitled "Northumbrian Shrink Lays Claim to the 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.")

15.) Dodger. Dorset Tom Who Rode the Buses by His Lonesome Is Killed Off by His Owner.

Dodger Aboard a Bus

"It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I cancelled it twice."
-- Fee Jeanes

Fifteen-year-old, orange-colored Dodger made quite a name for himself in and around Bridport in Dorset by making sixteen-kilometer, unescorted trips between Bridport and Charmouth on First Bus. He also made excursion trips along the Jurassic Coast on the number fifty-three bus which runs between Poole in Dorset and Exeter in Devonshire.

On those occasions when he was not actually riding the buses, he usually could be found cooling his heels at the bus station in Bridport.  All the riding and waiting around for buses came to an abrupt end in early 2012 when his owner, forty-six-year-old Fee Jeanes, took him to Bredy Veterinary Centre on Sea Road North and had him killed off after he had been diagnosed with a stomach tumor.

No mention ever was made regarding whether or not his life could have been extended by treating the malignancy. The fateful decision to end it was not, however, one that she apparently took lightly.

"It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make," she said afterwards. "I cancelled it twice."

Even so, she nonetheless got over his death rather quickly. "Dodger had a good life. He was a brilliant cat and was spoilt rotten," is how that she chose to eulogize him. "He made a lot of people happy. The response to him was amazing."

To her credit, she did provide him with a final resting place in her garden and she even took the time and effort in order to post a notice at the bus station so as to inform the commuters of his death. That is only half of the story, however, and the remainder of it constitutes one of the most disturbing cases of feline neglect on record.

Absolutely nothing is known about either Dodger's prior life or how long that he had been with Jeanes. As far as his public persona is concerned, it consists solely of the time that he spent with her after she had relocated from parts unknown to busy and congested West Street in Bridport.

None of that in any way deterred her, however, from deliberately abandoning him to eke out a hardscrabble existence in the street, on the buses, and at the bus station. "We moved here nineteen months ago and our house backs on to the bus station," she divulged in late 2011. "He is an old boy and is every friendly. Sometimes he just sits in the middle of the road and waits for the bus to turn up before he gets on."

Aside from the fact that it was nothing short of a minor miracle that he was not run down and killed by a motorist long ago, Jeanes did not even know where he was the vast majority of the time. "He's down there (at the bus station) all day and I have to go out in the night to make sure he is okay," she candidly admitted.

Most astonishing of all, she did not see anything at all wrong with knowingly placing his fragile life in such grave jeopardy. "He's absolutely fine," she instead retorted. "He comes home and sleeps at the end of my bed and spends the rest of the day at the bus station."

In addition to the persistent threat posed by motorists, Dodger easily could have gotten lost on any one of his bus trips. He also could have been either stolen or victimized by an ailurophobe.

As things eventually turned out, it very well could have been his scavenging that led to his undoing. "He loves it there (the bus station) because there are lots of people around and they all drop their sandwiches and pork pies," Jeanes said in 2012.

Actually, it is doubtful if that were true. Rather, Dodger was forced to live at the station and on the buses because neither Jeanes nor her three children were willing to stay home with him and to attend to his needs.

A lifetime hoofer herself, Jeanes operates the Fee Jeanes Toddlers Ballet on Victoria Grove Street and that is about all that interests her. "It is something I love doing. I guess it started as a hobby and has just gone from strength to strength," she declared. "Seeing children having fun, while at the same time learning basic ballet with good discipline and enjoyment is what is important to me."

Quite obviously, an owner as callous and irresponsible as her never had any business in acquiring a cat in the first place. Rather, she should have stuck to hoofing. (See Cat Defender posts of August 27, 2014 and January 25, 2012 entitled, respectively, "After Traveling for So Many Miles on the Bridport to Charmouth Bus, Dodger's Last Ride Is, Ironically, to the Vet Who Unconscionably Snuffs Out His Precious Life at the Urging of His Derelict Owner" and "The Innocence of the Lambs: Unaware of the Dangers That Threaten His Very Existence, Dodger Charms Commuters on the Bridport to Charmouth Line.")

16.) Percy. Peripatetic Black Tom Is Believed to Still Be Riding the Rails in Scarborough.

Percy Is Famous Now 

"I am delighted to confirm that Percy the cat does still visit us here at Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary."
-- a spokesperson for the aquarium

Back in 2006, a jet-black cat named Percy from Green Howards Drive in the Peasholm Park section of Scarborough in North Yorkshire started riding the miniature antique trains of the North Bay Railway (NBR). Specifically, he would take them on a more or less weekly basis from his home to the Sea Life and Marine Sanctuary in the Scalby Mills section of town.

His adventures were greatly facilitated by the fact that a one-way trip on the 1.4 kilometer line takes only about three minutes. Best of all, the trains do not make any stops en route and that eliminates the danger of him disembarking at the wrong stop and therefore getting lost.

Railroad personnel and riders on the popular line also keep an eye out for his safety. "The train passengers love him and make a fuss of him," Phil Hart, a security guard with the NBR, disclosed in 2009. "He's a lovely cat."

Once he arrives at his destination, Percy has pretty much a full plate in order to keep him busy. "He particularly likes watching the penguins but unfortunately they get scared of him so we have to move him away," the aquarium's Sharon Jarvis disclosed in 2009. "But he's harmless."

The real attraction for him, however, are the workers and the attentions that they lavish on him. "As a seasoned regular now, he likes to spend a lot of time being the center of attention in the staff room," an unidentified spokesperson for the attraction disclosed in a November 4, 2014 e-mail letter.

That in turn was an affirmation of the sentiments that Jarvis earlier expressed in 2009. "We all love Percy and we are sure he will carry on coming here," she predicted.

By now he would be getting on in years so it is not possible to say with any certainty if he is still even alive let alone visiting the aquarium. Nevertheless, that most definitely was still the case a few years back. "I am delighted to confirm that Percy the cat does still visit us here at Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary," the spokesperson disclosed in the letter cited supra.

Even though the dangers that his unescorted rambles expose him to are nothing compared with those that Jasper faces, that does not in any way mean that they are inconsequential. For starters, he is forced to cross the street in order to get to and from the train station in Peasholm Park and that in turn makes him easy prey for motorists.

He also could be attacked at any time by both ailurophobes and dogs. The biggest concern, however, is not his riding of the rails but rather his owner's unconscionable decision to allow him to stay out all night.

"He likes to get about and he's always losing the tags with our phone number on them," Yale Michael disclosed in 2009. "Sometimes he comes back in the morning, sometimes at night, but he always makes it home in the end."

As for how that he got started riding the trains in the first place, Michael attributes that to his having been born on a farm. A far more plausible explanation is that Michael and his family, like Jeanes and hers, is frequently away from home. It likewise is conceivable that they also neglect him even when they are at home.

That unsubstantiated assumption is based solely upon the fact that sterilized cats who have doting and caring owners usually prefer to spend time with them as opposed to perfect strangers. The good news is that, at least so far, staffers at both the aquarium and the NBR have been willing to fill in the void in Percy's life.

Regardless of how it all ends for him in the here and now, his memory is destined to live on in Joe Coates' 2013 tome, Percy the Cat of North Bay Railway. (See Cat Defender posts of February 6, 2014 and November 14, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Lovable and Adventurous Percy Is Still Very Much Alive and Riding the Miniature Trains in Scarborough" and "Percy Takes the Train All by Himself in Order to Visit the Penguins at an Aquarium in Scarborough.")

17.) Peat. Popular Scottish Distillery Kitten Is Killed by a Hit-and-Run Motorist.

Peat

"The Glenturret Distillery team are heartbroken."
-- Lesley Williamson

Just how terribly fleeting life can be for cats that are allowed to venture out into traffic by their utterly irresponsible owners was driven home firsthand to the staff of the Glenturret Distillery, located on the banks of the Turret River three kilometers northwest of Crieff in Perthshire, on September 8th when its recently installed resident feline, Peat, was run down and killed by a hit-and-run driver. Found prostrate beside the road by an unidentified staffer, he was rushed to a local veterinarian where he shortly thereafter either died on his own or was deliberately killed off.

No arrest ever was made in connection with his death and it is highly unlikely that the authorities even bothered so much as to look into the matter. Most disturbing of all, the pretty light-brown cat with blue eyes was only six months old and had barely even begun to live.

"The Glenturret Distillery team are heartbroken," Lesley Williamson said shortly after his death. "He was inquisitive, fearless and a social cat and we will miss him terribly."

Although the distillery long has employed cats as mousers, that job nowadays is pretty much left to professional exterminators. Consequently, when Peat was brought on board in June it was not to catch mice but rather to charm the facility's more than one-hundred-thousand annual visitors.

In that respect, he was preeminently successful, even if his tenure was destined to have been a brief one. For example, in just a little more than two months on the job he already had attracted more than eight-hundred followers on Twitter.

"The fluffy little bundle has been charming his way into our visitors' hearts this week, has already made himself at home in our new Tasting Bar and is showing signs of settling in nicely," is how that Williamson earlier had summed up his immediate impact upon the distillery.

Peat was chosen over nine other kittens that had been born on a local farm belonging to Shona Stewart and she had been hoping that his newfound notoriety would prompt members of the public to offer homes to some of those that had been left behind. "We've been pleased to see Peat settling into his new role at the Famous Grouse Experience (a tour and a free shot of scotch) and he seems to have caught the imagination of the local and, indeed, world press," she marveled. "I'm really hoping that we find good homes for his siblings and cousins, some of whom are similar in coloring to Peat, and are just as cute."

Although it is not known whatever became of those kittens, there can be little doubt that Peat would have been better off if he had remained on the farm. His star shone brightly but it burned out all too soon. (See Cat Defender post of April 17, 2017 entitled "As Peat Tragically Found Out, Alcohol and Cats Are Such a Bad Mix That Even Working at a Distillery Can Be Deadly.")

18.) Archie. Lincolnshire Tom Is Knowingly Allowed to Sleep in the Middle of a Busy Road.

Archie

"He's probably Britain's bravest pet. He's certainly braver than me."
-- Iain Simpson

When it comes to irresponsible cat owners, Iain Simpson and Clare Smith from the village of Quarrington in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, are in the same league with Keenan. For instance, not only do they allow their four-year-old, brown and white resident feline, Archie, to stay out all night unchaperoned but they additionally permit him to go AWOL for weeks at a time without, apparently, even lifting so much as a finger in order to locate him.

Instead of availing themselves of the only morally acceptable option open to them, which would be to lock him up indoors at night, they instead have opted to fit him with a satellite tracking collar so as to find out where his rambles are taking him. "I've become fascinated with tracking Archie, but it is so worrying," Simpson acknowledged in March. "It's like worrying about a teenager on a night out. I know he's gone out but he'll never tell me where."

In Archie's case, he and Smith certainly have more than enough cause for concern after they learned, courtesy of the tracking device, that once he leaves their house he travels six kilometers to the A15 motorway, which stretches one-hundred-fifty-three kilometers from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, in the north to Scawby in Lincolnshire, where he hangs out for hours. "He's a fearless tyke really," Simpson marveled. "The data from his tracker shows him being stationary in the middle of the road for hours at a time."

Even more troubling, that can mean only one thing. "I can only assume he's gone to sleep," Simpson added. "Maybe the sound of traffic relaxes him. I don't know."

Whereas such a revelation would be more than sufficient in order to not only scare the bejesus out of most cat owners but, more importantly, to prompt drastic remedial action on their part, that has not proven to be the case with Simpson. Rather, he seems to have settled for a combination of mild concern tinged with bemusement.

"I do know that he always comes back the next morning for his breakfast, none the wiser that I had been absolutely terrified for him," he acknowledged before sloughing off those concerns as being of secondary importance. "He's probably Britain's bravest pet. He's certainly braver than me."

That is because Archie is totally unaware of the dangers that threaten his very existence and under those circumstances it is Simpson's and Smith's responsibility to think and act for him and that entails nothing less than collecting him from the A15 and keeping him home at night. After all, data gleaned from a satellite tracking collar is totally worthless unless conscientious owners are will to act upon it.

Since most streets and roads of today are far too dangerous to allow any cat to venture on to them, it would be nothing short of a miracle if Archie were still alive today. (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 Contented with Merely Tracking His Movements by Satellite.")

Photos: The Independent of London (Hamish McHamish), Tony R. Bennett of The Bangor Daily News (Simba), Facebook (Penny, Lewis, Salem, and Percy), the Albany Times-Union (Chance), www.moggies.co.uk (Butterscotch), Shawn Patrick Ouellette of the Portland Press Herald (Spice), Dan Bouchery (Cookie), The Plymouth Herald (George), the Iceland Review of Reykjavík (Örvar and Birkier Fjalar Viðarsson), Carbonated TV (Jordan), WSPA-TV of Spartanburg (Salem), The Chronicle of Newcastle (Jasper), the Daily Mail (Dodger), The Scotsman of Edinburgh (Peat), and The Sleaford Target of Lincolnshire (Archie).