As Peat Tragically Found Out, Alcohol and Cats Are Such a Bad Mix That Even Working at a Distillery Can Be Deadly
"The Glenturret Distillery team are heartbroken. He was inquisitive, fearless and a social cat and we will miss him terribly."
-- Lesley Williamson
Alcohol and cats never have been a good mix under any circumstances. For in addition to the litany of utterly despicable crimes that are perpetrated against them by individuals laboring under Dionysus' sway, there are yet still other cretins who intentionally pollute their tiny bodies and minds with a deoch am dorais.
Even the mere acceptance of employment at a distillery in exchange for room and board can be lethal to cats as Peat tragically found out on September 8, 2014 when he was run down and killed by a hit-and-run driver outside the Glenturret Distillery, located three kilometers northwest of Crieff in Perthshire. Found lying beside the road by an unidentified staffer, he was rushed to a local veterinarian where, with distillery manager Neil Cameron looking on, he shortly thereafter either died on his own or was deliberately killed off.
As if that were not horrific enough in its own right, the petit light-brown and white kitten with captivatingly beautiful blue eyes was only six months old and had been on the job for just a little over two months. No one ever was arrested and it is highly unlikely that any of the local authorities even so much as bothered to open a cursory inquiry into the matter.
Ever since its genesis as a an illegal bootlegging operation on the banks of the Turret River way back in 1717, Glenturret has undergone many reincarnations and name changes over the course of the years but resident felines always have been the one constant. Although they were originally recruited as mousers in order to safeguard its grain reserves from rodents, they nowadays have been largely supplanted in that role by professional exterminators.
In their case, however, the Luddites' very real concern about technology eliminating jobs and thus leading to high employment has proven to be unfounded. That is because just as one window of opportunity was closing for them, another one was swinging wide open.
Consequently, cats are in even greater demand than ever these days at the ancient distillery, but they are no longer expected to catch mice. On the contrary, all that is required of them is that they meet, greet, and indulge the whims, such as posing for photographs, of the more than one-hundred-thousand visitors who annually trek to the facility.
In that endeavor, there can be little doubt that Peat was preeminently successful, even if his tenure was destined to have been a brief one. That was so much the case in fact that he already had attracted more than eight-hundred followers on Twitter at the time of his murder.
"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 the distillery's Lesley Williamson summed up his immediate impact upon arrival to The Press and Journal of Aberdeen on June 18, 2014. (See "Kitten Takes Up New Distillery Role.")
|Peat Was Hardly the Size of a Bottle of Scotch When He Was Killed|
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 motivate members of the public to offer homes to some of those that had been left behind. "We've been so pleased to see Peat settling into his new role at the Famous Grouse Experience (a highfalutin moniker for a tour of the plant and a free shot of scotch) and he seems to have caught the imagination of the local and, indeed, world press," she told the Daily Record of Glasgow on August 26, 2014. (See "Peat the Glenturret Distillery Cat's Quest to Find Homes for His Brothers and Sisters.") "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."
That certainly was a noble idea but the criminal motorist had other plans in store for Peat and his death certainly did not make Stewart's task any easier. It also left a big void at the distillery.
"The Glenturret Distillery team are (sic) heartbroken," Williamson told The Press and Journal on September 10, 2014. (See "Peat the Distillery Cat Dies after Being Struck by a Car.") "He was inquisitive, fearless and a social cat and we will miss him terribly."
Ironically, it was precisely those characteristics coupled with the distillery's utterly appalling lack of concern for his personal safety that cost Peat his life. Even more inexcusably, staffers had been forewarned of the dangers that he was flirting with when sometime earlier he had gotten stranded up a tree and had to be rescued. Yet, even that brush with disaster proved to be insufficient in order to persuade them to take better care of him.
Far from being an isolated case, quite a few of the cats and kittens shanghaied into servitude at Glenturret have either died or disappeared without so much as a trace. For instance, Peat's predecessor was a tom named Barley who arrived, courtesy of the charity Cats Protection, in September of 2012 but he likewise lasted only a little over a year on the job before mysteriously disappearing sometime during the winter of 2013-2014.
"We were very sorry to lose Barley, however, the team are (sic) truly delighted to welcome Peat to our Glenturret Distillery family," was all that Williamson had to tell The Press and Journal on that subject back on June 18, 2014.
Earlier in 2005, the booze purveyors brought on board a longhaired, even-tempered tuxedo named Brooke from Cats Protection's Cardyke Center near Glasgow. At that same time, they also adopted a gregarious ginger and white tom named Dylan from Cats Protection's Frofar branch in Angus County.
As is the case with all shelter cats, Brooke and Dylan had their own sad stories. Specifically, she had been a former stray whereas he had wound up on the street after his owner had died.
|Brooke and Dylan Did Not Last Long at Glenturret|
"We are delighted to finally have not one but two cats in position at the distillery and we are sure the charismatic Dylan and the beautiful Brooke will soon be firm favorites," Carol McLaren of the distillery told Pet Planet on June 30, 2005. (See "Cats Protection Felines Are New Top Cats.") "Dylan has already thrown himself into the spirit of things, clearly keen to make a good impression in his first days on the job and helping our team to extend a very warm welcome to our visitors."
Cats Protection was equally effusive. "...with thousands of cats in our care, we were confident we could find just the right feline for them, and we were thrilled when they decided to adopt two of the three final contenders," the organization's Helen Ralston crowed to Pet Planet. "Dylan and Brooke won't let them down. They are lovely cats, just perfect for the job."
That in itself is an utterly appalling attitude, especially coming as it does from an animal welfare group. The crucial concern in placing cats is not whether they will fulfill the expectations of their new guardians, but rather that the latter faithfully execute their custodial obligations to the former.
Moreover, that is a far cry from the position that Cats Protection's Moray Branch later took toward twenty-nine-year-old Suzi Gallagher of Elgin, two-hundred-eighty kilometers north of Edinburgh, and her adopted cat, Bramble. In her case, the charity improvised a ruse in order to confiscate Bramble because she had violated its edict by allowing the cat out into her garden. (See the Aberdeen Evening Express, July 25, 2013, "Animal Charity Admits 'Error of Judgment' to Reclaim Cat from North-East Family.")
For reasons that never have been publicly explained, neither Brooke nor Dylan lasted very long at Glenturret with the former dying in 2011 and the latter preceding her in death at some undisclosed time before that. The historical record would not be complete, however, without mentioning that the third cat in the mix, Jet Li, was adopted by an employee after having been rejected by the distillery.
Described as a "strikingly handsome chap" he, like Brooke, came from Cats Protection's Cardyke Center, but other than that absolutely nothing is known about him. It nevertheless is safe to conclude that, if against all odds, he should still be alive today that would constitute a rather compelling argument in favor of placing cats in traditional homes as opposed to fobbing them off on bloodsucking capitalists to neglect and exploit to the hilt.
Brooke and Dylan had replaced a cat named Amber who died in 2004 but nothing else is known about her, not even when she first arrived at Glenturret. The exact opposite is the case with her illustrious predecessor, a longhaired tortoiseshell named Towser, who most definitely left her paw prints all over not only the distillery but cat lore as well.
Most notably, during her twenty-four years in residence, which spanned the divide separating 1963 and 1987, she was credited by Guinness World Records with having killed an utterly astounding twenty-eight-thousand, eight-hundred-ninety-nine mice! Her fame was such that during her lifetime she was featured on the long-running BBC children's program, Blue Peter.
|Towser Killed Almost Twenty-Nine-Thousand Mice|
Even though she has been dead for thirty years, she is far from forgotten. Most notably, she lives on in the form of a bronze statue that is located in the visitors' center of the distillery. A replica of her paw prints also can be found on the labels of the now very rare and difficult to find Fairlie's Light Highland Liqueur.
Perhaps most remarkable of all, her longevity stands in stark contrast to the exceedingly brief tenures of her successors. Although it is by no means certain, it nonetheless could be that she owed her long life to her job description.
C-est-à-dire, as principally a mouser, she very well may have been permanently confined indoors whereas those cats that have followed her have been turned loose to roam the perilous roads surrounding the distillery as soon as they were no longer needed to charm tourists. It additionally is conceivable that during her lifetime Crieff had considerably fewer residents, and by extension motorists, than it currently does with a population of just under seven-thousand souls.
As William Shakespeare pointed out in Act 2, Scene 1 of The Tempest, "what's past is prologue" and that certainly has proven to be the case in regard to those unfortunate felines that have followed in Peat's paw prints. For example in July of 2015, the distillery acquired another pair of kittens, Glen I and Turret, as his replacements.
"Glen is, at eight-weeks-old, very timed and quietly inquisitive while Turret, on the other hand, is a tabby on a mission," the distillery's Stuart Cassells told The Scotsman of Edinburgh on July 30, 2015. (See "Famous Grouse Enlist (sic) Two New Distillery Cats.") "He's a month older than Glen and into absolutely everything from climbing, including your leg, to playing with whatever or whoever (sic) he can find."
The decision to recruit two kittens as opposed to one has been attributed to a love of the species coupled with an acknowledgement of their psychological needs. "The whole team at Glenturret are (sic) thrilled to welcome some new little furry team members and we have decided to home two kittens instead of one so we can have twice the fun," Cassells explained. "There is a lot of evidence to suggest that it is good for a cat's development to be around other cats as they are very social animals. They are also less likely to venture as far, so we have welcomed the cute and very mischievous Glen and Turret."
Leaving aside the fact that both kittens were taken away from their mothers way too soon, it is strongly suspected that Glenturret's true motivation in adopting them was to have at least one cat left should anything happen to the other one. Whether or not there is any truth in that observation, it certainly proved to be prescient in that Glen fell ill almost as soon as he was installed at the distillery and either died on his own or was deliberately killed off during the same month of his arrival.
"The whole team at Glenturret were (sic) so very sad about Glen's passing, but none more so than Turret," Cassells confided to The Spirit Business of London on December 9, 2015. (See "Glenturret Mouser Gets New Furry Friend.") "We knew we had to get him a friend to play with and we searched extensively. Finally we found a kitten around the same age and who was clearly in good health, and both cats were successfully introduced to each other."
|The Ill-Fated Glen I and Turret|
The result of that search was the hiring of an indomitable kitten who since has been dubbed as Glen II. "I must say, though, that Glen clearly thinks he's the boss and Turret isn't quite up for relinquishing his cozy spot underneath the still quite yet," Cassells continued to The Spirit Business. "Glen particularly likes to be front and center when there's a tour in, and has found a spot on top of a whisky cask where he gets maximum attention. A true showman, and a natural in the role!"
There is not any proven connection, but it is just possible that Turret is feeling somewhat overshadowed and neglected these days by the newcomer and that just might account for why he did a runner in February of this year. The details are rather sketchy but apparently he was AWOL for at least a week or longer before he turned up at Crieff Hydro, nearly three kilometers south of the distillery on the A85.
More than likely that would have been the last that the whisky makers ever saw and heard of him if a staffer at Crieff Hydro had not posted a notice about him on Facebook. As a consequence, someone connected with the distillery just happened to see it and Turret shortly thereafter was returned home. (See the Fife Free Press of Kirkcaldy, February 16, 2017, "Distillery Cat Was Just 'Feline' Like a Holiday.")
The media have reported that the distillery searched for him "in the immediate area," but he quite obviously had wandered considerably farther afield. That petit fait alone calls into question its commitment to him and its other cats because once a search of nearby areas has failed to bear fruit it is imperative that the scope of such an effort be dramatically expanded.
Even under the best of circumstances locating a missing cat is nearly an impossible task; nevertheless, throwing in the towel should not be an option. In such cases, owners must be willing to commit the time and resources that are required in order to look both high and low because a cat could be either hiding inside a wall at home or halfway across the country, especially should it become trapped inside a motor vehicle.
The picture that emerges of Glenturret's guardianship of the innumerable cats that have resided under its roof for the past fifty-four years is a decidedly mixed one. On the positive side of the ledger, it is to be commended for opening up its doors, if not indeed its hearts, to cats and thus saving their lives by adopting. Also as far as it is known, all of its resident felines have received adequate amounts of food, water, heat, shelter and, possibly, even veterinary care.
Most importantly of all, the company's public image has not been sullied by any reports of abuse and that includes the type that saloon crooner Wilbur Willard served up to his cat. "...when Lillian is a little kitten I always put a little scotch in her milk, partly to help make her good and strong, and partly because I am never no hand to drink alone, unless there is nobody with me," he explained in Damon Runyon's famous short-story, "Lillian," which first appeared in the February 1, 1930 edition of Collier's. "Well, at first Lillian does not care so much for this scotch in her milk, but finally she takes a liking to it, and I keep making her toddy stronger until in the end she will lap up a good snort without any milk for a chaser, and yell for more. In fact, I suddenly realize that Lillian becomes a rumpot, just like I am in those days, and simply must have her grog..."
|Glen II and Turret in Front of a Statue of Towser|
On the negative side of the equation, its abysmal failure to satisfactorily provide for the personal safety of its cats constitutes an unpardonable disgrace. In particular, it treats them as valuable company assets during business hours only to hypocritically turn around and cast them out on the street evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays. Moreover, that assessment does not even begin to take into consideration the quality of care that it provided to the hundreds, if not indeed thousands, of forever nameless and forgotten mousers who slaved away for it during the first two and one-half centuries of its existence.
Its shabby, uncaring treatment of its cats has therefore demonstrated once again that before any meaningful improvements can be made in the welfare of felines everywhere the age-old myth that they are capable of taking care of themselves, especially when pitted against a monster as thoroughly evil as man, must be debunked. (See Cat Defender post of October 9, 2015 entitled "A Lynch Mob Comprised of Dishonest Eggheads from the University of Lincoln Issues Another Scurrilous Broadside Against Cats by Declaring That They Do Not Need Guardians in Order to Safeguard Their Fragile Lives.")
Another bare-faced lie that also desperately needs to be relegated to the dust bin of history is that they are self-sufficient loners; au contraire, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, they require almost constant attention as well as supervision and that in turn means that they, generally speaking, fare much better in homes where at least one guardian is present at all times.
Unless they are left intact and therefore are on the prowl for a mate, they only roam out of boredom and neglect. Knowledgeable owners therefore know that two of the best means of keeping them contented at home is to interact with them frequently throughout the day and night and to supply them with treats from time to time.
All of that is self-evident to any halfway observant ailurophile and yet both the universities and the capitalist media continue to pretend that they need to be convinced. (See The Washington Post, April 3, 2017, "Shocker: Some Cats Like People More Than Food or Toys.")
The reasons for their intransigence are as old as time itself. "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it," Upon Sinclair observed in his 1935 book, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked and, translated to the intellectual community, that means simply that there is far too much research money available and too many cats to be tortured as guinea pigs for it to ever willingly renounce one of its most cherished and lucrative lies.
In Glenturret's case, the easiest and most humane solution would be for it to have its staffers take Turret and Glen II home with them each evening and to keep them with them on weekends and holidays. That way they would be able to avail themselves of a lion's share of the benefits commonly associated with having a traditional home, such as security, supervision, and constant companionship, while the distillery would still be able to continue to reap a financial bonanza by way of the invaluable contributions that they are making to its bottom line as cute and cuddly public relations props.
As far as Cats Protection is concerned, it once again has demonstrated through its procurement and delivery upon a silver platter of, inter alia, Brooke, Dylan, and Barley to Glenturret that it is far more concerned with sucking up to money than it is ever going to be with looking after the legitimate needs of the cats that are under its care. That, in a nutshell, is the overarching problem with just about all animal rescue groups.
Not surprisingly, a thorough lack of respect for the sanctity of feline life almost always accompanies an abiding love of shekels. (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 for 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.")
|Turret's Life Is in Grave Danger|
Finally, there cannot be any denying that alcohol is one of the greatest evils ever invented by man. In fact, David Nutt is on record as classifying it as being far more harmful to society than either heroin or crack cocaine.
"Overall, alcohol is the most harmful drug because it's so widely used," he told the BBC on November 1, 2010. (See "Alcohol 'More Harmful Than Heroin,' Says Professor David Nutt.")
"Crack cocaine is more addictive than alcohol but because alcohol is so widely used there are hundreds of thousands of people who crave alcohol every day, and those people will go to extraordinary lengths to get it."
Whereas the vast majority of cat-haters never have needed any Dutch courage in order to carry out their despicable crimes, it nevertheless is well-documented that some of them have done so while under its influence. (See Cat Defender posts of September 18, 2008, November 24, 2009, August 17, 2009, October 30, 2010, and November 25, 2015 entitled, respectively, "Drunken Brute Beats, Stabs, and Then Hurls Fifi to Her Death Against the Side of a House in Limerick," "Kilo's Killer Walks in a Lark but the Joke Is on the Disgraceful English Judicial System," "America's Insane Love Affair with Criminals Continues as a Drunkard Who Sliced Open Scatt with a Box Cutter Gets off with Time on the Water Wagon," "Drunken Bum Is Foiled in a Macabre Plot to Make a Meal Out of Kittens, Nirvana and Karma, That He Allegedly Ran Down Earlier with His Truck," and "A Cruel Teenage Drunkard and Dope Addict Who Bound a Cat and a Dog with Tape Before Killing Them Is Let Off Easy by a Calgary Court.")
An all-consuming love of the bottle also has been responsible for Animal Control officers neglecting the welfare of the cats and other animals under their supervision. (See Cat Defender post of August 31, 2006 entitled "An Animal Control Officer Goes on a Drunken Binge and Leaves Four Cats and a Dog to Die of Thirst, Hunger, and Heat at a Massachusetts Shelter.")
On Kangaroo Island, Barry Green slaughters cats in droves just so that he can stay sloshed day and night on beer. (See Cat Defender post of April 4, 2017 entitled "A Mass Murderer of Cats, Entrepreneur, Medicine Man, and Artist Are Just a Few of the Many Hats That Are Worn by a "Hands-On Environmentalist" on Kangaroo Island.")
In addition to abusing cats, drunkards also have a long and checkered history of venting their spleens on horses. "I only wish all the drunkards could be put in a lunatic asylum instead of being allowed to run foul of sober people," Anna Sewell wrote in her 1877 classic, Black Beauty. "If there's one devil that I should like to see in the bottomless pit more than another, it's the devil drink."
Despite the enormous harm done to cats, individuals, and society, there simply is not any known means of slaking man's unquenchable thirst for gorilla juice. "It is a pleasure to souls to become moist," the presocratic philosopher Heraclitus acknowledged long ago before astutely adding that "the dry soul is the wisest and the best."
About the only thing positive to have been said about alcohol came courtesy of eighteenth century English lexicographer Samuel Johnson. "There are some sluggish men who are improved by drinking, as there are fruits that are not good until they are rotten," he once opined.
Although it is highly improbable that he could have presaged the startling emergence upon the political scene of the current leaseholder at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, that particular individual nevertheless is precisely the type of blighter that Johnson had in mind when he uttered those remarks. It accordingly is almost superfluous to point out that such a teetotaling, perennial old sourpuss as him would be well served by an occasional belt of Glenturret's single malt scotch.
Photos: The Scotsman (Peat and Glen I with Turret), the BBC (Peat beside a bottle), Alan Richardson of Pet Planet (Brooke and Dylan), the Daily Record (Towser), The Spirit Business (Glen II and Towser), and the Fife Free Press (Turret by himself).