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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, March 17, 2017

Already Sans an Appendage, Simon Loses a Second One to a Killer Dog but His Devoted Owners Elect to Allow Him to Live and He Rewards Them Handsomely by Making a Remarkable Adjustment

Simon Has Been Through Hell but Is Still Able to Smile

"I stopped counting at NZ$22,000. It sure is a lot of money but putting Simon down wasn't an option. He's part of our family."
-- Robert McCarthy

Shelters, Animal Control Officers, veterinarians, wildlife biologists, and ornithologists kill cats in droves. Even a vast majority of owners have their faithful companions unceremoniously liquidated as soon as they become either old, sickly, or their presence is no longer desired.

Mercifully, that is far from being the entire story and Robert McCarthy from Auckland is a bright and shining exception to that rule. Three years ago, he and his wife, Madeline, opened up their hearts and home to a three-legged ginger and white tom named Simon.

"When we first met him at the (Royal New Zealand) SPCA we didn't even realize he was missing his back left leg," he told The New Zealand Herald of Auckland on March 5th. (See "Meet Simon: the $22K Two-Legged Cat.") "He moved around just like any other cat; it didn't affect him at all."

It has not been disclosed either how that Simon lost the leg or why that he wound up at a shelter but, needless to say, both near-death experiences constitute more than enough tragedy for any one cat to bear. Sadly, in his case The Fates, never seemingly able to leave bad enough alone, had even more miseries in store for him.

The next installment of their devilry occurred last June when he was nearly mauled to death by a neighbor's dog. The specifics of the attack have not been publicly divulged but McCarthy first learned of it courtesy of a telephone call that he received from his local veterinarian.

It therefore is assumed that either the dog's owner or a Good Samaritan collected Simon and took him to the vet. McCarthy in turn likely was tracked down by information contained on either his collar or, more likely, from an implanted microchip.

Suffering from multiple wounds and fractures to his left front leg, Simon was promptly transferred to the Veterinary Specialist Group in the Mount Albert section of the city where he underwent emergency surgery in a desperate attempt to save his leg. Sadly, an infection set in immediately following the procedure and that necessitated its removal.

Simon and His Devoted Owner Robert McCarthy

There can be little doubt that his surgeon, Kyle Clark, wanted at that juncture to snuff out his life but McCarthy and his wife were not about to go along with that. Since their beloved cat have coped well while his injured leg was in a cast, they reasoned that he could get by without any appendages on the left side of his body.

"When his leg was in a cast he would tuck it up and not even use it, or he would use it like a crutch, so we knew he would cope okay," McCarthy told The New Zealand Herald.

Even so he surely must have had some inner doubts but Simon soon silenced them by getting out of bed and taking a few tentative steps the very next day after the leg had been removed. A few weeks later he was behaving as almost nothing had ever happened to him.

"He bounced back in no time and was tackling everything from stairs to jumping on the couch and the beds," McCarthy proudly pointed out to The New Zealand Herald.

In addition to those activities, he now rolls around and roughhouses with his housemates, a cat named Olive and a dog named Barry, as well as occasionally chasing chickens and skinks around the garden. (See video posted at both The New Zealand Herald and the Daily Mail, March 6, 2017, "Now He's Feline Fine!")

Saving Simon has not come cheap, however. For instance, the first operation in order to try and save his leg cost the McCarthys NZ$7,000 of which their pet insurance paid only NZ$3,500. His stay in intensive care, antibiotics to fight off various infections, the treatment of other undisclosed maladies, check-ups, and the dressing of his wounds cost the couple several thousand additional dollars.

On top of all of that, there was the cost of amputating his leg as well as his recuperation. "I stopped counting at NZ$22,000 (US$ 15,360, 12,425£, and 14,308€)," McCarthy disclosed to The New Zealand Herald.

Bella Was Declared Persona Non Grata and Deported

The money is immaterial, however, and McCarthy is anything but crying in his beer. "It sure is a lot of money but putting Simon down wasn't an option," he declared to The New Zealand Herald. "He's part of our family."

Even if things had not worked out, he and his wife could have gone forward with clear consciences knowing in their hearts that they had done everything in their power to have saved Simon. As things joyfully turned out, Simon not only lived but has adjusted remarkably well to having just two legs.

"Simon didn't mourn the loss of a second limb and reminisce about the days when he had three legs. He simply got up on two legs and got on with life," Clark told The New Zealand Herald. "We see this all the time in the animals that come to us. I think people can learn a lot from them."

That is true enough as far as it goes but she egregiously fails to even take note of the all-important fact that cat owners all over the world could learn even more from the superlative example set by the McCarthys. First of all, they have demonstrated conclusively that no true lover of the species ever gives up on a moggy no matter how old, sickly, or handicapped it may be.

Secondly, they have shown that no expense ever should be spared when it comes to saving a cat's life because doing so is the very best investment that anyone will ever make in this world. As the result of having chosen life over death and compassion over expediency, the McCarthys have been richly rewarded by still having Simon around in order to brighten up their lives.

Every bit as importantly, cats such as Tripod, Opie, Trace, and Callie Mae have long proven that they can get by splendidly on three, two, and sometimes even no legs at all. Their determination, perseverance, and will to live serves only to make them all the more remarkable and precious. (See Cat Defender posts of February 9, 2006, November 2, 2006, and November 17, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Newspaper Cat Named Tripod Is Killed Off by Journalists He Befriended in Vermont" "A Three-Legged, Bobtailed Cat Named Opie Melts the Hearts of the Hardened Criminals at a Rural Tennessee Prison," and "Penniless and Suffering from Two Broken Legs, It Looked Like It Was Curtains for Trace Until Geoffrey Weech Rode to Her Rescue on His White Horse," plus WRKG-TV of Mobile, August 9, 2010, YouTube video entitled "Legless Cat Ready to Start Another Life.")

As wonderful as Simon's recovery has been, at least two dark clouds are hovering over his future. The most pressing of which is the presence of his neighbor's killer dog.

Since the dog's owner has not had so much as the common decency to offer to pay Simon's humongous veterinary bill, that in itself suggests that the McCarthys could very well be in for further difficulties with either him or her. With that being the case, it is imperative that they either devise some means of containing Simon or never allow him out of their sight for so much as a split-second whenever he is outside.

Simon Can Run and Play Just Like Any Four-Legged Cat

By losing two legs plus being dumped on death row at a shelter, Simon already has been put through Hell and that alone makes it highly unlikely that he is capable of withstanding much more abuse. It accordingly is not sufficient that the McCarthys have saved his life; rather, they must now endeavor to take any and all measures within their power in order to preserve it.

The second major threat to Simon's well-being comes from the authorities now that Prime Minister John Key has announced plans to take New Zealand down the same path as neighboring Australia by systematically exterminating all of its homeless cats. (See The Washington Post, July 25, 2016, "New Zealand Vows to Kill Every Weasel, Rat and Feral Cat on Its Soil" and Cat Defender post of November 18, 2016 entitled "A Clever Devil at the University of Adelaide Boasts That He Has Discovered the Achilles Heel of Cats with His Invention of Robotic Grooming Traps as the Thoroughly Evil Australians' All-Out War Against the Species Enters Its Final Stages.")

Key's eradication scheme is the brain child of loudmouthed, cat-hating buffoon Gareth Morgan who does not have anything better to do with his great wealth. (See The Guardian of London, January 23, 2013, "Cat Lovers Pounce on Campaign to Save New Zealand's Birds" and a column authored by him in The New Zealand Herald on November 14, 2015 and entitled "Cats -- the Number One Threat to Native Wildlife.")

Even the Royal New Zealand SPCA is in league with him and therefore cannot be counted upon to protect cats. (See TVNZ of Auckland, April 10, 2014, "SPCA Advice on Stray Kittens: Shoot Them.")

Even the mundane act of simply attempting to smuggle her cat, Bella, into Auckland Airport was sufficient in itself in order to get a Vancouver woman denied entry into the country last December. (See the Daily Mail, December 21, 2016, "Is It a Prrrranda? Woman Deported from New Zealand for Smuggling Her Pet on a Fourteen-Hour Flight from Canada in Her Handbag.")

The message is thus perfectly clear: the McCarthys cannot under any circumstances allow any of those cat-hating fiends to come within ten feet of Simon. That is an imperative because, first of all, domesticated cats are all the time mistaken as ferals and strays and subsequently killed on the spot.

Secondly, collars can come off and implanted microchips are not visible to the naked eye but rather must be deciphered by scanners. Thirdly, poisoners, trappers, sharpshooters, and other killers do not discriminate on the basis of a cat's socio-economic status.

After all that he has been through and so bravely transcended, the only acceptable dénouement for him would be to die a natural death in bed many years from now. All of those dark and gloomy thoughts aside for the moment, his miraculous triumph over simply outrageous misfortune is indeed something to warm the heart on this very cold and blustery St. Patrick's Day with spring, despite what the calendar says, nowhere in sight.

Photos: John Oxenham of The New Zealand Herald (Simon) and the Daily Mail (Bella).

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Caring Woman in Tekirdag Comes Up with an Innovative Way in Order Lure In Cats from the Cold

A Newly-Constructed Ladder Allows Cats to Gain Entry into Ilhan's House
"This world is not just for people."
-- Sebnem Ilhan

With Tekirdag suffering through an especially cold and snowy winter, Sebnem Ilhan knew that she had to do something about the many wet and homeless cats that she saw shivering outside her house every day. In particular, she desperately wanted to bring them inside but for reasons that never have been spelled out by the media she was unable to do so, at least not in any conventional manner.

One possible explanation is that entry into her house is only secured via an elevator and that of course would preclude her from installing a cat flap. She could have trapped and then carried them inside but, for whatever reason, she declined to do that.

After considerable reflection upon the matter, she hit upon the idea of constructing a five-rung stepladder from a window in her house down to the sidewalk and that has solved that dilemma. "I made the ladder so the cats can come into my comfortable house," she explained to Yahoo News on February 28th. (See "This Animal Lover Built a Ladder for Stray Cats to Come In from the Cold.")

In doing so, she also had the foresight to take precautions against incurring any potential problems with her neighbors. "I thought if I put some flower pots there, it (the ladder) wouldn't bother anyone," she told Yahoo News.

Apparently that ploy has succeeded in not only keeping her neighbors at bay but an unspecified number of cats have availed themselves of the ladder in order to escape the elements as well as to stock up on some much needed replenishment. "I wish no animal is hungry and thirsty, just happy," she added. "This world is not just for people."

Sebnem Ilhan Comforts a Tuxedo

Press reports, already sketchy at best, have not delved into how all of this came about but since Ilhan voluntarily rescues both cats and dogs she in all probability began by setting out food and water for the cats at ground level. After that she in all likelihood moved the food to the bottom rungs of the ladder and then, little by little, was able to lure the cats all the way to the top and eventually inside her abode.

All of that sans doute required a good deal of time, effort, and patience but since she earns her livelihood by pulling teeth she is well versed in executing tedious and delicate maneuvers. Moreover, there never was any guarantee that the cats ever would catch on to what she had in mind and that is especially the case in regard to those who had spent their entire lives roughing it.

Located on the northern coast of the Sea of Marmara one-hundred-thirty-five kilometers west of Istanbul in the tiny sliver of Turkey that lies in Europe, Tekirdag has a Mediterranean climate that is characterized by long, hot, and humid summers that are followed by cool, wet, and snowy winters. Although overnight lows between December and March rarely dip below 35° Fahrenheit, it either rains or snows more than a third of that time.

That in itself is more than sufficient in order to make living outdoors a thoroughly wretched experience for cats. Even so, winters in the Mediterranean are nothing compared to those in the northern half of the United States and Canada which annually claim the lives of tens of thousands of cats. (See Cat Defender posts of March 5, 2007, January 21, 2010, February 2, 2015, February 23, 2015, March 14, 2015, and May 13, 2015 entitled, respectively, "Run Down by a Motorist and Frozen to the Ice by His Own Blood, Roo Is Saved by a Caring Woman," "Trapped Outdoors in a Snowstorm, Annie Is Brought Back from the Dead by the Compassion of a Good Samaritan and an Animal Control Officer," "Cruelly Declawed and Locked Up Indoors for All of His Life, Nicky Is Suddenly Thrust into the Bitter Cold and Snow for Twenty-One Consecutive Days with Predictably Tragic Results," "Abandoned to Tough It Out by His Lonesome in the Deadly Michigan Cold and Snow, Flick Sustains Horrific Injuries to His Front Paws When They Become Frozen to a Porch," "Ace Is Found Frozen to a Porch with His Eyes Gouged Out but the Authorities Are Too Lazy, Cheap, and Ailurophobic to Go After His Assailant," and "Bubba Is Condemned to Spend Forty Days Trapped Underneath a Snow Covered Porch after Her Uncaring Owners Prematurely Wrote Her Off as Being Dead.")

Ladders not only are helpful when it comes to rescuing cats from the elements but they also play a vital role in assisting elderly and disabled cats to get around on their own. For example, when a handsome ginger and white male named Tom from Fulham in the London borough of Fulham and Hammersmith, located six kilometers south of Charing Cross on the north bank of the Thames, came down with arthritis that made it not only difficult but painful as well for him to scale the eight-foot garden fence that surrounds his house.

Tom with Adrienne Ellery and Gareth Bowen

At first his owner, Adrienne Ellery, did not know what to do but her thirty-five-year-old boyfriend, retired firefighter Gareth Bowen, had an idea. "I had some wood left over from building a fence so I started on a staircase," he later confided to the Daily Mail on September 19, 2011. (See "It Was a Joint Effort: Arthritic Cat Is on Top of the World after Owners Build Him a Spiral Staircase to Get over Garden Fence.") "I knew Tom was an intelligent cat and would figure out how to use it."

His partner was not so quickly persuaded, however. "When Gareth told me what he wanted to do I was astonished and thought he was a bit mad," she admitted to the Daily Mail.

Undaunted by her skepticism, Bowen forged ahead. "I was watching Tom and it was sad to see him struggle with the fence," he added to the Daily Mail. "Some days he could do it but when he came back down he was faced with an eight-foot jump and he would land with such a thud that I knew it wasn't good for his joints, particularly with the arthritis."

The end result of his labors was an aesthetically appealing twelve-rung spiral staircase that allows Tom to get up and down the garden fence. Once he reaches the summit, he is now able to navigate around the neighborhood by walking on top of the wall.

It was not all smooth sailing, however, and initially it appeared that Ellery's reservations may have had some merit. "When it was finished Tom didn't know what to make of it and I was a bit worried he wouldn't figure it out," Bowen conceded to the Daily Mail. "But then Adrienne tempted him by putting some food on each step and then Tom couldn't wait to run up the stairs. It was if he had used it all his life."

Tom Making His Way Down

Ellery readily concurred. "...it's made all the difference to the cat," she declared to the Daily Mail. "It means he can get around the neighborhood and as he's getting older it's important for his quality of life."

The staircase, which Gareth constructed in a single day's work, thus has improved both Tom's physical as well as his psychological health. "On the way down he jumps the last few steps as a way of proving to himself that he can still do it," Bowen concluded. "It's great because it means he's not stuck in the house and can be sociable with the other local cats."

Bionic implants may one day be yet still another option for cats that have been robbed of limbs by murderous motorists and combine operators. These prosthetics consist of polymer and rubber paws that are attached to titanium rods that in turn are inserted into holes drilled into their ankles.

For instance in December of last year, a handsome one-year-old homeless tuxedo named Pooh was fitted with a pair of bionic legs at the Central Veterinary Clinic in Sofia in order to replace the rear limbs that were stolen from him by either a motorist or a train engineer. "Pooh's condition is more than satisfactory," thirty-five-year-old Vladislav Zlatinov of the surgery told Yahoo News on January 28th. (See "Paw-fect Rescue: Bulgarian Stray Cat Gets Bionic Legs.") "There might be some clumsiness but he can walk, jump, and run. The only difference is a gentle tapping sound."

Steven, an eight-month-old cat who also lost both of his rear legs last year, likewise has been fitted with a new pair of bionic legs but press reports have not disclosed how that he is progressing. Both he and Pooh were brought to Zlatinov's surgery by Let's Adopt Bulgaria of Sofia which footed the enormous bills for both operations.

Tom Is Back on Top of Things in His Neighborhood

"We went to Zlatinov looking for a solution because he had solved other hopeless cases of injured animals before," the charity's Vyara Mladenova told Yahoo News. "But we didn't expect him to offer this solution and for it to be successful."

It is believed that Pooh ("Fluff" in Bulgarian) and Steven are only the second and third cats in the world to have been fitted with bionic paws. The first one was a black tom named Oscar from the parish of Grouville in the Balliwick of Jersey who lost both of his rear appendages to a combine operator in the autumn of 2009.

That groundbreaking surgery was performed a year later by Noel Fitzpatrick of Fitzpatrick's Referrals in the Eashing section of Godalming, Surrey. Leider, it is not known either how that Oscar is doing or even if he is still alive today. (See Cat Defender post of November 20, 2010 entitled "Celebrated as the World's First Bionic Cat, Oscar Now Has Been Turned into a Guinea Pig with a Very Uncertain Future.")

The reason that so few of these procedures are performed is, quite obviously, their exorbitant cost. Although Let's Adopt Bulgaria has not publicly disclosed how much that it paid Zlatinov for Pooh's and Steven's surgeries, Oscar's new limbs cost his owners, Mike Nolan and Kate Allan, a whopping £50,000.

Such procedures surely must cost considerably less in Sofia, however, given Zlatinov's newfound optimism. "(The operations) give hope that even in a country like Bulgaria innovative things can be done," he proclaimed to Yahoo News.

Pooh and His Bandaged Paws Following Surgery

Although there certainly is not anything secretive about the technology that put Oscar, Pooh, and Steven back on their feet, there is not any record of such procedures having been performed in the United States. If that is indeed the case, it can only be attributable to Americans' legendary cheapness rather than to any lack of expertise.

Even Zlatinov has reservations about bionic implants. "Cats who (have) lost one leg do pretty well. But what happens if they loose both their hind legs?" he rhetorically mused to Yahoo News. "Yes, they move somehow, but what quality of life are we talking about?"

Not only is he wrong to raise such an objection, but unless a cat is in simply excruciating pain and without so much as prayer of recovering, most any kind of life is better than none. Moreover, the quality of life afforded amputees is actually quite good.

For example, in Monmouth, Illinois, a black and white female named Trace has only two legs. Both of her rear ones were ground up inside a motorist's engine but Geoffrey Weech of the Monmouth Small Animal Hospital never even once considered killing her.

"We felt that if a cat can be that normal with three legs, I think they can adapt to two legs," he said afterwards. (See Cat Defender post of November 17, 2010 entitled "Penniless and Suffering from Two Broken Legs, It Looked Like It Was Curtains for Trace Until Geoffrey Weech Rode to Her Rescue on His White Horse.")

Pooh and His New Bionic Rear Legs

As if any additional proof was needed, a tortoiseshell named Callie Mae at the Theodore Veterinary Hospital in the Alabama town of the same name does not have any legs at all. "She's a good kitty," Sandy Tomlin of the surgery averred to WKRG-TV of Mobile on August 9, 2010. (See YouTube video entitled "Legless Cat Ready to Start Another Life.") "She even caught a mouse one time."

Cats who have lost legs also can be fitted with specially designed wheelchairs in order to help them stay mobile. That is precisely what Louise Broomhall of Seadown in the district of Canterbury on New Zealand's south island did for her beloved one-eyed cat, Blacky, after he lost both of his rear appendages to a hit-and-run driver in June of 2010. (See The Press of Christchurch, August 19, 2010, "Blacky (the cat) Gets His Wheels.")

Killing cats that are either homeless or disabled should not be an option for any society. All of them can be saved but doing so requires, like everything else that is worthwhile in this world, time, money, and effort.

Owners such and Ellery and Bowen were willing to go the extra mile for Tom as was the case for Nolan and Allan in regard to Oscar and Broomhall with Blacky. Ilhan did not harden her heart and turn her back on the homeless cats of Tekirdag and the same can be said for Let's Adopt Bulgaria and its compassionate care for Pooh and Steven. As far as Weech and the Theodore Veterinary Hospital are concerned, the kindness that they have showered on Trace and Callie Mae, respectively, can only be described as extraordinary.

The imperative therefore is not contract but rather to expand the circle of care, compassion, and legal protections to all cats regardless of either their socio-economic status or the extent of their disabilities. That lofty goal is a preeminently achievable one; all that is lacking is the commitment to make it a reality.

Photos: Sebnem Ilhan (ladder), Daily Mail (Tom), and Let's Adopt Bulgaria (Pooh).

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Stanley Exits This Vale of Tears Once and for All Time and in Doing So Leaves Behind Many a Damp Eye as Well as a Passel of Fond Memories


"Stanley provided hospital workers, ambulance staff and patients with a talking point, amusement and cuddle therapy whenever it was needed."
-- Peter Hallett of South Western Ambulance Service

The physicians, nurses, and assorted attendants who slave away saving lives in the Accident and Emergency Department (A&E) of the Royal United Hospital are going to have to find a new provider of their cuddle therapy. The same is equally true for their many patients as well as the department's drivers and paramedics at South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS) which serves more than five million residents in Bristol, the counties of Somerset, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, and Wiltshire as well as the Scilly Islands.

All of that upheaval and accompanying profound sadness is attributable to the untimely passing on January 18th of the department's longtime feline companion, Stanley. None of the particulars have been publicly disclosed but if past history is anything to go by he was not permitted the luxury of living out his all-too-brief existence to the very end and then dying a natural death, but rather was prematurely killed off by his owners who reside close by to the fifty-two-acre, five-hundred-sixty-five-bed facility located in the Weston section of Bath in Somerset.

"He has had renal and respiratory problems for years now and we feared that even last winter he wouldn't be with us for much longer," his unidentified owner told the Bath Chronicle on January 20th. (See "Tributes Pour In for Friendly Feline Stanley Cat Who Made Bath's Royal United Hospital a Brighter Place.") "He battled through them however and I like to think this was because he wanted to share one last summer with everyone."

Very little has been disclosed to the outside world concerning the handsome brown and white tom. For instance, it is not even known either how old he was at the time of his death or how long that he had been hanging out at the A&E. For its part, the Chronicle has left the latter matter obscure by reporting only that he had been visiting the hospital for "many years."

During his tenure there, however, he endeared himself to staffers and patients alike by sneaking into ambulances, sleeping on stretchers and visitors' chairs, and by comforting injured patients. He was so successful in that endeavor however that a Facebook page was established in his honor that soon attracted at least nine-hundred-twenty-six devoted followers.

Stanley Loved to Sack Out of the Hoods of SWAS's Cruisers

He is gone now but that has not stemmed the outpouring of heartfelt tributes and remembrances. "We miss him so much already but are grateful to know he had such a wonderful and exciting life meeting lots of lovely people at the hospital and beyond," is how his owner chose to eulogize him to the Bath Chronicle. "Hopefully he made others as happy as he made us."

The members of the hierarchy at the South Western Ambulance and Allied Health Branch (SWAAHB) of Unison, which represents the ambulance drivers and paramedics, also paused during their busy schedule in order to remember him. "Many of us benefited from the pet therapy that (Stanley) selflessly provided," a spokesperson for the trade union told the Bath Chronicle. "Cheerio old chap."

It was perhaps SWAS worker Peter Hallett, however, who did the best job of summing up Stanley's invaluable contributions to RUH. "Stanley provided hospital workers, ambulance staff and patients with a talking point, amusement and cuddle therapy whenever it was needed," he affirmed to the Bath Chronicle. "Many times after a bad or upsetting job I had walked out of A&E for a cuddle with Stanley, his presence in itself having a therapeutic effect on staff. I for one will miss him greatly and the RUH will always be a little sadder around A&E without him there."

Shortly after his death, Steve Pearce started a fundraising campaign at www.justgiving.com in order to raise £400 for a memorial plaque in his honor to be erected near the A&E. "Stanley was loved by so many, he brightened up our darkest hours just by being there. Usually found just outside A&E, but whenever he could get away with it, could also be found sleeping inside, on visitors' chairs and warm corners!" Pearce wrote. "His owner had no choice, but to share him with us, it's almost like Stanley felt it was his job to look after us. He will always be remembered."

That campaign proved to be so successful that by February 18th a total of £676 had been donated by eighty-one caring and generous individuals. The surplus funds in turn will be used in order to purchase a work of art to be donated to the A&E in Stanley's memory.

His life and times also serve as yet still another poignant reminder that cats provide numerous health benefits not only to their owners but also to perfect strangers working and residing in hospitals and old folks' homes as well. As a consequence, more and more of these institutions are coming to the conclusion that there are good reasons for allowing cats to either temporarily visit or to take up permanent residence on their campuses.

Stanley Was a Huge Favorite of the Ambulance Drivers and Paramedics

For example, along about this time a year ago Queens Hospital in Romford in the London borough of Havering suspended its rules in order to allow a sixty-six-year-old terminally ill woman to be visited one last time by her beloved Patch. (See Cat Defender post of May 10, 2016 entitled "A London Hospital Waives Its Draconian Anti-Cat Rules and Grants the Final Wish of a Cancer Victim by Allowing Her to See Her Beloved Patch One Last Time.")

The Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island, even has its own resident feline, Oscar, who not only knows when the Grim Reaper is on the prowl but voluntarily takes it upon himself to dispense cuddly therapy to those unfortunate souls who wind up on his hit list.  (See Cat Defender posts of July 30, 2007 and May 27, 2010 entitled, respectively, "A Visit from Oscar Means That the Grim Reaper Cannot Be Far Behind for the Terminally Ill at a Rhode Island Nursing Home" and "When Lovers, Friends, Health, and All Hope Have Vanished, Oscar Is There for Those Who Have No One and Nothing Left.")

Plus, cats have proven themselves to be adept at detecting cancer as well as anticipating diabetic and emphysema attacks. (See Cat Defender posts of April 11, 2009, March 27, 2010, April 20, 2012, May 18, 2009, April 21, 2012, and April 18, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Tiger Saves His Owner's Life by Alerting Him to a Cancerous Growth on His Left Lung," " Taken In Off the Street by a Compassionate Woman, Sumo Returns the Favor by Alerting Her to a Cancerous Growth on Her Bosom," "Grateful for Being Provided with a Loving Home, Fidge in Turn Saves Her Mistress's Life by Alerting Her to a Malignant Growth on Her Breast," "Elijah Teaches Himself How to Detect Low Blood Sugar Levels in His Guardians and Others," "Adopted from a Shelter Only Hours Previously, Pudding Saves Her Rescuer's Life by Awakening Her from a Diabetic Seizure," and "Blackie Stays Up Nights Monitoring His Guardian's Breathing for Emphysema Attacks.")

That is in fact so much the case that some individuals afflicted by disease consider the presence of their companions to be indispensable to their recovery. (See Cat Defender post of April 24, 2013 entitled "A Cancer Victim in Billericay Issues an Urgent Appeal for the Prompt Return of Her Beloved Cat, Bear.")

In spite of the myriad of services that cats dispense so freely to both their owners and society at large it is impossible to get around the disheartening reality that they seldom are appreciated for being, as Leonardo da Vinci once termed them, "nature's masterpiece." Far from it, more often than not they are routinely vilified as devils incarnate, systematically exterminated by the likes of the barbaric Australians, and horribly abused in so many ways by individuals, groups, and institutions.

Stanley's Indomitable Spirit Has Been Silenced

Even in Stanley's case it does not appear in hindsight that the staff at either RUH or SWAS ever fully appreciated him. On the contrary, they routinely rudely interrupted his repose in order to cruelly and unconscionably give him the bum rush whenever he dared to venture inside either the A&E or their ambulances. If any of them had really cared about his happiness and well-being they instead would have immediately dropped everything the very moment that he showed up, rolled out the red carpet, and lavished kind words and treats upon him. They callously threw away their golden opportunity, however, and now that his time has come and gone their rude and uncaring behavior toward him is forever on their consciences, that is, if they have any.

Speaking more broadly, it is high time that man did an abrupt about-face and turned over a new leaf and for once in his miserable existence endeavored to be something other than the selfish and exploitative monster that he always has been throughout history. To paraphrase a famous speech delivered almost sixty years ago by John F. Kennedy, he should stop repeatedly asking what cats and other animals can do for him and instead start asking himself what he can do for them.

In respect to cats, that first of all entails respecting their inalienable right to not only live but to die natural deaths as well. Secondly, they should be free from all forms of violence and abuse. Thirdly, they should be endowed with an unqualified right to security, shelter, food, water, and veterinary care.

In conclusion, even once it is in situ, the plaque is destined to be a rather shabby substitute for the real-life Stanley. About the only thing positive that can be said about it is that it will provide cat-lovers visiting Weston with an excuse, other than a medical emergency, to visit RUH and to pay their respects.

In death Stanley thus has joined the ranks of the city's other illustrious resident, the Wife of Bath, whom if Geoff Chaucer is to be believed not only ran through men like a knife cutting hot butter but also insisted that they dutifully "paid their debt" to her each night. That in turn segues into the present-day dilemma of when, if ever, is man going to wake up and pay his debt to cats like Stanley?

When all is said and done, plaques, statues, and crocodile tears do not count in this world. All that matters is how that the living are treated.

Photos: ITV of London.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Months of Unrelenting Abuse Meted Out to Elfie by a Roommate Graphically Demonstrate the Advantages as Well as the Limitations of Using Surveillance Cameras in Order to Protect Cats

Matthew Sparks Is Caught Dangling Elfie in Midair

"If it wasn't for her owner deciding to install the hidden cameras no one would have known what was going on."
-- Dan Hatfield of the RSPCA

Elfie was acting strangely and at first her unidentified owner did not know quite what to make of her erratic behavior. He was astute enough to realize however that she only acted that way whenever his new roommate, twenty-nine-year-old Matthew Sparks, was at home.

Instead of confronting him directly with his suspicions, he took the circuitous route of having hidden cameras installed in the house that he and Sparks shared in the Fishponds section of Bristol and what he discovered once he finally got around to reviewing the surveillance footage was a shocking and unmistakable pattern of sustained and systematic abuse. Specifically, his roommate would pick up Elfie and then drop her to the floor, which is not only dangerous but perturbs cats no end.

He also can be seen on the surveillance tape kicking out at her but it is unclear if he actually ever connected with any of his blows. He also not only repeatedly grabbed her roughly by the scruff of the neck but relentlessly pursued her around the house. Considering that he engaged in all of that deplorable conduct, it is entirely possible that he did far worse things to her that were not captured on tape.

Armed with the video footage, Elfie's owner brought the matter to the attention of the RSPCA and Sparks was arrested sometime last autumn. In January of this year he pleaded guilty in Bristol Magistrates' Court to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal by inflicting physical abuse and engaging in acts of mental torture. Predictably, the laughingstocks who mete out justice in Bristol let him off with a minuscule fine of £385, two-hundred hours of community service, and a lifetime ban on the owning of any and all animals.

"This was one of the most disturbing cases I have ever worked on," RSPCA inspector Dan Hatfield told the Bristol Post on January 19th. (See "Bristol Man Caught Physically Abusing and Mentally Torturing Cat in 'Most Disturbing Case Ever'.") "It is really distressing to think about the fear and pain Elfie experienced in her own home."

Luke Was Stomped to Death by a Live-In Lover

If Hatfield and his cronies at the thoroughly discredited RSPCA truly believed any of the self-serving palaver that they routinely serve up to the public they would have demanded that Sparks had been jailed for what he did to Elfie. Far from being an isolated case, it is almost unheard of for the organization to go after any feline abuser with anything other than a wet noodle. (See Cat Defender posts of March 9, 2012 and March 13, 2012 entitled, respectively, "Amateur Ornithologist Guns Down Hartley with an Air Rifle, Feigns Remorse, and Then Cheats Justice by Begging and Lying" and "The Sick Wife Defense Works Like a Charm for Cunning Patrick Doyle after He Traps a Cat and Then Shoots It with an Air Rifle while Still in Its Cage.")

The RSPCA's intransigence can perhaps best be explained as an example of the professional courtesy that one cat abuser extends to another. (See Cat Defender posts of June 5, 2007 and October 23, 2010 entitled, respectively, "The RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated" and "The RSPCA Steals and Executes Nightshift Who Was His Elderly Caretaker's Last Surviving Link to Her Dead Husband," plus Daily Mail articles dated December 30, 2012 and December 6, 2014 and entitled, respectively, "Revealed: RSPCA Destroys Half of the Animals That It Rescues -- Yet Thousands Are Completely Healthy" and "RSPCA Forced to Apology for Wrongly Putting Down Cat Belonging to Family It Accused of Cruelty in Bungled Prosecution.")

Equally disturbing is Hatfield's enthusiastic praise for technology. "If it wasn't for her owner deciding to install the hidden cameras no one would have known what was going on," he crowed to the Bristol Post.

Au contraire, if he had been paying close attention to Elfie he immediately would have known what was happening and accordingly would have given Sparks the bum's rush long ago. Instead he, according to the January 20th edition of the Daily Mail, had the cameras installed in July but did not get around to acting until sometime in September. (See "Lodger Is Caught on Camera Torturing His Landlord's Cat after He Installs Hidden Cameras to Work Out Why His Pet Is Acting Strangely.")

By procrastinating for so long, the homeowner not only irresponsibly allowed Elfie to languish in misery for months on end but, more importantly, he placed her life in grave jeopardy. That is because systematic abuse of this nature usually follows a pattern of escalating violence that ultimately culminates in the cat's murder.

Lucy Nearly Lost Her Life to a Sadistic Roommate

Foolishly waiting around for either technology to do its job or the telltale signs of such abuse to manifest themselves in the form of bruises and broken bones often is too late in order to save a cat's life. That sobering and distressing reality was driven home with a vengeance to Lisa Altobelli, a scribe with Sports Illustrated, in March of 2007 when her then live-in lover, former New York Mets' farmhand Joseph Petcka, stomped to death her cat Norman in a drunken rage.

Petcka, who also is known to have physically abused Altobelli and at least one other woman, was let off by a Manhattan court with four-hundred-seventy-six hours of community service at a soup kitchen. (See the New York Post, December 18, 2009, "Cat-Killer Petcka Sentence (sic) to Community Service," NBC Today, September 29, 2008, "Man Who Killed Cat: 'I Did Not Act Intentionally'," and the New York Daily News, September 28, 2008, "Cat Killer Petcka Treated Me Just Like an Animal -- ex-Girlfriend.")

Earlier on October 15, 2004, thirty-nine-year-old convicted thief and drunk driver Peter Landrith did likewise to a fourteen-year-old arthritic cat named Luke that belonged to the son of his lover, Allyn Cornell. The attack occurred in the townhouse that they shared in Leesburg, Virginia, and allegedly was over a tuna fish sandwich.

In spite of Landrith's litany of lies and the savagery of the attack, Loudoun County Circuit Court judge J. Howe Brown Jr. let him off with five years probation when the case finally came to trial in January of 2006. Even Landrith could not help grinning from ear to ear at the absurdity of his penalty. (See Cat Defender post of January 17, 2006 entitled "Loony Virginia Judge Lets Career Criminal Go Free After He Stomps to Death a Fourteen-Year-Old Arthritic Cat.")

Declan Garrity

Even on those rare occasion when cats are able to somehow survive lengthy periods of abuse at the hands of roommates and live-in lovers they often wind up scarred and traumatized for life and that certainly is exactly what recently happened to a pretty little black, brown, and white female named Lucy. Her hellish nightmare began in November of 2015 when her unidentified twenty-nine-year-old owner, a nurse by vocation, invited twenty-four-year-old Declan Garrity into their Upper East Side apartment in Manhattan. As a consequence of that simply horrendous mistake in judgment, the newcomer did everything but kill Lucy over the course of the following three months.

When the nurse finally tumbled to what was occurring on February 20th of last year, he already had broken Lucy's right leg in two places, her left pelvis, and several of her ribs, teeth, and claws as well. As if all of that were not horrendous enough, he additionally inflicted unspecified muscle damage as well as burns to her tail.

Mercifully, Lucy lived but even then her initial veterinary tab exceeded $12,000 and it was expected to have climbed considerably higher. Like both Elfie's owner and Altobelli, the nurse surely would have known what was occurring right under her nose if only she had been paying the least bit of attention to her cat.

"She was noticeably staying away from (Garrity). I thought it was weird," she later admitted to the New York Daily News on February 26, 2016. (See "Cat-Torturing Goon Tricked Pet's Owner into Thinking He Was 'Best Roommate Ever' while Sadistically Burning, Beating Animal for Three Months.") "I was like, "How can we get the cat to like him?' Your mind doesn't go straight to 'He's doing something to my cat'."

Larry Negard

Contrary to the falderol so profusely doled out in the universities and churches, sensory data is far superior to theoria and never should be ignored. Plus, cats are especially good judges of character and if they are wary of an individual, their owners should be likewise.

Garrity subsequently was charged with animal cruelty and fired by Barclays Bank but he did a runner and returned home to Omagh in Northern Ireland where he remains to this very day. Since Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has shown absolutely no interest whatsoever in having this sadistic monster extradited, he in all likelihood never will be punished for the repeated beatings that he dished out to Lucy. (See the Belfast Telegraph, March 3, 2016, "New York Cops Arrest Northern Ireland Man Accused of Cat Torture after He Ignores Ruling by Judge," the New York Daily News, April 20, 2016, "Cat-Torturing Creep Declan Garrity Back in Native Ireland (sic), Manhattan Judge Issues Bench Warrant," and the New York Post, October 13, 2016, "Banker Wanted for Torturing Cat Is Found in Ireland (sic) -- with Pet Dog.")

Leaving cats alone with roommates for long periods of time while chasing shekels and sex is bad enough in its own right, but to leave an ailing one behind in order to go on a six-week sailing expedition simply boggles the mind. As difficult as it may be to believe, that is precisely what Alex McAllaster of Fort Walton Beach did with her eight-year-old cat Dante in the spring of 2013.

Not surprisingly, the unidentified roommate got rid of him almost as soon as she was out the door. It took quite a bit of doing but this story ended happily on June 29th when McAllaster finally located him outside one of Walmart's stores. (See Northwest Florida Daily News, articles dated June 7, 2013 and July 3, 2013 and entitled, respectively, "Roommate Gives Away Cat; Owner Searching" and "Cat Given Away by Roommate Found: 'As Soon as He Meowed, I Knew It Was Him'.")

Duplicitous neighbors pose an even greater threat to cats than do Machiavellian lodgers such as Sparks, Petcka, Landrith, and Garrity. For instance, over the course of the past several years, nine cats belonging to Randy and Patsy Hamilton of Bossier City, located on the East Bank of the Red River in Louisiana, have mysteriously disappeared. Even worse, those whose remains later were found had been either shot or beaten to death.

They had no earthly idea who was killing them until their home surveillance camera recorded their next-door neighbor, sixty-eight-year-old Larry Negard of 6008 Tracy Lane, shooting yet still another of their cats, Oreo. He then climbed over the six-foot fence that separates their properties in order to retrieve the cat's body before subsequently stuffing it into a trash bag.

Following that, he likely deposited the cat in a trash can whereby it was shortly thereafter collected by the garbagemen and taken to the city dump and burned with the remainder of the trash. Negard thus was able in the space of a few, violent minutes to systematically eradicate Oreo from the face of the earth without leaving behind any obvious traces of her. It often is all that easy not only to kill a cat but to get away scot-free with doing so to boot.

Stephanie Curwen Sics Her Pit Bull, Duke, on Regi

Every bit as methodical as he is cunning and murderous, Negard afterwards leaned over the fence with a garden hose in order to wash away any incriminating evidence that he may have left behind. He was not quite thorough enough this time around, however, because officers from the Bossier City Police Department had reviewed the surveillance video and therefore knew not only what to look for but, more importantly, where to find it. It therefore was not surprising that they found blood and tissue samples belonging to Oreo on the ground where Negard had shot him.

"It is terrible that someone would kill our cat," Randy Hamilton told the Bossier Press-Tribune on March 4, 2016. (See "Bossier Man Jailed for Killing Neighbor's Cat.")

In either late February or early March of last year, Negard was found guilty of simple cruelty to an animal by judge Edward Charles Jacobs of the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court for Bossier and Webster Parishes, sitting in nearby Benton, and sentenced to ten days in jail. He also was fined $500, ordered to pay another $500 in restitution to the Hamiltons, and court costs as well.

It is amazing that he received even that polite tap on the wrists considering that assistant district attorney Richard R. Ray initially wanted to let him off the hook scot-free. "He was offered probation and no jail time but be repeatedly refused and insisted on going to trial. With the video evidence we knew we had a strong case against him," he candidly admitted to the Bossier Press-Tribune. "We were pleased the court found Mr. Negard guilty as charged."

Apparently it never has so much as crossed the minds of either Ray or the Bossier City Police Department to investigate the deaths of the Hamiltons' other cats. If they were to do so, there can be little doubt that they would soon discover that it was none other than Negard who had killed them all.

Stephanie Curwen

In spite of the gargantuan malfeasance demonstrated by the authorities as well as the total lack of anything even remotely approaching justice in Jacobs' ruling, Hamilton was pleased with the outcome of the proceedings against Negard. "We are so thankful that the Bossier (City) Police Department and the District Attorney's Office took this matter seriously," he mindlessly gassed to the Bossier Press-Tribune.

Interlopers who either intentionally sic their dogs on cats or simply allow them to run free and thus to instigate such attacks of their own volition are an additional concern. For example in June of 2014, twenty-four-year-old Stephanie Curwen of Walter Avenue in St. Annes, Lancashire, turned loose her Staffordshire Bull Terrier-mix, Duke, on a six-month-old black kitten named Regi as he was sitting on top of a fence that surrounded the house that he shared with Lesley-Ann Brocklehurst and her family on Baron Road in the South Shore section of Blackpool.

She then stood idly by laughing as Duke dragged Regi to the ground and proceeded to tear him apart. She and Duke in all likelihood would have been able to have gotten away with their despicable crime if their devilry had not been captured on a surveillance camera that was mounted on the property of Brocklehurst's neighbor, Craig Hargreaves.

As was the case with Sparks, the RSPCA prosecuted Curwen but the buffoons who sit on Blackpool Magistrates' Court let her off with an inconsequential fine of £280. (See Cat Defender post of July 18, 2015 entitled "Blackpudlian Thrill Seeker Who Sicced Her Pit Bull on Regi and Then Laughed Off Her Fat Ass as He Tore Him Apart Receives a Customary Clean Bill of Health from the Courts.")

Later in early 2015, the same cruel fate befell an elderly three-legged black cat named Freeman from Tarring in West Sussex when he was abducted from his owner's garden and subsequently mauled to death on a neighbor's lawn by two large dogs that were thought at the time to have been Dobermans. After the attack, the dogs' owner pulled up in a blue car, collected them, and then proceeded on her merry way.

"To find out that he had been savaged by the dogs and the owners had not done anything is just completely callous," Freeman's forty-four-year-old owner Tracy Lynch told the Daily Mail on April 3, 2015. (See "Shocking Moment Three-Legged Cat Was Mauled to Death by Two Passing Dogs as It Lay in Its Front Garden.") "That's what's most distressing for us that they didn't do anything to check on the cat."

Freeman Was Mauled to Death by Two Vicious Dogs

The ninety-second attack was recorded by a surveillance camera that was located on the property of Lynch's neighbor, Terry Rickards, but no arrest ever was made in this case. Clearly, something is terribly wrong whenever vicious dogs are not only allowed to roam freely but to trespass on private property in order to kill cats.

Cretins who get rid of unwanted cats and kittens by by sealing them up in bags and boxes and then casually tossing them out in the trash are a universal plague. Even more distressing, they rarely are ever caught and made to answer for their heinous crimes in a court of law.

For example, shortly past midnight on August 6, 2015, sixty-two-year-old Susan Maude of Park Road in Tranmere, Merseyside, zipped up three cats, Polly, Dolly, and Dylan, and five black kittens in a laundry bag and then deposited them in a trash can at a car park off of Southwick Road. Unfortunately for her, she was captured on surveillance cameras carrying out her devilry.

"A member of the public rang a cat rescue charity and asked them (sic) to come out and collect an animal," RSPCA inspector Anthony Joynes related to the Daily Mail on March 2, 2016. (See "Shocking Photos of Kittens Left Abandoned by Their Callous Owner, Sixty-Two, Who Dumped a Laundry Bag Full of Eight Cats Next to Bins Near Her Home.") "When they got there they discovered a cat popping its head out of a bag and found there were three adult cats and five kittens inside."

Charged with animal cruelty for not only dumping the cats but also for turning loose a dog named Rusty to fend for himself in the street she, like Garrity, did a runner and as a consequence never showed up for trial. She nevertheless was found guilty in absentia by Wirral Magistrates' Court of Birkenhead and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Susan Maude Leaves Home with a Sack Full of Eight Cats...

Although she is now known to be living in the Normanton section of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, one-hundred-thirty-two kilometers northeast of Tranmere, that warrant never was served and she remains to this very day as free as a bird. That is of secondary importance, however, in that the main concern is that the cats were saved from simply horrific deaths. Even then they had an extremely close call.

"We're very lucky that we didn't end up with a bag full of dead cats," Joynes added to the Daily Mail. "It was a hot August day and they weren't found until early afternoon."

Not only that but they very easily could have been collected by garbagemen and subsequently ground to bits at the city dump long before any relief arrived on the scene. Thankfully, that did not happen and the RSPCA claims to have rehomed all of them.

Although in this particular instance the existence of surveillance cameras undeniably led to the identification and subsequent arrest of Maude, it does not appear that they played any beneficial role at all in saving the lives of the cats. "We're also lucky that members of the public who live in (sic) the street have their own security cameras and I've got to thank them," Joynes concluded.

The most infamous case of cat stealing and dumping in recent memory occurred on August 21, 2010 when forty-five-year-old spinster Mary Bale nonchalantly strolled up to a four-year-old female named Lola on Brays Lane in Coventry, Warwickshire, petted her, and then stuffed her into a garbage can. That likely would have been the end of her if her owners, Darryl and Stephanie Andrews-Mann, had not had the presence of mind to have taken a look at the footage from their home surveillance camera.

...and Returns Thirty Minutes Later with an Empty Sack

Lola's life thus was spared but even then her deliverance did not come until fifteen hours later. The footage was handed over to the RSPCA and Bale eventually was charged with animal cruelty but judge Caroline Goulborn of Coventry Magistrates' Court let her off with a measly £250 fine plus £1,171 in court costs.

Even more revoltingly, Goulborn treated her as if she were the victim as opposed to being Lola's assailant and would-be murderer. First of all, she all but excused Bale's misconduct on the ground that she had been depressed over her father's illness.

Secondly, she argued that Bale had been treated unfairly by the mainstream as well as social media. "The media interest in this case has resulted in you being vilified in some quarters and I have taken that into account," she ruled according to the account of the proceedings rendered on October 19, 2010 by the BBC. (See "Coventry Cat Bin Dump Woman Mary Bale Fined for Cruelty.")

Although her solicitor, David Murray, later told the BBC that she "bitterly regretted" what she had done to Lola, that certainly was a far cry from the tune that she was humming immediately following her unmasking and arrest. "I don't know what the fuss is all about," she declared to the Daily Mail on August 26th. (See "Greyhaired (sic) Bank Worker Who Dumped Cat in Wheelie Bin Could Face Court as RSPCA Prosecutors Review Case.") "It's just a cat."

A third incidence whereby surveillance camera footage proved to be crucial in saving a cat from harm occurred on November 15, 2013 when a ten-year-old large white and brown tom with patches of fluffy ginger fur named Busby was snatched in broad daylight by a man and a woman from a car park at Springfield Court in the York suburb of Holgate in North Yorkshire. Fortunately as far as his heartbroken owner, thirty-nine-year-old Chris Howson of Falconer Street, approximately four-hundred-three feet north of Springfield Court, was concerned, the abduction had been recorded by a surveillance camera belonging to one of his neighbors.

Mary Bale Steals Lola, Stuffs Her in a Trash Can, and Calmly Walks Away

The tape not only was promptly turned over to the North Yorkshire Police but posted online as well.  Howson, however, was not about to sit around hoping against hope that the authorities and the general public were going to locate his cat for him. Rather, he offered a reward for Busby's return, fly-posted the neighborhood with Lost Cat posters, and issued an impassioned appeal for his return.

"If people know where he is, please contact me," he told The Press of York on November 22, 2013. (See "York Cat Returned to Owner after Video of Theft Goes Viral.") "I just want him back, if the people who took him return him to where they took him from, there will be no questions asked..."

He augmented that appeal with a not-so-subtle threat. "If not I will pursue the matter and if they are eventually caught I will press charges," he added to The Press.

That did the trick and the man in the video telephone him and promptly returned Busby to him on November 21st. Although he seemed to be a bit on edge as the result of his trying ordeal, he was otherwise unharmed.

"He (the thief) told me he didn't think he had a home," Howson confided afterwards to The Press. "I didn't believe him but I didn't really want to stand around and have a chat, I wanted to get him home. I'm grateful he has done the right thing."

A Pair of Thieves Make Away with Busby

An almost identical set of facts and circumstances repeated themselves shortly before midnight last December 4th on Brunswick Street East in Hove, East Sussex, when another still unidentified man and woman teamed up to steal a three and one-half-year-old ginger-colored tom named Mr. Cheeky from the courtyard of the house that he shared with fifty-four-year-old Ollie Wilson and forty-six-year-old Laura King. As was the case with Busby, the abduction was recorded by a surveillance camera belonging to one of the couple's neighbors.

Lamentably, in this case the tape apparently was not turned over to them until considerably later and that delay ultimately proved to be costly. To condense a long and truly heartbreaking story into a few words, neither hide nor hair ever was seen of Mr. Cheeky again until he was run down and killed January 28th by a motorist a short distance from home on Cromwell Road. (See Cat Defender post of February 8, 2017 entitled "The Long and Hopelessly Frustrating Search for the Kidnapped Mr. Cheeky Ends Tragically Underneath the Wheels of a Hit-and-Run Motorist.")

The respective surveillance tapes are far too grainy as to allow for any positive identifications to be made but nevertheless there is a faint resemblance between the couple that stole Busby and the pair that nabbed Mr. Cheeky. Plus, their modi operandi are identical.

It therefore might be worthwhile for King, who is still searching for Mr. Cheeky's abductors, to touch bases with both Howson and the North Yorkshire Police. If Maude is capable of fleeing from Tranmere to Normanton in order to avoid prosecution, it certainly would have been easy enough for the thieves who stole Mr. Cheeky to have transversed the four-hundred-thirty-six kilometers that separate Holgate in the north from Hove in the south. Thanks to the invention of modern-day forms of conveyance, great distances no longer pose much of an obstacle to those individuals and groups intent upon engaging in criminal activities.

A surveillance camera mounted on board the HMS Belfast as it lay anchored near the London Bridge early on the morning of February 9, 2008 likewise failed to save the life of its mascot, Kilo, from three drunken yobs who drowned him in the Thames. The surveillance footage coupled with the eyewitness testimony of one of the museum ship's security guards, Steve Laceby, did however eventually lead to their arrests.

Busby and Chris Howson

Deplorably, even the existence of those two pieces of irrefutable evidence proved to be insufficient in order to persuade judge Sue Green of Camberwell Youth Court in London to punish Kilo's executor, a sixteen-year-old girl identified only as Jessica from the borough of Enfield in north London. As a result, she set her free with nine-months of supervised probation.

Jessica who, like Curwen, was laughing off her ugly little face as she hurled Kilo into the drink, turned in a repeat performance during sentencing and, considering the lopsided brand of justice that English jurists are known for dispensing, she perhaps was entitled to her hilarity. (See Cat Defender posts of October 2, 2008, November 10, 2008, and November 24, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Sixteen-Year-Old London Girl Is Finally Arrested in the Horrific Drowning Death of Kilo from the HMS Belfast," "London Teenager, Convicted of Killing the HMS Belfast's Kilo, Also Is Unmasked as a Remorseless Liar and Drunkard," and "Kilo's Killer Walks in a Lark but the Joke Is on the Disgraceful English Judicial System.")

Of the thirteen cases of abuse chronicled above, only nine of them involved surveillance cameras and of that latter tally only four of them were owned and operated by the victims' caretakers; the remainder belonged to neighbors. Most importantly of all, in the cases of only Elfie, Lola, and Busby can they be said to actually have made vital contributions toward saving feline lives.

Even that latter statistic is somewhat misleading in that by relying upon technology in order to protect her, Elfie's owner not only procrastinated but actually endangered her well-being even further. Much the same thing can be said for the delay on the part of Lola's owners in reviewing the surveillance footage captured by their camera.

On the legal side of the equation, surveillance footage led to convictions in only five of the cases and none of the defendants in any of them received any jail time except for Negard and he only got a measly ten days. That in turn lends credence to the deep-seated suspicion that almost any ailurophobe could shoot untold numbers of cats right before the eyes of most jurists and yet still be let off with a small fine and probation.

Jessica and Her Accomplices Are Captured on Camera

In spite of the meager results achieved so far by surveillance cameras, it nonetheless is believed that they do indeed have a role to play in protecting cats but before that can become a reality drastic modifications need to be made in how that they are deployed and utilized. First of all, the quality of the images that they capture must be drastically upgraded.

Secondly, in order to be effective multiple cameras that are capable of filming movements and activities from various angles and ranges are essential. Thirdly, surveillance cameras require much better nighttime lighting in order to be of much value.

Fourthly, guardians need to actually own their own surveillance systems. As the distressing events surrounding Mr. Cheeky's abduction and death have demonstrated, relying upon those of a neighbor is woefully inadequate when it comes to both protecting cats as well as holding abusers and thieves accountable under the law.

Fifthly, surveillance footage is of no use unless it is reviewed at least several times a day. If the owners of both Elfie and Lola had been willing to have done so, they could have spared them months and hours of totally needless suffering and terror.

It additionally is a good idea to timely review surveillance footage even when cats are known to be safe and sound indoors. Individuals who are willing to do their due diligence in this regard are then in a position to identify potential dangers, whether they be human or animal, long before a catastrophe occurs.

Kilo Never Received Any Justice from the Courts

Sixthly, cameras are desperately needed at all TNR colonies in order to ward off mischief. Around-the-clock armed guards would be an even better idea but there are not too many cat-lovers who are willing to undertake that awesome responsibility and expense.

In the final analysis, however, there is not any substitute for knowledgeable, caring, and vigilant owners who are willing to devote huge amounts of time and resources to their cats' welfare and that applies regardless of whether they also rely upon surveillance technology in order to augment their efforts. This world always has been hostile to cats and that is even more so the case nowadays in that motorists, ornithologists, and wildlife biologists have joined the ranks of their more traditional enemies.

"...the unfortunate feline species seemed to be fair game for every kind of cruelty and neglect," veterinarian James Herriot wrote in his 1994 book, Cat Stories. "They shot cats, threw things at them, starved them and set their dogs on them for fun."

By failing to take their cats' safety seriously enough, Altobelli failed Norman as Cornell did likewise with Luke. The same thing can be said for Lucy's unidentified owner as well as McAllaster's poor judgment in fobbing off Dante's care on an unreliable roommate.

Regardless of whether the threats emanate from roommates, neighbors, dogs, or thieves, it is naïve for individuals who care about cats to expect very much in the way of assistance from either rescue groups, the police, or the courts. Such individuals accordingly are pretty much on their own and although surveillance cameras, unlike implanted microchips, have some limited utility when it comes to protecting cats from harm, they are by no means a panacea.

Photos: the RSPCA (Elfie and Sparks), Brent Cornell (Luke), the New York Daily News (Lucy, Lola and Bale), Steven Hirsch of the New York Post (Garrity), the Bossier Press-Tribune (Negard), the Blackpool Gazette (Regi), the Daily Mail (Curwen and Freeman) the Liverpool Echo (Maude), The Press of York (theft of Busby and him with Howson), and the HMS Belfast (Jessica and Kilo).

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The Long and Hopelessly Frustrating Search for the Kidnapped Mr. Cheeky Ends Tragically Underneath the Wheels of a Hit-and-Run Motorist

Mr. Cheeky

"You've paid a high price for being so independent, friendly and fearless, or perhaps because of your resemblance to 'A Street Cat Named Bob', but you could never have been an indoor cat. It just wasn't in your nature. I'm so glad you got a last taste of freedom, albeit tragically brief."

-- Laura King

The long-drawn-out search for Mr. Cheeky has finally ended. Tragically, the three and one-half year old ginger-colored tom was intentionally run down and killed by a hit-and-run motorist sometime January 28th on Cromwell Road, a scant 1.44 kilometers removed from the home that he shared on Brunswick Street East in Hove, East Sussex, with fifty-four-year-old Ollie Wilson and his common law wife forty-six year old Laura King as well as a black cat named Django.

An unidentified woman discovered his body in the road and rushed him to the Wilbury Veterinary Surgery at 20 Wilbury Street but it was too late to save his precious life. An implanted microchip was found and deciphered and, this time around, Petlog did its job by supplying the surgery with the names and address of his owners. (See Cat Defender post of January 24, 2017 entitled "Tigger Is Finally Reunited with His Family Despite the Best Efforts of the Administrators of a Microchip Database to Keep Them Apart.")

Nevertheless, this incident has graphically demonstrated once again that when it comes to safeguarding the lives of cats implanted microchips are thoroughly worthless. (See Cat Defender post of May 25, 2006 entitled "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats.")

Heinous and despicable acts of this nature also constitute the perfect crime in that neither the police nor phony-baloney animal protection groups can be so much as bothered with even superficially looking into them. Consequently, no arrest has been made and none is expected.

"I've been in bits all day thinking about it," King, who was notified of Mr. Cheeky's death at 11:50 a.m. by the surgery, wrote later that same day in an article entitled "The Kidnapping of Mr. Cheeky -- the Final Chapter" that was posted on the Facebook page Find Mr. Cheeky. "He had such a tough start to life, abandoned as a young cat, barely out of kittenhood, living on the streets and rescued by Lost Cats (of) Brighton, where we got him, and then only two and a half years of happy life with us..."

Although he was a rough and tumble tom, he also had his gentler side. "He was a tough and independent cat most of the time -- let's face it he ran the neighborhood in catty terms!-- but just occasionally he would be as soft as a marshmallow and allow a big cuddle, usually when he was tired," she continued. "Or if I let him sleep on our bed -- big treat-- he would start by sleeping nonchalantly at the bottom and gradually work his way up...through the night until he had wedged his head under my chin gently purring and bunting me with his nose until I was so hot I had to get up and relegate him back to the living room with his food and litter tray."

The surgery offered, for a hefty fee no doubt, to burn and dispose of Mr. Cheeky's remains but King instead asked it to hold them until she could collect them after the weekend because she was too upset to drive the 1.93 kilometers that separate her house from the surgery. She easily could have walked that short of a distance but apparently she did not even feel up to doing that.

As a result, the surgery refrigerated them. That is all that has been revealed but hopefully King and Wilson did reclaim and later bury them in their garden. The very thought of them being casually tossed out in the trash is too nauseating to even contemplate.

By way of commemorating Mr. Cheeky's life she is planning on hosting a Mad Catters' Tea Party February 19th at Patisserie Valerie on Western Road in order to raise money for Lost Cats. No further details have been disclosed, but it would be a nice gesture on its part if the shelter were to kindly reciprocate by naming either a fund or a wing in his honor. The shelter itself sans doute could sorely use the money after having recently lost its longtime founder, Ron Ayres, to the Grim Reaper and now to be facing eviction from its current location.

Although Mr. Cheeky's murder is sad enough in its own right, how that he came to be on Cromwell Road in the first place is an entirely different, and ongoing, story that began on December 4th when he was stolen from Wilson and King's courtyard by a pair of brazen thieves. Since they sometimes allowed him to stay out all night, they did not realize that anything was amiss until he failed to show up for breakfast the following morning.

In all likelihood they would have remained forever ignorant of his fate if one of their neighbors had not come forward and voluntarily supplied them with Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage of his abduction. It has not been disclosed when the unidentified neighbor contacted them but it apparently was sometime considerably later because the surveillance video was not uploaded onto YouTube until December 15th.

"Our neighbor found these images on CCTV of our cat Mr. Cheeky being kidnapped by a couple, we think in their twenties, at 11:52 p.m. on Sunday 4th December," King disclosed to the Brighton and Hove News on December 15th. (See "Cat Thieves Caught on Camera.") "The man fusses (with) Mr. Cheeky, then the woman entices him with some food. They then pick him up and take him round the corner to the end of Brunswick Street East where it exits onto Waterloo Street."

The Thieves Lured Mr. Cheeky into Their Net of Intrigue...

The male culprit is described as being white, five-feet, eight-inches tall, stockily built, and with short brown hair that is shaved on the sides. He is wearing a black jacket, light-colored jeans, and dark shoes.

His accomplice was a five-foot, six-inch, white female wearing a long padded black coat with a fur-lined hood. She also had on a knee-length dark dress, black low-cut ankle boots, and light-patterned leggings. She additionally was carrying a white shopping bag.

"It's a callous and stupid thing for someone to do," Wilson angrily barked to The Sun of London on December 14th. (See "Catnappers: Heartbroken Couple Release (sic) CCTV Footage of Their Beloved Ginger Cat Mr. Cheeky Being Stolen from Outside Their Home.") "I'd never expected someone to steal Mr. Cheeky, he's not a pedigree cat."

C'est la vie. It is always unforeseen events that are the most difficult to cope with and, worst still, they constitute the norm as far as most cats are concerned.

"Mr. Cheeky had been inside all evening fast asleep," Wilson continued. "He left through the cat flap and was sat (sic) in the courtyard when he was taken."

King later corroborated her mate's version of events on that fateful evening. "My last memory of Mr. Cheeky was earlier on the night he was taken. I was sitting on the sofa in front of the TV and Mr. Cheeky was lying on his back on my lap reaching up with his paws to try and brush my hair with his claws," she wrote in the January 28th Facebook article cited supra. "It was one of his little things. He was fascinated by hair. But it was also a perfect moment which I will treasure always."

Chances are that he would still be alive today if either she or Wilson had had the bon sens to have locked the cat flap. In her defense, King stated on in a January 31st addendum to her January 28th article on Facebook that a miscommunication between her and her mate was the reason that the flap was not secured. For whatever it is worth, she insists that Mr. Cheeky was locked up nights ninety-five per cent of the time.

The case against Wilson and King's guardianship of Mr. Cheeky is even more egregious in that in addition to allowing him to stay out all night at times, they allowed him to roam the streets of Hove pretty much at will. "You had a paw in every door -- little children loved you -- and you followed us to the local pub too," King wrote in the January 28th Facebook article. "You even tried to follow me up the street to get the bus to work and were a regular visitor striding up the aisles at the Sunday Assembly in Waterloo Street!"

Ever since Wilson and King started their own business, MatchFit Media, of Brighton in late 2014 they undoubtedly have been away from home for rather extended periods of time at least five to six days a week and in doing so they, from all indications, left Mr. Cheeky to wander the streets all by his lonesome. (See PRWeek of New York, January 26, 2015, "Ollie Wilson Leaves CLA to Launch Brighton-Based Agency MatchFit Media.")

As if all of that were not reproachable enough in its own right, they not only inexcusably allowed him to scrap with dogs but even reveled in his deering-do to boot. "You wouldn't hesitate to look a dog straight in the eye or boot a canine nose which got too close," King revealed in her January 28th Facebook article. "You even managed to cow an American Bulldog two doors down and visit and walk around the flat as if you owned it."

Plus, Mr. Cheeky was known to be overly fond of people and bad things generally can be counted upon to happen to such cats. (See Cat Defender post of July 14, 2016 entitled "Missy, Who Was Too Kindly Disposed Toward Humans for Her Own Good, Is Memorialized in Wood at the Bus Stop That She Called Her Home Away from Home for Almost a Decade.")

That is just one more reason why that cats, contrary to popular opinion, should not be tamed any more than is absolutely necessary. A healthy wariness of humans is highly beneficial for their long-term survival. Also, as far as it is feasible owners never should allow anyone else to feed them.

...and Then Spirited Him Away to Parts Unknown

The negative aspect of such a policy is that shelters routinely kill cats that they deem to be unsocialized. Even so, almost any cat that is trapped and brought to one of these wretched killing factories can exhibit characteristics of being wild owing solely to the fear and stress that routinely accompany such a harrowing experience.

As a result, most cats cannot win no matter what their socio-economic status, temperament, and behavior. (See The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 11, 2011, "Shelter Shock. Cats Can Get Sick from Stress. One Proposed Remedy? Keep Them Out.")

In addition to contacting the Brighton and Hove News, Wilson issued a public appeal for Mr. Cheeky's return. "It's been very upsetting and stressful. Mr. Cheeky is such a character, he's much loved and we enjoyed having him at home," he told The Sun. "We're worried about him and we hope he is okay. I'm appealing to the people in the CCTV to please return Mr. Cheeky."

Zoe Ayres of the Sussex Police echoed those sentiments. "Mr. Cheeky is microchipped and is missed dearly by his owners. We are appealing to anyone who might recognize the man or the woman or have information as to the location of his whereabouts," she declared to The Sun. "I would also like to appeal to the people in the video as our main priority is to get Mr. Cheeky back safe with his owners. He is probably very distressed being away from his normal surroundings and it is obviously very upsetting for his owners."

In the extremely trying days and weeks that followed, King fly-posted the neighborhood with Lost Cat posters, offered a £300 reward for Mr. Cheeky's return, and established at least two pages on Facebook as well as writing about his disappearance on her blog, www.thepoetlaura-eate.blogspot.com. As far as it could be determined, she did not hesitate to check out every credible lead that she ever received but all of her efforts failed to bear fruit.

Arguably the most promising course of action available to her and Wilson would have been for them to have had stills made of the thieves from the surveillance tape and then to have circulated them around the neighborhood. In particular, these photographs ought to have been shown to both employees and patrons of the Bottom's Rest Pub at 16 Kerrison Mews, which is only about fifty feet or so removed from where Mr. Cheeky hung his hat.

"We suspect they (the thieves) may have left Bottom Rest's Pub at the top of the street before spotting Mr. Cheeky sitting in (our) yard," King theorized to the Brighton and Hove News in the article cited supra.

Sure enough the bar, according to information contained online, closes its doors at midnight and that tends to lend credence to her suspicions. Apparently that avenue of inquiry either was not pursued for whatever reason or turned out to be a a cul-de-sac.

In this instance, the valuable time that had elapsed between Mr. Cheeky's disappearance and when his owners were alerted to the existence of the surveillance video may have proven fatal. If, on the other hand, they had been able to show stills of the culprits to bartenders at the pub the very next day there is a good chance that they not only would have remembered serving the duo but might actually have known their names and address.

Furthermore since most, but not all, people go to bars in order to socialize, it is possible that one or more of the patrons who were on hand December 4th would have recognized the thieves. Any little tidbit of information gleaned from either patrons or employees could have been decisive in cracking this case.

The only other obvious option available to Wilson and King would have been for them to have temporarily shuttered their business and beaten the pavement day and night for Mr. Cheeky. If they did not want to do that, they could have retained the services of a private dick to have acted in their stead. (See Cat Defender post of April 2, 2015 entitled "Cornishman Shells Out £10,000 on Private Peepers in Order to Track Down Farah's Killer but Once Again Gets Stiffed by Both the Police and the RSPCA.")

Since Mr. Cheeky was able to stay alive for nearly two months that eliminates both PETA and the RSPCA from the list of possible suspects in that both groups routinely kill off all cats that they steal from the street. (See Cat Defender posts of January 29, 2007, February 9, 2007, October 7, 2011, June 5, 2007, and October 23, 2010 entitled, respectively, "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in a North Carolina Courtroom," "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs," "PETA Traps and Kills a Cat and Then Shamelessly Goes Online in Order to Brag about Its Criminal and Foul Deed," "RSPCA's Unlawful Seizure and Senseless Killing of Mork Leaves His Sister, Mindy, Brokenhearted and His Caretakers Devastated," and "RSPCA Steals and Executes Nightshift Who Was His Elderly Caretaker's Last Surviving Link to Her Dead Husband.")

Lost Cat Posters Did Not Work This Time

Vivisectors, fur and flesh traffickers, and other miscellaneous abusers likewise can be eliminated for that same reason. It seems unlikely in this instance but it is always remotely possible that Mr. Cheeky could have been stolen and dumped by either bird or wildlife advocates.

That is precisely what happened in Southampton, Hampshire, back in September and October of 2007 when a self-professed bird lover trapped and subsequently dumped between six and eight of his neighbors' cats at an undisclosed location. In a macabre resemblance to what happened to Mr. Cheeky, one of the stolen cats, a two-year-old ginger tom named Fletcher, later was killed by a hit-and-run motorist twenty-two kilometers from home in Corhampton.

"It makes me really angry at what has happened," his twenty-nine-year-old owner, Kelly Went, said afterwards in sentiments that have become all-too-familiar to both Wilson and King. (See Cat Defender posts of October 30, 2007 and November 16, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Crafty Bird Lover Claims Responsibility for Stealing Six Cats from a Southampton Neighborhood and Concealing Their Whereabouts" and "Fletcher, One of the Cats Abducted from Bramley Crescent, Is Killed by a Motorist in Corhampton.")

In Mr. Cheeky's case, however, his abduction appears on the one hand to have been a random crime of opportunity. It is even conceivable that the thieves were drunk and stole him as some kind of a perverse prank.

On the other hand, the woman appears to have enticed him over with food which in itself would tend to indicate a certain amount of forethought went into her actions. It additionally is rather odd that he, in spite of his overly friendly nature, was so compliant and that in turns leads to speculation that he may have known his abductors. Since he was wearing a yellow collar, there can be little doubt that he was purposefully stolen as opposed to having been mistaken for a homeless waif.

The most perplexing aspect of this tragic and disturbing case concerns where and what Mr. Cheeky was doing between December 4th and January 28th and in that light absolutely nothing was known until certain unidentified individuals residing on Cromwell Road contacted King out of the blue a few days after his death in order to inform her that he had been frequenting their flat. They even supplied her with at least two photographs of him entering the premises through an open window on January 27th.

"Sadly the occupants hadn't heard about Mr. Cheeky's case to realize a stolen cat was visiting them or they would have kept him in and contacted us," King wrote February 1st in an untitled article posted on Facebook. "They are so upset but I have told them they mustn't blame themselves. If a cat looks okay and is wearing a collar, why wouldn't you assume they (sic) must belong to a neighbor?"

From that it can be inferred that she accepted their version of events because their physical descriptions do not match those of the culprits as shown in the video but beyond that her severely redacted version of that encounter raises far more questions than it answers. First of all, did Mr. Cheeky's collar contain contact data?

Secondly, through their abysmal failure to take any concrete steps in order to protect Mr. Cheeky's safety, the occupants of the flat have proven themselves to be every bit as callous and uncaring as both his owners and abductors. Thirdly, King most conspicuously of all fails to disclose how long that her cat had been visiting the flat.

"Our one crumb of comfort is that at least our darling wasn't malnourished when he died -- albeit thinner than when he was stolen," she concluded in the February 1st article. "But it still breaks my heart how scared and stressed he must have been for so many weeks. And how desperate to find his way home to us."

None of that is necessarily true. For instance, if he had been taken out of the area and dumped at a remote location, like Fletcher, and then attempted to find his way home, the telltale signs of his travails may have been evident in his worn-down claws and the pads on his feet and even a cursory veterinary examination would have detected such damage.

If that were not the case, a far more plausible explanation is that his abductors were astute enough in order to have kept him inside for at least a month. After that length of time cats, supposedly, forget all about their old abodes and owners.

Mr. Cheeky Visiting a Flat on January 27th

It is entirely conceivable that the thieves were hands-on, as opposed to absentee, caretakers and that he grew to like living with them. Quite obviously, either they or someone else had been feeding him. Regardless of what actually transpired, the thieves are every bit as guilty as everyone else who either walked in or out of his brief life for failing to protect him from the machinations of motorists.

With blood in her eye, King is determined more than ever to bring Mr. Cheeky's abductors to justice and in furtherance of that worthy objective she announced in another untitled Facebook article dated February 2nd that she had been granted an interview with the BBC for the following morning. That engagement, however, did not go well.

In a February 3rd posting on Facebook that since has been deleted she stated that the network's Neil Pringle not only gave her short shrift but even had the unmitigated gall to cast aspersions on the unassailable fact that Mr. Cheeky had been kidnapped in the first place. It will no doubt come as cold comfort to her, but one-sided, scurrilous journalism is a staple at the propaganda arm of the old British Empire.

For example, last September James Menendez of the News Hour not only granted Peter P. Marra of the disgraced Smithsonian Institution a platform in which to agitate for his cat-killing agenda but in doing so he even chuckled at the very idea of so many innocent felines being slaughtered. Like just about all of the network's hatchet jobs, this outrageous piece of unabashed anti-cat propaganda never was posted on its web site.

Moreover, both Menendez and the BBC were fully aware that Marra served as Nico Dauphiné's supervisor. (See Cat Defender posts of July 12, 2011, November 18, 2011, and January 6, 2012 entitled, respectively, "The Arrest of Nico Dauphiné for Attempting to Poison a Colony of Homeless Cats Unmasks the National Zoo as a Hideout for Ailurophobes and Criminals," "Nico Dauphiné, Ph.D., Is Convicted of Attempting to Poison a Colony of Homeless Cats but Questions Remain Concerning the Smithsonian's Role," and "Nico Dauphiné Is Let Off with an Insultingly Lenient $100 Fine in a Show Trial That Was Fixed from the Very Beginning.")

It therefore would not appear that King can expect much assistance from the BBC. She likewise apparently has not received any anything other than lip service from the Sussex Police.

Her best bet therefore would be to canvass the area around Cromwell Road in search of a young couple in their twenties and this would need to be done primarily through contacting the owners and superintendents of apartment blocks. Even if a pair of suspects should be ultimately identified, the surveillance video may be insufficient in itself to support the bringing charges against them owing to its poor quality.

There additionally has been some speculation that the thieves dumped Mr. Cheeky because he had become too hot to hold on to before fleeing the area themselves. In that case, any young couple known to recently have moved out of the neighborhood immediately would fall under a cloud of suspicion. Tracking them down and holding them accountable under the law would, however, require either the cooperation of the authorities or the hiring of a peeper.

Oddly enough, King as of yet has not publicly expressed so much as a jot of interest in bringing Mr. Cheeky's killer to justice. That is a real shame given that with so many surveillance cameras in the area, the dastardly dead very well could have been captured on tape.

Her total unwillingness to face up to her own culpability in his death is a likely factor in her reluctance to pursue that angle. "I take the point about indoor cats but Mr. Cheeky was having no truck with that," she wrote January 31st in the comments' section of her January 28th article on Facebook. "...Mr. Cheeky would bash his face against the cat flap until his nose bled during the daytime if he was not let out."

Based upon that, it would appear that he craved something that he was not getting at home. "He also had a huge need for the company of other humans and cats, which we didn't realize when we first got him," she continued. "He was massively sociable and had 'a paw in every door'."

Whereas it is readily granted that the difficulties associated with putting the brakes on a cat that has grown accustomed to enjoying unfettered freedom cannot in any way be underestimated, King committed the fatal error of drawing all the wrong conclusions from Mr. Cheeky's personality and behavior. "I guess this made him a high risk cat in some ways, but it was not one of our neighbors who stole him, but two random strangers. Our neighbors are all devastated and he was perfectly safe with them," she concluded.

How Long Had He Been Coming to This Flat?

First of all, it is difficult to see how that she could have arrived at such deductions considering that neither the thieves nor the motorist have been identified. Consequently, both of them very well could be neighbors of hers.

Secondly, the existence of the Bottom's Rest Pub is a rather strong indication that the neighborhood contains retail as well as residential properties and the latter most assuredly attract all sorts of outsiders. Thirdly, Hove has more than ninety-thousand residents and nearby Brighton is home to more than two-hundred-eighty-one-thousand additional denizens. Most of them undoubtedly also own and operate motor vehicles and that in turn makes the area far too dangerous for cats to be allowed to roam the streets without chaperones.

Although kidnappings are relatively rare, the evidence is overwhelming that motorists are lethal to cats. (See Cat Defender posts of November 21, 2012, January 30, 2010, and August 17, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Officials at Plymouth College of Art Should Be Charged with Gross Negligence and Animal Cruelty in the Tragic Death of the School's Longtime Resident Feline, PCAT," "Casper Is Run down and Killed by a Hit-and-Run Taxi Driver While Crossing the Street in Order to Get to the Bus Stop, and "Brave Little Fred the Undercover Cat Has His Short, Tragic Life Snuffed Out by a Hit-and-Run Driver in Queens.")

Even those cats that are able to somehow weather these totally uncalled for assaults often wind up maimed for life. (See Cat Defender posts of October 13, 2016, May 2, 2012, November 13, 2010, April 29, 2010, September 12, 2009, and March 5, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Bart Has Courageously Overcome Being Run Down by a Hit-and-Run Motorist and Subsequently Buried Alive by His Owner but Another Dark Cloud Is Looming over His Future," "Pregnant, Abandoned, and Then Deliberately Almost Killed by a Hit-and-Run Driver, Sugar Crawls Back to Her Subterranean Abode in Order to Feed Her Kittens," "Christopher, Who Has Persevered Through Tragedy and Given Back so Much, Is Now Being Held Captive for His Valuable Blood," "Long Suffering River Finally Finds a Home after Having Been Run Over by a Motorist and Nearly Drowned," "Luzie Sustains a Broken Hip and a Bloody Mouth Before She Is Successfully Rescued from the Busy Elbtunnel," and "Run Down by a Motorist and Frozen to the Ice by His Own Blood, Roo Is Saved by a Caring Woman.")

The case against motorists is so damning that even police officers, who are supposed to act responsibly and to enforce the laws of the road, not only callously allow their cats to be run down and killed but actually do likewise themselves to those that are owned by civilians. (See Cat Defender posts of March 18, 2009 and June 18, 2015 entitled, respectively, "Eco, Who for Years Was a Mainstay at a Small Massachusetts Police Department, Is Run Down and Killed by a Motorist" and "Harry Is Run Down and Killed by a Pair of Derbyshire Police Officers Who Then Steal and Dispose of His Body in an Amateurish Attempt to Cover Up Their Heinous Crime.")

Politicians likewise not only use them as valuable political props with little or no regard for their personal safety but often are downright antagonistic to roadside memorials erected in the memory of those that have been killed by motorists. (See Cat Defender posts of November 10, 2014, November 13, 2014, and October 9, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Freya, the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Resident Feline, Cheats Death Once Again When She Survives Being Run Down and Injured by a Motorist but Her Good Luck Cannot Last for Much Longer," "Gutless Georgie 'Porgie' Osborne Gets Rid of Freya but in Doing So Lies About the True Reason Behind His Second Cruel Abandonment of Her," and "Feline Traffic Fatalities Are Unworthy of Commemoration According to a Möhnesee Bureaucrat Who Orders the Destruction to a Roadside Memorial to Jule.")

Moreover, there cannot be so much as a scintilla of doubt that all such attacks on cats by motorist are, not accidental, but rather intentional. (See Cat Defender post of June 25, 2015 entitled "Kayden Is Run Down Three Times in Succession by a Van Driver in Yet Still Another Graphic Example of How So Many Motorists Intentionally Kill Cats.")

Even more galling, these individuals not only glory in mowing down cats but also at the tremendous amount of pain and suffering that they are inflicting upon their heartbroken owners. "The world is a bad dog," Joe Conrad opined in his novel, Victory. "It will bite you if you give it a chance."

It accordingly is the solemn duty of all individuals who care about cats to do everything in their power not to allow these rotten, scum-of-the-earth bastards to win! For homeowners, such as Wilson and King, that entails nothing less than keeping their cats out of the street.

For the managers of TNR colonies, the homeless, and those who reside in buildings that do not allow cats, a solution to this pressing and disturbing dilemma is largely out of their control but even they must do whatever they can in order to protect those that are under their care. (See Cat Defender posts of January 5, 2011, March 2, 2012, and August 2, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Gunned Down by an Assassin and Then Mowed Down by a Hit-and-Run Driver, Big Bob Loses a Leg but Survives and Now Is Looking for a Home," "Homeless Man in Washington State Pauses in Order to Take a Snooze and It Ends Up Costing Him His Beloved Cat, Herman," and "Old, Poor, and Sickly, Jeanne Ambler Is Facing Eviction for Feeding a Trio of Hungry Cats.")

There is not any point in arguing that the task is too difficult because if Michael King was able to rough it all the way from Portland to Ventura and then back to Helena with Tabor safe and sound in his backpack surely homeowners are capable of figuring out a way of keeping their cats from winding up underneath the wheels of motorists. (See Cat Defender post of July 5, 2013 entitled "Tabor's Long and Winding Road Leads Her Back Home but Leaves Her with a Broken Heart.")

In Milford, Connecticut, and on the remote Japanese island of Iriomote, Cat Crossing signs have been erected and speed limit restrictions have been instituted in select cities throughout both Deutschland and Angleterre but those efforts have been sabotaged by politicians and the police who have absolutely no interest whatsoever in protecting the lives of cats. Consequently, the onus of doing so falls by default squarely upon the shoulders of their owners and caretakers. (See Cat Defender posts of January 26, 2007 and November 26, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Cat Activists Succeed in Getting Connecticut Town to Erect a Cat Crossing Sign" and "After Surviving on Its Own for at Least Two Million Years, Rare Japanese Wildcat Faces Its Toughest Battle Yet.")

Sadly, Mr. Cheeky Has Climbed His Last Tree

The best solution is to provide them with large, fenced-in yards that have nets strung across the top. Unfortunately, such arrangements normally are either impracticable or too expensive as far as most cat owners are concerned.

One possible compromise would be to equip cats with escape-proof harnesses and then to tether them to long leashes in the garden. If that is not feasible, their guardians need to accompany them on all of their outdoor rambles because, with the notable exceptions of rural areas and quiet, exclusively residential, neighborhoods, it is far too dangerous in most instances to allow them to roam on their own.

Measures of this sort are needed because it is cruel and unfair to keep them locked up indoors all the time. They are not, as birders and wildlife biologists ludicrously contend, second-class citizens of this planet. Furthermore, they never have committed any offenses that would justify such mistreatment.

Secondly, exclusively indoor environments can be harmful to their physical health. (See Cat Defender posts of August 22, 2007 and October 19, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Indoor Cats Are Dying from Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Various Toxins in the Home" and "Smokers Are Killing Their Cats, Dogs, Birds, and Infants by Continuing to Light Up in Their Presence.")

Thirdly, such environments deny them not only access to fresh air but to the extensive exercise that they need. Fourthly, keeping cats locked away deprives them of the society of their fellow felines and as such has a tendency to engender behavioral problems.

Regardless of whatever approach is adopted, the time when cats were capable of holding their own against the machinations of the monster known as man are long past and those individuals, institutions, and groups that contend likewise are liars. (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 myth currently en vogue is that they are low maintenance animals. In reality, however, nothing could be further from the truth.

In addition to their myriad of mortal enemies, they require almost constant attention in order to ward off the onset of both boredom and loneliness and that usually means that they fare best with owners who stay home the vast majority of the time. Under such circumstances, they not only tend to do considerably less roaming but mischief as well to their owners' houses.

As Mr. Cheeky has demonstrated, sterilizing a cat does not always reduce its tendency to roam and that is especially the case if its owners are either away for most of the time or ignore it whenever they actually are at home. As a consequence, busy and selfish individuals who are unwilling to devote considerable time to ensuring that their cats are happy and contented ought to reconsider adopting one and instead get something that they are better suited to handle, such as a pet rock.

In spite of how truly tragic events have turned out for Mr. Cheeky, King is still in denial and that does not bode well for the prospects of either Django or any other cats that she and Wilson plan on adopting in the future. "You've paid a high price for being so independent, friendly and fearless, or perhaps because of your resemblance to A Street Cat Named Bob, but you could never have been an indoor cat," is how that she chose to eulogize him in the January 28th Facebook article cited supra. "It just wasn't in your nature. I'm so glad you got a last taste of freedom, albeit tragically brief."

There is no one so obstinate as those individuals who pigheadedly refuse to learn from their past mistakes but King's turning to religion for solace really takes the cake. "So farewell my brave soldier, the most fearless cat I ever knew," she wrote on January 28th. "God bless you my fur babe, until we meet again."

That is doubly ironic in that the Sunday Assembly which she attends is comprised of nonbelievers. "We want people to come and feel part of a community and have fun -- but we can't promise eternal life," the church's leader, Simon Clare, declared to The Argus of Brighton on August 1, 2013. (See "Atheists Set Up Brighton and Hove's First Godless Church in Waterloo Street.")

Bull sessions devoted to science, philosophy, and psychology have replaced Bible thumping as the brain fodder du jour at the Sunday Assembly but absolutely nothing contained in either of those two extremes ever has produced anything even remotely beneficial for cats like Mr. Cheeky. He is simply stone-cold dead and he is not coming back either tomorrow or in ten-thousand years.

Photos: Facebook (Mr. Cheeky), The Sun (surveillance tape), and the Brighton Journal (Mr. Cheeky up a tree).