.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

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

Monday, June 30, 2008

Berlin Zoo Reunites Old Friends Muschi and Mauschen after a Brief Enforced Separation


"They greeted each other and had a cuddle and now they're happy."
-- Heiner Kloes


Long before there was Knut and Thomas Dorflein the Berlin Zoologischer Garten had Muschi and Mauschen. In fact, the bond that has developed between the black cat of undetermined age and the forty-year-old Asiatic black bear is arguably even more amazing than the one that exists between the orphaned polar bear and his surrogate mother. (See photo above.)

For eight years, Muschi and Mauschen were practically inseparable. "They sunbathed together and shared meals of raw meat, dead mice, fruit and bread," the zoo's Heiner Kloes told the Daily Mail on June 16th. (See "Pictured: The Cat and Bear -- Best Friends Who Simply Can't Bear to Be Apart.")

Unfortunately, the good times came to an abrupt end last October when Mauschen was locked in a cage while her living quarters were enlarged. Deprived of the company of her best friend, Muschi would sit outside Mauschen's cage and pine.

Earlier this month, zookeepers corrected their prior mistake and allowed Muschi to rejoin her friend in her cage. "They greeted each other and had a cuddle and now they're happy," Kloes added.

According to Kloes, Muschi strolled onto the grounds of the zoo sometime in 2000 and soon thereafter struck up a friendship with Mauschen. Since the two got along so well together, the zoo decided not to interfere.

The fact that the pair quickly became such a popular attraction with the zoo's elderly and regular patrons no doubt played a role in that decision. Muschi is moreover reported to have quite a following with the public.

Although no one can say with any degree of certainty, Kloes theorizes that Mauschen's mothering instinct is the reason behind her acceptance of Muschi. This analysis is buttressed by the fact that the eight-hundred-eighty-one-pound bear has gone out of her way in order to protect the nine-pound cat from male bears intent upon eating her.

Normally, cats keep their distance from bears but that is not always the case. A few years back, an orange and white declawed tomcat named Jack twice in one day treed a black bear that had wandered into his yard in West Milford, New Jersey. (See Cat Defender post of June 19, 2006 entitled "Irresponsible Cat Owner Allows Declawed Tomcat Named Jack to Tangle with Black Bear in Northern New Jersey.")

According to Jack's owner, Donna Dickey, her then ten-year-old obese cat is very possessive about his yard and routinely chases off any squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and mice brazen enough to venture onto his turf. Of course, the fact that he was been mutilated may in part account for his aggressiveness.

Considering the magnitude of the crimes that the zoo's director, Bernhard Blaszkiewitz, has committed against both cats and bears it is truly amazing that Muschi and Mauschen are even still alive. (See photo above of him cutting the cake at Knut's first birthday party on December 5th of last year.)

Most glaringly, Blaszkiewitz readily admits to having used his own hands in order to break the necks of four stray cats back in 1991. "Ich halte es nach wie vor fur richtig," he defended his actions in an interview with Die Welt on March 28th. (See "Berliner Zoo-Chef rechtfertigt Katzen-Totung.") "Es geht eine grosse Gefahr von verwilderten Hauskatzen aus fur Mensch und Tier. Deswegen konnen sie in so einem Raum nicht geduldet werden."

He was singing an entirely different tune a few weeks later when he was hauled before parliament and forced to account for his murderous conduct. "Es ist nicht zu andern, ich habe es gemacht. Na klar, heute wurde ich es nicht mehr tun," he is reported as having told the legislators in the April 14th edition of Die Welt. (See "Zoo-Chef bedauert erstmals Katzentotung.") "Ich bin siebzehn-Jahre alter."

Blaszkiewitz is now working with Wolfgang Apel of the Deutschen Tierschutzverband whose organization now traps, sterilizes, and then relocates any cats that wander onto the grounds of the zoo. For whatever it is worth, Apel insists that the zoo no longer kills cats.

None of that, however, explains why Muschi has not been given the bum's rush. Most likely, she owes her continued good health to all the euros that her legions of fans deposit in the zoo's coffers.

Blaszkiewitz also has been accused of selling three elderly Asiatic bears to a slaughterhouse in the early 1990s. Meanwhile, PETA has filed a criminal complaint against the zoo for killing more than one-hundred-fifty animals and for confining ten bears in cramped quarters at Berlin's Tierpark, which Blaszkiewitz also oversees. (See Die Welt, April 18, 2008, "Tierschutzorganisation PETA zeigt Zoo-Chef an.")

Others have accused Blaszkiewitz of selling tigers and jaguars to the Chinese who in turn kill them so that they can harvest their valuable body parts in order to make potions that are used in the ongoing struggle against impotency. Furthermore, on June 5th, a goat was taken from the petting zoo, slaughtered, and fed to wolves in full view of the public. (See Der Spiegel, June 6, 2008, "Berlin Zoo Feeds Goat to Wolves.")

At age forty, Mauschen is the equivalent of one-hundred-twelve in human terms. With the exception of occasional bouts of arthritis on wet and windy days, she appears to be otherwise in good health. Muschi, meanwhile, must be quite a cat in order to have avoided being killed by either the bears or other large carnivores at the zoo. In certain respects, zoos are even more of a jungle than nature.

Photos: Daily Mail (Muschi and Mauschen) and Der Spiegel via Deutsche Presse-Agentur (Blaszkiewitz).

Friday, June 27, 2008

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navy Hatch a Diabolical Plan to Gun Down Two-Hundred Cats on San Nicolas Island


"...His (man's) chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species..."
-- Ambrose Bierce


The cat-hating miscreants that run the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the United States Navy announced earlier this month that they have unilaterally decided to massacre about two-hundred cats on San Nicolas Island off the coast of Los Angeles. (See photo above.)

The killers first will attempt to lure the defenseless felines into leghold traps where they will be subsequently dispatched to the devil with gunshots to the head. Those cats that are too wily in order to fall for that ploy will be hunted down at night like convicted felons on the lam by marksmen equipped with powerful battery-powered flashlights and specially-trained bloodhounds.

Acting upon the advice of seasoned cat-killers from Australia, the assassins will be armed with twelve-gauge shotguns, .223-caliber rifles, and .380-caliber pistols. This mass slaughter, which could commence almost any day now, is expected to be completed within a year.

Treated as scum during their all-too-brief sojourns upon this earth, the felines will find neither peace nor dignity in death. Some of their bullet-riddled corpses will be handed over to the Navy for disposal, most likely through incineration, while the remainder will be presented to wildlife biologists as prized trophies to be dissected.

Those inveterate liars and intellectual frauds then will painstakingly catalog every morsel of avian and reptilian flesh found in any of the dead cats' stomachs. The data collected in turn will serve as the basis for an outpouring of bogus research aimed at legitimizing the killings. It goes without saying that none of the cats will be given anything remotely resembling Christian burials.

The wildlife biologists' maniacal hatred of cats is nowhere more evident than in their steadfast unwillingness to consider any humane alternatives. Although they have produced no credible evidence that the cats' presence is having a deleterious effect upon other species, they have rejected not only pleas to allow them to stay but the use of both humane traps and contraceptives.

They likewise are violently opposed to both TNR and relocating the cats off island. In their twisted and demented gourds, the only good cat is a dead one.

The only concession that they have made is a pledge to consider sparing some of the kittens. Given their perverse agenda, that is is about as likely to happen as bumping into Frosty the Snowman in Hell.

San Nicolas is a relatively little known member of California's eight Channel Islands. (See map below.) Measuring nine miles in length and three and one-half miles wide, it has very little vegetation, an arid climate, and is prone to high winds and erosion. Its one claim to fame is that it served as the setting for Scott O'Dell's 1960 best-selling children's novel entitled Island of the Blue Dolphins and its 1975 sequel, Zia. (See photo below.) There was also a movie of the same title that came out in 1964.

Other than that, San Nicolas's history has been forged upon the crucible of murder and mayhem. O'Dell's tome recounts the 1835 slaughter of a majority of the Nicolenos at the hands of Russians and Aleutians and the removal of the survivors to the mainland by Spanish missionaries. The island's sheep were extirpated in 1943 and the wild dogs so vividly described by O'Dell were gotten rid of somewhere along the way.

Henceforth, it will be the morally reprehensible slaughter of the island's two-hundred abandoned cats by the USFWS and the Navy that San Nicolas will be best remembered.

Since 1933 it has been owned and occupied exclusively by the Navy which maintains missile and aircraft launch facilities as well as a radar tracking unit. (See photo below.) Water wells and pipelines, a desalination plant, a sewerage system, roads, telecommunications facilities, and numerous buildings also dot and crisscross the island. Approximately two-hundred sailors are stationed on the island which is closed to the public.

The historical record is not exactly clear, but cats have been living on the island for approximately the last one-hundred-fifty years if indeed not longer. It is believed that they were first transported to the island during the 1800s by ranchers and fishermen in order to serve as mousers and companions. The cats currently residing on the island are sans doute descendants of those brought in by the very buggers now plotting their eradication, i.e., the sailing boys.

Instead of caring for them in a halfway responsible manner, the Navy used and abused them and then abandoned them to their own devices. The cats should have been provided with shelter, food, water, veterinary care and, if necessary, sterilizations.

What they have received instead from the ingrates have been intermittent extermination campaigns stretching back to the 1980s. Being cowards as well as killers of small animals, the Navy is afraid to inform the public as to either the exact number of cats it already has killed or the methods employed during these killing sprees.

This time around the Navy, ably assisted by the USFWS and its sister agencies, is intent upon making a tabula rasa of San Nicolas's cats just like it and the other branches of the military are doing with felines on all American bases both at home and abroad. (See Cat Defender posts of June 16, 2008 and November 14, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Targeted for Elimination by the American War Machine and Cheney's Henchmen, Baghdad's Cats Are Befriended by an English Mercenary" and "Military Killing Cats and Dogs by the Tens of Thousands as Imperialistic America Attempts to Conquer the World.")

This extirpation has been made possible, oddly enough, by the environmental crimes committed by Montrose Chemicals of Torrance. Between 1945 and 1982, it dumped tens of thousands of tons of Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT) and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) into the waters off the California coast.

These deadly pollutants contaminated worms and other microorganisms that fish feed upon who in turn poisoned the birds and mammals that prey upon them. In particular, DDT contamination decimated the population of bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and led to a decline in Brandt's Cormorants (Phalacrocorax penicillatus).

This prompted the United States Government and the state of California to instigate legal proceedings against Montrose. The lawsuit was settled in 2002 when Montrose and three smaller concerns agreed to fork over $73 million in damages. Combined with prior settlements, the United States Government pocketed a grand total of $140 million from these proceedings.

This led to the establishment of a six-headed cat-hating monster known as the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program (MSRP). Comprised of the USFWS, National Park Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), California Department of Fish and Game, California State Lands Commission, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the organization immediately staked out an ambitious agenda that included rehabilitating fish stocks and habitats as well as restoring bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and seabirds to their past glory.

The piece de resistence of MSRP's agenda is the killing of all of San Nicolas's cats. Cats already have been extirpated on San Miguel, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara, and there can be little doubt that if MSRP succeeds in killing off San Nicolas's cats that those on Santa Catalina and Dick Nixon's old haunt of San Clemente will be next.

The logic underpinning this diabolical plan is, to say the least, mind-boggling: since Montrose's actions killed birds and marine life, ergo the cats must die. Any freshman philosophy student resorting to such a reductio ad absurdum would not only be given a big fat "F" in Logic 101 but laughed off campus as well.

Nonetheless, this the golden opportunity that the wildlife biologists who comprise MSRP have been salivating over for so long and now they have $1,854,100 of the people's money at their disposal in order to temporarily slake their incurable thirst for feline blood. In point of fact, the entire project is predicated upon a tissue of lies beginning with the "Environmental Assessment for the Restoration of San Nicolas Island's Seabirds and Protection of Other Native Fauna by Eradicating Feral Cats (EA)."

Commissioned by the USFWS and the Navy, the report was prepared by a group of fellow cat-hating wildlife biologists who do business under the imprimatur of H.T. Harvey and Associates of Fresno. This was without question another no-bid federal contract doled out to a known think tank that could be depended upon to produce a document that not only could be used to smear cats, but to justify their murders as well.

In that respect, authors Brian B. Boroski, Jeff N. Davis, Scott B. Terrill, and David G. Duke performed remarkably well. Not a single cat advocacy group was contacted for input and from start to finish their long-winded, hate-filled spiel does not contain a kind syllable about cats.

In fact, cats are treated throughout as either vermin or inanimate objects that do not have any right to exist anywhere under any circumstances. They are dealt with in the same cavalier fashion that practitioners of genocide down through the ages have spoken about the groups that they have hated and attempted to obliterate from the face of the earth.

Even more revealing, the EA provides a rare glimpse into how dishonest and diseased minds function and the exorbitant lengths that they are prepared to go in order to achieve their objectives. The day will come when it will live in infamy alongside such other notable outrages as Roger Taney's 1857 decision in Dred Scott v Sandford and Hugo Black's miserable effort in 1944 in Korematsu v United States.

The document also reveals the writers' utter contempt for America's more than sixty-million cat owners as well as for the more than eighty per cent of respondents who recently told Alley Cat Allies (ACA) that they are categorically opposed to the killing of feral cats.

This is another classic example of a group of governmental agencies that have become fat and tyrannical while feeding at the public trough. In short, Americans are paying these glorified welfare bums and freeloaders to act against their best interests, morals, and sentiments.

Not only were all cat advocacy groups completely excluded from the decision making process but MSRP has pretty much succeeded in denying the public the right to even comment on the eradication plan. The USFWS unveiled the EA in a press release on May 19th but the announcement, for whatever reason, was not picked up by any media outlet. (See "Environmental Assessment for San Nicolas Island Seabird Restoration Project Available for Public Review and Comment.") Moreover, only one public meeting on the EA was scheduled and that was held on June 4th in Ventura.

The vast majority of the public did not learn of the extermination plan until the Ventura County Star of Camarillo published a one-sided, five-paragraph article about it on June 5th. (See "Feral Cats May Be Eliminated from San Nicolas Island.") Even that feeble effort read like a press release from MSRP in that only the EA and the USFWS's Jane Hendron were quoted.

Even more outrageously, the USFWS agreed to accept written comments from the public up until only June 17th. It is most likely a moot point in that no amount of public outrage could possibly change the minds of the cat-haters, but it is nonetheless crystal clear that the USFWS has absolutely no use for democracy.

It is therefore understandable that criticism of the plan has been muted. Predictably, both the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and PETA chose to limit their objections to the barbaric nature of the extermination plan.

"This is not humane. I would not say shooting cats or leaving them in leghold traps for up to fourteen hours is humane," Nancy Peterson of HSUS told the Ventura County Star in a follow-up article published on June 6th. (See "Biologists Want Island Cats Killed.") "This is proposed by wildlife biologists who are treating cats as wildlife...These are like the domestic pussycats we have at home, but they're living a wild lifestyle."

To its credit, PETA on its website denounced the cruelty involved in both shooting the cats as well as in trapping them in steel-jaw traps. Unfortunately, it soon lapsed back into its old familiar ailurophobic ways by agreeing that it would be permissible to eradicate the cats so long as they were humanely trapped and then killed off by a licensed veterinarian. (See "Urgent: San Nicolas Island's Cats to Be Cruelly Trapped and Killed.")

The entire debate about humanely killing cats is not only disingenuous but irrelevant. No one has the right to kill any cat, feral or domestic, and that includes the United States Government, the State of California, PETA, and HSUS!

Worst still, both HSUS and PETA have fallen into a trap set by MSRP. On page fifty-five of the EA, the authors state that, "This sense of loss (killing cats) may be reduced if the death is considered to be humane."

To maintain that murder ever can be humane is pure sophistry. Besides, the hounding down and shotgunning to death of innocent cats by cat-hating public servants with an agenda all their own can never be considered to be just. As Henry David Thoreau once observed, "Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it."

That is certainly the very antithesis of everything that the USFWS and the Navy represent. They are precisely the mortal enemies of both the animals and man that Ambrose Bierce had in mind when he wrote in his Devil's Dictionary that man's "chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species..."

ACA limited its response to sending out an e-mail urging those who care about cats to express their opposition to the USFWS before the June 17th deadline. Sometimes these efforts can have an impact, such as in Cape May earlier this year, but most often bureaucrats ignore them and politicians reward complainers with inboxes and mailboxes chock-full of their own unrelated propaganda. As Paul Valery once astutely observed, "La politique, c'est l'art d'empecher les gens de se meler de ce qui les regards."

The biologists dearly wanted to do in the cats by either poisoning them or infecting them with the deadly panleukopenia virus (feline distemper) but were thwarted in their machinations by both legal considerations and concerns about the impact such measures would have on San Nicolas's critically endangered Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis dickeyi). Of the three poisons commonly used in order to kill cats, sodium monofluoroacetate has been pretty much banned in the United States since 1972 and brodifacoum (rat poison) and N-(3-chloro-4-methylphenyl) acetamide are not approved for use on feral cats.

Panleukopenia was likewise ruled out because of fears that it could be spread to the foxes. This was the method that worked so well for the apartheid regime in South Africa when it annihilated more than four-thousand cats on Marion Island back during the 1980s.

That horrendous disease attacks the cats' gastrointestinal tracts causing ulcers, diarrhea, dehydration, malnutrition, and anemia. It also obliterates their white blood cells and therefore destroys their immune systems. Symptoms include depression, lethargy, fever, vomiting, and a loss of both appetite and elasticity in the skin. In their agony, many cats commence biting their tails, lower backs, and legs. Their deaths are prolonged and excruciating and pregnant cats give birth to kittens with deformed cerebellums.

Those cats on Marion not felled by the disease were later hunted down at night by bloodhounds and shot by marksmen equipped with shotguns and flashlights. (See Cat Defender post of March 23, 2006 entitled "South Africans, Supported by Ailurophobic PETA, Are Slaughtering More Cats on Robben Island.")

Anytime the United States Government starts taking its cues on how to deal with cats from the South Africans and Australians not only are the cats in big trouble but American society as a whole. Nevertheless, the EA notes with undisguised glee that since 1925 cats have been exterminated on at least sixty-six islands worldwide.

Not only are these egregious crimes against the feline species far greater in scope than all genocidal campaigns combined, but on Macquarie and New Zealand's Little Barrier Island, just to name two, they have backfired with disastrous results. (See Cat Defender post of September 21, 2006 entitled "Aussies' Mass Extermination of Cats Opens the Door for Mice and Rabbits to Wreak Havoc on Macquarie" and Matt Rayner, Mark E. Hauber, Michael J. Imber, Rosalie K. Stamp, and Mick N. Clout, "Spatial Heterogeneity of Mesopredator Release within an Oceanic Island System" in volume 104, number 52 of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, December 14, 2007.)

In England, the Scottish Wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia) was almost wiped out by gamekeepers and farmers after it was falsely accused of preying upon game birds. (See Cat Defender post of June 25, 2007 entitled "Scottish Wildcat Born in Captivity May Hold the Key to Saving Critically Endangered Species from Extinction" and Daily Telegraph, February 22, 2008, "Scottish Wildcat Survey to Record Wild Numbers.")

The EA is entirely silent about these colossal faux pas as well as the gruesome details of the carnage on Marion Island. There can be little doubt that a thorough review of other feline extermination campaigns would uncover additional lies, miscalculations, and abominable crimes committed by wildlife biologists.

These mass slaughters have gone on for far too long; moreover, they have been committed for the most part without the knowledge of the general public. An international panel comprised along the lines of the one established in Nurnberg at the end of World War II urgently needs to be established in order to shine the light of day upon these long-forgotten crimes against cats.

The imperialists, colonialists, militarists, capitalists, and scientists responsible for these despicable crimes must be identified, brought to justice, and punished severely. That is the only way in order to put an end to these outrageous killings. As George Orwell once opined, "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

Even with regard to San Nicolas the authors of the EA have gone to extraordinary lengths in order to not only shade the truth but to simplify the complex relationships that exist between the island's various species. For example, the population of Brandt's Cormorant has not only been affected by DDT, but also by predation from Western Gulls and the Island Fox. Changes in ocean conditions attributed to El Nino as well as human disturbances caused by boats, planes, missiles, and sailors also have negatively impacted its survival rate.

Meanwhile, oil spills and predation by sea lions and foxes are blamed for a decline in Western Gulls (Larus occidentalis).

Although the biologists argue at great lengths that because cats feed upon deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus exterus) they are jeopardizing the survival of the Island Fox, that is hardly the case. First of all, it is precisely the Navy that is their biggest enemy. For instance, it has been slaughtering them with impunity on San Clemente allegedly in order to protect the population of Loggerhead Shrikes. (See photo below of Island Fox.)

Naval vehicles run down innumerable foxes on San Nicolas and since they do not have any natural immunity against parasites and diseases brought in from the mainland, they are particularly vulnerable to any that might be brought in by the dogs that are going to be used to hunt down and kill the cats. On Santa Catalina, par exemple, canine distemper killed ninety per cent of that island's foxes (Urocyon littoralis catalinae) in 1998. Even if the dogs are vaccinated beforehand their presence alone will severely stress the fox population.

Furthermore, the number two factor leading to the decline of the Island Fox on Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and San Miguel has been predation by golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos).

DDT poured into the ocean by Montrose led to the demise of bald eagles which in turn precipitated the arrival of golden eagles in the Channel Islands where they began to prey upon pigs, foxes, and cats. The National Park Service's eradication of pigs on Santa Cruz in the mid-1990s led to an escalation of attacks on foxes by golden eagles.

This has prompted some wildlife biologists to lobby for a complete removal of all golden eagles from the Channel Islands as the only means in order to save the Island Fox. (See Franck Courchamp, Rosie Woodroffe, and Gary Roemer, "Removing Protected Populations to Save Endangered Species," 302 Science 1532, November 28, 2003.)

The EA is conspicuously silent as to either the presence of golden eagles on San Nicolas or their impact upon foxes. Even if they are not currently on the island, there is nothing to stop those removed from the northern Channel Islands from returning and setting up shop on San Nicolas.

Wildlife biologists attempt to distinguish between what they like to call native and non-native species with the goal being to bestow upon those species that they favor a natural right to exclusively inhabit a specific piece of earth while simultaneously justifying the extermination of species that they detest, such as cats. Of all their ludicrous arguments, this one is the most dishonest.

Not only are golden eagles not native to the Channel Islands but it is believed that Brandt's Cormorant has been on San Nicolas only since the 1800s. Even the Island Fox has inhabited San Nicolas for only twenty-two-hundred years.

Other introduced species include the side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana), the southern alligator lizard (Elgaria multicarinata), and the chukar (Alectoris chukar). Even a Virginia opossum was discovered in 1996 and there were three sightings of California grounds squirrels in 1994.

Much more to the point, both the USFWS and the Navy are invasive species and their activities have a far more deleterious effect upon the island's fauna and flora than do cats. It is the epitome of both hypocrisy and injustice for the USFWS and the Navy to exterminate cats and other species in the name of returning the island to some pristine ideal when in reality all they are doing is manipulating the animals for their own selfish purposes.

Wildlife biologists already have turned the Island Fox into a guinea pig through their repeated electronic tagging experiments and captive-breeding programs and more of the same is no doubt in store the island's other species. As far as the Navy is concerned, it is ludicrous for it to maintain that wildlife can peacefully coexist alongside its jets, missiles, vehicles, training exercises, noise, and pollution.

In order for any restoration plan to have a smidgen of legitimacy both the Navy and all wildlife biologists would have to be summarily evicted from San Nicolas Island. The fact that neither group would ever contemplate such a move is just one more indication that they are total frauds. The military is even attempting to add Santa Rosa to its holdings.

Since life on earth is alleged to have emerged from hydrothermal vents in the oceans, all animals, plants, and people are non-native species to one extent or another. Just because one group of animals or people settled in a given area first does not establish a perpetual right to exclusivity. Besides, indigenous status depends first of all upon who is doing the categorizing and, secondly, how far back in the archaeological record one is willing to look.

The theory of natural right is nonetheless a useful tool in order for fascists to justify their crimes. On the intellectual level, it is pure nonsense as well as being morally repulsive.

Even if it is too late to save San Nicolas's cats, there are nonetheless several steps that cat-lovers can take in order to put an end to future exterminations. First of all, a concerted effort desperately needs to be undertaken in order to divest wildlife biologists, whether they are employed by the USFWS, their counterparts in the states, or public universities, of their overinflated welfare checks.

The way forward lies not only in publicizing their crimes against cats but also in making reform of those agencies and schools the litmus test for supporting any candidate for political office. Cat food purveyors and other businesses that cater to felines must be prevailed upon to use their considerable influence and resources toward the realization of this goal. Since such a huge proportion of their revenues is derived from feral colonies, cat food manufacturers have a substantial financial incentive to cooperate.

Reform of the USFWS, the USDA, the National Park Service, and Forest Service is long overdue not only because of the war that they have embarked upon against cats but also due to their complicity with ranchers, farmers, fishermen, developers, and the military at the expense of the wildlife that they are charged with protecting. (See Cat Defender post of September 15, 2005 entitled "United States Government Exterminates Millions of Wild Animals at the Behest of Capitalists.")

At the same time that the USWFS is exterminating wildlife in rural areas it is simultaneously introducing coyotes and fishers into urban areas with the explicit purpose of using them to kill cats. (See Cat Defender posts of July 19, 2007 and August 28, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Up to Their Old Tricks, Wildlife Officials Reintroduce Fishers to the Northeast to Prey Upon Cats and to Provide Income for Fur Traffickers" and "TNR Programs, Domestic Cats, Dogs, and Humans Imperiled by Wildlife Proponents' Use and Abuse of Coyotes and Fishers.")

The USFWS is furthermore blackmailing cities, such as Cape May, into getting rid of their feral cat clonies. (See Cat Defender posts of May 6, 2008 and July 5, 2007 entitled, respectively, "National Audubon Society Wins the Right for Invasive Species of Shorebirds to Prey Upon Unborn Horseshoe Crabs" and "Bird and Wildlife Proponents, Ably Assisted by The Press of Atlantic City, Launch Malicious Libel Campaign Against Feral Cats.")

Meanwhile, the USDA is busy killing cats in the Florida Keys while its Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has targeted Hemingway's polydactyls. (See Cat Defender posts of May 24, 2007 and January 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "USDA and Fish and Wildlife Service Commence Trapping and Killing Cats on Florida's Big Pine Key" and "Papa Hemingway's Polydactyl Cats Face New Threats from both the USDA and Their Caretakers.")

Scurrilous rags, such as the Washington Post and The New York Times, that aid and abet wildlife advocates and bird-lovers in their defamations and crimes must be boycotted along with their advertisers. There is not a newspaper in the world that would print columns and letters that demeaned and called for the extermination of ethnic and national groups, but yet these same publications routinely publish anti-cat screeds from hatemongers. The loathsome capitalist media has gotten away with too much for too long and should be held accountable.

Although saving the lives of San Nicolas's cats is of paramount importance, it is unlikely that tyrannical public officials without any regard for the sanctity of feline life are going to harbor much for human life. It is therefore important to always bear in mind that old Irish proverb which cautions: "Beware of people who hate cats."

Photos: State of California (San Nicolas Island), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (map of Channel Islands), Wikipedia (Island of the Blue Dolphins), Global Security (military installation), and National Park Service (Island Fox).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Amur Leopards Continue to Slide Towards Extinction as Conservationists Toy with a Controversial Captive Breeding and Rewilding Initiative


"Amur Leopards face an uncertain future. As well as risks posed by man, the small worldwide population size means that the species is particularly vulnerable to inbreeding which can cause genetic problems including reduced fertility. Plans are in place to begin the long process of reintroducing the species back to the wild."
-- Spokeswoman for Marwell Zoo

An extremely rare Amur Leopard cub was born at Marwell Zoo in Winchester, Hampshire, on November 18th of last year. The offspring of sixteen-year-old Ascha and seven-year-old Akin was exhibited to the public for the first time on February 27th. (See photo above of cub and the one below of her with her mother.)

The birth of Kiska ("pure" in Russian) surprised zoo officials in that it is rare for female leopards beyond the age of fifteen to reproduce. The age discrepancy between her parents is a testimony to just how difficult it is to assemble breeding pairs even in captivity.

While there are approximately one-hundred-fifty of the "world's rarest" cats held at various zoos around the globe, only between twenty-five and thirty-five of them remain in the wild. Of this latter group, only six are known to be females.

That estimate has been arrived at by the use of camera traps and since each leopard has a distinctive pelt conservationists are able to conduct fairly accurate censuses by comparing the photographs. (See World Wide Fund for Nature's (WWF) press release of April 25, 2008, "Rare Leopards Captured by Camera in East Siberia.")

The situation is unlikely to get any better either in that female leopards under stress tend to give birth to more males than females. Even more troubling, the total number of males and females would need to reach one-hundred or so for the species to return to viability.

Nevertheless, the recent birth at Marwell is an important development in plans to eventually reintroduce captive-bred Amur Leopards to the wild. "Amur Leopards face an uncertain future. As well as risks posed by man, the small worldwide population size means that the species is particularly vulnerable to inbreeding which can cause genetic problems including reduced fertility," a zoo spokeswoman told the Daily Telegraph on February 28th. (See "Amur Leopard Cub Goes Outside for the First Time.") "Plans are in place to begin the long process of reintroducing the species back to the wild."

The reasons for the precipitate decline of these solitary and nocturnal cats mirror those faced by most all large mammals. First and foremost is habitat fragmentation and destruction at the hands of, inter alia, developers and farmers.

Although they used to roam over significant portions of China, Russia, and North Korea, today they are pretty much restricted to the Sikhote-Alin Mountains of southern Russia. It is conceivable that a few of them still exist in the Kaema Plateau and Baekdusan Mountains which straddle the North Korean and Chinese border but because of the notorious uncooperative nature of the authorities in Pyongyang that has never been confirmed.

Hunting, whether it be for the cats' valuable pelts, meat, or various body parts which are a staple of traditional Chinese medicine, is also a huge problem. On either April 15th or April 16th of 2007, hunters in Russia shot and killed an irreplaceable female Amur Leopard in the tailbone and then bludgeoned her to death.

Since the leopards never have been known to attack humans, this killing was totally unjustified. "Leopard murder can only be provoked by cowardice or stupidity, in this case most likely by both," Pavel Fomenko of WWF told Reuters on April 23, 2007. (See "Hunters Kill One of Last Amur Leopards.")

Reductions in the number of deer, hares, badgers, and rodents that the cats feed upon is another reason for their decline. Natural disasters, such as fires, and inbreeding also have taken their toll on the species.

Although Russia belatedly agreed to reroute an oil pipeline away from the leopards' habitat, its lax attitude toward poachers is continuing to undermine the chances that Panthera pardus orientalis can be saved. The Chinese's substitution of leopard parts for tiger parts in traditional medicine is not helping the cats' chances of surviving either.

Specifics of the rewilding effort have not been made public, but it is known that the captive-bred leopards chosen for the experimental program will be taken from European zoos. The animals first will be released into large enclosures that resemble their natural habitat. They will be provided with wild game and mates while conservationists keep their distance.

"The young ones will grow up in isolation from humans and with access to prey all of their lives," Sarah Christie of the Zoological Society of London told National Geographic on January 23rd. (See "Most Captive-Born Predators Die if Released.") "We'd then release those animals, not the adults."

That approach is pretty much identical to the joint effort currently underway in China and South Africa to save the critically endangered, and possibly already extinct in the wild, South China Tiger. (See Cat Defender posts of March 11, 2008 and November 2, 2007 entitled, respectively, "South China Tigers Are Being Bred and Trained at a South African Reserve for an Eventual Return to the Wild" and "For the First Time in Three Decades, Rare South China Tiger Is Confirmed to Be Alive in the Wild.")

Since directly transferring captive-bred mammals from zoos to the wild has not worked out very well it has been necessary to make significant changes in rewilding programs. In fact, research published earlier this year in the journal Biological Conservation by Kristen Jule of the University of Exeter pegs the success rate of such schemes at a dismal thirty-three per cent.

The failure of these efforts does not, however, rest entirely with either the carnivores or the conservationists in that more than fifty per cent of the mortalities documented by Jule were attributable to hunters and motorists. Sadly, that is not going to change significantly no matter how well captive-bred animals are prepared for life in the wild.

Captive-born mammals also quite often lack the prerequisite hunting skills needed in order to feed themselves and therefore subsequently starve to death. They also sometimes do not have the social skills required in order to attract mates and therefore negate the entire rewilding effort by not reproducing.

They are additionally more prone to disease than their wild cousins and this strongly suggests that being confined in zoos does not promote the development of healthy immune systems. A lack of fear of both humans and other animals is another huge disadvantage faced by not only captive-bred mammals that are reintroduced to the wild but even for animals born in the wild who become too familiar with humans.

Attention was focused on the latter problem earlier this month when a truck driver passing through the Los Angles County town of Acton stopped and rescued what he thought to be an ailing kitten. To his chagrin, the kitten turned out to be a bobcat.

The kitten, subsequently named R.J., only spent somewhere between one and fourteen days with his rescuers but that was long enough for him to lose his fear of humans and to preclude the possibility of returning him to the wild. (See photo above.)

Consequently, he now will be forced to spend his entire life at Lions, Tigers, and Bears, a wildcat sanctuary east of Alpine. "He'll walk right up to you. He wouldn't survive," the sanctuary's director Bobbi Brink told the San Diego Union-Tribune on June 6th. (See "Kitten Found on Road Is Not What He Seems.")

Another poignant example of the difficulties involved in rewilding can be found in George and Joy Adamson's experiences with a pet lioness named Elsa. (See Cat Defender post of October 10, 2005 entitled "Animals Start Returning to 'Born Free' Nature Reserve in Kenya as Poachers and Bandits Are Driven Out.")

"Animals in captivity do not usually have the natural behaviors needed for success in the wild," Jule told National Geographic in the article cited supra. "Their lack of hunting skills and lack of fear towards humans are major disadvantages."

Captive-breeding programs also can be easily subverted to nefarious purposes. For example, China is holding at least five-thousand captive-bred tigers on five farms and it is strongly suspected that these animals are being kept so that their various body parts can be harvested and sold for profit. (See BBC, June 13, 2007, "End of the Tiger Tale.")

In Berlin, both the Zoologischer Garten and the Tierpark are run by a real-life monster named Bernhard Blaszkiewitz who not only kills feral cats with his bare hands but sells tigers and jaguars to China where they are sacrificed in the war against impotency. He also has sold a pygmy hippopotamus and a family of bears to the knackers and regularly allows sheep, goats, cows, and pigs to be fed to wolves and other carnivores in plain view of the public. (See Der Spiegel, June 6, 2008, "Berlin Zoo Feeds Goat to Wolves.")

To make a long story short, just about every horror and abuse imaginable occurs at zoos and this petit fait alone makes captive-breeding programs suspect. (See Cat Defender post of January 28, 2008 entitled "Hopped Up on Vodka and Pot, Trio Taunted Tatiana Prior to Attacks That Led to Her Being Killed by Police.")

Even Marwell has grossly mismanaged its Amur Leopard captive-breeding program. In 2003, a female leopard escaped from her enclosure and fell to her death. Soon thereafter a newly-born cub also escaped from its pen and was killed by male leopards in an adjoining enclosure.

Other conservationists are experimenting with the idea of substituting wild-caught animals in place of those born in captivity but such an approach is not feasible with either Amur Leopards or South China Tigers because there are too few of either of them left in the wild.

Overall, the conservation movement is in a rather sorry state. To begin with, conservationists erred grievously in allowing so many species of mammals to slide into such a precarious state. As everyone knows, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Perhaps much more importantly, all rewilding efforts are doomed to failure unless habitats can be established that are free of hunters, motorists, and developers. For instance, motorists are decimating the population of the Iriomote Wildcat. (See Cat Defender post of November 27, 2006 entitled "After Surviving on Its Own for at Least Two-Million Years, Rare Japanese Wildcat Faces Toughest Battle Yet.")

Since conservationists are so unwilling to confront the obvious political and economic realities contributing to the demise of animals everywhere, their motives in turn become suspect. For instance, captive-breeding programs, rewilding efforts, and wholesale electronic snooping on the animals provide conservationists with beaucoup shekels, prestige, and ego titillation but so far they have contributed precious little toward saving endangered species. (See Cat Defender posts of February 29, 2008 and May 4, 2006 entitled, respectively, "The Repeated Hounding Down and Tagging of Walruses Exposes Electronic Surveillance as Not Only Cruel but a Fraud" and "Scientific Community's Use of High-Tech Surveillance Is Aimed at Subjugating, Not Saving, the Animals.")

Of course, it is conceivable that conservationists have written off both the environment and the animals as lost causes. Such a turn of events would be truly tragic in that caged tigers and leopards are poor imitations of their brethren in the wild. (See photo above of an Amur Leopard imprisoned at the Pittsburgh Zoo.)

Purchasing large tracts of land, fencing them in, and hiring guards to keep out hunters and developers would be a better way of doing things. Under such circumstances it would be totally permissible to use electronic surveillance, not to repeatedly hound down and keep tabs on the animals, but to monitor the movements of humans.

Even bribing public officials to save the animals would be a constructive step forward. That is precisely what Howard Hughes did when he wanted to put an end to underground nuclear testing in Nevada.

Some people are under the mistaken notion that money should only be used in order to corrupt the political process and not for the promotion of good. Since most all politicians are au fond little more than hired guns, they could certainly be persuaded to do the right thing if they were properly compensated.

Captive-breeding and rewilding efforts certainly have their place but their importance pales in comparison with the larger struggle to save those animals that remain in the wild. That will never be possible, however, until conservationists and scientists stop viewing animals as objects to be studied, manipulated, and subjugated for their own selfish ends.

Photos: Daily Mail (Kiska by herself and with her mother, Ascha), John Gibbins of the San Diego Union-Tribune (R.J), and Colin Hines of Wikipedia (Amur Leopard at the Pittsburgh Zoo.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Targeted for Elimination by the American War Machine and Cheney's Henchmen, Baghdad's Cats Are Befriended by an English Mercenary


"Some people buy flash cars, others flash clothes. But it's my animals that float my boat."
-- The Cat Lady of Baghdad

The animals and Mother Earth are always the uncounted and unmourned casualties of war and the conflict in Iraq is certainly not any different. That cold, hard reality has not, however, deterred a thirty-five-year-old English mercenary from attempting to make a difference.

Dubbed the "Cat Lady of Baghdad" and known only by her given name of Louise, she has so far rescued and evacuated six cats and two dogs to her native England. Not a great deal is known about her other than that she worked as a pay clerk with the Territorial Army from December of 2003 until July of 2004.

Established in 1908, the Territorial Army is comprised of approximately thirty-four-thousand volunteers who serve on a part-time basis. It should not, however, be confused with the Regular Army Reserve, which is made up of former fulltime soldiers.

She is currently employed as either a security consultant or an administrative clerk with a group of English mercenaries led by retired lieutenant colonel Tim Spicer and who do business under the name of Aegis Defense Services Ltd.

"Some people buy flash cars, other flash clothes. But it's my animals that float my boat," she told the Associated Press (AP) on April 29th. (See "The 'Cat Lady of Baghdad' Battles On, Saving Strays of Iraq.")

Rescuing cats and dogs from the streets and rural areas of a country as prone to violence as Iraq is difficult enough in itself but finding the wherewithal in order to get them safely back to England is an even more daunting task. For instance, it costs an average of $3,500 to evacuate each animal.

Although the routine varies, the cats and dogs are usually transported overland from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan. From there they are flown in the cargo holds of Royal Jordanian jets to London. They are then driven another one-hundred-fifty-six kilometers to Solihull where they are forced to endure six-months in quarantine at Tophat n' Tail.

In quarantine, they are vaccinated and sterilized. The latter procedure must be performed at Tophat n' Tail because most of Iraq's small animal veterinarians have either fled the country or been killed in the fighting.

If they survive all of that, the cats and dogs and then driven to Louise's home north of Birmingham where they are cared for in her absence by her parents.

In addition to the dangers involved in transporting the animals across the country, Louise also must contend with both the Iraqi and Jordanian bureaucracies as well as shakedowns from Royal Jordanian. Moreover, it is a lonely vigil in that she is, as far as it is known, the only individual currently working to save Iraq's cats and dogs.

In addition to such obvious expenditures as air fare and quarantine fees, she is sometimes forced to spring for a hotel room in Amman while she and her cats wait for a flight to London. Besides her own savings, she peddles odds and ends on eBay, and accepts donations from the public. Anyone willing to help is encouraged to do so at baghdadcatrescue@hotmail.com.

Despite her best efforts, there are nonetheless failures. George, a brown male with beautiful ginger eyes and Ocicat markings, made it out of Baghdad only to die in quarantine on January 15th. (See photo at the top of the page.)

Described as a loner, it is believed that he succumbed to either stress or a heart attack. That would not be surprising in light of what he was put through in Iraq and under Old Blighty's ridiculously lengthy quarantine laws.

His sisters, Felix and Pudding, should be out of quarantine and home with Louise's parents by now. The black and white Felix is described as boisterous and fearless with a penchant for grabbing hair. (See photo above.)

Pudding, on the other hand, is far more sedate. In addition, to having a pronounced affinity for catnip, the tortoiseshell likes to be held and to have her stomach tickled. (See photo directly above.)

The final member of the quartet to make it out of Iraq on November 15th is a handsome brown cat named Googles. Although he has Ocicat markings similar to George, he is not believed to be related to either him or his sisters. (See photo below.)

His story is indeed a sad one. In fact, it is nothing short of a minor miracle that he was able to survive long enough in order to even reach Louise's sanctuary.

Repeatedly kicked in the head by a cat-hating fiend as a kitten, he has permanent brain damage and suffers from strabismus. As a consequence, his balance is not too good and his eyes focus in opposite directions. He also was repeatedly attacked by another cat while under Louise's care and required antibiotics in order to recover.

He is slowly beginning to trust humans again and hopefully he will be able to find peace, security, and love in England. If there ever existed a cat that deserved a decent break it is Googles!

The Cat Lady of Baghdad actually got her start in Tikrit. While she was working at an American military base, a half-dead, white kitten with a brown face was brought to her attention by a cleaning lady. (See photo further down the page.)

She nursed him back to health, bestowed upon him the name of Simba al-Tikriti, and sought the assistance of Cats Protection in order to get him out of Iraq. The organization turned her down flat and that became the catalyst for her subsequent rescue efforts.

"I arranged with one of my local staff to take him to Basra in a taxi where he was met up with a friend of mine who took him over the border to Kuwait," she explained to The Guardian on May 3rd. (See "Operation Pet Rescue by War Zone Cat Woman.") "He spent a month at the international vet clinic, was castrated, had his injections, and a month later he flew back to the U.K."

Her latest reclamation project is a bobtailed black and white male named Tigger that she flew home to England on April 16th. (See photo below.)

"Like the others, he just happened to find me," she told The Guardian in the article cited supra. "And then there he was heading back home with me on the plane."

In addition to the cats, she also has rescued a pair of dogs named Zeus and Gabe who were sent home to England on January 15th. Because Lebensraum is getting scarce, she insists that she will not be sending any more animals for her parents to shelter, but instead will limit her involvement to advising and assisting others in getting their cats and dogs out of Iraq.

In addition to being constantly forced to dodge bullets and bombs, cats and dogs in Iraq face a far more insidious enemy in the form of the United States Military and its paid mercenaries. Ever since General Order 1-A (GO-1A) was issued in 2002 all non-working animals on United States bases have had a death sentence hanging over their heads.

For instance, the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineers entomology flight trapped and killed at least one-hundred-fifty cats at a base in Al Udeid that the American Air Force shares with their Qatari counterparts. (See Cat Defender post of November 14, 2006 entitled "Military Killing Cats and Dogs by the Tens of Thousands as Imperialistic America Attempts to Conquer the World.")

Those cats that somehow manage to elude the military authorities soon find themselves being pursued by Dick Cheney's thugs from Halliburton and its many subsidiaries. For example, when Halliburton discovered the presence of cats within Baghdad's Green Zone it ordered all of them to be shot on sight.

To their credit, a number of soldiers and mercenaries have gone out of their way in order to disobey that draconian directive and instead have hidden cats in trailers, bathrooms, and pool houses. Paul Bremer's security advisor, David Gompert, even went so far as to have his guards watch over his cat, Mickey. (See Rajiv Chandrasekaran's tome entitled "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone," published in 2006 by Knopf and excerpted in The No Kill Advocate, Issue Number 1, 2008.)

As wily as old Nick himself, Cheney's underlings soon caught on to what was happening and dispatched a contingent of Filipino mercenaries on a search and destroy mission whereby every nook and cranny within the Green Zone was ransacked and the cats flushed out and killed.

According to the AP, former Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR) murdered five-thousand-three-hundred of the seven-thousand-one-hundred animals that it trapped during 2007. Most likely, about ninety-nine per cent of those killed were cats.

"No one involved in the animal control program enjoys the task," Lieutenant Colonel Raymond F. Dunton, chief of preventive medicine for the American war machine in Iraq, told the AP in the article cited supra. "Unfortunately, it is critical that we continue this work to protect the health and safety of our service members."

Major Robert A. Goodman, chief of veterinary services for the Army's 248th Medical Detachment, went even further out of his way in order to demonize cats and dogs in an October 14, 2007 interview with The New York Times. "They're cute, furry, and more dangerous than you think," he bellowed. "There's nothing compassionate about compassionate feeding. They're (those doing the feeding) increasing the risk of disease." (See "What Cats Know About War.")

Dunton's and Goodman's balderdash and bluster failed to deter an unidentified biologist in Baghdad from strongly condemning these senseless killings. "The danger of disease was probably infinitesimally small. This wasn't done with any thought to the psychological value that these cats provided." (See Chandrasekaran cited supra.)

Dennis Quine, a contract maintenance worker for the English Embassy in the Green Zone, found out the hard way just what a thoroughly ruthless band of cutthroats he was dealing with when KBR killed four of his five cats while he was away on vacation last autumn. He was, thankfully, able to locate the lone survivor, Missy, after about a week's worth of searching high and low.

Louise agreed to shelter the brown moggy while Quine finalized arrangements to remove her to England. The happy duo finally left Iraq on a commercial flight in either late December or during the early part of this year and Missy should be getting ready to make her escape from quarantine just about now. (See photo below of the happy couple.)

"Friends have said it is stupid, asked why I'm doing this," he related to the AP. "I tell them, 'Hold on, this is nothing less than what I'd do for a friend.' I was prepared to risk my life to get my cat out."

Army National Guard PFC Ronne Smith of Papillon, Nebraska knows only too well the anguish experienced by Quine and other ailurophiles. With the assistance of Military Mascots and the Nebraska Humane Society she was attempting to get her cat, Taji, and her four kittens out of Iraq when either KBR or the American military seized and killed all of them in May of 2007. (See the Bellevue Leader of Bellevue, Nebraska, May 17, 2007, "The Cat Isn't Coming Back" and Cat Defender post of May 24, 2007 entitled "USDA and Fish and Wildlife Service Commence Trapping and Killing Cats on Florida's Big Pine Key.")

Generally speaking, no one has ever accused The New York Times of being favorably disposed toward cats; au contraire, it is more widely known for the ridiculous lengths that it is prepared to go in order to defame the species. (See Cat Defender post of December 8, 2007 entitled "All the Lies That Fit: Scheming New York Times Hires a Bird Lover to Render His 'Unbiased' Support for James M. Stevenson.")

Despite all of that, the paper's former Baghdad bureau chief, John F. Burns, claims to have given sanctuary to as many as sixty homeless cats at a time. By his own admission, however, he did little or nothing to stop either the compound's dogs or contagious respiratory ailments from decimating their ranks.

His negligence did not, however, prevent him from recognizing the positive role that cats play in boosting staff morale. "As The Times' bureau chief, part of my routine was to ask, each night, how many cats we had seated for dinner," he wrote in the article cited supra. "In a place where we could do little else to relieve the war's miseries, the tally became a measure of one small thing we could do to favor life over death."

To his credit, he also disobeyed the Americans' feeding ban. "At The Times' compound, too, we have never been certain how long we will remain in Iraq. But in my mind, at least, the benefits to the cats and our own morale outweighed the longer-term concerns, the more so because conditions beyond our walls seemed to offer scant prospects that most of them, denied our shelter, would survive for long anyway." (See photo below of a trio of Baghdad's homeless cats.)

Burns has now left Baghdad in order to head up The Times' London bureau, but on his way out of the country he took with him a cat named Scooter and her three kittens, Apache, Bradley, and Striker. While in quarantine, she gave birth to three additional young ones.

As commendable as Burns' work in caring for Baghdad's cats has been, it is no way excuses his reprehensible reporting during the run-up to the war. If he and his colleagues at The Times, Judith Miller and Michael R. Gordon in particular, had behaved as honest journalists instead of George Bush's lackeys there might not have been a war in the first place and tens of thousands of cats would still be alive today.

In fact, Burns even went so far as to declare that the absence of weapons of mass destruction was irrelevant and that military aggression against Iraq was justified based solely upon Saddam Hussein's atrocious human rights record at home. (See The Independent, October 16, 2007, "John F. Burns: How a Brit Came to Star at The New York Times.")

Even to this very day Burns denies that he made a Faustian bargain with the Bush Gang and the disreputable Sulzberger clique. "Although I was writing for an American newspaper with considerable reach and influence in Washington, D.C., I didn't see myself as being a player in that process. I felt that that was something that was quite independent, at least in my mind," he declared to The Independent in the article cited supra.

The Cat Lady of Baghdad cannot be completely let off the hook either. As laudable as her efforts on behalf of Baghdad's cats are, there is nonetheless something hypocritical and cynical about her working as a mercenary and profiting for this totally illegal and immoral war.

Although it has not garnered anywhere near the same level of negative publicity as its American rivals Blackwater and DynCorp, Aegis is far from being a "Clean Gene." First of all, Spicer has a rather checkered past that stretches all the way from Papua New Guinea to Sierra Leone. Most disturbing of all, back in 2005 the company was accused of indiscriminately firing upon civilians. (See YouTube video entitled "Aegis Commandos Shooting Cars in Iraq.")

Its principal duties in Iraq are said to encompass intelligence gathering, the electronic tracking of private contractors, guarding the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the building community projects designed to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis. (See Washington Post, July 1, 2007, "In Iraq, a Private Realm of Intelligence Gathering.")

There can be no denying that both Louise and Burns love cats but their refusal to condemn the mass slaughter being perpetrated by the American military and Cheney's goons is more than a little bit disturbing. More importantly, if they were willing to call for an immediate American and English withdrawal that would perhaps save the lives of far more cats than all of their individual efforts combined.

As most people now realize, the war was a fraud from the very start. It was undertaken first and foremost to give the Bush Gang a rationale to raid the U.S. Treasury, subvert civil liberties at home, and to chart a political agenda that would derail any attempts to tackle, inter alia, climate change, the glaring lack of affordable health care, and the widening gap between the rich and the poor.

It also provided a golden opportunity for all the evil individuals and groups within American society to go on a killing and pillaging spree at the expense of the citizens and cats or Iraq. Tant pis, there is no ned in sight to the carnage regardless of which political party prevails in the November election.

It often has been remarked that history rarely passes up an opportunity to be ironic and that assessment is particularly apt in regard to Googles and the late George. Because of their Ocicat markings, some people in Baghdad have theorized that they were once owned by Saddam, who reportedly kept hundreds of cats at his presidential palace.

Quite obviously, any man who loved cats could not have been all bad. On the reverse side of the ledger, the total disregard shown by both Bush and Cheney for the people and animals of Iraq speaks volumes of a different sort about them.

From DNA testing, it is now known that all members of Felis domesticus are descended from Felis silvestris lybica, or cats from the Middle East. (See Cat Defender post of December 5, 2007 entitled "Decoding the Feline Genome Provides Vivisectors with Thousands of New Excuses to Continue Torturing Cats in the Course of Their Bogus Research.")

In layman's terms, the cats that the United States is butchering with impunity are the direct descendants of those that befriended the world's earliest farmers more than ten-thousand years ago and protected their grain stores from rodents. In addition to the gross miscarriage of justice that killing them entials, Iraq is their homeland and they have an inalienable right to be there. The same can never be said for either the Americans or the English.

Photos: Baghdad Cat Lady (George, Felix, Pudding, Googles, and Simba al-Tikriti), Bradley Brooks of AP (Tigger as well as Quine and Missy), and Joao Silva of The New York Times (homeless cats in Baghdad).

Monday, June 09, 2008

Pennsylvania College Greedily Snatches Up Alumnus' Multimillion-Dollar Bequest but Turns Away His Cat, Princess


"Legacy: A gift from one who is legging it out of this vale of tears."
-- Ambrose Bierce


We will gladly take the money but the hell with the cat!

That was the predictable reaction from administrators at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, when they learned that an alumnus had died and bequeathed to the school a $6.5 million estate that also included a cat named Princess. (See photo above of the school's science building.)

The cat was quickly fobbed off on an unidentified neighbor of the deceased and no additional information about its fate has been made public. Her new caretaker could either provide her with a good home or dump her at the nearest shelter in order to be killed.

Larry Johnson, a 1961 graduate of Juniata, was a practicing radiologist in the San Francisco area when he died last July from an apparent myocardial infarction at the age of sixty-eight. Although he grew up and attended school in Somerset County, he had no desire to return there, especially in a pine box; instead, he elected to have his remains cremated and his ashes scattered over San Francisco Bay.

His estate included a two-bedroom condominium on Monterey Bay valued at $1.3 million, a Lexus, a .38 caliber Harrington and Richardson pistol, fifteen-hundred CDs, a television, pottery, paintings, imitation Navajo blankets, and a purse made from the scrotum of a buffalo.

"We knew Larry, but he didn't open up his personal side," the university's Kim Kitchen told the Philadelphia Inquirer on May 26th. (See "$6.5 Million, Including the Cat.") "It felt a bit like I was walking into the most personal aspects of his life. Everything had been left as it was the moment he died." (See photo below of her sorting through his possessions.)

In his Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce defined legacy as "a gift from one who is legging it out of this vale of tears" and Johnson surely must either have been in a big hurry or was caught off guard by events in order not to have made better provisions for his cat's continued care.

As with Princess, Kitchen and her staff could not figure out any way of converting Johnson's leftover food and wearing apparel into folding green so those items were donated to a homeless shelter in the bay area. The poverty pimps who run those detestable institutions will sans doute claim the valuable items for themselves and parcel out the dregs (i.e., spoiled food and moth-eaten clothing) to those who are truly needy and deserving.

Specifically, Johnson's will stipulated that a $1.3 million scholarship be established for students from Somerset County to attend Juniata. Another $1.5 million was designated for assisting Juniata graduates in the furtherance of their education at the University of Rochester's School of Medicine and Dentistry, which is where Johnson completed his graduate work.

A scholarship from Juniata enabled Johnson to attend college and, to his credit, he never forgot the school's generosity. The fact that he was a lifelong bachelor and therefore did not leave behind any immediate heirs no doubt factored into the equation as well.

"This was an important place to Larry," school president Thomas Kepple Jr. told the Inquirer in the article cited supra. "This was a guy who I think valued the education he got and wanted others to have the same experience." (See photo below of Kepple.)

Librarian Lynn Jones was ecstatic to get her hands on Johnson's extensive music collection. "There's more than just classical music here," she told the Inquirer. "There's John Denver, music from TV shows, K.C. and the Sunshine Band... The man was quite a collector."

Admittedly, no one has the right to turn up his or her snozzle at someone else's taste in music. If the toffs and students at Juniata desire to while away their free time listing to Denver's caterwauling and Harry Wayne Casey shaking his booty, that is their affair. Jones' comments nevertheless call into question what is being taught in the school's music appreciation classes.

The important thing to bear in mind is that Juniata's cavalier treatment of Princess is one more example of how antagonistic some universities are toward cats. Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania and Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant are just two of many colleges that make a habit of killing feral cats. (See Cat Defender posts of February 12, 2007 and September 11, 2006 entitled, respectively, "God-Fearing Baptists at Eastern University Kill Off Their Feral Cats on the Sly while Students Are Away on Christmas Break" and "Selfish and Brutal Eggheads at Central Michigan University Target Colony of Feral Cats for Defamation and Eradication.")

Ailurophobia is so virulent at Cornell that it even canned an employee for feeding feral cats. (See Cat Defender post of June 14, 2006 entitled "Kindhearted Dairyman, Sacked for Feeding Feral Cats, Files $20 Million Lawsuit Against Cornell University.")

It is not known how Juniata treats its own feral cats.

As horrendous as some universities treat their feral cats, that pales in comparison with the tens of thousands of them that are crippled, blinded, carved up, and eventually killed each year by their vivisectors in the pursuit of glory, money, and the thrill of inflicting pain. (See Cat Defender posts of February 1, 2008 and December 5, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Cats Are Destined to Be Treated as Horribly as Lab Mice Now That Vivisectors Are Able to Clone Them with Altered Genes" and "Decoding the Feline Genome Provides Vivisectors with Thousands of New Excuses to Continue Torturing Cats in the Course of Their Bogus Research.")

Ornithologists such as Les Underhill of the University of Cape Town and veterinarians such as Pat Conrad of the University of California's Davis campus use their academic positions and the welfare money that they are able to con out of the taxpayers in order to defame and kill cats with impunity. (See Cat Defender posts of April 27, 2006 and March 3, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Cat-Hating Monster Les Underhill and Moneygrubbing Robben Island Museum Resume Slaughtering Cats in South Africa" and "Cat-Hating Professor at UC-Davis and the BBC Call for the Extermination of 78 Million Feral Felines.")

Moreover, the antipathy shown the feline species by Underhill and Conrad is pretty much universally shared by all wildlife and biology professors. Not a single day passes without several of their anti-cat diatribes appearing in newspapers around the world.

The flagrant crimes of the educated elite are, moreover, not confined to a deep-seated hatred of cats. Many of them spend their entire careers pimping and whoring for the capitalists as well as aiding and abetting the militarists in their gross crimes against humanity, the animals, and Mother Earth.

There is also the perennial problem of the universities' naked exploitation and abuse of gullible students. Not only are jobs for college graduates scarce, but the inexorable creep of totalitarianism has undermined much of the value of a traditional liberal arts education.

The schoolmen's insatiable greed also has led to spiraling grade inflation, a watering down of traditional academic standards and, in some cases, the awarding of unearned degrees as recently occurred at West Virginia University. (See Washington Post, June 7, 2008, "Scandal Prompts WVU President to Resign.")

The situation for adjuncts is just as depressing. According to a November 20th article in the International Herald Tribune, seventy per cent of all college teachers hold part-time appointments. (See "Adjuncts Outnumber Tenured Professors on U.S. Campuses.")

It is even more outrageous that this is occurring at a time when colleges are growing more affluent by the day. For instance, seventy-six universities within the United States boast endowments in excess of a billion dollars. (See USA Today, January 24, 2008, "College Wealth Soaring.")

At the other end of the economic spectrum, many tenured professors pad their wallets by hiring themselves out as adjuncts which not only lends credibility to a thoroughly corrupt system but enables them to shortchange students at two or more institutions. Consequently, these scholars do not always come to class prepared, seldom met with students outside of class, and often only give term papers a cursory once-over.

Intellectual dishonesty is another huge problem. In recent memory, mad dog Zionist Alan M. "Dish of Wits," Laurence H. Tribe, and Charles J. Ogletree, all of the Harvard Law School, have been exposed as plagiarists. (See The Harvard Crimson, September 27, 2004, "Prof Admits to Misusing Source.") Meanwhile, professors from other institutions have accepted bounties from the American Enterprise Institute in order to discredit the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Degrees, awards, publications, and a bulging bank account are worthless if one is lacking in integrity. Moreover, an illiterate country bumpkin who is honest is a cut above the myriad of charlatans that have taken up residence at the world's universities.

It is therefore not surprising that most universities have become every bit as predatory and right-wing as the moneyed interests that they serve. Or perhaps that is how they have always operated. After all, it was Bierce who once defined a lecturer as "someone who has his tongue in your ear, his hand in your pocket, and his faith in your patience."

Photos: Juniata (science building and Kepple) and Gary M. Baranec of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Kitchen).

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Teahouse Cats Are Given Shelter and Work but Precious Little Job Security and No Legal Protections


"When it comes to the business of cat cafes, you can grow by opening more branches or expanding the scale of existing stores. But there is a limit to that. What happens to the cats once this isn't so popular anymore?"
-- Osamu Maeda of Neko JaLaLa


At least seven neko (cat) cafes have sprung up in Tokyo during the past few years. Circumstances vary but these are primarily small teahouses where patrons pay between eight and twelve dollars an hour in order to enjoy the company of cats.

At these establishments, which normally have a capacity of eight, guests either sit at tables, lounge on couches, or sit on cat-shaped cushions strewn about the floor. There are, of course, larger establishments that offer cat-themed sweets, traditional Japanese cuisine, and beverages other than tea. (See photo above of some of the cats at Cafe Calico.)

The number of cats per cafe varies from as few as two to as many as fourteen. They have their own litter boxes and are not caged although they are sometimes segregated in separate rooms if their presence is not desired. Generally, however, they are free to either accept or reject the attentions of their admirers.

Most of the cafes, moreover, do not allow customers to either disturb the cats' slumber or to pick them up. Since tail pulling is strictly verboten, small children are barred from some of the cafes.

"I don't hesitate to scold people who treat cats in a bad way," Osamu Maeda, proprietor of Neko JaLaLa, told The Christian Science Monitor on April 25th. (See "Tokyo's Cat Cafes Offer Serenity in the City.") Abuse nonetheless occurs and even Maeda admits to once having been bitten by a put-upon feline at another neko cafe.

For the sake of both their businesses and the welfare of the cats, the cafes have put in place strict rules of hygiene that include regular trips to the veterinarian for the cats and a requirement that all patrons remove their shoes and wash their hands before entering. Because cats tend to shed, frequent vacuuming is mandatory.

Cats are rather popular in the land of the rising sun in part because the denizens seem to have a genuine affection for them but also because some entrepreneurs are astute enough to recognize a gold mine when they see one. (See Cat Defender post of June 2, 2008 entitled "Ridership Soars as Tama Takes Over as a Stationmaster on Money-Losing Commuter Train Line.") As is the case with man's treatment of all animals, it is difficult to gauge exactly where the affection ends and the naked exploitation begins.

While the motives of the teahouse proprietors are suspect, those of their clientele seem to be transparent enough. For most of them, the cafes offer an opportunity to enjoy the company of cats without the obligations of ownership.

"When it comes to having cats, it's a burden," Tetsunori Oda, a systems engineer and patron of Neko JaLaLa, told The Christian Science Monitor in the article cited supra. "I work and I don't have the time to take care of them in a responsible manner."

He nonetheless fully appreciates the valuable role that cats play in relieving stress and in helping him to unwind after a hectic day at the office. After all, sipping tea and playing with cats is not only easier on the wallet but it does not have the debilitating side effects associated with getting wasted on sake and frolicking with geishas every night.

Still, there is something inherently selfish and irresponsible about Oda's attitude. It is akin to ripping off another man's mistress or wife because one is either too cheap or too selfish to support a woman of one's own.

Individuals who truly love cats want to provide them with permanent homes. As with having a lover, the real joy with cats comes from commitment. Besides, cats are self-sufficient and require very little attention.

Others frequent the cafes because of draconian laws that outlaw the keeping of cats in apartments, college dormitories, and elsewhere. Still others use the cafes as low-tech social networking sites in order to meet new friends, find lovers, and further their careers.

As for the cafes themselves, anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that they came into existence almost as an afterthought. For instance, the Curl-Up Cafe started out simply as a gathering spot for ailurophiles to talk about cats before it later mushroomed into a full-blown neko cafe. (See photo above of one of its working cats.)

"Initially, I only had one cat, but the numbers gradually increased as my twin daughters each got a cat, and so my friends and acquaintances came to visit us to see the cats," the cafe's unidentified owner told the Daily Yomiuri on November 22, 2007. (See "Neko Cafes Are the Cats' Meow.") "And as I saw people who did not particularly like cats turn into cat-lovers through spending some time with them, I thought I should open a cafe where people could get together and cherish cats."

Oddly enough, Nekomachi (cat town) Cafe 29 began as a dog cafe where patrons congregated to sip coffee at outdoor tables while their canine companions waited patiently at their sides. It only became a cat cafe after a friend gave owner Misuzu Uemura two kittens.

"Now, almost all cafe customers come here for the cats, Sora and Fu," she told the Daily Yomiuri in the article cited supra. "The cats really do like humans, and often jump onto your (sic) knees. That may be the reason the two of them attract customers."

Judging from press reports, it appears that a majority of the felines working in the cafes were donated. For instance, some of the twelve cats kept at Norimasa Hanada's Neko no Mise (cat store) were dropped off by owners who had grown tired of them. The remainder could have been procured from shelters, breeders, or even be strays.

Quite obviously, not all the cats work out as expected and this brings up the unpleasant issue of what happens to them then? For the most part, the cats are said to restrict their mischief to stealing handkerchiefs and raiding the milk pots but a few of them have been known to inadvertently shred speakers, chairs, and clothing while sharpening their claws.

Problems such as these can be greatly alleviated by erecting scratching posts throughout the establishments in conjunction with a liberal use of double-stick tape and jars filled with pennies.

It also is likely that occasionally patrons are scratched by the cats, particularly if they get fresh with them. Nonetheless, this does not appear to be much of a problem and, besides, most customers seem to understand, as Cervantes did, that "those who play with cats must expect to be scratched." (See photo on the right of an unidentified woman with a teahouse cat.)

There cannot be any denying, however, that the cats which management either no longer has any use for or takes a particular dislike to will sooner or later be given the boot just as Morris and Fred were recently given their walking papers. (See Cat Defender post of May 15, 2008 entitled "Predatory Capitalism Rears Its Ugly Head as Minnesota Bed and Breakfast Sacks 'Overnight' Cats, Morris and Fred.")

To his credit, Maeda of Neko JaLaLa is well aware of the potential for feline exploitation and abuse. "When it comes to the business of cat cafes, you can grow by opening more branches or expanding the scale of existing stores," he told The Christian Science Monitor. "But there is a limit to that. What happens to the cats once this isn't so popular anymore?"

For that reason he is not taking in any additional cats, but instead is restricting his acquisitions to those that he is willing and able to care for long after their working days are at an end. As commendable as that is, it is doubtful that such an attitude is universally shared by his competitors.

Maeda further claims to be concerned about the plight of both strays and the estimated two-hundred-forty-thousand cats that are slaughtered each year at shelters in Japan. "Everything here is based on the idea of getting people to love cats," he told The Christian Science Monitor.

Nevertheless, a visit to his cafe's web site reveals that of the eight cats that he has working for him only one, Jack, is a hybrid. The remainder are all pedigreed animals. Included within the ranks are a Norwegian Forest Cat named Lala, a Munchkin named Chki, an American Curl named, appropriately enough, Curl, an Abyssinian named Anne, a Ragdoll named Taki, and two Maine Coons named Cooo and Rick.

Although it is possible that some of these cats were either strays that turned up on his doorstep or donations from disgruntled owners, it is unlikely that they all arrived via those routes. Since the acquisition of pedigreed cats does little to reduce the ranks of either the homeless or the slaughtered, there appears on the surface to be a disconnect between Maeda's rhetoric and his behavior.

Even though there is not anything either egregiously cruel or inhumane about them, neko cafes operate in an environment that is pregnant with opportunities for abuse and exploitation. If the proprietors of these establishments are conscientious in their care and treatment of the cats there will not be any need for intervention by either feline welfare groups or the local authorities.

Cases of abuse and exploitation must be vigorously investigated, however, and the teahouses cannot be allow to operate as revolving doors where they acquire and dump cats as it suits their financial agenda. Adopting a cat is a lifetime commitment and that moral precept applies to capitalist enterprises as well as to individuals.

Photos: Kichimani (Cafe Calico cats), Curl-Up Cafe (brown and white cat) and Michael Caronna of The Christian Science Monitor (woman with cat).

Monday, June 02, 2008

Ridership Soars as Tama Takes Over as a Stationmaster on Money-Losing Commuter Train Line


"She never complains, even though passengers touch her all over the place. She is an amazing cat. She has patience and charisma. She is the perfect stationmaster."
-- Yoshiko Yamaki

Wakayama Electric Railway's Kishigawa Line in western Japan was up the spout. It was hemorrhaging red ink at the rate of $5 million a year and ridership had plummeted to as few as five-thousand patrons a day and 1.9 million per annum.

Conditions had gotten so bad in fact that by April of 2006 management had been forced to give the sack to conductors and stationmasters alike. The trains still had engineers of course but the ten stations along the nine-mile route from Wakayama to Kinokawa had been reduced to being little more than stops along the way.

All of that is now a thing of the past as ridership has rebounded by ten per cent to 2.1 million annual patrons. Most astonishing of all, this stunning reversal of fortunes is due to the work of a cat.

In January of 2007, railroad officials hit upon the brilliant idea of tapping a nine-year-old depot loiterer named Tama as head of operations for Kishi Station in Kinokawa. Once news of the tortoiseshell's appointment spread people from all over Japan started flocking to the station in droves just to see her and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

A hard worker, Tama puts in a regular nine to five grind six days a week greeting commuters and posing for photographs with tourists. She also has the patience of Job in that she must contend with the constant attentions of her adoring fans.

"She never complains, even though passengers touch her all over the place," Yoshiko Yamaki, spokesman for Wakayama, told the China Daily on May 26th. (See "Cat as Station Chief Brings Passengers Back.") "She is an amazing cat. She has patience and charisma. She is the perfect stationmaster."

Perhaps just as important, her role in rescuing the troubled commuter line has not gone unappreciated by the railroad's brass. For instance, in December of last year she was given a hefty bonus, paid in cat food, and in January she was promoted to the position of Super Stationmaster.

Along with the promotion came a medallion inscribed with her new title which she now proudly wears along with her stationmaster's cap. (See photos above and below.)

"She now holds the fifth highest position in the company," Yamaki added. She also has the dubious distinction of being the only female in management.

With the new title and bonus also came an office in the form of a renovated ticket booth. As an indication of how serious the Japanese feel about her, the ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by no less than the mayor of Kinokawa as well as the president of Wakayama Electric.

Far more than ceremonial, the office will allow her to temporarily escape the clutches of her admirers and to enjoy some much needed privacy. "She declines to relieve herself when passengers are looking," Yamaki explained. "We set the toilet where passengers can't see."

That was certainly a long overdue move in that it would be hardly fitting for a Super Stationmaster to answer nature's call in full view of the public. Besides, cats are a good deal more circumspect in their excretory habits than some people.

On Manhattan's crowded Fifth Avenue, par exemple, it is not uncommon to see both men and women drop their drawers and let fly even during the height of rush hour. No self-respecting cat would ever be caught committing such an indiscretion.

Tama has become so famous that she has an entry in Wikipedia and a volume of photographs entitled Diary of Tama, the Stationmaster is now in bookstores. She also is scheduled to appear in a documentary by French director Myriam Tonelotto about famous cats from around the world. As one would expect, postcards, erasers, notebooks, and pens bearing her likeness are selling like hotcakes.

She also is living proof that the feline species has more than its share of Horatio Alger success stories. Her origins were rather humble in that she is the offspring of a stray that was brought to Kishi Station by an unidentified cleaner.

She is more or less owned by Toshiko Koyama who operates a grocery store alongside the station. In fact, it was he who was originally appointed to look after the station when Wakayama sacked its stationmasters.

He, however, treats her like a second-class citizen in that he forces her to live in a shed on his property. That may be about to change in that the grocery store is reportedly slated for demolition.

The loss of her home along with the fact that she is all alone at Kishi except for her feline subalterns, eight-year-old Chibi and ten-year-old Miko, raises serious concerns about her safety. There is nothing in press reports to suggest that there is anything or anyone to prevent someone from walking in off the street and either stealing or bodily injuring her.

On the one hand, it seems absurd that officials at Wakayama would leave a cat as valuable as Tama to fend for herself but then again if they are too cheap to hire even a ticket-seller it is doubtful that they would pay someone to protect a cat.

"Tama is the only stationmaster as we have to reduce personnel costs," Yamaki told China Daily. "You could ask for the cat's help, but she is actually bringing luck to us."

The Japanese, like many people, believe that cats, especially waifs, bring good luck. Unless precautions are taken, however, both Tama and the railroad's luck could disappear in the twinkling of an eye.

For instance, about this time a year ago some intrepid thief stole a cat from the Philadelphia Police. (See Cat Defender post of May 29, 2007 entitled "Corporal Cuffs, Beloved Station House Mascot, Is Abducted Right Under Cops' Noses.")

Finally, Tama's meteoric rise through the ranks just goes to show what cats are capable of when they are given the opportunity. Besides, their breeding, good looks, sedate personalities, congeniality, and natural intelligence make them obvious choices for positions within senior management. No one in his or her right mind seriously expects any of these exquisite creatures to waste their considerable talents toiling away at menial pursuits.

Because of extreme prejudice, however, few of them are seldom ever to even get their tiny paws inside the door, front or back. A handful of jobs nonetheless are starting to open up for them in the railroad business.

Last September, PC Tizer was hired by the British Transportation Police as head mouser at King's Cross in London. (See Cat Defender post of November 23, 2007 entitled "Tizer Lands a Job Working for the Police After Ending Up at a Shelter Following the Death of His Previous Owner.")

The thirteen-year-old cat has proven to be so proficient at his job and such a favorite with the officers that he already has been promoted to the rank of constable. Winding up on death row following the demise of his longtime owner was a terrible blow but things are definitely beginning to look up for him.

Photos: China Daily and Wikipedia.