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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sassie Is Left Paralyzed as the Result of Yet Still Another Horribly Botched Attempt to Implant a Thoroughly Worthless and Pernicious Microchip Between Her Shoulders

Eight Stitches Were Required to Patch Up Sassie's Injured Neck

"The girl doing the chipping seemed not to have a clue what she was doing. She made two attempts to chip Sassie."
-- Kristina Hogan

Much like an habitual drunkard who cannot stay off the bottle, modern man is seemingly unable to say no to technology. A rather poignant example of that herd mentality is to be found in the public's mindless acceptance of implanted microchips as the preferred method of keeping track of their cats and dogs.

The masses are not totally to blame, however, in that just about all the major animal rescue groups in England, such as Cats Protection in Haywards Heath, Sussex, the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in south London, the RSPCA, and the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals in Telford, Shropshire, have been busily ramming these pernicious devices down their gullets for years. They have been aided and abetted in their devilry by the totalitarians who call the shots in the European Union who in 2011 mandated that all cats and dogs traveling between its member states be fitted with these odious devices.

More recently on April 6th, a new law went into effect across England and Wales that requires all dogs to be chipped. Violators as well as those who fail to keep their contact information current are subject to a £500 fine.

As if all of that were not bad enough, the cat killers at the garishly misnomered Cats Protection and their confederates at other English charities are now agitating for that egregious requirement to be applied to cats as well, as it currently is the case in both Spain and Belgium. Mercifully, the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs so far has wisely decided against doing their bidding. (See The Telegraph of London, April 5, 2016, "Cat Microchipping Should Be Compulsory Too, Say Charities.")

Even in the land of the dollar bill the microchipping craze is spreading like an unchecked outbreak of malaria in that it has been endorsed by just about all shelters, veterinarians, and numerous municipal authorities as well. If the current trend continues unabated, the practice soon will surpass both collars and tattoos in popularity even without the benefit of a governmental fiat.

Although there are numerous reasons why this trend is such an ominous development in the field of animal welfare, none so readily stands out as the appalling level of incompetence that exists within the ranks of those professionals that are charged with implanting them. Specifically, although surgically inserting these miniature identification devices between the shoulder blades is a straightforward, uncomplicated procedure, it is shocking just how many veterinarians are unable to do so without either crippling or killing cats.

In addition to general incompetence, an overarching desire to make as much moola as possible within the shortest period of time and with the least expenditure of energy coupled with a lackadaisical attitude toward the well-being of their patients are sans doute contributing factors. Not surprisingly, the petit fait that implanting a microchip is an invasive procedure and as such requires not only competence but diligence as well often gets lost in such a perverse business model.

That is perhaps even more so the case with those charities and governmental authorities that from time to time offer free-of-charge microchipping services to the public. A good case in point was the totally inexcusable pain, suffering, and lasting injuries inflicted upon a pretty three-year-old calico female named Sassie from Consett after her owner took her to such an event sponsored by the Durham County Council in early 2014.

The details are a bit sketchy, but the unidentified individual doing the chipping so botched the procedure that she recklessly plunged the needle containing the device into Sassie's spine as opposed to inserting it between her shoulder blades. As a consequence, she was left paralyzed.

"The girl doing the chipping seemed not to have a clue what she was doing," Sassie's thirty-one-year-old owner, Kristina Hogan, afterwards averred to The Chronicle of Newcastle-upon-Tyne on February 18, 2014. (See "Consett Cat Sassie Paralyzed in Microchipping Bungle.") "She made two attempts to chip Sassie."

Although it has not been disclosed if the woman was actually a licensed veterinarian or merely an assistant of some sort, she additionally came within a hairbreadth of nearly killing Sassie. "On the second, she rammed the needle so hard into her she injected the chip between the first and second vertebrae in the neck, paralyzing her," Hogan continued. "If it had gone any further up it would have hit her in the brain, and if it had gone any deeper it would have perforated her spinal cord."

As a consequence, Hogan was forced to rush Sassie to Croft Vet Hospital in Cramlington, thirty-seven kilometers north of Consett in Northumberland, where the microchip first had to be located with computer scans and then surgically removed at a staggering cost of £3,000. That was nothing, however, when compared to the damage that had been inflicted upon Sassie.

To begin with, eight stitches were required just to sew up her severely damaged neck. Following that, she not only was forced to wear an Elizabethan collar until the incision healed but to be caged for six weeks while she convalesced. Worst of all, the procedure robbed her of the ability to run and jump.

Sassie Was Confined to an Elizabethan Collar for Weeks

"She just used to really enjoy being out -- if you opened the door to call her she wouldn't come and nine times out of ten you'd have to tempt her in with a bit of ham," Hogan confided to The Chronicle. "Now she'll never be able to go outside again because she's too slow to get away from predators."

The full extent of her injuries was not expected to have been determined until after the cone and stitches were removed but since no additional articles concerning her have appeared in the English press, it is impossible to speculate on how she is progressing. All may not have been lost, however, in that some cats who have suffered similar fates eventually have regained some of their mobility.

For example, Simon Platt of the Animal Health Trust's Small Animal Centre in Newmarket, Suffolk, wrote in an article entitled "Spinal Cord Injury Resulting from Incorrect Microchip Placement in a Cat" that an unidentified two-year-old neutered male had in time regained the use of his front appendages even though a certain degree of paralysis persisted in his left leg. (See the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, volume 9, issue 2, April 2, 2007, pages 157-160.)

For its part, the Durham County Council has attempted to atone for what was done to Sassie. "We are extremely upset and sorry that this happened," Ian Hoult, its neighborhood protection manager, told The Chronicle. "We immediately apologized and have paid for all necessary veterinary care to ensure the animal's future well-being."

In addition to leaving Sassie paralyzed, the bungled microchipping also has had a traumatic effect upon Hogan's three young children. "It's affected the children as well -- the kids were in tears," she told The Chronicle. "They can't go and give her a cuddle and pick her up because they're so worried they're going to hurt her spine."

Besides muscling microchips into cats' spines, slap-happy veterinarians also make a disturbing habit of recklessly implanting them at vaccination sites which in turn has led to the onset of cancer. "Veterinarians should be aware that because inflammation may dispose felines to tumor formation, separation and observation of vaccination and implantation sites are indicated," Meighan K. Daly of the University of Georgia at Athens wrote a few years back in an article entitled "Fibrosarcoma Adjacent to the Site of Microchip Implantation in a Cat." (See the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, volume 10, issue 2, April 2008, pages 202-205.)

Veterinary malpractice aside, there is a growing body of evidence that the chips themselves are cancerous. (See Cat Defender posts of September 21, 2007 and November 6, 2010 entitled, respectively, "FDA Is Suppressing Research That Shows Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer in Mice, Rats, and Dogs" and "Bulkin Contracts Cancer from an Implanted Microchip and Now It Is Time for Digital Angel and Merck to Answer for Their Crimes in a Court of Law.")

Although the toxicity of these devices coupled with the tendency of veterinarians to implant them at vaccination sites and on top of spines constitute the principal concerns, they are by no means the only ones. First of all, not all of them operate on the same frequency and as a result multiple scanners are needed in order to read them and that in the past has led to deadly consequences.

For instance on April 21, 2004, Lisa Massey's eight-month-old American Pit Bull Terrier, Haddon, was killed by an animal shelter in Stafford, Virginia, all because staffers were using the wrong scanner and thus were unable to decipher his implanted microchip. (See the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, July 1, 2004, "Pet's Death Rekindles Electronic ID Debate.")

Secondly, microchips have a tendency to move around inside cats and dogs and that sometimes makes it difficult to locate them. Thirdly, like all such devices they sometimes simply malfunction. (See the Daily Mail, April 17, 2007, "Impounded: Family Forced to Leave Their (sic) Dog in France Because Officials Couldn't Scan Its ID Chip.")

Fourthly, it is almost superfluous to point out but if owners neglect to keep their contact information up-to-date in the databases that the chips are linked up to there virtually is not any way that they can be reached by those shelters and veterinarians that even so much as bother to scan the animals that they impound and treat. This is a huge problem for cats that are bandied about between multiple owners. (See The Australian of Sydney, articles dated March 20, 2007 and March 21, 2007 and entitled, respectively, "Three-Thousand-Dollar United States Cat Handed to RSPCA" and "Valuable Stray Cat Reunited with United States (sic) Owner," plus Cat Defender posts of August 26, 2015 and July 25, 2014 entitled, respectively, "A Myriad of Cruel and Unforgivable Abandonments, a Chinese Puzzle, and Finally the Handing Down and Carrying Out of a Death Sentence Spell the End for Long-Suffering and Peripatetic Tigger" and "Poussey Overcomes a Surprise Boat Ride to Dover, a Stint on Death Row, and Being Bandied About Like the Flying Dutchman in Order to Finally Make It Home to La Havre.")

Only once in a blue moon can a shelter be counted upon to go out of its way in order to reunite a lost cat with an owner who has failed to maintain a current address in a microchip database. (See Cat Defender post of March 31, 2010 entitled "Winnipeg Family Is Astounded by Tiger Lily's Miraculous Return after Having Been Believed Dead for Fourteen Years.")

Sassie and Kristina Hogan Are Persevering

Trumping all of those concerns is the often overlooked reality that implanted microchips offer cats and dogs absolutely no protection whatsoever against motorists, human and animal predators, poisoners, the elements, and thieves. (See Cat Defender post of May 25, 2006 entitled "Plato's Misadventures Expose the Pitfalls of RFID Technology as Applied to Cats.")

Although proponents may trumpet their efficacy in reuniting lost cats with their owners, the statistics that they cite in support of their reasoning are misleading. That is because for every successful reunion there doubtlessly must be hundreds, if not indeed thousands, of chipped cats that are never found.

One reason for that is the limited availability of scanners. Therefore, individuals who rescue cats from the streets and fields do not have any means of checking for implanted identification devices.

A few of them do, belatedly, ask their veterinarians to scan them but that is usually years after they have been rescued. (See Cat Defender post of July 5, 2013 entitled "Tabor's Long and Winding Road Leads Her Back Home but Leaves Her with a Broken Heart.")

Although collars and tattoos also have their limitations and health risks, they at least are visible to the naked eye and that convenience alone sometimes increases the odds that animals outfitted with them will be returned to their owners. They also have the advantage of being free of both exorbitant veterinary and database maintenance fees which, by the way, is another reason why practitioners and animal rescue groups are lobbying so intensely to have them replaced.

Last but not least, microchips lull owners into a false sense of security that often serves to encourage them to become negligent in the care of their cats. That in turn reinforces the popular, albeit totally spurious, stereotype that cats are self-sufficient loners who are quite capable of taking care of themselves. (See Cat Defender post of October 9, 2015 entitled "A Lynch Mob of Dishonest Eggheads from the University of Lincoln Issues Another Scurrilous Broadside Against Cats by Declaring That They Do Not Need Guardians in Order to Safeguard Their Fragile Lives.")

On a much broader level, all monitoring technology, whether it be microchips, radio collars, cameras, or whatever, has been developed and deployed for reasons that are inimical to the health and well-being of the animal kingdom. To put the matter succinctly, the power to monitor and observe is equivalent of that to know and that in turn equates to the power to control which, ultimately, entails the ability to denature and kill. (See Cat Defender posts of June 11, 2007, May 4, 2006, and February 29, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Katzen-Kameras Are Not Only Cruel and Inhumane but Represent an Assault Upon Cats' Liberties and Privacy," "Scientific Community's Use of High-Tech Surveillance Is Aimed at Subjugating, Not Saving, the Animals," and "The Repeated Hounding Down and Tagging of Walruses Exposes Electronic Surveillance as Not Only Cruel but a Fraud.")

As far as it is known, no statistics are kept as to the number of animals that are killed each year, either intentionally or accidentally, as the result of tagging initiatives that are carried out by wildlife biologists and other governmental officials but the total surely must be astronomical. (See Cat Defender posts of April 17, 2006 and May 21, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Hal the Central Park Coyote Is Suffocated to Death by Wildlife Biologists Attempting to Tag Him" and "Macho B., America's Last Jaguar, Is Illegally Trapped, Radio-Collared, and Killed Off by Wildlife Biologists in Arizona.")

At this very moment the USDA's diabolical Wildlife Services and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game are using radio-collared "Judas" wolves in order to track down and flush out other wolves from their dens. Sharpshooters then gun down the helpless animals from helicopters and airplanes.

The wolves attempt to flee but it is totally impossible for them, especially those that previously have been tagged, to escape. (See the Center for Biological Diversity's press release of March 29, 2016, "Judas Wolves -- Wildlife Services' Sick Killing Strategy.")

Considering the gargantuan lengths that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has gone to in order to eradicate cats on San Nicolas, in the Florida Keys, and elsewhere, the species one day could find itself being treated every bit as cruelly as wolves. It accordingly is not a good idea for those who care about them to provide governmental agencies, rescue groups, and veterinarians with either the electronic means or the data that will make it easier for them to carry out their hideous crimes.

A far more prudent alternative would be to rely upon close observation and conventional means in order to keep track of cats. Such a strategy has, admittedly, its limitations but a reliance upon technology and those groups and entities that champion it is definitely not the answer.

Photos: The Chronicle.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mr. Mistoffelees Will Be Forever Four Months Old All Because He Accidentally Brushed Up Against a Bouquet of Lilies and Then Unwittingly Attempted to Lick the Deadly Pollen Off of His Fur

Mr. Mistoffelees Covered in Orange Lily Pollen

"Had I known that lilies were so deadly to cats I would never have had them in my house."
-- Elizabeth Mackie

There is a well-known Sprichwort about curiosity killing cats and while there unquestionably is some truth to it, the abysmal ignorance and downright carelessness of their owners doubtlessly claims the lives of a far greater number of them. A good case in point was the totally preventable death back on January 10th of a handsome white kitten with patches of black known as Mr. Mistoffelees all because his owner was unaware that lilies are deadly to cats. Lamentably, his life ended almost as soon as it had begun in that he was only four months old.

The unfortunate chain of events that culminated in his demise were set in motion either shortly before or just after he entered this perilous old world when seventy-six-year-old Pat Mackie died of a stroke in September of last year. Depressed over the loss of her mother, daughter Elizabeth adopted Misty, as he was known, and brought him home to live with her in her house in Whitchurch, three kilometers east of the Welsh border and thirty kilometers north of Shrewsbury in Shropshire, the West Midlands.

Everything apparently went swimmingly until Mackie gave away a chest of drawers to an acquaintance who reciprocated by presenting her with a bouquet of white lilies which she then placed in a vase on the ledge of a bay window in her home. Tragically as things later turned out, Mr. Mistoffelees also was partial to that particular perch.

As a consequence, he accidentally brushed against the flowers numerous times while gazing out the window and by the time that the thirty-eight-year-old bar manageress had so much as a clue as to what was afoot his fur was covered in orange pollen. Although she was totally ignorant of just how toxic lily pollen is to cats, Mackie nevertheless had enough bon sens to know that it did not belong in his fur.

She initially attempted to remove it but when her ministrations were met with resistance her next thought was not to seek immediate veterinary intervention but rather to post a photograph of him online accompanied by a plea for suggestions on how best to go about cleansing his fur. It was only after respondents had enlightened her that she belatedly realized the gravity of the situation.

"Suddenly people started warning me that lily pollen is toxic to cats and I should check he hadn't eaten any," she disclosed to the Daily Mail on January 27th. (See "Cat Owner Is Devastated When the Beloved Kitten She Bought to Cheer Herself Up Is Killed by Pollen from Lilies.") "I had never heard this before, I was immediately worried so I called the vets."

In Misty's case it would appear that he ultimately was done in by his species' renowned fastidiousness in that he is believed to have attempted to lick off the pollen with his tongue. It is not known, however, either how long he was exposed to it or how much of it he ingested.

Mr. Mistoffelees at Play

It likewise has not been disclosed what, if any, symptoms of lily toxicity he was exhibiting by the time that Mackie tumbled to his plight. Some of the outwardly observable ones are, inter alia, drooling, vomiting, lethargy, depression, a lack of appetite, and increased urination. Swollen and painful kidneys are another telling symptom but blood and urine tests performed by a competent veterinarian are required in order to make such a determination.

Once she finally got around to doing so, Mackie made a simply terrible decision by taking Mr. Mistoffelees to the Leonard Brother Veterinary Clinic where practitioner Andy Nelson, if press reports are credible, totally botched the job of saving his life. He first sedated the kitten and then attempted to induce vomiting so as to force his digestive tract to expel the pollen from his kidneys and other internal organs.

While he was in the process of doing that, Misty suffered a heart attack but Nelson, inexplicably, did not have any adrenaline on hand. As a result, he abandoned the helpless kitten on his deathbed while he went to scrounge around for some.

Before he hightailed it out of the operating theatre, however, he fobbed off the traumatic job of administering last-ditch chest compressions to the rapidly dying kitten onto the already sagging shoulders of Mackie. The only logical conclusion to be drawn from that absolutely shocking deviation from normal veterinary protocol is that Leonard Brother is not only too cheap to maintain a supply of adrenaline but also to employ trained veterinary assistants as well.

"I massaged his chest as shown by the vet in a bid to save him while he got the adrenaline but unfortunately we couldn't revive him," she confided to the Daily Mail. "I was devastated."

The official cause of death has been listed as a combination of kidney and liver failure. If a necropsy had been performed, it perhaps would have been able not only to have pinpointed exactly what killed him but also to have determined how much and what form of lily toxicity was present in his tiny body. Since it has not been disclosed what was done with his remains, that is a strong indication that they likely were burned so it is way too late now for conducting such a probe.

Unwilling to own up to his own incompetence, Nelson did the next best thing which was to pack off all the blame for Mr. Mistoffelees' untimely death on Mackie. "This is the second cat in the last year that I have seen die from lilies just because the owner did not know that they were dangerous to cats," he shamelessly pontificated to the Daily Mail. "I'm amazed at the number of people who simply do not know how deadly they can be for cats, as they are popular pets and lilies are popular flowers -- but the two just cannot go together."

Andy Nelson

Those same arguments easily could be turned around and applied with even greater force to the pompous and hypocritical Nelson. First of all, since he already was intimately familiar with lily poisoning he should have readily recognized the grave danger that Mr. Mistoffelees was in and accordingly pulled out all the stops in a race against the clock in order to have saved him. Secondly, he should at the very least have had both adrenaline and an assistant ready at hand.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons is far too much of a laughingstock as an oversight body for Mackie to waste her precious time and money by lodging a formal complaint with it against Nelson, but she should find another veterinarian if she should decide in the future to acquire a replacement for Misty. (See Cat Defender post of June 17, 2010 entitled "A Veterinarian Gets Away with Almost Killing Felix but Is Nailed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for Not Paying Her Dues.")

It therefore is anything but surprising that the entire affair from start to deathbed finish has made an emotional wreck out of Mackie. "It was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life as he was just a baby and I was there trying to save him like that," she confided to the Daily Mail. "It was awful."

Absolutely no one, except cat-haters, could possibly disagree with her on that point but her suffering certainly did not end with Misty's death; au contraire, she has been left with enough regrets in order to last her for a lifetime. "Had I known that lilies were so deadly to cats I would never had them in my house," she vowed to the Daily Mail.

Considering their popularity and ubiquity, lilies surely must claim countless lives each year and yet very little is either spoken or written about the dangers that they pose to cats. That is so much the case that in recent memory only one other case comes readily to mind and it concerned a white Maine Coon cat named Haggis from parts unknown but presumably somewhere in the United Kingdom.

As was the case with Mr. Mistoffelees, the trouble began when some acquaintances of his unidentified owners presented them with a bouquet of lilies. Like Mackie, they placed them in a vase on a windowsill and some of the yellow pollen collected in Haggis' fur when he inadvertently brushed up against them while peering out through the glass. Not only were they also ignorant of just how deadly the pretty flowers are to cats, but they initially even thought that he looked rather comical covered in yellow pollen.

Mercifully, it belatedly dawned upon them that the lilies just might possibly be toxic to cats and once their suspicions were confirmed by an online search their initial amusement quickly gave way to panic. With no time left to spare, they immediately washed the pollen out of his fur in the shower and then rushed him to a veterinarian. Unfortunately, the only thing that the practitioner was willing to do for him was to place him on intravenous fluids so as to prevent the onset of dehydration and kidney failure.

That unidentified professional apparently neither attempted to induce vomiting nor to soak up any residual toxins left in his stomach by prescribing activated charcoal. His distraught owners were simply told to be patient and to hope for the best.

Haggis Is Only One of a Handful of Cats to Have Survived Lily Pollen

He remained at the surgery for two days but when he failed to exhibit any outward signs of lily toxicity he was allowed to return home. That was a few years ago and thanks to the timely intervention of his guardians he apparently, unlike Misty, never had time to lick off any of the pollen and for that reason is still alive today.

His close brush with death nevertheless has had a profound effect upon his caretakers. "It was a terrible feeling to know that because of your own stupidity your cat could have died," the owners told International Cat Care (ICC) of Tisbury in Wiltshire on September 7, 2015. (See "Keeping Cats Safe -- Lilies.") "Since that day no flower or plant is allowed in our home."

Haggis accordingly can be counted as one of the fortunate few. "The unusual thing about the case of Haggis is that the outcome was good, which sadly is often not the case," Claire Bessant of ICC told Your Cat Magazine of Grantham in Lincolnshire on September 17, 2015. (See "Cat Has Lucky Escape from Lily Poisoning.") "Many owners are still unaware of the dangers of lilies to their cats and cats often die as a result of poisoning."

Even in saying that much she is drastically understating the case. For example, not only is the pollen itself toxic but so, too, are the flowers, leaves, and stems. Why, just even drinking the water from the vases in which they are displayed is sufficient in order to kill a cat.

Moreover, since consumption of less than one leaf can be fatal to a cat, the same is likely true in regard to the pollen itself in that licking up just a few particles of it could conceivably cause renal failure. Because of their tender years and considerably smaller internal organs, young kittens, such as Mr. Mistoffelees, are especially ill-equipped to cope with the devastating consequences of lily toxicity.

There additionally are a wide variety of lilies that are lethal to cats. For instance in the article cited supra, ICC enumerates the following sub-species of Lilium (true lily) as being toxic to cats: Lilium asiatica (Asiatic lily), Lilium asiatica americana (Asiatic-American lily), Lilium candidum (Madonna lily), Lilium hydridum (Japanese showy lily), Lilium lancifolium (Tiger lily), Lily longiforum (Easter lily), Lilium orientalis Stargazer lily (Oriental lily), Lilium regale (Royal lily), Lilium speciosum, Lilium rubrum (Rubrum lily), and Lilium umbellatum (Western or Wood lily). Also, all species of Hemerocallis (Day lilies) are included in that roll call of deadly flowers.

Complicating matters further, there are other closely related plants which can sicken cats without causing kidney failure. Chiefly among these are calla or arum lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) and peace lilies (Spathiphyllum species) that contain crystals which can inflame the mouth and digestive tract and thus cause drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.


Another plant to watch out for is lily of the valley (Convalaria majalis) which can cause irregular heartbeats and precipitate drops in blood pressure which in turn can lead to the onset of seizures and comas in cats. (See PetMD. com, undated article entitled "Lily Poisoning in Cats.")

For its part, Cats Protection of Haywards Heath in Sussex also warns against poinsettias which if consumed by cats can lead to diarrhea and cramps. Rhododendron and daffodil bulbs are an even greater concern because in addition to sickening cats they also can kill them.

Rather than trying to remember all of that, it would be far preferable to follow the sage advice of Haggis' chastened owners and to refrain from keeping any plants at all indoors. At the very least, owners would be well advised to determine beforehand if a particular plant is hazardous to cats before allowing it indoors.

Oddly enough, outdoor lilies do not appear to pose nearly as much of a threat because most cats prefer to chew on grass. The wind, dew, and rain also helps to disperse the pollen that accumulates on their flowers, leaves, and stems. If that were not the case, there surely would be dead cats everywhere.

Nevertheless, outdoor lilies likely are responsible for a good deal more feline deaths each year than it generally is acknowledged. That is because some cats crawl off and hide once they believe that the end is near and their corpses are never found. Secondly, the owners of even those that return home in order to die seldom request necropsies and as a result the cause of their deaths remains a mystery.

It accordingly would be a good idea for owners as a cautionary measure to remove all lilies and other poisonous plants from their properties. Unfortunately, there is not a great deal that they can do about neighbors who insist upon planting lilies in their gardens in order to purposefully harm and kill cats.

Even more worrisome, horticulturists and the likes of Ted "Slick Willie" Williams and the National Audubon Society most assuredly would not hesitate for so much as a split-second to plant lilies in order to intentionally kill cats. (See Cat Defender posts of August 19, 2010 and May 18, 2013 entitled, respectively, "Music Lessons and Buggsey Are Murdered by a Cat-Hating Gardener and an Extermination Factory Posing as an Animal Shelter in Saginaw" and "Ted Williams and the National Audubon Society Issue a Call for Cats to Be Poisoned with Tylenol® and Then Try to Lie Out of It.")


Mackie therefore can be forgiven her ignorance about lilies but her abject neglect of Mr. Mistoffelees is an altogether different matter. Like so many individuals in general and working people in particular, she fell for the myth disseminated by the likes of the flatheads at the University of Lincoln that cats are self-sufficient beings who can take care of themselves. (See Cat Defender post of October 9, 2015 entitled "A Lynch Mob of Dishonest Eggheads from the University of Lincoln Issues Another Scurrilous Broadside Against Cats by Declaring That They do Not Need Guardians in Order to Safeguard Their Fragile Lives.")

In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth in that cats are considerably more difficult to properly care for than dogs and other animals. That is because they not only face far more dangers but also have many more enemies as well. As a consequence, it is imperative that both domesticated cats as well as those that reside in managed TNR colonies have attentive and conscientious guardians.

Far too many individuals think and behave like Mackie in that it is customary for them to routinely lock their cats indoors and then to forget all about them while they go out and chase shekels and romance. Since they consequently rarely ever see them except at bedtime and breakfast, it often is too late in order to save them once they suddenly become either sick, injured, or lost.

It is an entirely different scenario with attentive owners who actually spend considerable time with their cats. For example, during the latter half of 2010 a cat-hater in New Westminster, British Columbia, dunked at least three cats in turpentine.

Corrine Ritchie's cat Linden and Rob Stainton's resident feline Vincent survived because they discovered what had happened to them before they had time in order to lick off very much of the deadly corrosive from their fur. Lamentably, Jennifer Szoke did not reach her cat, Harley, in time. (See Cat Defender posts of July 30, 2010, August 30, 2010, and January 3, 2011 entitled, respectively, "Harley Suffers Severe Burns to His Tongue and Mouth as Well as Lung Damage after He Is Deliberately Dunked in Turpentine," "Hope, Prayer, and Veterinary Intervention Ultimately Prove to Be Insufficient in Order to Save Harley after He Is Deliberately Dunked in Turpentine," and "Another Cat, Vincent, Is Dunked in Turpentine in New Westminster as the Police and Animal Control Continue to Laugh Up Their Dirty Sleeves.")

Like Mackie, twenty-five-year-old Aidan Moreau-MacLeod spends the lion's share of his time at Bar Negroni in the Little Italy section of Toronto where he slings swill in addition to being co-owner. As a result, he was nowhere to be found when a police dog mauled his eighteen-year-old cat McGuire during the early morning hours of June 4th of last year.

Fortunately, his father discovered McGuire's desperate condition when he returned home later that evening and subsequently rushed him to a veterinarian. The younger Moreau-MacLeod was extremely fortunate on that occasion because McGuire easily could have died from his untreated wounds while he was away from home lining his pockets. (See Cat Defender post of July 2, 2015 entitled "After Allowing One of Their Police Dogs to Maul McGuire to Within an Inch of His Life, the Toronto Police Do Not Have Even the Common Decency to Summon Veterinary Help for Him.")

Flurbiprofen Topical Analgesic

It therefore is entirely conceivable that if Mackie had been home watching over Mr. Mistoffelees that she could have saved him if she had gotten him away from the lilies in a timely fashion and promptly dunked him a bathtub in order to have removed the pollen from his fur. She also is guilty, like seemingly everybody else nowadays, of wasting precious time online when she instead should have been on her way with him to a veterinarian.

Although there is not any dearth of knowledge pertaining to the dangers posed by both human and animal predators, motorists, and other cretins to cats that live outdoors, Mackie also is remiss for failing to realize that indoor environments are not necessarily all that much more conducive to promoting feline health, well-being, and longevity. In addition to a lack of exercise space, mental stimulation, and a denial of the fellowship of other cats, indoor environments cannot be reached by the life-giving rays of Old Sol and they circulate primarily old, stale, and polluted air.

They also contain toxins other than lilies, such as cigarette smoke and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). (See Cat Defender posts of October 19, 2007 and August 22, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Smokers Are Killing Their Cats, Dogs, Birds, and Infants by Continuing to Light Up in Their Presence" and "Indoor Cats Are Dying from Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Various Toxins in the Home.")

Furthermore, whereas it is well understood that both prescription and over-the-counter medications should be kept far out of the reach of cats at all times, the same also holds true for the treated areas and surrounding clothing of individuals who use topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). For example, last spring the Federal Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine in Rockville, Maryland, reported that flurbiprofen, which also contains the muscle relaxer cyclobenzaprine as well as baclofen, gabapentin, lidocaine, and prilocaine, had been responsible for the deaths of three domestic cats and renal failure in two others that survived thanks to timely veterinary intervention. (See FDA press release of April 17, 2015 entitled "Flurbiprofen-Containing Topical Pain Medications: FDA Alert -- Illnesses and Deaths in Pets Exposed to Prescription Topical Pain Medication.")

The alert does not specify how the cats came into contact with the painkiller, only that their owners applied lotions and creams containing it to their necks and feet. It nevertheless would stand to reason that the cats licked it off either their owners' bodies or clothing. As is the case with lilies, it only takes a very minute amount of flurbiprofen in order to cause kidney failure and death in cats.

Other mundane, yet lethal, hazards to be found in the home include plastic trash bags, electric recliners, and furniture imported from China and, presumably, elsewhere that contain the mold and mildew retardant dimethyl fumarate (DMF). (See Cat Defender posts of September 24, 2015 and October 21, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Henry Is Saved by Cats Protection after Swallowing Part of a Plastic Trash Bag but His Fate Would Have Been Entirely Different if He Had Fallen into the Clutches of the Mercenaries at PennVet" and "Two Thoughtless Old Biddies Crush Thirteen-Month-Old Sheba to Death Underneath an Electric Recliner," plus The Telegraph of London, December 4, 2008, "Toxic Leather Armchair Kills Father, Son, and Cat, Family Claims.")

Construction mishaps inside the home also can injure and even kill cats. (See Cat Defender posts of August 4, 2008 and September 8, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Brooklyn Man Gets Locked Up in a Nuthouse and Then Loses Digs, Job, and Honey All for Attempting to Save His Friend's Cat, Rumi" and "Bonny Is Rescued at the Last Minute after Spending Seven Weeks Entombed Underneath a Bathtub.")

Indoor cats are likewise up the spout whenever either fires or carbon monoxide leaks occur. (See Cat Defender posts of September 29, 2008 and April 23, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Kiki Is Healthy Again but in Legal Limbo as Her Rescuer, Firefighter Al Machado, Basks in the Glory of His Heroics" and "Winnie Saves an Indiana Family of Three from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.")

Mr. Mistoffelees and Elizabeth Mackie in Happier Days

Cats that are left home alone for extended periods of time also have little or no protection against the evil designs of housebreakers. For example on August 14, 2009, burglars broke into thirty-three-year-old Amanda Faulkner's house in Hamilton, one-hundred-thirty kilometers south of Auckland, where they broke one-year-old Nookie's pelvis, his tail in three places, and damaged his bladder by repeatedly kicking him as if he were nothing more than a football.

Faulkner did not even discover his plight until more than a day later and even then she cruelly elected to pay a veterinarian in order to finish the job that the thieves had started rather than to save his life. (See Cat Defender post of September 9, 2009 entitled "Home Alone in New Zealand, Friendly Little Nookie Is Repeatedly Kicked and Left for Dead by Vicious Burglars.")

Topping all of those concerns, cruelly cooping up a cat inside deprives it of the opportunity to ever acquire the prerequisite skills that it would require in order to survive in the real world if it one day were to suddenly find itself on its own. (See Cat Defender post of February 2, 2015 entitled "Cruelly Denatured and Locked Up Indoors for All of His Life, Nicky Is Suddenly Thrust into the Bitter Cold and Snow for Twenty-One Consecutive Days with Predictably Tragic Results.")

To her credit, Mackie has started a petition drive aimed at persuading both florists and supermarkets to put warning labels on bouquets of lilies. "I would hate for anyone else to go through what I have so I hope that our petition can at least raise awareness and if the shops do start labeling them, then that could save a lot of cats from dying a horrible death," she told the Daily Mail in the article cited supra.

Although he may have completely botched Mr. Mistoffelees' care, Nelson nonetheless wholeheartedly concurs with Mackie on that point. "It's a very simple change but (it) could save a lot of cats a very painful death from kidney failure and their owners a lot of heartache," he added to the Daily Mail.

In his 1939 poem entitled "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats," T.S. Eliot said the following about Misty's illustrious namesake:

"He holds all the patent monopolies
For performing surprising illusions
And creating eccentric confusions
At prestidigitation
And at legerdemain
He'll defy examination
And deceive you again
The greatest magicians have something to learn
From Mr. Mistoffelees' conjuring turn."

It accordingly is truly regrettable that little Misty did not possess just a tiny bit of the original's conjuring prowess. If he had done so, he might then have been able to have risen from his deathbed or, better still, to have avoided the lilies altogether.

What is done is done, however, and it is way too late to do anything for him now. Ironically, the terrible memories of his needless death are destined to long outlive his brief sojourn upon this earth and there simply is not any way that ever can be construed as being anything other than grotesquely unfair and unjust.

Photos: the Daily Mail (Mr. Mistoffelees covered in pollen and Nelson), the London Metro (Misty at play and with Mackie), Your Cat Magazine (Haggis), International Cat Care (Lilium and Hemerocallis), and Sri Rama Pharmaceutical of Hyderabad, India (flurbiprofen).