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Tigers & Primal Ranting, oh my!

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, January 3rd, 2008 at 6:04 am in Primal Rant, tiger attack.

Before I pass along the first reader-submitted Primal Rant of the new year, a short word on the tiger attack at the S.F. Zoo: And so the smear campaigning begins.

And now, back to our story:

Primal Rant: Don’t keep a cat if you’re going to neglect it!


Dear Gary: my Rant begins with a story:

There’s an unneutered tomcat missing from my neighborhood, a friend of mine I call Freeloader (because he’s been in the habit of coming around looking for a bite to eat, and trained me to feed him). His people live across the street, but he’s an outside kitty, and prefers my dog-free backyard for hanging out in.

Several nights ago, just before we were to leave on a short vacation, I saw Freeloader come up to the food dish 3-legged, not putting any weight on one front paw. He’d probably been fighting. I immediately sent my husband to fetch the owner, who came quickly. Then it got surreal. Freeloader has never been particularly affectionate, but always tolerates a few scratches from me. He wouldn’t come near his own human, though, and disappeared into the darkness. Owner shrugged, said he’s always like that, and he’d keep an eye out for the cat.

In the couple of days since we’ve been home, there’s been no sign of Freeloader. I took that for a good sign, assuming his people had caught him and got him treated at the vet. But no, come to chat them up, they saw him only once, in their own yard, in the last several days. He’s certainly not hanging around my yard. In fact, he’s simply disappeared. Another cat has moved in and taken over Freeloader’s prime sunning spot.

What on earth goes on in the minds of these people?! How can you keep a cat, and then neglect and/or distress it so that you have less of a relationship with it than your neighbors do? How can you KNOW your cat is injured, and just blow it off? My husband rightly reminds me that I can’t care for every cat in the world, but I feel guilty having gone on vacation and left poor Freeloader in the incompetent care of his people.

All you people out there who can see the owner’s point of view: Please Don’t Keep A Cat! It needs a better human owner than you.
Karen Locke, Santa Clara, Calif.

Dear readers:
From time to time I’ll print someone’s “Primal Rant” here for your enlightenment. You can respond to these Rants and add your own comments by clicking on “leave a comment” below. If you’re really riled up about something relating to animals or the environment, send me your Primal Rant about it in an e-mail (put Primal Rant in the subject field) or letter.

E-mail me at

Letters can be mailed to: Gary Bogue, Pet & Wildlife Columnist, Contra Costa Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099.

The Primal Rants printed here don’t necessarily reflect my own thoughts about a particular subject … but they might. Rants that are submitted may or may not be used. That’s up to me. At least you’ll feel much better after you write them. /gary

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8 Responses to “Tigers & Primal Ranting, oh my!”

  1. AnimalLover Says:

    There are alot of pet owners like that of Freeloader. There are owners where I live that keep their kitties outside. They had a small cat “tent” by their front porch for one of their cats, the other sleeps on top of their car or visits other neighbors come rain, snow or shine. People have offered to adopt them, but they won’t give them up. Who knows why…

  2. Beaver Dave Says:

    The SF Zoo tiger attack justifiably attracted a lot of news attention, but another big animal story is happening today (Jan. 3) in Martinez. The City of Martinez has virtually destroyed the beaver dam in Alhambra Creek and seems to be hell-bent on harassing and eventually killing the beaver family. One injured beaver has been taken to Lindsay Museum. I hope he or she is not seriously injured and will recover. But it frankly won’t surprise me if the entire family of beavers is adversely affected by the city’s sudden and excessive attack on their dam. For those Contra Costans who care about animals, I suggest a boycott of businesses in Martinez. To express my displeasure at the city’s cold, calculated tactics (i.e., intentional injury or killing of beaver family), I have stopped buying things in Martinez. I hope others will join me by hitting back at this disgraceful city in its pocketbook.

  3. Karen Says:

    thanks for your support. In my rant, I’m not really complaining about Freeloader being an outside kitty or even not being neutered (though my own cats are fixed and kept indoors). What I’m REALLY furious about is the neglect in the face of an injury, and the implications for a territorially-minded tomcat who, in his own mind, NEEDS to fight for his territory. And although I understand that cats can take an illogical dislike to almost anybody, I’ve never before seen one run FROM its owner, when in distress, and not cornered (being cornered can confuse any cat). That suggests an unacceptably bad relationship between cat and owner. GRRRR.

    Gary, thanks for publishing my Rant.

  4. Gary Says:

    To Beaver Dave:
    The beaver that was taken to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum on Thursday afternoon was NOT injured. It appears to be suffering from a progressive neurological disease that has caused it to become blind. Signs of this problem in the immature male beaver appeared in the kit soon after birth. You can find out more about this in my latest blog entry for today (Jan. 4). The City of Martinez actually appears to be working very closely with the beaver-loving residents of Martinez and the beavers. /Gary

  5. heartbroken in mtz Says:

    i am in total agreement with beaver dave. to reduce the dam that much was totally unnecessary as the city already had an emergency removal plan firmly in place to protect against flooding.
    and any east coast “expert” leveling-device installer/salesman who would go along with the city’s request to lower the dam that much is certainly no friend of the beavers.
    the city of martinez should be ashamed of the way it is treating these animals and i agree that a boycott is in order.

  6. Beaver Dave Says:

    In my comment, I said that the beaver was injured based on the Jan. 3 article from the CC Times–“Martinez beaver may be injured.” You seem confident that the beaver’s distress and ultimate death were caused solely by illness, not injury. Did you see the city’s work in the creek yesterday? Well, I did (I work in Martinez). The city’s work was disruptive and done with a disregard for the likely impacts on the beaver family, one of whom evidently was ill and vulnerable to stress. Under the circumstances, it’s not surprising that an animal death resulted. That’s blood that the city has on its hands. Normally, I think of you as a friend of animals–someone who sides with animals, especially when they are abused or harassed by humans. It puzzles and disappoints me that you seem to think that the city’s conduct is fine. I frankly expected better from you of all people. In any event, I hope that the veterinarian conducting the post-mortem exam will not jump to conclusions and will investigate all potential causes, including physical injury from city’s operation, stress, poisoning, intentional blinding, etc.

  7. Karen Says:

    After several days of putting out cat food, only to bring it in almost untouched, I went out tonight to find an empty food dish and a hungry Freeloader waiting by my back door. He’s putting some weight on that injured front paw now, and was very glad for the food. He was also remarkably dry, given the rain and wind today. Maybe another neighbor took him in for a few days. Anyway, he’s alive and healing. Yay!!!

    It doesn’t excuse the behavior of his people, though.

  8. Karen Says:

    Re: the late Beaver:
    Being in the south bay, I’m not familiar with the whole beaver dam issue. But I do know that if a wild animal is ill, and especially if the illness impairs functioning (like the beaver who was blind and ill, and died), an early death is inevitable. Perhaps the modification to the dam did exacerbate its condition, but if it hadn’t, some other stress would’ve overcome the youngster. This is the downside to natural selection: the fit enough (not the “fittest”, the fit enough) survive to breed, and those prone to debilitating illness don’t pass on their genes.

    Life is very hard sometimes, especially for those of us who can empathise with the beaver’s situation.

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