Friday, August 25, 2006

Meow Mix

Nowadays, you can’t swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting another mind-bogglingly stupid television news reporter. And if you’re 47-year-old Rita Bormett, you can’t swing a cat by a chain without getting thrown in prison.

The somewhat-eccentric looking Watervliet woman became the most recent target for the hyperactive imaginations over at FOX 23 News after she allegedly swung a cat she was walking on a leash between 10 and 15 feet in the air. The tireless regulators of the Watervliet Police Department rushed to the feline’s aid and promptly cuffed the abuser, charging her with felony animal cruelty under Jimmy Tedisco’s Buster’s Law.

On a side note, what measure did Animal Control Officer Gary Sutton use in determining the length and arc at which the cat was swung? Physicists are baffled.

The cat sustained injuries and is now recovering at a local humane shelter, according to the talking heads at FOX. Bormett, on the other hand, is now recovering from the incident at the Albany County Jail, after being ordered held without bail. Just to make sure she had enough charges to be kept at the facility, cops also charged her with counts of obstruction of governmental administration, attempted assault and resisting arrest.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that swinging a cat by anything is probably a good way to draw the attention of animal rights activists and rightly so. After all, there aren’t too many creatures on this earth that would willingly subject themselves to being swung around on a leash. Yet there’s a big difference between what Bormentt did –something that sounds like a knee-jerk act of a woman not rooted very deeply in reality –and what prompted Buster’s law. As some may recall, Buster was also a cat. But unlike Bormett's feline, Buster was brutally doused with kerosene, ignited and left to burn like a cinder.

So what exactly constitutes felonious animal cruelty? Kicking a cat? Tossing a cat? Touching a cat without its permission? How about keeping a cat alive, despite Mother Nature’s every attempt to send it to its final resting place?

Granted, people loved Prince the cat, the paraplegic tabby at the Upstate Animal Medical Center in Saratoga Springs, who spent a dozen years scooting around on his front legs after being struck by car. By all accounts, he was well loved, well appreciated and brought joy to many pet owners. But there’s something a bit odd about dressing a cat in a diaper, then having to squeeze its bladder and bowels to keep the poor creature from backing up, so to speak.

Perhaps there was something about this cat that wasn’t adequately captured in the Times Union’s two-page obituary for Prince Thursday. However when a cat can no longer jump, hunt, or even take a dump on the carpet at its leisure, there’s a dynamic part of the animal’s existence that is forever lost.

Some would argue it’s a bit unethical to keep such a creature alive for so long in an area where it could see others of its species return to a normal life of frolicking about as cats do. Then again, others would argue it’s perfectly ethical to hold a crazy lady in jail without bail for swinging a perfectly healthy cat.


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