27 December 2008

a response from kim murphy, l.a. times:

our mom got furry hacked off after reading about the womanbean who found her kitty after 9 weeks trapped in the window seat, which zoolatry, karl an' skeezy made known to us inna bloggysphere. so she wroted this to the bean:

YOU feel blessed? You darn well oughta feel ashamed. BESS is the one who is blessed, and NOT by you, but by G*d. It would be a sin if you EVER get another pet. They're not just "things" that "come and go", to be "picked up". They're living beings with minds and feelings who live, feel happiness, and suffer--just like humans.

The thing that sticks in my craw is that you wrote this in an attempt at levity. I can hardly think of anything more pitiful.

Irately (still, two days after first reading the article),

Cheryl C. Pierce
Springfield, MO

well, by golly, here is her response:

Hi Cheryl,

I think a lot of people were similarly upset by my story (though thankfully, many also saw through to what was originally intended, a testimonial to the amazing spirit and power of one Small Cat.)

I am pasting below a response I wrote up to help explain things a little bit more than my story did.

Also, let me give you an update: Bess has recovered nearly all of her eyesight, and most of her old spunk. She is racing around the kitchen and pouncing on her catnip mouse, and resuming her old habit of burying her face in the crook of my elbow when she wants to wind down. (I wish I had an elbow sometimes...) I think she's going to be fine.


Here's what I wrote yesterday:

I have gotten many wonderful emails from people about my story of Bess, and a whole lot from readers who were shocked at what happened to Bess, and my lousy record of pet ownership.
I am sending this out in an attempt to explain what happened, and why I wrote the story as I did.
Many of you will dismiss this as a sorry attempt to make excuses. Well, it is.
Let me start by saying that none of these reactions came as a surprise to me. As a lifelong cat lover (I find I am someone who likes animals better than people in many ways) there is no way I would have put all that in the story without knowing how many people (such as myself) would react.
I can tell you that none of the horrors that have gone through your mind can match those that have inhabited mine. Why didn't Bess meow? I've gone through it a million times. Did she leap in there while someone was getting a blanket out and then get hit on the head as the door was closing? Did she run quickly out of oxygen and go into a semi-comatose state? Did one of the children at the barbecue accidentally close her in a door or step on her, and then hide her in the cabinet because they were afraid to admit what happened? (I can tell you that while I described these as "blowout" parties in the story, they were not as many of you seem to imagine alcohol-fueled orgies. They were big dinner parties with lots of laughter and kids and Van Morrison on the iPod, the kind of events where the cats usually get cuddled and played with and which one would hardly expect would be a menacing event.
Why in the hell didn't I look in the windowseat? I went on every possible lost cat website, and every one of them told you to search your own house and outbuildings immediately. We looked under beds, in closets, in the kitchen cabinets, and called her name all over the house. We open the windowseat perhaps twice a year. It just never occurred to me that she could possibly be in there, particularly since she had been seen the night of the barbecue. I was simply SURE she had escaped the house, because of the open window in the guest room, and I knew those coyotes were in the woods very nearby.
As far as my history with cats, I have no appetite for making excuses, other than to tell you that I have always been a loving and careful steward of my cats. Amanda's foray hiding behind the dryer happened at the home of my friend while I was gone on vacation, and of course she was none the worse for her period of seclusion. Mario was locked out on the balcony by my husband, after I had already gone down to the car. We had an iron-clad rule in the house not to leave the balcony door open when the cats were roaming free in the house, and my husband violated that rule one evening when I was at the office, thinking Peter was asleep in my daughter's room. We got screens the next day--miserably, lamely, a day too late. Marie was closed in the dryer by my idiot Russian housekeeper, again, while I was at work (she, too, was OK despite it.) Katya was allowed to go outside and did escape our yard and got hit by a bus, and I am single-handedly responsible for this. I shouldn't have let her go outside. I let her and Kolya out in our garden in London because they literally begged at the door, and seemed gloriously happy when they were let out, miserable when they were not. Nonetheless, I made a decision after that to never again let my cats go outside.
I included the litany of cat tragedies in my story about Bess as a means of full disclosure. If I was going to write about what happened to Bess--which happened in my house, to my cat, and which ultimately, like all of it, was MY FAULT--then I needed to face up to what had happened in the past. I didn't include it to minimize the tragedies that had befallen our cats in the past, every one of which brought unending tears to my family, I can't even tell you how many, though I wrote about it in a glosssed-over way for purposes of this Christmas story. I needed to include evidence of our family's past sins, I think, to show just how big a miracle happened to us. We deserved the grace of Bess's survival less than anyone I know. And yet it happened. I am humbled and awed and deeply, deeply thankful.


it doesn't make us any happier to know the back-story, but we rejoice to know that bess is better, and that the bean realizes that this WAS a big deal, not a witty story. yes, we is bloody-minded an' inflexible when it comes to stupidity, neglect, an' cruelty that results in critters suffering. we happily admits it, an' will nefur change.


Memories of Eric and Flynn said...

Her reply to you doesn't change our opinion of her one bit. We are just glad that Bess is improving. If a neighbour could hear Bess meowing when she was so close to death, we cannot understand that Kim couldn't hear her before. It just doesn't add up. Well done to you for emailing her.

Jans Funny Farm said...

Wow. We're glad to know Bess is okay, though how she survived ....!!!

Words just kind of escape us over this.

Jan once lost a cat when she had some folks over to dinner -- many years ago. Afterward, she counted cats and tore the whole place apart to be sure someone hadn't let the cat out. She wasn't there. So Jan searched again. Still no cat. Then she noticed the only place she hadn't looked -- in the pots & pan drawer under the gas broiler. And in the back was Heidi!

Cats can really hide. And it only takes a second.

Morgan the Pirate Gato said...

She should never have another pet! Jeez - what would it take to learn?


KC and the Giggleman Kitties said...

We are so glad to know that Bess survived. Affer reading about tha poor kitties "sailing" off hers balconies, getting hit by buses, run thru dryers, as if it wuz a joke, ours opinion of that owner hafn't changed a bit.

KC and the Giggleman Kitties said...

ML here, Karl wrote her, too and got some lengthy "explanation". Maybe he'll come and post too.

Angel MoMo and Charlotte said...

I am glad that Bess is better and that the owner admits her fault. with that deplorable history of pet keeping, we hope she thinks twice before adopting another furry. We still feel extremely sorry for the poor kitty.

Forever Foster said...

Good on you for getting in touch with her. We think it is important that this woman is truly made to understand that she is wrong. She says it, but we aren't sure she believes it.

When mum and dad have friends over, we get shut in the bedroom with our food, water and toys. Then mum doesn't have to rely on others to remember to shut doors (or not lock us in window boxes for 9 weeks).

The Meezers or Billy said...

we are happy that Bess is better, and truly stunned that she lived through that ordeal. Mommy's one big question was, why could she (or anyone else in that house for that matter) not SMELL it the first time Bess peed or pooed in there? she had to haf done that at least once! mommy has a super sensitive nose and she would haf smelt it all the way across the house. There are no excuses for cat owner behavior like hers and her family.

Victor Tabbycat said...

The original story made me sad and angry. I would have checked the window seat anyway, not once, but again and again. It wouldn't be the first time something turned out to be exactly where I thought it couldn't be.

As for Bess not meowing when trapped, Bonnie was a talker, but when shut in the bed room or even a closet, she didn't meow at all. Victor, on the other paw, got caught in the boy's dresser once and yowled like a car alarm, "Merow, Merow, Merow, Merow!" until I found him. So maybe, somehow, Bess didn't meow. At all. Or no one listened.
I'm glad Bess is recovering. I can't forgive the owner and I can't see this as a Christmas miracle. ~ Tabbymom Jen

Just Ducky said...

I am not a noisy kittie when I have been shut in the closet. But mum keeps checking for me when I haven't been around even when no one else has been here. If she doesn't see me for an hour or so, she will come and find me, even just to check I am snoozing on her bed.

Plus she always makes sure where I am before she leaves the house. Always!

Max said...

I want to punch her in the boobies...

Cory said...

My mom's BS meter was in the red zone when she read this...my dad's too. We think that the rescue organization that didn't want to adopt a cat out to her way back when was really sharp and they knew she was a bad risk. We are appalled and shocked and we too don't believe for a second that she understands or has learned a darn thing. Any party at my house earns us a trip in to "lock down"...and any cat missing when noses are counted are searched for immediatly in all cracks and crevices of the house. One time...ok it's bad luck...twice? hmmm...3 times? uh oh, trouble...more than 3 times?...she should not have any more pets (poor soul Bess). We are purring that Bess has no more "bad luck" in her future.

Anonymous said...

We think you did a very good thing to write to her... I am afraid my Momma would be writing illegal stuffs and wishing VERY bad stuffs on them so we has nothing really to say.. but as you can imagine what we are thinking is not nice...

We would like to know how do they get away with their neglect so many times???

CRIZ LAI said...

I would say that no matter how much a person loves their pets, there should always be some responsibilities to ensure the safety and health of their pets. I was saddened by the story and it got worst after the explanation that more were hurt due to their neglects.

Anyone with a sane state of mind would know that pets should be kept in a safe place if they were to have parties. Why wasn't this done? I have 9 cats at home and most of them were allowed to linger outside but only on one condition, that I would be home to monitor their whereabouts EVERY SINGLE HOUR. Even if they were left indoor, I would also monitor their whereabouts every few hours to make sure that they are safe.

Cats have the tendencies to be playful and have to be kept under a watchful eyes at all times. If the owner or her family members were not committed to share this responsibility, then there's no point owning a pet at all. Even indoor, many items at home could be dangerous to playful pets, needless to say when there would be coyotes outdoor. Fallen knives, boiling kettle, hot iron, oven, refrigerator, toilet bowl, unattended iron board or even a large aquarium could be some deadly weapons.

There's no point claiming to be a lifelong cat lover if she can't even find a solution to her VERY FIRST SO CALLED NEGLECT and let it continue until today! This is truly ridiculous! If I can be committed to take care of 9 cats, why can't she with just a handful? If I were her, I would just stop owning any pets and live the rest of my lives with a clear conscience that no other pets would be made to suffer any other ordeals.

Kim, Mia, Annabelle, Zuzu and Miso said...

First: to the "Max" person, your response is disgusting. Sorry, I don't know you, but your "punch her the boobies" response made my stomach turn. Am I missing some sort of "joke" here?

Secondly: Cheryl, I found your blog via Google right after I emailed you -- thank you for contacting this woman and posting her reply. When I read this story, I flippin'' nearly had a panic attack thinking about what poor Bess suffered being locked up for NINE WEEKS. Then, to find she was mostly blind and brain damaged, I'm thinking "She survived all of that, only to live THIS kind of life?" I too, feel MUCH better reading that Bess has healed more.

Still ... I have a very hard time believing that Bess never meowed all this time. I'm just not sure I buy this part of Kim's story at all.

Thanks again for posting this,Cheryl.

Everycat said...

Nice one Meowers for calling this glib journo' to account. Our Mum was seething so badly when she read the story that we stopped her from responding straight away because when she's riled up, nations crumble.

We second Cory's observation about the first time she was refused permission to adopt cats as she lived on a bus route. She went on to defy common sense and adopt cats from a woman who was irresponsibly breeding cats to sell and lived on the same street. The she just let them out! Yeah our BS detectors have been going into overdrive here. Despite us still seething, we are happy that Bess has recovered. We just hope that isn't just more BS!

Kim Murphy, just step away from the animals - all of them.

..and if you can't do that, buy yourself a very good book that covers ALL aspects of cat care and behaviour and bloody well read it.

*hiss spit whap!*


Laila and Angel Minchie said...

You have to think like a cat when they go missing. No drawer, shelf or closet does not get torn apart. It took many tries to finish that story.

Gemini and Ichiro said...

It sounds as if she is looking for someone to tell it is okay for what she did so she can off and live with herself. Maybe she needs to realize that it was a horrible thing.

I doubt the cat would still be alive if it had been comotose--Mark had a point on his blog--9 weeks? Something was getting in there.

Diamond Emerald-Eyes said...

I am still mad over this story and furry, furry, furry sad for Bess' suffering and for the stupid human she lives with. If you are going to have a big party, you should have put Bess in the bedroom where she'd be safe, not let her out where something could happen to her. How stupid this person is.

Chrissie said...

Nope, not buyin' it, not even the expanded, cleaned up, "unendeding tears" version.

Sabrina, Sam and Simon said...

Cheryl, this is Jan speaking, not my kitties. I am as ticked off as you are, and when I told my husband about what happened, he couldn't believe it either! If we get home from a night out and can't find one of our babies, we look all over for them, but we make sure they have no way to get out from the git go, whether we are out or have friends over. If that person was trying to gain sympathy, then her plan surely backfired. We are truly happy that Bess is doing better, but we don't have any feelings of sympathy for her person. Now if would have been her instead of her kitty, would the house been searched better? I don't know what else I can say without getting more ticked off.
Your Missouri friend,

Anonymous said...

And you did not smell anything during those weeks?
Even if she had no food, there would have been some output for the first few days, and trust me, these get stinky after a few hours!
Merry maids is a national maid service that comes in and cleans your house, maybe we need to send you a giftcard for their service?

Max said...

Hey, Kim, Annabelle, Zuzu...you obviously don't know me at all; if you read my blog, then you'd understand my response. It's right up there with pooping on pillow and treating things to a toothy death. Be disgusted all you want...but you don't know me enough to pass much judgement.

Oddly, I've had you on my blogroll for a very very long time...surprised you didn't figure out that Max is a cat and not a person...

But, whatever. The real issue is someone who shouldn't have a cat, not that I expressed myself in my usual snarky manner.

Anonymous said...

Would you all please just get mad at someone who is actually cruel to animals? Kim is not. The disappearance of Bess was a tragedy to her friends and family and the discovery of Bess was a Christmas miracle.