It’s a case that may signal a sea change in the rights of feline citizens to self-determination. We will never look at cats the same way again — nor them us.
Fruggles the Persian cat went missing in July. When the cat was finally picked up by the humane shelter in Mount Pearl last week, it was in sad shape.
There were open sores all over its face. The ailing animal was handed over to the animal rescue group Heavenly Creatures, which determined that Fruggles most likely had kidney failure as well. It was one sick kitty.
The owners of the cat were thankful to Heavenly Creatures for looking after Fruggles, but when they asked for the cat to be returned to them, the shelter refused.
The shelter said the cat is too sick to be put back into the situation it was in before. In a statement on its Facebook page, however, a spokesperson refused to comment further.
“Privacy laws disallow discussing personal matters on a public forum,” the statement said. “Patience is called for, (Heavenly Creatures) has the best interest of the cat in mind.”
Reaction to Fruggles’ predicament has been swift. Another Facebook page, titled “Help Bring Fruggles Home” was been set up by the owners.
Callers to open-line shows are almost evenly split on the issue, with some supporting the shelter and others backing the owners.
Politicians have also weighed in.
Premier Tom Marshall, set to retire this fall, said he is willing to remain in office for as long as it takes to settle the standoff.
PC leadership candidate Steve Kent said he would take immediate action if chosen by delegates next week.
“If elected, I will form a Cat and Kitten Advocacy Office to ensure the rights of all felines are protected,” he said. “I will also hold a roundtable discussion with members of the stray cat community and those currently in shelters to ensure all voices are heard.”
Fellow candidate John Ottenheimer followed suit, saying he will appoint a Minister of Pets, with a special division for lost and found cats.
Former Liberal MHA Danny Dumaresque has vowed to intervene on Fruggles’ behalf in any upcoming Public Utility Board hearings, while NDP Leader Lorraine Michael noted that if the minimum wage were higher, Fruggles would never have been in the situation she’s in.
Liberal Leader Dwight Ball says he supports Heavenly Creatures, but thinks Nalcor is withholding important information from the public.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his sympathies to Fruggles’ owners, but said launching an inquiry into missing cats would be a waste of public resources.
In New York, the news was met with predictable uncertainty. Cat toy futures dropped sharply for a second straight day Tuesday, spurring U.S. President Barack Obama to issue a short statement.
“This cat’s sovereign rights have been clearly violated by this so-called rescue agency. We condemn these abhorrent actions in the strongest possible terms,” he said. “However, we have no intention of proposing military action at this time.”
In Russia, President Vladamir Putin offered sanctuary to Fruggles, adding he is prepared to grant a temporary visa for up to three years.
In Iraq, the rebel group ISIS issued a short statement declaring that since Fruggles is a Persian, she shall henceforth be known simply as Islamic Cat.
Back in St. John’s, Memorial University has received a generous grant from the Virginia-based Ocelot Society to establish a Feline Studies Institute.
Their inaugural program will be a multidisciplinary graduate degree in feline epistemology and the cat-owner paradigm.
Already, a citizens’ lobby has formed to name the new institute the Fruggles Centre for Cat Knowledge.
MUN has refused to comment.
Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s commentary editor. Email email@example.com.