Duped and Duplicated

Entrapment, Cat Style

Recently, a 17-year-old named Owen saw a cat stuck in a tree at an Indianapolis park and decided to rescue it.

After a 35-foot climb, Owen reached the feline, only to find himself in the same predicament as the cat. That resulted in the fire department being called to bring down both Owen and his new friend.

It took nearly two hours to safely bring Owen back on solid ground using a rope system. He was checked out and found to have only a few scrapes.

Cat entrapment rescue. Courtesy: Indianapolis Fire Department/YouTube.

While Owen was back on terra firma, the cat remained in the tree laughing at the people.

“The cat seemed to enjoy the commotion but made no effort to climb down the tree,” fire department spokeswoman Rita Reith wrote in a news release.

The cat’s owner, a 21-year-old woman, had to hire a company to bring down her pet, who was now hysterically laughing at all the fuss it caused.

“I don’t understand why the cat thinks this is so funny,” I asked my own cat, Chester.

As I spoke, I turned to see that Chester was also having a good chuckle.

“That genius animal is laughing because it pulled off one of the great joys of being a cat,” Chester said with a big smile on his face.

“What do you mean,” I followed up.

“Do you really believe a skilled climber like a cat gets stuck in a tree,” Chester began to lecture me. “They’re not stuck, it’s a game to see who they can have join them in the tree and to get them entrapped high above the ground.

“Satisfaction guaranteed for any cat that gets another living creature in a tree. Watching the chaos that ensues is pure joy for us cats.”

The gold standard for any cat; getting a dog stuck in a tree. Courtesy: Lathrop Manteca Fire District.

“You’re telling me cats never get marooned in a tree,” I said.

“No. Beginners like kittens certainly get stuck, but after a few tries, they’ve mastered tree climbing. That means going up and getting back down safely.

“When you see a cat ‘stuck’ in a tree, it’s all a charade. The superior intelligent one [cat] is just enticing its victim for entertainment purposes. Once the mark is stranded, the cat will just sit there and hurl insults at the chump. This can last for hours, but even the cat will get bored after a while. That’s when the feline calls the fire or police department to report a cat stuck in a tree; not to get down itself, but to remove the dolt. If the cat also wants to leave the tree, might as well have the rescue squad do it for you and save yourself the effort.”

“That’s amazing,” I said earnestly.

“Yeah, so I’m doing you a favor,” Chester said. “Next time you see what appears to be a cat stuck in a tree, leave it alone. Find your own tree nearby to sit under and wait for the fun to begin. Then, if the feline doesn’t do so, you can call the fire department to rescue whatever climbs up after the cat, but do wait until you hear the insults inflicted on the duped one.”

Cat assists the rescue squad by pushing a bear out of a tree.

“What type of insults,” I asked.

Just then my daughter Lily came walking by, so Chester whispered a few vituperations a cat would say from a tree.

“Really,” I said in a muffled voice. “I didn’t think that was physically possible.”

“That’s also part of the experience,” Chester said gleefully. “After antagonizing its prey, a cat will show it can do what it just said. That both embarrasses its tree buddy and angers it. Of course, if the sapling sap tries it, then you can add the fear of falling to the ground. Invite school children to the event, it’s like a crash course in affective science.”

“Nice to see you’re a proponent of education,” I said.

“Whatever I can do to help,” Chester purred. “But don’t ask me to make a financial donation to any colleges. The wisdom I impart to you is pro bono, that’s enough.

“Now if you could repay my generosity with some extra kibble, I would appreciate that.”

“I’ve never seen you climb a tree, cat,” I teased. “If you want bonus kibble, how about I hang some from a tree and you get it. I used to do that when backpacking to keep my vittles from bears.”

Nap time after a cat induced road rage incident.

“I don’t climb trees,” Chester shot back.

“That’s right, you only eat grass when you’re outside,” I chided our pet.

“Have you ever tasted grass,” Chester retorted. “It’s a great summer dish.”

“You’re eating my grass, so you should complement the chef; that’s me,” I demanded.

“Please give my compliments to the chef,” Chester said dolefully.

“Compliments accepted, ” I said triumphantly. “In that case, today’s special is kibble a la tuna juice.”

“My favorite,” exclaimed Chester.

“You’ll find it on top of the maple tree in the back,” I added. “Start climbing.”

“Son of a queen,” yelled our tormented tabby. Then he did an internet search for ‘how to climb a tree and get back down safely.’

Hunger is a great motivator. Bon appétit mon chat.

Alone, Then Clone

If your beloved pet died, would you spend $35,000 to bring it back to life? That’s what a Canadian woman is trying to do.

Kris Stewart, of Kelowna, British Columbia is paying the money in an attempt to clone her cat, Bear, who was killed in January after being hit by a car.

“I’ve always had a cat or a dog swirling around my feet and I’ve never had a cat like Bear… the reason I wanted to go through this was to preserve the genetic material of an animal that I found unique and absolutely exquisite,” Stewart told the Kelowna News.

Bear the cat will be cloned and named Bear Bear. Courtesy: Kris Stewart

Cells from Bear were harvested during a biopsy and sent to ViaGen Pets, a company in Cedar Park, Texas, just outside the state capitol in Austin.

If all goes well, she’ll have a new kitten in the fall and plans to name it Bear Bear. Stewart says there’s an 85% chance of successfully cloning Bear.

But the cat Stewart loved will not be the same pet she has cloned. That’s because, even though physically Bear Bear will look like the original Bear, the cloned animal won’t have the same personality.

That’s what Kelly Anderson, who lives in the Austin area, discovered when she had her cat Chai, who died at the early age of five, cloned.

“I started doing a lot of research and looked into ViaGen a lot.,” Anderson told The Sun. “I called them the second they opened the next morning, and the process from there was basically getting my vet to work with them to get a skin biopsy [from Chai].”

Four years later and at a cost of $25,000, her copycat, which she named Belle, looks like her former pet, but really isn’t the same feline.

“They have some baseline personalities that are a little similar,” Anderson told the paper. “Like they’re very bold, sassy, cats, but that could be the breed. But Belle is a totally new cat.”

Anderson says she “couldn’t be happier with her decision,” despite backlash from social media and a searing letter from PETA saying she should have adopted a rescue cat.

Barbara Streisand cloned her Coton de Tulear dog Samantha twice in 2018. “It was like losing a child, the entertainer told the Associated Press in 2017 after Samantha’s death.

From Samantha, Streisand got Scarlet and Violet.

“It was easier to let Sammie go if I knew I could keep some part of her alive, something that came from her DNA,” Streisand wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times. “One of the reasons I chose cloning was because I couldn’t find another curly-haired Coton.”

“It’s a bit overwhelming. But we love them so much. Each puppy is unique and has her own personality,” Streisand said, though she added: “You can clone the look of a dog, but you can’t clone the soul. Still, every time I look at their faces, I think of my Samantha… and smile.”

Chester was sitting next to me while I was reading these stories, so I asked him if he wanted my family to clone him.

“No way,” our cat said, recoiling from the thought. “There’s only one me and I’m perfect. How could you replicate that?”

“I agree with your first point cat,” I said. “On the second, you are as far from perfect as an animal can be. To sum you up, you’re a giant pain in the ass and the thought of more cats like you living in our home is scary to say the least.”

“I’ll check that off my bucket list,” Chester said proudly.

You can’t clone Chester and expect the same kooky cat.

“I don’t understand the sanctimonious tone of folks who lecture people like Stewart, Anderson and Streisand,” I said. “If they want to clone their pet, that’s their decision. You can’t feel for them and the bond they had with their cats and dogs. Their decisions aren’t going to cure the issue of homeless animals. There needs to be a better effort to spay, neuter and not have people abandon their pets like garbage.

“Having said that, I wouldn’t clone you as we didn’t with our previous cat Emma. The reason we love our cats is because of their personalities. That’s what makes them special.”

“You love me,” Chester said reverently.

“Yes, but keep that to ourselves,” I said.

Now Chester flipped the switch on the cloning topic.

“What if a pet wants to clone its deceased owner,” Chester asked. “Is it possible?”

“Right now, the answer is no,” I said. “But the lab coat people are working on that. Why are you asking that question?”

“Because if I could clone you, no doubt I’d have a smarter human,” Chester gushed. “You can’t get any dumber than yourself.”

“You’re right,” I said, which surprised the tabby. “Know why? Because I’m stupid enough to feed you every day. If I get smart, I’ll stop doing that. What do you think of that?”

“You’re smarter than you look,” Chester said without missing a beat. “Feeding me is a sign of brilliance. I strongly encourage you to continue showing off your superior intelligence by feeding your lowly cat.”

“Good answer,” I said. “Now some more cloning history.”

“I’m all ears,” Chester said.

“The first successful mammal cloned was Dolly, a sheep, in 1996,” I began. “It took 277 attempts by scientists before they got it right. That’s a batting average of 0.0036 which won’t get you into the Hall of Fame.

“Former Red Sox great Ted Williams is in the Baseball Hall of Fame with a career batting average of .344 and is the last major leaguer to hit over .400 in a season (.406 in 1941).”

“What’s baseball,” Chester asked.

I forgot our cat doesn’t know everything, so I gave him some background on America’s pastime and showed him a few videos. Then it was back to our history lesson.

“So why bring up Williams,” I asked, before answering my own question. “Because after he died in 2002 at 83, his body was frozen by an Arizona company called Alcor using the concept of cryonics.

“Williams body is in cryopreservation so that one day, he can be “reanimated”. That was not his idea, nor his dog, Slugger, but that of his son, John-Henry, according to a book titled The Kid – The Immortal Life of Ted Williams by Ben Bradlee, Jr.

Ted Williams and his dog, Slugger, in 1996. Courtesy: Sports Illustrated/Bill Frakes.

“The elder Williams wanted to be cremated as stated in his last known will. That didn’t happen.”

After some more explaining to our cat what all those words mean, Chester made a prescient observation.

“So, it’s like an after-death battle of fire and ice,” he determined.

“That’s one way to look at it,” I said.

“According to Bradlee Jr., the cost of putting Williams entire body into cryopreservation was $120,000 while only preserving the head would be $50,000. But there was a third option, sever the head and preserve that and the torso,” I continued. “The third option is what occurred.”

“Yuck,” was Chester’s only response.

Alcor says on their website that “Cryonics is currently the best-known method for pausing the dying process in a way that allows for potentially restoring good health with medical technology in the future.”

“I didn’t realize cutting someone’s head off was the best way to achieve that,” I said. “Can you imagine the money Alcor would have raked in if they’d been around during the French Revolution?”

“So, baseball and Alcore have headhunters,” Chester stated.

“Where did you come up with that,” I asked.

“I’m only half paying attention to your blabber while I catch up on baseball and the French Revolution,” my cerebral cat said. “You’re right on Alcor cleaning up on that Reign of Terror thing. Did you know there were thousands of people who were guillotined? If I see one of those contraptions, I’m running for my life.”

“Don’t worry, we can’t fit one in our house and I don’t need the neighbors to see it in our yard,” I said to placate Chester, but added; “We do have a food processor with a sharp blade.”

Chester just gave me “the stare.”

I continued.

“The book doesn’t mention what Slugger’s reaction was on the decision to deep freeze one of baseball’s greatest players. But he wasn’t going to be around anyway to see if this science ever works.

“Which brings us back to the cats. If the clones don’t have the same personality as the originals, what makes us believe that a reanimated Williams would turn out any different?

“If you had any chance of bringing back Ted Williams as we knew him, you’d probably have to replicate the conditions of his childhood. Sort of like The Boys from Brazil type of thing, but without reinventing the Antichrist.”

Dr. Josef Mengele (Gregory Peck) works to clone the next Hitler. It didn’t work out as planned. Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

After showing Chester some of the movie, he asked, “How would that turn out?”

I countered with my own questions.

“Would we get a young Williams who doesn’t like baseball, hunting, fishing and flying fighter planes in defense of the United States, which were all things he excelled at? Could the new Ted Williams be that kid who’s always picked last in gym class because he has no athletic skills? I shudder at the thought.

“Can we just let the man rest in peace instead of being in pieces?”

“I’ll clone that thought,” Chester said, ending our chat.

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