Best Laid Schemes of Cats and Men

Size Matters

As previously noted, our pet feline Chester loves big cats, domesticated or wild. So, when a cat alleged to be a savannah, a cross between a wild serval and domestic cat got loose in Vancouver, British Columbia, it caused a mild panic among the populace.

The savannah is the largest domestic cat and looks like a mini-leopard. Their average height is between 14-17 inches, weighing anywhere from 12-25 pounds. They are described as good with families, highly intelligent and playful, so long as you’re a human and not a small animal.

Police and conservation officials received calls from concerned citizens that a cougar or cheetah was prowling the Shaughnessy section of the city.

“We did notify some schools in the area for student safety when we believed this may have been a wild cat,” Sgt. Steve Addison with the Vancouver Police Department told the CBC.

“This was a house cat that was corralled and returned to [its] owner by our officers.”

Savannah or Serval? Courtesy: @_BCCOS/Twitter.

But not everyone is buying that the animal that was roaming the streets of Canada’s eighth-largest city was a big friendly pussy cat.

Responding to the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service which tweeted photos of the cat, Carole Baskin (@carole_baskin), CEO of Big Cat Rescue in Florida tweeted; “You were lied to if someone told you this is a hybrid. It’s a serval. As someone who has rescued servals and their hybrids for 30 years I can assure you that the only reason they are calling it a Savannah is because they know there is a law against owning a serval.”

Why is it a big deal not to call this cat a serval? Because in British Columbia, a savannah isn’t considered exotic or a “controlled alien species,” meaning they’re not a wild animal. Servals are definitely wild and potentially dangerous to people.

“Who cares what you call that cat,” my wannabe big timer Chester said. “If you don’t know, go up to it and ask.”

“Great idea,” I said sarcastically. “And if it turns out to be a serval and hurts the person, then what?”

“Chalk up a win for us cats,” Chester said with pride.

“Ok, would you walk up to some strange person and ask them if their an axe murderer,” I countered.

“Are you crazy,” Chester said, astonished such a question would be posed to him. “You humans are a lot more dangerous than any big cat. That’s why there are a lot more of you than us.”

“Point well taken,” I said. “But I still wouldn’t walk up to a large strange cat and ask it what it is, only to get my answer with a part of me missing.”

Speaking of big cats as pets, what’s up in Russia (besides the war). Seems like you have to own a cougar, leopard or something similar instead of a small feline to be considered a member of the family.

Courtesy: I_am_puma/YouTube.
Courtesy: Luna_the_pantera/YouTube.
Courtesy: BobCat TV/YouTube.

Chester is always imagining he’s a big cat. He runs from window to window peering out at his domain pretending to be the king of the yard. Alas, he’s a house cat who only gets to go on the deck. Still, let him have his fun. It keeps him occupied.

Chester isn’t the only one who wants to be a big cat, people do too.

Whether it is people dressing up for Halloween or being a team mascot, big cats are a sign of power, loud yet stealthy, having a burst of energy but great sleepers. Sounds pretty good to me.

Grounded

Big or small, cats are good hunters. So good, that one German town has issued a ban on cats being outdoors until August to keep them away from of a rare species of bird during its mating season; the crested lark.

Walldorf is 55 miles south of Frankfurt and has a population of over 14,500 people and an area of 7.7. square miles. The decree only applies to cats in the southern portion of the community. Why only that part of town? Because there are only three breeding pairs there. Last I checked, cats are pretty mobile and that includes sneaking out of the house. Are signs posted as you approach the forbidden zone that cats are supposed to read? Do cats carry compasses to know north from south and are they provided copies of Birds of Europe: Second Edition to identify the endangered bird so they don’t drive it to extinction?

When the area cats aren’t killing crested larks, they can visit the Museum im Astorhaus, in the town which was the birthplace of future American millionaire, John Jakob Astor. If history isn’t their thing, cats can drive a go-kart at Die Kartbahn Walldorf. This is a feline friendly place since they don’t need a driver’s license; not that it really matters in a country with no speed limits on its autobahns.

In real estate, the motto is “location, location, location.” Apparently, the crested lark didn’t get the word because they build their nest on the ground.

“I wonder why there aren’t as many of us flying around these days,” one crested lark was heard chirping.

Since cats have been in central Europe since two to four thousand years BC, it makes you wonder how there are any crested larks left. The cats must have gotten so board killing this species, they didn’t find any sport in it and moved on to something more challenging. That’s the only thing I can think of. It’s analogous to when you play with your cat. If you have a toy it likes, but you don’t move it, the cat will just sit there and stare. It’s only when you put the toy in motion that your pet chases it. That’s what the crested lark is, a toy for cats.

German Longhair cat on the prowl for some juicy crested lark. Wunderbar!

Not surprisingly, some cat owners are fighting the decree which will go on for another three years from April through August. They’re getting support from the Wiesloch/Walldorf animal protection association.  “Please keep calm,” said the club’s chairman, Volker Stutz, to the cat owners, according to Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung. “I assure you that we are doing our best to stop this disproportionate action.”

The decree recommends that cats who live in the affected area be placed with family or friends living outside of the crested larks’ sanctuary. There’s an incentive for the cat owners to play along, a €500 fine. But there’s more. If a cat kills one of the six crested larks living in Walldorf, the owner can expect a fine up to €50,000.

“I’ll pay any fine there is,” Chester said.

Of course, Chester had the financial resources owing to his investment prowess and with only six of the birds to worry about, he could cover that easy.

“How many cats do you think live in southern Walldorf,” I asked.

“Not enough,” Chester said in a raised voice. “Those cats want to make a jail break and head over and eat a few crested larks, be my guest. Stop picking on the smart species and let Darwin take care of the stupid ones. That’s what happened to the dodo bird.”

The Dodo bird (extincti avem) was discovered by Portugues sailors on the Mascarene Islands in 1507 and were extinct by 1682.

Oh, by the way, what is the town going to do about any stray and feral cats that are wandering around what authorities are labeling south Walldorf as “the danger zone”? I don’t think you’re going to pry 50 big ones from a non-Chester cat.

“Not my problem,” Chester yawned as he settled in for a nap.

As the great German statesman Carl von Clausewitz said, “The world has a way of undermining complex plans.”

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