Dear Cat-Hater Haters: Please Stop. You’re Not Helping.

This is a departure from what I usually post here. The tagline for this blog is “please don’t take anything you read here seriously”, but I hope people actually will take this seriously.

Cat blissfully ignorant of what will happen nextI’m a cat person. I have two cats; when I make travel plans, the first person I call is my cat-sitter, and when I return home, the thing I look forward to most is being greeted by my cats. I’ve learned how to type with a cat between me and the keyboard. While writing this post, I’ve stopped a couple times to do important cat-related things (like throwing toys across the floor so one cat can chase them, or picking up a cat and carrying him over to the wall so he can sniff the light switches). In other words, the only reason I’m not a card-carrying crazy cat lady is that, as far as I know, there is no card-issuing crazy cat lady organization.

But the point is, I like cats. And I don’t like it when bad things happen to cats. And I really don’t like it when people deliberately do bad things to cats. So when I saw the now-famous surveillance video of a woman throwing a cat into a trash can, I was incensed. If you haven’t seen it, the video shows a woman walking down a street, then stopping to pet a cat. The cat jumps onto a wall, the woman plays with her some more and then picks her up, drops her into a trash can, closes the lid, and walks off. The cat spent 15 hours in the bin with no food, water, or fresh air, until her owners finally found her. She’s fine now. The woman, whose name turned out to be Mary Bale, was found pretty quickly. She apologized, but she also made some pretty inflammatory statements (for future reference, if you’re accused of animal cruelty, you might want to avoid the phrase “it’s just a cat”).

I’m trying not to judge Ms. Bale too harshly. I have no idea why she did what she did — perhaps she has some kind of mental illness. Or maybe it’s more complicated than that — she apparently works in a bank, and I’ve seen movies in which people kidnap the families of bank employees in order to force them to rob the banks where they work. Maybe something like that happened here, but in this case the kidnappers lost sight of their original goals and made her do the cat thing instead (or, alternatively, maybe they told her to rob her bank, and she misunderstood their directions). Or something. Apparently the police and RSPCA are investigating.

My very first thought after seeing the video was something like “I hope they find that woman, throw her into a dumpster for 15 hours and see how she likes it”, which seems to be a pretty common reaction for cat lovers. My second thought (“no, wait — that would be crazy”) also turned out to be pretty common, although it turns out that it comes in two variations: mine (“no, wait — that would be crazy; revenge scenarios like that have no place in civilized society”) and the other version (“no, wait — that would be crazy; we need to adjust for life expectancy and lock her in a dumpster for 70 hours”).

I’ve been following this story online, and people’s opinions tend to be spread across a spectrum, but basically there are some people who think that Mary Bale should be drawn and quartered, some who think that what she did should be illegal and that the local police and RSPCA should handle it, and some who think that it’s no big deal and everyone else is overreacting. People have posted Ms. Bale’s home and work addresses and phone numbers and called for her to be fired from her job (which, unless English banks are very different from those in the US, doesn’t involve working with animals at all).

I am not a fan of Mary Bale. If she has some underlying mental condition, I hope she gets treatment for it, and if not, I hope she’s prosecuted for her actions. But I have a request for anyone out there who’s posting Ms. Bale’s home address, or calling her at home or at work, or demanding that she be fired from her job: please stop. You’re not helping. You’re just making the discussion more polarized. Either the legal system will bring her to justice, or it won’t. If it doesn’t, the goal shouldn’t be to punish this one woman for this one well-publicized act; it should be to change the system so that the next time someone does something like this, they can be prosecuted without the assistance of half the Internet.

Maybe you find this case infuriating and are overcome with a desire to do something. So, do something. Something constructive. Find out what your local animal cruelty laws are, and if you don’t like them, work to change them. Donate money to an animal-related charity. Sign up to volunteer in an animal shelter. Adopt a cat. Have a rational discussion with someone about animal cruelty. But please, don’t do anything that will make Mary Bale seem reasonable in comparison.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Cats, Current Events, Humor
8 comments on “Dear Cat-Hater Haters: Please Stop. You’re Not Helping.
  1. geekgirl415 says:

    Totally agree- let justice handle it- just because you CAN post private info about someone you don’t even know doesn’t mean you should- no matter how disgusting their act was.

    I’m a cat lady too- currently grieving my beloved kitty. It sounds heartless, but as soon as my hubby dies, i’m getting 5 to start out with. And will bring more in as deemed neccessary. And i wrote about my future Stick Figure Family… http://geekgirl415.com/2010/02/09/you-know-those-stick-figure-family/

    Us cat people gotta stick together!

    • Laura says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your kitty. I don’t think you’re being heartless, as long as you’re not spending your evenings gazing lovingly at kitten pictures and then sighing, looking at your husband, and drumming your fingers impatiently.

  2. christian says:

    I absolutely agree with you Laura! And found this link for you… You should finally be able to get your “Crazy Cat Lady” membership card :) Card-Carrying Crazy Cat Lady Club Membership Drive @ 365 Cat Ladies and Friends

  3. Gumboots says:

    Great points.

    Personally, I hate cats. lol. They poo in my garden and my 4 year old gets handfuls of it. They spray all over my doors and breed like rabbits in my neighbourhood, they fight all night and drive me insane, but I would never ever ever put one on a rubbish bin! Just because us ‘cat haters’ hate cats does not give us the right to be cruel.

    But I am glad to read a cat lover who disagrees with the people who want to seek her out and punish her themselves. Leave it to the law!

    • Laura says:

      Thanks! You have some absolutely gorgeous pictures on your blog. Normally, I’d complain about the lack of cat photos, but I guess in this case I won’t. :)

  4. Gumboots says:

    And thank you! Ha ha, I actually took a photo of a cat the other day. Sitting on the fence watching me with a look that said ‘I am just waiting for you to go inside so I can poo in your garden’… lol. I might just dig it out later…

  5. I can totally see your point.

    For me the central issue on this was the aspect of cruelty to a human.

    I actually, following the event, contacted the information commissioner and the police officer who were heading this up, and while they both agreed that it was cruel to film someone without their knowledge and then sell the story to a ruthless tabloid who would then incite people to violence and such, that it is not a criminal act.

    Whatever distress she may have cause to this cat was visited back on her tenfold and some. It’s warped. If people see cats as being like their children that is their own problem, and should certainly not warrant any reprisals as if she had put a child in a bin. It should certainly not be seen as a reflection of the will of the populus that the emotions that people feel for cats should be represented under the law than any other animal.
    http://en.wordpress.com/tag/catgate/

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