"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Friday, May 05, 2006

Catblogging: Lewis update

Happy CatBlogging Friday, and a special welcome to Carnival of the Cats readers. You may recall that a few weeks ago, I wrote about Lewis the Cat, who had been placed under "house arrest" in his home town of Fairfield, Conn. for allegedly attacking several people including the local Avon lady. I promised you an update, so here it is.

Owner Ruth Cisero, who is facing charges of reckless endangerment in connection with the incidents, appeared in Bridgeport Superior Court on May 2nd before Judge Susan Reynolds. The judge made Cisero an offer of probation on the endangerment charge -- but only on the condition that she would agree to put Lewis to death. This stipulation was demanded by neighbor Maureen Bachtig, one of the alleged victims.

Cisero refused, saying said she would rather leave Fairfield than have Lewis killed. The judge continued the case until May 23rd. Following Tuesday's hearing, Cisero's attorney Eugene Riccio told reporters, "I'm going to do everything I can to keep my client from having a criminal record and to preserve her cat's life."

Lewis's plight has received international attention. There have been reports that some of the alleged victims may have provoked Lewis by pelting him with eggs or by squirting a water hose on him, which has outraged cat lovers everywhere. Supporters of the feisty feline have created a Wiki page for Lewis as well as his own site on MySpace, and he has even spawned this funny bit of fake news on Phat Phree.

Most importantly, more than 500 "Save Lewis" T-shirts have been sold to raise money for a defense fund for Cisero. I've already ordered one, and I urge CotC visitors to check out the site and consider helping out as well.

One reason I am sympathetic to Lewis is that he bears an amazing resemblance to our new cat, Fuzzy. See if you agree:

That's Lewis on the left, and Fuzzy on the right. I realize many Tuxedo cats look similar, but the likeness really is uncanny.

I also think Cisero's devotion to Lewis (even at her own peril) is admirable, particularly in our culture that so often treats animals as disposable. I'm always amazed to hear stories of people who turn their cats over to shelters for what seem like trivial excuses: they shed, they claw the furniture, they're too much trouble, they got new drapes and the fur color doesn't match, or whatever. Many times they're just abandoned for no reason whatsoever. Any true cat lover reading this blog knows that our "furbabies" are a real part of our families, and we could no more easily give them up to be killed than if they were our actual children. I could understand those who want to destroy Lewis had he been a pit bull who had mauled someone to death, but whatever damage he may have inflicted has been merely superficial -- just a few bites and scratches. He doesn't deserve to die for that, especially if he was provoked in the first place as Cisero alleges.

I'll post additional updates on Lewis as they become available, but in the meantime please consider buying a T-Shirt to help support him and his owner. Thanks.

For those new to CatBlogging, Carnival of the Cats is a weekly roundup of cat-related posts and pictures. The Carnival is hosted this week by Pages Turned beginning Sunday evening.


  • At 5/06/2006 11:13:00 PM, Blogger Jim said…

    Lewis needs to visit the kitty shrink and learn some interspecies skills!

    "To prove the defendant guilty under [Connecticut] General Statutes ยง 53a-64, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant's conduct was reckless and that it created a risk of physical injury to someone other than the defendant. The injury [cannot be] left to speculate as to weather anyone was in the area who was endangered." <== except for adding the state name I did not retype this -- says a lot of about their courts (how does an injury speculate; weather or whether). State v. Thomas, 56 Conn. App. 573, 578, cert. denied, 252 Conn. 953 (2000)

  • At 5/07/2006 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Priestess Of Nothing said…

    Hi Mr. Toast,

    I love cats too (though I don't own any, instead ending up with two dogs from the vet clinic where I worked), but I think the problem here with Lewis is bigger.

    Domesticated cats do not belong outside. All of this could've been avoided, had Lewis's owner just kept her kitty inside.

    I don't know if he's aggressive or not. I don't know if he really clawed anyone or if he was provoked. It doesn't matter. The domestic house cat doesn't belong outside.

    If, in fact, her neighbors WERE pelting Lewis with eggs, or squirting him with water hoses, I would have to say he got off lucky. It isn't hard to convince a cat to eat a piece of chicken that's been laced with antifreeze (which is sweet, and tasty to most animals). Antifreeze poisoning is a horrible way to die, and many pets allowed to run free discover this themselves every year.

    Mean cat hating humans, cars, loose dogs, are huge threats to cats allowed outdoors. Why would you risk any of this befalling a cat you'd do jail time for?

    Domestic housecats should be kept inside. We wouldn't know who Lewis was if his owner had been a responsible cat owner. Sorry to say.

    I wish her and her kitty the best of luck. - Wendy

  • At 5/07/2006 08:03:00 PM, Blogger Mr. Toast said…

    Wendy, you make excellent points and they are well taken. We had our last "free-range" cat about 15 years ago; we were devastated when he got hit by a car. It was then we learned that cats kept indoors have an average life expectancy of 10-15 years, while cats that are allowed outside, even occasionally, have an average life span of 2 to 3 years. That statistic shocked us so much that all of our kitties ever since have been indoor-only.

    Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who think it's a cat's "nature" to roam, and that it's somehow cruel to deprive them of this right. Trying to change their minds may be an uphill battle, but you're 100% right: if Lewis hadn't been allowed outside, he wouldn't be in this predicament now. Too bad his owner had to learn this the hard way.

    Thanks for visiting, and leaving a comment.

  • At 5/15/2006 08:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My mother-in-law is judge Reynolds and I heard about this story from my wife.

    I have a few things I want to say about this ridiculous case. First off, if this was a dog and it had bit someone, the dog would have already been put down by now. The fact that it's (seemingly) cute fuzzy cat means that there are no similar laws surrounding vicious cat attacks.

    This cat has *seriously* hurt people in its neighborhood, to the point where folks are literally afraid to get out of their cars.

    I'm all for animal rights and I can understand the "no-kill" philosophy, but this is a feral animal and is a danger to not only the people it lives near, but their pets. Ask yourself if you'd have the same defensive posture toward this crazy cat if it hurt your child, or killed your pet?

    It's a wild animal - if it were a racoon or a possum, it would have been shot on-site. But it looks cute and cuddly so everyone is standing up to defend it. Unbelievable.

    A reporter called my mother in law to get her opinion on the case, and she said to him, "on the same day as this case, I heard one about a man who killed his girlfriend, and an arson case where the whole house burned down and killed three people, and you want to talk about this cat."

    I think that sums it up - people's perspectives are so out of scope with reality nowadays.

    The cat obviously has serious issues and if the owner wants to keep it, why doesn't she just leave it INDOORS so it can maim and scratch HER? I heard one of these attacks were so bad with scratch wounds up and down this woman's legs that she needed stitches, but they couldn't stitch because of "cat scratch fever" risks, so now she's stuck with scars up and down her legs for the rest of her life.

    Give me a break people - this is an exception to the rule, this wild animal needs to be put down.

  • At 5/15/2006 10:11:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Toast said…

    Dear Anonymous:

    Thank you for weighing in on this. I realize that there are two sides to this issue.

    The level of publicity and interest this case has generated is indeed rather amazing, and many of the stories I have seen have mentioned this fact. It's exactly the sort of oddball "kicker" item that news organizations love to report, and many cat lovers are, by definition, devoted to their animals (and to a degree, all cats) sometimes to obsession.

    The point Wendy made above cannot be overemphasized: if Ruth Cisero had kept Lewis indoors, there would be no story here. Putting aside the many perils facing animals that are allowed to roam, I agree that it was foolish and irresponsible for her to allow him outdoors in the face of the court order.

    That said, I don't think Lewis deserves to be killed, and I am troubled by those who suggest this as a solution. Hopefully Cisero has learned her lesson from all of this, and Lewis will never get outdoors again. He should be allowed to live the rest of his natural life peacefully indoors. My three cats do not roam, and they (and I) am better off because of it. As Mr. Riccio said last week, I hope this case can be resolved "in a fair and reasonable manner" for all concerned.

    I appreciate your comment as someone "close to the source" on this, and I invite you to come back and leave an update after the May 23rd pre-trial conference.

  • At 5/23/2006 06:27:00 PM, Blogger Skeezix the Cat said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 5/23/2006 06:28:00 PM, Blogger Skeezix the Cat said…

    I'd like 2 by a LewIS teeshirt 2 support my fello feline frend. Ware can I by one?

    thank yoo.

    yer frend,
    Skeezix the Cat

  • At 5/24/2006 06:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As an animal lover, I too am concerned about Lewis's plight. I tend to agree with Wendy, that Lewis and most all house cats should be kept inside. I live on a farm in the country, and I allow my house cat to go out get exercise and stalk things. But, she is only allowed out during the day, never at night, as a cat would stand little chance against a raccoon, possum or other wild animals which roam while we sleep.

    A lot of folks do not live rurally like I do, and as Wendy said there are is a scary list of perils for house cats in more urban areas. Not to mention possible agravation to neighbors when naturally curious cats invade their property.
    Cats who are spayed or neutered usually do not wander far from home, but DO wander and snoop.

    If Lewis's owner can let Lewis out in a small fenced yard, supervised closely, then maybe...big maybe to letting him out. But, most likely, he is better off just being an indoor cat.

    I don't think he should be put down. From what I read of the law, I think it would be tough to convict this lady of the charge against her. Furthermore, while I can appreciate "anonymous" (the earlier one, not me) his perspective on the case..I thought his case could have been made without being somewhat insulting and condescending to animal lovers. I also think that comparing attacks from a house cat to the likes of a pitbull or other such canine is ludicrous. It is apples to oranges and you cannot make a black and white law applying the same way to those animals.

    Let's make a deal here..The lady says she will move if she has to to keep Lewis..Don't you think that she would obey a court order to never let Lewis out of the house? Give her the order, a punitive warning...and lets sell a few more tshirts and go home. :)

  • At 6/09/2006 11:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just purchased two Save Lewis T-Shirts. If the State of CT doesn't put Lewis down, then one of those dumbutt neighbors will. That is why Lewis needs to stay inside--not because he is a serious danger to the community, but because the 150-pound people who are so intimidated by a 10-pound cat are pusses. And, by the way, since when was it a crime to bite the Avon lady? (That's a public service in Arizona.) The alleged "victims" demanding vengeance scare me more than a cat ever could. They wouldn't last a day in Phoenix. (They should visit.) My cat would kick their sorry asses, too! Stay inside, Lewis. You have dangerous neighbors.

  • At 6/21/2006 03:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The anonymous son or daughter-in-law of Judge Reynolds is so sanctimonious and wrong! Lewis is a hero in our house. Shame on you for wanting to kill an innocent little animal. The litigious Avon lady and the neighbors need to buck up and be more accepting of diversity, which in this case is a feisty cat. Let's accept Lewis and his charming proclivities, not shun him.


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