No One Owns Stray Or Feral Cats

Vet harassed and commits suicide

Despite one New York feral cat caretaker believing to the contrary, no one owns a feral, or genuine stray, cat even if they feed the cat or decide that they “keep” the cat along with others in a colony of stray cats. It seems common sense to me. A feral cat caretaker does not “keep” a feral cat. He or she “cares” for the cat.

This is a tragic story of nastiness and I suspect there may be an element of racism in this story although I stress there is no evidence to support that.

Gwen Jurmark did her bit to look after stray and feral cats in Raoul Wallenberg Park, Bronx, NY. Apparently, she fed them and perhaps organized TNR; I don’t know. She is one of the many feral cat carers that are all over America, who I normally admire, tremendously. Not in this case, sadly.

For some reason, one cat of the colony, a sick cat that had been neutered under a TNR program, with the usual clipped left ear, was singled out by a person, we are not told who. She or he took this cat to a local veterinarian, Dr. Shirley Koshi. The cat was named “Karl”. He was cared from Dr Koshi and his health improved. The fact that Karl settled in quickly indicates he was not born a feral cat.

Dr. Koshi appears to be of Indian nationality (wrong? please tell me). She was probably a naturalised American (granted American citizenship).

Weeks after Dr. Koshi’s treatment and care for Karl, Gwen Jurmark told Dr. Koshi, in so many words, that she “owned” Karl. That is the argument she made because she asked Dr Koshi to hand Karl over to her.

That was a ridiculous request because Gwen had no genuine claim, in my opinion. Feeding a genuine feral cat that is left outside to fend for himself has no legal human owner. In any case the law on cat ownership is archaic and out of date. But it gets worse because when Dr. Koshi refused to hand Karl over Gwen sued in the local court.

The court case naturally upset Dr, Koshi. Then Gwen appears to have organised a demonstration outside Dr Koshi’s surgery and made online attacks of her. Her business went downhill and she became badly depressed eventually taking her own life.

This is a ridiculously nasty tale of what appears to be malicious behavior by someone who should know better because she likes cats. People who like cats should be decent people. Apparently that is not always the case.

If the facts of this story are true, I am sure that in the eyes of many people Gwen Jurmark has behaved unforgivably because although we can understand an attachment to a cat, feral and genuine stray cats do not have a human owner.

Note (1): the full detail of the story is unknown to me and probably others. There may be other elements to the story which alter its morality. My opinion is based upon what I read. Note (2): Some “stray cats” are not really strays. They are wandering cats with a “legal owner”.

In my opinion no cat, feral or otherwise, is owned by a person. We live with our cat and look after our cat willingly. That is the mutual agreement and the law is a million miles from this beneficial arrangement.

These are my direct and immediate thoughts without reference to any document. If someone disagrees please tell me.

Note: My thanks to Rudolph for finding the story and telling me about it.

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Comments

No One Owns Stray Or Feral Cats — 33 Comments

  1. OMG, Michael!
    I can’t believe this article appeared just seconds after I commented on it after Rudolph provided the link to the story.
    You are absolutely 100% correct.

    • Here was my response to Rudolph’s comment:

      Rudolph, I read this news article twice just to be sure I got as complete an understanding of this tragedy as I could.
      My understanding is that the cat was a stray as opposed to being a feral and was living in a TNR’d colony that had a caretaker.
      The cat fell ill, and a good samaritan took it to the vet who treated it and chose to keep and house it.
      Then, a custody battle broke out between the caretaker and the vet.
      This may surprise some people here, but I would have to side with the vet for the following reasons:
      The cat appeared to be capable of domestication. Both the good samaritan and the vet and were able to handle it.
      The caretaker lost sight of what may have been best for the cat. She was claiming ownership (MY cat, as opposed to “under my care”). It’s an easy thing to do. It, also, appeared that the caretaker had no interest in taking in the cat herself, but didn’t want the vet to. She was selfish enough to want the cat to stay out in the elements as opposed to having a good, safe home with the vet.
      I caretake many ferals and know how hard it is to let go of cats. But, we have to love them enough to do what’s best for them. Personally, I would have praised and kissed that vet if she wanted to take one of my cats out of a colony and provide a home.

      • Then, a custody battle broke out between the caretaker and the vet.

        What were they fighting over – “custody” or a emotional attachment, something to do with them? Karl was worth $30. What are they are fighting over? No one should fight over a cat. There is only one objective: the cat’s welfare. They could have shared that objective and shared ownership if they were so obsessed with that concept.

        • Agree completely, Michael.
          It sounds like more of a battle over who gets the vehicle rather than a cat.
          And, to drive the vet into financial ruin is unacceptable. It’s, also, unacceptable that she elicited supporters.
          Somehow, this caretaker got twisted and began thinking of her colony as possessions. She needs to turn the colony over to someone else.

      • I caretake many ferals and know how hard it is to let go of cats. But, we have to love them enough to do what’s best for them.

        Yes, the person has to put aside her/his emotions and connections to the cats. These emotions are driven by personal interests – what the person wants and enjoys.

        If people simply can’t let go when needs be in the cat’s interests they should not be in feral cat caretaking work.

        • In just a very small bit of defense for Gwen, it can be very easy to become possessive of colony cats, especially since most USA city/county officials spew, “If you’re feeding a stray or feral cat, then you are the owner”. I’ve heard that a hundred times.
          What they mean is that the caretaker (especially outside of a registered colony) is responsible for all aspects, ie. medical care, food, vaccines, compensating for any destructive behaviors.
          Any failure to comply with these requirements results in hefty fines or the cat is confiscated.
          It can get confusing for a caretaker. If this person has taken on the responsibilities, the law says that they are an “owner”.

          • To claify, that doesn’t excuse the vicious way she tried to “reclaim” the cat.
            Nor, does it excuse that a bystander saw that the cat was ill and took him to a vet and she, herself, didn’t do it.
            I would love to know if this poor vet confronted her at all. She should have and demanded that she pay whatever hefty bills accumulated for “her” cat.
            Maybe she was confronted, and that’s why she became such a b-tch.

      • I agree completely. Marvin’s caretaker loved him to pieces, and probably had everything to do with his learning to be around humans. She organized the TNR on the colony she cared for. Yet, she was thrilled, though teary eyed when I told her I would take him in full time. Cat lovers know what is best for a cat.

    • Thanks Dee. I have this notion that no cats are owned by anyone. It is does not matter if the cat is wild, feral, stray or domestic. We live together and provide mutual support. People don’t own other people and the same applies to people and animals.

  2. Gwen was wrong to try to deprive Karl of a better life he had settled in to, how selfish of her!
    I think there must be a lot more to this story than we know, had Gwen a grudge against Dr Koshi for some reason and was using the cat as a pawn to spite her? She must have told her friends something to anger them and turn them on the vet.
    It’s a very strange case altogether I think.

  3. Let’s face it, cat’s own us. My friend has a stray that has moved onto his back porch as a refuge from the snow. She has him wrapped around her little finger. Without ever so much of a rub against his leg. He is without a doubt kitty-whipped. He built her a kitty fort out of old couch cushions. Cooks for her once a day and feeds her friends as well. He belongs to that stray cat. Not the other way around.

  4. Gwen Jurmark apparently adopted Karl the cat from NYC Animal Care & Control back in 2009. He lived in her home for a while. But Jurmark claims he always was drawn to the outdoors so she decided that he’d be happier living with a feral cat colony located in a local park. She subsequently released him into this park. Afterwards, it appears she just fed him and played with him. It doesn’t look like Jurmark did anything further, such as provide health care.

    Further adding to this strange tale is the information Jurmark has co-authored a children’s book with Karl the cat as the main protangonist.

    In Jurmark’s own words:

    “He’s handsome and smart. I feel like I gave birth to him” said Ms. Jurmark, who co-authored a forthcoming book on children’s cooking narrated from Karl’s point of view.”

    • Thanks for the very informative comment. It adds useful information which I think supports the argument that Jurmark did not “own” Karl (“she released him” and he lived as an independent cat). Whatever the facts to fight like this over Karl is crazy.

      Karl himself is more or less is saying through his behavior and desire to live the outdoor life that he did not want to be owned.

      • Yes – and actually it’s quite possible Jumark did the right thing letting him out. Some cats just can’t live indoors.

        BUT

        That doesn’t excuse her terrible behaviour and she is still responsible for this ladies suicide.

        • Agreed. Her thinking was wrong. The idea of claiming a cat and possessing a cat that she had willingly allowed to live essentially, independently. And then to hound this lady and go to court is bad thinking.

  5. Michael you were very prompt to project your views on this sad topic that resulted in a human death.As a Indian and familiar with the various cultural backgrounds of Indians from different states and regions of the Country seems that Dr. Shirley Koshi is a Keralite Indian by origin.I am totally unfamiliar with the “PET LAWS” in the United States of America and absolutely surprised and saddened that a 30$ stray cat named “Karl” resulted in a court case and a suicide, something unbelievable to us Indians in India.Isn’t the U.S.A the Country that also euthanize’s(Kills) the largest number of unwanted dogs and cats in so called “Pet Shelters” ? Why couldn’t the concerned parties come to some amicable compromise ? Seems there is more to this case then as reported in the press.I was under the impression that Veterinarians are very well paid in the Developed World as its also a very good business back home in India.Thanks to “P.O.C” i was aghast on reading some of the medical charges for common pet ailments in the U.K and U.S.A, in some cases much more than the cost of “Human medical treatment” in Mumbai !Ultimately a human life was lost because of a cat and this is bad publicity for the cause of stray cat ownership and rehabilitation.

    • I completely agree with all you write. I am pleased I identified the vet as an Indian lady. To fight over a $30 stray and make a claim in the court for the cat is madness. To claim “ownership” is a human failing. People like to possess. I think the woman who claimed Karl (Gwen) was rude to the vet and the vet resisted not because she necessarily wanted to “posses” Karl but to stop this aggressive claim by Gwen but she misjudged this woman’s nasty streak.

    • Very normal. When a TNR’ed cat (or cats) goes missing the caretaker will even paint “cat killer” signs on the walls and fences of their neighbors’ homes; flood the internet with photos, phone-numbers (home and business), and personal information of anyone that they even remotely suspect had something to do with the disappearance of their cats. They post online campaigns and the more common online petitions to get thousands of fellow TNR advocates to flood everyone’s email accounts. They even post the 800 numbers of any agencies in the area to flood their desks with calls until they essentially cripple their business with this denial-of-service attack. (DoS attacks, I’m sure you’ve heard that term.) They never let-up until they have felt vindicated for the loss of any cat. They have put whole companies out of business over their cat-colonies with these well-orchestrated cyber-bullying attacks. And everyone who loves cats is proud about it.

      I have links to reports of all these things as concrete proof.

        • Why? You’ll just delete them. You don’t want anyone to know the truth about what’s really happening in the real world.

          But here’s just two for starters.

          http://www.nbc-2.com/story/21389682/cape-woman-claims-neighbor-is-killing-cats

          There’s was even an interesting news report about a community in Florida where TNR advocates were trying to get a court to allow them to use a local shopping-center where they can keep their cats (to act as speed-bumps, car-accidents, and health-violation-lawsuits waiting to happen I presume).

          Or this more internationally known case, Google: Loews Hotels Feral Cats

          Here’s another replay of the same thing they did to Loews Hotels, Google for: Cats Venice Complex Reprieve

          A $150 million renovation project for low-income housing, put on hold, jobs lost, money lost, homeless still homeless, court costs and lawyers, just to save a few of their remaining cats. The saddest part of all, the vast majority of these TNR’ed cats had already died heinous inhuman deaths from TNR-practitioners’ “death by attrition” re-abandonment philosophy. (Road-kill, diseases, parasites, injuries, environmental poisons, cat & animal attacks, exposure, etc. etc. Their all-encompassing feel-good blinders-on term of “death by attrition”.)

          Similar scenarios can be found by Googling for feral cats and churches, universities, hospitals, shopping centers, malls, apartment complexes, etc., etc. Cat-caretakers delusionally believe that any land on which a cat has stepped-foot is their own property and they can manipulate and control the owners and all laws on it.

          Here’s a link I followed from one of their online attack orchestrations:

          (among hundreds more)

          If you wan’t proof of how they orchestrate all the DoS and petition cyber-bullying attacks, you need only read the archives of “Vox Felina” and “Alley Cat Allies” Facebook pages online. There’s hundreds (if not thousands) of posts there showing exactly how they operate. Even more can be found on Care2.com.

      • Woody, you are getting better at being civil.
        But, you lose it along the way somehow.
        Are you able to forget the tangents and stay on subject?

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