A Series of Human Failings Resulted in the Death of a Beloved Cat

Little Boy was a three-year-old black-and-white cat. He was loved by his owner. He must have been an indoor/outdoor cat because he went outside on January 18 to go to the toilet. He never came back. Due to a catalogue of events all of which are due to human behaviour, he ended up being killed several days later at the Wake County Animal Shelter, North Carolina, USA.

Little Boy
Little Boy
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The first thing that happened to Little Boy was that he was trapped by a neighbour. Clearly the neighbour does not like cats coming onto his property so he set a trap. Cats are not concerned about property boundaries. Therefore it was no concern of Little Boy whether he was on someone else’s property. As far as I’m aware, in the USA, cats cannot trespass on someone’s property by which I mean that the law of trespass does not apply to cats. Nonetheless he was trapped and I wonder whether it was legal in this instance to trap him like this because this initial event led to the death of this cat.

No doubt the person who trapped him called Animal Control and they responded by collecting the cat on the following Tuesday, the 19th, whereupon they took the cat to the local shelter: Wake County Animal Shelter. Animal Control may be in breach of the law here. The law clearly states that they can impound a cat that appears to be “lost, stray or unwanted”. None of these conditions apply to Little Boy. They decided he was a stray because it was convenient to do so and because the person who trapped him no doubt said so.

At this stage Little Boy was in danger. We don’t know whether he had a microchip. Apparently he didn’t because there is no report that he was micro-chipped. If that is the case that is another failure in this litany of minor failures leading to a catastrophe.

Once at the shelter he behaved aggressively which further jeopardised his survival because we know that aggressive cats in shelters without any identification are liable to be put down.

In North Carolina there is an obligation for a shelter to allow a cat’s owner to collect their cat within 72 hours and therefore they have to notify the owner if they can and if not place a notice on the cage where the cat is in the shelter and on the website if they have a website.

This happened (but late for the website notification). The 72 hour period relates to 3 working days and working days which means the usual working days of the shelter even if those working days are interrupted, as happened in this case, by a storm which closed the shelter on the Friday and over the following weekend.

Initially Little Boy’s owner, Teresa, did not attend the local shelter to find out whether her cat was there or not. She probably fretted a bit and then looked on the Internet and finding the shelter’s website could not see her cat. On Thursday 21st January her cat was on the website whereupon she called the shelter but failed to receive an answer. As a result she emailed them at 6:50 PM on Thursday but at that time the shelter was closed and it remain closed on Friday and over the weekend because of the storm. As a result she could not contact the shelter and over this period the 72 hour time period expired during which Little Boy was euthanised.

There are two minor errors in the above narrative. Firstly the cat’s owner saw fit not to visit in person local shelters quickly enough or at all and neither did the shelter concerned allow an extra time period for the owner to collect her cat due to the storm which interrupted their operations.

I have checked the law of North Carolina with respect to rescue cats at shelters under the heading “Redemption of Owner Generally”. This shelter is strictly speaking not in breach of the law as they have stated. But they could have used their discretion and common sense to have extended the usual working hours by an extra day to take into account, as mentioned, the storm which forced them to close their doors and operation at that time.

As for Little Boy’s aggression, this is unexpected. It is almost normal for a domestic cat under these circumstances to be anxious, nervous and therefore aggressive. This would be defensive aggression. For the shelter to decide that this cat was aggressive in general because of his specific behaviour inside a cage at this time was an error of judgement. It is another error among a catalogue of errors which failed Little Boy.

Little Boy should never have been killed by a cat shelter. He was simply going outside to the toilet. That is still legal and perfectly acceptable in most of America as far as I am aware. The whole thing kicked off with a neighbour trapping the cat. That single act was, on its own, the single biggest factor which led to his death. A more sensitive neighbour and a more accepting neighbour and one who did not dislike cats could have dealt with the matter far more agreeably.

If I were to blame anybody in this unnecessary death I would blame the neighbour. And the owner, if she wishes to blame somebody, should really blame him and to some extent herself. To a certain extent she is the author of her own distress and demise. I wonder whether she knew that her neighbour was trapping cats and disliked cats going on his property. We don’t know. If she did know then it was not safe to let her cat go outside under almost any circumstances other than on a leash.

In addition, Little Boy’s owner should have been a little more vigourous and rigourous in locating her lost cat. She had a couple of days to find him before the storm and it appears to me that she waited too long whereupon the storm intervened to seal Little Boy’s fate. A sad story.

Primary source: Elisa Black-Taylor’s article on Examiner.com. The law on this.

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24 thoughts on “A Series of Human Failings Resulted in the Death of a Beloved Cat”

  1. There’s a trapper in the Concord, NC area known as The Great White Hunter who has trapped and turned in DOZENS of cats. Nothing can be done about him because they’re caught on his own property.

  2. One problem is people DO go looking for their cat but in the wrong place. They walk the neighborhood but often fail to stop at homes and ask a neighbor if they’ve seen the cat. Meanwhile the cat is sitting in the shelter. The cat owner just thinks the cat has wandered a bit far from home and will find it’s way back.

    This is why so many cats die at the Greenville shelter. Spartanburg, which is around 30 miles away, has an agreement with Greenville to take all stray cats picked up to the Greenville shelter. Spartanburg cat owners either don’t know this or they find out a pet is there and can’t get a ride out of town to the shelter.

    The wording needs to be changed for NC hold times. It should be three days, not counting the day of intake. That would give a cat more time to be found. SC has a 5 day hold, not counting the day of intake or any days the shelter isn’t open.

  3. Typical of irresponsible cat-owners. The owner was probably warned many times to not let that cat trespass on someone else’s property, but like all cat-owners didn’t care about anyone but themselves, as evidenced by not even making a decent effort to get her own cat back in a timely manner. She cared about that cat as much as everyone else did.

    You might want to educate yourself about laws in North America before you write articles like this. It is perfectly legal for anyone to trap and dispose of anyone else’s cat on your own property no matter the reason it is there. Further reflecting just how irresponsible and disrespectful cat-owners are by you not even quoting laws properly, just so you can further justify your criminally irresponsible values and behavior.

    Yeah, you sure do love your cats don’t you. You don’t even go looking for them when they are missing. You can’t even pick up a phone to make a phone-call to a real person and instead depend on email that won’t be read until the following week. You just love your cats so much, don’t you. You just love them to death!

    • You’re right in that it’s legal to trap cats on your property and turn them over to the shelter. As long as you don’t harm them it’s legal. There’s no way I’d allow any of my cats outside. Cat hater across the street and coyotes in the woods.

      • Elisa lied when she claimed, “As long as you don’t harm them it’s legal.”

        Not true, not true at all. You are allowed to humanely kill any animal on your own property as long as they are not a regulated game-animal, endangered-species, or migratory bird under protection of MBTA (Migratory Bird Treaty Act). Invasive-species house-cats fall under none of those requirements. All other animals may be destroyed by the land-owner under protection of all pest and nuisance-animal laws. But you’d know this if you weren’t a renter all your life. Land-ownership comes with its own set of laws to protect the land-owner that supersede other laws. Educate yourself about them so you don’t encourage people to throw more of their cats where they can all be legally killed. But then, whatever would you do for a source of income if you didn’t have dead and injured cats to exploit in the media. You depend on people killing the cats of negligent pet-owners or you would have no meaning to your life. Sad, isn’t it.

        • WRONG!West’s North Carolina General Statutes Annotated. Chapter 14. Criminal Law. Subchapter XI. General Police Regulations. Article 47. Cruelty to Animals; Chapter 19A. Protection of Animals. Chapter 160A. Cities and Towns. Article 8. Delegation and Exercise of the General Police Power.
          Primary Citation: N.C.G.S.A.§ 14-360 to 14-363.2; § 19A-1 – 70; § 19A-45 – 59; § 160A-182, § 14-177
          Country of Origin: United States
          Last Checked: November, 2014
          more +
          This section comprises the relevant North Carolina animal cruelty statutes. The anti-cruelty statute provides that if any person shall maliciously kill, or cause or procure to be killed, any animal by intentional deprivation of necessary sustenance, that person shall be guilty of a Class H felony . If any person shall maliciously torture, mutilate, maim, cruelly beat, disfigure, poison, or kill, or cause or procure to be tortured, mutilated, maimed, cruelly beaten, disfigured, poisoned, or killed, any animal , every such offender shall for every such offense be guilty of a Class H felony. This section also makes promoting or conducting a cock fight a misdemeanor and promoting or conducting a dogfight a felony.

          The link is here https://www.animallaw.info/statute/nc-cruelty-article-47-cruelty-animals

          • Quoting laws out of context without including all the sections pertaining to “… it is a defense to prosecution where …”, that make those statutes null and void only makes you a manipulative liar, or just ignorant. Respewing out-of-context laws posted by someone just as ignorant and manipulative as yourself is no excuse.

            • At least I have laws to quote. There are quite a few cases over the past year where an abuser i.e. someone who harms a cat or dog gets jail time. I have an associate degree in technology, 12 years in security management and 12 years as a professional children’s photographer. So what have you done with YOUR life besides hate cats? I can hold my head up that I’ve made a difference. YOU, on the other hand, hide behind various names and spew hate. How do you tolerate yourself, being so nasty and bitter. Oh-I know-you make up lies about people you don’t even know. How’s that working out for you?

            • Goodbye for now. I have about 50 shelter bios to write this weekend. I’m making myself useful. I’ll catch up with you later. 🙂

          • Bless you Elisa for your effort.
            But, it’s useless to even try to reason with this sociopath even though I do it myself sometimes still. Even psychopaths can be stabilized with meds; but, there is no treatment that helps sociopaths. They are the real “vermin”, a word Jimbo uses so often.

        • I’ve owned my own property since 2001 and have never rented. You must have me confused with someone else.

          And I do as few dead and injured animal stories as possible. Most of my time now is spent promoting shelter adoption. For cats I focus on owner surrenders and on dogs I focus on heartworm positive and senior dogs. They’re most likely to be killed before being adopted or rescued.

          • Actually, I was wrong. I’ve owned my own place since 1983. Just my other place since 2001 when I sold the place from 1983. I was able to purchased 2 homes but sold one in 2010 because I didn’t really need it.

        • Pat, you are not female. I presume that Pat stands for Patrick aka Jim Stephenson of one of his gang. I have silenced you because you peddle untruths and insults.

        • This is wrong. Only under a exception in the statute can a person kill a cat on their land. The specific exception is usually when the cat is harassing animals (livestock for example). You are distorting the law to meet your own perverted ideals. You have been banned again.

      • Even an indoor-only cat can escape. Do you ever go on business trips/vacation? What would happen if an indoor-only cat slips out while a cat sitter is coming in? This is my constant worry. I have my father there now, but he is 85. I also have gave the microchip company the phone number of my friend as a backup in case they cannot reach me, but something can always go wrong. I think 72 hour period is way too short. If you are abroad or on a cruise, you can be in the middle of the ocean if your cat slips out past the cat sitter.

    • And how is it you get everything WRONG about me? I don’t hold fundraisers. I don’t sell Tiger merchandise. I’ve never rented in my life. I’m a typical southern girl who went from mama’s to marriage to living on my own as a widow. I keep ALL of my cats indoors where they’re safe. Where did you EVER get the idea my cats live outdoors or that I promote outdoor living for cats. I’ve done a LOT of articles asking people to keep their cats indoors and away from people like YOU. I don’t live off the government. I work in the security field meaning I can have NO criminal record whatsoever because I’m certified by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). NONE! Can you say the same? I’ve never spent a night in jail and I make sure I don’t break the law so I hope I never do. So what do I do so wrong that causes you to make up all of these LIES about me? I help dogs as well as the occasional horse or pig. Do you hate all animals or just cats?

    • ” like all cat-owners didn’t care about anyone but themselves”

      That is a generalisation which is distinctly incorrect. I can tell your dislike for cats in that statement.

      “It is perfectly legal for anyone to trap and dispose of anyone else’s cat on your own property no matter the reason it is there”

      Does this apply to all states? I don’t believe you are correct. There will have to extenuating circumstances and you know it. “Dispose” indicates kill and it is not legal to kill someone else’s cat on your property unless the circumstances meet certain specific exceptions under statute (or ordinance).


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