When Katharine Faust saw her cat, Mr. Business, come limping up the stairs on Jan. 9, her first thought was that he’d been in a fight. She took him to an emergency veterinarian.
“The vet said she was very surprised to see what the X-ray told them,” said Faust, an Algiers resident. “The top of his humerus bone was shattered, and there was a bullet.”
Euthanasia was an option, but ultimately, Faust spent $4,500 to amputate the leg of the 2-year-old black cat who had “adopted” her and her significant other during the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders. A feral cat at first, Mr. Business became more and more comfortable hanging out on the patio with Faust, until he’d finally become a chipped, collared, vaccinated indoor-outdoor family cat with a sweet, easygoing temperament.
The fact that he was so clearly a pet made his shooting even more upsetting for Faust.
“I didn’t know whether to be angry or upset or cry,” Faust said.
It wasn’t Faust’s first encounter with violence against area cats. A volunteer for trap-neuter-release organization and nonprofit Trap Dat Cat, she encountered in October a tabby wounded by “three metal projectiles…one in the caudal stifle area of the right hind leg, one in the 11th rib of the left thorax and one near the spine on the left side,” according to an SPCA report.
The tabby had been shot near the intersection of Alix and Leboeuf streets. After it was released from the SPCA, it disappeared.
On Dec. 30, violence against cats erupted again in Algiers Point, this time near Teche and Slidell streets. Around 7:30 am that day, Carley Sercovich, founder of cat foster organization NOLA Kitten Nursery, received a call about an injured cat dragging its legs.
“He was not hit with a BB gun. He was shot with a gun,” Sercovich said. “It was a .22, very clearly a bullet.”
The bullet was lodged near the spine of piebald community cat Norton, and because of the extent of his injuries, he was euthanized. Norton had been part of a colony cared for by volunteers.
“Cats naturally live in colonies. They don’t live solitarily like people think,” said Coral Pogue, director of Tomato Foster Club, a kitten rescue group. “Caretakers get to know these kitties well. We get calls if a kitty is sick or injured. They will know if a new kitty shows up or if they are missing one. They’re aware of whole group.”
Properly maintained cat colonies can be a boon to neighborhoods, because cats prey on rats, insects and other nuisances. “As long as they’re spayed and neutered, they don’t multiply and become a problem,” Sercovich said.
TNR, talk with neighbors and more tips for caring for the feral cats in your neighborhood.
Karla Franks too was forced to euthanize her year-old, black-and-gray cat, Teddy, in June. He sustained a bullet injury shortly after the family moved to Algiers. After Teddy’s shooting, Franks followed the veterinarian’s orders to manually express Teddy’s bladder and give him pain medication. But the wounded cat, who moved in what Franks described as an “army crawl,” was ultimately in so much pain that she chose to euthanize him.
“They thought he was gonna be OK, but it was all the internal stuff,” Franks said. “It is disheartening and very unsettling to know people do that. I don’t understand how someone can do that to an animal. He was our sweet Teddy.”
Animal cruelty is a violent crime classified as a Group A Offense, alongside arson and assault, in the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System. Faust reported the animal cruelty incident to police Sunday night. New Orleans Police Department said the investigation of what they classified as a miscellaneous incident is active and ongoing, though they not named a suspect or made an arrest.
The Louisiana ASPCA did not return requests for a comment.
Last month, the Humane Society of Louisiana held a press conference and stated that cats “are being targeted with violence or abduction in Jefferson Parish,” according to reporting by BRProud.com. WWL-TV also reported on the rash of cat poisonings, shootings and disappearances in Jefferson Parish.
Faust believes these incidents reflect “a culture of animal cruelty that has just been simmering in this city and in the state for a long time.”
Faust and Sercovich are concerned violence against animals could escalate, a link detailed by the FBI.
“It has been proven time and time again that violence against animals can turn into violence against people,” Sercovich said. “The city has a huge issue with gun violence. It’s sad to see cats being shot in our community when the next bullet could be for a human.”
Mr. Business did not lose his life, but he did lose a leg in a successful hour-and-a-half-long surgery. Faust said he did well in surgery on Jan. 11, although he was a little loopy from pain medication when he came home.
“He ate and drank a lot, meandered around the house supervised and is now snoozing comfortably,” she stated in an update on her GoFundMe page. “He seems to already be adapting well to tripod life.”
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