Here comes the fuzz: 6 crime-stopping cats
From sting operations to border patrol, this clowder of cats has made some curious contributions to the field of crime-fighting.
Sun, Mar 18, 2012 at 06:01 PM
CAT PATROL: Tama, the official station master, keeps things in order at Kishi Station in Japan. (Photo: Sanpei/ja.Wikipedia)
Cats as crime-stoppers. It really goes against their nature, doesn’t it? A mommy mouser will go through Hades and high water to save her kittens, but to aid and abet in fighting the sinister forces of evil? Leave that to the dogs, cats have better things to do. (Or not do, as the case may be.)
But the coterie of kitties listed here all achieved their 15 minutes of fame courtesy of their constabulary connections. (Even if that means one of them — we’re talking about you, Lewis — was more convict than cop.)
1. Fred the undercover kitty
Adopted from an animal shelter in 2006 by Brooklyn Deputy District Attorney Carol Moran, Fred served as the bait in a sting operation aimed at an unlicensed vet. Upon the successful arrest of the vet, Fred became the star of a press conference with District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, who later presented him with a Law Enforcement Achievement Award. At the award ceremony, Fred was lauded alongside brave rescuers and heroic police officers.
2. Mike the museum guard
A kitten adopted in 1909 by Sir Ernest Wallis Budge, Mike the cat became famous for guarding the gates of the British Museum. Burge was then the Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities and looked after the Egyptian cat mummies. Mike became his loyal ally, and a British folk feline hero along the way. In fact, Time magazine devoted two articles to him upon his death.
Among Mike’s other duties was his role protecting the museum entrance from dogs who he would chase off; he was also fond of cornering pesky pigeons to keep them away from the gates. (He would gently bring the birds to the housekeeper who would release them unharmed.) After some 15 years of service, Mike was officially retired and declared a "pensioner" in 1924.
Mike's tombstone was erected near the Great Russell Street entrance of the museum. The inscription reads: "He assisted in keeping the main gate of the British Museum from February 1909 to January 1929."
3. Rusik the Russian police sniffer cat
A kitten picked up by staff at a police checkpoint in 2002 became an important player in the war against smuggling. Rusik was recruited by police in the Stavropol region, bordering the Caspian Sea, to sniff out illegal cargoes of sturgeon and caviar.
Areas bordering the Caspian Sea are deluged by poachers who hope to cash in on stolen sturgeon and their very profitable roe, often smuggling it in any number of clever spots. Staff said that no matter how ingenious the smugglers were in their attempts to hide the fish, Rusik was always able to find it.
Rusik met a tragic fate when he was run over in the line of duty, coincidentally (or not), by a car that the border-patrolling cat had previously busted.
4. Tama the station master
Although Tama the calico cat doesn’t stop crime, per se, as station master and operating officer at Kishi Station in Kinokawa, Wakayama, Japan, she wears the decoration of "Wakayama de knight" given by the governor of Wakayama, and keeps her keen eye on all the station happenings.
How does a cat become station master? When the Wakayama Electric Railway converted stations on the Kishigama line to unmanned posts, time masters were selected from employees of local businesses near each station. For Kishi station, the neighborhood grocer, Toshiko Koyama, was chosen as station master. Tama was a stray adopted by Koyama.
In January 2007, railway officials decided to officially name Tama the station master. As station master her primary responsibility is to greet passengers. The title comes with a stationmaster's hat and free cat food in lieu of a paycheck.
5. Snowball the accidental witness
A woman was murdered, a man was accused of the crime, and the main evidence against him came courtesy of Snowball the cat, in what forensic scientists say was the first case in which animal DNA was introduced in court. Found on a discarded jacket were both blood from the victim as well as hair from the family cat, Snowball, which belonged to Douglas Beamish.
After hearing testimony about the DNA match linking the evidence and Snowball, the jury found the accused guilty of second-degree murder, leading to an 18-year sentence.
Scientists say that it may soon become commonplace to use the genetic material in fur shed by cats to link perpetrators, accomplices, witnesses and victims.
6. Lewis, you have the right to remain silent …
From the other side of the law comes Lewis, a black-and-white housecat from Fairfield, Conn. Lewis was placed under house arrest for two years after an aggrieved neighbor filed a reckless endangerment charge against Lewis's owner, Ruth Cisero, for an attack by the cat.
Rather than euthanize or declaw her kitty companion, Cisero opted for a trial on the criminal charge. (Kudos to Cisero.) The verdict was a special probation, which included community service for Cicero as well as a restraining order to keep Lewis inside. Had the cat found a way out, Cisero could have faced up to six months in prison and Lewis could have been euthanized.
After two years of probation, the case was dismissed. Lewis is now an indoor cat, allowed outside only in a cat carrier.
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