Posted by: petsweekly | August 27, 2010

The Meow Heard Round The World

Unless you’ve been living in a cave near Pakistan, I’m sure you’ve all seen the “Cat Bin Lady” video by now. In it, you’ll see an elderly woman gently petting a cat that she passes on the street, then unceremoniously picking the cat up and placing it in a nearby garbage bin. (The cat was rescued, so you can read on).

The entire event was captured by a home surveillance system and the owners, in a rush to locate the person responsible, sent animal lovers into a feeding frenzy by posting the video on YouTube. The video goes global within hours, the act of cruelty uncovered for all to see.

Posting the video was brilliant because within a day, the mysterious woman was identified and had to be placed under police protection. I have to hand it to Lola’s parents – if it was one of my cats this happened too, it would take more than the Royal Guard to hold me back…

The event happened three days ago and already, a “revenge of the cat” video has been posted, a video game based on “Whack a mole” but renamed, ‘Whack a Cat Woman” (hey!) has been created. A fake Twitter account called, @CatBinLady has turned up – sample entry includes: (this proves to be an entertaining account as one entry includes, “Just passed a shoe shop. Threw one of the sample shoes outside onto a passing bus. Why do I do these things?”),  and I’m sure lots of other fun little things will be coming up soon.

One thing you don’t want to do in the digital age is get caught on camera doing something this horrible…

Here’s the mystery. We’ve all witnessed, or seen the results of, animal cruelty. We’ve all seen or heard of video clips that are FAR more horrid than this one. And these people have not faced this type of public outcry.  Sure – placing this adorable, innocent kitty into a trash bin was a horrific thing to do, but I honestly believe that there is even more to the issue.

Watching the act, I think we all had to do a sort of paradigm shift in order to process the visuals. And once we make that shift, it’s far more difficult to comprehend the act.

First of all, Bale fits the “profile” of a “cat lady” – she’s 45 yrs old, (but looks a lot older), and initially seems to care for the cat. She doesn’t “fit the profile” of an animal abuser. Second, the gentle way she coaxes the cat towards her, petting it, talking to it, gaining it’s trust – then callously throwing the loving animal out like a piece of trash – makes it that much more brutal.

So in addition to the act itself, we have the added outrage that what we would expect to happen, didn’t happen.  Bale didn’t play fair.  She acted like a friend, a cat lover, then wildly abused that animal’s trust.

You see, we expect predators to behave in a certain way. A lion doesn’t walk up to a gazelle and pretend to be friends with it, romping in the tall grasses with a herd before suddenly attacking. Bears don’t act like they want to share a lunch with you before making you a lunch. What you see is what you get. Walk into the cage of a frustrated, captive tiger during feeding time and you expect to get your arm torn off. Wander through the woods alone in winter during a cool evening, and you expect to see wolves appear. Go swimming in the ocean and cut yourself on coral, you expect to see sharks approach.

It’s only humans who are capable of displaying deceptive behavior. Humans are the only predators who can lure an innocent tabby towards them, then drop it in a trash bin for no reason. Or call a small dog towards them, then suddenly kick it for no reason. It’s human predators who are able to lure small children into their cars with kind words of promises of candy for the sole purpose of abusing them.

Bale has demonstrated that we cannot believe our eyes, or our heart, but must remain wary of all – no matter what our initial senses tell us. She made us lose our trust in our senses, our natural warning system that tells us to be concerned about a particular person or event. She has made us lose faith that we can trust what appears to be normal behavior.

Lola, the tabby cat, trusted the woman. We all know that any animal can generally identify (and stay away from) a “bad person.” So if an animal such as Lola can fall into such a trap, what chance do the rest of us have?

Bale initially justified her actions as, “People are reading too much into things. I’ve no feelings about cats one way or the other. I don’t keep pets myself, but I have no problem with people who do.”

She then told the Mirror “that she binned the feline as ‘a joke’, adding, “It’s only a cat.” (Mirror, 2010).

Her tune changed after a Facebook Group entitled “Death to Mary Bale” was formed and had over 30,000 members within the first 24 hours. Then Bale issued a statement that she was “profoundly sorry” for what she described as “a split second of misjudgment”. (Mirror, 8.25.10)

The UK feels she has brought shame to their entire country, and she faces losing her job as a customer service representative at a local bank. I’ve heard a rumor that the police are talking about putting her into protective custody and letting her live her life anonymously someplace else, but that’s a rumor.

Mary Bale deserves a lot of things. Jail. Losing her job. Being dumped into a garbage can and made to sit in the heat for 16 hrs would be my first choice, but all of the other options would be perfectly justifiable as well.

Legally, we haven’t heard what will happen either. The police have left it to the RSPCA to make a private prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act. The maximum punishment under the act is a £20,000 fine or a six month prison sentence.

For now, she just wants to go back to her “normal life”, which thankfully, does not include pets of her own. But, her life will not be her own either. At least not for awhile.

According to the Mirror, Bale’s most recent comments were, “There’s nothing I can do. This is going to be dreadful. My whole life will be turned upside-down.”

Yep. You’re right about that…

And if you want to see the video, here you go.

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