Monday, July 26, 2010


I have a lot of cats. That’s not news to anyone who ever reads this column.
I fear I am becoming the “crazy cat lady” when some of you see me in public and the first thing you say is, “Oh, it’s the cat woman!”
But I have no one to blame but myself — and, perhaps, my daughter. On far too many occasions we have opened our door and our hearts to the strays that show up, often in bad weather, who simply assume that they have found their new home.
Generally, they have.
But our cats all get regular veterinary care; they’re all up to date on their shots. When my daughter ended up with two diabetic cats (who have since crossed the Rainbow Bridge and are greatly missed), our lives revolved around their medical schedules for years, so that their insulin shots were administered twice a day, on time.
All our feline friends get plenty of attention, have lots of toys and their individual personalities are greatly appreciated.
I would like to meet the people who think that all cats are aloof, however; when you have several at a time vying for a spot on your lap, that’s a little hard to believe.
And our kitties get plenty to eat — a few, I’m afraid — eat a little too well.
As I’ve said before, when I die I’d like to come back as one of my cats and enjoy that pampered lifestyle for awhile.
With all of this said, you can understand the utter horror I felt when it first was reported that a person had allowed 13 cats to die in a Whitpain townhome — and later that number was raised to 37.
Patricia Wiehler, the woman in question, recently was sentenced to four years’ probation and 400 hours of community service.
But thanks to Montgomery County President Judge Richard J. Hodgson, that sentence may change.
I certainly hope so. District Judge John Murray was totally wrong to give her such a light slap.
On Friday, Hodgson vacated that sentence and ordered Wiehler’s case be returned to Murray “for disposition in accordance with Rules of Criminal Procedure.”
It’s hard to buy Wiehler’s story, who said she had to move to help care for her ill mother. Her mother lived 25 minutes away, definitely close enough to continue to travel back to her home and care for the cats.
Or, here’s a thought: Get friends and neighbors to pitch in. If this were truly a hardship situation, contact a rescue group or the SPCA and surrender the cats.
Some group may have been willing to take them temporarily. If that couldn’t be worked out and it had to be a total turnover, at least the cats would have been cared for.
And the SPCA would have euthanized them humanely if it came to that. No starvation; no cats turning to cannibalism in a futile attempt to survive.
At her brief hearing in which she received her original “sentence,” Wiehler never even gave an excuse for the atrocity. But then, what excuse could you offer?
The emergency workers who eventually were called in to clean up the dead cats said “the images of the bones that had been picked clean were some of the most disturbing that they had seen.”
I can’t even begin to imagine how she could have done this.
Some say she must have a mental illness — how else could you harbor 37 cats and then let them starve to death? They may have a point. I certainly can’t wrap my mind around this.
Thank you, Judge Hodgson, for your action. Murray, take note: Probation and community service are not enough punishment for sentencing 37 souls to a torturous death.

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