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Cruelly Tortured Cats

By David Haldane

May 6, 2024



It looks like I’ve finally hit a nerve. By which I mean, written something brazenly offensive enough to inspire hate mail.

No, the offending column didn’t reference the war in Gaza nor critically address life and governance in the Philippines.

In fact, what drew the wrath of more than a few readers was my blatant confession of an unforgivable sin: moving a misbehaving stray cat from one location to another.

“You’re a jerk, David,” began one of the 83 comments left on Facebook, where I’d posted my errant piece after it appeared in the newspaper. “Show affection to a poor cat, then…take it far away and throw it out of the car into an uncertain future? I stopped reading your drivel right then and there. I hope you see that cat’s forlorn face in your last days.”

Here’s how another reader’s assessed my journalistic abilities: “An absolutely disgusting article that shows how arrogant some humans can be. You should just stop writing about topics you have no heart for…or simply retire. This was pure garbage.”

At issue was my April 22 column entitled “Calico Cat.” In it, I recalled the tale of a stray cat in our neighborhood that, despite our best efforts, continuously found its way into our house, jumped onto our table, and insisted on sharing our dinner even after we’d fed it leftovers. Eventually we solved the problem by transporting the delinquent feline several kilometers down the road, where—far from “throwing it out of the car”—we gently lowered it to the welcoming ground.

“Hmm, you think you will get away with this?” warned the same reader who’d urged my early retirement. “Just you wait. Karma has your name, and she’s my friend.”

Ok, I’ll admit it, that one worried me just a bit.

At least one reader, though, offered what seemed like sensible advice. “The better option,” she suggested, “should have been to trap, neuter/spay, and release.”

As fate would have it, I spent last weekend on Siargao Island, where a medical mission happened to be visiting my wife’s hometown of Pilar. And, wouldn’t you know it, one of the visiting missionaries was, yes, a veterinarian.

“Let’s go see what they’re doing,” Ivy urged, and so we did.

The first thing I noticed was a small, locked cage containing an extremely nervous-looking cat. “What are you doing?” I inquired.

“Oh,” the vet replied nonchalantly, “not much, just neutering.” It was perfect, like a message straight from karma herself. And so I made myself comfortable and sat down to watch.

The vet pulled out an exceedingly long needle. Then, grabbing an enormous chunk of the terrified cat’s flesh, sank that steel in. Almost immediately, the animal went limp. But its eyes stayed wide open, still looking terrified as it tried to discern what was about to happen in its nether regions.

Next came the gleaming silver knife, shiny and sharp. The doctor unceremoniously spread open the animal’s hind legs. And that’s when I turned away, unable to watch any longer. I don’t know how other men feel, but I get extremely uneasy at even the thought of a cutting tool anywhere near my testicles. And so I closed my eyes, trying to obliterate the disturbing images popping up behind their lids.

“Daddy,” my 4-year-old daughter offered helpfully, “the cat has blood on it.”

Oh great, I thought, thanks for the lovely picture. When it was all over, that poor cat—still dazed—lay panting on its side. But all I could see was the sheet underneath it, spattered in red.

OK, I’m probably gonna catch hell for saying this, but…well…if it were me, I think I’d rather just get banished to a brand-new neighborhood.





David Haldane is an award-winning American journalist, author, and broadcaster with homes in Joshua Tree, California, and Northern Mindanao, Philippines. His latest book, A Tooth in My Popsicle, is available on Amazon. This column appears weekly in The Manila Times.


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