Too much pussy-footing over a sick cat

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 June, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 June, 1995, 12:00am

THE thought of an apparently rabid cat loose in a Victoria Park packed with young children on a sunny Sunday afternoon should, I would think, give any normal person cause for concern.


Members of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force, the management of the nearby Park Lane Hotel and even the volunteers of the RSPCA seem, however, to think very differently on the matter.


The sight of a sick cat is not unusual in Hong Kong, but the animal that was crouched under a table in the park's open air restaurant, last Sunday, was particularly ill-looking.


Although clean and well-fed, its chin was soaked in saliva, its eyes were wild and most ominously it hissed and spat at the water my girlfriend and I tried to give it.


Fearing the cat may be rabid, these being some of the symptoms, I decided to call the local police station.


'We'll try to send someone along,' was the response in a tone of voice that indicated the duty sergeant thought I was some kind of mad gweilo cat lover.


We waited 30 minutes, nobody came.


Next I called the RSPCA hotline and described the condition of the cat.


'Yes, it sounds like rabies. We can't do anything. Call the police.' I already had.


'We can't help you.' End of conversation.


We found a traffic policeman outside the park and asked if he could help.


No, he couldn't, but he could have a good laugh with his mate on the motorbike.


This call of duty was obviously not macho enough for the motorcycle boys.


Next stop the Park Lane Hotel. Could they phone the police to explain the seriousness of the situation in Cantonese? The assistant manager's words were, 'this hotel will do nothing for you', an unfortunate turn of phrase from a man who must have to deal with foreigners' problems every day, though he did direct us to the police reporting centre.


'Turn right out of the hotel,' he said, pointing to the left.


We eventually found the reporting centre, even though the manager had forgotten to say that after turning left out of the hotel, you take the first left, the second right and then the first lane on the left. The centre was closed and its direct link to the nearest police station gave only a dialling tone.


The same went for the reporting centre in the park.


We returned to the hotel and the sour looking assistant manager to repeat our request.


After about 15 minutes the owner came.


'We can't call the police from inside the hotel because it has to go through our security department.' 'So what?' my girlfriend and I said simultaneously.


This was the only answer we were going to get, however, even though any member of the hotel staff could have used the payphones in the lobby to make an external call.


Finally we took a taxi to Causeway Bay police station and spoke to the man on the desk.


Did we want to make a report? We didn't mind as long as the cat was picked up.


Yes, he would deal with it.


Some three hours after first seeing the cat we fell into the back of a taxi exhausted and went home.


We still don't know if anything was done.


TONY BARRETT Mid-Levels