Thursday, July 12, 2001

Passerby Laurie Martin, left, armed herself with a golf putter
as she witnessed the attack on Deena Frooman, right, and
her dog Kekoa on Kaialiu Street near the Kirin
Restaurant last night.

Feral cats attack
Moiliili woman

The horrific encounter has
the Humane Society baffled
and residents calling for action

By Rosemarie Bernardo

For Moiliili resident Deena Frooman, a stroll to the supermarket turned into a nightmare after she was attacked by feral cats last night.

"It was like a horror movie," said Frooman, 37. "It was like five or six cats that came at us."

"They flew at us, hissing and clawing."

The Hawaiian Humane Society was investigating the incident today, described as "bizarre," by Linda Haller, director of shelter operations.

"Normally most cats, especially ferals, are secretive and want to get away when people show up," she said.

Police and ambulance responded to a call at around 8:30 p.m. of a cat attack in Moiliili. Frooman suffered a seven-inch-long scratch and claw punctures to her right leg.

"I was shaking," she said.

Deena Frooman and her dog, Kekoa, were attacked by
a pack of feral cats as they walked along Kaialiu
Street last night. "They flew at us, hissing and
clawing," she said. "It was like a horror movie."

Her dog, Kekoa, suffered cat scratches near his left eye and puncture marks on his nose.

Frooman said she was walking on the sidewalk behind Kirin Restaurant at 2518 S. Beretania Street to pick up groceries at Star Market when the pack of feral cats attacked her.

There were at least 20 to 30 cats hanging out near the back door of the restaurant, Frooman said. She said the attack lasted about two minutes.

Haller speculated that the dog might have walked too close to kittens and the mother felt they were threatened. Even so, she said, the mothers usually disappear.

"Kittens disappear quickly, too. That's why they survive so well. There may have been no place to run to, or they were too far away from shelter.

"It's really a strange thing, real unusual. Not normal at all."

Two college students tried to chase the cats away and the animals retreated, Frooman said.

The students accompanied Frooman to Burger King, where she called police and ambulance.

Laurie Martin, a resident of Varsity House located near Kirin Restaurant, witnessed the attack and said feral cats have been a growing problem in her neighborhood in the last year.

Martin said this is the first time she saw the cats attack a person and fears for the safety of children and senior citizens who walk in the area. It was an unprovoked attack, she said.

Not only is Martin concerned about the safety of pedestrians, she is worried about health problems linked to feral cats such as fleas and litter.

Martin said she plans to address the cat problem at a board meeting in her building today.

Moreover, she wants to call the Hawaiian Humane Society to find a way to resolve the cat nuisance.

Haller said the society will try to determine what is going on at the attack site-- whether the restaurant or someone else is feeding the cats, and whether some can be trapped and removed.

The state Health Department's Vector Control Branch also planned to look into the situation.

From now on, Frooman said she will walk around the restaurant.

"And to think, I was just taking a leisurely stroll to the supermarket to get goods to make soup, she said.

"It was the craziest thing."

Reporter Helen Altonn contributed to this story.

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