Monday, September 15, 2008

Larry, the Cat Man

This week alone, I’ve euthanized three cat attack victims, warm, furry babies who wanted to live. It breaks my heart. All I can tell myself is it’s better to die in a warm, soft place from laughing gas than in a cat’s jaws.

For cats that come near my bird feeder, I have a Super Soaker. That’s a high-powered, high-volume squirt gun. It’s loaded with a mild ammonia solution, and the cats in my neighborhood have learned the hard way where the borders of my property are, and to steer clear.

Whenever I survey the damage outdoor cats have done (killing an estimated four million birds per day in this country alone), my thoughts naturally turn to Larry, the Cat Man.

He lives near Winston-Salem, North Carolina. And last I heard, he had forty cats and counting. When he takes his cats to the vet, the staff there, at his request and prior to his appointment, removes temptation; they take down all posters on the office bulletin boards advertising cats in need of homes.

These are all indoor cats, too! And they have their own, special condo. Larry is happily married (yes, really!) but his wife is allergic to cats. She therefore lives in one condominium and the cats live in another. Larry pretty much lives with the cats. His wife understands that cats are his passion and his life. She loves them, too, although from a distance, and knows the names and histories of each one. Well...that is, she isn't always immediately aware of new arrivals...

The cats’ house is spic and span. Larry cleans every litter box every day and keeps the place immaculate. And of course, it’s all cat-friendly, with cat perches and shelves and so forth. There is even a music room, containing a grand piano and a guitar. Larry plays and sings to his cats every day. Especially the shy ones. He keeps them in that room, separated from the others, until they are better socialized.

If Larry agrees to adopt one of your cats, he will show up on your doorstep with a briefcase. The briefcase contains 8x10-inch glossy photos of each of his cats to show you, telling you each cat’s story in the bargain. Over and above attending to his presentation, the only thing Larry will ask is that you donate a large bag of cat food once in a while, as in five or six times a year, I suppose.

Larry caught my son by surprise one day, shortly after having accepted his cat. Larry telephoned Mark to ask why he or Katherine hadn’t called. Didn’t they want to know anything about Smokey’s progress? Mark was silent a long moment, brain whirling, before he said, “Please understand; we do of course. But giving up that cat was heart-breaking. It’s just been very difficult for us to talk about.” - an answer with which Larry was well satisfied.

Now Mark has a monthly call to Larry scheduled on his Palm Pilot. My daughter, who also placed a cat with Larry, also calls him regularly.

May God bless the Larrys of this world! Every city ought to have at least half a dozen dedicated souls just like him.


Tony said...

40 cats?! I can't imagine even having three! Wouldn't they get territorial?

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Usually not, provided they are spayed or neutered. All of Larry's are. That and being up to date on all shots he requires as conditions for accepting any cat.