Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Crazy Cat People

During my senior year in college I lived across the street from a small faculty apartment duplex. One of those apartments was occupied by a Spanish professor who was in Spain, on sabbatical, that year. My room was in an old inn and so was large, with two closets, a private bathroom, and a private parking lot. I was in heaven. About a month into the fall semester I began to be awakened regularly to the sounds of cats fighting and mating. I don't mean a cat or two, I mean lots of cats, going at it all night. It took about a week, but I figured out the problem: the Spanish professor had left her bathroom window open, filled her bathtub with cat food, and left her place in the care of a campus-full of feral cats.

I had moved across the street from a crazy cat lady.

Crazy cat ladies appear to be a staple of every community. Crazy cat men must exist somewhere out there, but I've never seen or heard of one. The hoarding of cats appears to be an activity that skews female, as does the hoarding of animals in general. From what I can tell the affliction begins with the feeding of feral cats, progresses to a plethora of cats in the house, and goes on from there. Cats are but a gateway drug; the hoarding of cats often leads to the hoarding of dogs as well, and on from there to farm animals.

Someone I knew back in high school has become a crazy cat lady. She discovered a stray cat in her suburban back yard and began feeding it. Of course, in short order her yard was filled every night with around 30 cats, looking for food. She thought it was cute. Her neighbors disagreed. She finally trapped and released all the cats, but remains the neighborhood pariah.

The first municipal election that I followed, back in 1995, culminated in the Board of Health's condemnation of the Democratic mayoral candidate's house. The house was filled with over 50 cats, cat food, cat urine, cat feces. Yes, she lost the election, although I thought she should have embraced her weirdness and campaigned on the "Crazy Cat Lady for Mayor" platform. You never know, it might have helped.

I take my dog to run in a park every day, but for several months this spring I was unable to use the one park where he can run leash-free because a crazy cat couple had decided to leave bedding and food for a feral cat. Naturally that cat soon turned into several cats, which led to the appearance of more food and bedding. The end result wasn't just going to be an entire feral colony, but was also the fact that my dog wouldn't run but would instead eat the cat food, search for cat feces, and roll around in the cat bedding. Park officials threw away the cat stuff three times before the crazy cat couple finally gave up.

In short, crazy cat people are everywhere. It could be that it's something that lies dormant in each of us, waiting to be released. Plenty of us do hoard, if not cats then books, papers, figurines, photographs, whatever it is we stock away and call a "collection." What made me think of all this, on a fine spring day? I went through my basement yesterday looking for my pruning shears, and realized that I have boxes down there that I haven't opened in years. I don't even know what's in them, I'm just saving them. So, if you see me buying an inordinate amount of cat food, please slap me. Thank you.


Roberta said...

Am glad you didn't find cats nesting in those basement boxes. Whew!

imported urban legend said...

there is a crazy cat man in new york city. he is known also as the actor comedian of the beat generation, and has notably also been star worker in a prestigious now defunct factory on union square. he has a comedy show every friday night at the bowery poetry club, and i wouldn't be surprised if, there, he namedrops his cats. all of them. but i wouldn't be surprised if he keeps these cats on the hush, too. you see, almost every night, on a solitary meander to his home in the lower east side, despite his being oh about 80 or 180 years old and quite possibly doused in brandy (not to criticize) he circulates, along a regular route that features parking lots, vacant lots, alleys, etc., the likes of a large bag of catfood. verifiable crazy cat man. it ain't just the ones with the pussies, after all! the man's name is taylor mead, by the way. he is a gem, but a saucy one, and is hideous in his contempt for the less famous.

imported urban legend said...

oh yes and i share the tale of taylor because i imagine you would like him and his act. he is a cultural delicacy. crazy cat man actor comedian. but poet first, i'd not mentioned. poet first. or was it personality? probably. and, yes, cats can be very loud. incredibly loud. i hear there is a greek island entirely dedicated to the lives of feral cats.

tunsie said...

I am allergic 2 cats.all of my 14 girlfriends stay away from cats 2 4 fear that i may be allergic to the cats they were touching.tunsie.tunsie.tunsie

Elucidator said...


I've actually met Taylor Mead, and would see him making his rounds back when I lived in the city. He was always mean to me when we'd run into each other. I wasn't nearly, nearly famous enough. Even when we shared the bill at a poetry reading. I'd forgotten about his crazy cat tendencies, so you're absolutely right, it isn't just the pussies who love the pussies.

Beth said...

Taylor Mead is amusing from afar (no closer than the stage at Bowery Poetry Club, thank you). I think all crazy cat people creep me out up close. I'm allergic to cats also, but there's more to my aversion than that. Just say I'm a confirmed dog person--to the permanent exclusion of cats.

Recovering CCL said...

Well, I'm allergic to cats and still have been known to cohabitate with quite a few of them, as well as with the crazy cat man who was originally responsible. I just take shots for the allergy and hope for the best. I'm currently down to 2 nice kitties due to attrition, though I fight my addictive impulses daily. I admit to perusing the cat rescue sites and feeding strays, but have managed to keep the number manageable (without Wellbutrin!). Is there a CCPA (Crazy Cat Person Anonymous)? If so, please let me know. I'll pass on the information to my husband as well. You know who I am, Dr. W.