FELINES If any of you have been looking for a good cathouse in town, I believe it is located right next door to my new place. And no--I’m not talking about that kind of cathouse, silly. An antiquated Memphis law prevents eight or more women from boarding in the same home to prevent that type of potential witchery, or so I’ve heard. What I’m referring to is the mew, hiss, and purr of a literal cat motel. A humble meeting place for all beings of the feline persuasion, the sheer number, variety and odor of which truly astounds me. I suppose that there’s a place like this in every town. To be honest, I find it kind of interesting, at least during this, the honeymoon phase. I’ve even forgiven them for tossing trash all over the lawn, which in turn attracted every ant in a three-mile radius, on our first morning there. Aren’t I sweet? Until I moved to Memphis, I was never much of a cat person. I didn’t hate them or anything, unlike my Dad whose prized possession was Earl the Dead Cat. Earl was the most tragic little stuffed animal you could ever hope to see, made to look like the victim of a mauling by an 18-wheeler. Needless to say, we were not encouraged to bring home any cats of our own. In Dad’s defense, he did stop and attempt to rescue the one kitty that he accidentally hit with his own car. We may come programmed with a questionable sense of humor in my clan, but we’re not heartless. Anyhow, about two years ago I inherited my two little babies from a friend who was leaving town, and it was an instant kitty love fest. There’s a bit of a difference, however, between a duo of indoor cats and the twenty-five that run my new block. The strangest aspect of this new relationship that I am forming (cautiously, I might add, and without cute little welcome bowls of milk or tuna) is that these ubiquitous four-legged neighbors are always lurking about in and around my windows. I’m not a paranoid freak or anything, but it’s a little unnerving to see a glowing set of eyes tracking you every time you make a move. Especially since they haven’t been the same set of eyes on any given occasion. I’m talking serious power in numbers here. I’ve seen a tabby, a Siamese, a little poof of an orange kitten, the infant, teenaged, and adult versions of Jedi, my own little black cat, a near exact replica of Losis, my other cat, an extremely well-endowed gray and white little guy (who might be responsible for some of the nose-thrilling drafts that escape from the compound on occasion,) a slinky black and white specimen than can walk along a fence like a squirrel, and about every possible mixture of the above lot. It’s insane. My curiosity is primarily directed toward what it must be like inside this underground house of mews. (Not to be confused with the actually House of Mews, which serves as a shelter and adoption agency for Midtown strays.) There has been a lot of talk of late about the supposed psychological disorder of animal hoarding. This is reportedly most prevalent in middle-aged women who believe that they are helping the plethora of animals that they take in, whether or not they truly have the means to provide adequate care. As yet, I have not laid eyes on the person at the heart of the cathouse. But maybe this is for the best. Truth be told, I’m not sure I want to get that involved, and I’ll give you a little back story on the reason why. One of my good friends works as a dealer at a casino in Tunica. Now, he had a regular at his table who was a self-proclaimed cat aficionado. I’m talking feline-friendly to the point that this gambler honestly believed that his brood could speak to him, and not in the symbolic interpreting of the nods and meows way, either. On one occasion, he told my friend that he was forced to shoot one of his boarders, because the “spy cat” in the house informed him that this selfish kitten was eating all of the other cats’ food. Alright then. Several weeks later my dealer friend told me that this man had come back, seriously perplexed because one of his cats wouldn’t speak to him. He as worried that he might have to take him out as well. Apparently, the stony silence of this little puss-in-boots was causing unrest amongst the rest of the cats in the house. On a whim, I advised my friend to tell the man that perhaps the cat was into some type of Zen thing, and that what he was interpreting as a non-communicative nature was simply a state of deep meditation. The next time I heard anything about the situation, I was glad to find out that the man was extremely relieved and decided to give the poor little thing a chance to live after all. Scary, scary stuff. I’m not implying that I believe there is any sort of conspiracy going on over there, or any man on cat violence for that matter, but it seems that people with that number of kittens often prefer to keep to themselves. So I guess I might just give it a while before I walk the steps to the door of kitty heaven. Besides, I’ll be busy enough I’m sure, dealing with all of the cats that are walking the steps to mine.

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