Preview of Coming Attractions
Over the next several months, I will be traveling across the country in search of cat stories, visiting innovative cat rescues and shelters, interviewing eccentric cat lovers, leading vets and behaviorists and so much more. To view my travel schedule and learn more about my Cat Behaviorist business, please visit http://www.thecatbehaviorist.com/ . If I will be in your area and you feel you have some interesting cat stories to share, please don't hesistate to contact me via my website.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Lafayette, Louisiana: Cajun Cats
Almost a mile off the 10 freeway, next to the power station sits the Roicy-Duhon Animal Control Shelter of Lafayette, Louisiana. As I pull up in my van on Friday afternoon, a black woman is ushering her children into a beat-up black Cadillac. “But Mama, they can get out—Mammma!”
The car peels out of the parking lot, disappearing down the road, leaving behind a box of kittens.
The kittens tip the box over and tumble out. The busy road is just meters away. I gather up the four fuzzy bodies, just weeks old and look for someone official. But the shelter seems to be closed. The posted hours are 1:30 to 5pm on Friday. I knock on the doors and walk around the building. It is 1:45 and no one is there.
I trundle the kittens into a cat carrier and we drive to the police station down the road.
“Hi! Animal Control was supposed to open at 1:30, but no one seems to be there. Do you know if there is someone I can call?”
The Louisiana State Troopers regard me coldly. “It’s a state holiday. The whole city is closed. Ain’t nobody gonna be there today.”
“Oh dear. I just drove all the way from New Orleans to pick up a cat. Is there anyone we can call?” It was a two and a half hour drive.
“Nope. Nobody will be there til Monday.”
“Surely someone is there at least to take care of the animals.”
The two officers look at each other and guffaw. “I doubt it. Soon as an animal comes in that building its put to sleep. There’s nothin’ there to take care of.”
Clearly these gentlemen are intent on not being helpful.
In the car, I call Lara from the Basha’s Fund/Doodlebug Manor rescue in Nashville. The night before, she had received a plea from the Roicy-Dunn Animal Control about a sweet Maine Coon cat whose euthanasia had been postponed three times in the hopes that he would be adopted. If he wasn’t picked up by Monday at 5pm, he would be put to sleep. Lara had asked me if I would provide transport for this guy (since I am more or less in the area.) If I brought him to Nashville, she would find him a home.
No where in the original email, or on their website did it mention that the shelter would be closed for Good Friday. Nor was it mentioned in the emails that had gone back and forth between Lara and the shelter that morning.
We decided that I would return to the shelter and wait until Lara was able to get ahold of someone. Although no one was answering the phones.
A rusty pickup truck followed me into the parking lot. The hoarse yowl of a scared cat resonated from the back of the truck. The door swung open, boots landed hard on the ground followed by a large brown wad of brown spit. A leathery red-neck in a trucker’s cap hoisted a cat trap out of the truck bed.
He dumped the whole thing on the hot pavement and returned to the truck.
“Sir!” I called out. “Is that a feral cat?”
“You know they’ll euthanize it if you leave it here.”
“Are you sure you can’t just let it live where you found it?”
“Looka here, I ain’t got any pets, but I got fleas. Get rid of these here cats hanging around my place, an’ I got rid of dem fleas.” With that he climbed into his truck and drove off.
I approached the trap. The cat inside looked up at me and yowled (not hissing, just crying.) As I brought my fingers close, she rubbed against the bars. I stroked her and she responded with affection. This was no feral.
I couldn’t leave her in the trap. It might be three days before an animal control officer would appear. She could die from dehydration and heat exposure. And even if an officer did come, her prognosis for survival still wasn’t good.
As soon as I opened the trap, she bounded into my arms, claws sheathed. She buried her head in my chest and purred.
I called Lara. “I better get out of this parking lot before anyone else shows up to dump a cat.”
“Don’t worry, Jenny Towle (of Loving Kittens Rescue) and I will help you place them.”
“This cat is so loving. She’s a tuxedo manx. Somebody will fall in love with her.”
Driving back to New Orleans, the freeway cut through miles and miles of swamp. True Cajun country. For the whole drive, this petit Cajun Manx stays snuggled in my arms and I am in danger of that person being me.
I stop at Petsmart to pick up flea treatments and all the appropriate kitten supplies. The hotel has already okayed having the cats in the room.
Looks like I’m a foster mom.