Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cat Custody

When my first husband and I were going through a divorce, there were two things that he was adamant about keeping: the cat and the crock pot. I left one day while he was at work. I packed what I could in my car and left, knowing that I would never be returning to the marriage. I did, however, need to return to his home in order to obtain the rest of my belongings. We had arranged a date and time for me to do so when he ensured he would not be present. The other title I considered for this post was, "Dude! I already said you could keep the fucking crock pot!" He had called continuously in the time between my initial departure and my planned return for my possessions to request that I leave him the crock pot, don't take the crock pot, he needed the crock pot, even explaining why because it matched the dishes he was keeping too. I never said he couldn't keep the crock pot; I bought a new one later for only $14.99 at Fleet Farm.

Because they didn't sell cats at Fleet Farm,  I was unable to replace the pet. I took no issue with him retaining the cat, though. I will admit that she was an incredibly loving and attractive cat, but it was never my desire to bring a cat into our home in the first place, as I have severe allergies. The cat, which my former husband named Tommy after the Who's classic rock opera (despite her being female), had come to us while he was living in a group home due to a recent and severe suicide attempt. Based upon the severity of each resident's illness and current concerns over his or her safety, some of them were allowed to occasionally leave the location unaccompanied. One of the residents who was allowed to leave had made friends with a group of young males who lived in a nearby apartment. These weren't the most upstanding citizens for anyone in need of group home living to be associating himself with. After one particular visit with these young men, this resident returned to the group home with an adorable little kitten whose poor body had been covered in cigarette burns. Those employed at the group home determined the kitten could not stay there, but they certainly didn't desire to return the kitten to whence it came either. So, my husband asked if I we could take the cat. After seeing the poor kitten in such a condition, my pathos had been appealed to and I brought the kitten back to our duplex, where I lived with two dogs that my husband had also requested we bring home in an effort to save them. For all the saving he wanted to do of cats and dogs, he never made any genuine attempt to save our marriage. (This is a good thing, though, because divorcing him was the best decision I ever made regarding that man.)  

The last time a cat came into my life, it was me who determined I must save it. I was remarried five years ago. My current (and absolutely wonderful) husband and I purchased a home together three years ago. Shortly thereafter, a cat appeared in our backyard, and it stayed around for a couple of days. This cat was not nearly as cute as Tommy had been; he was pretty skanky looking, extremely thin, and had filthy gray hair that had matted together so badly in many areas that it could not be untangled, and later needed to be trimmed off. We determined we weren't going to feed the cat right away because we had no intentions of keeping it. Our initial goal was simply to find the rightful owner of this wandering creature. My husband went over to talk to the neighbors. When he asked if their cat had run away, the neighbor replied, "No; that's not our cat. Come with me, though, because you're not going to believe this shit." My husband then followed our neighbor to a nearby property. On this property there had been erected a small plywood shack; the entire neighborhood later came to recognize this building as "the cat shack." During this visit to the cat shack, my husband observed approximately thirty cats living on the property.  He also learned that the property had been purchased by an out of state man who was going to be evicted from his residence if he didn’t get rid of his overabundance of animals.  Therefore, he bought land local to us on which to house said animals.  He still lived in another state, and traveled to his shack about once a week to care for the animals.  When my husband later relayed this information to me, he added, “I had heard a generator running on that property while walking pass it before, but I just thought there was something normal going on back there … like a meth lab.  I never imagined there was a damn cat shack. That’s crazy, Angela.” 

Once I learned where the runaway on our back porch had come from, I determined it must be saved.  I started feeding the cat, cleaned him up, and made my husband take him to the veterinarian.  To this day, my husband will still occasionally mumble, “One hundred and forty dollars. One hundred and forty dollars that you made me spend on that fucking cat.”  The cat was clearly happy, though.  He started to gain weight and enjoyed playing in the yard with our miniature daschund.  We named the cat “RC,” which was short for “random cat.”  Often, you could hear RC fighting with other cats in the middle of the night.  If one were to interpret his screeching and howling, I imagine he was saying, “Bitch, get out of my yard.  This is my gig now.  I found these good people first.  You get your ass back to the shack, and don’t you come around anymore.” 

On one of his visits to care for the cats, “crazy cat man” (the name also used by the whole of the neighborhood) was seen wandering up and down the road, crouching down in his Carharrt overalls (no shirt), and calling out for his cats – “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.”  My husband took a photo of him so that he could show others what a mountain man appearance crazy cat man possessed.  When someone once asked how my spouse was able to take this image without cat man’s knowledge, he explained how he covered the flash with his finger and hid behind our hibiscus.

My brother once said to me, “Why didn’t you show me that picture first? I wouldn’t have gone back there if I had known that man looked that fucking crazy.”  This comment came following my brother’s own and only visit to the cat shack.  He was over at the house one night, and said he kind of wanted to check the property out after all he heard about it.  It was a popular topic where we lived as the number of cats on the property began to grow, and thus the stench also grew, and more feral cats were to be found appearing in all of our backyards.  The most recent agenda for our township include the following item: “#4. Cat Shack Situation.”  Due to his growing curiosity, my brother decided to see things for himself.  Before he left, I warned him, “Please don’t go back there if you hear the generator running.  That means he’s on the property right now, and I think he’s dangerous.” 

Not long after he left, the sliding door flew open and my brother came abruptly runnning in, failing to close the door behind him.  With his hands resting upon his knees, crouching down and gasping for breath after dashing promptly home, my brother declared, “Oh shit. Oh shit, Angela. I’m never fucking going back there. It’s fucking horrifying.  Holy shit.” After fully gaining his breath, my brother provided me with some details, and showed me the images he had captured on his cell phone.  To begin, there was now a sign located on the property that read, “If you have a problem with me – call #$% - *&%! – NOT THE SHERIFF!!!!”  The shack was also now larger, with tunnels running out of it. The words “COWARD,” “PUNK,” and “FUCK” were now spray-painted on the side of the shack.  My brother showed me the picture of this that he had captured right before falling into a tiger trap.  He was taking these images when he fell into the ground, barely managing to catch himself by his elbows and prop himself to avoid falling all the way to the bottom of a seven foot hole that had been covered with a thin piece of Styrofoam and camouflaged over with dirt and leaves.   

We went out of town the following weekend to visit with some friends. Upon our return home, RC could not be located.  My mother said, “Oh, that cat probably just ran away. They get real horny this time of year."  There is no doubt in my mind, however, that crazy cat man had been on our property to reclaim the cat that had abandoned him and chosen us.  

RC hasn’t been back since, nor have any other random cats desiring a different living situation.  Crazy cat man isn’t around either as he has now been institutionalized following a court case.  He believed the other neighbors were killing his cats, so he decided to fire shots after calling one neighbor a “fucking pervert,” among other verbal attacks.  He was arrested for felon in possession of a firearm. When this story ran in the local paper, it reported that he denied having more than four cats on his property.  The media also reported that crazy cat man would be representing himself in court, as he had “dealt with lawyers before and they usually called me names.”  Eventually, over one hundred cats were removed from the property.  For a while, there was a “buy one cat, get one free” sale at the local humane society.  I didn’t save any cats that time, and you can’t make this shit up.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a crazy story. That sounds like something that would happen in my town!