The World O' Crap Archive

Welcome to the Collected World O' Crap, a comprehensive library of posts from the original Salon Blog, and our successor site, (2006 to 2010).

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Monday, September 12, 2011

I Can Get You Backstage Passes To The Pyramid, I Know Bast Personally

I’ve had a lot of odd temp jobs in my time. I won’t bore you with the whole list (although the week I spent high atop a vacant-for-the night Time-Life building, busily taking notes from midnight to 5 AM while a slow-talking, hillbilly expert in criminal psychology drawled on about the habits of modern American cannibals perhaps merits a mention). Oddest though, was the 18 month period I spent being worshipped as a wrathful god by a tubby tortoiseshell cat.

I had moved back to California from New York City in order to look after my dad’s business while he recovered from a heart attack, and I found myself living on the exurban fringe of the Ojai Valley. After five years spent in various tenements in the East Village, I thought I was inured to vermin — rats, mice, roaches — but I soon discovered that these effete, Eastern varmints were nothing compared to their frontier counterparts. For just as the buffalo once thundered across the West, turning the vast prairie black with their numbers, so it was in Ojai with gophers.

My dad grew up on a ranch, and had fought the little subterranean terrorists to a standstill. But while he was convalescing, they infiltrated the untended acre of land surrounding the house like Al Qaeda flocking to Afghanistan. As a tenderfoot from the big city, I wasn’t overtly asked to trap them myself, then mush a team of dogs to the trading post and barter the gopher pelts for hardtack and gunpowder, but my parents’ disappointment was implicit.

A few weeks into the onslaught, however, I managed to subcontract the pest control. My stepmother was in the habit of reprimanding any cats she caught in the act of hunting, and shooing them away from their freshly killed bird, lizard, field mouse, or other grisly prey with a sharp smack on the haunch. But one morning I came around the house and discovered Sam, a chunky orange and black female — and the one cat who had never really warmed up to me – lazily shaking a gopher in her mouth. She froze when she saw me, evidently anticipating a rebuke, but I could not have been more effusive in my congratulations (well, I guess I could have, if I’d felt slightly less queasy). She warily permitted me to approach, and I stroked her back, and scratched her head to the point that she dropped the hirsuit corpse and stretched and purred and rolled belly up.

The next morning, as I departed for work, I found a severed gopher head sitting upright on the welcome mat. I gingerly kicked it into the bushes, glad that I was always the first one to leave the house, and vaguely wondering if I’d managed to offend a really wimpy Mafia capo. But I soon realized that the head wasn’t mere leftovers — it was an act of religious devotion. Because from that point on I would frequently find a gopher head waiting to greet me first thing in the morning, until the pile of decayed rodent skulls I’d furtively scuffed into the shrubs began to resemble the Bone Church of Kutna Hora. And it finally dawned on me that, lacking cash for the collection plate, Sam was leaving me a blood sacrifice. This was confirmed when I moved down to Los Angeles, and the rodent skull offerings abruptly ceased, although I suppose it’s possible that she simply failed to harvest the gopher heads in an ecologically sustainable fashion, and they became extinct in our yard.

I started thinking about this again after I got an email from Anntichrist S. Coulter, who has been working to help cats who have no choice but to live off the land, and would be grateful for a whole gopher head tossed away by some suburban dilettante. And it reminded me that not all stray cats are feral; some are just homeless.
BTW, the b&w pissy cat in the bottom picture was a very persecuted-feeling feral male (who lives in the holler behind our town’s recycling center), the solid-black male in the trap above him was also from the same holler, and had a very similar attitude, but the little solid-black kitty (also male) in the pet carrier was sooooooo sweet — even though he was totally feral, he was soooo sweet, he had the sweetest little voice, and he was AFFECTIONATE to me, even after I trapped him and moved him to the carrier — no hissing, no scratching, just a little “mew.”
When I took him back to the recycling center to set him free, he didn’t want to GO! He just sat in the back of the carrier and looked at me with those big gorgeous green-yellow eyes and mewed at me, like, “Why don’t you want me? Can I please go home with you?”
I’ve NEVER had a truly feral cat that LIKED ME, especially after I’ve had his nuts chopped off, and he was sooooos sweet, he even let me pet him and scratch him under his chin. From what I saw of his behavior, he was a domestic cat whom some asshole/irresponsible white-flight republicunt suburbanite nouveau-riche-white-trash Baton Rouge assholes who moved up here after Katrina just THREW AWAY like he was nothing more than GARBAGE. He had been born to human contact, that’s why he wasn’t afraid of me. Just broke my fucking heart. But then, most of them do, especially my baby Smudge.
Thanks to all of y’all who have helped me continue the feral cat work, even new people that I’ve never even met before, but especially to my long-time buds, many of whom are in similar financial straits as I am, but who never fail to help me when I’m pursuing a good cause.
Her purpose in writing, though, was to spread the word about Cat Haven, the rescue operation she works with.  And like any organization that tries to do some good in this world, they are chronically underfunded.  As Annti said in her email:
But most importantly…please pass on the URL for to all of your animal-loving friends! If it weren’t for Cathy (who, many times, is funding Cat Haven from her own paychecks!) and Cat Haven, I wouldn’t have been able to neuter ANY of these cats. THEY MAKE ALL OF THIS POSSIBLE. So please, even if you don’t have a dime to contribute, even if you can’t afford to donate to Cat Haven itself, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pass the URL and the word around about Cat Haven for me!
Here the link to help, if you can.  The page helpfully details what each dollar pays for, and even a small amount can save a life and prevent future misery, so I want to thank Annti for alerting me to the work being done by Cat Haven.  There are, of course, feral and abandoned animals all over (and not all of them are lucky enough to wind up in a shelter near s.z.’s house), but things are particularly bad in southern Louisiana in the wake of Katrina.

Just to get the ball rolling (and for purely selfish reasons), Mary, Riley and I have made a modest donation in memory of Hobbes.

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