Jan 302014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that an Allan Katz would be fond of four-legged cats.

Allan, the co-author of this column, is host to three inside cats who never leave his house and as many as six orange feral cats who mostly reside in his backyard. The ferals never enter the house. Allan provides food, water and litter boxes inside and outside. It’s a pleasant arrangement except when New Orleans gets one of our rare winter freezes that give weathercasters reason to remind us to bring pets inside.

But Allan’s outside cats are very wary of coming inside. Knowing this, Danae, his partner, back in 2007 when Allan rebuilt his Lakeview home that backs into the 17th Street Canal, had a carpenter build “Allan’s Cat House,” a roomy, suburban-type layout that can accommodate six cats curling up with one another on a collection of blankets and towels.

Having read all the books on cat life and having friends at the Louisiana SPCA, Allan had the SPCA’s Cat Lady trap the orange cats in the backyard colony. They were spayed and given their shot and returned to Allan’s backyard. Back then, Allan was surprised to find possums and raccoons lining up in his backyard to raid the cat’s food bowls. This went on for a while until a naturalist who works for Spaymart – another excellent non-profit that caters to cats – told Allan that possums and raccoons can climb but they can’t jump while a cat can jump as high as seven feet from a standing start. Who knew? So Allan put the cat food on a raised table and the possums and raccoons lost interest in his backyard.

In any event, as it became clear that New Orleans was in for a miserable freeze this winter, Allan filled the “Cat House” with blankets and towels. As the temperatures fell, the orange cats who ordinarily pay no attention to the “Cat House” began to investigate it. First, one brave cat entered the “Cat House” and curled up atop the blankets and towels. Then, a second brave cat dared to enter the “Cat House,” and, lo and behold, curled up next to the first cat sharing the warmth and soon drifting off to a comfortable nap.

On seeing this, cats 3, 4, 5 and 6 also got up their nerve and carefully made their way into the “Cat House.” Soon, at any given moment during the freeze there were one to six cats finding refuge from the cold in the “Cat House.” To put it another way, there were a lot of “cat naps” in the “Cat House.”

The moral of the story is that under some circumstances, Dog Houses also make excellent Cat Houses.

Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board, and Columbus is working on the campaigns of Stacy Head, Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, Charles Foti and Jared Brossett. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and council candidate Dana Kaplan.

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  • best_in_show

    Most people with cats, including me, refer to the their furry tikes as, “the little fool” or “my idiot cat”. Actually, we can only call them “our
    cats” or “my cat” if we began by picking them up from a cardboard
    box at the beginning of their lives. Any other relationship is the other way around. We become the property of the cat.
    Take…er, my cat…please.
    He knows I provide loving comfort for him during extreme weather;
    a clean litter box, food, water, etc. But noooooooo, he prefers to give me anxiety fits by disappearing God knows where when ice and rain and snow approach. The more extreme the better, according to him! He completely absented himself for three full days during the worst of the recent cold weather, only to bounce himself up on the porch as I was going out to do errands. No explanation, no apology, no sheepish grin, just a “Well, here I AM.”
    The little fool.

  • uptown_rooster

    Feral cats belong in the same category as Formosan termites, cockroaches and rats… a destructive and/or disease carrying nuisance. I’m glad Mr. Katz is comfortable with the very real public health threat these animals pose.

    http://joomla.wildlife.org/documents/cats_toxo.pdf

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/17/feral-cats-colonies-rabies-risk/2665359/

    And then there’s the destructive impact feral cats have on our native wildlife. A single feral cat may kill upwards of 100 native birds and mammals each year.

    http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/nonnatives/mammals/feral-cats/

    Are we really doing the “right” thing by sustaining feral cat populations?

    • Angie Peckham

      You’d be surprised how quickly feral cat colonies naturally shrink when properly managed. Mr. Katz did EXACTLY the right thing in getting these cats spayed and neutered. The sort of unfortunate prejudice displayed in your post is what we in animal rescue fight against every day. Please do some more research.
      These cats are fed. They aren’t out hunting birds. They’re fixed. They aren’t procreating. They’re retired, and they are lucky enough to have someone who cares for them.

    • Romulus

      Rooster: yes. Thanks for asking.

  • Owen Joyner

    Big election in two days and we get a shelia stroup pet story ?