There were 17 cats living in Larry’s basement. When we arrived at his house for dinner, I was not expecting that. One or two wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. But 17? That’s the kind of thing that gets you on those can’t-look-away shows on TLC or something. At least they were in the basement, and not upstairs in the main living area.
As we were passing dishes at the table and filing our plates, someone in the group, I didn’t remember her name, asked Larry about his feline companions. “Well, it’s a funny story,” he began. “I started out fostering shelter cats a few years ago, keeping them off of a literal death row until they could be placed in permanent homes. The cute, cuddly ones always go pretty easily. People have this idea of what they want in a cat, the typical cute small animal that snuggles on your lap and bats at feathers and meows at appropriate times.” The girl who had asked, Angela? Amanda?, was nodding. Apparently she was one of the cute-cat owners. “But I realized that some of the cats who weren’t as cute were getting left behind,” Larry continued. “They were the ones at the shelter in danger of euthanasia simply because they had been there the longest. Or they had the normal behavior issues that come with adjusting to a new home but their new owners didn’t give them the chances the cutesy cats were given. One “mistake” and they were back at the shelter. Being returned put them on the fast track to getting put down.” Antonia, that was her name I finally remembered, was nearly in tears. Larry went on. “I started taking the “less-than” cats on purpose, to give them more of a chance. Now all 17 have some kind of perceived flaw. I look for special people to adopt these special cats.”
The whole time he was talking, I couldn’t help but think about one thing, though. I finally had to ask. “Aren’t there laws that limit how many animals you can have in a residence though? How do you get around that?” A couple people chuckled and I also heard some murmurs of agreement. Antonia shot me a death glare.
“I had to get a permit from the city,” Larry explained. “I also invited them to come inspect the basement and see where the cats would be living. They were quite impressed, if I do say so myself.”