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John Howell Column

John Howell Sr.

Attrition, neutering fail to keep ahead of reproduction rates.

We put old Scratchy down last trip to New Orleans. Scratchy was the name that stuck to one of two feral damncats that relocated from two doors down to our house Laurel Street when we first moved there 11 years ago. Rosemary named the other one Splotchy.

Scratchy and Splotchy. They lived on our front porch. Their place on that front porch was all they really ever asked for besides food. A dog or dogs got inside the fenced yard one night last winter, found Splotchy and mauled her so bad Rosemary called the humane society to come put her down. She had become deaf in her old and and never heard the threatening approach.

Not that there is any shortage of damncats on Laurel Street. Or at Annie-Glenn’s Bed and Breakfast, for that matter. Attrition and neutering has failed to keep pace with damncat proliferation in either location.

The same week that old Scratchy left us, Rosemary was able to grab the biggest-bulging of the Laurel Street damncats and cram her into a pet carrier to await what in terms of the human gestation calendar could only be decried as a late-term abortion. But the only decrying done was Rosemary’s when she looked out on the back porch the next morning to see the still-bulging mother-to-be strolling by the door. Once inside the pet carrier, that damncat had clawed and worried the door, exploiting a small crack in the carrier bottom near the place where the — oh, well, the damncat escaped leaving me to feel foolish for having known about the small crack and discounting the damncat’s ability to exploit it.

Yet we don’t have any problems with rats. I keep telling myself in a poor attempt at rationalizing purchases of damncat food in 18-pound sacks, sometimes two at a time.

And roaches. There are a couple of tame inside damncats whose home we share. Lulu and Stella from Pope love to kill the big roaches that find their way inside our house. These are big, New Orleans roaches — natives call them palmetto bugs to keep from overly alarming tourists. They are wide, long and flat enough to walk under the closed front door when rainy weather outside makes them want to share our digs.

That’s when they encounter damncats Lulu or Stella from Pope, both of whom treat the uninvited guests like they would a small mouse. They’re about the same size.

We’ll hear commotion in the middle of the night. When we get up to investigate we’ll meet a departing damncat and find the dead roach left behind.

Cooler, drier weather forecast for next week will quieten that activity none to soon.