catalogue of a categorically cataclysmic concatenation...
The Infinite Cat Project
is about one cat watching another. A long line of
1784 cats so far. The very first Infinaut
seen at left admiring a flower. He is the
owner of Paul Hamilton.
If you'd like to add
your own fuzzy friend to the Infinite
Queue you can find all the details here. Or
just take a picture of your kitty watching the kitty below and email it
to me. It's just that easy.
Infinaut, Cat #1784: Rubro
Dish O' Kute
"They call me....... Sassy."
April 17, 2014: "I love cats because
I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible
soul." - Jean Cocteau
Don't you wish YOUR cat greeted you like this?
First rule of hedge-hogs:
Don't sit on the hedge-hog.
not-so-crazy cat lady.
by Yvonne Abraham
You can call Joni Nelson crazy. You wouldn’t be the first.
She’s been called plenty of other things too, most of them
She can take it. She can give it back pretty good, too.
I don’t want you to think I’m a horrible person,” she
says apologetically, her voice worn low and gravel-rough by cigarettes. “I
have a filthy mouth.”
There are worse things in this world than cussing. One of them compels
Nelson to travel a darkened city every morning, while most of Boston
She’s a cat lady, a member of a small, rag-tag, passionately
committed, largely invisible and, yes, possibly unhinged, army of
men and women who tend to street cats all over Massachusetts. She
feeds and provides makeshift shelters for cats who have lost their
homes or never had one. She traps them so that they can get vaccinations
and flea treatments. She has them spayed and neutered so they’ll
Despised by some and misunderstood by many, Nelson and her comrades
are all that stand between a city’s cat colonies and world
It’s hard to say for sure how many feral cats are out there.
Mike Keiley, chief of cat programs for the Massachusetts Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, says it’s reasonable
to assume there’s one street cat for every six residents.
The MSPCA estimates there are more than 10,000 feral cats in Dorchester
and Roxbury alone.
They are housepets, and descendants of housepets, both lightly and
cruelly abandoned. It isn’t a grand humanitarian cause, taking
on human suffering or world peace or the lack of parking downtown.
But it is a good one, and it is Nelson’s.
And so there she was, working her tiny corner of the huge cat crisis
in the dark on a recent, frigid morning, bent over a giant bag of
dry cat food beside her idling car outside her Roslindale home.
She’s usually out here at 4 a.m., but she agreed to meet me
a little later, since it was a holiday, and there was no need to
rush to her job driving a Boston school bus.
She scooped dry food into cardboard trays, mixed in giant spoonfuls
of wet, and stacked the trays in the back of her red Hyundai.
This is the whole process, every darn morning,” she said,
except she didn’t say darn. She held up an extra-large can
At my age, I should be all excited about a cruise,” she said. “Now
I’m excited about this: A buck a can at Stop and Shop.”
She is 56 — “I’m 56, I look 96, and I feel 100.” She’s
been driving a school bus for more than 30 years. She started tending
to street cats 10 years ago, when she spotted a colony on a vacant
lot along her route.
After a short ride in her extremely fragrant car, we stood at the
lower end of that sloped lot in Dorchester, holding a few trays.
This is the one that started it all off,” she said proudly
of the nondescript patch. Cats appeared from the shadows, one by
one. “These are my babies. Hey, Momma! Hey, Slapper! There’s
Nelson estimates she has taken 176 cats off this street alone over
the last 10 years. She counts only seven cats here now. When she
first arrived, they were everywhere, eating from dumpsters, their
ribs hanging down. She took out cats that were ill, or were friendly
enough for adoption, and made sure to have others neutered so the
colony wouldn’t expand. She brings the neutered cats home
to her garage to recuperate before setting them free again. She
has kept some over the years. She refused to say how many, though
over the course of our conversations, she admitted to at least five.
Nelson visits with about 100 cats altogether, spread over 10 colonies
in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Roslindale. Some live in iffy locations.
At one point, we went behind a building into an alley where, a few
seconds later, eight cats came to greet us. Some of them seemed
friendly. Some were decidedly hissy.
This is the point at which I should confess that, although I live
with one, I am not a cat person. I am even less of a hang-around-in-dark-alleys-in-neighborhoods-where-bad-stuff-has-happened
I was starting to get the feeling I’ve had over the years
reporting stories in dangerous places — I’m remembering
an alley in Westerrn Pakistan after 9/11 — that, you know,
perhaps this wasn’t the smartest move. Nelson’s stories
weren’t helping: “My friend Claudia and I were trapping
one night and we heard ‘Pop, pop, pop,’ and she said ‘Get
down!’ and I said ‘I can’t, my knees!’”
Should we chat in the car?” I offered feebly, backing out
of the alley. But Nelson stayed put, talking to the cats. She did
not lower her voice. She is fearless.
A lot of residents don’t like her. They’re angry at
her for venturing onto their properties, for feeding cats they wish
would just go away. They don’t seem to realize she’s
also trying to make sure those cats stop breeding. When they yell
and swear at her, she yells and swears back.
She’s angry, too. She knows some of the people who live near
her colonies have turned cats out when they had no more use for
them. Some of the cats she feeds are friendly. She takes some to
the vet and finds they’re microchipped — former pets,
obviously. She’ll get a colony down to five one year, and
come back in the spring to find it growing exponentially again.
How can you walk out your door and ignore them?” she says. “These
people are abandoning cats. I didn’t put them here; you did.”
Nelson is getting tired. She has handed off a few of her colonies
to her friend Fred, who got into the feral cat tending business
six years ago, at Nelson’s urging, and now feeds and traps
in 23 places — “Without Fred, we’re dead,” Nelson
said. “I’d have to get up at 1 a.m.”
Trapping is hard work, and she can’t do it as often anymore.
And she can’t keep pouring money into food and veterinarians’ bills.
If I ever hit the lottery, I’d build a shelter,” she
said. “But it would be filled within the month, and I’d
have to build another.”
Sometimes she cries on the way to work, worrying about her babies,
and what might happen to them when she is gone. People donate blankets
and food sometimes to help her, but it’s never enough. There
are just too many cats.
Nelson is convinced the only way to end this is to stiffen penalties
for people who abandon cats, and launch a citywide education campaign.
She’s probably right.
In the meantime, the MSPCA is coming in to take the pressure off
her, at least for a little while. With a grant from PetSmart, they’re
working with an army of Nelsons from Charles River Alleycats to
trap and neuter at least half of the feral cats in Dorchester and
Roxbury over the next year.
When they’re done, they’ll return the cats to the streets
they know. The animals will still want feeding, and love. And it
looks like as long as she’s kicking, Nelson will be there
to give it to them. It’s not like she has any choice; this
is who she is.
As Nelson set down her last tray of food for the morning, the sky
lightened and turned pink. The city awoke. The cats, their bellies
full, scurried back to their hiding places. And Nelson headed home
to tend to her patients.
People say ‘God bless you,’” she said. “ I
don’t want God to bless me. I don’t want a special place
in heaven. I want this madness to stop. I want this suffering to
Kibble for Kitties
was alerted to a web site called freekibblekat.com by
Beloved Girlfriend. You go there, play a simple trivia game and the site
donates kibble to
needy animal shelters. It's free and you can play once a day, every day.
They obviously make a few bucks for themsleves but it's clear that the
majority of proceeds goes to the animals, so please stop in when you
PS, you can also totally
send some kitty vittles with just a click at theanimalrescuesite.com.
Just visit the site and press the big purple button. That's all there
is to it.
Oh, and if you're looking to save
some money on meds for your moggies how about a free 1800petmeds
Need a custom web
site that's attractive, fast-loading, Google-friendly and,
relatively-speaking, dirt cheap? Then see my friends at X-Site-D
Web Creation. Tell
'em Mike sent ya!
you're interested in placing a graphic link on your web site
back to the ICP, here's the very thing you're looking for.
link above and
help support the
"My Infinite Gratitude"
The following is
a relatively short yet very heartening list of those
who have contributed in
support of the Infinite Cat
of listing the names
in any intelligent way I decided to post them alphabetically.
It's not a perfect system, as those of you of Polish descent
get the shaft again <grin> but at least it helps me
keep the names straight.
In case you're wondering, names in white indicate donations
of $5 or less, while green notates donations
in excess of $10. The
lover who recently earned the prestigious "Quadruple Kittyhead"
for her generous and continuing support. (You know who you
are and I want to have your children.)
Adam, S. Adams, L. Aimone,
S. Almaguer, G. Ancell,
M. Axtell, A. Bachman,
D. Baker, O. Balaban, K. Berenson, H.
T. Blassingame, P. Blassingame,
A. Bolt, R. Bruner, J.
Bullas, A. Chiang, M. Cogen, D. Conlin, B. Coren,
M. Cracauer, D.Davis, M.
Dawson, J. Delton, T. Devrick, J. Diamond,
T. Dixon, C. Dofer, E. Dorfman,
B. Dutton, E. Fitzpatrick,
B. Fonteboa, E. Foss, B. Friesner, G. Garcia, M. Gordon,
A. Greeley, A. Gunn, J.
B. Harper, J. Hays, T.
D. Herbert, A. Hertz, M. Hester,
A. Hilbert, K. Hildebrandt, A.
Houser, V. Huston, , J.
Ikeda, B. Jones,
S. Jowett, P. Keachie, M. Knight, D.
W. Lee, M.
Lufkin, C. Lewis, K.
MacKenzie, M. Mcgann,
J. McGinnis, M. Mckercher,
S. Melhuish, T. Miles, D.
A. Neduha, A. Nelson, L. Nevins,
C. O'Brien, A. Ocean,
www.oldamericancentury.org, K. Orman, K.
Otto, Pinky & Bunny,
R. Owens, J. Pavlov, R. Perry, C. Phillips,
H. Pirani, C. Plant, R. Poletto, K. Pride, D.
Rakowski, R. Redman, R. Riitala, M. Ryan,
W. Ryngwelski, D. Sanders, M.
H. Sherwood-Taylor, J.
Sokel, S. Somero, M. Stabile, F. Street, J.P.
Thompson, D. Thoms, G. Toland, C. Ullrich,
J. van Luyt, A. Walls, J. Weisenfeld, K.
Welles, B. Wilkinson, J. Williams.
I thank you, the cats thank you, and my web host
The Infinite Cat Project
Presented by Mike Stanfill, Private Hand
©Mike Stanfill, 2014