Ink Soup: CATS ON GRASS, ALAS
by Clarence Brown
American Reporter Correspondent
SEATTLE, Wash. -- My cat Huck put on an amazing show for all of us this = morning, tearing about the place as if he meant to commemorate thepassing o= f Dale Earnhardt by crashing through every load-bearing wall insight. My n= iece Julie, here on a visit, assured me that he was only highon cat grass, = the stuff that I innocently bought for him, thinking itmerely a healthful s= upplement to his diet.
She is a registered nurse, qualified in psychiatric care, andtherefore p= resumably a guide to the behavior of demented felines, aswell. When we wen= t shopping, we bought a pot of something we'd never gotbefore. It looked l= ike a mammoth divot from some ill-maintained golfcourse. The clerk told us= it was called "wheat grass" and that mostpeople buy it for their cats. "T= hough you can turn it into juice," saidhe, with the expression of a man who= seriously doubts the sanity ofanyone who would juice wheat grass.
"And what do you do with the juice?" I asked. "Sir," he said, "the s= tore takes no interest in what our patrons do with food products in the pri= vacy of their own bedrooms." He is my kind of grocery clerk. What othe= r food products had he in mind? Never mind, I do not want to know.
I = was cleaning up the patio (my name for the slab of concrete thatruns beneat= h the deck) this morning when I saw a neighbor, VirginiaFillion, in her ya= rd. It is a sure sign of Spring when you begin to talkto the neighbors aga= in. The first thing Virginia said was, "Well, theearthquake must have give= n you a great topic for a column!"
"Virginia," said I, "that was weeks ag= o. My readers demand something new. I'm now into wheat grass."
She looked at me in alarm. "You don't juice it...? Never mind. Mylips= are sealed."
Grass or no, Huck is the unhappiest of cats. He walks about yowling. We= cannot, however, let him out while Lion, the local feral cat, is outthere = to inflict mortal damage on him. We can no longer afford therepairs. Whea= t grass seems to be the answer. But I also cannot enjoyhaving this miserabl= e animal, serene though he occasionally is when thegrass is working.
The other day I called the Small Animal Control people, whose office is = just down the road from here. Officer Williams took my name and listened w= ith professional sympathy to my story. We cannot help unless there has bee= n property damage, she said. How does $1,000 for an eye operation sound? = I asked. That is property damage, she said.
As luck would have it, my grandson Ben was here when Officer Williams ar= rived with her trap.
"Cool!" said Ben.
"Sign here," said Officer Williams.
Ben helped me set up the trap, which is not all that complicated. After = a while, though, Ben said, "Papa. Don't test it again. It works."
I did= not. I put the open can of Figaro at the far end and then set the trap on= the patio a few yards from the screen on which we now meet.
I am not sur= e whether I want to trap Lion or not. I want him gone,but to what fate? E= uthanasia? Or worse, adoption by some slave masterwho would put him to wor= k growing wheat grass and then peddling it tounscrupulous supermarkets who = would flog it to well-meaning consumers asa health food about which they wi= shed to know nothing once it had goneout of the parking lot?
Clarence = Brown is a cartoonist, writer, and Professor Emeritus ofComparative Literat= ure at Princeton University.