Reigning Cats and Dogs

 

One of the first places I went back to see again on this trip to Milwaukee was Black Cat Alley – a new discovery on my last visit. It looks pretty horrendous at the start, but once inside, there are treasures to be found:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I have written about this place before, but a new element has been added. As you leave the alley at the other end and turn the corner, you find yourself in front of the Sip Purr café.

        

It’s a combination coffeehouse and cat shelter with a side room full of seating and mostly/usually sleeping rescue cats. For an extra eight bucks (for the cats), you can go in there to drink your $6 lowfat frappamochaccinomacchiato (or whatever), but only if you have a reservation.

     

There were no time slots left for us, so we just watched through the windows as the 1:00 o’clock group went in. Two young women marched right up to a table currently occupied by two sleeping cats expecting . . . who knows what. The gray cat immediately took a clawed swipe at one of the intruders and then both cats got up to find new sleeping quarters. If we had felt any envy for these women, it quickly subsided. Still! – the idea of the café was a nice one, even if maybe not completely thought through. Those cats are nocturnal and will surely stay that way. Some of the humans, however, will adapt – especially the caffeinated ones – and become night-active too.

 

It’s not just the cats that direct human behavior here. Dogs are a constant presence in every trip to Milwaukee. My sister’s house is across from a park that seems to be a particular favorite of dogs who own people. They traipse by from left to right and from right to left and from morning to night, their servants in tow. The humans make sure that their leashes don’t drag on the ground and that their poop is picked up. They are well trained.

 

As I sit on the front porch, I watch these odd couples pass by. Big burly man with little foofy poodle. Fratboy with wiener dog. Gay couple with pitbull. Grandma with nervous greyhound. California couple with Husky. Fashion plate with sheepdog. Pony-tailed, baseball-capped working guy with Chihuahua and Pekingese. That last guy is my favorite. He’s been showing up faithfully for about 10 years. It’s comforting somehow, because as much as I like to see what is new each time I visit, some changes bother me. For instance, I was appalled when the nearest iconic Milwaukee bubbler was replaced by this green atrocity:

                     

But then I noticed the ground level spigot and realized that the designers and city planners were thinking about the dogs. Sure enough, as I was taking the picture above, a dog came by and his person obediently turned on the water for him. Suddenly, I figured I could get used to this new fountain.

                            

I meandered back to my sister’s house, passing the park benches and reading their dedications. (Local sponsors pay for the benches so each one has a memorial plaque for some lost loved one.) Here is the one closest to the dog bubbler:

 

Cat Pit Ululation

 

The same scene plays out over and over again. I go to the desk where my laptop sits and begin . . . watching the news, doing work or a translation, blogging . . . whatever. At some point Devil Cat leaps up onto the desk, often spilling my coffee or knocking objects off. I pick him up, put him on the ground. He leaps again. I remove him again. He leaps again, and this time he quickly prances across the laptop keyboard. Menacing messages appear on the screen such as “Shutting down . . .” or “Delete file?” or “Restore computer to factory settings?”

Sometimes things heat up and I just shove Devil Cat off the side of the desk, trusting that he will land on his feet. Sometimes he digs his claws in and pulls the table cloth along with him. Sometimes, as he is leaping, I block his landing spot on the desk, sending him sprawling.

This battle went on for years. And then . . .

I gave up.

 

Addendum: Oddly, it seems history does sort of repeat itself. It was during my last sick leave with a similar ailment that an altercation made me think my cat might be possessed by the devil . . .

 

Devil Cat Suffers a Series of (May I Say Long Expected and Well-Deserved?) Indignities

devilcat2

Rudely awakened. Stuffed into a carrying bag. Toted to the vet. Injected, prodded, shaved, cut, squeezed, smeared, injected again, force-fed and then stuffed back into the bag. Back at home, he first wandered around aimlessly in a drug-induced haze. Half of his face was gone. The last three times I checked he was sitting by his food bowl, just contemplating it.

Will this finally teach him to stop picking fights with the neighbor cats?