CSI
Cats in the Cradle

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This is why spaying is a good idea

The show starts off much like my mornings do, with a cat shrieking in outrage at close range. We hear the cat before we see it -- at first, we see the Vegas skyline, then quickly telescope to a shot of the asphalt on a quiet, tree-lined street. Yes, you read that right -- a quiet, tree-lined street in Las Vegas. There's a privet hedge or two, and an impressive quantity of leafy, deciduous trees. Perhaps some quaint British village lost its climate in a bet to Las Vegas. That would go a long way toward explaining the landscape.

Anyhoo -- Pissed Off Cat In G-minor persists as the camera swoops ominously past the ivy-covered picket fences, moves into a backyard choked with greenery, trots up the stairs, and goes through a kitty door. Yes, we're seeing things from the cat's perspective. In that case, they should also be slightly blurry and tinted pastel. Anyway, the cat enters the house, meows loudly, and canters toward the living room, where several other feline silhouettes are slithering in and out of view. We hear different cats all making plaintive, hungry cries. Then the camera moves up for an aerial shot, the better to see a human body completely surrounded by cats. The cats commence eating. The background music goes into standard aren't-you-disturbed-yet mode, with lots of discordant strings meant to make us feel all unsettled. However, as I view these cats munching on assorted parts of this poor old woman's body, I'm not really horrified, in part because I'm not surprised. Should I die unexpectedly, my cats would begin eating me immediately. Hell, I take a nap and they're biting experimentally, just in case.

Cut to Buzz exiting the house. He'll undoubtedly lend the crime scene gravitas and empathy -- God knows I can't. Buzz greets Catherine and Gil at the sidewalk with, "Welcome to the Wild Kingdom." So much for the gravitas. We learn that the victim is one Ruth Elliott, eighty years old, and she had at least twenty cats. Buzz tells us that Animal Control is rounding up the cats now, and we see a hazmat-suited figure lifting one cat cage from a stack of four; its occupant doesn't sound happy. Oh, like that's a surprise. Catherine wants to know who called Ruth's death in; Buzz tells her that the mail was piling up, so the mailman looked in the window and called 911. Then he broke out his video camera and promptly sold the footage to Fox's When Animals Attack IV: Dinner Time! How sad that the mailman was the first to notice this woman missing, especially since her neighbors -- a tense-looking woman standing on the sidewalk, and a mother watching the scene with her two little girls from her picture-window seat across the street -- seem to be more than peripherally aware of her existence. The expository portion of this bumper over, Buzz cautions Catherine and Gil to take a deep breath before heading inside. As the dynamic duo heads toward the door, they pass an animal control officer coming out with two more caged cats. Predictably, the cats don't sound happy. My cats, incidentally, are beginning to look askance at the television as well. "Don't get any funny ideas," I tell them.

As Catherine and Gil enter the apartment, a cat mournfully wails in the background. Catherine's eyes go wide and she chokes, "Oh, God. I didn't think anything could mask a decomp." Then she's never changed a cat box. I kid! But there was the case of the cat woman last year in my neck of the woods: Marilyn Barletta of Petaluma, California kept more than 150 cats in a house last year, and police reported from the scene that the cats' collective excrement had warped the floor to the point of soaking into the sheetrock below. And that's not all -- the details were really quite grisly, but the most startling thing I remember seeing is the photo of one of the half-wild cats leaping out of the wall (yes, they had managed to insinuate themselves in the spaces between the walls) and toward an animal control officer. And then -- get this -- mere months later, Barletta was hoarding cats again. The smell's usually what tips people off to cat stashes.

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