Along the beach there live cats. Hundreds, maybe thousands of stray cats. Abandoned cats that bred and breed. Black ones, white ones, tiger stripes, patch-work, ginger, tabby, siamese, persian, sleek, fat, old, young, long haired and practically bald ones. They hide in the brush of the dunes when its hot , and when at around five in the afternoon the cat ladies arrive with their bags of food, they appear. Dozens of them curling around lonely old ladies with plastic shopping bags filled with cans and dry cat food. Each tends her own herd and some can become quite proprietary, like catty, when anyone else tries feeding their felines.
Kiki and Leila and I have become such cat ladies. Several times a week we visit our own gaggle that congregate near the beach entrance at Collins Park. We’ve counted over 24 of them. We have a favorite. Leila calls her Claire, since she’s perfectly white and quite girlie. She’s our cat. She comes when we arrive and sits with us and lets the girls stroke her. We bring her a can of soft meaty food while the other twenty something get dry stuff that K and L carefully distribute into several neat and even piles.
“Can we have Claire, Mommy?” They ask each time. And every time I have to say, no, this cat wont like our candyland bachelor pad. She likes being outside with her friends. She’ll claw her way through all DJ Tiesto’s furniture. We’ll lose our small-fortune deposit….
And then there are tears – the tears of disappointment at the crushed fantasy of having Claire at home, snuggling on their bed, playing with catnip toys, purring on their lap while watching TV.
No, No, No, I don’t want another cat. I love cats. I love Claire too. But I do not want another cat. No more bags of litter, and changing trays. No more white hair on every black dress that I own. No, No, No.
We are, and will remain, Miami Beach cat ladies…