You ever hear the old saying, “there’s nothing new under the sun”? Well, that would certainly seem to hold true for comedy writers lately. A few months ago, I regaled you with the tale of the Rabbit Lady, a woman who kept 160 (mostly dead) rabbits in her home. I mentioned at the time that it was a very funny concept, but her execution of the bit left something to be desired.
Now I open the St. Paul Pioneer Press to find this:
450 CATS CLEARED FROM HOME
By Kevin Harter
ST. CROIX FALLS, Wis. – Shielded by hazardous materials suits against the toxic combination of feces, ammonia from urine and decaying flesh, crews removed about 450 cats Friday from a home along the St. Croix River.
A gut-wrenching stench, something akin to raw sewage combined with rotting meat, carried by a westerly breeze, attracted a bald eagle and turkey vulture for closer looks.
Inside the two-story white clapboard home, the crews equipped with oxygen tanks and air filters made their way through a catacomb of debris, including garbage bags and barrels filled with dead cats, all of which were covered by several inches of cat feces.
St. Croix Falls Fire Capt. Jeff Gutzmer called his trips into the home “like going into hell.”
“The numbers. I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s beyond words, beyond description,” Gutzmer said of the dead and dying cats, and the waste they produced. “It’s almost impossible to believe anyone could live. It’s toxic.”
The home’s residents – an 86-year-old retired county health care nurse, her 47-year-old daughter and 52-year-old son-in-law – are expected to face felony charges, including animal abuse. The Polk County district attorney, working with investigators, could file charges as early as Monday. Meantime, the residents were staying at a local motel.
Cats living on the main floor of the house on South River Street appeared to be more domesticated than the ones on the second floor. Many of the hundreds of cats were believed to be diseased.
After three firefighters were bitten trying to round up some of the cats, the crew decided the safest, healthiest and most humane option would be to asphyxiate the remaining animals by pumping carbon monoxide into the house.
“The cats on the second floor were wild, feral cats, and we decided it was too risky,” said Police Chief Paul Lindholm.
Firefighters attached large hoses from the exhaust of the fire trucks to pump the carbon monoxide into the house – one of only six on the street.
Any cats found still alive were euthanized by injection.
Talk about stealing somebody else’s joke! What a copycat!
So these people must have heard about the Rabbit Lady, and decided to up the ante by about 300 dead cats. I fashion myself as something of a comedy writer, and I’d like to give these people my notes on their performance:
-Cats were probably a funnier choice than rabbits, like I mentioned in the Rabbit Lady post. They’re more cuddly, and the idea of a half-foot of decomposing, rotted cat flesh is comedic gold!
-I absolutely loved the concept of having levels of domestication separated by floors. When the upstairs is completely inhabited with deranged, bloodthirsty cats, you’ve got yourself a unique joke. Maybe next time you could keep a few dozen mountain cats in the attic?
-The bit where you killed the cats by pumping exhaust from a fire truck into the house was very clever. If there’s something funnier than horrible cat squalor, it’s cat suffocation.
-The quick mention of the bald eagle and vulture circling overhead got a laugh out of me. Perhaps you could have included a descriptive reference to the bald eagle absconding with a rotting cat husk? For an extra punch, reference the dead cat head falling off in mid-flight.
-The fact that all of this took place in Wisconsin was a nice touch, albeit a little predictable.