In honor of what would’ve been my father’s 84th birthday, I’m publishing the infamous “cat rant” that prompted a viral response back when we argued with each other in newsprint, not online.
I had been searching online for the letter for years, but as I was putting together a scrapbook for my dad, I came across dozens of letters to the editor clippings. The cat letter, along with the responses it generated, was in the pile. I was ecstatic.
The funniest thing is that I thought the letter my dad wrote was much longer and talked about how the stray cats would hang on the back fence of our patio and intimidate people taking out the garbage or going to the laundry room. Maybe Dad’s original letter was longer, and was edited for space. But reading it now, and admittedly a huge cat lover myself, it doesn’t sound as bad as I remembered.
You can zoom in with your browser if you want to read the details. Basically Dad says he doesn’t like cats, that they don’t do anything good for anyone, and that cats are lazy, sensitive and jealous. He also laments being late to work because of a cat curled up under his car. He finishes the rant by saying that cats are an abomination. “I just can’t stand the little devils.”
But the responses are great! Who knew there were so many crazy cat ladies (and I use that term endearingly as I am one) in the Los Angeles area in the 1980s? And the fact that it prompted one of the newspaper’s columnists to write his own editorial response is fantastic. His criticism that readers get more outraged over someone who doesn’t like cats but ignore the wars taking place around the world still applies today.
The image of the mother cat and her kitten is included to show how my dad’s opinion on cats changed over the years. When he was working as a security guard at a trucking company, he met a stray cat that everyone called Bonita. The cat may not have been the most beautiful, but she touched my dad’s heart. When she became pregnant Dad made sure she had enough food to eat. Even after he no longer worked there, he’d stop by and leave her some canned food for her and the babies.
As Dad’s Alzheimer’s progressed, he would ask me how my cat “Missouri” was doing. (My cat’s name was Michigan.) So in the end, Dad turned out to like the “little devils” quite a bit.