Over the years, Lane and I have had an assortment of all kinds of pets. I even had a woolly monkey, Andy, and a female mallard, Squeaky. Squeaky used to follow our collie, Tippy, around all day, even sleeping between his legs at night.

Years ago, I bought an old Victorian home built in 1886 on a US highway right in the middle of my hometown. Pretty rough neighborhood. When folks would ask me where I lived, I would say I was surrounded by churches. In front was the Church of Christ, on one side was the Primitive Baptist Church, on the other the Christian Science Church and out the back door was Church’s Fried Chicken.

Well, right next to Church’s Fried Chicken was Harvey’s Grocery Store so just walk out the back door when you needed to go to the store. Do you know how many times a day Lane sends me to the Pig, that is, during normal times? You could nourish your body and your soul in that one spot.

Well, not long after we moved in, a little black kitten with four white paws took up residence, so I named him “Billy White Shoes Johnson” after the famous Atlanta Falcons star. Billy was all the time getting in fights and coming home all beat up. One day, his right front paw was so chewed up my vet, Dr. Jesse P. Davis, had to amputate the thing. I told him, “Billy, if you don’t stop running around and fighting all night I’m going to have to start calling you Billy White Shoe Johnson.” Didn’t seem to faze Billy much, he could still run as fast but not stop as quickly.

We also had a lab, Jenny, and a little dog, Mary Elizabeth. If I had been a girl Mama was going to name me Mary Elizabeth after my aunt who never had any children. It looked to me like time was running out so that’s why I named the little dog Mary Elizabeth. At first I thought Aunt Mary Lib might be offended, but she seemed right tickled.

My favorite thing to do was to take Billy, Jenny and Mary Elizabeth to the Dairy Queen. All I had to do was yell, “Y’all want to go to the Dairy Queen?” and they would start running around and wagging their tails and in Mary Elizabeth’s case most likely pee on the floor.

Nowadays Lane and have pared down to two little rescue kittens, sisters Lisa, which is Spanish for Mullet, and Cleo which is short for Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, since she is of the famous Egyptian Abyssinian breed. Of course, Lane has spoiled them, but not me. I’m a stern disciplinarian; I crack the whip because as I am wont to say, “As the twig is bent so grows the tree.”

When we were doing some work on our house, we had a ladder leaning against the gutter and Lisa started climbing the ladder and sitting on her throne on the rooftop where she could look down upon her subjects. Her stairway to heaven, so to speak. So, after the construction the ladder came down and she kept climbing the palm tree to get on the roof but was never quite able to make it. So, our contractor, Eric Springer, a kindhearted gentleman, built Lisa her own ladder as a last project. Now, lo and behold, all the cats in the neighborhood climb up on the roof.

As Lane likes to say, “Our kitty cats won the lottery.” But what of those who didn’t, who cares for them? Cathy Buell, a kitty cat angel and leader of SGI Cat Allies, that’s who.

According to Cathy, “August 2014, friends Helen Gore, June Crawford and I “captured” (we were bloodied and battered, as we knew nothing about trapping) 14 abandoned cats at condo community, Saint George Island. We paid to have them spayed/neutered/vaccinated… But the condo manager refused our request to return them. Aug.-Oct. 2014, I built a “Catty Shack” (small barn) to house all 14 cats at my house in Apalachicola, while figuring out what to do next. Since that time, we have trapped/neutered/vaccinated/returned 1,030 Franklin County cats in the last five years, all at no cost to the county or to citizens. Dr. Hobson Fulmer has hosted five high-volume spay / neuter events, (totaling 500-plus surgeries) and Operation Spay Bay has helped us spay/neuter the remaining 500. Why? Because we were sick and tired of seeing so many injured/ill litters of kittens.

We do not introduce cats into the environment! Cats have been part of the outdoor landscape for 10,000 years, and were not brought inside until the 1940s, when kitty litter was invented. The prevalence of outdoor cats on farms and near shipping ports is because humans needed help controlling the rodent population, in grain silos and aboard ships. They require humans to survive, and do not invade/populate forests, wild habitat, or any place unoccupied by humans.

Humans have been “catching and killing” cats for 100 years… And it hasn’t worked. If cats are completely removed from a location, creating a vacuum effect, more cats will move in. A sterile, stable colony of cats will prevent other cats from moving in. TNR (trapped, neutered, returned) remains the only viable solution to reducing the outdoor cat population; a win for wildlife, cats and humans... whether you like cats or not.”

Like SGI Cat Allies, Inc. on Facebook with a “donate” button or send donations to:

SGI Cat Allies, Inc.

P.O. Box 903

Apalachicola, FL 32329

“Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40

Your friend,

Capt. Gill