"Australian cat expert David Boughey reports that a feral cat will readily eat another animal -- lizards, birds, snakes, possums and frogs are among the prey -- that weighs as much as the cat itself. These frisky felines also carry and transmit deadly diseases that can kill both livestock and humans. A British Field Sports Society document allows that in England, domestic cats kill 75 million birds and 135 million mammals annually. 'Though they take less than 30 seconds to pursue their quarry,' writes journalist Rupert Mostyn, 'they can take up to 30 nauseating minutes toying with their long-suffering prey ... cats do their daily damndest in such a slow, seemingly sadistic manner that they have been selected as the model animal for studies of aggressive predatory behaviour.' "
But before you hop in the pickup, crank up the Skynyrd, and roar around Golden Gate Park with a spotlight, shooting up the bushes like a drunken hillbilly, you should know a few facts. First, there is no money in free-lance cat poaching, and little meat to speak of. And second, if you do bag one and envision stuffing the sucker as a nice addition to the den, you're going to have to commute to get it done.
"Most places won't mess with house cats," according to a representative from Wilderness Taxidermy of Fremont, which will stuff a cat for pay. "People get weird. They get too emotional."
There is another impediment to immortalizing a cat -- cost. Stuffing an average-size house cat will set you back a whopping $750. The process takes an unusually long time -- four to six months -- because no conventional plastic taxidermy statues are made in the size and shape of a cat. A cat carcass must, therefore, be freeze-dried to retain the skeletal structure.
Preparation is a key to proper cat-stuffing.
"If the cat's already dead," continues the taxidermist, "don't just put it in the shade, or in the refrigerator. Put it in a trash bag right away, and put it in the freezer. It'll stay for weeks."
If assassination and taxidermy sound like a lot of hassle, you're probably better off following the accepted civic procedure for dealing with unwanted cats.
"A lot of people who have a koi pond or a garden area don't like cats coming in there and using their yards for bathrooms," says Carl Friedman of the San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control. "People have the right to humanely trap any wild cats or any animals that come into their yard on their personal property."
Humane, food-bait traps are readily available, and once the cage door shuts and the cat's in the bag, as it were, you should take the beast down to the Care and Control office at 15th and Harrison streets. Most feral cat colonies are cared for by volunteer caregivers, according to Friedman, many of whom notch the ears of the cats to aid in identification. If a caregiver doesn't claim a stray within three days, though, the animal is either put up for adoption or euthanized with a shot of sodium phenobarbital.
"It's very swift," says Friedman. "When it's done right, the animal feels no pain at all."
Sign of the Times
One of the Tenderloin's Muni bus stop ads for S.F. State features a big face of Willie Brown with the slogan, "If I hadn't started at State, I wouldn't be running the city." An enterprising artist has thoughtfully given the mayor a gender-bending graffiti makeover -- Edie Sedgwick eyelashes, bloodshot eyeballs, bright red lipstick, and the touch of detail, a smudge of lipstick on the teeth.
Catheters at Midnight
Last weekend's premiere of the film Virtue at the Roxie -- a sci-fi virtual reality movie about a girl hunting for a computer chip to replace her husband, who died from autoerotic asphyxiation while in the bed next to her -- was prefaced by the film's director (who goes by the name Camera Obscura) receiving honorary membership in the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and followed by a performance artist named Jade pouring gallons of milk all over her naked body. It's a midnight show -- you've got to keep folks entertained. The movie itself reportedly took seven years to complete, and is extremely well-photographed. Highlights include Jello Biafra as a game show host, Arturo Galster as a drag Patsy Cline, witty computer lecturer Clifford Stoll, and several harsh, quick shots of genital surgery. I know what you're thinking: It's about time somebody put all of these elements in the same movie, but it actually all works.
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By Jack Boulware