Thursday, December 01, 2005


For the past two months I have been a participant observer in the Armenian Orthodox Monastery of St. James, where besides the religious and lay community, there is a large cat population. When I first arrived, there were a few large cats in evidence, and a few furtive kittens. But what really struck me was seeing the latter scurry behind the flower pots near my neighbors' apartment.

At first I thought the neighbors had taken to growing forks along with the plants. But when I asked about the mysterious implants, I was told that they have been put there to keep the kittens from sitting on the warm soil and using the pots as little litter boxes. It's pretty amazing that the same forks are still there two months later, which speaks to the creative use and longevity of plastic products.

As concerns the cats, I have watched their numbers grow, with one feline regiment at the ready in the early morning next to the garbage dumpster, looking for tender morsels of leftovers to fill their tummies. A reconnaissance detail hangs around the priests' dining room side entrance to check out what's on today's menu. And another detail goes around the monastery compound spreading the word, it seems.

In the main, they are not domesticated felines. They do appear to have interbred and their offspring have very interesting markings, as evidence of their lineage.

Recently, I learned that the cat population was being relocated to Tantur, where they will be able to roam freely, and multiply to their heart's content. Their proliferation within the Monastery has ebbed significantly, at least until the next mating season.


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December 04, 2005 12:34 PM  

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