Sophisticated Pets: Feline Edition
Written By Carrie Edelstein
Photography By Alise O’Brien
Our regular pet “repawters” Tanner and Rory have been searching the town for a “purrfect” assistant. Someone willing to represent the feline world with unbiased eyes toward strays, ferals, purebreds and pedigrees. The courteous canines are pleased to step aside this issue and introduce Houdini Strauss, cat reporter at large. Houdini is the son of Mary Strauss of The Fabulous Fox Theatre. His biological brother (aka his litter mate), Ernie, likes to “nose around,” and chose to join Houdini and his “mom” for our debut photo shoot in their Central West End home.
The pair were adopted four years ago from Animal House Cat Rescue and Adoption Center when they were just kittens.
“Mary Strauss is a fantastic cat lover, and that is what originally brought us together,” says Brandyn Jones, founder and executive director of Animal House. “Mary has been a long-time supporter of our efforts to make a better life for stray/abandoned/homeless cats in our region. It is my great pleasure to visit with Mary and the kitties from time to time and the love they share is wonderful to witness.”
As mentioned, Mary has always been partial to cats, and decided to adopt Ernie and Houdini at the time after just having said goodbye to another beloved pet. Fast forward to present day; in addition to these two “babies” (her human sons are all grown up), Mary takes care of six feral cats. The outside pets run around during the day and come back at night to her back porch where a “cat house” is permanently set up for bedtime. Mary leaves them an ample supply of wet food (the “good stuff”) and an endless supply of fresh water. Perhaps so they don’t fall victim to seasonal affective disorder, they are greeted with a real palm tree in the cold winter months so they can “feel tropical” while sunbathing under the fixed heat lamp which blasts out warm rays. The admittedly spoiled cats (there’s a plaque outside that makes this declaration) are called Piggy, Trixie, Spot, Hissy and as Mary says, “I’ve had so many cats I don’t even remember the names of them anymore.” One thing is for sure; they all know who Mary is because they come back every night and often are accompanied by the neighborhood strays! And when there are too many cats in the nook, some go around to the side of the house where there’s more food available for anyone who might have missed a meal.
Houdini and Ernie are perfectly happy watching from inside where they have the run of their home. Favorite hangouts include on top of the refrigerator, desk tops where they rummage through paper work, and behind the curtains. “When Houdini was a kitten he would go behind the curtain and take his collar off and come out. All of a sudden he’d be out of the collar,” and that’s how Mary says he got his magical name. Brother Ernie was “sort of” named for his mom’s late friend, Ernest Trova.
Both of the cats fetch and enjoy visiting with guests. Mary smiles and says, “They’re so sweet and they’re very friendly. Some cats run away when they see people and they hide.”
Their sweet nature could be genetic, but we think it’s likely from their amazing mom. Jones adds, “Animal House was a fledgling group when Mary came into our lives. Her belief in AH meant the world to us then, as it does now. The impact of Mary’s friendship has been profound, and is directly responsible for saving the lives of countless vulnerable cats and kittens suffering in our streets, offering them a bright future as part of a loving lifelong family.”
Jones adds this is the time of year the homeless kitten population starts to “explode.” AH houses 200 or more cats at any given time. They hope more cat lovers like Mary come through and help give these animals “furever” homes.