Palm Beach News

Cats in the Cradle Have the Silver Spoon

South Florida's most exclusive real estate is crawling with feral cats who have -- in a fashion that the children of a wealthy divorced couple might appreciate -- been playing one of their benefactors against the other. It's "PB Cats" versus "Island Cats of Palm Beach," both of whom would be the sole provider of sustenance to the cats.  PB Cats won the first round, convincing the town council to give it sanction and make it illegal for Island Cats to feed the felines. But this being Palm Beach, the Island Cats group filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of such a law. A third interest group, the non-lovers of cats just wanted this feud settled so that there weren't so many damned cats around. (This group may have been bankrolled by the powerful mouse lobby.)

If the lawsuit by Island Cats was an attempt at extorting the city to give it control of the feline-feeding program, then it worked. Because yesterday the council offered to let Island Cats have the program if only it would drop the Town of Palm Beach from its lawsuit. Island Cats has until 3:15 today to decide, as has been breathlessly reported by the Palm Beach Daily News.

Island Cats has also chased away its rival. The paper reports that last week the PB Cats resigned its feeding duties, after the group's executive director blamed "rogue feeders."

At last night's meeting, the foofaraw led to an extemporaneous speech by council president David Rosow that placed this issue in a global context.

"The sad thing is we have men and women in Afghanistan, we have them in Iraq, we've got pirates in Somalia," Rosow said.

"We've got people across the bridge who would love to have a can of cat food, because they have no money to buy food. This is an embarrassment for our town. ... Our residents laugh at us on a regular basis. People stop me on the street, at the clubs and at dinner and ask about 'the cats' and laugh and say, 'This is just the silliest thing in the world.'"

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Thomas Francis