14 December 2007
For the past couple of years, several cats have made the courtyard outside Harkavy Hall their part-time residence. Residents chip in and buy cat food. A small cathouse, ostensibly a doghouse, was scrounged and provided them rudimentary shelter. Morris, who despite having a boy's name is definitely a girl, and Middie, another smaller, but wilder female, enjoy lap sitting. In warmer months they bask on the picnic table. They stalk the occasional mouse or chipmunk. Morris is an orange tabby who rarely vocalizes. Sometimes she appears with cuts or abrasions, probably from fights with other cats. Middie's coat is long and luxurious, and jet black. She is more of a diva, and requires more scratching and massaging if you expect her to remain in your lap. Morris enjoys the attention, but she is also content to curl up in your lap and snooze. Male cats like Psycho and Greycat visit less frequently, and tend to be more hand-shy than the females. Harkavy is a Tender Mercies building. All the residents are formerly homeless, and live with some sort of mental illness. The cats have been friends to people who don't have space or money to provide for a pet. And the cats' affection has been therapeutic for people who live with very little human affection. Money has been raised to gut and remodel Harkavy, which was once known as the Republic Hotel. In 2005, when flooring was being replaced, workmen found a 19th century coin between a floorboard and joist. There are neighborhood rumors that one of the Tender Mercies buildings might once have had hiding places or even tunnels to receive slaves escaping via the Underground Railroad. Who knows what artifacts might be stumbled upon during the renovation. The cats, however, cannot stay, nor will they be relocated. Most of the human residents of Harkavy Hall have been relocated to other Tender Mercies buildings over the last few months. But the Harkavy cats will either be picked up by the SPCA, or an animal control officer. Everybody hopes they are adopted; nobody wants to think about what happens if they aren't.
Posted by David Carney at 21:04