Tails of the City

Meow City,that is. The purrfect retirement community for senior cats.

Holding up an emaciated bundle of fur that looks like it's just been through shock treatment, LaTraille asks, "Do you wanna take this guy home with you? I didn't think so. People want kittens, they don't want the Sun City crowd. That's why I'm here."

Still, some skeptics insist that, in spite of good intentions, LaTraille is doing the cats a great disservice.

"I think the quality of life is more important than the quantity," says one observer who requests anonymity. "Obviously, not everyone agrees with that feeling, though. My concern is for the cats. A lot of us wonder what's going to happen out there if something were to happen to Greg."

Last November, everyone involved got a sneak preview of that scenario when LaTraille was involved in a serious car wreck that left him incapacitated for a month. "'Take care of the cats,'" LaTraille remembers telling his daughter when he finally regained consciousness in the hospital. Using medical and biographical information in LaTraille's cat files, volunteers were able to keep Meow City running smoothly until his recovery.

But would volunteers have continued making the long haul out to East Dynamite Road indefinitely? And if not, what do you do with more than 100 displaced cats?

In the past few weeks, the mayor of Meow City has been giving that subject a lot of thought himself. Trudy Hay's financial bequest, which funds Meow City, is almost depleted. And Hay's estate recently sold the Dynamite Road property that LaTraille and his cats have called home for the past decade.

Because the new owner is in no hurry to move in, LaTraille probably won't have to relocate his cat colony until early 1997. Still, he seems almost alarmingly optimistic about the daunting prospect of finding new digs for himself and ten dozen cats.

LaTraille says he's working on several relocation angles--a grown daughter has reportedly offered to help him buy some land--and laughs off the notion that he's finally earned a vacation.

"To tell the truth, I can't remember taking a vacation, even before I got involved with cats," he says. "I'm not a vacation person. I think the last one I took was right after WWII."

But some associates worry about LaTraille and wonder whether he is slowly straying into a "collector" mindset himself.

"Yeah, I've heard that before," says LaTraille, chuckling. "'The guy's got cats! He's gotta be nuts! Get the net!'

"I have a regular schedule, I have things to do and I get a reasonable amount of exercise," he explains. "It's a way of life, and it keeps me occupied. Usually when someone my age retires, they wind up having a coronary out there on the golf course.

"I'm not into that.

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