Kay’s an 80 year old professional jazz musician, and probably the best person I know. Recently we were sitting at her kitchen table and she told me an interesting but deeply disturbing story. If you don’t like deeply disturbing stories, you might wanna skip this entry.
Kay has lived in her house for 55 years. When the kids left home, she converted part of it into two apartments, and rented them out. She told prospective tenants that these were smoke-free and pet-free apartments. At one point she has a lovely young woman living in the upstairs apartment and a pleasant young tech whiz in the downstairs apartment.
After a few weeks the upstairs tenant muses to Kay that she thinks maybe the downstairs tenant has a cat because she has been hearing odd cat-like noises. Kay asks the young man and he denies having a cat. The young woman, however, continues to suspect there is a cat downstairs, and even suggests that there’s something wrong with the cat because of the strange sounds she is hearing.
At Christmastime, the young man announces he is going away for a week, confesses to having a kitten, and asks Kay if she will feed it while he is gone. She agrees to do so, despite not wanting a cat in the house and having no fondness for cats herself. On the first night, her husband enters the apartment to feed the kitten, and then comes back out to fetch Kay.
“There is something wrong with the cat,” he says. They go back in together, and the kitten is crawling pathetically across the floor. Not being cat people, and unsure of how to take care of a sick cat, they fetch the upstairs tenant. She heats some milk for the kitten and tries to feed it. It doesn’t eat. They put it on a soft pad, and cover it with a towel to keep it warm. The next day, when they return, the kitten is dead.
The young man phones to see if his car has been towed from the street, and they tell him no, his car is fine, but sadly his kitten died. He seems neither surprised nor concerned. He returns a week or so later.
Even after the death of the kitten, the upstairs tenant continues to report strange and disturbing cat-like sounds coming from the downstairs apartment. Kay calls the Humane Society regarding the sounds, and they phone the young man, who says he was just giving his cat a flea bath. Satisfied with this explanation, the Humane Society closes the investigation. Eventually, the upstairs tenant moves out because of these ongoing, disturbing sounds.
Meanwhile, as the months go by, several strange occurrences come to Kay’s attention. Her brother-in-law finds a dead cat in the bushes in the front lawn. Her neighbour sees the young man putting a dead animal in the trunk of his car. Kay and her husband repeatedly hear a sound like someone banging on the pipes. Kay calls the police at one point, but nothing comes of it. The final straw is when Kay’s husband sees the young man, through the window of his apartment, running across the room holding a cat by the throat. Kay and her husband evict the young man the next day. When they go in to clean the apartment, they discover incredible quantities of cat fur everywhere, even clogging up the drains.
Some months later, there is a news report about hundreds of cats that have gone missing in the west end of Ottawa over the past year or so. People are beginning to suspect foul play. Kay calls the tv station anonymously and tells them she might be able to shed some light on their cat mystery. She tells them the whole story and gives them the young man’s new address.
The next day the police show up at Kay’s house to inform her they have arrested the young man. They followed him and saw him throwing a dead cat into the ravine behind his workplace. They figured he was responsible for the deaths of over 500 cats, which he had obtained by various means, mostly theft. He had even been running an ad in the paper offering pet-sitting services, and killed the cats he was paid to care for.
This was an intelligent, well-educated young man from a well-off family. His mother was a psychiatric nurse. He was tried and convicted, but Kay believes his family’s money helped him avoid serious punishment. She believes he paid a $20,000 fine to the Humane Society and served time in a psychiatric institution in Calgary. He is now president of a high tech firm in Calgary.
I told you it was disturbing. But a quick Google search reveals it's not that rare.
These things, disturbing as they are, make me feel so sane