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Black Cat's Luck May Be Running Out

October 28, 1998|PAULA PISANI

She once wooed the hearts of city employees. Now Shady, the official cat of City Hall, may be on the endangered list.

Valorie Morrison, chairwoman of the city's arts commission, is trying to persuade officials that City Hall is no place for a 14-year-old black cat.

"When you sit by a filthy, dirty litter box trying to carry on a meeting, it does seem a bit strange to me," Morrison said. "I would not allow that in my home."

Morrison, who is allergic to cats, said Shady does not belong at City Hall because the cat has fleas and her litter box is unsanitary.

"I'm so amazed," Morrison said. "We're a neat city and we have this thing."

Shady, a tailless cat whom employees said originally lived with a couple near City Hall, has called the city offices home for more than 11 years.

Tamah Figg, the city's code compliance manager, said Shady wandered into City Hall one day and never left. Now, Figg feeds Shady and takes her to the veterinarian.

The first cat to be licensed in Port Hueneme, her name tag lists Figg's phone number and City Hall's address.

City employees contribute to a kitty to feed the feline. A local veterinarian gives her free shots and exams and has placed her on a diet to help fight the thyroid problem that makes her gain weight. Shady also takes pills every day to control her thyroid condition.

Her drive to eat is matched only by her resolve to attend every City Council meeting.

"You can't have a meeting without Shady," said Mayor Jonathan Sharkey. "I sometimes wonder if she's not a reincarnated city manager."

Some city employees say Shady breaks up the tension that can sometimes build at those meetings.

Still, Morrison plans to bring up the subject at the Nov. 4 City Council meeting.

It's not that she is against cats, Morrison said. She just wonders if City Hall is any place for a cat.

"This cat has been there forever," Morrison said. "It claws up the furniture, and I say, 'Wow, why would we allow something like this to go on? If it goes on the carpeting, you never get rid of it.' "

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