Adding (or subtracting) cats from your story

More than one writer has resorted to adding a cat character to spice up a story. Well, if one cat is good, why not several hundred? Here is a (supposedly) true story that features all the cats you could ask for. True or not, the story offers great possibilities to someone who wants to write about weird events.

Poplar island in the Chesapeake Bay  a few miles south of the bridge(s) was once a small community, but eroded away to just a few acres over the years, before being restored with dredge material from the Baltimore shipping channel in a state and Corps of Engineers project. The ongoing operation is very impressive in its scope and in what is being learned about restoring eroded land with dredged material. After almost disappearing, Poplar Island is being restored and the shipping channels are being kept deep enough for commercial traffic up and down the bay.

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No place ever escapes its past, however, and Poplar Island is no exception. Stories abound about some of the peculiarities on the island in the old days. One such story involves a man in the 1800s who had an entrepreneurial spirit.

At the time, he noticed  there was a big demand for black cats in China. The Chinese were apparently making fur coats or similar products out of them and were paying good prices. Poplar Island was sparsely inhabited at the time, and the man started gathering black cats to ship to China. He paid a few cents for strays and found a local fisherman to supply him with fish parts to feed them. Soon, he had hundreds of cats on the island, and was ready to ship them off to China. Unfortunately for him, it was now October, and he thought it was too risky to depend on a sea voyage with winter coming on. Best to wait for spring and ship them off then, he thought.

Big mistake.

That winter was unusually cold, and the water between Poplar Island and the mainland froze over. Seeing their chance, the cats all crossed the ice and disappeared on the other side, leaving the cat tycoon penniless on an eroding island.

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So long, suckers!

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About johnreisinger

retired engineer and author of historical fiction and non fiction. My current book is Master Detective, the story of America's Sherlock Holmes and his involvement in the Lindbergh kidnapping investigation.
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