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People & Pets

Black cat fever

10/4/2017

Not a crazy cat lady

Jessica Greenwell and her cat Luna, whose nickname is Kitty Soft Paws.

Black cats are the source of several myths and legends. As the spookiest holiday of the year approaches, the stigma surrounding the darker variety of felines becomes even more nefarious.

Cat and all-around animal lover Jessica Greenwell doesn’t subscribe to any of the black cat-related conspiracy theories.

“I think they’re good luck,” Greenwell says. “They just get a bad rap.”

Greenwell — a photographer in Grinnell — can’t remember a time when she didn’t have cats. Her first black cat was named Lars. She adopted Lars from a shelter in Illinois, despite the staff’s warning of potential difficulties and a troubled past.

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“I said, ‘No, he’s the one,’ and we just had a bond. He was a sweetheart,” she says. “He was my all-time favorite.”

She enjoyed taking Lars everywhere with her. It traveled in cars, and she even walked it on a leash.

“I got some funny looks,” she says.

A passion for black cats remained in Greenwell, even after Lars passed away. She now has two black cats, Luna and Licorice — both named by her daughter.

Apple the cat passed away, but Greenwell says, “She was the funniest cat that I ever had.”

“Their personalities seem to be stronger,” she says. “They really stand out versus the other cats.”

Greenwell lives on a fourth-generation family farm in Grinnell with her husband and daughter. Three dogs, three indoor cats and countless farm cats join the family.

Licorice is one of the farm cats and was born this past spring. Greenwell says Licorice is living its best farm-cat life and is most happy chasing bugs and lounging in the sun. Luna, the indoor cat, is the opposite.

“We call her by her nickname ‘Kitty Soft Paws’ because she is so sweet and has the sharpest claws, but she never uses them and would never scratch anyone,” Greenwell says. “She likes to watch people eat and try to steal food.”

This past August, Greenwell and her family took a road trip to CatCon in Pasadena, California. Not a fan of cat-owner stereotypes, Greenwell was pleased to see all different walks of life in attendance.

“The crazy cat lady thing is funny, but it’s just not true,” she says.

The convention offered Greenwell the chance to meet Internet celebrity cats Marmalade and LilBub. Cat owner Lisa Loeb, the singer of “Stay (I Missed You)” was a featured speaker at the convention.

What’s Greenwell’s favorite famous cat?

“I like Felix the cat,” she says.

Meow. ♦

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