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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, April 20, 2014

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In Kids & Family

Julie Krawcyzk is a cat fanatic. But she never, ever uses words like "purrfect."

Milwaukee's "craziest" cat people


There are people who like cats and then there are people who really like cats. The latter might professionally photograph themselves with their cats, feel a parent-child attachment toward them or throw birthday parties to celebrate their special day.

OnMilwaukee.com tracked down some of Milwaukee's "craziest" cat people – it's not just ladies, either, there are plenty of crazy cat men out there – and talked to them about their feline affection.

It's important to note that the people in this article are not hoarders or abusers of cats in any way. Their houses are not little boxes. They are simply people who really, really care about cats. And sometimes dress them in hand-made clothing.

Monica Thomas, thought she was allergic to cats, but when a former boyfriend's cat didn't affect her, she decided to get a furry friend for herself.

Thomas, who is an intern at OnMilwaukee.com, adopted Squeakers and her brother Dilly from the Humane Society in 2008. The relationship took some time, particularly with Dilly, who was a senior cat, but the three eventually fell in love.

Unfortunately, Dilly passed away due to old age, but Squeakers is more alive than ever.

"My life is nuts. I take care of a stubborn elderly person and a special needs child and for the past few years I've done this while going to school. Having Squeakers around keeps me sane," says Thomas, an OnMilwaukee.com intern.

"She was with me through my divorce and other heartbreaks, she help me rest through trying nights when my father was nearing the end of his life, helped me get through many long nights studying and is always eager to greet me when I get home from whatever else I do. That such a small form can bring such huge comfort is truly a miracle."

Thomas, who has volunteered with Happy Endings No-Kill Cat Shelter, is a crafty person by nature, so she has naturally dabbled into creating cat fashion.

"I made them some clothes and hats but neither one liked them. Dilly was gray with white mittens and looked kind of like The Cat in the Hat so I made him a red and white striped hat. He wore it once but grumbled at me with his old man meow," she says.

"Squeakers had a pretty pink and white striped dress for her first birthday but anytime we put her in it she would hide under the bed because she hated it so much, so eventually it got relegated to stuffed animal gear. I also crocheted a birthday hat for her but she didn't keep it on long."

Squeakers will celebrate her fifth birthday on July 8 and Thomas plans to reward her with a well-deserved tuna cake.

"When I say that Squeakers and I have a symbiotic relationship, I mean it. She's my alarm cat, so I'm used to her waking me up. It takes a little adjusting when Daylight Savings Time comes around, but I can easily forgive that in light of how reliable she is," says Thomas. "I'm diabetic and there have been several times that she's woken me up in the middle of the night to alert me that I was suffering dangerously low blood sugar."

Cameron Melzer is a male feline fan who's not afraid to show it.

"I treat my cat like my daughter," says Melzer. "I talk to her both in English and in her native 'meows,' play with her, wrestle with her, hold her on her back like a newborn, blow 'raspberries' on her belly. Very often when I feed her, I'll eat a handful of her dry food."

Currently, Melzer has one cat – Tiger – whom he "inherited" when his grandpa passed away in 2005.

"Tiger meant so much to my grandpa, he was mentioned in his obituary. When I brought Tiger home, I realized that Tiger was not a boy, but a girl. Until my grandma passed away in 2011, we had to always be careful to refer to Tiger as a boy," he says.

Does he ever dress up Tiger?

"A few years ago, I managed to peel an orange and keep the peeling in one piece, so I used it to fashion a 'battle helmet' for her. I put a T-shirt on her once. Her legs went stiff and she fell over," he says. Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)

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