Time spent with a cat is never wasted.

-Sigmund Freud-


Imagine a petting zoo where Caffè Latte is served.

Or imagine you’re in the mood to find a cat to enhance your life when you accept an invite to have coffee and cakes at an acquaintance’s apartment.

You go, and there you find the perfect cat.

It curls in your lap.

It purrs when you purr.

It even shares your disinterest when the discussion turns to the last episode of Project Runway.

Why can’t you ever find a cat like that at the pound, you grumble, as you leave the acquaintance’s apartment and a great cat behind.

Well Calyen, one of the managers at Crumbs & Whiskers will tell you why.

“Cats tend to pick their owners,” she explains.  “When locked in cages, stressed out at the pound, well ….”

Max the Orange Tabby

Max the orange Tabby (Photo by Marlene Kearney)

Hence the genius of Crumbs & Whiskers.

A cat-friendly environment with comfy blankets, fuzzy mice toys, where, on average, 27 very fortunate felines can waltz among ten to seventeen potential owners for an hour or so.

Cat cafés are an idea whose time has come, and now L.A. has a gem of one.

Cruising the “high kill” animal control centers in South Central Los Angeles, Avarie Shevin of the Stray Cat Alliance, guarantees the store front on Melrose Avenue (just west of Fairfax) of having a room full of rescues.

The tomcats wear the grey ribbons, little tigresses the pink.  For $22.00 on weeknights, and $25.00 on weekends, those seeking a new feline can gather with likeminded souls for some primo bonding time – coffee, teas, cake and cookies optional.

The slogan tells the story:



The night my lovely wife Marlene and I stopped by, Friedl, another of the Crumbs & Whiskers handlers, gathered us together to go over the House Rules:


Be gentle.

Don’t feed cats.

Don’t wake cats.

Steal no cats.


And then in we went.

Cats at Crumbs and Whiskers

The greeting room at Crumbs & Whiskers (Photo by Marlene Kearney)

We humans were a good-looking lot, if I do say so.

Statuesque Joe and leggy Vienna were planning on a trip to the Grand Canyon the next day, but Vienna has been feeling the ache for a cat in her life.

Dominic and Irene hung out by the wall-mounted steps which allows humans and felines to examine each other eye to eye.  They were looking for an addition to their pack, and a companion for their older cat at home.

Giselle, (my wife loves that name!) a recent arrival to L.A., hoping to write for television, spent a fair amount of time with Snoopy who was curled comfortably in a basket.  She wanted a cat to help make a new and strange city seem a little more familiar and a little less strange.


I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.

-Jean Cocteau-


Snoopy-Crumbs and Whiskers

Snoopy in a cat basket (Photo by Marlene Kearney)

The back room holds separate sleeping containers for each cat, about a dozen litter boxes and as, Calyen shows me, “plenty of cleaners.”

The “greeting room” is open and pleasant, and the cats may enter it from the back if they wish.

No cat chasing is allowed.

The hope is to let the felines, very “spoiled felines” I am told by Friedl, feel completely at home in a non-stressful setting thereby allowing their true nature to shine through.

The pound equivalent of “buyer’s regret” is to be eliminated by this process Calyen informs me.  She’s been working there for just over a year, having happened upon it after what she describes as a “really bad breakup last Thanksgiving.”

To Calyen it hasn’t been a job so much as therapy with a lot of lap cuddling involved.

Generally, she informs me there are about 20 cats on site, the maximum they’ve had was 29.

Reservations are needed, and the humans are limited to about 15; a number settled on so as not to spook the four-legged residents and to give everyone involved, four-legged and two-legged, the opportunity to spend some quality time.

The night we were there, the feline ranks seemed to be represented by one very large and very contented Tabby named Max, a Ragamuffin, a possible Foldex mix, a Cyprus, a Chartreux, a pair of Khao Manees, a likely Bombay and a good ol’ American Ocicat among others.

While there were some younger cats, most were older as the idea is to save from the shelters those most likely not to be adopted within the all too brief time period some pounds and shelters adhere to.

Those lucky enough to find their way to Crumbs & Whiskers will then remain on the premises until adopted, for most that means between three to five weeks.  They will take litters of kittens, but these tend to be on site for shorter periods than the older cats.


There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life:

Music and cats.

-Albert Schweitzer-


As Dart aka “the climbing boy” pranced from the wall mounts bottom to top then back again, Calyen explained to me that it cost $125.00 to adopt a cat.

At first the fee may seem high, but it goes to cover the establishment’s rent and cat food, as well as the adopted animal’s spaying or neutering, micro-chipping, vaccinating and first visit to the vet.

On an average week two to three cats will find homes, sometimes as many as seven per week, and so far, Crumbs & Whiskers has placed just under 400 animals into homes.

The night we attended there were no outright adoptions, but Dominic and Irene had found a contender, Vienna wanted to take them all, and one of the Khao Manee had captured Giselle’s fancy.

Snoopy just slept throughout the whole evening, and Max, the longest resident, just curled up on the counter by the entry giving all us two leggers a rough appraisal.


Children, old crones, peasants, and dogs ramble;

Cats and philosophers stick to their point.

-H.P. Lovecraft-


Dominic and Irene at Crumbs and Whiskers

(l-r) Dominic, Irene and Dart on ledge overhead (Photo by Marlene Kearney)

Marlene and I left without a new addition to our household.  We have three cats as it is, or I suppose I should say three cats have us.  They serve as a constant reminder that while life is beset with chaos, sometimes that chaos is just what we need – and purrs.

As we walked back to our car, an old maxim kept bouncing about in my head.

According to Google it was either Victor Hugo or François Joseph Méry who first said it, but I’m taking credit for phrasing it the best:


God did make the cat so that man might pet the tiger.


As we buckled up and started the heater, I recalled all the past little tigers in my life:

  • Kitty (part of Marlene’s dowry coming into the marriage),
  • Gary (stray),
  • Fraser,
  • Nin (both pound rescues),
  • Claude of the three legs (stray),
  • sweet Riley the blind (stray),
  • Hamilton (A**hole owner rescue), JoJo the great (pound),
  • Natalie (pound),
  • Hemingway/Caligula (we’re still on the fence about the name — pound),
  • Winston (from a rescued litter – thanks Kaz!),
  • and the greatly missed Gracie/Little Cat (another A**hole owner rescue).

And even for a dye in the wool secular like me, it becomes hard not to offer up:

“Thanks God, for all the purrs and whiskers.”

Now do yourself a favor, go adopt a cat.

♦    ♦    ♦

              Crumbs & Whiskers

7924 Melrose Ave. (Just west of Fairfax High School on the south side of the street)

Los Angeles




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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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