The South County Cat Man

This article is from the June 19 Lassen County Times:

Michael Winjes: The Cat Man

Michael Winjes used to round-up cattle. Now, he said, he rounds –up cats who seem to have a knack for finding him. And keeping them all fed is a challenge.

Winjes estimates between 70-80 feral cats live in the barn, garage, shed and backyard of his home in an outlying area of Lassen County.

Top Cat follows Michael around on his rounds

Winjes does his best to care for them, driving long distances and using his own money to get them spayed or neutered, building shelters and making sure they are fed.

But it’s expensive and sometimes he finds, “They fall apart faster than I can take care of them. That’s what their nature is.”

When Wenjes talks about cats, you can see his love and the empathy he feels for them.  He’s not sentimental, but he is sympathetic to their plight.

A litter of barn babies

“Four legged and feathers are far finer than two legged,” he said. “They’re basic. I have the big, big, big cats and they have their own mantra. They’re over at the cabin. Then I’ve got the barn babies. And there’s the garage gang. Some of them are double dippers. They fit into more than one category.”

Wenjes believes in eye contact with animals and gives the cats names so he can talk to them.

One of the barn babies

He said, “There’s Top Cat. She goes to every station with me. She checks everything out. She’s everywhere I am. I’ve got Fluff. That’s Top Cat’s kitten. There’s Stach because he’s got a mustache. One I call Sherbet. They all deserve to have a name. They all want to be noticed. Some are just amazing. They have wonderful personalities. There’s a little black one and whenever I feed her, she reaches over and taps me. Then she’ll look at me to make sure I noticed.”

Wobbles, who walks with a wobbling gait

Wenjes has not always taken in cats. “After my lady passed away,” he said, “there were just our cats. Then some people across the street moved and left three fertile females, and I took care of them and their offspring. Then an older lady passed away and left cats for me. And people drop off cats. I don’t mind having a challenge, so I take care of  them.

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