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as seen on phillyBurbs.com

Bad kitties
Roaming lions, mauling tigers and killer bears, oh my.

Possibly the strangest story of the year so far has to go to the New York City guy who kept a tiger in his apartment.

What the heck was Antoine Yates thinking? Is it any wonder the big - we're talking 425 pounds here -  kitty eventually mauled him?

And did he really think doctors in Philly were gullible enough to believe the gaping wound in his leg was from a dog bite?

Come to think of it, what was the deal with the crocodile he also kept there? Did he think the tiger would get lonely? Yates also admitted he once owned a lion.

He wasn't the only animal-loving looney to pay a price last week.

The AP reports that a self-taught bear expert, who once called Alaska's brown bears harmless, was one of two people fatally mauled in a bear attack in the Katmai National Park and Preserve.

This is a confirmed kill, unlike the giant "killer" Alaskan bear I wrote about in June.

Then there was the wayward mountain lion who decided to pay a visit last week to downtown Omaha, Neb. It eventually got darted by a zoo official after scaring the beejezus out of a bunch of people.

As for the other recent tiger mauling, which nearly claimed the life of Roy Horn, I can't help but think that if you play with fire long enough you're going to get burned. Horn had 33,000 shows under his belt before he got bit.

Cats are very willful beasts. I should know, I grew up with four of them inside the house and at least two outside.

Now, we're talking adopted stray suburban house cats, not large jungle felines. All that is, execept one - Uggie. That's short for ugly if you were wondering.

Uggie was, at the veterinarian's best guess, at least part lynx. He had huge tufts at the side of his face. His large, thick paws were strong enough to wack my hand back once when I tried to take away his catnip mouse.

He also had the strangest crooked tail, which he passed onto plenty of his progeny.

That is until my parents made the mistake of finally getting him fixed. I say it was a mistake because most of the time Uggie lived in wooden box my dad made for him on our back porch. The only time he left was when he got horny.

For some reason - who knows what goes through the mind of a 20-year-old Tom with cataracts? - Uggie blamed our dog for his sudden curtailed prowess and wanted to kill it. We're talking a golden retriever mix here, folks, not some little chihuahua.

Yet, before we could let the dog could go out back on his leash we had to sneak up behind Uggie's box and press its entrance up against the wall to keep him from getting out. Once, when I was finishing a walk with the dog, Uggie managed to squirm out of his box and came flying at us like a rocket.

Now I love pets. But when I tell you I had to drop kick that cat 20 feet before he would back down, I'm not exaggerating. This went on for years, until Uggie finally walked away one day and never came back.

It happened while I was working up state. Although I know Uggie is now in cat heaven, I can't help but look for him every time I walk in my dad's backyard, where so many of our "house cats" came from.

I have yet to own a cat of my own in my adult life. I don't think it would be fair to a feline, given the odd hours I keep and the fact that I live in an apartment, not a house.

My landlord will let me have one if I want. It would only cost me $50 extra a month in rent.

The lease doesn't specify the size of cat I can have. But if I wanted a big, fat hairy tenant like that, I'd still have a roommate.


Now I know how Donovan McNabb feels every time he gets clobbered in the pocket.

I caught heck from a lot of Eagles fans for last week's column, in which I dared to suggest that blame for the Birds' big troubles lay upstairs and not at his feet.

I'm going to summarize some of the responses here, because I simply don't have space for it all.

You think that the Birds O-Line is the problem? You need to get better access to game film and watch the receivers practically doing jumping jacks while McNabb hops around for 5 seconds before getting sacked. If McNabb hits 70% of the underneath stuff that he either over or under throws, this offense would move the chains, gain confidence, and open up downfield routes.

- George Leeds

I'd rather have (Brian) Mitchell than (Antonio) Freeman out there. If McNabb hit Mitchell the first few games when he was open, Mitchell would have 250 yards and 2 or 3 TDs at this point, I can think of three plays where he was wide open and McNabb missed him by a mile.
The rest of the castoffs are hardly missed. Brzezinski, Gardner are glued to the bench, the others are out of the NFL.
The Eagles did upgrade through the draft, and eventually (L.J.) Smith and (Billy) McMullen will help this offense.

- Steve Isser

While you have attacked the Eagles lack of spending, and 2nd and 3rd tier wideouts (Pinkston is a #2 to me too, and I'm not a huge fan of Thrash although he's played fairly well so far this year), you haven't offered solutions.  To say they didn't do this or that is easy, but what would you have liked to see them do?  I'm not overly thrilled with our (wide receivers) either, but who was available?  No one.  We could have traded for Peerless Price, but other than yesterday, he really hasn't been able to get open this year.

... Everyone can say what they want about Jeff Lurie's "plan," but the truth is, if they draft well, it WILL work eventually.  Now, they just have to learn how to draft or it will all blow up.

- Micah Warren

Their comments and others were so vehement against what I wrote that I was feeling pretty down on myself.  That is, until Reuben Frank, who covers the Eagles for Calkins Media, wrote that as of Friday, the Eagles ranked 31st out of 32 NFL teams in yards per pass play and were the only team whose wide receivers have yet to score.

Now I just feel lousy. Vindicated, but lousy nevertheless.

Dave Ralis' Pave The Grass column appears on Mondays. You can send him an e-mail at  or call him at 215-269-5051. To read his previous columns, click here.

Oct. 13, 2003