Confessions of a crazy cat lady

Life in the boonies, where a copy of the New York Times is as rare as a book store in sticks, tends to be as dull as dishwater.

Normally, news about the third largest recall in history — the 36 million pounds of ground turkey contaminated with Salmonellawouldn’t cause a ripple in a town where they have more important fish to fry.

But, a curious thing happened.

The once bustling crowd of shoppers jostling for that last piece of meat on sale was now noticeably thin. In fact, the meat department was mostly deserted except for the few curious onlookers. Which is saying allot for a town that, on a regular basis, holds bar-b-ques in the supermarket parking lot, thinks hunting is a fun past-time and that vegans are the name of McDonald’s  new-fangled side of deep-fried vegetables.

Rural Dating Pool aka Slim Pickins

I hate to admit, but I live in that town, which probably explains why I am still single despite my sparkling personality and good looks. Fortunately for me though, I have the internet where I can read my beloved newspaper, the New York Times, online.

I like to think of myself as an urban refugee on retreat from my fabulous, but simply exhausting, life of endless charity events, museum openings, gallery shows, interviews and sifting through the stream of invitations from other fabulous people like myself.

It’s true, I left that all behind, my gzillion dollar penthouse overlooking Central Park, my private entrance to Barney’s, my vast collection of vintage Walter Steiger shoes and George Stavrinos prints.

rednecks-martha stewart

HillBilly Decoratin’ Bible

I left that all behind, when I decided to become an animal activist.

Of course, that meant a dramatic cut in income. Hence, the reason my beloved gold, vintage 1970 Mercedes Benz 280SEL is still languishing with my mechanic Bernhard. You think I’m making this up?

Nope, it’s sad but true. I’m trapped up here in this Godforsaken town without transportation and the actual New York Times newspaper!

Yesterday, while reading Huffington Post, an article about an old woman who has been feeding her extended family of wild bears, whom she lovingly refers to as her “babies”, naturally caught my eye. I confess, when my neighbors complained about the bears knocking over garbage cans, I made the unpopular suggestion of feeding them, because, as I exclaimed in my most dramatic voice, “the poor darlings must be starving!”

Only a retarded city-slicker who loves animals to distraction would make such an idiotic statement. As it turns out, this crazy old bear nut lives in Laytonville California, only 20 miles from my home.

Heck with the Court de Versaille, we got us da Court de Trailer!

Would you ever read such an article about someone like that living in Manhattan? No sir-ee Bob. You might read about a crazy old lady whose lifelong passion for collecting fashion magazines finally killed her when they collapsed on her.

But a woman who actually invited the bears into her home, yes, I said inside and gave them kiddy pools filled with water on her deck to play in, made them corn meal and peanut butter sandwiches for treats, and gave the old bears with arthritis glucosamine to ease their aches and pains? I don’t think so.

When Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens raided Gravier’s 40-acre ranch, they found 1,000 pounds of corn and four bears, two of which were on the front porch and one relaxing in a wading pool. “They stumbled on what was essentially an animal hippie commune and shack-out pad,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ms. Gravier known as the Bear Woman on her ranch in Mendocino County

“In all, 15 loafing black bears hung out with Gravier inside the house and on her deck, and lumbered around the compound like kings at a feast. Gravier named her oafish friends things like Smiley, Goofy, Connie, Biggie and Wombat. She admitted setting up a kiddie pool for wallowing. She fixed peanut butter sandwiches for her guests, sometimes mixing in glucosamine to ease the arthritis pain in older bears.”

Laytonville residents stood up anonymously for Gravier after the raid last year, saying she was only caring for the animals that had been displaced by poachers and pot growers. “I’m so disgusted with the human race,” she said shortly after her home was raided. Gravier said she largely prefers animals to people and blames humans for moving into bear territory.

Ms Gravier lovingly cradles her picture of a bear she befriended called Biggie

Ms. Gravier lovingly holds her picture of a bear she called Biggie

Can you beat that?


I guess that’s why I love this place. Where else can you feed 6000 pounds of rolled and cracked corn, otherwise known as nom noms to bears for 22 years and not get busted?

Giving up my former life has meant enduring the occasional pang of envy when my sister sends me pictures of her  fabulous life in Vienna.

Yesterday for example, she sent me snaps of her recent vacation in the Alps, decorated with snow-capped mountains, impossibly green meadows dotted with flowers, classic Alpine chalets, musicians strolling the cobble stoned streets in Lederhosen, her simply gorgeous hubby Ivo, a fabulously successful screenwriter, frolicking with their two adorable children, Hansel and Gretel.

I’m comin’ to Vienna Sis!

I almost forgot about the story that the NYT published today which announced the news that Salmonella is a problem not only in human food, but – news flash! – in pet food as well.

I’m too depressed now to pick it apart now, so you go read it yourself. I think I’m going to spend the rest of my day with my cat Puss Puss, watching my favorite movies: How to Marry A Millionaire, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Mildred Peirce and Some Like it Hot.

I’ll be bringin’ my dogs Tucker, Dale and Bubba with me, too!


dog cat poisoned pets safe food warnings news recalls alerts

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (8) Write a comment

  1. God bless the sweet bear lady! I agree that the poor bears are only getting into trouble due to humans overtaking their natural habitat and humans destroying the planet – droughts from global warming. I say help the bears, but don’t let them know where it comes from. I still remember Timothy Treadwell and it didn’t end well for him – seemed to have lost it at some point during filming. But I also know that when humans feed bears, they’re creating problem bears who associate humans with food. May as well just shoot ’em directly as feed ’em. I’m for air dropping food and denying we did it!


  2. Hi Moll,

    BTW, where did you find that photo of the rednecks? Priceless…



    • Why, in the Willits Newspaper of course! I’m kidding, the one on the top is my neighbor. No really, I am kidding. You type in hillbilly, redneck, white trash or trailer trash and Holy crap, you would not believe the stuff on Google Images – hilarious. Actually, if you type in Willits you get the same results (tee hee)! I was careful not include any pics of REAL rednecks, because that would have just been cruel. Poor things.

      Thanks for the complement!!

      Sis in PodunksVille, California


  3. Mollie,
    you were always funny, but how did you suddenly get…FRIGGIN FUNNIER?!! I Loved this article, althought I must say it wildly careenend from a salmonella report to bear feeding to the dating pool in Willits to the Austrian alps! Absolutely crazy and spontaneous! You cracked me up! I needed that! I’m going to run through the apartment now and tell hubby and son and daughter to check it out…

    Sis in Vienna


  4. What an interesting story. I’ve not heard of this woman, but of course, I don’t live anywhere near CA. Actually, I think the bear-lady seems cool and I wouldn’t mind hanging out with her. Just one problem though: bears send me running! God bless her for her efforts. I wonder how in the world she avoids getting mauled? In the photo of her clutching the bear photo to her chest, I noticed there’s a pretty calico cat strolling nearby.

    As for the turkey and salmonella problems, I haven’t been fond of turkey since 2009 when I met someone who used to do USDA inspections of turkey farms. After what this man shared with me, I was convinced to avoid turkey, even at Thanksgiving. He also was a really cool Lakota man from South Dakota and he told me that Indian people don’t eat turkey and wouldn’t even dream of it. They prefer, naturally, bison, and beef seems to be 2nd choice when bison isn’t available. Anyway, I only buy organic, locally bred meat or poultry from farmer’s markets and this has been my choice ever since watching “Food, Inc.”


    • You know, the spooky thing is, I think we might have been separated at birth. No seriously! She is a woman after my own heart, bless her slightly-nutty heart. When she said she prefers animals over humans, that is me all over! I would totally do the same thing, swimming pools, sandwiches, the whole bit! I love how she gave the old bears glucosamine. They said when she left the ranch she would come back for her dogs and cats a bit later, but couldn’t leave without her pet rooster who lived in her house. That did it. I had a pet rooster too who also lived in the house! I rescued him from near death, nursed him back to health, and during that time we became quite attached to each other, bless his heart. He would snuggle under the covers with me and he smelled like fine French perfume. I am NOT making this up! I still miss Henry. Cured me forever of eating animals. That story is for another day…


    • I, too, would like to hang out with this woman, although she might just want to be with her furry friends. As to being mauled, she’s been doing this for 22 years and has probably raised some of them from cubs, I think that she’s safe. Unless threatened, bears are not actually carnivores and prefer to eat vegetarian food.

      I remember a friend telling me about his bear encounter: he heard some noise on his porch and thinking it was a friend coming to visit, opened the door and came face to face with a bear. They both screamed and ran in opposite directions!

      I am tho curious why the Lacota Indian man wouldn’t eat turkey.? We have wild turkeys here, and my thought was always, Well, the Indians probably got alot of them as they are kinda slow.

      Like you, I saw a film that changed me. Was on beef slaughtering, and it turned me off to beef forever! We buy it only at the farmer’s market so my daughter can make cat food.



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