Pet Tales: These cats can drive you crazy

February 25, 2012 11:38 am
  • Waffle rides in his child-size Model A, crafted by Gregg McCandless of Butler.
    Waffle rides in his child-size Model A, crafted by Gregg McCandless of Butler.
  • Waffle "steers" the child-size Model A as Tirzah rides in the rear cart.
    Waffle "steers" the child-size Model A as Tirzah rides in the rear cart.
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Waffle and Tirzah are two cats that really know how to make a dramatic entrance into a crowded room. Heads turned. Jaws dropped. Conversations stopped, except for one woman who said, "Oh my God! Oh my God!"

Waffle, a black-and-white tuxedo cat, arrived at the Steel City Kitties cat show behind the wheel of a purple child-sized battery-operated car. His sister Tirzah, a tortoiseshell-and-white cat, lounged regally atop a fluffy white cushion in a two-wheeled cart pulled by the little car.

"These cats do what most cats don't," says Gregg McCandless of Butler.

"We never planned any of this, but Waffle loves his little car and they both love the attention they get," said Karen Sue McCandless, Gregg's wife.

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"This was our first cat show," Mrs. McCandless said. While most of the feline competitors were purebreds, the short-haired McCandless kitties were entered in the household pets classes for cats of unknown pedigree. Waffle and Tirzah won multiple ribbons, and Tirzah won a big fancy rosette that said she was "best" in her class.

Although they enjoyed the experience, the couple and the cats learned they'd rather entertain than compete.

"It is such a good feeling when you are out there with the cat car and people are smiling," Mr. McCandless said. "Anything is possible with God."

I was at that Feb. 11 show, but not when Waffle and Tirzah were riding up and down the aisles at the former Old Navy store in the Shoppes at Northway in Ross.

The couple shot video at the cat show and posted it at www.basic9.com, which is their website. There's also video of the cats driving at other locales, including a pet supply store and, appropriately enough, a car cruise. Waffle and Tirzah look very content in their car and cart and never try to jump out.

Waffle can do many amazing things, but he doesn't know how to drive. Mr. McCandless operates the cat car with a remote-control device. A mechanic who restores bikes and cars, he took a pedal-powered child's toy and converted it to run on batteries.

Mr. McCandless has developed a prototype "critter car" that he would like to take to a manufacturer, if he can find customers who want to buy cars for their own pets. He says he can make them in all sizes, including really little ones for hamsters and guinea pigs.

So how did Gregg and Karen Sue get their cats into the cute car, which Mr. McCandless says is a replica of a Model A?

They had always been dog people until four years ago when a friend's cat had 12 kittens and they agreed to adopt two. They say they are "outdoors people" and wanted to take their new pets "everywhere with us."

Linda Wilson Fuoco: lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3064.
First Published 2012-02-24 23:19:58

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