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story.lead_photo.caption The Rally Cat won’t be spending any time with the St. Louis Cardinals. A nonprofit group which found the frolicking feline balked at allowing the team to use it as a mascot, saying the Cardinals wanted to exploit the cat rather than take care of it.

The Rally Cat saga was, at first, a straightforward viral sports-animal story.

On Aug. 9, a kitten scampered across the field at Busch Stadium in the sixth inning of the St. Louis Cardinals' game against the Kansas City Royals, eventually getting scooped up by a grounds-crew member who took a few scratches for the team. The Cardinals were down 5-4, but Yadier Molina hit a grand slam on the first pitch that followed the cat's removal.

The story didn't end there. Rally Cat was taken from the stadium by a fan who claimed to be his owner, but the woman lost control of the cat in St. Louis' Citygarden. The next day, St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach announced Rally Cat had been found not far from where he had escaped, and since then the group has nursed Rally Cat to full health while bickering with the Cardinals over his ownership.

You could say the Rally Cat story has nine lives.

On Thursday came the endgame: St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach announced it would not return Rally Cat to the Cardinals, even though the team had announced that Rally Cat Appreciation Day would be held Sept. 10.

At issue is the Cardinals' public statements last week that Rally Cat would be returned to them to live a comfortable life spurring (purring?) rallies at Busch Stadium. The team apparently made such declarations without clearing them first with St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach, which took to Facebook to blast the Cardinals for making false statements.

The team then asked the rescue group to take down the Facebook post, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but it refused. And now the Cardinals won't get Rally Cat.

"Cat people are different human beings than the rest of us," Al Watkins, described as "Rally Cat's lawyer," said Thursday. "They take very seriously that the best interest of the cat is being prioritized, and it became clear that the Cardinals were more interested in exploiting the cat for commercial interests.

"Nobody likes a bully in the litter box."

Said Cardinals public relations executive Ron Watermon: "Getting straight answers from the group has been like herding cats. We would dispute their version of things but don't want to be engaged in a cat fight."

As for Rally Cat's future, he is living with a St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach volunteer until he puts on a little more weight and a "serendipitous match" can be found with a permanent family, Watkins said. Rally Cat Appreciation Day will be held as planned Sept. 10, with fans getting a Rally Cat T-shirt and proceeds going to Tony LaRussa's Animal Rescue Foundation and St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach.

NFL barred

Earlier this week, there was a rally of about 1,000 people near NFL headquarters in New York City in support of Colin Kaepernick, who remains unsigned despite several teams employing quarterbacks who can best be described as "meh."

Also showing love for Kaepernick are two bars near Soldier Field in Chicago who have announced they won't show NFL games in their establishments as long as Kaepernick remains unemployed.

Velvet Lounge, on Cermak Road, and The Bureau Bar, on 16th Street, announced their policies on social media. Both bars are owned by Kenny Johnson.

"Every bar benefits from football games ... this is more about right and wrong," Johnson said. "We'll take a hit but be OK."

It "just didn't sit well" with Johnson that Kaepernick "can't get a job when he's better than a number of quarterbacks who have jobs. This is a way to make a statement."

Sports on 08/26/2017

Print Headline: Fur flies as Rally Cat saga ends

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