August 3, 2012
Cat Lady super villain terrorizes East Tennessee with dander, litter box smell
Debra Vickstein of Knoxville is no Catwoman. She doesn't wear leather spandex and heels. She doesn't carry a whip. She doesn't commit burglaries or fight Batman. Mostly she just has a lot of cats.
Even so, Vickstein has been giving the local superhero community a run for its money. Better known by her alter ego, Cat Lady, the 57-year-old pet lover has dozens of cats living in her three bedroom ranch-style home.
Dressed in her purple bathrobe and matching cat slippers, Cat Lady spends her time hoarding newspapers and plotting how to acquire more cats.
"It's creepy as hell," said Sunsphero, a member of Knoxville's crime fighting community. "Six or seven cats are fine. I can even understand eight. After that, it starts getting kind of scary. Personally I'd be afraid they'd all decide to attack and eat me while I was asleep."
Cat Lady's origin story states that her parents would not let her have pets growing up. Driven mad by the emotional turmoil, Cat Lady went on to acquire as many cats as possible after she became an adult to spite them.
East Tennessee's superheroes caution that she is highly unstable.
"She's one of the most dangerous villains in my rogues' gallery," said the Scruffy Little City Lad. "My weakness is asthma, so I have to be extremely careful in her lair. The dander hits my lungs and I start wheezing like crazy. It only takes a few minutes and I'm completely incapacitated. I have an inhaler, but my mom says it's better to be on the safe side."
"The smell is paralyzing," agreed Market Square Man. "It's like a giant litter box. I don't know how she can stand to live there. You can smell it several blocks away. It's so gross."
However, East Tennessee's heroes say they have figured out Cat Lady's Achilles' heel.
"We know her weakness now," said Sunsphero. "It's the sound of dogs barking. You should see those cats move when they hear it. It's a little bit hilarious."
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