I have no reason to protect anyone, especially the stupid, the insane, and the criminal around me. Well, I suppose I'm protecting myself from them by keeping quiet.
But sometimes a story must be told. I can change some details to protect the guilty, and my own safety.
We do our best to tend the stray cats in our neighborhood, and very recently, we've begun to ask ourselves if we're really helping. We provide reasonably safe haven (Steve enjoys chasing the cats, but he hasn't yet discouraged them entirely), food and water. And when we can, we catch them, and get them fixed up. Occasionally, we find them new homes, and sometimes we sterilize and release. But we're not moving fast enough; we'll never be quicker than their ability to reproduce, and, despite our best efforts, we're probably helping them reproduce, with our cat sanctuary. Even if it is Steve-flavored.
Adding to our mounting frustration is the fact that some people around here are obviously acquiring cats from a shop. These cats are easily recognizable because they tend to be attractive and clean, are not afraid of people, wear collars, and, most maddeningly, have their reproductive organs. These idiot neighbors let their cats roam, and they often roam into our yard, and eat the food we put out for the strays, and MATE WITH THEM.
One of our insane neighbors, K, is also annoyed by the owned domestic cats roaming free, mostly because his yard has become a litterbox.
Two months ago, K asked to borrow our humane trap so he can do his part to clean up our neighborhood's cat problem. We dragged our feet, because we didn't want to loan the trap to an insane person. A few weeks went by, and we hoped he forgot about his request, and that something else came along to occupy K's attention. He spends a lot of time on the sidewalk, yelling at his girlfriend to wash her genitalia. She yells back at him in the same manner, so we figured the cats would slip his mind.
Then D called me. Every time I see her name on my caller ID, I regret giving her my number. She is one of the insane neighbors too, though she doesn't scream at anyone to wash his or her genitals. While I'd be hard-pressed to call her stupid, I cannot help but question nearly every one of her decisions. She is nice, friendly, and will eat up your entire day if you run into her. You will never get that time back, and you will resent it. And her attitude on animals alarms me. She breeds —without licensure — small dogs, and ones with a known defect, at that. But it's okay, I guess, because she sells them cheap. She's also had her share of cats, and it's only been in the last few years she's had them sterilized. She can point to nearly every stray, and at least one of our indoor cats, and recount the animal's heritage, going back to her first, fertile and prolific cats, some years ago. Damn her.
But she loves her animals, even if that love is wrong. I can't hate D; I feel bad she's so damaged, and I feel worse for the small creatures in her care.
There was a panicked tone in her voice the day she called. "Have you seen M?" she blurted. "I haven't seen her since Thursday, and she's always around!"
I told her I saw M, her cat, at my back porch, eating the strays' food, on Friday, and I saw her again on Saturday, resting under D's car.
M is D's last living cat, and is spayed. She's a nice kitty, too, but it bugs me that she eats our food.
D was relieved that I saw the cat on Saturday, though it was Wednesday, and unlike M to be gone that long. D then launched into a 20 minute story filled with names of people I don't know, and their life stories, which, no offense to them, I just can't care about.
I got off the phone as quickly as possible, and called Glen to ask him to keep an eye out for M. We had noticed several cats go missing lately, including Jagbag, and her mother, Liz the Hussy, and we hadn't seen any of the collared, big-balled males, either.
A few days later, Glen was out front doing some yardwork, and ran into K. Glen mentioned M's disappearance, and asked K if he had seen her.
Now, you would think someone prone to screaming about dirty genitals for the world to hear might not have so many varied activites, and so much time on his hands, but you'd be wrong.
"That fuckin cat's been shittin up my yard for too long," K began. "I told D to keep her cat out of my yard. I told her! But she told me she couldn't help where her cat went."
"So I grabbed the cat, and took her for a ride, and let her go over there." He gestured to another part of town.
In the weeks since K asked to borrow our trap, he had not lost interest in catching cats, as we had hoped. He caught them with his bare hands, is all. Cat noodling, we call it. He bragged to Glen that it was the second time in a few years he had captured M and "relocated" her, but she found her way home the first time.
I felt sick as Glen recounted the exchange for me. D is a HUGE part of the animal problem, and even though she is good-natured, her choices in life are maddening and have consequences for so many. And, on the flip side, K's frustration with D is understandable. But the cat! It's not her fault her owner is a mongo!
I was mad at myself for feeling sick. People bag kittens and drown them; shoot them when they've had enough; poison them with antifreeze. If not those things, they claim cat allergies, so they don't have to get involved. What the hell is wrong with me?
K also explained that he was able to capture and relocate several other cats, but it was challenging work. He had good luck with the obvious pets, and the juvenile strays, he told Glen.
Yesterday, to my surprise, I discovered Steve was playing "Swat n Duck" with Jagbag; who had miraculously reappeared yesterday morning. They both played tirelessly, Steve with delight, Jagbag with increasing irritation. I was glad to see her back, even if she is a bird killer.
I haven't told D that we know why her cat disappeared. I hate knowing, and wish we didn't. It weighs heavy on me. I heard D & K talking outside my window earlier this week; K pretended to help look for the cat in our hedges, and offered suggestions. A guilty conscience, perhaps? Short of hanging "missing cat" signs, D has done just about everything to find M. We're hoping K noticed the heartbreak in D's voice, and finds that damn cat and brings her home. And Jagbag's return gives me hope that maybe M will make it home on her own, too. Maybe.