Cats and Neighbours

Cats and neighbours. They come into your life willy nilly and toss it silly. Cats prowl where they may, ineptly chasing mice and rats, not so ineptly chasing squirrels and birds. Neighbours glare at those hunting cats, aiming water hoses as the cats aim their backsides. And cats glare right back as they skip out of reach. Without cats for neighbours to growl at, life would a little less interesting and less heartbreaking.

Once there was a new neighbour. He acquired two cute little kittens. Twins. Orange and white. Soon I saw them frolicking outside. Tiny balls of fluff bouncing at innocent blades of grass. We frowned. We worried. We finally went up to new neighbour and said those cute kittens are going to die at the wheels of the cars that speed down this road. You shouldn't let them out. Such nosy, intrusive neighbours we were. But those kittens were begging to be protected. And who else would protect them if he couldn't, wouldn't, he who could see how fast the cars zipped past his place, how uncaring the drivers were to bicyclists, pedestrians, and cats who got in their way. He whined in reply that they wanted out. What could he do? They broke his heart sitting at his door, yowling to be let out. What could he do?

He left it to us to find one twin's body tossed to the side of the road by a passing car, the other one crying nearby. I raged. And when I'd calmed down, we rapped on his door. No answer. It remained closed. We called the Toronto Humane Society. "Put it in the garbage," was the heartless reply (just one of many reasons I loathe the THS and will never support it, ever). I raged. I had to rage else I'd bawl from the heartbreak. We took in the lost twin and treated the lifeless one with dignity, absolutely not tossing it in the garbage, until he returned. I stayed away while the others returned the live twin to him. That twin never emerged through his door again.

And then there were the tenants who lived a few doors down with two cats. One day they left, and we slowly came to realise that the cats had not. They were not the friendliest kitties around to begin with, as anyone who had visited the tenants could attest, but left to survive on their own, they became quick, harsh hunters, ready to swipe at friendly hands reaching out to feed or care for them. As the hot, humid days went by, the cats honed their viciousness to the point that not even dogs were safe in their own backyards. We had no idea where the tenants had gone, those people who thought tossing cats outside to fend for themselves was a good idea, a sight easier than finding a loving home for them, they must've decided in their self-absorption. Let them be someone else's problem. Ours. Let their lives be blighted from neglect. The cats.

Finally we had no choice. We called the THS. Fat help they were. We called Toronto Animal Services. Well. My teeth still grit in memory of that incompetent, stupid... Huff, huff, puff. OK. I'm calm now. No I'm not. We can't catch feral cats, they haughtily informed us. You catch them. Then we'll pick them up. What? How? That's your problem, they informed us, refusing to discuss it further. Clearly, from the lofty perch of their well-padded chairs, they felt that catching feral cats is up to the people, the ones without the equipment and ability. And without those, we left it for awhile. But the cats began menacing people. We had to do something. But what?

My BF of the time came up with a plan. We'd herd them into the garage, specifically he'd go ahead of the cats into the garage and I'd herd them from behind. Once they entered, I was to shut the door, and he'd corral them into a cage. Easy. Mind you, there was a car in there as well as the usual odds and ends one finds in a garage. And all he had for protection were gardening gloves. I have no memory of how we got them into the garage, maybe because I was scared out of my mind of these monsters. But in they went. I slammed the door. I stood outside trembling, listening hard. Silence. Then screams. Cat screams. My BF was silenter than a grave. No sound came from him the entire time. But the cats... Growls. Hisses. Bangs. Things falling down. Silence again. Crash. High-pitched yowls. My hair stood on end. My heart thumped in my ears. I yearned to open the door and yank him out of there. But I didn't. Silence again. And then the garage door slid open, and he emerged victorious, looking a bit beat up. Cats were in the cage.

We called Toronto Animal Services and waited beside the cage for them. A cheerful fellow drove up eventually, parked his van nearby. Got out, put on tough gloves, pulled out a really long stick with a loop at the end, had my BF open the cage (yes, he couldn't open the cage up himself, being as he was in his protective clothing), and he scooped out each cat with the stick from as far away as possible, and tossed it into some sort of cage in the van. I could've slapped him. My BF put his health at risk -- for who knows what those cats carried in addition to the usual problems one can get from cat scratches -- and for what? Animal Services could easily have come out, stood in the backyard with that stick and loop, caught the cats and put them in a cage (the cats stuck to a pretty small range), all without breaking a sweat or risking their own skin. Unbelievable. It ranks right up there with being told we can't go get that dying raccoon because he's lying in your neighbour's private property. Yup, THS and Toronto Animal Services really give a crap about the people and animals they're set up to serve.

Cats and neighbours. They prowl and neglect, they hiss and refuse to protect.