I generally like animals but the arrogant guy in the photo above repeatedly turned his nose up at my attempts to make friends with him. Because of his insults I used to do little things to annoy him, like make noises to cause his cat ear automatic tracking reflex to kick in when he was trying to make me notice how completely he was ignoring me. Anyways, I once mentioned to someone that I thought it would be a funny, funny prank if I were to trap Felix, ship him off to Sweden for a quick sex change operation, and then, after an appropriate convalescence (his, not mine), release him back into the neighbourhood wearing a collar engraved with the feminine version of his name (Felicia) and maybe a couple of frilly pink ribbons attached to him somewhere. This would not only be a lovely trick to play on old Felix but also on Felix’s human family who would be left wondering where Felix had been for the past month or two, who bought the collar for Him, and where Felix’s reproductive gadget went.
Just so you know, there is a colossal difference between things that I say would be funny to do and things that I would actually think were funny if they were actually done. Taking snippers to Felix’s fuzzy dropums is one of those things that is funny and even a bit satisfying to think about in hypothetical terms but to actually send him to Scandinavia to be castrated would be way too expensive. Besides, I’m very fond of my own personal set of daddy berries and I’m sure that Felix feels the same way about his. Even if Felix turned out to be a natural-born Felicia, I’m pretty sure she’d want to keep her girl gear in its original configuration, too.
Seriously, why would I ever want to cause an under-tail excavation to be performed on him and/or her? I wouldn’t — it’s just not right unless it’s your own cat and you don’t want it coming home with a belly full of mouths to feed. And if you’re the proud owner of a suave tomcat, it’s certainly OK in my books to subject Mr. Whiskers to descrotification to protect yourself from being subpoenaed to appear on Judge Judy to respond to a neighbourhood class action feline paternity suit.
Maybe if I caught Felix peeing on my car’s disk brakes I’d get really steamed and for a moment or two seriously consider performing a battlefield gelding but I probably wouldn’t go any further than turning the hose on him because he’s just doing what cats do. Besides, he’s not my cat… he either belongs to a neighbour or he’s a wild free-agent feline. Whatever the case, I feel he has the same right as any other 4×4 mammal to have access to my yard as long as it doesn’t try to poop too close to my BBQ or try to get in or otherwise damage my house. I think that’s fair. But it’s a cruel, cruel world and people walk among us who are less concerned about genital integrity than I.
If you think I’m a candidate for the Nobel Pet Prize you should meet my sister NeoVegan. She’s a certifiable cat lady… she, at one time, had 16 cats living in her apartment! She also volunteers at pet shelters and has actually turned down free meals because of prior commitments to give homeless cats complimentary enemas, or something like that — “A regular kitty is a happy kitty”, I guess. NeoVegan is a good egg with her heart in the right place but she can get annoying when she gets into one of her doofus cat expert know-it-all moods.
One such incident that I was unfortunately not present to witness in the flesh (but that doesn’t prevent me from reminding NeoVegan of it) was one time at another sister’s house. This other sister has a cute little cat that must have suffered some kittenhood trauma. It’s usually OK to pet or play with CrazyCat but occasionally something snaps in its little head and it takes off and hides in the basement ceiling. So one day NeoVegan notices that CrazyCat’s claws are pretty long and tells OtherSister that she should trim them. OtherSister tells NeoVegan that she has tried but CrazyCat won’t cooperate, so naturally NeoVegan says something about how she’s a 5-star Jedi cat whisperer and that she can give any cat a manicure whether it wants one or not anytime, anywhere, so OtherSister tells her to go ahead and trim its claws if that’s what she wants to do. So, to make a long story short, they’re still finding shredded bits of NeoVegan’s arms in OtherSister’s basement ceiling and CrazyCat sounds like a tap dancer every time he crosses a tile floor.
But NeoVegan means well and likes all animals, not only cats. I e-mail her critter shots when I take a good one and, on occasion, she drops hints that she’d like a print. A couple of weeks ago, on two separate occasions, two entirely different cats made appearances in my backyard so I took a couple of shots of them and sent copies via e-mail to NeoVegan along with a description that went something like “Here are a couple of fecal feral cats that showed up in my backyard”, using the word “feral” simply to enable a pun with the stricken word “fecal”. Within minutes I received a one-line reply, “Do you want to have these cats spayed?”
What? I didn’t see that coming! She wants to come over and abduct cats of indeterminate ownership and send them to some veterinary planned parenthood surgical ward? As soon as my mouth was able to close I toyed with the idea of firing off a five-word counter response, “Only if I can watch”, but knew that NeoVegan would probably think I was being serious and report me to PETA.
I did reply but with something that explained that these were not my cats and that they were simply feline trespassers probably after my yard’s seemingly infinite supply of doves. NeoVegan sent a quick barrage of e-mails saying that a single feral cat can be responsible for 80,000 unwanted feral kittens (I imagine over several generations) and that they’d all die horrible premature deaths and that if she was me she couldn’t live with herself knowing that her inaction would cause all this cat suffering.
Luckily, I seem to have snuffed the discussion out by explaining the fecal/feral word play and the fact that the cats’ pelts looked to be in primo shape so the cats could have been indoor/outdoor pets out on day passes and not ferals at all.
I’m not out of the woods yet… I’ll be seeing NeoVegan this weekend! If the subject comes up, and I’m pretty sure it will, here are some points I’ll be making…
- Wouldn’t it take two, and not just one, cats to get this torrent of 80,000 kittens going? Ask your mom if you don’t know what I mean.
- Who is NeoVegan to say that the 80,000 kittens are unwanted? Wouldn’t it be kind of cool to see a herd of kittens 80,000 strong sweeping majestically across the plains? Maybe the kittens’ parents and siblings want them. Why must a kitten’s life receive human validation in order for it to have value? Don’t you think the kittens appreciate life in spite of all the hardships?
- If all these feral cats are dying prematurely, how can they end up producing 80,000 descendants? Something doesn’t seem to add up.
- I find disturbing the attitude that cats that have broken free of dependence on humans need to be forcibly subjected to the stewardship of people willing to pluck them from their lives and put them under the knife. How dare they violate emancipated animals like that!
- Who’s to say that if you trap and spay one that it isn’t the mother of a whole nest full of kittens that will be left unfed and unprotected until their mother recovers from the surgery, is released, and can return home to care for her brood?
- I don’t know of special programmes targeting squirrels, skunks, raccoons(!), or other wild creatures for sterilization… why are wild cats given special consideration?
Maybe I have it all wrong and NeoVegan is right. What do you think? Can you convince me I’m wrong about this? Am I correct? Spew your thoughts below.
- Cats Gone Wild: Feral Cats Attack in France (americanlivewire.com)
- Woman and dog mauled by a gang of six feral cats (metro.co.uk)
- En Garde! Gang of Feral Cats Attack Woman, Dog in France (livescience.com)
- Feral cat group rescues kittens but Molalla property still overrun (oregonlive.com)
- Ypsilanti Township sees drastic reduction in feral cat population after pilot program (thisandthatwriting.wordpress.com)
- The Forgotton Felines – Saving Feral Cats (operationroverrun.wordpress.com)