"NO GOOD DEED goes unpunished," said my husband with a shrug. I was holding a postcard from the local Animal Control authorities, advising me (sternly, with all sorts of warnings) that it is time to license my pet. Both my pets--geriatric, indoors-only, and badly-behaved cats--are licensed, and so I initially was going to put it with the information to bring to the upcoming veterinary appointment This, however, was for a third cat--a neighborhood stray who, as far as I can tell, has a multi-block territory and perhaps does belong to someone, but is not mine--and thereby hangs a tale.
A little more about my two cats. They are old; they are cranky. Clancy, the male--age 14 and neutered--hates all other four-legged creatures with an impressive, unrelenting ferocity. A cat strolling past on the sidewalk will throw him into paroxysms of yowls, hurling himself against the glass, and this will be followed, in short order, by a complete patrol of the interior parameter of the house that involves spraying urine markings on everything--and I mean everything--that does not get out of his way. I am the very last person to encourage a cat to lurk around the yard; I have spent 14-plus weary years wiping up cat urine from furniture, shoes, computer cases, books, walls, doors, windows, and mirrors.
Clancy is not the sort to "get used to" an interloper; you cannot imagine the daily damage during the months our daughter was deployed and her cats lived with us. The mopping up after Clancy's trail of destruction was a bit of distraction from worrying about having my baby flying from forward operating base to forward operating base, but overall it was not useful. The pleasure of interacting with a friendly cat passing by when I am collecting the newspaper or the mail does not make up for the punishment Clancy will impose upon me for my infidelity. No good deed, even a friendly belly-rub, will go unpunished.
The story, however, really began months ago, and not with a cat but with a drooling, stumbling raccoon and my rather frantic phone call to the very same county government Animal Control agency. The raccoon appeared to be rabid and was staggering around the yard in broad daylight. I was worried. The elderly guy next door likes to sit in his driveway and was not going to be able to move quickly if the raccoon became aggressive. The people across the street have three small children; the neighborhood is overflowing with kids. An intellectually disabled...