Rescue Cats & Other Adventures

The Serious Stuff, Part 1

It’s very hard for me to write this because it’s been a long and painful internal battle of mine. And it also is about emotional issues, as well as legal vs. right. But this is the thing that started the wheels spinning in the right direction, and helped to bring resolution to a situation that has been eating away at my conscience.

The root of my neighborhood cat troubles has been a constant stream of young, unfixed cats coming from the general vicinity of a specific neighbor’s house. Over the course of the last three years, I have been able to observe this person’s emotional decline from a slight distance. We are not a neighborhood of tremendous interaction, so I don’t claim to know her situation. Only the things I pieced together from observation and other neighbors.

Initially I got involved with Operation Catnip as a solution to the quickly growing cat population. It was a race to fix them before they had more babies, or irritated my less-compassionate neighbors to the point that they … took care of the cats. Over time, the situation revealed itself to be a lonely woman with possible emotional issues that left her unable to cope with the cats she fed and cared for.

Things became alarming about a year ago when I had a brief chance to interact with her, and I got the feeling that all was not well with her and her need for these cats. Then in January it seemed to me that the power in her house wasn’t on and she didn’t actually stay there. Only stopped in to feed the cats. And then her visits became more brief and more irregular.

In the mean time, more cats were showing up in my colony, and a few looked emaciated, with stained paws and serious emotional issues. I started being able to identify the cats that had been trapped in her house by the smell, the behavior, and the condition of their bodies.

Yet I was in a quandary because legally I had no really evidence or course of action. Investigating her empty house would be trespassing. I had nothing except observations to give to Animal Services as a reason to check the welfare of the animals that may or may not be in the house. And this woman and I owned our homes so there would be no escaping any ill will stirred up. I was on the horns of a dilemma between my instincts telling me something was wrong, and lacking proof to bring local agencies into action.

I admit I tried a few things, I reported the house for code violations (which were horrendously dismissed with blatant abandon, but that’s another story). But I couldn’t figure out what exactly I should do.

Then one of our colony cats, Jane, went missing for a week. She showed up again, completely emaciated and so bad looking that I canceled my Saturday plans to take her in to my vet immediately. There was still no actual evidence, but I knew she had been trapped in that house without food and/or water.

For a few weeks, I struggled with nursing her back to health and figuring out how to get Animal Services into that house legally, when the most beautiful miracle happened to take the situation to the next level.

A couple were doing door-to-door cable sales for Cox, and they heard the sounds of animals in distress in the house. As good Samaritans, they cautiously investigated, discovered that the power at the house was not running on a hot day, and that the back door was cracked open enough that cat paws were able to poke through. They called Animal Services immediately.

I happened to see them in the yard, and being ‘that’ kind of neighbor, crossed over there to find out what was going on. They told me, and I followed up a call to Animal Services myself to give them a little more info on the situation and find out if they were actually sending an officer out to investigate.

Sure enough, the next day an ACAS officer came out and walked around the house. I spoke to him and he agreed the situation didn’t look good at all. He posted a ‘Notice of Abandonment’ on the door and left. This gave the homeowner 24 hours to contact Animal Services. If no contact, ACAS could legally enter the building to liberate any trapped animals.

I was not home the next day, so I didn’t know what happened. But a follow-up call on Monday confirmed that they rescued three cats, who had been taken to a vet and then moved to the shelter. That was all of the info they could tell me at the moment.

Little did I know the circus was about o come to town. But that’s another story. The big deal here is that I know I should have trusted my instincts and pushed harder for a way to resolve this situation faster. But a wonderfully compassionate stranger was able to start the ball rolling. And we’ll see how this whole thing plays out.

Leave a Reply