A friend of mine, who is a feline fanatic, once said of cats, “Dogs have masters. Cats have staff.”
This is totally true of course, and a subject of passionate discourse with humans who either hate them or adore these mischievous and slightly evil creatures.
It’s spring, a time for cats to head out on the prowl. It is also time for many to either welcome them on their rounds or to envision the wildest schemes to fend off the pesky hairy felines from entering yards, especially gardens.
As everyone knows Innisfail has armed itself with a pretty tough bylaw against misbehaving and free roaming pussycats.
Innisfail’s cat bylaw, enacted on Jan. 25, 2010, forbids any pussycat from running at large, licensed or not. Cats here have been ordered to stay on their own properties. If not, their “staff” gets hit with an $80 fine on the first offence, rising up to $200 and $300 for second and third violations.
The bitter truth for Innisfail cats is that they are immediately behind the eight ball in even thinking about trying to do what they do best – what they want, when they want to do it and the hell with their staff. They do this with their tails more straight up than ever, their whiskers twitching and an attitude that declares to everyone to just stuff it.
Most folks do not really care. In fact many just accept cats on their property as just another normal occurrence of spring, while passionate cat lovers remain in awe of this “catitude.”
But there are those in town who just get plain ornery, and ready to do battle. Some get out the lawn hoses and strategically place them close to a cat’s favourite spot, usually where the sunshine will stay the longest on any given day.
Others have stockpiled spray bottles at various parts of their properties. But cats are quite clever, you know. If they sense pending danger in one spot they will surely scout out another safer locale.
Then there are some who want to go a step further – cat traps, which many animal rights activists view as either inhumane or potentially so.
Innisfail has a contract with the Alberta Animal Services (AAS) in Red Deer. Officers from this agency collect cat complaints and will come to town and set up traps to nab roaming cats. Angry citizens will often do this themselves, although it is not recommended by either the town or AAS officials as they believe even the most mischievous cats deserve the most humane treatment possible, if one believes that cat traps are humane in any circumstance.
The problem here, say feline spokehumans, is that there are better, more humane ways to protect properties without resorting to nasty cat traps. Sadly though, many cat haters are lazy, like the slumbering felines they despise, and won’t bother to go an extra few minutes to get it done.
There are many informative web sites dedicated to alternate ways to deter felines from messing up yards and flower gardens. Contrary to what many believe mothballs are toxic, and shouldn’t be used. But there are many inexpensive safe herbs that cats don’t like to be around, like lavender, rue, geranium, absinthe, and lemon-thyme. Cats also don’t like tea leaves, and once mixed with garden soil, felines will make themselves scarce.
But even the most passionate cat lovers will concede that felines, more clever than most people can imagine, will find a way around these deterrents as well. They simply do not accept such measures, forever holding on to the attitude for the benefit of all staff that they must have anything or do whatever they want.
It is a charm that delights all fanciers, and one that enrages cat-trapping folks. Yes, cats can be downright mean and slightly evil but for many, like famed writer Mark Twain, there is only one thing to do - accept the proper order of things, even if it comes with fur, whiskers and plenty of catitude.
"Of all God's creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”