Taking on those beneath me



Campus Times
April 16, 2004


by Kenneth Todd Ruiz
Editor in Chief

Every night, my neighborhood is embroiled in gang violence. Starting at about midnight, shrieks of rage and cries of combat echo throughout my apartment complex.

Inevitably, I stumble out the door in my sandals and follow my ears to the source of the cacophony.

As I approach, their dark forms turn to face me, fixing a gaze that is part fear but mostly loathing upon me.

Hands on my hips, I unflinchingly return the stare.

“Hey guys…knock it off, okay?”

They hiss their responses. Literally.

For six months, this expanding colony of feral cats has taken hold, and they repeat their ancient game every evening in the walkways and gardens of my suburban habitat.

After a tense moment, with neither daring to back down, I issue the coup de grace. One more step, laden with intent, forces this feline standoff into a strategic retreat. But not without meaningful glances exchanged through slitted eyes that seem to say, “You’re lucky he showed up again, I coulda taken you.”

It started off innocently enough. A pair of kittens took up residence in the crawlspace beneath the unit opposite mine. Neighbors discreetly left out bowls of kitty kibble, which served to strengthen their growing menace.

Now I am, admittedly, a cat geek. Their species comprise one-half of my short list of things that never fail to cheer me up. The other being, of course, good kung-fu fighting.

I hold cats, and indeed most animal species, in higher regard than my opposing-thumbed, cerebrally-swollen, food chain dominating kin.

When Jack in the Box threatened viewers with “Cat Chat” I thought it sounded like an awesome show.

But those two kittens are now a dozen, and they have expanded their holdings and territory, now occupying the space beneath both buildings.

My own pudgy little fur-head, who looks more like a small cow, has been denied access to the garden he so loves to chew upon for fear of his street-stupid life.

But now they’re in the friggin’ walls. Noises from the kitchen recently drew me to find his fat butt sticking out from the cabinet under the sink. Looking within, a pair of glowing eyes stared back from the darkness, where they had found purchase through a small opening into the domain of my household cleaners.

So I have long debated what to do. Ideally, I would round them all up, deprive them of their lovemaking organs and return them to live out the remainder of their subdued lives in the subterranean realm we have grown to refer to as “the cat colony.”

Ideals rarely account for reality. I just can’t afford the vet’s bill. Others have suggested I get someone in and gas the suckers, but I will not resort to this final solution to the feline problem.

Yet nobody does anything, and I still think the octogenarians who live in safety on the second floor secret food to these furry terrors.

Although it will be a stain on my conscience, only one option seems practical. Call in the proper authorities to corral them up and ship them off to the pound. It’s a tough choice, but in the end, may be the most compassionate act available. Until the day comes when cats can rightfully take their places as masters of the earth, I suppose I will have to take responsibility for reinforcing the unnatural order of things.

Otherwise their numbers will grow unchecked and I will be living in a whiskered ghetto. That is, until someone else grows annoyed enough and leaves out the cyanide laden fancy feast.

Kenneth Todd Ruiz, a senior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at kruiz@ulv.edu.