Taking on those beneath me
April 16, 2004
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.
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
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, Youre lucky he showed up again, I coulda
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
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
But now theyre 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
Ideals rarely account for reality. I just cant afford the vets
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.
Its 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 email@example.com.