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City cat fights resemble my groundhog day

September 21, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND

Commentary

We're used to City Hall fighting like cats, but not fighting about cats.

I get a warm feeling knowing there's always hope for breaking new ground.

In fairness, I don't know that the city was actually fighting about cats, more like discussing what should be done with a feral cat colony at City Park. But the phrase "We're used to City Hall discussing like cats..." doesn't work.

I am a professional, and I know these things.

The cats are taking the fall for an infestation of fleas at the grand old Mansion House art gallery, prompting some to urge that they be catnapped by the humane society.

That prompting prompted others to protest, saying that the preferred course is something they call "cat management."

So we may have to get a group of feral lawyers in here to sort the mess out.

First of all, I have to live with a cat named Colonel Sanders. And I believe that gives me the expertise to suggest that the term "cat management" is an oxymoron if ever there was one.

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You want to manage a gang of cats? Good luck with that.

The theory goes that if you sweep all the lawless cats out of common ground, the success will be short-lived because a new gang of lawless cats will move in. I believe the FBI had the same problems in Chicago.

The better plan, supposedly, is to pluck out the cats a few at a time for a quick trip through the EZ Spay express lane and then put them back. (Technically it's known as TNR, for Trap, Neuter and Release.) That way they don't reproduce, but they "protect their turf" against a more problematic influx of more fertile felines.

See how seamless it all is? Makes me wonder why we didn't put this much thought into our Iraq policy.

Maybe Rumsfeld should consider a TNR program for religious warlords. "Just chill M'abba, this will only take a second, and we'll have you back and car bombing in no time."

Thinking back a few years, wasn't everyone up in arms because City Park had too many birds? Now we have a lot of cats. So what's the problem?

Birds get out of hand, you get cats. Then if the cats get out of hand, we'll just introduce a bunch of dogs. If the dogs get out of hand we'll introduce badgers. Then wolves. Then lions. Then Teddy Roosevelt.

It all works out. So I guess I'm on board with the city, which pretty much decided to leave well enough alone.

But then there is still the original problem to deal with. Can't very well have the Mansion House turning into a flea market, can we?

There seems to be some dispute, however, over whether the fleas are being spread by cats or groundhogs. And I suppose you could turn the TNR program into the TNFCR (trap, neuter, flea collar, release) program.

If I'm a cat, yes, it's undignified, but it beats a one-way trip to Valley Proteins, if you know what I'm saying.

Hold on a minute. Did someone say groundhogs?

Boy, there's something you don't want to hear from the exterminator. "Sorry ma'am, you don't have box elders, you have - groundhogs."

I think someone's pulling our leg. This is sounding less like an animal control situation and more like a Monty Python situation: Woman calls the exterminator and finds out she doesn't have mice, she has sheep.

Myself, I'd deal with the groundhogs first. If your next arts event is a reading by P.G. Wodechuck, you've got to rearrange your priorities.

I had a groundhog problem a few years ago, which I mentioned in passing to a neighbor. Two days later, I swear, he shows up at my doorstep with this arsenal of smoke-emitting bombs and projectiles that would make the Suns fireworks look like a Reo Snapper.

Figuring if a little was good, more was better, I lit about 10 of them, chucked them down the groundhog hole, slammed a rock over it and dove behind the shrubs.

What I didn't know was that you can't just cover the main entrance, you have to cover all the entrances. Pretty soon thick columns of smoke were shooting up from about 20 spots throughout the entire neighborhood and for a second people thought they were going to have to call in Red Adair.

Caused quite a stir. Unfortunately, I had picked a time when everyone was home - except the groundhog. He was back eating my peas the next morning.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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