Our apartment complex is a breeding ground for stray cats. It is amok with cats. In the words of one of my favorite authors for children, Wanda Gag, there are Millions of Cats.
Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But there are indeed a lot of cats. The problem subsided for awhile when the property manager decided that we had reached critical feline mass and set a few traps, each baited with a sad-looking tin of tuna-flavored food that quickly became waterlogged and buggy. Said cat traps were in theory humane, but I didn’t trust the (usually very competent) maintenance crew to check them frequently enough to attend to imprisoned kittens, so I usually checked them to and from my afternoon run.
This problem will likely persist for a few reasons. One reason is the embattled, limping, but somehow still alive stray that Danny and I have affectionately named Tuffy. He is the patriarch of Towne Plaza, a survivor of at least two hurricanes. We’ve considered capturing him and taking him to the SPCA or the Humane Society, where they would certainly put him down, but we don’t have the heart. And he lives on, spreading his stray-cat seed, leaving in his wake a trail of black-and-white kittens.
And then there are the Cat Feeders. Some renters on the first floor set out water and an enormous bowl of dry cat food every day. They are mysterious and perhaps nocturnal. I’ve never seen them refill the bowl, and I suspect they don’t own any pets themselves. Yet they feed most of the strays in the neighborhood and some of the well-fed outdoor house-cats as well. And, of course, an entire herd of raccoons and opossums have discovered the free buffet.
A few days ago, Danny and I noticed that the apartment directly above the Cat Feeders had taped to their window a sign: a bright red arrow pointing down to the cat food below. A passive aggressive message, perhaps, meant to alert the property managers that here — here — was the source of the Millions of Cats. Their headquarters.
This is why apartment living is sometimes awesome.
True, I am somewhat bitter that grad school has stunted my Development as a Grown-up in the housing department. Many of my friends have moved into nice houses, and while they are responsible for maintenance problems that I can fix with a few phone calls, they are no longer paying rent — that bill that feels like throwing money out the window. But renters in an apartment complex exert a certain degree of creativity when harassing their so-close neighbors.
Case in point: the names of the in-range wireless networks.
And I agree. That’s one loud dog.