I am a dog lover. As such, I have an obsession for my three Labs that results in behavior some consider less than normal:
- I let my dogs walk all over me.
- I talk to my dogs as if they were human.
- I bought my dogs their very own futon to sleep on.
But dog lovers like me are pretty normal people compared to cat lovers. While dog lovers are eccentric, perhaps even a bit tetched, cat lovers are stark-raving looney.
Cat lovers believe, for example, that because cats were once worshiped as gods, they still should be. They believe that people who hate cats, will come back as mice in their next life.
Cat lovers sleep in the same position all night because it annoys their cat when they move. Or their cat sleeps on their head -- and they like it.
Cat lovers' refrigerators are full of open cans of rejected cat food. And they end up watching reality shows because the cat is sleeping on the remote.
Perhaps strangest of all, some cat lovers actually kiss their cats -- on the lips.
Now it so happens that in the back room at the Roundup, a fuzzy, happy little place known affectionately as ‘Production,' there resides an entire litter of cat lovers. And these people don't take kindly to all this trash talk they have to read on the opinion page about feral cats.
Allow me to summarize the Rim Country's feral cat brouhaha.
A couple weeks ago, a Payson man was attacked by a stray cat -- for the second time in four weeks. Some of the less informed concluded it was a feral cat, but savvy cat people knew right away that it had to be a lost or abandoned stray because it rubbed up against the man's leg before attacking him.
This is where feral cats are a whole lot smarter than domestic cats. A feral cat will not come anywhere near a human, let alone rub against his or her leg.
Anyway, the offending cat was eventually trapped, destroyed and beheaded so rabies tests could be conducted, even though the cat was exhibiting none of the symptoms of a rabid cat, and even though cats rarely contract rabies. It's that fundamental concept this country seems to have that the world revolves around humans -- especially American humans.
Anyway, about this time a group called Payson Friends of Ferals entered the catfight, announcing a new, humane initiative for decreasing the feral cat population through non-lethal methods.
"PFF has chosen to approach the problem of free-roaming unwanted cats with the trap-neuter-return method," founder Lisa Boyle said. "It is by far a more humane solution than the ‘kill' methods used (by most shelters)."
And just to emphasize their point, PFF pointed out that the Payson Humane Society had euthanized some 600 cats in the past year without making a dent in the feral cat population. This prompted a letter to the editor in a subsequent edition of the Roundup in which a person noted that 600 dead cats meant 600 less cats "to ‘relieve themselves' for us to smell or step in -- in our landscaping, granite driveways, under apartment stairways, flower beds, gardens and maybe even a child's sandbox or two."
As you can well imagine, the cat lovers back in Production were incensed and enraged over this letter. They found it more than a little ironic that a member of this great nation of ours and of the human race would have a problem with an animal who treats the world as its litter box when that's just exactly what we Americans do every day by driving oversized SUVs and pickups that use 20 percent of the world's oil, but don't get me started.
They also noted -- tongue-in-cheek, mind you --that using the same logic as the letter writer, euthanizing children would reduce the problem of stepping in bubble gum.
And they surmised -- also tongue-in-cheek -- that by "putting down" humans who drive old cars, we can eventually eliminate the problem of oil leaks in parking lots and on driveways.
An old saying among cats goes something like this:
"Humans have three primary functions: to feed us, to give us attention and to clean our litter boxes. Humans can be taught these and other basic rules if you start early and are consistent."
Apparently the people in production take a dimmer view of humankind.
(For more information on Payson Friends of Ferals, call (928) 468-1143 or (928) 474-1836. For more more information on feral cats in general, go to www.alleycat.org.)