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Neighborly love
June 24, 2002 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Neighborly love Baited cat traps, regular trips to the pound to get animals euthanized, erecting signs outside a 14-year-old girl's bedroom to taunt her about her missing pet, having another girl arrested at school... Wow.
posted by NortonDC (150 comments total)

 
There's probably not enough paint in the world to plaster "FUCKWIT" on his sign of the fence. Or is there?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:55 AM on June 24, 2002


"If somebody gets bit or something by one of those cats, it's going to kill them," he said. Houghton also traps stray cats.

Are these guys in a cat trapping club? When was the last time you heard about a fatality from a feral house cat bite? Sure, bites are serious but I wish reporters would take the time time to refute these kinds of baseless and exaggerated claims.
posted by srboisvert at 8:17 AM on June 24, 2002


Well...I'm an animal lover, and while I really don't like what this neighbour is accused of doing (and I find the taunting words on the fence quite disturbing), this wouldn't have happened if this house cat had been a house cat. There's no reason a pet cat has to go outside, responsible cat owners keep their cats indoors (most humane societies won't let you adopt a cat if you intend to let it go outside), and I don't see why the neighbour should have to put up with cats on his property if he doesn't want to. It's interesting that we're not told if the neighbour started out by asking these people to keep their cat off his property, but either way, if Gobblin's owner had genuinely cared about his wellbeing, he'd have been an indoor cat and would still be around.
posted by biscotti at 8:17 AM on June 24, 2002


Biscotti: Bullshite. An indoor cat is like a bird with clipped wings. So long as the owner lives in a relatively slow and safe residential neighborhood, there's no reason in the world why a cat shouldn't be allowed to roam.

Let me ask you this: If an 8 year old boy were caught in this fuck's backyard, should he be allowed to bag and euthanize him?
posted by Pinwheel at 8:25 AM on June 24, 2002


There's a special circle of hell reserved for this wanker. Jesus, I'd be prepared to do time is anyone did that to either of my cats.
posted by bifter at 8:28 AM on June 24, 2002


what possible reason could he have for that sign? That's what gets me. What a horrid nasty man.

Here's hoping karma kicks his ass.
posted by Windigo at 8:33 AM on June 24, 2002


A pet owner takes a risk if she allows her cat to roam the neighborhood. If you think your cat can hold his own (competing with cars, other animals, psycho neighbors, etc.), then let him out of the house. But every time that kitty leaves the house, you're risking not seeing him again. I'm all for letting cats roam around -- my 12 year old cat has been the neighborhood watchcat since he was a kitten -- but you have to be realistic about the consequences of doing so.
posted by katieinshoes at 8:36 AM on June 24, 2002


Pinwheel: that's a ridiculous statement, indoor cats lead long and happy lives (far longer and healthier than outdoor cats) and are no more like "birds with clipped wings" than you are, that's pure bunk. See here for reasons why keeping cats indoors is better for the cat and the environment. More here, here and here. It's irresponsible, dangerous for the cat, and rude to your neighbours to let your cat outdoors.

As for the eight-year-old kid: please. Pick an example that's relevant, and beside that, I never said I approved of what the neighbour did (in fact I said the opposite), but responsible pet owners don't let their cats outdoors (why else would humane societies recommend keeping cats indoors?).
posted by biscotti at 8:38 AM on June 24, 2002


if I lived in that neighborhood, I'm pretty sure his front stoop would be a verrrrry appealing place for me to leave some goodies... immediately after scooping my three-cat litterbox.

anyone else not surprised that "No cat matching Gobblin's description was reported to animal control" ? taking a cat down to the county to be euthanized is surely the least funnest option available for a sicko like that.
posted by Sapphireblue at 8:41 AM on June 24, 2002


This is one more reason not to let cats wander outside. Besides the fact that it is illegal in many communities, free-roaming cats:

- fuck like bunnies and make lots of kittens, most of which will remain as strays for their short brutal lives

- are subject to intentional violence including drivers who view cats as legitimate targets, kids who think sticking fireworks up cats' asses is hilarious, and heartless SOB's who get thrills from impaling cats on chain link fences, and still others who encourage their dogs to attack and kill any cats they can

- are subject to unintentional violence including roadside hazards, predation (even in urban areas), accidental poisonings, etc.

I love my cats too much to expose them to the risks inherent in free-roaming.
posted by yesster at 8:44 AM on June 24, 2002


He's obviously a sick and very angry man. Taunting the little girl and having the other arrested is wrong.

But trapping cats is his right. We constantly have cats walking all over our property. Catching birds and squirrels on our property. We finally have a dog that chases them off, but I hate it that cats walk all over and stalk our pet bird. I can't stand them and, while I think this guy took it a little far, I can kinda understand his point. If you aren't a cat person, they just aren't cute and you don't want them around.
posted by aacheson at 8:46 AM on June 24, 2002


if Gobblin's owner had genuinely cared about his wellbeing, he'd have been an indoor cat and would still be around.

Biscotti, I agree that it's better to keep cats indoors, but I think you're coming dangerously close to blaming the victim here.

People who let their cats outdoors assume certain risks, it's true. But one of those risks need not be a borderline-psychopathic neighbor with a penchant for killing small animals. If Gobblin had been hit by a car or attacked by a dog, that's one thing. This guy's behavior is another thing entirely.
posted by Chanther at 8:47 AM on June 24, 2002


There's no reason a pet cat has to go outside

Other than a few million years' evolution. Keep your pets locked up, contrary to their nature and drives, inside an artificial, sterile environment where they can get no real exercise if you like, but it is an abuse, pure and simple. But then, people keep fish in tiny bowls of dirty water and songbirds in little cages, too.

Life contains some risk, for pets as well as for people. The common practice of turning a blind eye to this reality is very disturbing. One should try to learn to effectively manage the risk, not pretend that it doesn't exist, thus making oneself utterly vulnerable to it.

Disclaimer: My cat is almost 12 years old and has adapted perfectly to being an indoor/outdoor cat in six different environments (so far).

why else would humane societies recommend keeping cats indoors?

Because they have their own agendas, and are trying to drive a thumbtack with a mallet. In addition, they often represent the "infantalize your pet and treat them like helpless human babies" school of pet management.
posted by rushmc at 8:55 AM on June 24, 2002


Biscotti: "I don't see why the neighbour should have to put up with cats on his property if he doesn't want to...if Gobblin's owner had genuinely cared about his wellbeing, he'd have been an indoor cat and would still be around."

Gobblin's cat is no longer around. Therefore, we can logically infer that she didn't care for her cat's well-being?

A woman gets her old, benign cat fucking trapped and killed by a psycho neigbor and you see this as an instance to preach about the moral crime of letting one's cat outside?

You're insensitive; maybe sick.
posted by Pinwheel at 8:56 AM on June 24, 2002


i wish the worst on that guy.... some people really need to grow up.
posted by lotsofno at 8:58 AM on June 24, 2002


He's a professional exterminator, too, so of course he kills things every day for a living and he probably has easy access to the stuff you might want for trapping and killing pets. He had better hope no one finds out where he lives and publicizes it to the wrong people.
posted by pracowity at 9:09 AM on June 24, 2002


He was using baited traps, 'fer chrissakes. He is luring them into his yard and into the traps. And if he caught a cat he could have let his neighbor know, so she could come and get it, and warn her of his annoyance for the intrusion.

The fence was a great idea. He can't bear to have any life form in his back yard. Like the old biddy that got all pissy if your ball ever landed in her yard.

He should live alone in the woods.
posted by Red58 at 9:15 AM on June 24, 2002


Chanther: The victim here isn't the owner, it's the cat. I'm not blaming the victim, but I am placing some of the blame on the owner.
posted by biscotti at 9:18 AM on June 24, 2002


If a tagged pet was turned in to animal control it would be fairly easy to return it to the owners, no? I'd be willing to wager he either killed it himself or the cat's tags mysteriously disappeared on the way to the pound. The former would be stretching his trapping rights to the point of animal cruelty and the latter would be just plain wrong.

Hell, maybe he had nothing to do with the cat disappearing, but the fence taunting still makes him one of the biggest pricks I've read about it a long time.
posted by Cyrano at 9:22 AM on June 24, 2002


Pinwheel: did you even look at any of those links? Before you fly off the handle and resort to tired ad hominems, perhaps you could just consider that I might have some reasoning behind my argument.
posted by biscotti at 9:22 AM on June 24, 2002


1. I was underimpressed by this man's apparent double-cross of the girl who took his cage, then returned it and apologized. (If the story is accurate, he said everything was OK...then filed charges the next day. What she did was wrong, but if he was going to file charges all along, he should not have misled her.)

2. Along the same lines, no reasonable adult taunts a teenager after she loses a beloved pet. Yeeccch.

3. The downside to letting cats out is that you can't keep them in the yard, unless they're geriatric cases who are too arthritic to climb either the fence or the trees. Since I live in a fairly rural area, complete with the occasional fox, numerous dogs, and predatory birds, my two cats won't be heading out the door anytime soon.
posted by thomas j wise at 9:25 AM on June 24, 2002


Sorry, Biscotti, I don't buy it. Yes, the cat is the victim, but so is the young girl. Certainly a girl who has had her cat needlessly killed is a victim by many standards. And even if we get heartlessly legalistic, the "owner" has had "property" destroyed.

The owner bears responsibility for exposing the cat to harmful acts of nature and accidents - these are the things the links you provided were warning about. The owner does not bear responsibility for deliberate cruelty on the part of another human being.
posted by Chanther at 9:27 AM on June 24, 2002


Did he have to paint the fence PINK? Also, do the people have a right to paint the side of the fence that points towards them? I would paint it white. I would also set up a tape recorder with the sound of a cat meowing and point it directly at the guys' bedroom window. I also like SapphireBlue's idea of little gifts from the catbox.
posted by aacheson at 9:30 AM on June 24, 2002


Chanther: of course. I feel for the girl, I really do, and I think that the neighbour's a sicko regardless of whether he killed the cat or not (as I said in my original post, the fence-painting is disturbing). And your "property" argument implies that the owner bears no responsibility for ensuring that their "property" is kept reasonably safe (if you left your bicycle on a neighbour's lawn you likely wouldn't be surprised if it disappeared). I'm not saying that the owner is responsible for the neighbour's acts, but the owner was responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the cat. And the links I provided also mentioned harm from direct action from individuals, something that's all too common in big cities.
posted by biscotti at 9:43 AM on June 24, 2002


Keep your pets locked up ... it is an abuse, pure and simple.

Helloooo, hyperbole!

My oldest cat---she's eight---used to be indoor/outdoor. Not anymore. I don't think she remembers her mouse-killing days, but I do. I also remember her being hit by a car one day while I worked in the yard. She ran off and was gone for three days, during which I spent a lot of time wondering which quiet place she'd picked as a nice spot to die.

We live now on a very busy city thoroughfare---a lot busier than the quiet, two-block-long residential lane that "only" broke my cat's tail (at the base, to the point where the vet recommended it be removed entirely. I wouldn't let them take it off; it healed after a couple of months of hanging there like a dead thing and causing her to fall over a lot). It would be "abuse" to let my kitties out there, because they wouldn't make it across that street even once.

Hey rushmc---having explained the Secret Conspiracy of Humane Societies, can you explain the Secret Conspiracy of Veterinarians too? They keep trying to push this "keep your cat inside to keep her safe" propaganda on me too, all these numbers about how much longer indoor cats live; very very suspicious.
posted by Sapphireblue at 9:46 AM on June 24, 2002


On a side note here: cat bites actually can kill you, and they can go from painful puncture wounds to a medical emergency in a surprisingly short time. (more info)
posted by swerve at 9:50 AM on June 24, 2002


Hmmm. Well, here's the listings for exterminators in Brandon proper. It seems a little sparse...I would have thought there would be more than 9.

And yes, here's hoping large karma biscuits fall from the sky onto Mr. Well's pointy little head.

As to the inside-outside thing...I don't let me cats out anymore since we moved from the country into the suburbs, but darned if they don't try to escape every once in a while...and I can guarantee all kinds of ugliness if one of my neighbors decided to BAIT a trap, then kill my cat. Baiting the trap is the big deal here.

And painting a fence pink, well that's nigh onto a hanging offense period. Painting Meow, Meow on it...oooooh, that's just asking for trouble. Urban warfare would hit new heights, I tell you what.

If it's legal for him to put up the fence, then it's legal for them to put up signage...with his name, his business name, and a tally of cats killed, his phone number, and the names of his prominent clients. Big, GIANT signs that point to the house with things like "Cat Killer" in big red text on em. Put up floodlights, point them at his house and his yard. Destroy his business, destroy his property value, ruin his sleep schedule...oh, I would be beyond vicious...this would be jihad. As long as you stayed within the law, there's not a damn thing he could do. I would have my lawyers crawling all over the books to find legal ways to torture this guy. Yes, yes I would.

I have very little sense of humor when f*cked with.
posted by dejah420 at 10:06 AM on June 24, 2002


Well I think fuckwit "A" (the neighbor with the pink meow sign) might have got the idea for the pink fence from FuckWit "B". Fuckwit "B" did the pink fence thing in Pinellas County (next to Hillsbough County/Tampa) when he bought a 4-acre lake and put a pink fence around the lake and wanted to charge lake residents big bucks to get their view of the lake back.
posted by CJB at 10:07 AM on June 24, 2002


No question this guy is psycho, but Pinwheel, um, isn't the whole purpose of Metafilter for random and extreme newsevents to spark discussion and provide opportunities to express opinions? Seems a little odd to criticize Biscotti for doing just that.

My neighbor lets her cats run loose in the neighborhood and even though I really like cats in general and have owned a couple, I am REALLY ANGRY at her about it.

Why? a) bunnies and chipmunks, which I love and used to enjoy watching in my yard and of which we now have ZERO!! b) toxoplasmosis, which means that I have to be very careful where I let my infant girl play in case some cat has pooped in my garden c) my darling terriers (who are indoor dogs) and who are driven into a frenzy by these nasty cats who come lounge on our back deck to (seemingly deliberately) drive them into a frenzy and smash themselves on the window.


I haven't gone to the lengths of one neighbor who left an anonymous note threatening to poison her cats, but I have thought about calling the pound.

Let's face it, evolution or not, if you own a pet, you're responsible for the damage it causes ANYWHERE and if you can't have an outdoor pet in the suburbs, HELLO! don't have a pet!! Sorry. But this guy is obviously unbalanced, yadda, yadda. Isn't animal cruelty, along with setting fires and bedwetting, one of the three danger signals that a serial killer is in the making?
posted by jfwlucy at 10:09 AM on June 24, 2002


I thought about the serial killer thing too, but it seemed a tad extreme. That's Big Evil. This guy is just small, petty evil.
posted by Cyrano at 10:32 AM on June 24, 2002


all these numbers about how much longer indoor cats live; very very suspicious.

I could probably keep you alive for a very long time in conditions you would find quite unstimulating and restrictive. Think quality vs. quantity.
posted by rushmc at 10:34 AM on June 24, 2002


my darling terriers (who are indoor dogs) and who are driven into a frenzy by these nasty cats who come lounge on our back deck to (seemingly deliberately) drive them into a frenzy and smash themselves on the window.

I would argue that that's what comes of having nervous, high-strung, insane animals with little self-control for pets (and then confining them in your home). On the one hand, it can be said that the cats are trespassing and violating your property rights; on the other, it can be argued that cats don't recognize the concept of fences or "No Tresspassing" signs, nor should they. Their habit of wandering the land predates your deed. Or, indeed, your whole concept of law.
posted by rushmc at 10:40 AM on June 24, 2002


rushmc: Other than a few million years' evolution. Keep your pets locked up, contrary to their nature and drives, inside an artificial, sterile environment where they can get no real exercise if you like, but it is an abuse, pure and simple

Sure, fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly and all that, but cats and dogs are pets. Millions of years of evolution has been tempered by thousands of years of domestication. They get food and shelter in exchange for services rendered.

We have three cats. Two of them, age 13 & 16, are true housecats. We used to live in a 4th floor condo, and it would have been impossible to let them outside. We did let them go on the patio - until the older one fell off and cracked a few ribs.

We now live in a house, and were adopted by a stray cat a few years ago. We don't let her inside, because the old cats are declawed (Yes, I know. I would never do that again - it IS abuse - I plead stupidity and ignorance) and adding a young, cat with a full set of claws to the mix is just not a good idea. So, she's outside during the day but sleeps in the garage at night, as there are other cats & critters roaming around. She'd love to move in full-time, tho.

Instead of (or in addition to) hatching plots of vengeance against this cat-killing cretin, I suggest that all mefites with room for a cat (or dog...we don't discriminate here) go down to the local pound or pet adoption agency and pick one out.

I could probably keep you alive for a very long time in conditions you would find quite unstimulating and restrictive. Think quality vs. quantity.

Thanks! Send me pictures and some more information and I'll get back to you...
posted by groundhog at 10:46 AM on June 24, 2002


My experience with 'cat people' or 'dog people' is that rational argument goes out the window. This is especially the case here in San Francisco regarding the use of public parks. All sorts of pseudo-logic is used in order to argue for the rights of their 'children' Emotions run high and reason is impossible.

Their habit of wandering the land predates your deed

In most cases, these aren't cats natural habitats. They have been artificially imported and their numbers multiplied with the assistance of humans. What about the rights of birds and rabbits and mice not to be driven to extinction?
posted by vacapinta at 10:53 AM on June 24, 2002


I would argue that that's what comes of having nervous, high-strung, insane animals with little self-control for pets

One could also argue that the dogs are doing what any normal animal would do: defending their territory. Have you examined these animals and diagnosed a canine anxiety disorder?
posted by groundhog at 10:56 AM on June 24, 2002


My neighbourhood is full of friendly cats wandering about. But it also has included a few sad little corpses at the side of the road, so my cats stay indoors. I would *love* to let them wander, especially since the time the tabby snuck out for a few hours one night while we were packing for a camping trip. She came home in her own sweet time just before dawn with her tail in the air, the tip waving like a flag, and chirping happily. (No, she wasn't stuffed full of birds -- at least, I think she wasn't).

I'd love to give her that experience every day, but those little cat corpses are pretty convincing, so while my cats do get outside almost every day in good weather, they're on a harness and leash and get to wander about the lawns only while I'm with them. (The leashes are just there to give me something to grab if they start heading out of bounds. Cats don't heel.).

Oh, one more thing about keeping cats in a natural state. The same tabby is going to glow in the dark in a couple of weeks as we're sending her off to be nuked to correct her over-active thyroid. It's going to cost over $1000, but she's still a pretty lively thirteen year old and we think she'll have several good years left in her after this. She'll have to be under more severe restrictions for 30 days after we take her home, but I suspect she'll miss sleeping with us more than she'll miss going outside. (Damn that radiation: she'd make a perfect portable nightlight, too).
posted by maudlin at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2002


I'm torn on the indoor/outdoor cat issue. I want my cat to get to do all her cat stuff, but more than anything I worry about assholes like this exterminator or bored kids lingering at the middle school across from my house.

Still, for all the fleas, ticks, evil neighbors, heartless kids, rabid animals, sharp teeth, speeding motorists, and general outdoor cat pitfalls, I still feel guilty about not letting her heed the call of the wild.

Now this asshole with the cat trap and the pink fence? I'd like to see him kept alive for a very long time in conditions he found unstimulating and restrictive. (My god, that sounds like my job...)
posted by jennyb at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2002


to those who have trouble with neighbour cats - there is a cat "no trespassing" sign that cats understand.
Lemon and orange peels in your garden (they really don't like lemons) and the occasional squirt of a watergun or hose as they streak by your property. Soon they'll take the long way round. It ain't that hard.

try "shoo shoo" the first couple of goes. always works for me. I try to keep the bigger cats around the summer house (read nasty ill tempered I'll hiss at anything in my way cats) away from my indoor cats. Shoo-shooing worked well until one of my cats started "dating" the nastiest hissy one, which turned out to be a very sweet girl when he brought her home to show me. Just easily jittered.
And if you know which neighbour owns the cat, maybe bring it up with them so that you both could construct anti-cat barriers between your backyard fences or so.
posted by dabitch at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2002


I'm torn on the indoor/outdoor cat issue. I want my cat to get to do all her cat stuff, but more than anything I worry about assholes like this exterminator or bored kids lingering at the middle school across from my house.

Still, for all the fleas, ticks, evil neighbors, heartless kids, rabid animals, sharp teeth, speeding motorists, and general outdoor cat pitfalls, I still feel guilty about not letting her heed the call of the wild.

Now this asshole with the cat trap and the pink fence? I'd like to see him kept alive for a very long time in conditions he found unstimulating and restrictive. (My god, that sounds like my job...)
posted by jennyb at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2002


The article approached all the issues, except ours.
I would have made a statement earlier, yet what more could I say than "a neighbor knows the laws to use to his advantage." Now I said it. I'm still confused with the post above as some how I confused the two together in my mind and was really left to wonder.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:12 AM on June 24, 2002


About the neighbor. I agree that this person is better off in some shed in the woods writing manifestos.

Living in society is not just about respecting laws. Laws are their for the extreme condition, to catch and punish when things have truly gotten out of control. Before you get to laws and rules there is the unwritten etiquette of living in a civilized society - of respecting others, of showing courtesy and restraint. Anyone who says "look! I am not breaking any laws!" is defending their misanthropic self. It is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
posted by vacapinta at 11:24 AM on June 24, 2002


Wow. One thing is for certain, there is at least one animal in that neighborhood that should be put out of it's misery...
posted by mathis23 at 11:35 AM on June 24, 2002


So this guy is lonely and wanted some pussy, what's the big deal?

I'm so sorry, it was too easy. But keep your cats indoors unless you live someplace where there aren't other people. Not everyone likes cats and I'd hope those of you who let your cats just roam respect that. I don't let my dog have the run of the neighborhood.

Of course, I don't have a supervillian complex that makes me want to taunt my victims as I kill their most beloved possesion.
posted by geoff. at 11:37 AM on June 24, 2002


Also: animal shelter workers lose jobs after saving condemned kittens.
posted by NortonDC at 11:38 AM on June 24, 2002


There's a Marcus Wells on Barkfield Street in Brandon, five blocks from Executive Pest Control & Lawn, also on Barkfield Street. Mike Houghton, Joel Wells's friend and neighbor, could be the W. Michael Houghton who lives about eight blocks from Marcus Wells, the guy who lives five blocks from Executive Pest Control & Lawn. The only Borkowskis in Brandon live a block from W. Michael Houghton and about seven blocks from Marcus Wells. I won't post specifics here, because I wouldn't want anyone to misuse the information I gleaned from Yahoo's people search function.
posted by Holden at 11:44 AM on June 24, 2002


Holden, you're beautiful.
posted by mathis23 at 11:49 AM on June 24, 2002


aacheson: with a permit, on your property you can. Notice the shared chain fence. Unfortunately because he chose to have a fence like that, he paid for it. I liked your suggestion, yet she would be in violation of a noise ordinance, that's why he didn't. Think he is old maybe going deaf( I'm guessing) and would probably love to do more. I'm sure Christine Miloslavic may have helped with the cost of the privacy fence, if he wanted it solely for privacy. Yet then he could not be mean spirited if it was a shared fence on the property line. He will slip up, and I'm sure his nieghbors and every agency is watching. Now you have two UGLY fences, one missing cat, a sad girl, and a broke, deaf(the above noise reference), and grumpy man which adds up to this large mess. A follow up will be the true tale.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:57 AM on June 24, 2002


Aren't there city ordinances that deal with the appearance of property? There are laws regulating lawn maintenance or leaving the hulk of a car in your front yard. Could I paint my house in neon orange and green stripes. Cover the roof with mirrors and flashing lights? I'm just trying to find some technicality on which to nail this asshole.
posted by mathis23 at 12:01 PM on June 24, 2002


If a tagged pet was turned in to animal control it would be fairly easy to return it to the owners, no?

Animal shelters surgically implant electronic ID tags in all dogs and cats now. If it showed up at a pound the first thing they'd do is scan, and they'd know who adopted it.
posted by plaino at 12:13 PM on June 24, 2002


Cats are legally defined as feral, meaning they are wild creatures. To me that means outdoor creatures.

This guy is obviously a Rush listener. May he suffer the fate of a thousand cats forever licking his looney face.
posted by nofundy at 12:19 PM on June 24, 2002


Nofundy, do you mean Rush the screechy Canadian band, or Rush the talk-radio buffoon? Or both?
posted by Holden at 12:25 PM on June 24, 2002


A cat is not automatically deprived and sedentary if it's kept inside; if it is, the problem is that the cat's owner isn't taking the cat's needs seriously enough, not simply that the cat is inside. Lastly, cats let you know when they're unhappy. The cat pees in your new shoes or shreds your favorite chair? It's almost certainly not a "bad cat," but rather a cat who doesn't have something that he needs. Got a good kitty? Then you're almost certainly a good owner, who provides for the pet's hard-wired needs, in one way or another (unless you're rushmc, for whom there is but One True Way to keep cats).

My cats are fairly devious and clever as cats go, I like to think, but I'm pretty sure they are neither tricky enough to pretend to be happy so as to spare my feelings, nor intelligent enough to spend a whole lot of time contemplating the existential what-if. "My whole life would be complete if only I could shit in the next-door neighbor's vegetable garden... someday... someday."

It's been six years since my girl cat was allowed to go outside. I used to think "once an outside cat, always an outside cat," but I don't think that anymore.

(Wordy, wordy post brought to you by People For Not Giving Your Cat To The Pound Or Tossing It Outside To Be Savaged By Possums, SUVs, Diseases, Parasites, Antifreeze Puddles, and Psycho Neighbors When It Misbehaves. I'll save for another time my tales of the cat I used to have who would cry and beg to be let inside if you did try to take him out onto the porch with you.)
posted by Sapphireblue at 12:31 PM on June 24, 2002


nofundy: I thought he was baiting for pussy cats not bush.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:34 PM on June 24, 2002


There is no sunlight, no fascinating outsidey smells---wide windowsills and screen windows take care of that.

Lovely. Put your cat in the window to see (and smell, no less!) the outdoor world he craves which you deny him. Talk about cruelty.

You know, it's so much easier to work within REALITY than to try to recreate a pale sham version.

Anyway, I should have known better than to try to have a rational discussion with pet fetishists. It's worse than trying to discuss religion with fundamentalists. Next thread, please.
posted by rushmc at 12:48 PM on June 24, 2002


sapphireblue:To Be Savaged By Possums please explain. I was told by the animal control in California there large numbers were due to the fruit source, yet I now live in Texas, and that would explain the fact I rarely see cats. But in Cerritos, Ca. they were eaten, per my Korean friends, no lie, sorry no link as it is illegal.
And it is >"opossum" , one of those tricky words.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:52 PM on June 24, 2002


clarify, large numbers = opossums
posted by thomcatspike at 1:05 PM on June 24, 2002


Well put, Sapphireblue.

The answer to the fence is for the Milosevics to rip out the chain link, and build their own wooden privacy fence, on their own property. As high as local laws allow, and from one edge of their property to the other. They won't have to be bothered by this pig's obnoxious fence any longer. It's a sick and sad thing that they'll have to go to the expense, but as Frost once said, good fences make good neighbours.

As for the girl who was arrested, I'd be curious to know how Wells could prove the theft, since the trap was returned. If I had been the girl's mother and/or lawyer, I would've fought that tooth and nail. There's no reason to drag a child into the legal system when there is no harm from their actions. That's just vindictive and petty, but that's clearly Wells' m.o. He's a pathetic waste of a human being.
posted by Dreama at 1:12 PM on June 24, 2002


Excellent perspective, Sapphireblue. I, for one, fail to see any irrational posts here - except for maybe one.
posted by vacapinta at 1:16 PM on June 24, 2002


You know, it's so much easier to work within REALITY than to try to recreate a pale sham version

I, for one, regret that I can no longer run free in an open savannah, chasing and killing wild beasts. Cities are a pale sham.
posted by vacapinta at 1:23 PM on June 24, 2002


rushmc really..... i've had indoor cats and outdoor cats, lizards, turtles, frogs, dogs, one pony, a few birds, chinchilla's and a lof of mice (started with just one. Didn't know she was pregnant)...
Sapphireblue's cat-play schedule is very good. I get the point of "infantalize your pet" that you are trying to make - and if your 12 year old cat adapts so well to both indoors and outdoor and new homes maybe you have some pet fetishist tricks to share on the "helping your cat cope being locked up indoors" topic?

that pinkpainting fence guy however, is just twisted.
posted by dabitch at 1:30 PM on June 24, 2002


This is almost as terrible as NPR's no link policy.
posted by mecran01 at 1:43 PM on June 24, 2002


Very well said Sapphireblue. It seems you are able to work within "REALITY", keep your pets safe and happy and be a good neighbour (which I think is really one of the points underlying this post, case-specific psycho-neighbours aside). IMHO, the "pet fetishists" are the ones who insist on anthropomorphising them by placing romantic "cravings" in their heads which can only be fulfilled by being outdoors. The truth is that cats' physical, emotional and psychological needs are easily (and safely) satisfied indoors by a caring, involved owner. Cats are remarkably adaptable, to imply that they are incapable of adapting happily to life indoors does them a great disservice (and simply isn't true). As for "infantilizing", all pets are infantilized to some degree or another, they're pets, not wild animals, if you don't want to infantilize them, don't feed them, don't provide them with shelter and medical care, and don't pat them, in other words: don't keep them as pets.
posted by biscotti at 1:51 PM on June 24, 2002


If you're from the South, thom, he's a possum. "Opossum" is apt to get you denounced as a prissy-talkin' Yankee.

Whatever you call 'em, they're just mean, nasty, savage critters. I'm told that if a cat tangles with a possum, the cat's going to lose in a serious and painful way. (I suppose they only play dead if they figure they can't take you. Like if you're a human. Or a fast-moving car.) I haven't had it happen myself---there's a family of possums that hangs out in our neighborhood, so there's another reason for my cats to stay inside.

But the important thing I was trying to say is that there's a vast kingdom of beasts that can maim or kill your cat. Insert your favorite wild animal here, it doesn't matter; the idea is that there are lots of things which will fight with and hurt your cat. Or eat it, I had a friend in CA lose a cat to a coyote that way.
posted by Sapphireblue at 1:58 PM on June 24, 2002


Opossums vs Possums.

Opossums exist in textbooks and nature guides and Boy Scout manuals and such. Opossums are refined beasties who even have not-for-profits established in their ring-tailed names. More than one, actually. Both of these establishments seem terribly concerned about the plight of displaced and abandoned opossums.

Possums are the reality. Sapphireblue used to live down here below the Mason-Dixon line and she knows the difference, whether she can place a finger on the reason why or not. Possums are perhaps the most southern of all rodentia, and they manifest in various aspects of our culture, whether it is in music, outdoor recreation or higher education. But more often enough, they are simply roadkill. There is nothing that can be done to alter the fate of a possum in the southeastern United States. They are simply "they who are born to die ('neath the radials of an oncoming SUV)" and it is this knowledge, this self-awareness that makes them so incredibly ferocious and prone to savaging.

So, to review:
Savaged by Opossums? No.
Savaged by Possums? Yes.

Note: Possums in the southeastern US are not to be confused with the equally savage and destructive (yet surprisingly more cuddly) possums of Australia.
posted by grabbingsand at 1:58 PM on June 24, 2002


Lovely. Put your cat in the window to see (and smell, no less!) the outdoor world he craves which you deny him. Talk about cruelty.

You know, it's so much easier to work within REALITY than to try to recreate a pale sham version.


i think you're being pretty self-righteous, rush. not that you'll change.
posted by moz at 2:09 PM on June 24, 2002


I had no idea about all of this. I grew up in the country, in a small town. Our cats would come in most nights, and sometimes they would stay outside. They were indoor/outdoor cats. One of them used to take walks with the family. They were always really fast as there were cars on our streets, we used to cringe as they would play a game, "run through the car in between the two wheels". None of our neighbors had indoor cats, and none of them would have poisoned one of our cats, although I can't imagine that they feel similarly kind towards the chickens. I had no idea that people didn't let their cats out in the suburbs, I understand about the city... The world gets worse and worse.
posted by goneill at 2:17 PM on June 24, 2002


(derail)
as Frost once said, good fences make good neighbours.

Frost didn't exactly say that, a character in one of his poems did, (line 26) and it's pretty obvious that Frost (or the narrator) didn't support that sentiment.

He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.


(rerail)
posted by Ty Webb at 2:23 PM on June 24, 2002


Wait not to argue, there is no possom in the USA. Ask any southerner and they love to bait a Yankee like me from Cali. with that one. I know, they did. Have any of you arguing with me seen one.
Please you talk from reading. I talk from seeing them in Califonia in my back yard(25years), I live down the street from Disney so you know I did not live out in the woods of California. And yes they're mean, but they are not as agile as a cat and would loose that fight easily. Next, I now reside in the south and there the same here, all hiss and no fight, yes they look mean, so why play dead, for that same reason. And yes more than one tried to take my car on, here and in Cali., say more. I have actuall experiece, no link, yet this in not my friends story in a state you don't live. I have friends all over the world, yet I don't say I'm worldly to the world. Next you will try to tell me that Cali. is a southern state. (you go google it) Maybe the cat you saw being eaten on was dead before the opossum was munching on it, as if you read my yet above. There are rules to the exception, I give that.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:33 PM on June 24, 2002


Seems on topic to me, Ty Webb. Especially the last sentence of that poem fragment.
posted by Holden at 2:46 PM on June 24, 2002


Let's try and stick to the topic at hand. Namely, that this dude needs a good cockpunching.
posted by mathis23 at 2:52 PM on June 24, 2002


(rederail)

Thank you for pointing that out, Ty. The point is exactly the same one I always have to make every time someone says "Well, of course Shakespeare said 'the first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers'". Again, a character said that, and it's clear in the context of the play that its a joke.

(re-redererail, or something)

And yes, this guy needs some serious CBT.
posted by yhbc at 2:59 PM on June 24, 2002


If you're from the South, thom, he's a possum. "Opossum" is apt to get you denounced as a prissy-talkin' Yankee.

The "o" in opossum is silient, Doh.
Don't call some one prissy because they know the difference in using USA english, and the knowledge of using the words correctly. Some southerners are now thinking your calling them a yankee, like my coworkers born here, sapphireblue. possum and opossum. And they're a marsupial the only one native to the USA. just so our friends in Australia understand the post too. They are not a rodent. And if your neck is red they call you a red neck too. One of my vehicles is a truck, so no problem calling me a red neck( you get sunburnt regularly from the back window being so close to the neck).
posted by thomcatspike at 3:03 PM on June 24, 2002


Good christ, thom, I'm sorry you're pissed off, and if I could extract the sense of *why* you're pissed from your posts I'd address the matter directly---but since I can't, let's hit the highlights:

1) I didn't say I'd seen a possum eating a cat. I said a friend in California had his cat eaten by a coyote. This is not "from reading"---real friend, real cat, real coyote, in scenic Lake Isabella, CA.

2) I don't think anyone here claimed possums exist only in the South---only that they're a big part of the culture there. For whatever reason.

2a) There's a whole debate as to whether Texas is part of the South, anyway. I was once married to a native Texan; he said no. For the record, I'm neutral, and I'd rather hug a possum than debate the topic.

3) Sure I've seen possums. Thought I killed one once in Atlanta, but he was just "playing possum." It was the tongue lolling out of its mouth to hit the sidewalk that fooled me. We had to knock one out of the living room window here in Wash DC once, too, and they're always in the back yard.

4) I didn't call anyone prissy. See: "apt to be."

4a) Excuse me if I do not exactly bow before your command of "USA english."

5) Yeah, they're marsupials---they have a display on them at the Museum of Natural History here in DC---I'm confused why it matters here...?

6) Also confused on what rednecks, or red necks, matter in this discussion.

6a) But while we're there, I promise you I have more redneck cred than you do. I once had my name painted on the side of a dirt-track stock car named "Mudd Puppy" :D

... ohgod, I'd re-rail, but I think the point of no return is way way back there somewhere. I apologize.
posted by Sapphireblue at 3:19 PM on June 24, 2002


I think Sapphireblue was just relating a thing about Southerners and "opossum", thomcatspike -- didn't sound personal to me at all.

As for the creatures themselves, though, my family's cats have been coexisting with them for at least a year -- one (or more) of them (not to mention a raccoon and who knows who else) have taken to coming by and raiding the catfood in the basement of my parents' house, but the cats have had nary a scratch on them the whole time -- even now (i.e., with the warmer weather) that they seem to prefer to stay out all night when my father blocks off the cat door to lock out the intruders.
posted by mattpfeff at 3:20 PM on June 24, 2002


How on earth did this digress into a "he said opossom, she said possum" match? WHO CARES (except SapphireBlue and thomcatspike.)

RERAIL people. Stay on target....(to quote from another mefi discussion today...)
posted by aacheson at 3:31 PM on June 24, 2002


you get sunburnt regularly from the back window being so close to the neck

you know, if it wasn't for such fascinating Mr. Wizard moments like that one, i would've learned nothing from this day.
posted by grabbingsand at 3:32 PM on June 24, 2002


Sapphireble:
Basically in a nice way I'm trying to point to your misspelled word, not pronunciation, I say "pos-sum" as most Californians do too, yet my pod buddy next to me from Minnesota, says o-pos-sum, so I understand. Next time I will be rude and point you out better. And I do take being called a yankee a serious thing, as I get it a lot. I find it odd as I know and love the south, and the ones born here no nothing of their heritage, seem to be the name callers(not you). Yes the south has its problems, yet I call it home, no offense taken. We are here to share our knowledge and experience. Also, it it took a southerner to teach me to spell. I had links to my words, and you ignored them, that made me mad, like the encyclopedia and the dictionary is not the rule. I thought that was an observed rule here, or can I just say, with no back up. I may be new for you, yet I have been reading Meta for alot longer than you think.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:03 PM on June 24, 2002


sapphire so I'm clear you did use the word correct here:playing possum
posted by thomcatspike at 4:05 PM on June 24, 2002


... sigh.

well, see, my deep dark secret is that I agree with aacheson.

except for the "Sapphireblue" part.

now! who's up for a little genital abuse of the pinkpainting fence guy?
posted by Sapphireblue at 4:12 PM on June 24, 2002


"He had better hope no one finds out where he lives and publicizes it to the wrong people."

Indeed. I feel sorry for the kids, especially Stephanie, who owned the cat.

Did you know that Christine Miloslavic wrote a book called "What Does It Take to Start an Internet Business?" and has a company called Brandon Business Solutions that is listed in the Tampa Airport business directory as being located at 1016 Greenbriar Drive in Brandon, FL.

Do you think she works from home? She doesn't seem to list her business address on the Brandon Business Solutions website... but hey, what possible distinguishing characteristic could be used to identify Joel Well's house anyway?
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:20 PM on June 24, 2002


I have always had cats (and dogs and other assorted pets all of them "fixed" so as to not increase the population). They have always been predominantly indoor cats. I say predominantly because every one of them, no matter how much stimulation they get indoors, or how many toys they have, or how much grass and catnip is available to them, has always made at least a few attempts at escape.

Cats want to go outside. Doesn't mean they have to or should, but the want to. With the recent one (who wants to be outside more than any of the others), I bought a leash and halter. I can tell it ... it doesn't work. He hates it.

He gets out about once a week ... that mad dash through the door leading to me having a panic attack since I live downtown. It was never my neighbors that I worried about ... just cars.

I think what makes this whole trapping thing wrong is that he baited the traps. Now my cat is a wuss when he's outside. He runs from people and doesn't go any further than he can see the front door. But if he smells food ... he does go after it. So this guy is essentially luring cats into his yard. I think that's pretty evil.

And the fence? I'm not even going to comment on the fence except to say that I'd have bought a few spray paint cans and dealt with it already. Let him sue me.
posted by Orb at 4:25 PM on June 24, 2002


Ah, nothing more inspiring than 21st century vigilantes....
posted by rushmc at 4:25 PM on June 24, 2002


see I agreed with you too, re aacheson solution which was added with your about gifts: . I liked your suggestion, yet she would be in violation of a noise ordinance, that's why he didn't. Think he is old maybe going deaf( I'm guessing) and would probably love to do more. ;) \!!!/
posted by thomcatspike at 4:48 PM on June 24, 2002


Found another story on this. The best part? "'He is not a vindictive guy,'' Bohlander said."

riiiiiiiiiight.

Orb: interesting, about your "indoor" cats. Did they start life as outside kitties? Mine have never done the bolting-for-the-door thing, not even the one who spent her first two years outside whenever she pleased, which was a surprise and a great relief to me.

On the other hand, my sweetie and I were pet-sitting for his father last week; they have an Abyssinian kitten who has always been kept inside (they share a patch of woods with a family of foxes), and every time you opened the door he'd try to slip through. Which made letting the retriever puppy out a whole lot of fun, especially when she didn't want to go out until she knew you were coming too...
posted by Sapphireblue at 5:01 PM on June 24, 2002


Out of curiosity, I checked to see whether Stephanie, the daughter who owned the cat, was on AIM. She was.

She said that Joel Wells told the Miloslavics a few months back that he captured 14 cats and took them to the pound. At first, the pound said that they had no records of him taking any pets there, but they called back the other day and told the Miloslavics that they had records of him taking in nine cats to the pound.

Stephanie said that Joel Wells claimed that he didn't know the Miloslavics had a cat. Gobblin (Gobby) was a house cat who was fat, neutered, and wore a collar.

In other words, there are discrepancies in the number of cats captured and also nagging questions as to why neighborhood cat owners like the Miloslavics weren't contacted either by the pound or by Mr. Wells. It's unknown whether Mr. Wells did anything himself to any of the cats involved or removed collars from the cats to cover up his actions.

Stephanie would like to have another cat someday, but is scared to get another one right now.
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:42 PM on June 24, 2002


She just told all of that to a stranger, insomnia? Geeberus, don't 14 year olds know not to yakk to unknown people via AIM? Btw, how did you find her? I just seached for Stephanie Miloslavic in Florida and came up empty.
posted by Dreama at 8:02 PM on June 24, 2002


I had several cats that used to be indoor/outdoor over the years. At least two cats were hit by cars and killed. It never occurred to me at the time to restrict any of the cats to indoors only, as I thought it would be cruel to change their behavior after many years.

A few years ago, I was preparing to move interstate. The new house was adjacent to a very busy roadway. I knew I had to make a tough call and decided to start "training" the cats with halters and leads. It took a lot of patience and a few tricks but they got used to them. They were let outside in the backyard once or twice a day for an hour or so while I read, puttered around or whatnot to supervise them. They got so used to the routine, that they stick close by and don't need the halters anymore (although I do stay out there and herd them all back inside after their allotted time). They get to do all the "normal" cat things, like eat grass, roll around in the dirt and chase butterflies. I have peace of mind knowing they won't be run over, be abused by psycho neighbors, or hunt the local wildlife in the area. They're well adjusted and happy.

The bottom line of that rather long story is to point out that if you are an animal owner, you need to take responsibility for your pets and sometimes, that takes a concerted effort on your part. The time and energy I put into changing the way my animals live was well worth it.

So while I'm not "blaming the victim" here, as the neighbor is obviously a complete bastard, I do think that people can do more than just put on a collar and hope for the best.
posted by cyniczny at 8:09 PM on June 24, 2002


Joel Wells sounds like a terrible guy, but frankly all of the wink-wink, nudge-nudge stuff here encouraging people to find his home address is just as bad.

Can you imagine how it would look to the world if a reporter made a follow-up story out of talk like that, complete with quotes like "destroy his business, destroy his property value, ruin his sleep schedule ... oh, I would be beyond vicious"?

Wells had the legal right to do what he did -- in his municipality, and probably many of our own, it's legal to trap animals that come onto your property. It's even legal to paint his fence pink, according to the story.

If I was in Brandon and I had a problem with either of these things, I'd try to change the laws. Personally, though, I'm more inclined to think that the fence is a problem than the cats. The value of neighboring homes is going to be adversely affected by stunts like the pink fence.

As for the cats, it's his property. If he doesn't want animals there, it's his legal right to trap them and call animal control. That's a more humane solution than another legal alternative: My brother-in-law owns an Akita dog, and several of the next door neighbor's outdoor cats have jumped the fence and been quickly killed by the dog.

If cat owners have a problem with their cats being trapped and turned in, they should try to change the law. I'd love to hear proposals in that regard -- should other people be legally required to let your cat roam their property without restriction? Can they at least tell the animal to "shoo" or wave a broom handle at it menacingly?
posted by rcade at 8:15 PM on June 24, 2002


There's law, and there's respect for other human beings (not just cats). Too often, not just in this situation, an argument devolves to "it was okay under the law". Yes, but laws are enacted not to be FAIR, or RIGHT, or even MORAL. They are enacted to put an end to disputes, when there is NO OTHER WAY to do so. This is why hiding behind the "law" is truly the last refuge of a scoundrel, and why this is such a horrible story. It didn't have to happen. Yes, Mr. PinkFence was within his legal rights, but that doesn't make him right, or exonerate his actions. Not to try to derail or anything, but O.J. was within his legal rights to mount a defense. Does that make him okay, any more or less than the fence guy?
posted by yhbc at 8:26 PM on June 24, 2002


Didn't mean to post that yet, I was still editing it. I wanted to clean it up, but I'll stick with the sentiment (as I have to, now).
posted by yhbc at 8:27 PM on June 24, 2002


I posted about this on my journal and just got two comments from Christine, Stephanie's mother. She wanted to let people know that Stephanie told her about the messages as soon as I IMed her, and that Stephanie was reading all the questions to her prior to answering them.

She also wanted to point out that she just added a page to her website to share her side of the story.

"Btw, how did you find her? I just seached for Stephanie Miloslavic in Florida and came up empty."

I'm really, really good at searching the web. Research is a very important part of my job.

This search was easy, frankly. Just go to Google and search for the exact phrase of "+Stephanie Miloslavic" ...
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:43 PM on June 24, 2002


Oh, and it also helps to base every search on the premise that what you are looking for *is* out there -- if you haven't found it yet, that's your fault. ;->
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:48 PM on June 24, 2002


This is why hiding behind the "law" is truly the last refuge of a scoundrel, and why this is such a horrible story. It didn't have to happen.

I don't think anyone has to hide behind this particular law; a property owner ought to have the legal right to trap animals that come on the property and call animal control to take them off. The people who own outdoor cats should bear the responsibility of visiting animal control if their cats stop coming home. There are a lot worse things that could happen to the animal than a Cruella De Vil neighbor with a cage and a telephone.
posted by rcade at 8:56 PM on June 24, 2002


Yeah, it's clear that laws and morality differ sometimes in profound ways. And this is a case of a guy being totally within his rights and a total meance at the same time.

I think the idea of putting up a sign in their own yard is a good one. It is well within your rights, publicizes the story, and makes Wells look like the fuckwit that we know him to be. I'd even put up the "This many cats killed by Mr. Wells: XX" so that neighbors have a reason to keep watching it.

Anybody who has neighborhood children arrested at school deserves to be ridiculed.
posted by zpousman at 8:57 PM on June 24, 2002


Exactly. Just because you are within the bounds of public legality doesn't mean you are within the bounds of public civility.

It is a mistake of this current age that people all too often confuse the two...
posted by insomnia_lj at 9:03 PM on June 24, 2002


The average cat brings home 32 small animals each year (16 mammals, 8 birds and 8 reptiles) or more than 300 animals during its average life span.

It is possible to have a cat outside without endangering either the local wildlife or the cat itself, by using an enclosure to contain just how much outside the cat can have access to.

There can be no doubt that the pink fence guy has acted well outside the bounds of civility and deserves to be taken to task, but there are two sides to the story and I hate having to put up with cat faeces in my backyard and hate even more that my children can be exposed to harm because of a creature that has no intrinsic right to be there.
posted by dg at 9:25 PM on June 24, 2002


As badly written as the St. Petersburg Times article (NortonDC's original link) is, I found a rather different cause for alarm. As I read the story, Wells *isn't* targeting cats---cats are just pests, just so much roadkill to him. To judge ONLY from the St. Pete Times article, he's targeting single (or divorced) women with teenage daughters. Poor Gobblin may have simply gotten run over by a car (tho I doubt it in context) but Wells' having Alesha arrested *at school* and Wells' painting his "Meow, Meow" fence smack of abusive husband to me. Lacking a wife and child of his own to abuse, he'll abuse those women who can't escape him.

I'd love to know I'm wrong here, but I think you folk should consider carefully before you "rile" him---he'll only take it out on those closest to him.

[Uh, thank you for listening. This is my paranoid post for the evening. So you know where I'm coming from: when I was a kid, a "neighbor" shot my cat. Butterscotch survived, but several of my friends' cats didn't. Nobody could or would do anything to stop the guy---until he shot his wife and kids some four years later. Understand this: As much as I love my cats, I'd never trade a single one of them for any human but me (and I did *not* go back into the burning house for the cats). *deep breath* Okay, I'm outta here and I'll have nightmares tonight but I needed you to know that the people in the story are more important than the cats.]
posted by realjanetkagan at 9:49 PM on June 24, 2002


People keep saying that Wells had the other kid arrested "at school," as if he pressed charges and the police gave him the choice of where she should be arrested.

As for the possibility he's a powderkeg waiting to go off, based on what little we know, it's also possible he's a relatively normal cat-hating grinch who got pissed off by the neighbor passing out fliers about him and decided the fence was a nice fuck-you to her and other neighbors. We're reading a lot into the guy's personality based on a story in which he wasn't even interviewed.
posted by rcade at 10:02 PM on June 24, 2002


rcade, i was thinking the same thing...only it was 10 days ago. Do you see a pattern?
posted by BlueTrain at 10:17 PM on June 24, 2002


[supremely tangential]

Years ago...

...my brother and I were hanging at a friends's house, doing kidly stuff, when we heard our friend's grandma refer to a possum as a 'boogeycat'. Opus Dark herewith presents some strange, never-heard-it-again lore:

Why do you call them boogeycats?

'Cause they is the boogeymen's pets. Everything on earth runs from the boogeyman - 'cept for ol' boogeycat - play dead so good they'll even let a boogeyman rub their bellies. That's why they stink so bad. Bad luck to kill a boogeycat - boogeyman sees you at it, chase you forever.


To this day, every time I see one (usually dead), this flashes through my mind. Now it can flash through yours. Remember, you heard it here last.

(Makes a nice companion to polecat, though, doesn't it?)
posted by Opus Dark at 11:33 PM on June 24, 2002


I keep my cat indoors--she lived in a bookstore for 12 years before she came into my hands and I'd already lost enough cats to cars here in the city. As to the effects of cat predation on wildlife, there seems to be some controversy, as evidenced here and here--I recall reading an article in New Scientist a couple of decades ago about a British study on domestic cat predation that concluded that cats kill birds, yes, and in great numbers, too, but birds thrive despite it--house cats are another part of nature. And when you think of the birds they catch--I'm thinking of the little book French For Cats here--Preferred Prey: The baby bird which has not yet mastered the art of flight - La petit oiseau... it definitely does not dumb down the bird population overall in the long run.

We have coyotes, opossums and raccoons here in Seattle, far heftier in city than in the wild according to most sources and my own experience with the latter two. (You just don't usually see coyotes--a local tv station did a piece on a University of Washington researcher who'd trapped a female coyote, put a radio transmitter collar on her and then tracked her for two years as of the airing of the piece. He'd been as close to her as thirty feet and yet had never seen her once in the whole time) Coyotes and raccons are hell on cats from all accounts and coyotes have been spotted--by the sharper eyed--in every neighborhood in town. None of these, of course, holds a candle to we humans. Put me in the indoor cat column by all means.

I did hang a bird feeder on a branch of the birch tree close to my balcony--it's like cable tv for the cat. Or was--she's taken to sleeping through housefinch battle royales at said feeder of late.

What I am curious about now is whether opossums are native to Western Washington.
posted by y2karl at 12:02 AM on June 25, 2002


I just saw my first opossum "in the wild" the other night on Queen Anne y2karl. Strange, that I've literally seen more wildlife (raccoons, seals, whales, opossums, otters, coyotes, CROWS!!!!, masturbating humanid males in the arboretum, salmon etc) living in the inner urban portion of Seattle than all my years in suburban and rural sectors near Denver.

I once caught (spied) a racoon five floors up from the ground in a Capitol Hill apartment building that overlooked I-5. The last place, let me tell you, that I'd even think myself of witnessing a raccoon out of captivity.

And then there's the domesticated rabbit at Deception Pass state park, that lives in the wild. . . (link does not reflect the existence of said rabbit)
posted by crasspastor at 12:52 AM on June 25, 2002


Oh I see. You were asking whether opossums "are native" to western Washington.

~nevermind~

My puss N boots stays indoors. I worry excessively even if she's on the balcony for too long while out of my sight. When I go to work, often for 18+ hours a day, I keep my cat in a 3X3.5 foot box. She seems happy enough.
posted by crasspastor at 1:00 AM on June 25, 2002


> When I go to work, often for 18+ hours a day, I keep
> my cat in a 3X3.5 foot box

You do not. Do you?
posted by pracowity at 1:05 AM on June 25, 2002


Sometimes 20.
posted by crasspastor at 1:27 AM on June 25, 2002


BRANDON -- Christine Miloslavic was thrilled to see her neighbor, Joel Wells, building a fence in his back yard

Wow, any relation to slobodan?
posted by delmoi at 3:11 AM on June 25, 2002


Yes, Slobodan Wells is his cousin.
posted by pracowity at 4:30 AM on June 25, 2002


People keep saying that Wells had the other kid arrested "at school," as if he pressed charges and the police gave him the choice of where she should be arrested.

The "at school" part is just insult on top of injury. What on earth was served by having the girl arrested at all? He told her and her mother that everything was okay, that the child's apology was sufficient. To turn around and call police to have a child charged with theft for an item that was returned to him without harm was just spiteful, malicious and hateful.

I'm seeing Janet's point -- this guy has a pattern of being spiteful, malicious and hateful. (There's no question that the pink fence certainly qualifies as such.) In investigating domestic abuse, we often see that the abuser also harms or kills family pets. It's part of the rage and power cycle. This guy is turning some kind of abusive impulses out onto his community.

Wells may be staying within the boundaries of the law, but just barely. A baited trap? That's not ridding yourself of nuisance animals that wander onto the property, that's enticing any passing animal onto the property then killing them for the crime of being curious when they smelled food. (Even an animal that isn't hungry will investigate an appetising scent.) It's reprehensible. The only difference between a baited trap and offering food to a passing animal and then clubbing it over the head when it comes for it is the passivity of using the trap. Same approach, different means to the same end.

Legal? Yes. Moral? Doubtful. Civil? Absolutely not. I give this guy not one scintilla of doubt. Not one. He's demonstrated some extremely scary behaviour. I'd be horrified, were I a neighbour, of what might happen if his antics escalate.
posted by Dreama at 5:55 AM on June 25, 2002


As I suspected, opossums are not native to the Northwest:
Opossums are considered "naturalized", as opposed to native animals, because they were not introduced into the Northwest until the 1930's...
Ooh, and they are a vector for equine protozoal myeloencephalitis aka Sarcocystis neurona (scrolll down), which sounds similar to BSE--mad cow disease--in its effects on horses. Also, they are considered bird egg-eating alien invaders in California.
posted by y2karl at 8:13 AM on June 25, 2002


I just saw my first opossum "in the wild" the other night on Queen Anne

interesting, crass, in my seven years living in Seattle I had never seen one (I saw them once in a while growing up in NY), but I saw my first one a few months ago, in the alley behind my Capitol Hill home, and have seen about five or six since then.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:29 AM on June 25, 2002


The Great Opossum Derail is one for the history books.
posted by Marquis at 8:41 AM on June 25, 2002


heh. It's all my fault and I'm so sorry.

Would you believe that way back there I mused for a few seconds on whether "possum" or "raccoon" or "dog" or something else would be the best illustrative example of a Beastie Dangerous To Cats... and then decided it didn't matter?

I've learned a valuable lesson.
posted by Sapphireblue at 9:34 AM on June 25, 2002


What were we supposed to do--play possum?
posted by y2karl at 10:07 AM on June 25, 2002


We're talking about possums because talking about abuse (especially when we're helpless to prevent it) is too uncomfortable.

Thanks so much for the "boogeycat" flash, Opus Dark! I can't *wait* to tell that to my fantasy and horror-writing friends. They'll love it!
Uh, I have to say, tho, that I've never noticed any bad smell from the possums that visit our back porch (in suburban NJ). They have beautiful ears and fascinating (and very adept) hands. I love to watch them. I keep hoping I'll see them hang by their tails, but maybe that's a myth?
posted by realjanetkagan at 11:03 AM on June 25, 2002


He told her and her mother that everything was okay, that the child's apology was sufficient. To turn around and call police to have a child charged with theft for an item that was returned to him without harm was just spiteful, malicious and hateful.

True, but you're only hearing one side. I don't think the mother or the girl is likely to be an unbiased source of information on what this guy said to them, or promised them, before pressing charges.

A baited trap? That's not ridding yourself of nuisance animals that wander onto the property, that's enticing any passing animal onto the property then killing them for the crime of being curious when they smelled food.

There's nothing in the story to indicate that he's killing the animals. When one turns up in the trap, he calls animal control. If an animal owner is responsible for a cat, the owner will check with animal control when the cat stops coming home. If they don't check and the animal is euthanized, who's at fault?
posted by rcade at 11:57 AM on June 25, 2002


I'm not really a cat fan, I suppose I have my allergy to thank for that (a psychosis? maybe.) but I think the town cat has enough on its plate. If you take them here in London, once they've run the gauntlet of cars, foxes and take-away food outlets, the poor buggers deserve a break.

With ref to the story, I'm not surprised the guy painted a pink fence. They immediately, without firm proof that he had gotten rid of 'Tiddles', started a neighbourhood flyer campaign against him.

It'll probably come out that Wells is in fact the girls real father and he has had to pay out so much child support that he couldn't afford food?
posted by Frasermoo at 12:16 PM on June 25, 2002


I keep hoping I'll see them hang by their tails, but maybe that's a myth?

Nope. I caught them in this pose in trees a couple of times when I lived in Louisiana.
posted by rushmc at 12:30 PM on June 25, 2002


I'm sorry, but if I heard of a neighbor with a baited trap who was enticing the neighborhood cats into a baited trap and sending them to the pound, I would put out flyers too, at least so that the neighbors could safeguard their pets.

There is a element of the law that talks about things that are an attractive nuisance. An attractive nuisance is any inherently hazardous object or condition of property that can be expected to attract children. For a lot of people, their pets are very much like their children. If you respect the rights of pets, the use of a baited trap to catch cats is a pretty barbaric act, tanamount to using candy-baited traps to catch kids.

There's one simple way for the neighbor to keep unwanted cats off of his property -- he could have built a good fence around it in the first place.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:38 PM on June 25, 2002


There's one simple way for the neighbor to keep unwanted cats off of his property -- he could have built a good fence around it in the first place.

Now, I don't know much about cats, but when I was a kid I don't remember the neighbors' cats having *any* trouble getting over the fences into our yard. (Or we wouldn't have had to go to so much effort to keep them from using our sandbox as a waste receptacle.) What kind of "good fence" do you have in mind, exactly?
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:02 PM on June 25, 2002


Have you ever seen a cat before, insomnia_lj? Your comment about using a fence to keep them out makes me wonder.
posted by rcade at 2:24 PM on June 25, 2002


it's also possible he's a relatively normal cat-hating grinch who got pissed off by the neighbor passing out fliers about him and decided the fence was a nice fuck-you to her and other neighbors. We're reading a lot into the guy's personality based on a story in which he wasn't even interviewed.

Nothing in the above is remotely normal behavoir. A PINK fence teasing a MINOR tells a whole lot about a person. Its one thing to get angry and its another to buy a fence, make it as ugly as possible, and write teasing phrases on it.

What the article doesn't mention is that pets are property. If the girl and her family wanted to they could sue Wells in civil court. Of course they would need to prove what they think happened.

I don't think anyone really cares about the trap as much as the suggestion that Wells is purposely destroying cats illegally. It can't be doubted that he has some kind of vendetta with his neighbors and their cat. Call me crazy but the worst way to build credibility after being called a cat killer is doing exactly what Wells did. He's suspicious. Its simple as that. You can't expect people to see Wells' fence and believe he's a harmless humanitarian pushed over the edge by rumors. It might be true but it looks unlikely to me.
posted by skallas at 3:05 PM on June 25, 2002


Not to mention Wells declined to speak to the reporter. If he's just a guy who lost his temper and wants to fight off the accusations of his neighbor then it would make sense to use the article to defend himself. I don't think rcade's "homeowner hurt by rumors" scenario fits what's been reported.
posted by skallas at 3:17 PM on June 25, 2002


He didn't talk to the press, so he must be guilty?

Nothing in the above is remotely normal behavoir. A PINK fence teasing a MINOR tells a whole lot about a person. Its one thing to get angry and its another to buy a fence, make it as ugly as possible, and write teasing phrases on it.

At this point, the only things we know about Joel Wells are that he has trapped nine cats on his property, called animal control to take them off, pressed charges on a teen-age girl for stealing a cage, and painted his fence pink and written the words "meow meow" on it.

While this is enough to make him seem like a bad neighbor, the conjecture that he's a wife-beating murder-suicide waiting to happen is coming out of pretty thin air.

According to this story, Wells and Milosavic (the mom) got into an argument in front of their houses and he followed it up by getting rid of the cage. I'm having trouble reconciling that with the Hannibal Lecter picture being painted here.
posted by rcade at 3:36 PM on June 25, 2002


"Have you ever seen a cat before, insomnia_lj? Your comment about using a fence to keep them out makes me wonder."

My wife and I have four cats, actually.

There are some fences that are very hard for cats to get over... and some that are very easy. The problem is, most fences out there are easy for cats to climb, and have a support structure that also supports climbing.

Still, it's not hard to build catproof fences. There are instructions for building them on the Internet, and even specialized fence systems that you can buy designed to keep cats in / out of yards.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:49 PM on June 25, 2002


He didn't talk to the press, so he must be guilty?

No but as I posted it adds suspicion on his part and tends to invalidates the the 'neighbor pushed over the edge' scenario you gave. Ironically, we're secondguessing and accusing him (well some of us) because he hasn't given out his side of the story.
posted by skallas at 3:50 PM on June 25, 2002


y2karl - perhaps the actual effect of cats on the local wildlife depends on where you are. According to the National Parks and Wildlife Service here in Australia, "even well-fed domestic cats will prey on and kill native wildlife because of their natural hunting instincts. Native animals killed by domestic cats include possums, bandicoots, birds, lizards, snakes, skinks, geckos, bats, native rats and marsupial mice. Domestic cats can kill, on average, about 30 native animals per year."

Perhaps our possums are wimps compared to their American cousins, if some of the observations here are anything to go by (or our cats are tougher)?
posted by dg at 4:03 PM on June 25, 2002


Skallas: It's all guessing at this point. Who knows? I'm just trying to balance the scales a little bit back towards the middle. I don't trust the veracity of the quotes from the angry publicity-hound mom or any of the other irate cat lovers in that neighborhood. I can remember a few angry neighbor-vs-neighbor disputes growing up, and when one got to the point that a police officer had to waste time on us, we were completely apeshit, throwing all kinds of charges at each other.

Insomnia: Those are for cat owners who want to keep them in. I don't think it's reasonable to criticize a non-cat-owner who isn't going to those lengths to keep other people's cats out.
posted by rcade at 5:27 PM on June 25, 2002


Sure, its mostly speculation but the fact that unnerves people and contributes to the vilification of Wells is he is an adult and he's harassing a minor who just lost a pet. Toss in his cat trap and refusal to talk to the press and you probably have a really fucked up individual here and not just another over the top territorial pissing contest.
posted by skallas at 5:46 PM on June 25, 2002


I take it then, dg, that wombats are too big for even your Yahoo Seriously Aussiecats to take on?

--Not only is that such a cool word to say but they're cuter than the dickens. too!

But then our opossums have 50 teeth--most of any North American mammal--and the one's I've seen around here are a tad bigger than your average cat. And they do like cat food, so there's your potential for interspecies violence right there...
posted by y2karl at 6:32 PM on June 25, 2002


y2karl, I think that wombats are probably a bit large for the average tabby to take on, particularly when there is so much easy prey for them elsewhere. The main enemy for wombats seems to be cars (wombats are like many animals in regard to their level of road sense).

I suspect that the possum we are familiar with here is not quite the same as the (opossum?) that you find in the US.


Looks around, realises that he has departed completely from the point of the thread, backs away quietly closing the door behind him…
posted by dg at 8:17 PM on June 25, 2002


says hi to crasspastor in the landing

Hi.
posted by crasspastor at 8:18 PM on June 25, 2002


"Insomnia: Those are for cat owners who want to keep them in. I don't think it's reasonable to criticize a non-cat-owner who isn't going to those lengths to keep other people's cats out."

The fence alternatives that I highlighted were fences specifically designed to keep cats in/out. They are *NOT* designed just to keep cats in; one of the designs even says "Keeps your cat in your yard and stray cats out." As for designs meant to work on a single side of a fence, well... the last I heard, fences had two sides.

Really, though... any fence will keep cats out to a significant degree. The extra work to extend the fence up a few feet with some braces add a bit of mesh at the top is pretty minor. If someone wants his backyard free of animal intruders, it makes sense for them to build a fence designed for that purpose, in the same way that someone might buy a motorcycle with a bugscreen if they didn't want a mouth full of insects.

I never suggested that they had to build a fence. I merely suggested that building a fence was a far better and infinitely more civilized option than entrapping and euthanizing as many of the neighborhood cats as they possibly could.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:53 PM on June 25, 2002


I love how people can't describe this situation without embellishing it. He isn't euthanizing the animals. He's calling animal control, where presumably the cat has a set number of days to be claimed or adopted before they buy the farm.

While it isn't nice, it's only one way among others that an outdoor cat might find itself in animal control. If an owner doesn't check on a pet after it stops coming home, the owner deserves a lot of the blame for the animal's sad demise.

I think a lot of the sentiments against Wells boil down to a simple concept that comes up a lot here: How dare other people have rights!. Not to pick on Skallas, but I think it's embodied best in the comment that "pets are property" and some kind of civil suit may come of this. Property is property also, and it's worth a lot more money than a cat.
posted by rcade at 9:30 PM on June 25, 2002


But rcade, what are your feelings on possums?
posted by Sapphireblue at 10:37 PM on June 25, 2002


Save your breath, Sapphireblue - I've reported his indifference to the boogeyman - he's toast.
posted by Opus Dark at 11:28 PM on June 25, 2002


> I think a lot of the sentiments against Wells boil down
> to a simple concept that comes up a lot here: How dare
> other people have rights!.

The sentiments against Wells derive directly from his being a bastard. Read the stories again, think about the guy's behavior, and then tell us he's just a nice normal guy whose rights to a catfree world are somehow being infringed.

What should this nice, normal guy do about barking dogs that annoy him?
posted by pracowity at 12:13 AM on June 26, 2002


. Not to pick on Skallas, but I think it's embodied best in the comment that "pets are property" and some kind of civil suit may come of this. Property is property also, and it's worth a lot more money than a cat.

I brought that up not only because its true - legally pets ARE property but also because the article has this 'my hands are tied' message all over it. Civil action is something they have left, like I posted - if they believe and can prove their cat was destroyed illegally. Same goes for harassment, it may be legal to make a pink fence with 'meow meow' on it but harassing a teenager is not. That's another option.
posted by skallas at 3:37 AM on June 26, 2002


I love how people can't describe this situation without embellishing it. He isn't euthanizing the animals. He's calling animal control, where presumably the cat has a set number of days to be claimed or adopted before they buy the farm.

It's not really that simple. He's not just calling animal control because he sees some strays around. He's purposefully luring animals -- possibly strays but also equally or even more likely to be neighbourhood pets who are indoor/outdoor types -- onto his property, capturing them and delivering them to animal control as trapped strays.

We do not know if there is a specific "hold" policy when an animal is taken to animal control under those circumstances.

We also do not know if Wells is removing identifying collars/tags from trapped cats, but if he is trapping pets, as suspected, it seems likely. It would prevent the animal from being returned to the owner easily, therefore keeping it out of his neighbourhood, which for him is a victory. If he were delivering tagged pets, animal control would call the owners immediately. That's the kind of thing animal control offices do manage to do well.

Of course, if he did trap tagged animals, he could be a normal, decent person and call the owners himself. No evidence that he's done that at all.

If someone wants his backyard free of animal intruders, it makes sense for them to build a fence designed for that purpose,

Moreover, it does not make sense for that person to placee an article in their backyard which attracts animal intruders. But that's exactly what Wells did. Those two actions do not equate.
posted by Dreama at 5:59 AM on June 26, 2002


Rarely have I seen a thread with so much baseless speculation (and that's saying something). Some of you definitely seem predisposed to blame, and are quite willing to make up your own facts to justify same.

Handy equation for some of you with a propensity for losing perspective:

PEOPLE > ANIMALS
posted by rushmc at 6:49 AM on June 26, 2002


I suspect that the possum we are familiar with here is not quite the same as the (opossum?) that you find in the US.

Hey, no fair! Your marsupials are all cuter than ours! Well, we only have one--the possum. You have five of those alone, two fly, sort of, and all are just too cuddly. Ours are butt-ugly in comparison. Except when they're hanging by their tails!

I'm still trying to come to grip with the whole pink fence thing...
posted by y2karl at 7:10 AM on June 26, 2002


Read the stories again, think about the guy's behavior, and then tell us he's just a nice normal guy whose rights to a catfree world are somehow being infringed.

He's not a nice guy. But he has the right not to be a nice guy and trap animals on his land. The people who let their cats roam the neighborhood are infringing upon his rights, a concept that most cat lovers seem to be completely indifferent about.

Outdoor cats can be a pain in the ass for others. They crap in sand boxes, get into trash, tear up window and door screens by climbing them, and wake people up in the middle of the night by caterwauling.

Personally, I put up with this where my neighbors' cats are concerned. I'm a cat owner and it's a relatively minor nuisance for me. That's my choice, though, not my obligation to the owners of outdoor cats.
posted by rcade at 7:19 AM on June 26, 2002


He's ... delivering them to animal control as trapped strays. ... We also do not know if Wells is removing identifying collars/tags from trapped cats, but if he is trapping pets, as suspected, it seems likely.

More embellishment. There's absolutely nothing in either story to indicate he's removing tags or telling animal control the cats are strays. It seems unlikely to me that he would go to such Meet the Parents levels of subterfuge, considering that it's pretty easy to tell the difference between a stray and a cared-for housepet.

Maybe you should adjust your theory with something like this: "We also do not know if Wells is starving the cats in some kind of holding area in his house, so they appear more wan and undernourished when he turns them in to animal control and claims they are strays, but it seems likely."
posted by rcade at 7:27 AM on June 26, 2002


Less embellishment: Tampa Bay exterminator Joel Wells appears to show no remorse about unnecessarily sending loved household pets to their destruction. He appears to enjoy painfully taunting little girls about lost pets. And that would be enough for me, if I were one of his neighbors, to worry about more than pet cats.

As for legality, Joel Wells may also have been within his legal rights to shoot the little girl who took his trap. Would you defend him if he had done so?
posted by pracowity at 8:31 AM on June 26, 2002


As for legality, Joel Wells may also have been within his legal rights to shoot the little girl who took his trap. Would you defend him if he had done so?

The right to use lethal force to defend yourself is based on the right to be secure in your home, not a property right. Even in the South, I can't imagine a circumstance where a court would find it legal self-defense to shoot a teen-age girl committing misdemeanor theft in your backyard.
posted by rcade at 10:29 AM on June 26, 2002


I just had to point out to Grabbingsand that New Zealand is not Australia. You even linked to 'nzpossumproducts.co.nz fer chrissakes.
posted by Catch at 2:44 PM on June 26, 2002


Hear Hear, Catch - it is insulting that people do not know the difference between NZ and the island off it's coast that is commonly known as Australia.
posted by dg at 3:48 PM on June 26, 2002


I know the difference: NZ has Xena.
posted by rushmc at 3:55 PM on June 26, 2002


"There's absolutely nothing in either story to indicate he's removing tags"

Other than the fact that the neighbor's cat had tags and they were never called when their cat disappeared, and that none of the over 125 neighbors who were contacted by the Miloslavics mentioned that they received such notification regarding their pets from either the pound or from Mr. Wells.

Given we're talking about 16 cats here, that's kind of surprising.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:33 AM on June 27, 2002


But to clarify, the information about the neighbor's cat having a collar was mentioned in comments, not in the articles.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:35 AM on June 27, 2002


Other than the fact that the neighbor's cat had tags and they were never called when their cat disappeared ...

There's nothing in either story that shows their cat was caught by Wells and was turned in and euthanized. It's just speculation on their part, and while it seems likely that he did it, let's not call something a "fact" when it isn't.
posted by rcade at 10:45 AM on June 28, 2002


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