Friday, May 12, 2006

Politics & Cats

Cats and politics? Amazingly there is a connection. In my neighbourhood, the local government body Darebin City Council is planning to impose a 24-hour ban on cats on the streets. The cat lovers of Darebin are up in arms about this. We wonder who proposed this agenda - cat haters? They hypocritically pretend that it’s for the benefit of cats, but we suspect that it is a council grab for revenue - let’s get the cat lovers. They propose to fine the owners of cats found on the streets, not on a lead, $152.00 for each offence. We already have to pay a registration fee each year for each cat, which I don’t mind, but a fine of $152.00 if the cat escapes the confines of one’s property is highway robbery.

I realise that many people keep their cats confined indoors due to no other choice than they themselves have no direct access to the outdoors, or live in neighbourhoods that are unsafe for cats. However, Australian suburban cats have always run free. Ideally one’s neighbours are cat friendly, but if they aren’t it’s a worry. We have been lucky so far with neighbours. Our next-door neighbour loves our cats as much as we do, and young Will, our male cat is also welcome in several other nearby dwellings. He is an inveterate wanderer and can’t abide being confined. He literally runs up the walls if we lock him inside, knocks objects off shelves and howls from the top of cupboards. He is aptly named, being extremely strong willed.

A similar ban in country town Bendigo resulted in cat-haters trapping cats and offloading them on the council. The cats on death row increased six fold.

What methods, I wonder, will they use to enforce this policy? Do they plan on setting up a crack corps of cat storm troopers? I can see them, cruising the streets, seeking out erring moggies. It’s a bit of a worry if there are vehicles involved. Our Will loves cars. Someone only has to leave the window down in a vehicle and Will jumps in. He demands to be let into the family car, curls up on the back seat and stays there for hours. We fear he will be transported away by a stranger one day. They’d certainly be surprised to discover a cat in their car. He’s tagged, however, with his name and telephone number, so he would hopefully be returned, unless whoever drove off with him took a fancy to him. He’s a very attractive cat and friendly to boot.

Sure, cats catch birds and small rodents. I personally don’t care if a few starlings, Indian mynahs or the odd dopey pigeon get slaughtered - they are in plague proportions - though I mourn the killing of the sweet little silvereyes and honeyeaters. The rats and mice of Darebin must be jumping up and down with joy at the proposed ban on cats. They are in plague proportions as well, and the dutiful cat, if left free, will keep them in check. Our cats should be awarded medals for the number of rats and mice they catch – they’re more useful to society than many two legged beings I can think of.

It strikes me that this proposal is another move to oppress the rights of the people. Governments are slowly and surely whittling away at our liberties. The cat is a free spirit; half wild no matter how domesticated, and that, of course, is why we like them. It’s no wonder that those in authority want to oppress them and their supporters.

I will finish with a quote from Kipling’s story “The Cat That Walked By Himself” that the above picture illustrates.

“… the Cat keeps his side of the bargain too. He will kill mice and he will be kind to Babies when he is in the house, just as long as they do not pull his tail too hard. But when he has done that, and between times, and when the moon gets up and night comes, he is the Cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to him. Then he goes out to the Wet Wild Woods or up the Wet Wild Trees or on the Wet Wild Roofs, waving his wild tail and walking by his wild lone.”

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