There's this one black and white cat that cruises our tree-lined Missoula neighborhood like he owns it. He ignores the fences marking private property and, for that matter, the fledgling lettuce leaves we've been nurturing in our garden for weeks. He uses our veggie plot and flowerbeds as a litter box. And we're sick of it.
We're not the only ones steamed. As the Missoula City Council reshapes the rules governing everything from beekeeping to hoarding companion animals, a handful of locals are setting their sights on cats. Troublemakers and their owners, take heed: there's a movement keen on prosecuting those feline bastards. Or squirting them with a garden hose.
When Councilman Bob Jaffe introduced the subject of reshaping the animal ordinance on his listserv, an online platform for political discussion, locals couldn't contain their disdain for the impact wandering felines have on gardens. One online commenter had this to say: "If animal control board is updating the animal ordinance, then they need to update the definition of a nuisance CAT."
Another commenter discusses prosecuting negligent pet owners for vandalism and wonders about the value of cats in general. "What does everyone think about Animeals? There are hundreds of cats being taken care of onsite or in people's homes (volunteers)... It seems like there are just too many that easily live off the fat of the land... Cats would make sense if mice and rats were still a common problem... but they have sort of outlived their purpose in our area."
The city calls feline scofflaws "free roaming" and "cat at large." As it stands, a cat is only legally a nuisance—its owner subject to a fine—if it is free roaming and unaltered. That's frustrating for one aforementioned commenter, who states that if a cat is crapping in his garden, it shouldn't matter what its reproductive system looks like.
In the midst of calls to crack down, Animal Control Supervisor Ed Franceschina says there is already recourse for those, like us, who are left eating sour lettuce. It is legal to humanely trap a cat that's on your property and take it to Animal Control. And the "animal waste" portion of the existing animal ordinance states, "The owner or custodian of an animal is responsible for the immediate removal of any excreta." That could give aggrieved parties additional recourse.
"They would have to be willing to testify and identify that cat," Franceschina says.
We don't know about you, but we're ready to stand up and nail that slick bastard for peeing in our bougainvillea.