The city smells like what?

Brian Golden

I’ve encountered some strange e-mails occupying my inbox during my time here at The Evening Sun over the past year-and-a-half or so, but every once-in-awhile one comes along that’s truly the cat’s meow, if you get my drift. And in this case, you really can tell a lot about the book by its cover, considering the subject line of this particular e-mail reads: “The Smell of Cat Urine in the City! How exciting!”

Yes, believe it or not, that’s exactly what it says. And while it’s not the first time I’ve received an e-mail that had me – literally – in tears, it definitely ranks right up there as one of the most original. The author certainly has a point, however, although I beg to differ on the olfactory accusation. Then again, having lived here most of my life, maybe I simply never noticed the smell.

Now, it’s no secret that Norwich has – and has had – a serious cat problem for years now, particularly in certain parts of the city. I’m uncertain as to when it all began, but – like the author of this particular e-mail pointed out – it’s definitely an issue that needs to be addressed at some time or another. And I agree (for the most part) with said author that those who continue to feed these cats should probably take on the added responsibility of having them fixed. As stated by the author, “if you have no intent of taking care of them, stop feeding them. You feed them, you own them, you get fined for not taking care of them.”

My only problem with that scenario is that, as an animal lover, I hate to see any creature go hungry and starve to death. Unfortunately, I’m fairly certain that’s already happening in this case, otherwise the feline infestation downtown would probably be infinitely worse.

The author went on to state that, “I am sure that I am not the only one that has stressed the concern of cats taking over the city. I believe it is animal cruelty. These cats are a walking disease.”

While I’m not going to disagree completely with any of those statements, I can honestly say I’ve never lost a minute of sleep worrying that cats were on the verge of taking over the entire city, in a literal sense. I will admit that I got a laugh out of the idea though, in a kind of a Garfield-meets-Planet-of-the-Apes sense. As to animal cruelty, however, I’ll admit I’m of the same mind. I just don’t see how there’s enough food out there for all of these animals to survive. A walking disease? Well, maybe, but I doubt there’s any chance of plague in our fair city any time soon.

What ultimately had me in tears, though, was the author’s solution to the problem, even though it was all in jest.

“How about we stop feeding the cats, then let the cats eat the crows, and we shoot the cats!”

Anyone who’s lived here for the last five years or so is surely familiar with our recurring crow infestation. I’ve even been fortunate enough to write a number of stories describing our city’s efforts to get rid of the pesky things. In all that time, I’ve heard any number of solutions to the problem, most of which had me – kind of like this e-mail – in tears. In fact, some of our city’s actual efforts to chase away the birds had me in tears as well (think Warren with the laser pointer).

Regardless, I have a sinking suspicion that the cats are here to stay at this point. And if that’s the worst we have to worry about these days, let’s just say I’ll sleep peacefully tonight. As for the city smelling of cat urine, well, I haven’t noticed it, but obviously others have. What I’m really curious to know is just how many felines are out there? Hundreds? Thousands? Or more than can be reasonably calculated. And that, my friends, is a truly scary thought.

It makes me wonder if there’s more to this feline takeover than I originally gave credit for.