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Serial killer cats, rat defenders and other hot-button issues

A word of advice to any cash-strapped editors out there. (Sorry, delete cash-strapped; redundant.) Don't waste money on reader surveys. If you want to know who your audience is, or if you have an audience at all, just run a piece about cats. Get a seemingly gentle soul like Jeff Klinkenberg to write something despicable, like "Cats kill birds." Or inhumane, like "Cats would live longer and happier lives cuddled on your lap rather than outdoors where they might get hit by a car and in the meantime eat a lot of birds." Commission a piece along these lines, fellow editors, and watch the letters roll in.

Don't just take my word for it; this month's in basket bristled with letters of outrage on behalf of cats. (Not one wanted to discuss the arduous life of Iris Kroener, a 95-year-old human being profiled in the same issue, though I was cheered to learn that some readers wrote to Leonora LaPeter Anton directly.) I offer a small sample below.

The one reader who didn't write about cats was upset about rats. She called for my head because I gave Susan Thurston the room to write her amusing account of dispatching a rat with the help of a stranger at a bar. If I am to be fired for this, I intend to go out swinging. That rat had it coming.

I say this because of the rat that I once failed to kill in my attic. Hunched under the sloping eaves, sweat trickling from the tip of my nose, I slathered peanut butter on the trap's trigger and cocked the spring. The trap slipped in my greasy fingers and gouged a chunk out of my thumb as it clapped shut. The trail of blood drops is still there. And as far as I know, so is the rat.

This news may cheer a certain fan of rattus rattus in Indian Shores. But I can assure you, my thirst for revenge is as fresh as the memory of my bloody retreat. So if you've got a story that involves a dead rat and a hungry cat, please send it my way.

I get lonely when no one writes.

Bill Duryea is the Tampa Bay Times' enterprise editor.

To the Editor:

I was very disappointed in Mr. Klinkenberg's lopsided article on trap, neuter, vaccinate, release. While I am sure he wrote it, in part, to get a rise out of us "cat people," the truth is that his message to our community is dangerous to our voiceless and helpless community cats.

No, we do not live in a perfect world, and there is, and always will be, animals preying on other animals just as lizards eat bugs and birds eat worms. This is not the fault of our community's cats. Most of them, dumped by humans, should not have to lose their lives due to the irresponsibility and lack of compassion of others. TNVR has been proved to be the only humane solution to the homeless cat population and is the only long-term solution. Leaving the cats where they are and spaying/neutering them through TNVR is the only hope for improvement. Sterilizing a large percentage of the cats breaks the reproductive cycle and will, in time, lead to a reduced population. There is already enough cruelty and abuse that takes place to pets on our streets. The very last thing we need to do is provide justification for these crimes to take place. If you really want to label anyone as a "serial killer," look a little closer to the human race and ask yourself: Who really is needlessly killing more animals?

Jill McEachern

Tampa

Serial killer cats, rat defenders and other hot-button issues 05/30/14 [Last modified: Friday, May 30, 2014 4:26pm]

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