We were frustrated and angry. I said, "We'll put in a fence."
"Yeah, not around everything. Just on this side, from the front of the porch to the property line, then back to the garage and tie in there. About 130 feet as I measure it, maybe a little more."
"What kind of fence?"
"I was thinking a tall, 5', chain link. Something strong but that you can see through."
"Well, I definitely would want to be able to see through it to see what that bitch is doing. But isn't that pretty expensive?"
"Look, she says she will kill the kittens if they come on her porch again and I believe her. And you know they probably will go there again before we can catch them because Irene always fed them there before she moved. So, yes, we will catch the kittens and bring them inside, but I don't know how easy it will be to trap Mama."
"So? I still don't see why we need a fence."
"Because she has told you and everyone else that she has no intention of moving. And even if she does we have had pretty poor luck with those neighbors in that apartment. More importantly, you know that dog lunges at you every time you walk to the garage. She intentionally puts him so he comes right to the property line and sometimes over.
I saw that metal stake she puts the chain on. Its driven in the ground less that a foot. If that dog pulled that stake out you could never fight off a vicious 100 pound dog and you know it. The Police Chief says he talked to her and she told him to get off her property. There is nothing he can do until the dog actually hurts someone."
We had been feeding the Mama cat and her two kittens in our summer kitchen shed. We had a heated water bowl and heated pad they could use for warmth, but they seldom stayed in the shed. Earlier that spring Sue caught the kittens and we had them spayed and given rabies shots.
They were about nine months old at the time, calico sisters of the two kitten litter Mama had dropped the prior summer. We called them Gracie and Allie, for Gracie Allen. I can't remember why. We did not consider them "our" cats. They were feral and we already had a cat.
Since we had no doubt that the woman next door would try to kill them, we had to catch the kittens again and bring them inside to be house cats if they would tolerate that. Sue caught them, brought them inside and they adapted quickly.
Unfortunately, our old brindled tabby, Divot, hated them and attacked them constantly. Fur flew everywhere and they were terrorized. Later, after months of trying to figure a way to keep Divot from killing them we gave up and a good friend who had to put her dog down recently took Divot.
Divot adjusted totally to being the only cat again and is happy. We pay for Divot's vet bills, buy food and litter for her when our friend will let us, and Sue visits our friend and Divot frequently. Now that Divot is queen again and has no competition, she could not be happier.
Meanwhile, since there was no way we were going to get that renter to move from next door I proceeded with the fence project. First was the land survey which was $450. I got a friend who was starting a landscaping business to do it as a way to add to the things he offered his customers.
Although he had never done it before he did an excellent job and charged me "only" $1250, about half of what others were charging. So the fence project was $1700. Vet bills were another $150 for the feral kittens, and we still had the evil woman next door to contend with. Why? Because of the dog -- and because before we caught Mama she had another litter. We didn't know where she was keeping her kittens.
We had started feeding Mama out behind the garage on the alley because the dog would go nuts when he saw her and she would not come around, and the woman next door was threatening to kill her too. I had no doubt she would poison Mama if she could.
Within two months Mama started showing up out at the garage with two kittens, a light colored calico and a gray and black tabby. While we had put a nice custom made cat box out with the food and water they seldom got in it, preferring to live in the bushes and under the sheds in the neighborhood.
One morning Sue called me from work, "The cat box and the food and water dishes are gone."
What do you mean 'gone?'"
"They were there when I came home from work last night and they are just gone this morning."
"We both know who took them but there is no way to prove it."
"I know. But now I am worried about the kittens. If she sees them you know what she will do. They can scoot right under the fence in several places. I've seen them do it."
We agreed that we had all the cats we needed and that we would try to find a home for the kittens. So we called around to see if we could find anyone to take them. That did not work out.
A week later.
"The calico hasn't been around all week."
We looked around the neighborhood several times but never saw the calico again and have no idea whether the woman next door had caught it and killed it or if something else happened to it. Again, we had a theory and no proof.
Meanwhile, Mama had started rejecting the gray tabby, swiping at him if he came to eat and hissing and running him off. He was almost three months old and we had watched Mama do the same to Gracie and Allie at about the same age.
Mama's hormones were kicking in and she was likely to go into heat again shortly. It was time to catch her if we could and have her spayed. Eventually we caught her in a humane trap and had her spayed and given a rabies vaccine.
The little gray tabby was ultra friendly, loud and demanding of attention from Sue, totally unlike his calico sister who was shy and skittish before she vanished. Whenever the garage door was opened in the morning he was waiting for attention, running to her and crying all the time. She would pick him up, pet him and then get into the car. Soon he was jumping into the car as soon as she opened the door.
He would wait for her in the afternoons and as soon as she got home he would follow her car into the garage and yell his head off for attention. She was trying desperately to not get attached to him. But he started following her to the house and the dog next door would lunge and bark and claw at the ground and sometimes the fence.
I had more words with the woman about chaining the dog too close to the fence, which was 6" inside my property line. She screamed at me and I gave up and called the Police. They spoke to her again and told her I would press charges if the dog kept tearing at my new fence. I heard her screaming at them but the next day the stake was a couple of feet further from the fence.
Meanwhile we gave up trying to convince ourselves that we could not take in one more kitten, which is how we got Jake. He decided he was an inside cat and was never going to be alone again from the moment we set him down on the kitchen floor. He quickly started following his half sisters around demanding their attention too.
I named him Jacob because the Jacob of the Bible was a charmer and a scoundrel and Jake is growing into the name very well. He is loving, gets in trouble all the time, charms the socks off of everyone and then gets into more trouble -- just like his namesake did.
Through all of this commotion and anger and frustration with the woman next door I had been talking to her landlady about her. The landlady told me that she would do nothing about her until something happened that I could prove. It never did.
But, adding in the vet costs for Jake, when the dust settled the woman had cost us about $2000.
And, wouldn't you know, only a few months after we took in Jake the woman moved. I don't know why she moved but we were relieved to say the least.
Today, we have a new neighbor, another renter, a very nice single man in his 40s who has two cats! We often talk over the fence, almost always about loving cats. Right now I figure if every conversation we have is worth, say, $1, we should pay for the fence in about half a century or so.
I am gradually more able to look at the fence and not see dollar signs, but hey, "Good fences make good neighbors."
Or do they?