My Franzen’s Freedom Situation

A not quite full grown cat was waiting on my porch when I arrived home from work. She had no collar, was sweet as could be. I had to figure something out but I first wanted to know if he or she was hungry. So I brought out a cup of my cat’s food and the cat scarfed it. Now the cat loves the vicinity of me and my porch because of food associations.

Turned out the cat belongs to a guy two houses down. Now I’m noticing this lovely, sweet, not quite full grown cat is slinking around with its eyes on my bird feeders and the birds venturing near. I like to feed birds not lure them to their death at the paws and jaws of a creature transplanted here long after birds finished developing natural defenses.

In Freedom, the last portion of the novel beautifully plays out a common problem of freedoms in conflict. A bird watching enthusiast confronts a woman with a pet cat she lets spend its days outside. He explains that her cat is hunting birds at a nearby bird sanctuary and asks her to keep her cat inside. She takes this as a challenge to her freedom of letting her cat roam. She tells him the cat wouldn’t like being stuck inside. He asks how she knows, “Did the cat tell you that?” Of course, he’s just trying to get her to look at her freedom of letting her cat roam in the context of his freedom of the birds he loves not being subjected to her killer cat, but she instead dismisses him as a nut, complaining to a friend, “He wants to know if my cat talks to me!”

It progresses from there, and I’m not taking my situation to anywhere near that end, but I did have to scare the cat off my porch by banging the lid of my trash can against the trash can. Watching that sweet cat run off terrified of me broke my heart a bit but finding a dead bird on my porch would break it more.

A month later a young girl walked by my house with the cat in her arms. She told me the cat seemed hungry. She was going to buy some pet food from a store a block over. I told her to hang on and brought out a dish of food. I kept it behind my back. I told her I didn’t want the cat to connect the food to me because of the birds. This girl shielded the cat from me and I handed her the dish on the sly. We were probably giving this cat way too much credit for its intelligence. Unless it was an escapee from Nimh, we probably didn’t need to treat the hand off like a drug deal.

She left with the cat saying she was going to ask her mom what to do about the cat. I told her I thought it belonged to the house two down, but at this point I’m not sure it does or that the guy is giving it proper care. Then, and this is a good example of how quickly I calculate the minutiae of social interaction, I figured this girl was never going to return the dish, but I felt good witnessing her good deed and I didn’t want to lose that. I didn’t want to remember her good deed and have ‘but she never did return my dish’ tacked onto it, so I told her she didn’t have to return the dish. Probably the most purely selfish giving of a dish to ever occur.

I’m afraid the story trails off there but if I get an update, I’ll pass it along.

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