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Thirteen years ago, my wife and I moved into our wonderful community. It had and still has a strong and dedicated group of volunteers serving on its homeowners association. Several association services provided befit my physical instability. The grass is mowed. The driveways and walkways are plowed or shoveled when necessary. Outside, the roofs, sidings, patios and gutters are periodically maintained. All of the trees and flora are fed and pruned seasonally. A standard requirement is a code of uniformity that everyone adheres to. These regulations preserve our community’s uniqueness and beauty.

Naturally, the first things you notice upon entrance to our area are the plethora of different varieties of trees and the bushes and perennials that bloom at various times of the year. The landscaping, like everything, is financed through our association dues and it is lovely. It’s not golf course manicured, but nonetheless, lovely.

After fixing up the inside of our home to our satisfaction, our happiness was enhanced by the daily outside visuals through the patio windows into the common, large, oval, tree-filled rear area. There, little squirrels were chasing each other and occasional rabbits hopped around. But most of all, we were in wonderment at the variety of birds, with their chirping, singing and pecking. So much so that we bought bird guides and put up several feeders and a water bath. I took monthly excursions for birdseed purchases. Early in the morning, one could even encounter deer, browsing at their leisure.

Sadly, that scene has completely changed. For the past few years, our pastoral area has been overtaken by feral cats. A resident or residents in our community allowed their house cats to roam outdoors freely, summer and winter, and to multiply. They allowed them to remain outside, I’m told, by patio feeding. Apparently, patio feeding wasn’t sufficient, because our wildlife is all gone. Squirrels that once literally tapped on our window for nuggets of corn or nuts are non-existent. They’ve either fled or been victims of predation. There are no more rabbits. We haven’t noticed deer, either. But worst of all, our bird-sighting manuals are stowed away and lie dormant for obvious reasons – scant sightings.

Management is understanding but helpless. It claims that someone is feeding these cats. Stop them! Whom are we to accuse? What are we to do? The SPCA can’t do anything. A call to the Feral Cat Focus group responds with, “you catch ’em, and we’ll neuter ’em.” That’s a nonstarter, for me.

I don’t wish any harm to these cat families. They are cute creatures. Not to mention, out of the mainstream, I see no sport in killing wildlife. I’d love nature to take its course, or perhaps get a little assist from neutering science, because these cats can no longer be domesticated.

Grievously, due to some misguided, thoughtless “pet” owners, the quality of our lives in this once fauna-filled community has greatly diminished. Unfortunately, its return remains doubtful.

My dog will be 12 years old soon. I’ve previously owned and loved my cats. But since I don’t breed, I’ve “fixed” every one of them, as well as leashing them while outdoors. Good pet ownership, good neighborliness, common courtesy and a little common sense shouldn’t cost that much and takes so little effort.