Concord, Massachusetts, now there’s a town that has earned its place in history. The seedbed of American democracy, it was at a meeting in 1774 that the residents agreed to form a militia, volunteers who could be ready in a minute to face any approaching danger. Some months later these minutemen saw action against three companies of the British Army on the town’s North Bridge, firing a shot heard around the world.
Another shot has been fired from Concord that has been heard around the world, yea, even so far as London. The enemy this time is not redcoats but felines. Yes, some of the townsfolk were aiming their muskets against the town’s roaming cats. Are there any German Rex cats in the population, I wonder, pussies of possible Hessian extraction?
Lydia Lodynsky, a local resident, something of a minutewoman, took up arms against a sea of outrageous cats and by opposing feline troubles hoped to end them. Apparently these free rangers had been invading her garden and making away with the local bird population. So she proposed Article 45, a new by-law intended to stop cats entering neighbouring properties without the owner’s permission.
It’s a case of three strikes and you are out. The owners of deviant wanderers found trespassing three times would, under the proposal, have to work with an animal control officer to ensure their confinement; to ensure, in other words, that pussy is kept in the pen. Cats found ‘running loose’ could also be impounded or quarantined. In a letter to the local press Ms Lodynsky said that her proposed bylaw would create “a platform for addressing cat-related disputes as a result of free roaming.” Quite frankly, it all sounds vaguely Un-American.
The media, as the media is wont to do, had fun with this, calling it a leash law, though in fact she was not proposing that cats, free spirits in ever there was, be led around like slavish dogs. But leash law is how some of the local residents, those in opposition to 45, saw it. One even invoked the spirit of Henry David Thoreau, a former resident who sought freedom, transcendental enlightenment and communion with nature in a cabin on Walden Pond. Interviewed by the Boston Globe, she said “I feel confident that Thoreau would not want cats on a leash. It seems to inhibit their freedom to roam and discover.”
Fortunately for the freedom of cats to roam and discover (including discovering birds in Ms Lodynsky’s garden) the proposal was shot down at last Wednesday’s town meeting. Speaking against Article 45, Mr John Flynn said that he did not want Concord to be known as the first town in the country to ban cats. This was followed by Mr James Brown, who in one of the final arguments said “this kind of legislation hurts the town and I don't want my tax dollars spent that way. We have a lot of laughs coming our way and I want to avoid that.”
Too late; the bird has flown, the cats are free and I, for one, am chuckling.