The Tale of Tom

Tom, an older tabby, starting to go white with age.

My grandfather immigrated to USA from Austria. In America, he had a farm when I was little. All cats on the farm were outside cats and all cats, regardless of gender or markings, was called Tom. Of course, Tom was short for tomcat. I’m not sure if it was the language, the need to emotionally distance from the multitude of farm animals or what, but every cat was Tom.

When I bought my house a few years ago and moved into the village, it was the first time I remember actually encountering homeless cats first hand. Of course, one of the very first stray cats I encountered here at the house I have named Tom.

Tom is an older tabby. I am pretty sure from watching his habits that he is an unaltered male. Tom is starting to go white around his face, much in the way that Kitty did in his later years. Tom knows that my house and garage are a safe space. He can show up here for a meal and a nap. No one will bother him. 

Over the past few years, I have been trying to trap the stray cats and get them into shelter off the streets. I have a feeling that Tom may be either the last or one of the last ones that I am able to trap to get off the streets. 

You can tell that Tom is very street savvy. He has to be to be able to survive on the streets in this neighborhood as long as he has. I look for the three outside cats “in my care” every day and worry about them when I do not see them.

Tom will watch me if I am outside, but he always keeps a good distance. Any time a newcomer cat comes into the neighborhood, Tom is the one who fights the newcomer and basically tells them this is his territory. I saw Tom fight with a cat who wandered here from two blocks away once. That cat now stays in it’s own area.

Tom gets along well with the other two outside cats I help, Flower and Kenny. Tom seems to know that they need help too. It’s as if Tom knows who belongs here and who does not. That cat from two blocks over has a home. Tom, Flower and Kenny do not have a home. They come here as their place of refuge. I am waiting for the local shelter to have more space so that I can trap one of them and get them off the streets.

I worry about what will happen to Tom, Flower and Kenny if something happens to me. Of course, my priority is Jude, Simon and Jolene. I need to be sure someone takes care of them if something happens to me. But if I was away from home for a few days, there would be no one to feed the outside cats. I worry they would starve. I’m sure Tom would find a way to survive, the scrapper he is. I worry most about Kenny and Flower.

Kenny was thrown out of a pickup truck in our neighborhood in January. He has taken up residence in one of the cat shelters in my garage. He is shy, but friendly. He would definitely be a good adoption with a patient kind person. 

Flower was kicked out of a neighbor house when they had a new baby. Last fall Flower had a broken leg and walks with a limp ever since. Flower tends to stay in this neighborhood. I worry how Flower and Kenny would survive if I was not here to feed them.

I am pretty sure that Tom may wander outside of the neighborhood. There are times when I do go a day without seeing him. I think his range is larger than Flower or Kenny. I would really like to trap Tom, Flower and Kenny and get them into loving homes soon before something happens to me. I cannot imagine leaving this house without being able to find homes for them. 

Flower and Tom are two of the original strays I noticed here when I bought the house. I’m sure that when I am able to trap them and get them into shelter, it will be an emotional time. Every time I see Tom, I think of my grandfather, and how every cat is “Tom.” 

Being on my grandfather’s farm as a child, there were many cats who were “Tom.” However, now, when I think of Tom, I know I will always think of this aging tabby who has defied the odds and not only survived a very rough life on the streets but thrives as well. 

I am grateful for the opportunity I have to try to help Tom in what little ways I can. I provide fresh water and food daily. There are three insulated cat shelters for them to use to have safety from the elements and be warm in the winter. I hope that the local shelter has space soon so that I can get Kenny, Tom and Flower into good, loving homes. 

Every cat deserves a loving home. God bless Tom. 

Tom with Flower
Tom with Kenny

Bad Neighbors 2

Flower, the cat the neighbors kicked out when they had a baby that I have been trying to help.

Bad neighbors 2 sounds like a movie, but it’s not. It’s my life, and it is not funny. In the past 3.5 years I have owned this house, here is a short list of what the neighbors have done to me: taken a baseball bat to the siding on my house, repeatedly left dog shit on my front porch, repeatedly run over my mailbox, blocked my driveway with their vehicles so I am unable to leave for medical appointments, played their drums so loud during work hours I lost one of my jobs, played their drums so loud I had bleeding ears and doctor confirmed permanent hearing damage, repeatedly waived a gun in my face and threatened to shoot me if I asked them to move their car to stop blocking my driveway so I can get out again. 

I know, I know. You’re saying I did something to deserve this, right? What did I do to them to make them do this? 

Well, I feed the stray cat outside that they kicked out of their house when they had a baby. I called animal control on them when they left their dog outside on the porch with no food and water for three days surrounded by it’s own feces. I reported them for running a dog fighting ring in the village and using stray/neighborhood cats as bait. 

That’s what I did that pissed them off. I guess I’m a bad person and deserve to be harassed. 

This month, they not only ran into my mailbox, they drove their vehicle up on to the sidewalk and into the bushes in front of my house. This house has been here for over 100 years, but apparently all of a sudden, it is “in the way.” They are not able to back their truck into the street unless they cross the street, drive on the sidewalk and into the front of my house.

I have had the sheriff out numerous times to make reports. This was the second time they have driven on the sidewalk and into the bushes in front of my house. It was so bad that both the sheriff and I are now worried that the next time they do this (which will be the third time), they will actually drive into the front of the house and kill me.

I can no longer use my front porch. It’s not safe. I could be murdered.

That front porch is one of the reasons I bought this house. I love the front porch. Now I can’t use it because it is not safe for me. The neighbors need to drive into it because it is “in their way.”

I had to completely empty my living room and rearrange all of the furniture in my house. It is too dangerous for the cats and I to be in the living room. If the neighbors decide next time to hit the mailbox, drive on the sidewalk, drive into the bushes and into the front of the house, I could be killed in my own living room.

Again, the living room is a part of the house I love and part of the reason I bought the house. I now have two areas of my own house I cannot even use because I could be murdered by the neighbors. 

The house has been here over 100 years. I’m not sure why it’s in the way now. I don’t understand why the neighbors are not able to back their truck into the street. I guess the street is not big enough. They have to drive it across the street, over the sidewalk and into my house.

The sheriff seems to think they are either driving illegally without a license, driving while drunk/high, or all of the above. However, the sheriff claims they are unable to do anything until the do more damage or actually kill me.

I live in fear in my own house. 

I told the sheriff how they blocked my car and I could not get out for a doctor appointment and had to reschedule the appointment. Do you know how hard it is to get medical care in the pandemic? If you reschedule an appointment, you may be waiting a year before they can see you. 

However, if I even look at this neighbor sideways, they threaten me with their gun. Apparently, this is all legal in the USA. It is legal to threaten your neighbors with a gun. Their vehicle was on my property, but I’m not allowed to ask them to leave my property. They can waive a gun iin my face and there is no consequence.

Welcome to America.

The sheriff has said that when I do sell this house, I will have to do a “bad neighbor” disclosure when I sell. That means that it is driving down the value of my property and will make it harder to sell this house due to being in a bad neighborhood. There should have been a bad neighbor disclosure when I bought this house. However, the person who owned the house died here at age 90 and left the house to family who did not live in the area. I’m sure when they sold it they knew nothing about how bad this neighborhood truly is. Plus, to be honest, we were on the brink of homelessness when I bought this house. We need a place to live. As bad as it is here, we have no place to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this house. It’s just in a horrible neighborhood. Unfortunately, real estate is all about location, location, location. It’s just hard for me to love this house, have parts of it I cannot use, and to have to live in a state of fear of being murdered in my own home by the neighbors. Here we are. 

The sheriffs office has all of my reports. If something happens where the neighbors drive into the front of my house again, or I am murdered, at least they will know who did it. 

By the way, the neighbors may be mad that I reported their dog fighting ring, however, nothing has been done to break up the dog fighting ring. Apparently, it “brings in too much money” to be broken up. 

I’m still feeding three outside stray cats and waiting for the local no-kill rescue shelter to have space so I can trap them and get them off the streets. This is what I do that causes the neighbors to terrorize me in my own home. 

One good thing coming out of no longer being able to use my living room or front porch is that I am drastically downsizing in anticipation of a move. I have no idea where we are going or when. I just want to leave. Unfortunately, I bought this house as part of a low-income first-time homebuyer program. If I sell it, I have to pay a penalty of $10,500 in addition to whatever money I lose when I sell the house. 

We need someplace to go first. I bought this house to keep us all together. We were less than 24 hours away from homelessness when I got approved to buy this house. This house is the only thing keeping us together. We can’t leave without someplace to go where we can not only be safe but all stay together.

I’m not sure what to do about the bad neighbors. My goal remains the same as always: outlive the cats so I can keep them together. If that means I have to completely empty my living room and am unable to be in / use that room so that I do not get murdered in my own home when the neighbors drive into the house next time, then so be it.  

The cats and I have to stay together. Right now this house is keeping us together.