Feral Dublin

In Limerick there is a local volunteer group / charity called ‘Limerick Feral Cats’. It is a group that looks after the welfare of feral cats in the Limerick area. It engages in a policy of TNR – Trap, Neuter, Return – to safeguard the lives and health of these vulnerable animals.

A feral cat is the same as a domestic cat, it is simply not socialised to humans. Often a household cat will become a stray (whether by accident or design). As cats are resourceful they will adapt to life outside the home. If they have not been neutered then it is inevitable that they will reproduce. Repeatedly. Their offspring will be entirely undomesticated. If they are not rescued as kittens, they will become the hissing, spitting, biting stereotype of a feral cat.

These cats tend to live lives of abject misery – constantly hungry, constantly pregnant, vulnerable to the ill will of humans, poisoners, and cars. Often racked with untreated infections and disease, their existence is miserable. And their lives are brutal and short.

If they are lucky they will find a human feeder. If they are very lucky their feeder will neuter them. If they are extraordinarily fortunate they will meet the Limerick Feral Cats group, who lie in wait with tasty treats in their traps. Once captured, they will be neutered, treated for any illnesses, fed, vaccinated and either returned to where they came from, or – if still kittens – potentially rehoused with a human family. Kittens can be socialised with humans. Adult ferals not so much. Thus will end the depressing cycle of constant pregnancy and early death.

I admire the work of these volunteers who donate so much time and effort to these creatures, relying almost entirely on donations to keep their work going. And the work is never done. People keep abandoning their fertile pets. And the misery of these cats continues.

Why am I babbling about feral cats, you may ask, when the blog-post title specifically mentions Dublin?

Well I got to thinking about feral cats after witnessing the behaviour of some of their unsocialised human counterparts on the way home last night.

After my evening class, I decided to take the idler’s route home – the tram. Walking would have taken twenty five minutes, but it was cold and wet so I decided to lord it up a bit, by using public transport. Specifically the Luas Red Line.

Dublin’s tram network currently consists of two tram lines – the Red and the Green. They were opened to the public about twelve years ago. Whatever genius designed them, decided – in his infinite wisdom – that the two lines should never intersect. Instead they run independently of each 0ther. Twelve years later someone realised the stupidity of that initial decision, and now in 2016 at enormous expense, the two lines are being connected, and extended.

The Green Line and the Red Line have different reputations. The cliché says that the yuppie in leafy suburbia uses the Green Line to get to his corporate job. It states that the junkie uses the Red Line to get to his dealer. In other words, the Red Line has more ‘character’.

I was sitting, mid-tram, minding my own business, when I heard a scuffle at the front. I didn’t look up. Some of the locals can be colourful at this time of night.

Moments later, I heard a sharp intake of breath from the woman beside me and she hissed ‘Ewww’ under her breath.

Following her line of vision, I witnessed the revolting sight of a human male, urinating in the middle of the tram. He had been arguing with his companions, and decided to express his displeasure by peeing on his friends in public. He was swaying – obviously enjoying the effects of a big bag of narcotics.

The other passengers in the vicinity rose, in unison, and charged towards the rear of the tram – to dryness.

His pissed off (or should that read ‘pissed on’?) companions were furious at their leaky mate. They started squealing violent threats, and abuse at him. I could understand their anguish. I can’t imagine, what had just occurred, was a fun way to end a day of drug fuelled leisure.

They lunged for him, kicking and roaring and punching. He retaliated in kind. I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. But I don’t think it was polite. Their arms were all flailing wildly.

The tram pulled into the next stop. A far greater percentage of passengers than usual at that stop, rose from their seats and fled. Not I. I had paid for my seat. I was curious to see how the floor show would play out.

The leaky guy was flung out the door by his friend. He was bouncy though. No sooner had he been thrown out, that he rebounded back in, fists at the ready and charged for his pal.

They engaged in an uncoordinated dance, retreating down the tram. In my direction. I rose, and positioned myself at the door, in case a quick exit was required.

Looking at their faces I just saw a blank stupor. These guys were not engaged with the planet in any way. Whatever mental realm they were occupying was not of this earth.

For a split second, I felt sorry for them. Hard-core addiction can’t be fun. I quickly had a word with myself though. My sympathy was replaced with revulsion and contempt. Life is hard, but endangering and inconveniencing other people because you are so wasted that you are disengaged entirely from the world around you, is appalling.

The lone security guard was circling around them, clearly angry, but not wanting to get too close. A wise decision, all things considered.

He raised his walkie-talkie to his mouth and announced ‘Ladies and gentlemen, for your own safety please leave the tram immediately.’

This was followed by a quick ‘Police backup, immediately. Repeat. Police backup immediately.’

I jumped off, and watching the doors nervously, got as far away as possible. I wanted to avoid an encounter with one of Dublin’s finest in case he came flying our after me – propelled by the vengeance of his friends. I wasn’t ready to take our relationship to that next level. Yet.

I walked home.

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