On December 20th at 3:16 pm, according to the Ipswich Chronicle police log, “Animal Control was notified of a cat hiding under a couch on Central Street.”
Of course, Ipswich is a discreet New England town, so no details were offered. We don’t know anything more about the Central Street location from which the panicky plea took place. Where was this couch? In a residence? A business, perhaps? Maybe a hair styling salon, or a place where you get your nails done, and you don’t want cat hair floating about to ruin your lacquer? Is there a couch at Ye Olde Barber Shop? Was this couch on the side of the road?
We also don’t know anything about the cat itself. Was it owner, renter, or intruder? Was it feral? Or fisher? Tomcat? Bob? Tabby? Cool? Aristo-?
However, I think it’s safe to surmise, from the police log item, that the cat was not very brave. It was, the report says, “hiding.” And it was not hiding in the way a great warrior hides, preparing to spring out of the shadows and deck you. This cat was hiding “under a couch.” There is no good way to attack your victim from an under-the-couch crouch. Maybe, if you planned it just right, you could get a jump on a passer-by’s ankles. Perhaps you could spring out suddenly and snarl threateningly. You could growl ominously from under the couch without ever showing your whiskers. But none of these tactics would hardly qualify as an attack. No. This was a cowardly kitty.
The bottom-line lesson here is: If you find a cat hiding under your couch, you probably don’t need to call Animal Control. You are free to call Animal Control, of course, because you live here in Ipswich, and our tax dollars keep Animal Control Officer Matt Antczak on the job, whether you call or not. But if you call because of an under-the-couch-crouching cat-coward, you may be distracting Matt from actual lifesaving duties, like wrestling a bear to keep it from eating more of our birdseed, or duct-taping the beak of a constantly crowing cock-a-doodler, or steering a dead-drunk deer out of the middle of Argilla Road before an entirely sober driver veers into it.
Matt Antczak is a friendly, easygoing guy, and generally speaking, he responds cheerfully to cat calls. But he is woefully underpaid and overworked, and we would do well to limit our calls demanding attention from Animal Control. I have not consulted with Matt personally on this, but I would nevertheless like to offer the following nearly comprehensive yet utterly unofficial list of reasons not to call the Town of Ipswich Animal Control hotline:
- Your parakeet, which escaped from its cage, is not Animal Control’s problem. Your parakeet left through the dryer vent some time ago, and is already bar-hopping in Gloucester.
- At Crane’s Beach in July, do not call Animal Control about the greenheads. You will go to voicemail. Animal Control Officer Matt Antczak is at Crane’s himself, further up the beach, slathering himself and his kid with Skin-So-Soft.
- That mosquito on your forearm? Not Matt’s problem. Smack it. Those devils deserve to writhe in hell.
- Fox in your backyard? They’re shooting a movie. Try not to be obvious.
- Hippopotamus? Big problem. Matt can’t handle this. Call the National Zoo: (202) 633-4888.
- Giraffes in your backyard? What the heck. Let them live. They’ll be ice sculptures by February.
- Chihuahua climbing your Christmas tree? That’s your cat’s job. Plus, you should have taken your tree down by now.
- Deer eating your hostas? That’s what they do. Don’t call Animal Control. You had too many hostas already.
- When you drive down Linebrook Road and you’re offended by a cat sitting in a window sneering at you, obviously curling a lip contemptuously at you, perhaps even snarling threateningly at you, do not call Animal Control. This cat is mine, and she is simply saying, “I don’t hide under couches. I own this joint.”