Unintended Consequences

Cats on election day
Cats on election day

Why is it that good intentions always seem to lead to unintended consequences?

For example: A while back a black and white cat wandered through our yard. It was kind of skinny and hungry looking, but not unhealthy. My wife, being the kindhearted and generous soul that she is, coaxed it onto the porch and gave it some table scraps and a heaping helping of affection. It came back the next day, and the next. We decided it wouldn’t be a terrible thing to have a guest cat around the house so we brought home a bag of cat food and began putting out a bowl of food and water for her. It was a good arrangement. She didn’t belong to us so we weren’t responsible for her, and yet we got to feel good about taking care of her and enjoy her company when she deigned to visit.

A few days later she brought a friend over for dinner. He was well behaved and kind of shy so it was okay. We could handle another guest cat. We hadn’t bothered to give the first one a name but now we needed to call them something just so we’d know which one we were talking about. To make it easy we decided to simply call them Thing-One and Thing-Two. They were good neighbors. They stopped by every evening to say hello, have a bite to eat, a quick rub, and then they were on their way.

Then came Thing-Three. She was pretty much a feral cat. She made it clear she was only there for the free food and wanted nothing more to do with us. We felt sorry for her and accepted her into our little group. After a few days she began to calm down and act as if she might consider a scratch behind the ears, when along came Thing-Four. She was a blond haired, green eyed beauty who thought she could swish her tail and get anything she wanted. Unfortunately, for us, she in turn attracted, Thing-Five.

We drew the line at Thing-Five; enough was enough. We tried to be generous and offer a better life to a few stray cats but they were just going to keep coming until there was nothing left. And, where they once came for a few minutes in the evening as part of their neighborhood prowl now they were staying all the time. Once their nourishment needs were taken care of they just wanted to lay around in the shade all day. So, the bowls went empty and dry, and you know what? The cats did just fine on their own. In fact, they seem much happier now than when they were lounging around on our porch. Thing-one recently had kittens. She sent us a card.

Diligent labor for labor’s sake is not in our nature. When we realize we can vote ourselves the fruits of another’s labor the knell of democracy has begun.


Tim Couch