Are you on Nextdoor, the "neighborhood hub for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods, and services?" Perhaps you've followed the sad saga of Maulks.
"Siamese three legged cat missing since Saturday," Kelly Anderson posted on Aug. 26. "He's very friendly. If you've seen or have found him please message me!!!!"
Sure enough, most people were concerned and interested in helping.
Kari Ann suggested she put out some dirty laundry "with your scent," to lure the cat home.
"Maybe his favorite food?" suggested Georgia Adrian. "Of course you may get other cats or raccoons," she continued, thinking on the fly.
"Haha," responded Anderson, "that's exactly what happened ... my neighbor's cat and a possum."
Neighbors helping neighbors! It's a beautiful thing ... and then this ominous message from Susan K Lee: "I heard about the Papp guy knowing where your cat is."
The Papp guy? Catnapping? The mystery deepens!
"I commented on his page and sent him a message," Lee posted. "This is shameful."
"This is unbelievable!" posted Liz Forney. "Praying he does the right thing!"
"Did anyone hear Papp on Dave Congalton?" asked Lee.
What the what? This hopped from social media to talk radio? This might be the most San Luis Obispo controversy I've seen this election season: Catgate 2020.
Kathie Walker wrote, "Dave had James Papp on yesterday and one of Kelly's cat sitters called in. Today, Dave had Kelly on the show. Afterward, Dave said the cat, Maulks, is clearly Kelly's cat and pleaded for the return."
Done and done, right? I mean, Congalton has spoken; that cat should be returned.
Lee admitted she hadn't heard the Congalton show but posted, "Other people have said [Papp] basically thinks if a cat is outdoors it's up for grabs."
Forney found an archive recording of the show: "I just heard it and was getting so angry I had to turn it off. [Papp] is arrogant, insensitive, and clearly out of touch! I am so glad this is getting attention!"
Kathleen Blandini broke it down: "James Papp, just get Maulks and bring him to Kelly, then go get your other 'friend' a new cat from Woods [Humane Society]. You're not looking good in this story. Comments on CCN [Cal Coast News] and the Dave Congalton Show are not in your favor."
Ooh. CCN and Congalton, huh? I shiver to think about the consequences of that.
Who the hell is this Papp guy anyway? Well, aside from being a catnapping co-conspirator, he's running for the SLO City Council, and his pappforcouncil.com webpage reads, "Hi, I'm James Papp, downtown business owner and 3-time chair of SLO City's Cultural Heritage Committee—recently fired by the City Council for my 'style of communication,' that is, communicating that developers and the city need to follow the law."
Oh, the law-and-order type, eh? You must believe in "possession is 9/10th of the law," right? The thing is, James, that adage is not literally true. What is 100 percent clear is that Maulks is Anderson's cat, and you know where it is.
Later, Anderson posted again on Nextdoor: "STILL LOST-Three legged cat," describing Maulks' black collar and reiterating "Verrrrrrryyy friendly." This is the one James Papp showed up on, saying he'd seen Maulks behind Anderson Real Estate, and later adding, "I have faith he'll turn up, being the wandering but resourceful cat he is."
Oh, well, that's nice, but then Papp posted, "Found Maulks safe in a new home. More later."
Anderson responded, "Why wouldn't you tell me where or give them my info so I could get him? You know I've been worried and trying to find him. This message makes me feel upset. As if you're the one deciding what's best. Can you please give me their info?"
It devolved, with lots of "neighbors" attacking Papp and arguing that Maulks was being "detained" against his will and that whoever had him was guilty of "theft."
Papp's defense of his behavior was that "Maulks has wandered freely across San Luis for years with at least two different 'owners' but many have put him up and fed him for days at a time" and that Maulks "has functionally always been a stray cat, and there seems to be more concern with his ownership than his wellbeing."
Papp ends his post by saying, "If you want to 'own' a cat, keep it indoors away from songbirds, critters, traffic, and other cat fanciers."
Aha! The truth will out! Papp doesn't approve of outdoor cats, even aged three-legged ones that couldn't catch a bird on a dare. See a cat outdoors? Yours to take! Wee!
Anderson posted flyers around the neighborhood, including in front of Papp's residence: "The flyer in front of Papp's house was ripped down the next day every single time I went and reposted it. It's no longer a weird coincidence," Anderson posted.
My favorite post was from Sarah Guy: "James Papp, I want you to know that I will not be voting for you and will be sharing this appalling story you're spreading about this poor woman's cat. Stray cats don't wear collars and grown men don't spread lies. Gross."
Maulks and Anderson were eventually reunited, no thanks to Papp. We're days away from a crucial election, in a pandemic, as our world is falling apart around us. Thanks for the distraction, Maulks! I salute you. Δ
The Shredder is a cat fancier. Send comments to email@example.com.