I dislike cats, so I disliked Snowball, my next door neighbor’s cat. My neighbor’s grandchildren found him somewhere when he was a tiny kitten. He was almost dead. They carried him home and gave him his name, and they nursed him. I saw the grandchildren in their backyard encouraging him to drink milk from a bowl. A year or so later, I noticed Snowball sitting in my neighbor’s enclosed back porch window. He sat watching the birds in my backyard. As time passed, Snowball came outside. I saw him going and coming. As he came and went, he gave me three reasons to dislike him.

First, I didn’t like the way he looked. From where I stood at the enclosed porch window, I saw that Snowball was in good physical condition. He was on the other side of the alley. He leapt up to a garage roof from a junk car sitting in a neighbor’s backyard and leapt down expertly. On another occasion, I was inside my house looking out the kitchen window when I saw him standing on my outside porch railing. He leapt onto my enclosed porch roof. He looked as if he might be around for a long time-longer than me. Snowball had a healthy appearance. Snowball’s fur was black, except for a strip of white fur that started above his nose and moved down to his chest. The white strip broadened out at his chest and covered his under belly and the inside of his legs. The white fur on his body was white as snow.

The second thing I didn’t like was that he killed birds and mice. I know that it’s a cat’s nature to kill birds, but Snowball would kill a bird and leave it in my backyard, at the bottom of the basement steps or on the front walkway. It was embarrassing when visitors came and greeted me with, ‘You have a dead bird on your walkway,’ rather than say ‘hello.’

I wondered why he didn’t take his trophy home. He didn’t need to show off for me.

Snowball also killed mice. He left them in locations where I was sure to see them. Sometimes he didn’t kill the mice. My next door neighbor told my husband she caught Snowball carrying a mouse in his mouth into the house. Would a person want a mouse in his or her house? No! Snowball knew better. He wanted the real thing to chase and play with, so he tried to sneak past my neighbor carrying a mouse.

And thirdly: he didn’t show respect for my property. He used my property as a shortcut from his house to the alley. At least twice a day, Snowball walked through my backyard leaving home or going home. I didn’t say anything until the alley cats took his lead, and they came through my backyard going to the alley. I shouted to Snowball and the alley cats to stop coming through my backyard. The alley cats ran back, but what I said didn’t matter to Snowball. He stopped, turned his head, looked up at me sitting in the porch window, turned his head forward, and continued with the same slow stride, walking towards the back wrought-iron fence. It was as if I had said, ‘Hello Snowball, how are you today?’

Also, he used my property for his social activities. Sometimes, he brought a friend into my yard. It was bad enough that Snowball came into my backyard and sat in the shade, leapt onto the back porch roof, stalked birds, and sat on the top railing of my outside porch. But two cats sitting across from each other on the top porch railings and looking across at each other while making hissing sounds at each other was too much.

For a short time, he disappeared. I missed seeing Snowball for about a week. It made me wonder if it’s possible to dislike, and like, a cat at the same time.

When I did finally see Snowball stroll through the backyard, heading to the alley, I was happy to see him-even though he’s a nuisance.