Cats, Neighbors and Public Relations

I have a nasty neighbor. This may not be news to you, who have had many a nasty neighbor, but this is actually the first time for me. Though I live in a generic apartment building in a non-descript part of town, I am quite fanatical about my floor. A., the woman at the end of the hall, is our alpha-neighbor. You can tell immediately she's lived here the longest, knows everyone, will speak her mind and is pretty much in charge of the floor. She's a lovely person and, luckily, she likes me. Actually, she liked my cats first, because they used run down the hall to visit her. Across from her are D., who's an Italian guy who works in glassware, and I., his girlfriend, a Kazhakstani (sp?) lawyer. They throw these parties overflowing with Italians. We don't always go, but the cats go to every one. Next to them are J. and C., two rather fashionable gentlmen who also only started liking me after they met the cats. Across from them is a Brazillian couple, very friendly. Their daughter, G. likes to chase the cats down the hall. D., on the other side of me, has two tiny dogs that love my cats. (My cats stand the doggy attention with stoic disgust). There's a corporate apartment across from me that gets regular visits from a family in Westchester. Their children knock on the door to play with my cats.

Get the picture? No, this is not a "how cute are Bootsie and Footsie" email and their pictures will not be posted. I am going somewhere with this: namely, my cats are more popular than I am. But now I have a new neighbor. She has a name, but lets just call her Wicked Woman Number Twelve. (WW12 for short)(this is a joke for those who have read earlier posts). On the second day WW12 moved in, she noticed the cats sitting outside my door during a party. She told the doorman about it. I found this irritating because my door was wide open and I was in the kitchen, and she could easily just asked me in a neighborly fashion. I told the doorman that I was very sorry, and to have her come talk to me so we could work something out. Second time, she went to the doorman again. Then a series of notes were exchange. Then some nasty notes. Then she went to management.

Because WW12 is allergic, she does not want to be near the cats. Naturally, I offer to keep them inside when she is around, and to minimize the frequency and the length of their hallways visits. But no, this is insufficient. She does not want them to leave my apartment at all. Never mind that our hallway is practically the length of a football field, and she's only got one corner of it. Never mind that my cats have been doing this since they were kittens three years ago. She will actually get the porter to vacuum the area around my door, because the allergens from my cats will still be there, even when the cats are not. And these little allergens will apparently send her to the hospital.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Lawyerwriter is being insensitive. Doesn't lawyerwriter have allergies? They suck.

Lawyerwriter does have allergies. See earlier posts. But Lawyerwriter is irritated nonetheless. And this is why.

I am allergic to bees stings. I swell up. This is lamentable, and should I accidentally move next door to a beekeeper, I would be nervous and ask the beekeeper to cooperate. However, I do not--and this is key--knowingly move into a beehive. If WW12 knows she is that allergic to pets, why does she move into a 52 story building overflowing with dogs and cats? There's a girl who takes her cats on walks, for god's sake.

And I know what you're thinking now. Am I one of those crazy cat ladies? No. This is different. I have lived in this apartment for ages, carefully cultivating a really cool set of neighbors who make working from home a little more manageable. I have actually achieved a New York miracle of never, not once, having a problem with a neighbor. (That's not true. Once, J. accused me of not holding the elevator when he was running towards it. But then he met the cats).

We're talking white-picket-fence, people. Neighbors have each other's keys, take care of each other's pets, lend each other chairs for dinner parties, give both pets and babies presents on holidays. We're extremely friendly but we have our own lives and it doesn't get complicated. Although, when A2. and E. across the hall had a baby, they invited me to his bris. At 6:30 in the morning. (Yes, I went. No, I didn't look).

And now we have been invaded by WW12. Or, mostly, I have. Now management has told me that door needs to stay closed even if I am at home, and that if the cats need to leave the apartment, they need to be on leashes. And the point is, it's not a cat thing at all. I mean, I love my boys, but I'm perfectly aware that they're little animals, for god's sake, and will survive just fine without excursions down the hall, fancy toys, or fireman-and-policeman Halloween costumes.

It's a territorial thing. It's like our floor is Lumberton and she's the severed ear in the field. I'm afraid I'm afraid that I'm going to be lying awake at night, forced to listen to her vacuuming outside my door. Who is this nutjob? She's so scared of dealing face to face that she runs every time she sees me coming out of the elevator. (Once, the lock wouldn't work and she started yanking at the door like I was a mugger coming at her). Earlier today, my roommate was heading out as she was heading in. The nutjob leaned against the door, smirked and tried to stare down my roommate. Now I have to keep my door closed more, wrestle my cats inside (and you try wrestling two cats--or for that matter, putting them on leashes), see less of my neighbors and worry about running into the witch whenever I have to go out.

No. She must leave. I want my picket fence back. But how? Blog audience, I invite your thoughts.