Troy Horan lives in the Dipple, where the refugees of the war were dumped -- and left when the peace treaty signed away their worlds. His father had enlisted in the war, and his mother died when the Big Cough struck. Troy is still trying to eke out a living as casual labor, rather than sign a contract that lets him be shipped off in cold sleep, or join the Thieves' Guild.
Luck strikes. His rural background lets him get a job at Kyger's an animal store catering, like so many businesses on this world, to the wealthy and powerful of many worlds. Even if his first task on the job has him spotting a man he knows joined the Thieves' Guild, and their vehicle being attacked as they returned to the job with their exotic pets -- Terran cats. And there had been something odd about those cats during the attack.
He needs the job. He keeps his head down, doing, for instance, nothing more than notice that not all the spacers who came to see Kyger had brought an exotic animal to sell. But he learns more, and more, about what happens here.
The rest of the tale involves foxes as well as cats, a location where an alien civilization had lived, a three-way quarrel where Troy asks which rule will be applied to him, the immense importance of promises and the little consideration owing to an oath-breaker, a large offer to Troy, a man who was poisoned and his pet, and falconry. Among other things.