Monday, June 11, 2007

More cat tales

Earlier, I wrote a post about introducing our black cat to our new house and neighborhood. Though he's a wonderful cat, he has some wildness in him from his previous life before he introduced himself to us, and he prefers to spend at least half the day outdoors. So he comes and goes through a little cat door I installed at the base of one of our windows near the back door.

Soon after we moved in, we began to hear some vicious catfights in the middle of the night. Since our cat Woody is a young and muscular 12-pounder, we feared he was picking on one or more of the neighbor cats. One night, after a particularly nasty bout, my wife went outside in the middle of the night and looked around in the woods behind our house. It was too dark to see much, but she did see a black shape come down out of a tree and then run off. She assumed it was a cat that Woody had treed.

The next day, we talked to our neighbors about the cat fights and began to hear a disturbing story. For the past couple of years, they said, a vicious feral tomcat (apparently abandoned by college students who had gone their own way) had been stalking the neighborhood, attacking other cats, dogs (even very large ones), and even people. He was big, orange, and mean as grizzly bear. Uh oh.

A week or so later, we were awakened at 3:30 in the morning by one of the most awful sounds you're likely to hear. It was as if the door to some kind of hellish universe had been opened inside our house. My wife and I (scantily dressed, as you might imagine) raced out in the living room and discovered that my cat was in a life-and-death fight with the tomcat upstairs, right next to our three daughters' closed bedroom doors.

Running around making sounds that would have made Richard Simmons blush, my wife and I managed to corral our cat to safety and then chase the monster out the front door. He had found his way in our cat door and snuck upstairs to make the attack. We were stunned.

Since that episode, the entire neighborhood has come together in an attempt to capture this cat. We've set out every kind of trap, but he's too damn wily. Our cat Woody has stayed inside a lot more, but you can't keep that kind of cat indoors forever. So there have been even more fights. Meanwhile, I've caught one very friendly cat called Patches half-a-dozen times. He's taken a liking to my trap: It's a great place to get a free meal and then snooze until the tall guy comes and lets him out.

When and if this issue is resolved, I'll let you know. Wait ... wait ... I think I heard something by the back door! Yaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!

-- Jim


Dustinzgirl said...

LOL that's just funny. Silly cats! What are you going to do to the feral tom if you do catch him? Let him go up in the mountains?

Jim Melvin said...

I promise you that I'm a big-time animal lover. In fact, I'm more of a dog person than a cat person, but we recently had two elderly dogs pass away, and the last couple of years with them were difficult, so we've decided to take a little break. Anyway, to make a long story short, the feral cat that is terrorizing our neighborhood is nothing but trouble for anybody, even in the mountains. He's capable of harming a child, or killing a cat or small dog, not to mention rabies, etc. So I'm afraid we're going to have to take him to the animal shelter, which means you know what. I'm not happy about it, but I don't see any other choice.

Jim Melvin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dustinzgirl said...

Well when it comes to the health and safety of the neighborhood, what must be done must be done.

And I'm not at all upset, I actually think that is the responsible thing to do.

I'd freak out if one of our dogs was attacked by a cat, I would definetly not be as nice about it as you are.

Jim Melvin said...

One of our neighbors -- who owns a 110-pound lab that was attacked by this 8-pound cat -- was recently spotted running around with a pitchfork! Oooooeeeee.


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Clemson, SC, United States
I was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla. I graduated from the University of South Florida (Tampa) in 1979 with a B.A. in Journalism. I now live in South Carolina near the Blue Ridge Mountains, a pleasant setting for writing, to say the least. I was an award-winning journalist at the St. Petersburg Times for twenty-five years and I currently work at the Charlotte Observer. I am married with five daughters.

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Jim Melvin, a veteran journalist, debuts as novelist.