Well, just when the whole animal situation here at Dreadful Acres was starting to function like a well-oiled machine, boom! A cat incident.
I should point out that, although I am a crone, my familiarity with cats is but fragmentary. This is counter-intuitive, I realize, but rest assured I am working assiduously to bring my skill set in line with the customary cronal expertise. Hence this post.
Here’s the predicament. Feral Cat No.1 — I named him Smudge but — and it pains me to admit it — I actually call him “Kitty-Katty” — and I have been harmoniously coexisting since November. I give him turkey pâté twice a day. In return, he tags along when I feed the horses, and rolls around on my boots and purrs. Aww. Cute.
But three days ago an interloper staged an incursion. That fateful morning I staggered out to the carport as usual to chuck the turkey pâté in the cat bowl, and was jarred by the spectacle of a totally different cat in the cat bowl area. No doubt you will have surmised that this was none other than Feral Cat No.2. Smudge, my sentimental favorite, was a no-show. I naturally gave FC2 the turkey pâté, as he was looking pretty skinny and tragic and I am a pretty soft touch. I then set off to find the original cat.
A day later I discovered old Smudge cowering in the woods. He appeared to be terrified of FC2 and wouldn’t come near the house for all the cat food in Thailand. I was obliged to deliver Smudge’s meals to his remote bower while FC2 dined in the more luxurious carport location.
Until this morning. Compelled by who knows what mysterious and perverse feline conviction, Smudge unexpectedly strolled back into his old carport stomping ground, where, lo these past 3 days FC2 (by now answering to the name “Roger”) has been holding court. With Smudge back in the fold, I surmised (somewhat naïvely, it would turn out) that the situation was now resolved and we would all resume our happy carefree lives. I set some turkey pâté down in front of each of them — one cat over here, the other over there — then tottered off to toss some goat pellets at Notchy, my geriatric semi-tame doe.
Then all hell broke loose.
Did I mention that these cats are both intact males? Yes, yes, I know. Lecture me if you must, but don’t judge me. I’ve tried trapping young Smudge so I can get him fixed and vaccinated, but that’s easier said than done. So far all I’ve managed to catch is a gnarly-ass raccoon that eats all the cat food and then busts out of the Havahart so it can knock over my trash can at 3AM.
Well, the cat fight was epic. I believe it caused a disturbance in the Force: the dogs went ballistic, Notchy and the rest of her girl gang snorted and scattered, the furry woodland creatures went to ground, the birds all flapped off to distant trees. Growling, yowling, fur flying in slow motion, even the crickets stopped chirping. In the end, Smudge had reclaimed his territory and Roger was ousted from the carport.
Disturbing, to be sure, but I couldn’t stand around all day worrying about these felines. I had important things to do. A MacGyver marathon was on TV, for crying out loud. And I had to perform my usual weekly search on Dreamhorse (8-to-10-year-old bay tobiano ⅞ Arab gelding, between 14.2 and 15.2 hh, clean legged and barefoot, with some dressage and finished in competative trail and/or endurance, no vices, kid-safe temperament, priced reasonably and available for a 2-week trial here at Dreadful Acres. You will be shocked to learn that I have been conducting this search weekly for 3 years without result, but hope springs eternal).
Dusk. MacGyver saved “the girl” and got the bad guy, and my Dreamhorse search had come up bupkis, so I strolled outside with two cans of turkey pate and called the cats. Their replies came from an unexpected location: way up in an oak tree. They were so way up they looked like little balls of moss. Roger was teetering precariously at the end of a slender bough, and Smudge was yowling at him from a sturdier perch a few feet closer to the trunk. It was clear that Smudge had chased Roger up there and was now intent on re-enacting the limb-jouncing scene from A Separate Peace.
To my horror, Smudge advanced on his enemy. The yowling intensified. Suddenly the cats melded into a single swirling vortex of screaming fur, churning at the end of the swaying branch. Not once but twice poor Roger was nearly dislodged, and clung literally by a desperate claw to the limb before somehow righting himself. You know that “Hang in there” poster? Picture that, only re-think it as the poster for a Stephen King blockbuster.
After much cajoling I was able to lure Smudge down with the cat food. Roger followed some minutes later. He was missing some fur on his neck but otherwise seemed fine. I gave him his turkey pate behind the horses’ run-in shed, some 200 yards beyond Smudge’s sphere. It will not surprise you to learn that this arboreal cat fight scenario replayed twice more before I finally went to bed. This morning it was more of the same. I am becoming somewhat distraught.
If Smudge knocks Roger out of that tree — which at this point seems inevitable, given the frequency of his attacks and the narrowness of Roger’s escapes thus far — the 30-foot fall will certainly kill him.