Tuesday, October 30, 2007

An Hour Later, Their Tails are Still Puffy

I can only think of a few heart-pounding adventures that should rightly take place before 7:00 AM, and cat-and-raccoon (or was it a coyote?) tug-of-war isn't one of them.

Just like every other day, I let the cats out first thing in the morning. While it's bright and sunny first thing in the morning in July, it's dark and cold at the same hour in October, so lately I've been a bit nervous letting them out, but I knew it would get light soon, so I let them out. Usually they frolic immediately into the woods, but this morning they sat still on the deck for a few moments and then moved pensively onto the lawn. I didn't give it a second thought.

I sat down sleepily at my laptop, beginning to delve into a few e-mails when -- CRASH! Bailey came careening onto the deck with such force that she crashed into two recycle bins and almost went straight over the railing! She was absolutely terrified, her tail about 3 inches wide and completely puffy, her back arched, and her eyes bugged practically out of her head. I was able to grab Bailey and bring her in the house, but Boo was still outside.

Let me just say, as if it weren't already obvious, that I am a "cat lady" in the most pathetic sense of the word. I adore my kitties and find amazing comfort in their presence, especially these days. I consider them to be a critical component of my sanity, even. (Which might, I am well aware, actually attest to my INsanity.) Plus, they're sweet and cuddly and they love me. It's a very self-centered, ego-centric love affair, but suffice it to say that I need my kitty cats. Both of them.

Seeing that something had absolutely terrified Bailey and knowing that Boo was still outside, I immediately grabbed a flashlight and went to search for... well, I was afraid I was searching for a lifeless body. Either that, or Boo would be nowhere to be found, carried off, bleeding and scared, gripped in some animal's huge teeth. My mind was reeling with horrific images of my poor kitty's death.

I called Boo repeatedly, but the forest was silent. At this point I began to cry, sure that he was gone, killing myself for letting the cats out in the first place -- even though I had let them out each morning for years. I couldn't call him if I was crying, so I put Shasta on a leash and asked her to "find the kitty."

I didn't have high hopes of finding Boo. Whatever scared Bailey so badly must have gotten Boo. Bailey was completely traumatized by, I figured, the sight of Boo being attacked. There I was, a pathetic sobbing cat lady, standing in my jammies in the freezing, dark forest, flashlight in one hand, dog leash in the other, muttering between gulps, "Boooooooo?"

Boo must have thought I was nuts as he nonchalantly rubbed against my heels. What?! Where did he come from? Wasn't he just being carried off in the jowls of a ferocious creature?

"Geeeeze, Ma, I'm right here... calm down, would'ja?" he seemed to say. I scooped Boo into my arms, juggling the flashlight, Shasta's leash and my reading glasses, and running into the house, where he jumped out of my arms. Indeed, his tail was a bit fluffy, indicating that something had scared him, too, in spite of the brave, I'm-not-scared demeanor he'd displayed outside. I can only figure that, while Bailey came running back toward the house, Boo scurried up a tree to escape whatever monster had tried to get them!

Bailey was still cowering under the bed. Whatever they had seen, it had scared Bailey more than Boo, but had obviously frightened both of them. Boo, ever the sweet daddy/brother/husband joined Bailey, licking her affectionately and settling in to comfort her.

And that's where they are now. Tomorrow morning I'm not letting these guys out until it's light... and maybe not even then. I'm a pathetic cat lady and if I lost these guys now, I have a feeling it's not all I'd lose. And I need my sanity these days!

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Anonymous said...

Outdoor domestic cats kill vast numbers of wild birds, and put themselves at risk for injury and disease. Keep your kitties inside. Please.

Goofball said...

well I am happy that you got them back inside, safe and...well puffy.

Blog Antagonist said...

My male orange tabby was twice seriously injured by raccoons. Once, it was two deep puncture wounds to his chest, once, a bite that went clear through his back, but somehow missed his spinal column. I thought he had been shot, because it was a perfectly round hole, but the vet assured me it was a fang hole.

I have three cats, and he is the only one that goes outside. He just won't stay in. After his last injury, which cost us $1200, we kept him inside for a year. He paced CONSTANTLY and meowed incessantly. He lost a lot of weight, and then he started to groom himself bald in distress.

The vet finally told me to just let him out. He said that some cats are just not suited to be indoor cats and he himself has a male orange tabby who is the same way.

It's very rare for a cat to actually catch a bird. The only birds they are fast enough to catch are those that are sick or wounded and would die anyway. And, they keep the yard free of mice and other vermin that carry disease. One spring he found and ate an entire nest of baby snakes just outside our fenceline.

I'm sure glad your babies were okay. I love mine to death too and would be truly devastated if anything happened to them.

Anonymous said...

You're misinformed Blog Antagonist. It doesn't take any speed at all for a roaming cat to eat an entire nest of baby birds, and they do it over and over every day...60 million roaming cats in the USA.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I'm so glad your kitties are safe, but I have to admit that when someone calls herself a "cat lady," I don't typically think of that person as one who lets her cats roam. Especially when you know there are predators like coyotes in your neck of the woods! It's not so hard to keep a cat in the house and they live far longer and as mentioned they don't have access to the baby critters living outdoors.

You wouldn't let your dog roam unattended, would you? So maybe just try to gradually make your cats indoor cats so you can be a True Cat Lady!!! (hugs)

jennifer said...

A recent mishap in the woods left my dog missing a little snippet of his ear... and he still yanks and tugs the leash to be let free. I think animals at times seem to be so human that we forget that they're animals! I know I do...

Jen said...

I'm so glad they were okay! That's very frightening. I bet that was even more terrifying for you this morning. And cats are just so darned sure of themselves, aren't they? Your description of Boo's attitude at the end cracked me up.

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