I supposed it all started when Rebel, our dog, became too old and sick to bother with chasing cats, and no longer inclined to standing outside all night, barking at the boogie man. It started gradually, this takeover by the small wild animals, but the black cat was one of the first to show up. He was a muscular, tough-looking cat that seemed quite large until you saw him close up and discovered that he was really on the small side. But his small stature did not matter--he was a fighter and had the scars to prove it.
Our fourteen-year-old cat Shasta had been too old to fight for a long time now, though he still sometimes tried. And my little tiny cat, Lica, made a lot of noise and added several inches to her size by poofing her hair on end, but unfortunately even with the added height she was still considerably smaller than the black stray.
And so, howling and thumping was often heard in the garage those days. We would rush out just in time to see a black shadow disappear out the animal door, leaving two poofed cats glaring from on top of a car or box, and one deaf dog blinking sleepily from his bed. Soon a grey and white cat, a long-haired orange cat, a long-haired black cat, a grey tabby, an orange tabby, and various other stray and neighbor cats began dropping by to help eat the cat food.
One evening upon hearing the now-familiar yowling, I rushed out to the garage, this time pausing to grab a water gun. Squirting as I ran, I charged out the garage door, hot on the stray’s tail. The cat disappeared into the dark and then I could hear something climbing up the tree in front of me. Admittedly, it did seem a little odd that the cat would go up the tree right next to me rather than through the brambles to the other field, but I didn’t take time to ponder. I was aiming the gun for a last mighty squirt when the light fell on the animal and I found my self face to face with a raccoon. I backpedaled. Fast. Shooting a raccoon in the face with a water gun isn’t exactly the best idea if you are keen on keeping your skin.
Then we began finding mud in the water dish. I didn’t think this too incredibly odd, since dogs do, admittedly dig in the dirt and eat dirt-covered things. But after Rebel died the dirty water continued. Now if there is one thing cats don’t do, it is get dirt in their water dish. A stray piece of food, certainly, but not dirt. So we really shouldn’t have been surprised when my sister went to the garage to fill the food dish and found a coon sitting on a box, just finishing the last of the food. The coon surveyed her as she hollered and yelled, then he calmly went back to the food.
Everyday seemed to bring more animals through the animal door. Something had to be done.
Stay tuned for more installments of The Saga of the Black Stray.