First, a confession. I have a cat, to the extent a cat can be had. It’s an outdoor cat, a mouser, and it works to survive. It’s been here for more than 14 years now, always outdoors. Its name is “cat,” not because it was named that but because it wasn’t.
But over time, cat has become a fixture at Casa de SJ. I know, but I couldn’t help myself. So when the young, male, un-neutered, orange cat showed up, he terrorized cat. He ate his meager food. He drank (and usually soiled) his water. He chased cat into hiding. Orange cat wasn’t just feral, but vicious. There was no way to get near him as he would run away, but he would return as soon as the coast was clear.
The initial hope was that orange cat would go away, after a small stone found its way close to its head, but between my poor aim and its speed, the hope went unfulfilled. He remained, day after day, until we finally had enough. So we set a trap, a “havahart” trap that would merely confine him without crushing his rather large head. We put some cat food into a small ramekin in the back of the trap.
It didn’t work. It seemed the orange cat could reach the food without tripping the cage door, and feasted like an orange cat king at our expense. It took a few days, but eventually we found the right spot, deep in the back of the cage with just a small amount of food so as to force the orange cat to commit. And the trap sprung, the orange cat was caught.
It was not happy about it. It meowed up a storm. I was unmoved.
Cat didn’t buy that orange cat could be contained, and refused to go anywhere near the trap. Cat didn’t survive outside for 14 years without learning a thing or two about survival.
After lining the trunk of the Prius and putting a sheet over the cage, I put orange cat in the car for a road trip. He didn’t care much for the ride, and I harbored a concern that if he somehow broke free of the cage, he would attack the back of my head and rip it to shreds. Nonetheless, I braved the outing and took him to the local animal shelter.
I entered and said, “I’ve got a cat for you. It’s orange.” A woman inquired about the nature of the orange cat, to which I informed her it was feral, terrorizing my cat and had to be removed.
“We don’t take feral cats,” the woman told me. “So what am I supposed to do,” I responded. “Are you telling me to kill the cat?” A man at a desk in the back overheard me, and piped in by informing that would be unacceptable, and probably a crime. I reminded him, in somewhat colorful language, that if he didn’t like it, he could take the orange cat himself or shut up. He shut up.
I drove away with the orange cat still in the back of the Prius, now making sounds suggesting anyone in relatively close proximity to him would die. At a parking lot closer to the animal shelter than Casa de SJ, I pulled over, fully intending to open the trap and let the orange cat roam free. But when I opened the back of the Prius, saw his claws sticking out of the trap bars and desperately seeking flesh, I decided that this might be a risky endeavor. I closed the trunk.
Orange cat returned back to Casa de SJ with me. On the way up the drive, I stopped the car and removed it from the trunk. Not sure what my next move would be, it seemed wise to leave orange cat behind a bush down by the mulch pile, where the infernal meowing wouldn’t bother anyone.
I then sought some expertise about ridding oneself of an orange cat in the most humane and expeditious manner possible. I received the information needed, but, and I hesitate to say this, I just couldn’t bring myself to home-euthanize orange cat. I hated it. I wanted to be rid of it. But kill it? I couldn’t. And so orange cat remained in the havahart cage behind the bush down by the mulch pile overnight as I pondered my guilt and next move.
In the morning, I walked down to see orange cat. The cage was open. The cage was empty.
For the next few days, orange cat was nowhere to be found. Cat enjoyed life, his meager food, his water, unmolested. What became of orange cat was unknown, but he wasn’t bothering cat and I hadn’t killed him. It was all good.
Last night, I heard a scuffle outside and saw cat cowering near his favorite window. Orange cat was back. Orange cat was still vicious. Orange cat was going to screw with cat, make his life miserable, steal his food, terrorize him, and he now knew I lacked the fortitude to put him out of my misery. I really hate that orange cat.