Back in late July, a cat arrived here at Hickory Head. I got a photo of a piece of the cat darting into the woods and assumed it was a feral that had drifted in and would be gone soon enough.
My neighbors had seen the cat, too, but no one had gotten a real good look at it. Hickory Head is a place that has owls, hawks, bobcats, venomous snakes, and alligators. Darwin isn’t delayed out here, very much at all.
Then one day the little gray and white cat walked right up Mom’s wheelchair ramp, like she wanted to come in. I opened the door and the cat fled. But ferals don’t do that. Someone had dumped this cat out, and now it was looking for a home, I thought.
So began an on again, off again, relationship with the cat I called Aqaba. Small, underfed, it seemed independent and standoffish. We were making good progress until the hurricane hit, and Aqaba disappeared. The sound of the generator frightened her away, and it was only last Monday before I saw her again, haunting the edge of the woods.
I had tried to trap her but she would have nothing to do with food in the trap, and I wondered how to go about catching this critter, or if I should even try. After all, what was I to do with a cat who was wild?
Aqaba also liked playing with fire. In the front yard, she was safe because the fenced-in backyard is separate from the back. She showed up a couple of times in the back, even on the deck, and I knew this would end poorly if Wrex Wyatt ever caught her in the open.
On Monday, September 18th, Aqaba strayed too near. Wrex was able to tag her. I heard about this by Wrex barking like hell in the back. I went out in the predawn darkness to discover Wrex had treed Aqaba but I wasn’t aware of the damage until she got up on the front porch for breakfast. I saw blood on both side of her neck and knew if the injury didn’t kill her, infection would. It was now, or never, for this cat.
I went and got a new trap, because the old one wasn’t working, clearly. Tuna was the bait of choice, and on Tuesday morning, I put a trail of fish leading into the trap, and one big lump in the back of the trap. I took a shower, got ready to go to work, and as I walked out, I saw the door of the trap was shut. But a raccoon or a possum might have come in. I crept forward and peeped in. Aqaba sat in the back of the trap, pissed off, but trapped.
I wrapped the trap up, put on some gloves, strapped the trap in, and away to the vet’s I took what I thought just might be a dead end project.
After all, there are a few diseases a cat in the wild might pick up, that are fatal. She might be pregnant. She might already have kittens. She might have a serious injury to the neck. I waited.
The vet called a couple of hours later, and this quickly it had to be dire news. However, I was in for a surprise or two. Aqaba wasn’t pregnant. Aqaba was male. The name still worked. No diseases, no broken bones, and it seemed Wrex just got enough of Aqaba to break the skin and not cause real damage.
So Aqaba came home with me. More surprises followed. Day One, he let me pet him, purred at me, and then let Mom pet him yesterday. He’s a pet, and always has been, it seems. Someone dumped him.
So, the adventure begins now. I have to find a home for him. I have him living in the bathroom right now, Wrex is still hostile, but Aqaba is alive, well, and looking for a place to stay.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit.
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