Friday, September 14, 2018

An Unexpected Surprise

I'd left a trap set at the bar and continue to check it.

Yesterday morning, I intended to pick it up, since there had been no action there since I caught the last kitten.   As I pulled in by the bar, I saw a woman dancing around foot to foot holding a white plastic bag in one hand the other raised in the air.  She was screaming and shrieking.   I ignored her.

The trap was closed.  I was shocked and wondered if there was perhaps a coon inside.  When I peeked under the towel big eyes stared back.  A male cat.

Oh shoot, I thought, now what, what do I do with him.

I still had three kittens from the trailer park, three adult females freshly spayed, two black females I netted inside that trailer, plus Markus and Ziggy, as extras at home.  I can't do this, I thought, I'll just turn him loose.

But I can't turn loose an unfixed cat I catch where there is no routine food source and by a busy highway.  Besides, I could see a wound on the top of his tail at its base.

I call Heartland Humane's back line, hoping I could get him in to their surgery.  I knew they often have surgery on Thursdays but didn't know if they were having one that day.  No answer.  I decided I'd just drive over to Corvallis and Heartland and see if by chance they were having surgery and could fit him in.  But on the way, when I stopped to get coffee, I saw messages on my phone.

It was from Juanita at Heartland saying "We'll do it, only for you" and a little happy face.   My heart was touched with relief and a fullness that someone cared.

So for the records I named him Moses.  He tested negative for FIV/Felk and got a convenia injection for that ugly wound.  Something had grabbed ahold of him, who knows what.  Most likely suspect would be another unfixed male.  But it is a very tough world out there for any cat left to roam outside, owned, tame or feral.  The dangers are everywhere, from poisons, to cars, to dogs, to predators of all sorts.  For instance, someone posted on a Lebanon site a cougar was seen 6:00 a.m. this morning on Waterloo Sodaville road, strolling towards the town of Sodaville.  I think of all the cats I've fixed along that road.

I talked to my younger brother briefly last night.  They got home from their two weeks in Europe the night before.  He said they had to switch drivers between the two of them, four times, driving back from Portland or Eugene I don't know which airport they arrived at.  They were so tired.  Nonetheless, yesterday both were back at work.  He was exhausted.

They had a good time I think, we didn't have time to chat long.  We briefly discussed the hiker killed by a cougar up near Zigzag.  He said he was astonished to hear wildlife officials declare "that wasn't normal behavior" for a cougar.  "What are they talking about" my brother said.  "It's perfectly normal for a cougar to attack something in its range it thinks is a threat or food."  Well he's right, we just don't like to think about that and still think we're not edible and very special.

I suppose if you go into the woods you should be prepared to fight for your life.   It's not Disneyland.

That hiker had with her a walking stick, pepper spray and a "sharp object" which I would guess was a knife.  That's what her sister said in a news article and that she went out fighting.  Maybe that's why the cougar didn't return to eat her which would be the normal thing, maybe she got some licks in with her "sharp object".   Be the more normal thing to attack out of hunger. But the cougar didn't eat her so you think defense of young.   Little late in the year to attack out of defense of kits but they do stay with a mother cougar for two years.  Or was it boredom, like a fat house cat toying with a mouse.

In any event, that's how predators behave.  We behave that way.  Now every cougar on that side of the mountain may get run up a tree by hounds and shot by wildlife officials.  That's how it works.   We need our safe hiking trails.  Can't have a tourist coming here and jumped by a cougar and what if it ended up on instagram.  Our tourist industry would be toast.

I'm not a predator fan, to be honest.  They kill so many cats, but only because people let their cats free roam.  I know even cities are full of coyotes and that's life but if I'm out trapping and I see a coyote stalking a cat I do run that coyote off.  I had to do that near a homeless camp in Corvallis, not that long ago.  I charged the coyote, who was on the sidewalk, headed into the camp, yelling and spraying my bear spray.   I didn't want him to return.  That had to be a scary sight for that poor coyote, some chubby badly dressed older woman coming at him in the dusk, screaming and waving.

Even Portlandia in one episode spoofed the ridiculous stupidity and naivety of Portlanders who cannot understand why their cats are missing, and celebrate in-city predators.

Predator/prey.  Life/death.  Yin/Yang. Circles.  Return to earth.  Darwin.  Survival of the fittest.  None of that means much of you are on the low end of the deal.  I'd be screaming, kicking fighting back to the end, I'd hope.  My favorite cartoon comes to mind again.  The mouse.  The huge eagle coming in for him, talons out.  The mouse with middle finger extended high.  The last great act of defiance.

Accept the risks if you're going into the woods.  The risks of a cougar attack are very very low.

Take along someone who is slower than you!

Predators keep the prey population in check and healthy by preying on the weakest, the sick, the old.  We'd probably get over run fast in sick deer if there were no cougars, then they'd crash and would they come back?   Who keeps the predator population in check?  They do, I guess, too many and they starve or get diseases.  Or eat humans and then humans track them down and they're gone.

Moses went to a friend of mine who offered to take him, hold him at her place and eventually place him.

The three kittens from the trailer park went to another friend who is going to try to tame them for homes.

The two black females have a place to go next Tuesday.

The three just fixed females are going back to the trailer park for now.  It's not right to hold them here with nowhere for them to go at the moment and I found another person out there who feeds.  Not enough for all the cats the old woman also used to feed but I'm getting a lot out slowly.

Today, Markus and Ziggy are leaving too.


  1. Of course we are predators. Greedy ones. Consuming far more than we need.
    Hooray for the successes with the cats. And for getting the appointment for Moses.

    1. I guess I'm conflicted over the cougar attack. I've had a couple of rather intense encounters with cougars over the years and a few with bears, when in Alaska. The far off one with the cougar was really very interesting but the up close and personal one, when trapping, was not. It was terrifying. I can still feel the fear when I think of it today. Anyhow, lots of trapping success and yes, glad Moses could be immediately fixed.

  2. Hurray for Moses and a little kindness toward you both. ~hugs~ When I was naive with my first and then three cats, we let them out during the day. That came to a screeching halt when one contracted worms. I'm thankful I learned before something worse happened, and of course feel very lucky. We still reminisce about me sitting out on the front patio with all three girls within a few feet of me, or calling them home toward evening. I would yell for Jezebel, the last to return sometimes, from the back second story deck. You could hear her belled collar tinkling, getting louder and louder as she ran across the neighboring field until she raced up the steps and into the house at my side.

    I'm sad about that hiker, and the impact it might cause. It's a stark reminder we are not at the top of the food chain. We have coyotes here but it was that hornet sting this summer that reminded me. ~grin~ Be well, my dear.

    1. They killed a cougar Friday, a female, who wandered through the "crime scene", where the woman was killed. In this day and age, they can test DNA, found on the dead hiker, and see if its a match with the cougar they just killed, see if this cougar is "the one" and I bet it is, returning to the scene like that, like some serial killer.

    2. Sometimes I think about why people have sympathy for the cougar but not the deer and fawns and elk and everything else killed by the predators in very terrible fashion.