Some people have to go to the wilds of the woods, explore nature trails, or go on camping trips to encounter wild animals. Around my place, we need go no further than the back door.
Last week, two neighborhood cats were fighting in the backyard, most likely in an undeclared territorial dispute of some sort. Instead of taking the sensible approach of either just letting them fight, or swatting them with a broom, my daughter tried to separate them manually. I can only wonder if she has been brainwashed by watching too many Garfield cartoons on television.
Needless to say, these cats didn’t welcome her involvement in their business, and a big yellow tabby bit her hand as a reward for her unwanted intrusion. It didn’t seem all that bad at the time, and she only screamed loud enough to be heard in two or three of the surrounding counties.
I supposed if I had known, I might have suggested something less fierce than a domestic housecat, like a brown bear or a mountain lion, perhaps.
“Why did you get involved in a catfight?”
“Our cat doesn’t have any claws and I thought the other cat would kill her!”
Nobel thought, but foolish action. As it turns out, it was not even our cat, but a similar cat from the neighborhood. I never thought I would be the mother of a daughter who would disturb the balance of nature by interfering in the process of natural selection and survival of the fittest.
She looked up the neighbor who owned the cat to be sure it had been vaccinated. Of course, the owner felt badly, but probably wondered like every one else, why she became involved in a catfight. “That cat is always giving me trouble,” he declared, making us wonder why he had never noticed that the animal is practically a small jaguar.
By the next day the hand was swollen and an angry red, obviously infected. After two trips to the doctor for antibiotic shots and enough oral medication to shrink my pocketbook into a small change purse, her hand looked worse than ever.
“I’m putting you in the hospital,” the doctor told her, in spite of her gripping the treatment table and begging not to go – until he pointed to the streaks starting to go up her arm.
Who would have suspected that a domestic cat is one of the worse possible animals to be bitten by? Their mouth contains an enzyme of some sort that frequently creates an infection, especially on deep puncture wounds. The saliva carries infectious bacteria with ominous names like pasteurella and staph. And I always thought they were sweet, purring little fur balls.
When I tell people that my daughter is in a hospital because she was involved in a catfight, they invariably think that she was fighting with another woman. No one seems to think of real cats, the kind with fur and whiskers, as being capable of severe injury.
Being the tenderhearted sort, my daughter forgave the cat, which was after all, only defending itself, she asserted. After three days in the hospital receiving antibiotics intravenously and suffering a considerable amount of pain, she felt a bit less generous toward her feline friend. However, I believe she was delirious when she was talking about making cat dumplings.
Anyhow, the swelling finally subsided, and the doctor allowed her to come home. Our cat has no idea that my daughter was gravely injured trying to defend her.
And so, life goes on at our house, just one thing after another.
What happened to the cat? Oh, it’s still around. When I came home from work the other day, I could scarcely believe my eyes as the furry culprit was back sitting on my doorstep as if he owned the place. I’m not certain if he came over to apologize or to look for a second round.
Tempted by maternal instincts to defend my young, I’m wondering why he can’t sense my murderous urges to turn him into a feline fur piece.