It was early May when I first noticed a scrawny grey cat hobbling around with an injured back leg. He could barely make his way across the yard, each step clearly causing him a lot of pain. There was no way he’d be able to escape if one of the neighboring ranch’s dogs went after him, and they’ve killed a number of their own cats, or if a coyote or wolf caught sight of him. So, I did what anyone who’s me would do; I suggested we trap him. Brian bought a raccoon trap, we baited it with a couple cans of wet cat food, and we waited. That evening it started to hail. We checked the trap on the off chance something may have been tempted by the food and found it had tripped. Assuming the hail had set it off, Brian went out to set it back up, only to find the injured cat fearfully crouching in the corner. There are a lot of cats here. Muggabee hasn’t been back for nearly a year, and although I saw him yesterday, Foosball is a rare sight since we put the pasture fence up, but there is still a gang-load of them. So it was a surprise to have caught the correct animal on the first go.
May was cold. Leaving him out there, unable to get to shelter, would have been cruel. We don’t have the room or the setup for a cat, but we had to bring him inside. The only place for him was the bathtub. He spent a few hours in the cage, in the tub, with his cans of cat food and a night light, as Brian drove to Wal-Mart to buy a giant dog crate, cat bed, litter box, and litter. The next morning he took him to one of the vets in town where we took Wicket when she broke her foot into forty-seven pieces, or so you’d have thought based on her cries (nothing was wrong with her other than she’s a tiny humongous baby), where he could be dropped off and picked up before and after work. It turns out, thankfully, his leg was okay. He had infected puncture wounds though, so something had gotten ahold of him. He was given some antibiotics, a rabies shot, his wounds were cleaned, and he was returned to us to be set free into the wild yet again.
We didn’t think it would make sense to release him while his leg was still obviously hindering his ability to get away from predators. For a few days, he lived in the dog crate on our front porch. It was covered with a heavy drop cloth to block the outrageous winds we have here, and a tarp to keep the rain off the drop cloth. However, we couldn’t keep him in such a confined space for a long period of time. So, we set up one of the tents we used in the summer of 2014, set his cage in the tent, and opened the door. He had a bit more freedom but was still safe from wandering teeth. He stayed there for about thirty minutes. I went out to check on him and found he’d ripped a clean cut right where the flooring met the wall. Well, at least we tried.
He disappeared for a bit, but it was only a few weeks later when I saw who I thought was him walking not too shabbily across the field. It wasn’t long after that when I saw him coming toward the back porch where I keep the
cat raccoon magpie squirrel dog animal food. Naturally, I ran out flailing my arms, stomping my feet as though my life depended on trampling every speck of dirt between my clompy shoes and the porch boards, screaming maniacally about puffins while shaking a can full of pennies, which caused him to run a little. Not a lot of a little, just a little. I guess he was hungry enough to withstand my very menacing presence. He returned the next day and the day after that. He let me pet him as he ate within a handful of days.
He’s calling himself Nickajack, or Jack for short. Hopefully, he sticks around. It’s been a little empty out there without Pickwick and Muggabee.
Sleeping On The Blacktop
by Colter Wall