The Cat Who Lived (#371)

Our Boss Cat was determined to use up every single one of her nine lives. We thought she should be an indoor cat; she thought she was a big game hunter and bolted outside at every opportunity. We grew adept at using bags and purses to shield the doorway when entering. Thwarted, Boss Cat would hiss at us, assuage her rage by beating up our rescue dog Woofie, and plot her next attempt. She learned to lurk under Woofie and our other rescue dog Fey as they stood by the door. When we let them into the backyard, she’d streak out and over the back fence. The neighborhood got used to seeing me wandering around the block, calling: “Here, kitty, kitty!”

Sometimes she came back quickly (i.e., if she hadn’t eaten and I had chicken). Sometimes she didn’t. Then I’d usually find her on our morning dog walk, stalking other dogs on their morning stroll or chasing racoons down the sidewalk and up trees.

Juvenile raccoon in our orange tree. Beneath feline notice.

These fleeing racoons? They were twice her size.

In the evening, I’d once had to rescue her when she got stuck on a telephone wire.

Every neighbor with a dog had a story of Boss Cat terrorizing that dog. Including dogs who outweighed her by seventy pounds. Yellow Labradors fled from her. The famously aggressive terrier? She cowered.

Boss Cat once disappeared for an entire day. We put signs up all around the neighborhood and feared she was gone forever. Boss Cat returned at 1 AM, covered in grass and looking pissed as hell. There wasn’t a scratch on her. She ate three helpings of food and then slept for sixteen hours.

Boss Cat’s one injury came after she tussled with the lanky brawler cat Blackie. She wound up with an infected abscess. Which was getting off easy, since all the other cats Blackie attacked “looked like they’d been run over with a lawn mower,” according to one mauled cat’s owner. Boss Cat refused to accept defeat. After we’d spent hundreds at the vet and she’d healed, she snuck out and lured Blackie back to our yard just as I was setting out with Woofie. Blackie’s initial attack pounce turned into a scrambling, inglorious retreat—with both Boss Cat and ninety pounds of canine backup hot on his heels.

Blackie never bothered Boss Cat again.

So it wasn’t the neighborhood cats or dogs that worried me when Boss escaped.

It was the coyotes.

California was coyote territory long before white folks started shooting and poisoning them. I was thrilled to see them finally return. My neighbors? Not so much. Many of them had outdoor cats. “Missing Cat” signs began popping up. Our semi-feral cat colony disappeared. More than one napping cat was snatched off a porch on our block. Some cat owners brought their cats completely inside or built “catios.” Some would only let their cats out during daylight hours, with supervision or a leash.

All the other outdoor cats? Gone within a year.

Yet Boss Cat was still determined to escape. At dawn one morning, Boss Cat shot through my legs when I went outside to water plants. She paused on our front steps, giving me a triumphant, taunting look. She knew I could never catch her. If I tried to chase her, she’d just run across the street. Since our newest dog was in the backyard, I left the front door open as I hurried inside to dig up chicken scraps. Within thirty seconds, I heard an unfamiliar canine snarl. I sprinted for the front door.

Boss Cat was in the doorway, SLASHING A COYOTE IN THE FACE.

A hard right, a solid left, repeat. Because she had cleverly positioned herself in the doorway, the coyote could only snap at her from one direction. And because cats are unbelievably fast and Boss Cat never paused, the coyote was getting hammered.

I imagined Boss Cat’s internal monologue thusly: “Come at me, bro! You think you can take ME, motherfucker?! Think again! You are nothing to me, coyote! Nothing! I’ve made canines three times your size CRY and I will fuck you up!” BAM. BAM. BAM BAM BAmbambam!

Mr. Coyote fled. Boss Cat not the easy prey he expected and there was a big, loud human charging in (I was yelling, albeit incoherently). As soon as the coyote disappeared, Boss Cat stalked back inside. Her tail had puffed up to three times its normal size and her pupils were huge, but she’d taken no damage. For once, she refused food.

Boss on sentry duty that morning

Instead, she jumped up on the kitchen counter and glared out the window in the direction Mr. Coyote had fled. She lashed her puffy tail repeatedly before settling down to clean her paws and claws.

I guess the blood of her enemy was tastier than chicken.

I’ve yet to see a coyote on our block again.

The story of Boss Cat vanquishing the coyote went down the street. Various neighbors and kids, especially those who had lost cats, came by to gawk and/or pet her. Some brought treats. Boss Cat lapped up the attention and the food, and rightly so. She was a local legend.

She was the Cat Who Lived.


Feline Fatigue (#326)

Dogs everywhere rejoiced during pandemic lockdowns.

Unlike me, our dog was super excited to have the boy child home ALL THE TIME. Instead of leaving on the weekends for soccer games, boy and dog played soccer in the backyard (the grass may never recover).

At first, Boss Cat seemed to like having everyone at home. What’s not to like about two extra people to harass until they opened a new can of cat food? Continue reading Feline Fatigue (#326)

The Extortionist (#281)

Our new cat didn’t just come with attitude. She also came with a serious weight problem. Boss Cat was big for a female cat, with large feet, a long body, and a very long tail. But you couldn’t say she was merely “big boned.” Like Garfield, her belly bulged over her feet. She could only play with a string for about 2 minutes before she got winded, even though she was only 2 years old.

We promised the rescue group we would put her on a diet. We bought  special “Fat Cat” food and doled it out by an eighth of a cup.  At the time, I wondered why her foster dad had let Boss get so fat.

After 2 days, I no longer wondered. Continue reading The Extortionist (#281)

Bites Gone Bad (#16)

A black tail of teeth, gauze, splints, and paws
A black tale of teeth, gauze, splints, and claws to give you pause.

Less than three hours after The Great Balcony Debacle & Pet Carrier Carnage, Bat Cat and Shamu Cat seemed just fine. I, on the other hand, was losing the use of my hands. Continue reading Bites Gone Bad (#16)