Archive for April, 2012

The Cat

April 3, 2012

He was with us six months. We found him on the internet, and two girls brought him. He was fine, and then came that night he tried to kill us. Still, I thought things could still be okay. I was wrong.

We’d had the cat only a week. We were sleeping, and M awoke to the sound of cats fighting outside our window, and Roger growing agitated. She called out to him, and then he was upon us. In the darkness his claws tore a gash in M’s head, and I rolled out of the bed to the sound of screaming and hiss and yowl. You’ve heard the no,no,no,no cat? That sound. M reached for the light, but in the confusion cords were ripped from sockets, and frantic switch twisting went unrewarded, and Roger, bathed dimly in subtle moonlight, was between me and the overhead.

You will have to forgive me if the only descriptor to describe how I managed to get to the light is somehow. Details have grown hazy, and I am not sure I ever knew. But the harsh flash showed M’s bloodied face, and Roger at my feet. Armed with the lid of a wickerbasket as a shield (more like a train’s cowcatcher than a shield) I advanced on Roger and pushed him out of the room. M made it to the bathroom, I gave Roger some treats, and he seemed to calm down.

When I went to check on M in the bathroom we discovered I too had been injured. Four evil punctures in my left bicep. Little blood protruded, but the blackening (and later, yellowing) bruise shocked those who were to see the bite in the coming weeks.

Time passed uneventfully. Roger would see cats from his window vantage, and yowl demonically. He might get a bit hissy, but he was largely a very good cat. Loved to play, would sleep on your lap, showed no signs of general agression. In February came the second incident. It was minor, an attack on M’s leg, possibly in response to hearing cats fight some time earlier. He calmed down quickly, but something needed to be done.

After a consultation with the vet, we went with Feliway. You buy a dispenser reminiscent of a plug-in air freshener. It emits fatty acids and pheromones that supposedly act as a destresser. The vets swear by it, and have them plugged in everywhere.  Things seemed to go well. Certain “stress behaviours” he exhibited in the past seemed to disappear (cardboard chewing mainly). I was optimistic. Then, last week happened.

Sitting on the couch and watching stuff on my computer. Roger on my lap. M has gone to bed. I’m finished watching, and I stir. Roger jumps off me and on to the arm of the couch. I stand up. He jumps off the arm of the couch and onto the floor at my feet. I am standing fully tall, and looking down at him. He leaps on to my face. A full six feet into the air, and without warning. I fling him off me, wildly, and he crashes into a wooden shelving unit full of books and boardgames and a printer. He is still coming after me, yowling and agressive. I keep the couch between him and me, throwing pillows and batting him away with improvised weapons. After one or two minutes I find time to grab a large blanket and hurl it on top of him and make my escape. I yell to M to open our bedroom door (we keep it closed at night, after the first incident) and I rush in, swiftly closing the door behind me.

I am bloodied, with eight separate and distinct wounds to my face, one in the soft tissue on the upper part of my eye socket. I am shaking and my chest is tight. M is scared and concerned but keeping it together. Roger has escaped from the blanket and is outside our door, yowling. His paws protrude from under the door. He wants to keep fighting.

We clean off my wounds with some tissue – the only available first aid. The computer is still playing, loudly, and unfortunately, on a loop. The lights in the livingroom are still on. We have no access to our bathroom. We can get out of the house through a door to the outside off our bedroom, but the rest of the house is in Roger’s… paws. I decide that if he is going to calm down, I am going to need to turn the computer off, and turn out the lights. I arm myself with my traditional weapons of blanket and wicker shield (gladiatorial combat springs to mind) and I open the door. He hisses and swipes, but he is no match for the combination. I herd him to the end of the hallway, and make my way into the livingroom. All the while he is maximally agressive. There is no fear. His motivations are a mystery, but his actions are anything but defensive. There is no hide. There is only attack.

I mute the computer and switch off the overhead and retreat to the bedroom, Roger at my heels. We settle in. He yowls and scratches at the door intermittently throughout the night. Is he in physical distress? Has he simply snapped? I’ll never know.

The next morning M finds some old shoes and I don my slippers and a sweater. Unshaven, bloody, unkempt, shoeless, wallet and purseless, we shuffle down to the mercifully close vet and tell them our story. Showing admirable concern and a willingness to accept our story on its face, they lend us a largish cat carrier, a can of cat food, and some robust gloves. We make it back to the apartment around 8:30 am. It’s been 9 hours since the attack. I have had 3 hours sleep, one scrounged change coffee, and no breakfast. I put on the gloves, and steel myself once more. I am hopeful he has calmed down a little. I open the door. He lunges and yowls with reckless anger. I bat him away with my gloved hands. I am confident that he can no longer hurt me, but am at a loss as to how to control him. His wild and unrelenting agression eliminate any hope of grabbing him and stuffing him in the carrier, and short of beating him with a golf club, I have no means of subduing him. On my second attempt I manage to pin him against a wall with a blanket, but it is a clumsy catch, and I cannot scoop him up. Nonetheless, M seizes the opportunity to unlock the front door and retrieve her purse. We retreat.

Defeated, we return to the vet in search of another option. Cats are not easily overcome by oral sedatives, often detecting them in food, and spitting it out. So that is a non starter. There is only one option. Animal Control. They call on our behalf, perhaps lending the crisis some perceived legitimacy in the eyes of the city. Regardless, we meet Animal Control on our front steps only a couple of hours later.

They arrive with gloves and blankets and poles and pincers and cages. We relate our story, answer their questions, and turn away, unable to look. In 10 minutes, they had him, and emerge from our house with a blanket draped carrier. They brought him to the vet. A miserable and frightening end was soon to be visited upon him.

Still, throughout all of this, I was worried for him, and sympathetic. He was my pet and felt a responsibility to him, and it tore me in two to have to do that to him. He was neither unfriendly, or even generally agressive, and in most respects perfectly normal and fun. But even if some physical ailment might have been diagnosed and treated, how could we accept him in our home? Who would take him? How can someone live with a cat that turns homicidal whenever it suffers a tummy ache, if indeed his behaviour was in response to something physical?

Not to sound cliched or to insist on a fine edge on things, but both the vet and Animal Control told us this was the most extreme case of agression they had ever seen from a cat. There was nothing else we could have done, but that doesn’t make the pill any easier to swallow.

Robin Lindsay


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