The Cat Returned
I have a black cat. Or rather, a black cat has me. She’s feral and lives in my yard and the neighbor’s junk pile. She’s been a mother and a bad one. I found her poor dead kitten and said mantra’s over him. Yet there is a certain stubbornness in her I admire. She boldly sits on the chairs in our carport, next to my housemate’s workout equipment. She glares like my mother, that silent, heavy-lidded stare that says you’re not living up to expectations. When I come out with food, she scoots off her chair with such reluctance and lingers around the back walk, impatiently waiting for me to finish my whistling and spill it. She’s the first one there when it hits the ground. And if I’m late, or I’ve forgotten, I’ll open the door to find her on the doormat, crouched and glaring six inches away on the other side of the screen. She knows my duty better than I do.
A little over a week ago, she was, unsurprisingly, the third cat to wander into my cat trap, ignominiously named “Tres.” She was whisked to the clinic and spayed, luckily while she was in heat, but not yet pregnant again. Also unsurprisingly, she was not happy, but it got worse. She was groggy and doped when I picked her up in the afternoon, but as she came out of the anesthesia, she repeatedly began throwing herself again the wire bars of the trap. Even when I covered the trap and moved far away, I could see the sturdy container shaking and shivering. She never calmed down and eventually I went to check on her. Glancing in at the hissing black mass, I could see she’d pressed herself against the wires hard enough and repeatedly enough to open a bright red cut on her cheek. All my resolve to let her recover overnight went out the window. I opened the trap and she bolted. I stood and watched her disappear into the bush, just hoping that if she could move that quickly she could stay ahead of any of the other cats who had it in to her – despite having a significant portion of her insides removed that day.
All the following week I worried after her. I would catch glimpses of a black cat in the bush, but no bold yellow eyes glared at me. I missed that remonstrating stare. The other cats came to my whistle and ate the food I left out, yet still she was missing. I worried over complications and infections and cars and big, mean toms.
This morning, there she was. In the pouring down rain, she had returned to her dry chair in the carport. The strong, yellow eyes met me as I opened the door, her blunt face immediately recognizable but also changed. Her ear had been tipped at the vet to show she was a spayed feral should she ever be caught again, which I severely doubt. And there was the faint white line of a healing scar under her left eye. She watched as I fought with the stubborn deadbolt, juggling the full cup of cat food in my other hand. She scooted out of her chair just as she had, and waited ’round the corner of the house while I barely stuck my head into the drizzle and whistled. And she barely waited a moment as I poured the food out just under the eaves of the carport and turned to go. She had returned. And now she had a reason to glare.
PS – I have since ordered a large dog crate to use as a recovery kennel. Hopefully, that will alleviate some of the trapped feeling and give the stubborn critters time to recover.