In the morning, I found myself very slow to get out of bed. Sure, I wanted to get a good look at our kitty visitor/captive in the daylight, but found I was hesitant to actually do so. What if my daylight glimpse somehow proved this was not the cat? What if all the evidence that had seemed so clear the night before had been misperceived?
I finally got up and went out on the deck, armed with our little Tupperware cup of cat hair samples. Kitty was still quite angry, as any wet trapped cat might be, but he was considerably drier now, thanks to the umbrella. Despite his scowl, he was not an ugly cat, by any means. In fact, he was sort of pretty, though in a hateful, claw-your-eyes-out kind of way. He looked like a small, lighter-colored bobcat, complete with tufted ear tips.
I studied the fur samples in my cup and then studied his damp fur. They still seemed a match in daylight. I could even clearly see the grayish blotches intermingled with the black and sandy colors in his fur, matching the gray hair in the sample. Our sample didn’t contain as much of the two-tone black and sandy hair as he had on his back, but most of Winston’s self-defense back-clawing would have taken fur from the cat’s underbelly, where there was no black hair that I could see. Our miracle-capture looked good, but part of me still wanted more confirmation.
We rolled in to the vet’s office around 8 a.m. Dr. Barrier was just arriving as we pulled up and saw me carrying my new live-trap with its trapped live contents.
“Merry Christmas,” I said.
“You got him?” he said, his eyes widening.
“Looks like it,” I said.
Once our trap cage was on the examining table, Dr. Barrier gave the cat a look and said, “Wow, he’s a big guy.”
We passed Dr. Barrier our cup of hair samples and told him what it was. He took one look the sample, then looked at the cat and said, “That’s this cat’s hair, all right.” Those were beautiful words to hear. It was confirmation—from an expert, no less—that I wasn’t just forcing the evidence into a desired mold.
“He’ll probably have some wounds on his stomach, too,” I said, recalling the blood on one of Winston’s back claws. Of course, he probably had a puncture wound as well, since Winston had quite literally broken her tooth off in him.
Dr. Barrier asked us if we knew if this cat belonged to anyone. We explained how it did not belong to any of the neighbors we’d spoken with and that some of those neighbors already knew of it and believed it feral. Granted, it could still have belonged to someone in the area, but I didn’t feel a bit bad about turning it over. I’d seen this thing tearing into my cat with my own eyes. No, I didn’t like that this cat was going to have to die in order to prove whether or not my cat had rabies—and would then either die or live herself—but if a cat was going to have to die in this situation, I was happy to choose the one who had come onto our property and viciously attacked a member of my family. If this cat was infected with rabies, his death would be far more pleasant than the one he would have had. If not, he would be a dangerous and aggressive cat removed from the kitty gene pool.
Dr. Barrier explained that the cat would soon be euthanized and the pertinent bits of him shipped out to a state lab for testing. He said that just looking at the cat, it didn’t seem to be rabid, so likely it was just a particularly aggressive. Being a Friday, we’d probably not hear from them until early in the following week. Still, it bothered me that this cat had attacked Winston at all. She’s the wussiest cat in the world, so she wasn’t the instigator. We don’t have cat food on the deck, so he wasn’t after that. And, having been spayed in 1993, she should not have been a target for mating. The situation seemed comparable to a young punk attacking an old lady for no reason—though an old lady apparently not afraid to scrap it up a bit if it came down to defending herself.
After having her broken tooth extracted, Winston was released to our care, taken home and showered with canned cat food, extra Pounces, painkillers, antibiotics and love. It took her a couple of days to get used to the feeling of having a missing tooth, and her face looks a little crooked as a result, so she’s picked up yet another nickname, “Snag.”
Tuesday morning, Dr. Barrier phoned with good news. The test results on the other cat came back and were negative. Just as he’d suspected, the cat that attacked her was not rabid, so Winston was in the clear, rabies-wise. I scheduled an appointment to come in and get all her vaccinations and a kitty tune up.
This morning, I brought her in for her appointment. Dr. Barrier looked her over and pronounced that her wounds had all but completely healed and her broken tooth looked free of infection. He said she was ready to go outside again whenever she felt like it. So far she hasn’t, but when she wants to I’ll be there to open the door for her.
Winston Churchill: a kitty still poor and little, but as of yet not dead.