A strange thing happened last week on Claustre Avenue, a very strange thing indeed and I didn’t have anything to do with it. It was tragic, bizarre and somewhat poetic – sweet payback – at least that’s how it appeared to me. In fact, I didn’t have any part of it as it began with a couple of text messages.
After enjoying the holidays in Maple Creek with our children, we had driven our oldest son and his family to the Calgary airport so they could fly home to Victoria. We were about half way back to Maple Creek when an unusual text message was received. Our daughter asked what our neighbour’s cat looks like. “Gray and white,” was our reply.
Then she matter-of-factly stated there was a dead cat in the backyard.
That statement prompted me to phone her immediately for a few good reasons. Firstly, dead cats do not have a habit of showing up in our backyard. Secondly, cats are not welcome in the backyard, especially dead ones since they don’t want to leave. Thirdly, I had visions of our daughter going door-to-door with a dead cat in a shopping bag or covered in a mortician’s sheet and the owner getting a huge shock at the sight of their pet.
When my daughter answered my phone call she explained that a dog had broken into the backyard, killed a cat and was eating it! That seemed very strange to me since I have never seen a dog eat a cat. I think it was not actually eating the critter, but giving it a thorough bone-crushing since the feline had inflicted some damage to the attacker before succumbing to its injuries.
Even though our children are all adults, it was a little shocking for them to see a large dog take down a cat in the serenity and sanctity of our backyard. At first glance they thought the dog was playing with the cat, but quickly realized they were watching a fight to the death.
Our youngest son summed up the situation with theses text messages, “It was nuts! I hate cats, but it was sad. A vicious attack – a dog was just messing up the poor cat.”
Messing up the cat was an understatement as he sent photos of the aftermath. The electronic snapshots included a broken latch mechanism which must have broke when the dog crashed through the gate in hot pursuit of the cat, rocks and dirt sprayed all over the sidewalk from the animals fighting, and a very big and very dead kitty laying in the middle of the lawn. The only thing lacking was a chalk outline.
Our kids left before we reached home that afternoon and found the scene exactly as they described and as the photographs depicted. My wife who can always find something funny in a negative situation sent the following message to our children. “Clearly we still can’t leave the kids at home unsupervised . . . arrived home to find a broken gate latch, signs of a struggle and a dead cat in our backyard!”
Then came the dilemma of what to do with a deceased cat. Use it for coyote bait (that didn’t seem fitting) or put it in the freezer and save it until spring so it could be buried as some people in town have been known to do. Storing a dead animal on ice or sub-zero temperatures is actually a well-established practice by trappers and taxidermists, but it is something I have never done and wasn’t prepared to initiate.
Close examination of the cat revealed it had ripped out its claws on both hind legs, so the attacker must have suffered some pain as the feline raked the dog with its rear claws. However, the cat apparently ran out of claws and reached the end of its nine lives before the dog ran out of zeal.
My daughter was concerned the dog may also have an aggressive nature toward small children and that remains a concern since it disappeared as fast as it arrived. The attack was so fast and such a shock that none of our children got a good look at the canine. We certainly hope the animal’s hit list is limited to cats and other critters, and truly wish all animal owners would keep their pets on a leash when taking them for a walk.
I recently bumped into a resident who regularly walks a small dog. The pet owner repeated a concern I have heard several times regarding dog owners allowing their animals – especially large dogs – to roam at large, most often in the early hours. The pet concern that was expressed is nothing new and has been the impetus for some people to carry a small club while walking their dog.
Perhaps that was the dead cat’s mistake. It was seriously outgunned and was not carrying a club for self-defense. In any case, that particular cat won’t be coming back and I am not sorry.
A few years back we had a six-foot steel fence constructed around the back half of our property and a gate that should discourage animals from entering. However, pets continued to trespass. Therefore I added security features to the entrance which helped, but did not stop cats from using our backyard as a litterbox.
I am now in the process of modifying the gate in hopes it is cat proof. If my latest attempt fails, I will be interested in renting or purchasing the dog