Our cat is male. He turns 14 on Sunday. He is large (or at least he always seemed so compared to his diminutive sister) and well muscled and, despite a sedentary indoor life, seems well able to hold his own in a cat fight. There have been one or two occasions where he found an escape route in order to prove himself in this regard.
The reason he has always been an indoors cat is because, in Australia, cats are extremely damaging to the native fauna. So when we got the cats, back in 2007, it was agreed that we would build them a generous yard on the eastern side of the house and we would train them to accept harnesses and leads and would take them for walks rather than giving them unlimited access to the outside world. (This decision was encouraged by the breeder who said that Burmese are not very street wise). Before having kids, we often did take them for walks at nearby parks or even for holidays to relatives’ homes or even once to a pet friendly place in Dubbo when we visited the Western Plains Zoo. Recently, it has been more common to simply tie his extendable leash to the clothes line and give him some time in the garden. The plan has worked. The only times our cats have killed native fauna was when the fauna found its way into the yard. There was one horrible day when three little blue wrens (clearly smaller than we’d bargained for) found their way under the yard gate and when we got home from work they were strewn about the house among their own sadly dislodged feathers. We fixed that gate super quick.
As our house currently has concrete floors, furniture stacked higgledy piggledy in the centre of rooms, and the laundry is lacking all walls and featuring excessive tile rubble… the cat is staying with my parents in law. He is in absolute bliss there. It is calm and quiet. There is no boisterous puppy there. The furniture is clean and comfortable, people sit down more often and supply laps, and he receives the epitome of good care – even getting significantly more time outside than he does at home.
Yesterday, however, a door was accidentally left open. An hour later my parents in law realized, to their horror, that the cat was missing. Being acutely good people, they leapt into action to find the cat, dreading the worst. My father in law went into the backyard while my mother in law headed to the front yard. It didn’t take long for my father in law to hear terrible yells coming from the front yard. He raced around to find out what was happening.
My mother in law had found the cat – back arched, hackles at their angriest – in deeply unfriendly conversation with the local ruling Tom. My mother–in-law, wanting to get the cat inside to safety, reached out and grabbed him by the scruff, intending to transport him at arms’ length. Unfortunately, the cat was operating completely on instinct. Possibly believing he’d just been attacked from behind by another foe, he instantly went into attack mode. He tore a deep gash through her palm and fore-arm.
A trip to the doctor today found that the wound was already quite infected and my mother-in-law is now on antibiotics. It is not a nice feeling, when the people who are helping you so kindly by looking after your pet, then get attacked by it. I felt slightly ill as my husband reported the story to me. Of course, my parents in law are too kind to blame the cat (or us). They only felt relieved that nothing terrible had happened to him while he was unaccounted for.