In Jill's Words

I dedicate this site to my mother. She was a columnist and an author with the uncanny ability to find humor in the daily ins and outs of life. She faced every challenge with a witty optimism, including the cancer that ended her life too soon.

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Location: Boise, Idaho, United States

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

When Cats Attack

Lately, I have had several interesting interactions with cats.

There was the black kitten that hid behind a box in our garage for a couple of nights. I tried to lure it out with a saucer of milk, despite my husband's protests.

(Dan: Do you want it to keep coming back to our house? Me: Do you want it to starve behind a box in our garage?)

Dan left the garage door cracked and eventually the cat slipped out, without even touching the milk. At least, we think she slipped out . . .

Then there is Fat Cat. Fat Cat is a gray and white cat with a tail that looks like it has been lopped off. He sits outside his owner's garage and stares at all the neighborhood joggers and walkers as they go by. Occasionally, he will follow Dan and me, but he is slow because . . . well . . . he's fat, and he gives up by the time we round the corner.

Fat Cat got his name one evening when Dan said, "That cat is fat. He's a fat cat." And that was how creativity was born.

Now, whenever we walk by the gray and white lump on the sidewalk, we say, "Hi, Fat Cat."

I think he is starting to recognize his name. He mews and waddles after me during my morning jogs, until he gives up, being a fat cat and all.

Also, there have been a few cougar sightings near some of my favorite running trails. But all of that happened last year. Sure, the authorities ended 2012 without actually capturing the final cougar, but obviously that elusive cat got bored with Boise and made its way back to a very unpopulated section of wilderness . . . right?

That's what I told myself anyway until it was reported in May that a Yorkshire terrier was killed by a mountain lion in southeast Boise.

In the book Don't Get Eaten (yes, that really is the book's title), the author gives the following advice regarding cougar encounters:
  • Make yourself look bigger. Raise your hands overhead. If you’ve got a jacket or a pack hold it up so you look even bigger and bulkier.

  • Throw things at the cougar if it’s close enough.

  • Smile. Show the cougar your teeth. To the cougar, you’re displaying weapons.

  • Yell, shout, and make intimidating noises. Your goal is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, and may in fact be dangerous.
These are not the only don't-get-eaten tips the author outlines. He lists several other ways to fend off mountain lion attacks, none of which - like the ones listed above - I would have the guts or the resolve to accomplish.

These dark thoughts were looming over me as I went running in Merrill Park the other morning. I was about halfway done and just needed to go a little farther before turning around, when I saw a large cat stationed on the trail up ahead. As I approached, the cat crossed the greenbelt and disappeared into the trees.

I was getting close to a subdivision on this section of the trail, but the cat looked larger than a domestic feline (if memory serves). Maybe it was lurking in the bushes, waiting to pounce. I turned back.

"What did it look like?" my husband, Dan, asked that evening while we were walking around the neighborhood.

"I don't know. Big and orange-ish, maybe striped."

"You mean, like Garfield?" Dan said. "Maybe it was just another Fat Cat."

At that moment, Fat Cat sauntered toward us, followed by a new friend, a scraggly-looking alley cat that darted out in front of us. The friendship probably wouldn't last long since Scraggly Cat was maneuvering a lot faster than Fat Cat ever could. They perched themselves in the middle of the road and glared at us as we walked to the park.

"I'm not having much luck with cats today," I mumbled.

"You should take your new smartphone with you whenever you go for a walk or a run or a bike ride, just in case a mountain lion carries away your legs," Dan suggested.

"You're not helping."

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