Y’all, I read a story the other day about a man who brought a kitten home to his family and it turned out to be a bobcat.
I just smiled.
Why? Well, I did the very same thing.
I posted this on June 3, 2009 and since I’ve taken the 2009 posts off the blog I’m reproducing it here for you:
THE GREAT BOBCAT CAPER
Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, A tale of a fateful slip
That started from a simple wish
Ending in an awful trip.
The mother was a sweet and careful soul,
The children brave and kind.
The kitten looked as all cats do
But the mother lost her mind, lost her mind.
I’m about to tell you the story of The Great Bobcat Caper. But before I do, I need to set the scene for you.
My husband had recently died. He was my children’s stepfather, but really the only father they knew. The day after his funeral, I got a wild hair that they needed a pet.
Lose a father, get a pet.
I didn’t want to get a dog, because we were still living in an apartment, the children had school, I had work, etc., etc. Instead, I decided to get a kitten. I could handle the kitty litter and all that good stuff.
Well, for some odd reason we must’ve been going through a major cat evacuation in San Antonio that particular day. I called the Animal Defense League, the pound, several different pet shops. No kittens.
One of my great assets, as a human being, is my determination. It is also my greatest flaw. Sometimes I just don’t know when to give up. Sometimes I just need to stop, turn around, and go in the other direction. However, I continued on, long AFTER a rational and sane human being has abandoned a project.
So, I finally located a pet shop on the south side of San Antonio where they had a kitten. Still determined to replace my children’s father with a cat, I drove about 30 miles to the south side and entered a very strange pet shop. It was a hole in the wall, and all I can remember is that there were these wire cages of animals on both sides of the store. He had rattlesnakes and all sorts of lizards. No dogs. But in the middle of the store was a small cage and in this cage was a little kitten.
”Aww, how cute,” I said, in my magnificent ignorance.
The pet shop owner just nodded, I think. (Got a live one here, Ed. Hurry up and make the sale!)
I purchased the kitten, put it in its little carryall, and proceeded to take it home where I presented it to my children.
Lose a father, here’s a cat.
Of course, they were ecstatic. This was their first real pet. They named the kitten Snoopy. The kitten was a she, but I didn’t have the heart to tell them that Snoopy wasn’t an appropriate name.
That next weekend, I took the cat to the vet for her shots and a checkup. The boys were there, all excited that their little Snoopy was going for her first checkup.
The vet asked me where I bought the bobcat. I looked at him and said, ”What?”
No, she didn’t have much of a tail, but I thought she was part Manx. (See part about ignorance.)
”Would you be interested in selling her to me?” Of course my intelligent response was, ”What?” Lose a father, get a bobcat (?)
Okay. this was the replacement for my children’s father, right? Their father had just died, or the man they knew as their father. I couldn’t get rid of the bobcat. I couldn’t have another thing taken away from them. So I was stuck. I turned down the vet’s offer. Instead, I got instructions on how to take care of the bobcat.
Let me tell you some basic rules.
• If a bobcat decides that she doesn’t want you to come into her house, (even as a kitten) she will corner you and you’d better not move because she will attack you. Periodically, the bobcat decided that I should not come inside my own apartment.
• A bobcat does not mew like a kitten. She makes a growly, screechy noise that perpetually sounds like something in heat. Something MAD and in heat.
• The bobcat decided that she didn’t like bare legs – not so good for the woman who wore stockings and skirts. After their baths every night, the boys had to put on a long robe, especially in summer. The bobcat did not like their summer pajamas.
• You cannot declaw a bobcat. Consequently, the bobcat will claw through everything – flesh, carpet, walls, etc.
• Bobcats do not like fish. They like meat.
Around three years old, Snoopy was smaller than most bobcats, but compact and sturdy. And WILD.
She was on her way to becoming dangerous. (And, frankly, I was tired of being mauled.)
How did The Great Bobcat Caper end?
I did something that, to this day, I am ashamed of but I suspect a great many parents have done. I lied.
First, I located a rescue organization for big cats that would take Snoopy. I called in sick to the bank, took Snoopy to her new home and when the boys got home from school, I told them that Snoopy had gone to a better place. No, I did not tell them that I had found another home for Snoopy. I told them that Snoopy had contracted a rare bobcat infection and died suddenly. We all sat on my bed and cried.
I knew, you see, that if I had told them that I’d taken her to another place they would never have forgiven me. Dangerous or not, they still loved Snoopy.
Later on, when John was grown, I confessed all. He understood, with the insight of an adult.
The morals to this tale:
1. Do not think to replace a human being with an animal.
2. Do not buy anything from a pet store that looks like something out of Harry Potter or Gremlins.
3. Take the money and run if a vet wants to buy your pet.
4. Don’t keep a bobcat for three years.
I can’t believe that someone else did what I did, but it heartens my soul. That family was so much smarter than me, however. They didn’t keep the bobcat.
Unfortunately, the sanctuary that took Snoopy went bankrupt, but I think all of their animals went to other organizations. I still think of Snoopy, especially when I hear something ferocious in the backyard. Oh, and when people tell me I should get a cat, I just smile.