I will preface this by saying that I grew up in a very animal friendly family, but it was very large. With so many siblings, there was no privacy, no peace and quiet.
I gained my serenity by being in the woods for hours at a time, sitting on a big coquina rock by a downed tree, watching nature.
It was common for me to bring home stray cats (sometimes, lizards and turtles) and for my sister, Mary, to bring home stray people (Herb, the homeless bum lived with us for almost 2 years).
I was around 10 years old when I went to sit in my favorite place and saw a kitten in a dug up area under the downed tree. He was , what I thought, crying; but, the sound was a high pitched sort of hoarse “Aaaaaaaay”.
Since I considered myself an expert in taking home “wild cats” (there was no term such as “feral” then) that I could love into being tamed, I snatched up this little baby. He was brown and grey, had a stubby tail, and had really hairy pointed ears. He was so pretty, and I knew I had found a treasure.
It took about 5 seconds before he began his fight to be free. I had a light weight jacket on and zipped him inside. Even though I had on a shirt and sweat shirt under, he screeched, clawed, and bit so much that I ran all the way back home with him.
As always, Mom was in the kitchen when I let my baby go and said, “Got me another cat, Mom”. My poor kitty was so scared that he just raced around, growling. So much noise that my mom came from the kitchen and began screaming for my dad, “Oh my God, Edward, she has a bobcat!” She opened the front, back, and sliding glass doors. He raced out and off.
That was the very first time that I told my mother that I hated her. When I stopped crying, she read about bobcats to me in (get this) the Funk and Wagnall’s Dictionary and nursed my scratches, gashes, and bites
She told me that I had brought home a very wild and dangerous cat, and that his mother could have killed me if she had been there. Of course, I didn’t believe that nonsense. After all, I could have loved his mother into niceness too.
To me, he was just a kitty. I watched for him everyday on that rock for a long time, but he was gone.
Photo: by USDA (US Dept of Agriculture). The cat’s name is “Chips” and he was recovered from a fire. The photo is for illustrative purposes.