October 22, 2005

Gato Maulo.

I've just been mauled by one of our neighborhood cats, and I've got the pictures to prove it.

Gato Malo is large, aggressive, and totally unimpressed by humans. I think he's owned by someone in the neighborhood -- he's well-fed, clean, and in apparent vigorous good health -- but I don't know for sure since the only place I've personally seen him is in our yard. To be more specific, the only place I've personally seen him is in our yard chasing, cornering, or attacking our cats. He used to herd Killer into a corner of the upstairs porch and then refuse to run away when the door was flung open by a bellowing six-foot-four-inch human. He'd stay exactly where he was and just scream at us until we got a weapon of some kind to scare him off with. Gato Malo, I should point out, is not his name but rather the epithet that we've given him on the basis of overwhelming evidence.

This morning, he swiped and yowled Bella into a corner of our front porch and trapped her there. Jacob opened the door, yelled at him to no avail, and then grabbed a bundle of tomato stakes and whacked him with it. Gato Malo took off running around the side of the house and, for some dumbfuck feline reason, Bella followed him. I was in the kitchen and heard the yowling start up again at the back door, so I got up to open it at the same time that Jacob slammed the front door and came stomping back through the house. I found Bella huddling in the corner of the porch, with Gato Malo standing just barely close enough to the door to block her from running inside. With incredible absence of common sense, I kicked a foot toward him to make him back off a few inches. But instead of backing off, of course, he launched himself at my knee and dug his claws in hard enough to suspend himself from my flesh. I can tell you now with certainty that that is at least a 15-pound cat.

I shrieked wildly and stood there like an idiot sprouting a crazed leg-cat, and after a few extra swipes for good measure he dropped off and bolted out of the yard. Jacob burst into the kitchen holding the tomato stakes, which he'd been bringing to fend off Gato Malo, and I turned to him in shock with my right pants leg ripped to shreds and told him I'd just done something really amazingly stupid.

How stupid?

Pretty stupid. Monkey, don't kick sharp things anymore, okay?

Posted by dianna at October 22, 2005 02:16 PM

Ow! OW! My god, you sort of did a scapula pull. This wasn't the same knee that you smacked on the bottom of the pool, was it?

I would be sitting in an entire bathtub of Bactine right now. Actually, I'd be pouting. I'd be sitting in Bactine pouting and making that "hssss" noise that you do to make sure everyone knows how much it stings. Has anyone offered you cookies yet?

Posted by: katie at October 22, 2005 02:44 PM

See, if you'd had your gun (or even your medium-sized rock) this wouldn't have happened.

Posted by: Erik at October 22, 2005 03:24 PM

Oh, these pictures were taken after the bathtub full of Bactine. Actually I re-enacted the Psycho shower scene by washing about a half-cup of blood down the drain, jammed my thumb into the most profusely bleeding puncture for a few minutes while repeating over and over again how dumb that had been of me, swabbed myself down with hydrogen peroxide, and then took pictures.

Nobody's offered me cookies, now that you mention it. Jacob did collect the variously-scattered peroxide and band-aids, and get me a cup of chai from the coffeeshop, so he's probably earned his cookie equivalence by now.

Erik, my medium-sized rock and my appropriate fear were both nowhere to be found. It's my total inability to analyze circumstances operating -- somehow an angry, aggressive cat with razor-sharp claws doesn't trigger the "leave quietly" reflex the way an unperturbed bee or a mildly cocky squirrel does.

I did do a scapula pull! Or one of those weight dances where you string big heavy balls through your skin; in this case the weight was a cat, the string was made of claws, and the dance was the Bloody Imbecile. You do it by extending your right foot, then standing frozen on the spot and shrieking.

Posted by: Dianna at October 22, 2005 04:02 PM

Damn. It took Jacob pointing this out for me to remember: scapula is shoulder. Patella is knee. Mom would not be proud of us.

Posted by: Dianna at October 22, 2005 11:10 PM

OY. Too too painful. Just to be sure: those are all scratches, right, and no bites?

Posted by: Arianna at October 23, 2005 12:52 PM

Pretty sure, yeah. Most of them segue into scratches, and the few that don't are located where both anatomy and memory suggest there must have been claws. I can't remember if he was trying to use teeth or not, but I don't think he succeeded.

Posted by: Dianna at October 23, 2005 02:05 PM

Good. I only ask because of the cat-bite-mom-hospital debacle of 199...4? 5? I can't even remember anymore. Regardless! Keep those suckers clean and watch them closely - I don't want to hear about any cat-Dianna-hospital business.

Posted by: Arianna at October 23, 2005 08:21 PM

Okay. Now that you've made me incredibly paranoid, what was the cat-bite-mom-hospital debacle about? Be specific. I want to know what I'm watching for here.

Posted by: Dianna at October 23, 2005 10:42 PM

Well, if you were bitten there's a small risk of rabies.

Posted by: Katia at October 24, 2005 09:36 AM

Well, yes, but I cannot watch my leg for rabies (at least not with the naked eye). I was wondering, since Arianna said, "watch them closely," for what exactly she was suggesting I should watch.

I'm not very concerned about this particular cat being rabid. Jacob and I were just discussing this. We've seen him in our yard frequently for about two years now, and his behavior hasn't changed in the slightest. His aggression and lack of fear towards humans and other cats isn't new, and given the incubation period for rabies (4-6 weeks), if it were caused by rabies he'd be long since dead. He's also, as I mentioned, an owned cat and therefore almost certainly vaccinated. In any case, Berkeley Animal Control says that cats are not natural vectors for rabies and, as of 1998, only three cats in all of the state of California were found to have it. There is no known case of a human getting rabies from a cat in this state, and the only reported rabies infections in humans in Berkeley have come from bats and skunks.

I am going to put up signs in the neighborhood about the cat, because this block is full of kids who will, according to age and temperament, pet, chase, and/or throw things at any animal they see wandering around. I do not particularly fancy the thought of one of my eight-year-old neighbors trying the same stunt that I did, or one of the four-year-olds trying to be friendly, and getting seriously hurt. And I think I'll put a warning in to the owners of the cat (because I don't know who they are, and anyone who tries leaning over to read the cat's collar is begging for reconstructive surgery) that while I didn't call animal control about this, if he shows similar behavior again I will do so.

Not, mind you, that I'm planning on provoking him again. I have learned my lesson. Unfortunately, he has not learned his, unless his lesson was supposed to be, "the weight load of Dianna's lower thigh is approximately four pounds per standard five-claw paw."

Posted by: Dianna at October 24, 2005 11:46 AM

Oh, right, and anyway they're scratches. And as for cleaning them well, I've put so much hydrogen peroxide into them in the last two days that I'm pretty sure if you cut me open (again) I'd bleed a sort of dilute pink.

Posted by: Dianna at October 24, 2005 11:54 AM

Cool. I'm glad you've known the cat for a while. My brother was once randomly attacked by a stray cat. He had to have the full course of rabies shots, which I'm sure were more unpleasant in Egypt 15 years ago than in the US now :)

Posted by: Katia at October 24, 2005 01:03 PM

Oops; I didn't mean to leave you hanging in medical misery.

The cat-bites-mom-hospital-extravaganza: you may remember Shadow, the incredibly timid cat I've had since sixth grade. She now lives with me in St. Louis, but she spent most of my teenaged years under my bed in Topanga. When we were moving out of our house for earthquake repairs, Shadow accidentally got outside - certain kitty death in the canyon - and my mom went after her. Shadow was...melting down, slightly, and bit my mom very severely; cats have anaerobic bacteria in their mouths, which doesn't mix well with deep puncture wounds, and my mom spent the next five days in the hospital.

She's really a good cat, I swear!

Posted by: Arianna at October 25, 2005 01:34 PM

They also have bacteria-filled claws, which is part of how they toy with their prey, by watching them die very slowly of gangrene. OK, that's monitor lizards, but it could apply to this one evil cat too.

Posted by: katie at October 25, 2005 02:36 PM

Ahh, thank you. That's you as in Arianna, not you as in Katie who is now inexplicably talking about monitor lizards. My lizards are under perfectly adequate surveillance already, thank you.

Posted by: Dianna at October 25, 2005 03:23 PM

Lizard Monitor Vimes.

Posted by: katie at October 25, 2005 03:45 PM

Erasing The Lessons Once They Have Been Learned! A Task Given Only To The Trustworthy!

Posted by: Dianna at October 25, 2005 03:56 PM