Mean cats, belligerent toads and sweet, warty revenge

“What is it with you and weird animals?” Chap asked, examining the scratches on my

Our cat, the neighborhood thug.

forearm, courtesy of the world’s meanest cat. “You know, other people have cats who actually like them.”

I had noticed a deep cut on mean kitty’s ear and a patch of fur missing from his back that needed tending. Our cat, it seems, is the neighborhood thug, and has gained quite a reputation with the local lizard, deer and dog population.

While treating the angry cat’s wound, he behaved like, well, an angry wounded cat.

“Atticus likes us,” I defended, spraying the deep scratch on my arm with a super-industrial sized bottle of Bactine. “He just doesn’t like to have his ears messed with.”

Grumbling as he left me to tend to my wounds, Chap sounded an awful lot like the crabby

little cat.

He’s right, though. I love animals. Even the mean, belligerent,  vile tempered ones. Especially the mean, belligerent, vile tempered ones–I mean really–who wants a boring pet?

Three-legged dogs, injured squirrels, rotten dogs and the cat with the vilest temper have all found refuge at our house.

Left to my own devices, our home would look like the Betty Ford Center for deranged pets.

A childhood friend recently reminded me of the way I used to bend over a minnow bucket, trying to teach the little fish tricks, sure if I could coax them into jumping over a drinking straw in an homage to Shamu, their little lives might be spared from a stint on the trot line.

I once was besotted by a baby wallabee on the five-o-clock news that had been rescued from a non-sanctioned exotic animal farm. With his worn, ragged fur and his large, chocolate-brown eyes cast up at the camera, he nearly broke my heart. Before the newscaster went to commercial break, I was up off the sofa and on the phone, asking where I could pick the poor thing up.

That plan, happily, was thwarted.

And so the alligator gar was just the latest in the succession of animals that somehow leap into my life.

Lately, I’ve been having run-ins with toads—not my favorite animal, though surely they deserve to live a happy life. I’d just prefer they not take up living in my home. Really, toads are just frogs with a big public relations problem.

This past Saturday, I’d left my muddy tennis shoes on the porch, and the next morning, in my haste to get the animals fed, I shoved my bare feet into the shoes, where my right big toe immediately met a large, soft, squishy resistance.

I screamed, prompting Chap to come running, assuming I’d been beset by some horrible tragedy and found me dumping a large toad from the inside of my tennis shoe.

Chap just shook his head. “You’re lucky it wasn’t a scorpion,” he said helpfully as he scooped up the toad and tossed him off the porch and into a patch of soft grass. “Don’t leave your shoes outside.”

I watched him retreat back into the house.

“You just wait,” I muttered to his back, scooping the toad back into my shoe. And I went into the house, looking for his best pair of boots.


About kitfrazier

Award-winning novelist and former big city journalist who bumped into a cowboy and woke up in the wild, wild west.
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