A Dying Cause: Part 2

A handsome black and white tuxedo cat would visit the Treehouse feeding station by the driveway. He was not there very often, and usually only in the evening or dark. Sometimes, when I drove in after work when the nights were longer and darkness was about, he would be in The Treehouse. He would not run away immediately, but he kept his distance between the two of us.

One random daytime, I saw him waiting to eat some canned food. Pop-up and Georgia ate their fill while he waited patiently. This made me wonder if he was also coming by in the daytime, and I wasn’t home to see him.

He was a solid-looking fellow. I supposed he was a male because of his beefy shoulders and head. A male adult cat’s hormones cause his body to change and become thicker in the upper body, making him stronger and more suitable for fighting and mating.


Last Sunday evening I arrived home after spending the day with Sugar. It was a pleasant late summer evening, and I sat at the picnic table after feeding the cats. Mr. Packett rambled over to me, and we sat there, enjoying the evening while darkness fell. There weren’t even many mosquitoes out, and the air temperature was mild.

As I got up to go in, I heard a cat meow from outside the gate near The Treehouse. I thought it was Pop-up because of the tiny little meow. He has a little voice, almost a whisper, as though he had never used his voice much and it didn’t develop properly.

I walked over to the gate to see what was the matter, and the cat spoke again from the undergrowth by the driveway.

It wasn’t Pop-up. It was the tuxedo, and the situation appeared like he had just arrived after everyone else had eaten. This was a perfect time to set the trap.

There’s always a trap by my front gate, and there is always cat food in the trunk of the car. There was also a towel hanging over the gate. These things aligned and conspired with the cat to create action on my part.

I set the trap and baited it with a whole can of Friskies and covered it all with the towel. I placed the trap at the side of the driveway with the open end pointing toward the cat. At this point it was fully dark, and my outdoor security lights were on. I went back into the yard and called Sugar on the cell phone to tell him the news.

The cat crept forward and inched into the trap. I waited for the trap door to spring closed. It did not.

I hadn’t used a trap in a long time. Maybe the trip mechanism was defective. Maybe the cat hadn’t stepped on the plate, and I realized that the towel wasn’t covering the trap completely to the ground on my side, and I could see him straddling the trip plate.

Sugar and I talked for 15 minutes while the cat continued to eat. I supposed as he got closer to finishing the can, he might be digging out the last morsel and might activate the trap door. Either that or he would back out and be gone.

Several of the other cats had gathered at a safe distance to watch the drama unfold. They got still and small. An odd quiet settled over the scene. Even Butter tucked himself into a pose instead of squawking about. Butter is usually the one that goes into the trap even though he doesn’t like canned food. He’s that guy who sees the warning signs and checks them out anyway. “Caution: hot surface” means that Butter needs to know how hot.

This was getting ridiculous. I decided that the cat would soon be on his way and then I’d check the trap mechanism. Suddenly Pop-up, tired of waiting for action, sprang up on the gate to see me. The commotion of the sound of the chain-link fence and me telling Pop-up to get down startled the tuxedo in the trap, and he turned to make his escape and the trap door slammed shut with a classic bang.

Sugar and I made a plan that he would take the cat the following day to the shelter to drop off to go to the spay-neuter clinic.

This was accomplished, and later in the day he got a call from the shelter that the clinic had tested Mr. Tuxedo for disease, and he was feline HIV positive.

Good-night, Mr. Tux. It shouldn’t have been your time to go.

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