Wildlife

What the cat dragged in

It was a dark and stormy night, and, because this was the Dakotas, it was windy. One miserable mallard found shelter in the gale, a place where the wind was broken by the house. A warm, safe place, in which it might rest from the storm.  

Now, as it happened, my parents had a cat door. Two cat doors, actually. One for the garage, and one between the garage and the house.  

The duck, sheltered on the leeward side of the house, had made one rather large error in choice of locations. Cats do not generally like stormy, windy nights. But a cat will certainly stick his head out of a cat door if doing so will gain him a duck.  

Through the first cat door. Through the garage. Then the second cat door and into the house. Now, a mallard duck is large for a dabbling duck, but this means that they might make three and a half pounds. They do, however, have a wingspan over two and a half feet.  

The duck, having gotten over the shock of this outrageous treatment, began to object, strenuously.  

Now, the cat wasn’t an especially large cat. He was average-sized for a house cat, with short, grey fur and a distaste for nearly everyone that wasn’t my mother (though a special distaste for me; I was never quite forgiven for having been a small human with a grabbing reflex). He was, as it happened, a Trego cat. 

Angry duck. Cat. My mother’s kitchen in the wee morning hours. Somehow, the duck broke free of the cat’s hold, and, lacking a better course of action, began attacking the cat.  

Startled by the sudden change in his fortunes, and the extreme stance the duck had taken, the cat decided that discretion was valor’s better part. He fled.  

The duck, apparently deciding that the best defense is a good offense, followed. It was about this time, cat fleeing, duck in close and violent pursuit, that my father awoke.  

Through the living room they raced. Then through the hallway, towards Dad, who was making his way out to see the source of the commotion. Back to the kitchen.  

The cat, desperate to escape, made the sharp turn back towards his cat door. The duck, flying rather higher at this point, failed to make the turn. Dad was able to capture it from where it has stopped, atop the refrigerator. The duck was released back into the storm, presumably having learned to choose landing sites with a bit more caution. 

It was many hours before the cat returned, cautiously, to the house.  

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