Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Patches Was Murdered By A Bear

Patches 2000-2017

My cat, Patches, was murdered in October by a bear. I never thought I would be writing those words. Living surrounded by the forest, I guess I should have expected something like that happening. I hadn't seen any bears here personally, but we did have something knock over our composter. It was secured to the ground so whatever did it had to be strong. My husband always though a bear did it. Then in 2015 we found bear scat right next to our truck which is not far from our front door or the barn! If that didn't give me a start! I was cautious at first, but then I relaxed because I didn't see any more signs of it. I should not have become complacent about it though.

Nutmeg & Cinders in happier times.

I have always let the cats go in and out as they choose. In the day time it has been fine because we are in and out all day, so it is not like they are in danger. I had indoor cats most of my adult life, but when we moved here I started letting the ones I had, Nutmeg and Cinders go outside. I admit that I didn't feel they were completely safe out there. Cinders was a neutered male but he loved to hunt. He was killed by a hunter in the woods and it broke my heart to lose him. He was so loving and Nutmeg loved him dearly, as did our dog, Nikita. He would go hunting down the road and when he got a chipmunk or something he would carry it back to the house. He would be calling to Nikita the whole way to see what he had.

Cinders loved hunting!

The question of whether to allow them to go outside comes up all the time. People who have farms or homesteads want them to kill the rodents that seem to overrun your property unless you kill them. Cats are good at that job but they need to be outside to do it. I wrote a previous post a number of years back, Should Cats Be Allowed To Go Outside?

Patches in her favorite spot.

I had a rule that my cats had to come in before it got dark. Most of the time I had to go find them and bring them in. It was rare that Patches or Hobo came in on their own. I really stuck to that rule for years and years. Then when Patches and Hobo were the only two cats left and had become old, they resisted coming in. Finally I gave in. Big Mistake! In winter they of course came in on their own. Too cold. If I heard an owl or a coyote, I'd be out the front door in the middle of the night to collect at least Patches. Patches mostly slept on the deck so I would look out there and there she would be. Hobo slept at the top of the barn stairs on the porch into the second floor. I could shine my light up there see her.


Patches getting a drink

October 6, 2017, was the night Patches was killed. Never heard a thing. No sign of her body or anything. She was 17 years old and kind of hard of hearing. All I could imagine is that she left the deck to go to the bathroom which would have been to the garden area. Hopefully she didn't see what happened. I hope it was an instant death for her. She did not deserve this. Patches was a gentle sweet cat, but she was a good hunter and could kill with vengeance. I miss her terribly. Every morning she sat on my lap while I had my coffee in front of the wood stove. She was my last link with my parents because I took her as a stray that had been at their house.

Patches

The reason I know it was a bear that killed her is because in a way, Hobo told us so. We both looked all over the woods thinking she had gone off to die due to her age. That is what animals do or want to do. Even though the night before she bounded out the door after she ate and ran and jumped off the porch fast. Not like a cat that was going to die any time soon. I knew when we could not find her that she was dead. Hobo was acting scared of being outside. She would sleep on the deck or porch during the day and not wander the yard at all unless we were outside too. Not like her at all!

Patches & Hobo

One evening she was sitting on my husband's lap in the living room by the window. It was dusk, barely able to see outside. She jumped quickly to the window and was looking out on the garden area at the side of the house. Her tail was moving back and forth pretty fast. I looked out to see what she was looking at. I saw a big shadow on the ground where one of our garden beds used to be that my husband had removed a few weeks before. At first I thought it was my horse, Tawny. But if she got out she would have never been laying down in the yard. I went to the bathroom window which was closer and shined my flashlight out there on it. It looked right up into the light, it was a big bear! It just stayed there laying there like it was comfortable.

The spot where the bear was laying. I think it is where Patches was killed.

My husband went out on the deck and the bear stayed right there. So he started yelling making a loud noise and the bear jumped up and took off through the woods. We could hear him running in the woods behind the horses' paddock. That got them running and bucking too. As far as I know he hasn't been back since. I know they are not known for killing cats, but if you have an old cat and they are easy to grab, I know they will. They do eat meat and will kill chickens or small animals from time to time.

Hobo is staying closer now.

After this incident, Hobo stayed even closer to the house. After time had passed she started going out to the wood line but not wandering too far. At night she comes in on her own. She will ask to go outside to the bathroom sometimes in the middle of the night, but comes right back. She never was one to use the litter box though she now does. So my rule of coming in at dark is now back in force. but too late for my little girl, Patches. I blame myself for her death and will never get over it. Now Hobo is my last cat and I will not be getting any more. Rabbit, my pet house rabbit, will be my very last pet of all. I am tired of the worry and care of pets and at my age if something happens to me, where would they end up? So this is what I have decided to do.

Last picture I took of Patches



All Text and Photographs Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole

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