That Damn Cat!

How my mother was attacked by an enormous rasty-looking tabby cat….
(You can watch/listen to this story in a video at the bottom of this page!)

Scary Kitty!

My family used to live in a wonderful old 1880s farmhouse. Upstairs, my folks’ bedroom had a dutch door that opened onto a wide, sunny deck.

My mother liked to have her lunch on the deck when it was nice weather, and spent hours reading there on weekends.

One Sunday afternoon when I was 9, she put down her book and went inside to take a nap. She laid down in her bed … forgetting to close the top half of the dutch door, and dozed off.

My father, younger brother, and I were downstairs. Suddenly, we heard a piercing shriek that tore through the house like to wake the dead.

My dad and I flew from our chairs and up the stairs to find my mother on the bed, flailing around, pinned under a gigantic cat. It was splayed spread eagle right over her face and chest.

Its claws were caught in my mother’s long hair. Its hind claws were shredding her shirt, arms, and chest. It was desperately trying to get untangled and away, and she was screaming and crying and flailing her arms around, desperately trying to get this strange invader cat off herself.

Finally, the cat was able to extricate itself. It sprang from the bed, right across the room and through the open door, leaving bloody red kitty footprints on the sheets, pillow, and the sill on the lower half-door.

Poor Ma - she was allergic to cats! Her face, neck, hands and arms were covered in deep, bloody scratches. Her face was swelling up like a blimp.

The cat, an enormous tabby, had come with the place when we’d moved in a couple years before. Nested in the far corner of the upper level of the old barn, it never came out when we were around. Because we only used the barn to park our car and store our boat on the lower level, we rarely caught sight of him.

My dad ran after the cat, saying he knew where its hidey hole was. He went to roust it out and give it what-for. I ran to get the anti-histamines.

But it wasn’t where he expected it to be. He couldn’t find it anywhere. So my brother and I joined him. We looked in corners, holes, cracks between the dusty hay bales, and every dark and hidden place we could think of. We even searched up on the rafters, out in the old ice house, and under the main house - but nope, no kitty.

My dad wanted to keep looking, but we were tired, and chose to go back inside. We checked the salve on my mother’s swollen face, and wrapped her hands with anti-biotic creme and gauze until they looked like fat plumpy blobs on the ends of her arms. My dad took her to the ER to get checked and treated.

When they got back, Ma went right up to bed, and my dad went out to search for that cat again.

Finally, hours later, full dark, the back door slammed. In came my dad, flushed and angry.

My brother and I stopped what we were doing to look up.
What happened?
Did you find it?
Where was it?
What did you do to it?
Did you….

He stomped upstairs, and didn’t come down until the next day.

He wouldn’t ever say what happened, but the cat never appeared again, and eventually we forgot all about it.

Months later, it was time to haul our boat out of the barn for spring touchup. Every year we had to patch the caulking, repaint the waterline and marine paint on the bottom, and other critical before-launch-day tasks.

We pulled the trailer out of the old horse stall it’d been stored in. Flopped off the tarp, hosed away the dust, and started inspecting the hull to see what kind of shape it was in.

And there, back over in a corner of the stall in a pile of moldy straw, we spotted the dried up husk of that cat.

None of us ever found out how it had met its end. Or whether it even died that night, or another.

My dad, zip-lipped tight as a drum, would never say.

I felt sorry for it, but decided to keep that to myself.

But you can bet my ma was relieved that cat was gone.


I bet a bunch of you are going to say, “You shoulda taken your Ma to the ER right off!” You’re right. We shoulda.

Annnnnd … this was in 1953 — what did we know about anaphylactic shock or the very real dangers of allergic reactions?!? Nothing! We were supremely fortunate that she didn’t go into shock or have much more happen than swelling. The scratches didn’t even get infected, which, with how deep they were, was a miracle.

We were so lucky!


Thanks for reading my little story.

Not an earth-shaking one, but it brought back a feeling in me of I-sure-miss-my-ma-and-dad  … they both died way too young.


That Damn Cat!
© Angela Treat Lyon 2023

Image: Rad Kat
© Angela Treat Lyon 2020


Listen to or watch me read this story HERE!

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