There’s a reason I wear thick jeans when I go to work as a feral cat control officer. Some people prefer loose-fitting khakis with lots of pockets, or shorts when the weather gets really hot. I didn’t normally discuss the fashion choices available to feral cat control officers, until the incident. Now, I bring it up with all the new guys, just so they know what could happen to them.
The day of the incident was an extremely hot day, but our washer had broken down and my shorts and khakis were both in the wash, so I was stuck with wearing thick jeans with the brown animal control shirt my company has issued to us. Grumbling, I headed into the office, grabbed a cold soda out of the machine and picked up my assignments for the day. It was going to be a pretty easy morning, it looked like. I had a nice, air-conditioned drive ahead of me out to a more remote area where someone wanted feral cat control to trap a stray cat that had been spotted in the neighborhood.
So, I stopped grumbling, hopped in the truck and headed out. It was an hour and a half drive, and I was relaxed and in a good mood when I finally pulled up to the client’s house. He explained that the reason he’d called for feral cat control is because a white cat had been roaming the neighborhood, getting into people’s garages, attacking people’s pets, and using his own backyard as its personal toilet. He’d had enough and wanted feral cat control to get rid of the cat.
I went about setting up a trap in an area the client pointed out to me. Apparently the cat preferred living in and around a wood pile in his backyard. Fortunately, as soon as I started setting up the trap, I spotted the cat watching me. Slowly, I reached my gloved hand out, making soft mewling sounds, and the cat immediately approached me, sniffing my hand. Quickly, I snapped it up and held it in the crook of my arm to secure it while I grabbed a collar and leash that I carry with me. I was surprised at how easily I got the collar and leash on it, and even more surprised that the cat started to purr and exposed its neck so I could pet it. It was very sweet, and I wondered if it truly was a feral cat, or if it had been a domestic cat dumped out here.
I didn’t have to wonder long, though. Suddenly, without any warning, the cat leaped up onto my shoulder, and then clawed its way down my back. I twisted around to let it jump safely to the ground, holding tightly onto the leash so I could regain control of this wild cat. It went up on its hind legs, hissing and spitting and clawing at the leash holding it captive. But, when it finally realized it wasn’t going anywhere, it went on the offensive. It ran around my leg three times, shortening its leash as it did so, and then grabbed my denim-clad leg, clawing its way up, up, up until its claws sunk into my thigh far too close to my unmentionables. It hung there, tenacious, as I gasped and grappled with this wild animal. Finally, I was able to tear it off my leg and get it into the trap and then into the truck. I had to sit in the truck for about ten minutes until I regained enough composure to let the client know I had gotten rid of the wild cat.
And, that is why thick jeans are now an official part of my feral cat control uniform. I will never wear anything else.