By H. G. WILSON
Once just to keep the conversation going I asked an old gentleman, "What is a gone-wild house cat?"
"Why they are 'drop cats,'" he answered and further added that the country was alive with them. Most everyone knows what a 'drop cat' is, but for fear someone will not quite understand me, I will explain.
Many people who own a pussy that they wish to get rid of, carry them along when about to make some distant journey, and drop them beside the road, thus the phrase "drop cats." As the saying goes, "The cat came back" and which is true in many cases, as often pussy will arrive home before the family, so I am inclined to disbelieve that many of the field-roaming brutes are "drop cats." All cats are field reamers to a considerable extent, only their owners are not aware of the fact.
Some old maid will give her pet cat an affectionate hug and gurgle, "My beautiful little baby doll, never catches no birdies. No siree! She never strays off the premises."
Some day her "Beautiful baby doll" comes up missing, caught in a steel trap somewhere, perhaps a mile or two from home and usually this is a case when the cat did not come back. Now most of the field and woods roamers have a home and owner somewhere and many of them are model, well behaved animals from daylight till dark. Having all my life arose at ungodly hours of the morning to go hunting and fishing, has given me the opportunity to spy on pussy cats considerably and I have seen cats living a double life which were a bit cunning about concealing their nocturnal rambles and which would always arrive back home just in time to get the blood licked off their whiskers and to affectionately rub against their owner's leg as he stopped out on the back porch in the early morn. Of course, there is occasionally a cat that has no owner whatever and will live in apparent content and plenty around some deserted building. A building of some description is apparently necessary to a cat's happiness at least in the winter. That public opinion is sadly divided on the cat question was proven a few years ago when the proposed license on cats was aired in the local paper. Also it was proven that pussy had many warm friends. While I have a strong antipathy against cats in general, I would not care to see them exterminated, because a cat skinned and properly divided into parts makes a very enticing bait for trapping, while cut up into pieces the size of a walnut and allowed to taint in a glass can, makes some medicine that is almost indispensable to the experienced trapper. After the middle of October, I always keep an eye out for a couple of drop cats, to prepare as above and invariably two or three old toms will show up on my range at about the right time.
Last season I began to get a bit worried for fear I was not going to have any cat meat as for some unaccountable reason there appeared to be no "gone wilds" in the woods this season. But again the cat came back, for as I looked out of the camp window one lowering morning, I spied a long, lank, mangy brute breakfasting off of my garbage pile. I picked up the 25-20 Winchester and stepped to the door.
This particular Tom was apparently as alert and cunning as his wild brethren and bounded away into the brush and weeds the instant the door swung open. I went back, put up the gun and prepared breakfast. An hour later I stuffed some shells into the automatic shotgun and started out to put the kibosh on that cat. Tom had zigzagged away in the direction of an old camp a quarter mile away so I was almost certain to find him there. Perhaps this was his headquarters. Tom was at home and had just started to stroll around his domicile as I stepped out of the tangle of brush and briers surrounding the old camp. An ounce and an eighth of chilled two's; put an end to that old outlaw's stroll and I had the material for some good fox bait at hand.
Two days later, as I slipped noiselessly up an old woods roads hunting grouse, my instinct told me something was watching me and finger on the trigger I whirled half around and two rods away, under a stunted pine, lay a monster blue black cat, sprawled out full length with head hugging the ground watching me. With a full choked gun I cut this cat's head off as clean as one could with an ax and now I had plenty of canned meat also two cat skins to start my collection of fur. I am a bit superstitious that way and insist the first fur I stretch must be a cat skin.
Then how the fox, coon, mink and skunk come my way!
In penning this article. I am perfectly aware of the fact that I am deliberately making myself a target for cat lovers to aim at, so to those I would say, "Pile right on, as I shed abuse like a duck's back sheds water!"
I would not intentionally kill a pet cat and always try to avoid catching farmer's cats while trapping farm country and sincerely hop* that the hundreds of cats that 1 have sent to cat heaven were a hundred percent "drop cats" as the old gentleman said.
As for cats being a necessary evil, why of course, that is all hogwash! Cats make interesting pets for those who like them, also make a satisfactory object for spinster ladies to lavish their affections on which makes the world a safer place for the trapper who would avoid matrimony.
From the number of cat skins offered at the fur sales I should judge that cat fur is also used to a considerable extent for cheap furs. As for catching mice, I can take a dozen of those little flat mousetraps and rid a house or out building more completely of mice than could five hundred cats in the same length of time. Trappers who must kill cats for bait or to avoid sending them home with a crushed foot when caught in traps would do well to keep the facts under their hats, as I have seen trappers ordered out for the simple reason that they pinched the landowner's cat.
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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