The Wild Beast!
When I moved to a house in the woods I discovered that my woodland neighbors liked to visit at night. So I began to put a pan of scraps out every night to feed the steady stream of raccoons and opossums that nosed around on my deck in search of something to eat. I enjoyed watching them through my glass door, as they shared the food without much fussing.
One night I was shocked to hear a piercing scream ring out on the deck. I ran to see what the problem was. It turned out to be a huge cat, with orange stripes and chewed-up ears—and an obviously mean disposition.
"That’s no ordinary cat, Mom," said my grown son, who was visiting me at the time. As we watched the cat hiss and scream his way to the food, he added, "That’s a wild beast!"
After he ate his fill, the cat jumped up on the railing and glared at us with his big yellow eyes, as if daring us to come out. We didn’t take him up on his challenge.
The following night, the cat showed up early and ate his fill before the rest of the gang’s arrival. Obviously, he was a smart cat—to survive in the woods, he had to be smart—and tough. I drove to town and bought some cans of cat food.
Starting that night, I would put a separate dish of cat food out just for the cat I had named Beast. Sometimes, as he ate, I opened the glass door and talked to him. Beast always responded with a hiss and a snarl. He made it clear he didn’t want to be friends.
Autumn turned to winter and it got cold. Soon, there were even more hungry visitors on the deck. Beast began to show up earlier and earlier. Often, he’d be lurking in the yard while I was putting out his food.
"Hi, Beast, ready for your supper?" I would ask.
"Meow. Hiss!" Beast would snarl.
"Enjoy your supper and try to stay out of fights. I don’t like to see you hurt."
Beyond these conversations, I left well enough alone. After all, Beast was one tough feline and I was a woman well past my prime. I didn’t think I was a match for him.
Then came the night of the first Arctic blast of winter. The north wind blew through the woods, chilling the air. The animals are in for a tough night, I thought, as I put out their food.
"Here’s your supper, Beast," I called out with chattering teeth to the waiting animal. "You’d better eat fast, then find some shelter. This weather isn’t fit for man or beast."
"Meow," Beast responded, jumping up on the deck for the first time. Startled, I backed away and quickly went inside. I sat down by the glass door and watched Beast wolf down his food. When he finished he sat there and stared at me. He was shivering.
"Beast, go find some shelter or you'll freeze to death," I called out loudly from the warm kitchen.
"Meow," Beast responded, walking up to the glass door and peering in at me. The wind ruffled his orange fur and he shivered again. So I gingerly opened the door, expecting Beast to run off. But he surprised me again. He walked right into the kitchen, looked around, headed to the wood stove and curled up underneath it. When I headed for bed he was still there.
"Good night, Beast," I said softly, without touching him.
The following morning I awoke early. Immediately, I wondered where Beast was. But I didn’t have to wonder for long. As I moved to get out of bed, I felt something heavy on my feet. It was Beast! He was curled up on top of them, still asleep. I reached over and stroked him, ever so gently. Beast responded by purring. And when I walked into the kitchen to stoke the embers and throw a log into the wood stove, he was right at my heels, as if he didn’t want me out of his sight. I was bowled over!
Later that morning, I brought my old cat carrier in from the shed and tricked Beast into it. He screamed like a banshee most of the way to the animal clinic. Finally, I pulled to the side of the road to have a talk with him.
"If you and I are going to live together, you’ll have to stop your wandering ways, Beast. You will get a health check and vaccinations, and you will be neutered. Your days of fighting and roaming are over." I told him firmly but lovingly. I believe he understood me for he calmed down and seemed to accept his fate without another complaint.
A few days later, my son came back for another visit.
"I can’t believe that you managed to tame that wild beast," he kept saying, shaking his head.
"It wasn’t even difficult," I told him. "All that wild beast needed to turn him back into a kitty-cat was some love and kindness. "
These days, when I sit by the glass door and watch my woodland neighbors eat their supper, Beast sits in my lap and watches them with me. He seems quite content to be an ordinary house cat—instead of a wild beast. And he is the most devoted, loving companion anyone can ask for. Love and kindness accomplishes miracles!
Original Copyright © 2000 by Renie Burghardt
Published in Chicken Soup for the Per Lover’s Soul and on bags of Chicken Soup for the Soul Cat and Kitten Food
©) Diamond Pet Foods, Inc. 2009, makers of Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Foods.
Thank you for reading and visiting. I hope you enjoyed Beast's story. He went to kitty heaven three years ago, but he lives on in my heart and memory, and on bags of Chicken Soup for the Soul Cat and Kitten Food.
And hopefully, I will be able to upload pictures of flowers and shrubs blooming in my yard soon! I just need a memory card reader that will cooperate! :-(
Blessings from the woods!