Barrel Cat

by kfrego

Our family returned to Spokane Washington and dad went back to work at the Kaiser aluminum mill. We moved into a brand new home in a great neighborhood. With five young kids in the family, we soon knew everybody in the neighborhood. This was really uptown compared to living in Potlatch Idaho. We had schools, grocery stores, parks, the Spokane River, and lots of wide open space all within a half mile of our new home. The house had a full concrete basement, curbs, and concrete sidewalks.

During the warm evenings of summer and fall we would go to picnic areas on the Spokane River. Sometimes we would take a picnic meal. Dad would fish for trout while mom kept track of us kids. These trips were a great way to let us burn energy before bedtime and give mom some time outside the house.

As we pulled into a picnic area one evening my eye caught a movement near a garbage barrel. An animal jumped from the ground and went into the garbage barrel. From my view it appeared to be a house cat. My eyes never left the barrel as the car came to a stop some distance away. What ever went in the barrel was still in it. My intention, while quietly walking to the barrel, was to scare the daylights out of that cat rummaging through the garbage. Nobody else had noticed the animal going into the barrel and my approach was very quiet.

There was a big box upside down just below the top of the barrel which prevented seeing the animal. My immediate reaction was to grab the box and jerk it out of the barrel. My arms reached full extended height over my head with the box. There was a flurry of fur as a full grown screaming bobcat leaped over my head. It was all over in a split second. My eyes caught a glimpse of  the bobcat’s rear end as it disappeared into the underbrush. We never determined whether me or the bobcat got the biggest scare.

Dad was in the process of rigging up his fish pole near the car when the bobcat exploded. He thought sure the bobcat had tangled with me. He wasn’t the least bit impressed when he found out my intention was to scare the animal in the barrel. My lecture on never messing with a wild animal without an escape route has always stayed with me.

Do you think the bobcat ever got in another garbage barrel……..and don’t you wonder how far it ran before daring to stop and look back?