Life Lessons from Buddha-pop, Part Two
by Soul Places | Diane Ludeking
I actually like Big Bad Tom. I named him after the Johnny Cash song, Big Bad John simply because of his size…and…he’s a tom. He must be about two pounds heavier than Sodapop, making him nearly fifteen pounds. He has the sweetest little voice and is blessed enough to be another orange tabby! I wonder if he was someone’s pet, he is so friendly and kind – to people.
With testosterone in spades, Big Bad Tom has been less kind to the other farm cats, so I knew to do my best to keep him away from Soda. But I can’t watch Soda all the time so I trusted that letting him express his animal nature was worth the risk of an encounter with the new interloper. And when it became evident that Big Bad Tom was going to stick around, I began to feel like a mother who just watched a bully peacock onto the playground.
I heard the screaming from where I stood with the horses as they ate their supplements. Immediately recognizing Soda’s voice, I began to run. Blindly. The screams echoed off the old farm buildings, confusing me as to his whereabouts. So I ran toward the house. Silence. And then I saw them. Big Bad Tom strutting and posturing at my poor Soda who was pinned against the house and a big log used as a seat. He had nowhere to go.
I pulled a length of rope with a leather popper on the end from my coat pocket as I ran, mother-bear style, roaring at him. This rope is handy for catching horses without the bulk of a halter and lead rope, and is great for playing a variety of games with them. Over the years I’ve become quite skilled with the rope and rarely go to the pasture without it. Confident that I was accurate enough to pop him with the end of the rope if I got within reach, I prepared to defend and protect my defenseless cat. Big Bad Tom ran as soon as he saw me.
Walking over to Sodapop I quickly notice he has pooped himself with fear. My heart sinks. And evident by the dirt and dust all over his back, I can tell he’s been rolled. My heart sinks some more. Reaching down to pick him up and get him safely back into the house, I realize he is still in defense mode. He growls at me, his body tight as a drum. My heart lands in my left boot. I retreat, open the door to the house and plead with him to get himself in to the no-Big-Bad-Tom zone. He crouches his way through the door, twitching and looking over his shoulder, hyper-alert mode in full force, and collapses on the floor.
Then a really interesting thing happens. Not necessarily in Soda’s favor. I forget to remember that my cats are cats first. They are not their names nor are they my kids as I like to think they are. Two-bit, the twin brother, becomes the next threat to Soda’s life. Two-bit puffs up to twice his size and proceeds to strut and posture around Soda, not unlike the mighty Big Bad Tom. What the hell? Hasn’t he had enough? I wonder aloud. I watch and wait. Two-bit begins chase as Soda responds to a nonverbal threat from him and begins to run and hide! This is definitely not the play fighting they usually engage in.
Two-bit must sense the trauma of Soda’s attack, the smell of manure being his first confirmation, and seeks to right the matter, or finish the job. I am speechless at this point. I’ve seen a dog attack an unstable dog in an effort to correct them or destroy them, so I wonder if this unusual display of real aggression in an otherwise peaceful feline relationship is similar.
I put Two-bit in the basement for a time-out while I clean the fecal matter off Soda’s back end and then I run back out to finish with the horses. Eventually Two-bit and Sodapop become friendly again, but not until after a few more puffy-cat attacks from Two-bit that eventually turn to boredom. They are fine now. And Sodapop is demanding to go outside not even twenty-four hours after the brutal attack. He only suffered a puncture wound on his right front paw, a Big Bad Tom tooth-shaped puncture, and a momentary loss of pride. Both are healed now. And I am left in awe of his rapid return to the wild.