The Minnow And The Bear

Dave and I have a cat named Minnow, we named her that because she has grey stripes on her sides that resemble par marks on a fish. Minnow tends to have an effect on other animals. When I say that, I mean other animals hate her.

I am certain Minnow has knocked a few years off the life of our dog Caddis. Her constant exploration in the house includes (among other pursuits): jumping on counters, opening cupboard doors, and tasting houseplants; you know, cat stuff. Let’s just say Caddis isn’t a big fan of these behaviours, to a point where if Caddis isn’t running at her barking she is sitting nearby whining and looking at us with eyes that say “you’re going to let this happen?”


Mice are on the fence about Minnow. We live in the country so we have had mice. There is no way around that, and that is why many people that live in the country get cats in the first place.  While it entertains her greatly to stalk mice in the house, she tends not to do much more than that. Dave says it is stupidity, while I like to think that she is a perfectionist and is waiting for the perfect moment to strike. While Minnow is waiting Caddis generally gets the job done.

Wild birds hate Minnow. Minnow is quite the escape artist and at some point I gave up trying to keep her indoors. As a group, domestic cats kill millions of birds every year; just for the fun of it. The birds on our homestead sensed this, and didn’t accept it lying down. When the barn swallows were nesting they would attack as soon as Minnow would step outside. There was a constant stream of dive-bombing attempts until they deemed her to be a safe distance away.

Our chickens hate minnow. Even though our chickens are bigger than Minnow (we don’t have gigantic chickens but rather a small cat) that didn’t stop her from considering them easy prey last summer. She would stalk them for hours, but it took only one chicken standing her ground (and a spray or two from the garden hose) to put Minnow in her place. That isn’t to say that Minnow didn’t get tempted every once in a while after that.

In the winter it isn’t hard to keep Minnow as an inside cat. While she tried to escape a few times, her ambitions were lowered after a successful attempt on a day with below -20C temperatures outside. There’s another reason why she isn’t as effective anymore. Minnow was attacked in the fall, and we think it was a bear.

We were just about to eat an amazing meal prepared for us by Dave’s Uncle Bill visiting from Ontario when I caught a glimpse of Minnow through the glass of the patio door. It was actually quite late to be sitting down for dinner, after 10 pm, but we had let conversation get the better of us. I opened the door to let her in and quickly realised there was blood on her front right leg and she was limping. My heart sank, I scooped her up, and I am not sure why, but I ran with her to the bathroom sink. We noticed that there were two large holes, big enough to fit a finger in, at the top of her arm. She was quite tired but she was no longer bleeding. We were new to the area so it took us awhile to do enough research to discover that there were no vets within an hour’s drive that were open that late at night. The on-call vet number we were given went to voicemail without a return call. We decided that because she wasn’t bleeding; because Dave had been drinking and I was rather shaken; and since she was mainly just sleeping that we would keep an eye on her overnight and take her to the vet first thing in the morning. If her condition changed for the worse I would drive her to the big city (big $) vet an hour away.

Minnow decided she was most comfortable on the bathroom floor and would crawl back, dragging the affected limb, if we tried to make her more comfortable elsewhere. So that is where I “slept” as well; much to the surprise of Uncle Bill when duty called in the middle of the night.

In the morning we took her to the vet. After a quick examination it was clear that the arm would have to come off as the humerus was shattered. Since she was quite young (just over a year) and because this was a country vet that didn’t charge an arm and a leg to amputate (pun intended), we decided that this was the best course forward.

None of us, including the vet, could be completely certain what caused the injury. At first it looked like a gunshot but that was ruled out. There was no residue in the wound that would suggest she was impaled by something. So we think an animal bit her arm with two canine teeth (top and bottom of one side), and after we ruled out other large carnivores, we settled on a bear.

We had seen bears nearby and there were many signs of bears on our property. There were tufts of black fur caught on the barb wire fence that surrounds the property, there were footprints, and there was bear poop. Furthermore, the vet said that most of the bear attacks on pets and livestock they deal with come from our area. We think that she surprised a bear and it grabbed her arm with it’s mouth and tossed her aside. We will never know what happened or just how far she had to go to get home after it happened. I don’t like to think about these things, but we can probably add bear to the list of animals that hate Minnow.

So now we have a three-legged Minnow. She recovered very quickly from the amputation, after about two weeks Minnow was running around the house like nothing happened. I think Minnow is actually better at running than walking, the momentum helps. When it was still warm enough I’d take her for walks outside with a leash. She quickly discovered that climbing trees is now out of the question, but got around very well other than that.

As the days get longer and the temperatures creep higher, I worry about the spring. Minnow is very persistent, and we go in and out several times a day doing chores on the homestead. Let’s just say it will be an interesting adventure trying to keep her inside.

2 thoughts on “The Minnow And The Bear

  1. What a story, I’m glad she came through it okay! Our cat’s about the same age, and also likes to hunt the chickens – kind of wishing our ornery rooster was still around.

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