Right after we lost Tweets, we started seeing Big Van everywhere. Nik saw him at the Maisonettes in the morning. During the day, I saw him at Sammy's, at the house across the street from Sammy's, at the house next door to Sammy's, in the fields, at the house next door to us, and finally, in our garden where he was starting to come more and more often. Later in the day he would come again to our house to terrorize Jazzy, Amber, and Sylvia, starting at dusk and on through to the middle of the night. Their screams would wake me, and I would go running downstairs and outside to urge him away and protect the others. I was so afraid one of them would go running in the street from fear, and Jazzy is particularly vulnerable because he only has one eye.
Jazzy is vulnerable with only one eye
We tried trapping Big Van on these days and nights, but, as before, it was to no avail. The minute we had the trap out, he was either gone, or he'd immediately turn his nose up at our bait. We began the lament that Big Van was the cat we would never catch.
|Will we ever catch you, smarty pants???|
We know that Big Van was Tweets' mate. But maybe what we didn't know was exactly how much time they spent together. Because I would've sworn he missed her by his behavior. Tweets never moved into our garden. She stayed true to Sammy's, likely waiting for his daughter to come back who used to feed her, and not wanting to give up the territory. The only time she would come to our garden was when the bowls at Sammy's were empty, and then only to cry and make a fuss as if to hustle me over there to fill them. And I would, and, as far as she was concerned, everything was OK then.
|Big Van chasing after Tweets when she was still alive; Big Van and Tweets were mates|
I am in the fields every day, and though I do see cats back there, I never saw Big Van back there until after Tweets was killed. One day he was way far back there. But then I'll be a monkey's uncle if our elusive wanderer didn't find his way back to our house that very night to cause havoc.
|I saw Big Van way back here one day while walking our dog, Muji|
You could argue that he was looking for a new mate. I am sure he was. But I would still describe his behavior as mooning around. It was almost as if he was asking us to trap him. I can't prove this, but I think it is true. I think Big Van missed Tweets. I think he was all alone. And I think he was tired of the game. This once handsome cat had surely lost a lot of weight and he looked rough.
|We all miss Tweets|
|Big Van, was he tired of the game?|
So, Sunday night, Nik and I settled out in the garden to eat our dinner. Nik was having souvlaki, I was having a veggie burger. (Try eating souvlaki indoors with 23 cats in your house.) From where I sat at the garden table, I saw Big Van come through our gate. I motioned silently to Nik. I asked what to get for bait. Nik decided to try the souvlaki since everything else had failed. He set some aside and got the trap out of my car. I went to prepare a place to overnight him should we catch him. Big Van smelled the souvlaki. He was as interested as we had ever seen him. But as soon as Nik put the trap down, Big Van turned his nose up at him, and cockily went back over to our outdoor kibble bowl to feed. Nik stepped in and firmly took the kibble bowl away. Big Van thought about it very briefly, and went over to the trap and walked right in. Nik calmly said, "We got him."
|"We got him."|
You would have thought we would have turned cartwheels and said a cheer, it's taken us so long to get here. But I think we are always so tired by Sunday night, and we have been trying to trap him for such a ridiculously long time, that we just took a calm moment, sighed, and silently high fived each other, and then went back about the business of putting him away for the night. Nik felt sure Big Van would finish the souvlaki in the trap, and sure enough, when we'd checked on him in the morning, he had eaten it. It was that good. Now does that sound like a cat that was upset to be trapped? That's what I'm saying.
|Big Van in his glory days|