Thanks to Bob it’s a jungle in there

Doc Blakely

When I was a kid my family was a little like Tarzan and Jane who lived in the jungle.

My father called me Boy so much I thought it was my real name so I fit right in the scheme of things. We also had a menagerie of animals such as dogs, cattle, horses, hogs (javelina), ducks, geese, pigeons, rabbits, and one critter that came to us because it was orphaned. A well-meaning “Pumper” in the oilfields of Duval County brought a day-old bobcat kitten to the Dixie Iron Works, an oilfield repair shop, where my dad was a foreman and supervised several welders and a machinist.

It was midafternoon and I was home from grade school. We all peered over the edge of a cardboard Shiner Bock beer box and saw a day old male kitten. It was a bobcat, eyes still closed. The mother had been killed by a truck accidently running through a patch of cactus, several mesquite trees and a huahia bush, not uncommon in the Brush Country. My dad took one look and said, “Boy, you know about these things, take care of him until we can get a monkey, a pregnant one.”

I went to town to see Clarence, our local druggist, the closest thing to a veterinarian we had for miles and miles. Clarence had a book he smuggled out of vet school because he fainted at the sight of blood and dropped out of A&M to attend pharmacy school. His diploma hung on the wall right next to the Pepto Bismol and Ex-Lax display.

He prided himself on his penmanship but asked me to take dictation because nobody could read his writing but a doctor. I came away with directions on mixing a liquid concoction to feed the kitten until he got old enough to eat more solid food.

I named him Bob and he grew up inside the house. We just cut a hole in the Shiner Bock cardboard beer box and enlarged it as he grew older. Bob came and went as he pleased, just patiently waiting at the door until somebody opened it. My mother had a large fern plant on a stand about three feet high and Bob would hide in the middle of it when we had company.

That wild stalking instinct carried over into domestication. He would be completely invisible in the middle of that plant and when a stranger walked close enough he would raise up like a lion, stick out one foot with claws extended and scream like a tiger.

Bob lived to be about 10 years old. He died from a fall from our grapefruit tree when he leaped from the highest tree limb stalking a sparrow. They say cats have nine lives but Bob must have exhausted eight of them on humans inside the house before my first cat tried to fly after that little bird.

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