Apicultura Wiki

IN the southern portions of the United States, but especially in Louisiana, the wild-cat is found in abundance. The dense swamps that border on the Mississippi, protect this vicious species of game from extermination, and foster their increase; and, although every year vast numbers are killed, they remain seemingly as numerous as they ever were "in the memory of the oldest inhabitant."

The wild-cat seeks the most solitary retreats in which to rear its young, where in some natural hole in the ground, or some hollow tree, it finds protection for itself and its kittens from the destructive hand of man. At night, or early morn, it comes abroad, stealing over the dried leaves, in search of prey, as quietly as a zephyr, or ascending the forest tree with almost the ease of a bird.

The nest on the tree, and the burrow in the ground are alike invaded; while the poultry-yard of the farmer, and his sheepfold, are drawn on liberally, to supply the cat with food. It hunts down the rabbit, coon, and possum, and springs from the elevated bough upon the bird perched beneath, catching in its mouth its victim; and will do this while descending like an arrow in speed, and with the softness of a feather to the ground. Nothing can exceed its beauty of motion when in pursuit of game, or sporting in play. No leap seems too formidable-no attitude ungraceful. It runs - flies - leaps - skips - and is at ease, in an instant of time; every hair of its body seems redolent with life.

Its disposition is untamable; it seems insensible to kindness; a mere mass of ill-nature, having no sympathies with any, not even of its own kind. It is for this reason, no doubt, that it is so recklessly pursued; its paw being, like the hand of the Ishmaelite, against every man; and it most indubitably follows, that every man's dogs, sticks, .and guns, are against it. The hounds themselves, that hunt equally well the cat and the fox, pursue the former with a clamorous joy, and kill it with a zest which they do not display when finishing off a fine run after Reynard. In fact, as an animal of sport, the cat in many respects is preferable to the fox; its trail is always warmer, and it shows more sagacity in eluding its enemies.

In Louisiana the sportsman starts out in the morning, professedly for a fox-chase, and it turns out "cat," and often both cat and fox are killed, after a short but hard morning's work.

The chase is varied, and is frequently full of amusing incident, for the cat, as might be expected, will take to the trees, to avoid pursuit, and this habit of the animal allows the sportsman to meet it on quite familiar, terms. If the tree be a tall one, the excitable creature manages to have its face obscured by the distance; but if it takes to a dead, limbless trunk, where the height will permit its head to be fairly seen, as it looks down upon the pack that, with such open mouths,

"Fetch shrill echoes from the hollow earth,"

you will see a rare exhibition of rage and fury; eyes that seem like living balls of fire, poisonous claws, which clutch the insensible wood with deep indentations; the foam trembles on its jaws; the hair stands up like porcupine quills; the ears press down to the head, forming as perfect a picture of vicious, ungovernable destructiveness as can be imagined. A charge of mustard-seed shot, or a poke with a stick when at bay, will cause it to desert its airy abode; and it no sooner touches the ground, than it breaks off at a killing pace, the pack like mad fiends on its trail.

Besides "treeing," the cat will take advantage of some hole in the ground, and disappear, when it meets with these hiding-places, as suddenly as ghosts vanish at cock-crowing. The hounds come up to the hiding- place, and a fight ensues. The first head intruded into the cat's hole is sure to meet with a warm reception. Claws and teeth do their work.

Still the staunch hound heeds it not, and either he gets a hold himself, or acts as a bait to draw the cat from its burrow; thus fastened, the dog, being the most powerful in strength, backs out, dragging his enemy along with him; and no sooner is the cat's head seen by the rest of the pack, than they pounce upon it, and in a few moments the "nine lives" of the "varmint" are literally chawed-up.

At one of these burrowings, a huge cat intruded into a hole so small, that an ordinarily large hound could not follow. A little stunted but excellent dog, rejoicing in the name of Ringwood, from his diminutiveness succeeded in forcing his way into the hole after the cat; in an instant a faint scream was heard, and the little fellow gave symptoms of having caught a Tartar. One of the party present stooped down, and running his arm under the dog's body, pressed it forward, until he could feel that the cat had the dog firmly clawed by each shoulder, with his nose in the cat's mouth; in this situation, by pressing the dog firmly under the chest, the two were drawn from the hole.

The cat hung on until he discovered that his victim was surrounded by numerous friends, when he let go his cruel hold, the more vigorously to defend himself. Ringwood; though covered with jetting blood, jumped upon the cat, and shook away as if unharmed in the contest.

Sportsmen, in hunting the cat, provide themselves generally with pistols-not for the purpose of killing, the cat, but to annoy it, so that it will leap from the tree, when it has taken to one. Sometimes from negligence these infantile shooting-irons are left at home, and the cat gets safely out of the reach of sticks, or whatever other missile may be convenient. This is a most provoking affair; dogs and sportsmen lose all patience; and as no expedient suggests itself, the cat escapes for the time.

I once knew a cat thus perched out of reach, that was brought to terms in a very singular manner.

The tree on which the animal was lodged being a very high one, and secure from all interruption, it looked down upon its pursuers with the most provoking complacency; every effort to dislodge it had failed, and the hunt was about to be abandoned in despair, when one of the sportsmen discovered a grape-vine that passed directly over the cat's body, and by running his eyes along its circumvolutions, traced it down to the ground; a judicious jerk at the vine touched the cat on the rump; I this was most unexpected, and it instantly leaped to the ground from a height of over forty feet; striking on its fore paws, and throwing a sort of rough somerset, it started off as sound in limb and wind, as if he had just jumped from a "huckleberry" bush.

The hunter of the wild turkey while "calling," in imitation of the hen, to allure the gobbler within reach of his gun, will sometimes be annoyed by the the appearance of the wild-cat stealing up to the place from whence the sounds proceed. The greatest caution on such occasions is visible in the cat; it progresses by the slowest possible movements, crawling along like a serpent. The hunter knows that the intruder has spoiled his turkey sport for the morning, and his only revenge is to wait patiently, and give the cat the contents of his gun, then, minus all game, he goes home anathematizing the whole race of cats, for thus interfering with his sport and his dinner.

Of all the peculiarities of the cat, its untameable and quarrelsome disposition, is its most marked characteristic.

There is no half-way mark, no exception, no occasional moment of good nature; starvation and a surfeit, blows and kind words, kicks, cuffs, and fresh meat, reach not the sympathies of the wild cat.

He has all the greediness of a pawnbroker, the ill nature of a usurer, the meanness of a pettifogging lawyer, the blind rage of the hog, and the apparent insensibility to pain of the turtle: like a woman, the wild-cat is incomparable with any thing but itself.

In expression of face, the wild-cat singularly resembles the rattlesnake. The skulls of these two "varmints" have the same venomous expression, the same demonstration of fangs; and probably no two living creatures attack each other with more deadly ferocity and hate. They will stare at each other with eyes filled with defiance and burning with fire; one hissing, and the other snarling; presenting a most terrible picture of the malevolence of passion.

The serpent in his attitudes is all grace - the cat, all activity. The serpent moves with the quickness of lightning while making the attack; the cat defends with motions equally quick, bounding from side to side striking with its paws. Both are often victims, for they seldom separate until death-blows have been inflicted on either side.

The western hunter, when he wishes to cap the climax of braggadocio, with respect to his own prowess, says, "He can whip his weight in wild-cats." This is saying all that can be said, for it would seem, considering its size, that the cat in a fight can bite fiercer, scratch harder, and live longer than any other animal whatever.

"I am a roaring earthquake in a fight," sung out one of the half-horse, half-alligator species of fellows - "a real snorter of the universe. I can strike as hard as fourth proof lightning, and keep it up, rough and tumble, as long as a wild-cat."

These high encomiums on the character of the pugnacity of the cat are beyond question.

A "singed cat" is an excellent proverb, illustrating that a person may be smarter than he looks. A singed wild-cat, as such an illustration, would be sublime.

The Indians, who, in their notions and traditions, are always picturesque and beautiful, imagine that the rattlesnake, to live, must breathe the poisonous air of the swamps, and the exhalations of decayed animal matter; while the cat has the attribute of gloating over the meaner displays of evil passions of a quarrelsome person; for, speaking of a quarrelsome family, they say, "That the lodge containing it fattens the wild-cat."


Mike Fink's Great Shot.