His name is Bruce Banner, Banner for short. He’s a little guy, but there’s a reason he’s named after the Incredible Hulk’s alter-ego. There’s always a reason.
A couple of weeks ago, I was relaxing on the couch late at night, after the rest of the house had gone to bed. My daughter and son-in-law were visiting, and we’d had a busy day working on projects at the Theatre Depot building. On days like that I enjoy taking a few minutes before bedtime to just sit in the quiet, maybe have a small glass of wine with a few pages of a book or a puzzle, and just unwind.
The silence was suddenly broken by the unmistakable sounds of a cat fight in the front yard. We have a couple of feral female cats that we caught and spayed a couple of years ago and still feed on the front porch, and there’s a black cat that hangs around who just had a litter of kittens that we haven’t managed to catch yet. We’ve grown accustomed to cat noises.
When I heard the noise, I was sure a wayward stray was picking on one of our girls, so I jumped up and turned on the porch light. When I jerked the door open to interrupt the fight, I was shocked to see a raccoon dragging one of the kittens by the back leg across the yard. I yelled to frighten it, and luckily it let go and ran away. The kitten darted under the nearest bush.
The raccoon made an attempt to circle around and come back after its prey, but I yelled again and it retreated. I got a flashlight to see if I could find the kitten and keep an eye out for the raccoon. When I stepped back outside, I could see by the glow of the streetlight that were actually four raccoons! There was an adult, followed by three smaller raccoons crossing the front yard to make an approach from a different direction.
Frank heard me going in and out of the front door and came to investigate. Together we stood guard while searching for the injured kitten. Its mother was also there, meowing to gather her brood and move them to safer ground. She sounded so pitiful as she searched for the injured kitten while also eyeing us warily, not sure if we were a threat as well.
We finally had to abandon the search because we were causing more stress for the mama cat than help. Satisfied that the mother raccoon had joined her babies in a nearby oak tree, we gave up the vigil and went to bed to try to get some sleep until we had enough light to see.
The next morning, Frank located the injured kitten under our heat pump. He wouldn’t even come out to the plaintive cries from his mother. Armed with a tool rigged by Frank that consisted of a paint-roller extension stick, a clamp, and a piece of wood, and me with a flashlight and a cat carrier, we laid down on our bellies in the yard and managed to get the kitten out of his hiding place and to the vet.
The wonderful folks at Animal Medical Center took good care of the kitty, even though he hissed at them continuously. When Frank picked him up, the staff said they had taken to calling him the “angry kitten,” which gave Frank the idea to name him Bruce Banner. That’s a bit of mouthful, so it’s Banner for short.
Now Banner lives in our extra bathroom, quarantined until we can be certain he didn’t contract rabies from the raccoon bite. We are hopeful, because the raccoon wasn’t exhibiting unusual behavior, she was just trying to feed her kids like all good mothers do. We put on gloves and give him antibiotics twice a day, and he will visit the vet a few more times to monitor him for neurological symptoms.
In the meantime, we’re cautiously working with him a little in an attempt to socialize him to humans in case he remains rabies-free. After thinking about it, I realized Frank was right. Bruce Banner does seem the most fitting name. We just feed him, pet him, and hope he doesn’t get really angry.