He doesn’t have a name, but a stray orange and white tomcat is making a name for himself in a Langley City neighbourhood.
Ninety-three year old Vicky Jenkins is now home from hospital but she is still nursing bite wounds from the nasty cat that attacked her while she was out in her garden last Thursday.
The injuries are so bad her arm swelled up the size of a pumpkin and she can’t use her hand at all one week later.
“He’s been hanging around my backyard for years, and he is super friendly but has a vicious streak,” said Vicky.
“Last Thursday, I was in the garden bending down to pick something up and he was there wrapping himself around my legs, when he just lunged at me.”
The stray tomcat clamped down on her forearm with all its teeth.
“He hit a vein. I’ve never seen so much blood. It was squirting out of my arm,” she said.
Neighbour Ken McKay, came running over and drove Vicky to the hospital.
Doctors gave her a tetanus shot and sent her on her way.
“But they should have put her on antibiotics,” said McKay. Cats can carry all sort of viruses and disease in their saliva. Vicky went to her own, doctor who did prescribe antibiotics. But by then her arm had swollen to double its size and turned black and blue, said McKay.
On Wednesday, one week after the attack, Jenkins’ entire arm was swollen and purple and blue from fingertips to elbow.
“The cat was back again in the backyard this morning,” said Vicky. Neighbours believe the cat originally lived at a home but became stray when the people moved away and didn’t take the cat with them. Its diet is the many birds that frequent the neighbourhood, said Vicky.
This isn’t the first time the tom has attacked.
Two years ago, a four-year-old girl was bitten twice by the stray, said her dad Blake who lives a few doors down from the Jenkins.
“At the time, my daughter was four. It’s a really friendly cat. But one day it just lunged at her and clawed her out of nowhere,” said Blake. “Two weeks later, it came out of nowhere and attacked her again.”
Since then, Blake has told his kids to stay clear of the cat.
“The cat is really friendly but has a mean streak,” he said.
McKay said the stray cat recently attacked another neighbour’s kitten.
For McKay who has lived in the neighbourhood for more than 30 years, seeing the injuries endured by Vicky was the last straw.
“I called animal control right away,” he said. Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) is in charge of animal control in both Langleys.
“I was told I could have a trap and I could try to trap the cat and bring it to them. But then they may neuter it and re-release the thing back into our neighbourhood. This bylaws need to change. If this was a dog that bit Vicky, animal control would come here and pick up the dog,” said McKay.
“It should be their responsibility to take action and take action immediately.”
“And what worries me is what if this cat attacks a kid’s face, imagine the damage it could do.”
LAPS executive director Jayne Nelson has since spoken with Vicky and is sending out an officer to trap the cat.
“We will determine the best course of action once we have him here at the shelter,” said Nelson.
Cats, stray or domestic, don’t usually have an aggressive streak but Nelson wonders if this cat has an undiagnosed medical issue that is causing it to attack.
Nelson said there are no bylaws regarding cats, unlike dogs, which are required to be licensed and can’t just roam free AS cats do.
“With a nuisance cat we will often lend them a trap and then take the cat in. We will give it a medical check up, neuter it and see if we can find it a home. If it is too feral, we may look for it to be a barn cat. It’s always looked at case by case. If there is a public safety concern we would have to look at not releasing it back into the neighbourhood,” she said.
In the case of the attacking tom, she said LAPS only has had the one complaint about it. However, Nelson said they will go and trap the cat.
“But I really encourage people who are directly affected by a nuisance cat to call us,” she said.
Langley has a huge stray cat issue, with an estimated 25,000 homeless cats.
Tiny Kittens, a local non-profit, has been making great strides with its trap and neuter program in a colony of feral cats on a rural property in Aldergrove. They have also managed to successfully adopt out some of the cats. LAPS offers free spay and neuters at least twice a year, and hosts a day when they will pick up or take any unwanted kittens or pregnant cats.
“I recently got a cat from LAPS and I had to sign a contract to keep the cat inside,” said McKay. “That’s the way it should be, but not everyone is willing to keep a cat inside.”
LAPS can be reached at 604-857-5055.