Friday, June 17, 2011

Cats Are Steve Tilford's Kryptonite

Since gamjams-midwest began picking up feeds from professional cyclist Steve Tilford sometime last year, I've become a regular follower of Steve's blog. I like his blog because I'm a relative newbie to road racing and could use as much good advice as I can get. He brings plenty of that.

But what I also like about his blog is that it's not always about cycling. Take this past Wednesday's post, where Tilford suffered another cat bite:

I was trying to catch the mother cat yesterday to take to the vet to get spayed and thought I was past the cat-bites-the-human part of the relationship, but I was wrong. She chomped down on my finger pretty good. Nothing hurts more initially that a good cat bite. I think it is because their teeth go all the way to the bone.

Something's amiss. In his lengthy career, Tilford has been involved in more crashes than I care to think about, but seemingly nothing hurts more initially than a good cat bite? Yeesh. Unconvinced, I did some research on Tilford's injuries. Here's what he had to say in Pez Cycling news last October:

One time in the Milk Race I broke my leg, hand and collar bone and was back racing at the Coors Classic within five weeks. I've broken my collar bone pretty often, that heals in about three weeks.
-- Pez-Talk, American Legend Steve Tilford

Did he really just trivialize broken collarbone(s)?! And the Coors Classic in just five weeks from multiple fractures? No wonder he's called the 'cyborg'. And yet, because Tilford doesn't have a spleen (afraid to ask why), this cat bite will probably sideline him for a month due to the risk of blood infection.

Let's recap: that's five weeks for broken leg, hand and collarbone, four weeks for cat bite or three weeks for a routine broken collar bone. Wait. What was that -- a month for a cat bite? Suffice it to say, it's probably not the crashes that keeps Steve awake at night. No, it's being bitten by another cat.

Cats are apparently Steve Tilford's kryptonite.

Anyway, I may not be able to offer any cycling advice to a seasoned pro like Steve Tilford, but I have successfully caught an angry cat or two in my time. And since Steve has had more than one bad cat nabbing outcome, I'm assuming that (he's reading this and) could use a tip here or there to get him through the next time he squares up against his feline nemesis. So while that finger mends, pop another antibiotic and read on, Mr. Steve Tilford, because this one's for you.


On a bitterly cold winter night years ago, I awoke to hear my cat Newton making those really low, guttural tones that escalate slowly into the higher decibels. I got up to check out what was going on. Newton was upset that a feral cat was at the sliding glass back door. It was definitely a stray: an unkempt orange tabby with a chunk of ear missing. And, one couldn't help but notice that the family jewels were well in-tact. Yes indeed, this fella was a wild one, and he either wanted to come in from the cold, or make a territorial claim against Newton.

Newton, RIP 2005

With the wind and all, the temperature outside felt like -20F. I assumed that the tomcat wanted to come in from the cold. But it was 1:00 AM, what could I do? I went back to bed and wrestled with my conscience under a heated blanket. I wasn't about to let a wild cat into my house, so I decided on a compromise. I setup a space heater and some of Newton's bedding in the three-season, enclosed porch and then let the tomcat in there. My guilt relieved, I went back to bed.

But in a short while, the tomcat and Newton started that eerie trash-talking again.

So I got up once more, put some water and cat food out there and then covered half the door's window panels with paper so the tomcat couldn't see inside to Newton. Heat, food, water and privacy. That's pretty good for a stray cat. Contented once more, I went back to bed.

The peace and quiet lasted all of about two minutes before the commotion started again.

So I got up for the third time. This time, I found that the tomcat had climbed all the way up the backside of the porch door and was hanging from his front paws to look through the top row of uncovered windows. That cat didn't want shelter from the harsh weather outside, nor was he hungry or thirsty. All along, all he wanted was to rumble with Newton.

Now I was determined to resolve the issue once and for all. So pay attention Tilford, here's what I did. I got fully dressed in cat-catching garb, which included jeans, a heavy flannel long-sleeve shirt, leather boots and heavy leather work gloves. I then grabbed a large cardboard box and duct tape and went to work at catching a feral cat that was set on staking a territorial claim.

It wasn't pretty. The tomcat put up a good fight with lots of hissing, kicking, clawing and attempted biting as I hauled him in. But by the time all the fur-balls settled, I was scratch-free with one very pissed off cat sealed inside a cardboard box.

I then loaded him into the car for a drive. Now my friend Shim probably would have driven to the Mormon bridge and thrown the box with cat inside into the icy Missouri river below. But what I did instead was to take the cat to the Omaha Humane Society. Even at 1:30 AM, our local Humane Society accepts strays. As an aside, the Omaha Humane Society is truly humane to our dumb friends. They have a heated room with an empty cage for strays that's monitored by the Humane Society's staff 24/7. See Shim, no need to dump cats in rivers.

So there you go, Mr Tilford. You probably already knew this stuff. But just in case, wear some heavy work gloves the next time you need to grab that mother cat.

It's either that or another ten days of horse pills and a month off the bike.

Mend well, Steve Tilford.

Happy Friday, everyone


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Do you actually think I'd take the time to drive all the way to the Mormon Bridge?

    Bullet to the head and back to bed.