Was Elmer the victim of a toad or frog?
His hugs. Yep, that’s what I miss the most about Elmer. He gave the best hugs of any feline I know.
Yes, Elmer was our cat. We had him about nine years. He was slightly older than that. He’d had a previous owner who had taken him and his brother, Ralph, in after someone left them with a local veterinarian.
I last saw Elmer before bedtime on April 7. He’d gone outside sometime after I got home from work that day.
Before we moved almost a year ago, Elmer loved to go outside. He stuck pretty close to home, and, even though he had been declawed, he was still great at catching moles and mice. Our move, from the end of a dead-end street outside Corydon to the Milltown-Frenchtown Road, had been difficult for Elmer. The ceiling fans in our new house terrified him at first, and he was frightened by traffic noise whenever he wanted to go outside.
Finally, after several months, Elmer built up the nerve to go outdoors for short periods of time, especially at night when there was less traffic. We had gotten into a routine of him going out at night, weather permitting, then coming back in as soon as I got up in the morning.
The last night I saw him, Elmer had been outside for a few hours. I stepped out on the porch to see if he wanted to come in before I went to bed. I didn’t see him anywhere, but I happened to notice a teeny-weeny toad or frog just outside our front door. It appeared to be black and no larger than my thumbnail. I had never seen anything like it. I went back inside to get my husband to come look at it.
Ray didn’t find the tiny creature as fascinating as I did.
Before we went back in the house, Elmer came along. At first he wanted to go in, but then the amphibian caught his eye. So I left him out and went to bed.
We haven’t seen him since.
As family and friends heard the story of Elmer’s disappearance, which always includes the bit about the tiny amphibian, we have been told several instances of cats and small dogs getting violently sick, even dying, after eating a frog or toad. There’s also the story of a man who experienced severe burning of his eyes after handling one of these little creatures.
A quick search on the Internet tells us that frogs/toads can squirt poison at potential predators from puffy-looking pockets (paratoid glands) behind their ear. (For the record: the toxins they secrete don’t usually protect them from predatory mammals, birds and snakes.)
I don’t know if the frog or toad I left Elmer with that night had anything to do with his disappearance, but I wanted to warn other unsuspecting pet owners that they might want to keep their animals away from frogs or toads.
Not knowing what happened to Elmer has bothered Ray and me. Our children, who are away at Indiana University, keep asking if we’ve found him yet. We’ve spent days walking the woods looking for him. If anyone finds a big yellow male cat, dead, injured or perhaps just lost, we’d like to know.
It still seems strange when we go to bed at night that Elmer doesn’t come running and jump up in bed with us. He’d stretch his furry body next to me, use my arm as a pillow and go to sleep.
And those hugs when I held him ‘ they were the best.