CATS ON SANTA BARBARA ISLAND
Cats on Santa Barbara Island:
In the News~
June 28, 1863 [J. G. Cooper]: “As before remarked there is no water on Santa Barbara Island except in winter, yet sheep thrive there probably supplied by the moisture deposited by fogs and by eating succulent plants. Even a cat has lived there for four years alone, subsisting on birds and multitudes of mice…” [Report of Explorations of the Islands off the Southern Coast of California, 1863, unpub. manuscript].
July 26, 1892 [LAT/SB]: “The Ruby returned Saturday morning with a cargo of abalones from Santa Barbara Island. Captain Stevens verifies the statements recently published in the Examiner concerning the large number of the feline tribe which live upon this island and which so closely resemble the ordinary domestic cat.”
Buster Hyder lived on Santa Barbara Island with Alvin Hyder and his family after the turn of the century. Cleve Hyder was described by his nephew Buster Hyder: “My uncle Cleve lived in a little house down below us [on Santa Barbara Island], about half-way up from the Landing Cove. It was just one big room—the bedroom and kitchen was together. He was over here mostly for lobster fishin’. Just Cleve and Margaret, his wife, lived here. They never had any children. Cleve was the youngest of the litter of twelve kids. All Missourians. He was quite a guy. My Aunt Margaret taught school—taught us kids school there… Cleve had tanks around his house to catch his water. He caught it off all the roofs. In the wintertime he had trouble with the water comin’ down around his house because it was built in a gully. He used to have a great big ditch for runoff. You can still see a rock pile where his house was. He had a clothes line right across the gully, and one time, my dad and I came down one day, and Cleve had two rabbits hangin’ on the line that he had skinned. My dad jumped on him and says, ‘I don’t mind you getting’ one rabbit, but you got two of ‘em. What are you goin’ to do with the other?’ Cleve says, ‘Just take a look. They ain’t two rabbits there. It’s only one.’ So I remember my dad says, ‘What—do you think I’m crazy?’ One of ‘em was a cat. And you can’t tell a cat from a rabbit when it’s hangin’ on the line skinned. My uncle, he ate the cat, too. He ate it.”
“…They carried two by fours, them big eagles. When we got to the nest, it was made out of driftwood, ol’ seaweed, and there was a lot of rabbit bones in there and cat bones. Everything they caught. Lot of fish—the nose of the fish where the eagles couldn’t eat it — the little babies…” [Buster Hyder interview, 1986, by Marla Daily]