The boy reached out toward the trunk of the large but slender oak but stopped himself when he looked into the cat’s eyes. The cat had gone to the tree first, upon hearing the approach of something not natural or native to the surrounding area. The boy had been slower to take the warning.
The cat was frozen in mid-stride, wound halfway around the tree’s trunk, one paw up on a higher branch, one against the bark of the trunk and its hind legs balanced on the first outthrust branch getting ready to catapult its body upward. The cat stared into the boy’s eyes and the boy got the message. The tree was the cat’s and boy’s presence in it wasn’t welcome.