The only problem I have with this is that for right now, I'm not using permalinks because to get the effect I want with the permalinks, my host has to upgrade their server, and so far, they aren't very willing to jump to my request. So I wait for a while, hoping for them to jump or a better fix for rewrites to come along.
This means that instead of having simple index.php?cat=5 or even index.php?cat=61, I would have to deal with index.php?cat=45632985 if things really got out of control...but I'm joking...okay, only slightly, but you get my point. So I manually fix them before I get too vested, but vakaryl, you bring up a seriously good question.
I do hope that I'm the only one dealing with this. And maybe I did, by some accident, get into the categories table and while switching or fixing something with category 44 mistyped a 4444 and then discovered my error immediately and then fixing it, and never giving it another thought. Not saying I did, but all things are possible. Unknowingly I would have reset the counter and the beat would have continued on from there.
Knowing this information may help me track it down, which is a help. And for anyone else who may stumble across this thread, they might have an answer for this.
So thanks to everyone for hanging in there to figure it out. Good problem solving detectives we is.