How was I to know, a few days ago, that our cat story was far from over?
With the blog finished, I made some assumptions--none of which came true.
As readers of the first blog all know, our attempt to entice the nearly wild cat out of our house with an open patio door and an outside dish of cat food, was more than a failure: instead we awoke suddenly to a house full of policemen. There they were in the hall outside our bedroom, waking us with their clunky boots and huge flashlights. I leaped out of bed and realized to my horror WE were under suspicion—and never mind that I was standing there in my nightie, and never mind my trying to explain about the cat. “We have to see your husband,” they said, and when I said he was still in bed, one of them repeated his demand and pushed right past me. What! Do you think I killed him?
So much for any sleep that night.
But the cat was still with us . . . and so was our determination to have him gone. But that second night, if anything, turned out worse. Once again we prepared the open-door, outside-food trick—and this time I did NOT accidentally touch the house alarm.
Instead, just as we went to bed, I saw through the hall window what I supposed was the cat eating from the food dish. Elated, I ran to the family room to close the door.
No cat anywhere. Instead, four huge raccoons were out there, circling our dishes, eating the cat food. “No!” I screamed at them. “No! No!” The four beasts took off running. Defeated, I brought in the wet and dry food—what was left of it. To forestall their return, I cleaned up everything they’d spilled. Clearly, night-time, open-door lures were useless.
The third night was the topper. While Rob watched late-afternoon TV with the patio door open (in case “Rat Cat” just happened to go for a daytime stroll), I glanced outside. A quick look told me, once again, the cat was out there. Again I raced to the family room—and there I saw, INSIDE our breakfast room, three raccoons circling the dish of cat food. I screamed, and two raccoons rushed outside.
Not so the fourth one. He stood in our breakfast room staring me down. I could tell what he was thinking. Are you going to stand there, blocking my way, or are you going to step back and let me escape? Your call, Lady.
I moved back three steps, and the animal rushed past me and toward the open door. With his cane, Rob gave him a swat on the behind as he darted outside.
We were now down to limited solutions. “I’ll have to get a HAVE A HEART trap,” I said. But when the feed-store lady demonstrated the monstrous power of the trap, I brought it home with a heavy heart. “You and I are not going to set this thing,” I said. “If we mess up, it’ll take off an arm. Someone else will have to do it.”
Still, that afternoon I came up with a different plan . “Let’s get several family members to stand in the family room. One of us will take a stick and beat his hiding places in the den. When he runs out, we’ll funnel him out the patio door.”
Before the family could get there, Rob did indeed beat against several objects in the den, and suddenly the cat ran out—looking, as always, like an oversize rat. But he didn’t escape through the open door. Instead he disappeared. Later, Rob found him hiding in our small, utility bathroom. Quickly Rob closed the door. We practically cheered.
When Dane and his girlfriend, Zhanina arrived, we planned our final move. With three of us standing in the utility porch, the fourth would roust the cat out of the bathroom, sending him out the back door.
That’s when a famous saying came to light. The best-laid plans of mice and men . . . Slowly Dane entered the bathroom. But nothing happened. Rob called out, “Poke him with my cane. He’ll run out.”
Still silence from the bathroom. Rob added, “You can pull him out with the other end.” Dane didn’t reply, and we couldn’t tell what was going on.
Then, from outside the room I heard Dane say, “Here, Kitty, here, Kitty. Zhanina joined him. The silence went on. Rob and I waited. Finally I gathered the cat was crouched behind the toilet, not moving. “Will he bite?” asked Dane, and we said we didn’t think so. Eventually Dane picked him up, and the two came out. Then Zhanina took him in her arms. “He’s trembling,” she said. She held him closer.
Instead of throwing him to the coyotes, the two young people stood there leaning over our animal, cuddling him. Zhanina carried him outside, still in her arms. All at once I saw him differently—a scared-stiff animal who had lived for six weeks in our house, eating only at night, afraid to ever be seen.
“I’d like to keep him,” Dane said, and Zhanina agreed. “We’ll give it a try,” they said. So Rob and I gave them everything the cat had come with—wet food, litter box, dry food.
Since from the start we never knew where this feral-cat story was headed, we now don’t know for sure how it will end. All I can say is, those are the two kindest young people I’ve ever met. With luck, our feral cat will think so, too.
After they left, I began thinking about the kids, and how they handled the situation . . . and how because of them my attitude changed, and how in the end it was all for a simple reason: kindness is catching.