Tuesday night was somewhat traumatic at our house. We had been out on one of our dinner-and-a-movie dates and came back home to find the house feeling quite stuffy and stale smelling. It seems the heat pump/central air was in its little “happy zone” between its heat and cooling limit temps where it simply does nothing. So we decided to open some windows and let the cool autumn breeze inside.
Both of our cats, Hamish and Tatiana are strictly indoor creatures. They have occasionally been taken outside with a harness for some brushing and grooming, which in the case of Hamish, provides many local birds with downy soft fluff to add to their nests. I have said many times before that I am stunned as to why he isn’t bald by this point. The amount of hair he loses during one of these sessions would seem to be able to fill a feather pillow. All that aside, neither of them make any sort of effort to try and get outside. If anything opening a door is usually enough to make then scamper for their lives.
Earlier that night while at the movie theater, we saw a preview for the latest rendition of “Alice in Wonderland”. I mention this because what happened later must have been strikingly familiar. My wife had taken her book to bed and I had settled down on the den sofa to take in a movie. I was probably half way through when I suddenly heard a quick but furious amount of scratching, followed by some clunking and rattling that could be taken for “some feline has just knocked some thing off a table where they don’t belong.”
I got up to investigate and found everything pretty much where it should be, save for the screen in the dining room window. A knocked open screen late at night can be cause for alarm but if a vandal or other person had been at fault their presence would have been evident by now. This however was more bizarre in that one corner was kicked out, directly above the recycle bin that sits on the deck outside. Suddenly all the sounds I had heard began to fall into place and an accident reconstruction formed.
Cat lays in window sill, cat stretches while still lying down, cat’s back feet push screen loose on the bottom, cat with all four feet in stretch mode has a hold on nothing…end result, cat falls in recycle bin under said window. Now suddenly OUTSIDE, with no clue to dark surroundings and lying in bed of plastic bottles and empty tuna cans, cat absolutely freaks out and runs he knows not where.
Hamish has fallen down the rabbit hole.
All of the usual hiding places are not where they were, as a matter of fact, NOTHING is where it was! There are no doors!… no furniture!…no bathroom cabinets! What the blazes is this green stuff that doesn’t smell like my carpet! This part is hard, this part is soft, over there is bright, RUN!…no wait, that isn’t right either…go the other WAY!
I can only imagine that this might be the case since the last time he was taken out onto the deck he ran all of three feet and cowered under the gas grill. The same grill is still sitting there by the way but with a green vinyl cover over it, which in the dark must have been mistaken for a draped elephant. Who can speculate at what he thought the cars in the driveway were.
We spent roughly the next half hour outside with flashlights, calling out names and shaking dry food containers. You know, all the silly things humans do when we actually think a cat will ever listen. This search was fruitless and we reluctantly gave up figuring he was either hiding inside the house better than he ever had or he would show up howling his lungs out an hour after we went to bed.
I have to give credit to Tatiana at this point for some smart feline tactics (write this day down) After my wife retired back to bed and I returned to the movie to finish up, Tatiana proceeded to park herself in the living room floor. She then commenced a slow, painful series of cries and moans that would make one think she was being put to slow death. This continued relentlessly for nearly an hour and it seemed foolish for me to rant at her about it since she obviously missed having Hamish to smack around late at night. Being the brilliant male cat that he is, he keeps coming back for more…the furry poster child in the “glutton for punishment” category.
I finally turned off the television and prepared to retire myself thinking “how on Earth will I ever get to sleep with this lost cat lament going like a broken record in the other room?”
However once I shut all the den electronics off, in between Tatiana’s death throes, I heard a faint “meow” come from outside. Of course it couldn’t possibly be as easy as opening the back door and there the boy would be sitting. Oh no, coming on the deck would be far too logical, we must go on the hunt once more.
Back outside once more in pajamas and slippers, with my flashlight scanning the area, first close by and then off into the neighbors yards like some kind of overage peeping tom at 1 am. I continued out to the street, fearing the worst but hoping for better when I heard the sound once again. I turned my light back towards the house and swept the flower beds along the front and there reflected a pair of eyes. I kept the light fixed as I walked towards the reflections to see if it actually was Hamish. Once I was within about ten feet I could tell it was indeed the fuzzy adventurer but fear was in overdrive at this point and he bolted once again.
Then it occurred to me that in the dark with a flashlight bearing down I must have appeared like some version of the Cyclops giant, so I doused the light and he crouched down into a ball and howled like a bear in a steel trap. I picked him up and gave him the quick once over to be sure he wasn’t actually injured and the headed for the back door. I made this walk with some reserve since his head seemed to be mounted on a swivel and he was looking wildly around in all directions. I kept waiting for him to freak out at any second and slash my chest and shoulders open as he clawed to get away, but he finally settled down enough to make it inside.
Either way it seems I still got little to no sleep since Hamish spent the next two hours frantically patrolling the house and furniture. I guess he wanted to make sure there were no more rabbit holes or looking glasses to fall out of. I finally fell asleep on the sofa and I woke to find him comfortably ensconced on his blanket in the chair. I guess it had been an over eventful night for both of us.
I give the poor creature a hard time for his repeated acts of mindless stupidity, but the fact remains that despite all his shortcomings he is entertaining. That combined with the two features I suspect have saved cats as a species, they are furry and cute and he over-excels in both those areas…especially the furry part.
Tatiana has reverted to her once quiet self, if Hamish serves no other purpose but to quell that wake-the vampires wail of hers them he is most welcome here forever.
T. August Green