“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in." - Rachel Carson

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Case of the Missing Cat

Our cat, Wendell

We've had a mysterious beast sneaking into our house for a while now. When we go away for a weekend, we often come back to find that most of Wendell's cat food has been eaten, more than he could ever eat on his own. After Memorial Day, we came home to Wendell crouching on top on the refrigerator looking shaken and like he wasn't so sure about his territory, which is something he never does. We've been making guesses about whether we've got another cat coming in, or something worse, like a raccoon or a skunk. Basically this is not a good situation that we need to deal with. This weekend we decided to do a little bit of surveillance and see what we could catch on camera while we were away.  We attached Aaron's wildlife motion sensor camera to the back of a kitchen chair and aimed it at the cat door, and then left to enjoy a great weekend in the White Mountains. We anxiously gathered around the computer when we got home Sunday night to see if we had captured footage of the beast, but alas, this weekend was a quiet one with only 39 photos of Wendell coming and going. We did however notice that Wendell had left at noon on Saturday and hadn't been home since. Monday morning he still wasn't home, and I had a very distraught little girl on my hands. We were out looking for him in the woods and along the road, but no signs of our orange cat. This prompted lots of questions about where he could be, what animals could come in our house, what happens to cats when they die, etc. It was a stressful morning and we thought for sure we'd lost Wendell.

Then our neighbor called with great news- they had heard a cat crying and followed the sound to discover Wendell stuck 40 feet up a tree! We were so glad he was alive, but now how the hell would we get him down?! He has a habit of climbing trees (just last week he was stuck in a tree over a different neighbor's house next to a hornet's nest getting stung repeatedly, but found his way down on his own), but never this high. There was no way he was coming down on his own this time that I could see. My neighbor offered to call the fire department, but I didn't think they were really in the business of rescuing cats. Luckily I was wrong. Before I knew it, there was the loud sound of a huge fire truck backing down our dirt road, followed by reinforcements in another truck. I wanted our cat rescued, but I was also thinking, "Oh God, I can't imagine what this is going to cost, how am I going to explain this to Aaron?!" The two firemen that had come to our rescue kindly hoisted a huge extension ladder into the tree and after much readjusting and coaxing of our nervous cat, they convinced him to climb into Aaron's beer brewing bucket. When my neighbor asked the firefighter if they rescued cats on a regular basis, he said, "No. In fact, this is only the second time I've done it in my three years as fire chief. In fact, come to think of it, the last time was on this road too." Uh-oh. We are the only people with a cat on our road. Then he said, "Wait, was this the cat I rescued last time?!!" That's when I remembered that Wendell had gotten himself stuck in a tree for 4 days when we went to Italy a few years ago and our neighbors were looking after him, and they called the fire department. Man did I feel like a total moron. I apologized profusely for my cat's climbing habit but they shrugged it off and said there would be no charge, I should just keep paying my taxes. So, we found our cat, but have yet to solve the case of the mysterious house beast...stay tuned! Also, Wendell is going to the vet on Friday to get a snazzy pair of vet-recommended Soft Paws glued onto his front claws, which should keep him from any more zany high-jinx for a little while.

This is all an amusing story, but part of the reason I am sharing it is that I was reminded yesterday of several things: 1. How wonderful the kindness of strangers can be. 2. That you just never know what random situations you will find yourself juggling from day to day. 3. That Wendell is an irreplaceable part of our family and I am grateful that his time with us is not yet through. He's been at the bottom of our family totem pole since the girls have been born, but I when I thought we'd lost him I was reminded of how much he means to us, bad habits and all!

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