I have always had a soft spot for animals. In fact, I have often joked that I like animals more than people. As a teenager, I once slept in the laundry room floor with a cat I rescued, complete with fleas, until my parents agreed to let me keep her. When I was teaching at a small rural school, I brought a stray dog home and consequently had to keep him in an outdoor storage room until I rehomed him (our cat was not pleased and he was not coming in the house). As time has gone by, and life has gotten busier, I tend to keep blinders on with sad animal situations….letting someone else deal with it has become my default.
However, the past year, I have managed to reluctantly rescue, get vet care for, and rehome a small puppy, find homes for a couple of abandoned black labs, and coordinate a Facebook rescue of a stray dog that was hanging out at one of the elementary schools in town. The lab rescue in particular was aided and abetted by my younger daughter Abby, who loves all creatures great and small but particularly those in need. So when she texted me from school Thursday afternoon saying she had found a kitten in the school parking lot, I knew I was in for some rescue drama.
School was out for the day but Abby had to stay after for musical rehearsal. The first text I received when I was leaving work was that she had found a kitten in the parking lot. After some back and forth, she admitted that it wasn’t a “tiny” kitten but he was young and small. With my other daughter acting as text liaison while I drove home, I adamantly and repeatedly told her we could NOT keep a cat (we have three) and it probably had a home near the school. That is when the sprinkles of rain began hitting the windshield.
By the time I arrived home, the drizzle had become a steady rain and, in an effort to get me to the school, the texts had changed tone from keeping the cat to simply “riding around and finding his home”. Still picturing a tiny cat in the cold rain, I grabbed an old towel and headed up to the school, knowing that rehoming a “small cat” during kitten season would be about as easy as rehoming a rabid possum with a meth habit. Nearly to the school, I received a text saying that she didn’t see him anymore and I had my fingers crossed that he had gone back to the place from whence he came. Driving up, I scoped out the blissfully cat free parking lot. Abby came out of the building and went to the back of the car to get an umbrella. I then heard “there he is!” and he next thing I knew, she was sitting in the passenger seat. With a fully grown, in no way a kitten, slightly damp, decidedly male CAT.
I believe my exact words were “get that cat out of my car!” but the damage had been done. She was determined that we would “find his home”. So away we drove, in the rain, with a strange cat who no doubt was panicking that he was being taken to the dreaded second location in kidnapping lore. In all the years I have lived in this area, I have never been the neighborhood we could see through the tree line but we eventually found the right street of houses. It was at this point that I truly questioned my sanity. Number one, while not feral (he was being too calm), this was likely an outdoor cat, used to coming and going as he pleased. What were the chances we would find the right house? Number two, it was four in the afternoon – many people would not be even home at this time of day?
As we slowly drove down the road, we spotted a man in his garage with his adorable Boxer puppy. I thought about offering him a mangy wet cat in trade but figured the offer would be rejected. I briefly explained the situation and he came out to the car to take a look – nope, he didn’t know who he belonged to but “that cat has been living in the neighborhood a while.” Success! We at least had the right area. He then referred us a few houses down to “that guy with the Jeeps who has some cats.”
So off we went and luckily “the guy with the Jeeps” was home. No, it wasn’t his cat either but thank the Lord and all that is good and holy, he not only recognized him but he had a “cat door” in his garage and this particular cat used his home as a hotel and restaurant when he felt the need to refuel. Our catnapping victim apparently had lived in his neighborhood for a couple of years. However, there was a cat was sitting in the window of the home who was not pleased with the vagabond we brought to his front door. Same with our rescue, who was hissing and began clawing at Abby to put him down. As soon as she did, he bounded a few yards away. We thanked Jeep/Cat Man and went back to the car.
Although not as pleased to have simply returned the cat to his neighborhood as she would have been to have returned him to a loving single home, Abby deemed the rescue mission a success. There were many a “see, I told you?” and other gloats that she had in fact, taken him back where he belonged. It was at this point when she told me that she and her friends at the rehearsal had been called him Petey Sewers as he was “trying to get in the sewer” (meaning the drainage culvert in the parking lot). I tried not to think of all the weird cat germs that she had brought into my immediate vicinity. Mission accomplished, we drove back to the school to get her things she had left when she bailed on rehearsal and then headed home for the day.
It’s a fact of life, especially in the rural area in which we live, that people have “outdoor cats” and while it isn’t the best of situations, I feel comfortable that this cat does have folks watching out for him. But more importantly, I am proud of Abby. She has a huge heart and empathy for animals. Her tenacity and stubbornness, while making it difficult in some aspects of our relationship, serves her well in situations such as this. Never change Abby…I think you are awesome. And so, probably, does Petey Sewers.
Karri Temple Brackett
April 20, 2019