Alright, so our neighbor asked us to take care of her cats while she is out of town for the holidays. No problem, right? We don’t know her cats, but we are cat people, and Mara was interested in the job, plus, we are good neighbors, so we said yes, of course. The first day we arrive and one of the cats scratches Mara’s leg when we walk in the kitchen. “Whoa”, says Mara. She imagined that she stepped on the cat, but I don’t think she did. I read a note left by our neighbor.
-The gray and white cat’s name is ___ and is nice. You can pet him. The stripe-y cat’s name is _____. DON’T PET THIS ONE!!! He can get a little psycho.
Hmmm… I thought to myself smugly :”I’m a cat person, and cats know that about me”, but nevertheless, I decided to stay away from stripe-y.
The next day we feed the cats, fish and gerbils without incident.
So today rolls around, and I am trying to get myself and the girls ready to go ice skating with my niece, their cousin Katie. (We are running late, as usual.) Getting dressed warmly, eating a good breakfast and lunch, making sure everyone gets their teeth brushed, packing snacks, feeding the cats their raw meat with Chinese herbs (that’s for another post), planting wheat, barley, oats and rye to turn into cat grass for our cats -why this morning? I’m not quite sure. During all of this, Mara reminds me that we need to go feed the neighbor’s cats, and she says she wants to do it by herself, since it is her job. I allow it, thinking that Mara needs the responsibility, and it will boost her self-esteem to do this on her own. I have every intention of stopping by the house on the way to the skating rink to make sure everything is in order. Millie and I continue working on the cat grass project.
Suddenly Mara flies through the front door, yelling: “Mom, there’s a problem! Finn got out and I can’t get him back in!!” Me: “Is Finn the stripe-y one?” Mara: “Yes!”. Oh crap! I run through the house and throw my boots on and rush out the door as Mara is yelling to me that the last place she saw the cat was under the porch.
I go at top speed up our ridiculously steep hill, up the narrow and treacherous steps that lead to our neighbor’s house – my adrenalin is surging – I’m imagining LOSING our neighbor’s cat, and trying to explain it to her. I look around, I go in the house and look around (I’m not sure why I did this, maybe to make sure some other catastrophe hadn’t also taken place?), and I go back outside. THERE HE IS!!! walking around a short distance away looking a little nervous, which is how he normally looks. I call to him in a sweet voice: “Kitty Kitty Kitty”, holding out my hand. He looks at me with big, wide eyes, and comes running toward me. I feel elated and relieved. He’s coming! He’s coming right to me! And he lunges for my hand and tears at it with his razor sharp claws. Then he runs off. As I stand there in pain and in shock, I notice my cell phone is ringing. It’s Mara calling me from home. She wants to know if she can do anything to help.
I look down at my hand and notice that my fingers are dripping with blood. I tell her to get a pair of Daddy’s work gloves and bring them to me. Which ones? she asks. I tell her the thickest she can find. In the meantime, I go in the house and grab a thick towel from the bathroom. I picture myself throwing the towel over Stripe-y, wadding him up like a burrito, and shoving him in the house. Mara arrives and asks what I’m doing with the towel. “Nothing. Give me the gloves.” Mara guesses correctly what my plan is. I tell her to go to the porch by the front door. I then see Stripe-y near the side of the house. He is looking at me and slowly walking away. I call to him, and he stops and looks at me with those big wide eyes. I approach, and as quickly and as deftly as I can, I throw the towel on top of him and attempt to bundle him. He easily wriggles free and runs under a bush in front of the house. I call to him. He doesn’t come out. I tell Mara to give me the broom. She says that that would have been her plan as well. She goes back to her post at the front door. I start to smack the bush (NOT the cat!) with the broom and make loud hissing and shooing noised, kind of like a wicked witch, and Stripe-y runs out toward the front door. I yell, “MARA, OPEN THE DOOR!!!” She does at just the right moment, and Stripe-y runs inside. I go in and put the towel back, and we leave, locking the door and checking it twice. All of this happened in a matter of minutes. When we got back home, Millie was happily playing with refrigerator magnets. I look at our cats, who are calm and collected, and I feel grateful.
Both girls oohed and ahhed over my bloody wounds. We made it to the skating rink about an hour and a half late, and had a GREAT time with cousin Katie.