Saturday, January 2, 2016

That One Time I Tried To Save A Cat...

I used to have a cat.

She was a slight little thing, mottled white and grey, with an oddly colored pink nose and delicate pointed ears.

She was an 'indoor' cat, rarely let out because at the time we lived quite near a large road that I didn't credit her with enough sense to successfully cross.

Right off our dining room, there was a sliding glass door that led out into our back garden, and one day, about seven or eight years ago now, there appeared a chubby brown tomcat, with moth-eaten ears and a face like a stone.

He sat just outside my sliding glass door, making what were clearly indelicate proposals toward my feline, who, to my horror, appeared to be encouraging these advances.

I chased him off on more than one occasion, and, though he fled, there was a sort of bumbling dignity about the way he scampered toward the property line. And he always favoured me with a sour look that communicated quite clearly that I was beneath him.

The effect was that while he was obviously a disgusting creature of base moral standing, he was somewhat likeable in his own way.

His appearances became more and more frequent, until it was clear that he had no permanent home and had finally decided to establish his base camp in my back yard, just beneath a dogwood tree.

Every morning, I expected him to leave, but he carried on courting my brainless cat for at least 45 days until I realized that I had to put a stop to it.

Now, I had been very careful up to this point not to offer any food to the creature, knowing full well that it represents the thin end of the wedge, and that, for any animal, the first act of subjugating a human host is to entice it to feed you.

I resisted valiantly, expecting this chubby little ball of cheese to clear off as a result. However, other, more revolting needs kept him lurking perpetually close.

In the end, I resolved to offer him the food, but only by way of luring him into a trap. Setting out a cat carrier (a plastic box with a sort of barred door set into it on a hinge), I opened a can of tuna fish and placed it inside, nodding enticingly toward the cat as I did so, and assuring it, in a soothing tone, that I meant to trap it and convey it to the authorities, making it someone else's problem.

I then busied myself around the corner, feigning disinterest as to whether this creature ate the offered food or ignored it.

I have yet to meet a cat that does not register an immediate and irresistible interest in a freshly opened can of tuna fish. Nobody's fool, he of course lingered for a few minutes, eyeing me suspiciously.

However, in the end, he stealthily scampered over to the trough and began to fortify himself with evident relish. Such was his distraction that he did not notice that I had crept up behind him and closed the bars on the carrier until after he had finished his meal.

Upon discovering his predicament, however, I can tell you that he was not amused.

He began to make a hideous bawling noise that made my face pucker. But I remained firm in my plan, and moved on to the next stage.

You see, I am not entirely without a heart and I was reticent to simply take this misguided animal to the pound as I know that the poor unfortunates that end up there very frequently find themselves on the precipice of an awful doom.

I figured that this cat had to belong to someone. I would therefore do my utmost to establish a reunion betwixt master and wayward pet.

And so, I turned to that bastion of free advertising on the internet: Craigslist.

I took several pictures of this unhappy tabby, by then resigned to his place in the crate, and posted them online, with a bit of text that read something like:

Is this your cat? He has been living in my back yard for over a month now and I'm going to leave this ad online for five days before I take him to the pound, where his life will most certainly be forfeit. Heck, even if this ISN'T your cat, you're free to have him. I'd prefer not to deliver him into mortal peril, so as long as he goes to a decent home, I'm cool with that.”

At this point, I'm sure I leaned back from the keyboard, thoroughly satisfied by the good deed I had done and imagining the cat either cautiously exploring his new and decidedly suitable home, or being squeezed tightly by some tearful toddler while I received a joyous handshake and thankful smile from this youth's guardian, lost for words when contemplating my generosity of spirit.

I was somewhat disheartened, therefore, when a beep on my phone alerted me to an email in response to my ad.

It was from some other anonymous internet do-gooder, entirely ignoring the subtext of my internet ad – vis, that I wanted to ditch this cat entirely – and suggesting that I could keep him as a much loved pet.

I ignored the email, tutting to myself that some people could be such numbskulls, and went about my business.

I soon learned, however, that this lunatic was not alone in the world, as my phone beeped repeatedly at me over the next several hours, each time, it was some new loon making a similar suggestion.

I cast a jaundiced eye over each successive message, disdain slowly spreading across my face.

All these hippy dippy weirdos were happily suggesting that I keep the beast myself, many going so far as to delineate the negligible costs of having the animal inoculated at the vet and suggest that my life would be one of inexplicable joy from that day onward, should I only choose to make this creature my trusted friend and companion.

Days passed.

Many more emails came in.

Each followed this same theme.

My patience, sorely tested, eventually gave way and I saw that I would have to apply more pressure to these legions of cat-lovers who didn't want to own this particular edition.

Seeing little choice in the matter, I amended my ad. It now read:

Is this your cat? He has been living in my back yard for over a month now and I'm going to leave this ad online for five days before I take him to the pound, where his life will most certainly be forfeit. Heck, even if this ISN'T your cat, you're free to have him. I'd prefer not to deliver him into mortal peril, so as long as he goes to a decent home, I'm cool with that.

Some FUN facts about this cat:

  • He can hold his breath for nearly two and a half minutes.
  • He can survive falls of over 28 feet.
  • He is HIGHLY flammable.
  • He can go at least 8 days without food.
  • He can tell if you mix gasoline in with his water and won't drink it (anymore).
  • He is NOT a strong swimmer, but he made it nevertheless.
  • He is now, due to a string of misunderstandings, HIGHLY suspicious of human beings."

I want to emphasize that none of the above 'fun facts' were true. They made me laugh as I wrote them, but they weren't true. Or, they may have been at least, but I had taken no steps to test their veracity. I simply wanted the reader to exclude from their reasoning the possibility that this cat could conceivably enjoy a happy life in my company. Once life with me was excluded as an option, I figured I could look forward to a series of emails from people eager to offer safety and peace of mind to this animal.

I was dismayed to find that my ironclad logic again failed to yield the anticipated results.

Inexplicably, subsequent to this amendment in my advertisement, the tone of the emails I received changed. Instead of excited offers to welcome this furry little monster into a new and happy home as I had hoped, the emails were mostly threats, laced liberally with intensely graphic swears.

I mean it.

The sort of imaginative profanity that is reserved for the worst people on the planet.

Apparently, deep down, hippies are angry people.

I replied to each with a simple, “Do you want the cat or not?”

The responses I received were unprintable.

And so, eventually, the fifth day passed and my ad expired – along with my hopes of finding its owner.

Still, I could not bring myself to deliver the thing into the hands of the government. And so I put it in my car, drove it across the bridge, and set it free in a quiet neighbourhood near a very nice park near where my parents lived.

I don't know who eventually adopted him, but I saw him intermittently for years afterward when I'd drive out to visit family. I'm pretty sure I thought to myself that one day I'd write a blog post about him.

And now I have.


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