Lucy frequently barks at things she sees out the windows. School children walking to and from the bus stop. Runners. Dog walkers. Squirrels in the yard. Turkeys in the yard. (Yes, really. But just that one time.)
Last evening, Lucy was gazing out the window of the front door and began to bark and howl, whine, cry and dance like a dog possessed.
“What the heck,” I said, leaving my skillet of Sloppy Joes in the making to investigate. Jake came to the front window just as I did. There we saw Neighbor Bob out in his front yard with Jack, the German Shorthair. And in the middle of the front yard was a cat. The cat and Jack were running circles around each other, Jack trying to play with (or eat) the cat, the cat trying to fend off Jack. Each time Jack tried to approach the cat, Neighbor Bob pressed a button on a remote control which shocked poor Jack who howled profusely which sent Lucy into further fits.
I slipped on my jacket and walked across the street to see if I could help. While Neighbor Bob secured Jack in his back yard kennel, I approached the cat that was now sitting in the middle of the front yard, breathing heavily. Bob came back just as the cat was hissing at me, warning me not to come close.
“Do you know whose cat this might be,” I asked him?
“No idea,” he said. “Maybe nobody’s.”
There are a lot of feral cats in this area. They tend to stay closer to the many ponds and wooded areas, but sometimes one will run through the neighborhood. They tend to be small and skinny and extremely skittish. The cat in Neighbor Bob’s yard did not appear to be feral. He was too pretty and filled out. I was sure he was someone’s pet, but I couldn’t see a collar and he wouldn’t let me near without hissing. I wasn’t up for getting bit, and I told Bob so. He said he wasn’t either and thanked me for trying to help.
I went back in the house to finish dinner. Not long afterwards, I was looking out the front window and saw Neighbor Bob in his front yard with a broom, shooing away the stray cat. The cat alternately pitched and ran and made it as far as across the street. To my yard. Where he found refuge under the deck steps between the chain link fence and a sizable shrub. I went outside once again to check on the cat, now huddled underneath the steps. Neighbor Bob stood in my front yard with his broom, apologizing for sending the cat my way.
I didn’t want to mess with any more of Neighbor Bob’s crazy antics, so I said not to worry and to just leave the cat. The cat was outside of the fence that surrounds our back yard, but close enough to Lucy’s play area to make her crazy when she went outside. And something was clearly wrong with the cat. He wasn’t leaving in spite of all of the commotion. I decided to keep Lucy in the house long enough to let the cat wander off again. But since Lucy’s stomach was still bothering her, I knew I couldn’t keep her inside indefinitely.
I told myself not to think about the cat. I told myself not to worry about the cat. We’ve had enough pet issues recently. I couldn’t afford to take on another pet, especially one who wouldn’t let me near him anyway and one who might be sick or injured.
I checked after an hour. Cat was still hiding out under the steps.
I checked again sometime later, taking a closer look. Cat was still hiding out under the steps. In the rocks. In the cold. With icy snowflakes beginning to fall and a snowstorm on its way.
I told myself not to think about the cat again, but all I could think is how if he were my pet and out on his own, I’d want someone to care for him. I found a box and lined it with towels, hoping Cat would let me get it under the steps so he could get inside. He hissed when I came near, but I could see him shivering, so I knew he was cold. So I just placed the box as near as I could to Cat with the opening where he could see it.
I went back in the house and told myself not to think about Cat as I was getting him some of Tigger’s food. I brought the food out to the deck steps and Cat hissed at me again as I approached, but he allowed me to put the food in the box. I went back inside, then came out again a while later to peek at him and he was eating.
All I could think was that a snow storm was coming and Cat was going to be dead under my steps in the morning.
And I couldn’t let Lucy outside because she’d go nuts and anger the neighbors with babies on either side of our house. I decided I had to do something.
Not my stray cat, but he looked like this one
A series of phone calls led me to the county animal control agency who assured me that Cat could be picked up and taken to the Humane Society. I didn’t know if this was the best solution for him, but it would be better than letting him suffer and/or die in the cold overnight. Animal Control said they’d send someone out. It was not who I expected. Turns out we don’t have any type of Animal Control services after 7:00 pm in this city. Instead, I got a police officer who was not equipped to remove or transport Cat. Instead, he proceeded to lecture me about how I shouldn’t provide shelter and I shouldn’t provide food and water. He was not on board with my animal loving instincts. He said that I could probably get someone to remove Cat in the morning and for now, I should just leave Cat out there without the box, without the food and without the water.
“Okay,” I said. “But I think the cat is sick or hurt and I can’t let my dog out.”
He said that Cat didn’t look sick or injured to him. Again I was given the same spiel about help being available in the morning. “Just leave him there for now. Don’t feed him. Blah, blah, blah.”
“Yes, I know,” I sighed. “But I can’t let my dog out. But whatever. I’ll figure it out.”
He left, reminding me again. No shelter. No food. No water. I closed the front door behind him and muttered, “Asshole.”
Maybe he felt my disdain. Maybe he felt guilty. Whatever he felt, he was compelled to go the extra mile after he left. My phone rang and the officer informed me he was on his way back with a kennel and if he could get the cat, he would take him to the Humane Society. And true to his word, he arrived within minutes and came out of his truck with a kennel. He managed to get Cat on the first try. As I watched out the window, he gave me a thumbs up and put the kennel in the back seat of his vehicle. I poked my head out the door and shouted, “Thank you!”
I didn’t feel great about the whole thing. I know what happens to cats that go to the Humane Society and who don’t get claimed or adopted. But at least he didn’t suffer out in the cold overnight. I hope that if he has a family, they find him again. But really, I just have to try not to think too much about him.