A cat-tastrophe in the making

Published 11:34 am Thursday, February 22, 2024

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Mr. Yow is in the house!!

Correction: Mr. Yow was in the house.

Alright, what actually happened is, by following the North Star, cat number six showed up at the Funny Farm—and I swear I didn’t create this by jinxing myself and saying, “Gee, it’s been a while since a stray has shown up.”

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And, of course, you know that as soon as you name them, they ain’t going nowhere.

But it was my thought that Mr. Yow, so named because he would encircle the house yowling, might make a good barn cat as it’s become apparent that he’s been living beneath Paul’s woodshop for the last couple of weeks. There is no way I’m taking a sixth cat within our already cramped cabin, but I try not to neglect to show hospitality to strangers in case I might be entertaining angels unaware. While Mr. Yow wasn’t sporting a halo, he is a fellow creature of creation and deserving of comfort on these cold winter nights. 

Each evening as it grew dark, I would hear his distinctive ‘Yow’ beneath our front deck, and so I put out a cat crate with a thick, fleecy throw inside, a generous bowl of kibble and another bowl of water. Within three days I could sit on the top step and stroke his gray tabby back, streaked with inky markings, as he gobbled his dinner before hanging around the crate for a bit and then heading back to the woodshop.

On the fourth night, quite late, I heard him well after his evening feed, and Paul, switching on the porch light, was startled to see Mr. Yow directly in front of our glass storm door giving very much the impression that he wanted in. 

“Put a can of tuna on the floor and I’ll open the door and shut it after he’s inside,” said Paul. It was getting quite late, but if Mr. Yow was willing, we’d lure him in, then put him in the bathroom for the night before taking him to the vet in the morning for the removal of his junior Mr. Yows.

“OK, but realize he’s going to have to be a barn cat,” I replied firmly.

“We can talk about that later,” said Paul.

Sighing, I opened the front door, placed the food on the floor, and stepped back into the kitchen. Mr. Yow tentatively approached the threshold, sniffed around a bit, and minute by shivering minute as the cold penetrated the cabin, he slowly advanced toward the tantalizing tuna. Paul, however, made the mistake of then shutting the door prematurely, before Mr. Yow was feeling secure within his choice of entering this strange enclosure.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a squirrel trapped in your house, but it was something akin to that. Mr. Yow, in a complete panic, climbed the front wall of our A-frame by scrambling up the window frames, howling, until he balanced himself on the very top one, some twelve feet off the ground, clawing at the window and yowling at the top of his lungs.

“Put on those leather gauntlets you use in the rose garden,” I cautioned, “and open the front door. He’s too freaked out. He’s going to break everything in the house. Let’s let him get back outside.”

Still believing he could make peace with our hostage, Paul was determined to give him a warm room for the night. I dismissed myself from the situation—it had been a long day. I was cold and tired, and two dogs and five cats, who’d been clawing at the bedroom door since I’d locked them all in, were happy to have me join them in bed. I didn’t even have to sleep on the floor this time.

I could hear Paul downstairs, speaking soothingly to Mr. Yow, and can only assume he’d actually gotten his leather-shod hands on the cat as what I heard next was a crash, then a bang, and Mr. Yow screaming with indignity.

I turned on Mozart’s Concerto #23 to muffle the noise and my own terror of family heirlooms being smashed to smithereens atop the mantlepiece. I gotta hand it to Paul: when he’s determined, he doesn’t give up until he’s accomplished his goal. And I gotta hand it to Mr. Yow who feels likewise. 

As the second movement of Mozart’s concerto (interestingly, the only piece he ever composed in F-sharp minor) floated through the air, Mr. Yow screeched as if he were on fire, there was another crash that sounded like shattering glass, followed by Paul bellowing, “OW! FUUUDGE!!” (I know, right?) and finally, the front door was slammed shut.

“What happened?” I asked, peering out the bedroom door while pushing the dogs back with my leg.

Paul was peeling off his gauntlets before addressing a trickle of blood.

“He’s back outside,” he said. 

He then firmly added, “And he’s going to have to be a barn cat.”