My sister Wendy brought her cats with her when she came home for Christmas last Friday. She origionally said that she wouldn't, they didn't like long car rides she said, and it turns out that she shouldn't have.
She lives with two cats at her Omaha apartment, a four-year-old male named Freddie and a two-year-old female named Arial. Sometimes she loads them up in little pet-transports and brings them to North Platte for the holidays, sometimes not. This year she decided at the last minute to bring them.
One reason she was weary to bring them, unstated out of politeness, is my parents dogs, Trucker and Taz. They're not that big, but they are very hyperactive and abusive towards cats.
So my sister comes home, lets the cats out of their little plastic igloos and heads back out to her car to get the rrest of her stuff. The dogs spent a few minutes circling the cats like sharks before Arial finally lost her cool and bolted. With Taz chasing her She ran through the house through the pet door into the garage, through the garage to the back door, into the backyard, over the fence and out into the night in a total of five seconds.
Nobody was worried at first. This was a house cat, after all, she wouldn't run far. So we all put on our coats, grabbed some flashlights and confidently strode out into the alley. Sure enough, we found Arial in about five minutes, hiding in a wood pile about about a block down the alley from our front yard. My sister reached out for her, but the cat was still agitated, and zipped out of sight just as quickly as she had ran out of the house.
We spent another hour or two searching the junk piles scattered about the block. (There is at least one junk pile for every average-size family in North Platte.) But we got too cold, and at any rate I had drinking to do. So Arial was left to fend for herself in the winter cold.
Now Wendy is something of a misinthrope (She's a smart woman, after all) and her cats are just about the only company she has. (Well okay, maybe that's not so smart.) She was rather distraught, proclaiming her failure in life and her failure as a person, so dramatic. I treated her the same way I treat every woman in distress. I ignored her and than started laughing at her as soon as she was out of view.
Things seemed bleak for Arial. She was a housecat, who never stepped outside of her West Omaha apartment. There was a major street about a block north of our house, where cars whiz by at fourty m.p.h., and Arial of course knew nothing of traffic. She didn't have the slightest idea of how to catch a mouse or a squiral to feed herself, and though the weather wasn't quite cold enough to freeze a furry mammal, there was no telling when it would snow again. The cat was as good as dead, any reasonible person could see this.
Wendy made up some flyers and put them up around the neighborhood. My parents computer is very old (There's no gurantee that I'll finish this before it freezes) so she couldn't download any pictures of Arial on to the posters. She just had to describe the what she looked like, black on top, white on bottom, much like Pepi Le'Pues rape victim.
Over the next couple of days, several people called us at three or four in the morning to say that they had seen a cat matching Arial's description about ten blocks west of our house. I don't know why all the calls came at this time of night, North Platte has no night life to speak of. It was up to me of course to take the calls and field the messages, and remembering what to tell my sister what I had heard while high on opium was rather difficult.
So on Christmas Eve the whole family went out to this part of town to put up more flyers and see if we could spot the cat. After a few minutes of wondering around we did see a black cat dart across the street about half a block ahead of us. We raced foward to the spot and found the cat hiding under somebody's truck. Wendy got out, leaned under the truck, and called out sweetly to her beloved. Her beloved responded by zipping out and running a block up the street before hiding under another truck.
We drove up to this truck, my sister got out and... same thing. This went on for an hour or so. Come to think of it, this cat didn't seem very thin, didn't seem very scared, except of us, seemed to be rather indifferent to it's own filthiness. In other words, it didn't look or act anything like a lost housecat.
We eventually gave up. My mom urged everyone to think positive, as she often does. "That was Arial and she's just skittish after being outside for a few days, and look at how well she's taking care of herself."
Don't be an idiot mom. It was obvious that we spent the last hour harrasing a stray cat fo no reason. We were cold, there was melted snow in our shoes, Arial had probably been dead for two days, and the people calling us at three in the morning were meth-addled morons.
I actually wish that was the end of the story. Because the actual end, while happy, is rather boring.
Arial came back on Wendsday, simply walked back the same way she ran out and mewed for food. She was, of course, nothing but fur and ribs, but alive and in one piece. Some might call it a Christmas miracle. You know, the same people who say that God gives kids cancer just to show that he can cure it if he wants to, or not.
So we gave her a bowl of food and a bowl of water and locked her up in a spare room away from the dogs. My sister had returned to Omaha some six hours earlier (take that miracle pimps) so it's up to me to take Arial back home to the filthy east. We've put some air holes into a vodka box for the trip. Arial won't be able to see a thing and she'll get tossed around a bit. That's what she gets for running away.
Last night, she wanted to come out of her fortress of solitude after the dogs had gone to bed with my parents. So I put the cover over the pet door and let her out. A couple hours later, I heard a lot of floor-scuffing and mewing coming from the kitchen.
I went out and found Arial bashing herself against the covers trying to free herself from a glue mousetrap. The trap had two very dead victims on it and apparantly the cat thought it would be a good idea to give herself the plague.
I had never been trained to remove a glue trap from a cat. So I was in a bit of a panic. I grabbed a bottle of rum from the cupboard, thinking that the alcohol might thin the glue. Then I realized that this was moronic. I calmed down and took a look at where Arials feet were stuck. One foot was attached by just a toe, the other had the fur pressed in the glue, but the skin was free. A pair of scissors and a steady eye would be enough to free her.
So I found a pair of scissors and held the cat over the sink. She had never stopped thrashing. If she didn't stop moving, I might accidentaly cut a foot off. If she scratched me again, I would do it on purpose.
Ten minutes, snip, snip, stop thrashing damn you, snip, snip, Left foot not as dainty as before, snip, snip, oh Christ I touched the mouse and it's liquifying.
The cat was free, I put i on the ground to panickly run around in circles, her usual reaction to trouble. I doused my hands in rum and spent the next ten minutes washing them with soap and water to get the dead mouse off. Tomarrow I'm bringing Arial home to Omaha in her vodka-box jail and that will be the end of the family Christmas season, and I hope that you and your family had a heart-warming Christmas and that you get laid on New Year's.
See you in 2007.