A Purr-fect Pardon
“Can you believe she’s trapping cats?” I asked my next-door neighbor, Carol.
“What do you mean?” asked Carol.
“Yesterday, she stopped by and asked me for a description of my cat and wrote it down on a yellow legal pad like she thinks she’s captain of the Cat Police. Said she was headed straight to the pound to get a trap and warned me to keep my cat off her property. “
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Who would drive an hour and a half round trip just to pick up a pet trap?”
“She’d better not trap my Hobo. Maybe she doesn’t like his loud meow, but… poor old boy.. he’s so deaf he can’t hear his own voice anymore.”
A few days later, while I soaked in a hot tub, I heard Carol frantically telling my answering machine, “She’s trapped a cat, and it’s a big black and white tuxedo. Looks like Hobo. If no one claims him in half an hour, she’s taking him to the pound. You’re not answering and I don’t know what to do. “
We’ll see about that, I thought, as I quickly ran a towel over my body and slid some jeans over my damp legs. I finished dressing and ran out the door and down the street, where I found her standing proudly next to a cage containing a big tuxedo cat, his fur standing out like porcupine quills and his eyes wide with fear. He looked bigger than ever.
“Hobo,” I asked, “are you all right, buddy?”
“Your cat?” she asked, visibly disappointed to have been caught in the act of trapping my pet.
“Looks like him,” I said, “but the poor thing’s so scared it’s hard to tell for sure.”
I bent down to open the cage as a worn leather boot firmly planted itself in front of the wire door.
“Don’t let him out unless you’re sure he’s yours!” she said, her face turning red. “I’m plenty tired of all these nasty felines doing their business in my rose garden and howling under my bedroom window.”
I realized that if I wanted to save Hobo from this vicious woman, I’d have to act quickly and take him to the safety of my home. I grabbed the handle of the cage and hurried towards my house. The cat shifted as I picked up the cage, making the lopsided load difficult to carry. I walked as fast as I could, but the trapper, not burdened by a heavy crate, easily matched my pace.
“You sure it’s your cat?” she asked, raising her left eyebrow and striking an almighty pose. “If it’s not, he’s going to the pound. This one yowls so I can hear him for a block. I want to be sure he’s yours before I release him.”
“Oh, he’s mine, all right. And you’ve scared six of his nine lives right out of him.”
I reached the door of my house, flung it open, and released the door of the cage. The cat saw his opportunity to escape. He raced from the cage to the spare bedroom. I handed the neighbor the empty cage and slammed the door shut between us.
The cat was free, but it would take time for him to recover from the trauma. I lay on my tile floor, peering under the bed through dust bunnies and plastic army men left by the grandchildren, staring into pure fear.
“Come out, Hobo,” I said, but he wouldn’t budge. I slowly reached my hand towards him but brought it back quickly to reveal a long, bloody scratch.
“Poor boy” I said. “You’re so scared. You’ve never scratched me before. I’ll just leave you alone and let you calm down.”
I set his food and water bowl near the bed, and added a bribe of canned tuna to entice him out of his hiding place. I left the room, softly shutting the door behind me, and called my husband to give him a full report.
When he came home from work, he went into the room and called loudly to Hobo. There was no response. He looked under the bed. Hobo was not there. He searched the closet, looked between teddy bears and building blocks, and still couldn’t find him. The cat had vanished from a closed room!
We gave up and went to dinner. Upon our return, my husband opened the bedroom door and searched again for our old friend. Coming from the area of the bed, we heard a faint plea for help ….unlike Hobo’s usual loud bellow. Still, we couldn’t find him. We pulled off the bedspread and the pillows. No Hobo. We pulled off the sheets. No Hobo. Finally, as a last resort, we removed the mattress. There he was, between the mattress and the box springs, looking like a cartoon character that had been flattened by a steamroller.
I left the room while my husband firmly held our terrified cat, petted his shiny black coat, and repeated calming words.
Movement outside the living room glass door caught my attention. There, begging with loud meows, was our Hobo.
What? Then whose cat was in the bedroom?
My husband opened the bedroom window and shut the bedroom door to allow the mystery cat to escape and return home. But the next morning, he was still there. We left the window open and waited. We checked again, but fear had glued him to the spot.
In the afternoon, I went to town. When I returned, a neighbor who lived a block away was walking away from my house, her arms folded protectively around a big black and white tuxedo cat, while our Hobo slept peacefully in his favorite corner of the couch.
Hobo would never know I’d hopped out of a hot bath to save him from a trip to the pound. The old fellow lived in his silent world a few more years, talking to us in his loud voice, and enjoying the security of his home. The neighbor never again trapped cats. The other tuxedo cat, too, lived out his life in the neighborhood. The trapper’s roses bloomed profusely, and I like to think the tuxedo cats had something to do with that.