I woke up at 5:30 in the morning to the sound of a cat crying. I tried to roll over and go back to sleep.
“Meeeee-rooooooooow! Meeeee-rooooooooow! Meeeee-rooooooooow!” It continued for several minutes. I decided I better go see what was wrong with Darling, our 14-year-old rag doll cat, before his moaning woke up everyone in the house. Judging from the sound of things he was about to give up the last of his nine lives.
Five-thirty in the morning, or any time before 9 a.m. for that matter, is not my finest hour. It takes a hot shower, several ounces of strong coffee and 30 minutes of dazed listening to dopey morning TV news anchor banter before I’m completely cognizant. So when I went out to investigate the feline wailing coming from my living room, I was not fully in control of all my mental capacities.
As I walked down the hallway, I saw Darling in all his fluffy gray and white long-haired glory sitting on his haunches at the foot of the couch. “Meeeee-rooooooooow! Meeeee-rooooooooow! Meeeee-rooooooooow!” Darling didn’t open his tiny mouth or even flinch a muscle as the sharp sound again pierced the room where sunlight was just beginning to glow through the gaps in the curtains. My mind, still clouded with the pea-soup of slumber, couldn’t reconcile how the cat was making noise without moving.
As I began to wonder if our cat suddenly became skilled at ventriloquism the noise came again. “Meeeee-rooooooooow! Meeeee-rooooooooow! Meeeee-rooooooooow!” My brain, finally warming up to a rough idle, directed my droopy eyes up to what Darling was looking at from his position on the floor. Reclining on the couch was another cat.
Slowly understanding began to build.
I’ve — where have I seen that cat?
That’s the stay that’s been prowling around….
There’s a stray cat in the house!
And then I realized I left the garage door open the evening before after the boys and I were outside. The garage that is attached to the house. The garage with the interior door that doesn’t always latch properly.
At the same moment it registered with me that there was a strange cat in our house, it registered with the cat that a strange human was looking at her.
Although we drew the same conclusion at the same time, the cat and I did not have similar reactions.
I froze in place in an attempt to not scare the cat.
The cat however shot straight up from the couch three feet into the air as if she had tiny, silent rocket boosters strapped on all four of her paws. Mid-air she shifted her weight ever so slightly to the left enough that she landed on the kitchen counter behind the sofa. Our open floor plan and dearth of walls and doors is a serious disadvantage when trying to contain a wild, aerodynamic cat.
For a moment I contemplated that with this cat’s acrobatic skills and Darling’s new ventriloquism skills this pair could be my ticket to YouTube fame and fortune. My internet-famous fantasies and any lucid thought to take video of the bedlam occurring in my house were lost when the cat skidded across the counter, crashing into and knocking to the floor a shower of books, papers and toy trains.
Then the stray took off down the hallway toward the bedrooms. As I turned to pursue it, I noticed that our geriatric cocker spaniel Elizabeth was still curled up, sound asleep on the floor, snoring.
What kind of dog doesn’t even know there’s a stray cat in its house?
The cat darted though our bedroom door where my husband Dave was also still in deep sleep.
The very sight of me was apparently terrifying to the stray cat. As soon as it saw me again it started flying around our bedroom like a balloon when someone lets the air out. It jumped from my dresser to Dave’s dresser back to the floor. Then it clawed its way up the curtains to the ceiling and tried to sit on the curtain rod.
I stood in the doorway watching all of this and tried to wake Dave up without scaring the cat any more that it already was.
“Dave! Dave! Wake up!” I said in a loud whisper, but he didn’t stir.
The cat lost its balance on the curtain rod and lept onto the foot of the bed then to the floor. It headed right for me, but then remembered how much it hated me. The cat turned and jumped up onto the nightstand next to Dave.
The next few moments, though only seconds in actuality, seemed to occur in slow motion as I watched. I knew what was going to happen, but I also knew I couldn’t stop it. All I could do was stand helplessly in the doorway.
I made a feeble attempt at one final warning, “Dave! Wake up! There’s a stray –”
Dave started to lift his head, but before I could get out the last word the cat jumped from the nightstand, landing smack on the top of Dave’s head. Then it spring boarded from his scalp onto the bed, then the floor, out of the room and back down the hall in a fury of fur.
Stunned, Dave sat up in bed.
“There’s a stray cat in the house.”
He jumped out of bed and stood there in his boxers looking at me, blinking and rubbing sleep from his eyes.
“A cat. There’s a stray cat in the house.”
Dave didn’t say a word. He just squinted at me, still unsure of what exactly happened, and took off toward the living room. The cat didn’t like Dave much either, and ran back into the basement when it saw him. He followed it and managed to shew the cat back into the garage and outside.
Dave came back upstairs, and just as he reached the top step the dog woke up. She lifted her head, yawned and looked at me like, “What are you doing up so early?”