Thursday, Jan. 03, 2013
Spevak: Cat-and-mouse game: Our turn to chase kitten
By John Spevak
I want to congratulate those of my readers who received a cat as a Christmas present.
Cats drive me crazy. For example, my wife, Sandy, and I have an outdoor cat that believes it should be indoors. My son and daughter-in-law have an indoor cat that believes it should be outdoors.
It's no wonder I go nuts when I'm around them.
Sandy's cat, which I inherited, is named Sky. We get along reasonably well. As an outdoor cat, she is provided room (our garage) and board (dry cat food).
In exchange, all I ask is that she deter mice from entering our house. Sky does a decent job of this, although a few sneak by and end up in pantry mousetraps.
I try to explain to Sky that she's supposed to stay outside the Spevak living space. I've told her about kids and grandkids who have allergies to cat hair. But Sky doesn't care to listen.
Every time I open a door, front or back, Sky is there, looking for a chance to sneak inside the house. If I let my guard down for a mini-second, she zips past me faster than greased lightning.
Eventually, I persuade her to go with me into the garage, where I give her a small amount of higher quality dry cat food as a bribe.
It's a maddening game of cat and man, and usually the man loses.
Alfie, on the other hand, is an indoor Reno kitten who persistently tries to sneak outdoors. That doesn't make sense, especially in the winter. He has all the comforts of a warm, cozy home, and the company of my son Mike, daughter-in-law Karen, and their three children: Hanna, 14; Kaila, 12; and AJ, 2½.
The last time I visited the Reno Spevaks, Mike and Karen were out of the house while I watched the kids. I opened the sliding door in the family room that leads to the backyard patio to take a photo of the recently fallen snow before sunset. I wasn't thinking about the kitten.
In a flash, Alfie came out of nowhere and darted outside, where darkness was falling as well as snow. Alfie, like Sky, is not very bright. In his case, once he gets outside, he doesn't want to come back in.
It was clear I needed to find Alfie and bring him in soon. I enlisted Hanna and Kaila to help, while AJ stayed inside, hopefully not getting into anything.
Kaila, Hanna and I were outside in the cold and snow, trying to coax Alfie to come in. But Alfie was determined to hide under the sprawling evergreen bushes with branches so close to the ground that they presented a great hiding place for a kitten and a very challenging place for humans searching for said kitty.
The first five minutes was a little like a game. Alfie would sneak under one evergreen. Hanna, Kaila or I would try to snatch him. Alfie would then elude us and run to the next bush.
After five minutes the game became a war, or at least a skirmish. We needed to catch Alfie soon. We couldn't leave AJ by himself much longer. And the dumb kitten would be in danger of frostbite in the 22 degree weather.
I used the flashlight that's an app on my cell phone in the early evening search. I finally found Alfie and kept the light on him, while Kaila sneaked up behind him. Alfie might not be smart, but he's quick. He scooted away in a flash.
I was getting colder and madder by the minute. Hanna found a flashlight, so we had two search lights. Each time we found Alfie and tried to corner him, he scurried to another bush.
This was not fun. Twenty minutes had gone by. I went in to check on AJ. Fortunately, he was fine. Hanna, Kaila and I -- our hands getting numb from the cold -- gave it one more try.
We found Alfie and circled him. This time Kaila, quick as a cat, finally scooped Alfie up.
And I was spared the indignity of telling Mike and Karen that, while they were away, on my watch, the family cat froze to death.
Comments on the writings of John Spevak, an Enterprise columnist for 29 years, are encouraged, and can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.