Thursday, June 18, 2009

More cat adventures

Last night was garbage night. A big (and ever-growing) part of garbage night is the Cleaning of the Litter Boxes. The one on the back porch. The small one tucked away near the back door. The one in the bathroom where the kittens are currently being kept sequestered. And the three in the basement.

I had the kittens on a field trip to the back porch when I decided to start cleaning the litter boxes. I came up with an eyeblink plan: Clean the one in the kitchen and replace the litter with the remnant of the pine litter I brought up in a coffee can last week. Clean the ones down in the basement and haul them out in their own bag. Bring up two coffee cans of pine litter and the freshly-washed kitten bed. Clean and replace the litter in the bathroom. Relocate the kittens from the porch to the bathroom. Clean the litter box on the back porch and haul out all garbage.

The plan changed when, as I was cleaning the litter boxes in the basement, I noticed a strange cat watching me from on top of a clothing rack.

This wasn't a kitten. It was a full-grown adult. Black with white smudges on its muzzle and big, wide eyes. Not Joey, who has tuxedo black-and-white markings. Not Babusz, who is a solid charcoal-gray. Besides, this cat was bigger than either of them.

Who the hell are you and how the hell did you get in our cellar? I wondered.

Then it hit me. Our neighbor's cat ran away a few weeks ago. I was pretty sure he was black with white spots on his muzzle.

I called my mom. I happened to have my cell phone with me, which is pretty unusual, and I used it to call the house I was in. I described the cat to her, and she confirmed it was the neighbor's.

Now I just had to get it down. The cat was not actively afraid of me, but did move away whenever I tried to grab it. I was eventually able to maneuver it into an area where I had access from two sides and it had no other means of retreat. He did not struggle when I finally got a hold of him.

He didn't feel like a cat who had been living in the wild (or our back yard) for three weeks or so. He felt like he was a good weight, soft, dry coat, strong but calm. He didn't even struggle as I carried him up the steps, past the kittens on the porch, out into the rain, and over to his own house. He only began to squirm when he heard his owner's voice.

But how did he get in our basement? There is no longer any opening that a cat of any size can squeeze through anywhere in the house. He didn't walk in through the front door (which has a storm door, so he would have to come in through two doors) or through the back door (which opens onto an enclosed porch - so he'd need to come through three doors.)

The most likely explanation would be through the garage - maybe yesterday, when I was unloading the groceries from my mom's solo grocery shopping trip. As a rule we never leave both the garage door and the door from the basement into the garage open, unattended, at the same time. But the garage door was open for a period of time when I was unloading the car. Did the cat secrete itself in the garage while the door was open, and then surreptitiously enter the basement later when the door from the garage to the basement was open? It seems unlikely, as it would still need to have gotten past me.

Or it could be all this happened Monday, as my sister was packing her car? She does sometimes leave the two doors open simultaneously, or might have left either one open by itself long enough for the cat to make a two-stage entrance. But then what did he eat for the past two days? There's no cat food down there. Did he come upstairs and sneak food while the other cats were asleep? That seems unlikely.

Whatever. My neighbor has her cat back. I guess that's what's important.

1 comment:

joy said...

Ummmm...DB, you do realize that you're starting to sound like a Crazy Cat Person? I'm not sure how many cats meet the clinical definition (7?), but I'd say anyone who has reached SIX litter boxes is on the way to trouble :-)