The Christmas Catastrophe

December 28, 2010 § 3 Comments

Not actually from the weekend. Dad cut that tree down and it's winter anyway. This is purely to show the neighbor's porch and my parent's back porch, which will be important later.

Scott and I hadn’t been at my parents’ house for more than five minutes on Christmas Eve when he walked in the back door and said, “There’s a really cute cat on your neighbor’s porch!”

Mom and Dad exchanged a glance that said, “Great. Just what we didn’t want to happen.”

We went back outside, and I sat on the edge of the porch. A minute later, the cat — mostly white, with patches of gray tabby, a brown Hitler mustache, and the hugest paws you ever want to see — was in my lap, purr motor running, nuzzling me. I named it Mr. Pickles, then figured out that it was a girl and renamed her Isobel. She was obviously someone’s cat; she was either lost, or some sonuvabitch had just kicked her to the curb. We went back inside, and the parental interrogation began.

Was it the neighbor’s cat? No, they were feeding it, but not letting it inside.
Why the hell not? Because the husband hates cats. The wife is caring for it.
Have you seen any Missing posters? Nothing. Not in the shops, not in the papers.
What shelters did you call about it? None. Until you got here, we thought it was feral — it wasn’t going near anyone!
How long has it been out there? About three weeks.
THREE WEEKS??! We thought it was feral until the cat whisperer arrived …

Multiple shelters were called. It being Christmas Eve, all were closed. I posted a Found ad on Craigslist. I was also having some dental issues; my childhood dentist squeezed in a cavity check, then we went to dinner. We came back from dinner to find Isobel waiting for us, and meowing like she’d missed us. Scott fed her some bologna.

Can we bring her inside? NO.
Can’t we just lock her in the basement until the shelters reopen? NO.
But … she’ll freeze to death! She’s been fine for three weeks.
This sucks!!! This isn’t cool. How can you not do something to help her?!? The basement isn’t that much warmer than the outside…

There were tears. Voices were raised. During this time, Isobel was sitting on the back porch railing, paws on the glass, peeking into the kitchen. Finally, Mom said: “I wish Monique were here. She’d know what to do.” Monique used to live three doors down. She put her house on the market and moved to Canada, because I guess there wasn’t enough snow for her in Pennsylvania. And that’s when everyone realized: We could put the cat into Monique’s house.

The four of us swore to a vow of secrecy, and then we sprung into action. Scott went to buy cat litter. Dad grabbed his heavy-duty electrical-work gloves and the keys to Monique’s. Mom set the table for Christmas Day dinner. I put on my long coat and the gloves. We lured Isobel to the porch and up the stairs, Dad went inside and fumbled around the empty kitchen, looking for the light switch. Isobel and I looked at each other and I decided: No time like the present. Right?

I picked her up and dashed through the door and there was a brief moment of stillness in the darkness … and then Isobel realized she was inside, and made that angry, pissed-off cat noise, hissed, and jumped out of my arms and into the screen door — headfirst, hissing, scared, and unhappy. I pushed the door open and she took off. Dad and I looked at each other, wide-eyed.

“What a bitch,” he said.
“We tried …” I said.

Isobel stayed outside on Christmas Eve.

On the morning of Christmas Day, before we opened presents, I fed her a bag of Pounce and a giant saucer of milk, but she wouldn’t come closer to me than arm’s length. She pretty much didn’t move the rest of the day; she was either curled up on the porch or in the bushes outside my parents’ basement, where the vent from the drier pumps out warm air. I think Mom did laundry just for the sake of doing laundry.

On the day after Christmas, two volunteers from the local shelter came out with a carrier. She jumped into one’s lap, and was inside the carrier a few minutes later. It was all just in time — a few hours later, a foot of snow would start falling. Also: Isobel was pregnant. (Chances are the shelter will abort her litter. Isn’t that weird? I’m all for pro-choice, but kitten abortion is just sad.)

Anyway: Isobel will be available for adoption later in January if anyone in the Poconos wants her. She’s a sweetheart … but I don’t recommend picking her up.

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