Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Incredible Story of a Very Lucky Cat

By Francesca Prescott

I heard a wonderful story this morning. Some time ago, somewhere around where I live, an elderly couple heard the sound of pitiful mewing in their courtyard. They looked everywhere, scanned the surrounding trees for the source of this misery, but saw no sign of a cat.

The mewing continued, and the couple grew more and more concerned, walking around and around their cobblestoned courtyard, until they realised that the sound was coming from underneath the ground.

What to do?

At a loss, they called the fire department, and a group of men was immediately dispatched. The firemen explored the surrounding area and after a while discovered an open drain pipe that ran beneath the couple’s property. But the cat was clearly stuck and the drain was drain far too narrow for anyone to climb down and attempt to reach it.

The cat continued to cry. Everyone felt terrible. Someone needed to come up with a plan to put the poor cat out of its misery, one way or another.

The thinking caps came out, and pretty soon the captain of the firemen had two suggestions. The first one was pretty gruesome: stick a high pressure hose down the pipe, flush the cat out and have him emerge downstream. No more pitiful mewing. No more mewing whatsoever. Ever again. Cat kaput.

“That poor animal!” exclaimed the elderly couple. “Whoever owns it must be going out of their mind with worry. Surely there must be something else we can do?”

“Well, there is, but it’s going to be expensive,” replied the captain of the fireman with a resigned sigh. “I’m afraid the only way we’re going to free that cat is to dig up your courtyard, cobblestone by cobblestone.”

“Then let’s do it,” said couple in unison.

Calls were made, workmen were brought in, a vast portion of the courtyard dug up and, several hours later, a victorious shout echoed around the property as a delighted fireman pulled a terrified, wriggling cat from underneath the ground.

The cat wriggled so much that it escaped the fireman’s grip and ran off, probably never to be seen again by anyone involved in the rescue operation. Nevertheless, everyone agreed that rescuing that little cat had been one of the most rewarding and uplifting experiences they’d had in a long time. Numerous bottles of white wine were brought out, along with bread sticks, ham, pickles and chunks of cheese, and they all celebrated the incredibly joyous outcome of what would, under most circumstances, have been a tragic, miserable day.

If only there were more stories like this! Do you have any to share?


Laura Crum said...

Great story! I love the European flair, with the numerous bottles of celebratory white wine.

Stray cats seem to find me with regularity. My son and I are currently taming a very skittish one who showed up in our barnyard a month ago. My son has named him Nicholas and we've been feeding him. Just yesterday he let me pet him. So, yeah, sometimes these lost cat stories DO have a happy ending. All three of my current cats are ex ferals who gradually grew tame.

battleshipdestroyer said...

I love stories like this, thanks Francesca! It always makes me feel better when people make such a selfless decision regarding an animal they don't even own. How many would have chosen the unfortunate hose route?

I hope they get their courtyard put back together and that little rascal stops exploring drain pipes! :)

Francesca Prescott said...

Thank you Laura! Last year, my parents took in a very skinny, very tiny, very traumatized female cat who kept on being harassed by a very big, very ugly, very horny tom cat. She'd had his kittens, far too many for such a little mama cat, and was totally exhausted by the whole ordeal she looked about to die. She was really scared and shy and refused to come into the house, but my parents fed her and she gradually got stronger, and came back regularly, finally bringing her kittens with her. Eventually my parents managed to coax her into the house, but she remained very shy, and no matter how many times my parents shooed the tom cat away he kept on coming back to prey on her. She was so small and skinny that there was no way she could have survived another pregnancy, so my parents took her to the vet and had her sterilized. She's still not the tamest of cats, and behaves very strangely, rushing around, sometimes refusing to come into the house and instead lying on their doormat shivering in the cold. Weird. But at least she has food and can come inside when she chooses to. My parents wish she'd be a bit more friendly! But they talk about her a lot, and my father seems quite besotted with her! Maybe she'll get friendlier over the years. The kittens all found homes!

Laura Crum said...

Cesca--We have a cat (Tigger) who was so wild when we got him (a friend had trapped him and had him neutered and given his shots, but couldn't keep him) that he would try to take your hand off when he was in the kennel. We turned him loose here and over a period of a year he became tame enough to pet, and finally came in the house. Now, five years later, he sleeps on the bed and is quite docile. So there is hope that your parents cat will become much tamer.

Francesca Prescott said...

Battleshipdestroyer: I think most would have chosen the hose route... I mean, how many people can afford to dig up their courtyard?!

I once rescued a cat, way back in the Eighties. I got a phone call from a friend who had returned to an apartment she used to share with another guy (she'd moved in with her boyfriend) who had a cat. She hadn't been back to the flat for ages, and had no idea that the cat owner ex-room-mate had gone off travelling. And he'd left the cat alone in the apartment... The cat had survived by having managed to open a bag of cat food biscuits, and had drunk out of the toilet, and seemed to be licking the sink under a dripping tap. He was very weak and very scared, but my friend couldn't keep him. Could I? Well I couldn't say no, and Tubbs, as I called him, came to live with me. He was terrified of everybody for months; I couldn't touch him, he'd slink around, hiding underneath anything he could hide, well, underneath. But gradually he gained confidence and became the cuddliest, friendliest and most loveable cat you've ever seen. I had him for many many years, and I was never sure of how old he was. He came with me when I got married and moved into a house in the countryside, where he had another major trauma as he'd never been outside in his life! He lead a long, happy life, but sadly grew deaf in his old age and was eventually found dead by the roadside by a neigbour; we think he got hit by a car because he couldn't hear them coming anymore. Poor Tubbs. He was such a nice cat.

Dom said...

What a heartwarming story <3

battleshipdestroyer said...

Oh that “cat abandoned in the apartment” story reminds me of our friend’s cat! They were living in this apartment in Victoria (BC) during their university years, and a friend/acquaintance was going away for a month or something and had asked if they would keep some boxes for them. My friends said yeah, for sure, no probs! Bring the boxes by and we’ll keep them. They dropped off the boxes and headed out for their holidays on a Friday night, after which my friends also left for the weekend. They came back on Sunday night and could hear this scrabbling sound. They couldn’t figure out what it was, but it was an old apartment and they thought maybe there were mice in the walls. Monday afternoon, they hear the sound again and realize it is coming from their “friends’” sealed boxes. They have to figure out what it is and decide to crack into them. Guess what they found?

Yep – a kitten. In a box. With no air holes, and the box was UNDER other boxes. It had two open (empty by now) tins of tuna and an empty water dish. The little kitten was totally exhausted, starting to be malnourished and needed to be taken to the vet to be rehydrated. My friends named him George, got him all fed up and healthy and needless to say dumped their “friends’” boxes with a different acquaintance, and told them not to contact them again and kept the cat. Who does that?! They actually came by demanding they get their cat back a couple of months later, and my friends were just totally shocked that they would even think they would give it back to such bad owners. Did they think it could survive in a box on two tins of tuna for a month?!

George is now a monstrously huge, cuddly as anything, gorgeously friendly cat now, but his little ordeal as a kitten has given him some weird food issues. Whenever my friends went away and I was taking care of him I had to not leave food out or he’d gorge on it all because he wouldn’t think they’d ever come back to feed him. He’d make himself really sick. When they were around he could self-regulate. Kind of interesting that even though he was 8 years away from that experience, he would still believe that when his owners disappear his food might too.  Poor guy.

And as regards the hose thing, I am still amazed that couple made the choice they did. What very good good people. :)

Francesca Prescott said...

Battleshipdestroyer, that is an incredible story! What makes people do such horrendous things? Well, I guess some people do even worse things to other people... Sick world we live in, but it's reassuring to know that most people on this earth are good. I truly believe that, but it's nice to be reminded of it once in a while because watching or listening to the news is so depressing :(

whitehorsepilgrim said...

My cat Tiger in his younger years got stuck not once but twice beneath floors during building work. He would creep in there when no-one was looking, floorboards would be put back down, then we'd notice that Tiger hadn't been seen for a while. The first time it took a day to figure out where he was (below the new timber stable floor). The second time it was in the kitchen and we pretty soon heard him miaowing. Tiger isn't the brightest cat however he's still here aged thirteen...and now we live in a house with solid concrete floors so he won't get stuck again. He still crawls into clothes drawers , slinks into wardrobes and gets behind cupboards but we are wise to his foibles.