It’s a chilly fall day here–the kind of day that makes you want to curl up under a blanket with the cuddly dog (or cat) or your choice and watch a roaring fire.
This brought to mind a unique little drama that unfolded in our workplace a few years ago. Below is a dear little story, based on an excerpt of what I emailed to our staff back on a cold day so long ago:
Sit down, grab a cup of cocoa, and prepare yourself for tears of happiness with this story (ok, maybe tears only if you are a cat lover…..)
While half of the staff is gallivanting around the world on mission trips in Peru and Jamaica right now, the Hangar staff has been on the hunt for several days looking to find the source of some mysterious “meows” coming from the Hangar storage room.
It all started during an afternoon meeting in the Hangar, when I only partially listened to my coworkers and instead strained to hear a weak cry coming from the storage room in the back of our building. Fearing that I would be labeled a lunatic, I waited a full half an hour before stopping the group to say, “Do you guys hear that?”
They did. So we immediately started investigating.
After cracking open the door to the room and all definitely hearing a kitty plea for help (or attention–you know those darn cats, you can never quite figure them out), we snapped into action.
No, it’s not normal to have kittens in our youth building, just in case you were wondering.
We got down on our hands and knees and started crawling around with flashlights, dodging under printers, boxes, Christmas decorations, industrial tools, and killer dust balls the size of small cars until we discovered the source: a large gray and white cat, trapped in the storage room. We chased him around for quite some time, but weren’t able to catch him—he eventually climbed deep into the wall and stopped crying altogether.
We feared the worst. Freezing cold weather, nothing to eat but mouse poison….he could get into all sorts of trouble.
And, just like Poe’s character in The Tell-Tale Heart, we could hear nothing but his sad meows. That just doesn’t make for a good work environment.
Thinking quickly, we filled up a small bowl with water and lovingly left out the only food we could find in a pinch: a bag of Sun Chips.
We returned this morning to find the water and Sun Chips we left out for him gone. We found a can of tuna in the pantry (thank goodness for leftovers from my Double-Dog Dare youth event!), and eventually tempted him out with little bits of tuna. It was a laborious process, gaining the trust of this wily feline. It involved being very, very still…and very generous with placing bits of smelly fish on the floor all around us.
When we finally coaxed our furry friend out from behind the shadows of old office furniture, I slowly inched my long scarf off of my neck and patiently roped it into a makeshift lasso.
I know, you’re sensing a common theme here–thinking on the fly. It’s something that the Hangarites are used to.
In a flash, I wrapped my scarf around him and wrangled him out, then carried him to the Hangar office. We stuffed him into a cardboard box with large holes poked in the top, and sat there watching him like a kid watches a beetle trapped in a glass jar, all wondering the same thing: Now what?
We called countless vets and checked on Craigslist for lost cats, but couldn’t find anything that matched the description of this particular cat. After unsuccessfully trying to contain him in several boxes–as cats are more inclined to arch and pop the lid off of boxes that your typical well-behaved garden beetle–we got a small dog carrier from my apartment and brought him to the animal clinic right down the road.
We brought him in, and the receptionist proceeded to pull out a microchip detector. She cautioned us against hope, saying that cats are rarely ever microchipped. We held the kitty still as she waved the wand over him–and to our astonishment, our cat was indeed the proud owner of a tiny microchip.
The clinic’s receptionist pulled up the cat owner’s contact information from the microchip, called the cat’s owner, and we could hear the owner on the other line bawling as the receptionist explained how we had found the cat in our building. Apparently, the cat (named Paul) was a gift to her young son in April. In May, their neighbors were having some intense housework done (which involved jack hammers), and the cat got scared and ran away from their house on Baumgartner Road–a few miles away from our church.
After 8 months of being away from home, braving several months of winter snow, the owners had written off their cat as dead. But upon hearing that their prodigal cat had turned up after all, the ecstatic owner rushed over to the clinic to pick him up right away.
So, while some of you have been witnessing in the slums of exotic third-world countries this week, the rest of us have been uniting a cat and family together in love.
I know…a tiny tear slipped out while you read that. It’s ok, go ahead and let it out.
I’ll try not to judge you for being a cat-lover.