Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New Kitty

I was a termite man for twenty-nine years. Believe me when I say you can only crawl under houses for so long. No joke. It is not fun, it can be frightening, and it is always spooky. At best. My tolerance of being in dark, tight spaces, with spiders and slimy creatures peaked somewhere about a decade before I made a career change and slowly began to go the other way. You can only crawl under houses for so long. That's true for me at least.

Today, just walking past the opening to a crawl space causes me physical pain. Seriously, I hurt. What does it feel like? you ask. It feels like I have the flu and my body smites me with discomfort. My crawling days are over. Or so I thought.

Saturday, June 25, was one of those slow start days at the Hodge household. We slept in, moved slowly when we did arise, and drank lots of coffee. We also heard something, the unmistakable sound of a kitten. The loud meows were coming from under the house. How could that be?

You can guess what comes next. I did it. I crawled under the house and stayed under there until I was convinced there was no kitty. But we had heard it. Then, the very next day, we left for Biloxi on a four day trip. We came home on a Thursday afternoon and Friday morning was another slow start  day with me being off for the remainder of the summer and Penny taking a vacation day. Then we heard it again. A kitty, crying for help, for attention.

It sounded like it came from a different place, so we went outside and looked around, checked the flower beds, tried to find a clue. But silence had replaced the cries, and we were left wondering. I thought maybe it was an older cat that just sounded like a kitty.

We pulled into the driveway late Sunday evening after attending my mother's birthday party. As I brought the truck to a stop, I saw movement on the porch which my eyes followed. The movement turned into a clear view of a tiny tabby kitty who bailed off the driveway side of the porch and dove through a crack in the foundation wall.

"Did you see that?" I yelled.

"See what?" Penny answered.

"Are you kidding?"

She wasn't kidding, but at least we knew there was a kitty, and we knew how he had been surviving. He was eating Bubbie's (our outdoor cat) food on the porch. Later that night, she looked out the front door only to see him once more pilfering food, but when she attempted a capture, he again fled like wildfire and disappeared into the dark, lonely crawlspace.

Monday morning I drove to Carroll County to make it a twofer: pick up one of Dad's live traps and take a long hill run while there. The hill run was dreadfully slow (I did a pedestrian seven miles), and then I discovered that a falling tree had crushed Dad's traps. My father-in-law has everything, and since his place is only a mile from Dad's, I went to see him. I got a trap.

Back home, I baited the box with tuna and set it where the mysterious feline was entering his lair. Two hours later I found most of the tuna gone but the surprise unsprung. The little fellow was too small to trip the trap, so I went to Ace Hardware just before they closed and bought a smaller one.

That was a bit after 5:00 pm. At Twin Rivers, I checked my phone between intervals and saw the text appear on the screen: "I have the cat," it read.

A few intervals later: "Come home now, Jeff is going crazy."
Jeff bathing the kitty who seems to think the dog is his mother.

Jeff is our aged weenie dog. He loves cats. His best friends are cats. I could guess he was probably getting dangerously excited. He has a heart condition, and we are under strict doctor's orders not to allow him to get too excited. Cats excite him.

When I arrived home,  Jeff was bathing the hair off the kitty. That's just the way he is. One of our favorite pastimes, mine and Jeff's, is to go riding in the truck and look for cats. When he sees one, he whines like a little baby. He wants to be friends. He has no idea that they would either run from him or pop his jaws.

So we have a new cat who has no brother or sister or mother as far as we can tell. We don't know where he came from. Maybe he was sent by God. He looks a lot like one I had when I was a small boy of four. To gaze upon him makes me cry. Jeff can't leave him alone. Poor baby.