Despite my best intentions to follow this wisdom, I lapse into performing the occasional good deed, as if I didn't know better. As if I didn't know it would circle back to bite me in the back pocket … or the finger or something.
When Part One of new-cat's story ended last week, he and I were enjoying a good laugh at my expense over my failed and, ultimately, unneeded rescue attempt. Turned out he actually could get himself out of the shop's wall through the kitty escape hole cut into the siding. That's why I decided — when I stopped by to check on him that evening and located him meowing from inside the wall again — not to worry about him.
But a chick can only take so much not worrying before breaking.
After discovering new-cat was still in the wall the next morning, I made it my mission to get him out and block the hole. He obviously thought of it as a portal into a private jungle-gym, but I was sure he would meet some untimely death in there, leaving his skeleton to haunt my brain.
With my dog Cooper — once described by a friend as "just about the best dog ever" — on a "sit and stay" out of harm's way, I called to the kitty, kitty, kitty. Occasionally, I quieted only to hear him "mow" at me and rustle around against the tin siding.
Pretty soon, I also was pausing regularly to tell the not-so-much-best-dog-ever to "Sit, stay." "No, I said stay." "Get back over there and stay." "Bad dog — stay right there." "Cooper, dangit!" "Aaargh!" Yes, the dog was jeopardizing my cat mission, and at this point, any sensible person would've kicked the overly eager dog out of the shop. I know this, but I've rarely been mistaken for a sensible person.
Eventually, new-cat emerged from the hole and I quickly scooped him up to set him on the workbench and then close and block the flap of tin siding. A simple plan like that is surely fool proof.
However, as I lifted new-cat, he and the dog made eye contact over my shoulder. Cooper thought "Oh, goody! A fluffy new dog toy!" and new-cat thought "My stars! She's handing me over to a psycho killer with cute ears!" (Yes, I'm sure he thought Cooper's ears are cute, even at a time like this.)
The cat won when he bit the hand that held him and launched himself back through his portal into the wall — and he didn't stop racing away for a full 60 feet. Even then it was only because he'd reached the other corner of the shop.
I checked my wound (hardly noticeable) and called for new-cat, and I called and called and called some more — wanting at this point to check him for any injuries or insult. Occasionally, I paused and he reported his progress back to the escape hole with a "mow." Eventually, though, I decided he just wasn't coming out.
In the quiet following my last kitty, kitty, kitty calls I heard, echoing out of the tin hole, the loud purr of a cat who was happy just to know somebody cared. He didn't sound overly insulted or injured to me.
I, on the other hand, proved to be very insulted by my injury.
New-cat's tooth had barely broken the skin, but by that afternoon I ended up sporting a swollen red finger and listening to a doctor spout phrases like "rabies treatment," "severe infection" and "daily IV antibiotics."
I managed to negotiate my treatment down to a week's worth of pills, but with cat poison pulsing in my finger, antibiotic pills large enough to require medical standby should I choke on one and enough pill-induced nausea to slow even me down in the feed line, I truly felt punished.
On the bright side, the infection cleared within the week, new-cat was fine, we made friends again the next time I visited, and I got the hole in the wall closed without further problems.
Plus, if all has gone well, at the time you read this article hot off the Friday press, new-cat (who was finally named Tony-o) will be recovering from the thorough teeth cleaning he received at the vet's office while under anesthesia for his neutering — proving in the end, I guess, that bad deeds don't go unpunished either.
(Spay, neuter and brush your bacteria teeth at firstname.lastname@example.org.)