So, the first thing to mention that was recently found is Mona’s paper chameleon. Aden spotted it poking out among some leaves between the school playground and the street. It’s a little worse for wear, but it’s intact, and the Lizzy drama has officially subsided. But no one looks at Lizzy anymore because the other thing we found was a cat. A real live cat. Sealed inside our deck.
After we had the new garage built, the deck was left in tatters around the edges, so we hired some great deck people to come out and fix it up. They filled in the gaps between it and the garage, built new steps, replaced a few bad boards, and covered a hole that the kids kept losing balls in. The deck takes up most of the backyard and has no place to get inside it. It’s a box with no escape hatch, and when Quinn dropped a frisbee between the slats a couple of months ago we had to tell him it was, for all intents and purposes, gone forever, because there was no way to retrieve it from under the deck.
About three or four days after the deck carpenter left, I was heading out the back door on my way to work and stopped on the deck for a few minutes with my husband to discuss our schedules a bit. I kept hearing a meowing sound. We figured it was probably the cat next door, but we didn’t see her, and then Ian thought it might be one in a window across the alley. But I could have sworn it sounded like it was coming from our yard. There wasn’t any time to ponder that right then so I went to work and got to hear later how after school the kids were just beside themselves because they had indeed found a cat under the deck. The afternoon’s entertainment had been dangling a piece of yarn between the slats for the kitty to chase.
Ian tried valiantly to remove some boards to let the cat out, but the old screws were too stripped and the new ones required a screwdriver bit we didn’t have, so I called the deck people. They came over at the end of the day, unscrewed a couple of boards, and the cat was free. I can’t figure out how the cat got in there, short of sneaking in while the carpenter was there and not getting back out in time before the last hole got covered. It didn’t look like a cat that had been stuck in a deck over a three day weekend, but who knows? The deck people are coming back soon to saw us a hatch, because that just seems like a good idea now.
In any case, it’s an adorable cat with no collar, sharp claws, and the un-savvy mannerisms of a creature that has lived a pampered life indoors. The girls call her Mew-Mew, Quinn calls her Lilly, and Ian calls her Spaz. She kind of looks like an Olivia or a Dolly to me, but I don’t think I’m going to have any say. She responds to everything you call her as long as you look like you might pet her or give her food. I’m tempted to just call her ‘found.’ Mew-mew-Lilly seems quite at home on our deck, but is very interested in coming inside. We’ve given her water and fed her some cat food our neighbor was nice enough to hand us over the fence until we get some of our own. Not that I believe we should have her around long enough to be investing in cat food, but it’s hard to know what to do at this point.
Ian is allergic to cats, so I never even contemplated having one. I explained to the girls that if the cat was still around after the first night we’d put up posters and try to find its owner. Someone must be missing this cat because it is too friendly and healthy looking to be a stray. But what if no one claims it? It was hard enough for the kids to give up baby squirrels after a night. A cat that wants to be with them is going to be harder to let go. I told Aden that I love their dad more than I could love a cat, and it wasn’t fair to him if we kept it. She agreed that her daddy was more important than a cat, but asked if maybe he could just wear a mask like doctors sometimes do. I told her that wasn’t much of a solution. I gave the kids posters to tack up around the neighborhood, but I know they are hoping that effort fails.
We had our neighbor take a peek at the cat to see if she recognized it, and though she’d never seen it before she remarked that it sure looked at home. When I opened the side door of the deck it made no move to leave. The cat leaned out briefly, then marched back across the deck to sit by our back door. My neighbor laughed and said she’s always believed that pets pick their owners and not the other way around, and that it certainly looked like that cat had made its selection.
I wish there were a way to keep the cat in the yard, but it gets too cold in Milwaukee for that, plus loose cats are bad for wild birds. Ian is already resigning himself to the idea of lots of sneezing or pills in his future, but I refuse to put a cat before my husband’s health and comfort. I’m still hoping it turns out she belongs to someone in the apartment house behind us and we can hand her over to a place where we know she’ll be safe and loved, but with each new can of food I crack open I start to wonder if this is part of some new pet owning phase we are embarking on. (If only we could make a little heated cat house for the deck that somehow wouldn’t attract other creatures out there….)