When my neighbor, Gary, called to ask if I would feed his cat over the weekend while he was gone, I wasn’t expecting the story he was about to tell me.

“There’s a new cat that you haven’t met yet,” he said.

That’s not real surprising. That comes with living in the country. Wild cats show up all the time. I have one living on my front porch. She knows to stand at the screen door and ask for food in the morning. She even lets me get close. But to touch her? Nooooo way, at least not yet anyway. She does like me to sit near and talk to her so maybe someday.

But Gary’s new cat was full of purrs and pet mes. She was also full of mischief.

Chloe, Gary’s granddaughter named her. Little Miss Nine Lives, I’d call her. Full of piss and vinegar and love, this little one is the most adventurous kitten I’ve ever encountered. Here’s why—

Gary first saw her in a Walmart parking lot in Urbana. When he came out of the store, this feisty little one was under his truck. He got her safely out of the way—or so he thought—before heading the nearly 20 miles home.

The next day, when he took the truck in for an oil change, there was a surprise waiting for under the hood. This little kitten was sitting on the battery. For a nearly 20-mile ride home, all night, and well into the next day this kitten sat on the battery of his truck.

What can a man do? Well, if you’re a good man like Gary, you pick the little one up and take her home where you give her food and water and then introduce her to Ozzie, the resident cat. Then you call you neighbor to see if she can take care of the cats over the weekend because you’re going to be gone.

That’s where I come in; I’m the neighbor. Gary and I have exchanged favor for years. He plows the snow off my lane if it gets too deep; has been known to cut my grass when my mower was down; is always available to help wherever he can. In exchange, I get to watch over his pets when he’s gone. Guess who has the best deal. Not even a close call.

So this morning, after feeding my Daisy dog and cats, including Joey, the front porch kitty, and the other wild critters, I headed up to Gary’s house. He said the kitten was friendly and I was looking forward to meeting her. Little did I know what I was in for.

Ozzie, who usually comes out to greet me, was elusive this morning. So was the new little one—or so I thought. I put out clean water and fresh food, and then called for both. No Ozzie or kitten, instead a loud meow, meow, meow. Coming from where?

It sounded like it was coming from the drain pipe, a long narrow pipe that moves the water from the spout out into the yard. No, it was coming from behind a big stone nearby but that was impossible. Maybe it’s in the brush that I’m now walking through before noticing all the poison ivy. Reminder to self: legs need an alcohol rub when I get home.

The meowing continued nonstop. That’s when I notice a screen over a basement window. Could she have somehow gotten into the basement.? About this time, it started spitting rain. I walked over to a large tree, allowing its leaves to shield me. Fortunately, it was a mist of rain so after checking the tree, and confirming the meowing was over by the house, I went back over to the drain pipe, all the while calling on her angels for help. “Show me where she is! Help me to help her, Angles!”

Before long, I gave up and texted Gary. “Where’s the door to the basement. I think the kitten got inside somehow.”

Gary did the wise thing. He called me. He could hear her crying through the phone. “Could she have gotten into the drain pipe?” I asked when I stepped closed to the end of the pipe while also activating the flashlight on my phone. Bad idea. I slid—and then sank—into the mud puddle at the end of the pipe. The meowing seemed to increase, but it was coming from a different direction.

Once extricated from the mud, I sloshed around to follow the meowing. “Maybe she’s up in the tree,” Gary said. I had ruled out the big tree but a smaller one grew near the door. I walked over to it and kept looking into its branches. Not thick with leaves and tight branches, I could easily see through the tree. No kitten. But the meowing continued and then it moved, back toward the drain pipe, and then back again nearer the tree.

Once more I said a prayer to the angels and this time I looked up. And there at the very top peak of this very tall two-story house was the cutest little kitten looking down at me and meowing for all her worth. She leaned forward and put her paws out as though she was about to jump. Fortunately, she thought better of that leap.

“Gary, where’s the ladder?” I looked at my mud-soaked sandals. There’s no way I’m going to safely make it up to the roof, let alone across it to the peak, in these sandals. I needed to run home and change shoes.

About that time, staying at the very edge of the roof, meowing, and keeping her eyes on me as if to say, “Don’t you dare leave,” she came across the roof to the next lower level and kept on coming to the lowest part of the roof.

Ah, good. I can get her from here, I thought. I still need that ladder but I can go that high in sandals. Meanwhile, Gary was listening on the phone to the kitten’s meowing. Just as I was about to find a ladder, she leaped, and I do mean leaped, down to my level, about an eight or nine foot drop. And then she ran right up to me, meowing all the way.

She wasn’t sure which she wanted more—me or the food, so she alternated between us. She was the sweetest, friendlies, cutest kitten in the whole world. And more importantly, she was safe.

“My granddaughter named her Chloe,” Gary said. I didn’t tell him what name I was thinking of.
 

 

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