And That's Where We Found The Cat
I got this awesome Kleenex box for my dad and he gave it away to someone with a better sense of humor.
When a malnourished, flea-infested, hernia-ridden stray kitten followed me home in the spring of '89, I found a reason to be nice to my sister. I snuck into her bedroom on a sunny June day holding this very tiny feline, most likely against its will. She immediately agreed that the one thing that was missing in our lives was this cat, so, Leah and I teamed up, found power in numbers, and begged together as (temporary) best friends. Our ruse worked. Our parents said we could keep her.
The condition was that we had to put signs up all over the neighborhood telling people that we had found a cat, just in case she had a home and a family. This was a good lesson in Not Taking Things That aren’t Yours but a terrible lesson in Possibly Returning an Abused Animal to the Situation that They Ran Away From. I didn’t want anyone to call so I made a point to put all of the signs in places where no one would see them. Like behind someone’s shed. Or in the trash. When no one stepped forward to claim this little sack of bones, we became the proud owner of Missy, the Maine Coon Cat.
Missy thrived in our household after racking up enough medical bills to send the vet’s daughter to Harvard. By ‘thrived’ I mean ‘grew’ and by ‘grew’ I mean got really… huge. Sometimes she would sleep in the sink. Leah loved this cat and would carry her around the best she could manage with her arms looped under Missy’s front legs and Missy’s gigantic rear end dragged along the floor, a sort of feline mop if you will. Because Missy was another sister, we continued the tradition and tortured her.
One winter night, Leah and I were running around with the zoomies when we heard Missy meowing from both close by and far away if that makes sense. We went looking for the cat.
We followed the noise all around our house but kept coming back into my room, where we couldn’t see the furry mongoose anywhere. “Missy!!!!” we kept calling, and a few moments later we’d be answered with a furious “Meow!” that seemed to come from the ether. One of us turned to the other one of us - "The cat is in the wall."
If you Google “Cat Is in The Wall” you will discover a plethora of instances of a kitty wiggling its way through an air duct and finding herself stuck… yeah, in a wall. Leah and I were totally freaked out. I imagined myself sleeping in the closet as Missy’s meows got softer and softer until she starved to death - many months later- in the skeleton of the house. I imagined a hundred years from then, some poor family finding her bones when they decided to do some renovations, or they had their own exchange student burn the house down. (This is another story.)
Eventually, my parents decided to react to the “MISSY IS STUCK IN THE WALL!” screaming and come up and take a look. Unlike most of my hypotheses at that point in my life, I was right about this one. The cat was, in fact, stuck in the wall. Assuming that she had found her way into this precarious situation through a vent in the attic, my parents called Uncle Bob, who had rebuilt the house after our house fire.
Uncle Bob came over as if people asked him to retrieve their household pets from the wall all the time. He put his ear up to the wall in my closet, confirmed that there was a cat stuck behind it, and pulled out a small saw. I imagined him breaking down my wall, climbing through the pipes and wires to rescue our terrified kitten from the sludge.
Instead, he cut a small, square hole in the back corner of the closet which Missy immediately squeezed her fat ass out of and then, because she was a cat, proceeded not to thank anyone and leave the room. That was it. That's the first part of this story. We never forgot that night and would reference it occasionally like it was a sweet family event when the cat almost died in the wall.
Years later, I was home from college getting stoned in the attic with Leah. We were finishing a bowl of some very giggly pot when we heard my parent’s cat, Kona, meowing, and was nowhere to be found. We tore apart the attic, searching for the cat, and came to the realization that there was only one possibility: he was in the wall, just like Missy had been over a decade earlier. We played Rock, Paper, Scissors for a solid forty-five minutes to decide who would wake up Mom. My mom is terrifying to wake up at night.
I assume all moms are like this. If you gently, softly, with the utmost delicacy tap my mom’s pillow and tenderly whisper her name, she will jump up like you just tasered her butthole and scream, “WHAT’S WRONG? WHAT’S GOING ON? ARE YOU OK?” and it wasn’t so much that we were tentative to upset her to that degree, it’s that neither one of us felt like engaging in that level of confrontation. This was very, very good weed and we were very, very high. Also, mom really loved this cat and we didn’t want to be blamed for his death because that would have been a huge bummer.
Leah lost Ro/Sham/Bo because I probably cheated and sent her off to wake up mom while I went downstairs to see if my parents still kept their Oreo stash near the cutting boards in the kitchen.
I heard the commotion upstairs and silently thanked Leah for doing the dirty work as I rummaged through the pantry looking for cookies. As I opened the chip drawer, something caught my eye. A werewolf.
Nope, Kona, the fucking cat. Huh...
I realized that in my state, going upstairs and telling them not to worry, that I’d found him would probably not suffice. I would need tangible proof. So I went after Kona.
One thing to mention about Kona is that he moved into the house after I moved out so we never really bonded. In other words, that cat hated me and would not let me pick him up under any circumstance, including one as dire as this. I found the Oreos, shoved three in my mouth, and chased the cat around the kitchen for what seemed like hours but could have been five minutes. I don’t know. This is not a story about time management.
When I finally caught the cat, the whole situation struck me as the funniest thing that had ever happened to me and I couldn’t stop laughing. Like, can’t breathe-choking on Oreos-fall down on the floor- hilarious. I also lost some muscle control and, with that, the cat. As I sat in the dark kitchen of my childhood at 2 am, mouth full of cream filling, I tried to assess my situation: I was going to have to stand up. Because I had found the cat, I was a hero and needed to behave like one.
I grabbed the rest of the Oreos, doing my absolute best to put one foot in front of the other to get the rest of my body upstairs to deliver the good news. By the time I got up to the attic (which felt like 2 minutes but could have been 30), my mom was digging apart the storage room while my sister sat by obediently, with bloodshot eyes and the look of a student who is trying to convince you that they are paying attention but playing a video game under their desk. I looked at the two of them, my mom in her ugly, middle-of-the-night glasses and her Old Navy pajamas, and my sister, watching silently, looking for a cat whom I knew in my heart and head they were not going to find in the air vent and collapsed in a solid fit of laughter.
My mom spun around, “What the hell is going on? I need you to go down to the closet, where the hole is that we got Missy out of and shine a flashlight and see if Kona is there.” I wanted so badly to tell her that he wasn’t, that her little feline son was just fine (a total zero in the personality department, but of sound mind and body) but the words just wouldn’t happen.
The giggles were highly contagious and Leah joined in as well, involuntarily cackling while helping herself to the Oreo sleeve. Mom, in full SWAT rescue mode, ready to find her cat at 2 am, only to find her back-ups temporarily incapacitated, was beyond furious. “This is not funny! This is Kona!” which only made us laugh even harder. I took a deep breath, pinched my palm and bit my lip. I did everything I could to sober up and just get the words “Kona’s in the kitchen,” out of my mouth but that task seemed impossible.
I resorted to a combination of miming, charades, and some very unattractive guttural sounds which seems like it should have been enough information to connect the dots between 'Kona' and 'kitchen,' but no one is really their best at that hour. Exasperated but still laughing uncontrollably, I waved for them to follow me. My mom was ready to kill us and snatched the Oreos away. At that moment, some entity, somewhere took pity on these two stoned sisters. "Meow," we all turned to see Kona. My mom rushed to him. He rushed to a corner.
"I'm going to bed. You two are ridiculous." My mom stormed out of the room, unable to slam the door because its a very light door and does not slam. Leah and I looked at each other. Leah clearly had something on her mind:
"She.... she...." Leah had gotten the giggles again, "She took the Oreos."