Good neighbors are invaluable. But that’s the conclusion to this story, so let me start at the beginning.
In July, we lost Oscar, our sixteen-pound tabby, to old age. In November, the adopt-a-new-cat bug struck.
We visited several shelters until we found a possible adoptee. We soon learned that rules for adopting cats had changed since our last venture fourteen years ago. We were accustomed to the bakery-style approach where you pointed to the most appealing goodie in the case (or cage) and said, “We’ll take that one.” After paying your fee you took your cat home and you all lived happily ever after.
These days potential adopters and adoptees must go through screening. We also completed a personality profile to help the shelter manager decide if the cats we liked were right for us.
A color coding system on each cage identified some cats as ready to walk into your home and take over, and a few needing a medium or longer period of time to adjust. We picked an orange cat with an orange code (needs a medium period to adapt).
After receiving approval, the orange cat — Gordon — came home with us. We followed the shelter’s instructions to put him in a bathroom and not let him leave until he was ready. We set the cat carrier on the bathroom floor and aimed the opening toward the shower stall, which is where his box, food, and soft cushions awaited him. Gordon stayed in the carrier until we tired of talking to him and watching him not move. We shut the door, and left him alone to decide how best to get acquainted with his tiny new home. An hour later we discovered him wedged under a cabinet so tightly that his head couldn’t move and he was having trouble breathing.
When I called the shelter, the folks there said not to worry, he’d come out when he was ready. Next call was to the fire department. They gave me the name of a man who specializes in tree rescues. The third call was to Glenn, the neighbor who built our house. He said he wasn’t sure how he could help, but would stop by when he got home. Meanwhile he called his wife, Melissa, who came over and laid down on the bathroom floor to check on the cat. “I’m really worried,” she said. “He looks like he’s suffering.” If we weren’t sufficiently worked up before, we were by then.
After Glenn arrived, we tried jacking up the cabinet a few millimeters, pulling Gordon out, and offering food to lure him out. He wouldn’t or couldn’t move. We agreed that the only other option was to cut a hole in the cabinet shelf.
The story for Gordon had a happy ending. He’s no longer stuck in the cabinet. From time to time he hides in a closet, and today he’s behind a sofa, but he can walk out of those places.
I wonder what “medium amount of time to adapt” really means. But without our wonderful neighbors, we might never know.