Cats live to make people look foolish

July 06, 2009|By TIM ROWLAND

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Editor's note: The cat who is the subject of this column was retrieved Monday from the tree in which it had been lingering since June 29.

So cut down the tree already.

As of this writing, Washington County's long national nightmare was entering its seventh day, as we all wait breathlessly to find out what will happen to a cat that has been up a tree since June 29. It's like Ted Koppel and the hostages in Iran. Day 285, nothing has changed.

It has been a slow news week here in Hagerstown, I take it, since the public has been hanging on every word written about the stubborn feline while paying scant attention to more memorable area events, such as the Mile-Long Plus Yard Sale on Longmeow Road. Longmeadow Road. Sorry. You see how mesmerizing a cat story can be.


Even The Herald-Mail's best efforts to drum up interest in other local events (actual Monday headline: "Excitement building for Ag Expo and Fair") have done little to distract readers from their paws célebré.

OK, first things first: Cat, if you're listening, you darn well better not come down before this column is published, and if you do, you had better come down alive. I don't want to wake up this morning to front page photos of a kitty pancaked on a driveway -- or worse, a chalk outline -- which will make me look like a heartless jerk for making light of the situation.

Second, I officially support the Humane Society, which has adopted the Little Bo Peep strategy (leave them alone and they'll come home) in cat-retrieval methodology.

Phone rings down at the Humane Society and, every time, they have to pray it's not one of these situations. Like, what are they supposed to do? We all know what happens when you try to get a cat out of a tree: It climbs higher. And that's what happened here. Well, God and the Washington County Humane Society cannot help people or cats that are unwilling to help themselves.

Not much is known about this particular cat. Maybe it's like those pole sitters, who are always shooting for a Guinness record. Maybe its a member of a religious cult, the Branch Dikittyians, who believe that when you die, your soul goes up in a tree and won't come down.

So many questions: What's her name? Isn't she hungry? Thirsty? What is she using for a cat box? Related question: Is it safe to stand under the tree? What kind of tree is it, a purrsimmon?

Poor cat. I know what it's going through because our cat Juliet will occasionally climb up a walnut tree and then compound the problem by leaping over to the roof of the old smokehouse, reasons unknown. There she discovers, for she never remembers, that tin roofs provide poor traction.

When she tries to dismount, she starts to slip, so she whirls around and makes for the peak of the roof, all four legs windmilling like Scooby-Doo getting away from a spook. Back atop, she howls as if being stuck with knitting needles, in a tone that is distinctly accusatory, as if the whole indignity is somehow our fault. This sets up one of those regrettable "people talking to animals as if they will understand" scenarios. "YOU got yourself up there, so YOU figure out how you're going to get down. Don't look to ME to clean up YOUR mess. You hear me?"

Eventually though, I climb a ladder to the base of the roof and spread my arms for the catch. Juliet looks down at me and thinks it through. Time passes. This is a solution neither of us wants.

But eventually, she will let go and do that sliding board thing into my arms, the force of her sudden arrival knocking us both off the ladder and down onto the ground as a general thing.

The lingering question in these things is whether the cat was worth saving in the first place.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or via e-mail at Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under, on or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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