There is a Cat Stuck in this Box

18 Mar

A few years ago I was on the phone with my mom when we started discussing cats.  Or, more specifically, we started trying to figure out at which point one might go from being a lady with cats to a cat lady.  After a good amount of discussion we came to the conclusion that when you go from having 3 cats to 4 you have invariably crossed the line.  In hindsight, this was a rather convenient solution seeing as how at that moment my mother was the owner of exactly three felines and she certainly didn’t want to have to think of herself as a cat lady.  To be fair, though, I had found and lured the two younger cats, both of whom were adorable stray kittens, from different potentially dangerous situations and then dumped them at my parent’s house.  One of them, Chicory, had taken up residence in our front yard and driveway which sits just off of a relatively busy road with limited visibility and the other one, Chamomile, I had wrested from the arms of a drunken co-ed who was sitting weeping on the steps of a fraternity during my Sophomore year in college, squeezing the diminutive kitten to within inches of its life.  And then there was Sassafras, by far my favorite, a bitch of a cat who we adopted from the kennel when I was in Kindergarten who only lasted two years after I brought Cammy home and those two years, to be honest, were not her best.  She was very sick with liver failure and passed away on the very same day I went to a dress fitting for the bridesmaids dress I was to wear that coming summer to my brother and sister-in-law to be’s wedding.  At the end of the conversation I said to my mom, in as stern a voice as I could muster,

Mom, cut me off at three.

I am squarely in the safe zone, being a lady with only 2 cats, one full feline below the edge.  I go through my days proudly telling people about my cats, Clark and Grete, and not worrying about the judgement I would receive if I were to then rattle off an additional three names. It was with this calm attitude that I headed out for a run last Thursday afternoon before work.  As I was running past a train yard I heard a loud, shrill, kitten-sounding call for help coming from somewhere within the gated yards.  I stopped and looked around, following the sound, until I located the kitten stuck inside of a kelly green electrical box.  I looked around for help, but it was after 5 and everyone had gone home.  I retraced my steps and ended up at the entrance to some other MTA-owned property with a security guard who seemed relatively unconcerned about the fate of the cat, although he did assure me that he would “send some fellas to check it out.”  I looked around and didn’t see anyone.  What fellas, I wondered to myself, was he talking about?  I figured he must be a dog person.

I headed back in the direction of the cat, saying to myself over and over again that I had to be at work soon, that there was nothing I could do about the cat in the box, that I simply had to trust in the existence of these invisible fellas and that everything would be okay.  As I approached the box I heard the desperate cries of the trapped kitten.  I simply could not pass it by.  So I crouched there and I started talking to the kitten in the box.  Now, mind you, I was on a busy road and cars and people were passing by and the kitten was invisible to everyone but me and, wouldn’t you know it, as long as I was cooing at it the poor little thing stayed calm.  What this meant for me was that it appeared to those passing me by that I was a crazy person in full running get-up talking to a green metal box and frantically looking at every passer-by with panic in my eyes.  Finally, after 1/2 hour of crouching alone by the box in 25 degree weather, a lady, who had just walked past and not given me a second glance, heard the meow and stopped.  I looked at her and to her stationary back said

There is a cat stuck in this box.

She quickly approached and we started trying to come up with plans.  I had noticed a few minutes earlier that the gate to the yard was open but my law-abiding self was afraid to enter and get yelled at by an approaching fella that I had neglected to notice.  She seconded my concerns (minus the fella) and added that she was pretty sure the gate had an automatic lock mechanism and if someone closed it while I was in there I could get stuck and she didn’t care how official my running clothes looked, there was no way I would be able to scale that fence AND the razor wire at the top without (1) getting arrested, (2) falling or (3) ruining my clothes that she was sure were pretty expensive.*  Just then I realized that a car that had glided to a stop was still idling about 20 feet away and I hadn’t noticed anyone get out.  When I looked up at the car, it approached, and the tinted window of the passenger’s side slowly rolled down.  A man in a baseball cap looked out at me and I said to him

There is a cat stuck in this box.

The man looked shocked and quickly came out of the car.  So there we all were, standing on the sidewalk shoulder to shoulder to shoulder, staring at a stationary electrical box and gesticulating wildly.  The man shrugged off our warnings about the possibility of an automatic lock mechanism and entered the yard, with me closely behind him and the lady standing in the entrance to the yard so just in case the doors started closing she could stop them with her body.  He started moving the lid of the box around, I kept an eye out for fellas, and then, just like that, the whole top and side disconnected from the rest of the box.  We peered in and there it was, the cutest, smallest, scaredest little beige kitty.  It wouldn’t come out of the box but, wouldn’t you know it, the man happened to have cat food in his car so he opened a little can and left it propping the box open so the kitty could eat and escape.  Each of us, we discovered, would love to take the kitty home but both the lady and the man already had 4 kittys and I, as I mentioned before, had 2.  So, we left the kitty to its own devices and went off in our different directions, all of us feeling good about having released the kitty and me, with my comparatively small number of cats at home, feeling even more secure in my status as a lady with cats.

*In actuality I bought them on sale, but I still would have been sad if I ripped them.

7 Responses to “There is a Cat Stuck in this Box”

  1. elizagritz March 18, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    Ah, thanks for that serious dose of chuckles. BUT! 1. My mom only has two cats and she is most certainly a cat lady. I think it’s more about attitude than quantity of cats. and 2. I can’t believe you rescued the kitty and left it! You could have mailed it to me in Mexico! (Er, well, no ya probably couldn’t have.) I’d become a cat lady. No fear, no shame. Not living in New York, either. :p

    Great story, Rebekah. ❤ Well told.

    • FranklyRebekah March 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

      The little guy was so scared and I didn’t have anything with which to carry it OR money to take a cab home. Also, my roommates would have hated me forever and ever. But next time I find a cat in an electrical box, I’ll take it as a sign and bring it home and name it lightning.

  2. jillhru March 18, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

    Haha I remember we had this conversation when we were training together! I was lamenting the fact that I might be a cat lady with three cats and you said, specifically, “This is my theory and I think you should subscribe to it…” and then you rattled off the above. For the record, I still have those three cats and still don’t consider myself a cat lady. 🙂

    • FranklyRebekah March 18, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

      Ha! Jill! I remember that!! Best theory ever. Here’s to ladies with cats 🙂

      • jillhru March 18, 2013 at 11:52 pm #


  3. emgritz May 12, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    I love this! You should seriously consider publishing it, Rebekah. 🙂

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