The Purloined Cat

Squeaky is our neighborhood cat. Actually, she belongs to Mr. Solomon, the 95-year-old Latvian who owns the property next door, renting out the front to Debbie and Tina while living upstairs in the back. He has survived cancer but is pretty much wheelchair bound except for when he is propped up out on the porch, attended to by a live-in, also from Latvia. He loves his cat.

Squeaky is an outdoor cat, roams the neighborhood at will and is loved by all, fed and frequently invited in for a chat when she comes a-calling. Mr. Solomon leaves the downstairs garage door ajar for sheltering as needed.

Squeaky is small but fearless. Loves people, solicits back scratches from strangers, and boldly walks right up to dogs. When Tina and Debbie walk Bella or Diego, Squeaky follows them around the block. And while she doesn’t approach Tzuri, Squeaky doesn’t run from Tzuri either, although Tzuri wishes she would try. 

Adjacent to Mr. Solomon’s is a small house that has been rented out to a succession of tenants over the past few years. It may be a corporate rental or B&B type place. A kid lives there now who I’ve said hello to once or twice. He’s 20-something, vibrant, talkative, confident. I’m told he’s a salesman. He leaves his blinds open day and night and the inside of his place is minimally furnished, distinguished only by a large sports banner on the wall and a constantly running big-screen TV. He drives a car with Indiana tags and leaves in the morning wearing a power suit – but, incongruously, sporting a baseball cap turned around like a rap star, and a school-kid’s backpack slung over his shoulder. He likes to whistle and sing to himself.

Odd people drop by his place every so often and stay a few days. Recently a pockmarked truck-driving Russian Spetnaz-looking guy, big and gloomy, with a wife and kid. The wife and kid didn’t say much; they seemed intimidated by their husband’s presence. Seemingly out of character, however, Mr. Spetnaz kindly mowed the yard one day – the weeds were knee high – although certainly he didn’t begrudge the opportunity to remove his shirt and flaunt his bulging muscles.

And then for a few days Kid Salesman had another visitor, a body-builder from Indiana named Joe. Through the window I could see that he was short and squat, and animated. (Later his mother would tell us that her son – barely out of his teens, if that – was on steroids.) And Steroid Joe took a liking to Squeaky. Or perhaps he just felt he was her savior, since to Steroid Joe’s distorted imagination she seemed homeless and neglected. He began keeping her inside Kid Salesman’s house, longer and longer each time. Once, Steroid Joe looked out and saw that Squeaky had escaped from the house and I’m told he jumped out the bedroom window to quickly snatch and bring her back inside again. Steroid Joe was acting strange.

Tina knew something wasn’t quite right, and tried to keep Squeaky away from Steroid Joe’s clutches as much as possible. But she was an outside cat, and couldn’t be locked up 24/7.

And then one day Steroid Joe was gone, and the whole neighborhood sensed immediately that our beloved cat was gone, too.

Tina immediately went into high gear. She got Steroid Joe’s phone number from Kid Salesman and called him in Indiana. He was unrepentant and eventually blocked her calls. She called the police and filed a report, but nothing could be done. (Squeaky was licensed, had ID tags, and was microchipped.) She paid a service that finds email addresses, sent messages, and it was, surprisingly, Steroid Joe’s mother who finally responded. Apparently her son has done this before and his mother ends up with the cats, six of them now in her large, upscale home. Nice digs but Squeaky was depressed and kept to herself, hissing at the other cats.

I was furious, so much so that I seriously contemplated swift vigilante retribution for the Body Builder if he ever returned to this area without Squeaky. To steal a cat from a 95-year-old dying man, to whisk her away from the only home she has ever known, to turn her life upside down and subject her to unbearable stress – well, that was like a death sentence to Squeaky and I was outraged enough to seek justice on my own terms.

Fortunately, the mother was not happy with her son’s behavior, either, and worked with Tina to make things right. Commercially flying Squeaky back was out of the question, money-wise. A couple of pet shuttle services were investigated, and one was eventually agreed upon. A driver was finally going to bring Squeaky home!

But not so fast . . . He picked up Squeaky in Indiana but first had to drive to New York. From there he swung back by Michigan. Then he drove straight through to Florida. Poor Squeaky could not have anticipated that she was heading home, and a week-long experience on the road in a cat carrier must have been endless torture.

It was dark out but several of us were waiting on the sidewalk when Squeaky arrived. She was pissed, and had lost significant weight. Tina bought her some special fattening-up food and kept her inside long enough to calm down and re-acclimate.

First day back home. Note how skinny she is.

Now she is back in the neighborhood where she belongs but more often than before seems to want to sleep inside at night.

I would guess she was gone for about a month, and has been back now for about a week. Whether she can forget about the past and regain her equilibrium remains to be seen.

Many thanks to Tina and Debbie for their stellar efforts to rescue Squeaky. And Joe’s mother, obviously ashamed of her son, sent Tina a check for 500 dollars to cover expenses!

🙂 🙂 🙂

​ 

17 Replies to “The Purloined Cat”

  1. The “Purr-loined” Cat … an excellent example of Oops’ ability to make an adventure come alive … a morality “tail” … you’ve created a neighborhood classic and immortalized … at least for those of us who read this … that age old adage (Don’t you just love redundancy?) of a “cat having nine lives.” Supporting photography splendid … but then you’ve spoiled us as well as entertained us. HUSS

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Thank you so much for caring enough to write this story about our sweet girl.
            Since her ordeal she has been staying in our house with the exception of our dog/cat walks for the day. She’s become quite the little lover. She sleeps in bed with us on mine or Debbie’s pillow on top of our head.
            This has definitely changed her, she seems thankful to be home. Once a social butterfly now a home body attached at the hip.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Without your and Debbie’s love and concern, Squeaky’s life right now would be unbearably tragic. Thank you for all you did. And, although I forgot to mention it above, thank you for all the pictures you sent me. 🙂

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  2. Great story! You should publish this.

    Joy

    On Fri, Aug 13, 2021 at 9:52 AM Giblets & Flapdoodle wrote:

    > oopsjohn posted: ” Squeaky is our neighborhood cat. Actually, she belongs > to Mr. Solomon, the 95-year-old Latvian who owns the property next door, > renting out the front to Debbie and Tina while living upstairs in the back. > He has survived cancer but is pretty much ” >

    Like

  3. Thanks so for sharing this bizarre but fascinating story.
    Dedicated neighbors are really Treasures !

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  4. Nice to have a happy ending after so many losses this year. I love the photo of her with the tear in her eye. Bravo!

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  5. This is the best cat story of this sort (missing cat) that I’ve ever read. Before I read this one, I cherished the one about the cat who somehow ended up on the Isle of Skye, probably in someone’s car, but whose home was on Mainland Scotland. The cat swam back to the mainland. Now, I can guarantee this: that is some really cold water, year round. Otters and seals do fine there, but the survival of this small grey tabby made the weekly paper we used to have in Scotland, pictures of the drenched little darling being lifted up by the ferry man. In those days there was no bridge from the mainland to Skye, only the ferry. As we say in Scotland, Long may Squeaky’s Chimney Reek!! p.martha wade-graham

    >

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    1. Scotland? Cold water, indeed! I’ve been looking at travel films just across the North Sea in Norway. Would move there in an instant if it was a bit warmer. Glad you enjoyed the Squeaky story.

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