So there’s this cat…

June 13, 2009

On Friday, I rode my bike for 16 miles, cleaned up, ate breakfast and then headed out for an early morning appointment with a partner of ours and (hopefully) a new customer. It’s a good 40+ miles into town from here, but most of that is interstate and I can make pretty good time. The night before, the weather had been pretty heinous (heavy thunderstorms, tornado watches, &c), but the morning had broken pretty nicely. I pulled into the parking lot, idled for a bit with the AC running while I checked e-mail and my teeth one last time, then got out of car. I hit the button to lock the doors, which also turns on the alarm.

Chirp-chirp! and then: meow

Wait, what?

I hit the button again: chirp-chirp, and then: meow meow meow meow as regular as can be. My first thought was that the alarm was flipping out. A woman passing by and I looked at each other while the car continued to meow. Oh Lord, I thought, I’ve run over a cat. I looked under the car. No cat. I walked around the car. No cat. The meowing was…in the car. I popped the hood, and the meowing got louder.

There was a cat somewhere in the engine compartment of the car.

I couldn’t see it, but the woman and I could both hear it.

Well, says I, the engine will certainly cool down in a little while and I’m sure Felix, or whatever his/her name is will slink out directly. No doubt the cat wants to calm its nerves after an 80 mph ride up I-24 before slinking away. I certainly would. I lower the hood, assure the passers-by that I will not restart the engine unless I can confirm that the cat is gone. And, of course, I won’t, since I don’t to risk turning the cat into mincemeat should it happen to contact the serpentine belt or radiator fan or whatever moving component is nearby. I closed the hood and went to my meeting.

About an hour later, I come back out and chirp the alarm a few times. Nothing. The cat seems to be gone. One last time: chirp-chirp, and then: meow. The cat is not gone, and the meows are sounding a little…faint. I join  another meeting via conference call and everyone on the line has a good laugh about my predicament:

  1. I seem to have a cat, which I cannot see.
  2. If I can’t see it, I can’t get it out.
  3. If I can’t get it out, I can’t leave, QED.

The woman comes back and the two of us poke around the engine compartment to see if we can get a look. I call some cat-owning friends for advice. I tweet my predicament, which also updates my Facebook page. Internet advice starts rolling in, of varying degrees of helpfulness.

Drop some food, but I don’t have any. Obtain a small dog. Get on the highway and really open it up. Wait it out.

It’s starting to get sort of hot out in the parking lot. I’m starting to form a plan involving a tow-truck, the closest Toyota dealership and lots of wrenches. In a last ditch effort, I start removing the plastic covers that hide the undercarriage beneath the front bumper. Neither hide nor hair of the cat is visible. Suddenly, a paw drops down right in front of my face. Right! I wedge my hand in the crack and start fishing around. After a minute or two, a tiny grey kitten emerges.

I hold it up, and the office people who have been watching me from an open doorway let out a cheer. They donate a box, and some water but – oddly enough – not a home. I haul the cat to our house. Plans form and reform. There’s no way, says I, that this cat could have traveled before secreting itself away in my bumper. Someone is no doubt combing this neighborhood looking for it. We should hang up signs announcing that we have FOUND: A GREY KITTEN and include our phone number.

Which we do, but really, the effort is half-hearted at best because the children have already seen the kitten and the result is a foregone conclusion, to wit, we own a cat. Today the signs came down and I bought some extra strength litter in which she can crap.

We named her Athena, because she is also grey-eyed and also because she too seems to have jumped fully formed from the brow of Zeus and into my car. No one has seen any cats around lately – strays or otherwise. It’s a mystery. So, anyway, we have a cat now.

grey-eyed Athena

Update: according to The Google, this whole cat-in-the-engine-compartment is not at all uncommon. Go figure.


One Response to “So there’s this cat…”

  1. Joe McBee Says:

    Very creative on the name. I probably would have called it Toyota. Yeah…yours is better.

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