Having recently read an amusing story written by a fellow blogger about what happens when a cat gets into the laundry basket I thought I would recount a couple of amusing incidents which have happened with my own cats, although they weren’t very funny at the time.
The first incident happened several years ago at a time when I had quite a lot of cats – sixteen to be precise. Some were my own but others had been taken in and were waiting to be rehomed; six of these were all white, and being from the same family were more or less identical. Now at one time any ‘boarders’ lived in the cattery at the bottom of the garden but it was cold in there in winter so being the soft-hearted person I am they all ended up in the utility room off the kitchen, which is where this particular lot were at the time of the incident. Also in the utility room was the central heating boiler which was enclosed in an outer casing with a vent in the top, and sometimes in winter a couple of the cats would squeeze through the vent and sleep on top of the boiler where it was warm.
Came the day when the boiler was due for its annual inspection and service, the gas service engineer duly arrived and I left him to get on with it – that was until he came to find me, and the conversation went like this –
Him – “Ermm….there’s a dead cat on top of your boiler”
Me – “No, it’s okay, it’ll be asleep – they often go up there”
Him – “No, it’s not asleep, it’s dead”
Me – “Are you sure?”
Him – “Yes, it’s definitely dead”
Me – “Okay, I’ll come and have a look”
So I went into the utility room to find that the engineer had taken the outer cover off the boiler and there on top, obviously dead, was one of the white cats. I had to get the step ladder and climb up to reach it, and what I saw wasn’t a pretty sight – it was practically welded to the metal boiler top and when I picked it up a great deal of its fur was left behind; disposing of it wasn’t exactly the nicest job in the world either. I didn’t know how long it had been up there – hopefully not long – and as far as I knew it hadn’t been ill so I assumed it had been overcome by the heat and suffocated. And with six almost identical white ones I hadn’t even missed it!
It’s a good thing the service engineer came when he did or the cat could have been up there long enough to start smelling, but I felt awful that he was the one who discovered it. After he’d gone I cut a piece of plywood to size, drilled some ventilation holes in it and stuck it firmly to the top of the boiler cover with builder’s adhesive. My cat family has gradually dwindled in the years since then and I only have three now, one of which is Mouse who lives upstairs; the other two do sometimes sit up on top of the boiler but at least they can’t get inside. And I’d love to know what that engineer told his mates when he got back to his depot!
The second incident occurred while I was camping on Anglesey just a few years ago and involved the last remaining one of the previously mentioned white cats. It was the third day of a week-long holiday and I was driving down a country lane on my way to Abersoch on the Llyn Peninsula when my phone bleeped with a text message, so I found a convenient lay-by and pulled up to read it. It was from Michael, my son – “Sorry if I spoil your holiday mum, the white cat’s dead” Well that was certainly short and to the point.
Now the cat in question was by then getting on in years and not in the best of health so the news, although sad, didn’t come as too much of a surprise, and considering I was at least 140 miles away from home there was nothing I could do about it anyway. As I sat there contemplating the cat’s demise and wishing it had waited until I got home before breathing its last my phone bleeped with another message – “What do you want me to do with it?” So I rang Michael – and got the whole graphic account.
Now to put you in the picture, for some strange reason my cats would never drink water from a normal water dish so I’ve always left a washing up bowl full of fresh water in the kitchen sink. Michael had gone in to feed the cats as usual then seeing a white dishcloth in the sink he’d decided to give the worktops a wipe over – except the object in the sink wasn’t a dishcloth. Partially submerged in the washing up bowl and staring up at him with sightless blue eyes, head at an angle and a hideous grimace on its face was one very dead white cat. Now Michael is an adult and by no means a wimp but he said he must have jumped back at least four feet and the scream could probably have been heard from the far end of the street. In trepidation, and with a pounding heart and a face almost as white as the cat, he’d taken another look and the sight was no less pretty the second time around – the cat was most definitely dead and didn’t look too happy about being so either.
The first text message reached me a couple of minutes later and the second one came through after he’d had a nerve calming cigarette. When I spoke to him he still sounded a bit shaken but he agreed there was no need for me to cut my holiday short and that he would bury the cat in the back garden. So out he went and dug the hole then hauled the bedraggled body out of the washing up bowl, wrapped it in an old dog towel and dropped it into the hole, filling it in quickly in case the creature decided to somehow suddenly spring back to life and escape.
There was no way of knowing how or why the cat had got into the washing up bowl; had it fallen in and somehow drowned or had it suffered a heart attack and fallen in on the point of death? – I rather hoped it was the latter as the former scenario doesn’t bear thinking about. The whole incident has come up in conversation several times over the last few years and though Michael didn’t find it funny at the time – and it certainly wasn’t funny from the cat’s point of view – the story always produces much hilarity in the way he tells it. For quite a while after that though, whenever I was away camping he would go to feed the cats with great caution in case he got any more nasty surprises.