Some people with cats go on to lead normal lives

“You can train a cat to do anything it wants to do.”—Uncredited wise cat lover.

“There’s a cat in the travel trailer.”

My wife is a cat person managing a nice size herd. Her frantic declaration on the phone last week caught me off guard, but offered so many creative responses that were beckoning. I struggled to choose the right one. The potential for one-liners was limitless. Not liking the thought of eating alone or conversations with myself, however, I went with, “The door’s not locked, let it out.”

“No,” she said with a tone that let me know even that was a wrong response, “Not inside the trailer, in one of the storage compartments.”

“Impossible,” I countered. “They stay locked.” Clearly, something was amiss that further phone conversation was not going to fix. “I’ll be there in ten minutes,” I said.

The critter’s pathetic pleas were loud. But, a thorough search of every nook and cranny in the RV revealed nothing that would not be needed at the nearest KOA. And, the last time I checked, a cat was not one of those needs.

Sliding out from under the trailer, I noticed the cries for help now appeared to be coming from a higher source—the massive sweet gum tree right behind me.

At the top of a 12-foot extension ladder, they were still way above me—far enough that I saw not a trace of fur in the forest of green.

“I see her, there she is way up at the very top,” Terry said.

“And, you know it’s a she…how,” I asked. Even as the question rolled off my lips, I had the perfect answer. Fortunately for me, reminders of eating alone and talking to myself crossed my mind again before I verbalized it. “Mystery solved,” I said. “See you later.”

“We can’t just leave it up there,” she rebutted.

“You’re forgetting the incident with Miss Kitty some years ago,” I suggested. Miss Kitty came with my wife. The cat’s seniority outranked mine. She found herself way up a tall pine one day, and I felt compelled to rescue her. My arms were barely long enough to reach the aging and overweight cat from a point on my ladder way past where my fear of heights kicks in. Turns out that was not relevant anyway. In a heartbeat, my extended offer of help was not only rejected, it was met with caterwauling and claws.

I could attempt an explanation of what transpired next, but if you were a fan of Mississippi humorist, Jerry Clower, just envision his ‘coon-hunting story. The one about ol’ John Eubanks’ efforts to extract a raccoon from way up high in a sweet gum tree and the moment he discovered he was face-to-face with a “souped-up wildcat”—not a raccoon.

“Just shoot up in here amongst us,” ol’ John cried out amidst the fight, “one of us got to have some relief.”

Scratched up and trembling, I descended the ladder back to earth where our retired neighbor, Mr. Bud, greeted me. He had witnessed the whole thing, beginning to end.

“That cat will make it down just fine,” he drawled. “Did ‘ja ever see a cat skeleton in a tree?”

Seeing as how that theory held true with Miss Kitty years ago, I opted to test it again last week. It still works. Later that evening, said cat was lounging on the patio, purring and washing its face. No, I still have no clue as to the cat’s gender and truthfully, I don’t care.

I’m just glad there are no cat skeletons in the tree and glad that I’m still enjoying company for meals and conversation.

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas, Light and Champion and the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune newspapers.

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