Friday, December 30, 2011

Hobie Cat's Last Ride

 Our cat of 10 years ago, Hobie (get it, Hobie Cat), was certifiably insane. We got an inkling of this when she began to eat plastic dry cleaning bags, or portions of them anyway, and throw up disgusting things in the house. So she was banished to (shudder shudder) the outdoors. This necessitated that I become involved in the logistics of making her excommunication as humane as possible. We didn’t want to be cruel. So I had to put in two cat doors that would allow Hobie to come into the garage to get warm, and on into the laundry room where we would keep bowls of water and cat food for her.

*insert here clip from The Godfather where Vito Corleone says to Tom Hagen “We’re not murderers, regardless of what this undertaker thinks”*

A determined albeit unskilled do-it-yourselfer, I began the task of installing the two cat doors (not good for resale) starting with the laundry room door. I discovered that they sell pet doors but they don’t tell you how to install them. So, under the influence of that old handyman adage: “measure twice – cut once”, I measured and measured and measured. Only problem was, I had the door off its hinges, lying across two sawhorses when this measuring was done. So it was only after I had finished installing the pet door and had begun to put the utility room door back on the hinges that I discovered a problem.  I had installed the pet door, not in the bottom left corner as planned, but in the top left corner.  I told no one. I just sneaked back to Lowe’s for another door.

Hobie grew progressively worse in the psychiatric department. She hid in the crawlspace beneath the neighbor’s house and uttered moans that could only be described as macabre. Maybe blood curdling. Anyway, they were loud, long and guttural sounds that frightened the neighbor's two small children in the middle of the night. The neighbor’s name was Jamie. He came over one day while I was outside and began the conversation with, “Is that your cat?” I knew this wouldn’t turn out well.

He told me about the moaning. He was nice about it, but the message was clear. Also disturbing was the fact that Hobie had begun the nasty habit of bringing home trophy kills and depositing them on the welcome mat. Mice, mostly. Some song birds. One very large Blue Jay. I wondered how in the world she managed to catch these birds. Were birds really that slow? I have to say I was as impressed as I was disgusted.

Although we did our best to care for her, Hobie's health soon began to fail and on the rare occasions when we saw her it was shocking to see her looking so scraggly.

“Just do it and don’t tell me about it until after it’s over,” Lorraine said to me one day.

“Do what?” I asked.

“You know… take care of Hobie,” she said.

“Oh… you mean eliminate her,” I said, doing my best mobster impersonation. “Wax her. Neutralize her. Take her out of action. Do her. ”

“Stop it!” she cried.

I was still going. “The big sleep. Off her. Turn out her lights….”

“I mean put her out of her misery,” she said quietly. I shut up.

I agreed to do it but I was uncomfortable about it. I understood mercy killing….when other people did it. But this was different. I guess my job in relation to the family pets was to serve as installer of custom entry doors and, oh yeah, hit man.

A few days later I caught a glimpse of Hobie, slinking around the front porch. She had just deposited a fresh kill at the front door and was waiting for someone to find it. It was then that an idea was born. It would give Hobie a chance at life and keep me from being a cat assassin. I put Hobie in the trunk of the car muttering, “We’re going for a little ride in the country, old girl,"

I drove west until I found the bucolic scene for which I was searching. There, in the twilight, was a small, friendly wood-frame farm house with outbuildings. A scene right out of “The Waltons” I reckoned. A driveway bordered by a wood fence curved up from the main road toward the front door. It was early spring and a wisp of smoke curled up from a red brick chimney and the windows of the small house glowed orange in the fading light. What an idyllic rural setting for Hobie’s new life! There was a pond nearby and I think I saw another cat or two, but I can’t be sure. In any case, I drove down the driveway as far as I dared, as if to turn around, and popped the trunk and let Hobie out. I wished her well and hoped that some kind soul would adopt her. If they didn’t, I reasoned, she would still be all right, wouldn’t she? Hadn’t she already proven her hunting skills beyond any reasonable doubt? If she was that good at living off the land, then certainly she would come to a better end here than she would at the hands of the evil Doctor VetVorkian!

Satisfied, I headed home. My cell phone rang and I answered it. It was a friend and they asked me what I was up to. So I told them about “taking Hobie for a ride” and didn’t think anything about it. He told his wife, however, and she told my wife and I got the hysterical call at work the following day.
We drove to the scene of the "crime" and combed the woods near the farm house calling the cat’s name, but of course there was no Hobie. I went to the farm house to inquire if they had seen a lost cat. Nope. We eventually sold that house with its superflous cat doors (very bad for resale) and what happened to Hobie is still a touchy subject. Lorraine’s vision is one of a small, helpless, Kibbles N Bits-fed little kitty being torn to pieces by feral dogs. I see a kind hearted farmer's wife, her gray hair in a bun, sitting by a fire, knitting, rocking, with Hobie softly purring by her slippered feet.


Alyssa said...

My goodness! Well written and funny to be sure, but awful just the same... that poor cat D:

I'm sure he was fine. The way you describe him, any feral dog dumb enough to want him would be scared off by his gruesome/malnourished appearance and horrific noises. Tell that to Lorraine; I'm sure it will make her feel better.

Katie said...

You killed my cat....

Tom & Elaine Plank said...

good story.

The Anonymous Blogger said...

Wow, I feel a mixture of sadness and laughter right now. Great post :)

-The Anon Blogger