The headline struck me like a bolt out of the blue, FAMILY HELD HOSTAGE BY CAT. Below the heading a story told of a 911 call received in Milwaukee. The caller, a housewife, claimed she and her husband were being held hostage by their pet cat.
I immediately put aside all pressing concerns, such as presidential politics and the price of rice in China, and focused all my attention on the ferocious feline in Wisconsin.
The story was short but not so sweet. According to the caller, the cat went “crazy” and attacked the husband. They were afraid to leave their home. The couple was clearly perplexed as to what to do.
Well, I’ve been there and done that. It wasn’t a pretty picture.
Many, many years ago, not long after Sharon and I married, we decided we wanted a family. We weren’t quite to the point where we felt we were ready for a child, so the idea of adopting a pet came to mind.
One late afternoon we decided to pay the Animal Rescue League in Des Moines a visit. We reasoned that it would be strictly a reconnaissance run … a preliminary call to test the waters.
Well, that didn’t happen. We walked in, strolled by a few cages and immediately were drawn to a beautiful Siamese cat named Simon. At first glance he appeared to be a statue. He stood so proudly in his cage and didn’t move a muscle. His very presence screamed “nobility.” We fell in love.
Visiting with the Animal Rescue League advisor didn’t do much good. She recommended we think about the adoption, at least overnight, before making a decision. We completely ignored that advice. We knew what we wanted and we wanted it NOW. A short while later we walked to our car with our new cat in a cardboard box.
The trip home was peaceful, as was Simon’s initial introduction to our household. He simply walked around in a stately manner, exploring all the nooks and crannies with non-committal glances. We wondered if he approved.
We soon discovered that he approved. In fact, he laid claim to the household as well as the occupants there of. That reality became apparent when we tried to go to bed that night.
We had left him on a blanket in a basket in the kitchen. Soon after closing our bedroom door Simon attacked it. Running his claws down the length of the door. Not wishing to have him join us in bed, we put him back in his basket and closed the bedroom door once more. He immediately attacked the door again.
Neither the kitchen nor hallway had doors, so we came up with the idea of blocking the kitchen off with a large cardboard box which had originally contained our refrigerator. That worked but the next morning we ran into the same problem when we closed the outside door to go to work. We had to slam the door shut or Simon would race after us. I reasoned he worried that we might not return and the situation would rectify itself. It didn’t.
One evening we visited my parents. Of course, Simon came along. On their acreage stood an old barn. In that barn lived one of the toughest old tomcats to ever walk this Earth. Somehow, within minutes, the paths of those two cats crossed and the fur flew.
Dad and I managed to break up the fight with a bucket of water but neither cat was happy about not proving its superiority. Sharon, feeling sorry for a wet, despondent Simon, reached down to pick him up. He immediately attacked her.
Simon clamped onto her neck and head with each and every claw and held on tight. There was mass panic. I threaten to get a gun and shoot the cat, but a frantic call to our family physician, Dr. Severson, put a stop to that plan. In desperation I grabbed the cat around his middle and gripped as tight as possible. The cat released his grip and jumped to the ground.
The local veterinarian, Dr. Smith, was also called. He suggested we bring Simon to his office. He wanted to observe the cat for a few days and make sure he didn’t have rabies. I told the vet I was planning to return Simon to his former home as soon as he was released.
Surprisingly enough, this story has a happy ending, at least for Simon. A nearby farmer stopped into the vet’s office the next day and spotted Simon. He and his wife had several female Siamese cats and needed a male cat. Within a few days, Simon had a new home.
I would occasionally visit Simon. He strutted around like the king of the barnyard. Guess that goes to prove that bonding with a cat has its up and downs.
Ed Rood is former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He and his wife Sharon live near Cambridge.