Tag Archives: cats

Just Plain Squirrely

A recent video making the rounds on Facebook about a baby squirrel made me cheer.

If you have not already seen this clip, take a moment.

Watched it? Good.

For those who could not be bothered, let me give you a quick snapshot of what you missed.

A man is gently holding a squirrel, clasping it close to his chest in a gesture of love and affection after having rehabilitated the sick critter.

He is near a tree and talking to the squirrel and encouraging it to return to nature as the squirrel takes a few tentative spider-like shimmies upward.

A happy ending, right?

Yes, until a cat flashes into view, grabs the squirrel in its jaws and there is much screaming.

Score one for the cat I say.

I have had an enmity toward squirrels dating back years.

As a kid in the Bronx I recall digging “squirrel traps” with my friend Michael Butler.

Vietcong-like, we would dig holes, fill them with thorns from bushes and cover them with grass in the mistaken belief we would “catch” squirrels.

Why we did this I do not know. Bored boys in the Bronx is all I can suggest.

Flash-forward about 30 years and I am a first-time homeowner, complete with a shed in the backyard.

One of the first times I went in there I jumped out of my skin because a squirrel had built a nest by chewing a hole into it.

I spooked the squirrel. The squirrel spooked me. And the game was on.

I boarded up the hole.

The squirrel created a new one.

I cleaned out the nest — carefully.

The squirrel flipped me the paw.

And so it went.

Think of Bill Murray fighting the gopher in “Caddyshack” and you have some idea of what I was like.

Years later, the boys and I and my fiancée rented a two-family home that had a spacious attic. And in the attic was, you guessed it, more damn squirrels.

They chewed through the walls and left piles of sawdust everywhere like some beaver-wannabes.

But the all-time craziest encounter I had happened on a magnificent Sunday afternoon in May and we opened the inner and outer doors to the apartment to take advantage of the weather.

My fiancée and I were in the living room watching TV when we both perceived a blur of gray fly through the hallway.

We both looked at each as if to say, “Did you see that?”

Sure enough, a squirrel had bolted into the house.

It hid briefly in our bedroom, escaped into the kitchen, jumped into my lunch bag briefly before bounding upstairs and hiding in the kitchen there.

It remained a fugitive for a day as I tried to corner it with sticky traps (it left clumps of fur but otherwise escaped) and tried to lure it out with peanut butter.

We eventually opened the doors and it ushered itself out the same way it found itself in.

I just remember seeing its hind legs bounding across the street like its ass was on fire.

The cat in the video had the right idea.

About Cats: How One Kitty Adopted Me

I walked into the cafeteria as Rafael was in the middle of a story. I missed the valuable first part, but what I did hear had me in tears, and then, chuckling.

What I heard was, “We were in the hospital late last night and she was on dialysis…and the doctor said that she wouldn’t live through the night.”

He was distraught, so I asked if his mom was OK. He looked at me quizzically and said: “Sure, she’s fine. I was talking about my cat.”

I smiled inwardly. Cat, I thought. How could anyone get broken up over a cat?

A few months, later one of my client’s cat had a litter of kittens and they offered me the runt she had just been weaned off her mother.

She was this thin charcoal gray, black-and- white tabby with these beautiful green eyes and a very long tail.

I was holding her in my arms at the time, so I made a hasty decision and said yes. Mind you, I never had a pet before except for my stuffed green rabbit and a starfish that I found at Orchard Beach.

I took her home and set up a bed for her and a makeshift litter box, etc. I didn’t think that was enough, so I ran out to the store and picked up some “cat”aphernalia.

The next morning I woke and could hardly breathe. I had red eyes and my throat was swollen and I had chills and a fever. It
felt like the flu.

I called my doctor and described my symptoms and told him that I just received a kitten. He diagnosed me as having “Cat Scratch Fever” which, I said, I thought was just a song.

He said, yes, John they did make it into a song but something about a kitten’s scratch is worse than an adult cat because they have bacteria and dander in their claws. I thought perhaps I could wash the kitten but that could harm the cat at her young age.

He did offer me a few alternatives though:

  1. Get rid of the cat.  Seemed like a good idea.  Kitten makes me sick, find the kitty a new home.
  2. Get shots. Sounded simple enough as I was going to be taking her to the vet in a few weeks anyway. I asked my doctor ifthe shots would hurt the kitten because she is kind of small and scrawny.  He said, no, John, the shots are for you. Oh well. Then let me revisit option No. 1 or is there a third
  3. Keep the cat and eventually build up an immunity. So the wait-and-see option seemed to be the one that worked. In the time trying to locate an appropriate home for the kitten, I finally built up an immunity and ended up keeping her.

Kitty finally was named “Smokey” and she was mine. A few weeks later I took her to the vet for shots and to be fixed.

I understood Rafael’s pain and anguish when she came out of surgery and was sluggish and had that funnel around her head.

Although it was a normal procedure, I welled up and realized that I was now a cat owner and I wanted the very best for her.