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April 3, 2011 - Jennifer Brookens
I learned two important lessons this weekend: 1) The door sealing off the basement from the old cellar door was not nailed shut as we originally believed, and 2) Even the fattest cat can squeeze his way through the tiniest spaces.
That old cellar door was on our to-do list to get rid of, since it was just one pounce/hailstorm away from collasping alltogether. But Saturday morning, our attention was drawn to it when we couldn't find one of our cats. What made it unusual was that Tacky (aka Fatty or the Alpha male) was the one missing. Unlike the other two, Fatty does not hide or make himself scarce. He is always the one front and center, making sure never to miss a chance at a potential feeding time. After looking in all the regular places and no sign of him, we started to worry. Did his girth finally cause him a heart attack, or did he choke to death chewing on a mystery object? One of the other cats was in the basement overnight, and it was a place Tacky loved to go hide from the kids when they were too wild. Since the basement serves as little more than storage and tornado hideout, I hadn't gone all the way down there for awhile. Time to investigate.
As I approached the end, imagine my shock when a door we believed was nailed shut was instead standing wide open! Looking out, I could the the bowing, rotted cellar door that led to the backyard, and a hole that most cats could easily fit through. Tacky could, if he really squeezed. Outside, we could see white hairs caught around the edge. Mr. Alpha Male, declawed and neutered, was out and despite his size was probably no match for a real tomcat. Or the idiot cars that love to drag race down our street and through the alley in the middle of the night.
I prepared at 7:30 a.m. to scour the neighborhood armed with a can of the nasty-smelling food affectionally referred to as "chum." I was hoping to flush Tacky out of the neighbor's bushes, and (God forbid) if we find the worst that we can somehow avoid the kids seeing it. Just as I crept to look through the fence where the neighbor's pitbulls are kept, I heard his meow. I turned around and there he was, looking quite proud of himself. With a few scratches on his face. Whether he met up with one of the roaming Toms or if it was just from squeezing through the hole in the door, we'll never know.
While we now realize the door was not like that for very long, the door we thought was nailed shut is now nailed and bolted for good measure. A trip to Fleet and Farm and the lumber yard will get rid of the rotted cellar door. And Tacky is grounded from the basement and garage. I'm sure we'll hear about it when he realizes his escape hatch has been sealed.
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Tacky met his match when out on the town