John Grindrod: Don’t pause to take a picture

First Posted: 1/19/2015

While I do fashion myself as somewhat of a shutterbug, a term dangerously close to obsolescence, given the number of pictures taken on smart phones, there are indeed times when it’s best to resist the urge to go find your phone to take a picture.

In the waning days of fall several weeks ago, while doing some raking, I heard some meowing emanating from my garage that I’d left open. Now, since I now live a sans-pet lifestyle, that’s a concern.

Going into the garage, an area far less complicated with clutter than what some would say lies inside my house, I really didn’t need much time to look on the perimeter and under both cars for the feline source.

Coming up empty, I decided it must have been a cat in the yard beside the garage and returned to my rake, that is, until I again heard the meows. A second garage search produced nothing, that is, until a thought wormed its way into my head. I’d read somewhere a while back that it’s not unheard of for a cat in chilly weather to seek the warmth found under the hood of a car recently driven by hopping up through the undercarriage and into the small spaces surrounding the engine block.

So, with two cars to pick from, I selected the one last driven and popped the hood. Sure enough, sitting under the raised hood was a white kitten nestled among the wires and other engine parts.

Sensing what used to be called a Kodak moment, instead of speaking soothingly to the cat and immediately lifting it up out of the engine, I went in the house to grab my phone off the kitchen counter.

When I returned, I realized how misguided that split-second decision was because in those few seconds, the cat had wormed its way deeper down amid the wires and engine parts until I couldn’t see much more than a little set of eyes in the middle of an orb of fur. Eventually it went deeper, so deep it disappeared from sight.

Thus began a three-day ordeal. I tried everything I could think of that wouldn’t damage the engine or the cat to get it out of there, from leaving the hood up and the garage door open to creating a whole bunch of noise and wind with a leaf blower, to no avail. Just when I thought the kitty might have departed on its own accord, I again would hear m-e-o-w from the bowels of the engine.

During my 72-hour cat-astrophe, I received all sorts of advice, from dousing the engine with the hose (which I thought potentially damaging to the wiring) to the most prevalent, which was to put food out on the garage floor to coax it out. I passed on that one too, since you know, of course, what happens if you feed a stray cat. In a nutshell, it’s no longer a stray cat. It’s YOUR cat!

Finally, unseen by me, the cat finally hopped out and left the garage. I realized it when I saw it staring at me from the back yard while I was at the kitchen sink washing some dishes. Instantly, I went out and closed the garage door, thus, at least for the moment, cutting off any opportunity for it to return to the security it must have found under my hood.

I continued seeing the cat for the next couple of days, in the yard and sometimes sitting right on the other side of my sliding glass door on the deck, staring in at me with plaintive eyes that, I’m sure, were speaking roommate language, a language I no longer speak.

So, today’s tale is one that comes with two morals. First, for those of you who routinely leave your garage doors up when home, you may wish to reconsider. And, second, while it’s been said a picture is worth a thousand words, it can also be worth a thousand headaches if you decide to grab your smart phone when you should be grabbing a cat!