exploding cat

I see I haven’t told the story of the exploding cat yet. I think I’ll tell it now. Don’t worry, he didn’t literally explode. He only made a noise like an explosion, and then only with the help of a big plastic bottle. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We have a problem with mice. I set out traps for them wherever I find their dirty little calling cards, and I try different kinds of traps to see if any of them work better than the others. A month or two ago, I was trying out a kind of trap that’s just a shallow plastic tray filled with peanut-scented sticky goo. It’s like a fly strip, but for mice. And it works pretty well. I laid out a bunch of them in the basement and caught three or four mice that way, but to use them I had to keep the cats locked out of the basement, because obviously I didn’t want to be faced with the difficult situation of trying to peel one of those sticky things off a cat.

That’s a pretty significant down side, so I stopped using that particular kind of trap, except for in the cabinet under the kitchen sink. We were having a lot of trouble with mice there last month, so I set up a whole bunch of traps down there, and one of the traps I used was a sticky gooey trap because it was handy and I knew it worked. We kept the cabinet shut all the time, so I didn’t think it would be a problem, and for a couple weeks, it wasn’t.

But there’s always that one time that you forget to shut the door, isn’t there? And the weekend before last was one of those times. My Darling B and I were at the kitchen table, where we just happened to be making vacation plans, so we were in a very good mood, very relaxed, when all of a sudden B jumped out of her seat, shouting, “DAVE! DAVE! DAVE!” as she took a few steps toward the kitchen.

At the same time that she jumped, I heard a godawful racket explode from the kitchen that sounded like a kid beating a big, thick stick against a plastic garbage can. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! I didn’t twig right away to what was making the noise, but I could see a black and white blur spinning around on the floor in the kitchen, and I had to watch that for only a second or two before my brain figured out that part of that blur was a cat, and the other half was … a bottle of bleach? How did the cat get tangled up with a bottle of bleach?

It might seem like an odd question to ask yourself at the moment when your cat is throwing himself around the room so violently that it seems entirely possible that he’ll break bones and furniture, but here’s why it actually makes sense: If the cat’s freaking out because he’s tangled up with a big plastic bottle of bleach, then before I risk almost certain laceration by grabbing him, I should have at least an idea how to disentangle him. See? Perfectly logical.

Being logical didn’t help, though. Even after I realized that one of his feet was stuck to the sticky gooey mouse trap, which was stuck to the bleach bottle, I came up with exactly zero options for dealing with the situation. I had realized from the start that using those things around the cats was risky, but I never came up with a plan for peeling one off a cat.

And the thought never crossed my mind that the cat would freak out like a great big freakout thing if they got stuck to one of those gooey traps. I think he was mostly scared that he was being followed around by a big plastic bottle that he couldn’t get away from no matter how fast he ran. And he ran very fast, making a couple quick circles in the kitchen before he dashed out into the dining room, weaving between the chairs where we finally stopped him, pinned him down and hauled him out by the scruff of the neck.

Then what? As I said, I had no ideas for getting the sticky thing off him. B tried to pull it off, but the sticky stuff wouldn’t let go. She pulled hard enough to stretch a long, snotty-looking string from the cat’s foot to the tray, but that only freaked the cat out even more. We almost lost our grip on him as he kicked his foot and fought us both to get away. B shouted for me to get a scissors. I think she wanted to cut the gooey stuff off, but I was afraid the cat would be gone in a flash when I let go.

While I waffled, B tried one more time to pull the cat off the sticky trap with brute force. She must have weakened it the first couple of times she pulled, or her superhuman strength finally kicked in. Whichever it was, she freed the cat. He wasn’t entirely happy about it, but the plastic bottle wasn’t part of his foot any more, so he at least calmed down a bit. What he really wanted to do at that point was retreat to a corner and lick his foot, and we would have been happy to let him if there hadn’t been a gob of sticky stuff gunking up the pads of his feet.

From somewhere in the kitchen, B fetched a bottle of Goo Gone, because she’s the one with the brain that doesn’t seize up when things go all pear-shaped. She unscrewed the cap and dumped about half the bottle on the cat’s foot, which dissolved the sticky stuff like magic. We spent the next ten minutes or so swabbing Goo Gone out of the cat’s fur with a damp cloth, and with nothing stuck to his foot, he stayed calm enough to let us do it.

Weirdly, he went right back into the cabinet under the sink the next time he found the door open, so he either has some sort of traumatic brain injury that wiped the event from his memory, or he doesn’t care that he might get a bleach bottle stuck to his foot because he figures we’ll take care of it.

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