Tic Tac raced up to the security gate, her little paws brushing the bars as if swimming through the air. Inkie ran along the bottom of the sliding door, chattering loudly in encouragement. At the top of the grate, clinging to the top bar for dear life, a plump red squirrel screamed in horror.
Honestly, sometimes I wonder if our living room is a beacon for wildlife. Besides the bees, toads and lizards that take up residence, we have also welcomed wandering birds and cobras.
Fortunately, squirrels are not fatally dangerous. This one, screaming louder than a car alarm, appeared inches from a heart attack.
Jumping in, I ripped Tic Tac off the grid. Writhing furiously, swearing loudly in Cat, she hurled insults at me, threats at the squirrel, and moans of encouragement at Inkie.
This big boy wanted to scale the grate, but he’s too bulky to comfortably twist and turn in the tight space between steel and glass. Leaving him to his own devices, I threw his sister into the upstairs bedroom, closed the door for her, and pushed her away.
It’s a shame we don’t have CCTV because the few minutes that followed were a real pandemonium. I chased Inkie, Inkie chased the squirrel, and the squirrel ran along the wall and furniture like he was running a furry Rollerblade Derby.
Inkie is definitely a smart cat as he managed to chase his prey and watch over me at the same time. As the squirrel ran over the cat tree, Inkie suddenly bowed, zigzagged out of my grasp, and jumped onto the cupboard.
The clever rodent jumped over the cat, bounced past me, and flew out of the open kitchen window that led to the garden and security, and back to the grate and window that barred the another exit.
I’m not athletic but I have an iron determination. Red-faced, panting and twisted in ways I didn’t think possible, I stayed in the race. Eventually Inkie dodged left when he wanted to turn right, and I caught up to him. He too cursed a blue streak as I threw him into the bedroom with his sister.
As the two furries scolded me, I heard myself say, “Why can’t you be more like your cousin Sam?”
Horrible, isn’t it? But when you’re hot and bothered, these things will leak out.
It’s not normally something that comes to mind except that last month, for the first time in almost three years, I was finally able to go home.
Mom met me at the door and gave me a hug, but I hesitated to come in because Sam, her cat, was on the couch. He’s an adorable boy, but he’s quite shy because he’s lived on the streets for a large part of his life.
So after three years away due to Covid lockdowns, I expected him to dive for cover.
As I called from the door and peeked in, Sam scrambled to her feet. But as soon as I said his name, his golden eyes widened and he mewed in a friendly wave. Then he rolled onto his back and let me pet him.
I was touched that he remembered me, but I had forgotten that Sam is the cat equivalent of a couch potato.
During the three weeks I was home, Sam dragged himself out for his constitutional morning in the garden, then divided his time between the couch and the bedroom.
Even the birds know how lazy he is. When my mother makes them crusts, they walk past Sam to get their breakfast. It never raises its paw (see why in the box).
Visiting my mother, I laughed at Sam’s laziness, but back in my own house, the jumbled furniture and the two hunter cats howling from the bedroom, I discovered a new appreciation for the old boy.
As for the squirrel, he slipped through an impossible breach and found himself in the interior garden. Climbing the palm, he sat high, sobbing inhale. He had a nice reddish coat, very fluffy, but the poor little one looked broken. Also, the palm was a good yard from the open roof grille.
Squirrels aren’t the brightest souls. The thought of persuading him to come down and guide him through the living room and out the front door, horrified me. Then, remembering how I had seen his friends pulling up the water pipe outside, I had a cerebral idea.
I went to find a broomstick. As I walked up the stairs, I ran the predictable gauntlet of insults from a hastily exiting Tic Tac and Inkie. As they ran into the living room, I opened the window. It took 10 minutes of fidgeting and fiddling, but eventually I managed to wedge the thing securely between the threshold and the wall, providing a squirrel-like staircase to the roof.
Of course, the intruder was sitting in the tree, absolutely refusing to acknowledge the help offered. Beneath him, behind the sliding glass door, Tic Tac and Inkie circled like sharks.
I was about to head back to work when Target walked in, my fur baked from a rooftop tanning session. The older cat is above chasing the squirrel, but he was polite about his condolences to the younger cats.
I was handing out sweets as a peace offering when there was a flash of red. The squirrel ran over the inch-thick internet cable and disappeared onto the roof, completely bypassing my smart broom.
Isn’t that typical? In hindsight, the cats could have chased the squirrel in the garden and pulled up the cable. I could have saved myself a lot of shopping.
Hindsight being 20/20 vision, I focused on repairing fences. Tic Tac forgave me the second she saw the treat, but Inkie scolded me in between pranks.
It’s been two days, and although we’re friends again, there are times when Inkie looks at me with flattened ears. I know it and he knows it, but I don’t dare say it out loud: Cousin Sam would have already forgiven me.
Goofy and Hetty are brother and sister. Goofy is the handsome Tuxie, and Hetty has her belly shaved because she has just been sterilized. Both are six months old, fully vaccinated and already neutered. Goofy is very affectionate and playful while Hetty is shy and quiet.
Interested adopters should contact SPCA Penang, Jalan Jeti Jelutong, 11600 Jelutong, Penang (tel: 04-281 6559 / website: spca-penang.net).