Friday, February 19, 2010

A Day in the Life

I thought I'd share a short story I wrote a few years ago when my cat Isabelle was 16 weeks old. Enjoy.

"The Isabelle Factor"

I could have avoided trouble that day if only I had remembered to close the window completely. Leaving the living room window opened two inches with a rambunctious kitten running around was clearly testing fate.

It had been an uneventful start to my typical day, checking on our feline family, five adult cats and one 4 month-old kitten before I went to work. Locating any of the cats since Isabelle joined us, was not a difficult task. Our house had become a racetrack of flying furry bodies.

Isabelle has made it clear to her feline companions that she was in charge of resetting the old rules for those lazy, lounging days. Her agenda every day is to play, and to play hard. Her secret formula was to chase, jump on or stalk the other cats relentlessly until total exhaustion set in all around. It is not unusual to come home and find an obstacle course of sleeping cats as I made my way to the kitchen.

As I left that morning, all seemed relatively calm. Three cats were sleeping on the bed having carved out their favorite spot on the comforter, one had bolted past me heading for the sanctuary of the basement while Isabelle rode bare back on the gray tabby trying to engage her in fun and games, Isabelle style. Little did I know, that today would be Isabelle’s greatest adventure.

Apparently, driving five adult cats to total exhaustion was not enough to satisfy this little one’s spirit for adventure. Spying the open window, she wiggled her little kitten backside and sprang into action. Anyone who has ever had the privilege of owning a kitten knows first hand how fast those little legs can run, and she had to run fast enough to give her the momentum to jump into the window. The problem with too much momentum, however, is that it carries you beyond your target.

Isabelle managed to squeeze through that two-inch opening, but was not so coordinated to stop once she landed on the windowsill. She banged into the screen and it promptly fell out of the window taking her with it to the ground below. I can only imagine what happened next. Only Isabelle knows and she isn’t talking.

As luck would have it, it was trash day. My mother dutifully dragged the barrels around to the garage doors, and to her horror, found the window screen on the grass. She ran back into the house only to discover that Isabelle was nowhere to be found.

Panicking that she had lost the kitten on her watch, she called my husband who works at a local motorcycle shop. When she reached the receptionist, she was near hysteria with worry. She asked to speak to my husband only to be told that mechanics were not allowed to come to the phone unless there was an emergency.

“This IS an emergency,” she screamed. “The baby is missing!”

My husband was quickly located and brought to the phone. He listened to the sobbing mother-in-law story, and thought it best to drive home to survey the situation first hand. After searching outside for nearly 30 minutes, he finally located Isabelle under the front porch. Trekking back into the house to find her favorite feather toy, he spent another 15 minutes coaxing her close enough to him to grab her.

When I returned home that night, my mother immediately cornered me and relayed the harrowing story of Isabelle’s escape and what it had done to her nerves. My husband proceeded to tell his part of the story and somehow I felt responsible for everything that they had gone through, like a mother’s guilt over a misbehaving child. I soothe everyone's nerves and went to check on the kitten myself.

I found Isabelle sound asleep on the sofa, her little kitten body sprawled across the cushion blissfully unaware of the turmoil she had caused earlier in the day. My heart melted as I gently stroked her soft fur reminding her that she was a lucky little girl today. Any number of disasters could have befallen her out in the wild outside world. A higher power was looking out for her although I did make a mental note to check for open windows from now on.

Everything in our lives is ruled by the Isabelle factor now. What we will do next summer when it is a sweltering 95 degrees and we still can’t open the windows is anyone’s guess.