Bad Cattitude

Let me begin by saying I am not fond of cats.

I tend to be more of a dog person. Cats strike me as smug, superior, and a little bit creepy—all qualities which I do not admire in animals. Or in people either, actually.

I probably just alienated myself with that statement from a number of readers. I’m sorry if this disappoints you. I’m deficient in cat tolerance, what can I say.
I’m totally different than my BIL Tom who likes cats so much that he collects crazy cat-themed t-shirts, like the one my sister had made especially for him, featuring a sassy-looking feline with the caption “I’ve got cattitude.”

No cat shirts for me, my friends.

This information is relevant because this morning as I was brushing my teeth and getting ready for a meeting at Jack’s school, my neighbor Tam sent me a text saying that a cat was stuck high up in one of the trees in my backyard. I could hear another neighbor’s dog barking excitedly at the treed kitty.
My first instinct as a non-cat-caring person was to go about my busy morning and let the cat find it’s way back down the tree. I’m a cold-hearted wench, I know. And yet, I did inform my pet-loving neighbor Tiff about the stuck kitty, thinking it might be one of hers. I’m not overtly cruel.
A few more texts went back and forth about how cats get stuck in trees and how long we should worry about this silly animal. I left for the school with Truman. 
When I returned, Tiff met me at the door with a ladder and a determined will to save that cat. With the staccato barking from the neighbor’s dog punctuating our rescue, we spent the next half hour employing a ladder, a hot dog, a cell phone, and an Ikea curtain rod (still in it’s packaging) trying to get the kitty down.
We totally couldn’t do it.
I finally ordered Tiff off the ladder and told her to steady it as I took my turn with Dumb Gray Cat. I climbed in a huff, bracing myself on the smaller branches of the Cottonwood even as I wielded my curtain rod. “We need something with a broad, flat base so we can lift him off the branches and not just poke at him,” said Tiff.
I reminded her that I:
A) don’t really care for cats because they are aloof and otherworldly and clearly not always the brightest, and
B) am not in the habit of keeping long-handled poles equipped with broad, flat end attachments for the express purpose of freeing cats from trees. 
We followed Tam’s suggestion (by her fire-fighter husband) to call the fire department. She gave us the non-emergency number. I asked the nice fireman on the phone if fire fighters actually rescue cats from trees in real life. He responded with a chuckle and a few recommendations. Somewhere in our conversation I mentioned my address. 
Tiff and I looked out my kitchen window at this point in the Dumb Gray Cat Saga to see Dumb Gray himself start to fall from the tree. He managed to catch himself (feline grace, you know) and, employing his claws, made a slow and safe descent down the tree.
And that was the end of the kitty drama. Tiff left to get her preschooler. Truman and I made lunch and began watching for Charlie’s bus. 
The Fire Department arrived.
This was all very embarrassing as I had called 911 a few months ago for a natural gas scare (which turned out to be a “burned-up vacuum scare” courtesy of Jack). Not my proudest moment. The neighbors were all aflutter with concern the last time as they saw me outside in my pj’s at noon. On a Saturday. So much shame is wrapped up in that little memory.
Now there was a fire engine stopping to check up on the Dumb Gray Cat status. Neighbors in cars stopped to see if we were okay. The firefighters crinkled their eyes when I told them that the cat was now out of the tree, and when I rambled on about the previous natural gas/burned up vacuum incident. Why do I always unintentionally do too much back story?
Anyway, they went on their way to nobler fireman duties. And I had this nagging thought that my annoyed attitude toward treed cats could be similar to some people’s attitudes or reactions to special needs children, particularly in environments which agitate my kids and bring out their more unusual behaviors.
Is it a valid parallel—a scared cat and a boy with autism? Actually, I think it probably is.
I’ve decided I’m going to be nicer to cats.

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