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Shorty's Last Day of Freedom

What ya'll need to know about Shorty Pants is that he's a ferral fraidy cat that we let in the house to keep warm on bitter cold nights. His favorite sound is "hissssssssssssss." Favorite color: blue. Favorite place: hiding in the bushes. Second favorite place: Anywhere people aren't.

It'd snowed 20" or so overnight. We didn't intend to let Shorty Pants out because, well, it's pretty impossible for a cat to get around in snow that deep. But Shorty had other ideas, and he snuck out on Tom when he was going out to shovel. Tom saw him dart under his car (from the attached garage), and thought to go herd him back into the house.

There's an old saying about "herding cats," and Tom quickly understood where that came from. At Tom's prodding, Shorty flew out from under the car and began desperately bounding through the deep snow. There he is...no, he's buried...there he is...no, he's buried. All done with Tom's well-intentioned behind trying to keep up while wiearing his clunky boots and Michelin Man jacket. I yelled out the door, "STOP CHASING HIM!!" But it was too late. Shorty was "off."

And then. Shorty was up the neighbor's tree. I went outside and down the block to look at what'd become of Shorty Pants' foray into the deep snow, and he was 30 or 40 feet up in the tree. Meowing. Seemed the best thing to do was to leave him alone and wait for him to come down. So we did just that.

Several hours later, Shorty Pants was still meowing...sounding really desperate now... We'd walk down the block and try to call him down; but all we saw was one cold cat staring down at us looking scared to death. OMG. And now all the neighbors knew he was up the tree so the kids, their parents, strangers in cars even -- stopped to see what they could do to help Shorty. Nothing! You can't call a ferral cat down from a tree! Ya' just can't.

Well, now it's getting dark. And the forecast is subzero. What to do? Shorty Pants won't survive in that tree in subzero temps. And when he does get down, he'll likely drown in the deep snow. What to do??

Say hello to our little friends: Skylight Pole and Telescoping Aluminum Tree Trimmer sans blade. Oh, and their cousin: Duct Tape. After Rube-Goldberging the thing together, out we went to see what we could do. When we got back out there, one of our neighbors had put an extension ladder up into the tree and tried to climb up to get Shorty. He didn't know how lucky he was he didn't reach him, as Shorty Pants would have scratched his eyes out. And, of course, the ladder contraption scared him silly.

Shorty was now at the very end of our Rube-Goldberg-reach. OMG. But Tom can be a stubborn ******. He stood there for 20-30 minutes, hands over his head, extensioned poles in hand...tip-tap-tip-tap-tip-tap. We didn't want to knock him out of the tree, just encourage him to come down. Tip-tap-tip-tap-tip-tap....until FINALLY, down he shot. He bounded through the deep snow and hid under the neighbor's car.

Where the neighborhood kids immediately encircled him screaming his name. OMG. Poooor Shorty Pants. He was in kitty hell. Out he shot...toward the neighbor's backyard...now-ya'-see-him...now-ya'don't...now ya'-see-him...now-ya'dont...until he reached the back fence. He jumped up on the fence top (a cyclone), teetered there a minute, looked crazily around and headed down the fence line to the back of the lot. (160 feet deep, btw.) We watched helplessly as he very carefully and deliberately balanced his little self down its length. Then turned in the opposite direction of our house and continued down the fence line.

The drifts in our backyards were 2-3 feet high at the fences. We figured if Shorty fell, he'd drown. So we watched him go...knowing that if we chased him, and if he landed on the wrong side of the fence, he could die.

Tom ran in the backyard and madly shovelled a sorta' path from our back fence to the house -- if we could just get him to it. He took the car around the block, waded through neighbor's yards and saw Shorty four houses down...still precariously balancing on fence tops..headed away. The closer tom waded to him, the faster he moved away.

Tom called me on my cellphone and said, "Get out in the yard and call Shorty Pants. He's headed in the wrong direction!!!" (Tom loves animals more than I do, and that's saying a lot.) I ran out there in my knee-high rubber snow boots (that would've gone viral...) and began calling him in the voice I only used with Shorty...the voice he knew sooo well..."SHORTY PAAAAANTS!!! SHORTY PAAAAANTZA!!!"

Over and over and over again...until Tom called me and said, "He turned around!!!" OMG!!! Then he got close enough (still 4-5 houses down, across 65' wide lots) that I could hear him. "MEOOOOW" So the neighbors heard, "SHORTY PAAAAAANTS!!!!" "MEOOOOOW!!!!!" "SHORTY PAAAAANTZA!!!!" "MEOOOOW!!!!" as he ever so slowly and carefully tightroped his way to my voice.

Twenty minutes later, he was on our back fence. How the hell did he balance on it?? It's a stockade and he was on the tippy-top. But he did. Now. If I stood there, Shorty'd never come. Remember, he's Mr. Scaredy-Cat. So Josh and I (our German Shepherd) turned our backs to him and started walking down the shovelled path to the house. I saw that I'd left the back patio door open. Thought: good.

As we walked back, I turned to look, and down he jumped onto the path. And he started running towards us like he was on FIRE. Then Mr. Scaredy-Cat headed off the path into the 24" deep snow, still headed for the house (and safely away from us), now-ya-see-'im...now-ya'-don't...now-ya'-see-'im...now-ya'-don't...until he hit the back deck, hunkered down, and FLEW into the house.

When he finally wandered out from under the bed three or four hours later, he was one bedraggled kitty. Exhausted. He took a few sips of water and headed back under the bed. 'Til the next day.

We never let him out of the house again. Our ferral boy became a reluctant house cat. Reluctant, but grateful. He's never wanted to go outside again...


Thanks for the good Laugh! Shorty Pants sounds like he has a good family now.


Jan 4, 2012
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What a delightful tale. Many thanks
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