86: Kitty Kidnapping

86: Kitty Kidnapping

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

Kitty Kidnapping

One must love a cat on its own terms.

~Paul Gray

It had been in all the local newspapers. There was even a story about it on the evening news. People all over the county were discussing it — everyone seemed to know someone who was a victim.

The crime was petnapping.

Crooks stealing family pets, keeping them until the owners advertised a reward; then the crooks would return the “missing” pet and collect the reward money.

Paulette the Pomeranian fetched someone a $200 reward. Sylvester the Border Collie garnered a $500 reward. Even Thor, the elderly Dachshund, was returned for a $50 reward.

Now, living on a rural country road I wasn’t too worried about petnappers striking my household. Besides, I didn’t have any Pomeranians or Border Collies. The closest thing I had to a pet was the woodchuck that ate most of the tomatoes in my vegetable patch and the robin who built her nest near my bedroom window where she loved to start singing her arias at 5:15 every morning. And, of course, there was Clancy.

Clancy was the big black and white cat who had adopted me years ago.

Clancy was overweight, cranky, committed to taking long naps and almost always hungry. I could see a lot of myself in Clancy, so, even though most people thought he was miserable, we got along just fine.

Friends and family learned when they came to visit, if Clancy is sleeping in a chair, don’t try to move him; it’s best to just find another spot to sit. If Clancy is eating, that’s not a good time to interrupt him. And when Clancy wakes from a nap, the last thing he wants is anyone petting him or cuddling him or telling him he’s a “pretty kitty.”

A few years ago, at the veterinarian’s suggestion, I put a collar and ID tag on Clancy, although it seemed doubtful the cat would ever get lost — he rarely traveled farther than the front porch.

Every evening, after dinner, I open the door and call Clancy. He slowly saunters into the house and sits by his food dish waiting to be served, before he heads off to his corner of the couch for a good night’s sleep.

But, one evening when I called, Clancy didn’t show up. It wasn’t like him to miss dinner, or food at any time for that matter.

I went outside to search for him, checking all his usual hangouts: the lounge chair on the patio and the shady spot under the willow tree. He was nowhere.

The next morning Clancy was still missing. It seemed unlikely that he would run away, especially since I had never seen the cat run at all.

Two full days went by with no sign of Clancy.

Early the next morning there was a knock at the front door. It was a young man carrying a cardboard box, the top secured with duct tape.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

“Yeah,” the kid replied. “Is there a reward for your cat, Clancy?”

“What?” I couldn’t believe my ears.

“Your lost cat,” he repeated. “Is there a reward?”

It didn’t take a genius to figure out what was in that box. I was the victim of a petnapping. But I had everything under control. I lived with Clancy. I had read O. Henry’s “The Ransom of Red Chief.” And this young man had a desperate look in his eyes. I knew just how to handle the situation.

“No,” I replied. “No reward.”

“Well, I got your cat here,” he said, holding up the box. “You can have him back for a reward.”

“No, that’s okay,” I answered, smiling. “Your reward is you can keep Clancy.”

“Well, um, no,” said the kid, somewhat confused. “I don’t want this cat. He’s mean.”

“Yeah, he’s miserable,” I agreed. “And that’s when he’s in a good mood.”

“I just need a reward…”

“No,” I said. “You keep the cat.”

“But he scratched me a bunch of times,” the kid complained. “And he eats everything. He ate my potato chips — I didn’t even know cats ate potato chips.”

I nodded. “Clancy is very expensive to feed.”

“That’s not the worst part,” explained the kid. “He made a mess all over my couch.”

“Clancy was probably just happily marking the territory of his new home,” I said. I turned to go back in the house.

“Wait,” said the kid. “No reward at all?”

“Nope. Good luck with Clancy.”

“Okay, okay.” The kid set the box on the porch. “I don’t need a reward. Just take your cat.”

“He’s your cat now.” I reached down and handed him back the box.

“I don’t want that cat!” He quickly set the box back down.

“Let’s see if he comes to you when you call him,” I said as I began pulling the duct tape off the box. “That will prove he belongs to you.”

“Do not open that box,” the kid said. “He’ll scratch me again. He hates me.”

“Don’t take it personally, Clancy hates everybody. So what are you going to do?” I asked, impatiently. “You can’t leave your cat here.”

“It’s not my cat!” the kid insisted. “You keep it!”

“This isn’t an animal shelter,” I replied. I slowly began pulling more tape off the box.

“Wait, I have an idea!” The kid held up his cat-scratched hands in surrender. “How about if I give you five bucks and you keep the cat?”

“Five bucks?” I laughed. “I’m not taking your cat for five bucks!”

The kid frantically dug in his pockets. “Look! Here’s eight bucks — that’s all I’ve got. Please, just take the money and the cat!” He handed me the cash and jumped off the porch.

“Don’t you want to say goodbye to Clancy?” I called after him.

The kid didn’t reply — he hopped in his car and began backing out of the driveway, quickly.

I pulled the lid off the box and found Clancy safe inside, curled up with an empty bag of potato chips, purring peacefully.

All was well. Clancy was back home. I had an extra eight dollars in my pocket and Clancy and I had taught a young petnapper the error of his ways. It was a very good day.

~David Hull

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