95: The Standoff

95: The Standoff

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

The Standoff

Dogs have owners, cats have staff.

~Author Unknown

It was a rare, blissfully quiet day with no one home but the cat and me. I was coming out of the laundry room with a huge basket of clean clothes when I saw our small, sleek gray tabby, Pussywillow, glide up the stairs and turn the corner toward my toddler’s bedroom. I went on my way, delivering clean, folded laundry to each bedroom, until I reached the nursery.

And then I saw it. “Eeeek!” I yelled, dropping the laundry basket. “There is a chipmunk in the baby’s room and it is alive!” There on the hardwood floor a fat chipmunk was backed up against the wall. No cat in sight.

As quickly as I could, I threw the clean laundry back in the basket, set it inside the crib, and ran out, closing the bedroom door.

Pussywillow, looking imperious as only a cat can, sat calmly washing her paws at the other end of the hall. “This is YOUR doing!” I said as I scooped her up. “You brought that chipmunk into our house! You take care of it.” With that I unceremoniously dumped our recalcitrant cat in our youngest son’s bedroom. She must have stunned the chipmunk before carrying it inside through our tiny cat door, and when it came back to life she dropped it.

Half an hour later I peered in, hoping the deed would be done and I could dispose of it. But no. The cat was sitting on her haunches at one end of the room, tail jerking like a metronome. The chipmunk was shrunk into a corner at the other. Seven-pound cat. Three-ounce chipmunk. A standoff.

“Oh thanks,” I said to Pussywillow. “You want ME to do this? I cannot kill anything bigger than a mosquito! Aarrghhh!”

I removed the cat, closed the door. Now what? I wasn’t sure who was more scared, the chipmunk or me. I love nature. But I love it outside, not in my one-year-old’s bedroom!

Dumping out a gallon-sized plastic jar of blocks and gathering up my nerve, I crept up to the tiny thing, which cowered in a corner of an empty closet. With a flourish I dumped the plastic jar over the chipmunk, reached for a cardboard book to slide underneath, and turned it over, chipmunk scrabbling and squeaking inside the plastic jar. One hand under the jar, one hand on the cardboard “lid,” I stared at the still closed bedroom door. How do I get into these messes? And why is it always when no one else is home? Holding the cardboard book precariously on top with my chin, hoping little rodent teeth would not find a way to chew through the plastic, and feeling like the upstairs maid with a full chamber pot, I quickly made my way outside and down the hill to the meadow, where I set the poor creature free.

The cat stayed out of sight for several hours. A really good decision.

~DJ Kinsinger

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