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National Editorials & Columns

Look at what the cat dragged in

My mother only bothers calling me on Saturday mornings unless there has been a massive upheaval in her world, and even then she’s lucky to catch me awake to answer the phone.

When she called me this past Saturday morning she startled me from my slumber. I rushed to call her back believing some traumatic Sanders family event had befallen upon us all, but alas no such tragic episode transpired. My father was fine. My parents’ house wasn’t on fire. Her cable television was working properly.

What was the problem then?

“There’s a dead tabby cat in my yard,” she shrieked. “I don’t know what to do!”

“Well since it’s probably too late I guess CPR is out of the question,” I responded. “But look on the bright side; you could always make a stew for dinner tonight.”

I live in a small village of 600 that seems like it’s inhabited by no less than 6,000 felines. Perhaps hearing the rumor that my mother owns or otherwise tends to a dozen cats at any time, it is my belief they travel to this small town in hopes of becoming an indoor kitty and achieving the American dream.

In a small burg like Laura, Ohio, every cat that roams the streets has a distinct personality, and for that reason I give each one nicknames. Some have been cute kittens, audacious alley cats, muscular mousers, and well-traveled tom cats.

Some of the cats were even possessed by Satan himself.

Only a small sampling of these quirky cats and their nicknames reads more like genetic Biblical lineage. Bologna, Barnabas, Bruiser, Brooklyn Brawler, (I Call the Big One) Bitey, Beardo, Bartholo-Meow, Barry I, Barry II and Barry III, even though technically Barry III was a confused raccoon — and that’s just the Bs!

From the description my mom gave me on the phone, which I confirmed upon visiting the kitty crime scene, the deceased feline was one I referred to as Baby Flea, a name derived by me since the cat resembled a smaller version of one of my house cats, Professor Flea.

After summoning her middle son to somehow rectify the situation, my mother had no idea what she actually wanted me to do with the cat. Throw it away like a discarded Pepsi can, I wondered. Should I recommend my cat stew idea again to her, I thought. No, no, I realized, I need to use some corny cat puns to lift dear mom’s spirits.

As we both stood over the remains of the orange tabby she seemed at a loss for words. I asked her if the cat had her tongue. She cracked an awkward smile. She was grinning like a Cheshire cat. She speculated out loud what might have killed the cat. I took an exaggerated sip of coffee like some kind of slack-jawed jerk and told her simply, curiosity — that, or anti-freeze.

“Too bad this cat didn’t have nine lives,” I snickered.

“Are you finished?” she scolded.

“Almost. Look what the cat dragged in?” I whispered to myself. “Yes, now I’m quite finished.”

My mother wanted me to inspect the cat to determine a cause of death.

That’s what I love about my mother. She thinks the world of me and is apparently under the impression that I am a qualified CSI (cat scene investigator) or a competent kitty coroner.

I picked the deceased cat up, held it in the air and attempted to search for clues as people walking to the nearby post office tried not to stare at the peculiar scene.

“Don’t worry,” I reassured them loudly, “this cat died of natural causes. Move along, there’s nothing to see here.”

I decided Baby Flea deserved a proper burial, so I asked my mother to bring forth a plastic bag. I got the deceased cat halfway in before I realized the bag was too small and that I would need a much larger bag. I apologized to my mother.

“I’m sorry,” I told her, “for letting the cat out of the bag.”

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