And Then What Happened?: A tale of two kitties


For the Recorder
Published: 2/17/2020 9:07:35 PM

ASHFIELD — Dweezil knew what to do.

He had watched enough old “Lassie” episodes to know exactly how to communicate with humans when something was terribly wrong.

He stood at the door and meowed.

“Dweezil! What’s wrong?” asked Delta Carney, just as she should have, but then messed up, Dweezil thought, by not following him out the door. He ran down to the tree. He looked up. Nothing had changed. He ran back home. Delta let him in and he howled some more. Right by the door.

This time Delta followed him outside, to the tree and looked up, herself. Twenty-five feet up was a tiny cat, screaming, cold, desperate, terrified.

Where do you go for help? In Ashfield, to the hardware store.

Maureen McHugh held down the counter while Nancy Hoff and Laura Bessette followed Delta outside, and a small crowd gathered at the foot of the tree.

“Should we call the fire department?”

“They were at the big fire up on Norton Hill all night. They’re worn out.”

“Right,” thought Dweezil, “Humans first, cats, yeah, whenever.”

“That cat was up there all day yesterday,” said someone. Everyone looked at each other. “Told ya!” snarked Dweezil, but no one noticed. He recognized though, that the humans got guilty. That was how Dweezil had come to live with Sally and Delta, a few years ago — in from a cold winter’s night outside. He knew how it felt.

A tall, lanky guy sauntered up to the group. “What’s going on?”

“We need to get that poor cat out of that tree!” said Delta. “And the fire department’s still recovering from last night.”

“I’m a roofer!” said the man, “I’ll be right back!”

The man hurried to his van where he had an extension ladder that stretched 21 feet. He anchored the ladder against the tree and the kitty reached out to test the possibilities.

Dweezil shook his head. “Don’t try it.”

“I’m not a cat-guy,” Jim Nelson the roofer said. “Would one of you want to climb up?”

Everyone looked at each other and Jim started up because it was what he knew he had to do.

All the way up he talked to the kitty, telling him it would all work out, really, it would.

At 21 feet, Jim saw he was a few feet short and he asked the tree, “How are we gonna do this?” The tree said, “We just are. Lean in.” Jim rested his face on the tree, reached up for the cat and the cat reached out to him, just like Michelangelo’s Creation. Jim palmed the cat and wove him inside his jacket. “Can someone hold the ladder?” he called down, “I have to hold the cat.”

The crowd held the ladder and Jim talked to the kitty all the way down.

Laura stood waiting with a hardware store-issued cat-carrier, cat food and cat blanket, and they dropped the baby into its new home. Jim felt like a traitor locking his passenger in the cage, felt like a cop for doing so, but at least his little friend was safe.

It could only be a temporary home according to Delta, as she felt Dweezil was enough cat for one household. Dweezil felt otherwise but explained “People” to his new little buddy while the humans figured out a plan.

At the hardware store, Laura and Nancy worked to find the owner. They called Warren Kirkpatrick, the animal control officer, but Warren said no missing cats were reported. Laura and Nancy offered to pay for Little Kitty’s neutering.

It was out of Dweezil’s hands.

Esther Coler heard the story and, as she works at Dakin Humane Society, proposed taking the kitty to have him checked out. On Take-Your-Cat-to-Work Day, Esther found the kitty had a chip in its ear. The contacted owner was very surprised; that cat had disappeared from her house in Shelburne Falls four months earlier and, finally figuring it for dead, she and her heartbroken children had gone down to the local animal shelter and replaced that one kitty with two dogs and a whole new cat. Tiny Kitty didn’t have a place in their home anymore.

The big question was how Tiny Kitty had made it all the way from Shelburne Falls to a tree on Main Street in Ashfield, 10 miles away. Dweezil knew, but, annoyed that no one paid attention to his help anyway, kept it to himself.

Word of a new, adoptable cat was sent around town, and several people thought about it, most putting their names in the “If no one else wants him, maybe…” category. Maureen thought about it. She had children and grandchildren, none of whom had ever had a nice experience with a cat, but, well, maybe…

She brought her grandsons, Ezra and Moses, in for a look. The cat nuzzled Ezra, who, at age 4, tends to think like a 40 year-old poet.

“My dad met a dog one day,” said Ezra, “and he knew that dog should be his family, so he took him home. Then he met a lady, and knew that lady should be his family, so he married her, and that’s our mom. And then I came along, and I was family, and then Moses came along, and he was family! Now this kitty should be our family, too!”

Thus was the kitty inducted as Maureen’s newest grandchild — except that Maureen lives at Michael’s House Senior Housing in Northampton, and her lease stipulates “No pets.”

Maureen went to the building’s management and asked, surely a cat doesn’t fall into the category of “Pets,” does it?

Management said she could keep the cat if she had permission from the building’s other residents, so Maureen went around and asked them what they thought.

As it happens, Maureen has a number of health issues that fill her days with hospital appointments.

The word from the residents came back: Not only would they welcome Maureen’s cat, but they would keep the cat for her on her hospital days. And, by the way, here’s some cat food and cat toys, too.

When asked what the cat’s name should be, Ezra said, “My girlfriend’s name is Sophie and that is an awfully pretty name for a girl. I think the kitty should be named Sophie. Sophie-Ezra!”

And so the tiny cat who sojourned from Shelburne Falls to 25 feet up a talking tree in Ashfield, is now Sophie-Ezra, living with a whole building full of her own emotional-support people in Northampton.

“Who,” wonders Dweezil, “would have seen that coming?” But he’s purring happy it did, thinking that, perhaps humans are useful for some things, after all.


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