Every few months we spotlight one of our members.
This time around, Del Garrett shares a story with you.
Enjoy his work!
Cat and Mouse
by Del Garrett
“Kitty swallowed the mouse!” Lela’s voice sang out two octaves higher than normal.
“Your cat ate a rat?” I asked.
“No, it swallowed the mouse to my computer. Get over here right away.”
The telephone line went dead. I know Lela isn’t prone to hysterics. When you work around wild animals in a medical testing facility like she does you have to be ready for anything. Every day is a new experience. If she said a cat had swallowed her computer mouse, you can bet she wasn’t talking about some cute little kitten playing with a ball of string.
Let me take a moment to introduce myself. Hi, I’m Zack. I’m in my final year of medical training as a veterinarian. Lela is my sometimes wacky, but very sexy girlfriend, in her final year studying sociological patterns of captured species.
I parked my motorcycle at the Clinic for Behavioral Sciences building half an hour later. The trip to the university had included maneuvering my way through rush-hour traffic, running a red light, and dodging a granny type in a blue cotton print dress, who shook her fist at me and yelled something about what a nice young man I was.
I found Lela in her lab along with her advisor, Prof. Gilderoy—a gray-haired wimpy sort of fellow with thick glasses and foreign accent. Both of them were on their hands and knees coaxing a mountain lion to come forward so they could…do what?
“Lela,” I whispered, “I don’t think you should get too close.”
“It’s okay,” she tossed a reply over her shoulder. “It’s only Kitty, she’s my favorite pet. She wouldn’t harm a flea.”
Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered a warning about not backing an animal into a corner. Before I could offer any other words of wisdom, Kitty struck with lightning-like speed and Prof. Gilderoy’s glasses went flying through the air.
“Aiyee!” he screamed and scrambled back. “I, too, do not think this is such a wise decision. We should have called 911 for help.”
“My paper is due in the morning and I’m not about to tie up the rest of the evening waiting while somebody grills me half the night about what happened. Zack, do something!”
I’ve worked with both domestic and non-domestic animals. I have my share of strange stories, but I was quite sure this situation had never been listed in any of the journals on animal behavior.
Kitty had retreated into a corner and I noticed the expression on her face had changed. She wasn’t snarling anymore. Her eyes pleaded with me almost as if she felt the compassion I was feeling for her.
“Let me try,” I told Lela and she backed away leaving me to face the lioness by myself.
Judging from Kitty’s reaction to Prof. Gilderoy, I didn’t think a straight forward approach would do any good. At the risk of embarrassing myself in front of my girlfriend, I rolled over on my back and elbow-crawled closer to the big cat. Kitty looked down at me with a puzzled expression as if she wanted to say, “And they call you the higher species?”
The chord dangled from Kitty’s mouth and she pulled her head back as I reached for it. Take it slow, I told myself. I reached a hand up and rubbed the underside of Kitty’s chin. It seemed to sooth her and this time she didn’t object when I took hold of the chord. Without thinking I started to chant my rendition of Elvis’ Fools Rush In and it seemed to help keep Kitty calm. Applying only the slightest pressure on the chord I found that the mouse was indeed stuck and pulling it any harder might harm her.
“Better call 911,” I told Lela. “The mouse is deftly stuck down her throat.”
Kitty turned her head slightly while I was holding the chord and I felt the muscles in her body tense. She raised a paw directly over my face and her claws extended enough for me to wonder if I had made last month’s payment on my medical insurance. I eased back on the pressure and she lowered her paw.
Scratching her chin again, I drummed up another of my better impersonations of the King of Rock and Roll, this time singing Love Me Tender and Kitty relaxed. When she did she yawned. She yawned again, even wider this time, and somehow that freed the mouse. The next thing I knew it popped out and I was on my back looking up at a very appreciative ninety-pound purring pussycat.
Kitty must have wanted to say thanks because I got a very wet tongue raked across my left cheek before she calmly stepped over me and entered her cage where she stretched out, lowered her head, and closed her eyes.
I rose up and looked around. Prof. Gilderoy had disappeared to somewhere safer, but Lela was still in the lab. As I stood up next to her she leaned in close to me and …purred.
“I didn’t know you could sing like Elvis.” Her voice was low and almost a whisper in her throat.
I stammered a bit in my natural boyish manner and said, “I—I don’t always sing in front of people.”
Lela leaned into me and wrapped an arm around my neck. “Maybe you should,” she whispered.
Before I could say anything she opened her mouth and ran her tongue across my other cheek, just like Kitty had done. “Sing another Elvis song for me…and would you do one more thing?”
“Tickle me under the chin the way you did Kitty.”
“This could get serious. What about your paper that’s due in the morning?”
I swear to you, she purred again, exactly like she had done before.
“What paper, hmmmm?”