Mar 152013

Cat, or Othercat, depending
Many cats have an evil glint in their eye but his is Epic-sized

I should start this by pointing out that I am not a cat person. I like them, don’t get me wrong. We had feline family pets when I was growing up, and again when my kids were growing up, and they were beloved by all including me.

But I am a dog person. I always have been.

People change. Times change. Pets change. Now I have have cats. Plural, as in more than one cat. Zero dogs, and multiple cats. I think that makes me an honorary cat person. Or perhaps a better term would be “Indentured Cat Person”, in that it was not at all voluntary and yet is apparently a life sentence.

My cats have actual names but we figure those are their Human names, useful when dealing with us particularly at meal time, but in their internal cat-only communications they think of each other as Cat and Othercat. Or Othercat and Cat, depending on which is doing the thinking.

Cat and Othercat. Me and my Gamer Girl. Together we make four, and life is good.

My Gamer Girl and I are revamping our office. We live in a 200-year old plantation farm house with fourteen-foot ceilings, lovely unique woodwork, and generally antiquated infrastructure and accoutrements.

Part of the revamping process involved the removal and replacement of our HVAC return grates. For a few days there were holes where the grates go. My Gamer Girl was concerned: “can a cat get in there?” I gave things a cursory examination: there was a bunch of wood blocking my line of sight just inside the vent hole. Oh sure, I could have reached in and felt around to see if there was a way around the wood but I had wires to wire and many things to paint. I am a busy guy. “No, we’re good, no way for a cat to get in there”.

I sounded confident. But you already know what was going to happen, right?

Two nights ago my Gamer Girl and I are unwinding in front of a Netflix’d episode of something or other when we hear three loud “BAMs”. Really loud. What the? My Gamer Girl thinks someone is shooting guns nearby (this does happen a lot, I live in a very rural area), but it is late and dark and besides, the BAMs sounded sort of metallic?


It keeps going. I run outside, but now the booms are muted. I try the back of the house: BAM BAM. I am close but cannot see the source. My Gamer Girl is similarly running about and also similarly confused.


Suddenly realization dawns: the sound is coming from beneath us; it is under the house. It is definitely metallic; it sounds like sheet metal flexing. Specifically like HVAC sheet metal. Like a duct.

Our eyes meet. We both know. “You said they couldn’t get in there!”

My cat is in the floor. I am busted.

Is it a vent? Or is it a Big Adventure?
It may not look like much but this is the gateway to Big Adventure

We knew which cat it was of course, one is dainty and pretty and likes to sit around looking cute. The other is an Adventure Cat, always looking for trouble except for those few moments where he is actively involved in being in trouble. Cat is asleep somewhere. Othercat is in the floor.


I am at the grate. I can’t see anything, there is wood in the way. It is dark. I call him.


He comes when called, I believe this is unusual for a cat but he generally does. So does Othercat. Maybe they are both unusual? But regardless, he comes, and cat paws flit about in the bottom of the grate. He swats at my hand. He pokes his head up, looks me in the eye, then disappears back into the grate. He is playing.


It must have been scary for him at first. The noise is very loud (loud enough to mistake for gunfire!) and must be even louder inside the ductwork. But clearly he has gotten past that.

He is quickly at the other end of the house. He is running from one end of the duct to the other and back. Not in a panic. It is deliberate.

He is having a big adventure.

He is Walking Like Thunder.


This goes on for awhile. I am contemplating just leaving out a plate of his food and going to bed; he’ll come out when he is ready. But my Gamer Girl is upset; he could run into nails or something in the dark. Or get stuck. Or some other bad thing could happen.

And it is my fault he is down there in the first place.

Cat no longer responds to my call, he is too busy Adventuring. He does come running when I dangle one of his cat toys down into the duct and jingle it about. More fun for him! But no luck coaxing him out.

Experimenting, I learn that I can get part of my arm and hand about a foot into the duct if I lay flat on the floor, on my back, and work it in. It is horribly uncomfortable, but I am able to feel Cat; he brushes against my hand playfully and then is off again.

BAM BAM BAM – another lap on the Thundercat Raceway.

I have the bright idea of holding a cat treat in my hand – he comes running again, but doesn’t take the treat. I accidentally drop it and he goes for it; I am able to take advantage of the momentary stability in Cat Posture to get a grip on the scruff of his neck.

Foiled! Or more accurately, screened! No Big Adventure today

He doesn’t easily fit on the way out; I am not sure he could have made it on his own. It is awkward and I have to grab him in places he normally does not like being grabbed. Nonetheless he remains limply cooperative and soon his Big Adventure is over. He is spent, and I am too. We lay there, me on my back on the floor, Cat strung limply across my chest. But he is out of the floor.


So this is life with cats. I miss my Shaggydog, I remain a dog person. But this is interesting too.

Different. But interesting. I could do a lot worse.

🙂 😀 🙂

  6 Responses to “Walking Like Thunder: a True Story”

Comments (6)
  1. Its a cat, as long as it is not smelling up the place it will be fine. Who cares anyway? Not like it is a dog… 🙂

    May also be a dog person….

  2. When asked if a cat can “fit in there”, ALWAYS assume the answer is “yes”. If their whiskers can fit, they can fit – which is why you NEVER, ever want to trim a cat’s whiskers…unless you’re cruel and want them to get stuck.

  3. Oh! And I’m with you – the cat would have come out on its own, eventually (you’re Gamer Girl was over-reacting…but then, they tend to do that anyway, so you’re stuck and have to settle their fears, no matter what – hehehe). You really only need to start worrying when:
    1) The cat starts crying (then it’s probably stuck and/or lost), or
    2) You start to replacing your vent covers or cover them up and have no idea where the cats are. ALWAYS make sure you know where the cats are before you finish closing things like ductwork up.

  4. Yeah, cats are pretty resilient. AdventureCat would’ve been fine; the only real worry would’ve been 1) damaging the ductwork, and 2) coaxing Daintycat into joining in the fun. (Our pair have those roles, also. Curiously enough, my tuxedo cat is also AdventureCat. And also has a milk-booger under her nose. Hmmm… Did you put up a pic of Thumper???)

  5. As a lifetime cat person, I laughed until I cried reading this. It sounds like Othercat would get along VERY well with my Minni… and I’d write more but I have a sudden urge to go make sure anything remotely close to a cat-sized opening is securely covered.

  6. Two cats here plus all the stray cats that get to our patio thinking this is a refuge house for cats, then they start jumping, climbing trees, partying on the roof… so I got you, I know how things are with cats.

What do you think?

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