My cats are currently forbidden to go outside, due to the communal laws of the co-op in which we live, and this makes them very angry. You see, they used to be able to go outside whenever they wanted, which was certainly nice for them, but not always nice for us.
When we lived in Baltimore, during the peak of their “going outside” heyday years, both of our cats would wander outside as they pleased, although they never really went very far. We think. Its not like we followed them around or anything. But they rarely were gone overnight, and when bedtime came around we would start to get mildly worried if we didn’t see them in the house.
One night, after some friends had come over and were getting ready to leave, I glanced around for the cats, but could not find Mouse. She, of the two cats, was more likely to stay close to home, and so this was somewhat concerning. But the strangest thing was, as I opened the door to let my friends out and to their cars, I thought I heard her meowing. Both of my friends could hear her too, but, as it was quite late at this point, we couldn’t see her anywhere. The neighborhood had gone to sleep and the night was dark, but still the meowing persisted, so we grabbed some flashlights and headed out into the street.
After a bit of searching and calling and shaking food bowls, we managed to locate the cat. Directly across the street from my house sat, well, another house. Though we knew most of our neighbors at that time, this place was different. The owner had died suddenly, and his ex-wife was in the middle of a fight with the bank and the city, as she claimed it belonged to her, but actually it did not. So while this battle was going on, she rented it, perhaps legally, perhaps not, to a variety of different and increasingly shady people. One never knew who, if anyone, was living in the house at any given time, and the people that you did see going in and out tended to be loud, dirty, messy, and/or angry. And suddenly there was Mouse, sitting on their roof, meowing her head off.
My friends and I walked cautiously onto their lawn, hoping not to be seen by whoever might be inside, and crept up to the side of the house, whispering to the cat. “Here Mouse!” we stage whispered. “Jump down! Good kitty!” This, of course, was a lie. She was not a good kitty. She was trespassing, and now so were we. And she would not jump down off of the roof. It was just too high. How she got up there we never quite figured out, but she was not going to be able to get down.
What to do? We couldn’t leave her up there all night. We didn’t want her meowing to wake up the people in the house. All their lights were out, and she was wandering from second story window to second story window, yowling as loudly as possible. We didn’t want to personally knock on the door and wake them up either, so there was only one thing to do. Flashlights still in hand, we went back to my shed and got the ladder.
Suddenly, instead of just looking slightly alarming to the average passerby, we now have a scene of three men in their twenties putting a ladder up the back side of a house at midnight and trying to look inconspicuous. I’m sure this could be easily explained to anyone who would think to ask us about our activities, right? Hmmmm, maybe not. Time to get that damn cat down and get home before the police show up.
We got the ladder up against the house over in their backyard, away from the street lights and where the roof was the lowest. Now what had happened to the cat? Where did she go? Was she really going to make me call her again? Of course she was. So I am up the ladder to the roof, hiss-cursing my cat’s name, while praying that either the house is deserted, or that they are all heavy sleepers, while my friends are nervously holding the ladder and encouraging me to hurry up. I almost had to climb up on the roof myself, but it was a thin roof, just running around the edges of the second story and very slanted, so I was quite pleased to finally see the stupid cat come running over toward me.
Well, I got the cat, came down the ladder, made it home, and said goodnight to my good friends, who were great sports about the whole thing. The police did not come, and none of our neighbors ever mentioned anything about it, so I suppose no one saw us. But whenever the cats whine and complain about having to stay in the house now, I just bring up this story. That shuts them up pretty good.