I may have established elsewhere that Charlie-Cat and his tribe are not intelligent felines.
Charlie and Maisie along with three kittens, were rescued by a woman on the
Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming
who had witnessed the neglect and abuse of the cats by a neighbor.
Two of the kittens, Chester and Mima, came to live with us, as did eventually their parents.
They probably hadn't half a chance at intelligence, since we suspect that Charlie and the late Maisie were likely too closely related to be producing kittens.
Charlie is an amiable sort, extroverted, noisy, playful.
He is also quite clumsy, a stalker, an instigator.
On several occasions Charlie has dashed out an open door and immediately gone completely witless.
His usual style is to dive into the shrubbery which surrounds the house, gazing round-eyed at me as I attempt to crawl within reach. At the last moment he whirls and dashes in the opposite direction still hugging the foundation of the house.
This can go on for upwards of an hour--I usually have to inlist J. to help before the wretched cat is cornered and hauled inside.
Charlie doesn't 'answer' when called, even indoors.
He waylays other cats, pouncing from behind a door or a chair, prancing sideways, while the flustered cat--usually Mrs. Beasley---resorts to hissings, battle cries and desparate dashes.
When this behavior occurs at night, all noisy hell breaks loose.
On Friday morning, Charlie darted out the front storm door which is on a slow-moving hydraulic closure cylinder. I saw him melt over the side of the porch to his usual lair in the bushes, but when I followed him out a few minutes later, he had disappeared.
I prowled around the house, getting down to peer into the hydrangeas, wedged myself behind the rectangles of trimmed box, expecting to encounter his innocent blue gaze.
When I didn't find him, I wasn't too concerned. He has never deviated from this routine.
The afternoon went by. Every hour or so J. or I made the circuit of the house, calling, searching in the bushes for the missing cat.
At dusk I widened the search, going into the dim woodshed, trekking up to the barns, eyeing any place I thought a rather dense cat could hide.
There was no sign of Charlie.
It rained Friday night and I pulled back the curtains on Saturday morning, opened the front door soon after daylight thinking, "Surely the rain will have fetched him home."
Still no Charlie.
We patrolled the dooryard again when we returned from our museum outing. G. drove up to ask if the
wanderer had returned.
When there was no sign of Charlie again this morning I tried to convince myself that he was
'lost and gone forever.'
After breakfast I pulled on my boots and chore coat and went out into sunshine and cold north wind.
I told myself I wasn't really looking for Charlie. He was gone.
Never-the-less, I called his name as I stood in the nearly empty tobacco barn.
I continued to call at intervals as I headed for the treeline at the western edge of the property.
I have never been able to pinpoint accurately the direction of sounds; in recent years tinnitus has completely distorted the hearing in my left ear. It was several seconds therefore until I realilzed that I was indeed hearing the cry of a cat over the rush of the wind.
I moved along the line fence, pausing to call and listen. Sometimes the answering 'meow' seemed to come from the depths of the wooded strip, at other times it seemed to ring out behind me.
Finally, I raised my eyes toward a particularly loud and despairing yowl and there was Charlie--in the crotch of a tree a few yards beyond the fence.
I conversed with him, but it was immediately evident that he would do nothing to remove
himself from the tree. He cranked his head around, gave me the benefit of his imbecilic azure stare,
and roared in dismal entreaty.
I pulled the camera from my pocket, adjusted the zoom and recorded evidence of his presence, before clumping back to the house for assistance.
J. put on his cap and hastened to assess the situation.
After greeting Charlie with mildly unflattering epithets, he returned to the garage to fetch a folding ladder.
Knowing he would have to descend from the top of said ladder encumbered with a struggling cat, I raced in to phone for D.
The line was busy.
I trailed back to the woods where J. was attempting to find secure 'footing' to place the ladder.
I got tangled in the sagging barbed wire fence while trying to climb over, extricated myself in time to follow J. back to the garage.
While J. rummaged out several short lengths of rope, I got M. on the phone.
M. roared with relieved laughter when I announced that Charlie had been found.
Back at the edge of the woods J. was lashing the ladder to the tree trunk, running additional lengths of rope through the rungs and securing them to nearby trees.
I spotted D.s car coming along the road.
'Oh, do wait a minute," I said, imagining myself straining to grasp Charlie as J. dangled him from midway on the ladder.
D. appeared, striding long-legged across the field, his parents bringing up the rear.
J. attempted to detach a squirming, squawling Charlie, who gripped the tree trunk,
heedless of impending rescue.
J. wrenched Charlie from his leafy perch; I managed to get over the fence as the family strode through the long meadow grass and arrived on the scene.
J. passed Charlie down to my reaching arms and hopped down the remaining rungs of the ladder.
While D. helped to dismantle the rescue equipment, G. crooned to Charlie and M. whisked bits of bark from his fur.
Charlie, suitably chastened, hid his furry face in my sleeve.
Deposited on the kitchen floor Charlie scooted to the kibble feeder.
His offspring huddled in the doorway to the basement stairs, round-eyed, staring at him with a wary disconnect.
Mrs. Beasley, whom he heckles and intimidates, laid back her ears, crossed her eyes and backed away.
Teasel inflated her tail and hissed.
In the hour and a half since his rescue, Charlie has paced over the house, grandly ignoring the watchful feline residents who aren't quite ready to welcome him home.
He retreated under the bed behind my desk for a restorative think.
Mima has sniffed at him and declared he is not her father.
J. has had a nap in his recliner with the indominatable Willis sprawled on his front.
I have toyed with the idea of going out to weed in the second perennial strip--the damp ground and the chilly wind are daunting.
D. has phoned to say we are invited to share one of M.'s good Sunday dinners in 20 minutes!
The puzzled worry of a missing cat has been removed, although we have wryly admitted to passing two very quiet nights without Charlie's disruptive presence.
Tomorrow will be time enough to return to weeding!