Martin Acres, my neighbors, my trails…
On September 1st, Mark and I moved into our new/old Martin Acres house.
The day started at 4:30 am. We were up, deflating the blow up bed that had been our rest spot for the last 4 nights at Terry St, putting the last of the “we’ll need this” boxes into the borrowed truck and headed for Boulder by 5:15 am. After unloading the truck into the garage at 285 Martin Drive, Mark drove my car to Denver for work and I took the truck to Louisville for a Starbucks pickup and a final walk though. Then the clients and I headed for Land Title in Boulder for our 9 am closing.
Post closing, I was headed back to the Longmont house, lickity split. I still had some cleaning to do and the packing of those items; vacuum cleaner, supplies etc. I had a cat to stuff in a box for his trip “home” to Martin Acres that afternoon and tenants to hand off to at noon. There was definitely some last minute stuff going on, but we made it and just a few hours later, I had an extremely unhappy and most vocal cat beside me in the truck as I sped off to Boulder again.
I put Smokey Joe in an upstairs bedroom that was still awaiting new carpet. He had his litterbox, food, water and a bed. His crate stood open, nearby and I closed the door to the room before taping a giant “Don’t let the cat out, please” sign on it. At my neighbor, Donnie’s house, I had some lunch and one of those chats that I had missed while living in Longmont. An hour well spent! Then it was time to check on poor unhappy Smokey Joe.
Question: Why couldn’t I find him in the bedroom when I returned? The answer came when called his name and heard a faint and terrified meow coming from the duct work. My heart missed a beat. Two beats. Could he really have crawled into that tiny duct from the vent hole in the floor? He is not a small cat. Think Mancoon size.
Yes. He apparently could. But it’s a one way journey because there is no room to turn around!
So at 4 pm on a Friday afternoon, as the guys were packing up to escape this job site and enjoy a long weekend, I had to announce that my cat was in the ducts and I needed help to remove him. What help? Not sure. I guess that depended on where he was under the floor between the first and second stories. My stroke started about that time.
After much debate it was agreed we kinda knew roughly where SJ was. Ken had the great idea to pull up a piece of the plywood floor and expose some of the ducting. We found that about 5′ along, the vent duct turned 90 degrees, then 90 degrees again and connected with a larger duct. One that might make it possible for the cat to turn around in. Ken got his sawsall out and cut a flap in the large duct with the idea that SJ would either find the hole and come out or be scared back the way he came. The noise and vibration was horrendous, but it worked. Smokey Joe did an about face and came climbing up the vent hole he entered. Crying and covered in dust and insulation debris, his noise gummy and his eyes filled with fear, he stared at me with a look that all but said “why did you stuff me in a duct and who was trying to cut me in half with a saw?”
Aaron sealed the holes in the room temporarily and they left for the weekend. My stroke subsided and within a few hours SJ was back to his normal self too. I had no doubt that should he be faced with a similar option – to crawl in and explore or not to crawl in and explore – he would choose the same way again! <sigh>
And that, my friends, is how the saying “curiosity killed the cat” came about.
Over the next few days we acclimatized SJ to being an indoor-outdoor cat again. He got used to the neighborhood and using the brand new doggie door to let himself in and outside at will. For a critter who complains as loudly as this one does, he is remarkably adaptable. Some days I see him, others he is dozing under a juniper and scarcely around. Every night, he comes in and out and checks on us in bed 3-4x though. Most mornings he is sleeping on the pillow or foot of the bed when I awaken.
If you are a cat person or feel your pets are family, then you’ll understand that despite or because of his independent antics, I love this little furry guy and it would have been heart breaking to lose him or damage him while simultaneously celebrating the return to my Martin Acres family.