by Tina Blue
August 2, 2002
My two cats, Lila and Gabby, love to go outside, but they are both timid about being left out there alone, with no way to get back inside if trouble arises. I am also nervous about the possibility of their being hit by a car, attacked by a dog or other animal--or abused by the sort of person who torments animals out of spite or for his own sick amusement.
But I do hate not to make my cats happy, so I leave the front door propped open for them for an hour or two almost every day, while I work in the front part of the apartment.
One evening at the beginning of last October, the two cats double-teamed a squirrel and chased it right into the apartment!
Zoooom! It raced past me, with the cats right on its tail. It leapt onto a bookshelf, then jumped down and fled into the kitchen, where it jumped up and skidded across a counter, and then disappeared behind the refrigerator.
Okay. I knew where it was. But so did the cats, and they were prowling and yowling around the fridge.
I scooped them up and shut them both in the bedroom. Then I got a broom and a flashlight, to try to shoo the terrified creature out from behind the fridge and, I hoped, out of the still open door.
No luck, of course. Mr. Squirrel figured he was safer where he was than he could possibly be out in the open, where he could still hear his feline pursuers' yowls, however muffled from behind the bedroom door.
This all occurred at about 6:30 in the evening. I was soon on the phone, trying to find a pest control business that would come out and rid me of my unwelcome guest. But you know how it is. When you need someone to come and get a squirrel, no one is ever available.
I called everyone in the Yellow Pages. I was on the phone for hours. Needless to say, I never took my eyes off the area around the refrigerator. The last thing I wanted was for the squirrel to get out from behind the fridge and into the apartment proper, without my knowing where he was. Even if he made it out the front door, I wouldn't know, unless I saw him escape.
Finally, at 9:30, I got hold of someone who was available to do something about my squirrel. Unfortunately, though, he was out on another job at the moment, and by the time he finished up that job, which was some distance away, and made it to my apartment, it was 11:30 at night. I had been held hostage by a squirrel for five hours!
The man used some high-tech equipment to handle the crisis. Wearing thick leather gloves, he chased the squirrel out with a long pole, and then caught it in an old, worn blanket.
Then he wrote up the bill--for $200. He'd quoted the price when I'd first called him, so I wasn't surprised, just dismayed. I am an adjunct lecturer at a state university. I make very little money, and early October comes after a long summer with virtually no income.
Fortunately, he had been very understanding when I explained my financial situation to him. He was willing to break my bill into two payments over two months.
He told me that he often had to make such arrangements with clients, because, as he put it, most people don't have money put aside for squirrel emergencies.
"Most people?" I said. "Honestly, I don't know anyone who has money put aside for squirrel emergencies!"