Let me set the record straight: I love kittens – and cats of all ages and breeds – with the exception of Persians (I just don’t trust those shifty little eyes). My wife and I have had cats (or more accurately, cats have had us) throughout our entire marriage.
We even foster kittens to help get them used to being around people. We feed them, cuddle with them and play with them for six to ten weeks, until they’re ready to be adopted. It’s how we ended up with our two current cats, Zippy and Buddy, neither of whom, as best as I can tell, fear that I’ll try to murder them in their sleep.
I’ve never once thought about trying to snuff out any of our feline friends – okay, maybe I harbored a few nefarious thoughts when Patches peed on me, but that’s the only time – unless you count when Monster ran off with my digital watch and I later found it in the toilet.
With those very few exceptions – and maybe five or six others – I’ve rarely contemplated putting out a contract on any of our cats. But if I had plotted their demise, I could not have come up with a more fool-proof plan than the one we accidentally set in motion last week – one that almost drowned and / or electrocuted five adorable kittens and their mom.
Let me start at the very beginning…
Recently, we took in five one-week-old fur balls and their mommy. They were so adorable. For the first two weeks, we kept them all in the guest bathroom. We keep our house a bit cool, so to help our tiny guests stay warm, we placed an electric heater in with them. The bathroom also has a tub with a sliding glass door, which is where I kept the extra litter, cat food and supplies.
Last Friday, after checking on the kitties, cleaning up their poop, and giving them all one last snuggle for the night, my wife and I settled in the living room to watch Elementary. All was right with the world. Well, almost. This Sherlock had no clue that twelve feet below us, the wheels were turning to bring about our kittens’ imminent extinction.
As best as investigators could surmise, this is the true tail of events that followed. Apparently, like all self-respecting cats, the mom decided to go on an explore. Or maybe she was just desperate for a break from the demands of motherhood. At any rate, she discovered the sliding door to the bathtub. With a herculean force of will, this scrawny cat, exhausted from birthing and nursing five infants, miraculously pried the door open.
She was a cat on a mission. She crawled into the tub and was soon mesmerized by the shiny silvery faucet. Maybe she saw her reflection and thought it was a stray cat who might harm her babies. Or maybe she just felt in the mood to freshen up after having spent the past three hours licking pee off her kittens’ fur. Whatever her motive, she pounced on the faucet and managed to paw at it just enough to turn on the water.
Not sure what she thought as the water began inching towards her paws. Perhaps she envisioned a rejuvenating jacuzzi in her own private spa. Twelve feet overhead in la la land, I was scarfing down a piece of chocolate cake, as down under, the bathtub, which lacked an overflow drain, was filling up like a swollen river about to overflow its banks during monsoon season.
I now recall from my high school science class that, in general, it’s not recommended to have an electric appliance running while water is spewing all around it. Nevertheless, we had thoughtfully turned on the electric heater on the floor of the bathroom, to keep our furry friends toasty warm. Little did I know how eerily close they came to being toast.
Of course, the bathroom door was closed to keep the kittens from wandering. And to protect them from accidental contact with our two full-grown cats, to whom the little critters looked like tasty late-night snacks.
We had inadvertently created an ESCAPE ROOM – only this one offered no escape! The five kittens were blissfully unaware that they were in imminent danger of using up one of their nine lives. Their only choice was going to be the method – drowning or electrocution.
About this time, Michele decided to venture downstairs to check her email before heading off to bed. As she walked past the closed bathroom door, she heard a strange sound – a sort of gushing. “What on earth?” she wondered. She opened the door to find the mom cat, perched on the ledge of the bathtub, soaked to the skin, wailing. The tub water was rapidly rising to within inches of overflowing. The kittens were huddled in front of the heater. The clock was ticking. It’s a beautiful clock. A hand-carved cuckoo clock from our trip to Switzerland. But I digress. My wife screamed, “TIM! GET DOWN HERE!”
I’m relieved to report that no kittens or kitty moms were harmed during the nearly catastrophic adventure. They’re all doing just fine with no signs of PTSD. The vet says they have at least six more lives, maybe more if we return them to the Shelter right away.
This harrowing experience makes me realize I probably should take additional safety measures around the house. Like unplugging the circular saw when the Cub Scouts meet here. And maybe relocating the terrarium containing my exotic poisonous snake collection. Yeah, I should probably get right on that. Um, let’s just keep this embarrassing incident our little secret. Okay? Thanks.
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Check out Tim Jones’ latest humor book: OU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time