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Start the Presses: Learning to crawl with the neighbors

October 30, 2010|By Dan Evans

Sprawled beneath the crawlspace under my house, desperately trying to coax my loveable but dense cat to come out, it hit me: I need to know my neighbors better.

Two hours prior, my wife and I came home to a dark and cat-less house. We had been out attending an event at the Los Angeles Press Club — yes, we're such journalism dorks we do this during our free time — and it was fairly late.

The smarter of our two cats, Gracie, scurried inside the house as soon as my wife called for her, lured by the smell (gag) of the wet food. Ozzie, her brother, was nowhere to be found. None of the windows had been left open, the doors were all locked, and no gaping holes in the floor had suddenly appeared.


And then we saw it: the broken window. A manila envelope had been taped over the hole, secure enough to keep the wind out, but not for two cats intent on a jailbreak. We found our flashlights and began the search. Then I made my blunder, opening up the access port to the crawlspace. I wanted to see if Ozzie had somehow found his way under the house.

He hadn't. Not at that point, anyhow.

As we searched around the front, back and sides of the house, my neighbor came out. Kenny said he was to blame for the broken window, that he and his son had been playing soccer in our common front lawn. A kick went sideways, he explained, cracking the glass.

Kenny put the envelope over the hole and waited for us to get home so he could tell us what happened. I'm not sure he remembered we even had cats, and he certainly didn't know they were of the indoor-only, escape-artist variety.

Frankly, I probably wouldn't have thought of it either. On the extremely rare occasions Gracie or Ozzie have gotten outside, their faces turn to terror, and they run back inside as quickly as possible.

And then, a shout! Ozzie had been found, cowering underneath Kenny's car. The search party, which now included Kenny's wife Amber, rushed to the car. This, of course, caused the poor cat to run away, frightened by the flashlights and noise.

Away Ozzie ran to the backyard, and right into the nice cozy hiding place I had inadvertently left for him: the access door.

Which is how I found myself crawling beneath the house in suit pants and a dress shirt, kitty treats and flashlight in hand, attempting to coax a frightened animal back into the house.

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