Of Kittens And Life's Oddities


Well, this was a different kind of Friday - sometime mid-afternoon, my wife got a call saying that my car was mewing.

It's not really my car - it's the company's - and it spends most of its time in a garage since I not only resent having to have it but also find driving to work a needless bother that I'd rather live without, but that's beside the point right now.

Cats are strange and unfathomable beasts. I happen to be quite fond of them (preferably after delousing, and when they show signs that they're likely to return the feeling), but I think that any species that finds the inside of car engines to be a cozy spot to take a nap is either:

  • An emergent form of our new robot overlords (which I welcome, of course)
  • Seriously handicapped where it regards survival (and evolutionary) skills

Or, most likely in this case, pretty damn lucky.

Consider this: The car was in a closed garage the whole day, three levels below street level. And there were plenty of other cars around, so the likelihood of a kitten bothering to sneak past the gate and prance down three levels of ramps to curl inside that specific car is, well... nil.

The only reason the kit was found was that a security guard was doing a round when he heard my Volkswagen mewling. Since german cars are more prone to purr (or growl) and tend to do so only when someone is at the wheel, this proved to be a rather discombobulating event, and soon led to a number of attempts to tease out the little critter - which poked its head out on a couple of occasions, proving it wasn't stuck.

I arrived rather late to the scene, but I am told that milk and a number of ridiculous noises that are supposed to attract cats had been attempted previously. By that time the kitten had no compunction regarding announcing its presence, mewling repeatedly and loudly - all the while safely ensconced somewhere between the headlights and the radiator.

Borrowing a phrase, after disregarding the impossible, all we had left was the improbable - and even with several sorts of improbable ways the cat could have gotten under the hood, we had already formed a reasonable theory regarding the little critter's origin - and it is just as odd as the story so far.

As it happens, we had a little family event yesterday. And we drove straight back to the garage, so there was no chance the cat could have caught a ride somewhere in between. Unless, of course, it happened to be loitering around a stop light and decided to hop in, which is even more unlikely than it having gone down three floors down a dark garage to climb inside my car - cats may be creatively annoying, but they are not usually dumb or suicidal.

Well, my family lives near here. And the last stop light before reaching the garage is here, which is also close enough to where I last saw the critter to make no difference.

That means it found my car yesterday afternoon, hopped in, dozed off between the radiator and the left headlight, rode over 25Km in there (at least twenty of which in a freeway, relatively fast and under moderate rain) and decided to make all our lives a lot more interesting today.

Since we couldn't tease it out by any means and it was demonstrably safe enough to move the car (engines are a lot neater and with less exposed moving parts these days), we parked the Volkswagen on the curb, set down the proverbial saucer of milk and went away for an hour or so (we figured the kit was spooked enough by all the rattling and poking and people trying to get at it).

Just when we were getting back to check on it, I saw the kitten scampering off (pointedly ignoring the milk) and climbing inside a nearby Land Rover's suspension, where, again, nobody could get at it.

I'm kind of sorry I couldn't catch it, although there is no way we could keep a cat - if only because I consider keeping pets in an apartment to be unusually cruel to them.

But considering its lucky streak so far, I think it will be perfectly alright.

Update: This morning I happened to look out the window before breakfast (still half-awake) and saw someone pop the hood on a Fiat Punto, look inside, and poke at something with a rod - with the result that a small fur ball darted out from underneath the car, skittered about on the ground and made a beeline for the next car down the line - so I guess the critter isn't all that smart...