Life With a Big Cat – What a Gas!

I have permission from my close friend and staunch TASP supporter to tell y’all this story. As they used to say on Dragnet, “The names are changed to protect the innocent.”

Like so many others these days, my friend (we’ll call her, “Lucy,”) has been enthusiastically researching her genealogy through one of those DNA sampling kits that are so popular. Through her work, she’s discovered new branches in her family tree that she hadn’t previously known about. She’s made contact with some and developed new relationships, filling in gaps in the family history and discovering some remarkable similarities between these folks across the country and her immediate family: her son’s unusually curly hair is shared by her second cousin’s son. And her father’s remarkable smile is now being displayed on the face of another of these long-lost relatives. It’s been a fascinating journey for her, to say the least.

Recently, one of these new-to-Lucy cousins came from out of town to spend a day sharing family photos with her and to generally nurture the family bond. Lucy wanted everything to be perfect for this occasion. So for the week ahead, she planned the day’s menu and agenda like a true event organizer. Like any of us, she wanted her cousin to feel as comfortable and at-home with her and her family as possible on this inaugural visit.

To fully digest this story, you need to know that Lucy has a soft heart for animals. Her home is host to a wildchild scruffy-faced something-poo-mix puppy and two ancient small-breed dogs who are still thriving thanks to her investment in a steady supply of heart meds, bronchodilators and arthritis easers. And did I mention, there are also 10 or so cats living at Lucy’s home at any given time, of a range of ages from young adult to dottering senior; this one blind, that one unfriendly toward people; yet another so affectionate she can slide under a door like a hamster to join her humans when she wants to. Rumor has it, Lucy is a candidate for her own parking spot at her local vet’s office; she visits there a lot.  

Anyway, in preparation for the much-anticipated visit from her distant cousin, Lucy determined that Simba, the giant blond male cat who is so antisocial/lazy, he spends most of his time lounging under the comforter on Lucy’s bed, needed special consideration. In addition to the endearing features already described, Simba’s distaste for humans (other than Lucy) causes him to defecate immediately any time a stranger enters his field of view. And because he is a mammoth cat, the gift he leaves any stranger is likewise mammoth and of a scent that can burn one’s eyelashes off. The cat has a reputation. Knowing this, Lucy powwowed with her family and came up with the perfect solution: Simba was securely ensconced in his favorite bedroom with his food, water AND litterbox for the duration of Cousin’s visit. Doors closed, Simba, tucked away in his little kingdom, could be spared the hubbub of the family reunion that was about to ensue downstairs. Yes, this was a perfect plan……..

Doorbell rings, Cousin arrives and is ushered into the formal parlor which is the hosting spot for Lucy’s most treasured guests. Snacks circulated, introductions exchanged, and out come the family photos that are appreciated by the family that had grown by one that afternoon. But only a small percentage into the family albums, EGAD! The security alarms are going off! Sirens shrieking, Lucy’s husband and son run to investigate while Lucy, not missing a beat in spite of the din, continues guiding Cousin through the pages of the photo albums, describing this relative and that one and sharing family memories. She has to raise her voice a bit to be heard above the alarm, but this is the only acknowledgement she will give to this disturbance in her perfectly planned day.

Turns out, according to Husband, it was the gas sensor that tripped off the sirens, but no indication that anything was malfunctioning in the HVAC system. Must have just been a fluke. Sirens are turned off and the home becomes normal again. The walk down memory lane continues in the formal parlor and more snacks are passed around now that everyone can hear each other again. But then…….

Youngest daughter walks to the back door with young wildchild dog, giving her the fresh-air break she needs. But if only that could have been all! Now, Daughter lets out a scream as she’s nearly run over by a line of firemen in full firefighting attire coming at her at speed from the home’s parking area, straight into the hallway and into the kitchen. Lights flashing, sirens wailing in the driveway, the young men are there in response to the alarm that apparently had not been cancelled at the security company’s central dispatch. “Gas leak! Everyone out,” shouts the Captain as he runs into the house.

While Lusy and Cousin continue this now VERY MEMORABLE trip down memory lane, Husband and Son explain to the firemen that all systems show no real gas incident. Firemen examine the system with them and agree this was not a gas leak incident……or was it?

Later, after all the firemen had gone home and somewhat-shaken Cousin had departed back to his, Lucy and Husband climbed the stairs to let Simba out of his exile, where they discovered: AHA! Not a gas leak, but certainly a gas incident!

Moral of this story: When situating your GI-challenged giant cat’s litter box for an impromptu lockdown, be sure not to place it too near the security system’s gas leak sensor.