Naughty Paw-tale Hide N’ Seek with Pumpkin

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Al Pearson
The mystery and adventure with Pumpkin and Poli! Find out how a simple slow morning can turn into a major adventure when your cat decides to play it smart with you.
In September 2019, my wife and I made our annual trek to New York for the US Open tennis tournament. We stayed with a long-time friend who has a third-floor Tribeca apartment ruled over by her two rescue cats – Pumpkin and Poli. Pumpkin is a lithe, ginger cat with a bit of a subversive streak. Poli looks like she has been splashed with black and white paint. What she lacks in beauty she makes up in sweetness. My wife and I have shared a house with at least one cat for the past four decades so we know the drill. When our friend asked us for cat sitting while she was travelling, we instantly agreed to it.
 
Skeptical sniffing starts and new friendship
Upon arrival things weren’t as smooth as we expected. Pumpkin and Poli were skeptical, but I knew soon we’ll all be friends. They barely noticed when we went out in the evening. When we got back, things went mildly awry. We were told to give a tiny helping of both wet food and dry food to the kitties. The trick is to dole the wet food out in small helpings because the slightly ‘bulimic’ Pumpkin tends to throw it up if he eats too much, too fast. Well, Pumpkin threw his snack up almost immediately, and Poli’s interest in the wet food was tepid at best. In addition to the food restriction, we also had to take care of giving medications to Poli on time. Our effort of concealing the medicine with her food was a big failure. Plan B was to give Poli the pills manually, which my wife was only too happy to let me do. My experience has been that cats do not like to have pills crammed down their throats. They yowl, they bite, they claw in protest. Luckily for me, gentle Poli endured my clumsy pill administering skills.
 
The curious case of missing Pumpkin
After the chores were done, I and my wife were preparing for the day. Thoughts of morning coffee, a pastry, and reading The New York Times made us excited. Everything was in place, thanks to the meticulous checklist. And then suddenly a question popped up – Where’s Pumpkin? Poli had been frolicking around us the entire morning, but Pumpkin was missing all the morning action. We called him and scurried around the apartment. We checked the window screens, fearful that Pumpkin might have fallen out. My wife checked the hallway, but all in vain. The prospect of alerting, Ivan, the building superintendent, about the disappearance of Pumpkin was disquieting. Always polite, cheerful and helpful, he would no doubt wonder how in the hell we could have lost Pumpkin. Our worries went through the roof, and that’s when the miracle happened.
It was like finding a hidden treasure
Perched inconspicuously on the upper shelf of a tall bookcase was a large bowl. Quite by chance, my wife noticed two furry ears and a pair of eyes peering just above the rim. There was Pumpkin who for at least thirty minutes had remained hidden and unresponsive to our frantic search for him. What prompted him to reveal himself at that moment? Pumpkin’s gaze was impassive, Sphinx like. Had he become bored having extracted enough fiendish pleasure eavesdropping on our panic-stricken, feckless efforts? Or were we the hapless foils of a masterfully played game of cat and mouse? Such sophistries did not interest us. Our sense of relief was immeasurable.
(Al Pearson is a freelance writer, long time (cat) pet parent and tennis player).

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