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Who’s Bad?

A story about how her feline friend needed some encouragement.

I love my cat Harley dearly—but he is a bad, bad boy. He’s a tree-climbing, out-the-door-sneaking, critter-killing trouble magnet. And with his bad-boy antics comes a bad-boy attitude. Cattitude, to the max. But occasionally I get a glimpse of the sweet, vulnerable kitty inside.

Several times a week, this lady down the street walks her dog past our house. This dog is huge. Tall. Like, as tall as a small pony, with feet the size of my hand. Harley knows he’s on the leash, so Harley sits in the yard and blinks at him, which of course drives the dog crazy.

The other day, the dog got loose, and Harley took off running and scampered up the closest tree. A very tall tree. Adrenaline kept him climbing to the very top of that very tall tree. He must have been 30 feet in the air, up where the branches get narrow and sway in the slightest breeze.

“Meeeeeooooooowwww….” his little voice echoed down. “Meeeeeoooowwww….” he repeated, taking a tentative step forward, then retreating back into the fork he was perched in.

Well, I was scared. How is he going to get down? What if he falls and hurts himself? Do cats really always land on their feet? Should we call the fire department? Does the fire department actually rescue cats from trees?

“C’mon, Harley,” I called, feeling idiotic. “You can do it. Just climb down to the next fork.”

“Meowww,” I heard. As I encouraged him, he pitched his body forward, then spun around so he could shinny down the tree trunk backwards. Slowly he made it to the next fork, and the next, till 10 feet from the ground, he leaped…and disappeared into the underbrush, clearly embarrassed by the whole thing.

When he came inside his dignity had been restored…but it seemed like he snuggled with me for an extra long time as we sat and watched TV that night. Guess even “bad boys” need love.

—Allison Ruffing

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