On the business of catching them all

On the business of catching them all

x8ck8lkso5lv9xyk68ypThis post isn’t actually about Pokemon.

Although it could be, and maybe it should be, if for no other reason than to rhapsodize on the Pokeworld’s cat-perfect names. (Jigglypuff, anyone?)

But no. This post is about Sally.

When one is plotting world domination, one sits amid the wires under Danielle's desk. Obviously.
When one is plotting world domination, one sits amid the wires under Danielle’s desk. Obviously.

Sally is the latest in a long line of Tabby’s Place cats who must be caught on a regular basis. During such occasions, there is hissing (feline). There is embarrassment (human). There is running (human and feline). There is angry diarrhea (your guess). There is swearing like a longshoreman (human and feline).*

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves

Long before Sally had to be caught, Sally was scooped — in a single hand, like a tiny dollop of dip on the fringe of a Frito. Sally arrived at Tabby’s Place all of one day old, eyes-squeezed-shut and motherless. Brother Sandy died; sister Stormy was adopted…

…and Sally, being a dollop of darling, was adopted too. Of course.

Yet it didn’t take long before that dollop got…well, I won’t use the word “demonic.” But her adopter loved her and feared her in equal measure. Then the scale tipped towards “fear.”

Sally was not yet four pounds.

We did our best to give the guidance you give about demonic dollops of kitten cuteness. “Don’t play finger games,” we said. “Squirt her with a water bottle when she attacks your ankles,” we said.

“You don’t seem to understand the situation,” Sally’s adopters said.

"Go 'head and touch this magnificent gut. If 'sudden death' was on your wish list, that is."
“Go ‘head and touch this magnificent gut. If ‘sudden death’ was on your wish list, that is.”

“I AM THE FATHER OF LIES!” Sally said.

Still, Sally’s family loved her. They persevered. Sally grew larger, stronger. The love/fear seesaw tipped further, in the face of all their affection. Chris Christie jumped on the seesaw. In a bus. On an aircraft carrier.

But even with fear so formidable, Sally’s family sallied forth. (Sorry.) Love is stronger than death, and teeth, and blood transfusions. (Yes, I exaggerate. But only very, very slightly.) They were devoted to their deranged dollop. So they lived on tenterhooks, loving Sally if and when Sally would let them, loving her always, loving her from afar.

And then, after eight years, their broken hearts stopped mending.

In a vale of tears, Sally’s family returned. They had tried. They had loved heroically, loved sacrificially, given and bled (I do not exaggerate) for a cat who only grew more vicious with the years. They didn’t know what to do, but they knew they couldn’t do this anymore.

They didn’t want to do this to Sally.
They didn’t want to do this to us.
But sometimes love doesn’t know what to do. And that’s OK.

Mass quantities of Sally.
Mass quantities of Sally.

In this event, it was OK because Sally was a Tabby’s Place cat, once, now, and forever. We welcomed her back with fear and trembling.

MASS QUANTITIES of fear and trembling.

I’ve been at Tabby’s Place for nine years. I remember Sally from her days as a wee wonder. We’ve loved over fifteen hundred cats since Sally’s first ride on this carousel. All have been loved; many have been friendly; some have been violent. But even Tabby’s Place staff members who have been here longer than me have said it: Sally is the single most aggressive cat in the annals of Tabby’s Place. One staff member bestowed the most perfect nickname since “Bad Bad Leroy Brown:” the Salligator.

That’s quite an honor. Or something.

Sally is somewhere near 15% predictable. By this I mean that we have a faint outline of what happens when you cross her:

  1. First Offense: You will receive a verbal warning.
  2. Second Offense: Sally shall tread thee in the winepress of her wrath and desecrate thy body for the birds of the air.
  3. Third Offense: Irritated tail flicker.
  4. Fourth Offense: Immediate death by disemboweling.
Sally has many fine qualities, sanity not among them.
Sally has many fine qualities, sanity not among them.

So when Sally’s screaming quarantine ended, we faced a terrifying question: where, oh where, would the most aggressive cat in Tabby’s Place history live?

If we put her in a suite, she very might kill her neighbors. We couldn’t do that.
If we put her in the Lobby, she might would most assuredly rip innocent visitors to ribbons. We couldn’t do that.
If we put her in the Community Room, she might consume the Tabby’s Place staff. We could do that.

And so I type this email, a wary Bucca in my arms, just fifteen feet from the Salligator.

To our grateful, leery collective surprise, Sally has done better than expected in the Community Room, which is to say the body count remains at zero. For now, Sally has contented herself with emitting sounds from the underworld for any and no reason; hissing spittle from hidey-holes; and plotting world domination below Danielle’s desk. Our Feline Behavioral Consultant, Nancy, has taken Sally on as her personal mission, which should garner Nancy five Purple Hearts and a seat among the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Yes, things are going well.
Until c. 5:40pm Eastern time each night.

Having now exhausted all extant photos of Sally, I shall hereby post aspirational Sallies to inspire our Sally's better angels...or at least her flying nuns.
Having now exhausted all extant photos of Sally, I shall hereby post aspirational Sallies to inspire our Sally’s better angels…or at least her flying nuns.

Which brings us to the business of catching them all.

Tabby’s Place is a cage-free sanctuary, with a big flabby asterisk next to “cage-free.” Sometimes, it is in a cat’s best interest to be in a cage (when recovering from surgery, eating a special bonus meal, being monitored for this or that or the other thing, finding protection from bigger badder beasts). So, cats like Hilde and Adelaide and the kittens gotta get caught at night.

No problem.

At other times, it is genuinely in the universe’s best interest for a cat to be in a cage (when the cat would otherwise end said universe, trigger actual apocalypse, unleash multi-species genocide). Since we can’t guarantee that the universe would survive a night of free-range Sally, Sally, too, must get caught.


In addition to making the Salligator like us less, crating Sally is an excellent way to mime the words “There Will Be Blood.” Last night, I shivered in my Development Director corner for forty-five minutes while four Tabby’s Place staff members collectively worked on capturing Sally. (I’m helpful that way.) They got her…but it wasn’t pretty.

4253542871_22c7ab828d_bBut, then, love isn’t always pretty. The road is long. The teeth are sharp.

But Sally is safe, and ours, and adored against her will.

And feared, entirely within her will.

Pray for us all, kittens.

*With apologies to those longshorepersons with elegant elocution. I’ve used this expression since childhood, due to hearing it from my Grandpa, who, unlike me, had some idea what longshoremen are/do/sound like.

2 thoughts on “On the business of catching them all

  1. Oh my! Tabby’s Place – your word IS your bond. Where is a cat like Mozart when you need him? (Max and Mozart) Best of luck to Sally – I cannot help but think she will be happier when she finally settles down.

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